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

Commercial Tapes 6/17/93 Tokyo Nippon Budokan

Nobukazu Hirai & Yuji Yasuraoka vs. Black Cat & Osamu Nishimura 12:03. Nishimura fought more of a junior style here as opposed to his usual Fujinami Jr. technical style to stay in line with what Yasuraoka was doing. He was largely the whipping boy anyway, as Black Cat of all people got the star treatment. At least that meant Cat barely worked, which certainly improved the overall quality of the match. Yasuraoka tried to get the crowd involved early with some flying, and it remained a decent if not particularly involving junior match throughout, showcasing the promising youngsters Yasuraoka & Nishimura. **1/4

Violence Stage I: Masashi Aoyagi vs. Takashi Ishikawa 5:26. Obviously these aren’t two of the more technically gifted wrestlers around, but they were able to make it a successful interpromotional grudge match. The match was very short, but that’s not a bad thing with these guys, as that’s part of the reason it was able to be good for what it was. They kept it simple, providing stiffness and intensity. Aoyagi jumped Ishikawa and kept the pressure on with his kicks. The finish came when Akitoshi Saito’s cheapshot kick backfired. Aoyagi may have lost, but that didn’t stop him from going to work on Ishikawa after the match, with Yasuraoka trying to help out but mainly deflecting the punishment.

Violence Stage II: Super Strong Machine & Tatsutoshi Goto & Yoshihiro Ito vs. The Great Kabuki & Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura 11:33. Typical quick paced, regular tagging NJPW 6 man brawl consisting mostly of stomping and roughhousing. Very dull and repetitive with no one really doing any actual wrestling. *1/4

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shinya Hashimoto 18:23. Hashimoto was ascending to the top of New Japan at this point, just three months away from defeating Great Muta for his first run with the IWGP Heavyweight Title, but a win over one of his peers, even for the coveted title belt, could not cement his top star status. A victory over the man in a rival promotion, especially a legend such as Tenryu who has beaten everyone and anyone at some point or another, now that could do it. So the seeds were planted here, and in their rematch on 8/8/93, setting new champion Hashimoto up to get over the hump against Tenryu on 2/17/94, a victory that was more significant because he was the only wrestler from his generation to get a singles win over Tenryu during the NJPW vs. WAR program (Tenryu split with his peers Choshu & Fujinami, but defeated Chono, Hase, & Koshinaka). The structuring of this intense, high impact heavyweight war was a bit different, as it didn’t follow the typical three act trajectory. There was never any downtime; they came out slugging, wasting no offense, with Hashimoto seizing the advantage by injuring Tenryu’s left knee. Hashimoto pulled Tenryu’s kneepad down and kicked it until Tenryu could barely stand, intermitently throwing in a submission such as a kneebar. The fans really got into the match when Hashimoto used Tenryu’s own powerbomb on him for the first serious near fall. Hashimoto threw most of his arsenal at Tenryu before Tenryu was able to do consecutive offensive manuevers, which was more the problem of the match as that left few options to transition from the body to the climax. In the end, though Hashimoto pushed, stylistically it was more akin to the star vs. young boy matches as once Tenryu came back, he simply overwhelmed his opponent. Granted, this is probably a more realistic trajectory for a fight than the typical back and forth to maximize the drama, and the fans were ultimately going nuts anyway, but in the end it would probably be seen as a nice first attempt at scaling an impressive mountain. If we want to be kind, we can say that Hashimoto was close, but then it slipped away rather quickly. ****

Part 2

Ultimo Dragon vs. Norio Honaga 10:08 shown. Both men played their roles well, but the chemistry wasn’t tremendous so it wasn’t as smooth or fluid as you might expect. Honaga controlled much of the match, slowing things down while playing rudo at every turn, which set Dragon up for his brief, flashy comebacks. Dragon tried to use his quickness to run circles around Honaga early, but Honaga kept cutting him off until the finishing sequence, which were conducted more or less at Dragon’s fast pace. Everything came together in the final minutes, as they delivered some hot counter laden sequences that showed the potential for a nice rivalry that unfortunately never came to fruition. ***1/4

Decisive Battle: Kodo Fuyuki vs. Hiroshi Hase 16:04 shown. The key difference between these two can be found in their brand of charisma. Hase’s brand is designed to excite people about the wrestling match, getting them into the moves and near falls, while Fuyuki’s cartoonish mannerisms simply call attention to the corniness of his unimpressive offense, thus detracting from our ability to take his headbutts, or really anything else, too seriously. They largely did Hase’s match in terms of it being quicker paced and more spot oriented technical wrestling with Fuyuki keeping his antics to groans and caws. It was proficient enough, but tended to meander, as much of Hase’s work does. ***

Power of One: The Earthquake John Tenta & King Haku vs. Tony Halme & The Barbarian 9:14 shown. They made an effort to not do a WWF match. The pace was still rather slow, but they ditched the usual stalling and rest holds and delivered stiffer, more high impact offense. It was still uninspiring, but all very passable. Halme did a massive blade job at the outset after sustaining a stuff piledriver on the floor. *1/2

Call Up Storm: Koki Kitahara vs. Masahiro Chono 13:31. Kitahara is one of those guys that had all the talent to become a star, but never really did. He would have been perfect for UWF-I, as he was an extremely tough and intense shooter, and in that promotion no one would have noticed he was undersized. In fact, he’d have been a larger, more skilled and charismatic version of Tatsuo Nakano. Kitahara was noticably shorter than Chono, who isn’t exactly a giant of the heavyweight division, but the fact that Chono could basically wrestle as if he were taking on Hashimoto says something for Kitahara’s ability. Of course, though stylistically very similar, Kitahara was some 70 odd pounds lighter and without the substantial push of Hashimoto, so while he was competitive throughout, this was decidedly a match where he was hanging with Chono rather than pushing him as Chono’s peer Hashimoto would have. As such, though it was all well done, it wasn’t the most dramatic match because there was no belief in the building. From a technical standpoint though, I’d rate this as the second best match on the show. Too bad it had the feel of a 1st round tournament match for one of the top seeds. ***

Exotic Spectacle: Ashura Hara vs. The Great Muta 11:58. Muta’s matches tend to annoy me, but I was more than usually disgusted by this needless slaughter. Hara’s career was winding down, but as Tenryu’s championship partner in the late 1980’s after he split with Jumbo Tsuruta, he was justifiably one of the bigger stars in WAR, and still more than capable of having an effective match, particularly a brawl. This, however, was a trecherous and pointlessly non-competitive brawl where Muta methodically overwhelmed an essentially helpless Hara. Muta busted Hara open early posting him then clobbering him with a bell and proceeded to wander aimlessly between the 2 or 3 things he did a minute for the duration of the contest. Muta’s matches bore the hell out of me because there’s no rhythm or flow, he basically scraps all his actual wrestling holds beyond a couple signature elbows and the moonsault and instead spends half the time stalking around like an idiot. So Hara spend most of the match lying on his back, waiting for Muta to make his way back over to him to stomp him, and it was neither good nor interesting in any regard. *

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* Puroresu Review Copyright 2009 Quebrada *