Segunda Caida

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

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Bad News Berzerker Goes to Japan: Part 4

John Nord/Stan Hansen vs. Akira Taue/Toshiaki Kawada (AJPW 1/12/94)

ER: This was two halves of two different, pretty great matches, that didn't totally add up when all was done. This goes nearly 17 minutes, and for much of the first 8 we see Taue and Kawada taking apart Hansen's lariat arm. Sadly, once he hot tags Nord, none of that match ever returns. The last half is some big slams and clubbering - which is what I expected the match to be - but I was really liking the match it looked like we were getting. Nord and Hansen both club away to start, with Nord breaking out some choice chokes, strangling Kawada and choking him over the top rope. Soon though Kawada begins twisting and yanking Hansen's arm, and we start going somewhere unexpected. The big surprise is Taue being a nasty MFer on the mat. He's sorta clumsy - which you expected - but it was a blast watching him maneuver Hansen into an armbar. I'm pretty positive I've never seen Taue do an armbar, and armbars looked especially weird in pro wrestling in 1994. The best is Hansen starts to escape, and Taue, lying on the mat on his side, starts kicking at Hansen's face and arm. Hell. Yes. Taue was looking more like an Inoki prodigy than a Baba ball washer and it was glorious. Hansen does eventually punish him for the arm work, smacking him around, grabbing him by the hair to do some great short headbutts, kicking him in the spine, dropping an elbow, and I've always been a huge fan of Taue's more realistic bumping. Taue was like a weird mixture of Inoki groundwork and Terry Funk stooging here, and...I mean it's fucking Taue so it's already good, but damn was he fun.

Nord gets the tag and sadly we never go back to that arm. The big hosses take over and you can really see Nord tightening up strikes working these hard hitters; his big boots are on point, he levels Taue with a shoulderblock (he still fits in a fast bump over the top to the floor, naturally), his slams land hard, his chops are blistering. Hansen had a kind of formula he would work with whomever was his big hoss tag partner on any given tour, and Nord mostly slots into Hansen Underhoss. They work standard big dude double teams, like your double shoulderblock. At one point Hansen holds Kawada  and Nord hits an actual stiff axe handle on him. Hansen even takes the bigger bump of the two, charging shoulder first into the corner and flying over the top with a boss Slaughter bump you don't normally see Hansen take. I really liked how Taue/Nord matched up, plenty of nice moments and I especially loved Nord missing a running Taue with a boot, but then catching him off the ropes with a powerslam. Nord eventually misses a big splash and HDA takes over with a nice backdrop/nodowa combo, Hansen makes a nice save for a quality false finish, and Nord gets finished off after another chokeslam (kicking out right after 3). The wrestling itself was really good (although Kawada has weirdly come off more clumsy on rewatch than I remember), but it felt like we got the beginning half of one match, and the end half of the other. It felt like we were only getting half of two different killer matches. The existing match is plenty fun, but it's cruel to see a glimpse of what it could have been.


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