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Matt D

Member Since 15 Jul 2008
Online Last Active Today, 08:50 PM

Topics I've Started

Rick Rude, Terry Gordy, and Steve Williams, vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiki Kawada, and Ts...

10 April 2018 - 06:35 AM

I consistently enjoy early 90s AJPW, far more than I enjoy mid or late 90s AJPW. If I ever free up some time, I'll dive deeper through those first few years of the decade. Some of it is excess, as in the style hadn't eaten its own tail and force increasing levels of escalation upon itself. Some of it is that it can fly closer to the ground, closer to more traditional pro wrestling. That's not to say you have that with 80s AJPW tags, though, which are generally amorphous attempts at one-upmanship. There's a sweet spot of a few years where maybe the way the style was progressing allowed it a bit more. I don't know. I'd be curious to find out.


Here is an example of that, though. The foreigners were undeniably working as heels. Some of that was because Rick Rude who is the heel of all heels was in there. I had no idea what he was doing in between the end of his WWF run and showing up at Halloween Havoc 1991. Apparently it was this. He's a weirdly natural fit with Gordy and Williams, undeniably triple-tough, but also cartoony in a way that helped bring out their natural over-the-top nature. He was something fresh and enjoyably out of place down to the announcer going nuts as he opened the robe.


I really enjoyed the layout for two reasons. First, a huge chunk of this was heat on Kawada (Kikuchi, who you'd expect in that role, was barely a factor in the match, weirdly enough). The Americans cut off the ring, kept working Kawada back into their corner, built up the tension. It's a formula you don't see all the time in AJPW and you half think it wouldn't work, but here it did. Every time they did something underhanded or that frustrated the crowd somehow, booing would break out a chant would start for the native wrestler. Second, this ended like a lucha trios in a way that you don't often see outside of lucha. Despite everything else that was happening, Misawa and Gordy were treated like captains of their respective teams. The match was ultimately heading to the two of them facing off, presumably to set up a future match (one that I'd be happy to track down at some point). It was an environment where Gordy could get the pinfall without some of the same costs/implications of a big singles match. 


I really do need to see more 91 AJPW.



Nick Bockwinkel vs Andre the Giant (11/10/82, AWA - Winnipeg)

02 April 2018 - 11:24 AM

We had 6 minutes of this before. Now we have the full ~20. I had seen 82 Andre in NJPW lately so my hopes were probably a bit too high. This is still very good for what it tried to be. It was a perfectly logical story. For the first act, Andre controlled as Bockwinkel tried to make the gloating most of every chance at an advantage only to get overpowered and forced to retreat. The second third came on a fun transition (Bockwinkel getting his knee up on the corner butt ram), and consisted of him working on the back long enough to lock in the dreaded Singapore Sleeper. While I'm sure Bockwinkel's facial expressions were great enough to carry this for the live crowd, and while they did work in and out of it to a degree, sometimes in clever ways, the camera angle didn't give us the most here and this felt like laying around more than it should have. It was obvious Bockwinkel knew what he was working with and both men knew how to make the most of it though. There's almost no one in wrestling that can just wrap one leg around the other and warrant such selling like Andre. So much of what made the Bock vs Martel series (for instance) work was the multiple camera angles that let you in to see the selling on holds. While the VQ is fine here, we didn't have that and the match suffered for it. In the end (your third act, including the post-match), Andre got out, Larry Hennig (special ref) got involved, and after some Heenan Family shenanigans, the crowd got sent home happy with the babyfaces standing tall. Very good stuff but maybe not great stuff. 

Atsushi Onita vs Leon Spinks (FMW, 05/24/92)

26 March 2018 - 11:45 AM

This is one I probably wouldn't have ended up watching if it wasn't suggested to me. I like Onita. Even more than Onita himself, I like the idea of Onita: classically trained, Memphis-honed, charismatic, over the top, unchained spectacle, a creator of moments and possibilities. Spinks is not heavily on my radar. Past a year of watching Tuesday Night Fights on USA as an 11 year old, Boxing's never been my thing. I get the idea of a limited outsider with a faded but still viable name value and a very specific skillset. 


This was pure, beautiful simplicity. Spinks punches Onita. Onita falls. Onita bleeds. Onita gets back up. Spinks punches him again. Onita falls. Onita barely makes the count. This repeats and repeats and repeats until the crowd, their hearts moved by Onita's selling and his resilience, start chanting his name. Then, in desperation, he dives across the ring for a clothesline instead of eating another punch. It doesn't work the first time, but it does the second. This lets him turn the tide. Spinks had waited for the ten count, had let Onita get back up. He's a boxer. Onita's a wrestler. That means that he picks up Spinks to control the moment and keep the momentum. He uses the cage for a DDT (probably too over the top), hits him with some suplexes that Spinks takes bravely, and finishes him with two attempts at a submission. 


It's basic, it's primal, it gets Onita over as warrior. It keeps Spinks' heat since he lost mainly because he fought a wrestling match like a boxer. Spinks gets a payoff. Onita beats a legit fighter. The crowd goes home happy. Everyone wins. Wrestling is the best.

El Faraon vs El Satanico (CMLL, 6/30/89)

18 March 2018 - 07:50 PM

Apparently Faraon was a tecnico here but you wouldn't know it. This was a heated (stakeless) mano a mano match. Structure was Satanico taking over in the primera with a beatdown into the segunda, Faraon coming back at the end of that, and then getting his revenge into the tecera until they went towards the finish. Satanico's beatdown was as good as it ever was. He's the best heel in the history of wrestling after all. Faraon wrestled dirty for the most part, trading nasty tactic for nasty tactic with Satanico. Most of the main transitions were due to the ref getting involved which is never ideal. Despite being gritty, this still felt "big" with big whiffs at certain points. Faraon's Slam/Senton/Mecedora was a cool sequence. They were playing for the back rows even if they were plenty mean about it. I liked the parallel spots but they would have made more sense if Faraon was a rudo. Satanico was having matches like this every week for decades on end. That we don't have more of them readily available is a travesty. The foul on the finish was so good I wish he had gotten away with it. Only Satanico.

Bob Esponja, Lady Maravilla, Patricio Estrella vs Buzz Lightyear, Chelly Rock, Sky Kid...

27 February 2018 - 08:20 AM

Just to make this crystal clear, Patricio Estrella is Patrick the Starfish and Bob Esponja is Spongebob Squarepants. Buzz Lightyear is Buzz Lightyear, yes. And this was lucha, big and broad, with mean punches and all sorts of antics. Some things are just so universal. The tecnicos controlled the primera. The rudos took over in a great way. There was a bit of miscommunication leading into the tercera and a bunch of holds and breakups before they went into the dives and a final match up. It was lucha. 


Some things worked. I loved how open and huge they had to be with the throws and rope running because of the suits. They were playing to the very last row of an arena, just in front of a crowd of thirty or whatever. Patricio bumped awesomely, really making the most out of the suit and the visual. Sky Kid's punches were appropriately mean. Maravilla seemed competent enough. The one or two real exchanges between Buzz and Bob were legit good. 


Some things REALLY worked. The Bob dive tease right before the transition was so good that I was frustrated when Sky Kid cut it off. The transition, with him hitting one of the best low blows I've ever seen from a prone position was hilarious and will stick with me. I liked the mauling out of the ring (and the squashing of Patricio's face). The tecnico comeback was fine and came due to the Buzz costume getting in Sky Kid's way which was clever-seeming even if unintended (who knows). The Buzz dive was tremendous, as was his To Infinity and Beyond finish in the segunda.


Some things didn't work. Chelly was the worst, just miserable. They never paid off the Bob dive tease. I wanted more rudo miscommunication comedy at the end instead of just breaking up holds. This would have been better in 1988 (which is a notion I have a lot of times watching matches like these.).


Anyway, it's worth watching for the novelty.