NJPW World Pro Wrestling Immortal Fighting Spirit Tradition #160 7/18/06
12/13/90 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan: Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs. Riki Choshu & Osamu Kido 16:13. A Choshu match needs to be inspired because its primary strengths are energy, emotion, and intensity. There was a little interplay and hatred, with Kimura & Choshu getting into it at the outset, but as a whole, this one wasn’t. so they weren’t able to make you forget how basic it was. Everyone was okay, but it was all rather standard. *3/4
taped 1/4/91 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono vs. Super Strong Machine & Hiro Saito 14:24. Muto & Chono were fairly motivated, and the match got off to a good start with the duo dominating Saito. Saito selling is never a particularly good thing, but he also has by far the worst offense in the match, which is usually the case if he's not teaming with Goto, so even though you can’t win with him, at least Muto & Chono were on the move. The match slowed considerably in the middle with some kneework on Chono leading to his hot tag, where Muto did a whole two moves before letting Chono close it out. No one was anywhere near outstanding, but they were all on and into making it an acceptable match. **1/2
Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Matthew Rambo 4:35. Despite it being a total throwaway, they didn’t seem to consider mailing it in. Rambo leans toward the awkward and clumsy side, but made a genuine effort, and Fujinami was showing some fire. It was far from the most graceful work, but it was passable. Fujinami seemed poised for the quick win when Vader snuck in behind him and broke up his Dragon sleeper. Vader wasn’t helping Rambo, who he soon knocked to the floor with a lariat, but rather wanted to get a headstart on his heavyweight title match with Fujinami on 3/4/91.
Riki Choshu & Masa Saito & Shinya Hashimoto vs. Big Van Vader & TNT & Mark Laurinaitis 8:35. Great booking, using an insubstantial small show match to advance the feuds and set up the big matches. Because it was done so well, it seemed important and as if you’d actually seen something, when neither was really the case. Not great wrestling by any means, but extremely effective because they had a firm grasp of how to play up the rivalries the audience cared about. There was tremendous heat on Vader vs. the natives, which they exploited from pre match to post match. Vader pretty much made the match, having intense if not overly stiff exchanges with Hashimoto & Choshu. No one cared about his partners, but the reaction to even wobbling Vader was impressive. Vader’s team lost, but he was still ready to have a go at any or all of the natives afterwards, and Fujinami wound up jumping Vader this time and brawling around the arena with him. It’s hard to rate this match because it wasn’t good or complete in any traditional manner, but it was so heated and intense when Vader was in that you were riveted throughout. ***
2/5/91 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. David “Fit” Finlay 9:27. An odd and disappointing match. They didn’t seem to have much timing or chemistry when they did work together, so after a couple off spots Finlay seemed to avoid sequences and counters as much as possible. They ultimately did so few spots where they actually worked together Finlay might as well have been wrestled a doll for the first 8 minutes. Finlay totally dominated Liger, stomping his hands and attacked his joints. His offense was precise rather than stiff. It was okay, but he didn’t do anything that was really impressive or brutal. The match got a little better at the end when Liger finally offered something in return, but they still didn’t seem to have a feel for one another. **