Ditch Decades 3
Bob Backlund vs Antonio Inoki 7/27/78 WWF Championship
Interesting choice of colors for the ref, who is wearing a red and white ref shirt, looking more like a candystriper than ref. Things I hope for in this match: Weird noises, a Backlund Lift. The first few minutes is of course nothing but quality grappling. Backlund is making weird noises so I'm already half satisfied with the match. Inoki shows that he can hang on the mat with the very successful amateur Bob Backlund. It tuns into some weird dueling pins and things start heating up. Then settles back down with Inoki rocking a side headlock. This is a long match and the 70s so it shouldn't be a surprise that this starts off fairly slow and with a lot of mat stuff. It's not just resting mat stuff. They're really work their holds and both are drenched with sweat 15 minutes in, despite not much having happened. Inoki looks on a cross arm breaker for while. This could lead to a Backlund Lift! It transitions to a short arm scissors, which means a Backlund Lift is imminent. Backlund Lift! He actually drops Inoki in the corner due to having his arm worked on for the last 5 minutes, allowing Inoki to get him back in the short arm scissors. Will we get a second Lift? No. We did not. It was a rope break. Octopus Holduuuu. Backlund submits! Inoki wins fall 1!
The second fall begins with Inoki trying to go back to the arm and Backlund doing what he can to fight out of it. Bob smashes Inoki's ankle and goes after that thing like a pittbull. Great bow and arrow from the champ. Inoki gets a rope break and Bob just chucks him off. Inoki rolls to the floor to regain some composure. When he gets back in, Bob grounds him and ties him up. SPLADDLE! God damn that was the WORST when I'd wrestle with my older cousins and they'd put me in that. Inoki is able to turn this into an inverted Muta Lock. Bob fights for a headlock take over, which he finally gets to a big reaction. And Inoki hits a Russian leg sweep to a bigger reaction. Dropkick. Bob throws his own, but mostly misses. Bob blocks a butterfy suplex. Then he hits one of his own. Then another. 2 count. Backlund hits a series of body slams. Inoki again rolls to the floor. Bob follows this time. Slam on the floor. Bob pulls Inoki into a Canadian back breaker from the apron. Super atomic drop! Backlund wins fall 2.
Fall 3 starts with Inoki throwing leg kicks , which seem to piss Bob off. Tempers are starting to flare. A big slap knocks Bob down and that really pisses him off. Camel clutch gets a rope break. Muta Lock! Backlund does a weird hold that is like a figure four, but without the legs grape vined. If that makes sense. He has Inoki's left leg pinned and is yanking the right leg back. Rope break. Boston crab. Inoki gets out by powering Bob to the floor. Sleeper. Bob does a crazy shoulder breaker that is as much powerbomb as shoulder breaker. Inoki fires back with a back suplex for 2. Huge dropkick right in the head. It hurt Inoki as much as Bob. Gut wrench suplex from Backlund. Inoki pins off of it. Inoki keeps trying to shoulder block Bob's legs and goes headfirst into the turnbuckle. Bob goes shoulder first into the one on the other side. Both men tumble over the top rope. Leg kicks are thrown from both. Piledriver from Bob. Both guys fight for submissions, with both getting rope breaks. Both guys look exhausted. Inoki OUTTA NOWHERE with a top rope knee drop. Rope break. They fight over a short arm scissors for the last few minutes of the match. They both fall to the floor and are counted out. 1-1 draw. Title retained. VERY slow at times. Picked up a lot in the 3rd fall. It was a LOT of just straight grappling and working one or two holds for minutes at a time. If you are into that style, it was really good. If you're not, you'll probably be bored to tears. What is the magic health liquid that gets poured out of liquor bottles after matches?
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Super Tiger UWF 9/11/85
This is kind of cheating, but since UWF was an off shoot of New Japan, and both men were trained at the NJPW Dojo and made their names there, I'm going to count it. Because I want to watch this. So suck it. Super Tiger is the original Tiger Mask, who now wrestled without his mask to show that the UWF was serious and not gimmicky like pro wrestling.
Here is the quick back story on the UWF: A group of guys from New Japan decided they wanted to wrestle more of a legitimate fight style. So they left NJPW and formed their own promotion. As more guys joined, it became more and more martial arts style as opposed to pro wrestling. Tiger Mask and Akira Maeda had a lot of issues, leading to Tiger Mask leaving and the company folding. Those remaining guys would go back to New Japan in a SUPER hot invasion angle, which would be revisited in the 90s, which directly inspired the nWo angle. In addition, the style in general made MMA viable in Japan, which pretty directly gave rise to modern day MMA. So UWF was a super influential promotion in two wildly different ways.
Tiger misses a huge kick and gets taken down. Heel hook from Fujiwara. Tiger turns this into a half crab. Fujiwara gets back to the heel hook. Transitioned to a half crab, then back to the heel hook. Rope break. Tiger put on a lot of mass in his year off from wrestling. Fuji tries another heel hook. Tiger gets sick of it and hits a SHOOT knee drop. Fujiwara responds with a straight cross to the fucking face. He tries it again and Tiger fires right back, then hits a stiff spinning kick that might have been a low blow. Then he starts kicking the shit out of him and doing what was pretty close to a BOMAYE. UWF had submissions and 10 counts. I'm not sure if they still had pins at this time. SHOOT Trouble in Paradise! Tiger is PISSED! German suplex from Fujiwara is kind of blocked. Kimura from Tiger. Stiff as fuck soccer kicks. Fujiwara throws a headbutt. Tiger tries to throw his own, which don't really work since he's too short. Near Karelin Lift from Fujiwara. Back suplex from Tiger, which Fujiwara takes mostly on his elbow. Tiger goes back to kicking the shit out of his opponent. Rear naked choke from Fujiwara. Tiger spin kicks out of an attempted single leg take down. Right in the eye. Fujiwara Armbar! Tiger Mask taps out.
Masahiro Chono vs Keiji Mutoh 8/11/91
Mutoh is so much different from Muta. Standard trunks and gear, no paint, comes out in a white t-shirt. These two, along with Hashimoto, are the Three Musketeers of New Japan. They replaced the old guard in a similar manner as Misawa/Kawada/Kobashi/Taue did in All Japan. Hashimoto is watching at ringside. The feeling out process goes for a couple of minutes until an intense knuckle lock, which Muta turns into a suplex and headlock. A lot of holds being traded on the mat, with neither man holding an advantage for too long. Chono works a short arm scissors like a boss until Muta gets a break and rolls to the floor. Spinning kick from Muta back in the ring. Power drive elbow. Chono dodges the hand spring elbow and hits a big back drop suplex. Inverted arm bar. Strikes start getting thrown. Not really a strike contest, at least not in the modern sense. Muta lands the bigger shot and locks on leg lock. Muta Lock. Chono does his best to make it to the ropes before it can be fully applied. Muta stops him, drags him to the center of the ring, and locks it on. He breaks it to apply the Cattle Mutilation. It's a cool looking move visually, but I never thought it looked like it would do that much damage. Seems like the giver of the hold is expending a lot more energy to hang on to it than it is worth. Chono breaks it and is immediately put in a cross arm breaker. Chono stands up and steps on Muta's face to break. it. Yakuza kick! That was more of a FUCK OFF kick than try to win a match with kick. Another one. A third sends Muta off the apron and into the guard rail. Oh shit, suicide dive from Chono! He follows that with a dive from the top rope. Chono pulling out all the stops in this one. Big piledriver in the ring. Another. Muta hits the ropes as soon as the STF is started. Back to the floor. Chono tries a piledriver and is back dropped. Muta then hits a piledriver in the audience. Missile dropkick. 2 count. Back drop suplex. German suplex. Gotch Style Pildedriver! 2 count. Muta is starting to get frustrated. Dragon suplex. Chono was in the ropes. Muta heads up for the moonsault. He changed to a closer corner and that slight delay gave time for Chono to roll out of the way. STF! Muta fights to the ropes. Top rope shoulder block. Octopus Hold! You know, I've always thought Chono was the weakest of the Three Musketeers, but he's definitely bringing it here. Rope break. Big back suplex. Muta somehow kicks out. Now Chono is frustrated. Both guys have thrown pretty much everything at each other and neither seems much closer to winning yet. Octopus Hold from Muta. Muta comes off the top with something and ends up leap frogging a dropkick attempt while in the air. Back suplex. Missile dropkick is met with a dropkick. Chono quickly locks in the STF again, but Muta just as quickly gets to the ropes. Muta misses a dropkick. Yakuza kick. Rebound flying forearm. Back breaker. Moonsault is blocked! Chono wins with a Thesz Style Powerbombaaaaaaaa. This was great. It looks like people are throwing graduation caps into the ring. Might be the cushions from their chairs. Definitely the most impressed I've ever been with a Chono match.
Yuji Nagata/Takashi Iizuka vs Toshiaki Kawada/Masanobu Fuchi 12/14/00
Kawada and Fuchi were the only two native wrestlers to stay in All Japan after the NOAH split. Now they come to New Japan as the sole representatives left for All Japan and King's Road style. Iizuka was much different than he is today, what with his full head of hair, trunks, and straight wrestling style. Fuchi was the top junior in All Japan for nearly a decade, although he had been in mostly comedy openers for the prior few years. He and Iizuka start the match. The old man shows he can still go on the mat and things briefly break down with all four in the ring and kicks being thrown. Kawada seems bored with the mat work. He's probably dreaming about kicking the dog shit out of Nagata. Nagata is tagged in and kicks those old man bird legs. In comes Kawada. Shit gonna get real up in this mug. They go at it hard on the mat, with Nagata ending up with the advantage. Both were very accomplished amateurs. Kensuke Sasaki and Liger are at ringside. Kawada pinned Liger to win an amateur championship once. Yuji is the first to throw a big boot. Kawada responds in kind. Yuji doesn't like the slaps and a strike battle ensues. Kawada wins with a big boot. I'm not sure why strike battles became SO common place in Japan. Every match has them now. They seem like a bigger deal when they only happen in one or two big matches on a show. Not in every single match on the card, even between juniors and flippy dippy Americans. Yuji doesn't like the dickheaded face kicks, so he kicks Kawada in the back of the head. Tags are made. Fuchi does some solid as fuck leg work. He's also a dick head. Maybe he taught Kawada how to be a mean cunt in the ring. Kawada comes in and continues the leg work. Fuchi stands on Iizuka's face while Kawada has him in a bow and arrow. Such a dick head. Old dick head wrestlers are really missing in American wrestling. Iizuka shows some fighting spirit, but that flame is put out by a big boot. Fuchi continues the leg work. Yuji kicks the shit out of him. Kawada runs in and hits an enzuiguri. Then he kicks the shit out of Nagata on the floor just for fun. Fuchi joins in on the fun, again just to be a dick head. Iizuka fights for two in the ring, but it is pretty hard to fight off both of these dicks. Double Yakuza kick in the corner. Yuji gets drilled every time he gets back to the apron. Corner big boooooooooooooooot. Fuchi continues to be a prick. He tags in JUST to be a shit head and tag back out. He's such an asshole. It's great. Iizuka finally makes the tag. Nagata is FIRED UP for a fight with Kawada. He gets it. And eats a lariatoooo. 2 count. Enzuiguri's from Nagata. German suplex. 2 count. Fans are so into this. Kawada does a DOPE leg sweep to stop a flurry of kicks. Back drop drivaaaah. 2 count. Stretch Plum. Iizuka breaks it. Then gets kicked in the face. Nagata fights out of the powerbomb. Big kick to the knee. Nagata Lock! Fuchi tries to break it with punches. It doesn't work. Stepping on Nagata's face does. Iizuka is in and tries to throw all he has at Kawada. Exploder. Kneebar. Nagata Lock on Fuchi. Finally a rope break. Fuchi can't walk. His old brittle bones hurt too much. He can still hit the back drop, but not hold on to it. Team AJPW both have stretch plums on. Rope break. Nagata and Kawada slap and kick the shit out of each other. The match ends in a time limit draw as Nagata and Kawada fight to to last second. Good stuff. Fuchi was SUCH AN ASSHOLE.
The matches I'd go out of my way to see are Mutoh/Chono and the tag match. Pretty confident that is Chono's best match ever, and likely pretty high in Mutoh's list as well. And the tag match...man, Fuchi was SUCH A FUCKING CUNT. Which was lovely.