Quebrada Pro Wrestling, Puroresu, & Mixed Martial Arts Reviews by Mike Lorefice

NJPW World Pro Wrestling Immortal Fighting Spirit Tradition #168 10/11/06
taped 4/30/91 & 5/31/91

4/30/91 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

Keiji Muto vs. Scott Norton 9:07. Muto was a man possessed here, actually wrestling to his capability and then some. This motivated Muto, unfortunately one we rarely see in future years, is indeed one of the great heavyweight wrestlers, and he carried Norton to a highly entertaining back and forth sprint that was one of the highlights of Scott's career. Norton isn’t exactly graceful and doesn’t always execute well, but he's intuitive about getting crowd reaction and willing to allow his size to work against him as much as for him. These two wanted each other badly, and Muto was catapulting himself all over the place from start to finish in an effort to counteract Norton’s mass, which made for an entertaining contest. He also worked Norton’s wrist, which was presumably injured from his post match armbar on 4/28/91. I wouldn't have been opposed to Norton incapacitating Muto, but as it was their first big singles match and Norton was the new monster, the finish of having Norton go over but not in a particularly decisive manner also made sense. I think keeping it short also helped because both were able to go full force the entire contest, and as Norton doesn’t have much more than he showed here he’d likely become counter productive if it went much longer. ***1/2

Top of the Super Junior II Final, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Decision Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Norio Honaga 21:54. We were in the midst of a great period for heavyweights coming up the ranks with Hase, Muto, Hashimoto, Chono, Koshinaka, and Sasaki all on the rise, but there weren’t any particularly promising juniors. A repackaged Nogami failed to set the Tokyo Dome on fire on 3/21/91, so we were ultimately stuck with Honaga. Honaga had yet to show anyone why he belonged in big matches, but alas he was here. This was his coming out party, upsetting the two top juniors in one night (he defeated Pegasus in the semifinal) although he wasn’t sure who he was or what to do. Honaga tried for better offense early to make it memorable, throwing in a plancha, a powerbomb on a table, ripping Liger’s mask and so on, but he generally seemed to lack a sense of what defined him as a wrestler and was just getting by throwing in a little of this and a little of that. Or perhaps he knew he needed to step it up to compete at the highest level, but he didn't know how to? There was nothing he was better than Liger at, but he badly needed big match credibility so Liger sold and sold and sold. This is the one junior match so far in 1991 that had the time, but Honaga couldn’t fill it. 15 minutes into the match, Honaga was still stomping Liger. Honaga can be crafty, he can get heel heat, he can sometimes tell a story in his simple but effective manner, but sustained offense from Norio is never a good idea. Liger finally made his hot comeback, throwing his body around. This set up a great near fall that’s exactly the sort of thing Honaga does well, avoiding a back body drop by sliding and quickly hooking Liger’s arms with his legs to almost flash pin him. There was way too little of effective Honaga though, as he wasn’t really setting anything up, instead relying on quantity over quality, but quantity from him isn’t even good heavyweight offense. A Honaga match is much better when he sells and comes up with the well timed, probably shady counter then follows up with some cheap shots to sustain the heat, but in his first tour final singles main event, he simply lacked the credibility for that. They followed with one near fall after another until the finish, and the crowd was apparently responding to the effort over the quality, as they were really into it. Both men tried really hard, but ultimately Honaga is still a pedestrian wrestler who is in the junior division by virtue of being decidedly too small to be a heavyweight. It was a nice match because they worked so hard, but it was a poor showcase for a junior division that needed a jumpstart. ***1/4

5/31/91 Osaka Jo Hall

Hiro Saito & Tatsutoshi Goto vs. Masanobu Kurisu & Kim Duk 12:35. I can understand why Saito & Goto are here, as even though they aren’t good, at least they are young enough to potentially improve (too bad they only got worse). However, bringing Kurisu & Duk back when they are years past their prime and aren’t going to make any money for NJ makes no sense. I mean, Duk is slow as molasses and can hardly bend at the waist, and yet with these guys, he isn’t noticeably worse than the rest. I’d tell you about the wrestling, if they actually did any. Duk actually tried to slip a move or two in, but it was pretty much punches, stomps, and headbutts throughout. DUD

Riki Choshu & Keiji Muto vs. Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow & TNT 10:37. Muto continues to be one of the most consistent and motivated wrestlers in the league, an easy second best in the tag scene behind Hase. He put on a show again, completely overshadowing Choshu, who I hardly remember even being involved. Bigelow did a nice job as well, displaying the quickness, offense, and bumps of a man half his size. TNT was one-dimensional as ever, doing nothing beyond throwing kicks. I enjoyed Muto poking fun at TNT by making a bunch of corny gestures after kicking him. **1/2


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