Segunda Caida

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

Friday, March 11, 2016


ER: Hayabusa passed away and it's terrible. I'm sure all of us have similar stories about the first time we saw a Hayabusa match. I started tape trading in high school, and naturally the first things I traded for were death match compilations. I just had to know. I have no clue what I was expecting to see, or if I would be mentally scarred after seeing whatever was on these tapes, but I had to know. We all had to know. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I imagine that 90% of people that got into tape trading had a first trade that included matches from either Sabu, Cactus Jack, or Hayabusa. The first tape I traded for smelled like weed when I took it out of the box. I didn't even know what weed smelled like then but I opened up the box and thought "this is definitely what weed smells like". The tape had Pogo twisting a scythe into a guy's head for 20 minutes, the fire tag match where the ropes go up like styrofoam, matches worked without a ring, Cactus bleeding a lot, and then this crazy satin clad ninja doing ridiculous flips that I had never seen before. The death matches didn't do a whole lot for me, but I certainly wanted more Hayabusa. Hayabusa ended up being a pretty terrific gateway drug into Japanese wrestling for me, and I don't think I was alone in that. R.I.P. you crazy ninja.

1. Nobukazu Hirai vs. Osamu Tachihikari

ER: This wasn't bad. Decent little match. Hirai was a guy I really liked around this time. He always had nice stomps and stiff shoulderblocks and clotheslines. Tachihikari was a meaty Tenryu trainee who got beat really quickly by Gary Goodridge at an early Pride show. Hirai looks really good here, Tachihikari not so much.

2. TARU vs. Stalker Ichikawa

ER: This actually got a lot of time (12 minutes) but that was because apparently Stalker's layered brand of comedy needs a bunch of time to flesh itself out. He's a guy I would probably like a lot if he dialed down the comedy in every single spot. He bumps huge (there was a table spot where he was to do an asai moonsault through TARU/table and "accidentally" flubs the spot, instead crashing and burning off the apron) and does some nutso spots, like his slingshot senton to the floor. Also dug his moonwalk rope walk. But you gotta take the comedy with it. That's the rub. TARU is always fine in things, and he was fine here. I am not a cold, heartless man. I love a good laugh. I have enjoyed a good laugh while watching a wrestling match. But sometimes I just want some wrestling. If I wanted funny I'd borrow one of Phil's Dave Barry novels.

3. Shoji Nakamaki vs. Mitsunobu Kikuzawa

ER: It's weird seeing Ebessan when he was just a short chubby garbage match worker wearing baggy jorts and bleeding. I liked Nakamaki here as he works real stiff with Kikuzawa and came off way more like an IWA Mid-South guy than a WAR guy, smacking Kikuzawa in the chin with the end of a chair and locking on a real snug STF. Match wasn't much but made me want to go back and watch more Nakamaki.

4. Shinobu Kandori & Keiko Aono vs. Harley Saito & Noriyo Tateno

ER: This was pretty clippy so kinda hard to gauge how good the match actually was. Being a pretty big joshi novice didn't help things. I really liked Harley in this and wish she matched up more with Kandori. Harley threw all sorts of nice spin kicks and had some cool roll-ups. I'm not too familiar with Aono or Tateno but both seemed fine.

5. Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Tomohiro Ishii

ER: Mochizuki was one of my favorites during this era and he's just a relentless monster during this match, kicking the snot out of Ishii with all sorts of big time front kicks and yakuza kicks and missile dropkicks and flashy flippy kicks. It's pretty one-sided until Ishii gets fed up after getting clotheslined right in the face and blasts Mochizuki in the face with a slap and then levels him with a clothesline of his own. Ishii also takes a couple of big time bumps, taking a DDT on the apron and also taking a suplex from the ring to the floor which Mochizuki turns into a Falcon Arrow from the apron to the floor. Nuts. I had no idea Ishii was even wrestling this early but he looked good here. Real fun match. Both guys dished a nasty beating on the other with Mochizuki's kicking offense holding up great.

PAS: I enjoyed this much more then your current Ishii meta stiff fests. This was plenty stiff, but it was an actually back and forth match with no weird sections where both guys stand there and prove wrestling is fake. Because this doesn't have any of that, the big shots by both guys meant a bunch more. Mochizuki has a bunch of fun ways to kick you, I love his axe kick and jumping knee to the back to Ishii's head, I also loved Ishii's giant slap, looked like it popped Mochizuki's ear drum, and he sold it like it completely dazed him. Really fun, makes me want to watch more Mochizuki.

6. SUWA/CIMA/Sumo Fuji vs. Dragon Kid/SAITO/Genki Horiguchi

ER: Oh man did I seek these kind of matches out in the year 2000. Toryumon/Dragon Gate 6 mans, all those east coast indy 6 mans, all that stuff. Loved spotty 6 mans. I still love spotty 6 mans. This was not a great, or even very good spotty 6 man, but it had value. I'm pretty sure anything with SUWA in it could never be classified as bad. The face team is pretty weak as Dragon Kid had one of his off nights which meant a bunch of twisting headscissors and roll-ups that get flubbed amidst a bunch of spinning. I remember liking Horiguchi more back then, but he looked pretty lousy here and was only really fun when SUWA was kneeing him in the face. SAITO looked best of the bunch, but even then he wasn't as good as any of the rudos. Team Crazy MAX was just as good as I remembered, with SUWA being the clear best (although he and CIMA were perhaps a bit too generous bumping big for wimpy Horiguchi dropkicks), and Fuji being one of the more underrated guys of the late 90s/early 00s. Not one of the higher end versions of this match-up, but seeing SUWA do his thing is always a treat. He had one of the best flying clotheslines I've ever seen in this (comparable only to Ikeda's), just leveling Horiguchi. Add in all his great elbow drop variations and his refusal to let others' blown spots derail things, and the guy is just awesome.

7. Koki Kitahara vs. Nobutaka Araya

ER: Araya looks like such a skuzz bucket here, with his greasy shag and patchy goatee, karate pants he must have washed with a red shirt, and what appear to be cigar burns on his arms. He also seems loaded. And this match is completely great. There's a real feeling of disrespect that runs throughout, and though it never delves into uncooperation it's always right there, lurking. They spill to the floor early and toss each other through chairs, with Araya choking a ring boy who tries to intervene. Back in the ring and Kitahara boots Araya in the forehead a lot, with Araya laughing like a tubby drunk dude while it's happening. The story of the match is basically two meaty guys who would make me cry with any of the offense done in this match. At some point the match structure kinda breaks down and it becomes more two big guys trying to hit each other as hard as possible while still retaining some sort of worked atmosphere. Kitahara finishes it with a nasty armbar and man I wish I spoke Japanese just to hear what he said to Araya after letting go of said armbar and heel kicking him to the head while walking away. The disgusted glare Kitahara shoots him is something I know I wouldn't want to be on the other end of. This was incredible.

Post show during a press conference Araya has some nice purple bruises on his forehead from all the yakuza kicks. Awesome.

8. Genichiro Tenryu vs. Hayabusa

ER: This is pretty much exactly what you would think this match would be like when seeing it on paper. Tenryu chops Hayabusa's chest raw and hits tons of awesome falling clotheslines (one of my absolute favorite clotheslines in wrestling) and Hayabusa throws in flying when he can. His stuff was pretty on here as he hits a beautiful 450, nice springboard spinning heel kick and some nice dives. Tenryu is the man here though, and has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. Every time one of Hayabusa's shots would land a little lighter than they should have, the whole crowd starts buzzing because they know Tenryu will be coming back harder. Hayabusa mans up and leans way into every clothesline, the match doesn't overstay its welcome, and Tenryu busts out the lumpy 50 year old man tope. What more would you want? This was two guys who at very different points in my wrestling fandom, where my favorite wrestler.

PAS: I thought this was a great Tenryu performance and a pretty mediocre Hayabusa one. You really want Busa to break out a bunch of crazy highspots, but instead he mostly tries to go toe to toe with Tenryu, and that isn't his game. Tenryu does a nice job of putting over Hayabusa's shots and of course unloads in return. Loved the crazy tope by Tenryu and he will crack someone in the mouth. Still this was a bit underwhelming, I kind of expected this to be a big deal, and it wasn't as frenzied as your normal Tenryu main event.

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