Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

All Japan Handheld Cherry Picking: More Rip Rogers!

Rip Rogers vs. Masa Fuchi  AJPW 6/4/88

ER: And now we get a match from Rip's other All Japan tour, a year and a half prior to the other matches we've gone through. That 1990 tour he played up as a stooging John Tatum with stiff ring work; here he's definitely playing things a lot more swish, little curtsys throughout his entrance and after moves, sassy poses for photos, goosing the ref, that kind of thing. He does continue to do amusing ring jacket removal, this time folding the jacket over and over until it's about 4" across, just bugging the referee with stalling. And I love how Fuchi starts the match off by slapping Rogers on the butt. Fuchi had been stonefacing the who proceeding in the corner, having no time for this (and I had when I watch a match with an old surly bastard...and realize I'm older now than they were then).

This match was weirdly 80% Rogers, which is not what I was expecting. Rogers works snug and makes it work, and a lot of it hinged on Fuchi getting bumped repeatedly to the floor. The opening was simple, Rogers armdragging and slamming Fuchi and rubbing it in, Fuchi getting pissed and responding in kind (and adding a big dropkick). I love the spot where a heel (Rogers) armdrags the face, and the face holds on and rolls through with it. The match really delivers once Rogers bumps Fuchi to the floor (and Fuchi takes this cool backwards bump like he expected to fall into the ropes but fell through), and we get a great moment where Rogers charges out there while the ref tells him to stay away, with Rogers saying he's going to help Fuchi back in. He does not help Fuchi back in. Rip knocks Fuchi off the apron a few times as he tries to get back in, and eventually Rip hits a great vertical suplex from the apron into the ring. Fuchi gets a neat brief comeback moment where he goes up to hit a fistdrop, but misses, and I've never seen Fuchi go for a fistdrop and I somehow like Fuchi even more now. The finish felt a little too house show, but the small details Rip added to it were fantastic. It was a go home match finish we've all seen dozens of times, with Rogers trying to roll up Fuchi by running him into the ropes, Fuchi holding on, Rogers bumping and Fuchi hitting a sunset flip for the win. It's a sequence we've all seen. But Rogers adds a ton to it, bumping back hard when Fuchi bucks him, coming up holding the back of his head, dropping down to a knee to get his balance after getting the back of his head bounced off the mat, allowing Fuchi to leap over him for the sunset flip. Rogers could have been so much more robotic about getting into position for that spot, as you've seen so many times for others, but this guy knows all those little glue things to make a typical moment fresh.

Rip Rogers vs. Akio Sato  AJPW 1/7/90

ER: This was Sato's last AJ tour before being brought into WWF, and...that's weird, right? If you were in attendance at this show and someone told you that one of these guys was going to be a WWF full timer in a month, there's nobody in the crowd that would have guessed it was Sato, right? And from this match you'd be really hard-pressed to find a reason for WWF to be interested in him. Finlay and Rogers are guys who can fill in the down moments of a match, keep things moving forward, invest the fans, keep their opponents from lollygagging. But Sato really does nothing in between lock-ups and other segments. He's one of those walk-arounders. A lot of walking, sometimes with hands on hips, other times with hands at sides. Rogers drags him into some cool stuff, like a killer headlock punch exchange (with both throwing nice ones), Rip wriggles out of a headscissors in a cool way, Sato finally wakes up a bit down the stretch and at minimum drops a nice neckbreaker, and Rip throws a cool falling clothesline. This wasn't bad and picked up nicely, but man I wish the Rip/Baba match showed up in this batch. I would love to see him flop around for some Baba chops and run face first into that ropes-assisted big boot.

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