the thing about Jumbo is how he was able to grow with the times. Him and Fujinami are similar in how they both adapted to the changing winds. Fujinami went from the best junior to excellent tag machine to top heavyweight throughout the decade, never missing a step. Jumbo worked the style of the times in the 70s, 80s and into the 90s without missing a beat. Matwork and world title matches? Check. Wild bloody brawls? Check? Stiff, violent main events? Check. Great tag wrest;er? Check. He was also great in his role as ace and as Baba's second. Jumbo played the role he needed to play in all phases of his career INCLUDING opening old geezer before he passed.
Posted 01 October 2014 - 02:54 PM
I have been filling in lots of early 90s viewing gaps over the last week and I have to say that I really prefer the way Jumbo worked as an ace in tag matches to the way Misawa worked as an ace in tag matches. Jumbo made saves, but I have yet to see him act as heavy-handed as Misawa does when he comes in and does all the work before dragging the guy to his corner and tagging himself in. Jumbo sort of forces Taue to fight his battles, but he's incredibly supportive from the apron. Misawa is almost condescending by comparison.
Posted 01 October 2014 - 03:03 PM
I always liked Misawa's approach to those situations. Early in the match, he let his partner feast or famine. But when it came down to winning or losing, he wasn't going to let some other asshole set the scene. Didn't you ever feel that way with less capable co-workers?
Posted 01 October 2014 - 03:04 PM
Haha, absolutely. That's probably why I never made it out of the middle of the card. Misawa is the manager that has trouble delegating where Jumbo trusts his team to do what he assigned.
Posted 01 October 2014 - 07:12 PM
Posted 01 October 2014 - 08:12 PM
Posted 17 November 2014 - 11:55 PM
The reason I've always ranked Jumbo over Misawa is in the way Jumbo works with lower-ranked workers. Simply put, Misawa didn't *work* with them. He just let them tee off on him for 9/10 of the match, and then took it home when he was ready. Taiyo Kea in '98, Hiroshi Hase in 2000, Takuma Sano in 2003. Jumbo worked with them and made them look credible. I reviewed a bunch of Jumbo's AWA Title matches, both in Japan and the U.S. and he was going out of his way to make Jim Brunzell look like he was only an eyelash away from winning the title.
Posted 18 November 2014 - 03:10 AM
Posted 18 November 2014 - 07:29 AM
Jumbo was definitely better in the 70s than Misawa was as Tiger Mask, and by some margin. In fact, before he got ill, I'm willing to bet that you could find a ****+ match for every single year that Jumbo was an active member of the roster from 1973 to 1992.
Honestly you could probably do that for Misawa too for 1988-2009 minus maybe 1989.
Posted 18 November 2014 - 07:44 AM
Posted 18 November 2014 - 07:54 AM
No one will argue that Tiger Mask II is some great shakes and Jumbo in his 70's was better than Misawa as TM but that is not where the debate should only lie between those two. I think it should be more Jumbo 70's vs. Misawa 2000's and Misawa 1990's vs. Jumbo 1982 -1992. This would give a more accurate picture of them head to head. I was only pointing out that the second portion of the statement seemed to be leaning towards a longevity argument for Jumbo and that isn't the case in my opinion.
Posted 18 November 2014 - 08:54 AM
Misawa vs. Jumbo is so very close in terms of their great years and their off-years that it’s almost futile to argue. It really comes down to personal preference because they are so similar.
Jumbo was really good from the get go. Jumbo worked potential MOTYC’s against Brisco in 74, Baba in 75, Funk in ’76, Race and Mascaras in ’77. Misawa wasn’t a hit right off the bat but Jumbo’s greatness from the start is more of an outlier of how great he was, rather than a detriment to Misawa’s career.
Jumbo goes missing, at least for me, in the early 80’s. He has some good matches but nothing that stands out like those matches from the 70’s. It’s not the Meltzer argument “Jumbo was lazy” more than it was the style All Japan was working in the early 80’s. Their really wasn’t much growth or change from the late 70’s until Choshu arrived in December ’84. The style felt static. It wasn’t as bad as modern day WWE (which can be tediously static week in, week out) but it wasn’t great.
Misawa’s early years as Tiger Mask II weren’t great in the context of the time period and certainly don’t hold water today. But once he unmasks, he takes a huge leap forward in quality. Part of that is being able to work with Jumbo and Fuchi night in and night out and part was being surrounded by hungry young talent in Kawada, Kobashi, and Kikuchi.
By 1993, Misawa is clearly great and history underrates him slightly because Kawada and Kobashi just happened to start peaking around the same time, with different qualities from the stoic, “thinking” Misawa (Kobashi with his charisma and Kawada with his general character). From 93-98, is there a more consistent performer? Kobashi and Kawada aside, probably not. If we had Jumbo footage on a weekly basis from 1974-1979, he might give Misawa a run for a five year period of just phenomenal output but we don’t.
Both guys will make my top 20 and both will most likely be top 10 (and are probably on the short list as top 5 candidates).
Posted 18 November 2014 - 06:11 PM
I wanted to like Jumbo but didn't at first. I was used to watching Misawa and Kawada and was disappointed when he didn't match the big moves or 2.9999's. Then I realized, he was the smarter worker and didn't need to do all that. Now I probably enjoy him more.
Posted 19 November 2014 - 01:07 PM
Posted 19 November 2014 - 01:11 PM
"Accidental Smartness" sounds like a great buzz term for 2015.
Posted 20 November 2014 - 05:36 AM
The Jumbo/Tenryu series having less 2.9's, headdrops, etc has nothing to do worth them being smarter.
Care to elaborate on this?
Posted 20 November 2014 - 06:12 AM
Would you agree though that Jumbo was better pre-peak? Jumbo might well have a case for being a top 10 worker in the world for the 1970s, is anyone making a case for Tiger Mask II being a top 10 for the 80s?
What matches does Jumbo have in the 70s where he looks like a top 10 worker in the world? In the Brisco matches you reviewed he was inferior to Inoki and Baba.
Posted 20 November 2014 - 07:25 AM
Jack Brisco vs. Jumbo Tsuruta (01/30/74)
Jumbo is quite young here. Collar and eblow tieup to start, arm drag by Jumbo into an armbar. Bodyslam by Brisco but Jumbo gets in another armdrag and back into the armbar. The ref here looks like Big Al from Happy Days.
Back up to a vertical base and Jumbo tries to butterfly Brisco, but that's not happening so he goes back to the armbar. Brisco tries to get an armdrag in but it's reversed and Jumbo goes back to the armbar. Back up to a vertical base and this turns round now into a wristlock which Jumbo wrenches. Brisco gets in a desperation sunset flip, but Jumbo goes back into the armbar. He picks Brisco up by the arm while still in "the bar" and slams him down on the canvas. This is some nasty matwork by Jumbo here that wouldn't be out of place in World of Sport. Finally Brisco turns it around into a chinlock, the way he wrenches on it is very reminiscent of Rick Martel. Somehow, Brisco looks like he's bleeding from the mouth, presumably hardway. Jumbo goes back into the armbar but Brisco gets a pumphandle slam to counter. Into a standing hammerlock from Jumbo now and then what looks like a cross-face chickenwing. But Brisco regains advantage and targets the legs now with knee drops. He grapevines them and as he does so punches the leg Billy-Robinson-style. He leans back extremely deeply on this grapevine. Snapmare by Brisco, but Jumbo gets in a backslide and a big two big bodydslams. Elbow drop. Second one misses and that allows Brisco to get in a backbreaker for the first fall.
Brisco applies a headlock and smashes Jumbo across the back of the neck with elbows. He responds with a shinbreaker and now attacks Brisco's leg with kneedrops and a bridging Indian deathlock, now he gets up and falls back on it. You might call that the influence of Dory Funk Jr. Brisco tries to comeback but Jumbo decks him in the gut and then sweeps rounds into a grapevine on the injured leg. Brisco backs up and more or less begs off as Jumbo fires up. Brisco's selling of this leg is great. Boston crab by Jumbo and the crowd are hot. Some European uppercuts from Jumbo now and the commentators namecheck Dory Funk Jr. Jumbo hits the butterfly suplex. Belly-to-belly suplex! That gets 3 for 1-1.So far during this match, Jumbo has decimated Brisco's arm, taken out his leg, and now he's destroyed his back. This is a total body destruction approach from the young Tsuruta.
Jumbo goes straight after the injured back now with kicks and a slam. Camel clutch! Abdominal stretch. Somehow things get to the point where Jumbo is bridging back and Brisco is jumping on top of him. Big bearhug by Jumbo now and Brisco tries to punch his way out of it. He does so before hitting his own butterfly suplex. Backbreaker! Only gets two. Belly-to-back suplex by Jumbo!! Collision spot now and they are both down. Slugfest and Jumbo hits a dropkick. Second time and Brisco grabs the rope, he came off as being a bit Lou Thesz-ish there. Jumbo gets in a roll up but Brisco reverses it for three.
Before giving my views on this match, I just want to say a couple of things about each guy. I know this thread is about Brisco, but Jumbo -- who is still in my view Flair's only challenger for #1 -- can lay claim something that Flair can't: mastery of the 70s style. This match saw Jumbo-as-Dory-Funk-Jr, we never get a Flair version of that to my knowledge. Another thing is that Flair doesn't have matches as good as this one on his resume as early as 1974. These are both things in Jumbo's favour in that comparison.
What about Brisco? If this saw Jumbo-as-Dory, this was Brisco-as-Thesz. He was kind of working subtle heel, kinda, and this was very much a case of young fire vs experience and ring savvy. But the main takeways would be that Brisco absolutely his arse off here to make Jumbo looks as great as possible in front of his own crowd. Jumbo eats up a good 80% of this match on offense, and Brisco's selling is great, whether it's the arm, the leg, or the back. Whether it's selling a hold or bumping big from a throw. More evidence, I think, that Brisco really could "do it all".
So what about the match? Psychology, pschology, pscyhology. Jumbo's offense was assassin-like: target arm, destroy arm; target leg, destroy leg; target back, destroy back. This is exhibit A in that arguent about whether or not a guy should just stick to one body part or start going after different areas. I see no problem in that at all, and Brisco is just so good at selling that he remembers the arm during the second fall, even though his leg is being worked over, and then he remembers the leg during the third fall. My main criticism of this match -- and it's a typical one from me -- is that this is all a bit too one-sided. Jumbo dominates all three falls, and Brisco is getting his falls from opportunistic reversals or quick counters. It's more of a booking philosophy thing than anything, but I like to see babyfaces in peril and showing vulnerability a little more than we see from Jumbo here. This is a very good match, excellent even, and a great demonstration of what I'd call the "70s style", but it falls short of greatness for me because in a 2 out of 3 falls match for the NWA title that goes 30 minutes, you'd expect a bit more parity. Psychology was great, but not convinced about the structure. It's also a little bit sedate, by which I mean lacking in heat and a little intensity.
Harley Race vs. Jumbo Tsuruta. (6/11/77)
Back in All Japn now and Race is the champ. Great mutton lamb-chop sideburns and NO moustache, looks like his gut is smaller than usual here and that he's bulked up in the chest and arms. Jumbo is rocking 70s lego hair. Jim Barnett is there looking ANCIENT, he holds up the NWA belt for all to see.
Superb arm drag by Jumbo, he got the depth of Steamboat there. Race comes back by attempting an atomic drop, but Jumbo rolls out. Bodyslam by Race now. Jumbo answers with one of his own and then an arm drag. Nice "anything you can do I can do better" opening.
Jumbo works Race's arm. But Race comes back with a side salto suplex. Jumbo goes back to the arm and jumps down on it as if he were Bob Backlund. He pulls on the arm. Jumbo appears to be sweating profusely.
Race comes back with a backbreaker but it only gets 2 and Jumbo gets a slam. He goes for a butterfly suplex but Race blocks it. Jumbo struggles with him for the suplex, but Race isn't budging. Still he tries again ... no cigar. Race from that position starts battering ramming Jumbo. Lovely counter.
Front facelook on the mat now by Race. He uses his body to fall on top of it to give the hold his full weight. Pretty good. I like the fact he can make the front facelock an impact move. He goes for a vertical suplex but Jumbo counters it into a slam. Criss-cross now. TIGER KNEE! Jumbo hits his signiture knee lift and NOW he goes for the butterfly suplex and gets the three count for the first fall. I thought that first fall told a beautiful story of struggle, attrition and Jumbo overcoming the blocks Race was putting in his way. Both men with a basic gameplan that they are trying to pursue at all costs: Jumbo working Race's arm, Race working Jumbo's neck and face area.
Race starts out on top now and hits a series of spots culiminating in another side salto suplex. Jumbo comes back with a snap mare but misses the elbow. NASTY knee drop by Race now. And again. Right across the temple. Snap suplex by Race now floated over into a front facelock again with the impact drops. I like the fact he's going back to his basic gameplan now.
Small package by Jumbo only gets one. Falling headbutts by Race now. Gets two. Jumbo manages to get Race in a hammerlock. He's still working that same arm he has been all match. Jumbo is dropping his weight on this hammerlock in a similar way to Race was with the facelock earlier. Now he gets him in a wish bone wing with a knee in Race's back. Both guys are sweating their arse's off at this point. Race comes back with some strikes and a knee lift and drops an elbow for two. Big fist. Jumbo misses a charge into the turnbuckle. BRAINBUSTER! BRAINBUSTER! I love it when the Japanese commentators do that. Race changes gears now and gets Jumbo in a leglock, the one where he falls back to give it leverage. He falls back four or five times and this is enough to make Jumbo submit for the second fall. Excellent match so far, hope this third fall lives up to what has preceded.
Race starts the third fall by attacking Jumbo's injured leg. Kneebreaker. And now a leglock. Jumbo is able to counter and now starts busting out the strikes and a suplex! Cover gets two. BIG dropkick by Jumbo. He goes for a second by Harley parries it away. He goes back to the front facelock now. Hmmm, didn't fancy the leg anymore?
Up into a headlock now and Jumbo is able to suplex Race from that position. Anothe nearfall. Flying lariat from Jumbo takes Race over but he's injured himself. Gets on an abdominal stretch now. He's got the leg hooked in and everything. Race comes back and hits a falling headbutt. Goes to the top, but Jumbo catches him and slams him from it. Goes for a bodypress but Race gets the knees up. Bodyslam by Race. Bodyslam by Jumbo. Jumbo goes for the running knee but misses and Harley rolls him up into an inside cradle for the three count.
This is a terrific match that I'd give about a ****1/2, the third fall doesn't quite ramp up into overdrive as much as I'd like but despite that this is really well worked. Recommended for anyone to watch.
Terry & Dory Funk Jr. vs. Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta (11/30/79)
Dory's stubble has become a beard by this point. Maybe they didn't stock the razor blades he likes in Japan. It's probably the best look for him.
Funks work over Jumbo to start. As the match settles down Dory applies a headlock. A few strikes and uppercuts and he tags out. Test of strength spot between Terry and Jumbo now, and Jumbo powers Terry down into a headlock but Terry counters with a back suplex and tags out. Dory with uppercuts now and back into the headlock. Doesn't stay in it long though before a vertical suplex which he hits and tags out. Terry now with a snapmare and a cover, for two. The Funks have cut the ring in two here. Quick tags in and out. Dory's back in and goes back to the headlock. Now in fairness to him, he hasn't once during this match so far or, indeed, in almost 3 hours of watching Dory matches now, just sat in such a headlock. He really hasn't. In this match he's been quick to trade up to high spots, in the others he's barely done any headlocks. Thus far, much more interesting in this regards than, let's say, Bob Backlund. He goes for his double underhook suplex but Jumbo counters. He tags out but the Japanese have the advantage now and Baba tags in and works over Terry. Flair flip in the corner. Watching this, it's occurred to me that one aspect of Dory that people don't talk about much is his selling ... and in particular his bumping -- he doesn't do a lot of it. Terry is a much more dramatic and dynamic seller and bumper, closer to Race or Flair. Dory is not like that and I'd put him closer to a Backlund. You're not going to see Dory pinballing around the ring for an opponent, it's not his style, but it is one reason, I think, why fans of a later generation don't take to him as well. We're used to seeing great workers be big bumpers, so when a guy like Dory isn't, perhaps subconsciously it registers that there's something he's not doing. He's good at selling a hold or being choked, or a punch, but is much less inclined to give you a lot when he's taking a high spot, and certainly we don't see him doing Flair flips in the turnbuckle as Terry has just done in this match.
Baba applies an abdominal stretch on Terry. Jumbo in with uppercuts now. And now he gets the abdominal stretch on. Terry's arm is like a limp noodle. Jumbo goes into a front chinlock now and turns it into a camel clutch. They haven't sat in any hold longer than about 20 seconds in this match. It's zipping along at a lively pace. As I say that, Jumbo does sit in this camel clutch for a while! Sod's law. Terry tries to get to his corner by crawling and walking Jumbo's feet like a doll. Quite comical. Eventually he gets a headbutt in but Jumbo stays on top and lays in some stiff chops. Baba back in with the abdominal stretch. Terry hits a punch but Baba has cut the ring off here. Back to the abdominal stretch. Baba hits a big boot and tags in Jumbo. Single leg takedown by Terry and SPINNING TOEHOLD-AH, SPINNING TOEHOLD-AH! Dory tags in. Was that the first fall? I'm not sure, but Terry and Jumbo shake hands nonetheless.
Hiptoss by Jumbo, backslide by Dory gets two. Some neat counter-hold stuff going on now involving the arm. Clean break. Headlock takeover by Dory. Headscissors by Jumbo. Dory bridges out up and over. Jumbo gets a backslide. This is exhibition-type stuff but supremely smooth -- you don't see many guys in the 80s, especially from the US who can do that stuff in their sleep like Dory can. Baba tags in. Twiglet-arm headlock on Dory, who powers out of it with a back suplex. He covers, Jumbo sneaks in to break the cover which pisses Terry off. Snapmare by Dory. Elbow drop and he tags out. Terry with the swivel-boot on the face. Legdrop. Dory back in. Bodyslam. Elbowdrop. Two count. Headlock takeover. Up to a vertical base. Baba hits a dropkick! Rick Rude neckbreaker. Two count. Jumbo in. The big jumping knee. Gets two. Abdominal stretch by Jumbo now. Dory hip-tosses out of it and tags in Terry. Action goes outside, but they get back in soon enough.
Vertical suplex from the apron by Terry, some delay on that too. "Brainbaster! Brainbaster!" Big atomic drop on the outside by Terry on Jumbo. He seems hurt and Baba goes over to check on him. Terry bobs and weaves in the ring. Rights and lefts now on Jumbo. Tags in Dory. And NOW the delayed double-underarm suplex. What a beautiful move that is! Crowd pops. Piledriver by Dory now. Cover gets two. European uppercut, but Jumbo comes back with chops and whips Dory into Baba's knee. Tags out. Double big boot on Dory. This is some hot action right here.
Terry in and a collision with Baba sends him wobbly legged over the top rope. Big boot by Baba. Side Russian legsweep. Piledriver. Terry is swinging wildly now, but Baba holds him at bay and sends him down. Jumbo in. Piledriver. That's two Terry has taken now. He's got his leg on the rope so it's two. Piledriver?!! No. Terry prevents it and starts with the Texas punches. Misses a big left and Jumbo goes for a Boston crab. Synches it in but Terry gets out, flipped over into a pin attempt for two. Big chop by Terry, and again. Slugfest now. Jumbo goes for the butterfly, but Terry tags in Junior. Dory goes to the headlock and hits a shoulderblock. Rope running now and Dory suckers Jumbo into attempting a big dropkick. He misses it because Dory holds onto the rope and ... SPINNING TOEHOLD-AH, SPINNING TOEHOLD-AH! Baba is forced to come in and boot Dory to the face, but the damage has been done. Dory snaps on the tendon and tags Terry in. SPINNING TOEHOLD-AH, SPINNING TOEHOLD-AH! Jumbo must be in agony. Baba comes in to break the hold again. Dory comes in now. SPINNING TOEHOLD-AH, SPINNING TOEHOLD-AH! Baba with the boot. Jumbo's leg is done here. Baba is in though and tries to cover Dory, only two. Slugfest now. But single leg takeover by Dory. SPINNING TOEHOLD-AH, SPINNING TOEHOLD-AH! Jumbo gets on the top rope to hit an elbow but the bell goes. Did Baba submit? The ref calls for a time out. And they shake hands again. What happened?
Either The Funks won in two straight falls both times with the spinning toehold, or it was just one fall and Babba tapped to Dory. Either way ...
This was a great match with some terrific action worked at a fine pace. Perhaps a little bit too "your turn, my turn" in places, it was at its best when Dory and Terry were on top working a classic US-style heat/FIP sequence. They were superb tagging in and out and Dory was particularly excellent when controlling and hitting his bombs. I think it's fair to say that as a tagteam, they are at their best either when Terry is selling, or when Dory is on top. Great match by anyone's standards though.
Still have Dory's single matches with Jumbo to watch. Think Jumbo is much more consistent than Inoki -- Inoki's match with Dory was boring as fuck. I'm not an Inoki guy and am lower on the Brisco match than both you and Pete are.
Baba can also be hit and miss. His second match with Race isn't that good, but I would have Baba above Jumbo for 70s workers.
Posted 20 November 2014 - 01:25 PM
Still having issues with the quoting function...
For the same reason that Destroyer/Baba, say, isn't a smarter match than Jumbo/Tenryu because "they didn't have to use powerbombs" - Misawa and Kawada were wrestling a later, more developed style, hence using more and/or bigger high spots. Matches don't come any more carefully (/"smartly") laid-out than the big Misawa/Kawada/Kobashi stuff.
Posted 20 November 2014 - 02:05 PM
What matches does Jumbo have in the 70s where he looks like a top 10 worker in the world? In the Brisco matches you reviewed he was inferior to Inoki and Baba.
How about Jumbo/Funk 6/11/76?
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