Quick Roster Analysis of All Japan Part One: the Top Card
All Japan is pissing me off a good deal. Between Mutoh's stupidity and Tenyru's stupidity its very frustrating to watch espiecally since there talent roster doesn't totally suck anymore. I don't know if I would call it deep as they still need people. Not closing the deal on Tenzen and lossing Tanaka really hurt. Although it should be noted on Masato that they were right not to push him when they had him. Its been proven many times that only a stupid person pushes someone they don't have under contract. They should have signed him but until they did they shouldnt' have put him over anybody he wasn't clearly above. So onto the analysis with no knocks on the idiots who are booking this crap.
Keiji Mutoh- The big plusses are he's a big draw. Right now though he's not wrestling well at all. Partly because of his knees are shit and partly because Mutoh gets lazy. The main problem as it goes is he doesn't have much time left. His knees are on borrowed time and he just isn't the guy to be building around. He may have one year, two years, maybe even three years left or he could have 1 day. So you can't build around him. He's also not good enough to be your ace.
Toshiaki Kawada- Probably still the best wrestler in the world but he is getting up there in years. I can't see him having more then 5 years left. At the moment though he is the best choose for ace. The guy for the younger lions (which they don't have enough of) to shoot for. Kawada is better for the role because he can actually have consistently good matches with them and is better at showing how they progress.
Genchiro Tenyru- Still a shockingly good wrestler. One injury could be devastating at his age though. So they probably need to start him on elevating people soon. They should build to the big Kawada vs Tenyru match for the October Budokon and then in the next year he should probably put over Kojima and Kea. He's just to that age where if you don't get the elevations now you arn't going to get them.
Satoshi Kojima- I would peg him as the future ace. My timeline is for him to win his first triple crown at the October 2003 Budokon. Just an excellent wrestler with excellent charisma and a good sense of humor. The fans just seem to really take to Kojima. His only problem is occasionally he lets his body get away from him and gets a bit fat. If he can avoid that he is the best guy for the future on your current roster.
Steve Williams- He's still the top Gaijen. I'm actually not as down on him as I was last year as he seems to have tried to step it up recently. Still he is done. Even with him trying he's only a passable wrestler. His only value is to elevate someone else. Hopefully not..........
Mike Barton- He seems to be their hope for future top gaijen. This is a really stupid plan. Barton is only okay at best in the ring and at his worst well can just plain suck. Plus he lacks charisma and doesn't connect with the fans at all. He has a good look and I can see him in a midcard role. I just have an impossible time seeing him as a main event guy.
Taiyo Kea- Kea has one big negative. He just can't seem to connect with the fans. It makes some sense. Fans like to watch you grow struggle and develop. Kea was never in the public eye really until suddenly in late 2000 he was elevated to the main events. Kea who doesn't have a great deal of natural charisma and the fans didn't have much invested in just struggles to build that connection. He's got time though as he is 27. In the ring again Kea shows some inexperience. He's got an excellent aray of moves and his strikes are simply awesome. However he has trouble selling throughout the match and its questionable if he has a firm understanding of psychology yet. I usually find his pacing to be quite enjoyable. He's coming along a bit slower then some thought but about what I would expect. Let's give him some time I think we'll be pleased with the end.
Another name that has to be mentioned is Riki Choshu. John Williams over at TOA wrote up today over at http://www.otherarena.com
what Choshu brings to the table. Basically JDW said that the booking sucks and Choshu might actually have some idea how to elevate the young guys up as he did in New Japan with the three musketeers. As far as the wrestler Choshu its not clear yet if he will come but I expect him to land on his feet in All Japan. Choshu also has many friends who might follow him so to me with that and with John's point I am a little more positive on the thought then i was before. The wrestler Choshu brings one sure fire Budokon sell out. That is against Kawada. Its never happened with the right build up I have no doubt it would do buisness. Other then that Choshu has value putting over a guy like Kea and Kojima. You might give him a victory over Williams (a match I don't think has been done) and maybe Mutoh or Tenyru to keep him strong sense he'll be lossing to Kawada, Kea, and Kojima. They probably wouldn't put Kea over but we can hope.
Well All Japan has more main event depth then you might think at least at first glance. Counting Choshu they have 8 guys the can throw into a main event. This would allow them to rotate guys around and to create many different match ups. Also if they want to give someone a nice push they can sacrifice guys now to elevate them. Now the problems and boy are their many. First off Kea and Barton arn't that over. Kea may get there but Barton just doesn't have main event heat to go with his main event push. Then there is the problem that Barton, Williams, and Choshu arn't very good in the ring. So any matches with them and espiecally between them are not going to make people flash back to the glory days of all Japan. Then the biggest problem Kawada, Mutoh, Tenyru, Choshu, and Williams are all old and any of them could be gone in a year. So if your building around any of them it just could be so dangerous.
The Hall of Fame
This is something Ehren, Justin, JD, and I have done just for the hell of it. Its something we all had to agree on so these arn't neccesarily my picks. Some of them I wouldn't use at all (Kerry Von Erich I'm looking at you.) But anyway since Ehren's write up really sucks I thought I would do an infinatly superior one.
Ric Flair- Really nothing needs to be said. Flair was one of the top wrestlers in the world for a near 20 year period. He was NWA champion 9 years out of 10 in the 80's. He was a powerful drawing card both regionally, nationally, and internationally. Succeeded in the NWA, WCW, and the WWF. Remained a major ratings draw well past his prime. Many consider him the greatest wrestler ever (I don't).
Hulk Hogan- Probably the number one ticket seller in the history of American Wrestling. His influence is tough to gauge but his drawing card and historical importance are unquestionable. He holds the US attendance record for Mania 3 and the buyrate record for Mania 18. He was the vehicle Vince McMahon used to go national and hense destroy wrestling regional history.
Terry Funk- Has had several different careers. His first career reached it epoch when he won the NWA championship. He and his brother Dory formed the top tag team in the world for many years. He Retired for the first time in the early 80's after a highly successful stint in All Japan mainly teaming with Dory. Had a marginally successfull run in the WWF in the 80's and a memorable fued with Ric Flair in 1989. Then he went to FMW and along with Onita revolutionized hardcore. He helped put ECW on the map in the 90's although some people exaggerate how much Funk was responsible for ECW's success.
Jerry Lawler- One of the greatest regional drawing cards ever. He drew for almost 20 years in the same venues. An absolutly amazing accomplishment. Gained major main stream prominance do to his brillantly WORKED program with Andy Koufmann (although it didn't draw great crowds toward the end.) Known for his great punch and excellent promos. He now uses one of those skills in the WWF.
Bret Hart- The top man in the WWF from late 1992-1997 wither Vince wanted him to be or not at times. Probably no WWF wrestler had more excellent matches then Bret Hart. His greatest gift to the WWF though was helping get Steve Austin over. Will always be remembered for the Montreal Screwjob. He's the only man to ever hold the WWF World IC, and Tag titles as well as the WCW World, Us, and Tag titles. His drawing power was never considered very strong although he did do quite well as an opponent draw (meaning people would pay to see him wrestler certain people)
Mick Foley- For better or for worse Mick changed wrestling. He set the bar for huge bumps and physical punishment. He was also very influetial in forming what is now the WWF main event style. He had a very successful main event run from Over the Edge 1998 to No Way Out 2000. His success was due to a combination of his suicidal tendancies and his excellent promos.
Kerry Von Erich- Shouldn't be in. Average wrestler with a great ROIDED body who got put over every one because he was the booker's son. Drew well in Texas and was always over though. His WWF run was hampered by the fact that everyone knew he was a suicide risk and Vince didn't want bad publicity. Became a terrible wrestler after lossing his foot.
Jushin Liger- The kingpin of New Japan's Junior division for over a decade. No light heavyweight has had more great matches with as many different opponents as Liger. He is one of the best carriers in the history of the buisness. An excellent flier and technician. A master of psychology and a hell of a booker. One of the best Junior Draws ever as well.
Randy Savage- Career was hurt by always being in Hogan's shadow. However he was one of the best IC champions ever (maybe the best). He had a couple of successful runs as champ. During his peak was one of the 5 best wrestlers in the WWF. As late as 1996 his fued with Ric Flair turned WCW's house show buisness around. During his peak he was known for his over the top character. Later in WCW he had a good deal of success playing a madman.
Shawn Michaels- Only Bret Hart and Steve Austin can equal his body of work in the WWF. Shawn was known as one of the best ever at carrying big stiffs to good matches. Or putting on the Shawn Show, he wasn't considered as good at having give and take matches with equals. Never really drew very well but as with Bret the WWF was in the doldrums when he was given the chance. Many young wrestlers name him as their chief influence. His legacy is marred though by his weak drawing power and back stage problems.
Vader- A holder of the IWGP, WCW World Championship, and the Triple Crown. Was a successful main eventer in WCW, All Japan, and New Japan. His run the WWF was a failure for many reasons. For his size he may have been the best wrestler ever. Its according to wither you put Stan Hansen in the same weight class as him.
Ricky Steamboat- An amazingly balanced wrestler. Never a great draw but much like Bret a great opponent. He was a great carrier and a class act. Always was in Flair's shadow although in the ring he was much closer then many people realized. Yet Flair was a much better promo man and draw so hense the higher historical postion. Had a great arm drag and for his time was considered a great high flyer.
Dynamite Kid- Almost every Canadian wrestler patterns themself after the Kid. Benoit completly models himself after Dynamite. His fued with the Tiger Mask revolutionized junior heavyweight wrestling. He also invented several moves such as the snap suplex, the top rope superplex and he made the diving headbutt a major move. Also one of the best bumpers of his era which eventually caught up to him.
Andre the Giant- One of the more famous wrestlers ever. He was kind of a side show freak and hense rarely stayed in the same place for long due to the fact that his act would get old. However whenever he entered a territory he drew. Never was a good wrestler and I've only seen one good match of his. Drew record crowds with Hulk Hogan at the end of his career. It had more to do with Hogan but Andre definatly was Hogan's best partner as far as drawing went.
Kenta Kobashi- One of the most gifted wrestlers ever. Probably had the most devastating offense I've ever seen A crazy guy though who has wrecked his body before he's even turned 35. He was never the draw the Misawa was but he did draw quite well. Had a great work ethic and was known to give it all everytime out. Worked two years with a crippling knee injury before he finally had to take a year off. Like I say a crazy guy but a great wrestler.
Stan Hansen- In my oppinon the greatest brawler ever. He was also the top gaijen Draw in Japan from the 1980-1988 (with Brody) and from 1989-1993 was without question the top gainjen draw. An amazing wrestler and very underrated. He popularized the lariet and to this day that move is one of the most over moves in wrestler (espiecally in Japan.) In the US he was AWA champion and did quite well several times but is mainly known for his work in Japan.
Mitsahara Misawa- For a time in the 90's was probably the top draw in the world. Without question was the the top man in All Japan from 1993-2000. In 2001 he started his own promotion Pro Wrestling NOAH. Also a great wrestler who had some legandary fueds with Kawada, Kobashi, and Tsuruta. Probably had the best elbow strikes ever and was a very inovative wrestler pionerring several holds.
Jumbo Tsuruta- The top wrestler in All Japan from 1983-1992. When I think of what an ace should be a think of Jumbo. One of the greatest wrestlers ever without question, probably top three. Connected with the crowd probably better then any wrestler in All Japan ever did. Probably played the asshole better then any wrestler ever. Jumbo just knew how to do it all really. Also had good success in America even touring once as AWA champion.
Antonio Inoki- The hulk hogan of Japan. Founded New Japan. Was the top draw for New japan for almost 20 years. Was famous for putting himself over shoot fighters. He actually did shoot with Ali in a boring as all get out fight. To this day is amazingly over anytime he appears in Japan.
Tatsumi Fujinami- Inoki's protege. For a time during the 80's was thought to be maybe the best wrestler in the world although looking back I don't think he ever was. After Inoki steped down Fujinami took up the mantal long enough to pace it to the three Musketeers of Chono, Hashimoto, and Mutoh. Still active and still winning titles.
Steve Austin- Probably the made more money faster then any wrestler ever. Almost solely responsible for the WWF's turn around in the late 90's. Austin more so then Hogan or Inoki truely earned everything he got by being one of the best wrestlers and promo cutters in the buisness. His character totally changed the way people looked at faces and heels and hense he is presently the most influential wrestler of the past 25 years in my oppinon because unlike Hogan and Flair you can see Austin's influeince literally everywhere.
Toshiaki Kawada- In my oppinon the best wrestler of the last 10 years and another one fo the top 3 wrestlers ever. Also probably one of the stiffest wrestlers ever as his kicks are absolutly vicious. 4 time holder of the triple crown although that title is usually associated with heartbreak for him. Probably the best storyteller in wrestling history. His matches with Misawa are considered the best ever.
Ted Dibase- I think Ted got in last time but I could be wrong. Either way he should be. He was the top draw in Mid South for a couple of years. He was the top heel in the WWF for a couple of years and always drew well. He was also a fantastic wrestler and one of the best all arounds wrestlers ever. A guy who could literally do it all.
I may have forgotten someone but here are some guys who should be in who arn't. Rikidozan, El Santo, Lou Thesz, Gory Guerrero, Mil Mascarras, El Hijo Del Santo, Perro Aguayo, Atlantis, Blue Panther, Negro Casas, Buddy Rodgers, Gorgeous George, Akira Meada, Nobuhiko Takada, Akira Hokuta, Jaguar Yokuta, Terry Gordy, Lioness Asuka, Bull Nakano, Aja Kong, and Chigusa Nagoya.
With the WWF set to do another potentially terrible long term move I thought it was a good time to look back at other times a promotion has made crazy moves. On the AAA one I rely heavily on a Bruce Mitchell column on AAA that can be found in the best of Mitchell archives http://www.pwtorch.com . Everything else I know enough about to do without quoting a source.
Konnan in AAA- Mid Ninties. To sum up what Mitchell said with some more stuff I will say. AAA became the hotest promotion in the world in the mid 90's. They had an exciting mix of lucha legends and superb young talent. Konnan had enough sense to mix these two together so Santo would lose to Psichosis and then Psichosis would lose to Rey. Legends lossing to up and comers and working fueds how novel! AAA got so successful that it was outdrawing the WWF and WCW in certain markets in California. Then Konnan went to ECW. He saw how hot and loyal those fans were to the company. He wanted his fans chanting TRIPLE A! Konnan didn't stop to think that his company was selling out 50,000 seat arenas and ECW was selling out 1000+ seat bingo halls. So Konnan made the product more hardcore, more violent, more racy etc. The crowds were super hot, but much smaller. AAA never really recovered from lossing all the fans it turned off and went into being a distant second in Mexico.
Kevin Nash in WCW Last 1998 Early 1999. This is probably the most famous company suicide. For a year WCW had been booked basically poorly. They had done great harm to their midcard by elevating no and burying people as soon as they started to take off. Yet on the strength of the Goldberg Phenomenon and the Return of Ric Flair WCW's buisness was at its peak (even though they were lossing to the WWF.) So the first thing Nash does as booker is take the title off Goldberg by putting himself over. Then do a heel turn to "feed" him opponents. Instead Goldberg is shunted down in non main event fueds and everyone in the NWO is basically a face in months. Hogan never draws as a face. He also took all the love and respect of Ric Flair and flushed it by turning him heel and then humilating him constantly. He pissed off the midcarders by putting over his friends and insulting workers he promised a push (see Benoit/Malenko as the Vanilla Midgets). He failed to capitalize on the mainstream publicity and face heat created by Wrestling with Shadows by keeping Bret Hart a heel and off the television. Then he said he wouldn't push Bret because "he just wasn't over enough". The heel turn of Nash and the finger poke of doom finish killed the WCW title belt as a draw. Russo would be just as bad but the product was on life support when he got it (and killed it). Nash took it from the peak to near death in less then a year.
Vince McMahon and Company from 1993-1996- There is a common myth that during this time Vince McMahon built around Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. WRONG. Vince tried everything he could to not have to build around these two problem was the only time during this whole period where buisness would stabalize and rise was when Bret Hart was the champion. Every other time it was down hill basically. Vince first tried to give Hogan another shot and it didn't work. then he created Lex Lugar as the next Hogan and it totally bombed and buisness was sinking fast. After the Lugar and Yoko push so bombed Vince had no choice but to go to Bret. Bret basically stopped the bleeding then the buyrates of Summerslam and Survivor Seriest show a positive trend at the end of Bret's run. Then Vince tried Diesal. Diesal becomes the worst drawing champion in WWF history. Then again Vince comes to Bret and again Bret stabalizes the situation and acutally draws a few good buy rates and the WWF makes money again. Finally Shawn gets his shot but flops because three of the WWF's top guys are gone during his reign (Hall, Nash, and Bret). Finally Vince decided build around Bret, Austin, Shawn, and Taker. Bret and Austin took off huge and Austin took off large enough to save the company and make it bigger then ever. So basically the moral is Vince went three years looking for the next Hogan when the fans didn't want to see that before finally going with the guys who could perform and hense saved his company. (Undertaker at the time was carriable.)
In previous columns I wrote about what our Stephie bear did to drive buisness down in mid 2001. I could discuss how Austin's heel turn was botched but no need. There are three examples. Basically all of them involve a couple of shared themes. Not treating the talent the fans love right and ignoring what the fans want. Going back in time also usually doesn't work. How many of these will apply to the NWO angle. If none do it could work. If one or more do it could be doomed you decide.
Year End Awards
Wrestler of the Year
1. Steve Austin- I really cant go with anyone other then Austin here. A case can be made for Mutoh but a strong case can be made against Mutoh so in the end it has to be Austin. In a terrible year for the WWF Austin was one of the few bright spots (and the only consistent bright spot.) A truly remarkable comeback from a genuinely career threatening injury (no one ever thought HHHs was career threatening so dont buy the hype on that one.)
2. Momoe Nakinishi- Just for making me excited about watching a promotion again. Thats a feat as I was becoming very cynical about every promotion. Now I have AJW to carish and Momoe was the first one to catch my eye. Kaoru Ito may actually deserve this spot more but Im being biased here so fuck off.
3. Keiji Mutoh- Top draw in Japan and had a really good year in the ring. Hopefully he wont screw All Japan with how he drops the belt to Kawada.
Best Wrestler who was the best in the ring
1. Toshiaki Kawada- Still the man in every sense of the way. Is maybe the only wrestler on the planet who can have a 3 star + match with an opponent who is just out and out not cooperating. That takes a cool head and a great talent.
2. Yuji Nagata- What a talent, what a waist.
3.Momoe Nakinishi- What a string of matches. So far Ive seen 5 of her matches from this year with varying opponents and none of been below *** 1/ 2 stars.
Fued of the year
1. Antonio Inoki, Genchiro Tenyru, and Vince McMahon vs Logic- Nothing else comes close so nothing else gets mentioned here. Ive detailed in previous colums how many different terrible things these three have done as have other people.
Worst Fued of the Year
WWF vs Alliance- Nothing comes close. The WWF blew this one so bad it actually hurt business where the WWF was counting on it to recover all the ground they had lost after mid 2000.
Match of the Year
1. Mutoh vs Tenyru 6-8-01- Just an absolutely stunning match for two men in their condition. Its also a match without a glaring flaw which is hard to find these days. Both wrestlers stayed within what they could do and that made this match one of the smarter worked matches your going to see.
2. Mutoh vs Nagata G1 Climax- This match SHOULD be number 1. It was the most dramatic match Ive seen in years. Every move at the end mattered and sucked the viewer in. The pacing and timing were incredible and Nagata really did put in the performance of a lifetime to justify his elevation. Yet two problems. One Mutoh didnt do anything during the mat segment, and Mutoh didnt really work that hard to sell cumulative damage. The delayed selling of the wrist clutch exploder is a bad spot but not bad enough to penalize the match to much. All that combined though to make what should have been head and shoulders the match of the year into second.
3. Kaoru Ito vs Manami Toyota 9-8-01- Ill go with a strange one for my third pick because nothing truly stood out as the clear third best although Benoit vs Austin on Smackdown was very strong. This match shocked me as I didnt think Manami had a match on this level left in her. She proved me wrong though. Here she didnt do any of the stupid shit that drags her matches down. The match had an interesting story as Manami (the former ace) took on Kaoru (the present ace) and they just took it to each other like two people in that situation should. Awesome match.
1. AJW- Quite simply the only promotion that entertained me with every show. AJW has a few issues that dont affect the quality of the shows but could hurt them long term. One is their style is so demanding physically that injuries are bound to pop up. Two is that they really dont have a deep roster although honestly almost everyone on their roster puts on a hell of a show.
2. EMLL- The best big show company in the world right now. If you buy an EMLL pay per view I can basically guarantee youll get a good show. Also a deep roster with legends who can still go, polished midcarders, and exciting young superstars. If EMLL doesnt stay strong for years to come it will simple be because they refused to elevate people.
6 hrs of 1950's Wrestling and what I thought
Anyway I don't feel comfortable doing this in review format sense its so different from what I'm used to. Its hard to rate this stuff because many of these matches were probably 4 stars at the time. In fact one i'm pretty sure would have been. However honestly if that match happened now I'd tear it apart. So I try to reach a happy medium espeically appreciating the different style that was used way back in the day. Anyway onto quick match bites before a larger overall commentary
All the following are from a Buffalo show
Bobby Orton vs Adrian Balasiran 1 3/4 stars- This is the original Bobby Orton father of Bobby Orton Junior who in 1984 evidently was significantly better then Jumbo Tsuruta according to Meltzler. Anyway they have a dandy little match which even features a bulldog from Adrian. Bobby is new in town so cheats like a mofo to make sure the fans know he is a heel. Crowd boos him.
Lowaski Brothers vs Farmer Townsend/Lord Layton 1/2 star- No course class tensions but townsend takes 2 piledrivers and is dead. Layton protest that the piledriver is illegal but to no avail
Roy Mcclarty vs Tony Marino 1 star- The announcer gives Marino a major blow job during the match as one of the top up and comers. So I was suprised when he lost. Not offensive not good.
Bobo Brazil vs Hans Schmit 3/4 stars- Ahh the days when wrestling was simple and you could say I hate Hans because he's a german who cheats. Decent match until Bobo goes psycho and cocoa butts the ref twice and gets dqed. I figure this was one of those get a big main event to fill the house but protect both guys deals. See Vince Russon didn't invent lame finishes he just perfected them.
The following matches are from Hollywood.
Great Bolo vs Great Garbo- Two masked guys to short to say much.
Lord Blears/Lord Layton vs Joe Pazendak/Mr. Moto- 2 1/4 stars- This is a 2/3 falls match under Australian rules (4 15 minute rounds a round ends when there is a fall or 15 minutes expires.) Layton and Blears get a big pop by tagging in and out quickly to confuse Pazendak (I bet you Chris Benoit wishes it was that easy.) I like tag matches much better then single matches during this era because they keep the action coming instead of laying on the mat so much. Match ends in a draw.
Larry Hamilton vs Don Arnold- no rating. Arnold uses an airplane spin for the win. Boy does the announcer put over the airplane spin.
Freddie Blassie and Warren Bockwinkle vs Joe Pazendak and Mr Moto 2/3 falls aussie rules. 2 1/4 stars Bockwinkle??? I bet no wrestler could ever get over with a name like that! Anyway Blassie is a young babyface with jet black hair at this point. He does some think where he scoots out of submission holds on his ass that gets a huge reaction. Good solid match with everyone playing their roles. Blassie does a swanky neckbreaker for one fall( i'd say its almost as good as Rude's).
Sockeye McDonald/Wild Red Berry vs Freddie Blassie/Wilbur Synder 2/3 falls 1 3/4 stars. The announcer puts Synder over huge as a guy who will one day take the world title off Lou Thesz(didn't happen.) However the star of this match is clearly Blassie who just had it folks. He has real fire as a babyface and the fans get way into him. His charisma is his strenght though as he just knows how to get the people fired up. He does things like bounce the ropes so his opponents can't tag in properly and just steals the show no wonder he became possibly the biggest draw in California wrestling history. They built to the finish well to.
Mr Moto/Crippler Carl Davis vs Wilbur Synder/Sandor Szabo 2/3 falls 3 stars. You read that right this is probably the best 50's match I've seen. Great psychology for instance Mr. Moto wins the first fall with a sleeper and then goes back after it in the third fall to send the crowd into a tizzy. The announcer does a great job putting things over. He emphasises what a test this is for Synder and Szabo as champions and what a great team Davis and Moto is. He puts over all the holds and the storyline. This is good booking, good storytelling, and good announcing. We could learn something from how affective this is. JR watch this tape damnit and learn to put a match over AGAIN because you used to be great at it now you just put over the goddamn McMahons.
the following matches are from Buffalo
Pat Frielly vs Pat McGill 3/4 stars nothing special nothing offensive
Paul Bunyan vs Man Mountain Montana dud- The bill Paul Bunyan as being 8 feet 2 but I highly doubt it. I've heard 7 feet 7 but I don't know. He's really tall though but he sucks. Man Mountain actually beats the giant rather quickly which must mean he was really awful.
Luke Lawoski vs Edward Carpantier 1 star- Carpantier wows the crowd with hand stands and such and back flips. The match of course doesn't hold up well, but the announcer sure acts like this is revolutionary stuff.
Gbobby Brown vs Dick Beyer 1 1/4 stars- Dick Beyer is a legend. If anyone has his stuff as the destroyer please let me know for a trade. He looks good but the match is to clipped up to tell.
Frank Bozo vs Ricky Star no rating its just so funny. Star does a ballet gimmick and just has the whole audience rolling. You definatly have never seen anything like this. I'd say this may be the funniest match I've ever seen. Of course Star plays up a few balled stereotypes that you could never do now but remember society was different back then.
Helio Ipola vs Hans Schmit- The evil German bastard is back and has a good match. Cheap finish Schmit was a great heel. Of course the announcer tells all the fans about what a nice guy he is outside of the ring for some reason. The booking and announcing was very confusing to me but not everyplace can be as cool as California seemed to be.
Following matches are from chicago
Roy Mcclarity vs Verne Gagne 2 1/2 stars 2/3 falls- Verne was already going bald. Decent little match here with pretty good patience and build to the big spots. The chicago fans are brutal booing both men at every chance even the announcer has to say how hard the fans are. The fans enjoy the match but hey just boo any punch or kick or anything. Its like the pta board of pro wrestling.
Don Leo Johnathon vs Tiger Jack Moore- Your basic squash for Johnathon.
Anyway good tape here for the historians. Wrestling has changed so much but you can really learn about things from this tape espiecally the california matches. I just nodded my head throughout and said yep that's right, yep that's a good idea, yep good commentary. Also a chance to see several legends. Bobby Orton is the first of three generations of Orton's so if you can't get ahold of those Randy Orton tapes you can see his granddad. But if you get this tape keep in mind this isn't all japan or even the WWF or even the ECWA super 8. Get it if your patient and want to know about where things developed, for instance is Hans Schmit the inventor of the German suplex? I don't know but it would make sense he is German and he does a German suplex food for thought.
MY THEORY ON STARTING A NEW AMERICAN PROMOTION
I think everybody is going at this the wrong way. The WWF does what the do very well. Their production is amazing and they have a good wrestling style. No one can compete with them without looking bush league and we all know bush league won't sell, at least Vince McMahon should after the XFL.
Hence the only way I can logically see a new promotion working is if they present a totally different concept then the WWF. This is where the culture clash comes in as Lucha and Japan both have many ideas that would help you differentiate between yourself and the WWF.
First with Lucha. Lucha has legitmate babyfaces. Not just guys who the fans cheer but guys who actually do the right thing wither it benifits them or not. I don't think this is the only way for faces to be booked but I do think you should have some faces who won't cheat, won't accept a win if someone interferes, and most certainly will never strike a woman! So that's one thing we will have that the WWF doesn't: honor.
Now one thing that drives all fans nuts are the overwelming amouts of cheap finishes. It seems like a match never decides anything, look at the Kurt Angle/Steve Austin fued which has yet to have a decive winner in any match or the HHH/Rocky fued which since 1997 hasn't had a clean winner in any match. UWF in Japan showed that you can book a show with all clean matches and succeed. Occasionally I understand doing a schmooz finisher or maybe a double DQ but I would say only do this like two times a year so it is always a huge angle or a massive change in a character.
Now the style of wrestling is important as well. I would focus on a stiff, high flying, with shootstyle matwork style. Kind of like battlearts but more action packed with more flying. The perfect example of this style is Minoru Tanaka. Once again this puts you against the WWF which is heavy weight and not at all stiff.
Now you have to get the talent. Fortunatly their is a great deal of talent available for this sort of promotion. I'll list them in no particular order. Christopher Daniels, Chad Colliyer, Low-Ki, American Dragon, Michael Modest, Donovan Morgan, Crowbar, Reckless Youth, Simon Diamond, Jason Jett, Juvi, Scoot Andrews, Ace Darling, the Briscos, the SAT, Justice Pain, and Steve Corino would all work though some of them due to retirement or Japan might not come. Their are also WWF developmental talent you might be able to cnvince to come such as Kaz, Shannon Moore, Nick Dinsmore, TAKA, among others. Then you could try to work with Japan maybe do talent exchanges with Toryumon, or if you have the money just buy off CIMA, SUWA, Magnum, Genki Horiguchi, and Sasumi Mochizuki. Here is the beauty of this none of these guys are going to break the bank for you. Some of them most notably CIMA have amazing charisma which you could build around.
Now with the fact that everyone will job clean you will have to have an ace. This will be determined by fan reactions. The guys I could see fitting the role would be Daniels, Modest, or CIMA. But if the crowd really took to someone then you'd be flexible. The main thing is to work as an alternatative. Get a style that Vince will be very reluctant to steal, which we would have, book it logically with deep layered storylines and characters (no gimmicks) people could identify with that have some depth. Don't challenge the WWF because you'll fail they have their shit down to a science.
Austin vs Mutoh for Wrestler of the Year
It's strange sometimes how little respect StoneCold Steve Austin gets. I think its something to do with fans wanting to be cool. Steve Austin is possible the most over man in the history of the buisness so praising him isn't really cool. Austin's 2001 campaign; however, has been so strong that almost everyone has had to give credit where credit is due. Yet even having one of his best years ever people, for the most part, are taking it for granted that he should come in second for wrestler of the year. Now personally at the moment I to am giving the nod to Mutoh however Austin can easily pass him because this should be one of the closest years ever.
The argument for both is relatively straight forward. I'll start with Mutoh, who will almost certainly win. Mutoh is a shoe in for comeback wrestler of the year. Last year the calls were almost universal for him to retire. Everyone thought he was to broken down and to lazy to be anything more then a man living off his legend. What happened next is well known and summerized in my history section. Who knows what has gotten into Mutohbut we all hope it stays there for a long time.
In the ring Austin has not had a year as good as Mutoh I don't think. A great deal of this has to do with the homoginization of the WWF style. Where as Mutoh has worked many different types of matches against many different opponents. Austin has worked very well in one style, the WWF main event brawl style. This may or may not be all his body can do but he has done this style very well. Austin shouldn't be penilized for the fact that he hasn't wrestled opponents as good as Mutoh has. Kawada and Nagata in particular are actually better wrestlers then Mutoh. Only Benoit is as good as those two and against Benoit, Austin had the American match of the year.
The main knock I can make against Austin's case is that Austin has been the top guy in the WWF this year, but as a hole the WWF's buisness has went down. Austin has drawn very well for the WWF though. Drawing big buyrates for No Way Out and Mania. Then drawing a shockingly good one for the poorly booked King of the Ring and then the biggest Non Mania buy rate ever at Invasion, although that can't be totally credited to him. Austin is still the number 1 draw in the buisness and in America he's had the best year as far as matches and as far as promos go. His promos have been some of the best ever. In particular a promo on Smackdown after the Benoit/Jericho vs Austin HHH match strikes me as being the promo of the year. His what routine is brillant. It shouldn't be considered Austin's fault that the WWF booking team is totally incompetent and is wasting one of the deepest talent rosters ever.
Basically if this were a horse race Mutoh might have a neck lead over Austin but it could go either way. If Mutoh sells out the budokon on 10/27 and has a match of the year canidate at indicate of the next that will significantly strenghten his case. If Austin has another match of the year canidate and then draws one of the biggest buyrates ever for the inevidable unification match against Rock that will significantly strengthen his case. It's been a great year though I think for both.
Who in the WWF could learn from Jumbo Tsuruta?
Well the obvious answer is everyone. Jumbo is one of the greatest and classiest wrestlers ever according to almost universal oppinon. He gave to the buisness, worked one of the most real styles ever, gave everything to every match, and was genuinely liked by fans everywhere. Jumbo Tsuruta in the late 80's was already a legend and still being one of the best wrestlers in the world didn't need to change anything to be the top man in All Japan. Yet Jumbo did creating one of the great character's in wrestling history-Cranky Old Jumbo.
For some odd reason at some point in the late 80's loveable fan friendly Jumbo just got really pissed off at the world. He started to take this out on young punks who thought they had a right to challenge HIM! Who did these people think they are challenging the Jumbo Tsuruta I'll show them Jumbo said figuratively. Jumbo started to smack these punks right in the mouth, kick them in the head and just all around stiff the hell out of them and look like he was pissed off that his hand had to make contact with such filth. Jumbo's facials during this period were among the best in wrestling history a perfect example is in his triple crown title defense against Misawa from 91. Misawa has the never to slap Jumbo in the face like Jumbo liked to do to punks Jumbo gives him a look of intense hate that is so perfect and then they proceed to smack the taste out of each others mouths for our entertainment. Jumbo could roll with the punches note his second match of his legendary series with Tenyru. The ending of the match was a devastating powerbomb from Jumbo. The problem was that the powerbomb got a little bit away from Jumbo and hense knocked Tenyru out cold hense ending the match cold. Jumbo didn't look around confused he gave a disgusted look to Tenyru like "I'm glad i almost killed you" took his belt and left. The crowds reaction is classic as they literally watch the whole thing in stunned silence. After that anytime Jumbo teased or delivered the powerbomb it got a huge reaction and it also established that Jumbo would do anything to keep his belts.
The differences between the real life Jumbo and the cranky old Jumbo couldn't be more different. Cranky old Jumbo hated young punk wrestlers. Real life Jumbo became Cranky old Jumbo to gain sympathy for the plethora of young talent that All Japan had. Real life Jumbo then went out of his way to make these young stars including putting over Misawa totally clean to make him and start up the legendary Misawa vs Jumbo fued. Jumbo unlike many older wrestlers went out of his way to learn how to work younger wrestlers which is why Misawa,Kobashi,and Kawada all had their breakout singles matches against Jumbo. You see many times in the past few years bookers have booked the old legend vs young up and comers match but it has never taken off like it did for Jumbo. The reason is simple Jumbo changed to become unsympathetic and vicious so the fans would get behind the young guys and Jumbo was willing to let them steal the show and occasionally get the better of him. A poignant clip of his memorial cermony shows Misawa and Kawada both known for their stoicism fighting intensly to hold back tears. That's the kind of respect being a guy like Jumbo gets you.
Two WWF wrestlers could greatly improve from stealing the cranky old Jumbo character. One is Commisioner Regal. His match against Storm is proof that he could pull this off. All kinds of young punks could make snide remarks or offend him and Regal would be more the happy to Fit Finley them. Just imagine a Chris Jericho playing his 1998 character in a match against Cranky Commish. I have no doubt it would be better then their other series of matches.
The other one is the Undertaker. Honestly Jumbo may be the only man who can save Deadman Inc at this point. Undertaker would have to change his style to a stiffer more brutal style but I think he could do it. He would also have to basically become a heel and he'd have to sell for the young guys who would attack him. If he could do those simple things Undertaker might be able to salvage one more big run out of his careers. He's got the legend part and occasionally he can channel the cranky part he's shown already. If he just brought that to the ring with the attitude of getting over his opponent I think he might be able to get off the retire already list.......... Maybe.