Segunda Caida

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Saturday, June 10, 2023


Steve Wright vs. Nobuhiko Takada NJPW 10/11/83

MD: I'm glad to see a new Takada handheld. I'm actively excited to see a new Steve Wright match. This was the first eight minutes of a really good French Catch match but I was missing the next twenty-five. It had all of the chain wrestling you'd want along those lines, including up and overs and complex twists into mares and headstands out of holds, just a bit more measured and a bit slower. It never escalated to the point of fisticuffs though. Takada had to fight for every tiny advantage he got and Wright just breezed through whatever he could throw his way with skill and aplomb. It made for a compelling exhibition, though you knew deep down that every minuscule victory Takada achieved, no matter how hard he fought for it, would be snatched away a few seconds later. While things didn't boil over, we got a few seconds of rope running at the end, and even a Takada armdrag. Unfortunately, it wasn't the start of anything but instead the end of everything, as Wright deftly floated through right into a pin. I wish we had gotten twenty Wright matches in the French collection

Nobuhiko Takada vs. Dynamite Chris NJPW 11/16/1987

MD: This is probably a me thing, but I had a hard time taking this one seriously, especially coming off the Wright match. Chris was very, very intense. Very intense. It wafted off him as he charged in to attack and threw his arms around in strikes, and tossed a headbutt. Takada would lock him in a hold. Chris would get out. More intensity would follow. There wasn't really any rhyme or reason to it, certainly no build. There was never a sense that it was doing any particular sort of damage or might lead him to a victory. He wasn't making a statement or a point. It felt like a simulation where Benoit's slider was set to high. I'd rather not extrapolate that. I don't really blame Takada for this one. What are you even going to do with this kid, right? I mean, I know what Steve Wright would have done...

Tommy Rich vs. James Storm USA Championship Wrestling 6/2/01

MD: There are a lot of similarities between 00s Tracy Smothers and Tommy Rich: both were best off when they started a match by getting heat on the mic. Both could lean on someone meanly and credibly after using a dirty tactic to take over. Both could throw their head back wildly as they were taking a babyface comeback. Rich maybe had a bit more weight behind his stuff because he had a bit more weight in general, but other than that, Smothers had quite a bit more fuel left in the tank. He was a few years younger and his hard living must not have been quite as hard as Tommy Rich's hard living. There was also a spark and a twinkle to him that Tommy couldn't quite match in his mid-40s. That doesn't mean that Tommy isn't entertaining here; he is, starting on the mic and running down the crowd, letting himself get outwrestled and eat early crow, sneaking in just a beautiful low blow headbutt with a bit of ref distraction to take over, beating Storm all over the ring, and then feeding with dramatic mannerisms in the place of motion. It's all good stuff. It's just not a whole lot of any of it. Still, you add it all up and you get a fun ten minutes from a guy who absolutely knew what he was doing and a young guy who was willing to be led. It's just that it would have been better if it was Tracy instead.

ER: I'm not so certain this would have been better had it been Smothers instead of Rich, even though the format is exactly the same. I thought this was a really impressive Tommy Rich performance, especially considering he wasn't working that often in his mid-40s. If I went to the Nashville Fairgrounds in 2001 and saw Tommy Rich was on the card, I don't think I ever would have guessed he would work a match as actively as he worked this one. I would have expected him getting on the mic to tell people to shut up, and beyond that I might not have expected a whole lot. And what he gave was a WHOLE lot more than that. Even if he hadn't, the mic work had a moment so great that it would have made this worth watching had Wildfire not gone in and worked like he was 10 years younger, and that was a woman in the front row with a toddler standing up and screaming and pointing at Rich with one arm, while holding this rigid and confused SMALL toddler under her other arm like she was holding a violin case. This tiny boy's body was straight and the woman was just holding him like a teen would tuck their skateboard under their arm, all because Tommy Rich was being an obnoxious fat guy in a leather vest. So, already a full rec. 

But the match was an awesome Tommy performance. I expected him to control the match and build to a Storm comeback, but I didn't expect him to take some big bumps to start the match, then control ACTIVELY for as long as he did. After going over big for some armdrags and a hiptoss, look at how excellently Tommy sold his arm after headbutting Storm in the balls. He has that left arm dead at his side, flexing that bicep (which has an extra great layer of cool heel bullshit since he's a guy who clearly does not lift), rolling his shoulder like a pitcher after an offday bullpen session. Tommy takes over for most of the rest of the match, and he doesn't do an ounce of resting. He's incredibly active, dropping knees into Storm, throwing suplexes (he does a cool deadlift back suplex and follows it up with a rolling kneedrop), and keeps fighting back against Storm's very green urge to bump every move earlier than he should have (buddy, just go with the flow on those DDTs and neckbreakers, just wait for your cue), really getting to show off a 45 year old fat man's offense toolbag. And in between it all he had this great fat body flex, purposely squishing up his torso and flexing with no effort, so that no single muscle accidentally showed through the flab. When Storm finally makes his comeback, Rich takes a big bump off some punches, then gets backed into the ropes for an Irish whip and simply yanks Storm over the top instead, drawing the DQ and not caring a lick. 

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