Segunda Caida

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

Friday, November 29, 2019

New Footage Friday: Finlay, Brookside, Dundee, Smothers, Nishimura, Inoki

Antonio Inoki vs. Tracey Smothers NJPW 4/17/89

PAS: Fun if bizarrely laid out match. Smothers (in full Southern Boys regalia, which in hindsight, jeez) jumps Inoki at the bell and takes 5 minutes of this 6 minute match, including powering up a seemingly sandbagging Inoki to put him in the tree of woe. Inoki fires back with some punches and a nasty koppo kick for the pin. One of those things that is crazy that it exists, and who wouldn't want to see the Wild Eyed Southern Boy and Inoki greco grapple?

ER: Ever since Matt sent me lists of what was on this motherload of Japan handhelds, Smothers vs. Inoki was one of the main matches that jumped out. The potential classics never seem to be the ones jumping out at me, it's always the potential weird, or the unique pairings. And the pairings don't come more unique than this. This was basically the final month stretch of Inoki as an active worker, and for some reason he spent a bunch of it wrestling singles matches against guys like PN News, Ron Starr, Maxx Payne, and this match against Smothers. I'm unsure why Inoki decided to work singles against a bunch of guys who were lower card gaijin, but I like it. I love it. And Smothers - confederate flag trunks and all - really gets to run the match. He slams Inoki in the corner with an Oklahoma Stampede, works go behinds, throws kicks at Inoki in the corner - seemingly trying to mime the exact way Inoki throws kicks, which looks odd when worn by Smothers - and tries to do the Backlund lift out of an Inoki armbar (he tries to lift Inoki up a few times, both of them looking extremely painful, while Inoki just stays planted on the mat holding that armbar), and really this is almost entirely a Smothers show. Until, I guess, Inoki decides that the festivities are over, as he punches Smothers (with Smothers taking this big exaggerated bump onto his shoulders, flipping over to his stomach) and then hits a cool rolling kappo kick. I wish we had every late career Inoki vs. gaijin match, but I also have no idea how we have this one.

MD: As we all know, Inoki faced off against challengers from all around the world to gain his status as the greatest martial arts warrior alive. This is an odd and short interlude in that storied career, where he faces off against the elusive and dangerous Wild-eyed Southern Boy for about five minutes. I'm a big fan of 92 heel Smothers, and this feels a little like a prelude to that, as he really takes it to Inoki without hesitation or remorse or really common sense. There are two moments in this where he just tries to power him up as if he was Bob Backlund or something, right at the beginning when Inoki didn't want to go up for a slam, and then later on when he tried to deadlift his way out of a grounded armbar. Anyway, there's a few minutes of him kicking, slamming, and trying to contain Inoki with chinlocks before he gets fed up and beats the snot out of Smothers, before knocking him out with a rolling kick. A fun four minutes that could have been a legitimately good ten, maybe. Maybe.


Superstar Bill Dundee vs. "Pretty Terrific" Bobby Blade MWA 12/7/96

PAS: All shtick main event, which of course is great, because Dundee maybe the greatest shtick worker ever. Blade is a perfectly fun dance partner (and the guy we have to thank for the footage), but Dundee could (and I am sure did) work this match with a local car dealer. Lots of fun punches, a great spot where Dundee makes Blade run the ropes for a long time, and a nifty fight out of a chinlock. Great chance to check out touring indy Dundee formula.

ER: This is money before anything even happens. Just soaking up the 1996 Kentucky fairgrounds vibes of this whole show and realizing it's the kind of special pro wrestling that can't exist again. People are too self aware in a post internet age, but this is the real mainlined winter weather fairgrounds indy wrestling. There are big puffy NFL jackets, Dundee comes out to Frankie saying Relax, "Pretty Terrific" Bobby Blade is one of the most delicious and delightful names in wrestling history, Blade is wearing those specific-to-Tennessee/Kentucky-wrestlers zazzy pattern tights w/ matching top w/ fringe sleeves (like the hand me down version of Jamie Dundee's weird similar outfits, only his had shoulder accessories), and then....well, then Bobby Blade hands his ring gear and lightheavy title to a man clad in head to toe denim, cigarette poking out of the side of his mouth, long feathered hair inspiring jealousy I didn't know I had contained in me, and a full desire to spend the entirety of this match standing directly in front of the tripod cam, one knee slightly bent, throwing out that skinny denim butt vibe until a man in a button up American flag shirt comes out and tells him to fucking kneel or something. And then the man in denim turns and looks over his shoulder, directly into the camera and also your soul. The match itself is obviously less important than the aesthetics of the pro wrestling - I am convinced anybody who was going to enjoy this will have already known they were going to enjoy it before any pro wrestling exchanges had taken place - but also important because it's Bill Dundee. And they work a shtick heavy match, Blade's manager getting involved and getting chased off, Dundee getting a stick and chasing him to smack him, and it ends with Dundee throwing some nice punches, then hopping effortlessly up to the middle buckle to win with a crossbody. The second the 3 is counted three men - one wearing overalls - immediately stand wordlessly to their feet and proceed to quickly beat traffic to the exit as a man over the PA lets the fans know that they should feel more than welcome to talk to wrestlers from this show, if they happen to see any of them standing around; and if you bring 5 people to their next show a month away, well then you get in for free. Should I be reviewing every single full show that Bobby Blade puts up? I think I should.



Fit Finlay/Robbie Brookside vs. Osamu Nishimura/Michal Kovac CWA 8/10/97

PAS: This was really freaking great. This was Finlay mid WCW run kicking huge pallets of ass. Brookside was right there with him showing a nasty streak I hadn't seen from him before. This was worked like a standard southern tag, with the streetfight parts only coming in at the end. Finlay and Brookside really work over Kovac, who has a nifty comeback to finally get the tag. Lots of great little Finlay moments in this match, he adds an extra shove to a Brookside superplex, and he cuts off a Nishimura run by palm striking him directly in the nose. Loved the finish with Finlay applying a choke using the ring ropes, which Nishimura has tap out to. Really clever use of the streetfight stipulation, total joy to watch, and I need to see all mid 90s CWA Finlay.

MD: This was a street fight tag, which basically meant that the heels could swarm and repeatedly cut off babyface hope spots. It ended up as bit of a tecnico/rudo situation where Finlay and Brookside were able to take full advantage while Nishimura and Kovac struggled to stay in it. The good news is that Finlay and Brookside were absolutely able to fill the time with compelling and brutal stuff. Brookside, in this incarnation was a 98 Chris Jericho with slightly better offense: over the top theatrics, loud and annoying. Honesty, with Finlay coming into WCW just about when Jericho kicked the heel turn into high gear, I wonder why he didn't suggest Brookside to be part of his act.

They had a bunch of simple but mean tandem stuff, and while they weren't always quite on the same page, they got there quickly enough. Finlay's so good that he could be a half step behind on something and still catch up with twice the impact of most guys in the end. The coolest bit was probably Finlay whipping the leg around from the apron to spike Brookside's superplex, and the second best maybe Brookside running across the apron to forearm Kovac after a corner whip, but it was all good. Nishimura and Kovac didn't have to do a lot as they were mostly working from underneath, but when it was their turn, they hit everything picture perfect. I could have used just a little more revenge in the last third but this was ultimately a good chaotic match that still had form and build.

ER: Loved this. This was during that weird year and a half break between Finlay's WCW stints. It's like they brought this mulleted madman in to just bruise and break Regal's face for a couple months, then we didn't see him for 18 months. And to the shock of nobody he was just hanging out back in Germany bruising and breaking everyone else's face. Finlay and Brookside are a helluva team here. This is the stiffest work I can recall from Brookside, and their teamwork was genuinely great, with Finlay adding touches that I've never seen. Finlay has done more unique little things in a ring than maybe anybody I've ever watched, and it's a main reason he's always right towards the top of my all time favorite wrestlers. He is someone who never rests and is always thinking of new ways to tighten up all facets of pro wrestling presentation. At one point Brookside is going for a superplex on Kovac, and from the apron Finlay helps muscle Kovac over. It made so much sense, and is one of those things that felt so obvious after I saw it. I have never seen anyone else do this, and Finlay made it seem like the easiest way to lend a hand to your partner, without even throwing an illegal strike. Finlay is the man constantly making me go "why hasn't anyone else thought of this!?" His wrestling mind is brilliant. He and Brookside really take Kovac apart, and they aren't any nicer to Nishimura. Brookside clocks him right in the back of the head early, and Finlay slugs him right in the eye later. Brookside looks like the greatest in ring version of Edge here, adding a ton of personality to his stiff work, frequently rubbing the crowd's nose right into his and Finlay's dominance. I loved the small but important uses of the street fight stip, like Finlay choking Nishimura with the tag rope or the insanely brutal finish of Finlay trying to murder Nishimura by strangling him using the top rope. This was as good a Finlay performance as we've seen, and it seems like our Catch YouTube hero is just going to continue supplying us with more gold.


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