Segunda Caida

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

Monday, August 09, 2010

New Japan 80s Top 30 Countdown! Match #22

Match #22: Antonio Inoki vs. Masa Saito, 4/27/87

This was quite the spectacle, and unlike few things I've seen in wrestling.

We start with Riki Choshu in the crowd wearing a v-neck sweater and a ponytail and awesome shades, like he's one of James Spader's cronies in Pretty in Pink (released almost a full year before. Hmmmm) and you know this has to foreshadow some shit going down.

None of us viewers at home expect this Inoki matwork to go anywhere, but we do expect Saito to look like a fucking king on the mat and he totally does. He has a real nice flow to it, not rehearsed at all. The takedowns look really awkward in a good way(grabbing Inoki's leg and just deadweighting him to the mat) and the work on the mat itself is nice and gritty. Saito kneels on Inoki's knee while wrenching back on his ankle, and Inoki scrapes his free boot across Saito's face.

Saito locks on a weird and awesome kneeling figure 4 and Inoki sells it like he has somewhere to be and he's stuck waiting for some guy to finish shining his shoes.

Masa Saito looks like the most solidly built motherfucker on earth. When he locks on the scorpion deathlock he looks like he's made out of concrete. His stomach hardly goes in and out when he breathes. His beard is the same consistency as his hair. He is the only man who has ever pulled off capri pants.

When Saito starts firing off low kicks Inoki takes them really great, selling each one more than the last, hopping backwards trying to maintain his footing, backing into a corner until Saito just yanks him outta the corner and onto the mat again.

Inoki's mat transitions can really flip off the viewer at home sometimes. Saito has a real snug kneebar hooked on, really clamped on tight, really putting across that he's sweating bullets and doing his best to keep it tight. Inoki - instead of giving off any indication of struggle - just kinda goes "Yeah, I want to put my hold on now though, soooo....I'm just gonna do that."

Inoki pussies out of a lariat by turning around and ducking which was mighty amusing, so Saito just chucks him with a gnarly Saito suplex (knowing it's way more badass to have a suplex named after you than a progressive disease of the central nervous system) and decides to throw a couple more at him for good measure. Saito begins using the ropes as a weapon with assorted hotshots and crotchings and Inoki rolls to the floor, selling like a man who is really tired of being dropped neck or crotch first on ropes.

Saito brings Inoki into the ring just to throw him out the other side, then just kinda stomps around all smug. This doesn't sit well with Inoki who casually gets back into the ring and blindsides Saito with a great rolling kick. Tired of the ropes attacking his throat and groin, he ORDERS the ropes be taken down! That is fucking GREAT! These ropes have been a huge pain in my ass, let's take 'em down! It's good to be the king. If Inoki had been fighting HHH, this strategy would've instantly removed all offensive threat.

With his nemesis "the ropes" taken out of action, he begins punching Saito in the head, posts him a couple times (with Saito hitting a mean gusher and the crowd getting all bloodlusty) and then hits a couple enziguiris to the face!

Saito gets some handcuffs (Whaaaaaat!?) from Hiroshi Hase and decks Inoki with them. Inoki starts to come back with a haymaker, so Saito uppercuts him and brings him down to his knees with a kick right to the balls. He then kneels down and handcuffs himself to Inoki, making it the manliest possible version of the knife fight from Beat It. The punch each other at close range until Saito can take no more, just lying prone on his back with Inoki raining down heavy blows. Saito fights up and you can't even see he has a beard due to all the blood! Inoki punches him back down and looks insane covered in all of Saito's blood.

Hase throws in his white shirt and tries to pry Inoki off Saito, who is lying motionless on the mat.

Choshu takes off the v-neck and looks pissed, with the other members of Steff's posse (Kimura in a dress shirt and skinny tie, Hiro Saito in a plaid dress coat and v-neck white tee, some other dude in a blazing pink polo) holding him back. And Super Strong Machine is wearing a suit and looks amazing. Saito's hair is soaking up his blood puddle that he's lying in. Riki lunges at Fujinami and gets drug out as Fujinami shouts him down on the house mic.

What a strange, awesome turn of events, filled with a bunch of memorable moments. Saito was absolutely badass in this, and the crowd is always at another level for big Inoki matches.


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