Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

1987 Match of the Year

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


PAS: This is a textbook example of a simple match performed by ridiculously charismatic performers, and how great something like that can be. Hardly any wrestling moves are performed by either guy. Fujiwara does headbutts, punches and a Fujiwara arm bar. Choshu throws 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. Completely one sided the way opening falls of great lucha apuesta matches are one sided,  Choshu is bleeding and Fujiwara is smirking and strutting, Choshu finally takes some 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 contact actually being made on the moves. This was a Riki Choshu style match and it is a real credit to Fujiwara that he went ahead and played in Choshu's sandbox and delivered the greatest Choshu match of all time.

ER: Phil does a pretty tremendous job of covering why this is so great. It's wrestling boiled down to its barest, nothing unnecessary, no bloat, loud crowd, tons of blood, efficient. And I really love that it was Fujiwara having a Choshu match. I've gotten so used to seeing "the Fujiwara match", a type of match I've gone out of my way to see a lot over the last decade, and 6 minutes into this it hits me that I'm watching Fujiwara have the greatest "Choshu match". So naturally I hop on this post to write about it and see that Phil has come to the same conclusion hours before. And it's awesome. Choshu charges through the crowd to his propulsive entrance theme, and like a huge unexpected record skip 30 seconds in, Fujiwara is waiting to jump him on the floor, then starts headbutting away. The crowd is insanely hot for Fujiwara, and it's very important to note that this is Choshu's big match return to New Japan, having been away in All Japan the prior two years. It wasn't his first match back, but he returned earlier that week and this was his first big singles match test. I'm so used to seeing smirking old man Fujiwara that it's wonderful to go back and watch a slim, spry Fujiwara (who is just a couple years older than myself here). His facials tell a million stories and are pure wrestling joy, seeing him reverse a suplex into a Fujiwara armbar and practically scream in glee is a tremendous moment, and I love the way he crumbles on those Riki lariats. We get so used to seeing flat back bumps or rolling neck bumps on lariats, that watching Fujiwara kind of turn into it, actually acting like he's futilely trying to dodge them at the last moment, but still absorbing them. You can hear the crowd tiring themselves out wanting a Fujiwara win, and you can hear them all sounding like they took a Riki lariat after Fuji takes a second one. Great match.


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