Jushin Liger & El Samurai v Ultimo Dragon & Norio Honaga (New Japan, 4/6/93)
I was pretty surprised at how much I liked this. It's WAR v New Japan so I shouldn't be, but other than Liger and occasionally Sammy, this isn't a group of guys that I'd see on a match list and find myself getting excited about. That said, Ultimo's actually been fine on the '93 yearbook so far. The Casas match from 3/19 came out of nowhere and was excellent, although I'd be surprised if anybody thought Ultimo's performance was what made it. The Samurai match from 3/7 is good. The Liger match from the 1/4 Dome show has been my least favourite match on the set though, and the only one so far that I thought actively sucked. But this started out with Ultimo dropkicking Liger off the apron and Liger wanting a piece, so we get off on the right foot. Does kind of meander for a little while after the opening, and it isn't bad or anything, but it's WAR v New Japan and there isn't enough violence or guys acting like dickheads. But then Norio Honaga breaks a camel clutch by biting Samurai's fingers and things start to get much better. This is where you'd want it to be JIP'd for TV. Honaga grabs Sammy's hand and drags the webbing between the fingers along the rope and it was awesome. And then Ultimo gets the tag and throws on a figure-four, which signals the end of obscure body part work, but they head into a pretty choice finishing run after that. Honaga was my favourite guy in this, bringing lots of cheapshots, constantly being a thorn in Liger's side, and above all else he looks like a seedy Japanese meth dealer. He breaks up two or three Liger pin attempts in a row towards the end and Liger gets visibly more and more pissed each time. Finish was sort of unexpected as well. We've already seen Ultimo v Sammy, is there a Liger v Honaga match out there somewhere (preferably from '93, because that match happening outside of this feud does not interest me nearly as much)?
Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa v Shinya Hashimoto & Tatsumi Fujinami (WAR, 5/24/93)
Somebody needs to make a comp of this entire feud because it is honestly just about the fucking best thing ever. This doesn't have the same level of violence as the Hashimoto/Ohara v Hara/Fuyuki tag from 3/7 or the Hashimoto/Choshu v Tenryu/Ishikawa tag from 4/2, but the sub-story of Fujinami's arm being injured is a neat addition to the formula. Of course this IS motherfucking WAR, so there's still plenty of violence to sink your teeth into. The Tenryu/Hashimoto exchanges in this are just amazing. They start the match out and you can feel the hatred, from the simple stare-downs to the portions where they're leathering each other with kicks and chops. I love how they'll stop throwing strikes for a few seconds to shit talk each other. Hash backs Tenryu into the ropes and repeatedly headbutts him so Tenryu throws a huge chop just to create some distance, and he has this incredulous look on his face like someone would even try and fuck with him like that. Then he shouts something in Japanese and Hash kicks him in the leg. A little later on Hash is beating on Ishikawa, and when he hits the ropes Tenryu blasts him in the back of the head from the apron. That leads to a short Hashimoto in peril segment before he tags in Fujinami, who comes in and immediately slaps a dragon sleeper on Tenryu. Ishikawa jumps off the top to break it and that segues directly into an extended beatdown on Fujinami. For the next while team WAR go to work on him with the focus being the arm, and God damn does Tenryu rifle off some STIFF kicks to the shoulder. They sound like the ones a million dudes with kick pads throw, except there's no kick pads there to make that sound. This is just leather meeting skin in horrendous fashion. Fujinami takes exception and catches Tenryu's foot and Tenryu has this great "Aw shit" expression before being dragon screwed. Hashimoto is a total whirlwind of piss and vinegar when he gets the hot tag and there's an awesome moment where Tenryu breaks a pin attempt by kicking him in the eye, so Hash follows him back to the corner and beheads him with an enziguiri. Tenryu's KO sell of it is flat out amazing, going dead weight and hitting every turnbuckle on the way down. Finishing run is great, and for a change the violence wasn't my favourite thing about it (although that rocked as well). Ishikawa puts Fujinami in a Scorpion Deathlock, basically as a 'fuck you' to the New Japan team, so Hashimoto comes in like he's ready to cook a fool. Tenryu is having none of that and runs over and lariats him so hard he throws himself out the ring. Hash follows him out and they just start chucking chairs at each other and shit, while back in the ring Fujinami is back on top and locks in the dragon sleeper. Ishikawa breaks it by punching him in the bad shoulder (which was AAAAWESOME), so Fujinami regroups and goes back to it with the *other* arm, leaving Ishikawa no choice but to submit. And then post-match Tenryu and Hashimoto have another pull apart and I am ridiculously excited for the singles matches later in the year. I'm gonna try and come up with a top 50 or so matches of '93 when I get done with the yearbook, and I could absolutely see about 10 WAR v NJ matches in the top 20.