Segunda Caida

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

Monday, August 31, 2009

The World is a Dangerous Place, not Because of Those Who Do Evil, but Because of Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Kengo Kimura v. Bad News Allen/Dick Murdoch NJ 9/16/83-FUN

This is one of the earliest Fujiwara matches we have and he is pretty spectacular already. The focus of the match is Bad News's befuddlement at the hardness of Fujiwara's skull. There is a great section where both guys are exchanging headbutts and Fujiwara decides to shift his strategy and aim shots at the side and back of Allen's head rather then the front. Fun stuff, although more a chance to see young Fujiwara rather then a stand alone great match.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Akira Maeda v. Super Tiger/Nobuhiko Takada UWF 7/23/84-GREAT

This is a classic example of a big star tag match. It isn't a shootstyle match (missile dropkicks, top rope headbutts ect), this is your main eventers matching up. Lots of heat, guys getting off their big moves, and setting up your singles matches. The kind of match that would headline a Smackdown PPV. I enjoy stuff like that, although it isn't a match that was particularly high on my Other Japan ballot. This was a nice table setter for Takada v. Maeda and Fujiwara v. Super Tiger which are the big two feuds in the early part of UWF 1. I could see this match making me want to see those singles matches, especially Fujiwara v. Super Tiger. Super Tiger really comes off great here, as it almost feels like he is more over in early UWF1 then he is later. He is also throwing nastier kicks then either Maeda or Takada. Fujiwara is Fujiwara, and he has the charisma that is really need to pull of this kind of star based match.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Joe Difuria PWFG 10/31/94-SKIPPABLE

TKG: Difuria is a big roided up US indy guy. i think I may have once seen him and Scott Putski work The Headbangers in King of Prussia. I mean he looks like the kind of guy that you'd see tagged with Putski vs. the Headbangers. He works like he may have been the Shane Twins trainer. I think Fujiwara vs. Putski, or Mosh would have been a much better match. I mean why wasn't DC Drake returning PWFG's calls? Difuria works like barely trained big roided guy and Fujiwara does the type of selling you do when faced with big barely trained roided guy. None of Difuria's stuff looked as good as Jacobs and on some level I think Fujiwara had Difuria control way too much. Not good.

PAS: I liked Fujiwara in this, as I thought he laid out a nice match, as DeFuria shrugged away everything he tried until he finally got the heel hook in. With Glen Jacobs this match would have been good, hell this match would have been good against Van Hammer, DeFuria is worse then both and so it wasn't good. Still I was impressed by Fujiwara.


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Thursday, August 27, 2009

#11: Freelance

by Phil

2008 is a tough year to stand out as a highflyer. You can attend any podunk indy in any town in America and see random skinny dudes doing 450’s and Orihara moonsaults. If Flip Kendrick was around in 1998 he would be an indy legend who people would scour the earth trying to find tape of. Despite that awesome flying is still one of the coolest things to see, Freelance is the single most spectacular wrestler in the world. There are at least two jaw dropping moments in every match. There are a bunch of guys in Mexico who will twist and flip into the second row, but his gracefulness, speed and height is unmatched. He is also a tremendous rope runner, armdragger and ranaer, can work the mat and throw a great punch. Really a complete wrestler and a guy who should be more talked about amongst folks who like flashy shit.

Recommended 2008 Matches:

~w/ Fenix/Turbo vs. Fantasma de la Opera/Dr. Cerebro/Cerebro Negro (IWRG, 9/4/08)
~w/ Rey Cometa/Pegasso Extreme vs. Los Oficiales (IWRG, 10/2/08)
~w/ Rey Cometa/Pegasso Extreme vs. Los Oficiales (IWRG, 10/9/08)
~w/ Rey Cometa/Pegasso Extreme vs. Los Oficiales (IWRG, 10/17/08)

Career Recommended Matches:

~w Fantasma de la Opera/Multifacitico vs. Black Terry/Cerebro Negro/Yamato (IWRG, 12/1/07)
~w/ Tortugillo Ninjas 1 y 2 vs. Los Oficiales (IWRG, 10/11/07)
~vs. Avisman (IWRG, 1/21/07)

2009 Outlook:

He is probably going to drop a bit in 2009, has had some fun performances, but IWRG has really been focusing on other guys. He wasn’t even in the Rey Del Ring battle royal which he normally steals the show. It is possible that he gets a good program in the last third of the year, or his hair match with Dr. Cerebro surfaces, but I am guessing he falls out of the top 20.

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#12: Todd Morton

by Eric

If there's something that Todd Morton does badly, I haven't seen it. He does everything great! His punches are all incredible, and he has a bunch of varieties. The overhands look good, the straight jabs look good, the sneaky jabs look good, the MISSED punches look good! It's shocking how many workers make missed punches look bad, but they do. With Morton, you always know that if the guy didn't duck or back away, the punch would've hit and looked great. He get some mean height on his dropkicks, too.

His bumping is awesome. Knows how to absorb a hot tag, gets insane height on back drops, has perfected the Marty Jannetty "inside out" clothesline bump, knows how to eat finishers, etc.

His work when he's NOT wrestling is among the most compelling in wrestling. Just watching him on the apron is great. He's constantly getting into it with fans, yelling at the opposing team, holding counsel with teammates, hiding weapons, the bug-eyed panicky look he gets when things aren't going his way, tons of stuff.

And his cheating is some glorious stuff. Working crowds up in a tizzy by using and hiding weapons, doing the simplest little underhanded things but making it all work. To cheat, you must have the facials, and he knows exactly how to play to each crowd he works.

Dude can bump, sell, stooge, throws a mean punch, cheat, makes everything he does or receives look nasty. What more could you want out of a worker (aside from said wrestler working for more than one promotion so that we can see him more often against a wide array of opponents, naturally)?

Recommended 2008 Matches:

~w/ Bull Pain/Chris Michaels vs. Bill Dundee/PG-13 (XCW-Midwest, 3/4/08)
~vs. Ali Stevens (IWA-EC, 3/18/08)
~w/ Bull Pain vs. Jerry Lawler/Chris Michaels (XCW-Midwest, 8/9/08)
~vs. Mitch Ryder (XCW-Midwest, 11/4/08)

Recommended Career Matches:

~w/ Mitch Ryder vs. Colt Cabana/Cash Flo (IWA-MS, 2/1/02)
-w/ Bull Pain/Mitch Ryder vs. Ian Rotten/Mitch Page/Corporal Robinson (IWA-MS, 2/8/02)
~vs. Chris Hero (IWA-MS, 2/8/03)
~vs. Ian Rotten (Taped Fist Match, IWA-MS, 4/18/03)
~vs. Mitch Ryder (XCW-Wrestling, 8/7/07)
~w/ Bull Pain vs. Mitch Ryder/Rosey (XCW-Midwest, 9/11/07)

2009 Outlook:

High. He's had matches with Bull Pain and Bill Dundee and he's still Todd Morton. Also, thanks to all our praise the always cool Goodhelmet put 3 Morton matches on his '08 MOTYC comp, so that likely raised his awareness among some more people.


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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NWA Fusion Episode 4

Basically all squashes this week, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, although not something I would want to watch everyweek

Horrorshow v. Landon Thomas

Thomas has a 2005 Shannon Moore look and a 1998 Shannon Moore offense. Last time I saw Horrorshow he looked kind of backyardy, but I enjoyed him here. Thomas got a satellite headscissors or two, but this was mostly Horrorshow. Horroshow has some good looking offense and this made me want to see him against better competition, which is exactly what it was supposed to do. I have been avoiding passing judgement on the commentary team up till now, but I officially don't like them Spencer Chestnutt thinks he is hilarious and spends most of the matches trying to get over lame catchphrases, while Cameron Turk spends most of the match reading off of Rev. Ray's old book of moves. Kind of makes me miss Rick O'Brian. They also need to work on their sound editing, as you can hear them discuss their commentary during the ring entrances "Which one is the GIft and which one is the Curse?" "I have no fucking idea"

CA Elliot v. Zach Hilton

Elliot is a big black guy who wrestles a little like a less roided Ahmed Johnson, sort of power wrestler with agility. Elliot threw Hilton all around the ring. I dug the slam onto the ring bolts and the backbreaker finish. I would actually like to see Elliot and Horroshow match up.

Da Nu Bluds v. Mark Anthony/Haitian Sensation

The makeshift heel team got some offense, but again it was a showcase for the tag champions. I didn't get a great sense of them, they have an amusing meth head gimmick, but their stuff was pretty pedestrian. They hit a couple of finishers on Haitian Sensation, and Anthony pulls Da Gift (or maybe Da Curse) out of the ring and brawls with him while Sensation is pinned. This caused this off mike commentary exchange "What the fuck was that, did he need to get his fucking heat back or something? That guy is training people?" Off mike commentary was the highlight of the show for sure.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

IWRG 8/06/09

Our friend Luchalibre Nation is still AWOL, but into the breach comes WarriorsX2000 who is posted this awesome looking show.

Heavy Boy/Carta Brava Jr. v. Star Boy/Eragon

TKG: Apparently Carta Brava Jr and Eragon are feuding. Basic premise here was Eragon wants Carta Brava Jr. Carta Brava won’t match up with Eragon until heels have advantage. Simple structure but more actual heated match than you expect for segunda. And I really liked this a lot. For “innovative” guy teamed with Carta Brava Jr , Heavy Boy didn’t look anywhere near as good as Vampiro Metalico. I like Heavy Boy’s Vegomatic variations but outside of those he dragged this match down. Meanwhile Carta Brava Jr was on fire. For a guy who I think of as being pretty vanilla he came away like a RUDO STAR who I want to see again. The match actively made me want to see an Eragon v Carta Brava superlibre singles match. That’s something I can’t imagine saying.

PAS: Solid undercard tag, match had its moments of good including a good looking headscissors from Star Boy and a giant swing into a dropkick by the rudos. Heavy Boy is without Epidemia but Carta Brava Jr. fills his part of the innovative indy double teams fine. There were definitely some awkward parts too, the rudos had stuff in mind, which didn't play out in practice. Still no beef with this.

TKG: I haven’t seen Starboy in years. He used to be a guy getting a pretty big IWRG push who I didn’t think much of. Here he came off as a really solid tecnico and his section with Carta Brava was a blast. There was a Baywatch episode I think called “Broken Windows and Broken Waves” that dealt with homeless problem on the beach where CJ volunteered at a soup kitchen where she taught the homeless to surf while Mitch implemented broken windows theory to combat aggressive panhandling. Both the “bad” homeless panhandlers and the good homeless families all had really cut bodies with perfect skin, coifed hair, implants and perfect teeth. IWRG isn’t Baywatch. There is no romanticism in IWRG, not just your homeless are ugly but also your strippers. StarBoy is a guy working a stripper gimmick, but this isn’t your romanticized Hector Elizondo/ Antonio Pena style stripper. StarBoy is kind of chubby greasy scummy looking small town male stripper. He looks like Tom Brandi gone to seed. Doesn’t work the bachelorette parties for the money so much as for the creepy pleasure it provides him. Compared to Leono or Kozlov, and Star Boy just comes off as better worker and more charismatic. You get the sense that if he took up ab crunches and bulimia for a couple months he could get a nice push in a bigger fed. I don’t know if the ab crunches and vomiting would hurt his charisma. Watching Star Boy I kept on thinking how someone should run an IWRG/AAA invasion that’s set up when Floyd Gondolli brings StarBoy, Diva Salvaje Judas, Flor Metalico, and Freelance over to the party Konan is throwing.

El Fantasma de la Opera/Avisman v. Exodia/Bushi

TKG: The story here is that Fantasma is working a gimmick of heel that no one can trust and get along with. He turned his back on fellow rudo Buschi, so Buschi has turned face and grabbed Exodia to feud with Fantasma. Over the course of match Buschi earns Exodia’s trust and cements his status as a face. This is all really amusing and convoluted since I think the whole explanation of Buschi’s original heel turn was “ This is Buschi’s debut working as a rudo, I guess he felt like trying that out”. This was kind of a mess and not something they pulled off at all successfully. I have no desire to see Fantasma v Buschi in a superlibre match. It feels like Buschi either needs to be hidden more in trios or working more technical exchanges. Exoida looks more comfortable in the ring than he did the first time we saw him, and he takes an insane bump on Fantasma's dangerous DDT variation. Still Exodia is a guy who very clearly needs to be wrestling Radamantis, Judas El Traidor, and Commando Negro in openers for the next eight to ten months.

PAS: I guess Exodia looks more comfortable then last time, he is definitely a good athlete, but he face plants the floor on his dive and I imagine they will bury this guy and repackage Goledor next week as the new Exodia. I thought Fantasma had a really good performance but I really don't want to see him against either of the technicos.

Barba Roja/Pirata Morgan Jr./Hijo del Pirata Morgan v. Cerebro Negro/Dr. Cerebro/Black Terry

PAS: Really fun trios match. The Jr. Piratas look a little outclassed during the opening mat sections, as their was some nice looking stuff, but they were clearly being led by Terrible Cerebros. They were definitely more comfortable in the second and third falls when they stood up. I really liked all of their triple teams, as they looked more like classic lucha trios moves, as opposed to the more Young Buckish shit that many current lucha teams will do. I also dug the finishes of the second and third falls, as the rudos attempted to out rudo each other. That is one thing I love about lucha, when you match up two rudo teams, their isn't a de facto techinco, they just battle to see who truly represents the spirit of rudismo.

TKG: I get the sense that the Piratas v Officiales is the match up that would play to their strengths better. Still kind of neat to see them forced to work this type of matchup. They seemed really out of sorts as to what to do with the first fall. but they never embarrassed themselves and hung along for the ride. Also amazing how much Terry felt like the real general/anchor of this matchup. One of these days I'd love to write up something on the period of EMLL between the crowd turning on the attempt to make Tarzan Boy a top face at turn of century and the beginning of the success of making Mistico. The real engine of EMLL booking during that period was these rudo v rudo feuds that were anchored by veteran rudos. The IWRg crowd was packed with kids from either the local Buccaneers youth futbol team or the youth booster club for a Buccaneers futbol team. Either way promoting a trio to local youth group with similar name is cool way to sell more tickets and get involved crowd.

Los Oficiales v. La Dinastia de la Muerte

PAS: This was a little disappointing as it only really kicked into gear when Navarro starts kicking ass in the third fall. Oficiales controlled most of the first couple of falls, and looked fine, but nothing they did really stood out, and Navarro was in the background. When he decides to unleash an ass whooping in the last fall though it was pretty spectacular. He just stomps the Oficiales into oblivion, and pounds them with punches. Navarro may be the most badass brawler in wrestling right now, which is strange for a guy who has primarily been known as a technical mat worker.

TKG: Pre match the Traumas and Navarro doa promo. Boy are the Traumas young. At worst they sounded like the pimply faced boy who works at Krusty Burger on the Simpsons, at best they sounded like Joel Watts. Fierro is back after a four month injury and didn't seem to miss a step, as he's really fun as guy beating on folks and eating a nasty beating. 911 was almost understated while AK47 continues to look awesome. AK47 steps up to have really good match ups with all three Navarros (I left this thinking that him v Trauma I might be actively good singles...which is probably wrong but whatever). But he also is the guy who won't let an opponent just stand around and do nothing. One of problems with heel triple teams is the question of why isn't technico breaking them up. There were a couple points where the either one of the Traumas seemed to be either out of place or standing around just watching while the other was getting beat on. AK47 seemed to always find a way to knock down the guy milling about aimlessly and then get back to triple team.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fab Five WWE Matches of the Week 8/17-8/23

1. Jeff Hardy v. C.M. Punk SummerSlam 8/23

So surreal to see I guy I used to travel to Southern Pines NC to see, and a guy I used to travel to Edison, NJ to see headlining a PPV like this. This was pretty great stuff, none of the bumps looked smooth, everything was ragged and painful looking. The superplex on the ladder was especially cringe worthy. I loved Ross calling the match austere, I can't imagine anything more ostentatious then a wrestling match with six ladders, five chairs and four tables laying around the ring. I am not sure this is as good as the best of their non gimmick matches against each other, as they tend to be less about the contest and more about the individual moments. This did have some huge moments though which is exactly what you want.

2. Dolph Ziggler v. Rey Mysterio SummerSlam 8/23

Good, long back and forth match. Rey is on fire and for the most part kept this together. His throw to the top, moonsault off move was beautiful. Ziggler isn't there yet, he had some individually nice looking things, but definitely looked lost at points and a couple of things were slightly flubbed. I am hoping we see Rey move on from him though, as I think this is about the best these two can do. Still good shit, lots of nice near falls, and I bought the match being over a couple of times.

3. Mike Knox v. Finlay Smackdown 8/18

Nasty little brawl, Finlay is so great at these smash mouth type of matches, and Knox was right in the mix with him. Lots of nifty little touches to this match, Finlay's apron double dropkick move, Finlay pulling back the fingers of Knox to try to break the chinlock, a really nasty Knox knee to the kidney's, Finlay initial failing to fireman's carry Knox then gritting it out. This just felt like a violent fight. Finish was a little weird, as I wasn't sure why the ref was breaking the hold, but I am definitely excited to see these guys pound on each other for a bunch more weeks.

4. John Morrison/Hardys v. Hart Dynasty/C.M. Punk Smackdown 8/18

This was the better of the two pre-PPV six man tags. Mostly an opportunity to see the Hardy's together again which it did well. I remember comparing the Hardy's to the Rock and Roll Express back in the OMEGA days, and I am amused how Matt Hardy has really gotten the cross eyed, potbellied look of 90's Robert Gibson. I kind of like the Hart Dynasty despite myself, and while Punk didn't do much big here, he did do a bunch of subtle hateable things which I dug.

5. Rey Mysterio/Cryme Time v. Chris Jericho/Big Show/Dolph Ziggler Smackdown 8/18

In a better week, this wouldn't have made the cut. I always enjoy watching Rey, but the first part of this was pretty dull. I haven't watched a Cryme Time match in a while, but have read people talk up JTG, I was super unimpressed. It is pretty amusing that the WWE is filled with shitty 2001 indy highflyers now, JTG, The Colons, Kofi Kingston, John Morrison, it is like an entire fed of Chris Devines. It was kind of impressive that JTG could do his Smokey Charmichael spots while wearing Timbs and Jeans though, I have to give him some credit for that. This did have a pretty hot finish run though, and the Big Show big right hand is a great finisher.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

#13: Mitsuharu Misawa

by Eric

Man this was a tough one, huh? It's easy to say someone isn't as good as they once were, and talk about how fat they've gotten, how much slower they are now, etc. It's harder to appreciate someone for who they have become. Many people have watched Misawa matches the last few years longing for a run like his full 90s run. The problem is, they couldn't accept that he was a different man than his 90s self. He was now the owner of a semi-successful cottage industry promotion, boss of 40+ people, figurehead of the company, and into his 40s. The bumps had caught up, the injuries mounted, injuries hampered training, job stress lead to weight gain, and on and on and on.

This was a different Misawa than any previous year. Sometimes it can be hard to push the young, vibrant, risk-taking Misawa out of our heads and accept him for who he became. It's hard, but is necessary, out of enjoyment of wrestling and respect for the wrestlers, to appreciate what this legend became. Misawa became one of the best characters in wrestling the last couple years before his untimely passing. He was Clint Eastwood in "Unforgiven". He wanted to retire. He knew his job was killing him. But people relied on him. People needed him. He couldn't help but keep going. Misawa's face the last couple years was among the most expressive in all of wrestling. With every bump, every shot taken, his face would read "Why can't KENTA or Marufuji get over? Why didn't Morishima work? Why did MMA have to blow apart pro wrestling?" Misawa was Bill Munny reluctantly working one last match, wanting to honor Baba's memory and keep his workers fed, all while doing what was killing him, what he knew was his true nature.

To expect a lightning fast Misawa was just unfair. I saw Link Wray 4 months before he died. He was 76 years old, was wearing a fannypack onstage, and had a back-up guitarist doing most of the licks that his hands couldn't handle any longer. But he played "Rumble" alone, and it sounded as amazing as it must've sounded to the hordes of sexed-up teenagers in 1958. I saw Ron Asheton playing with the Stooges 8 months before his death. He was older, slower, fatter, but that feedback was pure Ron Asheton. That nastiness of "No Fun", oozing out of his amp sounded as great as it must've sounded to greasy Detroit sleeze bags in 1969.

And I saw Misawa live a few years ago. He was older, slower, fatter, and I couldn't help but jump up and down when the lights went out and his music played.

It's easy to write someone off as being past their prime. But we owe it to him to appreciate all the things he still did well - and the things he did even better - than that younger, fresher, faster wrestler.

R.I.P. Misawa, you were the man that got me interested in puro.

Recommended 2008 Matches:

~w/ Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Jun Akiyama/Atsushi Aoki (NOAH, 2/21/08)
~vs. Takeshi Morishima (NOAH, 3/2/08)
~w/ Yoshinari Ogawa/Ricky MArvin vs. Akira Taue/Masao Inoue/Kishin Kawabata (NOAH, 5/15/09)
~w/ Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Akira Taue/Kishin Kawabata (NOAH, 6/29/08)
~w/ Ricky Marvin/Taiji Ishimori vs. Kensuke Sasaki/Katsuhiko Nakajima/Kota Ibushi (NOAH, 10/25/08)
~vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (NOAH, 12/7/08)

Recommended Career Matches:

~Close your eyes and point

2009 Outlook:

OK. It doesn't look great. He had a few fun to very good matches in the first 6 months, so I expect he'd be on the list. My only real hope for an '09 Outlook is that Kobashi doesn't try and pick up the slack and overwork himself to the same finish.

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#14: Daisuke Ikeda

by Phil

Ikeda is kind of an interesting case as he is really high on this list for one match (I enjoyed him beating Yoshikawa, but that was basically a squash). Still when that one match is the epic July BattlArts six man, and the performance is as good as Ikeda’s performance, it will get you damn high. Ikeda was just great in that match. He spends the first 10 minutes or so on the apron just laying in cheap shots, and when he finally comes in he just murders his opponents. We got to see long sections against both Otsuka and Ishikawa and you definitely got the sense that Ikeda is still on their level. He may be the best wrestler at the world at conveying that reckless violent asskicker vibe that Stan Hansen used to (the other contenders are probably Negro Navarro and Bull Pain). It is damn frustrating that Futen is maybe the only gathering of more then five Japanese people which isn’t being video taped, but I am glad we got the glance we got.

Recommended 2008 Matches:

~w/ Katsumi Usuda/Super Tiger II vs. Yuki Ishikawa/Alexander Otsuka/Munenori Sawa (BattlArts, 7/26/08)
~vs. Yuta Yoshikawa (BattlArts, 8/6/08)

Career Recommended Matches:

~vs. Yuki Ishikawa (BattlArts, 5/26/98)
~w/ Mohammed Yone vs. Yuki Ishikawa/Alexander Otsuka (BattlArts, 1/12/99)
~vs. Alexander Otsuka (BattlArts, 6/26/99)
~vs. Yuki Ishikawa (BattlArts, 8/29/99)
~w/ Takashi Sugiura vs. Takeshi Morishima/Takeshi Rikio (NOAH, 5/29/02)

2009 Outlook:

Not good, Futen has stopped working with BattlArts, and so nothing has shown up anywhere. It is very frustrating that I can’t even get a HH on Youtube. So while we know he is killing people somewhere, unless we see it he won’t make a 2009 list.


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Nothing Great in this World has Ever Been Accomplished Without Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Super Tiger UWF 9/7/84-EPIC

This was the opening match of their series, and it was really interesting to watch the different way they approached each other and the style they were working. This was much more of a New Japan style match, then a shootstyle match, although you could see the style starting to evolve. For example while Tiger is still going for top rope moves, he isn't hitting them. Both times he tries, Fujiwara moves. They still are doing piledrivers, but at least Fujiwara's actually is a counter out of a triangle choke, kind of a incubatory Hughes v. Newton spot.

It wasn't just the style that is different, Fujiwara really controls this match way more then their others. Fujiwara really is a heavyweight against a junior, Tiger's stuff really comes in flurries, while Fujiwara is on top for most of this. They are really great flurries, and Fujiwara is a master at selling a surprise knockdown. Just the way he approaches him, there is none of the tentativeness of later matches, he just walks Tiger down, and counters a lot of his offense. Tiger is the scrappy underdog junior heavyweight which is completely counter to the way he is perceived later, I think this match went a long way in establishing him as a peer to Fujiwara and Maeda, and the finish run of big kicks and the chickenwing you can tell sort of shocks the crowd.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Osamu Kido/Kazuo Yamazaki v. Big Van Vader/Masa Saito NJ 2/14/88- FUN

This was part of the introductory tour of Big Van Vader, and he was killing folks in these type of handicap matches. The steam is gone from the UWF invasion at this point and these guys are being used as spunky jobbers. Fujiwara and Saito have some fun exchanges, and Fujiwara shoots him this awesome look of distaste when he smacks his head against the ring bolt. I really like JYD Fujiwara, but that really is the least Fujiwara, and I wish he and Vader could have a more substantial match against each other.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Riki Choshu NJ 6/19/88 - GREAT

Kind of a minor match in their oeuvre, which is still going to be better then 99% of the other stuff in the history of the world. These two always ramp up the intensity. Choshu is a guy who throws a nasty lariats, and Fujiwara is a guy with lots of ways to play defense. The biggest near fall is when Fujiwara catches the lariat and moves super smoothly into a Fujiwara armbar. Really cool finish with Choshu countering a headbutt with a straight right, and nuking him with Riki lariats. Still by 1988 Fujiwara was clearly at a lower level push wise then Choshu so this wasn't as pitched of a battle as their 1987 series.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Riki Choshu v. Hiroshi Hase/Great Muta NJ 4/7/94- GREAT

This was a pretty awesome short match. Hase is just ripping it up with Fujiwara and Choshu, chucking them with nasty suplexes, getting rocked with lariats and headbutts. Muta spends the match on the outside making faces and when he gets tagged in, he mists Hase in the face. Choshu and Fujiwara jump him. There is a classic spot in a bunch of Fujiwara match where he is unloading with a run of headbutts and he gets countered. Here he is unloading on Muta and you just are waiting for him to catch a face full of mist. It is awesome no one makes better faces then Fujiwara, and his "face full of mist" face is just great. Choshu and Fujiwara make a great grumpy team, and I am hoping I can unearth other tag matches from around this time.

The Complete and Accurate Yoshiaki Fujiwara

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

#15: Bryan Danielson

by Phil

Danielson is kind of an unusual case, for most of his career he has benefited from a really open artistic environment, he could pretty much wrestle any kind of match he wanted to. I am getting the sense that in the last year or so he is starting to choke on that freedom a bit, I would like to see what he could do with some restrictions, a run in Mexico or ECW where he has to temper his ambitions a bit.

Danielson is good enough that as long as he is wrestling, I have a hard time seeing him slip much below this spot, but in 2008 he was part of the ROH death spiral, and I don’t really see much left for him to do in the showcase indies. His 2008 was mainly rerunning matches with Nigel and Aries mixed in with underwhelming new dance partners like Claudio, Nakajima, Tyler Black , it is fun to watch him carry guys like that, but nothing we hadn’t seen before and better. 2008 also had the Nigel WXW match and the NYC Marifuji match which are by far the two worst matches I have seen him in. A great wrestler having a subpar year can’t be ranked above great wrestlers having great years

Recommended 2008 Matches:

~vs. Low-Ki (PWG, 1/5/08)
~vs. Nigel McGuiness (ROH, 2/23/08)
~vs. Tyler Black (ROH, 5/8/08)
~vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (ROH, 9/30/08)
~vs. Chris Hero (PWG, 11/2/08)
~vs. Nigel McGuinness (ROH, 11/22/08)
~vs. Claudio Castagnoli (ROH, 12/6/08)

Career Recommended Matches:

~vs. Low-Ki (ECWA, 2/24/01)
~vs. Low-Ki (ECWA, 7/21/01)
~vs. Samoa Joe (ROH, 10/2/04)
~vs. Nigel McGuinness (ROH, 8/12/06)
~vs. Homicide (ROH, 12/23/06)
~vs. Takeshi Morishima (ROH, 8/25/07)
~vs. Takeshi Morishima (ROH, 12/29/07)

2009 Outlook:

Pretty poor, he was great in the Chikara King of Trios, but ROH is a pit now, and he is stuck working clowns like Kenny Omega and Chuck Taylor in PWG. Could still see him pulling out some big performances in the end of the year, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him drop out of the top 20

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

NWA Fusion Episode 3

Episode 3 is here, and this might last an entire month

Preston Quinn/Grail v. Assault and Battery

I am always excited to see Preston Quinn, who has very quietly been one of the best wrestlers in America for the last half dozen years. This wasn't really a match to pimp Quinn though, as he wasn't in it very much. He does hit a really nice looking brainbuster, but most of this match is Grail being worked over by Assault and Battery. This was the first time I had seen them, and they didn't show me much, Diamond Victor Griff worked really loose, which was really obvious compared to Grail and Quinn. Shmozz ending too, which is continuing the overbooking which has plagued this show so far. If every match has a BS ending, it means that all of them get less heat.

Jimmy Cicero v. Zach Hilton

Jimmy Cicero was a guy who I saw dozens of times in random northeast indies in the 1990's. I saw him get dumped on his head by Scott Putski, get chopped by Tom Brandi and dropkicked by Queenan Creed. He was often the highlight of those shows, as you would sometimes get entire shows where he was the only guy above average. I haven't seen him in about a decade, he has put on about 50 pounds, but he still looks good. This was basically a squash match, and Cicero breaks out a nice kneelift and a good looking superplex. One thing that I really started to notice in this match, is the ridiculous WWE jump cutting in the editing, often jump cutting during moves so you can't see the impact. I had a hard time telling how Cicero's offense looked because the camera angle was switching so much. Point the camera at the match, stop showing off how good you are at Adobe Premier.

American Ranger v. Vulstagg

This is your basic patriotic babyface vs. evil foreign heel match, which is a match I always like. Vulstagg is pretty good, but the American Ranger is more Corporal Kirshner then Sgt. Slaughter. Match ends with a Sheik Ali Akbar and Hatriot run in, and I continue to dig the Hatriot. Talent wise he appears to be to American Ranger as Doug Gilbert was to Del Wilkes, but those two guys had some fun matches in the same feud, and they sold me on these guys against each other too. Would like to see the Hatriot do more then generic turncoat to Iraq shtick, I think a disillusioned ex-Patriot who has soured on the American Dream could get over huge in VA. Just have him repeat old Jerry Rubin speeches.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thunder on! Stride on! Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Strike With Vengeful Stroke!

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Antonio Inoki/Akira Maeda vs. Riki Choshu/Yoshiaki Yatsu/Animal Hamaguchi NJ 2/9/84-GREAT

This is part of the Choshu's Army feud and Fujiwara got his first big run here and was awesome. The match is focused around the Army triple teaming and beating on Fujiwara. They bust him open and he fights them off with blood running down his face, there is a moment where he blocks a shot, smiles a bloody smile and just unloads with headbutts. Choshu's army matches all pretty much have unsatisfying finishes, and this ends with a crappy ref DQ, still this was the earliest super Fujiwara performance I have seen, and all Fujiwara fans should check it out.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Riki Choshu NJ 3/2/84-FUN

Real short brawl, which was still a blast. Fujiwara comes out ready for war and they just go at it. Choshu gets a bit of advantage with some big lariats, and Fujiwara roles to the floor and grabs a bolt and tries to stab Choshu with it. The Army runs in and we get a big multi man brawl. More of angle then a match, but you have to love the intensity and heat from this period of New Japan

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Super Tiger UWF 9/11/85- EPIC

This is the final UWF 1 match up between these two, and really their masterpiece. Kris Zellner described the beginning of this match resembling a heavyweight title fight, and that is really accurate. The first part has a lot of feints and shrugs, Fujiwara throws some jabs, Tiger tosses some range finder kicks but neither guy wants to make the first move. At one point Fujiwara grabs Tiger's wrist and just yanks him in to take him down.

Then you have the Fujiwara controlling Tiger on the mat. The two most trite moves in the first UWF are the half crab and sitting leg lock. Watch some of the lesser matches from this period and they are loaded with diffident half crabs and somnambulant sitting leg locks, watching Fujiwara work those moves shows the real gulf between him and everyone else. He is constantly moving and working to improve his position, and Tiger is constantly trying to counter. There is never a point in the hold where nothing is happening. After being controlled on the mat, Tiger is able to get a break and unloads a nasty jumping knee right to Fujiwara's face. Fujiwara gets up at nine, backs Tiger into the corner and just blasts him with one of the best straight right hands in wrestling history. And it is on. Most UWF1 matches have a slow build and a hot finish, but this was the best slow build of any of the UWF, and damn near the best hot finish.

The end run of this match was really all about establishing distance. Super Tiger needs to have some distance to unleash his kicks, and when he gets that distance Fujiwara does an amazing job of selling them as deadly, even when they don't land clean. He is drooling, eyes rolling back into his head, checking his tooth to see if it still there, gasping for breath when he gets hit in the belly, Tiger looks like a guy who has the eraser in his feet, he can end a match with one shot. Meanwhile Fujiwara is attempting to keep it close, either on the mat, or in the corners where he can land body shots or headbutts. The finish run is perfect example of that, Tiger gets a couple of near fall KO's, but makes the mistake of locking up with Fujiwara, he tries for a German suplex, but Fujiwara, throws a back elbow, and just drops into a Fujiwara armbar for the tap out. Just an awesome perfect finish for a great match.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Antonio Inoki v. Akira Maeda/Tatsumi Fujinami NJ 9/7/87- GREAT

This is a battle of teams who really match up well against each other, Fujinami and Maeda are two of Fujiwara's best opponents, and Inoki also really works well with both. Built really well, with everyone hitting the mat with vengance, Inoki and Maeda had an especially neat exchange with Inoki using an Elevator to reverse position and land some nasty punches from the top. Finish was spectacular with Inoki avoiding all of Fujinami's attacks and catch him with his enzigiri, however Maeda comes in and catches Fujiwara with a nasty liver kick for the KO. Total chaos at the end which ruled.

The Complete and Accurate Yoshiaki Fujiwara

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yoshiaki Fujiwara Never Takes a Step Back, Only in the Face of More Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Akira Maeda v. Tatsumi Fujinami/Keji Mutoh NJ 2/5/87- GREAT

The NJ v. UWF feud may have delivered more great matches then any feud in history, and this was another in the series. Mutoh hasn't done a ton for me in the 1980's, but he was pretty great here. He gets abused by the UWF team, and is awesome firing back. He hangs with Fujiwara on the mat, and brawls with Maeda. The finish of this match was great with Mutoh getting fed up and hurls Maeda over the top rope, and then capture suplexes Maeda over the guard rail. Fujiwara wasn't a focus of this match, but he did have an awesome exchange with Fujinami which is always a pure pleasure to watch. They really matched up with tremendous speed, it looked like the kind of fast, intricate lucha exchange you might see Santo and Blue Panther do.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Kazuo Yamazaki UWF 7/24/89 - EPIC
This was my number one match in the Other Japan Best of the 90's voting, and truly a beautiful piece of professional wrestling. It is paced differently then any of the other matches in the Top 15, and I am guessing the odd pacing may have been a reason it finished low on some peoples ballots. Fujiwara, especially in the late 80's and 90's does this really stop-start almost Fugazish pacing, where you have big exchanges or moves, and then lulls, where both guys would circle or feint, before the next attack. I really like this kind of pacing, it is the kind of thing you often see in shootfights or boxing matches, really brings drama to the moments of action.

The first part of this match, Fujiwara is really not taking Yamazaki seriously at all. Like he is almost contemptuous, imagine Flair v. Scott McGhee or Ricky Steamboat in their first match. He throws in a cheap shot headbutt, dancing around mugging, puts on a knee bar while reclining with his head resting leisurely in his hand. At one point Yamazaki throws some kicks which miss, and Fujiwara responds with some really assholish thrown kicks of his own. Almost like the Jock Football player taunting the Asian kid with fake Karate. Fujiwara has some of the greatest facial expressions in wrestling history, and he really gets across contemptuous prick.

Yamazaki finally gets some respect when he hits Fujiwara with a nasty kick to the stomach for a down. Yamazaki tends to be kind of hit and miss with his kicks, and Fujiwara only sells the ones that land big, unlike a lot of other guys who will sell intent not result. Fujiwara also is always trying to catch the middle kicks, although even when he does, he will sell the shot if it is solid enough.

The last ten minutes of this match really bring it over the top. Fujiwara has gotten four downs on Yamazaki so he just needs one more knockdown for a technical decision. So Yamazaki has his back against the wall. He gets fed up with the abuse and you almost get the sense he has decided to dish out some receipts even if he is going down. Like many Fujiwara matches ring positioning is very important, Fujiwara had been trapping Yamazaki in the corner and punishing him with bodyshots. Yamazaki kind of bull rushes Fujiwara in the corner, and just unleashes body shots of his own, seemingly aiming right for Fujiwara's sake soaked kidneys. The downs get close to even, and they announce five minutes remaining.

They then go right to the corner with both guys now throwing with abandon and trying to maneuver the other into the corner, Yamazaki gets the final turn and cracks Fujiwara with a knee lift for a nine count. Now UWF2 had booked a ton of 30 minute draws, including one in the opening match of this show. Really the only reason to book so many undercard 30 minute draws is for a main event finish like this.

So we are at 28 minutes and Yamazaki unloads with nasty headbut right to Fujiwara's mouth. Now this is a clearly a receipt for the headbutts earlier in the show. Fujiwara comes up with blood dripping from his mouth, and this look on his face "So were throwing headbutts now, Motherfucker," and he just unloads with three nasty headbutts including one right to the eye for the TKO at 29 minutes 30 seconds. Yamazaki was technically fine here, but this was the Fujiwara show. Just an artist at telling a story with smirks and eye rolls and sneers. Every action had a reaction, great great stuff.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Yuki Ishikawa vs. Tatsumi Fujinami/Toshimitzu Ishizaka NJ 9/23/93-FUN
Fujiwara and Fujinami are guy who really work well against each other, their lack of a singles match is one of the biggest missed opportunities in wrestling history. This was pretty much a short throwaway tag, but it did have some awesome exchanges between those two guys. I love how Fujiwara is always a step ahead of his opponent, he catches Fujinami a bunch of times in nasty counters. His slickness makes it so cool when Fujinami drops him with a sneaky right hand.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Abdullah The Butcher WAR 7/4/97- GREAT

This is about as awesome a no bump match is going to get. Both guys are so great at being who they are, it is like the Dennis Hopper/Christopher Walken scene in True Romance. Lots of awesome, almost Kung Fu movie strike exchanges, Fujiwara is throwing these nasy bodyshots right to Abby's titty flap, and Abby is doing his awesome block and chop to throat. The end of the match was awesome, Abby hits his spectacular elbow drop for a near fall, he then goes for the fork, but Fujiwara cuts him off and get the fork. He gets this great shit eating grin on his face and just starts carving Abby up. Finish looked a little blown, and the match is slightly clipped up, but this was a total blast and fun as hell to watch.

Complete and Accurate Yoshiaki Fujiwara

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Are You Washed in the Blood of Yoshiaki Fujiwara?

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Antonio Inoki/Keiji Mutoh vs. Steve Casey/The Barbarian/Manny Fernandez NJ 10/26/87-SKIPPABLE

There was some individually cool stuff in this match, Casey takes a big bump, Barbarian and Manny have some cool double teams, Barbarian potatoes Inoki. However this match was based around the gaijin beating on Mutoh and he looked like crap. Match picks up a bit when Fujiwara gets the hot tag, but this wasn't good.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Antonio Inoki/Shiro Koshinaka v. Riki Choshu/Super Strong Machine/Kuniaki Kobyashi NJ 8/4/88-FUN

A fan jumps in front of Fujiwara as he is walking down the aisle, and Fujiwara elbows the kid right in the mouth. That was the highlight of this match, as this was the basic NJ six man. Their is a lot of Choshu v. Inoki teases and Fujiwara has some cool exchanges with Kobyashi, but otherwise this was pretty run of the mill.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Zaour Chabadze PWFG 10/4/92- GREAT

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.

Complete and Accurate Yoshiaki Fujiwara


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Friday, August 14, 2009

Fab Five WWE Matches of the Week 8/10-8/16

1. Goldust v. Sheamus Superstars 8/11

Wow, Dustin has looked great since coming back, but this was a classic early 90's level Dustin performance. He took two big time bumps (on the stairs and off the top) but his in ring bumping was even better, he does a great flipping bump for Sheamus's shitty polish hammer, which actually made it look kind of devastating. The fired up babyface comeback was great too, I loved his big corner lariat and powerslam. Sheamus was a guy in a great match with Goldust, but he didn't do anything obviously bad. I bought all the near falls, and I loved Dustin finally getting a win.

2. C.M. Punk v. John Morrison Smackdown 8/11

For a guy who was slightly below average a year ago, Punk has been blowing me away lately. This was the best match these two have had against each other, with Morrison using his athletic stuff mainly to counter, and Punk delivering a pretty nasty beating. The diving double knees on the apron was awesome, and he was laying in the kicks too. This did have you trademark Punk chinlock spot call which is always kind of irritating, but outside of that pretty great 10 minute match. Punk going over clean puts him over big for Summerslam, and I can't believe he is the guy the show is being built around.

3. Finlay v. Dolph Ziggler Smackdown 8/11

Nasty little Finlay carry job. I loved the return of the apron skirt spot which was my favorite thing about the initial WWE Finlay run. The ring apron facewash was pretty nasty too. Still not completely sold on Ziggler as he was throwing some questionable punches for a match that was otherwise this stiff. Could be into a Knox v. Finlay feud, lets hope they get a 10 minute Superstars slot.

4. John Morrison v. David Hart Smith Superstars 8/11

Morrison works these kind of ROHish indy innovation matches, which aren't my favorite kind of wrestling. I did like this more then most though, as Smith wasn't trying to outflip Morrison, but just wanted to chuck him around with power moves. Really nasty superplex by Smith, and I also dug all of Morrison Meiko Satamura kicks. Everything in this match seemed to land with more impact then your normal Morrison match. Fun stuff.

5. William Regal v. Tommy Dreamer ECW 8/11

The Summer of Regal continues, as he delivers a classic beatdown of Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer comes in with a taped arm, and Regal pounces on it in nasty ways. Really great Dreamer performance too, as he showed a bunch of fire, had nice looking body shots and some really good selling. I loved how Regal countered Dreamers run, by focusing back on the arm and the finish was great. I am hoping for Regal v. Christian to be one of those endless Punk v. Chavo style ECW feuds.

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Cowards die many times before their deaths, Yoshiaki Fujiwara tastes death but once

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Osamu Kido/Seiji Sakaguchi vs. Riki Choshu/Yoshiaki Yatsu/Masa Saito NJ 6/8/84-FUN

Fujiwara's first big TV run was as a spunky babyface vs. Choshu's army and he is good here firing away at the heels. This was a match with lower ranked guys on the New Japan side, and the match is dominated by the Army, it needed a bit more competitive to really break out from the pack. Yatsu, Saito and Choshu are an awesome bruising heel trios team, and all three guys do work great with Fujiwara.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Tatsuo Nakano UWF 1/16/90-GREAT

TKG: Yeah this is the stuff. Nakano is great at this kind of hardhitting fast brawl. Nakano has gotten really slick and almost elaborate in his mat work. Whole story here is Nakano challenging and taking it to Fujiwara and Fujiwara catching Nakano with stuff. Nakano headbutts Fujiwara multiple times in the back and side of head. Fujiwara busts Nakano in the jaw multiple times with headbutts. The two trade nasty bodyshots. This was badass.

PAS: Nakano works this match like a guy in a boxing match down on the scorecards going into the last round. Not a ton of defense just a bull rush, Fujiwara is really great at countering and using his aggression against him, and there are also moments where he clearly gets pissed off and throws receipts. For a match built around body shots and headbutts, you got a pair of dudes who can throw a body shot and a headbutt.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Tokimitsu Ishizawa PWFG 7/21/93-SKIPPABLE

TKG: I have no idea what was going on here. Ishizawa is Kendo KaShin and is working as young amateur wrestling superstar. Fujiwara is working defensively but not in his normal defensive guy countering way. Instead he's working like guy on the bottom in Greco trying to keep himself from being lifted or turned. Fujiwara really never attempts an offense. And so its a thirty minute version of Rulon Gardner vs. Alexis Karelin. I mean there was a point where Kashin realizes he can't either lift or turn Fujiwara so he just lets go and asks for stand up. And you think well now something else is going to happen. but then Kashin takes Fujiwara down, Fujiwara turns giving Kashin his back and its back to the same thing. I have no idea what this was about.

PAS: This felt like it might be an exhibition, not a real match, because at no point does Fujiwara ever attempt an offensive maneuver. He never makes even a cursory stab at winning. Ishizawa takes him down, he goes into a fetal position. Ishizawa, attempts to grab something, Fujiwara stops him. The eventually stand up. Parts of this were compelling as Fujiwara makes the defense kind of interesting, I kept waiting for Fujiwara to lure him into his trap, but it never happens. I thought this might be a shoot, because it had the anti story, that shoots sometimes have. As a match it made no sense.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

And Behold a Pale Horse: and His name that sat on him was Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Riki Choshu NJ 6/9/87- EPIC

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 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.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Fred Hamaker UWF 5/4/90- GREAT

PAS: Hamaker is a Dutch amateur wrestler with Curt Henning’s perm, he had enthusiasm although I didn’t get a real sense that he knew what he was doing. This was of course the Fujiwara show, and it is a show I never tire of watching. Fujiwara approached this like someone solving a corporate desk toy logic puzzle. He would try one approach, it would fail, he would regroup, try something different, adjust, until he finally found the road to success. He wasn’t getting frustrated exactly, he would try an attack, it would fail and he would brush himself off and go again.

TKG: Like the opening match with a member of Team Netherlands, Hamaker would go for the ropes as son as it looked like Fujiwara was going for anything but before he seemed anywhere near actually putting something on. In the first match this was distracting as never get a sense of what Anjo was going for. Here Fujiwara really makes a big deal of all the breaks, slow to release, taunts seconds while the two are in ropes, gets Soronaka to separate, gets up and smiles etc.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Tiger Mask IGF 9/8/09- FUN

These guys still have great chemistry together. Sayama has gotten really fat and his kicks really land with a Hashimotoesque thud now. Fujiwara's selling is great here, as can absorb some of the kicks, but he slowly gets beaten down. Sayama dominates the early part of the match with kicks, but Fujiwara avoids a diving headbutt and rolls out of the ring. As he is getting in, he smacks his head against the ring bolt, to sort of say "Let's go motherfucker" and then dominates with big headbutts, almost finishing Sayama when the time limit ran out. This felt a little more exhibitiony then there 2008 match, but both guys looked good.

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Wrestling I've Enjoyed Recently (9 Months Ago Edition)

Whenever I talk with Phil I always feel like the most out-of-the-loop wrestling fan around. I love watching wrestling on DVD. DVDs have revolutionized tape trading. You used to buy a tape for $10-15, and now I can find people selling DVDs for $2 a pop. I can afford to keep up with every single promotion in the world at that rate. BUT, I don't love watching wrestling on a computer. I will watch if it is the ONLY way I will ever see a match (the amazing VIP lucha tag from a couple years ago, the Navarro/Terry match, etc.), but otherwise I'll just wait for the DVD.

PHIL, however, is the master of watching wrestling on a computer. He watches matches matches that have disappeared forever by the time he tells me about them the next day. "Oh man, it was fucking amazing." "Where can I see it!?" "Oh, it got taken down 7 minutes after I watched it. I doubt it'll ever be uploaded again." If we're talking music terms, then Phil is getting his hands on all the cool new 7"s from hip indie labels like Hozac or Captured Tracks or Woodsist before they go for ebay money, while I'm still listening to my Deep Blue Something cassingle on my Walkman.

So, yeah, I watch wrestling way late, on DVD, like a loser. Here are some matches I watched recently that I really enjoyed, that took place 9 months ago.

1. Bronco/Romano Garcia vs. Danny Boy/Flecha (El Toreo, 12/3/08)

Going into this I didn't know Bronco, loved Garcia but didn't realize he was still even making tape (Mr. Condor/Diabolicos, along with Apache and Pimpi, were one of the only bright spots on early 2000s Galavision AAA TV), didn't know Danny Boy, and knew Flecha was Skayde. Didn't have tons of hope for it but I love old guy lucha so figured it would be OK.

It was awesome. Romando Garcia is a total monster here. He's a little greyer up top, but he's as sneaky and bastard-y as ever. He just makes Danny Boy (who has the appearance of an older, hispanic Joey Maggs) his target the whole match and is just ruthless. Just kicking him in the balls, beating him with nasty chairshots, and in one of the greatest things I've ever seen in wrestling, Garcia grabs an empty beer bottle from a ringside vendor, breaks it on the ring post, and goes after poor Danny Boy with it!! Garcia is a marvel here, one of the ultimate heel performances I've ever witnessed.

Danny Boy bleeds like a champ and plays a really great sympathetic technico. Really interested in all their other meetings this year (two of which I have on my old fashioned Digital Video Diskz), so look forward to watching those some time in 2011.

2. Sami Callihan vs. Trik Davis (IWA-MS, 12/5/08)

These guys matched up a couple times in '08, but THIS was the singles match to watch from them. This is one of my favorite indie workrate singles I've ever seen. Trik Davis is so great here it really makes me think I should've had Trik over Sami, and Sami just got more showcase matches against cool opponents (Trik didn't get the Scorpio or Ian singles matches). Trik makes Sami's offense look better than I've ever seen it look before. Trik just leans into EVERYthing and both guys really deserve some kind of weirdo standing ovation for giving and taking such nasty beatings in front of like 35 people. The way Trik takes Sami's finisher on the floor is just totally painful, and it was on a side of the ring that had like 6 people sitting on it. Sami doesn't really know how to play to the crowd very well and project, he just kinda does his Billy Idol sneer and that's it. Trik is getting really good with his facials and plays to the crowd well and it really ties the match up. This is a great match, well worth going out of your way to see. PLUS, Fannin points out that Trik came out to the Fall Guy theme song , which may be appropriate. Trik still doesn't get much credit as a great worker, just because he looks like Big Pete Wrigley. So even though he might fall from a tall building, or roll a brand new car, he's still the unknown stunt man, that in this match made Sami Callihan such a star (I still have my Fall Guy lunch box up on my living room shelf).

3. Grits N Gravy vs. Ian Rotten/Mickie Knuckles (IWA-MS, 12/6/08)

This was part of the IWA-MS Candido Cup tag tourney. Grits N Gravy is Sami Callihan and Michael Elgin. You're all familiar with Ian, Mickie, and Callihan, and Elgin is a big doughy squishy dude squeezed uncomfortably into a singlet, who hits REALLY hard.

Ian is the standout here, and he's just awesome. He looks like my old elementary school classmate Nathan Hoffman, who would kinda do anything just to get attention (and had a baby blue Member's Only jacket with a spot on the left breast pocket so you can put I.D., so Nathan sloppily wrote "Nathan" on a piece of torn lined paper and put it in there). I usually don't get too excited for bullshit in wrestling. I have to be in the right mood for it. But Ian's bullshit? I could watch that all day. The dude is always on and people could gain a lot by watching his tag work. The dude is just always on. His apron work here is fantastic, his stuff on the mat is cool, there's a great spot on the floor where he dishes out some classic "Smothers-Fu" to Elgin, and when Sami wanders over to save Ian delivers a mule kick to the balls. Just watching the guy waddle around and somehow be awesome is such a treat.

Mickie Knuckles genuinely scares me. I like watching her wrestle, and like seeing her come in and headbutt her brain cells away, but she scares me. She really has a kind of reckless way about her -- not in a sloppy way, but in a I-don't-care-if-I-die way -- that makes her really intriguing.

Real fun tag match with four people who hit hard and get hit hard.

4. Takeshi Rikio/Naomichi Marufuji/Mohammed Yone vs. Yoshihiro Takayama/Takuma Sano/Ricky Marvin (NOAH, 12/7/08)

I am such a sucker for NOAH six mans. Throw six guys with seemingly little connection to each other, one side acts like heels, the other acts like faces, somehow all six guys end up looking awesome. I have no idea how this happens. Marufuji consistently looked like the worst guy in everything he was in the last two years, and he was great here! And remember when Ricky Marvin was the best wrestler in the world!? Well he looked like those days were upon us NOW. All his stuff looked good and he did a rope-walk dropkick that I had to rewind a few times. Yone is really big now and he has his fro back. The only guys larger than him in the match were Rikio and Takayama, and man he packs a wallop. This had all the shit you know and love about NOAH. Dudes getting thrown into guardrails a bunch, dudes setting up spots where they run all the way across the building to clothesline a guy, stiff strikes, hott stand-offs, everybody wins. I love NOAH six mans.

5. Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (NOAH, 12/7/08)

This was the first time I enjoyed a singles match with Nakajima. I've enjoyed a good amount of tags where he's in with heavyweights that just beat him up and all he has to do is get beaten up and throw some big kicks. But this was a good Nakajima singles match. Misawa is fat, grumpy, and in no mood to get kicked by some punk. Misawa's elbows are truly insane. They're like an Anderson Silva back-peddling jab: He doesn't look like he's throwing them that hard, but when they connect, they just might dislocate your jaw. Misawa hits all sorts of elbow combos and Nakajima reddens his chest, and the match ends when it should end.

6. Yoshinobu Kanemaru/Kotaro Suzuki vs. KENTA/Taiji Ishimori (NOAH, 12/7/08)

There are gonna be a hundred of these matches this year that I can't stand, filled with wasted big moves and dudes popping up doing the jacking two dudes off fighting spirit fist pumps. But I dug this one. KENTA plays a great face-in-peril and Kanemaru/Suzuki are really good at cutting off the ring. The first 10-15 are classic southern tag, and by the time we get to the big spots they're all really fun and well strung together, making good use of saves to avoid too many pointless kickouts. This was real fun and I seriously doubt I'm going to enjoy a juniors tag this year as much as this one...but like a sucker I'll still watch them.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

America Needs Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Antonio Inoki NJ 3/16/89- FUN

This is a far cry from their wars in 1986, as this is worked more like a mid-card guy challenging Ric Flair on WCWSN. Fujiwara is playing the role of a tough guy with some tricks up his sleeve, who is out of his league. Some really nice mat wrestling to start, these are a pair of guys who can work holds, and show struggle, and I dug Fujiwara smacking Inoki in the mouth. However the finish is pretty disappointing as Fujiwara goes down pretty easily to the Octopus hold, I loved the slumping passed out selling, but I expected more of a fight.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Dick Murdoch PWFG 5/23/96-EPIC

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.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Mariko Yoshida v. Yuki Ishikawa/Carlos Amano Chigusa Pro 3/25/05-GREAT
This is a mixed tag from a Chigusa promotions show of all weird mixed tags. For some reason they were using a gigantic ring, I mean a ring that looked 30x30. I would have liked to see spots where the younger Ishikawa used the giant ring to tire the older Fujiwara, but I shouldn't Coey a match. Fujiwara and his trainee Ishikawa start out, and run through some beautiful shootstyle stuff. Great matwork, and super nasty punches and headbutts. Ishikawa has one of the best punches in wrestling, and he drills Fujiwara here. Fujiwara of course smacks him with Kikuchi level headbutts. One of the craziest things about current Fujiwara is that he has really retained all of his quickness. He is 57 years old, but every once in a while he will break out a counter which is blindingly fast. The first move of the match is Ishikawa going for a shoot and Fujiwara countering into a Fujiwara armbar with Dragons Gate speed.

Fujiwara also has some really fun mixed tag spots. Amano comes in and tries to outstrike him and he no-sells except a shot to the balls. Then she comes in later to headbutt him, he laughs at her grabs her like he is going to headbutt her, but instead gives her a big kiss Dusty Rhodes style.

Ishikawa however is the king in this. He comes off as such a scumbag rapist. He lifts Marika for a bodyslam, and just holds her there with his hand on her special parts and a smirk on his face. There is also a section where Ishikawa and Yoshida do some awesome fast matwork which ends with Ishikawa in an STF and he leans down to lick her ear. You really get the sense this how every Joshi fan with a Yoshida avatar would wrestle her if given the chance.

Finish is great as Amano goes all Take Back the Night on Ishikawa and all three of them beat on him. Yoshida then locks in a triangle choke and Yuki just gets this beatific smile on his face as he is face first to her flower. He even waves off the save from Amano.

Totally fun match, which makes me badly want to see an Ishikwa v. Fujiwara singles match, and for GAEA to restart with Ishikawa as your lead heel.

The Complete and Accurate List of All of the Yoshiaki Fujiwara

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Dark and Mysterious Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Masakatsu Funaki PWFG 7/26/91-EPIC

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/Shinya Hashimoto v. Alexander Otsuka/Katsumi Usuda Zero One 7/12/01- FUN

This was a mostly one sided beating, and I was hoping for a more competitive match. However if you have to have a one side beating, Hashimoto and Fujiwara are guys who will horribly beat you and Otsuka and Usuda are guys who can take a huge beating. The match opens with Fujiwara and Usuda doing some super fast mat work, and then the beating commences. Most of the match was Otsuka trying to prove he belongs to his teacher and Hash by absorbing a monster asskicking, they bust him open and stomp the shit out of him. There was a great spot where he ducks a kick and finally gets off a big German suplex on Hashimoto, which has to be like lifting a small horse.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Kintaro Kanemura Zero-One 9/1/03-GREAT

This is from the 2003 Fire Festival and is just a total blast. You have the king of the scum garbage indies v. the king of the scum shoot indies. Fujiwara slaps the shit out W*ING to start the match. He also lands some nasty headbutts busting up Kanemaru's head hardway (of coure he probably gets busted open legit putting on a baseball cap) but gets cut off by a punt to the balls.

Fujiwara sells shots to the balls really well, wincing with each motion afterwards. There is a great fighting spirit spot near the end of the matches, where they exchange slaps and ball punts, and Fujiwara does a really great fighting through testicle pain sell. Kanemaru takes it to the streets slamming Fujiwara into the rail and putting him through a table. He controls until he decides to smash Fujiwara's head into a table, he dents the table, but everyone know you can't hit Fujiwara in the head. He comes back with some brutal slaps and headbutts until Kanemaru bumps the ref. Kintaro grabs a chair a swings it, but Fujiwara catches his arm in a Fujiwara armbar, an awesome counter, unfortunately the ref is down, and when Fujiwara checks on him, he gets rolled up in a very RAW semi-main kind of finish.

This was really fun, Fujiwara fits perfectly in a crazy brawl, and has some really fun garbage wrestling spots. Kanemaru is a guy who has great shtick, and can do his match really well, and Fujiwara plugs right into a Kanemaru match and it is great.

The Complete and Accurate List of All the Yoshiaki Fujiwara

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Fab Five WWE Matches of the Week 8/3-8/9

1. Rey Mysterio v. Mike Knox Superstars 8/4

Rey is really great at working these kind of cat and mouse matches. Rey might be the best wrestler in the world right now, and while his offense wasn't super spectacular, his bumping and selling was great. I don't remember Knox looking like such a killer before, but man can Rey eat a clothesline and a big boot. Your Knox cross body was the one piece of fancy offense and it ruled, it looked like a shark swallowing a seagull. Nice little TV match

2. C.M. Punk v. Jeff Hardy Smackdown 8/4

Punk has been pretty below average his entire WWE run up to this point, but man has the heel turn lit a fire under him. Even his Muai Thai stuff, which looked shitty as a face, is landing with a thud and a force here. Hardy takes some nutty bumps for a TV match which is mostly an angle. I loved the double knees counter of the swanton, and I thought the finish worked fine. Post match beat down was super nasty, the chair around the neck was probably pretty safe but looked violent as hell, and "Fix him so I can Break Him Again" should be the thing people remember about Punk 20 years from now.

3. Tyler Recks/Yoshi Tatsu v. William Regal/Paul Burchell- Superstars 8/4

It so great that Regal has been moved off of RAW so we get to see him in longish matches every week. Hell we have seen more in ring Regal in the last month, then in the last four years. This was pretty much one awesome pro carrying three greenish rookies. The Tastu v. Burchill section was fine, but once Regal came in, the match changed, just the couple of back elbows he threw were on a different level. They have run the Burchell/Regal tag team before, but this is the first time that Burchill sort of looked like he belonged, the double team working over of Tatsu was pretty nasty stuff. I don't know if Tatsu is significantly better then your average random hairless effeminate Puro worker, but I get the sense Regal can beat him into someone I want to watch.

4. Goldust v. Sheamus ECW 8/4

The 2009 Dustin resurgence is pretty improbable, he looks slimmer then he has in 15 years, and really has his crispness and execution back. This match is a total one man show, I dug all of his arm selling and Sheamus actually looked competent for large parts of this, I especially dug the hammerlock slam on the ropes. He doesn't look competent for all of it though, terrible kick to the stomach and an awful looking missed clothesline (how are you going to throw a clothesline a foot over Dustin's head, he is 6'5 for fucks sake.) Goldust only had about a minute of offense, but it looked great, strung all of his stuff together great. I dug the finish and the post match attack, would like to see Dustin move on to other guys, but I am enjoying this series.

5. Christian v. Tommy Dreamer ECW 8/4

A decade or so ago, Dreamer would do this match every week, they have spread them out at enough at this point to make them special. Both guys will take some nasty shots, and both the car door and the hotdog truck are unique enough props that this felt fresh. Good finish too. If they do the sensible thing and retire Dreamer this was a fine career swansong

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Yoshiaki Fujiwara Comes Around the Bend

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Yusuke Fuke PWFG 2/24/92-EPIC

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.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Shinya Hashimoto v. Steve Corino/C.W. Anderson Zero-One 4/29/02 -SKIPPABLE

Lots of horseshit in and around this match, you have Corino and Anderson mostly stooging and goofing around and most of the match was based around Mr. Fred as the heel ref. Hashimoto laid in a nasty beating, and I always dig Fujiwara do comedy, but I can imagine this would have been pretty good in a straight match, and this wasn't much.

The Complete and Accurate List of All of the Yoshiaki Fujiwara

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Let Us All Sit and Discuss Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Akira Maeda v. Bad News Allen/Dr. Death Steve Williams NJ 7/24/86- FUN

Nifty little tag match with four of the toughest guys in wrestling pounding on each other. Bad News Allen loves to work hard head comedy spots when he is the ring with Fujiwara, you get the sense he is just happy that a racist US promoter isn't making him do them. So we get all the classics, Fujiwara's head slammed against the ring bolt, Bad News headbutting him and hurting his own head ect. Dr. Death had a pretty underwhelming New Japan run, but he looked great here, throwing dudes around. Finish was cool too, as the Americans dismantle the ring while Maeda was running the ropes and he tumbles to the floor, where all four guys brawl to the back. Needed a bit more pizzaz to really be a high end Fujiwara match, but it was really enjoyable.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Bart Vale PWFG/Miami Shootfighting 3/20/92- EPIC

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. You get the sense that Fujiwara would have had an amazing career as a Gary Hart managed guy feuding with Dusty or a Tojo managed Akio Sato tag partner.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Shinya Hashimoto NJ 6/1/94 -EPIC

Despite being the first ever New Japan trainee, this was Fujiwara’s only IWGP title match. This is a match up of two of my favorite wrestlers of all time, I saw Hashimoto maul Dylan Knight live in a tiny gym in Pennsylvania and caught his bandana when it was thrown to the crowd. I still have the bandana hanging in the hall of my apartment.

I could see a lot of Puro nerds not caring for this match. This isn’t smooth and dramatic like a classic All Japan match from the 1990’s, this was rough and awkward. Both guys would try attacks, which would get countered and then there would be pauses and restarts in action. It was very weirdly paced, in a way I really liked and could see other people hating. Fujiwara really dominates the opening, working on Hashimoto’s shoulder and attempting to really lock in the Fujiwara armbar. The first pause and shift in momentum comes, when Hash bulls Fujiwara into the corner and wraps his bad knee in the ropes. Hash then points to his shoulder in a real “eye for an eye” kind of way.

Nothing was hit really cleanly here, Fujiwara kept trying to catch all of Hash’s kicks. Some he would succeed in blunting, but a lot would go through. The more that landed the less he was able to block, in a way that you could tell he was being worn down. All the blocking and awkwardness was the really the opposite of the big strike exchanges most main event Puro matches have. Everything was a struggle. There is a long fight for the first DDT, with Fujiwara trying a bunch of counter attempts, and Hash laying in the knees. When it finally hits Fujiwara takes an almost Kobashish bump on it . Hash pins him off a second DDT which really was sold the way a tough boxer sells a meaningless second knockdown. The first KO was really enough to win the match, but his heart won’t let him go down. Still there was no fight left in him.

I loved this match, it really felt more shootstyle then Hash’s match against Takada. This didn’t have the drama of that match, but it had the rough edges and awkwardness, which really made it look like a fight.

The Complete and Accurate Yoshiaki Fujiwara

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The Complete and Accurate Yoshiaki Fujiwara

So I am in the process of finishing up watching the footage for the 1980's Project New Japan set (which is going to own BTW) and I realized that with watching all that footage, all of the footage for the 1980' Other Japan set and all of the PWFG I have watched the lion's share of all the Yoshiaki Fujiwara matches committed to tape. So I figured it might be cool/insane to construct a list of all those matches, with some sort of review next to each match. So by the end of this, we will have at least a sentence or two on the totality of Fujiwara's career. A lot of the reviews will be C+Ped from other places, so I apologize if use the same Teddy Atlas talking point multiple times, also some of these reviews were done with Tomk, so I will include his stuff too. I am not a star review guy, but I will break it down into Epic, Great, Fun and Skippable. I will update this post with links to reviews and a growing list of the matches. The




Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Antonio Inoki/Akira Maeda v. Riki Choshu/Yoshiaki Yatsu/Animal Hamaguchi NJ 2/9/84-GREAT
Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Riki Choshu NJ 3/2/84-FUN
Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Akira Maeda UWF 4/17/84- GREAT
Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Osamu Kido/Seiji Sakaguchi v. Riki Choshu/Yoshiaki Yatsu/Masa Saito NJ 6/8/84-FUN
Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Osamu Kido v. John Quinn/Otto Wanz 6/14/84-SKIPPABLE
Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Akira Maeda v. Super Tiger/Nobuhiko Takada UWF 7/23/84-GREAT
Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Super Tiger UWF 9/7/84-EPIC


Yoshiaki Fujiwara v. Super Tiger UWF 1/16/85-EPIC









Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Katsumi Usuda v. Shoichi Funaki/Ikuto Hidaka HUSTLE 5/30/10-GREAT
Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Riki Choshu/Genichiro Tenryu v. Tiger Mask/Tatsumi Fujinami/Gran Hamada RJPW 8/9/10-GREAT
Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Minoru Suzuki v. Osamu Nishimura/Masa Fuchi AJ 10/24/10-FUN


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