Stan Hansen Vs Carlos Colon by Linus
Just a note before we start: while I was fast-forwarding through to this particular match, I caught sight of the one preceding it. Answer me this: is wrestling the only place in the world that a Sheikh, two Samoans & a Nazi biker hang out together?
Anyhow, this is for the WWC Universal Title, sometime in the 80s. I'd tell you exactly when & where, especially as there seems to be a title change, but the records are blank. Blank, I tell you! I don't think it matters too much. All you need to know is that it's the 1980s, wrestling was still SUPER FUCKING HOT in Puerto Rico, and Stan Hansen is one bad motherfucker.
Okay, Colon is already in the ring when the clip starts. He's billed as Carlito Colon, which is odd seeing as how he's already in his late 30s (I'd guess) by the time of this match. Ehh. He is wearing a fetching blue singlet. Colon was one of those guys who you knew who he was and that he was important, and kinda why he was important, without ever seeing anything - or anything good - of his work. I guess you don't get to headline a successful (note to Jarrett, I said successful) territory for so long without having something.
Hansen storms to the ring and climbs straight in. The announcers are babbling at ten to the dozen so I can't hear his music. This makes me sad. Stan's not even halfway through the ropes before he's attacking poor Carlos. He's still wearing his chaps. I never thought a man could look anything other than G.A.Y. in chaps and all that cowboy gear, but I was wrong. There should be more cowboys in wrestling. And real ones, not just ones who hold the name hostage. Yes, I'm looking at you, James Storm. Drop and give me ten. Ten, erm, cow-ups.
So Stan's on top of Colon, wailing away with his fists, forearms and bullrope. The referee - as is his wont - tries to stop Mr Hansen so that, you know, the match can actually start, but Stan Hansen is too tough for such formalities, and wails on the ref, too, with a couple of lovely forearms. He then throws the interfering do-gooder out of the ring.
And goes out after him, still beating on him.
If I'd never seen Stan Hansen before, it would be at this point that he became my favourite wrestler of all time.
Hansen then drags poor Carlos (who really ought to have billed as such "hailing from Puerto Rico. poor Carlos Colon!") around the floor, stopping to jaw with, threaten & kick mouthy locals, breaking a table to use the sharp remnants on his hapless opponent, and starting on ARMED soldiers that are working as security.
Yes, I know that wrestling isn't real, but this is the Caribbean, where life is cheap and trigger fingers are itchy. Ric Flair once told a tale of fleeing for his life from Trinidad over a wrestling match. They're hardcore down there, don't you know. Fuck South Philly.
Oh, look, a new referee. Well, Hansen broke the last one.
Back in the ring, this is getting unbelievable heat. It's such an unreal spectacle. An out of shape, grizzly American, beating on a poor local boy, as the fans go apeshit and armed soldiers patrol the perimeter of the ring. If someone can tell me why wrestling isn't the greatest thing in the world when you can see stuff like this, I'd really like to know.
Colon makes a brief comeback, throwing a back elbow out of nowhere, but Hansen cuts him off with a vicious headbutt or two - which he sells himself. That's how vicious they were. These things are so simple to do. Why don't more people do them?
More thuggish beatery ensues, with Hansen on top the whole time. Telling the story of the underdog champion out of his depth against the marauding foreign invader. No flip flops, no MOVES~!, just honest-to-goodness storytelling in the squared circle.
A Hansen charge into the corner is met with a desperate boot to the face by Colon, and he makes a comeback with FIRE~!, only to be cut off by a nasty kick to the face from Hansen, who then hits the LARIATO~! For the 1-2. pull-up! Hansen's not done.
But Colon is back on top, dropkicking Hansen to the outside, and then dragging him around the perimeter of the ring, in a great revenge spot for Hansen's earlier transgression. More great storytelling. He doesn't attack any soldiers, though, and this makes him a clear loser in anyone's book.
Back in the ring, Colon hits his trademark GAY~! Cartwheel, a backdrop, some punches and a BITE~!, a BITE~! to the forehead. You see, Hansen is such a nasty, bad man that Colon has had enough, resorting to heel tactics because HE'S BEEN PUSHED TOO FAR!!! Never, under any ordinary circumstances, would he do this, but Hansen has pushed him to it, and the crowd are behind him all the way. He even does the Flair foul. He's been pushed, I tell ya!!!
Colon backs Hansen into the corner and goes to whip him. Hansen blocks it, for no other reason than he appears to be fucked. Instead, Colon climbs up and wails on Hansen with punches, and then climbs back down and still wails on him. Unfortunately, he catches the ref on a backswing, and the poor official goes down, allowing Al Perez (no, me either) to sneak to ringside and hand Hansen some brass knucks.
Hansen uses them for the knockout punch, a revived punch counts 1-2-3, and Hansen is announced as "el nuevo campeon de Universal!"
You know, this match had nothing more elaborate than a bodyslam, and yet it's a consummate example of how to work a great professional wrestling match. Would-be wrestlers everywhere need to see it. I'd love to be in the crowd for something like this, but it's unlikely anyone would ever want to or be able to promote at such intensity, which is a sad, sad thing indeed.
Still, there's always Arena Mexico.
Kenta Kobashi vs Yoshihiro Takayama - NOAH 25/4/04 by Martin Wickham
After two GHC Title defences against Takuma Sano and Takeshi Rikio where there was little doubt about who was going over, this provided a very real possibility of an end to Kenta Kobashi's near 14 month stranglehold on the GHC strap. The people knew it as well, hence an absolutely nuclear Budokan was on hand for this absolute epic. When the bell rang and a massive "Ko-ba-shi" rang out, you knew it would be something to behold. Neither man disappoints either.
The opening exchanges are equal, both men powerful sluggers and all, but Takayama soon exploits Kobashi's geriatric knees, with the kicks he threw at aging them by about another 15 years in 3 minutes. Takayama takes his attack further though, as he eventually switches to Kobashi's lariat arm, which is both a) unprotected by padding, and b) a major weapon for a guy who uses hard chops and a lariat as his finisher. Kobashi sells like death of course, and even pulls back when Takayama trys to pick him up by said arm, which in US indys would lead to cross-armed signs by referees and all sorts of angle-related shenanigans. It also leads to problems when Kobashi reverts to second nature by twatting Tak with a running right-arm lariat on the outside, and hurts himself just as much as his opponent.
As we hit the final straight, Kobashi is perhaps in the biggest danger if his title reign, with his knees attacked, and his lariat somewhat nullified by Takayama's power and brawn, the real possibility is there of a title change. The crowd know it as well. Takayama keeps up the pressure until a running knee attack in the corner is caught by Kobashi, but struggles to capitalise...
Ah fuck it. Nothing I type is going to capture how out and out fucking great this match really is. Takayama delivers a performance of sheer force and brutality, that puts the fans firmly behind Kobashi as he struggles to keep his title. Kobashi plays his role as uber-babyface brilliantly, and without the crybaby histronics of past years. As Takayama unleashes the barrage of knee kicks and German suplexes, each escape from Kobashi is cheered louder and louder as he fights through moves that have put away so many luminaries in puroresu. Even a dragon suplex can't get Takayama the title. Finally, and with the fans at fever pitch, through all the pain he has absorbed, Kobashi is able to summon up another adrenaline to enable him to throw one lariat. But it isn't enough. A brainbuster that allowed him to beat Sano doesn't cut it either. With the Burning Hammer having being cut off earlier, there is only one move left, a move he hasn't used since his return due to his knees. The signal for the moonsault causes a mini-eruption, its execution (on Takayama's brick-beaten boat) allows Kenta Kobashi to do what seemed almost impossible at stages in the match, and retain the GHC Heavyweight Title.
Simply fucking awesome, and I am so aware this review doesn't do it justice. The end sees the best elements of All Japan's glory days in Budokan return for the night, with fans rushing to the front in a sea of emotion and fanaticism. I can only say to you, get hold of this match at any available opportunity. Kobashi's greatest defence (and I include the Akiyama match with that), and if Takayama is unable to return from his health issues, this stands as one of his greatest moments. My MOTY for 2004.
Osamu Nishimura vs Yuji Nagata (G1 Climax 2002) by $tew
First a little scene setting…
This is from 8 August 2002, from Day Five of the annual G1 Climax. Yuji Nagata is three months into his record-setting IWGP Title reign at this point in time, and is the defending G1 Climax champion, having defeated Keiji Mutoh in a blistering final in 2001… so he is very much the man of the hour in New Japan. The great hope to lead the promotion following the defection of Mutoh and Kojima to All Japan, if you will. However, after a good start to the tourney with wins over Chono & Suzuki, everything went wrong. A countout loss to Tadao Yasuda and a pinfall loss to Manabu Nakanishi later - and Nagata was staring down the barrel of a gun. Standing between Nagata and a place in the semi-finals of the tournament was Osamu Nishimura, still very much a midcard talent, but arguably the breakout star of the G1 Climax. Despite a shock loss to Kenzo Suzuki, Nishimura had picked up a win against Tadao Yasuda and taken both Manabu Nakanishi and Masahiro Chono to a draw. Both men entered the match poised on 4 points. With Chono safely through on 7pts and Nakanishi sitting on 5pts, it was do or die for both men. The important caveat fell in the favour of Nishimura, however, as he knew that while a draw would see himself, Nagata & Nishimura all tie for 5pts, Nagata would be eliminated by countback and a playoff would be forced between himself and his then tag team partner Nakanishi.
I never usually do this, but I actually sat down with a piece of paper and a pen beside me to watch this match, just in case I wanted to jot down any thoughts that I wanted to mention in this review. The piece of paper is still beside me as I type this up - and it remains completely blank. That’s the first sign of a truly great match.
Everybody who knows me knows I am a huge mark for Osamu Nishimura - and this was one of the matches which really hooked me into becoming a Muga nut. It’s amazing looking back at the match now, having seen dozens of Nishimura matches in the last couple of years, just how fantastic it still is. The match starts in true Johnny Saint/Jim Breaks style with hammerlocks, grovits and tests of strength. I am a sucker for this simple stuff, and Nishimura is the undisputed king of it in Japan. In an early part of the match, Nish consistently reverses Nagata’s reversal attempt on the grounded hammerlock by bridging over and spinning back around. Beautiful. Nagata, of course, is one of those guys who can practically match Nishimura move for move on the ground and the match continues along it’s simple, yet enthralling route until Nagata starts bringing the strikes. Nishimura knows he can’t stand toe to toe with Nagata’s kicks (although he has a damn good go with some pristine European Uppercuts) and uses DRAGON STYLE~ to take Nagata off his feet with the Dragon Screw Legwhip. From there, Nish works some leg grapevines and a Figure Four to little avail, before stepping up a gear, taking Nagata to the outside and going DARKSIDE on him. Yep, a good couple of years before Nishimura “snapped” in All Japan, he still knew how to bend the rules in his favour by dropping Nagata’s knee across the security barrier and using the steel ringpost. It’s all for naught, however - as Nagata is never going to tap to a submission hold. He’s Mr Saikyo, y’see! True enough, Nagata makes a comeback with a Nagata Lock (twisted figure four) as the clock ticks down into the final ten minutes. Seriously though… I heard ring announcer Hidekazu Tanaka call the time, and I was shocked to see that we were past the 20-minute mark. It seemed like less than 10~! Anyway, the time is against Nagata at this point as he knows that only a win will do, and that Nishimura had already gone to the 30-minute draw twice in the week already. The Nagata Lock can’t get the job done. Neither can the neck crank, nor even the Nagata Lock II (Crippler Crossface). In fact, if anything, Nishimura was getting stronger as the match progressed - still determined to fight to the end. The first near-fall of the match comes with about 20 minutes to go, but neither guy can get the three. Nagata calls on the big offence and hits an Exploder off the ropes… but it’s still not enough. With about three minutes to go, Nagata reverted back to the Nagata Lock II and pulled back so hard, it’s a wonder he didn’t pop Nishimura’s head off his shoulders… but Nishimura stubbornly refused to admit defeat and slid to the ropes. Nishimura’s last chance of the match was a grounded Cobra Twist pinfall attempt which managed a two - but Nagata slapped on a cross armbreaker… and the bell sounded for the time limit! Nishimura survived!!
Phew… what an exhausting match… and it surely seemed like the shortest 30-minute draw I’ve ever seen. This was prototype Nishimura - the perfect example of what makes Nishimura my favourite wrestler in the world. Style, technique, quiet determination - a gentleman in the ring - but with the heart of a lion and a mountain of determination. This was a HUGE result for Nishimura, who was in the midst of his first significant push. Remember - this was a 30-minute gut-out draw with the IWGP Champion! This was big time! He may have not claimed victory, but he claimed Nagata’s scalp by eliminating the defending G1 Champion with a Herculean performance in one of my favourite matches of 2002. The only downers? Well, in typical Nishimura style, he went on to top this career-best performance a mere two days later in a spectacular G1 Climax Semi-Final meeting with Yoshihiro Takayama
The only other negative?
Amazingly… no headstand!
Hulk Hogan Vs The Great Muta by Steve
I have to thank Si for picking this match for me – Shawn Michaels is my favourite wrestler ever but along with Sting and Yuji Nagata, Hulk Hogan and Great Muta (Keiji Muto – not Troy Enders or Johnny Stamboli!) are the two other wrestlers that make up my favourite 5 ever wrestlers. I’ve had this match for a few years now but like many hundred other wrestling tapes in the loft, I haven’t watched it yet!
This is a match I am very much looking forward to as I haven’t seen much of Hulk Hogan in Japan aside from some early 80s matches and the very over-rated match he had with Chono last year – like Rock v Hogan my ar$e! Hogan hasn’t wrestled many men of Muta’s size over his career as he seemed to concentrate more on battling monsters like ZEUS~! (like I wouldn’t find a way to get him a mention) and Andre. Even people like Savage and Perfect were quite a bit bigger than Muta was back then – only Kidman in WCW is around Muta’s size, and possibly even smaller, and that was an awful match that he had with Hulk Hogan. Still, I am a huge fan of both and if they both have their working boots on it could be awesome.
I’m not going to do a play-by-play style review because I can’t be bothered and I find those kinds of reviews very boring to read. I’ll be concentrating on the high and the low points (if any) of the match and what stood out for me. You also won’t find any snowflakes at the end of this review, you’ll get the gist of my opinion from what I say, there’s no need to get scientific with a little scorecard. So, on to the match – I’ll be back in a little bit!
It’s quite surreal watching NJPW and seeing Hulk Hogan walking to ring with his WWF World Heavyweight title round his waist – this puts the match between Wrestlemania IX and King of the Ring 1993. The crowd go absolutely nuts for Hogan as this brings a stark reminder of what a hot big arena crowd sounds like when business is hot. It’s a great contrast of characters as Muta is the wily and mysterious adversary to Hogan’s glitz and flamboyancy.
What is apparent straight away is that I have drastically overestimated the size difference between the two, as Hogan doesn’t tower over Muta like I had imagined he would do. Could it be that Hogan didn’t wear lifts so as not to make NJPW’s main star look like a Lilliputian?
As the match starts I almost have to pinch myself at the style Hogan is wrestling as he uses submissions and takedowns to subdue and frustrate Muta. Hulk is a completely different wrestler to the Immortal Hulk Hogan I saw at Wrestlemania IX just a few weeks before this match – it’s good to see he didn’t forget everything Hiro Matsuda taught him.
Keiji Muto is an absolute genius in his role as Great Muta, with some of the best facials, mannerisms and actions in pro wrestling history. His nonchalance and arrogance can easily irk you but then you watch as he displays unparalleled grace and stealth with precision timing and execution and you can’t help but love the guy. There are a few wrestlers that try to imitate him, like Low Ki, but there really is nobody like Keiji Muto in his Great Muta guise – he’s an exceptional one of a kind and someone that I never get bored of watching.
While Hulk surprises me with his rare display of mat wrestling it is Muta who has me marking out in the match. The first ‘Muta Moment’ is when he runs the whole length of the entrance ramp, turns and runs back at full speed (imagine being 8 and running in the sprint on sports day – that’s the effort put into Muta’s run to the ring) to clothesline Hogan over the top rope and into the ring. Muta sails over the top rope with him and they both end up with a hand caught between the middle and top ropes. Whether that was intentional or not it worked, and looked great.
The next ‘Muta Moment’ is when the action has progressed into the crowd and Muta finds a rope ladder hanging down, presumably for climbing up the lighting rig or something to that effect. Anyway, he grabs the ladder, runs up the entrance ramp a little way and then swings over the crowd below to thwack Hogan in the head with his feet – not something you see every day!
The third ‘Muta Moment’ is when he kicks out of the legdrop! I think this happens because Hogan didn’t precede the legdrop with the Big Boot, and just as that thought is processing Hogan does indeed nail Muta with a Big Boot. However, Muta doesn’t go down and Hogan nails him with his Axe Bomber clothesline for the 1,2 and 3.
This was a good match while it lasted but I felt it was just getting going when it ended. This could easily have gone double the fifteen minutes it lasted and I have heard that they actually had two singles matches so if anyone can tell me when the second one took place I would be much obliged. Looking at the video sleeve, it appears this one took place on May 3rd 1993. The next match on the tape is Great Muta and Hulk Hogan teaming against The Hellraisers – I think my afternoon of Muta and Hogan in NJPW is not yet over!
Stan Hansen vs. Kenta Kobashi, July 29th 1993 by BionicRedneck
This is, simply put, the 'Dog's bits'...
By 1993, Stan Hansen is an All Japan Pro-Wrestling legend. He's been the Triple Crown Champion. He had won the Champions Carnival earlier in the year of 1993, beating Misawa in the finals. He's already been involved in many of the great angles and matches in company history (THAT lariat on Terry Funk, the blade job after taking Baba's chops~, the MOTDC against Jumbo Tsuruta etc). Kobashi, on the other hand is a young gun. He's over and credible at this point, but he’s behind Misawa and Kawada in terms of his position in the company, so he's a big underdog. Especially as he had already lost to Stan earlier in the year. Kobashi's 1993 is probably the greatest year a pro wrestler ever had but, to me, this is Stan Hansen's match. It's Hansen's great bumping, selling, facial expressions and brutality that make this match so enjoyable for me. Don't get me wrong, Kobashi's performance is world class but, while Kobashi's fire is great, without Hansen putting it over as well as he does, it wouldn't mean half as much
This has it all. Grizzly veteran vs. Young up-and-comer. Gaijin vs. Native. Old vs. New. Big vs. Small. Power vs. Speed etc.
Both guys are over as hell in the Budokan, and the crowd are definitely behind Kobashi, wanting the surprise win. To further illustrate the 'Kobashi is the underdog' theme, as Hansen was getting into it with someone at ringside, Kenta jumps him while he's distracted (he'll take any advantage he can get, because he needs to). This kicks off a mad, heated brawl and Hansen's crazy eyed selling is great. After about a minute, Kobashi has hit a DDT on the floor, a flying shoulder block off the apron, about a million chops and a lariat as a 'KO-BA-SHI' chant starts. Kobashi works the headlock like it's a life or death matter, showing how determined he is to get what would be a huge win.
The basic story of the early going seems to be that Kobashi is too quick for Hansen. He was quicker to take the advantage at the bell, he's quicker during the punching exchanges and he's quick enough to counter Hansen in the ring. But, soon, young Kobashi makes his first mistake (he 'goes to the well one too many times') and the veteran Hansen makes him pay like the bastard he is~! Powerbomb on the floor!
Hansen takes over, and slows the pace. It's clear he respects Kobashi by now, as he's busting out bigger moves (second rope splash for e.g.) but once again, Kobashi is too quick and determined to stay down. The spot where Hansen slaps the shit out of him, throws him to the ground and Kobashi's subsequent reaction (and lariat!) is as good a showcase of 'Fighting Spirit' as you'll ever see. It's not just a case of 'I'll shout and pull funny faces'…it actually works. This is Kobashi's big night! His chance to do what many, including him, haven’t…beat the legendary Stan Hansen.
It doesn't look good when Hansen motions for the lariat (which gets a massive reaction from the crowd), but again, Kobashi is too quick and counters with a drop toehold. When Kobashi gets Hansen down, he has to make sure he stays down. This gives us another great spot as Kobashi gives Hansen four legdrops, each at a higher level than before (normal legdrop, running, second rope then top rope).
At this point Kobashi is trying everything he's got. Moonsault, aforementioned legdrops, sunset flip, lariat but he can't put Hansen away. Sadly, for Kobashi, it's payback time...
As Kobashi goes up for another moonsault, but gets caught. He's sat on the top rope and is basically a sitting duck. As Kobashi gets KILLED with the lariat from the top, the whole crowd is stunned. Kobashi doesn't move and everyone KNOWS it's fucking over. 1..2..3...good night.
To me, this is an example of what makes this match better than, say, Kobashi’s match with Steve Williams (his other famous 1993 match against a big, tough foreigner). The finish of Williams-Kobashi gets a lot of flack as Kobashi basically 'no-sells' Doc's Backdrop Driver. I'm not that against it THAT much, although it is overkill, the finish to this match is so much better. Kobashi hits the mat and lies there...dead it seems. Against Williams he did the same, and the crowd bought it the same, only for Kenta to get up and start walking around. I'm sure, to some people, that worked just as (if not more) effectively but for ME, it would have fucking sucked had Kobashi stood up and started staggering around, after taking Stan's top-rope lariat.
Just another reason why this match trumps almost any other; the finish is absolutely perfect. How many times have you seen a match where the end left you under whelmed? I know it's happened to me lots. Sometimes in great matches, too. Not here, Stan pulls out pretty much the only move that SHOULD end the match. A brutal lariat with a little added extra. Even the commentator screamed like a little girl as Hansen hit Kobashi.
You wanna star rating? 5 fucking million stars~! Is this the greatest men's singles match of 1993? Yes. The best 'big guy vs. little guy' type match in history? Maybe. The smartest brawl I've ever seen? Pretty much. The best Gaijin vs. Native match ever? Yep. The single greatest wrestling match of all time? Could be.
The only negative (if you can call it that) is that the match has no real back-story to it. At least, not that I’m aware of. While Kobashi and Hansen have fought before, it's not got the build-up that many classic matches have to give it that little bit extra (like, say, Austin-Hart or Misawa-Kawada do). Of course, it still tells a great story. Awesome, awesome match.
Osamu Nishimura vs. Toshiaki Kawada (3/9/04) by Chris Jacobson
Forget that Wrestlemania main event: this match right here blows that right out of the water, in terms of build and in terms of fun. While Chris Benoit finally making Triple H tap in the middle of the ring was a huge happening and was really fun, you knew it couldn’t last. He lost the title to Randy Orton, and of course, is now stuck below the champion once again, who (surprise surprise!) happens to be HHH.
Anyway, this isn’t a rant about how Benoit should keep the World title: you can get them ten-a-penny on countless other sites. This is RIM! We love wrestling! Nish/Kawada is a funky match and you don’t have to know any of the bullshit backstage politics on how Kawada is screwing Motoko Baba while Muto takes her from the rear or how Nishimura is too small, hasn’t got the right look or can’t talk to save his life. Admittedly, that inside knowledge helped add to the tension of the Mania match, but you don’t have to be a l33t internet smark who loves teh Rssuo and WCWW uendr his reggjime to get into this match (YES! Two swipes in one sentence: you know, there was a topic on the UKFF on how to “save WCWW” and I read it as WCCW, getting all excited about theories of Chris Adams having a huge title reign in Texas or Iceman Parsons becoming a huge international star in order to save the crumbling Von Erich family, before opening the thread and reading how people would have bought ECW and basically created ECW 2001 in everything but name. Now, I like both WCW and ECW, but I have principles. You keep the two separate, so as not to tarnish either history. The only people who believe that coupling the two together would actually work are those who saw the “inVasion” and believe that this is the best idea. It’s also the same people who capitalise the C in “wCw” because they saw a bastardised WCW logo on WWF TV and it was the first image of wrestling they ever saw, and now take that as gospel.)
Osamu Nishimura is the king of Muga, the style much loved by $tew, who is probably the biggest Nishimura fan in the world. I don’t remember the specifics, but I have an article by him somewhere that explains that it derivates from Karl Gotch and the likes, which means that Nishimura is pretty good. Add to the fact that the whole Muga thing really adds to the aura that Nishimura has with his eyes which never look as if they’re totally concentrated on you, and when he breaks out DARKSIDE MUGA~ (I forget, do we RIM Elite use tildes anymore?) it’s even better.
Back to why this match is better than the Triple Threat at Wrestlemania…All Japan does in two hours of TV and a fairly big show held in an arcade (!!!) what the WWE did in four months of TV, three hours a week and four PPVs. Osamu Nishimura is a New Japan wrestler. Chris Benoit is a Smackdown wrestler. They both come to the competition. They both want the main title in said competition.
On the previous week’s TV show Nishimura faced Masa Fuchi in another entertaining match simply because it had the very old Fuchi doing headstands and generally trying to out-do Nishimura in the Muga states. It’s a great sight to see half of the audience shout “FUCHI” as a pale old man headstands out of a figure-four headlock, and it’s an even better sight to see Fuchi foil Nishimura’s attempts to get out of the hold with a sort of modified piledriver. But back to the actual match at hand.
The buildup is GREAT, as already mentioned. If for some reason you haven’t seen this match through Stew’s AJPW comp yet, then I’ll run you through it. On 22/8 in a tag match, Nishimura basically makes his challenge. On the 28/8, they have a tag match, obviously involving Muto (as everything in AJPW must). Nishimura manages to put Kawada in a sleeper and he can’t save the pinfall which Muto makes. On 29/8, Nishimura pins Taka Michinoku in a weird cradle after another tag match involving Muto. Post-match, they basically decide that something else is needed, which leads to Muto digging out the Great Muta costume for the following day’s tag match. Satoshi Kojima manages to give a pretty damn good bladejob, when Muta goes crazy and brings a spike into the equation, and Nishimura, by the old booking idea of being connected to a crazy partner (it worked for all of Terry Funk’s allies in Memphis and the likes), suddenly becomes heel and brings out the Darkside Muga. He ends up dodging a Honma chairshot, spitting mist in his face then giving him the pinning cradle and, surprise surprise, you now have another dangerous move that Kawada has to look out for during the main match, adding to the tension. See, this is better than doing an opening skit with Shelton Benjamin and Trish Stratus which is a parody of a parody of an incident that happened during RAW’s main competition in the US which means that half of the audience in America don’t know what it’s about, never mind the large fanbase in England and Japan and the likes who have not even a passing interest in American Football and therefore don’t really care. You build the characters. And I forgot to mention the post-match angle which really gets Muto and Nishimura over as crazy fuckers in which they take a ringtruck and drive it into Honma. You see, this is why they have a former BJPW worker on the books: he’s one of the few from Big Japan who can really wrestle and he’s willing to be hit by a truck just to get over an outsider to the promotion. It’s a shame that All-Japan are rumoured to not be able to afford paying anyone who’s not American, a champion or called Muto, because Honma really does go above and beyond the job description sometimes.
There’s a fantastic visual as Nishimura is giving an interview on 30/8 while a woman is screaming off-camera, and by the time they’ve shown the interviews done earlier in the day you’re really excited for this match. Adding to the tension, Nishimura comes out barefoot. Just in case people didn’t think that Nishimura had a chance in the match, Taiyo Kea and the rest of RO&D attack Kawada before the match, stealing the Triple Crown which was meant to lead to a huge angle but as far as I know, it’s been three months and nothing much has happened. Nishimura attacks Kawada outside the ring before the bell and it’s then that you know that this match is going to be great because it’s Darkside Muga Nishimura, which means he does all the stuff regular Nishimura does but with a lot more venom. They build on the fact that Kawada was able to get the upper hand out of the headstand escape in their tag match by just hitting him with a right hand as he stood up, by having Nishimura block the right hand and it’s these little intricacies that add to the match and it’s everything that is missing in modern American wrestling today. Twenty years ago, you’d have at least a three-month build to a match, and invariably there’d be some sort of little thing that would hark back to the previous matches in the angle that they would use in the final match. Well, people seemingly can’t do that nowadays. They can in All-Japan. By the time that Kawada hits Nishimura with every move under the sun and a kick around the head that any Premiership footballer would be proud of, the crowd were willing Nishimura to win. Of course, that didn’t happen. Just get this – you need to see it.
El Dandy Vs Negro Navarro (IWRG 11/08/01) by John Kennedy
This is one of those matches that people will either love or hate; I really can’t see there being any middle ground. At 25 minutes long, it’s worked almost entirely on the mat and for fans of lucha matwork like myself, it’s a definite must see.
Negro Navarro’s IWF Light Heavyweight Title is on the line here and the presentation of this match is almost like a real athletic contest or a big Japanese title match; with the introductory title match ceremony, music playing (Cheesy 80’s dance music) and the wrestlers posing for photos. They also have graphics that tell you who is rudo and who is technico, the time of the match/falls and what colours the wrestlers are wearing; sort of like a boxing match. Simple stuff that makes you feel like what you’re watching is actually of some importance, it’s just a pity the ring girl(s) aren’t anywhere near CMLL level of hotness.
During the introductions Dandy gives Navarro this awesome look of contempt as they get ready to start the match. Probably due to the fact that Navarro is wearing the over sized, creepy white trunks that look like a diaper and Dandy is a suit-wearing, bitch-slapping, daughter-fucking P.I.M.P.
It’s difficult to break this match down into falls, as the entire match is basically both men trying to out-do each other on the mat, with Navarro having the slight edge through-out and both getting more aggressive as the match progresses. Navarro likes to use a lot of freaky submissions; some of which look like they came straight out of an apartment wrestling manual, whilst Dandy favours more modern holds, such as a Cross-Armbreaker, a Nagata lock and a Texas Cloverleaf. Navarro also does a headstand escape from a stretch muffler submission, which I only mentioned for the benefit of $tew!
The only real “high-spots” occur at the end of the falls, with Dandy running into a Powerslam and getting tied up in Konnan’s old Tequila Sunrise submission to give Navarro the first fall, Dandy using a running crucifix pin to win the second and then Dandy again using a beautiful La Majistral to win the title. The only downside to this scientific type of match is that I didn’t get to see Dandy’s awesome slap/punch ?
A handshake and a hug between both competitors; as Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” plays over the arena’s PA, in what I guess is a tribute to Fishman’s daughter. Well they wouldn’t be playing it for Lita, now would they?
For diehard lucha matwork fans this match is an absolute “must see” and for those of you looking for something a little different than the norm, then this might be worth tracking down.
Bobu Sappeh vs Ernestoooo Hoostoooooah by Tiger Ross
K-1 World Grand Prix 2002
Saitama Super Arena
Saturday 5th October 2002
Chosen by $tew
I’m guessing that having just read about which match I am reviewing, most of you are thinking that an analysis of a kickboxing match where wrestling holds are illegal, doesn’t belong in a publication featuring reviews on wrestling matches. And while you’d technically be right in thinking that this isn’t wrestling, essentially you are wrong. Because this is the perfect example of what wrestling should be and sadly no longer is.
This fight has it all: The spectacle. The drama. The emotion. The question of whether arguably the greatest technical fighter in the sport and three time Grand Prix Champion can slay the monstrous, seemingly unstoppable beast who is taking the fight world by storm. This is the main event of Wrestlemania, the top of the card at The Tokyo Dome, the climax of a show at La Arena Coliseo.
It’s just that it’s taking place in a boxing ring under kickboxing rules…
About that monster. He’s Bob Sapp and he’s fucking ace. Loved by the Japanese because he looks like Donkey Kong, loved by fight fans because he is a big, black, motherfucker who beats the shit out of people and hated by martial arts purists because he has the technical ability of a snow plough.
His opponent in this bout is the Lennox Lewis of K-1. Technically excellent, nobody really wants to see him win again, less of all the ruling body of the sport who feel that the Dutchman isn’t that big a draw anymore. Can you feel those Survivor Series ’97 undertones? The only people who want to win are the aforementioned purists and the little kids in the crowd who are crying when Bob Sapp makes his entrance.
Everyone else in the arena is so excited at the phenomenon that is Sapp, that as he starts to make his Ric Flair like entrance complete with pink robe and feather boa (another wrestling link, whooooo), the atmosphere is jumping out from my surround sound speakers and bouncing off me. Sitting there with tunnel vision, immersed by the grandeur of the scene, I am starting to feel what I am watching.
You simply can’t beat the big fight atmosphere that contests like this create. Be it Benn vs Eubank in the UK, The Rock vs Hogan in the States or Sapp/Hoost in Japan. The world over, everyone loves a fight of this magnitude. However, there is something about the Japanese that set them apart from others. Maybe it’s the fact that there are 50,000 of them in one building, maybe it's the fact that they are nutty about violence, but once that first bell sounds, there is a constant stream of noise that gives me goose-bumps, despite that fact that I am sitting, watching it on DVD, two years after it took place.
Of course, it helps that as soon as the opening bell goes Sapp comes out slugging like Barry Bonds going after a loose pitch that’s ‘up and in’. However, Hoost is far quicker than Sapp and it’s his punches that are slipping through Sapp’s guard and bouncing off The Beast’s head. Normally these would do some damage to Hoost’s opponent, but Sapp has the resilience of an armoured tank and he just motors forward trying to pin Hoost in the corner and drop bomb like shots.
Aware that Sapp is far stronger and seeming relentless in stepping forward, Hoost changes his tactics and starts trying to chop Sapp down with stinging kicks to his thigh. Ouchie. Sapp is clearly in pain and not helped by the fans who cheer on every strike. Hoost is starting to win over the crowd and is slowly becoming the babyface, however Sapp has one quality to his name that very few fighters can match and that is a huge heart. Rather than wilt under the axe like kicks, Sapp fights through the pain and goes after Hoost once again, this time successfully pinning him in the corner. Clubbing blows follow and Hoost goes down. Wammo. But, was it a slip? Having watched it numerous times, I still can’t tell, but it was a questionable standing 8 count and now Hoost is bleeding from above his eye.
There is further controversy when the wee ref with the bow tie decides that the doctor needs to check the cut, allowing a clearly exhausted Sapp around sixty seconds recovery time. When the fight restarts, Sapp again charges in and scores a second knockdown after pulverising Hoost on the ropes. Yowzer. However, it didn’t look like many of his punches broke through Hoost’s guard and again the decision to give Hoost a standing count is questionable. Hoost argues to the controversial ref (further adding to the drama) that he slipped again and this time I have to side with him. Imagine how difficult it is to keep your feet when you have a wrecking ball bouncing off you, shifting you from side to side and constantly knocking you off balance. For a standing 8 count to occur, Sapp had to hit a scoring shot and in this exchange it didn’t look like he did.
Regardless, Hoost takes the count and responds with a devastating leg kick, but Sapp simply brushes it off and completely no sells it in true AJPW main event style! Again he pins Hoost in the corner and attempts to beat him down, but unluckily for Sapp, the bell goes signalling the end of the round. Not that this bothers Sapp, who keeps pounding away until the ref manages to pull him away (I use the word ‘pull in the loosest of terms as the ref is 5ft 3in tall and is Sapp 6ft 7in and weighs 350 pounds, give or take a cheeseburger). Crucially in this short spell after the bell, Sapp got in several good punches, the effects of which can now be seen as Hoost’s cut above his eye has opened up badly.
Sapp is now so out of breath that he looks like he is drowning as the referees have a short conversation with the ringside doctor and decide to end the fight. Cue the greatest dance ever as Sapp loses his mind in the centre of the ring and cue the beginning of intense debate among fight fans about whether the fight should have been stopped, whether Sapp should have been disqualified for striking after the bell, and whether K-1 used this as an opportunity to push their biggest draw into the Grand Prix finals, eliminating a guy who they didn’t want to win?
In the end, as well as a great contest, we are left with loads of questions to which everyone seems to have a different opinion. As the debate rages on, it becomes apparent that the only way of answering them is to settle this score in the ring and have a rematch.
Perfect booking says I. Told you it was ‘wrestling’.
Ultimate Warrior v Sgt Slaughter for the World Heavyweight
Championship, WWF Royal Rumble 1991
Review by Gary
Ladies and gentlemen, this goes out to a very special someone... the sweetly-named CattleMutilation, who in his unbidden wisdom gave me this to review for an issue of RIM where we all pick something for someone else to do. CatMut, this one's for you...
It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen this match. I can’t remember what happened to my VHS copy of it taped from Sky One. I’m sure it was the one with my very poor doodles of Haku and the Bushwhackers on the label...
To se the scene for those who can't remember/too drunk/roided: Warrior had beaten Hulk at the previous year's WrestleMania for the big one and was having a thunderous 1990, tearing down arenas everywhere and demolishing opponents. Sergeant Slaughter, he of the rotundness, appears halfway through the year as the Iraq situation heats up, turning from former US marine drill sergeant into Iraqi sympathiser, employing General Adnan and Colonel Mustafa into his clique. I don't remember how he got the title match, but nevertheless he did. I decided to watch the whole event in its entirety. Vince does a run-down at the start of all the entrants this year. The death toll on the Rumble alone is shocking: 12. 12 out of 30 from the Rumble match alone are no longer with us. Madness.
On with the nonsense. Prior to the match there is a lascivious Sensational Queen Sherri groaning at Mean Gene, who barely suppresses his boner. Under four feet of makeup she demands a title match for the Macho 'King' if the Warrior defends. It takes about eleven words for anyone to say that eloquently, yet after six minutes warbling and screeching, she's still there yapping away. This reeks of padding, with Patterson screaming in Gene's ear: "keep her talking, for fuck's sake. Hacksaw won't take the dress off again." And then Warrior emerges from a bad nineties road movie to ridiculous amounts of cheering only to be felt up by the mascara-ed one. Oh-ho! Praise in an attempt to get her man the shot. "Your hair is very wonderful," she puts badly. Jim appears to like this, and when he grins he is not too dissimilar to Jerry Seinfeld. She kneels in front of him and strokes his thighs. A guy in the crowd immediately behind wets himself with laughter by starting a "give him head!" chant. And you thought Attitude was born in 1998.
Her siren-esque pleas are no good, for Warrior turns her down after having a minor seizure. Thankfully no-one noticed. This would of course pre-empt the whole Macho interference, although I was too unconditioned to spot it at the time at a wee eleven. Slaughter has a brief yak, proving how great his voice is for promos. Even if it is only just the right side of Blakey.
And so the match. The never-ending drum-roll signals the waddle of the fat one. They wanted to make sure nobody liked him at all, didn't they? Even the theme music drives you away. The crowd goes utterly mental for the Warrior's entrance, and it's easy to forget just how bonkers people were for WOYAH at the time. who swiftly demolishes the ring and then tears up the Iraqi flag. What sacrilege. Slaughter returns to the ring, only to get utterly dominated by the tassels of doom. Adnan scarpers - phew, no interference tonight then :)
During the Slaughter comeback Warrior is brought through a sleeper hold with a USA chant. Does anything about the Warrior suggest that a USA chant would bring him to his feet? He loves it apparently. An elbow to the gut and a sleeperhold is all it needs to put Warrior down for a while it seems, he's selling it like a chainsaw lariat. Oh, I suppose there was that bit where Randy popped out of nowhere and twatted him with a light before disappearing.
Slaughter spits on the patriotic one and the crowd is deafening. I really am shocked how noisy a WWF crowd was 13 years ago. Sarge then turns it up a notch with a... bearhug. And still the crowd are utterly berserk the whole time. After Jim's escape it's no wonder Hulk let the torch be passed to him - the hulk-up is identical. Despite turning red and yellow, Slaughter manages to down Warrior right near the ropes. Savage appears out of nowhere and absolutely BELTS him with his sceptre which had been craftily planted by Sherri moments before. Glass flies everywhere. I can remember watching this the first time and absolutely despising Macho for this. Really, really hating him. He disappears into the back, not to be seen for weeks. After the match Warrior would run groggily out the back looking for him. Cleverly Savage would also not appear in the Rumble, an intelligent move I suspect would be forgotten about in the present day. It also brought about one of my favourite moments of WWF ever: on a Superstars Warrior destroys a jobber (natch) then bails out of the ring screaming "WHERE IS THE MACHO KING?!" and the cameras run around following him backstage, before laying a cameraman out. Cut to Sean Mooney in the studio, sarky deadpanning it as ever while a cap of Warrior about to punch the crap out of a cameraman is over his shoulder. Magic.
Slaughter rolls him up, and wins. Even after the years, it's still just as shocking. Just like when Jericho was crowned the first Undisputed champion, it's brilliant because no-one gives him a chance. Slaughter was a just a fat oik barking about Iraqi sympathy, and it was clear that a muscled Warrior was going to steamroller the ten-year old gimmick. A good choice to let the returning Hulk come back and become everyone's hero at WrestleMania VII as well as setting up another doozy, Warrior v Savage - loser leaves WWF...
Tsuyoshi Kikuchi/Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Jushin Liger/Wataru Inoue (NOAH 17/2/02) by Cattle Mutilation
Grumpiness, anger, hate, stubbornness, violence, drunkenness, bitch slapping. And that’s just Christmas ‘round our house ……BWAHAHAHA. So, courtesy of Benjistration Form I get lumbered with possibly the greatest tag match of the decade so far and one of my favourite bouts ever to boot. Hardships, hardships, Bah humbug etc etc.
Liger’s entrance here is akin to some evil, wicked, despicable pantomime villain appearing in a puff of smoke, hissing at the chorus of boo’s he’s receiving from the audience. Of course Liger isn’t some failed reality TV ’star’, an ex boy-band lackey or an aging end-of-pier comedian telling wank jokes in an attempt to appear ‘down wiv da kidz’, no, Thunderpants actually has aptitude for his chosen profession and the whole things priceless. The match hasn’t even started and already the Budokan is flooded, awash with unadulterated HATE, as the crowd becomes a furious rabble, they the News Of The World readers, Liger the paediatrician. What’s Liger’s response to all this jeering? Does he calmly and in dignified manor ask for the crowds politeness for the following twenty-or-so minutes of (not so) gentlemanly combat? Ha! Why he spits in the middle of the ring you naïve fool! Okay, the mesh in the mask actually prevents gobbing but he motioned so at least the thought was there, and he’s still despicable. Why anyone would want to soil such a beautiful green canvas with their filthy, dirty New Japan bred saliva is beyond me.
Liger and Kikuchi are just having a wail of a time slapping their figurative cocks across each others faces. Kikuchi with his honour and raw determination, he gets chucked over the rail - he comes back! Hurled outta the ring - he comes back! The sequence where he unleashes a flurry of forearms on the nefarious duo, MOUNTING Liger to the rock solid approval of all those looking on is unreal. Liger with his fragrant cheating, arrogant covers and assaults on the fair, impartial and totally unbiased NOAH official who’s just trying to do his job. Leave him alone. Somewhere in this haze of goodness NJ gains a sustained advantage until Kanemaru starts destroying Liger’s Shotei arm, Kikuchi traps him in a cross-armlock and after much frantic flailing of the free arm, kicking of the legs, general body language related awesome and 16,000 blood thirsty puroresu fans baying for ….erm, blood, Evil Liger reaches the ropes. Ah, a brief reprieve, yet you can’t hold back the emerald freight train for much longer, and you KNOW it.
This whole Liger/Kikuchi stuff rules, it’s like they’ve been itching to get at each other for a decade, and now it’s on there’s no holding back. Kikuchi’s “Get off my land!” glares at every opportunity he gets are great, and Inoue stretching him in a Camel Clutch while Liger places the sole of his boot on Kikuchi’s face (and helplessly all he can do is glare back) is obviously the greatest moment in wrestling history. See, earlier in the day Kikuchi had taken his shitzu for a dump around the Budokan’s perimeter, yet being far too drunk to dabble in a spot of poopa-scoopery, stubbornly refused to clean it up. Karma~!
Evil Liger rules, did I mention? Of course ‘tis important when defining ‘evilness’ to remember- Liger > peeling kittens. Although the great thing about him here is that he isn’t just plain nasty, but blasé. He’s letting it all hang out, it doesn’t matter how he behaves or how much of an example he sets to ‘ickle Wataru, because through Liger’s monstrous green eyes NOAH is a shithole. Ironically Inoue’s the one showing the maturity and assurance, refusing to show pain when Kikuchi smacks him in the mush, and actually trying to WIN the match while his erstwhile partner fumes and snorts and sneers and gesticulates like the hyperactive liability he is. Inoue looks the shit in his Young Lion trunks and boots, much more acceptable and easier to take seriously than the those obnoxious baggy pantaloons he currently sports.
So, unsurprisingly everyone’s on form, Yoshinobu Kanemaru wasn’t involved in the 2002 and 2003 MOTY’s for nothing y’know. His tat-for-tat “I cheat cos you cheat” routines working a treat, this is what’s so great about the ever-so-slightly pot bellied one- not only is he smoother than the lovechild of Roger Moore and the Cadbury’s Caramel bunny, he’s viscous and always one step ahead, he’ll kick out of your big move at one, he’ll reverse everything you chuck at him like an irritatingly uncooperative, mischievous kid, he’ll let you counter his waistlock just so he can back heel you in the bollocks, and he’ll always try to nail the win at every opportunity. There’s a fine line between hitting big ass moves in a quest for victory and random big move mongering, but Kanemaru treads it effortlessly.
And so as the crazy veterans who should really know better keep themselves occupied on the outside with generous amounts of hatred, Kanemaru and Inoue lay into each other and russle up a stack of desperately close near falls (even better given I’d forgotten the result) with big moves and surprise cradles, until Kanemaru finishes off the twat who was slapping him silly 15 minutes previous with an emphatic spinning brainbuster. Which acts as the cue for all interpromotional HELL to break loose, and this isn’t just your standard melee, these guys are REALLY going for it. One-by-one the honourable warriors of NOAH emerge from the locker-room to beat the piss out of these bitter freaks. Seriously, what right does that scum-sucking chicken fucker Minoru Tanaka have to behave in such an ungracious manner to the innocent and virtuous Kanemaru? Pfft. Eventually everything (just about) calms down, and we can bask in the glory of a tag team extravaganza that was really, rather good. Although that bitter, twisted, sore losing Liger fella just won’t let it lie, which rules.
CIMA vs Susumu Yokosuka, ODG Championship (Dragon Gate Pro-Wrestling, 17/9/2004) by Doug Paterson
It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Get Gary to pick a match for you to review, and drop a strong hint (okay, it was practically a bribe) so that you end up with one that you like. Foolproof, right? Until you actually sit down to write the damn review, at which point it dawns on you that somehow you're going to have to try and convince the RIM regulars - a group of guys who mostly agree that ugliness, surliness, advanced age, obesity, and proper tights are desirable qualities in a wrestler - that two pretty-boy heart-throbs in tassled hotpants and vinyl skate shorts respectively had the second best match you've seen all year. Yup, best of luck with that, Doug...
This match was CIMA’s first defence of the new Open the Dream Gate Championship He was awarded the title by virtue of being the last Ultimo Dragon Gym champion (UDG, ODG - you see what they did). And a very cool belt it is too. There’s gate on the front that does indeed open. The champion’s nameplate is placed underneath the gate, and can’t be removed unless the gate is unlocked. The key to the gate is either stored on a rail on the front of the belt or given to the #1 contender one has been determined. It’s a cool idea, and one that they worked into the first #1 contender match: the key was hidden underneath one of the turnbuckle pads, and each of the four competitors was eliminated either by losing a fall or by removing three turnbuckle pads without finding the key. Finding the key would presumably have ended the match instantly. It was far from a great match, not least due to the gimmick, but it at allowed Susumu Yokosuka to get two pinfalls over strong opponents and become the #1 contender. (Only resident monster heel Touru Owashi was eliminated via the three-strikes rule.)
Right from the off it was obvious that Dragon Gate wanted this championship match taken seriously. They’d used the national anthem before, but this is the first time I remember seeing a title charter read. Everyone in the ring was visibly nervous - President Okamura even had to be reminded to pose for the pre-match photograph. More than anyone else, he’d every right to be nervous: if this match didn’t deliver, many would have written off the new belt and the new promotion, and he could more than likely have written off a good proportion of his own bank balance, too. I think that must have been why Susumu Yokosuka was chosen as the challenger - in Dragon Gate, he’s long been the go-to guy for quality mid-card matches and high-profile jobs, much in the same way that Chris Benoit’s been used in WWE. CIMA has more in common with The Rock - except for the, er, tassled hotpants.
CIMA and Susumu chose to channel their nervousness into a prolonged feeling-out sequence (don’t you just love it when wrestling imitates life?) culminating in that bizarre double-headstand-Indian-deathlock spot that crops up in every other FWA main event. But here, it really feels like a culmination, and not just like a cool spot they felt like throwing in, and they’re slapping each other in the face because they’re losing patience, not because they’re balanced on their heads with their legs intertwined and they think it’ll look cool.
CIMA is the first to lose patience completely, getting a cheap kick in on Susumu’s arm as they break. As CIMA continues with the arm, the announcers note that it’s Susumu’s Jumbo no Kachi! (his awesome lariat) arm. Susumu’s selling is *masterful*. He’s generally known for his fearsome legwork and general dickishness as a heel rather than as a great seller, but like all of the Dragon Gate guys, he knows better than to try to show all of his cards in every match, so that when it comes to big occasions like this, he has a fifth gear to change into.
Susumu eventually turns the tide by reversing a headscissors takeover into his trademark kneecrusher, and begins the assault on CIMA’s legs. CIMA’s selling his heart out, too. The inevitable figure-four leglock is followed by an electric nearfall sequence containing some of the quickest, smoothest and coolest reversals you’ll ever see (e.g. Schwein reversed into Crucifix Backslide). Both guys eventually go down for 9, and by then the crowd is *nuked*, with half of them behind each man. As they make it too their feet, Susumu tries the Jumbo no Kachi!, but there’s no power in that injured arm, and CIMA withstands it. He tries again, but it hurts him more than it hurts CIMA. So CIMA points back to the ropes and tells him to do it again. This time it *really* hurts Susumu, but has little effect on CIMA, so CIMA kicks him in the arm and tells him to do it *again*. Blinded by pride, Susumu keeps trying, but CIMA keeps kicking, and after six attempts, Susumu eventually falls down to his knees clutching that arm. Sensing victory, CIMA whips Susumu to the ropes, but Susumu come back off the ropes with THE MOTHER OF ALL MOTHERFUCKING LARIATS for the best nearfall I’ve ever seen. You *will* be out of your chair for that one.
The end comes when CIMA finally catches Susumu with the Schwein, and then hits another one for good measure. Susumu’s quickly back up, but it was just a reflex - he collapses, clutching CIMA’s legs to stay upright - he’s given his all, he can’t possibly go on, but he’s damned if he’ll just lie down. CIMA scowls at the crowd (how *dare* he not be dead yet) and debuts the wrist-clutch Schwein for the pinfall in about 30 minutes.
Post-match, the key to the ODG belt is returned to CIMA, but CIMA’s not quite satisfied. He wants Susumu, who’s not even back on his feet yet, to hook it back on the belt for him! Susumu, absolutely beaten, tries, but can’t find the hook, so CIMA grabs his wrist to guide his arm, and then flings his arm back at him. But Susumu, still on his knees, then gives the sporting ‘you’re the better man’ speech, and bows low, and that’s too much for CIMA to take - they hug, and CIMA helps Susumu out with the Magic Puroresu Injury Spray™.
Establishing a credible new championship can’t be easy at the best of times, but when you couple it with establishing a credible and financially successful new promotion, it looks next to impossible. But the exercise seems to have been a resounding success; Dragon Gate have just drawn their third 5000+ house in the last six months, headlined by CIMA’s second ODG title defence. Even more unlikely, they managed to create a new main event babyface star at the same time - Susumu’s more over than he’s ever been, and he’s winning nearly of the matches he’s in. In fact, the way I see it, the only thing standing between him and an ODG championship run is those damn shorts...
ECW Gangsta's Paradise by The FYC
So I decided to start hooking with Stereo Mike more to watch wrestling tapes. This week I picked some stuff at random, and we watched last week’s TNA Impact, purely for the debut of Raven’s awesome headwear.
First off the pile was a tape called Wrestling Massacres, which comes from Montreal, although the first match was from Tokyo. Confused yet? We were, so we turned it off. I think I’ve seen enough Dino Bravo –vs- Abdullah the Butcher for one night (and I only saw the opening 30 seconds).
Mike picked the next tape, which happened to be some an unlabelled tape from the ECW pile. Ooooh, surprise goodness~!
Now because I never got into the whole tape-trading thing until I got on the internet at home, I missed out on the heyday of ECW as it actually happened. My first ECW show that I bought (having seen some of the TV stuff they showed on Bravo in 97-98) was Cyberslam 99, and it still has a warm place in my heart to this day. To me, my ECW was the ECW of Super Crazy & Tajiri, of Taz & the foul-mouthed Dudley Boyz who could actually wrestle a bit.
So looking back at old ECW doesn’t really have the same nostalgic connotations that it might have for some people who were watching this stuff unfold before their eyes. And maybe it’s because of that that it seems so… odd & occasionally awful.
This tape, Gangsta’s Paradise, is from September 1995, well into the dream period, and maybe even past it a little. The Raven-Sandman story had played out, Cactus had left for New York, and Guerrero-Malenko-Benoit axis had gone south. But there was still lots to please the classic ECW fan – Raven, Sandman, Dreamer, Pitbulls… Gangstas, Public Enemy, the luchadores…
Anyway, the first match on the tape is Broad Street Bully -vs- Bull Pain. No build up, no entrances. Two men, neither of which look dressed for professional wrestling, announced by the MC and the match is on. It’s a technical masterclass, full of holds & counterholds, takedowns & revers- oh, wait. Wrong match. It’s a brawl, and a sloppy brawl at that.
But it’s fun. Lots of fun. The crowd pop for the Bully dropping his gloves, and it’s on from that point. Note to self: steal spot. Note to self-note maker: You don’t wear gloves.
Bull Pain wins with something. I couldn’t tell you what. Really. I do know that at some point he suplexed the Bully through a table and it looked like it hurt a lot, and probably did. Whatever happened to these guys? I know Bull worked some indies in the mid-south for a while after this, but the Bully just disappeared. He’s, like, a fixture of early ECW cards and then just vanishes after November To Remember ’95. Wow. I bet he’s an insurance salesman now, or owns a chain of Subway franchises or something.
With the usual white noise ECW bumper, we skip onto the next match. It strikes me that this exact same editing technique is used in ROH, except with no bumper. It doesn’t make for a professional show – doesn’t make for a show at all at times, rather a randomly-collected series of matches that happened to be in the same building on the same night.
The next 5 minutes is spent with the entrance of the Dudley Boyz. At this point they are Dudley Dudley, Chubby Dudley, Dances With Dudley, Big Dick Dudley & Sign Guy Dudley. Despite the fact that three Dudley Boyz ply their trade on national TV these days, not one of these guys is even still in the business, and one of them is dead. Sign Guy Dudley gets in the front row, next to Hat Guy, and even has a sign that says “Dudley 3:16”, of which more later…
It’s Dudley Dudley & Dances With Dudley –vs- Chad Austin & Don E Allen, ECW veterans of Broad Street Bully vintage, I guess. They’re little more than jobbers here – and when you’re jobbing to Dudley Dudley & Dances With Dudley, you know there’s no future for you in the business. I’d tell you what happened – let’s see if you can guess who wins: anonymous jobbers or colourful pushed guys – but we Duggan’d the whole thing.
The next match, too. To be fair to us, it was JT Smith –vs- Hack Myers. Who can tell me why Myers is called The Shah? No, really, I want to know. These guys are more of those ECW veterans, the guys on whose backs a promotion was built. And they’re either vanilla or unwatchable. What does that tell us? That you need plain & awful to make the slightly exciting & interesting stand out a bit more? Weird. Learning lessons in life from watching old ECW shows. No lessons in finance, granted, but lessons in life.
Shah wins with a count-out, which is cheap & nasty and has no place in a match like this. Ehh. The best thing about this match was JT telling the crowd to chant “Shah!” everytime he threw a punch, thus ensuring that, not only did the crowd think he was arrogant & heelish, but that they also knew what to do to chant along with the face.
And if that’s the best thing…
Next, again with no build or entrances, we’ve got The Steiner Brothers & Taz –vs- Scorpio, The Eliminators & Jason. Taz is holding his neck. He can’t have been long out of the Tazmaniac gimmick here. The Eliminators look fat. Not phat, but fat. Eh, I never got them anyway.
It’s just a mess, really. A handicap for no announced reason (except given that he’s working the main later, I’m not sure Scorpio is officially part of it), with the Steiners doing their we’re working stiff – how cool are we? shtick years before it became vogue in ROH. Except it’s not stiff if it doesn’t look controlled, which is what just about everyone forgets. The heels win when Jason pins Taz. Yes, that’s right.
Hey, it’s Raven. I like him, even though Stereo Mike is always asking why. He’s a Tommy Dreamer man, see. I guess the two are like, um, two things that are different. And different people like them. Or something. He’s got Beulah with him, who every sane man thinks is FUCKING HOT. See what I did there? If you do not agree if she is FUCKING HOT then YOU ARE INSANE! INSANE! I win again!
The best thing about Beulah here? You see nothing except a tiny glimpse of white panty as she climbs through the ropes, and that – dear friends – is why the WWE will NEVER understand how to use “divas” on a wrestling TV show.
So it’s Raven, and I think he’s supposed to be tagging with Stevie Richards, since they’re the tag team champions, but there’s no Stevie. I think Joey Styles explained all this, but Stereo Mike and I were still talking about the helmet Raven wore on Impact last week. What was he thinking?
Anyway, Thunderkiss 65 hits and that means one of three things: 1) you’re in a rock club that still plays records that the DJ danced to when he was on the dance floor, in his early 30s, and when he still had thick hair instead of a long, thinning straggle. 2) the opening credits of the ECW TV show have started, probably the best opening credits of any wrestling TV show EVER, because the link between music & visuals totally prepares you for what you are about to say, getting you pumped & giving you an idea of what this ECW thing is all about. 3) The Pitbulls are coming to the ring.
If it’s the first… well, at least there are chubby goth chicks in bustiers to look at. The second… like I said, it’s a good show. The third… *shakes head*.
Hey, one of these guys is dead, too! Watching wrestling these days is really quite the Dead Pool Illustrated game. I wonder what the first PPV to fully have its participants drop dead will be? Obviously, the smart money is on Heroes of Wrestling…
Where was I? Oh, yeah, The Pitbulls. Is it bad that I’ve been watching them for 5 years and I still don’t know who’s who? Well, when I say watching them for 5 years, obviously I haven’t been watching The Pitbulls for five years, Clockwork Orange-style. Imagine the psychoses that would bring on…
So, anyway, Raven says he’ll defend the tag titles on his own, since he’s in his moody, introspective period, and he just doesn’t care. So Baldy Pitbull and Raven get chained together – oh yeah, I forgot, this is a Chain Match. And it’s 2/3 falls. It might be a Tables Match, too, but I got lost somewhere.
Hairy Pitbull, meanwhile, goes backstage to get Stevie Richards, who’s cowering in the locker room. He drags him to the ring, chains them together, and it’s on, Raven & Stevie Richards –vs- The Pitbulls. There’s all kind of brawling shenanigans going on, much of it passable, but the gimmick limits the match somewhat. Sure, they do some nice hanging spots, and some whipping spots, but there’s not much else you can when there’s so little room, and you have four men, and they’re chained in two pairs. It’s like they’re trying to make things difficult.
At some point, though, Raven puts Baldy Pitbull through a table for the first pinfall. So maybe it’s not a Tables Match, because he definitely covered him. I’ve already wasted too much time thinking about this. Then Hairy Pitbull and Baldy Pitbull put Stevie through a Table and get the three-count on him. So it’s 1-1.
The match switches again when The Dudley Boyz run in, attacking the Pitbulls, who soon dispose of them. Nice effort, boys.
Somewhere in here, Raven has Baldy Pitbull set up on top of two tables on the outside, and he botches a legdrop, intended – I’m sure – to drive Baldy through both tables. Instead, Baldy just slides off onto the bottom table. Raven then goes back onto the apron and puts Baldy through the bottom table, with the leg of the top one hitting him in the face for good measure. But maybe this was revenge for the powerbomb off the top rope which Raven took on the rim of a table with the back of his head? Yay! Safe working conditions!
Beulah gets in the ring, and some woman – identified as Tommy Dreamer’s ex-girlfriend – marches out and we’re into a catfight. Raven, who has divested himself of Baldy Pitbull, taking the chain off Baldy’s head, picks the ex up and DDTs her into the mat, which brings out Tommy Dreamer himself, in what looks like an open cardigan, man-boobs flapping like Flair2K.
Dreamer launches into Raven and takes Baldy’s chain and slips it over his own bouffanted hair, pinning Raven for the win. The referee raises Dreamer & Hairy Pitbull’s hands, announcing them the new ECW Tag team Champi- …wait a minute…
REWIND: “…and it’s on, Raven & Stevie Richards –vs- The Pitbulls”
When did Tommy Dreamer join The Pitbulls?
Doesn’t matter because here comes Bill Alfonso! Post-referee, but pre-whistleblower (and don’t people love whistles? Wrong kind of heat, Bill…). He declares that he won’t allow this, and since he’s something, then something something! You might guess that we weren’t really paying attention again. Watching wrestling with friends is FUN~! Reviewing wrestling is FUN~! Doing the two things at the same time is DIFFICULT~~!
Tommy Dreamer is not happy at this turn of events, understandably. Alfonso doesn’t care – he has Big Dick Dudley, who climbs into the ring despite a broken leg (did I mention that earlier? Do you care?) and chokeslams Dreamer. At this point, the chokeslam is illegal in ECW to protect Alfonso from 911, (a testament to Heyman as a booker – he got 911 over. In 1995) so Alfonso, as head referee, declares them legal for that night only. This brings out 911, who chokeslams Alfonso to the delight of the crowd.
This sounds horribly, horribly overbooked – and seemed it watching at times – but it worked. It could have done without one or two little bits, but for a sloppy mess it was fun. Just a shame The Pitbulls were in it. Whoever they are.
Joey Styles gets word that something is happening with New Jack backstage, and they switch to the camera there. New Jack punks it out. So they switch to a fan cam there. New Jack punks that out. So Joey grabs his cameraman and they run backstage to find the Gangstas verbally arguing with some fans. Yes, that’s it. Verbally arguing. With some fans.
Anyway, as Joey is underwhelmed by the enormity of the situation, he’s distracted by someone to his left. Yes, it’s Steve Austin, in his ECW debut. When you think of all the stuff Steve Austin did in his career, one thing you don’t tend to remember is his ECW debut.
The Pillman gun thing. The beer Zamboni. Flipping off Tyson. Almost getting embalmed alive up the bum by The Undertaker. All very memorable things.
But not his ECW debut. And you know why? BECAUSE HE WAS DOING AN IMPRESSION OF HULK HOGAN. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very good impression. And it was a shoot, brother. But it sucked. Ho hum.
Back in the ring. We have a treat for everyone: Psicosis –vs- Rey Misterio Jr. This is their ECW debut, and Joey professes some ignorance as to what they do, but the fans seem to know all about them. Stereo Mike pointed out that this Rey Misterio must be the son of the guy in WWE right now, and I said, yeah, because Rey Misterio Jr lost his mask (twice), so the guy on Smackdown can’t be him.
Everytime I see Psicosis, I think of my pal Jimmy Terry and his “go Buffalo Dude!” story. And I laugh.
So, yeah, these guys pretty much tear the house down, with a crisp display of altered lucha. It’s not Tijuana-lucha, or Arena Mexico-lucha, but has just enough of a grounded spin to it that an American audience can dig it wildly. The biggest compliment you can pay is that we pretty much watched it without saying a word, except to rewind some stuff because it PWNED all of you.
And I don’t even particularly like these guys.
The main event was Sandman & Scorpio –vs- The Gangstas –vs- Public Enemy. In a cage. We didn’t watch it. We tried Duggan’ing, but gave up. In my defense, I was tired. In Stereo Mike’s defense, he wanted to watch what was on the tape aftr this: Wrestling ViXXXens Unleashed. Because he’s a filthy porn addict.
Unfortunately, he’s not, because that would provide huge amounts of comedy on FYC road trips. But we did FFW to get to Wrestling ViXXXens Unleashed – a decision I’m not proud of, but one I will stand by. And I would hope you would defend to the death my right to make that decision.
In brief words on that show: Missy is old but I still would. Sunny was skanky but not fat, and I still would. And the others were anonymous, hot, but not wrestling vixxxens. What is a vixxxen, anyway?
Randomly Chosen Match #1 by Linus
Some guy uploaded a ton of matches on to pwtorrents under the heading Misc Stuff. And he was right. There's WWF, OVW, New Japan, Ring of Honor, MLW... So I thought the least I can do is watch some, right? Oh, and review it for your reading pleasure. ENJOY~!
Randomly Chosen Match #1: Mark Briscoe -vs- Alex Shelley (ROH, Survival of the Fittest, quarter-final, 06/24/04)
Despite him being the heel (as far as I understand these things in Ring of Honor), Shelley gets a good face pop coming out. Maybe it's because his name scans well into that crowd chant people do, whereas Mark Briscoe is short a syllable? Whatever. I like Shelley. I like him a lot. I first saw him, ooh, about a year ago now, when Teema hooked me up with the Ted Petty Invitational that rocked in (Shelley, not Teema). Mark Birscoe? Ehhh, not so much, though I'd be lying if I said I'd taken notice of much he's done since he turned legal (obligatory RF joke here). Since I'm on my second chance kick for all things I've decried in my past, he has a clean slate with me.
They start with some nice matwork and standing swtches, without getting too gay and over-elaborate. At one point they even look like they're actually trying to look for ways out of holds instead of going through rehearsed motions. Take that, Jerry Lynn! You know, my matwork isn't too bad. A bit limited, I'll admit, but not bad. But I never get to do any. Because nobody knows how anymore. All they want to do is standing shooting star presses and ole kicks, and I guess it's a little bit ironic that I'm watching some nice, simple matwork in a promotion that is kinda responsible for the death of nice, simple matwork. Eh, go figure!
Both men are up and just when I was feeling comfortable about my sexuality they go into a gay chop exchange. This they probably teach in wrestling schools today. Oy vey! Into a fast-paced sequence which ends in an ECW-style face-off, only without the contrived feeling. I'm liking this match so far.
And then they go and ruin it slightly - but only slightly - by over-egging the pudding. A singler-leg by Briscoe is reversed by Shelley into a wristlock, before he kinda blows a spinning back-kick. And there's Indie Wrestling in a nutshell - make a rickett by doing something complicated when something simple would do. All it would have taken was a forearm to the face, a high-kic, a clothesline... Oh, but it's okay, because Briscoe makes it even by taking an eternity to set up a cross-leg shinbreaker. I'd never even seen one of those before, and I can't saying it was a Holy Shit moment, I'm afraid.
Okay, back on track with Briscoe on top, working the knee, telling the story. Shelley makes a brief comeback with slaps to the face, observing the Ricky Steamboat rule, but Briscoe goes right back to working the knee. Shelley makes the switch with a thrust kick as briscoe charges into the corner, and starts working on Briscoe's neck, with a cross-arm neckbreaker (which actually kinda did make sense, tying up a still-fighting Briscoe so he couldn't resist it), and then drapes the youngster (and, yes, I realise they're both youngsters but I'm sick of writing "Shelley" and "Briscoe". You have a problem with that? I have a problem with you! Your mother!) over the middle rope for the old legdrop on the outside trick. You know, just like the Sandman used to do. Only not. Which is both good & sad. Good because it's miles better. Sad because it has none of the sloppy charisma, and the crowd response kinda betrays that.
Back inside, Shelley's still in control, until a standing switch gives Briscoe a waistlock. Shelley throws elbows but Briscoe ducks and pulls him through into a fisherman buster for a 2 count. Shelley tries to take refuge on the outside, but Briscoe catches him. Shelley kicks in through the ropes, Briscoe catches his leg and DRAGON SCREWS~! him while he's in the ropes. Big ovation for that, and rightly so.
Dragging Shelley in, Briscoe goes up top for a missile dropkick to the knee and then slaps on a cloverleaf to work the knee, with Shelley clawing his way to the ropes. The announcers, who do a fair job despite a handicap of being really annoying, put over Shelley's heroism & resilience by saying Briscoe fell over. Good job!
An enzuigiri by Shelley brings the switch again, and he hits a cross-leg Ace cutter for a 2. The comeback is short-lived, Shelley is blocked and Briscoe goes right back to the knee, before hitting a sloppy (called "modified" by the announcers - I used to use "unorthodox", for some people more than others) German suplex for another 2.
Briscoe, looking to finish things, looks to a power bomb, blocked by Shelley into a Hollybomb (or Ongkiller, I guess). Shelley hits a snap suplex, rolls through for another but turns it into the Border City Stretch, looking to tap Briscoe out. Briscoe fights out into a roll-through cloverleaf for the 3 count.
I'd guess that this would count as something of an upset, since Shelley is head of that Generation Next group, but what do I know? I know Briscoe got a World Title shot at some point, so maybe he's a big cheese now? Whatever. I enjoyed this. Kept short, kept (mostly) simple, and told a good story.
Mystery uploader - you're 1 for 1!
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