Segunda Caida

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

Friday, July 06, 2018

New Footage Fridays: Can-Ams, Kikuchi, Kobashi, Aoyagi, Kurisu, Steiners, Eaton, Enos

PAS: Pete from PWO drops another awesome batch of HH's including another Can-Ams vs. Kobashi/Kikuchi match, so despite the Network pooping out another turd, we get a great week of New Footage.

ER: Phil is an old crank, and let me say that for people of a certain age, Lex Luger slamming Yokozuna was a big deal. Preteen me loved seeing and hearing about all the different athletes from different sports, all wanting to slam Yoko. I loved that they got a tiny jockey to give it a shot, the whole thing made it seem to me that pro wrestling was a lot bigger deal than it actually was. I still remember how excited I was when Jim Duggan knocked Yoko off his feet in a match, and as we didn't have cable I actually went over to my grandparent's to watch the aircraft carrier showdown. I think a full upload of the Intrepid footage is something that would be extremely exciting to people who are currently age 31-37, and absolutely not interesting to anybody else. Phil's not wrong for being unexcited for uncut Intrepid footage, but it ain't for him.

Dan Kroffat/Doug Furnas vs. Kenta Kobashi/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi AJPW 6/1/91

PAS: This is a previously unseen precursor to their all time legendary match a year later. It doesn't reach the highs of the 1992 match (few matches ever really do), this had many of the elements that made that match so special. Kikuchi is an all time great face in peril, he takes huge bumps (the doomsday device DDT here is especially grotesque), gets his body bent in sick ways (both Can-Ams were trying to touch his heel to his head in Boston Crabs) and times his moments of hope and counters perfectly. Kobashi is a tremendous hot tag too, he has such a variety of big and great looking offense, and while I have sometimes found that tiring in singles matches, it is great in a tag format. Can-Ams have some really impressive tag offense, Furnas may not have been a complete wrestler, but man was he an athletic marvel, and when he starts throwing those monster dropkicks and ranas it is something special. The final set of near falls in this match really had the crowd rocking, and only the ref blowing the finish and counting three, when it clearly was two, keeps this from that rarefied air of top AJPW matches. Still what a discovery to unearth

ER: What a spectacular discovery, maybe the most fun tag match to get unearthed in the last year, four super creative guys all flourishing, really feels like these guys have enough material to work 45 without the match ever seeming long. From the beginning Kroffat is working the match with an immediacy that makes it feel like the match is going to be an under 10 minute burner, but they keep that energy up for 20 minutes. As I was watching this I kept thinking "Man I'm really impressed with Kroffat in this match..." then a second later "Man I'm really impressed with Kobashi in this..." and then "Man I'm really impressed with Kikuchi in this..." Sometimes when watching a match I'll be internally ranking who I think is having the best performance in a match, just automatically. And this match had me flipping out because everyone was in the running for best in the match. Kobashi is a guy we've all seen enough of at this point, but seeing him as the fired up hot tag protecting his buddy is reinvigorating, and it was a kick watching him toss off big Saito suplexes and unhinged lariats (one sees him spill into Kroffat's legs right after landing it and following through). Kroffat and Furnas were insane athletes, and here Kroffat is moving as quickly as I've ever seen him, all of his chops and strikes have this fast snap, and all of his cool kick combinations landed with precision. Kroffat threw one big crescent kick that landed fresh right across Kikuchi's chin, landed hard on a senton, was always where energy was needed. Furnas - as Phil noted - is not really a complete wrestler, but is a super fun wrestler in this setting. He has world famous power, and it's so cool to see his deadlift throws, and in a great spot he caught a Kikuchi crossbody and shifted his weight enough to show he had caught him, and then quickly planted him with a belly to belly.

Kikuchi was at his best here, at his most fighting spirit, able to crack you with an elbow and almost steal pinfall victories the whole time, and catching a mean beating from the Can Ams. His timing is always so good about going for roll-ups that you always buy them as possible match enders. We built to a lot of great saves and some big moments, the fans really getting understandably whipped up. I have no actual idea how Kikuchi survived the top rope DDT, it looked like a move where we should have been saying "Oh whoa footage of Kikuchi's final wrestling match finally got found", but both teams were just so good with saves and building nearfalls that Kikuchi just must have used the adrenaline from having not just died to ramp up his performance even more. The finish, clearly, is a damn shame. I'm sure the match was ending shortly anyway, but man what a shame. Wada calls for the bell on a pin that clearly gets saved by a diving Kobashi, and then it's one of those awkward situations where there's a language barrier and everybody keeps wrestling. What a bummer of a momentum killer to a match that still manages to be a straight classic. This match is right around the top of the best handhelds we've seen uncovered in the last year. A real find.

MD: What a find. The match we have between them is one of the best AJPW tags of the 90s. I personally like it more than some that are more touted. A lot of that has to do with Kroffat's oozing character and near memphis-esque grounding of things.

Botched finish aside, this was a blast. Obviously, I wish we had it pro-shot because Kikuchi's expressions and Kroffat's swagger were two of my favorite things about the match we had, but we're just lucky to have it at all.

There are a bunch of highlights, but what stood out the most were Kroffat and Kobashi going at it full intensity to begin. It's one of the best opening exchanges to a tag match you'll ever see. Add in a loose narrative of the Can-Ams taking more than not, with multiple fairly hot tags and an incredibly hot finishing stretch with believable kick outs underpinned a bunch of 2-count partner break-ups and even the botched finish really can't take this down too many notches. 

Masashi Aoyagi vs. Masanobu Kurisu NJPW 9/21/91

PAS: This is the second Kurisu vs. Aoyagi match unearthed from Pete's treasure trove of HH's. I thought their February 91 match was kind of a puro indy scum version of Necro Butcher vs. Samoa Joe, this was kind of like the later IWA-MS rematch, still great, still violent as hell, but lacking some of that kinetic energy. They actually start by feeling each other out a bit, before it breaks down. Kurisu lays in some of his trademark off putting stomps and headbutts, and he really crushes Aoyagi with some of his side of the chair shots. Finish has Aoyagi ripping off his gi, and throwing a bunch of big spin kicks until he lays Kurisu out for good. It never totally broke out into a riot, which is what you want from platonic ideal of this match, but I certainly enjoyed it and was jazzed that it showed up.

MD: I liked this as a second Kurisu vs Aoyagi datapoint. I'd only seen the first match in the run-up to watching this, but that was immediately iconic, both in the Aoyagi mad rush to begin and in the virtual stabbing Kurisu gives him with the chair. Still, that match was like lightning and it always interesting to see if it can strike twice.

This was fairly validating in that regard. While it may not have had the same level of raw violence as the first one, there were some different elements I enjoyed. I liked how Aoyagi started far more gingerly and carefully. It didn't help him but it added some variation and a sense of strategy. Kurisu was still the same descending fog of chaos. He chokes people as well and as believably as anyone I've ever seen. When Aoyagi would sell not having any wind, you more or less believed it as legit.

What I liked best was the comeback though. The spin-kick out of nowhere in order to counter a brutal beating was La Fiera/Sangre Chicana level of great. It was just one of those moments that really and feels like pure payoff, especially, in this case, because I wasn't expecting it after the last match. 

ER: Love that this showed up, anything to add to our pile of both Kurisu and Aoyagi, and even better when it's against each other. Here we get a glimpse of evil goatee Kurisu and he takes nothing but hard kicks in the early parts, enough that I don't know how he's going to make it back into the match. But oh, right, it's Kurisu, so he finally catches a baseball bat kick to the chest and loads up one of the greatest headbutts you've seen. The kind that's so hard that he has such heat on his forehead afterwards that he keeps checking it, positive that he's cut himself open. And then we get to the real plain leveler of Kurisu, when he grabs a chair from ringside. Kurisu - much like Necro Butcher after him - is a true artiste with a folding chair. Necro's specialty was his precise aim in chair throwing, Kurisu's is in the fine art of landing a chair into the side of someone's neck. He does this, several times, and you can tell when Kurisu is pulling his chair shots, and he's someone with a great worked chair shot. Some benevolent soul needs to bring us an LA Park vs. Kurisu Chairman of Wrestling match. There were a dozen worse vanity matches at the most recent Mania Weekend shows, surely someone recognizes what a draw Park will be, and what an...additional expense Kurisu would be? Kurisu kills Aoyagi with chair shots, including a masterpiece with him leaping off the ropes. Once his chair is taken away he just goes on to stomping neck. I really dug Aoyagi's gi removal as a Hulk up/Lawler strap move, and his standing spinning heel kicks were great. Kurisu was super smart about selling them, as you can tell one was supposed to be the finish but Aoyagi kicked low and swung into Kurisu's arm, so Kurisu just got up and let Aoyagi spinkick him in the head again, so the finish looks better. Awesome.

Steiner Brothers vs. Mike Enos/Bobby Eaton NJPW 2/16/94

MD: It's a joy to get to see Eaton do his thing like this. For 94 Eaton, there was an extra bit of oomph to it all, including a big bump over the guard rail off an apron dive by Rick and a near tragic attempt at letting Rick reverse a Doomsday Device into a belly to belly.

It's the nuts and bolts stuff that stand out. Enos is a little flashier but past his opening handshake with Scott, every single thing that Eaton does has meaning and serves the purpose to get the Steiners over as faces. It's perfectly distilled tag team wrestling which is somehow more enjoyable for the setting.

Otherwise, this is pretty much everything you'd want out of 94 Steiners in a 10 minute match. Scott has his matwork shine (including a nasty STF). They do a big, perfectly timed spot with Rick plowing through everyone. Rick's a wrecking ball. Scott's a machine. Enos and Eaton are the foils who can take their stuff and grind them down for the last comeback. Past the crazy botch (which the crowd loved because of Enos' unwitting posturing after the fact, so it more or less worked anyway), this was spot on for what it ought to have been.

PAS: Puro Bobby Eaton is the best, he had a couple of tours of New Japan (including a tag run with our boy Tony Halme, which is true dream match material). He has a bunch of experience working with the Steiners and there are bunch of fun moments, I especially loved the early amateur scrambles with Scott, which he breaks up with one of his classic uppercuts. Nothing I love more then Rick Steiner clotheslines and he has some great ones here, including a great one off the apron which sends Eaton into the front row. I liked Enos trying (and failing) to match Rick suplex to suplex. I didn't mind the doomsday device counter, it wasn't cleanly hit but it looked devastating.

ER: This is really fun, and for a show that wasn't taped these guys all take some nice spills. Eaton takes a hard Scott lariat over the top to the floor, then moments later takes a big bump into the crowd on a lariat. Enos goes toe to toe with the Steiners and keeps getting shown up in amusing fashion, challenging Rick with a huge powerslam and getting upended by one moments later, trying to get underhooks on Rick, who easily adjusts and hurls him with a belly to belly, Enos tries to muscle Scott into a top wristlock and Scott flips both Enos and Eaton. Enos' meathead charisma really helps this in unexpected ways. It's a neat combo and we've seen a few Eaton/Arn tags against the Steiners, but Eaton with Enos is like a more fun version of Eaton and Kenny Kaos. The Doomsday Device belly to belly suplex counter is just a nutso spot to even attempt, that you can't really criticize it for not working out (since nobody got killed). A few years ago a friend criticized Rick Rude for not hitting a clean kneedrop in a cage match, but it's a freaking kneedrop off the top of a cage! To hit it cleanly would have meant certain death for Piper. The move was crazy to try, but Enos gets some laughs by prematurely celebrating, which turned the spot into a dangerous - but saved - stooge spot instead of a botched dangerous spot. Awesome stuff, great action for a match that wasn't taped.

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