Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D, Sebastian, and other friends write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Friday, May 03, 2024


Terry Gordy vs. Stan Hansen AJPW 6/8/90

MD: We only had around seven minutes of this previously and those seven minutes are pretty much what you'd expect, a super hardnosed finishing stretch between two monsters with gold on the line. I went through every single match we have on tape for 1989 and 1990 All Japan over the last five years or so, and, of course, we keep getting more, both in this format and with handhelds, but it's always enjoyable to push at the conventional wisdom and see how it holds up. I may have mentioned this before, but one of the biggest surprises of 1990 AJPW was how Baba dealt with the loss of Tenryu. This show obviously has Misawa vs Jumbo, right? And yes, there is a push throughout the year to promote Super Generation Army vs Tsuruta-Gun, but that often wasn't the main title scene for the back half of 89. When it came to the Triple Crown and the tag titles, it was foreign hosses up and down, Hansen, Doc, Gordy, Spivey, and even a bit of Bigelow thrown in for good measure. Off to the side you had Land of Giants and Abby and Kimala II, and even Andre. Big dudes. They couldn't present the larger than life force that was Tenryu, so they compensated with more conventional giants on top, all the while giving time for Misawa, Kawada, Kobashi to develop and become more and more credible. It was a giant bandaid and the flip flopping of the Triple Crown is a great example of it.

With the full footage, what we see here is a title match style fight between two absolute monsters. They work it like Jumbo would often work his title matches, on the mat and with holds, but with these two that meant wrenching of necks and grinding of faces, just brutal stuff, power against power, with technique only utilized to open the door for more rough and tumble hurting. It's twenty minutes of the two of them throwing every imaginable strike at one another, just laying it in and meeting each other half way. On some level, every time they dropped down to a hold felt like a momentary mercy, because at least they weren't absolutely smashing each other, but then you saw the hold and just how hard they were struggling against one another to put on the pressure or how to escape and you realize that there's no mercy in a world where there's a title between Hansen and Gordy. It all escalates towards moments of opportunity, Hansen hitting a lariat out of the corner as Gordy goes to the well one too many times, Gordy (who survived that lariat only by rolling out of the ring) ducking another wild flailing arm to sneak in his DDT. Ultimately, Gordy couldn't hit the powerbomb. It was never a case of a simple block though. It was Hansen going up and getting squashed in his attempt at self-preservation, bodies clashing and crashing in unique, visually striking ways. Gordy decided that the only way he could really get an edge on Hansen down the stretch was that corner clothesline, turning his body into a freight train thundering across the ring. Hansen hit that first lariat out of it, and then later on he got an amazing roll up nearfall, and in the end, stopped it just long enough to duck and create distance for a second lariat and the win. This was the sort of program that had to carry the company though, so post match Doc rushed into prevent the celebration and to destroy Hansen. Really an amazing title match now that we have all of it. People should go back for this.

PAS: Holy hell what a war, on first impression this felt on the level of the absolute best Gordy matches ever, and in the same tier as the Hansen All Japan bangers. It felt like these guys were both taking things personally almost from the beginning. There are some really grinding collar and elbow tie ups, and Hansen took Gordy into the corner and popped him hard right on his ear, and from that point on it felt like a series of escalating receipts by each guy, getting uglier and uglier. Every facelock, kneebar, stomp and punch felt like it was getting out of hand. The little stuff was awesome, and the big stuff was huge and incredible. Hansen takes an incredible bump and sell on Gordy's DDT and we get a couple of incredible Hansen lariats. Post match was awesome too as Hansen may be the only person on earth who can look momentarily credible brawling one on two against the Miracle Violence Connection.  This feels like as good as a discovery as we have ever had in this project, an all-time great match in a way which is just completely missing from pro-wrestling these days. Loved every second.

ER: It's wild to find out this late in the game that Misawa/Jumbo might not have been the best match at Budokan on 6/8/90. Getting the missing two-thirds of a Triple Crown Title change 35 years later makes me think that All Japan was suppressing the footage of the better match that night so as not to overshadow the then-biggest moment of Misawa's career, because now we know how special Gordy's transitional Triple Crown loss really was. Somehow, we are still finding matches that raise the stock of two different legends. This is one of the greatest Stan Hansen singles match performances of all time, and it might be the actual greatest singles match performance of Terry Gordy's career. The full footage gives us such a captivating fight between two killers, Gordy coming off as a man who has no plans on losing his new title, forcing Hansen into one of his finest ever vulnerable performances. Hansen sells more in this match than any match I've seen, and he is amazing at it; Gordy comes off so mean and so punishing that it gives us the gift of a Stan Hansen match where he's working from underneath for longer stretches than you've seen. What a gift. 

We never got to see all of the matwork in this special affair. That's always the first thing that goes. But Gordy and Hansen work the mat in a way we will never see again, and rarely saw then. This was not two men going for guard passes, this was two huge men shoving each other around on the mat, a constant struggle lock-up turning into fight from their bellies, both men laid out but applying full pressure to the other. Every quick headlock turns into more super heavyweight mat resistance, any attempt to pick up the other man turns into both men falling on top of each other and fighting more from a horizontal position. Te best part of the matwork? Each man punching the other's downed body from their knees, in a way that looked more like a alley mugging gone murder. More matwork should have Terry Gordy punching down from his knees like he's stabbing an intruder. 

Hansen flattens out on a Gordy attempt at a double leg, Gordy pancakes Hansen when Hansen's body goes out from under him blocking a powerbomb, a Gordy DDT spikes Hansen and drops his full weight on Gordy; Gordy can use Hansen's size and aggression against us, and it leads to Hansen more desperate than we ever get to see. How many times have you seen Hansen get slumped in a corner, resting on the bottom buckle to hold himself up. How many times have you seen Hansen absorb an impact and drop to his knees or stomach, fall on his face, fall over the bottom rope. Terry Gordy makes Stan Hansen fight like a desperate man and I can count on one hand the number of men who have effectively done that. Stan Hansen desperately pulls Gordy by the trunks from his knees just to bury his head in Gordy's stomach, behavior you never see Hansen need to ever entertain. Look at the way Stan Hansen scrambles for three different cradling leveraged pins, and how they're three of the best pins in any title match. Hansen was using his off balanced weight and trying to force and keep Gordy's shoulders to the mat in ways he never has to do with anyone else. Terry Gordy was one a higher plane and never flying higher, and we get to see a Stan Hansen who is actually coming up against something dangerous. 

But also? Stan Hansen rocks Terry Gordy's shit on multiple crowd gasping occasions. There might be nothing I love seeing more in pro wrestling than Stan Hansen kicking a downed man with his entire lower leg. Every Hansen kick to the length of any man's body gets the exact same celebratory reaction from me, a Guaranteed Oof. I revere Guaranteed Oofs. Their durability provides consistent comfort in ways we shouldn't take for granted. I would scream the ugliest scream of my life if Stan Hansen had kicked me in the chest or kneed me in the cheekbone the way he did Gordy, and I would be left with neck pain for life with either of his Out of Nowhere/Always There lariats. Any match that has a surprise Hansen western lariat that doesn't lead to the finish, is swung blindly, at eye level, making Budokan jump to its feet, it's a guaranteed great match. 

Stan Hansen doesn't work the lariat into any match for the hell of it. He has plans in store when the lariat works as a mid-match reset, a way to slow his beating and stop a hungry zombie. Terry Gordy loses his Triple Crown - he looked so fucking cool and convincing carrying those three belts, that a Japanese man was holding a large Confederate flag at ringside. How fucking weird is that? - three days after winning it, but he beat Stan Hansen so bad that Hansen had to use a Desperation Lariat. This was one of the greatest matches of the 90s, and of two guys who had eras of great matches. 

It will never be like this again.  

Kendo Star/Kendo/Monarca vs. Principe Island/Konnan/Hombre Bala CMLL 1990?

MD: Another week, another young Park match. These really do help the guy's already stellar case as he's fascinating to watch here. First of all, tho3 ugh, this Konnan el Barbaro, being not the Konnan but instead some tree trunk like big lug, was kind of just there. It was funny towards the start of the segunda where he was jumping up and down to feed all of Kendo and Kendo Star's flourishes but with no life to it. He did take a crazy bump that we barely saw upside down into the chairs during the comeback so good for him there. He also had a pretty swank furry jacket, so that was something. Hombre Bala matched up well with Kendo Star to start, and may have been a central pairing though it was hard to tell.

Really, we're watching this for Park though, and he was paired with Kendo and the two of them meshed perfectly. Kendo was a guy who knew how to be theatrical, knew how to play to the crowd, knew how to come off like a Star, and he knew how to get the most out of a petulant bastard like Park. They were able to rope run and feed for each other and everything else, but they had a great bit where they just got in each other's face, escalating from stares to slaps to pushes to a dropkick from Kendo with Principe Island charging back in only to slump in a fit of unreleased angst. The beatdown was fine, but Principe was outside for a good chunk of it. I did like the double stretch they took the fall with, like a rudo version of la estrella. The comeback came when they were really laying it in on Kendo with a triple team and saw some big bumps like the one from Konnan. Finish was clever, as the refs were tied up with the other four doing some spots in the corner and Principe slipped in a brutal foul on Kendo. It got overturned post match but everything stayed chippy and hot. The Kendo vs Principe Island rivalry was prime for a hair match. Again, he was just so emotive and seething with upstart energy in these matches. It's crazy to think that he had most of the rest of his career as a mask and didn't lose a bit of the charisma.

Masaaki Mochizuki/TARU/Takashi Okamura vs Masakazu Fukuda/Kamikaze/Hiroyoshi Kotsubo WYF 3/20/1997

SR: This was the first match between these 6 guys. All their matches are great, and this is in Korakuen Hall and feels especially wild because WYF fans hate the karate guys at this stage, so it feels ultra heated.  Match was pretty much the perfect mix of shootstyle and WAR-esque potatoes/scrappiness with that trademark WYF levels of unpolished, dirty fighting. Early goings were really good as WYF guys kept their opponents grounded in scrappy fashion. Even Kotsubo looked really good as he kept taking downs with explosive shooting takedowns, at one point even leading to both guys tumbling outside and brawling on the floor.  Kamikaze is impeccable in these matches, kicking people in the face, hammering a guy with punches and taunting the karatekas further. Fukuda also looked great - just hurling dudes with suplex that looked insanely forceful, and trying to crush peoples face with dropkicks and stomps. Buko Dojo guys started breaking out their kicks later and it's everything you can ask for. There's a pretty great dive sequence, Mochizuki flying at people with kicks, Buko guys breaking up pins and submissions with nasty kicks etc. Even the Kotsubo vs Taru matchup which is really shit on paper ends up being good. WYF was striking gold with  this feud in 1997, and I'm so happy we get the beginning of the feud, really heated and violent from the get go.

MD: As familiar as Sebastian is with this stuff, it's a stretch for me. It's good to stretch though. If this is new to you, here's a cheat sheet. On one side, Taru has the shinier black vest. Okamura has the mullet. And Mochizuki has the white letters on his back. On the other, Kotsubo has the singlet, and Kamikaze has the frosted tips for his hair. That's about all you need along those lines. What I love about this is that it seems to encompass just about every style of pro wrestling except for hiding the object. It's presented, more than anything else, as shoot-style adjacent, with a lot of strikes and struggles for holds, but the fact it's a six-man (and I love tag wrestling in this setting) forces pro wrestling nonsense on it right from the get go; I'm talking controlling in corners and coming in to break up holds or even to join them. You'll have guys rolling around on the mat or throwing kicks and then immediately Mochizuki will be training slaps with Kotsubo or doing dropkick/spin wheel kick spots where they crash into each other. It takes itself seriously and treats everything with weight and respect while still building up to over the top stuff before dragging it back down to more fundamentally sound grappling or sparring. Fukada will toss people around. Things will spill out to the floor. The crowd pops for just about every piece of impact. And it all builds to dives, top rope moves, and bombs. They're able to layer it throughout the match and put weight behind the impacts, underpinning it all with animosity, so it never quite feels like excess no matter how much they squeeze into twenty minutes. 

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