BATTLARTS ! PRIDE 10 ! GWF ! LUCHA OLD SKOOL ! SUPER 8 2K ! REALLY REALLY OLD RASSLIN' FROM THE 20s ! BEST OF YAMADA/LIGER !

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WELCOME TO THE FIRST SAMBO TRAINER VIDEO REVIEW **!!!**

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are the ORDER of THE BLUE WOLF, a group of brave men who will review the good, the bad and UGLY for you gentle readers. Our mission is to enlighten you about how good (and bad, REALLY bad) wrestling can be and forget about the shit they call wrestling on cable tv. This is our FIRST of hopefully many installments. In this issue, Dan the Masked Graduate does DOUBLE DUTY and goes back to 1991 to review the GWF light heavyweight tournament and reviews the OLD SCHOOL (as old as it can get), Thomas Hackett chokes you out with Pride 10, Daniel tells us about the glory days of Keichi Yamada/Jushin Liger, Alfredo brings us loads of Caliente LUCHA greatness from 1989, Devilsaint takes a look at the SUPER 8 2000 ! The future of US wrestling all in one show, and now, let's warm up the crowd with a little ass kicking-pro style worshippin' fun from BATTLARTS ! I present..myself !

Battle Station BattlArts "BATTLEMANIA" 7/31/00 Young Generation Battle 2000 [@K & D@]

BattlArts' previous offering on Samurai tv, the P*MIX tournament, was quite good as expected, with less comedy and sexist crap than usual and more strong solid work from both women and men. This year BattlArts brought in the ARSION gals, and the first thing you notice (Horny Yuki Ishikawa mode on) is that "the girliez are hotter !" (Horny Yuki mode off) than last year's JWP workers. Seriously, this was a good move, because Arsion and BattlArts have somewhat similar styles. The standout performances of the tournament were Hiromi Yagi and Tiger Mask (and Sasuke to a lesser degree). Hiromi and Tiger really impressed me during their match (Hiromi/Tiger vs. Sasuke/ASARI) and Tiger had good performances before and after that match. This is the following show, aired on july 31st, the annual Young Generation Battle, which is a Champion Carnival like tournament. This is usually the best time of the year workrate wise for BattlArts because the big singles matches put the best workers in the company against each other eventually, so you're getting at least a bunch of good matches out of this every year. Last year's YGB was really great, with an awesome main event (Ikeda vs. Ishikawa) and a very good performance by several of the other workers involved. This show is not the one with the most important matches (this will be the September show i will review later hopefully), but it has some interesting bouts. One thing stands out, you don't see the familiar "Samurai Tv" clipping, all the matches are in full form, and THAT is good, gentlemen.

Taped 7/20 Osaka IMP Hall
* Day Show *
Ikuto Hidaka vs. SAITO. Saito is obviously from Toryumon and he seems to like to get some kicks in the face Bat Bat style because he's been working for them all year on and off. Ikuto Hidaka might be one of the most talented workers in BattlArts' roster. The cool thing about him is his style, a bit different from your Bat Bat shootstyle/prostyle hybrid worker. He does all kinds of cool lucha submissions and likes to fly a lot. They start the match with good matwork (yes, MATWORK) and SAITO does a cool move locking Hidaka's knees like in an indian deathlock (but with his hands) then kicking his face. Ikuto decides to go into full freaky lucha submissions mode and he pulls out a great armbreaker variation, then Saito avenges himself with an even cooler ipponzeoi into a udehishigigyakujujigatame (cross arm breaker). Saito decides to impress me and he does a rolling armbar and a very nice tope. Near the end they pump up the crowd (all 400 of them, give or take one) with several cool submissions including Ikuto's udehishigigyakujujigatame. Ikuto wins with the Shawn Capture at 13:49, and they showed it all baby !. Good match, the submission holds were really creative. **1/2

Katsumi USUDA~ vs. Takeshi Ono. Ono is former Tonpachi Machineguns member and now seems to sport a more serious look (=he'll job more from now on), Usuda is the king of stiffness, he kicks you straight IN THE FACE whether you like it or not and is quite good on the mat, certainly improved a lot from last year. He's looking more and more like Ryuji Yamakawa of Big Japan's death matches fame, so how do you tell 'em apart ? Usuda still has teeth, i think. We start with the classic good mat wrestling and Ono works on Usuda's leg. Usuda counters with some headbutts (also known as Jun Izumida's whole moveset and Kennnichiro Arai seems to have a  love affair with them) and then Ono drop toe holds him in the ring post and kicks him right in the face (thank you ! Why not ?). Takeshi slaps the hurty crossface but his opponent reaches the ropes, then the COOLNESS of Bat Bat begins ! Ono attacks Usuda with kicks, Katsumi avoids the last one and tries to german suplex Ono but he counters with a GIANT SIZED potato straight in his face which knocks out Usuda for 7. Not enough, let's do it again: Takeshi totally KILLS Usuda with a deadly release german suplex but at the end the blond man prevails with a heel hold for the pin at 7:46. USUDA~. Way too short, if this went 15 minutes it could have been REALLY good, but it was a lot of fun for what it was. **1/4

Yuki Ishikawa/Mohammed Yone vs. Mitsuya Nagai/Ryuji Hijikata
Gentlemen start your engines, this will be STIFF. I'll talk in depth about Nagai later, Yuki is the president and HORNY Man (only during the mixed tournament, mind you ;) of BattlArts. Yone is sporting a Meng-like Afro and isn't afraid at all to suck, though carrying him it's not an impossible feat, since he'll take your punishment like a pro and give some too, but for some reason he sometimes forgets to sell at all.
Hijikata was quite decent if unspectacular last year, and while he's improved a bit, we're still down to good mat wrestling and not enough striking ability. Ishikawa & Ryuji start off things with mat wrestling and then Hijikata tags in NAGAI ! It's kicks galore from now on, with Nagai trying for the K.O. on several occasions. Nagai's kicks were awesome (think like K-1 level of stiffness) but Yone didn't do much for me and Hijikata wasn't in it that much. Yuki took a lot of punishment and sold it like a god (well, i don't think you'd have a problem selling kicks like those anyway) Yuki backdrops Hijikata 2 times and puts him in the triangle choke for the win at 14:10. Kind of pedestrian match, Nagai looked great and Yuki is always good, but Hijikata doesn't fit with the striking and kicking yet and is more mat savvy. **

Minoru Tanaka vs. Shiiba
Minoru Tanaka is the future of junior wrestling, he makes everybody look good and always performs really well. He's a great striker and isn't afraid to bust out cool submission holds. He might very well be the wrestler of the year, because he had several good to great matches in BattlArts and is TOTALLY carrying the New Japan juniors division now.  Shiiba is..well, Shiiba ! He does have a great outfit+mask combo tho (black and silver combination, cool Ultimo-Dragon like mask that looks kind of EVIL !). I was really surprised by this match, i thought it was going to be a comedy match but it turns out that Shiiba is quite the luchadore as he starts with a phat ass tornillo plancha and pulls off good lucha matwork with Minoru. Minoru then gets tired of lucha and KILLS Shiiba with a deadlier than death kneedrop that must have made Shiiba smile, then hits a freaking beautiful spinkick. Shiiba comes back avoiding Tanaka's enzuigiri turning it into a half crab. Question, what do we have during a match with a member of the fabulous wrestling sleaze ? IMPROMPTU BLOWN SPOTS ! YEAH ! Shiiba goes for the Shooting Star Press but almost lands on his head Sangre Azteca-at-the-3/17 EMLL PPV style, hitting Tanaka barely by a bunch of inches for 2, then Tanaka wins with a Northern Light Suplex in 7:16. This was good ! I want to see more of Shiiba, and i'd love to know who the hell is the guy (Scott ? Dean ? Anybody out there ?) **1/2
Post-review-note: I've been informed by THE HOLY SOURCES (PEEEEETE~) that this Shiiba could be the AAA luchadore after an outift/gimmick change.

The Sleaze continues:
Hakata Lightheavykyu Senshuken: Azteca vs. Junji.com. LOOK ! It's....A TITLE MATCH ! Titles mean something ! Fuck you Russo !
Hakata is probably some small sleazy suburb of Tokyo or Yokohama or something like that, but it's cool because Azteca brings the Sleaze championship with him ! Junji.com is the pink dressed orange haired dickhead, who is so the 227th best wrestler in the world, as the DVD playaz like to tell us, but from what i've seen this year from him so far, he should rename himself "battlarts.co.jp/junji" (he doesn't deserve his own domain name ;). Azteca is the Pro Wrestling Kageki MEGASTAR ! i believe, so the Hakata title might come from there. He's got a super cool red/gold outfit complete with Azteca mask, He does pull out a very cool STF variation where he ties the knees together and then stretches the arms so Junji can't reach the ropes, then a phat Blue Thunder (not quite like senor Akiyama, tho). Junji with  the sasorigatame , then, at the 13:12 mark, Azteca MURDERS Junji with the Azteca special, a top rope reverse suplex right on his head. This was quite good for Junji, but i believe it wasn't because of him. **1/2

Azteca cuts a promo in the back, telling us how cool his mask is and to run and buy all his Kageki matches from Jeff Lynch. (who lives in Pittsburgh, Japan, judging by how many people get stuff from him and then brag about their "suppliers from Japan". HA)

Independent World Junior Heavykyu Senshuken: Naoyuki Taira vs. Carl Malenko. Taira is quite the interesting story, he was chief instructor for the Seidokaikan Jiujitsu program and appeared in K-1 events. He started in may with BattlArts i believe, and in his SECOND pro wrestling match (pretty much) defeated Katsumi Usuda to win the Independent title (Grrrrrrr). That match was really weird, it basically consisted of pure jiu-jitsu mixed with shootstyle stand up striking (KICKS~!) and Usuda seemed a bit out of place when Taira was carrying. His debut match was against Otsuka, and while that was really solid (***) it showed that Taira is still learning the basics, because he looked a bit lost in between takedowns and matwork and a few of his awesome kicks. He pulled out a fantastic reverse cartwheel kick that looked awesome, tho. Carl Malenko was a pretty boring fighter as far as shoot went (check his PRIDE 8 fight. Eh), but as soon as he joined Bat Bat he started picking up sublime matwork à la Joe Malenko ! He's really underrated and might be one of the best 10 wrestlers from the US (if not better). This match was a very cool hybrid of styles somehow similar: the first half was great UWF style matwork and some great, stiff kicks from Malenko. Carl went for the KO several times, but couldn't. Taira pulls out one of the coolest spots of the match: Malenko goes for a kick, Taira avoids it doing a cartwheel and then following with a beautiful spin kick, and he continues this way for the second half of the match, which looked more similar to Pancrase mid 90s, only difference is in Pancrase the rope break means much more than "break the hold", so there was obviously less psychology in this. Taira finished off Malenko with a sublime spin kick and his sparking flash at 11:27. Really good pro-style match, people uneducated to the style might think the first half was too "boring" or "useless", but it was great matwork leading up to the finish. Strong performance by both, Taira impressed me, although i think they're obviously protecting him doing strict pro-style because he's not up to par yet for elaborated matches against someone like, say, Hidaka who uses Lucha in his arsenal. His match with Usuda on Bat Bat's june tv was pretty good, but not off the chart because he tried to carry a match he couldn't. It will be interesting to see how Taira's style evolves in the next months, if he'll be able to pick up the intangibles needed to work a good pro wrestling match (like Malenko, Nagai and Murakami did already) or continue to stick to his hybrid of Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing with some UWFi flavour.  Still, i loved it  Malenko rocks ***

Taira cuts a promo and they show the brackets for the Young Generation Battle 2000.

* Evening Show *
Mitsuya Nagai vs. battlarts.co.jp/junji..er..Junji.com
Nagai is the former RINGS mainstay, and he was a big deal there a couple of years ago being one of the top natives, he also competed in K-1. I always thought his work in Rings was a bit overrated, but he adapted to pro style REALLY fast and he's showing it. He's a great kicker and good on the mat, and learning fast the rest. We all know about Junji, ain't it. Unfortunately, Nagai is not someone who can carry at this point and needs a good/great worker like Ishikawa or Otsuka so they'll make his awesome kicks mean something. This was a decent match, but Junji totally dragged it down, Nagai kept kicking like a mofo and pulled out the cool tombstone piledriver, then...MURDER ! HOMICIDE ! Nagai powerbombs Junji straight on his neck, ganso bomb style, too bad this time he landed with his head tucked and the impact of the blow was all on his head and neck. This looked so nasty. A gyakuebigatame (half boston crab) later, Junji is done. Nagai wins at 10:35. This was decent, but nothing to write home. *3/4

Nagai is interviewed in the back

Rastaman vs. Mohammed Yone
~JAMAICA~. Rastaman is one of the few comedy wrestlers who actually tries to work and sometimes is funny (the others are GAEA's Sakura Hirota and STOKAH ! Ichikawa tho i don't really think we should consider Sakura's "work" good. Hey, at least she's funny - better than Obacchi Iizuka and her "i'm a war refugee and i don't know what the hell i'm doing" opponent of Jd' fame anyway-) , unlike mr. Penis jokes man Tsubo Genjin (who wrestles as Hiroyoshi Kotsubo as well, and he sucks even when he's serious ! Whoop dee Doo !). He's a big african american man who likes to scream JAMAICA every 30 seconds and isn't afraid to come to the ring with his beer gut of OMINOUS proportions. First half is total Tsubo-like crap comedy, then Yone screams "JAMAICA" himself and i don't know, maybe that pissed off Rasta, because he started working half-assed. hitting a FAAAAAT (not phat, F.A.T., gut, 0.7 Fuyuki ratio) moonsault and a Blockbuster (called blockbuster by the announcers, eh, do we really need to call it like that ?) Rastaman tells us he's a "JAMAICA STAAR !!!!" then puts Yone into a Torture Rack followed by a slam (not the Argentine Backbreaker) for the pin at 10:42. Fugees' Ready or not plays and we're out. 1/2* I've seen way worse comedy.

Katsumi USUDA~ vs. Yuki Ishikawa. I expected this to rule and it didn't disappoint one single bit. We start with the feeling out process consisting of mat wrestling (no ? In BattlArts ? REALLY ? Damn, i'm shocked) and some kicks, then the BITCH SLAP fest begins ! Yuki turns a kick into a akiresukengatame (achille's hold) and that pisses off Usuda who begins to send tons of fine and sweet POTATOES Yuki's way, so stiff it makes you cringe. One gets Yuki down for 7, and he sells it like the king he is; Usuda ain't happy, so he just kills Yuki with the stiffest kick this side of Ernesto Hoost and his K-1 compadres. Yuki and Usuda keep reversing each other's leglock, which is a very cool looking sequence. They keep throwing bombs at each other for 2-3 minutes, then Usuda urakens Yuki and puts him in the hadakajime (rear naked choke) for the win at 10:29. Way too short, if this went the distance (like 20 minutes at least) it could have been a MOTYC, it was stiff as hell, selling was good. I didn't have one single problem with this, you won't either. ***1/4

Overall: i've certainly seen better from BattlArts (get the january, february, april and may blocks first if you've never seen Bat Bat 2000), but one of the best things about this show was it being not clipped, and most of the matches were solid, with two standing out of the pack (Taira-Malenko and the main event) making it a worthwhile purchase. This is not BattlArts' best show, but hell after using 16 "cool", YOU WANT TO SEE THIS NOW.

*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°*°
GWF North American Title Tournament 1991 [@Dan the Masked Graduate@]

It seems most of the time you hear people discuss the GWF it’s with glowing terms. They’ll discuss the interesting storylines, neglecting the fact that those were few and only during the short time Eddie Gilbert was booking. They’ll talk about the great lightheavyweight division that really was only Sean Waltman and Jerry Lynn. The only statement about GWF that matches my experience is all the future talent that the federation hosted.

Frequently I’ve seen reviews of the lightheavyweight title tournament, glossing over all the deadweight in it. They also raised the weight limit for that division because they didn’t have the talent, even doing so they fudged weights so people like John Tatum could claim to be 237 for a week and fill a slot. (There will be much much more on Tatum below.) This review is a counterpoint to that, a look at more of the GWF scene without glossing over all the crap. One of the Phils from the DVDVR said that the tag-team tournament is the real counterpoint, but I’m not about to put myself through that again.

One final note before I get to the matches. This is a “European” tournament, 24 participants, single elimination with the final three doing a coin toss to see who gets a bye and faces the winner of the other two.

Match 1: Terry Gordy v. Randy Rhodes w/Chris Love
Gordy is here, at least in part, to lend this tournament some legitimacy since he was the first UWF Heavyweight champ. Steve Williams, the last champ, was seemingly unavailable. Randy Rhodes is best described in verse:
In the TV tournament they weren’t real fussy
So you won one match, cause you looked just liked Dusty
In the tag-team tournament, your idea was a dream
Your new manager had you switch partners mid-stream
Though you pinned your opponents in the middle of the ring
They gave a bye to Cactus Jack and Mukhan Singh
Your affidavit made the lightweight a sure win
Till you jobbed in three seconds to some go-nowhere named Lynn
But this North American match should go off without a hitch
Till you got choked with the spike, you fat-assed bitch

Match 2: Tugboat Taylor v. Steven Dane
Two matches, two heavyweight guys. This is a nothing match that ends when Dane tries attempts a sunset flip. Taylor holds onto the ropes but the ref kicks his hands off because even the ref had enough. Dane gets the pin.

Match 3: Wild Bill Irwin v. Prime Time Brian Lee
Lee has a gorgeous blonde mullet here. I don’t care much for brawls, but if you’re into them, this match might be for you. They build up to an ending nicely but Irwin uses his whip and gets DQ’d instead. The crowd boos loudly, and when Lee makes a comeback they continue. I have a feeling it wasn’t the heel tactics that upset them.

Match 4: Cactus Jack v. Gary Young
This match has a bit of a back-story in that these two were partners in the UWF but Jack is now allied with the evil Cartel. Those who only know Jack from the WWF know this character as a badass, before the WWF he was just a psycho, and he is full psycho tonight. Young goes to work on the leg; Foley sells it well. Jack dies his first death tonight by doing a Cactus Clothesline all by himself. Double-underhook DDT gets used but is not yet Jack’s finisher. Hudson seems unable to call it. The later myth of Mick Foley is seen here as they discuss a movie where Jack jumps off a roof. Gary Young gets a sleeper and Jack breaks it by putting his head in between the second and third turnbuckle, thereby driving Young into the top one, very nice. The Foley allure can’t be missed as he has a fairly solid fan-base cheering him despite being a heel. Foley is still selling the leg, limping slightly, although it doesn’t effect his movement overall. The limp is barely noticeable compare to his recent walk, though. Young tries several power moves and roll-ups trying to wear Jack down, but Jack gets a fluke roll-up with a handful of tights for the win. That was a solid match with a bad ending, that latter part is becoming a theme.

Match 5: Patriot vs. The Soultaker
Patriot had already won the TV title and was being built up as this company’s masked version of Hulk Hogan, beating up a number of boogeymen and cheating heels. Soultaker is one of these boogeymen now known as Goodfather. He actually looks frightening, though, not just goofy. Patriot takes a bump to the floor but immediately comes back. He misses the Patriot Missile (top-rope shoulder-block). Soultaker goes for an avalanche but Patriot gets out of the way and rolls him up for the win. That match was really not good.

Match 6. Terry Garvin v. Axis The Demolisher
This Terry Garvin was made to poke fun at the allegedly child-molesting WWF office worker, complete with pink and purple ring attire, creepy mustache and kid hugging during the entrance. Axis is, well, drop the last two letters and turn Demolisher into it’s noun form and you’ve got it. Lots of stalling, a little brawling and a cobra clutch gets the win for Ax(is).

Match 7: Steve Cox v. Rod Price in the first match that could possibly go either way
Price… holds on to Cox’s arm for awhile. Price pulls Cox’s hair to bring him down; Cox gets up and complains. Repeat until you’re bored of it and then repeat about that many times again. Then Cox gets the arm and repeats it all over again. Cox gets pounded on a bit and chinlocked for awhile. Price then bounces off the ropes with his neck and, despite dominating the rest of the match, gets pinned.

Match 8: Action Jackson v. Stan Lane with Jim Cornette
Stan and Jim take turns introducing each other but fail to be funny. They also use plenty of heel tactics but it still isn’t all that good a match. Cornette distracts Action Jackson; Lane attacks him from behind and gets the pin.

Match 9: Austin Idol v. Scott Anthony
Anthony would later be known as Raven. Here he’s wearing a mullet, bright tights and a goofy grin. As if that isn’t un-Raven enough he also shakes his ass on the way to the ring and does a little white-boy rap. Idol responds to his by saying “your mama”. It’s classics like that and you that never grow old, eh Austin? Here’s a shock for all of you who have seen Austin Idol before, but this match starts with a lot of stalling. I know. I was shocked too. We see shades of Raven as Anthony takes a nasty looking bump through the ropes to the floor. He then bumps even more in the ring. Lots of stalling, lots of punching. Anthony attempts a foot-on-the-ropes pin, but the ref breaks it up. Idol does the same, and wins.

Match 10: Bad News Allen v. The Aztec
The Aztec is better known to the Lucha Libre world as Tinieblas. This isn’t an old gimmick or a different outfit, either. The folks behind GWF just probably decided that Tinieblas was too long to bother pronouncing and since he’s wearing a mask and not named Patriot he’s gonna job anyway. Tinieblas does a lot of Lucha moves. Bad News pounds him. This is an interesting mix of the two styles and a nicely paced match, which is a nice change from the rest of the first round. Tinieblas hits one monkey-flip but misses a second that sets him up for the ghetto blaster.

Match 11: Jeff Gaylord v. “Hollywood” John Tatum
This match is why the fast-forward button was invented. John Tatum, to me, embodies everything I hate about the GWF. He has no apparent talent. The announcers continually hype his idiotic facials and bad comedy martial arts. He gets too much air time. I hate him. I hate him because he is on far too many matches on my tapes. He is the Moxie Cola of  the GWF. He also wins the match.

Match 12: Handsome Stranger v. Al Perez
Yes, Stranger is Buff. No, he was not good then. Here he wears a long sequined tailcoat and a Zorro mask. Surprisingly he doesn’t look quite as gay as he does now. Scott Anthony joins on commentary, which is quite pleasant, he’s doing the gimmick that Stevie Richards would later do as Raven’s lackey. Anthony apparently has some problems with the Buff Stranger, and they’ll feud later on. They start off with some nice matwork, and I’m happy about seeing anything that resembles a good match after fastforwarding through that last one. Buff holds onto an armbar despite being armdragged over. Perez keeps trying and failing to escape. Perez finally escapes and hits a neckbreaker and continues to work the neck. None of this psychology leads anywhere, though, as Perez just wins by a rollup. Nice match, bad ending.

Well, the quarterfinals can’t be as bad as the first round. I don’t mean that the matches stack up nicely, I just mean that it can’t possibly be worse.

Match 1: Patriot vs. Axis
This is on my list of least favorite matches. They both do extended headlock sequences and some headscissors sequences. Axis gets the cobra clutch (which is a lot like a less versatile headlock) and Patriot powers his way to the ropes. He hits the Patriot Missile and gets the pin. The only thing I liked about that match was the commentators talking about the powerful cobra clutch and listing the wrestlers who have used it like The Masked Superstar. If you don’t get it, don’t worry, it wasn’t that funny.

Match 2: Steve Dane v. Terry Gordy
Dane tries to start this match with a handshake and then turns it into a German suplex. Gordy responds with a mean lariat and a powerbomb for the pin in short order. A good squash, which means it should’ve been in the first round.

Match 3: Cactus Jack v. Brian Lee
Lee is a lot more energetic and athletic than he was as Chains or ECW’s Bulldozer. What happened? He has potential here. They have a fast-paced brawl, with Jack hitting both the Cactus Clothesline and the somersault senton from the apron. He tries a second senton but misses which gives Lee a rally, but Lee falls from the top turnbuckle and Jack gets a pin with an assist from the ropes.

Match 4: Steve Cox v. Stan Lane
This match has backstory too, as these two were partners in the tag tournament with Cox being the babyface partner of Lane. Lane and Cornette eventually gave up on the tag belts and dumped Cox, of course. They try to apologize for that, but Cox attacks them instead and the crowd actually makes a noise of some sort. I think it’s cheering. Lane & Cornette threaten to walk out, three times. Cox eventually drags Lane back and Lane sells well for Cox, despite Cox not doing much. Lane plays the coward all match which makes it fun if nothing else… and there is nothing else. He even fakes an injury. Lane gets the win after Cornette gets in a nasty racket shot.

Match 5: Austin Idol v. Bad News Allen
Young Raven returns to commentary. Now, this will come as a shock, but there’s a lot of stalling in this match too. Anthony talks about the non-existent Global Heavyweight Champion Baron Von Steigers and asks when he’ll show up. The GWF made a lot of comments about other chapters worldwide that didn’t exist to make it seem bigger than it was. Allen is going through the motions in this and it shows. Idol is saving his energy. Allen introduces a foreign object and gets DQ’d.

Match 6: Al Perez v. Moxie Cola
Tatum does one of his silly comedy kicks and misses and Perez pins him in about thirty seconds. That’s still about fifteen minutes and thirty seconds longer than any Tatum match should be.

Well, I was right, it wasn’t worse. Nothing was awful, but nothing was really good either. Don’t worry, that’s about to change.

Match 1: Terry Gordy v. Cactus Jack
These two have an all-out brawl. Gordy hits hard, Cactus takes it like he’s… well, Cactus. Gordy hits a dropkick! Cactus hits the big elbow! Gordy gets the Spike, but Cactus makes it to the ropes. They spill outside again. Cactus goes for the second rope to the floor elbow, but misses. Gordy pulls back the mat and powerbombs Cactus on it. Jack stumbles around outside and fails to make it back in the ring in time. This wasn’t the best from these two, but it was good. Given the decisive finish it’s also the best match so far, although if Young v. Jack was allowed to go longer and had a finish, it wouldn’t have been.

Match 2: Patriot v. Stan Lane
Two boogeymen down, so it’s time for the cheating heels. Anthony is back on the mike and is the only thing worthwhile about this match. He makes a joke about Patriot being a Russian spy called Vladimir Badinoff and throughout the rest of the match either calls him Vlad or Badinoff. That’s more psychology than the match has. After a decent enough brawl to start it’s crap. Patriot hulks up and wins the match after botched Cornette interference. Even Patriot doesn’t get decisive wins.

Match 3: Austin Idol v. Al Perez.
Anthony stays on the mike. Idol doesn’t stall! Memphis punching galore from Idol. Al gets his arm posted. Idol goes to work on it and hits a nice submission, which gets moved into a pin. Perez even sells pain in the arm after hitting a punch with it. Idol then goes to work on Perez’s leg to set up the figure four. Bad News comes down and slips Perez a foreign object; punch; pin; end. That was a bad ending to what could’ve been a good match. Idol decided to work this match, and that’s a good thing.

Well, it’s time for the finals. Now, if you were giving Patriot a superhero push, you’d have him lose the coin toss, right? Not in GWF, you don’t. Although, I’d much rather see Perez v. Gordy and then the Patriot than two Patriot matches.

Final 1: Al Perez v. Terry Gordy
Gordy goes for the leg right away and they do some nice matwork. Perez sells the leg throughout, using the ropes throughout and crawling at points even when in control, before nullifying it all by hitting a knee-drop. Gordy gets DQ’d for the loss. Can anyone get a decisive win over someone not named Cactus Jack?

Final Final: Patriot v. Perez
This is a slow match. Patriot uses power moves and lots of no-sellery (no celery?). They go to a headlock sequence. More blah stuff and Al gets tripped up in the ropes and Patriot pins him. Patriot notices that Al is tied up in the ropes and tries to refuse the win, but Al throws a fit. This established Patriots do what’s right character and set up a rematch nicely (with Patriot even asking that the belt be held up), but is still an incredibly disappointing ending that is very appropriate for this tournament.

Overall:
I admit I kinda dogged this review. The notes were written a while back and I didn’t want to subject myself to watching this again. This is why I insisted that I be allowed to do two reviews this issue. GWF was more or less formed from the ashes of the old UWF, which had some of the best wrestling in the world in its day. The people in this territory really responded to the wrestling, this show included. They didn’t respond to things like The Patriot and big names not bothering to work. It’s no wonder to me that this territory died long before Pedicino’s backer dried up. This show has some before-they-were-stars value and for some I’m sure it has some nostalgia value, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not at all good. I only recommend this tape so that the next time someone waxes melancholy about the lost GWF you can tell them how full of shit they are.

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PRIDE 10 [@Thomas Hackett@]
(August 10, 2000 at Tokorazawa, Japan)

Even without its dream match main event, PRIDE 10 promised to be excellent, with a stacked undercard (honestly, Mezger/Silva, Inoue/Vovchanchin, Ken/Fujita and possibly Yvel/Goodridge could each be a main event for another organization), and a semi-main with two debuts for the world’s MMA stage. But add Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Renzo Gracie in the main event and you get a strong candidate for the honor of best card ever. The fight marked not only the top two active middleweights in the world going at it, but the highlight of the ongoing feud between Saku and the Gracie family, to continue (and probably conclude) later this month with PRIDE 12.  The lone party pooper when the card was announced was Zach Arnold, who responded to my post re: the amazing lineup by writing: “this card’ll tank.” Well, thanks for sharing, but what we got was the best card in PRIDE’s history and among the best MMA shows ever. I’ve heard that attendance was announced at 32,919 for those who give a damn. I don’t…

Background for those who don’t know (note to big MMA fans, skip this paragraph and the next, and get to the fights): Kazushi Sakuraba trained at Takada Dojo and who began a career in Mixed Martial Arts following the closing of UWF-I. He showed impressive standup kick boxing skills, slick groundwork, and a lightning quick single-leg take down. After impressive wins over the likes of Vernon “Tiger” White of the Lion’s Den and Conan Silviera of the Carlson Gracie Team, he was booked to avenge teacher Nobuhiko Takada’s MMA losses at the hands of the Gracie family.  While his outlasting of UFC legend Royce Gracie and dominating of Royler Gracie were enough for me to pick Saku as the favorite here, I still had a doubt or two about Saku.  Yes, Royce was the legend of the early UFC, helped put the sport on the map, and came at Saku with an admirable fighting spirit. Yes, Royce made demands of unlimited rounds and no judges or doctor’s stoppages, and lost anyway. But he also beat few significant opponents by today’s MMA standards.  Royler, on the other hand, has always been a brilliant performer in jiu-jitsu competition but was never a major force in MMA.  He also was fighting the larger-by-thirty-pounds Sakuraba under the idea that there would be no judges or doctor stoppages, yet their fight was stopped by a ringside physician with only seconds left before a time limit draw would’ve been declared. Saku may have dominated, but I felt that by the rules agreed upon, he never won that fight.

Meanwhile, Renzo Gracie built a reputation as not only a member of jiu-jitsu’s elite but a well-rounded fighter for today, with impressive kick boxing and takedown skills.  He was coming off wins over the likes of Oleg Taktarov and Maurice Smith. He’s also known as the “no excuses” Gracie, who fights anywhere under any rules. For his part, he had none of his cousins’ demands for his fight with Sakuraba; and the fight was scheduled for two ten-minute rounds with judges in effect. Without question, this was set to be the best match of the year on the show of the year. And it delivered.

(Note: my version of this show is the Japan TV version from my local Japanese video store; I am buying a complete version from sherdog.com as I’m looking to always buy legit now. He offers reasonable pricing, including DVD versions.)

MATCH ONE:  Masakatsu Satake (karate) vs. Kazunari Murakami (pro wrestling)
Not a marquee matchup for this hemisphere, but the two Japan natives get the crowd hot so no complaints from me.  Satake comes back from being taken down and mounted early to land a few decent punches and grazes a high kick. Murakami tries a throw off a clinch but Satake falls on top of him, right into mount.  Short, crisp punches to the head bring in the towel at 6:58.  Decent match that the crowd loved; a good booking choice.  Post match, Satake takes the house mic to dedicate his win to his late friend Andy Hug, the popular Swiss K-1 fighter who passed away five days prior due to acute myeloid leukemia & bone marrow disease.  Ogawa then enters the ring to make the “judo vs. karate” challenge that I’ve heard the Japanese press ate up.

MATCH TWO: Enson Inoue (Shooto) vs. Igor Vovchanchin (kick boxing)
Now we’re talking!  The hardest puncher in MMA with amazing conditioning and all-around skills to back it up, the Ukraine’s “Ice Cold” Igor is my pick for the scariest human being on the planet since he flattened Mark Kerr in a match ruled a no-contest due to illegal strikes.  Enson “Yamato Damashi” Inoue is a former Shooto heavyweight champion, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, and has beaten the likes of current UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture. His nickname translates as “True Japanese Spirit”... this comes into play for this match.

Enson flies out of the corner with his fists flying and hits a big straight right. Igor responds and HOLY CRAP!!!  Bomb after bomb by both guys, and we’re talking HUGE- I mean, cock the arm back and lunge like it’s cell block 8 and somebody just called you “honey”-type bombs. Enson tries to clinch but ends up losing his footing in the exchange, and Igor, smelling blood, spins his way down on top of Enson, deftly avoiding being caught in full guard.  Camera goes to Igor’s face and HOLY CRAP part 2, he’s busted wide open from the exchange that he seemed to get the better of. (Maybe he smelled his own blood….)  From the half guard, Igor lands a few, but Enson quickly repositions to full guard. Unfortunately his attempts at a triangle and an armbar are slipped, and Igor lands several punches to the head and ribs.  Igor keeps such a great base while in the guard that it’s hard to see anyone submitting him there. Punch after punch land as Enson tries to keep Igor in check but he’s rapidly getting a swollen face for his efforts. I’ve never seen so much damage from so many angles while in the guard position.  Five minutes pass and Igor advances to half guard, by suddenly sweeping his leg out of a dazed Enson’s guard. Igor’s cut must’ve been just scratched up scar tissue from another fight because it’s not bleeding now. Up high, Igor pours it on and I’m as big an Enson fan as there is but I’m yelling for this match to be stopped. Eventually Enson is covering his head, unable to defend, as Igor drops shot after shot onto his head and face.  Finally the bell sounds to end the round, and Igor walks to his corner, but Enson can’t freaking walk. And here is one of the most painful sights I’ve ever seen in MMA: the mess that was Enson stumbles back to his corner, basically being carried by his brother Egan… and in the corner, covered in bags of ice, Enson is checked by a physician who stops the fight.  Enson’s swollen face is barely recognizable as his own, and he’s on the way to being unrecognizable as a human being from this beating. But there he sits on the stool in his corner, screaming “NO!!!” about the ruling.  While I’ll admit I find this kind of “samurai spirit” inspiring, as a fan who wants to see this sport continue to grow, I have to say this fight should’ve been stopped long before.  Igor takes the win and gets a rematch with Mark Kerr later this month at PRIDE 12. Enson lives to fight another day (somehow) and gets up-and-comer Heath Herring, same show.

MATCH THREE: Mark Kerr (wrestling) vs. Igor Borisov (Seiken-do)
Short exchange of strikes, then it’s basically your latest Panther Video release: “MARK KERR IN ACTION!”  Kerr double leg, and in Borisov’s guard, leans forward to take his head with both hands, and basically crushes him with a neck crank at 2:06.  Not bad, but I’m still partial to “Praying Mantis Kung Fu” (go to panthervideo.com, and click to Chinese for it; it’s # 22. The clip is funny as hell)

MATCH FOUR: Gilbert Yvel (Muay Thai) vs. Gary Goodridge (Arm Wrestling)
Yes, PRIDE actually lists Goodridge’s fighting style as “arm wrestling”. We begins with a minute plus of circling.  Goodridge seems to be wary of Yvel’s lead leg.  Suddenly, Yvel throws a classic (read “BRUTAL”) Muay Thai round kick to Goodridge’s head, and knocks him out cold on the fight’s first and only offensive move.  (I guess that’s illegal in arm wrestling) Cool looking KO.

MATCH FIVE: Guy Mezger (Submission Fighting) vs. Vanderlei Silva (Muay Thai)
Guy’s overall Lion’s Den skills had many of predicting a slow, plodding decision win, but apparently he wasn’t listening to us because he comes out with guns BLAZING vs. the Brazilian from Team Chute Boxe, ducking back from a clinch to hit a high roundhouse kick.  Silva hits some strong punches, but on a scramble following a quick, even ground sequence, Guy hits a big knee to the face while attempting to cradle a la Ortiz in Mezger/Ortiz I.  Both guys are bloody.  Against the ropes, Silva hits a big right cross and a head butt (maybe it was unintentional, but it looked fishy). The ref missed it. Guy is reeling, and Silva goes to town with a series of crosses to end it at 3:45. Guy falls limp, his neck bounces off the middle ropes as he drops. One of the better standup displays I’ve seen in MMA, albeit marred by the head butt.

MATCH SIX: Kazuyuki Fujita (Pro Wrestling) vs. Ken Shamrock (Submission Fighting)
This was a big one for MMA fans.  We all wanted to see if Fujita was for real after beating Mark Kerr, and we were interested in Ken Shamrock who just had possibly the most exciting fight of his career in a KO of Alexander Otsuka, in his first fight back since his WWF stint. Both fights were weird-Shamrock had shown better standup in the Otsuka fight than anyone had seen from him before, and some cried “work”.  Fujita took it to Kerr late after Kerr winded to what he later would term a hypoglycemic attack, and some cried “work”. I disagree with calling either fight a work, but I’d agree both were weird. And true to form, this one got weird.  Fujita is known for having a big, hard head and had the size advantage over Ken, but most of us predicted a Ken win due to his superior all-around skills.

Lots of heat here.  Fujita enters the ring wearing Antonio Inoki’s ring gear, accompanied by Don Frye and Brian Johnston.  Incidentally, Frye had been taunting Ken in the MMA press in the months before this match, laughing at the “World’s Most Dangerous Man” moniker and laughing at Ken for never winning a UFC tournament.  In response, Ken disregarded Frye’s challenge with the words: “no payday for you, Don.”  (Ken notes that the “World’s Most Dangerous Man” title was never something he called himself, just something NBC made up and the WWF used for marketing. Point taken, but then, why does Ken continue to use the nickname on his website?)  If that weren’t enough, Frye had a minor scuffle with Ken’s protegee Tre Telligman before this fight.

Ken opens up with a nice round kick to the leg before Fujita tries to shoot a double leg. His shot is so high that even as Ken sprawls out of it, they appear to collide head and face first. Shamrock with a jab before Fujita tries to shoot again; another collision off the sprawl but Ken shakes it off and gets a nice jab/cross combination.  Fujita clinches Ken and looks to throw him, but Ken grabs the ropes.  Frye is taunting him mercilessly. Ref stops the fight and raises a yellow card to signal a penalty for Ken.  Fujita’s nose is bleeding. They touch gloves before the re-start, and Fujita quickly tries another shot, Shamrock again sprawls out of it but Fujita is again shooting so high that their heads AGAIN connect. Clearly this is a strategy on Fujita’s part; he’s bending the rules and it’s working. Clinch, and Ken takes a knee to the “World’s Most Dangerous Nuts”. He shrugs it off and takes control with crisp uppercut and lays in a combination. Another sloppy Fujita shot, and Ken takes him in a guillotine choke this time. Fujita is bloodied but able to slip away. We’re slowing down here; Ken hits the much better punches, but Fujita is bigger and stronger and he’s outlasting Ken. Ken looks pale and groggy as there’s headfirst collision number 7,003 off a Fujita shot. They trade punches and clinch around the ring, and Ken looks like he’s had a heart attack. Ken looks over Fujita’s shoulder to call for his corner to throw in the towel.  A shocked crowd cheers Fujita’s improbable win.  Ken would later say he just didn’t train hard enough.

HIGHLIGHTS: Vitor Belfort (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) sprawls out of Daijiro Matsui’s shot to take his back and pound the Takada Dojo fighter bloody en route to a unanimous decision. And Ricco Rodriguez body slamming (seriously) Giant Ochai and choking him on the mat.

SEMI-MAIN EVENT: Ryan Gracie (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) vs. Tomimitsu Ishizawa (Pro Wrestling)
Ishizawa was an Olympic alternate for Japan in freestyle wrestling, but the footage for his pre-fight promo only shows his pro wrestling days as “Kendo Ka Shin”. Ryan is better known for his boasts about street fights than anything else; but he’s got a black belt under Carlos Gracie Jr. and trains with Renzo. Both guys had questions to answer but predictions were mainly Ryan’s way.

Ishizawa, who has a little size advantage, absorbs a Ryan shot and takes him in a guillotine choke. The crowd gets hot in hopes of the quick upset, but Ryan keeps his neck protected and slowly slips out of the choke after thirty seconds. Ryan then springs up with a knee to Ishizawa’s head, and hits a HUGE barrage of punches to the face. Left, right, left times nine; totally unanswered. Ishizawa is totally stunned, and it’s kind of a sad sight to see him hold the ref as the official steps between the fighters to end it.  While Ryan’s punches were frighteningly quick and powerful, his hands seemed to drop during the flurry. Not sure he’ll get away with that in the future.

MAIN EVENT: Renzo Gracie vs. Kazushi Sakuraba
Well, play by play won’t do this fight justice, but here goes.  They touch gloves, exchange leg kicks, and clinch in the corner. Saku with a single leg takedown out of the corner, and Renzo pulls him in the guard and tries an arm bar. Saku (surprise!) wants nothing to do with the Gracie guard and is able to wriggle away, and backs out. Back up, big high kick by Saku graces Gracie’s head, he counters with a right.  This continues throughout the fight-dead even, blow by blow; Saku hits a kick, Renzo counter punches.  Saku gets some space and rushes in with his arms raised for a RUNNING MONGOLIAN CHOP~ but jump-stops and hits a round kick to the leg.  Gracie hits a crisp left cross, and the bell sounds at around 7 minutes, 30 seconds by my watch.

Round two: Lots of respect and we stay dead even. Renzo lunges forward for a hook, but Sak ducks under and spins him down by the legs.  Saku again backs out of the guard and tries a million different kicks to Renzo’s legs, but he defends well on his back and even shoots some kicks back. Saku does the running stomp and cartwheel guard passes. Neither work but they keep things exciting.  A couple of Saku round kicks land solidly.

Gracie finally gets up, and catches Saku with another hook, but gets caught again lunging in and this time Saku stays in the Gracie guard, but to no avail. Renzo fights his way up and sprawls off a Saku shot, hitting a knee to the gut and a left.  Saku backs away and hits a solid kick to the head, but misses a shot and Renzo nails him with a right as he regains his footing.  Gracie continues with his effective counter punching but Saku might be up a little on the scorecards with a minute left. Saku follows a takedown by standing and this time grabs Renzo’s ankle and spins him a bit. Again, he pleases the crowd, but no harm done. Gracie hits a kick from his back and in the scramble springs up and gets behind Saku, where he hold him a la a bear hug.  They struggle, and there’s precious little time. Suddenly, Saku breaks Gracie’s grip, entangling his arm in a top wrist lock, and spins to Gracie’s side. Snap crackle pop. Gracie’s arm is bending the wrong way as they hit the mat.  And the ref stops it. After the bell, Renzo taps to concede the defeat. And there you have it. There’s no controversial stoppage (i.e., Royler), nobody dominated anybody (i.e., Royler), and no end to a false sense of invulnerability (i.e., Royce). No questions about rules, either. Just the two greatest fighters in the world going dead even until one quick move set them apart. Here’s my middle finger up to those who said the Gracie family would wallow after a Renzo loss, because the greatest family of fighters in the world can only be proud of their representative’s showing of skill and dignity in this amazing fight.  Renzo afterward addresses the crowd:  “Lots of people make excuses after they lose. I have only one: he was better than me tonight. The only gift I can give him is to say he is the Japanese version of the Gracie family.”

Post match, Ryan challenges Saku, who accepts. A great ending to one of the best MMA shows ever. How good is this show? So good that even with two of my favorite fighters (Inoue and Renzo) getting beat at this show I’m still anxiously waiting to get a legit DVD of it.  The only chink in this show’s armor would be a lack of a great display of groundwork, but that’s probably my Brazilian jiu-jitsu bias showing. This is all action. Get this YESTERDAY.

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Classic Lucha: November 1989 [@Alfredo Esparza@]

November 18, 1989:
Pirata Morgan vs. Brazo De Oro - NWA Light Heavyweight Title
- Morgan is seconded by a young, clean-shaven, Emilio Charles Jr..  Pirata Morgan had just beaten El Satanico for the belt. Stalling by Pirata Morgan who asks for a handshake to start the match off, but quickly turns it into an armbar.  They take it to the mat and Brazo De Oro works on Pirata's leg for a bit.  They return to some mat work.

Pirata gains control and is quick to lock up Brazo De Oro in a leglock.  Fortunately BDO breaks the hold and  reverses, but Pirata gets the ropes to counter the move.  BDO catches Pirata in yet another leglock submission spot and Pirata goes for "El Angel" (on the mat, grabs the guys arms, while both have their legs tied up and then extends the arms to make it look like BDO is an "Angel").  Pirata goes back to the legs.  Referee, El Gran Davis, tells Emilio to get back to his corner.

They exchange a few moves and then BDO gains momentum and climbs on Pirata's back.  Pirata breaks the hold and they exchange Mexican armdrags (as opposed to the Hungarian, Japanese, Canadian or Philipino armdrags).  BDO catches Pirata in an armlock and despite Pirata's attempts to break the hold, he just won't...Until Pirata reaches the ropes! Pirata heads to the outside and the fans send out several catcalls to both Pirata and Emilio.  More armlocks, armdrags, but Pirata breaks the lovefest by biting on BDO's leg.  Still can't escape the armlock.  They run the ropes and Pirata catches Brazo De Oro with a clothesline. Morgan turns and yells out something...I believe it was "Putos"!!! Brazo De Oro quickly catches Pirata with a Quebradora and then rolls him up for the pin.  First fall winner is Brazo De Oro.

We return and get a slow instant replay.  Second fall starts off quick with Brazo De Oro delivering a dropkick and going for the Boston Crab.  Rope break by Pirata!  Brazo De Oro then applies "La Campana" on Pirata.  He then turns to "La de a Caballo" (Camel Clutch).  Quick spots by Brazo De Oro deliver on getting over the fact that BDO really wants the belt and in turn gets the fans all into this match.  Pirata sells everything very well.  Brazo De Oro goes for a senton and pin attempt, but Pirata kicks out. Pirata follows with a big boot to the gut (and my what a gut that is!).  Pirata follows with a headlock and throws in some quick elbows to the head.  BDO escapes and Pirata misses a senton, which BDO turns into another submission attempt.  However, Pirata quickly escapes and crawls to the outside.
Pirata Morgan returns and Brazo dominates, but BdO attempts a catapult that Pirata reverses into a hot shot to the top turnbuckle.  Pirata applies a figure four leglock for the second fall victory! Pirata continues his attack, but takes some time to strut.

Third fall gets underway with Pirata attacking Brazo De Oro's knee.  Morgan throws some sharp elbows to the knee and follows with another figure four leglock. Brazo De Oro rolls to the ropes and Pirata's forced to break the hold.  WOW! Brazo totally sells the knee injury by tying a t-shirt or towel to it.  Pirata goes for a spinning toe-hold. Brazo De Oro breaks the second spin and kicks Pirata to the ropes.  He follows with an armlock.  Morgan breaks the hold with a kick to Brazo's knee and then goes for a Scorpion Deathlock (Sharpshooter).  BDO breaks the hold yet again and decides to work on Pirata's right leg.  Oh God! I won't mention what happens after. Skip!  30 seconds later and Brazo De Oro goes for a plancha onto Pirata who's on the outside.

Back in the ring and Brazo De Oro runs towards Pirata and instead hits the turnbuckles.  Pirata follows with a senton.  Pirata climbs the top rope and attempts to drop an elbow, but instead misses. Brazo continues to work on the leg, but Pirata costantly breaks the holds.  BdO falls to the outside and Pirata follows with a plancha.  BdO attempts to return to the ring, but Pirata kicks him down and attempts a tope suicida onto BdO.  He hits Emilio Charles Jr. instead.

They return to the ring, while Enrique Llanes checks on Emilio to see if he's okay.  Brazo De Oro gets numerous pinfalls but Pirata is a fighting
champion and breaks every single one of them on his own.  Brazo De Oro climbs the top rope for a knee drop, but Pirata moves.  Quick pin attempt by Pirata, but Brazo De Oro barely escapes.  Pirata climbs the top rope and misses a senton onto Brazo De Oro.  Brazo De Oro hits another quebradora, but his knee gives out and he falls to the mat.  Pirata quickly applies a sleeperhold (similar to Tazmission only better!!!) and gets the win.  Pirata successfully retains the NWA Light Heavyweight Title.

Good old-school lucha match.

WINNER: Pirata Morgan (El Campeon Mundial Peso Semi-Completo de la NWA)

Van Vader/Ken Timbs/Cien Caras vs. Lizmark/El Faraon/El Satanico
- Van Vader walks down the ramp wearing his elephant mask.  Vader makes everyone look like midgets.  Vader at the time was the UWA Heavyweight Champion.  Fabuloso Blondy ask for the mic so that he can sing the U.S. National Anthem.  All rise!!!  Vader's mask blows smoke and he makes sure everyone sees it and it gets  zero pop from the Mexican crowd.

Timbs and El Satanico start it off with Blondy doing the Fabulous Fargo strut.  They lock up.  Timbs starts to brag, but Satanico trips him up and then beats on him and follows up with a dropkick.  Blondy heads to the outside, where Cien Caras makes sure Satanico doesn't go after him.

Cien Caras now in with El Faraon.  Cien is totally different in that he doesn't suck in this match.  Getting old sucks!!! Cien quickly tags in Vader
and Vader stares down El Faraon.  Vader throws punches and headbutts in one corner and follows with a suplex on poor Faraon.  Headlock!!!  Lizmark threatens to jump, but nothing happens.  Blondy now in with Satanico and the triple-teaming begins.

Lizmark comes in and wails on Ken Timbs.  Cien Caras runs in to make the save and the rudos go back to triple-teaming on Lizmark.  Lizmark has no chance as Vader no sells his dropkicks.  Vader then throws a flurry of punches and the rudos all splash Lizmark in one corner.  Cien Caras finish Lizmark off with a big splash and a pin for the 1st fall win.

The rudos continue they're attack on the tecnicos with Vader choking out Satanico.  Satanico sells everything well.  The power of the Mask is put over by the announcers!!!

Meanwhile, you see a few kids running around with the mask.  Kid Numero Uno - "Boo, Soy Vader!" Hijos Numeros Dos, Tres y Cuatro triple dropkick Kid Numero Uno and Vader mask has broken.  Bags of peanuts and lots of candy fall out and every kid in the building runs for some candy. Sorry, that didn't happen...BUT IT COULD HAVE!!!!

DONDE ESTA POPITEKUS!?!?!

Second fall begins with Timbs and Cien attacking Satanico, while Vader visits with the fans.  Faraon goes right after Vader and they brawl around the building.  One guy throws his drink at Vader.  Looked like it was either Beer or "Horchata" (horchata is a drink made...uh, nevermind!).  Vader accidently hits Cien Caras after El Faraon moved.  Tecnicos go for a quick pin on Vader with El Faraon and Lizmark piling on top, but Vader kicks out.  They dropkick him to the outside and Vader falling out over the top rope gets a good reaction from the crowd.  Faraon with a tope onto Vader on the outside!  Satanico forces Blondy to submit and Lizmark hits a plancha onto Cien Caras for the second fall victory.  Lizmark continues his attack on Cien Caras.

Ken Timbs and El Satanico start off the third and deciding fall.  Satanico attacks the arm and El Faraon follows with "La Palanca de Marcus." Timbs leaves.  Vader is left alone with all three tecnicos. AWESOME! Vader no sells everything they throw, but it looks great with Lizmark, Faraon and Satanico throwing punches and kicks all over Vader.  Cien and Timbs break up the 3 on 1, but Timbs bumps into Vader and knocks himself silly for a few seconds.

Lizmark attempts an abdominal stretch on Cien Caras, but Timbs saves.  Satanico and Faraon throw out Timbs and want Vader. Vader comes in and double clotheslines both tecnicos.  Satanico and Faraon regain control, but Vader's too big to knock down.  Lizmark attempts a sunset flip off the top rope on Vader, but Vader Banzai splashes him and Lizmark is left dead in the ring.  Los Rudos! Los Rudos!!! Los RUUUUUUUDDDDDDDOOOOOSSSSSS!!!!!!!!! Sorry.

Good match with Vader being the monster and the three tecnicos only getting an advantage over him when it was 3 on 1.

WINNERS: Vader, Cien Caras & El Fabuloso Blondy

El Brazo/El Brazo De Plata vs. Hombre Bala/El Verdugo - Cabelleras contra Cabelleras!!!
- Double hair match! Los Brazos are sporting headbands because they are cool like that.  Porky and Verdugo go to the outside and brawl, while Hombre Bala and Brazo go at it inside.  Verdugo returns to double-team El Brazo and they toss him to the outside.  Porky's back in and he gets double clotheslined.  Lots of brawling early on in this match and I feel a blade job coming real soon!  Total domination by Los Bucaneros on Los Brazos.  Spell checker sucks!  El Brazo is wearing a crimson mask. Heh, there I said it.  While Brazo is getting beat on inside, Brazo De Plata is left on the outside and he actually watches for about a minute before he decides to help his brother.  Hombre Bala and El Verdugo pin both Brazos.  El Verdugo begins to celebrate a little too early.

Bell rings for the start of the second fall.  Both Brazos are bleeding.  We are told that El Verdugo doesn't have that much experience in stipulation matches.  He's lost three hair matches and apparently dropped his mask.  Better find the mask fast!

Brazos get back in this.  Brazo De Plata throws Verdugo onto the first 3 rows of chairs.  Los Brazos get the second fall win as Super Porky pins both El Verdugo and Hombre Bala with big splashes.

Brazo De Plata quickly knocks down El Verdugo with a fist.  El Brazo knocks down Hombre Bala.  Brazo De Plata does a suicide dive to the outside onto Verdugo, while El Brazo does a plancha onto Hombre Bala.  WOW! Verdugo's back up and this time El Brazo hits him with a plancha. Hombre Bala goes with a tope and Brazo De Plata follows with a tope of his own.  Both Bucaneros return to the ring and eliminate Brazo De Plata from the match.  El Brazo comes in and rolls up Hombre Bala and that leaves El Brazo and El Verdugo.

El Verdugo catches El Brazo with a senton, but El Brazo kicks out.  El Brazo goes with a "crunch" (bodyslam) and follows with a top rope elbow that misses.  El Verdugo goes for a bodyslam, but El Brazo hooks him up and rolls him into a pinning predicament and gets the win.

El Verdugo and Hombre Bala get their head shaved as Brazo De Oro (still selling his knee injury from the earlier match) comes out to congratulate his brothers.

Brazo De Plata doing highspots was pretty fun to watch and the blade jobs where alright, except Verdugo and Hombre Bala weren't very good in this match.

WINNERS: El Brazo & Brazo De Plata

November 25, 1989:
Emilio Charles Jr./MS1/Tierra, Viento y Fuego (one guy with three names!) vs. Atlantis/El Dandy/Mascara Sagrada
- Emilio without long hair and beard looks pretty normal.  MS1 and Atlantis start shoving one another. Atlantis gets knocked down, but gets back up again (CHUMBAWAMBA) and goes after MS1's leg.  TVF (Tierra, Viento y Fuego) comes in and makes the save, but El Dandy is quick to go after TVF.  However, Emilio comes in.  First few minutes is pretty much everyone coming in quickly and going after one another.

El Dandy comes in, but no one wants a piece of the "Fabulous One."  He cheap shots Emilio with a quick punch to the face.  Way too much tagging in and out to describe the action.  Emilio vs. El Dandy bring the match up a notch with quick rope work and El Dandy kicks Emilio out of the ring.  Atlantis pins MS1 after dazzling him with some highflying moves.  Sagrada does some weird version of the headbutt and pins TVF.  El Dandy runs off Emilio.  Hard to believe Sagrada coulld at one point fly around the ring.

Emilio doesn't want anything to do with El Dandy and decides to leave.  He heads to the locker room, but returns.  TVF is kind of awkward in that his offense looks funky.  Hell, he has this strange build that reminds me a little too much of former UWF jobber, Mike Boyette.

Emilio finally gets in the ring to wrestle El Dandy, but MS1 helps him get the advantage and he begins to throw punches at El Dandy.  He slams him to the mat and begins to bite away on El Dandy.  Well, well, well...El Dandy is bleeding! Ever notice how good a bleeder El Dandy is?  Emilio takes El Dandy to the outside and throws him to the ringpost.  More Blood follows! Increible~!!!

In the ring, MS1 and TVF are in control of the match.  MS1 kicks Sagrada out and this leaves Atlantis in the ring with all three rudos.  MS1 pins
Atlantis following a big splash.  Sagrada gets pinned by TVF.  Emilio continues to attack El Dandy, who tries to defend himself by kicking at
Emilio, but that doesn't stop Emilio from laying in a few more good kicks.

Third fall begins with El Dandy in with all three rudos.  OH MY GOD! That's a lot of blood! El Dandy's lime green tights are now red.  UGH!  Emilio misses with a corner splash and that allows El Dandy to throw his deadly punch.  Emilio and El Dandy go at it on the outside with El Dandy now biting and headbutting away on Emilio Charles Jr.  The Emilio-Dandy brawl rules!!!  El Dandy takes Emilio back into the ring and continues his assault with numerous punches and elbows to the head.  Emilio responds with a few punches of his own and is able to kick El Dandy out of the ring.  Mascara Sagrada and MS1 both come in and Sagrada quickly throws MS1 to the outside and follows with a plancha off the top rope onto MS1.  Atlantis and TVF get tossed out of the ring and this leaves Charles Jr. and El Dandy in the ring.

El Dandy attempts a body scissors on Emilio Charles Jr., but Charles reverses it into a fall away slam and gets the pin and the deciding win for
his team.  Emilio issues a challenge to El Dandy for the Mexican Middleweight Title.

Real good match whenever El Dandy, Emilio Charles Jr. and Atlantis where in. Actually, the only guy I wasn't really into was Tierra, Viento y Fuego.  Like I said he has that awkward build, but even he wasn't that bad.  El Dandy and Emilio's blade jobs were pretty gruesome. Especially, El Dandy!

WINNERS: Emilio Charles Jr., MS1 & Tierra, Viento y Fuego

All Star/Rocky Star/Fuerza Guerrera/Super Astro/El Hijo Del Santo/Blue Demon Jr. -
"Russian Roulette" Elimination match that determines the following two match ups.- Rocky Star was a guy who I saw wrestle in Ciudad Juarez for the first time and was actually a frequent tag team partner of Eddie Guerrero for about one year.  Starts off with lots of brawling.  Everyone goes after one another.  Must be thrown over the top rope to be eliminated.  Match has very little heat. I guess the fans have no clue what's going on.  First guy eliminated is Super Astro.  El Hijo Del Santo went through the second rope, so that didn't count.  Rocky Star tosses Blue Demon Jr. out of the ring. That sets up the following singles match.

Now, the tag teams are determined.  Hijo Del Santo gets tossed next.  Fuerza gets tossed out. This leaves Rocky Star and All Star as one tag team and the other being Fuerza and Santo.

Not that bad.  Actually it's pretty good if you compare it to other Battle Royal-style matches.

Super Astro vs. Blue Demon Jr.
- This is a one fall, 15-minute match.  They take it to the mat early on.  Super Astro goes with a standing figure four leglock, but it gets broken up by Blue Demon Jr.  Clean match as it's two "tecnicos" going at it.  Crowd is pretty quiet for this match.  Super Astro goes for the bow and arrow on Blue Demon Jr., but Blue escapes and quickly applies a Boston Crab.  Super Astro breaks the hold and they continue a very clean match-up.  A few catcalls begin from some fans, while a few others clap silently.  Super Astro goes back to a figure-four leglock.

Blue Demon Jr. goes to the outside after some nifty counter wrestling.  The fact that this match has two tecnicos seems to have kept everyone quiet.  Super Astro throws out a few of his signature spots, but Blue Demon Jr. gets the win.

A little too clean and Demon Jr. is pretty average.  Super Astro didn't really do a major high spot. Crowd was pretty dead for this match and that
actually killed it for me...Well, that and the fact that Blue Demon Jr. doesn't do anything spectacular or special.

WINNER: Blue Demon Jr.

Rocky Star/All Star vs. Fuerza Guerrera/El Hijo Del Santo - Relevos Increibles

- This match quickly begins after the previous one ends.  During the ring introductions, Fuerza runs out of the ring.  AH!!! Satellite problems for a few seconds.  Fuerza doesn't want to tag with Santo and Rocky Star tries to start trouble between them.

Santo starts off with Rocky Star.  Quick start! Santo catches Rocky with a flying headscissors and he lands on the outside.  Fuerza and All Star are now in and Fuerza throws a flurry of punches and wants Santo to get a few cheap shots in on All Star.  Hijo Del Santo refuses, but does tag in.  All Star and El Hijo Del Santo try to work a "clean" match, but Rocky Star cheap shots El Hijo Del Santo. Fuerza refuses to tag in.

Santo and Rocky Star are  in and Rocky Star dominates the match.  He has an armbar-type submission hold on him.  Santo falls to the outside, but Fuerza tosses him back in.   Fuerza quickly attacks Rocky Star, who had been dominating the action.  Fuerza's punches are followed by Rocky regaining momentum and catching him in a submission hold.  Fuerza goes to the outside, but El Hijo Del Santo throws him back in.  Rocky tags in All Star, who quickly goes for Fuerza's mask.  Referee, Gran Davis, shoves All Star off Fuerza.  Now, Rocky Star and All Star argue.  Well, first fall ends with Fuerza getting counted out.  Kind of confusing since a lot is going on.

Second fall begins with Santo and Rocky Star going at it.  Rocky Star goes after El Hijo Del Santo's mask.  Santo takes over and begins to rip off
Rocky Star's mask.  Both guys leave and now it's Fuerza vs. All Star.  Fast action with Fuerza sliding to the outside and almost hitting the kid selling soft drinks.

El Hijo Del Santo and Rocky Star back in and Santo goes after the mask. Only this time, All Star decides to help his partner.  Fuerza runs in to help Santo and goes after All Star's mask.  He asks Santo to join in, but Santo says no.  All Star's mask is finally ripped apart...He's bleeding!!!  All hell's broken loose as no one's cooperating and Rocky Star goes after his own partner.   Rocky Star bites into All Star and spits out the blood to the fans. Souvenir!!!!

Back in the ring, El Hijo Del Santo pins Rocky Star after a huracanrana.  However, Fuerza fouls All Star and Fuerza/Santo gets DQ'ed.

We return from the replay and El Hijo Del Santo goes after Fuerza and removes Fuerza's mask. Rocky Star continues to attack All Star. El Hijo Del Santo sees Rocky Star and removes his mask!!!

This match builds up to a round robin with everyone's mask on the line.  By the way, they return from commercials and you see a close up of Fuerza, who has really big hair and looks like an older version of Juvi.  Fuerza does a mondo blade job with it oozing all over the place!  They grab some guy's jacket to cover Fuerza's face up. Fuerza goes back and rips apart El Hijo Del Santo's mask. At the same time, he tries to hide his face.

Good match, but not great.  It builds up to the next two weeks worth of
lucha TV back in '90.

WINNERS: All Star & Rocky Star

Lizmark/El Satanico/Rayo De Jalisco Jr. vs. Ken Timbs/Cien Caras/Pirata Morgan
-  Pirata Morgan holds the American Flag for "El Fabuloso Blondy" Ken Timbs.   El Gringo Loco struts and starts stuff with El Satanico.  Ken Timbs starts the match off by attempting to sing the "Star Spangled Banner" and demands that everyone stand up.  Pirata gets dropkicked right when Timbs is about to start to sing.  Lizmark and Satanico go after El Blondy.  Rayo and Cien go after each other. Lots of double- and triple- teaming going on in this match.

Lizmark and Fabulous Blondy go at it.  Lizmark goes for a backflip off the top rope and follows it by delivering a dropkick to Timbs, which sends him crashing to the outside.

Funny spot with Rayo and Pirata as Pirata can't see from one eye, so he goes for something and Rayo moved, but Pirata still does it because he can't see from that side.  Satanico goes in to take on Cien Caras and does some quick work in sending him to the outside.  Lizmark pins Pirata Morgan and Satanico pins Cien Caras. Ken Timbs tries to make the save, but runs out as Rayo comes in.  Timbs then cowards on the outside as Rayo threatens to hit him.

Second fall starts with the tecnicos still in control.  Rayo slaps away at Cien Caras, while all thre tecnicos go after Blondy.  Blondy and Lizmark
exchange punches for a few seconds, until Pirata Morgan runs in for the save.  Pirata goes for a body slam followed by a surfboard. Rayo comes in and takes over on Pirata.  Satanico throws in some cheap shots at Pirata, but Cien comes in and throws Rayo out.  Timbs and Satanico go at it and now the rudo team has gained the momentum of the match.

Cien Caras pins Rayo, while Ken Timbs rips away at Lizmark's mask. He follows it with a really odd slingshot suplex for the second fall win.
Pirata heads to the outside and continues to go after Satanico.

Back to action and the third fall begins with the rudos continuing their assault.  El Satanico is rolled back to the ring and continues get beat
down.  Rayo comes back in and the tecnicos regain control.  Rayo chases Pirata around to the outside, while Satanico rips away at Cien Caras mask.  Blondy and Pirata double team Lizmark a few times, but they each miss their attempt to hit Lizmark.  Cien Caras is left alone as Ken Timbs turns on Pirata Morgan and throws him into the ringpost.  Pirata Morgan's bleeding!!! Ken Timbs is evil as he continues to attack Pirata Morgan.  Cien Caras ask what's going on and gets shoved by Ken Timbs.  Timbs then gets pinned by the tecnicos.  Blondy and Lizmark head to the outside, but this time Pirata Morgan goes after "Fabuloso Blondy".  Timbs shoves Pirata back into the ring and Satanico is now yelling at him.  Timbs tries to make a run for it, but he gets thrown into the ring, where he has to deal with the tecnicos and Pirata Morgan.  Timbs is a Madman!!!  Lizmark fouls Timbs in an attempt to stop the violence! :-)

Lizmark and Fabuloso Blondy continue to go at it down the aisle.  Pirata Morgan gets involved and goes after Lizmark.  You know what this
means...THREE-WAY DANCE!!!

Match wasn't that good since it was going to lead to something else in the third fall. The ending angle with Lizmark, Pirata and Timbs going after each other was pretty damn good.

WINNERS: Lizmark, Rayo De Jalisco Jr. & El Satanico

OVERVIEW: Great video if you're into old school lucha and want to see some of the older guys when they actually could do something in the ring.  Ken Timbs as "El Fabuloso Blondy" used to get tons of heat in Mexico.  El Dandy vs. Emilio Charles Jr. in the trios match was really good.  The deal with El Hijo Del Santo, Fuerza Guerrera, Rocky Star and All Star will result into a round robin tournament with the loser dropping his mask.  Good action.  I think some people wouldn't like it if they are only looking for highspots.  Also wanted to mention the fact that these shows where two hours each and were not clipped to death like they're doing with today's lucha shows on Galavision.  Lucha really shouldn't be clipped considering most matches are 2/3 falls.  Well, if they're clipped...PLEASE stop the crowd shots with kids sleeping and old people picking their noses. Kidding about the last one! :-)
Added Bonus NOTE:
I've been told to review GWAS! So if I don't answer emails, post at any boards, send tapes, update my site for the next month or so, assume
that I am no longer among the living.

BTW, NY Jets' lucha outfits Rule!!! J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!!!
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Wrestling from 1920 - 1967 [@Dan - Masked Graduate@]

Match 1: Joe Stetcher v. Earl Caddock 1/30/1920 Madison Square Garden, NY
Joe Stetcher is one of the bigger names of early twentieth century wrestling, famous for his scissors hold. Stetcher had lost the World Title to Caddock three years earlier at this point and, except for a period where Caddock was fighting in World War One, they worked the circuit together. The loss caused a bit of controversy as Stetcher and Caddock were tied at one fall apiece, when Stetcher refused to come out for the third fall he lost the belt via forfeit.
 This match was recorded on silent film and even has the added word placards at points to introduce the wrestlers and point out the action. Time hasn’t been the best thing for it though, as it is very degraded at points and there is noticeable light-burn in the center at points, making it somewhat hard to see. It’s also the oldest match available on film or video, so this is as Old School as it gets.
 Joe Stetcher comes out accompanied by a Navy unit, since he had served with them before becoming a wrestler. Caddock is seconded by the Army, of which he was a member of during the war. This match starts out very much like a freestyle match, lots of jockeying for position. It’s strong jockeying and matwork that doesn’t really lead anywhere but a stalemate at first. A placard drops in to let us know that Stetcher is going for his scissors hold, but Caddock manages to escape. Stetcher tends to wind up on top and he repeatedly tries for the scissors hold, while Caddock is shown to be very good at escaping it. What is visible is all very good freestyle-type matwork, sadly degrading of the film and poor lighting takes away from what could have been great. Towards the end of the match Caddock is dominating, but Stetcher escapes and turns it around. Stetcher again tries to work in the scissors hold and this time he gets it and the belt. This was about 20 or so minutes of clips, the official match time was 2 hours, five minutes and 30 seconds (from the placard). Stetcher won with a wristlock and body scissors.

Match 2: Ed “Strangler” Lewis v. Dick Shikat Long Island City, June 9, 1932
 In case you don’t know who Lewis is, he’s probably the most important figure in the history of professional wrestling. He was as recognizable as other contemporary sports luminaries like Babe Ruth, and was the wrestler who helped professional wrestling regain public respect as well as help transform the style from what it was in the last match to a style more familiar to us today.
 This match is also of some historical significance. Ed Lewis had pretty much retired after losing his belt to Henry DeGlane in the infamous biting match in 1931. Jim Londos had recently beaten Dick Shikat for his title, but Shikat was still able to claim a hold on the title, mainly in NY, because of promoter Toots Mondt’s political influence. Thus, there were three people who held a claim to the World Title at this point, while the promoters preferred that there only be one, preferably someone under contract.
 Lewis starts working the headlock early in the match and Shikat goes for the arm with a short-arm-scissors, called here a Japanese arm lock. This match is also clipped. Shikat starts working the headlock; we clip, and back to the arm, the same Japanese arm lock that was causing Lewis trouble earlier. We get some more matwork and we clip to Lewis working his headlock. He hits four headlock takeovers before Shikat manages to escape. Shikat tries some basic power moves in a desperate attempt to regain control, Lewis responds with a toehold that Shikat brings up with a headlock, which Lewis maneuvers into a head scissors. This is just beautiful chain wrestling. We see some early heel tactics as Shikat starts “roughing” Lewis when the ref’s view is blocked. Shikat then hits a headlock takeover. It’s the really subtle things that make this match, like right here. When Shikat hits the headlock takeover he does so in a way that looks sloppy compared to Lewis’s crisp takeovers, and Shikat’s headlocks are noticeably looser as well. These differences show the viewer that Lewis’s headlock, his trademark move, is stronger.  Shikat, appropriately, goes back to the arm with an armbar headscissors combo. We clip and Lewis has the headlock and hits two rolling DDTs. Shikat, despite out-wrestling Lewis at several points, switches his strategy repeatedly showing his frustration with Lewis’s effectiveness. He does, however, consistently return to the arm and he goes back to the Japanese arm lock. Some more very nice matwork follows and Shikat goes to the leg, but Lewis manages a headlock from within the leg lock to break it. Shikat then starts striking, as the commentator mentions “highspots” and gives the kayfabe definition. Shikat gets hit with two release headlock takeovers and then a third which Lewis holds on to for the submission and the win in a very good match.
 The real history comes from the fallout of this match. Shikat was promised big money shows and a frequent spot as a title threat, but Mondt was lying. Shikat was shunted down to a lower position where he bided his time looking for the moment to get his revenge. Three years after this match the title was unified around the waist of Danno O’Mahoney, an athletic but unskilled worker from Ireland. Shikat got a match against O’Mahoney and shot on him, beating him in short order with a simple wristlock. The promoters (most of whom were working together at this point) dug up an old contract and sued Shikat for breach in Columbus, Ohio. Shikat’s defense was that the promoters were acting in a monopolistic trust and telling wrestlers to lose matches. The business’s practices were exposed in part in court, but when Shikat dropped his belt to Ali Baba, the promoters, who had little interest in Shikat, dropped the case.

 The last two matches were for the NWA Heavyweight Title, only that NWA was the National Wrestling Association, which was a loose affiliation of state commissions. The rest of the matches appear come from a Japanese commercial video series called “Lou Thesz, Strong and Beautiful” and are for the National Wrestling Alliance belt which is more familiar to the modern fan. There is some additional info given at points, but it’s all in Japanese, so I miss it. Lewis works some of the matches below as Thesz’s manager, mainly he did advance work for bigger houses and stood ringside during the match (not like the interfering managers of the 1980’s). This was a job that Thesz got Lewis in part out of Thesz high level of respect for Lewis and in part because the promoters realized that Lewis would bring in business.

Match 3: Lou Thesz (w/ Ed Lewis) v. Tom Rice Chicago 1948
 The house is hot tonight as Rice gets soundly booed and Thesz gets a rousing cheer. Rice plays the cowardly heel for a bit, refusing to lock up and such, and Thesz hits HIS press early on. For much of the first fall Thesz appears to be toying with Rice, while Rice does lots of punching behind the ref’s back when he has the upper hand. Rice takes over with some strikes and a headlock and when Thesz escapes he is visibly no longer toying with Rice even taking a more cautious approach when approaching Rice and standing back when not locked up. Rice gets a solid uppercut but Thesz turns it around with a backdrop and gets the first fall with a dropkick.
Rice is reluctant to lock up in the second fall, but Thesz is back on attack mode. Thesz gets a drop toe hold but Rice escapes with a choke, and goes through a number of shortcuts. They go through a headlock spot that shows how quickly the interesting headlock work of the Lewis match became the cliché work known today. Rice gets a few more strikes and a side-headlock but Thesz manages to get him up in an airplane spin and slam for the win. You may laugh at the finish, but after a solid match where the biggest move was a backdrop, the airplane spin was spectacular.

Match 4: Lou Thesz (w/ Ed Lewis) v. Don Leo Jonathon Chicago Feb. 26, 1955
 During the pre-match ritual we see why it is such a loss, as it not only established character but sets up a prelude for the match. The young, handsome and cocky Don Leo Jonathon grabs the veteran’s cauliflowered ear to mock him.
 The bell rings. Thesz works the hammerlock until Jonathon punches out and grabs Thesz’s ear again and then hits him with a headlock takeover. Thesz powers out and they go to the corner. As they break, Thesz slaps Jonathon in his ear. Thesz then does some work with a head scissors and again takes a shot on Jonathon’s ear as they break, and then another. Jonathon continues his cockiness and badmouths Lewis. He gets a body scissors that Thesz turns into a toehold and lets loose on Jonathon’s ear from there. Up on their feet and again, Thesz takes a shot on Jonathon’s ear as they break. Jonathon, now upset, goes for kicks and knees to try and wear Thesz down, but Thesz manages to get a few more smacks to the ear in. It’s somewhat hard to see, but the announcer points out that Jonathon’s ear has started to swell; it’s noticeable if you look, so I know you AJPW-stiffness vampires would love this match. To buy some time Jonathon badmouths Lewis again, objecting to him being at ringside. They exchange holds and Thesz does a bridge-out that wows the crowd. Jonathon goes for more kicks and gets chastised. Fifteen minutes into the match, and it’s still an even fight. Jonathon bounces Thesz off the mat a couple of times with a pair of body slams, but Thesz comes back and hits a couple of dropkicks for the first fall.
 Between falls Jonathon again objects to Lewis being at ringside. He does not stand as tall as he did in the first fall. They lock up, Thesz bumps Jonathon to escape a headlock, but Jonathon gets a hammerlock and goes to work with it. Even from this position, Thesz still manages to get some shots in on Jonathon’s ears. Jonathon continues to work the head and neck, but as he goes up to wrench Thesz’s neck, Thesz gets a Greco-Roman backdrop (side suplex), one of his finishers, for the win. Jonathon sells it like he’s shot.

 We then get an audio clip of, I assume, Lou Thesz talking about coaching at a wrestling camp. He puts over the students.

Match 5: Lou Thesz v. Gene Kiniski 1967, from a silent 8mm
 Lou Thesz had considerable influence on his matches throughout his career. He refused to put over people whom he felt didn’t know how to work or didn’t respect the sport or audiences, even in non-title matches. If someone has a win over Thesz it speaks of how much respect Thesz had for him as a worker. If someone went over Thesz for a belt, it says the same all the more so. Gene Kiniski was the last person to beat Thesz for the NWA belt. Despite his lack of a wrestling background, Thesz felt that Gene worked his ass off for the crowd and put on good matches. The only other worker with a non-wrestling background that Thesz had this much respect for was Johnny Valentine, mainly for his toughness.
 This match is highly clipped, but everything that is here is absolutely great. If anyone out there has this match in full, with or without sound, please, please, please let me know (rubbercarp@usa.net) I want to see it. I won’t try to recap this, except the very end (hard to make a coherent match out of what’s here). Thesz hits his Greco-Roman backdrop but the ref doesn’t count, apparently time has run out. Thesz, playing the heel, complains that he’s won the match (I gather) and grabs the belt. Meanwhile the crowd, already on its feet, leave their seats and start pounding the ring, trying to revive Kiniski, who groggily makes it to his feet and his handed the belt. He leaves for the back as Thesz is left protesting in the ring.

Match 6: Lou Thesz v. Rocky Silverstein April(?) 1951
 They circle and jockey for a bit before Thesz gets the first real move, a takedown into a head scissors. Thesz is playing the heel here, and he works in some blind shots with Silverstein in a headlock. Silverstein gets out and starts striking, but Thesz manages to out strike him. Thesz then gets him back in a headscissors. Rocky gets in a couple of haymakers against the ropes and works a headlock. He gets a couple of shoulder blocks in and goes back to the headlock. Thesz escapes and gets a dropkick for the first fall, but the footage of that match ends there (they did announce three falls).
 I don’t know if it was because I only saw the one fall, or the placement was poor, but that match was nowhere near as good as the other matches on the tape.

Match 7: Lou Thesz v. Hans Schmidt 1955
 Schmidt is, of course, an evil German. He gets a headlock and then switches to a strike-volley, followed by a choke. More strikes but Thesz manages to get in one of his own.  Some matwork follows and Thesz manages to reverse a body scissors into a toehold. Thesz gets a headscissors and they work that for a bit before getting back to their feet where Schmidt takes over with strikes, mainly knees to the stomach, but Thesz hits HIS press for a three-count and the first fall.
 Schmidt manages to get an early advantage in the second fall, via a hammerlock. Thesz elbows out of it and some nice matwork leads to a Schmidt headlock, but once again Schmidt prefers to strike and throw Thesz into the turnbuckles. Schmidt hits a back breaker and a Greco-Roman backdrop for the second fall.
 Thesz takes some time to wake up before the final fall, and Schmidt pounces immediately when the bell rings, pounding on the dazed Thesz. Schmidt hits another Greco-Roman backdrop but fails to roll to his side. Thesz gets an arm up as the ref counts Schmidt down in an early example of an ending hated by some. (I’ll take it over a lot of the overbooked endings seen today.)

Overall:
One of the things that amazed me about this tape is how much the guys were able to do with so little. The matches really had a sense of story to them, each move had it’s own nuance, the wrestlers got across the emotion well yet subtly. Many people decry 50’s wrestling as boring, this tape may be the best, but it’s great.
 If you’re a history fan, you know you want this tape. If you’re a fan of wrestling, this tape has one terrific unclipped match (Jonathon v. Thesz), two incredible clipped matches (the Lewis and Kiniski matches) and only one match that could be called bad. It also has a very interesting style compared to what’s seen today.
In short: get all this.

(Historical sources for this review include Fall Guys­ by Marcus Griffin, Hooker by Lou Thesz and the NWA title history in the 2000 PWI Almanac.)
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BEST OF (EARLY) KEIICHI YAMADA-JUSHIN LIGER [@Daniel "Ohtani's Jacket" Lyttelton@]

This is a Barnett 'Speciality' tape - a compilation of Keiichi Yamada/Jushin Liger matches from late 80's/early 90's NJPW television. The tape features 19 bouts, but I've decided to review 4 Yamada bouts and 4 Liger bouts (the entire Liger/Sano feud).

Owen Hart vs. Keiichi Yamada (6/10/88):
There was some really good work in this bout. Every move was a beat that turned the match and each succession of beats peaked in a climatic move - more powerful in impact that any move before it.

The match was joined in progress and began with Owen trapped in a figure four leglock. He made it to the ropes, but Yamada was hovering over him as he stood. He kicked Owen's leg repeatedly, and Owen fell to the mat. Yamada set up a kneebreaker drop, and they fought on the mat in the archetypal figure-four struggle. Owen tried to relief pressure by leaning to one side, while attempting to turn the move over, and hammered away at Yamada with shots. Yamada was focused on twisting the leg and sucking the fight out of Owen, but Owen doggedly made it into the ropes, and Yamada released the hold.

Yamada whipped Owen off the ropes and executed a lightening quick drop toehold. He raised Owen up into the surfboard, and Owen showed his comic flare by grabbing the ref by the shirt, as Yamada dropped him to the mat. Yamada picked up his man and whipped him into the corner. He charged in with a high knee and caught Owen in the 'kisser.' Owen slumped to the bottom rope, and Yamada kicked both sides of his head. Owen fought to his knees, but Yamada kicked him down again. They struggled off a whip, and Owen leapt to the top and pulled off a breathtaking somersault into a sunset flip.

Owen hit a dropkick, knocking Yamada to the outside. He came flying out of the ring with a plancha and laid into Yamada with a chop and a European uppercut. When he tried to suplex Yamada back into the ring, Yamada flipped through and ended up dropkicking Owen over the ropes. Owen was down, and Yamada hurled himself at his opponent as hard and fast as possible for maximum damage. Yamada's plancha sent them colliding with the railing and both men were hurt.

On the apron, Owen got the better of Yamada as they fought over the turnbuckle, but his missile dropkick attempt went astray when he crashed into Yamada's outstretched knee. Yamada hit a tombstone and came off the top with a senton back splash. He held Owen up in a vertical suplex (or brainbuster, as the Japanese would call it), and attacked Owen's mid-section with striking kicks. Owen was winded, and Yamada knocked him down with an abise giri (kick with a forward somersault roll). He whipped Owen into the ropes and caught him with an impressive Samoan drop, which he bridged for a nearfall. Yamada sucked a breath in then went to suplex Owen. When he lifted his man, Owen flipped through and hit a beautiful German suplex. You have to be a good amateur wrestler to make that type of suplex work look believable. Owen had the most beautiful technique.

Owen was questioning the ref about the count, and Yamada tried to surprise him with a victory roll from behind, but Owen leant forward into the move and ended up being the one who scored the pinfall. The match was brief, but thoroughly enjoyable, and both guys were fantastic

Shiro Koshinaka vs. Keiichi Yamada (12/09/88):
This match opened with Koshinaka manhandling Yamada in the corner. He pushed Yamada against the ropes and slapped him. Yamada fired up and slapped him back, but was brazen and started kicking him. Koshinaka retaliated with a single-leg takedown, and used the ropes for leverage, forcing himself down onto Yamada's leg. Yamada tried to get to his feet, but Koshinaka drove his hip into Yamada's body. He picked him up and hit a bruising powerslam. Koshinaka stayed mean with his opponent and applied a front facelock, scissoring his head. Yamada kept his wits about him this time and waited for a gap. When it came, Yamada grabbed Koshinaka's leg and turned him over. He stood into an Indian deathlock, bridging it into a chinlock. When Koshinaka reached for the ropes, Yamada used them for leverage, while the referee tried to break the hold. He released it, but kicked the fallen Koshinaka in the back of the head. He kicked him repeatedly, and Koshinaka slipped under the bottom rope and out to the floor.

Koshinaka wasn't impressed. He climbed back into the ring, and Yamada was straight on him. He kicked Koshinaka in the gut then snapmared him. He scraped his boots over Koshinaka's face and delivered short, sharp antagonising kicks to the head. Koshinaka made it to his knees, blocking Yamada's kicks as he stood. He hit an almighty dropkick that levelled Yamada and both men were down. Koshinaka was first to his feet and hit a beautiful brainbuster (vertical suplex). He pinned Yamada with a lateral press then applied the headscissors again. In a brilliant piece of selling, Koshinaka sold the lingering effects of those kicks to the head while stretching Yamada on the mat. Yamada turned into it, but Koshinaka let him know who was controlling whom by pulling Yamada's hair. He clinched the scissors-lock and leaned back. Yamada stood into it with Koshinaka's foot over his knee. Suddenly, he broke the hold and swivelled into a hizajujigatame (cross knee scissors). They fought in the hold as Yamada pulled back on the leg, while Koshinaka tried to break Yamada's scissors-lock. Koshinaka flipped them into the ropes, but Yamada held them for leverage.

The referee broke the hold up, and Yamada tried to have a go at Koshinaka, but the ref held him back and forced a clean break. Yamada tagged hands, and Koshinaka came in with a kick to the gut and a knee. He wrenched Yamada in a side headlock, but Yamada pushed him forwards into the ropes. Koshinaka came back with a shoulder block, and they ran the ropes again. This time Yamada nailed Koshinaka with a huge lariat. Koshinaka was down, and Yamada was kicking him in the head. Koshinaka fought to his knees, but Yamada punted his face. Yamada hovered over him waiting... then kicking him in the face. Koshinaka blocked one and stood, but Yamada levelled him with an amazing abise giri. Koshinaka was down, but scrapped his way to one knee. Yamada was in with another kick, and you could see Koshinaka's head snap to one side. Yamada came again, but Koshinaka was holding his ground, so Yamada lifted him into a tombstone. He drove him into the mat and held him there - delaying the release. Finally, he let him fall backwards. He kept on him with a Dragon sleeper, and you could see the fire in Yamada. He leaned back and applied pressure. Koshinaka inched his way to the ropes, but Yamada pulled him back and reapplied the submission. This time he added a bodyscissors to lock Koshinaka into the hold. You could feel Koshinaka putting everything into stretching his foot underneath the ropes.

Yamada released the hold, and Koshinaka collapsed. Yamada positioned his opponent in the middle of the ring and applied a figure four leglock, but Koshinaka embarrassed Yamada by pulling his shoulders down to the mat and almost pinning him with a simple lateral press. Yamada kicked Koshinaka in the back of the head, and Koshinaka went down hard. He lay face down clutching his head. Yamada whipped him off the ropes and hit a powerslam. He came off the top with a diving elbow and tried his own lateral press. They went to the ropes, and Yamada dropkicked Koshinaka, who fell back through the ropes and to the outside. Yamada went to the top and hit an amazing plancha (especially considering how little room there was between the ring and the railing). Yamada rolled back into the ring, but Koshinaka was down hurt. He pulled himself up to the apron and came around the other side of the ring. Yamada was waiting, but when he charged in, Koshinaka threw him through the ropes. He threw Yamada into the railing and dropkicked him. Yamada was shunted over the railing then his body scrapped its way down the front.

Koshinaka rolled him back into the ring and hit a missile dropkick from the top. He whipped Yamada into the ropes, but Yamada stopped himself on the ropes and leapt over the incoming Koshinaka. He jumped up and scissored his legs under Koshinaka's arms, rolling him backward into a flying leg roll up. Koshinaka responded with quick inside cradle and both men were down. Koshinaka pulled out a great backdrop suplex, but only managed a two count. He whipped Yamada off the ropes and splashed him with his behind then hit an impressive powerbomb where he put all his weight into leaning forward with the pin. Yamada barely kicked out. Koshinaka came in with a stomp and the crowd began to chant Yamada's name. They rallied Yamada into catching Koshinaka with a standing crucifix pin and both men became frantic. In the best succession of moves in the match, Koshinaka whipped Yamada into the ropes, and Yamada hit a beautiful sunset flip, which Koshinaka reversed into a fantastic bridging double leg pick-up. It was great, because the crowd had no time to catch their breath and was counting along with the ref. Koshinaka whipped Yamada into the ropes, but missed a dropkick when Yamada held on.

Yamada came off the ropes, and Koshinaka sidestepped his attack. He turned back in to catch him in a full nelson then fell backwards dropping him into a Dragon suplex, which was too much for Yamada.

This was really exciting - a great NJ Jr. heavyweight match with all the trappings.

Keiichi Yamada & Nobuhiko Takada vs. Owen Hart & Mark Rocco (09/07/87):
This match was all about the exchanges between Owen Hart and Nobuhiko Takada, which featured great wrestling.

They met in a test of strength, and Takada pressed hard. It was the tentative 'feeling out' process, as Takada bent Owen over backwards to see whether he could bridge out, and Owen broke Takada's grip by jumping onto the ropes and using them as leverage for a flip out. He hit a hiptoss, and Takada eased off. He stretched his back, before launching into a barrage of striking kicks. He showed good technique in his brainbuster (vertical suplex), and Owen moved into a go-behind amateur takedown. He held Takada down on the mat in a waistlock, but Takada turned it over. Owen pinned his shoulders down, but Takada bridged out. He held Owen's arms outspread, then delivered a nasty dropkick to Owen's face. Owen retaliated with a kick to the gut then a side headlock, where he jabbed Takada in the face. The referee complained about a closed fist, but Owen shoved an open palm at him. He did it again and the referee gave him a warning.

Later on, Owen dispatched of Yamada by hitting an awesome salto suplex then holding him for a standing dropkick. Yamada tagged in Takada who came in with striking kicks. He whipped Owen into the ropes, and Owen caught one to the throat. Takada whipped him again, but this time missed a roundhouse, and Owen dropkicked him off his vertical base. When Owen executed a perfect fisherman's suplex, Yamada rushed into the ring to break it up. Consequently, Yamada and Owen put on a succession of moves that were a tribute to Dynamite Kid. Owen came off the ropes into a Yamada backbreaker, before reversing a Yamada tilt-a-whirl backbreaker into a tombstone. Owen completed the homage by coming off the top with a diving headbutt, where he 'copped' Yamada's knees.

[I knew there a connection between Dynamite Kid and Yamada, but I was surprised at the extent to which Yamada patterned his early work after Dynamite Kid's technique. Not simply in terms of move-set, execution or hard-hitting style, but in his whole disposition. Yamada put in the same tough, gutsy performances he idolised as a kid.]

Takada came in and levelled Owen with a shoulder block. He whipped Owen again, but Owen caught him in a hiptoss positon. He draped his leg over Takada's head then flipped over into the hiptoss. Owen hit a backbreaker and a double underhook suplex, which set up his 'boss' kneedrop off the top. Later in the match, Rocco was holding Yamada for Owen to hit a missile dropkick. He nailed Yamada then showed his athleticism with a kip-up into a dropkick out of the ring. He was off the ropes and racing and hit a nasty plancha through the ropes. On the outside, he chopped Yamada against the railing. Moments later, it was Yamada doing the flying when he hit a pescado onto a vulnerable Owen. It was beautiful wrestling that just kept coming. Yamada whipped Owen into the turnbuckle and he leapt to the top. Yamada came charging in, and Owen executed a somersault counter into an amazing sunset flip.

Takada was in with a backdrop suplex and moved into his chin and armlock submission. He turned it into a Jujigatame (crucifix armbar) and when Owen tried to stand into it, Takada twisted the arm. Owen freed himself, but Takada was all over him with kicks to the back and front of his head. Takada hit an awesome belly-to-belly suplex with a float-over pin, which released an endorphin in my brain. It was exciting and accelerating my heartbeat. He locked Owen into a hiza jujigatame (crucifix kneebar) and tagged Yamada in - who applied a simultaneous hiza jujigatame to Owen's free leg. Owen was disgusted, so he whipped Yamada off the ropes and caught him in the most awe-inspiring belly-to-belly suplex possible, following it up with his boss kneedrop.

The closing sequences involved Takada decimating Rocco with armdrag takedowns, a wristlock into a punch to the face and kicks to both sides of the head. Owen got the better of Takada, however, when Takada was tangled in the ropes and leaning over the apron. Rocco held Takada, and Owen came off the top with a double axehandle across his throat. [NB: That and the fact Takada ends up pinning Rocco despite Owen being the legal man.]

Owen Hart vs. Keiichi Yamada (Date Unknown):
Another Yamada/Owen bout with great work:

The match begins with a lock-up, which Owen moves into the ropes. They break, but Owen slaps Yamada. When they tie-up again, Yamada pushes Owen into the ropes and gives him a slap of his own.

He whips Owen into the ropes and hits a huge lariat. He follows up with a powerslam and a standing senton backsplash. Yamada snapmares Owen to the mat and applies a headlock, but Owen reverses into a hammerlock from a super-quick wristlock. Yamada flips out of Owen's hold and spins him to the mat with a rival wristlock, but Owen picks him up - wristlock and all - and gives him a Samoan drop. Owen hits a succession of quick moves: bodyslam, stomp, two European uppercuts and his boss kneedrop, but it's brought to a standstill by a Yamada single leg takedown.

He scissors the leg and sits back in a half crab, which he turns into an Indian deathlock. Owen grabs at Yamada's hair and the ref says in English: "Hey, hey, hey!" Yamada positions himself over Owen then flips into a side headlock, but Owen eventually squirms free. They run the ropes, and Yamada knocks Owen down with a shoulder block. He slides through Owen's legs and turns his man with a headscissors take down. Owen is straight back up and into a huge armdrag takedown, which Yamada turns into an armbar. Owen complains to the ref about hair pulling (of all things!). He kicks Yamada in the gut then delivers clubbing blows and chops him across the chest. He executes a perfect backbreaker then tries something different by applying an Octopus hold (an abdominal stretch with one leg over the opponent's head). Owen unsettles Yamada with a 'backslide' pin attempt, and Yamada kicks him in the gut. He applies an Octopus of his own, before moving into the more contemporary hiza jujigatame. Yamada stands into his man and twists the leg. He drags Owen into the middle of the ring and legdrops the limb. He has it scissored again, and Owen is kicking Yamada's back trying to break free. Yamada switches it to a figure four leg-lock, but Owen is able to turn it over and reverses it. Yamada screams: "No!" Suddenly, Owen pulls out a fantastic bow-and-arrow submission, but Yamada quickly turns it into a lateral press.

Yamada gives Owen a whip into the turnbuckle and executes a cool monkey flip. Owen retaliates by shoving Yamada halfway across the ring, and they come charging at each other. Owen catches Yamada in a huracan rana, but Yamada reverses it into a sunset flip. Owen replies with a hiptoss and a standing dropkick. He hits an amazing salto suplex and applies a sleeper.

The crowd begins to chant: 'Yamada!" Owen has it clinched in deep, but Yamada elbows his way out to the uproar of the crowd. It's short lived, however, as Yamada misses a dropkick when Owen moves out of the way. Owen hits a tombstone and goes upstairs. He comes off the top with a missile dropkick, but Yamada cuts him off with a geigeki dropkick and they collide. They both go for lariats... and collide. Both men get up and attempt to dropkick the other... but collide. They struggle over a whip reversal, and Owen finally nails Yamada with that elusive dropkick. Yamada is flung out of the ring, and Owen comes lunging at him with a plancha. They trade shots on the outside, and Yamada whips him into the railing. Yamada hits a snap suplex and tries to suplex him back into the ring, but Owen flips through and into a waistlock. Owen lifts Yamada into a beautiful German suplex and pins him.

Owen was an exceptionally talented wrestler who could do anything that can be done in wrestling. It's matches like these that help us remember Owen the way he wanted to be remembered: as someone who believed there was an art to going out there and performing. He wanted to have matches that would entertain the crowd with wrestling, because he considered it his job to get the fans on the edge of their seats and standing over quality professional wrestling.

At the beginning of a later Owen/Liger match, Owen swipes the middle horn of Liger's mask. It's so funny it's sad. I miss Owen and when I watch wrestling it isn't the same for me.

Jushin Liger vs. Naoki Sano (7/13/89):
This was a tough, physical encounter that belied perfect symmetry.

The match begins with Liger in a side headlock. He moves Sano into the ropes and pushes him forward. They meet with shoulder blocks, but nobody moves. The lock-up and jockey for position. Sano moves Liger into the ropes and uses the break to slap him. Thus, the match becomes heated. Liger charges into a grapple and forces Sano to the mat with a two-leg takedown. He's all over Sano, slapping him and punching his head. He whips Sano into the ropes and levels him with a huge lariat.

They work off the mat for a stretch when Liger moves into a headlock, which he scissors. Sano traps Liger's leg between his shins and turns him over. He raises Liger into a surfboard then drops him to the mat. After bodyslamming him, Sano returns to submission wrestling with a Boston crab. The referee checks Liger, but he shouts: "No!" He bridges out of the hold and into the ropes. Sano punts Liger in the face then hits a powerslam. He has Liger in a headlock, but Liger turns into his man and uses the added leverage to break the hold. Sano whips him, but Liger turns it into a backbreaker. He shows his bravado by applying a surfboard of his own. In fact, the submissions duel is really a battle for machismo, as Liger tries to outdo Sano's Boston crab with a rival half crab. Sano reaches the ropes, and Liger is in with kicks. He kicks Sano in the face, and Sano falls back onto the mat. The match was definitely charged at this point.

Liger whipped him off the ropes and caught him with a powerslam. He went to the top and launched a diving elbow, which hit the mark. A whip to the turnbuckle is followed by a dropkick from Liger and he works Sano over with punches and an abise giri. Sano again finds himself coming off the ropes and this time Liger catches him with a leg lariat. Liger suplexes him out of the ring and delivers a body slam. He goes to the top and gives Sano a senton backsplash. Liger rolls back in and lies on the mat resting. It was a struggle for Sano to make it back in and he pulled on the apron to get back in. In the ring, he couldn't stand. Liger whipped him into the ropes, but he collapsed. Liger came in with a kick and snapmared him into a Dragon sleeper. Sano slid his body to the ropes, and Liger decided to whip him. Sano ended up attempting a huracan rana, but Liger countered it into a Ligerbomb. Sano kept the headscissors applied, however, and held onto Liger's legs, while he pinned Liger's shoulders for a nearfall.

Liger broke free and whipped Sano into the corner, but Sano leapt to the top and executed a perfect somersault. Liger turned into a Sano jumping kick, but he caught it. Sano nailed him with an enzuigiri, and Liger crumbled. He whipped Liger into the ropes and knocked him to the outside with a dropkick. A baseball slide followed, setting up a plancha. Sano went to the top and seized the match by the reins as he hit a missile dropkick. In the ring, Sano kept firing. He hit a great German - followed by a double arm suplex with a float-over pin. Liger was in a daze, but when Sano went for a Dragon suplex, he dropped down out of the full nelson and took Sano's shoulders down with him. He almost pinned Sano with a victory roll, but Sano broke it at two.

Sano slammed his opponent into the canvas then went to the top for a missile dropkick, but Liger cut him off with a geigeki dropkick and there was a nasty collision. The ref counted them both and reached eight before they could respond. They ran the ropes and Sano went for a dropkick that again collided with a Liger offensive manoeuvre (this time a leg lariat). The ref counted them again, and they made it to their feet at seven. Sano was behind Liger and lifted him up onto the top turnbuckle. He hit an amazing backdrop suplex, and Liger was devastated. Sano, however, couldn't respond. The referee stood over both men, and when they didn't reply to his 10 count, he called for the bell. Ring attendants flooded the ring and the official decision was a double knockout.

This was the perfect set-up to the feud, because the symmetry made both men look like equals (both men counter each other's finishers with pins etc.) The match is extremely effective, but the best was yet to come.

Naoki Sano vs. Jushin Liger (8/10/89):
This is the match where Liger is wearing the protective shoulder brace, because Sano injured his shoulder in a tag match two days earlier.

The match begins with Sano whipping Liger into the ropes, holding onto the wristlock, and wrenching the injured arm. Liger collapses to one knee, clutching his arm, and moves underneath the ropes, which forces Sano to hold off his attack. The referee checks to see if Liger can continue, while Sano paces.

When Liger won't quit, the referee gives the signal to fight. Sano comes in with a kick to the shoulder. He wraps the arm around the ropes and punches it. Liger's arm is limp at his side and he crawls along the bottom rope. The ref is concerned and checks Liger's condition, but Sano comes in with another kick stopping Liger dead in his tracks. He takes Liger by the legs and drags him from the ropes, where he applies a raised surfboard. He releases Liger from the hold only to go to work on the shoulder. Liger fights desperately on the mat, but Sano kicks away at his shoulder. The referee intervenes, checking Liger, while Sano stands poised. The ref ensures that Liger is standing before resuming the bout and when Sano comes in with a kick, Liger catches it and takes his standing leg from under him. He hits a legdrop right across Sano's throat.

Liger's left arm is completely useless, but he fights with a headbutt and kicks to the Sano's head. He has Sano in a side headlock, but Sano pushes him forward into the ropes. Liger comes in with a shoulder block, but the effect is excruciating. Liger stands hunched over, clutching that arm. He comes off the ropes again, but Sano pushes him through to the outside. Liger gets to his feet, and Sano comes off the ropes with a baseball slide sending Liger into the railing. Liger climbs to the apron and blocks Sano's attempts to suplex him into the ring. Undeterred, Sano drives Liger's injured shoulder into the turnbuckle. He ascends to the top, but Liger catches him on the apron. They struggle on the turnbuckle and Liger superplexes him off out of the ring. They collide with the apron and fall to the floor. Liger goes to the top this time, but his plancha is cut off by a Sano geigeki dropkick. Sano rolls into the ring, and goes for a plancha of his own, but he misses and goes down hard.

Liger climbs into the ring, but backs off from his opponent. The referee and Sano's corner are checking him, while Liger stands hunched over. Liger seems content to take the bout via count out, if he can. It's uncharacteristic, but he knows continuing the match will further the damage to his shoulder. Sano makes his way back in, however, and Liger is forced to keep fighting. He starts kicking Sano in the head. The referee is checking on Sano, but Liger tells him to back off. He punts Sano's face, but he's hurt, too. He's leaning over and grasping his arm. It's undoubtedly some of the greatest selling in the history of professional wrestling. Liger kicks Sano in the face again, and Sano has been busted. Liger keeps backing off and holding his wrist to dull the pain. Sano stirs, and Liger comes in with another kick to the head. Sano finds the ropes, and Liger kicks him down. He kicks Sano in the head repeatedly, forcing the referee to check on him, but Liger comes in with a flurry of kicks. He picks Sano up and gives him a piledriver, then tries to pins him, holding his shoulder down with his good arm. Sano pushes him off and rolls away. The gash on his face is nasty. Liger stays mean with him - stomping, elbowing and kicking his head. He scrapes Sano's cut with the heel of his boots, but Sano escapes by rolling to the outside.

Liger follows him and piledrives him on the concrete. He rolls back into the ring and leans on one knee, holding his arm. The ref counts Sano on the outside and when Liger can see Sano has made it to the apron, he comes in with a kick. The ref makes Liger retreat to the opposite side of the ring, and Liger props himself against the ropes trying to fight through the pain. Sano makes it into the ring, but Liger comes off the ropes and levels him with a lariat. He's all over Sano with stomps and a kneedrop. He drives kicks into Sano's head. The referee wants to avoid another situation where one (or both) of the wrestlers are knocked out. Liger lifts Sano up into superplex position, but Sano headbutts him to the canvas. Liger gets to his feet, and Sano launches himself into an amazing missile dropkick. Liger is out the floor and turns into a Sano plancha. He manages to deflect most of it, but is thrust into the railing. Both men are down. The ref counts to eighteen, and they roll back in. He gives the signal to fight, but Sano is a bloody mess, and Liger is writhe with pain.

Sano applies a waistlock, but Liger counters into a standing switch, which Sano reverses by breaking Liger's grip and dropping into a wakigatame (or Fujiwara Armbar). Sano leans across Liger's body and applies pressure to his injured shoulder, and Liger is frantic. He turns over into the ropes, but Sano gives him a devastating tombstone piledriver. Liger kicks out, but Sano grabs the injured arm and applies a scissor lock. Liger fights out of the jujigatame and makes it to the ropes. Sano whips him into the opposite ropes, and Liger rolls into the most amazing schoolboy I've ever seen. They move into a cross-corner whip, where Sano leaps to the top and somersaults over his opponent. Liger charges in, sees the flip, and turns into his man with a lariat. Sano kicks out of a pin attempt and both men roll away from each other. Liger is the first to attempt something. He goes for a suplex, but Sano counters with the wakigatame and this time Liger can't turn into the ropes. He tries to bridge out, inching his way into the ropes. Sano pulls him to his feet and gives him an almighty German suplex. Liger is in trouble and he knows it. You can see him looking for a way out. Sano is struggling, too, but he keeps on his man and crawls over to him. He lifts Liger onto the top turnbuckle, and Liger is helpless. Sano executes an amazing backdrop suplex and covers him for the pin.

Wrestling as an art form is all about story. The fans come to the arena with "indescribable dreams" and are drawn into the drama behind the wrestling - the story that the match is trying to tell. They connect with the wrestlers and live vicariously through them, because story is metaphor for life. The best stories in wrestling are ones of self-sacrifice and honour. The best wrestlers are the ones who can draw you into where they are, because they're invariably great storytellers. What I'm looking for in a wrestling match is a good story, well told.

The great thing about this match is that it takes explicit, 'working the body part' psychology to the next level. Liger and Sano wrestle from the inside out of the metaphor for a 'career threatening injury' and thereby add to the classic form of wrestling (whereby a protagonist struggles against antagonism in the pursuit of desire). That classic form is something all great wrestlers must master, and I believe this is the match where Liger and Sano master the form. They'd go on to transcend it.

The beauty of the Liger/Sano feud is that both men show their true character as expressed through choice in dilemma. How a person chooses to act under pressure is who he is - the greater the pressure the truer and deeper the choice to character. It's not as simple as Sano working over Liger's shoulder because it was injured. Wrestling is about the implicit meaning behind moves - significance left tacit, for the viewer to discover upon analysis or reflection.

Liger/Sano tells a story that is metaphor for how we feel about life. If more wrestling fans gained insights into the connection between story and life, they'd be able to see that what the wrestlers are saying in the ring is what we all feel as human beings.

Naoki Sano vs. Jushin Liger (9/20/89):
This is the re-match where Sano has to prove that he can beat Liger when he's not injured.

The match is joined in progress and begins with Sano hitting a plancha on Liger. Liger is sent crashing into the railing and both men are already reeling. Sano gets to his feet and whips Liger into the adjacent railing.

In the ring, Sano hits a double arm suplex and floats over into a pin attempt. Liger kicks out, but Sano holds him in the double arm position. He works a wristlock into an armbar, scissoring the arm and applying a reverse facelock. He has Liger locked with his arms and legs, but opts to move into a side headlock. It's here that Liger pulls out the most amazing backdrop suplex. It crumples Sano, who is left folded over on the mat. Liger applies a side headlock, and Sano, though dazed, has the presence of mind to push Liger forward into the ropes. Liger comes back and picks Sano off with an easy shoulder block. He comes off the ropes and Sano thinks to leapfrog him, but Liger cuts him off with a dropkick to the mid-section. Sano is winded on the mat, and Liger tries to suplex him out of the ring. Sano blocks it and rams Liger's head into the turnbuckle. He comes charging off the ropes, and Liger tries to cut him off with a springboard dropkick, but slips and crashes into the mat. Sano feigns a collision and both men clutch their 'injured' legs. Sano grabs Liger's leg and applies a figure four. Liger grabs the ref while trying to stay level with Sano, but falls to the mat and shifts into the ropes.

Sano whips Liger into the ropes and misses a dropkick when Liger holds onto them. Liger capitalises by suplexing Sano out of the ring. He comes off the ropes with a somersault crossbody block, and Sano looks like a dog that's been beaten too much. He climbs to the apron, but Liger comes off the ropes with a leg lariat. Sano is out on the floor, but pulls himself back up to the apron. Liger comes charging in again, but Sano hits a springboard missile dropkick. Sano hits an amazing German suplex (at the top of his lift, you could see he had complete control). He goes for a Dragon suplex, but Liger counters by dropping out of the full nelson and pulling Sano's shoulders down with his legs. This time, however, Sano leans into it and pins Liger. They run the ropes, and Sano flips over Ligers shoulders. Liger catches him in a bodyscissors and hooks his shoulders, pulling him into a victory roll. Liger gets the better of a tombstone switch, and goes to the top. He launches into a diving headbutt, but Sano has his boots up. Sano hits a tombstone of his own. He picks Liger up and puts him on the top turnbuckle in position for a backdrop suplex. Liger knows it's the move that beat him last time, so he shifts his body in the air and rolls through into a lateral press. Sano kicks out, but he's down.

Liger picks him up and whips him into the corner. Sano pulls out his somersault counter, but this time Liger leaps to the top and flips over into a fantastic moonsault. He holds Sano's leg down and nearly gets three. Sano is fading, and Liger lifts him into position for a superplex. Sano fights it and hits a front suplex off the top. Sano fakes a crossbody block, and Liger ducks. Sano jumps behind Liger and hooks both his arms. He lifts Liger and drops him into a tiger suplex, scoring a tough, competitive pinfall.

‘Moeru Toukon’ - it is the fighting spirit that burns.  Pro-wrestling's ultimate metaphor. In life you never know whether you're the boxer or the bag - the one doing the punching or the one being knocked around. So you resolve to do the only thing you can do and keep fighting. This match lit the fire in these wrestlers - like the marathon runner in the last miles of a race. You keep asking yourself why you're doing this. You're tired. You hurt. You go a little crazy. It changes a man - and this match changed Liger and Naoki Sano.

Jushin Liger vs. Naoki Sano (1/31/90):
This match is pro-wrestling at its best.

The match begins with the referee checking both participants and issuing pre-match instructions. Sano extends his hand towards Liger, but Liger slaps him right in the face. Sano is irate, but the referee holds him back until the bell has rung. Liger heads straight into a lock-up and is all over Sano, slapping his face. Sano is taken aback and whipped into the ropes. Liger levels him with a stiff leg lariat, knocking Sano out of the ring. Liger fakes a plancha, but instead comes off the apron with a Thesz press. Liger is back in the ring and signals to the crowd that he wants 'his' belt back. Sano is furious and slams his hands down on the apron. Liger drags him in and backs him up into the corner. He's unloading on Sano with slaps. Sano is infuriated and grabs a hold of Liger, shoving him to the mat. They're all over each other, and Sano takes them down to the mat. He pummels the back of Liger's head with punches then hits a snapmare. He keeps punching Liger in the head and shoves him through the ropes. He follows him to the outside. Sano is angry and whips Liger into the railing. He picks him up and piledrives him on the concrete. He throws his opponent back in the ring and gives him a tombstone piledriver.

Suddenly he stands over his opponent and steps between his legs. He starts tearing at Liger's mask and rips a hole in it so that Yamada's face is visible. He picks Liger up by the hole in his mask and throws him through the ropes. On the outside, Sano lifts Yamada into a press slam position and drives him into the ring post. He then rams his head into the adjacent post. He whips Liger into the railing again and takes shots at his head, while ripping the mask open.

The match clips to further into the match. Liger is being whipped into the corner, but catches the top ropes and counters with a flying headscissors. His face is completely visible and his mask is hanging by a thread. He's busted and it's a nasty cut. He dropkicks Sano out of the ring and hits an insane tope con hilo, where he goes all the way over the railing and is sprawled over the timekeeper's table. Both men are down. Sano has Liger's blood over him. Liger crawls back to his feet and rolls into the ring. His blood is all over the mat. Sano is back in, and Liger whips him into the ropes and catches him in a fierce tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. He raises Sano into a surfboard, but Sano rakes his exposed eyes. Sano applies a type of double armbar, where he uses his leg to bar one arm, while locking the other. Yamada has one side of his face fully exposed, while the other half is a torn and bloodied Liger face. It's surreal. Sano moves into a headlock and punches Liger in the face. He rakes the cut with his boot. Sano drops a knee and the ref forces him into the corner, while he counts Liger, who is lying on the mat facedown. Liger turns over and makes it to his feet in time, but he has to use the referee's leg to keep his balance. He stumbles into the ropes, and Sano takes his leg out with a jumping back kick. Liger staggers forwards and into a fisherman's suplex. He breaks Sano's bridge with a blow to his chest, but Sano picks him up in a waistlock and executes a German suplex. Liger breaks the bridge, and Sano is showing the referee three fingers.

Liger is down, so Sano turns him over into a Boston crab. He pulls Liger away from the ropes, and Liger has to bridge out of the hold in order to reach them. Sano is relentless and applies the wakigatame, but Liger is firmly in the ropes. Sano picks him up and gives him a Dragon suplex away from the ropes. Liger kicks out, but isn't moving at all. Sano tries a lateral press, and Liger has to exert himself further by kicking out. They run the ropes, and Liger fights through the fatigue, clotheslining Sano over the top rope. Liger takes a break, but Sano is straight back in. Liger realises that he has to keep on him and whips him into the opposite ropes. He tries the bodyscissors that usually ends up with a cradle, but Sano avoids it and comes off the ropes with a devastating lariat. Liger is demoralised. Sano holds Liger's shoulder down for a pin, then whips him into the corner and dropkicks him. Liger crumbles. He's face down on the mat at this point and not moving. Sano goes to whip him, but there's a reversal. Sano goes for his somersault, and Liger punishes him with an abise giri. Sano has the foresight to expect an offensive manoeuvre from Liger and avoids the brunt of the abise giri, but it strikes him on the top of the head.

Sano hits a jumping kick, and Liger is out. Sano pulls him to his feet and whips him into the ropes. Liger avoids a jumping kick and comes off the ropes into a Sano backbreaker, which he reverses with a spinning headscissors, flipping his man over. Liger charges Sano, but Sano puts all of himself into a back bodydrop over the ropes. Sano climbs to the top rope and destroys Liger with a plancha. Liger is out on the floor and the ref is counting. He gets back in at eighteen, but meets a double arm suplex. Liger barely kicks out then finds himself in position for a superplex. He twists his body in the air and rolls through into the lateral press. Both men are completely exhausted. Liger is covered in blood. He goes for a Ligerbomb, but Sano counters with a huracan rana. Liger kicks out at the last moment and the ref holds up two fingers. Sano hits a tiger suplex, and Liger puts his foot on the middle rope at the death. Sano has a waistlock and lifts Liger, but Liger flips through into a lateral press. He scrambles to his feet and hits a German suplex. Sano kicks out again and both men are down. They turn over and struggle to get to their feet. They run the ropes, and Sano flips over Liger's shoulders and tries another huracan rana, but this time Liger counters into a Ligerbomb. Liger pulls Sano to his feet and hits a tombstone piledriver.

He climbs to the top rope and hits a shooting star press to win the title! It's a key image that sums up and concentrates all meaning and emotion - like the coda of a symphony, echoing (and resonating) all that has gone before.

This match tells us something about the nature of winning and losing:

To have a winner there must be a loser. Thus, the elation of winning exists only because there is pain in losing. The fact that people put themselves in a position where they must be prepared and willing to suffer so that someone else might experience the joy of winning says something meaningful about the sacrifice those people make.

What happens when the effort to win is in vain? Surely it is easier to be a person who has neither enjoyed much nor suffered much than to have known defeat at all. What is it that makes people fight even when they are sure of losing? Through losing we discover that which we do not know, nor want to know about ourselves. Winning is a fleeting moment that the victor keeps looking back on. What else does the winner fight for if the moment of victory is too short to live for? There is far greater pathos in people who have the courage to bear defeat without losing heart. That is character. Winning is merely a relief.

When the person who has always trailed demands answers from the winner then we find out the truth about both men. When one man finds it within him to answer the other's will then he can truly say: 'this is what I am about.' This match is about self-expression. It's about Jushin Liger saying: "I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses."

OVERALL:
More than just a great tape with great wrestling!

This tape is about the will, strength and passion that men show in expressing something inside them they cannot get out. It's about efforts that are long, laborious and sometimes apparently hopeless, but difficulties that are encountered and triumphantly overcome. Ultimately, it's about people accomplishing their object through exercising the skill, patience and persistence, and celebrates the pro-wrestling tenet of undaunted perseverance crowned by eventual success.
 

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Super 8 Tournament 2000 [@DevilSaint@]

This right here is tons of up and coming talents all wrapped up into one little package, delivered under your tree by the big, red fat man, ready to bust out and show the world just what they are made of.  This is their shot.  The announcer makes some AMAZINGLY racist comment about Scoot Andrews before we hit the awesome-looking-shot-up-on-the-side-of-the-building-with-a-projector, which makes it look second rate intro.  More ceremonial mumbo-jumbo before we finally hit the matches….

Scoot Andrews vs. Trent Acid
        Trent Acid is basically the estranged member of the BackStreet Boys who was kicked out for trying to hit on the others sisters.  Trent busts out the kill-himself goodness early as he jumps, flips and bumps his way into my heart.  Scoot counters by throwing him back into the ring and sending his head into the 3rd row with a dropkick.  Trent nails a HUGE top-rope dropkick followed by a 2nd-rope moonsault and the crowd is SUPER into this baby.   Scoot hits a big ole Tazz-esk suplex for two and lets things simmer down with a reverse chin lock.  Scoot misses the
leg-drop, rearranging his spine in the process and El Freako De Bump takes over.  Top rope legdrop get two as the little girlies chant for Trent, followed by manly deep chants for Scoot.  Trent gets set up on top and reverses a top rope suplex on Scoot getting two. Trent calls for the end but Scoot scoops him up with a pumphandle and sends Trents vertebrae down 6 inches from where they should be for the win.  This was a
sweet little opener, which has got the crowd TOTALLY into it.

Chad Collyer vs. Shark Boy
        This is THE sharkboy, the star of MTV wrestling specials and lower former WCW shows.  Collyer comes out to "Born in the USA" which automatically signifies that he is a goody goody.  Collyer controls early with some textbook matwork and rope running.  Sharky tries to counter with some up his own but fails miserably. Shark Boy hits the atomic drop, ass bite combo followed by a cross body block from the top for 2
before taking it back down and working on the arm. Collyers hits some VERY basic offense which slows things down for the first time in the show.  Collyers with a nice tornado DDT for two before going stretching sharky out some more.    There was absolutely nothing wrong with this match just nothing really all that great to note.  Collyer ends Shark Boys day with a botched top rope Lyger Bomb.

Okay…Are you ready for the sob story now?  Me, being the fucking moron that I am, reviewed the next  four matches and then…out of no where my computer just freezes.  Of course, I didn't save any of it past here so…I get to write this all up again.  Yay!  I'm hitting myself for this one folks

Jet Jaguar vs. Jeff Peterson
        This match started off all nice and good.  It was looking REALLY promising until Peterson did a Senton to the floor onto Jaguar which knocked him FUCKING SILLY.  I'm talking he was seriously no longer with us tonight.  What follows is a sloppy ass match with Peterson basically wrestling a noodle for the last half.  Still somehow Jaguar stays out there for the rest of the match and picks up the win by reversing a
victory roll into one of his own.

Christopher Daniels vs. Vic Capri
        You can tell that this is the match that everyone had been waiting for as even when just both men are coming out to the ring the folks are JAKKED.  Daniels cuts a nice little promo before that match basically saying how he's gods gift to wrestling and is going to win
the whole tournament.  He's really modest too ;)  This match kicks all sort of ass from beginning to end. They start off with some sweet Steamboat-esk armdrags and such before taking it to the ropes.  Daniels gets control early and keeps it through most of the match. He decapitates Capri with a dropkick, followed by an Asai moonsault to the outside.  Daniels uses just about everything he has on Capri before they get TOTAL All Japan on our asses with Capri hitting two Germans, Daniels trying to counter but can't and gets hit by the 3rd half nelson suplex.  Real hot finished sequence ends up in Daniels hitting the Angel Wings followed by the Last Rites for the win.

Daniels vs. Darling (sub for injured Jaguar)
        Because Jaguar isn't going to be waking up from his little nap until late next week, Darling (the commish) is his replacement.  Darling is STYLING with the 2 sizes too small sweat pants, no shoes and yellow Super 8 T-Shirt.  Both guys do a damn good job of piecing the match together on the fly as it is more than obvious that they had absolutely no time to prepare themselves before-hand.  Daniels finishes off Darling
with the Last Rites to end what was basically a glorified squash.  Not a whole lot of drama either as no one in the arena thought Darling had any chance of going over on such short notice.

Andrews vs. Collyer
        Scoot shows he's quite the versatile worker here as he switches it up from the high-spot fest with Acid in the first round to a much more match based battle this time around.  Hot back and forth action through the whole match till Andrews hits the Viagra Driver. Hopefully these two very short semi-final matches translate into one kickass final.

Daniels vs. Andrews-Final
        Daniels trys to hit the Last Rites early but gets snap marred over for his troubles.  They bring it back up for the start of what seems like every match in the tourney, working the arm.  Looooong armbar of eternal hate on Scoot leads to numerous 2 counts and a Daniels advantage.  Scoot turns things around with a nasty dropkick to the knee and works the knee, unfortunately forgetting about his weakened arm in the process. Scoot keeps things slows and very deliberate working a variety of arm yanks and pulls, not to mention plenty of hurty submission holds.  Things begin picking up about 10 minutes in as Scoot hits the slingshot suplex and goes for a tornado DDT.  Daniels reverses it and
Busts out the Iconoslam.  Airplanespin-ish type move and a moonsault have both men down, with Daniels rolling on top of Scoot for two.  Reversals-o-plenty lead to Daniels hitting the Last Rites and getting the win.  GREAT match!  It started off very slow fun attempts at submission holds and roll-ups and builds up and up to a super hot ending.  It's really nice to see really good US wrestling still out there today.
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IN THE NEXT STVR [soon in a galaxy near your pc, deadlines and new year's eve hangovers permitting]- SLEAZE-A-THON ! King of Sleaze Scott Mailman joins us as he reviews the sleaziest wrestling on earth like only him can do ! Alfredo with GWAS ! SAMBO ! Danish sleaze if i get it in time ! NEWC ! Tons of other stuff ! See you in 15. Marry Xmas and happy new year from your Sambo Trainer Video Reviews Mofos

~JAMAICA~

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