Ditch Decades 6
Verne Gagne vs Billy Robinson AWA Championship IWE 11/20/74
Neither guy looks like they'd be particularly interesting wrestlers. I know Billy is, but I haven't really seen much Verne to judge him. Gagne looked like a middle aged insurance salesman 20 years before this. Verne gets a hold of Billy's arm and tries to tear it off. Billy reverses and when they get a hold on, then wrench it for all it's worth. Verne is a little taken aback at Billy's athleticism and agility. Verne is an athlete and all, but Billy has the wacky Euro style with rolls and cartwheels and shit. Verne is back to working the arm. Billy attempts the butterfly suplex. Verne struggles to get to the ropes before it can connect. This is slow, but not slow in the way that say, Inoki/Backlund was. They work the shit out of every hold they get and someone is always moving. The first big move is about 15 minutes in, with Robinson hitting a hangman's neck breaker. Verne slaps Billy and taunts, just trying to piss him off. He keeps face palming him and running away just to be a dick, then starts throwing shoulder blocks and slams. Billy attacks Verne's leg. I want to see Verne go back to being a dick head. A lot of very tight headlocks in this from both guys. Hard on your ears. Verne wins the first fall about 23 minutes in with a sleeper.
Early into the second fall, a European uppercut knocks Robinson through the ropes. Billy struggles to get a Boston crab and can't get it. I'm just waiting for Billy to get pissed and start stiffing Verne. Verne gets the sleeper on again. It's broken in the corner. He tries again and it is countered into a dope back suplex into a back breaker to win the second fall.
Billy rocks a bear hug at the start of the third fall, continuing to focus on the back that ended the second fall. Every time Verne gets out, he gets put right back in moments later. Sleeper! It is again countered into the back breaker, but this time Verne was too close to the ropes for the pin to count. Butterfly suplex connects. 2 count/rope break. Back breaker again. 2 count. Abdominal stretch. Both tumble over the top rope in the hold. We get a nice shot of Verne's pasty white ass as they try to prevent each other from getting back in the ring. Back suplex from Verne. Robinson pins off it for 2 and the crowd is going nuts. Mid ring collision. Neither man can make it up before the 10 count. 1-1 draw. Title retained. This was really good. I don't think I've seen a match with so many singular holds that had zero down time. There was no resting with the rest holds. They were working non stop. Didn't expect Verne to be so fun to watch.
Stan Hansen vs Andre The Giant NJPW 9/23/81
This looks like it is ripped from a DVD, so it is of great quality. Stan tries to attack as Andre enters the ring. Andre kicks him off and shit is ON. Andre locks on a bear hug. Stan lariatoos out of it and it rocks Andre. Man, I really want to see Andre go down from the lariatooo. He goes after the lariat arm with a Fujiwara arm bar. Then stomps on it. Stan gets up and chops the shit out of Andre. Andre stays with the arm work and it is crazy that Andre makes Stan look small. Stan tries to slam Andre. Didn't work. Andre doing rad arm submissions. Like a kimura. Stan starts throwing punches and kicks at Andre's leg. Vertical suplex. From ANDRE THE GIANT. Can you imagine how much that would suck? Body slam from Stan! Andre fights out of a camel clutch, but he's down and almost out. They head to the floor. Both guys get posted. Andre gets counted out, but Stan won't accept that. Arnie Skaaland talks with the ref and the match continues. With some threats from Andre. Fans LOVE IT, Maggle! JUDO THROW FROM STAN. Knee lift. Andre is tied in the ropes. He gets out and puts Stan in the ropes and chops the piss out of him. He exposes the turnbuckle, but he's the one that gets rammed into it. Giant slam. Running splash misses. Jumping elbow from Stan misses. Western LARIATOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sends Andre to the floor. While on the floor, Andre puts an elbow pad on. Stan wants it checked. The ref tries and eats an Andre lariatooooooo for it. The match is thrown out, but the fight continues, with the young lions trying to keep the men apart. This was so fun. Andre in his prime was truly a special athlete. By 1981, he was probably at the tail end of his prime, but he was still awesome.
Shinya Hashimoto vs Scott Norton IWGP Championship NJPW 2/19/95
Norton wasn't able to put Hashimoto down in their last match. Norton fought back to be the number one contender, last beating Keiji Mutoh. He also has a pretty heavily taped left elbow heading into this. And god damn is he HUGE. Barrel chested mother fucker. Weirdly, Norton gets Hash on the mat and out wrestles him. Hashimoto attacks the bad arm, but his kicks have no effect on Norton's chest. I mean shit. What the fuck is going to hurt his chest? You could have a pro baseball player play home run derby on his chest and he wouldn't feel it. One big chop puts Hash down. Big boot. That arm is definitely a weak spot. It's giving Norton a lot of pain even when not struck. Norton gets tired of getting kicked in the arm and throws a massive chop, big stomps, and throws Hashi around on the floor. Top rope shoulder block. Too bad Norton did it with the bad arm. Hashimoto is literally trying to break Norton's arm. Stiff DDT. Another. Gross fisherman buster. 2 count. Top rope wheel kick! Norton gets really pissed with all these kicks. Lariato. Lariato. Shoulder block. Powerslam. 2 count. Norton goes for a Samoan drop. Hashimoto does some kind of submission while in the old and Norton immediately taps out. Title retained. It was okay. Clear story with Hash being laser focused on the injured arm and Norton not being able to overcome it. But it wasn't super interesting.
Shinya Hashimoto/Yuji Nagata vs Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama Zero-ONE 3/2/2001
More weird Japanese wrassle politics. In 2000, Hashimoto went to the top brass of New Japan with the idea to form an indie promotion within New Japan, which would have been called New Japan Pro Wrestling ZERO. They said no and Hashimoto was fired later in the year. He registered Pro Wrestling Zero One right after, and Shinjiro Otani left with him. Zero One was an indie and had working agreements with pretty much every company, so a lot of cross promotion happened with it.
Hashimoto was in NOAH 2 months prior really wanting to fuck Misawa up. So for the main event of the debut Z1 show, we get Z1/NJ vs NOAH. Japan is weird with wrestling promotions. Jun and Yuji start the match. I expect an exploder battle at some point. Z1 has weird camera angles. Like side ways crane shots and shit. Nagata out wrestles Jun and gets a choke on, which is broken for some reason by the ref. Both guys try and fail at exploders. Strike battle. Jun wins with a jumping forearm. Jun taunts Hashimoto and gets got in a release German suplex. Misawa tags in. Misawa is not impressed with Yuji. I like how the most simple expressions and body language can get such a big reaction in Japan. Yuji kicks the shit out of Misawa. Misawa elbows the shit out of Nagata for it. Piledriver from Jun. He gets kicked out of the air trying the jumping knee. Nagata taunts Misawa, and Misawa shows some uncharacteristically heated emotions. Hash tags in and kicks the shit out of Jun. Man, I really hate some of the camera work. Twisting crane shots don't look cool, they look disorienting. Hash and Jun hit each other really hard over and over. Jun won't back down and now we finally get Misawa and Hashimoto back in the ring together. No clean break from Misawa. They hit each other really hard and then Nagata tags in. Big belly to belly from Nagata. Crossface. Jun is back in and another strike battle. Yuji gets the first explodaaaaaaah. Jun gets the second one. Oh damn, guillotine DDT from Nagata. This camera shit has to stop. Who the fuck thought Dutch angles for a wrestling show was a good idea? Especially when they move. Jun hits an explodaaa on Hash. Misawa is back in. Nagata breaks a tiger driver and Hash spin chops and kicks the toad shit out of Misawa. STIFF dropkick. Misawa lays Nagata out with a running elbow. Tiger Drivaaaa. Another one. Yuji turns the pint into a triangle. Back drop hold. Jun breaks it. Yuji did not like it. Hash definitely kicks Misawa right in the mouth and then DDTs his dick in the dirt. And again. Jun calmly walks in the ring and slaps Hash full force in the face. You can imagine how well that ended for him. German suplex from Misawa to Hash. And it gets the win! Hash immediately gets up and starts fucking Akiyama up until the ring fills with young lions and members of the roster. NAOYA OGAWA comes out and says some shit to Misawa, who runs over to attack him. There are probably 15-20 people in the ring trying to keep everyone separated. Oh shit, and now the guys on the roster are getting into fights. NOAH guys, NJ guys, and Z1 guys all trying to keep shit from popping off. It doesn't really work as it starts up again after Ogawa leaves and Misawa's music plays. Hash gets on the mic and starts yelling. Everything kind of calms down at that point. Misawa says some stuff, which makes Hash smirk. I'd like to imagine he said "fuck y'all bitch ass busters". I always imagined Misawa would have bad coffee breath. Is that weird?
Decent set here. Andre/Hansen was the best. So fun. The AWA Championship match was also very good. Hash/Norton was okay. Pretty disappointed in the Z1 main event. It didn't have nearly the heat that the Z1 in NOAH match had 2 months prior to Z1 even running a show. It had the wild post match stuff, but the match itself didn't feel nearly as heated or hateful. I can't believe there wasn't a Misawa/Hashimoto singles match. That's such a bummer.