Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Monday, February 23, 2009

SCHNEIDER COMP #23- THE RETURN

After a multi year hiatus the 90's tape sensation PHIL SCHNEIDER COMPS return. Here is #23 which is the random mix of new and old which people have come to expect, this time on DVD with good video quality and with transactions handled by a semi-professional. If you are interested in picking this up, e-mail Goodhelmet at goodhelmet@satx.rr.com. This is the extended version of the match list with cut and pasted reviews when available.



DISC 1

Freelance, Pegasso Xtreme & Rey Cometa vs. Los Oficiales (IWRG 10/17/08)

In an area where most lucha trios match feel clipped even when they aren’t, IWRG is still a place where they let things draw out a bit. This didn’t have the matwork you will occasionally see in IWRG, as this was worked more like a classic 90’s AAA match then a classic 90’s CMLL match. Oficiales have awesome masks, and are like a trio of 1994 Psicosi, crazy bumps to the floor, a sick tope, and incredible eating of all of the flyers spots. They basically keep the AAA guys out of this match, outside of their big dives, and give us plenty of Freelance. If you aren’t on the Freelance bandwagon, jump on, as he is the single most spectacular wrestler in the world. It isn’t even his dives (although he bust out an insane springboard tope con hilo into the seats), but his rope running, headscissors and armdrags are as fast and slick as Rey Mysterio at his greatest. I think this would even appeal to the lamers who don’t “get” lucha, as this doesn’t take much getting.

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Yoshiaki Yatsu (SWS 10/29/91)
TKG: So Phil gets this SWS card with a disappointing Orient Express vs. Sano/Orihara match, disappointing Haku/Nakano vs. somebody and Fuyuki, disappointing Takano v. Barbarian, Bestia carrying Asai to a nice juniors match , and I guess a the Hara vs. Warlord match which exceeded expectations. And then there was the main event. And Fuck I need to see every time these two guys match up. What did Tenryu do to Yatsu to deserve this? What did Yatsu do to Tenryu? What in hell are these two guys doing to each other. This starts with Yatsu slapping the dogshit out of Tenryu's ear, and then Yatsu just looks to be going after the ear, forearm right to the ear, stiff enziguri right to ear, etc. Its like he wants to bust his eardrum. Yatsu is sick of the women being drawn to Tenryu on the dance floor and has decided to fuck Tenryu's balance up permanently. Tenryu crawls around the ring and sells. Damnit bitch its my jherri curl that draws the women not my dance steps you ugly fuck. Tenryu chops the fuck out of Yatsu chops him right on the throat, enziguri's him in the back of the head, etc. But this is really the Yatsu show as he goes on these huge runs of offense were you legit believe that Tenryu is concussed or at least been rendered near imobile. I think my favorite spot is the first rope flying battering ram headbutt that Yatsu throws. He follows this up with just a really nasty Terry Taylor type chinbreaker except he executes it with this kind of complete disregard. Like Steve Williams throwing a dangerous suplex, except its a chinbreaker. Chinbreaker 91~!

PAS: Yatsu had all the really great offense in this match, Tom didn't even mention the bulldog on the floor or the running shoulder block off the apron, but Tenryu was bringing some sick violence to the show. Laying in the Kawada kicks right to Yatsu's eye and face, there was a section where Tenryu kicks him directly in the kidney and Yatsu kinds of rolls on the mat clutching it in pain. Then Tenryu just starts kneeing and punching him right on the kidney, and you get the sense if Tenryu lost his equilibrium after this match, Yatsu wasn't able to drink coffee or liquor ever again. I think there were multiple parts in this match where you figured they would have to stop the match and get a doctor. I thought Tenryu was concussed by an early Yatsu lariat, thought Yatsu had lacerated his spleen. Just an epic amazing shockingly violent train wreck of a classic match.

Larry Zybysko, Bobby Eaton & Arn Anderson v. Ricky Steamboat, Dustin Rhodes & Nikita Koloff (WCWSN 5/23/92)

This is yet another spectacular match from my favorite time in wrestling history, the first six months of 1992 WCW. This is 2/3 falls and has Ross and an ex-Raider on commentary so you had Ross in heaven as he gets to make dozens of football references. The opening couple minutes had a really nice Steamboat and Eaton match up for about 5 minutes, with Eaton working a headlock.

Then Dustin and Arn tag in and Arn runs off almost a comedy spotfest dive train. In the space of two minutes, he gets punched by Rhodes and does a knockout sell... complains to the ref about a closed fist ... throws his sweat at Steamboat ... does his asian stereotype bow then pops Dustin on the apron... he then avoids a chop by Steamboat by sliding outside, points to his head to show how smart he is, only to get drilled by Dustin ... he goes back into the ring and gets his boot caught, while Steamboat is holding his boot, Arn tries to call time, he then gets pinballed from corner to corner ... he then slides out and calls time, gets back into the ring and they tag in Nikita and Arn does his scared bug eyed Arn face .

10 great comedy spots, one after another, it was like watching 1995 Rey Mysterio Jr. .

First fall has some nice FIP work with Nikita. Nikita is a guy who most people think was useless, but during this period he was really effective as a power guy, sold well and timed his comebacks great. There is a Nikita v. Mr. Hughes WCWSN match from around this time which is also better then any Helmsley match ever. Sting was playing the same exact role in a bunch of other tags of this time period, and I think Nikita did it better.

Steamboat gets a quick bodypress on Larry for the first fall.

Dustin works some great sequences in the second fall, he pounds on Eaton with Eaton bouncing off the ropes back into more shots. Dustin then misses a lariat and clotheslines the post, and becomes face in peril. During the face in peril section Eaton hits one of the best top rope elbows I have ever seen. Zybysko throws in the phone and Dustin grabs in and smacks Larry for the DQ.

The third fall is based around working Steamboats broken nose, Anderson is just brutal here, as he just stomps directly on Steamboats face. I have written this before, but Arn is incredible at just shifting from a stooge to a killer. Moments before the broken nose section Arn does yet another amazing comedy spot, where he goes to the top to come off on Nikita ... Nikita cocks the sickle arm ... Arn sees that and stops his jump, but looses his balance and crotches himself. Total goofball stuff. Then moments later Ricky comes in and Arn transforms into a totally vicious mauler. Steamboat of course is masterful at selling, and you just buy the brutality of the shots to the face.

The finish is pretty great, as this sets up Zybysko leaving the Dangerous Alliance. Nikita makes the hot tag and cleans house. Arn grabs Nikita and Larry accidentally hits Arn with a forearm, Nikita then goes for the sickle and Larry ducks, so Arn gets drilled, and pinned. Watts comes in weeks later, and the party ends a bit as the Alliance breaks up, but man alive was this period of wrestling great.

El Hijo Del Santo v. Brazo De Oro (UWA 1/13/91)

PAS: This is a mask v. hair match, and is two guys working an amazing match in their secondary specialties. Santo is primarily known for classic lucha, either technical singles matches or formula trios match, the Brazos are primarily known as comedy wrestlers. However both guys are amazing brawlers, and this is a bloody violent amazing brawl. Oro has such force on everything he does, headbutts, kicks, stomps, he comes off as a total asskicker. He dominates the first round, busting open Santo so you can see a pulsating blood stain on the Silver mask. Santo comes back and hits his brawling flying moves, he is the best at making topes look like vicious attacks. Oro isn't about to be out bled and by the end of the match has a sickening amount of blood squirting out of his head.

TKG: Santo is a guy who works really great singles matches. I've written a bunch of times about the difference between how luchadors work a title match and how they work a hair/mask match. Both very different styles/genres of matches and both genres that Santo really is master of. And on some level here you have a formula Santo hair/mask match where they meet all the genre conventions/requirements that you need to get that off. This is of course not jut any Hair/Mask match its a Hijo del Santo hair/mask match which means really the finish is never in any doubt...nonetheless the two guys need to work up to a level where you loose track of that. There is normally an inherent drama in a hair/mask match that is going to be missing when you have a Santo hair/mask match. Instead the drama is about the guy who you know is going to loose having to make an actual fight out of it, so not just a hair/mask match its kind of hair/mask match with undercurrent of lower ranked guy challenging Jumbo or somesuch. And motherfuck does Brazo del Oro just step up to the plate. Oro isn't just an absolute bad ass in the opening fall which he dominates but he really comes off as guy fighting for the fall in the second Santo fall too.

Terry Funk vs. Homicide (JAPW 9/27/03)

There is no reason for old ass Terry Funk to take this level of asskicking. Crazy brawler Homicide is the best and Funk is Funk.

Blue Panther v. Villano V (CMLL 9/19/08)

For some reason in current lucha libre most masks are lost in multi person cage matches or four ways, I can’t remember the last time we have seen this kind of mano a mano mascara contra mascara. Luckily for us Panther wasn’t going out in some bullshit cage and we got a taste of how it is supposed to be done. __We start out with a fun brawl with Panther eating a nasty post shot and Villano throwing some nice looking chops and punches (including a sweet left hook). The first big spot of the match, ( and one of the spots of the year) has Panther nuking Villano with a tope into the seats, either Villano busts the back of his head legit, or the crazy fuck bladed the back of his head as he wrestles the rest of the match with a blood smear growing out of the back of his mask. The first fall ends with Panther getting his masked ripped off, and the second fall ends with Villano getting a receipt, really went with the crazy atmosphere of the whole thing. __Third fall was close to perfect, Panther hits three great looking topes, one after another, smashing Villano further into the seats on each of them. Panther pescadas his face into Villanos feet, and then Villano takes control, getting some big near falls with multiple superplexes. Finish was awesome, as first Panther counters with the Fujiwara armbar for a really insane near fall (at this point the roof is about to blow off Arena Mexico) and when he goes for it again, Villano counters with a crucifix and the place erupts. You had fans in Villano masks going berserk and fans in Panther masks crying. Really couldn’t ask for more from either guy, and a truly awesome way for Panther to lose his mask.

Golden Moose Cholak vs. Larry Sheen (Chicago 1950s)

Really fun match from the 50’s, which wouldn’t look out of place in any year. Cholak totally ruled as your Eisenhower era Vader.

Los Misioneros de la Muerte vs. Los Cadetes del Espacio (IWRG 2/10/05)

TKG: Ok DAMN. I was looking forward to this match to see what these old guys could still do; looking forward to this as nostalgia match and because Javier Llanes does commentary for IWRG and this is the kind of match that provides a lot of opportunities for him to go into historical digressions: Hector Guerrero worked solar in a face v face singles match in Arena Aficion? The inventor of the SuperAstro/Rayo reverse tope was a 1930s era Chinese luchador named Ah Choo? But instead of getting a nostalgia match I got a really great contemporary match. I mean, the slow burn two out of three falls format is one of my favorite ways to lay out a lucha match.

"First two falls worked as two veteran teams respecting each other keeping it on the mat. And it’s kept on the MAT. So first fall starts with Ultraman matching up against Signo, at one point Signo grecco pummels Ultraman into the heel corner and the heels don’t take the opportunity to beat on Ultraman, and at the end of their section the two slap hands. And its Texano and SuperAstro. Remember me talking about the formula where first guy takes it to the mat second does quick exchanges…well this is IWRG where they’ll let first pair take it to the mat and do slow matwork followed by second pair coming in and take it right back to the mat. Everyone takes it to the mat. Ultraman v. Signo on mat looked slow and like they weren’t that comfortable, Texano and Super Astro work at faster pace and do more complex mat stuff but still awkwardness to it and then its time for Solar I versus Navarro and -holy shit, these two are on just another level. As these two are super smooth doing lock ups and escapes and just a ton of sequences which you’ve never seen before. I mean you’ve seen most of the stuff that the other guys did on the mat but the Solar versus Navarro section has about 12 spots that US indy guys could steal for finishers. At the end of first caida, veteran technicos go over to congratulate the veteran rudos, hug and raise heels arms.

2nd fall is a little shorter. Texano and Ultraman match up this time. Again on the mat. And by second fall ring rust is off. Signo and SuperAstro work the actual fast exchange section. Super Astro is really good at hitting all his signature spots and Signo hits the best lariats of anyone in this match. Odd- as Texano is great brawler but any double clothesline you want to watch Signo’s half. Solar and Navarro lock up again and, fuck, you want to watch those two guys forever. Solar gets Navarro in submission and, shit, it was all well and good when the technicos lost to be all code of honor shaking hands but now heels are pissed and you can watch them slowly burning. The faces congratulate themselves and then come over to raise Navarro’s arm as despite losing still being great and the heels just stew at all the presumptuousness.

3rd fall is all Navarro pissed calling out Solar Solar goes right back to arm and the other heels come out and enough mat stuff its time to beat on each other. Crowds boos the heels for breaking the code of honor and its technico v rudo. The weirdest thing about the third fall is that the third fall is all about Texano v Ultraman sections. Ultraman has always been the least of the Space Cadetes but watching him throw combinations and Flair flopping when hit with combinations by Texano is really really good. Who knew? Match ends with 80s AJ brawling count out finish.

Terry Funk vs. Mr. Wrestling II (MSG 11/25/85)
If this was in the Omni it would have been a classic, in front of a MSG crowd who didn’t know II, it was more of a really cool oddity.

Riki Choshu v. Yoshiaki Fujiwara (NJ 6/9/87)
PAS: Pretty much a textbook example of a simple match performed by ridiculously charismatic performers, and how great something like that can be. Very few wrestling moves performed by either guy. Fujiwara does basically headbutts, punches and a Fujiwara arm bar. Choshu does kicks, one back suplex, a scorpion deathlock and Choshu lariats. It isn't about what they do, it is how and when they do it. Fujiwara jumps Choshu in the aisle and just destroys him for the opening five minutes. Choshu is bleeding and Fujiwara is smirking and strutting, Choshu gets control with a back suplex, and Fujiwara has an awesome "Oh Fuck" look on his face as he goes up. It gets a little more back and forth after that, but Fujiwara still controls most of it, until he makes the mistake of getting cocky and removing the ringpad. Choshu reverses the whip, Fujiwara takes a bump, they spill to the outside, and Choshu just smashes Fujiwara's head into the ringpost. Fujiwara has a traditional comedy spot, where he no-sells getting his head smashed into the ringpost, so Choshu really has to crack open his skull to make it work. Then it is all about a repulsively bloody Fujiwara trying to survive incredible looking Choshu lariats. Both guys come off as such superstars, it was like watching Hogan v. Rock with actually contact being made on the moves.

TKG: So Fujiwara attacks Choshu in the aisle busts him open and beats on him, and beats on him, and beats on him...and there is no comeback and it almost had a lucha fall feel as just completely one sided but you can tell everything by reading both guys eyes. Phil mentions Fujiwara's facial expressions and I don't care how long one studies mime with Decroux...Fujiwara can communicate more with a wrinkle of his nose. There is this point where Choshu is punching Fujiwara in the corner and Fujiwara goes from anger at being in the corner, to defiance , to struggling to maintain the defiance, to just a fuck you face that would make Murakami cower. The first lariat that Choshu hits Fujiwara with is just an absolute blast..like getting run over by a truck. the second and third ones are less impressive lariats but Fujiwara has these really awesome ways of selling/taking them. I mean they are still impressive lariats but its more about Fujiwara going into a flamingo stance and the flipping downward in what really looks like a boxer getting KOed and moving legs involuntarily on fall kind of deal. The lariat take that ends the match, I can't even come up with a way to describe it.

DISC 2

Mystico De La Juarez, Silver King & Rubi Gardenia vs. Cassandro, Magno & El Hijo Del Santo (London 12/9/08)

This was the main event of the final Lucha Libre London show, and is pretty much everything you could ask for in a lucha libre trios match. Santo is a guy who only shows up on tape once or twice a year, and you really have to search high and low for it. Santo is still Santo and hits all of his signature awesome stuff here, but this match was really made by the performances of everyone else. Cassandro was completely amazing here, crisp, spectacular and really charismatic, by the end of this match he was the most over guy on the show. Mystico De La Juarez and Magno are Juraez guys who clearly work each other a ton, and they have some very cool exchanges, Mystico is a total bump freak as he takes an awesome reverse rana and a nasty looking Code Red from Santo. This was really a traditional formula lucha match, mat work and quick exchanges in the first fall, violent rudo brawling in the second and wild dives and near falls in the third. It is a great formula, and much like the Southern tag formula, pretty rare in 2009. So when you see it done so well like this it is a real pleasure.

Necro Butcher v. Sami Callihan (IWA-MS 10/4/08)
In most of your famous Necro matches he is a guy working from below, the crazy lunatic who takes a huge beating but is impossible to kill, and always has a punchers chance. Kind of dirty barefoot hillbilly Arturo Gatti. So it’s a cool reversal to see Necro as the unstoppable force and Callahan in the Necro Butcher role as the crazy brawler coming out like a buzzsaw and taking a huge beating. This is the equivalent of a short toe to toe boxing brawl, as both guys just go at each other with nasty shots, neither taking a backwards step. Callihan also did some cool counter wrestling, as he was working as almost a protégé v. mentor thing, guy who studied the master and knew his every move. Finish was perfect, as Callihan survived a lot, avoided a lot, but fell to the KO punch. Shockingly awesome match, and IWA-MS has delivered some great great stuff this year._

Gypsy Joe vs. Mighty Inoue (4/27/77)

Grim seedy disgusting little match. Both guys beat the crap out of each other and the grittiness of it makes it look like Mean Streets.


Jerry Lawler & Jeff Jarrett vs. The Moondogs (Concession Stand Brawl) (USWA 1992)
More out of control violence. Lawler, Jarrett and the Moondogs recklessly throw chairs, garbage cans and bottles at each other heads.


Wayne Shamrock v. Naoki Sano (PWFG 5/19/91)

PAS: I was pretty much in shock during this match, I couldn't believe what I was watching. I have never particularly cared for a thing Ken Shamrock has ever done, so I expected nothing out of this match, and it turned out to be as good as anything on the 80's Other Japan set. So much to love about this match, as they pretty much went back and forth from spectacular mat exchanges into awesome slugfest strike exchanges, great takedowns, into more spectacular mat exchanges. __The pacing of this was great, I especially loved how they paced their mat highspots. One guy would get in position and struggle a bit, and their would be a lull, and then super fast move into a choke or a kneebar. The crowd would pop huge for all of the mat spots, and it was the pacing of them which would really do it. Then after the mat near falls they would stand and just lay into each other with big shots, Shamrock's strikes looked way better here then in the previous match, and Sano was drilling him too. This was before Sano went to UWFI so I would guess this was his first shootstyle match ever, and he was a master of it. This was Sano's match, and while Shamrock was game, you could tell Sano was leading him. I also loved how Sano mixed in pro moves, as I actually bought an STF as a shoot submission, and a DDT as a shoot throw.

TKG: Shamrock comes into this with preposterous Saturday Night Fever hair. He's one headband away from being the Dingo Warrior. This had a ton of crowd heat and first half is really made by that crowd heat. Phil covers really the early pacing of this as its two guys jockeying for position, conservatively moving toward a big move...moving moving...then they hit it and crowd pops. Both guys are conservative. They don't want to leave anything open for opponent. So its all about fight for position.__As the match goes on you get the sense that both guys get more desperate. Shamrock throws his hands more often and all the big moves go from being hit cleanly to being almost video game style "make or miss" moves. So first half of the match is all about guys getting into position for throws or submissions and then hitting them cleanly, second half is about their health power bars wearing down and so they struggle to get into position for stuff and then can't hit it cleanly. Shamrock moves into position to hook Sano's legs with leg scissors and can't do it...opening himself up for Sano. Sano moves into position for throws but can no longer deal with Shamrocks weight advantage and so can't hit the throws cleanly...leaving himself open for Shamrock. __It's not the traditional body of match/finish of match split. Its two conservative fighters sticking to their gameplan with the fight taking its tole. It's that layout that really made this for me. Well that and the shoot DDT_

Buddy Rose vs. Rick Martel (Portland 4/26/80)

Rose comes in after losing a hair match, so he is wearing a wig held on by a mask. Classic Rose bumping and comedy.


Hayato Jr. Fujita vs. Yoshitune (M-PRO 12/12/08)

Yoshitune is a guy with a bunch of nutty spots, but I had no expectation that he had a real singles match in him. This pretty much ruled though, Fujita is a Battlartsy junior, lots of nasty kicks and triangle chokes, I hadn’t seen a ton of him before but he looked good here, especially his selling. Most of the match is built around Yoshitune finding crazy ways to rupture Fujita’s abdomen, lots of nasty looking kicks and double stomps, including one off a balcony, and Fujita spent the entire match about to puke. Fujita meanwhile is just trying to knock Yoshitune out, and kicks him really hard in a bunch of ways. You had a big puro juniors finish, but their wasn’t any kick outs which made me scoff, and there was some really awesome looking spots, including a couple of variations of Yoshitune’s rope running. Match kind of came out nowhere, which is kind of the theme of 2008 wrestling for me.

Original Midnight Express v. Jerry Lawler & Bill Dundee (AWA 10/30/87)
PAS: This is for the AWA tag belts and is a match which on paper looks really awesome, but especially in the 80’s on paper matches were often pretty disappointing. This however was even better then it looked on paper. Lawler and Dundee are a great tag team, we all know what great individual wrestlers they are, and how well they match up against each other, but they also have great face tag team shtick. Their opening babyface in control section was just full of great stuff. I especially loved the variations on the partner blocks the Irish whip into the corner, also this was a punch marks dream match with both Lawler and Dundee breaking out tons of different combos. I especially loved the running left hook by Dundee. OMX were a lot fun in this too, especially Randy Rose who looked Eaton great in this, he takes a huge high backdrop, and has a bunch of fun offense. Slim Paul E. with his sport coat with rolled up sleeves throws in the phone and the OMX win the belts. I liked this more then any of the Rose/Somers v. Midnight Rockers matches and this was fucking with the high end Rock and Rolls v. Midnights matches.

TKG: Man this was fun. A lot of faces do stuff effectively, heels try same spots only to have the backfire. If you’ve seen the Memphis doc on youtube, you may remember the Hector Guerrero vs. Lawler spot where Hector puts Lawler across top rope and then kicks at him…Lawler tries same spot and Hector gets out of way. Lawler does same spot with Rose but with Lawler working face this time out. Lawler is caught with knee in corner and ends up face in peril eating a punch with a big bump to floor and then taking body slam on the floor running powerslam from Rose, etc. Dundee is all over the place as guy on apron…running after Heyman on the floor. Holding back heel from making tag while waiting for Lawler’s attempt to make hot tag etc. But really this match is about the early face in control section with the two faces just laying in punches and clotheslines..with Randy Rose just running head first into the fists and lariats. Dundee does a top rope knee drop with refs back turned. I don’t know what the top rope rule was at the time but ref turns around and really can’t figure out what’s going on as Lawler and Dundee switch off going for two counts on Rose before ref can figure out who is the legal man. I don’t know if it was a stunt granny but there is also a nun in the front row who punches at the air with every face punch and gets absolutely irate at all the heel cheating.

Yuki Ishikawa, Alexander Otsuka & Munenori Sawa vs. Daisuke Ikeda, Katsumi Usuda & Super Tiger II (BattlArts 7/26/08)
This isn’t just the best match of this year, it is right up there with the best things ever done in this style. This is an elimination match which goes 40+ minutes and was even more brutal and awesome then it looked on paper. Everyone in this was on their games, Ikeda’s team was working heel, and they spent the early part of the match abusing and cheap shotting the faces, especially Sawa who was really great in the role of spunky young guy eating an asswhooping and showing stones. Because this was a tag, you had a lot of submissions being put on and saves being made, and man the saves were just horrific, stomps directly to the head, kicks square in the face, I mean you start cringing as soon as anyone comes into the ring. I hadn’t seen much Super Tiger II before, but he ruled here, really capturing the kind of awkward recklessness of Sayama’s UWF kicks. Your BattlArts big four were as great as they have ever been, Otsuka just brutalizing people with suplexes, and ripping out awesome mat counters, Usuda both taking and dishing out ungodly stiff shots, and Ishikawa and Ikeda being Ishikawa and Ikeda. Their interactions with each other are all you could possibly hope for, and there are parts near the end that almost feel like the last rounds of the Rumble in the Jungle with two guys punishing each other past the point of human tolerance. I don’t want to talk about any of the eliminations specifically, this is a match I don’t want to spoil, but when you have such brutality dished out during a match, you can fall into the trap of everything looking like a finish, and when everything looks like a finish, nothing looks like a finish. Here every elimination felt like exactly the point at which the guy should have been eliminated. This is a match I can’t imagine anyone who likes wrestling not loving, get your hands on it ASAP.

Booker T vs. Joey Matthews (NEW 5/3/08)
Fun little hidden gem. Booker and Matthews have a great Smackdown match in front of a bunch of little kids enjoying themselves tremendously.


Read more!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ROH Road Report- Manassas VA 1/16/2009

PAS: Tomk and I get picked up by the Cooke brothers and we watch in amusement as the pre inaugural traffic kept adding to the arrival time on the GPS. We went from planning on eating pre-show Peruvian chicken to getting to the show right at bell time

TKG: We joke about Hogan’s Celebrity Wrestling and Tim’s interest in all things Bischoff. I joke about Bischoff’s love for kicking offense laying the ground work for all the leg strikes in ROH. If anyone else was in charge Stevie Ray would have been the guy getting the big singles push. Bigger guy with the better mic work. But Bischoff loved some kicking offense. Didn’t matter if it was Ernest Miller, Meng (who never used as many leg strikes at any other point in his career), Ray Lloyd, Ultimo, Jerry Flynn, Zybysco’’s Sano kick or Booker T. Bischoff loved a kicker.

Damien Wayne/Chris Escobar v. Brent Albright/Eric Stevens

PAS: Pretty fun opener, Wayne and Escobar were basically there to take a beating and bump, and Albright and Stevens are fine as really short Road Warriors. We got to see both VA guys throw nice looking punches, and their Total Elimination variation was completely awesome. Still for guys who were mainly their for their bumping, this was probably the sanest bumps I have ever seen either guy take live.

TKG: Escobar has looked hit and miss to me in the past but looked solid for whole match and is wearing ridiculously awesome pants. Wayne also looked bad ass throwing nasty punches and eating chops. Putting Stevens and Albright together as mini-Pittbulls actually seems smart as Stevens does most of the work in the match and it keeps Albright on the apron

Rhett Titus v. Sean Denny

PAS: Sean Denny comes into to a Morrisey song which was the best thing on the whole show. Titus is tall and has an amusing gimmick, but man does he stink in the ring. There is a point where he nearly drops Denny on his head while trying to lift him. Bison Smith run in was amusing.

TKG: British wrestler coming out to the Smiths is amusing as fuck. Early sections of this were ok and Denny works a sell the back story. But this is pointless as I don’t think Titus has any idea of how to work a body part. Titus really came off like a poor man’s Nature Boy Ricky Rachet. This just goes on and on going nowhere until the Smith interference. I don’t get ROH bringing in Bison Smith. They already have Albright working short pudgy power wrestler. They have this team of Stevens and Albright as short stocky power guys. Why bring in a slightly taller slightly pudgier guy to work the same gimmick? He is taller and pudgier so it kind of kills their gimmick. If your booking Jeff Van Kamp as Lord Humongous, you don’t bring in Sid with a hockey mask. I also thought they were trying to do cost cutting. Are they flying in Smith? Of all the ex-NOAH guys why Smith? I mean Too Cold Scorpio is working the indies having great matches. Richard Slinger in ROH would rule too. I mean I guess neither of those guys have the look that management currently wants. But for that look, why not George Hines?

Delirious v. Necro Butcher

PAS: This was fine, but Necro just doesn't have it in ROH for some reason. I imagine this would have been awesome in IWA-MS, but here it felt flat. I did love Necro blocking the dive with a big right. Man that finish was really bad, didn't Delirious stab her in the face months ago? I know beating a woman is a babyface move in Northern Indy Wrestling, but I didn't realize that sticking with a violent abusive boyfriend was also a babyface move.

TKG: So the new ROH thing apparently is make the refs stronger. I mean I understand when the WWE suddenly goes “Our refs have no credibility we need to reestablish them as having authority, yadda yadda.” But I don’t get the sense that this was ever a problem in ROH. Yet every match on this show had distracting demonstrative refs establishing their authority. Both refs on this show were oddly separating wrestlers from downed opponents, which I don’t get at all. The brawling sections here never got across reckless abandon as Necro was always rolling in to break up a ten count. I liked this more than Phil. The in ring stuff with Delirious working over Necro’s leg with spinning toe holds and figure four was well done, and Necro sells a body part well. And the Necro as Dusty chasing heel around brawling stuff was good. The complicated outside interference storyline finish really was stupid for an undercard match. Jimmy Jacobs distracts ref so that Delirious can get spike, Daize Haze comes out to convince Delirious not to use spike. You can pull that kind of thing off in a main event angle/match. But on the undercard this really had the shitty CZW booking feel of “the work in this match is meaningless while the booking is all that matters".

American Wolves v. Jay Briscoe/Roderick Strong

TKG: We go up the bar for beers and watch this from above. Phil asks me why this is a grudge match and I explain how the American Foxes took out Mark Briscoe, and then drove to Florida where they assaulted Sedrik. I didn’t get the sense that this was being worked as an actual grudge match. But it was a fun workrate sprint. It looked like Strong was wearing Docks instead of wrestling boots which made the drop kicks look even nastier. Davey Richards isn’t a guy who I normally like. But he limited himself mostly to kicks and those kicks looked good. Bischoff would have done really enthusiastic commentary.

PAS: This was the most ROHie of the matches tonight, as it was your basic Briscoes tag except a little more toned down. Richards did mostly jujitsu mat counters and Sano kicks both of which he does well, so he irritated me less then he usually does. The normal problem in Richards singles matches is that he is the most choreographed looking wrestler in the world. I don't mean that his stuff looks complicated and dance like (although it does), I mean that you can actually see him working out the steps in his head. I used to tap dance, and his two count roll ups look like he is working out the steps in rehearsal, and a one .. and a two.. small package.. and a one...and a two... bridge. It doesn't require as much Bob Fosseism to do Ringo Mendoza kicks, so this worked out better. Still match had its problems, Jay Briscoe is a guy who will normally have seventeen kick outs in the last five minutes of a match, so having him go down to a shitty looking shoe shot (This wasn't Tommy Gilbert with a cowboy boot, this was Miss Elizabeth with a high heel) really makes no sense for the audience they are working for.


TKG: It’s intermission, I talk to Dean about dog ownership. Tim points out the ridiculous of the second half of show being three singles matches in a row. Yadda yadda.

Jerry Lynn v. Austin Aries

TKG: On the drive up to the show we were joking about which match we may or may not miss by getting there late. We go into this show thinking it’s pretty much a one match card : Jacobs v Danielson. Nigel v Black could be good but honestly that type of Nigel vs underdog isn’t my favorite Nigel. Delirious v Necro could be good but non-mainevent Necro in ROH is often disappointing. As that’s a match up you imagine would be better elsewhere. We all are dreading the idea of Jerry Lynn v Austin Aries. Dreading the “Wrestler” Lynn push, dreading the Malenko Guerrero roll ups, the mirror sections, the near falls, dreading that match.

TKG: Instead Aries comes out in trunks that look like a china pattern and Billy Childish's mustache and talks about how he's going to release his manifesto. His manifesto? http://www.391.org/manifestos/ According to Tim everyone in ROH is releasing manifestos. Jacobs has a manifesto, Black has a manifesto, Necro has a manifesto, etc. AWESOME. I kind of liked the whole idea behind The No Limit Soldiers v West Texas Outlaws wrestling feud built around aesthetic arguments. The idea that Delirious v Necro was based in Delirious Dada manifesto vs necro’s Neo Concrete manifesto is awesome. Aries comes across like Ian Svenonius on the mic talking about the anticipation of his manifesto. And then he kind of wrestles like how I imagine Svenonius would wrestle if he had taken up wrestling instead of music. And it was awesome. For a match I was dreading, this ended up being the match of the night.

PAS: Aries new gimmick is pretty spectacular, he basically takes no bumps and has no big offense. He is all fey comedy bumps and facial mugging. He basically works like heel Lanny Poffo with less spectacular offense, imagine Paul Lynde if he lived long enough to get into 90's gay gym culture. He seems really annoyed and flustered at everything Jerry Lynn did. Lynn still sucks, and there was points where he still looked like Jerry Lynn, which kept this from being a MOTYC. ROH is a promotion full of tape nerds who went to wrestling school, I imagine there are lots of guys who get matched up with Lynn and want to work matches from their collection. "Let's work this like you vs. Sabu", "Let's steal this spot from you Lightning Kid match" Aries apparently said "Do you remember your Eric Fontaine match from Global? Let's do that." The most amusing thing about this, is Aries is the booker now, this is clearly his choice, Gabe wanted him to work like a Dragon's Gate guy, but as soon as he got control, he said "Fuck the 450, I am growing a stache and not taking bumps."

TKG: Were there no bumps? I thought the thing that was most Poffo-ish was his acrobatic bumps. His offense and strutting were less Poffo and more Rene Goulet. I thought about approaching Greg H and asking him if he had any memories of how the Rene Goulet/Karl Gotch tag team worked as I really wanted to see new Austin Aries tagged up with either Danielson or Mcguiness. I don’t want to argue about Poffo v Goulet or if Aries was more Paul Lynde or Charles Nelson Reily. Because the real thing is that Aries really felt like he was his own man here. This wasn’t Aries working a Rene Goulet tribute gimmick so much as what I imagine Rene Goulet would do if he was a contemporary twenty year old. This wasn’t a retro gimmick. Joey Ryan or Larry Sweeney are working deliberate retro-tribute gimmicks. This was a 2009 gimmick. The two things that I always used to point to in Austin Aries matches were: (1) the spot where he would hug the bottom rope to regroup and stop opponents attack ( a theatrically chickenshit move that somehow he made work even as a face); (2) the way he would move in sudden choppy bursts that felt like you’re watching Harryhausen animation. The current Aries gimmick really felt like it was built around both those things. Whenever Lynn so much thought about mounting an offense Aries would try to regroup and escape in real crawl to the ropes and ball up variations. And Aries on offense was all about bursts of suddenness that made him racing across the ring stopping and then leaping up with a second rope springboardish back rake look cool. The Aries gimmick change didn' feel artificial act or like Voodoo Papa Chango showing up as MMA fighter Kama. It felt like a natural extension of parts of Aries ROH persona. I just want to read his manifesto and figure out why he decided to lean this much in that direction.

TKG: Lynn wins with a roll up. I don’t get the whole “Randy the Ram” Jerry Lynn push. Necro was actually in the movie. Why is Lynn getting the push? Randy the Ram is a guy who once headlined big shows who is able to establish an emotional connection with the crowd. Lynn is to Ram what Elektra is to Marrisa Tomei.

PAS: My favorite part of the internet reaction to the Wrestler, was the various people on message boards talking about how its success would lead to a resurgence in indy wrestling. I liked the movie a bunch, but I can't imagine anyone seeing the story of a man destroying himself in seedy VA halls in Southern New Jersey and thinking "That's a scene I would like to get involved in."

TKG: Did the arcade gaming industry think pinball sales were going to increase after the “Accused”?

TKG: I liked “The Wrestler”. That said I know New Jersey/PA indie wrestling and there were lots of moments where I found it's portrayal of that scene to be overly sentimental and romanticized.

PAS: Yeah, they do this juxtaposition, where you have greaseball Jersey guys really disrespectful to aged stripper, while all of the wrestling fans are really polite and worshipful to the aged wrestler. I have been to plenty of Northeast indy shows, and a fair number of Northeast strip clubs, strippers get treated with much more respect.

TKG: Northeast douchebags are douchebags. It's not a situational thing.

Jimmy Jacobs v. Bryan Danielson

PAS: I liked the match fine, but much like the main event it was an inferior rematch of something from the last couple of years. When you purposely tone down two rematches like this, it just leads to people unfavorably comparing the shows. Which they were doing plenty of from the start. I imagine a bunch of goodwill would have been regained if this match had really been worked like a big main event. Instead it was deliberate and had a flash finish. Good match, but completely wrong match for this show.

TKG: Dean points out that Danielson’s current facial hair makes him look like a member of a late 80s SST band. And the early sections of this felt like you were actually watching a bar fight between a guy in a Greg Ginn sideproject and a guy in Operation Ivy. Lots of shoving and posturing to start as both guys get more and more heated . They moved into a Danielson gets his leg worked over section after he slips off top rope that was neat and I’m uncomfortable talking about this match in “sections”. This was a match I really dug live as it came across really organic, two guys wrestling and responding to what happens. Responding to the crowd without ever going for cheap pops. Jimmy Jacobs was able to steal a quick finish and I really like the story of Jacobs being a guy who has Danielson’s number but it was a finish that the crowd completely turned on. Really at this point in the card stealing a finish felt cheap, the crowd would have reacted better to a run in.Three run ins, a fireball, ref bump and a belt shot and I think this match would have gotten a better response. That's the fault of the booking of the rest of this show. The story on the change in ROH booking was that they were going to go to a more “seventies/eighties” style. But there was nothing seventies or eighties style about the work or booking of this show. There’s a way good bookers constructed cards in the 70s/80s. A wrestling card tells a story. A guy like George Scott would open with a “dull” scientific face v face match that ended in a clean finish and slowly add on the color till you build to the hot angle heavy face/heal main with the elaborate shmozz finish. A New Japan card starts with guys with small movesets where everything is sold and guys loose to basic moves and builds to main events where guys are able to fighting spirit out of selling for lots of moves. Basic lucha card starts with spotfest built on guys trying to one up each other with technique and builds to main events where guys try to beat each other up and throw technique out the door. You start by establishing the rules of the game/ how things should function and build to the point where all the rules breakdown. In the seventies/eighties that’s basically how you constructed a card. I'm oversimplifying as there were places that deliberately ran a match that encouraged the audience to go to the concession stand, places with intermissions that ran heat matches pre or post intermission places that ran a heat killer pre-main, etc--so it wasn't always a straight line. But that just changes the pacing, the basic concept is still the same. The logic makes sense: start by introducing the idea of clean wrestling to get heat when that concept is violated. This ROH Manassas show worked that backasswards. The whole undercard was all about the ”booking” which builds to second half of the show which is three clean matches? Undercard was all about guys kicking out of stuff until the “booking came in” to lead to finish, until the 911 run in, until the valet distraction, until the manager with the shoe. The top half of the show was about matches ending cleanly. It made all the finishes on the top half of the card feel abrupt. Motherfuckers in the undercard are kicking out of shit till the booking comes in, why are these guys laying down so easily? This was booked like a shitty 90s Jersey/PA indy card where the crowd is conditioned early on to wait for run in and then can only be disappointed (feel cheated) when it doesn’t come. The change in booking philosophy was supposed to prevent crowd burn out. The booking of this show lead to crowd burn out and lead to them turning on the whole top of the card. Thats not 70s or 80s style booking. If anything this show was booked a lot like every fly by night US indy I'd go to in King Of Prussia in the mid 90s. It wasn’t that the work was equivalent to a card of “Ace Darling/Devon Storm v Pittbulls, Rickey Rachet v jobber, Max Thrasher v Glen Osbourne, The Misfits v The Big Unit with Royce Proffit, Ivan Putski v Dr Spa Fitness Joey “Foo Foo” Dynamite, Twiggy Ramirez v "Surfer" Ray Odysey, and King Kahlua v Julio Dinero.” But the booking felt like the way those shows were booked. Well except Ivan Putski v Dr Spa Fitness Joey “Foo Foo” Dynamite would have been the main event, Putski would have hit his finisher and the money mark would have been special ref. I'm not talking about Glen Strange JAPW booking or (was it Barry Casino who booked )ECWA 90s booking. I'm talking about fly by night NJ/PA early 90s fed booking. That's how alot of the post Gabe stuff reads on paper (although the big shows haven't been about clean finishes rather lots of 3 way dances and booking changes to make stuff feel like its "important" which is another shitty 90s booking staple.) I'm not lobbying to bring back Gabe, cause Glen Strange and/or Barry Casino can probably lay out a smarter set of cards too.

Tyler Black v. Nigel McGuiness

TKG: Mcguiness v underdog doesn’t do as much for me as it does for others. He does it well, it just doesn’t excite me as much as Mcguinness v rival on same level. He can do a “what will it take to put him away” guy-on-top v underdog well. Or he can do a Scorpio v Windham, “how do I deal with guy who is throwing everything at me” guy-on-top v underdog well. And here he kind of moved back and forth between those two well. And I was kind of digging it in a really detached way but it’s a match that requires a hot crowd. I think with a hot crowd this would have been a fun ride of a match. Instead it was done in front of a crowd that was burnt out and had turned on the show and this would have required a CZW end run and a table spot to get them back. And that made it feel even more detached for me. The pleasure of watching an underdog gets a big win should feel exhilarating like a roller coaster ride and not like I’m appreciating a Mondrian.

PAS: Tyler Black isn't a good enough wrestler to have a great title match in a vacuum. VA had turned on this promotion at this point, so Black's big comebacks were met with indifference. Their previous match had the big run of nearfalls, having Black get less nearfalls on the match he ultimately won, seems backwards to me. The body of the match felt like an early encounter, where Black proves he belongs. Instead we get his win, although it was non-title so they are going to drag it out way more.

TKG: Oddly compared to the last Manassas show I went to (5/12/08), there were fewer bad matches tonight. I mean there was nothing as good as Danielson v Black but there was nothing as bad as the worst stuff from that show. I think if they had changed the match order and some of the finishes tonight, they would have had a card that would have left people happy. But the show was really constructed like they were deliberately trying to kill a town. ROH is a small company. If they want to close up shop, they should just close up shop. I don’t see any reason to kill a town when they can just stop running it.

PAS: This really felt like a post Crockett sale UWF show, or Russo era WCW. Like we were watching the death throws of a promotion. Embittered audience who remembered the glory days, booker completely out of touch with what people want to see, wrestlers mailing it in. I don't know if TV will turn it around, or they will just shift to something different, but based on this show I don't see ROH lasting out the year.


Read more!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Segunda Caida/Goodhelmet MIX TAPE #1-The Best of Pro Wrestling Fujiwara-Gumi

Here is the match list for the first of many Goodhelmet/Segunda Caida collaborations. PWFG was a promotion all about beginnings. You had the pro-wrestling highlights of guys like Ken Shamrock, Minoru Suzuki and Masakatsu Funaki who would go on to form Pancrase and give birth to MMA. You have the first matches of guys like Daisuke Ikeda and Yuki Ishikawa who would go on to form BattlArts which is my all time favorite promotion. Along with that you have a couple of years of the career of Yoshiaki Fujiwara who may be the greatest Japanese wrestler of all time, Fujiwara has a ton of fun gems and a bunch of classics. Plus a bunch of random appearances, Dick Murdoch, Jerry Flynn, Mark Starr, Kane, Duane Koslowki, Riki Choshu, TAKA Michinoku, Dieusel Berto (father of the current WBC Welterweight champion Andre Berto) and even Roberto Duran, This is an awesome set of matches and folks should e-mail Goodhelmet at goodhelmet@satx.rr.com and pick it up . The reviews below have spoilers so if you want to be surprised beware.



DISC 1
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Johnny Barrett (3/14/91) (11:36)
PAS: I was really excited when I saw this on the matchlist. Barrett is an early 90's Florida indy worker who was an early DDP tag partner and feuded with the Nasty Boys. Somehow he ended up in UWF2 working as a Greco guy. All of his earliest UWF matches are filled with 3 Stooges style selling and dropkicks, so of course I loved them. Fujiwara of course is fucking Yoshiaki Fujiwara. This was as great as I was hoping it would be, although for different reasons. By 1991 Barrett had gotten the hang of working the style and is actually a really great shootstyle monster, kind of like Gary Albright with takedowns instead of suplexes.__Fujiwara really puts him over great here, as they exchange big shots, including Fujiwara's awesome shootstyle headbutt, which is completely different from his pro-style headbutt . His Pro-style headbutt has him grab the hair and really rare back, the kind of showy headbutt that plays to the back row. The shootstyle headbutt is more like a ram, he bends his knees and drives the top of his head right into either the jaw or the temple of his opponent. It is so different from his pro-style headbutt, that it always looks reckless and potatoey. It really looked like he broke Barrett's jaw. The finish was awesome, Barrett is on top, and tries to maneuver for a cross armbreaker, he slips while trying to apply it, and Fujiwara pounces, grabbing his ankle and sinking in a deep ankle lock for the tap. It actual looked like Barrett blew the spot and Fujiwara just went with, although it might have been intentional. Fujiwara is an amazing defensive wrestler, and this was just a brilliant reaction spot.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Wellington Wilkins Jr. (5/19/91) (13:26)
PAS: Damn was this a blast. This was worked as a mat brawl, both guys were exchanging really nasty shots mostly on the mat. Short punches to the temple by Wilkins, almost JYDish seated headbutts by Fujiwara, Wilkins kind of leaping from a lying position into a knee on Fujiwara's throat. Fujiwara was almost working heel here, as he slaps on a kneebar and lays out in a supine lounging position with his head resting on his elbow, he almost looks like he is stifling a yawn. Wilkins is great, he has nice deadlift suplexes and takes Fujiwara's signature boston crab reversal as a dangerous neck bump. Is their any other shoot Wilkins out there? Did he work Kingdom or something?


Wayne Shamrock vs. Naoki Sano (5/19/91) (26:40)
PAS: I was pretty much in shock during this match, I couldn't believe what I was watching. I have never particularly cared for a thing Ken Shamrock has ever done, so I expected nothing out of this match, and it turned out to be as good as anything on the 80's Other Japan set. So much to love about this match, as they pretty much went back and forth from spectacular mat exchanges into awesome slugfest strike exchanges, great takedowns, into more spectacular mat exchanges.__The pacing of this was great, I especially loved how they paced their mat highspots. One guy would get in position and struggle a bit, and their would be a lull, and then super fast move into a choke or a kneebar. The crowd would pop huge for all of the mat spots, and it was the pacing of them which would really do it. Then after the mat near falls they would stand and just lay into each other with big shots, Shamrock's strikes looked way better here then in the previous match, and Sano was drilling him too. This was before Sano went to UWFI so I would guess this was his first shootstyle match ever, and he was a master of it. This was Sano's match, and while Shamrock was game, you could tell Sano was leading him. I also loved how Sano mixed in pro moves, as I actually bought an STF as a shoot submission, and a DDT as a shoot throw. I have never heard anyone even mention this match before and it is a total hidden classic.

Kazuo Takahashi vs. Mark Rush (7/26/91) (13:43)
PAS: Mark Rush was a guy I liked from the early UWF2 even though he never really had a good match. He was a amateur wrestler with an amusing circus strongman mustache. This was better then any of the UWF stuff I saw him in, and was overall pretty good. This was almost all amateur style mat exchanges which looked really good. The only striking came near the end, when Takahashi slipped in a little headbutt and they started throwing blows. Until that it almost looked like worked RPW, which came off really well.

Wayne Shamrock vs. Duane Koslowski (7/26/91) (11:58)
PAS: Koslowski is an Olympic wrestler who had some matches in UWF. He was pretty fun here, as Shamrock continues to not irritate me. Shamrock keeps him off with kicks and punches, and Koslowski gets in with a big throw or two. Really cool looking suplexes actually, looked more like Matt Hughes throws then Scott Steiner suplexes. The finish was really pretty looking as Shamrock hits a Northern lights floating over into a kneebar. It would be a really great Austin Aries spot but I don't know if I buy Shamrock throwing an Olympian, especially as smoothly. Still this was on the good side of fine.

Minoru Suzuki vs. Naoki Sano (7/26/91) (33:35)
PAS: Man am I steamed Sano only worked three matches for PWFG as he is fucking gold again. This goes to a draw which keeps it a little below the sublime Sano v. Shamrock match on the second show, but it was incredible. The counters in this were faster then in the Shamrock match, but it was paced similar. __Suzuki was the one brining the pro wrestling here, as he breaks out a nasty piledriver and even tries a dropkick. The dropkick spot was great as he threw it and Sano steps away contemptuously, Suzuki lands bounces up and hit a brutal jumping spin kick into Sano's grill. Suzuki was great here, as he is awesome as a fired up babyface, there is a point where is trying to get a cross armbreaker and he is just chopping at Sano's arm and kicking him in the head in a frenzy to try to get Sano to break his grip. There is a great spot where Sano has on a choke, and Suzuki is slapping his own face to keep himself awake. I loved the draw finish too, as both guys have kneebars on each other and are just twisting the ankles in desperation to try to get the submission before the bell. I clearly need to get more UWFI Sano, as he is truly brilliant in all of his PWFG matches, and I want more shootstyle Sano.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Masakatsu Funaki (7/26/91) (16:45)
PAS: Man was this great. This was almost completely worked on the feet, alot of throwing hands and feet. There was some mat stuff early, but it was really incidental to what was going on. I really dug Fujiwara's in fighting here. He was working over Funaki on the inside, throwing little bodyshots, and a great looking sneak short headbutt which dropped him for a count. Funaki is the guy with the reach and Fujiwara needs to conduct the match on the inside to win. Funaki was winning the distance here, and Fujiwara is awesome at selling a beating. He does almost a Flair flop when he get caught with the heel of Funaki's boot when he was going for a single leg crab. __The finish is what really made this match. Funaki drops Fujiwara with a high kick for a close ten count. Fujiwara barely beats count, and Funaki is all over him, trying to finish the fight. Thigh kicks, hooking slaps, kicks to the head he swarms all over Fujiwara against the ropes. Fujiwara is so overwhelmed that at one point he almost turns his back, which Funaki just drills him with some kidney shots, Fujiwara is able to get off the ropes but he is backpedaling eating shots, Funaki shoots confidentially for the takedown, and boom, Fujiwara catches his arm in a a Fujiwara armbar using his legs, he wrenches and Funaki has to tap out. Probably the best flash finish I have ever seen in wrestling. Really puts over Fujiwara as the master defensive wrestler, someone you can never count out, never drop your guard, as he can get you like that. Had me jumping off my couch. Just awesome stuff.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Lato Kirawarik (8/23/91) (8:13)
PAS: This was a total blast. Fujiwara puts on kickpads in the beginning of the match and decides to use his kickboxing. Really had the feel of Matt Serra breaking out his highkick, as Fujiwara just has a shit eating grin on his face the whole time he is landing axe kicks, high kicks and Tiger Mask style spin kicks on the befuddled Sumo dude. Lato does get some offense including an awesome rush where he lowers his head and gores Fujiwara like a bull. Finish was great as Lato bulls Fujiwara into the corner and pops him with shots, Soronaka breaks them up, and Fujiwara points to the ref and says something, and when Lato is distracted smacks him with a high kick. "Hey look over there...BAM"

Wayne Shamrock vs. Masakatsu Funaki (8/23/91) (24:29)
PAS: So I am going to go on record. Ken Shamrock used to rule at the pro-wrestling. I imagine if he ended up going to New Japan instead of WWF he would have had some great matches and we would all be Shamrock fans. This wasn't as good as the transcendent Shamrock v. Sano match, but it was pretty great. Both guys were clearly great athletes, and work a really fast style. I get the same vibe from this as I got from the Takada v. Yamazaki series although I like this match up more. Not a ton of selling, alot of moves, ext. Still for workrate shootstyle this was great workrate shootstyle. Great ending, with Shamrock and Funaki exchanging really fast strikes, Funaki goes for a German, ends up eating some nasty back elbows and Shamrock does a standing switch and crushes him with a dragon suplex for the KO. I was worried this was going to another 30 minute draw, and was really happy to see a winner.

DISC 2
Yusuke Fuke vs. Wellington Wilkins Jr. (9/28/91) (12:19)
PAS: This was alot of fun, as Wilkins continues to be my favorite of the random PWFG gaijin. He was really working heel here, as their was a ton of little cheap shots, a low blow, a shot on the break, kicking on the ground. At one point the ref even shoves him and I half expect him to bump like Flair to Tommy Young. Fuke gets really pissed off and is all firey and feisty.


Bart Vale vs. Naoki Sano (9/28/91) (17:01)
PAS: Sano continues to be the absolute king of PWFG as he manages to have a really fun match with Bart Vale of all people. Vale throws these wild awkward kicks, and most of the time they land weakly, Sano is anticipating where the are going and leaning deeply into them. Vale actually looks like a killer here. The mat stuff is great too, with Sano really working towards half crabs and boston crabs like they are legit shoot moves. Vale is in his Bart Vale Tudo mode too, and looked really good countering. It is a tragedy we never got a Sano v. Fujiwara or Sano v. Funaki match out of his little run.

Wayne Shamrock vs. Minoru Suzuki (9/28/91) (20:42)
PAS: I liked this alot more then their debut show match. Much like the first match, the opening was both guys working for ankle and leg locks and both guys rolling with some nice counters. The stand up and suplexes in this match looked alot better then they did in their first match, and it actually built to the finish well. Suzuki has really fast hands, and landed some really nasty combos. Shamrock official ruled in 1991, and he was throwing hands too. I love how they established Shamrocks dragon suplex as a deadly finisher. Once he hits the dragon, it is lights out, and the dragon he landed here looked like it should end a night.
Wayne Shamrock vs. Wellington Wilkins Jr. (10/17/91) (8:44)
PAS: With my new found PWFG inspired Shamrock love, and his status as a ratings dynamo, I have wondered how a current Smackdown Shamrock run would look. This match was a nice template for a fun 6 minute Shamrock v. Regal match. Wilkins brings the carnyish headbutts and cheap shots, and Shamrock is always intense. He does a really great thing where he struggles to get in position for a hold or a throw, and then there is a moment of stillness before he explodes. He does a couple of times here, especially right before he flips Wilkins for the finish, and it makes the subsequent move look even cooler.

Kazuo Takahashi vs. Masakatsu Funaki (10/17/91) (7:58)
PAS: This was another fun short match, I guess the Fuke v. Flynn epic took up all of the time. Takahashi is way below Funaki on the ladder, so he rushes Funaki at the bell and takes him down. This clearly kind of pisses Funaki off, as he stomps on his head on the break. Then the rest of the match is Takahashi eating big shots trying to get in on Funaki. He does get him down again, and Funaki is able to ankle lock him for the tap. I think it would have been better for Funaki to knock him out, rather then Takahashi getting him down just to lose, but this had a bunch of spunk and fire and was fun to watch,__

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Mark Rush (10/17/91) (18:56)
PAS: Rush is a amateur guy with a comedic mustache who I always enjoy, but isn't usually in very good matches. This wasn't a Fujiwara classic, but was a lot of good clean Fujiwara style fun. Most of the first ten minutes or so was straight wrestling, with Greco locks and amateur rolling. Rush does that kind of thing very well, and Fujiwara added some touches, including reversing a ride by fishooking the ear, and faking a headbutt. Later in the match after Rush hurts Fujiwara's ribs with a suplex, Fujiwara gets nasty, laying in some headbutts, and knees to the gut for a down. __Rush really works like a typical UFC one dimensional wrestler, kind of like Rashad Evans, he has solid takedowns, but know real idea what to do on the ground. Meanwhile Fujiwara is always looking for something to hook and grab. The improvisation is one of the things I love about watching Fujiwara, he tries for a gutwrench which he kind of blows, as Rush ends up on top. Then Fujiwara just snatches the ankle from below and starts twisting.. I really enjoy watching Fujwara work all of these limited guys, he really gets a chance to play around, and the matches always put a smile on my face.
Jerry Flynn vs. Wellington Wilkins Jr. (11/3/91) (18:08)_
PAS: Really great opener, clearly beats Flynn v. Meng in the BLOCK for the best Jerry Flynn match I have ever seen. Flynn may have 7 inches on Wilkins, and the match is really worked around that height difference. Flynn would pick him apart with big palm strikes and kicks on the outside, and Wilkins would be able to get inside and land some knees and headbutts. They had some really cool mat exchanges too, with Wilkins being really scrambely in grabbing for arms and legs..__

TKG: Yowza was this fun. Both guys get near falls (or momentum change stuff) built around almost busting their opponents nose. And you have all these moments where either Flynn or Wilkins have to back off to check the bridge of their nose. You quickly realize first guy to bust the other guys nose will win. You watch this and go damnit if Bischoff had only put these two guys in masks and neon gi's Blood Runs Cold would have kept that promotion alive.
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Minoru Suzuki (11/3/91) (32:27)
PAS: Fujiwara had been mostly working undercards up to this point, but man does he deliver in a main event spot. Suzuki is your young guy desperate to overtake the veteran ace of the company, and he dominates here, although he is never able to put Fujiwara away. This is really all about Fujiwara as a defensive wrestler, he blocks and eludes and counters and while Suzuki would easily win a decision, there are no judges in PWFG. There are a ton of nifty little things in this match, but I especially loved the way Fujiwara used hand and wrist control. Suzuki is rarely ever able to lock anything in solid, as he is always getting his wrists and hands grabbed and twisted. I am not a big fan of the draw booking, but the finish here was great, Suzuki is getting more and more frustrated, and he and Fujiwara start shit talking at each other, and then at the end they both are working on ankle locks as the bell rings, and Suzuki refuse to let go. Then when he does he is punching the mat in anguish and frustration. Just great stuff.

TKG: Both guys were working defensively as you had sense that Suzuki was fighting to block headbutts before they were unleashed. Fujiwara tries to establish distance to headbutt and Suzuki pulls him in. Really Phil's covered the whole story here so pretty much all left to talk about are the cool little pieces like that, the multiple ways Fujiwara fights out of a choke (my favorite being this thing where he uses his feet to push his way out). Cameraman did a pretty great job here getting really expressive shots during long sleeper segment where Fujiwara spouts different types of bubbles till getting to the ropes. For a show that really had only two matches,,,this was a fucking great match.


Naoki Sano vs. Jerry Flynn (1/15/92) (18:54)
TKG: This was my second time seeing Flyn in PWFG. And fuck do I need to rewatch his series against Goldberg. Flynn's selling of Sano's KOs was surprisingly great and well Sano was just amazing. Flynn has the harder strikes and is taller but Sano can either get inside of Flyn's reach to hit his stuff or gets outside of Flynn's range, neutralizing Flyn's height. If Flyn's at the wrong distance and tries for a kick, Sano can just take him down with ease. Flynn makes a bunch of attempts at takedowns of his own but Sano can block those. The finish was fucking spectacular.

PAS: If Teddy Atlas was calling this match he would talk about the difference in how the guys can win. Sano has multiple ways to win, he can use his hand speed to win exchanges, and he can take Flynn down and submit him. Flynn only has one way to win, he has big power and can knock Sano out with big shots. Sano can either be too close for Flynn to land his big kicks, or he can use his speed to dodge them on the outside. Where Sano can't be, is in that no-man's land, neither all the way out, or all the way in. When he is in that no-man's land, at the end of Flynn's shots where he can't counter, then he gets drilled. Sano outthinks Flynn at the end, as Flynn had gotten a near KO with a brutal enzugiri earlier in the match, Flynn goes for it again, but Sano ducks and immediatly slaps on a knee bar for the finish. Really fun match, and Sano really looks like the best wrestler in the world at this point.

DISC 3
Bart Vale vs. Kazuo Takahashi (2/24/92) (14:12)
TKG: Last time I saw Takahashi he kind of bored me as guy beating Wellington Wilkins. Here Takahashi is working as more of the jobber role that Phil pimped him for. And damn is he a really great jobber just making all of Vales kicks and stuff look good. Takahashi is just great at selling the accumulated damage he takes, so each kick is sold differently than the last. I think my favorite sell was one where he eats a kick catches Vales leg and then slowly starts to loose his own legs and has to drop the caught leg. Awesome. this was fun stuff.
PAS: Yeah Takahashi is amazing as Lee Scott, making the shitty shootstyle mustachoed Sid look great. I am assuming Takahashi made the jump to Pancrase and I really don't know how being really great at selling bad kicks, transfers to shootfighting.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Yusuke Fuke (2/24/92) (17:19)
TKG: WOW. Ok this here is the match. Fujiwara goes with an early kick to the shin that just takes Fuke down in the first moments. Fuke clutches his ankle. Fujiwara makes a couple attempts at throws with Fuke reversing to the mat, and here you have this match all about Fuke being a guy with multiple cool ways to sprawl for stuff on the ground. When they stand back up Fujiwara is going to go right back at the ankle. Just a ton of different things going on in this. Fujiwara is caught in a triangle that has to be broken because they''re in the ropes... but post triangle Fujiwara just sells grogginess that leaves him open for one thing after another. This match just rules.

PAS: This was really great, and may have been the best Fujiwara, Fujiwara-Gumi match. The matwork was super here, as both guys were breaking out multiple counters to counters. My favorite is when Fuke was attempting a Boston Crab, Fujiwara tries to break out his signature crab counter, and Fuke counters it, then he tries it again and Fuke goes right for a cross armbreaker. I also loved all the fighting for holds, Fujiwara was going for the ankle and Fuke is just laying in bodyshots and headbutts, but Fujiwara refuses to let go. The shots to the knee were brutal, and I loved Fujiwara's viciousness.

Minoru Suzuki vs. Jerry Flynn (2/24/92) (10:15)
TKG: This was odd as Flynn dominates the standup and is really defensive when being worked on the mat. Defensive enough that when they go to the mat, Suzuki really isn't able to do much. In the end Flynn puts up his arms in defense on his back only to have Suzuki hook the back of them in this neat inverted full nelson. I enjoyed this but wanted better.
PAS: This was pretty good, but not a blow away match. Flynn's hair is absolutely ridiculous, he has a fluffy mullet with a part in the middle. It looked like the front of Scott Baio's hair with the back of David Brenner's hair.

Jerry Flynn vs. Kazuo Takahashi (3/20/92) (8:32)
PAS: Takahashi is the perfect guy to open a show, as he does his usual amazing job of selling for Flynn's kicks. Including even doing the Red Bastien bump where he slides down the ring ropes bumping his head on all of them.
TKG: Yeah I am now totally sold on Takahashi as he is greatest shoot style jobber ever. Not sure how being really great at selling kicks translated when he went to Pancrase...but he could have made Ric Blade look like a K-1 fighter if he went to CZW. the US crowd chanting along with all the ten counts, chanting "Go Jerry Go" and counting along for the downed palm strikes as though they were punches in the corner was fucking great.__


Yusuke Fuke vs. Diusuel Berto (3/20/92) (7:41)
PAS: Diusuel Berto is a black guy who really looks like a ton like Brickhouse Brown. He kind of works like you would expect Brickhouse Brown to work if he was thrown into a worked shoot promotion. Using a superkick as his main strike. I loved the finish, as Fuke puts on a kneebar, and Berto sells it like Shaska Whatley in a figure four, before finally tapping.

TKG: Berto also does a couple of fun amateur style twists. But it was pretty much his savate kicks which Fuke sells all shoot styleish. Fuke eventually catches a savate kick to be caught a enziguri. Fuke sells the enziguri as shoot shot to back of head. Fun.

Minoru Suzuki vs. Ken Shamrock (Miami 3/20/92) (14:09)
TKG: This was fun. Shamrock has a bunch of throws and really a neat showcase for all he can do. took a while to get the crowd into it and this was before Suzuki really developed any of his heel shtick but once they had the crowd this was a fun good lil match.

PAS: I liked this alot, the couple of Shamrock v. Funaki matches which proceeded this were really hurt by going too long. They were full of dead spots and time killing matwork. Here Shamrock comes out and works a 10 minute sprint with Suzuki that dispensed with the stuff that held back the later match. This was a Shamrock focused match, and Suzuki was sort of along for the ride, still it was great.___

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Bart Vale (Miami 3/20/92) (15:51)
TKG: Bart Vale comes in to a huge local pop. I mean fucking huge pop. Fujiwara comes in with a trophy. Fujiwara taunts Vale offers to shake his hand then pulls away to comb his hair and fuck its Fujiwara as touring Japanese guy vs. your top regional star. Vale and Fujiwara pretty much keep this standing.Mostly Fujiwara bumping around eating kicks and then throwing tight headbutts in the clinch. Headbutts knock Vale down and get the crowd to boo. Fujiwara walks around with great taunting expressions. Vale eventually retaliates for the headbutts by hitting short headbutts while the two are ted up on the ground. Fujiwara goes to the ref to complain about the headbutts. It rules. Crowd is fucking great. Disappointed that there was no rice thrown but outside of that this is what you wanted out of this.__

PAS: This owned, Fujiwara is the worlds best Toru Tanaka. It was really fun to watch him work a completely different style, then he works in a normal PWFG show. He isn't the legend that the young guys have to get past, he is the dirty foreigner cheap shotting your local hero. No real Fujiwara matwork or reversals, no cool moves to speak of, but it was great.

Minoru Suzuki vs. Ken Shamrock (4/19/92) (18:27)
PAS: This was really fun. Clearly your main eventers made some friends in Miami as they have all come back with 15 pounds of muscle. Shamrock is especially preposterous looking as he looks like Popye with crazy outsized upper body and slim waste. Actually hard to concentrate on the match. Lots of nice exchanges from both guys, and an amazing finish as Shamrock tries to lift Suzuki for a big throw, and Suzuki locks on a choke in midair for the win.__
TKG: Aww man. They just spent a lot of time working out with Gotch's equipment. A lot of time. It's Florida in the earl nineties. Yeah it was the early nineties they were in Florida, of course they bought drugs. Who wouldn't. If you're in NYC you buy a foam Statue of Liberty head piece, if you're in Hawaii you go to a Luau, you're in Thailand you fuck a 12 year old, you're in Florida in the early nineties you buy drugs. I imagine Bart Vale set up the meet. Shamrock was all nervous as Funaki started singing along to the Freak Nasty on the dealers boom box. It was distracting watching kung fu billy Graham with hair. Still really fun match. Shamrock was all about throws with Suzuki scrambling around on the mat after taking them..and finish ruled. Post match Suzuki jumps up and down and runs around the ring like a BJ Penn.

Masakatsu Funaki vs. Roberto Duran (4/19/92) (13:43)
PAS: This was alot better then I expected it to be. Meltzer described this match in the Funaki bio as Duran refusing to do anything, but that really wasn't true at all. In fact I can't imagine what else he possibly could have done, he threw alot of punches, jabs and nice bodywork, and he ate a couple of big throws. Funaki actually seemed unwilling to eat any punches to his pretty face, as Duran would connect to the body, but Funaki would dodge or deflected any punches to the face. In fact Duran only landed one punch to the face, a nice hook which he followed with two shots to the body. It would have been the perfectly place for Funaki to drop for a dramatic 8 count, but instead he shoots and gets a neck crank for the tap. It really felt like he wanted no more of Duran, pussy, no wonder he didn't allow punches to the face in Pancrase.
TKG: Yeah this was way more fun than I expected it to be. Duran takes a bunch of bumps and sells desperation by grabbing ropes when Funaki goes for clinch. Duran works first two rounds with his shirt on and then before the third round takes the shirt off and it's "oh shit he dropped the strap". Match ended too abruptly. I would have liked to see Duran vs. a better worker. Duran has to job and pretty much has to job to a "no mas " submission. Did 2 Cold have a submission move? Too Cold is flashy enough but really isn't pretty enough to play Sugar Ray Leonard.

Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazuo Takahashi (5/15/92) (11:47)
TKG: Suzuki works pretty heelish in this refusing to break, fishhooking etc. Takahashi is just a fucking great jobber selling frustration at all of this stuff.__

PAS: We have talked allot about how great Takahashi is at selling strikes, but this match was all about him selling chokes and submissions. Early the in the match Suzuki gets a front neck crank, and Takahashi is choking and spitting like he just swallowed a wasp. After he loses to choke his whole face is red and he is gasping like he has a peanut allergy._

Ken Shamrock vs. Bart Vale (5/15/92) (18:33)
PAS: This was pretty fun, although at this point Shamrock has done really distracting things to his body. His pectoral muscles are rectangular and he doesn't appear to have nipples anymore, he kind of looks like a He-Man action figure. I really like how Bart Vale sells the knock down, he kind of crumples with his head in his hands like his wife just told him that his daughter wasn't really his

TKG: Shamrock's body is really weird. Also Shamrock decides to debut lots of head and shoulder movement. Lots of juking stuff and well he isn't good at the head movement at all. Like a Def Jam comedian parody of a white guy dancing. You expect Vale to figure out the timing and just nail Shamrock. This was better than I expected. It ends really weird as Shamrock throws some tiff knees and then Vale has this look on his face like "Oh we're no longer working" and throws the stiffest stuff he's ever thrown and Shamrock eats a KO. Vale just throws a nasty palm strike followed by a couple kicks. First time I've seen someone eat a KO from Vale where I actually bought that it should knock someone out. And it wasn't because of the selling.


DISC 4
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Bart Vale (6/25/92) (20:56)
TKG: This was really great. Opening was like a mat sprint as Vale has to go for four rope escapes and eats on KO in opening five minutes. Never felt one sided but it was all about Vale and Fujiwara having exchanges on the mat with Fujiwara winning the exchange. Next ten minutes were more competitive but still felt like Fujiwara always able to win no matter how much Vale controlled. By end Vale really was finally able to outwrestle Fujiwara's guile and gets three knock outs leading to the final KO. This is the best Vale has looked in these things as he had really neat submission attempts, vices, mat work, etc and his KO strikes looked like they were actual KO strikes.
PAS: This was awesome, each mat exchange didn't just have one reversal, it had reversals reversed into a reversal. Alot of Fujiwara's signature reversals got modified as Vale countered their initial move. I don't know what the politics of the promotion were, but Fujiwara doesn't job to anyone but he does two straight jobs to Vale without ever getting the win back. This really was the only match where Vale actual looked good enough to deserve to go over Fujiwara.

Yuki Ishikawa vs. Kazuo Takahashi (7/27/92) (18:42)
PAS: This was Ishikawa's first awesome match in an awesome career. Takahashi really brutalizes him in the way you should brutalize rookies, including some nasty shoot headbutts, and hard slaps. Ishikawa fights back and lands some big shots of his own, and it actually gets pretty competitive for a minute, until Takahashi nearly rips his leg off with a one leg boston crab.__

TKG: Yeah, Ishikawa vs. Suzuki started more competitive. This was awesome as Takahashi absoutely disrespectfully abuses Ishikawa. Shoot headbutts, face slaps, grinding his elbow into Ishikawa's nose, grinding his fist into Ishikawa's mouth, slow on rope breaks, nasty nasty punches to charlie horse the thigh, refusal to lock up when standing etc. Ishikawa just takes it and eventually comes back with a nasty shot to Takahashi's kidney and all of a sudden its on. Ishikawa tries to return the headbutts in kind. Takahashi starts to kind of punch himself out and really the kidney shot slows him a bunch. All of a sudden Takahashi is forced to accept Ishikawa and agrees to lock fingers when they get back to their feet. But the moral victory doesn't mean an actual victory. Still fucking neat neat story told through really brutal shots.__

Johnny Barrett vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara (7/27/92) (6:33)
TKG: Barrett has gotten huge. I mean he was big before but now he looks like Tugboat Taylor. He also has balded some more and grown some facial hair. His face has grown really dignified. Like a head chef at a fancy restaurant. His body meanwhile looks like a fry chef at a bowling alley. They do this opening section where Fujiwara counters a judo throw into an ankle lock which was awesome. They do a Super Porky in the partier section where Barretta rides Fujiwara and Fujiwara can't get out from under the weight while Barrett isn't able to hook in anything. Fujiwara takes Barrett down. Barrett tries to get up from partier but crafty Fujiwara slips on arm bar using his leg. Whole thing is just awesome 4 minute match.__

PAS: I think Barret looks less like Taylor then a mix of Mukhan Singh and Dean Rassmussen. Both PWFG Barrett v. Fujiwara matches have been really short and fun. I get the sense they could have a really great 20+ minute main event. I think Barrett has had a pretty interesting career, he went from Florida indy guy, to WCW jobber, to shootstyle guy, to Chicago indy luchadore. Goodhelemet really needs to make a 10 DVD Johnny Barrett comp.__

Wayne Shamrock vs. Jerry Flynn (7/27/92) (12:44)
TKG: This had just a bunch of cool things going for it. Flynn's defensive stuff is always neat. there's this point where Shamrock has Flynn down and tries to grab for something. Flynn is able to defensively block every Shamrock attempt at a grab. Shamrock goes for a suplex and Flynn manages to defend while in the air. When Shamrock does have Flynn caught, Flynn makes one or two attempts to break free but always ends up going for the ropes. Flynn can defend but once Shamrock has him he struggles to escape. Its a kind of neat little thing they have going. There also is neat stand up section where Flynn gets a fall which only makes Shamrock more aggressive.__

PAS: This was a really fun Monday Night Wars Nitro v. RAW match. I would have liked to see the Dan Severn v. Glacier match that would semi-main this show. Shamrock's body is getting even weirder, his abdomen has weird lumps on it, like his six pack is bottles not cans. Flynn's stand up stuff looked really great here, and I love Shamrock's KO selling.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Mark Rush (8/15/92) (18:40)
PAS: When I got all of this Fujiwara-Gumi I was hoping that the promotion would be like WAR, a fun undercard headlined by a big main event, with Fujiwara in the Tenryu role. Instead for the most part Funaki and Suzuki have been main eventing and Fujiwara has been working mostly fun midcard matches. This however was a midcard match worked like a big main event. Rush is an amateur guy who kind of has a circus strongman look, and this was worked like a match against a circus strongman amateur. Rush could take Fujiwara down at will, and really punish him on the ground with strength holds, chokes, body vices, bear hugs. While Fujiwara would be trying to maneuver him into joint locks and submissions. Very cool story and really well executed, the first time I have seen Rush in a complete wrestling match, and a really hidden gem for Fujiwara fanatics.__

TKG: Yeah this had a real main event feel. And I like Phil's mention of carny circus stuff as this was built all around chokes/sleepers/front chanceries like a battle for Weaver lock. There is this one odd section in it where Fujiwara is caught in a choke tries to escape and then just starts to drool, and it's amazingly dramatic and you think that its a finish but for some reason its counted as a down and Fujiwara is given a ten count to get back to his feet. Fujiwara gets back up and its on again. Odd to count passing out in a sleeper as a down but once you get past that, it really works nicely in this._

Joe Malenko vs. Minoru Suzuki (8/15/92) (16:05)
PAS: Joe Malenko baby. Malenko is so smooth in everything he does. Just awesome to watch him roll on the mat. His selling of kick is really awesome too. The match is broken up by rounds, and I think that hurts the flow of the match. Feels like it would have been better as one match, although they did a nice job of having the rounds break up near falls.__

TKG: I liked the rounds as they did a couple of one guy loosing momentum saved by the bell stops, followed by the next round starting where no one has advantage at the start. . Malenko and Suzuki working each other on the mat was just neat to watch. And well Malenko sells stuff like he's frustrated. It's not that he's just in pain but that he's also frustrated that body can't take the pain. like he expects more of himself. Neat.

Naniev Olegg vs. Jerry Flynn (9/2/92) (11:42)
TKG: This is first actively good match on the show. Its a worked shoot show, and sometimes you forget that. Here the two guys really felt uncooperative in a real way that made the whole thing more dramatic. Both guys doing stuff with a type of indifference to opponent. That kind of aura combined with what felt like lots of receipt spots and super nasty finish made this for a fun match.__

PAS: Olegg was rocking the pink singlet and pink wrestling boots, Camron style. I am looking forward to watching the entire Soviet Dipset on the dome show. Flynn was great in this as he was the guy really controlling the match, as Olegg seemed to occasionally not understand what he was supposed to do.__

Bart Vale vs. Kazuo Takahashi (9/2/92) (13:54)
TKG: HOLY SHIT, this ruled. Takahashi is a guy who could make Stan Lane's kicks look devastating. Meanwhile Bart Vale has learned how to kick. Bart Vale has actually gotten pretty good as all his offense looks really sharp, his defense (when he's on the bottom in a mat sequence ) is really engaging, and his pacing is just solid. The best Takahashi is when he's working as underdog trying to hang with a guy above him. Bad Bart Vale is bad because he's worked as though he's higher echelon worker while his actual stuff looks garbage. Here he actually felt like a high level guy. And Takahashi can sell scrappy guy taking a beating like nobody else.__

PAS: This was spectacular, Takahashi may be the guy I am most bummed about leaving for Pancrase. He has gotten almost 1993 Kikuchi great at selling and taking a beating. Vale was a real stink bomb for the UWF2 and the early PWFG, but at this point he may even be better then Shamrock. There was a great exchange where Takahashi is desperately trying for a leglock, and gets cut off by a highkick which he sells like death. You can see Fujiwara in the corner totally marking out, and making Fujiwara mark out means something._

Joe Malenko vs. Georgui Galdava (10/4/92) (7:40)
PAS: This was great as Galdava is quite an awesome fake Volk Han, and Joe Malekno is Joe Malenko. Lots of nasty leg twisting counters, and Galdava had some really great amateur throws. The finish was awesome too, as Malenko nearly touches Galdava's foot to his head.__

TKG: Good gawd the finish pretzel hold was narsty. They did a bunch of meaningful rope breaks for a fed where no one has ever lost due to rope breaks. Still both guys worked "frustrated" by opponents ability to escape to ropes. This was filled with neat shifting of levels as one guy moved from bottom to top and then was moved back to bottom again.__

Naoki Sano vs. Jerry Flynn (10/4/92) (9:32)
PAS: Sano was the show stealer for a bunch of the 1991 PWFG so I am amped to see him back. The opening was basically kickboxing, and Sano has some great leg kicks, just tremendous velocity and force. There was some really nice mat stuff too, and a really hot finish. All you would want from an undercard shootstyle match__

TKG: Yeah these two match up nicely. Last time they matched up it was more Flynn as the better striker vs. Sano as better mat guy. Here story a little more complicated as both bring different types of skills to the stand up game and different types of skills to the mat one. And you have a sense that either can play into the hands of either wrestler. the throw into the finish was super great too.__

Bart Vale vs. Aleksei Medvedved (10/4/92) (8:51)
PAS: Medvedved has shaved his chest hair so he looks a little less Boratish then he did last time. He was still rocking the lemon lime unitard (I call it a Sprite). The Russians were really wearing more candy paint then Young Joc's Cadillac on this show. Vale has gotten so good, and this had the illusion of being competitive with Medvedved really being unable to do much. Aleksei did have an almost Takahashish ability to sell a knockdown though.__

TKG: The shaving of the chest may give Medvedved a less Boratish look. but his arm swings and gait really give him a Borat/Eugeneish feel. Vale keeps on pasting him in the forehead as Medvedved prances around circling. Last time we saw Medvedved he was pretty much squashed here he's in this competitive match where you really get a sense of how good Vale is. At this point I think Vale has pretty much lapped all the guys who are about to go to Pancrase as workers. The mat stuff was sweet and the standup was filled with super nasty Vale kicks.

Duane Koslowski vs. Naniev Olegg (10/4/92) (9:32)
TKG: I was expecting this to be the least of the Florida guys vs. Russians but this was surprisingly good. Olegg brings alot more to the table than Medvedved and this actually is nicely paced with both fighting for advantage as this really felt like a high scoring RPW match. The finisher with Olegg putting a reverse figure four on Koslowski's left leg was spectacular.__

PAS: Koslowski had been consistently been a guy with cool spots in search of a guy to put a match together. He never got a singles against Fujiwara who I think could do it, one wouldn't think a match against a Russian would be his best, but this was really good. It really felt like a RINGS match, with alot of countering and shifting on this mat. The finish was just amazing.__

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Zaour Chabadze (10/4/92) (7:35)
TKG: So Chabadze is a Russian champion Arm Wrestler and I was going into this fully expecting a hard head vs. claw match. While that would have been spectacular this was every bit as good if not greater. For an arm wrestling champ Chabadze isn't built like Scott Norton or Big Daddy Goodridge. Instead he has just this huge apelike wingspan as his arms look twice the length of his torso and are filled with just multitude of muscles. Match is really all about Chabadze dominating Fujiwara on the ground through arm strength. Fujiwara tries to keep his arms together and tries to manipulate his center of gravity to keep from just being thrown around by Chabadze' s wings. And eventually Chabadze gets fed up and asks for a standup. there's this huge pop as guy who dominated on ground needs standup. Fujiwara goes to corner wipes the sweat off his body by rubbing himself against turnbuckle. And slaps Chabadze across the face. Man this match rules.....__

PAS: The reason this match was better then anything on the show was the way Fujiwara can establish hierarchies. While Malenko v. Galdava was alot of fun as was Koslowski v. Olegg, they were basically worked as two even guys rolling on the mat looking for advantages. Here Chabadze is a monster, he can take Fujiwara down at will as is so strong that Fujiwara is helpless on the mat. So the crowd is super hot because it looks like the aging legend is going to get steamrolled, does he have any tricks left this is the worlds greatest Rocky 4.


DISC 5
Yuki Ishikawa vs. Mark Ashford-Smith (12/5/92) (15:36)
PAS: Mark Ashford-Smith is Mark Starr of Men at Work fame, your WCWSN fans will remember that he had a great series against Steve Regal so we know he can work the mat and take a whipping. Here he works the mat and takes a whipping, although he lays it in too, I especially loved the forearms to the back of Ishikawa's neck. There was a great straight punch by Ishikawa into a running knee which was straight out of the Diego Sanchez v. Joe Riggs finish, although Mark Starr is tougher then Joe Riggs as he only took an 8 count.

TKG: Mark Ashford-Smith is Mark Starr of Wildside fame, your USWA fans will know he can work a crowd and work a brawl. He didn't really do any brawling here as this was mostly on the mat. This goes 21 minutes and never drags as you feel like only six or seven minutes have passed when they put up the time. You want to see this.

Minoru Suzuki vs. Jerry Flynn (12/5/92) (10:58)
PAS: Flynn was a guy who used mostly kicks in his early PWFG matches, he does alot more matwork and is much more balanced in later stuff. In some ways it makes his matches a little less interesting, as he works the same style as everyone else now. This match had a bunch of really nice exchanges and counters, and was bascially a fine match. I still get the sense it would have been better if Flynn was a little more one dimensional._
TKG: I liked this alot more than Phil. The basic thing about Flynn is that he does allot of defensive stuff. Allot of his kickboxing is very defensive oriented. And a big chunk of his mat work is defense based. Suzuki is constantly a flutter on the mat constantly sprawling trying something new. Thats the contrast that this match is about. As this match really had no stand up, but it was Suzuki on the mat trying to advance past Flynn's defenses while Flynn is looking for Suzuki to overreach and make a mistake so Flynn can catch Suzuki. Suzuki is taking risks, while Flynn exploits those risks._

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Wayne Shamrock (12/5/92) (13:48)
PAS: Very cool match, Shamrock is really athletic and has great spots, you get a guy like Fujiwara or Sano to put that into a match it will be really great. The first part of the match has Shamrock using that athleticism to take Fujiwara down and get him into submissions, but Fujiwara has an answer for everything, and keeps doing awesome reversals into submissions. I really think Fujiwara is the greatest counter wrestler ever. Shamrock finally gets fed up with taking him down, and starts kickboxing. He gets a quick down, and then knocks him out with an enziguri to Fujiwara's face. The match feels a little truncated, especially considering how rarely Fujiwara loses. The standup section really should have gone a little longer, as Fujiwara kind of got squashed as soon as they stood.
TKG: I don't have much to add to what Phil says here other than I really liked the process of Fujiwara getting escapes. As he goes from guy caught to guy struggling to guy coming up with something in a visually exciting way When Fujiwara is beat you can tell he's beat as he seems just completely unprepared for the change in tactics._

Masakatsu Funaki vs. David Gobedjshvilli (12/5/92) (8:44)
PAS: This is Funaki's swan song to overtly worked wrestling as went off to Pancrase after this match. This was better then most Funaki matches, as it had a cool story. Gobedjshvilli had some giant looking takedowns, which Funaki couldn't stop, but Funaki was picking him apart standing, I especially loved Funaki working low kicks dropping his guard to land a big high kick. Funaki finishes with an ankle submission which is counter to what they were doing, but it's Funaki you can't expect everything.
TKG: Gobedjihishivi really works like a guy who has no idea of how to defend against the kicks. At one point he tries a karate kid crane stance. He tries to shift to a southpaw stance. Gobedjihishivi spent his childhood watching bootleg kung fu movies poorly dubbed into Russian and damnit he was going to try every crouching stance he could remember. You can watch the Russian's childhood illusions crumble as one drunken tiger stance after another fails him.

Jerry Flynn vs. Diuseul Berto (6/1/93) (16:08)
Jerry Flynn v. Diuseul Berto_

PAS: I was totally blown away by this match. Berto is a guy who we knew had some fun spots and really great sperm, but nothing he did before really prepared us for a match this good. In my previous review I had talked about liking one dimensional kicker Jerry Flynn better then multifaceted Jerry Flynn, but here was the match where he put it all together. The mat work was great, I especially loved this crossarmbreaker spot, where he was able to shift his body and hold on to the hold even as Berto was rolling him around the ring. He also had a great rear naked choke off of a missed high kick. Then when he unleashed the stand up, you had some great back and forth exchanges with Berto, who's goofy Ninja kicks actually landed well.

TKG: This was AMAZING. Not just surprising since "better than should be" but actively really good. Second best match on show. In the past most of Flynn's matwork has been built around him working defensive. here he was aggressive moving from one submission attempt to other. Berto would get off his strikes in bunches. It wasn't that he had impressive hand speed or impressive combinations but rather that he would just get the strikes off in bunches before Flynn would be able to get off a response (normally a shotayish jab). Berto also had some really great Nipsy Russelesque selling of knock downs. Match was filled with hot near falls, my favorite being one where Berto maneuvers out of way of a kick dodging it in such a way that Flynn ends up behind Berto and gets him in a choke.

Yuki Ishikawa vs. Carl Greco (6/1/93) (21:50)
PAS: There is alot of patterns in Fujiwara booking, as this was clearly worked like your Minoru Suzuki v. Wayne Shamrock, young native v. young gaijin. This was a little less juniorsish, and had a finish, so I liked it more then most of those matches. Plus it's Yuki Ishikawa, even incubatory Ishikawa is still Ishikawa. There is alot more matwork in PWFG Ishikawa v. BattlArts Ishikawa, so I keep waiting for Ishikawa to punch Greco in the face. Still if you watch it without that expectation, it is really great._

TKG: I didn't like this as much as Phil. I'm not a big fan of the Takada vs. Yamazaki type of juniors style shootstyle matches. And there were moments that were a little too juniorsish in the early parts. Although Ishikawa stays away from juniors style "selling" . This does pick up by the sixth rope break as the submissions are sufficiently nasty and the mat reversals are sufficiently neat. Ishikawa never punches Greco right in the face but he is willing to eat a kick right in his own face. This show is great from top to bottom. I don't know if you can run a Japanese promotion with only two Japanese workers but Ishikawa is a great second native._

Bart Vale vs. Mark Ashford-Smith (6/1/93) (11:53)

PAS: I don't know if Ashford-Smith has any martial arts backround. I do know that his brother was a master of the deadly killing arts of the Orient, but don't know about him. What he is really amazing at is selling though. He eats kicks amazingly, I actually though Vale KO'ed him on the first high kick, as he looked like the recipient of an early Mike Tyson left hook. I mean Vale looked like a killer, almost to the point where it hurts the match that the match isn't over after the first shot. Vale is awesome at this point, and really controls the match._

TKG: This is 1993 so MMA was really in its most primitive form, Ashford-Smith had the advantage of coaching from 2002 era MMA. Nonetheless, Ashford-Smith was the underdog here with Vale dominating. We keep on saying that Vale has gotten really good but it needs to be repeated. Ashford-Smith has good mat work although it feels a little pro style at points and he eats kicks really well but again he eats them with spectacular bumps. not the type of cumulative damage bumps that Takahashi took. Still I get sense that Mark Starr has a ton of potential as a shoot style worker. Did Mark Starr ever feud with Jumping Gary Albright in Memphis?_
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Joe Malenko (6/1/93) (17:41)

PAS: This was so much fun, just a pair of true maestros pulling pushing and twisting each other until someone gives. This wasn't an exchange of holds, it was a constant battle by both men to find some advantage or defense. This was really a Malenko show, as he controlled with great takedowns, and constant attacking, with Fujiwara really focused on defense. Of course Fujiwara is the greatest defensive pro-wrestler of all time, so the defense stuff ruled. _

TKG: This was a Malenko show. My favorite thing that he did was use his knee and shin as simple machine, constantly pushing it against stuff to act as a lever, inclined plane or wedge to force Fujiwara to move one body part or another, worlds most violent physics demonstration.

Jerry Flynn vs. Mark Ashford-Smith (7/21/93) (26:31)
Jerry Flynn v. Mark Ashford-Smith_

TKG: This is more multifaceted Flynn and he's really fun in this both standing and on the ground. So this fed had a rope break/down scoring system with no one ever winning by TKO due to the system. Untill Ashford-Smith shows up and does it twice in a row and it rules. Ashford-Smith again takes some great bumps for kicks and it feels like he is starting to modulate the degree of the bumps. Does a great sell for the Sano/Zbysco back kick to the gut. Not sure if I buy him as a guy who has the tools to win a match yet. His best submission here was a nasty looking body vice. Flynn has a gut and it looked like it was being squeezed right off. But for the most part Ashford-Smith's mat work was all about trying to break opponents grip spots. He has weirdly learned how to throw really great knees. And well most of your actual guys trained primarily in worked shoot have a hard time throwing good looking knees. Odd that he can do it right out of the box. _

PAS: This took a while to get going, but mad did it kick into gear when it did. Did these guys ever match up on WCW Pro. I would assume their Pro match wouldn't have the matwork, but might have the Ashford-Smith sell of kicks. Tom was right about the knees, I especially loved Ashford-Smiths knee from his back, which was brutal looking and got a great 9 count. The finish here was great as both guys were attempting to lock on knee bars, and Flynn locked it, causing Ashford-Smith to go to the ropes where he was TKO'ed because he was out of rope breaks. _

Bart Vale vs. Yuki Ishikawa (7/21/93) (17:31)
TKG: This ruled. PWFG does some neat hierarchy booking here and there. Last time we saw Ishikawa he was working Greco where the two worked young flashy guys who were more or less even. Here he's working Vale who is several levels above him. the problem with Vale in UWF was that he was protected by the booking, booked as a top guy when his work didn't feel like top guy work. Now he actually has learned to work like the Man. And so this is like Ric Flair vs Sam Houston. Except it isn't about Vale coming in underestimating young Houston. This is about Houston coming in underestimating himself. Early parts of this were worked with Ishikawa as guy just trying not to loose, as match goes on he gains more confidence...confidence that he can hang and maybe challenge. Ishikawa goes from tentative to guy taking risks and crowd pops as Ishikawa grows in confidence. Vale has an answer for everything Ishikawa does but Vale also sells enough that Ishikawa's attempts come off really dramatic. I mean Vale isn't Funaki trying to put over being top guy by no selling. Vale sells big time. Really hot match. _

PAS: Teddy Atlas will often talk about a fighter "doing just enough to lose the fight." Early in this match Ishikawa was doing just enough to lose. He is moving away, attempting a leg takedown, but really much more concerned with avoiding Vale then trying an attack. Then as the match goes on, there are a couple of big moments where Ishikawa lets it all out and the flurries are much more impressive because of how tentative he was earlier. Ishikawa was really amazing as guy growing before our eyes._

DISC 6
Mark Ashford-Smith vs. Carl Greco (9/23/93) (22:46)
PAS: This was pretty good match, there were parts that felt a little awkward, but allot of good stuff too. Ashford-Smith had a bunch of really great looking chokes, various different styles of choke, all of which looked good. Greco looked good too, he had a lot of nice ankle locks, where Ashford-Smith would counter and he would shift the atttack. They also used more rope breaks then usual, and near the end of the match both guys were close to the limit. Ashford-Smith didn't get knocked down once, which is his forte, yet I still liked this._

TKG: I didn't like this as much as Phil. I had a sense that these two guys had a potentially better match down the line. I kind of want to see this after they work it around the horn and get all the kinks worked out. Once in a while things felt too cooperative. Both guys did have some nice throws and for the first time I had the sense that Ashford-Smith was a guy who could finish a match as all his submissions looked absolutely nasty. Phil mentions the chokes but he also had some nice heel hooks. Ashford-Smith didn't do any of his dramatic kick eats but he did some really pro-style dramatic dives for rope breaks._

Charlie Anderson vs. Jerry Flynn (9/23/93) (11:27)

PAS: I watched this after seeing Kawada v. Nakamura, and Suzuki v. Nagata, and this smoked both of them. Anderson is kind of green at this style (or any style, anyone know who the fuck this guy is?) but Flynn is a total master. I thought initial this would be a squash as Flynn comes out way more aggressive then normal. throwing some big shots, and Anderson has an almost Ashford-Smithish selling style. Anderson is able to get some really nice takedows though using leverage nicely. The finish was a shocker, as I thought Anderson had no chance but he was able to reverse a missed enziguri into a one leg crab for the tap. Really fun, and I am going to miss watching Flynn_

TKG: This was really good and I too will really miss Flynn. Favorite thing was Anderson would go for a takedown and Flynn would immediately move into defensive clinch as soon as he lands. Anderson goes for simple hiptoss and finds himself completely tied up on the ground with Flynn. This really felt like a match built around Anderson showing his toughness by hanging with Flynn. Anderson worked like overmatched guy and so the finish came as a real shock._

Bart Vale vs. Joe Malenko (9/23/93) (11:36)
TKG: I think Vale and Flynn are being jobbed out as they leave the territory. PWFG is moving from one school of Florida indy guys to another. And so we have this battle of Maestro's/Promoters , like Zandig v. Fat Frank. Well a lot better than that. This ruled. Vale has gotten really great and Malenko can twist a guy into all kinds of pretzels. Vale dominates standing and Malenko has a bunch of amusing kick sells. My favorite is when he sold like a carnival duck game eating a kick that turned him around and than eating another turning himself back, but this is a battle of Maestor's and Vale needs to prove himself and he keeps on going for takedowns. Vale goes for takedown, Malenko goes for submission, Vale goes for escape...and just all really sweet looking._
PAS: This was great, this might have been Bart Vale's last professional wrestling match, and it was a heck of a swan song. Joe Malenko, much like Dean has a standard match, and it is up to his opponents to insert themselves into it. Vale does a really nice job of working into a Joe Malenko match, and adds some Bart Vale touches. Malenko comes up with some just awesome ways to twist and turn Vale's bodyparts, but Vale also has great counters and reversals.

Duane Kozlowski vs. Yuki Ishikawa (9/23/93) (11:44)
PAS: This was a really great show, and this was the best match on the show. This is Ishikawa's first main event, and he is fully in the top young native role previously held by Takada in UWF and Funaki earlier in PWFG. The young native v. top outsider match is a staple match in these promotions and Ishikawa is really better at it then either of his predecessors. The match opens with a really great stare down, and you get a big match buzz even before the bell, Koslowki dominates most of the match with beautiful throws, but each of Ishikawa's comebacks is really milked for the most effect. I bought all the near falls, and Koslowki's backslide into a choke was totally awesome. Just a total blast, and Ishikawa feels like a made guy. _

TKG: Match was all about big hot spots. The two compete for big throws and when the throw comes its this big crowd popping spot. Match was about building heat for the big throws, and the dramatic submission attempts. Match about working toward crowd heat. For a guy who worked prelim matches against a guy who really hasn't had a high end PWFG match--Ishikawa v. Koslowski really had this great MAIN EVENT FEEL.

Carl Greco vs. Katsumi Usuda (10/29/93) (22:02)
PAS: Shootstyle is this weird style where you can be really great right out of the blocks. This is possibly Usuda's first match and he was already awesome. Greco is really fun here too, as he has really athletic mat work. Really great flipping counters and attempts. Usuda wasn't kicking the shit out people like he would in BattlArts, but his mat stuff was super too, I especially loved the double hammerlock submission. This was a draw that didn't feel like a draw and made me want to see the rematch badly._

TKG: Usuda was kicking pretty damn hard but yeah a lot of this was about Greco's really athletic counters and stuff. I especially liked his head stand flip to get to the ropes. Usuda also caught Greco's knee at one point and Greco leaped up to knock Usuda with the other one. Neat athletic escapes and counters. At no point in this match did I think it was going to a draw. Really surprised when it happens._

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Masaji Aoyagi (10/29/93) (14:25)
TKG: This is worked rounds style with Fujiwara wrestling barefoot. First round is the two exchanging kicks until Fujiwara gets take down and moves toward submission when bell rings. Second round is Aoyagi dominating standup with Fujiwara fighting off a ten count when the bell rings. Third round ends with Aoyagi caught in submission in center of ring struggling to fight off the pain till the bell rings. Fourth has this amazing strike exchange section in corner where Aoyagi hammers Fujiwara with karate strikes to the guts and kidneys and Fujiwara fights back with nasty punches to the kidneys. I liked this alot although on some level it was disappointing. I don't think it was as good as the better Fujiawara vs. Sayama matches and well Aoyagi is better than Sayama. Part of the problem is that Fujiwara works as kickboxer for lots of this so you don't have the kicker vs. wrestler dynamic that the Sayama v. Fujiwara and Aoyagi vs. Onita matches have. Instead you have a match where Fujiwara is the more well rounded mixed martial arts fighter vs. Aoyagi working as the more one dimensional MMA guy. Fight between two one dimensional guys with different one dimension is gonna be more intriguing than one dimensional guy vs. multidimensional one. _

PAS: The first part of this felt a little too much like a mixed match, like Aoyagi was playing the Mo Smith role, and he brings way more to the table then Mo Smith. It really kicked into gear though, and Aoyagi clearly saw Fujiwara drinking earlier as he seemed to be targeting his kidneys. Which is a spot I am shocked no one ever used with either Sandman or Austin. While I didn't like Fujiwara's kickboxing that much, his punch exchanges with Aoyagi at the end were spectacular._

Joe Malenko vs. Yuki Ishikawa (10/29/93) (22:00)
TKG: This is an odd match in several ways. On one level its worked like a lucha slow burn match where two guys are working technico v technico and slowly getting more and more pissed. It is also being worked in a real master vs. student way with Joe Malenko really twisting and slapping around Ishikawa as though he were trying to toughen up the youngster. Those are two odd stories to be working simultaneously. Then you get the weirdness of Malenko controlling most of the match while losing on points. For first half of match Malenko always seems to be more in control but he's the guy who has eaten more downs and gone for rope breaks more. Malenko' stuff is really cool and he does this one takedown that is like an inverted Russian leg sweep that is absolutely spectacular. I dug this a bunch but one of those matches where you watch it excited more about the prospect of rematch than you are excited by the actual match your watching. After match it looks like they have a post match pull apart that they decided to edit out._

PAS: I thought it was worked less like a lucha techinico v. technico match, then a face v. face technical U.S. match, where you were waiting for the tempers to flare. You almost needed Bobby Heenan calling this and rooting for one guy to punch the other in the mouth. It did kind of end before it really broke down, which almost gave the match kind of a cock teasing feel. You wanted them to break down, and they never fully did. Man was alot of the stuff spectacular though, Malenko will have at least three spectacular things per match that I have never seen before.

Carl Greco vs. Shoichi Funaki (8/13/94) (6:32)
PAS: Wow this was fun, this was a total mat spotfest, as both guys were working at a million miles an hour, spinning into combinations and counters. I remember Funaki breaking out almost a Casita into an armbar, and Greco is just great at the mat sprint._

TKG: This was shockingly good. Before the match starts Greco does mic work where he speaks like a Japanese guy with broken English, I guess to help the translator. Funaki is a guy who I don't normally think of as projecting character well. Here he is really fun projecting fired up guy trying to win. The actual mat work and exchanges were also pretty spectacular._

Glen Jacobs vs. Daisuke Ikeda (8/13/94) (6:13)
PAS: This was alot better then Jacobs v. Ishikawa, as Jacobs seemed to adapt to the style alot better. Unlike the previous match all of his big throws were counters here. Ikeda goes for a front face lock, Jacobs throws him with a Northern lights, Ikeda goes for an armbar, Jacobs does a keylock overhead throw. You got the sense if Jacobs had just stayed in PWFG/BattlArts he may have gotten as good as Viktor Kruger. _

TKG: Ikeda is alot taller then Ishikawa and so the size difference wasn't as pronounced. I wonder who was the Pat Patterson behind this match because this was all about Ikeda trying for stuff and Jacobs countering with throws which helped cover for Jacobs difficulty selling. Jacobs still can't sell but him fighting stuff with counters made it look like he was at least concerned with his opponents offense._

Yuki Ishikawa vs. Katsumi Usuda (8/13/94) (10:28)
PAS: This is the first of many really great matches between these two. This wasn't as hideously violent as their later matches, but was pretty good. Ishikawa is really working above Usuda for parts of the match, almost like he was working over a rookie, but Usuda fought back with some big shots, and looked like he caught Ishikawa unaware._

TKG: These two have better matches in the future. Greco v. Funaki was really the match of the show. still this was really good and every match Usuda seems to be getting stiffer and stiffer. Usuda's body shots to escape submissions were really good looking. and these two just jell really well._

Shoichi Funaki vs. Katsumi Usuda (10/31/94) (12:32)_
TKG: Last time these two matched up it wasn't very good, this time I dug it a bunch. Last time i think it was worked more evenly. This time Usuda works as stronger (higher level) of the two and just pastes Funaki with strikes, while Funaki gets in really fast near fall submission attempts. Funaki goes for one drop kick that felt really out of place, Usuda steps out of the way of the drop kick and just stomps Funaki when Funaki falls to floor._
PAS: Yeah Usuda was a real asskicker here, last match they were two debuting guys working even. Here Usuda was clearly higher up on the food chain, and he just pounded the shit out of Funaki._
TAKA Michinoku vs. Naohiro Hoshikawa (10/31/94) (12:20)
TKG: This isn't really worked like a PWFG match. Its more or less a straight up juniors match just without pinfall attempts. I guess they do very little rope running. But essentially a juniors match. These two are really high end junior workers and best match on the show thus far. Still not a PWFG style match._

PAS: They start working the mat, but by the end they are breaking off dives and big nearfalls. TAKA in the mid nineties was my favorite wrestler and he was really awesome here. The springboard dive is still super impressive looking, and he did this great move where he started to whip Hosikawa into the ropes and instead clotheslined him in the back of the head. Not a PWFG style match at all, but still a total blast._

DISC 7
Daisuke Ikeda vs. Yuji Nagata (10/31/94) (11:05)
PAS: This was pretty great, for some reason the yutz doing the handheld, finally realizes how to use the zoom function, so it is a lot more watchable then the other matches. This is worked really BattlArts style, as there is less matwork and more kicking people in the face and dumping them on the top of their heads. Nagata especially breaks out some nasty suplexes, you get the sense from this match if he had just worked BattlArts he could have ended up a second rate Usuda rather then a eighth rate Masahiro Chono_

TKG: Ah he could have been a first rate Hijikata as heavy. And whatever else you want to say about Nagata, he is a lot better than Glen Jacobs. This has a lot more mat work then Phil remembers, simply cause thats less memorable than the strikes and violent throws. The matwork was really fast and all about jockeying for throws. the whole thing was worked at a really nice heavyweight sprint pace._

Takeshi Ono v. Naohiro Hoshikawa (5/19/95) (9:13)
TKG: This was lots of Ono kicking while Hoshikawa would catch kicks for cool non-cooperative looking throws. Ono wasn't as stiff as he would be later in his career but I dug this match up. They have a really great finish where Hoshikawa is working a half crab while standing on the other leg, and Ono reverses it into a legbar._

PAS: Ono was maybe my favorite BattlArts wrestler. He was this skinny disrespectful punk, who would kick people really hard in the face or sometimes the balls. He was more respectful, and less kicky, but still really fun. They had some really great mat sprint sections, where they were just moving at warp speed to try to grab something. _

Minoru Tanaka v. TAKA Michinoku (5/19/95) (11:43)
PAS: These two guys always have great matches against each other, and I assume this is one of their earliest. It starts with TAKA offering a handshake and Tanaka slapping him, and they are off to the races. They exchange holds and stop and slap each other, throw kicks and slap the shit out each other. TAKA is spectacular, and Tanaka is still young and spry. Really fun match_

TKG: Yeah this was alot more PWFGish then the last TAKA match we saw as this is very much built and paced around the downs and the rope breaks. TAKA does a spectacular dive fake but most of this was these two rapidly slapping the shit out of each other and trying to twist each others knees into awkward positions._
Daisuke Ikeda & Katsumi Usuda v. Yuki Ishikawa & Shoichi Funaki (5/19/95) (13:41)
PAS: We have now moved from the mat based style of PWFG into the violence fest that is BattlArts. Usuda and Funaki are fine here, but this is Ikeda v. Ishikawa and is everything that match up promises. PWFG is stiff wrestling compared to all other wrestling, but when those two match up it is like you are watching something completely different. Kicks to the face, punches to the ribs and face, just great. The finish was super as Ikeda gets Ishikawa's back and yanks on his nose and eyes so he lifts his chin for the choke. _
TKG: Ikeda is an absolute monster in this. Just a beast. you start this off with a two juniors matching up section, and the Funaki v. Usuda stuff is fun polished stuff at this point. You then get the heavyweight v. junior section with Ishikawa v. Usuda and this is somewhat disappointing considering what we expect from the two matched up. Mostly Ishikawa twisting Usuda up. then we get the Ikeda vs. Fuanki section where Ikeda just completely abuses and manhandles Funaki. Just beats the piss out of him. All building to the heavyweights finally matching up and fuck Ikeda is a beast. The Ikeda fishhooks Ishikawa and lifts him up by the fishhook to get him into position for choke is just bad ass._
Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Shiro Koshinaka & Akitoshi Saito (5/19/95) (9:02)
PAS: This was a Riki Choshu match basically, as Heisei Ishingun invades, and we have a really great Choshu style interpromotional match. Nobody really sells anything, and they all are just running in and beating on each other. Koshinaka bumps all around the ring in an amusing way, and Choshu is just great at this kind of stuff. Short, but a blast. Great show overall._

TKG: This is really worked like an interpromotional match with both the stiffness and the non cooperation. Favorite spot is Koshinaka going for a snapmare and Choshu refusing to eat it. Blocked snapmare rules. There will be no cooperative throws, you have to fight for even a snapmare. Fujiwara throws a absolutely hideous punch right to Saito's face at one point and throws a bunch of great looking stiff worked headbutts. I mean at this point in PWFG, I'm used to seeing Fujiwara throw his stiff shoot style headbutt and its odd to see how stiff his pro style one is too.

Takeshi Ono v. Carl Greco (6/18/95) (6:18)
PAS: Ono still hasn't morphed into a dick yet, but this was a bunch of fun as Greco twists Ono like he was Jack Evans. Making his toe touch his face, the back of his neck touch the inner part of his knee. There were a bunch of submissions that could ever only be used on Ono, it was like Greco was inventing shit mid move.
TKG: Greco has bulked up a bunch since we last saw him, Ono is the same size. Outside of the nasty twisting, Greco also threw some nasty hard throws.
Yuki Ishikawa vs. Akitoshi Saito (6/18/95) (11:31)
TKG: Saito starts this match by blasting Ishikawa with a leg lariat and just spends most of the match kicking the dog shit out of Ishikawa. I'm kind of used to Ishikawa as guy who stands toe to toe exchanging stiff strikes so odd seeing him work guy who eats a walloping and can only counter with submission attempts. Other odd thing is that Saito also has really good looking submissions. I mean I don't think of Saito as a guy with a lot of submissions in his arsenal but he thows on some nasty looking stuff here. Finish is pretty great as Saito goes for leg lariat and Ishikawa does "elusive wrestler" slip to catch leg in half crab._

PAS; Saito may even be hitting harder here then he does now in NOAH. I mean it is Ishikawa, you can hit Ishikawa full force. The finish was so totally spectacular, and actually looked like the kind of tricky defensive wrestling counter that Fujiwara is the master of. I still like asskicker Ishikawa better then counter wrestler Ishikawa, but he is really great as a counter wrestler.
Carl Greco vs. Daisuke Ikeda (8/26/95) (13:14)
TKG: For some reason they are working on the worlds squeakiest ring. its fucking headache inducing as springs sound like fingernails on a chalkboard and you don't want to turn down the sound because you want to hear all of Ikeda 's strikes. So the last time we saw Greco it was against Takeshi Ono and me and Phil wrote about how great Greco was at throwing and twisting Ono, with the assumption that you can throw Ono harder than anyone else and twist him more than anyone else. but fuck that as Greco just tosses and twists the fuck out of Ikeda. He has both a lot of hang time and force with all his throws and while not twisting Ikeda's entire body just completely turns his ankles inside out. Ikeda for his part is still a beast in these matches and tries to toss Greco hard enough to fix the ring squeek._

PAS: Was really surprised to see Greco go over here, as they seem to pushing Ikeda as the top guy in this promotion at this point. I guess Greco has roided himself into the Shamrock spot. This was really great though, as Greco is such a smooth mat wrestler, and Ikeda is such a badass._
Yuki Ishikawa vs. Shoichi Funaki (8/26/95) (17:04)
TKG: This match feels absolutely epic and is surprisingly short. I mean normally when you say "Wow that match felt longer than that" its complaint because match is boring. Not the case here. Last time we saw Funaki he was all about the shitty strikes here he stays on the mat and these two just twist at each other as they struggle to shift from top to bottom. The two Fuanki strikes in this actually look stiff as he throws one drop kick which while totally out of place hit really hard and a nice headbut._

PAS: Funaki seemed more competitive then his place on the card seems to merit. This was worked pretty even, with Funaki getting Ishikawa in trouble a bunch. I remember after the nasty headbutt we actually thought that Funaki was going to win the match. Ishikawa was striking a bit more here, as he had some nice punches to the belly and some really rude shots to the back of the neck. _
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. TAKA Michinoku (8/26/95) (12:43)
TKG: This is worked more pro style than shoot style. Very little rope running but TAKA with a dropkick to the back of a seated Fujiwara, Fujiwara with his pro-style headbutts, and the TAKA throws Fujiwara headfirst into ring post comedy spots. No reason that these two should work this well together as you kind of expect a clash of styles. Instead the two just work really nicely with TAKA as jerkish junior vs. Fujiwara. Fujiwara twists the shit out of TAKA's legs and ankles and TAKA does nice job trying to fight his way out. Fujiwara eats alot of stuff and sells just enough to make TAKA look legit. I'm not really sure how Fujiwara works punching TAKA directly in the cheekbone. TAKA does seem to be missing a tooth at end of match, not sure if he started match with it or not. Fuck I dug this._

PAS: Yeah Fujiwara was punishing TAKA here, bodyshots, both the shoot and the pro-style headbutts, and some sick shots to the face. TAKA was really great as the underdog who almost heelishly disrespects Fujiwara. The matwork was really speed vs. guile, as all of TAKA's attacks were lightning quick, while Fujiwara was classically taking advantage of mistakes. TAKA is really great in PWFG, he doesn't work the style really but he was so good in the mid 90's that he can work a TAKA match that fits on the show.
Takeshi Ono vs. Mohamed Yone (11/19/95) (4:54)
TKG: I'm assuming that Ono's opponent is Yone. The Lynch list for this show is full of question marks. Yone is tall and not a ton thicker than Ono. I mean everyone is thicker than Ono but Yone is still skinny. Yone gets in one absolutely nasty kick but this is mostly the Ono kick and scramble all over opponent to get submission show. Thats a show I tend to enjoy._

PAS: Yone did have a great missed koppo kick after the one nasty landed kick. Middle of last year I saw Super middleweight contender Alan Green fight an ex-sparring partner Donny McCrary in a ESPN2 card. Green outclassed the guy, but his opponent nearly KO'ed him with a lucky punch, had him on dream street. McCrary couldn't settle down and finish Green though, he was just hurling wild punches, that is what that koppo kick kind of felt like. An outclassed guy got a lucky shot and was recklessly going for broke_

Alexander Otsuka vs. Takeshi Okano (11/19/95) (4:59)
TKG: Again assuming here that Otsuka's opponent is the future Winger. Otsuka pretty much controls this match. Some nice suplexes, nothing as spectacular as the most spectacular Otsuka suplex, but still a bunch of nice throws. Winger gets in the flash victory by reversing a leg lock into an ankle pick._
PAS: This was fun. Possible future Winger was pretty non descript, but wasn't afraid to land bad on his skull. The flash victory ankle pick was pretty awesome, as Okano was about to tap, but was able to grab the ankle and nearly rip it off.
Yuki Ishikawa vs. TAKA Michinoku (11/19/95) (8:11)
PAS: This was joined in progress which I was pretty salty about. At different points of my life each of these guys have been my favorite wrestler in the world, and I am pretty sure I hadn't seen them wrestle each other before. We got most of it though, and it was pretty great. Really counters on top of counters, as TAKA would use his speed to avoid and check most of the things Ishikawa was trying, but when it got onto the mat, he would be countered by Ishikawa's skill. Both guys were throwing bombs too, especially TAKA's nasty elbows to the back of the head. Wish I could have seen it all, but it didn't disappoint._
TKG: Ishikawa's submission attempts were really awesome here as he'd go through all these stages in order to reach a submission. First he'd isolate the body part, then he'd fight to completely extend it, and only then would he go and try to twist it into unnatural positions. On the one hand it was awesome, on the other it was disorienting as he'd go through this whole process to secure a submission when TAKA would just go and slap one on. Fun match, wish I had seen more.
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Dick Murdoch (5/23/96) (26:08)
TKG: thank god they clipped and jip'd everything else because we get to see this in full. It looks like the audience has actually filled up over the course of the show. I mean it isn't fill for the main event but a whole lot more folks watching then at the start. I was expecting to enjoy this match but I wasn't expecting it to be this good. They start it off with Fujiwara as guy who backs opponent into corner and then wastes him with punches...while Murdoch is working guy with really nasty ways of taking apart opponents arm on the mat. So all the roles are switched and your waiting for them to righten themselves. They work a really great headscissor escape attempt section. Normally in these type of things a guy will do a Muga escape be put back into headscissor, do another escape get put back in, etc. What made this so neat is that it wasn't just that Fujiwara had a variety of ways to try to escape a headscissors but Murdoch had a variety of different ways to push his opponent down and keep him in the headscissors. Match had all the guys signature spots plus really neat ways both guys tried to avoid and escape their opponents signature stuff._

PAS: It seems pretty trite in a Dick Murdoch review to talk about how great his punches are, but goddamn are Dick Murdoch's punches great. Short jabs, big rights, beautiful uppercuts, just mixed it up and they all were gorgeous. Of course Fujiwara has some of the best punches in wrestling history too, and they had lots of really great exchanges, with Fujiwara being sneaker and not wanting to box heads up with Murdoch. Speaking of turning tables, Murdoch is actually the first guy to try a Fujiwara ambar, which Fujiwara counters by making a pyramid with his head and legs to relieve pressure, then spinning out to counter. Murdoch then counters Fujiwara's armbar attempt by twisting at the knee. It was an awesome bit of mat wrestling by both guys, and just a small piece of awesome in this awesome sandwich of a match.


Read more!