I was gonna wait until Monday before doing another one of these, but I watched a bunch of stuff this week and figured I'd just do two for the week since I never did any for a couple weeks over Christmas/New Year. I'm also gonna change this from a weekly thing to a "whenever I get the urge to" thing. Weekly requires more effort than I'm willing to exert.
Genichiro Tenryu v Bruiser Brody (All Japan, 4/15/88)
I've had those Bruiser Brody DVDs that I bought from Highspots a few years back sitting around here collecting dust for quite some time now, so when I was looking for a Tenryu match to watch I came across that set and was intrigued as to how they'd work together in a singles match. I don't care for Brody one bit now, but if anybody's going to keep me interested in one of his matches, it's our boy Genichiro. It's pretty listless at points, but Tenryu's good and this is one of the better Brody performances I've seen, so I've got no problem calling it an okay match, all things considered. Probably went a bit too long, though. First ten or so minutes are pretty dull; as much as I love Tenryu, he's not the kind of guy that's going to make a ten minute matwork section with Brody work. Although I'm not sure who could. Brody getting fed up with this shit and dragging Tenryu out to the floor so he can beat on him with a television monitor was probably the best thing that could've happened at that point. Thought Brody was actually really good as this belligerent big bastard. Most of the Tenryu I've watched recently has been 90s Tenryu where he's clearly the defiant one that's ready and willing to throw an unnecessarily stiff punch here or a lariat there, but this is native babyface Tenryu up against foreign monster heel, and foreign monster heel is the one busting out ridiculous boots to the teeth. There's a great spot towards the end where Tenryu whips him off the ropes for a lariat, but Brody stops short and just creams him with a big boot. Afterwards he stands there, hands on his hips, staring out at the crowd with this look of complete disdain; "Fuck him, he's dead now." There's still a few instances where he'll stumble around the ring and shrug off Tenryu's offence in some crappy attempt at selling it without actually leaving his feet (when you're getting plastered by Tenryu, you leave your fucking feet), but he redeems himself with a couple badass King Kong Kneedrops at the end. Finish is... what it is. Trim some of the fat from this and it might be really good. I totally was not expecting to dig Brody as much as I did here, either.
Masakatsu Funaki v Yoji Anjoh (UWF, 6/14/89)
This is a Hell of a match that really came out of nowhere. I mean, I had seem it pimped here and there, but I wasn't expecting it to be this great. They have this exchange at the start that is fucking tremendous where Funaki cheapshots Anjoh before the bell and that leads to them hucking palm strikes and white hot death at each other for the next couple minutes. It's really quick and violent looking, and Anjoh's revenge cheapshot where he headbutts Funaki clean in the snout after a rope break is fucking glorious. After that they settle into about 20 minutes of some of the best matwork I've seen, but all the while they're mixing it up with these great strike exchanges where they're seriously teeing the fuck off on each other. Anjoh is so awesome at points when he's got the advantage because he'll half lock in holds, soak up the moment and the fact he's got this fucker where he wants him, add some nasty little touches just for good measure, and THEN lock in the hold for real. The spot where he stands on one of Funaki's legs while standing up as if he's about to put on a half crab only to stretch the shit out of him for a little while is a great example. Funaki's great as the smug prick that knows he's the shit, and he busts out this utterly ridiculous neckbreaker suplex thing early on that had me leaning on rewind like a motherfucker. I've watched a lot of 80s shoot style that I thought had some real downtime to it, especially when it goes 20+ minutes like this did, but I honestly can't think of a single moment where I was thinking this was lulling. Finish is the perfect comeuppance that the crowd wanted. This is the motherfucking biscuits.
Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki v Yumiko Hotta & Takako Inoue (JWP, 1/15/93)
Hotta and Inoue are AJW INVADERS and the crowd is fucking molten hot and this was awesome. This is worked with Kansai and Hotta as the cheif ass-stompers of each pairing, and any time they square off there's just a metric ton of stiffness and violence. Actually the kicks fly HARD any time either one of them is in the ring, period. The first ten minutes are pretty go-go-go, but there's tonnes of hatred and heat, and there's a clear story of Kansai and Hotta being totally unfuckwithable while Inoue and Ozaki are likely going to be the ones being targeted for a beatdown at some point, so it's not like the pace is so fast that they're constantly tagging out too soon for anything to have any real consequence. After the hot opening they settle into a run of FIP stretches where Inoue and Ozaki sort of take turns being massacred for their team. Kansai and Hotta are just queensized hot tags. Inoue takes a few horrendous strikes from a house o' fire Dynamite; at one point Ozaki has her in this kind of dragon sleeper over the ropes and Kansai just DRILLS her in the stomach, and there is no way in seven Hells her lungs were ever the same. Hotta and Ozaki have a few exchanges that are tremendous. Well, I say exchanges, but it's mostly Hotta abusing Ozaki by rifling kicks at her head while Ozaki tries to cover up and scramble away. Doesn't matter how much she tries to protect herself, Hotta just repeatedly waffles her up and down. Stretch run is loaded with intensity (Hotta and Kansai try to decapitate everything that moves) and nearfalls, and the crowd is rocking like crazy, but I thought the middle section was stronger. Match goes about half an hour with each section roughly lasting ten minutes (hot opening, work over periods, hot finish), and I thought the final ten were weaker than the twenty that came before it. Still thought it was a good finishing stretch, though, and it never felt like they went into overkill territory, either (or at least too far into overkill territory). Pretty go-go-go, but that's part and parcel with Joshi for the most part, and it wasn't as egregious here as I've seen before (and no doubt will continue to see in future). Great, great stuff, minor complaints aside.
Kiyoshi Tamura v Bitsadze Tariel (RINGS, 7/22/97)
First time I've ever seen Tariel and he looks every bit the big ol' bear I expected. Straight up slugger v technician match here and it's awesome. Tariel doesn't throw strikes like a Funaki or a Yamazaki, or even Tamura; he's just so damn big and burly, more like a Vader type bomb thrower with these knees and palm strikes that look real ugly yet devastating. He's pretty much useless on the mat and Tamura can take him down with little enough effort... except any time he gets close enough Tariel will start throwing knees and shit and Tamura winds up getting downed three times. For those that aren't familiar with the RINGS point system, both guys start the match with 9 points. A rope break costs you a point, a knockdown costs you 2 points. Once all your points are gone, the next rope break or knockdown means curtains. Towards the end, Tamura's lost 9 points; 8 via knockdown, 1 via rope break. Tariel's lost 9 points, all via rope break. So it's basically a case of scoring a knockdown or forcing a rope break will be enough to pick up the win, and the crowd are totally rabid every time Tamura gets his hooks in and looks like he could lock in a submission. Some great desperation strike exchanges down the stretch, too. Just a great match and I'm probably gonna pick up Tabe's Tamura set from IVP this weekend.
Shinsuke Nakamura v Katsuyori Shibata (New Japan, 8/8/04)
Hell of a match. The opening section on the mat is really slick and tight, then Shibata spots an opening and murders Nakamura with a German. At this point he drags him out to the floor and just kicks the stuffing out of him. I really haven't seen as much Shibata as I'd like, but from what little I have seen I'm already wishing he was around longer because he is so very deeply into brutalising people. Great spot where Nakamura takes control again as Shibata tries to punt his head off, except Nak ducks out of the way and Shibata puts so much force behind the kick he winds up stumbling into the ropes, bouncing back out into a gnarly suplex. That's a spot that can sometimes come off looking really contrived, but Shibata totally swings for the fences and makes it work. Final few minutes are great and everything looks deadly. I'd have no problem watching this again right now.
Genichiro Tenryu v Hiroshi Tanahashi (New Japan, 8/15/04)
Oh Jesus, Tenryu is totally spectacular in this. Tanahashi's all shredded and has pretty boy hair and Tenryu tries to rearrange his facial features. Only goes about 7 minutes, but it's basically an extended squash for the most part. Tanahashi starts elbowing him in the face at the beginning and Tenryu seems almost amused, then amusement turns to contempt and he punches him directly in the face. A bunch of times. From this moment on Tenryu is a million shades of awesome. He really just abuses Tanahashi, and he's enjoying every second of it. He gives him a few Wanderlei Silva punts to the head, some vicious chops, a nasty rope-assisted DDT (kinda like the one Randy Orton does only from the top rope instead of the middle), a brainbuster on the ring apron, etc. Tremendous moment where Tenryu tells the ref' to put the ten count on Tanahashi, so naturally he starts counting, and Tenryu's got this amazing facial expression where you just know he wants to lay some more nasty shit on Tanahashi. The ref' wants him back so Tenryu's all "Alright, alright, I'll stay back." As soon as the ref' turns away the menace returns to his face and he goes and drops an elbow just because he wants to. Then he tells the ref' to count again and as Tanahashi starts to stir Tenryu absolutely nukes him with a kick full on dead in the face. He does the fake wiping sweat from the brow thing afterwards and words really don't do justice to how much I loved it. Tanahashi misses a dropkick at one point and Tenryu's "Look at this yahoo trying a dropkick and shit" expression had me stepping out of the room for a second. Finish is sort of unusual (not sure why Tanahashi hit the ropes before it), but I had a gigantic grin on my face the entire match and Tenryu is the motherfucking greatest. 2 million stars.
NEXT TIME: I honestly have no idea. Tenryu is likely a safe bet, though. Depends how I'm feeling that week.