Segunda Caida

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

Friday, July 13, 2018

New Footage Fridays: Aoyagi, Kurisu, Kobayashi, Hoshino, Regal, Brookside

Masashi Aoyagi/Masanobu Kurisu vs. Kantaro Hoshino/Kuniaki Kobayashi NJPW 1/4/91

PAS: In a better and more benevolent universe Kurisu and Aoyagi would have had a long worldwide run as a tag team, brawling with the Moondogs in USWA, pounding on the Rock and Rolls in SMW, bleeding with the Infernales in CMLL. We didn't get that run, but we do get to see them against a fun undercard NJ team. I really dug Aoyagi in this, he really ran off some fun kick and punch combos and threw some great spin kicks. Kurisu actually spent a lot of the match selling which was a different look for him, we did get some awkward chair shots and I loved his hulking up when Kobyashi started headbutting him. Ending fell a bit flat, but I did like the post match brawl a bunch.

MD: I liked the change of pace here. This was pretty structurally sound, actually. It was strange to see Kurisu in something straightforward. Hoshino and Kobayashi attacked from the get go. They controlled using the numbers game. When he could isolate, Kurisu would fight back with his toughness and meanness. He'd get quasi-hot tags to Aoyagi who would then be one and only one thing (kick-based karate guy) but as much of that one thing as humanly possible in demolishing his opponents. I like it when he sneaks in the insult to injury kick to the butt. I'm easily amused. Then the numbers game would allow Hoshino and Kobayashi to take back over. Honestly, I think my favorite part of this, even more than the kicks and chair shots and headbutts and chaos as it all broke down at the end was the glimpse of camaraderie between Kurisu and Aoyagi after we've seen them kill each other in the past.

ER: This was not the match I was expecting, and I like that. As Matt said it's a more straight forward tag match, although we do get a Kurisu chair beating (that leads to a nice moment with Hoshino using the chair back on him), but the thing that surprised me most was the aggression from Hoshino and Kobayashi. Hoshino is always a fun ball of energy, but usually his job is to come in, pump his arms a bit, and then get wrecked. Here he's fired up the entire time and really fights back, and I was just expecting him to be demolished by Kurisu, not Kurisu selling for two juniors. I love how Kurisu no sells chairshots to the head as if he was Samoan, and I absolutely loved Aoyagi in this. Aoyagi had to have kicked Kobayashi in the back of the head in at least three different times throughout the match, hitting a cool spin kick, and even better axe kick, and I love how it all built up to Kobayashi catching a big spin kick in a great looking spot. I loved this new look at Kurisu, him stomping around, kicking in the guardrail, selling, really these handhelds have dramatically increased the amount of Kurisu we have out there. The finish is bizarre and pretty stupid, with Kobayashi breaking up the pinfall literally the entire 3 count, and the ref just counting 3 anyway. But the post match was great with a fired up Kobayashi ripping off Aoyagi's gi, and both teams showing nice camaraderie. I love that little tiny Hoshino is the person we've now seen Kurisu be perhaps the most generous in the ring with. Something we'd not have known without some guy recording wrestling with a no doubt giant camcorder.

Keiji Mutoh/Sting vs. Akira Nogami/Hiroshi Hase NJPW 9/21/91

MD: I see this as sort of a palette cleanser for us, a good counterbalance to the other two matches this week. It felt like a modern WWE dark match after Raw where the top babyfaces team up against some game heels. You have to love the commitment from Muta, who is 110% engaged with everything going on, and even from Sting who has a sort of over the top hero-in-a-world-he-did-not-make vibe. What'll stick with me the most are the two big spots though, Muta getting absolutely crunched due to the recoil on a powerplex and then Sting flying high on a splash with Muta actually rocket launching him out of the corner. If you don't love the ridiculous rapid-fire facebuster bulldogs or the serene handspring elbow followed by the Stinger Splash to set up the finish, I'm not even sure what to tell you. Sometimes wrestling is Kurisu jabbing a chair in your face and sometimes it's this, but it can all be great.

PAS: Really fun nicely paced tag match. Teaming with Sting seemed to light a fire under the ass of a sometimes lethargic Mutoh (who was rocking the orange Mutoh tights with Sting facepaint.) I loved the double dropkicks and Sting pressing and throwing Mutoh at their opponents. Sting is a guy who got tarred with the 90s smart fan bias against muscle dudes, but he is a super entertaining wrestler who nearly always brings something special to matches he is in. There was a bit of sloppiness, but energy can overcome a lot of flaws. Enjoyed Hase a bunch in this, I always love when he shows off his greco throws, Sting is a big guy and he gets tossed around with suplexes, by a guy 50 pounds lighter then him, and it is all core strength.

Lord Steven Regal vs. Robbie Brookside WCW 1993

PAS: What a fascinating bit of footage to bubble up on youtube. This is an hour long Powerplant sparring session worked almost completely on the mat. It is pretty unique because it isn't a match meant for an audience (unless it's Dave Sullivan and briefly Tony Schiavone), it is instead a test of endurance and technique. They decide to grapple for an hour in 90+ degree heat to see if they can, and it is pretty cool that we get a chance to see it 15 years later. Regal is such a joy to watch on the mat, I especially loved his constant limb control, in headlocks, headscissiors, pin attempts, he was constantly grabbing an arm to tighten control, he would also really attack limbs when he was countering out of Brookside's attacks. Brookside was a bit flashier, you could see the WOS inspired fast counters, to Regals more grinding approach. I especially loved all of the work they did out of Brookside's bodyscissors, just both guys having a bunch of different ways to add spice to a basic spot. While there was a bit of quick roll ups near the end of the match (counted by guest ref DDP, who just jumps in the ring at about the 15 minute mark and starts reffing), this didn't really have any sort of build, it was just two master grapplers, grappling for an hour. The most unique match that has shown up since we started New Footage Fridays for sure, and a really great bit of errata to be able to see.

MD: Regal occasionally tells the story of arriving to the US in 93 and having no idea how to work a 6 minute TV match, not even fully understanding the concept of what was being asked, because they used to go an hour every night. It's hyperbole on both ends, but that doesn't make it any less of a joy to watch him fill time for an hour.

There's a lack of build towards climax but I was never bored throughout. Here Regal really holds advantage for a good chunk of it, moving in and out of holds, always grabbing for the next limb to reestablish control but never quite focusing long enough on any one part for Brookside to rationalize long-form selling. He, on the other hand, has flashy counters and what ultimate end up as hope escapes, before finally taking over about 35 minutes in. Regal sells as loudly and emotively as if there were thousands of people out there and not just six or seven. Occasionally it picks up with forearms and uppercuts or whips, but it always goes back to the competent but theatrical grinding.

The long period of pseudo-heel control followed by a revenge-laden limb manipulation comeback reminded me a little of the long Bockwinkel matches we have. The difference is the stakes. Everything feels earned but nothing matters to an iota of the level of, let's say the Bockwinkel-Brunzell broadway we have. I think it gives a very good picture of what a genuine 60 minute Regal performance might have looked like, though. I didn't have much doubt before and I have even less now.

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