Hey Yo Stud Muffins & Foxy Ladies,
Pro Wrestling Love vol. 34:
The Best of Other Puroresu 1989-1995
Objective: Break up the Greatest Match Ever Project (hosted at gwe.freeforums.project.net) into more manageable chunks to help me build my Top 100 List for the project.
Motivation: Contribute to the discussion around these matches to enrich my own understanding of pro wrestling and give a fresh perspective for old matches and even hopefully discover great pro wrestling matches that have been hidden by the sands of time.
Subject: This thirty-fourth volume of Pro Wrestling Love is the Top 6 countdown of the best matches to take place in Heavyweight Puroresu NOT in New Japan, All Japan. Promotions include Genichiro Tenryu’s SWS & WAR, Nobuhiko Takada’s UWFi, Yoshiaki Fujiwara’s PWFG, Akira Maeda’s Fighting Network RINGS, Atsushi Onita’s FMW. The year 1990 of UWF REBORN is covered in Pro Wrestling Love vol. 18. The years are selected to include the beginning of decentralization of the Puroresu promotions starting with Onita’s FMW then continuing with Tenryu starting his own promotion in 1990 and then the splintering of Shoot-Style into three rival promotions. I stopped in 1995 because honestly 1996 is when RINGS gets really good and just wanted to covered that in a different volume. You can revisit past Pro Wrestling Love Volumes at ridingspacemountain.blogspot.com. You can check out the full version of these reviews in ProWrestlingOnly.com by going to the forums and finding the folders associated with the date of the match.
Contact Info: @superstarsleeze on Twitter, Instagram & ProWrestlingOnly.com.
|You Might Know Him Better As God|
Terry Funk vs Atsushi Onita - FMW 5/5/93 Exploding Barbed Wire Time Bomb Death Match
Read the title of the match if that does not sound like the craziest thing you have ever seen then you have seen some crazy shit. With 5 minutes to go a countdown clock appears and sirens are blaring for the impending doom! Also the ref is dressed as the world’s coolest beekeeper!
Wayne (Ken) Shamrock vs Naoki Sano - PWFG 5/19/91
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Wellington Wilkins Jr (PWFG 05/19/91)
I only watched three matches from PWFG as it was not too renowned, which kinda bums me out because I love Fujiwara. These matches are from the same show which is the second show PWFG ever did. The Fujiwara match is the closest thing to a Fujiwara exhibition, spotfest you will ever see and it is wicked cool. The Shamrock vs Sano is a total surprise in how awesome it is. It is probably Shamrock’s best worked bout. He looks so explosive. Very technical mat work with an exciting stand up.
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Vader vs Kazuo Yamazaki - UWFi 8/13/93
SUPER Vader vs Kiyoshi Tamura - UWFi 6/10/94
Vader & John Tenta vs Gary Albright & Kazuo Yamasaki - UWFi 10/14/94
Vader just ruled in UWFi. UWFi is the least shoot style shoot style promotion. Basically it is pro wrestling without rope running and Irish Whips, which is my least favorite part of wrestling anyways. Vader vs Yamazaki or Tamura is just excellent because Vader is so, so good at selling. The anguish on his face as he is getting kicked in the leg is magnificent but you know he is only one bear paw away from ending it. Really strong chemistry with both Yamazaki and Tamura.
Volk Han vs Dick Vrij - RINGS 8/21/92
Volk Han vs Yoshihisa Yamamoto - RINGS 12/19/95
Some people find God, I found Volk Han. I mean I cant believe I waited all these years to finally watch Volk Han. An absolute master at every facet of pro wrestling (well I guess bumping does not really exist in shoot style). He is a magnificent seller (when he scrambles for the ropes it is a big deal or when he crumples in a heap), his character work is awesome (I love his celebrations or when he is pissed he lost) and of course his offense. He is Russian Mat Wizard, he makes every submission move look like the coolest thing ever and his double wristlock rip takedown are so forceful and compelling. If you have not watched this Soviet Maestro perform his craft change that pronto and let his saving grace wash you anew.
Naoki Sano vs Yoji Anjo (UWFI 08/13/93)
Most people prefer this match, I prefer the ’95 match. The best non-Takada/Vader matchup in UWFi by a country mile. Great work and great characters.
Hulk Hogan & Genichiro Tenryu vs Legion of Doom - SWS Tokyo Dome 3/31/91
Hulk Hogan vs Geinchiro Tenryu - SWS Tokyo Dome 12/12/91
Hulk Hogan had quite the violent 1991 between the barbaric Desert Storm match with Sgt. Slaughter and insane out of control brawl with Tenryu against the Road Warriors. Then he goes straight up against Tenryu in a really fun icon vs icon match that most don’t even know exists. It is pretty amazing Tenryu had amazing matches with Hogan and Flair inside a year in the early 90s!
Real World Heavyweight Champion Nobuhiko Takada vs WCW World Heavyweight Champion Vader - UWFi 12/5/93
Real World Heavyweight Champion Super Vader vs Nobuhiko Takada - UWFi 4/20/95
Real World Heavyweight Champion Super Vader vs Nobuhiko Takada - UWFi 4/20/95
The feud that basically fueled the UWFi fire from 1993-1995 (that Takada vs Gary Albright). Takada used the ‘ol Inoki model taking on big, bad gaijin and vanquishing them. The Vader vs Takada trilogy is amazing shows them both at their best Vader as the monster and Takada as the conquering hero. Vader is so good at playing the wounded bear role. His best individual performance could be the December 1993 match where Takada “breaks his arm” with a cross-armbreaker to win the match. Vader hollering in pain is a sight to below and that is the match that MADE Nobuhiko Takada the top draw he was in the mid-90s. That match is my last cut.
Top Six Matches of Heavyweight Other Puroresu 1989-1995
#6. Volk Han vs. Mitsuya Nagai - RINGS 12/24/94
#5. Naoki Sano vs Yoji Anjoh – UWFi 6/18/95
I feel that RINGS is to UWFi as AJPW is to NJPW, but just as in the AJPW-NJPW relationship, UWFi is occasionally able to come close to their more heralded competitor. This is one of those cases where Sano/Anjoh match RINGS in their ability, energy and organic feel. The opening features an amazing 5 minutes of shooting on the mat in amazing fashion that is gritty as it is intense ending with amazingly muscular Boston Crab by Sano. Where Sano and Anjoh have one up on their RINGS counterparts is their pro wrestling background and as a pro wrestling fan that means good character work and lots of great selling and of course ZEBRA PRINT~! (thanks Anjoh!). I feel like the Sano STF on Anjoh was incredibly compelling in a totally pro wrestling way that RINGS could never duplicate because of their shooty nature. I also loved the story of this match. Sano gets a big knee in the corner and then a dropkick to a head to score a knockdown putting it at 14-11. Anjoh spends the rest of the match digging out of the hole working hard to make it 10-10 through a ton of submission work dripping with struggle. Him getting out of that aforementioned STF and converting into his own submission was huge. I love just as Anjoh worked his way back into the match Sano just blows him out of the water with two huge knockdowns one being a deadlift German suplex. Both of their selling before of this war of attrition was great and Anjoh spent all his energy trying to get back into the match and Sano was able to score. Anjoh was spent and blocked the last German, which would have lost him the match, but falls prey to the deep cross armbreaker for the quick submission. Brutal, flashy, energetic match which used the points system really well to create a compelling narrative, loved it.
#4. Genichiro Tenryu vs Shinya Hashimoto – WAR 6/17/93
#3. WWF World Champion Ric Flair vs Genichiro Tenryu
SWS 9/15/92 Two Out Of Three Falls
#2. Volk Han vs Yoshihia Yamamoto – RINGS 6/17/95
#1. Real World Heavyweight Champion Nobuhiko Takada vs Super Vader – UWFi 8/18/94
What if Goliath wins?