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William Bologna

Member Since 21 Mar 2017
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 08:05 AM
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Posts I've Made

In Topic: Tatsumi Fujinami

18 May 2018 - 11:06 AM

11TH GAME NWA WORLD & IWGP BOTH HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIPS FIGHT FUJINAMI TATSUJI VS RICK FLAIR 3/21/1991

 

A disassembled portmanteau is always amusing, so I'm pleased that NJPW World calls this show "Star Arcade in Tokyo Dome." I'm having a brother romance with that. I might take a stay vacation and watch Slam Jamboree.

 

This match is the forerunner of the Superbrawl contest, and it's more of the same. Flair does Flair stuff with Fujinami in the broom position. He's just not good at this kind of thing. Flair does all the comeback-feeding tricks - he bleeds all over the place, he begs off, he goes to the top with no intention of jumping on anyone - but Fujinami is simply incapable of responding with the kind of babyface fire that his role requires.

 

Sometimes he claps and says "yeah" or something. That's him showing personality.

 

Flair resorts to working with trouble-shooting referee Bill Alphonso. He shoves him when Alphonso wants Flair to get back in the ring; he manhandles him a bit when he's trying to stop Flair from pouncing on Fujinami; he even lets out  a "You keep your mouth shut!" when Alphonso objects to some rule-bending.

 

Alphonso, in fact, takes the best move of the match. In order to set up the dumb ending, Flair charges Fujinami, who gets out of the way and lets Alphonso take a huge shot from Flair. He's knocked silly, and it's great. But then Fujinami pins Flair a couple times with no ref. Tiger Hattori comes in and finally counts three on the same abdominal stretch pin that beat Kido last time.

 

Fujinami's a double champ! Momentarily! Everyone's very excited, and he's hoisted on shoulders.

 

Their rematch was better - Fujinami is really pretty bad in this. He doesn't work well with Flair, and he whiffs on all his dropkicks. He's no Jushin "Thunder" Lion Tiger.


In Topic: Tatsumi Fujinami

17 May 2018 - 07:18 AM

TATSUMI FUJINAMI VS OSAMU KIDO 2/5/1991

 

One of the pleasant surprises in this project is how good some of these New Japan mid-carders were. I'd never seen a Kido match, and no one ever told me to. But the dude was pretty good! Ditto for Kantaro Hoshino, Super Strong "Junji Hirata" Machine, Kuniaki Kobayashi, and Kengo Kimura. These fellows are not widely discussed, but they haven't let me down yet.

 

Kido by this point no longer looks like a wrestler; he looks like management. He's got an efficient mustache and a bottom line-oriented haircut. He gives Fujinami a firm handshake, and I was half expecting him to hand over a business card along with it.

 

Kido and Fujinami lock up and take the crowd back to 1981. We got matwork! It's really good matwork, and the crowd is into it. They build to some dropkicks and uppercuts, Fujinami hits a backdrop backbreaker and a dragon sleeper, and he wins with an abdominal stretch into a pin.

 

This was a nifty exhibition, and it showcased Fujinami in his element (this is in contrast to the next match, where we'll see him struggle to work with Ric Flair). It's an odd thing to include on NJPW World, but I stopped trying to make sense of that months ago.


In Topic: Tatsumi Fujinami

08 May 2018 - 09:45 AM

THE BIG BANG VADER VS TATSUMI FUJINAMI 2/9/1989
 
We're back in the early days of Vader - he has his steaming headgear and his Brad Rheingans, and he's not very good.
 
This is a solid enough match, but all I can see is the missed opportunities. They repeatedly almost build to a big heated babyface comeback, and then they just stall out. For example, there's a brawl outside the ring. This is pretty far into the match, so everyone (including me) thinks the countout is coming, and Fujinami gets a big pop when he rolls Vader back in. He lets out a fighting spirit yell and heads in to really take it to his opponent!
 
Except he doesn't. He climbs through the ropes like it's his first time, half-heartedly clubs Vader on the back, and calls a spot. Crowd (including me) deflated.
That’s not the only example. Fujinami’s comebacks throughout the match just don’t land owing to poor execution and timing. It’s clear that he’s leading Vader by the hand through this, but even dealing with the rookie, I’m surprised he can’t build to much.
 
I went back through the Vader matches I’d watched before this, and I was pleased to see that this confirmed my prior thoughts. Vader became good at some point between February 9 and April 24 1989. His April match with Fujinami is super rad; in everything before that, he’s OK and has decent matches, but there’s always something he screws up.
 
In this one, it’s a spot where he whips Fujinami into the corner and charges after him. Fujinami gets his boots up, but Vader just charges through it and whomps him anyway. That’s actually pretty cool, but the problem is that after their sojourn to the outside, they come in and redo it. This time, Vader makes damn sure he eats the kick by tiptoeing up to Fujinami like a ballerina and then flinging himself backwards.
 
In general, he lacks any kind of flow on offense. It all feels very abrupt.
 
That’s not to say that there’s not good stuff. I love his clubbing punches, and Fujinami is really good at taking Vader’s clotheslines. We get a near finish as Vader hoists Fujinami for a vertical suplex, but the smaller man drops behind, procures a sleeper and then upgrades it into a dragon sleeper. Vader’s in trouble, but he gets out of it by punching Fujinami in the damn face.
 
He even goes to the top and proves he’s a better man than Bigelow by not falling off but instead throwing his bulk into a standing Fujinami and landing on his feet. This gets less of a pop than I would have expected – the crowd in general is subdued, and the herky-jerkiness of the pacing doesn’t improve matters.
 
Vader wins after a clothesline and then bellows into the mic about wanting a title shot (Fujinami was the champ, but this was non-title).


In Topic: The Pro-wrestling Curve of Attractiveness

01 May 2018 - 06:37 PM

McIntyre's face is too small for his head.

In Topic: Tatsumi Fujinami

26 April 2018 - 11:10 PM

Tatsumi Fujinami on the WWE Network Gaiden concludes with...

Ric Flair vs. Tatsumi Fujinami (WCW SuperBrawl 5/19/1991)

 

This follows some kind of disputed finish between these two in Japan, which we'll get to pretty soon once we return to our regularly-scheduled NJPW World programming.

 

Fujinami enters preceded by some uncomfortable-looking women in geisha robes sprinkling flowers in front of him to thunderous applause from . . . some dudes with signs in Japanese yelling his name? Dusty or somebody must have given them those signs and told them to cheer for the Japanese guy, right? Unless St. Petersburg has a bunch of white wrestling fans who pretend to be Japanese. That'd just be pathetic.

 

Flair's entrance is possibly even dumber, as a chef and a butler and a maid and someone else come out (and stand around for a while since they mistimed it) and wait for Flair to hand off his watch. WCW in 1991 is looking pretty low-rent.

 

So what we get here is a good Ric Flair match with Fujinami as a mildly involved bystander. I can see how people get tired of Flair's formula, and if I watched three of these in a row I probably would be too. But it's been a nice long time since I'd seen a Flair match, so this was a lot of fun. The chops, the theatrical selling, the kneedrop . . . meanwhile, I couldn't tell you anything Fujinami did except screw up a couple times.

 

Speaking of screw ups, I'm going to give an extra shout-out to the Nature Boy here. Having bladed, he goes for an Oklahoma roll and misses. Instead of trying it again, he acts like the blood in his eyes caused the misfire. Very clever.

 

Also worth a shout is Dusty Rhodes on color commentary. I'm familiar with his work later in the decade when he'd continually ignore what was going on in the ring to babble about whatever terrible main event WCW was going to subject us to. He was just great here, his trademark Dustyisms mixed in with good strategic insights. Most of it was about how much everyone's back hurts, but it gave the match a real sports feel.

 

The finish comes when Flair kicks out of a sloppy rollup attempt, sending Fujinami noggin-first into Tiger Hattori. Flair then grabs the tights and trouble-shooting referee Bill Alphonso makes the count. 

 

It is certainly bizarre to have Tatsumi Fujinami main event an American pay-per-view in 1991, but the match was pretty good. It dragged a bit, and once again Fujinami was overhadowed by his opponent, but it could have been worse. The next WWF PPV had Hogan and Warrior vs. Iraqis as a main event.