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Member Since 15 May 2013
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In Topic: Early JWP (Pre-Split/Interpromotional Era)

16 October 2017 - 12:16 AM

7/19/90 Tokyo Korakuen Hall: Shinobu Kandori vs. Harley Saito


This is an amazing match; not just by far the best JWP match I've seen probably ever, but in the top 5-10 of the finest women's single matches I can remember. What made this outstanding was that what they did was stylistically state of the art, mixing 80s NJPW-like shootstyle/wrestling hybrid with something resembling a classic title match, and emotionally captivating: right from the get go there is a ton of disdain, uncooperativeness, and another fantastic underdog performance from Harley.


So this is like a joshi version of Fujinami/Maeda, without the blood and more outright hatred. Kandori is naturally really good at grabbing flash submissions and they use their holds really well, while Harley was bringing the violence with her kicks – there are a few moments where she is contorting her body to get out of Kandori's holds and then proceeds to kick Kandori in the face and ear repeatedly. It was awe inspiring. Kandori gives her back some raining angry shots down on her smaller opponent too, and with some of the uncooperative moves, stiff shots and flash subs here I was thinking I was watching some sort of Tenryu/Hashimoto/Fujiwara showdown.


Another cool thing is how they interweave their shootstyle stuff with more traditional wrestling, they were working shoot kicks and flash armbars one minute, and then neck bridges and small packages. The rollups make really good nearfalls because JWP was booking a lot of rollup finishes, and thanks to that they can build to big section of 2,99999s for the ending run that doesn't have that big move spam. Some incredibly well timed spots, and there is one false finish that is executed in a way I can't recall seeing in many other wrestling matches, which sets up another angry Kandori comeback to the keep the crowd behind Harley. I mean, watching what they did here felt like the stuff that is missing from so many wrestling matches, they had the folks at Korakuen hall flipping out for a small package or fall-on-top counter.


Really great match that delivered beyond expectations, considering this is Kandori years before coming into Superstardom and Saito who was almost completely under the radar (RIP, you magnificient gem). Mindblowing that you can still find shit as good as this in 2017 that has apparently never been talked about.

In Topic: Early JWP (Pre-Split/Interpromotional Era)

12 October 2017 - 04:10 PM

Haven't had much trouble with the handhelds so far. I'm used to handhelds by now, though. The camera angle is good though and they always catch everything going on. Anyways...


11/11/90 Osaka: Miss A vs. Devil Masami

This was the two biggest women in the fed meeting in a match. It was kind of a disappointment though, as it followed the same basic pattern as all the these other matches: Fast start, work some holds in the middle to kill time, then do a 50/50 run trading 2,9s. It wasn't bad, Devil can throw bombs, and Miss A as always kicks hard to soften up her opponents, still the end run wasn't that grand and A's victory seemed to come too easily. There was also a bunch of work on Masami's leg, and Kansai missed a suicide dive, but neither thing ended up being important. Yes yes, I'm pedantic, but they just really didn't deliver anything overly spectacular to win me other.


2/1/91 Miss A /Dynamite Kansai vs. Harley Saito (UWA Title Tournament Final)


This is the finals of the UWA title tournament. In a way this feels like an early Misawa/Kawada match, two young workers having a somewhat basic match upgraded to epic format, while adding their own touches. This is different from the get go, as they start slow on the mat and really work to establish their roles. I don't know whether to call this a match that is extremely unlike joshi, or extremely JWP. There certainly is something really cool about the style they are working, as they mix bridge spots and sunset flips with the brutally stiff shots Kansai is known for (and Harley steps up to her level). The pace was almost like a niggly european bout, as they would stick to wrestling, but occasionally there would be an explosion. Kansai starts the fun, but whiffs on a dropkick and Saito pounces on her with a series of kicks and knees in the corner that would've done Kawada proud. Of course this does not end well for little Harley and soon after Kansai is cracking her with kicks and chairshots. This sets up the rest of the match for Harley refusing to quit despite being in a grueling battle. I could see some people not being overly in love with the generic title match layout for this match (there's even rollup exchanges at one point), but I thought Harley was a phenomenal underdog here and the style they used was awesome. Great match, Harley really should've been a bigger star.

In Topic: Early JWP (Pre-Split/Interpromotional Era)

11 October 2017 - 03:50 AM

More from the 1st round of that UWA tournament...


You wanna know how low-budget JWP was back then? They couldn't afford to make a graphic displaying the tournament brackets, so they drew them on a piece of cardboard and filmed two guys talking over that for the beginning of the tape.


^looks like something from a super low budget splatter movie. Also, all these matches were filmed with 1 camera. I dig the asthetics though.


1/7/91: Eagle Sawai vs. Shinobu Kandori

This was sort of interesting, as it was Sawai's heel tactics vs. Kandori's no nonsense style. In practise however it was just a decent houseshow undercard affair. Because Sawai is chunky, her stuff becomes a little more interesting, she has a nice back elbow and missed superfly splash. Kandori nailed her with a stiff lariat to the throat and some hard kicks to the spine, but didn't add much otherwise, not even any cool flash submissions. Eventually Kandori got really upset and hit Sawai with a chair causin the DQ and Sawai to advance in the tournament, proving this was just a throwaway match to get Sawai to proceed in the tournament over Kandori in cheap manner.


1/8/91: Harley Saito vs. Devil Masami

This was a weird match where it was two clearly good workers bringing lots of good stuff to the table, but not really putting it together into an actively great match. They were working from a big vs. Small base, with Masami planting little Harley with big powerbombs, gorilla presses and other throws, while Harley was fighting back using sharp kicks and agility. Masami also did some excellent armwork, proving she was still highly proficient in the technical stuff too. On the other hand Masami's personality seemed to kind of eat the match up. There was some bizarre crowd interactions (drunk gaijins in the audience?) and Masami never seemed in serious trouble until Saito picked up the win with a fluke rollup. Fun stuff but not a serious contest.


1/13/91 Osaka, Tournament Semifinal: Miss A vs. Eagle Sawai


Hahaha, I just noticed Kansai comes out to Conga. „My themesong is goofy latin pop, now watch me brutalize girls with my unpulled kicks.“ This was shockingly good for a Sawai match – it starts fun with Kansai taking one of the hardest guardrail bumps I've ever seen (scaring the audience in that section good) before Sawai works a fun control segment, using chokes and a spinning body scissor. They get into stiff slapfights and trading headbutts on the ground and this is pretty cool big girl wrestling. Kansai takes over with her badass kick to the throat and then methodically works over Sawai's back with headbutts and brutal kicks to set up her Scorpion Deathlock. However Sawai makes another comeback, this time bloodying Kansai by ramming her head into the steel ringsteps. Kansai is selling big and making desperate comebacks now and Eagle continues to work the cut with punches. Sawai impresses me by selling a good deal herself, acknowledging the work on her back from earlier. They do these spots where one girl goes for a suplex and other twists in mid-air to crush her with her weight, which look double cool because these two are chunky. I felt the match was building to a bigger crescendo than we got, but then again this was only the semi final. Still, quite good match for what it was, and I could see this being considered a classic if it happened in a US fed.

In Topic: Early JWP (Pre-Split/Interpromotional Era)

09 October 2017 - 03:53 PM

Some matches I've watched in the last few weeks, starting with the most famous:


Shinobu Kandori vs. Devil Masami (Original JWP, 7/14/88)


The original JWP is painfully underexplored. This is probably it's most prolific match, and it's more interesting than a great match. You may theorize that this is Kandori, the dangerous shooter putting the pro wrestler under fire and setting the blueprints for Kandori/Hokuto... which is a good formula, but in reality it was Devil dragging a green Kandori by the nose through a long match. Kandori looks good on the mat, and not very good doing anything else. Devil is as mean as you can want a hardened veteran to be carrying this and brings the goods, downing Kandori with a huge punch, almost ripping her in half with a surfboard, dishing out clubbing blows to make up for Kandori's weak kicks and so on. The biggest problem with the match is that it's needlessly long, as the iconic moment - where they both start bleeding all over the ring - only comes about 30 minutes into the match, and before that, there's a lot of meandering. It felt a bit like Devil redoing the Chigusa match against a far lesser Chigusa with nice submissions. The actual bloodbath was kind of underwhelming too, honestly. There's always charm to watching a rookie and a veteran going along for a lengthy match and this had enough good moments and nearfalls to keep you satisfied, but I gotta say this wasn't as good as I've seen it hyped up. Also, I'll never understand what was up with that restart/overtime they did.


Mayumi Ozaki vs. The Scorpion (JWP 6/14/90)


This was a pretty fun match between two young and eager workers. The Scorpion works a fun junior/shootstylist hybrid style and Ozaki always adds a ton of personality to her matches. In fact Ozaki looked as good and charismatic as she did in her most famous matches. Her outfit was pure pulp awesomeness and she reminded me a little bit of Negro Casas here in how fast she was thinking and how she would exploit weaknesses relentlessly. Scorpion's execution was a little sloppy at times, so I have no problem calling this an Ozaki carryjob. Whenever Ozaki was able to grab an arm or leg, she would stomp the shit out of that body part to create an opening, then go for the finish. Because this was 1990, moves like a superplex or sunset flip were HOT nearfalls and they timed everything extremely well, resulting in a bunch of 2,9999s that the crowd went bananas for. Weak finish, but I still liked the match a lot.


Itsuki Yamazaki vs. Miss A (Dynamite Kansai) (JWP 1/6/91)

I'm not sure why the name change from Miss A to Dynamite Kansai. She looks and wrestles the exact same.


This was a first round match in a tournament for the UWA International title(?) and a better match than a lot of tournament finals I've seen. Why have I never heard anyone talk about how awesome Itsuki Yamazaki was in JWP? It's far more interesting than anything I've seen her do in AJW. Right at the go Kansai whacks Yamazaki with a big lariat, but in the following tussle on the outside Yamazaki catches her leg and rams it into the steel post. Yamazaki proceeds to work over Kansai's leg and use this advantage to stay in control. When Kansai comes back, she immediately reestablishes how dangerous she is by crushing the veteran with ultra stiff blows. I thought Kansai's selling was good enough, as she made it clear the leg was bothering her and there were times where she couldn't follow through due to the damage done, on the other hand Yamazaki was super focussed and always aiming for the weak spot to get out of her situation. Yamazaki would add these cool maestra-like touches, such as locking in an octopus hold from her back, or elevating herself extra high when reversing a figure 4 (something I've never seen before). Yamazaki had excellent game, but in the end fell to a crushing shot from Kansai when she thought she had her in the bag. Really good skill vs. Pure brutality match.

In Topic: Ricky Morton vs Al Snow (SMW TV 04/08/95)

09 October 2017 - 12:20 PM

In the span of a month, I've gone from watching Al Snow getting blasted in primitive shootstyle matches to working Ricky Morton in a southern fed. You were going place, Al. This was an extremely simple and generic US style match, the type Morton must've done a thousand times. I am baffled by the previous comments about this being a great match and Snow looking like a future star. It's a solid match - like you can't not have a solid match against Morton. But Ricky's punches didn't even look good and Snow  was as bland as you can be. You could've slotted any other kid in that knew to execute 5 moves and put on a glove and Morton would've had a match on the same level. Snow had a nice asai moonsault, but so what? Asai moonsaults never made anyone a star.