Dream Wrestlers, Dream Matches – Gotch vs Hackenschmidt

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Chicago, 1908. Everything begins here. The two greatest wrestlers on the planet finally face off in the first dream match of professional wrestling’s history. It’s true that before there were stars. Martin “Farmer” Burns and William Muldoon were recognized legends. However, never before in the history of the business so much buzz was caused by a single encounter. And it would be the first time someone would walk out with the right to be claimed the Wrestling Heavyweight Champion of the World.

By the time they faced each other, both competitors were already well-known in the wrestling world. Hacken was the European champion while Gotch held the belt in American soil.

The match itself lasted more than two hours and was filled with controversy. Hacken would complain that Gotch used a series of underhanded tactics. It didn’t matter. At the end of the day, the American would leave as the winner and be crowned the World Heavyweight Champion.

It’s sad that we have no footage from this match. Otherwise, we would be analyzing the most important 120 minutes of wrestling history. This was, after all, the match that set in stone what professional wrestling would become: a true spectacle for the masses.


Frank GotchUntitled

Height: 1.80 cm (5′ 11″)
Weight: 95 kg (209 lbs)
Debut: 1899
Trainers: Farmer Burns

World Heavyweight Champion


UntitledGeorge Hackenschmidt

Height: 1.83 cm (6′ 0″)
Weight: 105 kg (231 lbs)
Debut: 1896
Trainers: Georg Lurich

World Heavyweight Champion


The Feud

Total Matches: 2

Record: Gotch (2) X (0) Hackenschmidt

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Dream Wrestlers, Dream Matches – Verne Gagne

 

ProfileUntitled

Height: 1.80 cm (5′ 11″)
Weight: 98 kg (216 lbs)
Debut: 1949
Trainers: Joe Pazandak

AWA World Heavyweight Champion (10x)


AWA COMISKEY PARK (CHICAGO, 1974)

VERNE GAGNE vs BILLY ROBINSON

This match has a special presentation to it. Verne and Billy are presented as real deals, what they truly are.  You have more of a technical match here with a nice selling from both men. It’s fair to say that Verne is the man responsible for bringing legitimacy to the AWA World Heavyweight Championship. The man was legit. Robinson, as we’ve seen before, is another wrestler who does things in a more realistic way. Therefore, we have a nice old school realist bout. The great thing about Billy is that he’s also an awesome athlete, so the matches are not boring at all. I think it’s all about that British style. It’s fascinating to listen to the commentary here. Billy goes for a leg lock transitioning into a half Boston crab. Gagne starts hitting Robinson in the head. The British champion gets annoyed.  Verne plays with Billy’s nerves. Kick to the face by Verne. They trade slaps to the face and Billy gets the best of it. Meanwhile, Verne puts Robinson over in the commentary by saying he was his toughest opponent ever. Backbreaker by Robinson. Billy hits a modified piledriver. He goes outside the ring, and we have a count out victory by Verne. This was a weird match. Not bad all, and it allows us to see both men showcase their skills. However, I would say the most interesting thing is listening to Verne on commentary telling some very fascinating stories.


AJPW EXCITE SERIES – DAY 16 (TOKYO, 1976)

VERNE GAGNE vs JUMBO TSURUTA

This is definitely the kind of match I would fantasy book. We have previously taken a look at how Jumbo was booked against these legends at the beginning of his career, and I strongly believe this was what allowed him to become the great wrestler he was. I think I will stop calling the action here since I decided to leave the videos of the matches. I want to point out, by the way, I do not own any rights to these and I only found them already on the internet. Coming back to my point, though, I will try to stick to how the action works from a metaphorical physical storytelling standpoint. We can see Jumbo controlling Verne’s arm here as this can be seen as a way of telling how the young star is now on top of the business in a superior position as of that held by the legend. A very technical style also says a lot about both men. By this point, we can see how the 70s All Japan meshed well with both the NWA and the AWA since it presented a more traditional product, at least according to the matches we’ve followed so far. It’s important to remember that both men came from a legitimate background so the style of the match itself is influenced by that. It’s interesting to look how, after losing the first fall by submission with a sleeper hold, Tsuruta needs to be “awaken” by both Gagne and the referee. We can see how realism was viewed as very important. Verne won the first fall without controlling most of the match. It looked like he threw a veteran move to get that win. These small details are things we need to pay attention to when it comes to these matches. Gagne slaps Tsuruta on the face, and we see another great piece of storytelling in a small gesture. The camera shows Jumbo’s face, and he looks angry and scared at the same time. It’s the face of a man in front of a lion. He knows he can try to fight, but he doesn’t know if he can win. At the same time, Gagne walks like a man no longer in his prime. He can still go, and he is probably better than most. Still, he is not the great world champion anymore. Tsuruta wins the second fall, and he celebrates. He looks tired, though. This match is taking a lot of him. This is a tale of two men trying to find out who is the best. It’s a common one in this series we have been following. Still, it’s different because each wrestler has his own story to tell. This is not Inoki/Thesz, although there are some similarities. This is Tsuruta/Gagne, a real treasure to any real pro-wrestling fan. The match ends in a draw with none of the wrestlers answering to the ten count. That shows how, at this point in his career, Tsuruta is already on Verne’s level.


  We’re not done with Verne yet. What is happening is that I decided to change the dynamic of these series. I think I will cover feuds, instead of focusing on one man’s career. I’ll probably start running some numbers while still analyzing some matches. So, soon we’ll have some new posts around.

 

Top 3 Pro-Wrestling Matches – April 2019

It was Wrestlemania month, so you can only imagine the number of great matches we had. Still, only three made the final cut.


3. JOSH BARNETT vs MINORU SUZUKI – GCW JOSH BARNETT’S BLOODSPORT (APRIL, 4)

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I love the Bloodsport concept. It’s that one night of the year when you are taken back to the UWF years. Also, there were no better choices for the main event than these two dudes. Suzuki is the best active wrestler when it comes to the shoot style. Barnett showed here that he is not that far behind. They went after each other the whole match and, after a time limit draw, they demanded it to restart.  If you like violent physical poetry, this is your match.


2. DAVEY BOY SMITH JR. vs KILLER KROSS – GCW JOSH BARNETT’S BLOODSPORT (APRIL, 4)

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Earlier that night, two wrestlers won my absolute respect. Both Smith and Kross were never exactly my cup of tea. After this match, I will pay attention to everything they do. These guys are talented, and they showed exactly that in here. They were vicious and brutal. It looked like a real fight. When it comes to realism, this is probably a match of the year contender. If you missed this match, go and watch it right now.


1. ORTIZ & SANTANA vs RICKY MORTON & ROBERT GIBSON  – GCW JOEY JANELA’S SPRINGBREAK (APRIL, 6)

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We have to address some things here. First, GCW has been offering the best wrestling shows when it comes to Wrestlemania for a couple of years already. Second, no one puts a better show than Joey Janela. Third, the Rock N’ Roll Express is the best tag team ever.

This felt like one of those moments where you feel lucky to be alive. It was a true dream match when you had one of the best tag teams on the planet today going against a legendary one. And, boy, they delivered. I’d never expected to see a Canadian Destroyer by Ricky Morton in 2019. Hell, I wouldn’t expect such a thing to ever happen. Still, I did. This was magic. It was everything professional wrestling needs to be. It’s the past making way for the future leaving a mark in the process. The art of tag team wrestling came to life in this once in a lifetime masterpiece.

Top 3 Pro-Wrestling Matches – March 2019

3. DON FRYE & JINSEI SHINZAKI & SHINJIRO OTANI & TAIYO KEA vs HIRO SAITO & HIROYOSHI TENZAN & SATOSHI KOJIMA & SUPER J – MUTOH PRODUCES PRO-WRESTLING MASTERS (MARCH 5)

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Sometimes you will find that weird match that is so good in a strange way that you must rate it high. Here, you had your classic Mutoh Team vs Chono Team, with both Musketeers even getting involved in the match. Overall, the in-ring action was really solid. Super J looked great. Kea, Otani, Tenzan, and Saito were solid. Kojima can still go, and Shinzaki is just out-of-this-world-spectacular. That leaves us Don Frye. Well, he looked completely lost in the match, always seemingly out of place. However, in the end, with an unexpected turn, things suddenly made sense. What should definitely hurt the match ended up making it better. Surprisingly, I want to see more of this feud after this match. Also, if you have the chance, check the previous match for a Riki Choshu/Akira Maeda awkward handshake.


2. TAICHI vs TOMOHIRO ISHII – NEW JAPAN CUP (MARCH 12)

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Taichi came to the ring singing his fantastic theme song. After a while, Ishii got there. Suddenly, things for serious. At first, it seemed like we were going to get more shtick from Taichi. However, there is one man in this world that can bring the best out of any competitor, and that is Tomohiro Ishii. Taichi had to bring his best, and he did. This was as hard-hitting as you can wish for. Ishii made himself the MVP of the New Japan Cup, and, at the same time, gave Taichi the best match of his career.


1. JAY BRISCOE & MARK BRISCOE vs BRODY KING & PCO – ROH 17TH ANNIVERSARY (MARCH, 15)

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You want to talk about poetic justice? You had it here with Pierre Carl Ouellet getting his ticket to Madison Square Garden. Knowing PCO’s history with WWE, and witnessing his wrestling renaissance, one can only cheer how he got here. The match was violent but in a beautiful way. It was a romantic bloodfest with dudes trying to prove they were the best at what they do by almost killing themselves. It had partnership and hatred, with two of the best teams on the planet clashing in order to achieve a dream. You couldn’t ask for anything better.

Dream Wrestlers, Dream Matches – Dory Funk Jr.

ProfileUntitled

Height: 1.88 cm (6′ 2″)
Weight: 115 kg (253 lbs)
Debut: 1963
Trainers: Dory Funk Sr., Lou Thesz

NWA International Heavyweight Champion (2x)
NWA World Heavyweight Champion


JWA NWA SERIES – DAY 10 (OSAKA, 1969)

DORY FUNK JR vs ANTONIO INOKI

I’d say Dory is one of the most underrated talents in the business ever. The man was at the top of cards all over America and in Japan as well. Maybe, it was the fact that he never got over in the WWF that makes people forget him. This match against Inoki is regarded as one of the best bouts of both men careers, so it’s going to be interesting. We have already seen Inoki facing Thesz previously, but, by then, he was already the face of his own promotion. Here, he was still one of many JWA talent, and unlike Thesz, Dory is at his prime here. The match starts in a fast-paced fashion which really shows how great these men are. One thing that I’ve learned from watching these old matches is to not expect speed, but rather technical prowess. Still, here, they are able to mix both. Of course, it’s not like today’s level of athleticism, but you get my point. They use the ropes running around, and that shows how they are excited about the match. Another fascinating detail to pay attention to is how they don’t lose hold of each other. They are constantly in contact with each other, they don’t want to let the other go. These men know that, once they lose their opponent, it’s going to be a difficult situation to get him back. Inoki goes for some successful shoulder tackles, but Dory counters at the third attempt locking him in a toe hold. The way Inoki moves, trying to escape, is just a thing of beauty. At the same time, Dory applies the hold within a unique way. It’s like a dance and a fight at the same time. They apply holds at each other at the same time. The facial expressions are out of this world. They show pain and anger, fear and pride at the same time. These are the best the world has to offer struggling against each other to show who is the best. That is a man in Dory’s corner who heavily interferes in the match as a distraction factor. He looks like Terry, but I don’t know if the timing is right. I’ve done a quick research, and I think it’s Dory Sr. It’s incredible how the crowd goes nuts with everything they do here. They have the audience at the palm of their hands. Dory holds are different from what I’m used to seeing, or maybe that’s just the style of the time. It’s incredible how a simple thing like a different submission hold can make a match more interesting. He starts to work on Inoki’s fingers, but the Japanese legend answers with some stiff strikes. Dory’s back in control of Inoki’s arm, and there’s a police officer trying to calm down the crowd. Are we about to see one of those legendary riots? Outside interference by a blonde guy that I didn’t notice before. He attacked Inoki as Dory brought him close to the ropes. One thing that I’ve always liked about pro-wrestling was having cornermen on both sides. It’s the case here. The blonde guy is Harley Race, by the way. I am still trying to identify the people at Inoki’s corner. I know the faces, but I can’t name them. Dory Sr. tries to interfere once again and the ref kicks his hand. I miss those tough refs. I hate how today’s just get their asses kicked and do nothing about. Except maybe for Red Shoes, he’s one of those tough underdogs. Dory backdrops Inoki and the ref almost goes down with him. The guy at Inoki’s corner looks like that character from the Van Damme movie, the one who talks about bricks. There’s a photographer really close to the ring with an attire that makes him look like an astronaut. It makes sense since we’re in the middle of the space race. I wonder what Kubrick was doing at this moment. I’m sorry for the meaningless comments, but this match is long. Inoki goes for the Octopus, but Dory is saved by the ropes. Dory goes for the Boston crab and Inoki reverses twice. It’s his turn now and he connects. Funk reverses with a pinfall attempt. He goes outside to get some advice from Pa. Do they use Pa in Texas? Inoki applies a very interesting arm hold. This is a very competitive match and shows how both men are on the same level. Harley is complaining at the ringside. He’s young and looks like a college student. The Japanese cornermen are less active themselves. I think it’s a cultural thing. Dory with a knee to the chin. Have you ever notice how big of a chin Inoki’s got. If I was wrestling him, I would definitely focus on it. That’s what Dory is doing right now. Bodyslam by Inoki. He is using the corners to hurt his opponent. Dory Sr. just gets inside the ring laying over the top rope so when his son is about to hit the corner he’s on the way. That turns things around. The crowd is not happy about it. I think the guy at the corner is Yoshimura, but I am not sure yet. It would make sense because I think he was All Asia Tag Team champion alongside Inoki by this time. Race pulls the ref’s leg, no pun intended. We’re more than 40 minutes in, but it doesn’t feel THAT log. Dory is focusing on Inoki’s head, a smart move by the Texas Bronco. If you make your opponent dizzy, he can’t think straight, and that’s lethal in a match like this. Bodyslam by Dory, goes for the pin, kick out by Inoki. Dory takes Inoki to the corner, but this time the ref avoids the outside interference. Inoki with a series of dropkicks, and it’s a nice hope spot. Dory with elbows to the top of the head. Dropkick by Dory, Inoki avoids it. Double underhook suplex by Dory. Nearfall. Both men collapse in the ring, but just for a few seconds. Dory goes to the top rope and dives with his knee on Inoki’s upper back. A slap to the chest is answered with an elbow to the face. Inoki’s in control now, but he can’t capitalize. Both men go over the top rope outside the ring. Dory Sr. is trash talking and Yoshimura looks like he’s finally going to interfere. I think the other man is Oki. Inoki with an airplane spin. The astronaut photographer gets in the way of one of his colleagues. He apologizes and disappears into thin air. Vintage Dory here, with that signature move I can’t name. You know, the one he wraps the opponent leg and bumps. I think we’re getting the spinning toe hold now. That move makes no sense, but it’s cool to see. Rope break, though, and Dory is unable to apply it. The match goes outside. Inoki looks like he is mad. Dory grabs something and hits his opponent with it. Bodyslam on the outside. Inoki grabs Funk’s legs and brings him outside. Vertical suplex by Inoki for another nearfall. They’re trading moves now. Look, a double missed dropkick in 1969. Where are those purists now? Octopus hold connects. Crowd goes nuts. Dory is able to make it to the ropes, though. Headbutt by Dory, both men are down. I think the final countdown is on. Inoki with another Octopus. The bell rings just as Dory makes it to the ropes. They shake hands as Funk retains his NWA belt. Harley raises his hand, what a bastard!


CWF TV (TAMPA, 1972)

DORY FUNK JR vs JACK BRISCO

This tape I found is a sort of rerun of the match. Allegedly, this was the first time the World title was defeated on television. Eddie Graham is on commentary with an announcer that sounds somehow like an outsider. Jack Brisco is on commentary himself. I think we’re having the classic local hero vs outside champion match here, with Dory being booed from arrival and Jack cheered. It’s a very technical match so far, and both Graham and Brisco are giving their takes on the match and that looks like an interesting concept. Dory tries to counter a headlock with a leg breaker, but Brisco won’t break the hold. Dory is focusing on the legs as Jack describes how he prepared to the match. Again, a very interesting concept. Dory does a backdrop and both men are down. As you can probably notice by now, this match is not as interesting as the previous one. I think it’s important to notice that this is a TV match after all, and it’s very nature requires a different kind of action. Dory works Brisco arm as the match proceeds. Forearms by Brisco. Dory takes the match down. Have you ever notice how most of the commentators today are former wrestlers, but we miss that wrestler perspective on a move by move basis? Well, I just notice that based on Jack’s amazing work here as he describes what he does in the ring. Funk pins Brisco against the corner and throws some punches. Jack goes for a pin. Dory kicks out. The match is kind of boring by this point, and, although the commentary team is doing a good job, their monotonic voices are almost making me fall asleep. I am actually back after a week or so where I totally forgot I was watching this match. It might feel like a break here. Brisco holds Funk in a bodyscissors by this point. Boston crab by Dory as Graham mentions Joe Stecher in the commentary. You know the kind of match you’re watching when they mention someone like that. Irish whip by Brisco throwing Dory against the corner. Headlock by Brisco. The way these old matches were worked can go both ways. It’s better for a deeper analysis, but it also bores you to death when they are bad. I know these are two of the best wrestlers ever, but this is a match that doesn’t stand the test of time. The punches they throw are sick, though. I may skip some moves here as I play Total Extreme Wrestling. I am playing this 1933 mod that is really fascinating. Jim Londos is my champion right now. Dory elbows Jack’s lower back. Atomic drop by Funk. German suplex by Brisco. They trade punches and Dory’s thrown over the top rope. The commentary team points out this is a no disqualification match what allows things like that to happen. People may forget, but throwing your opponent outside the ring was illegal through the very beginning of pro-wrestling. Dory’s leg got stuck in the ropes and it looked legit. He had trouble getting out of there. Dory with the spinning toe hold. I still think that is one of the coolest looking moves in wrestling. The referee is down for some reason. Refs have always been easy to knock down, haven’t they? Bodyslam by Dory. He’s going to dive, but Jack gets there before and brings him down. Jack tries to pin Dory down, but the clock goes out. It’s a time limit draw. Well, this was…interesting. I survived through a Jack Brisco/Dory Funk Jr. hour-long time limit draw. I feel like a can conquer the world right now.


AJPW SUMMER ACTION SERIES II (TOKYO, 1974)

DORY FUNK JR vs JUMBO TSURUTA

Before we start here, I want to say that Tsuruta is probably my favorite wrestler ever. His pre-80s stuff is not my cup of tea, though. I hope this changes my mind. Jumbo starts with a series of dropkicks and this is already more exciting than the whole Brisco match. It’s in moments like these that you realize how tall Dory actually is. Jumbo towers through those 90s multimen tag matches. Here, he doesn’t look that tall. I think it’s fair to say that, through the years, wrestlers really got smaller. Although the match is very technical, the pace is a lot faster than in the previous one. A leg lock by Dory and Jumbo sells like no one else. I think nobody in the history of professional wrestling had better facial expressions than him. He looks really young here, so he doesn’t have that menacing look that made him so threatening later in his career. In this match, he is the young prospect facing the established veteran. It’s a whole different dynamic from the matches I am used to. Tsuruta tries to speed things up here. He needs to be careful, though. That got him in trouble twice already. The more experienced Dory knows how to take advantage of a careless youngun. I think that experience is exactly what makes this bout different from Inoki’s. Jumbo debuted in 73, what makes him a real rookie here. It’s impressive how he’s doing well against a true veteran here. By the way, Dory’s just scored the first fall. Jumbo looks upset. He’s got that young man disappointment in his face. Like I said, great selling. Jumbo chops Dory’s chest, but the gaijin gets back on top. Cobra stretch by Funk. I think it was by working matches like these that Jumbo learned how to work that style later in his career. Baba was very smart in his booking. I still think he was the best booker ever. Nobody created as many great stars as old Shohei. Jumbo just scores the second fall, and Dory’s disappointment is different. It’s that veteran grumpiness towards oneself. He shakes hands with Tsuruta, though, as we get to the third fall here. I think out of the matches I’ve seen so far, this is the first time I see someone working a submission from the top. Usually, we have side submissions taking place, what symbolizes both wrestlers being on the same level. Here, Dory is often on top, showing his superiority to Tsuruta. Dory throws Jumbo outside with a flying headscissors. Then, he takes him back with a vertical suplex. That, again, shows the complete control he’s got against the rookie. On the other hand, the power moves from Tsuruta do not look that powerful. They are affected by that lack of experience. You see a star that is too young to shine as much as it should do. In the end, Dory pins by reversing a move from Tsuruta. It was exactly that lack of experience that cost him the match.


AJPW OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP LEAGUE – DAY 1 (TOKYO, 1975)

DORY FUNK JR vs ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER

I expect this match to be completely different from the previous one considering Abdullah’s style. They start with a crown brawl, which says a lot about it. European uppercut by Funk. Abdullah answers with some headbutts. The Butcher bites the Texas Bronco’s forehead. There’s no one in the history of professional wrestling like him. No one ever looked like an absolute threat like he did. He’s bleeding after some chair shots. Knowing about the hepatitis thing makes me cringe. Dory’s in control and elbows and punches the top of the head of his opponent. This is a different Dory. He had to change his game in order to match his opponent here. No long-lasting holds. Instead, he goes for some on-point strikes there. Spinning toe hold, but Abdullah reverses. Elbow drop by The Butcher. Dory goes for the vertical suplex and succeeds. It’s also interesting how he presents himself here. He looks like a real champion, and it’s on top for the most part. Dory hits the ref with a chair shot, and they go outside for another brawl. I think it’s a double DQ. Dory tries to go after Abdullah but it’s held back by Jumbo Tsuruta. Abdullah, who had run to the back, comes back to mock Funk. He punches him in the had, and also punches some random All Japan guy. Dory goes after him as the people ringside try to get things under control. This post-match angle is more exciting than the match itself. This chaotic nature says a lot about The Butcher’s persona.


AJPW GIANT SERIES – DAY 7 (TOKYO, 1981)

DORY FUNK JR vs BRUISER BRODY

There’s never been a more menacing human being in the world of professional wrestling than Bruiser Brody. Dory gets to the ring and starts throwing things at the crowd. I have no idea what they are, but people look excited about. The Immigrant Song plays! Here comes Brody! It’s already exciting. HE’S OUT OF CONTROL, PEOPLE! IT’S BRODY! IT’S BRUISER BRODY! He jumps even Dory even before the bell rings, and we’re into a wild brawl. They go outside. Brody hits Dory on the head with something. It’s chaos out there. He throws Funk back in the ring. Dropkick by Brody. He bites Dory’s forehead as the crowd chants for the Texas Bronco. The match goes back outside. It’s a sea of people out there as Brody carries Dory by the back of his head. Back in the ring and Brody bodyslams Funk. Dory is busted open. There’s blood everywhere. Kick to the midsection by Brody. Knee drop. Right now, he looks unbeatable. The camera focus on Dory’s face. It’s all messy. Brody bites him again despite the blood. He’s an animal. Dory answers with a series of forearms. The crowd goes nuts as Funk takes over. The match is taken outside again. Dropkick by funk. Now Brody is bleeding after Dory driving him face first against the turnbuckle. Spinning toe hold. They get back on their feet. Big hands by Brody. He goes for the knee drop but misses. Funk back in control. It’s incredible how Brody can take the best from his opponents. Let’s give Dory some credit too. He’s not that scientific wrestler here. This is not a wrestling match. This is a fight, and he brought his best. Dory hits a vertical suplex, but knocks the referee out. This gives Brody time to recover. He goes outside and grabs his chain. Dory is able to take control. The ref gets back but Dory punches him.  He also hits Buck Robley. The Japanese team tries to stop him. I can see Momota and Okuma among them. Robley holds Dory as Brody attacks him. Terry Funk comes for the save. A wild brawl is taking place. The Funks are working together, and they beat Brody out of there.


HOUSTON WRESTLING (HOUSTON, 1981)

DORY FUNK JR vs BILLY ROBINSON

We’re probably going back to old school Dory here as he faces legendary scientific wrestler Billy Robinson.  Listening to the announcer, it sounds like Robinson wasn’t exactly well-known at this point. Dory is in the best shape I have ever seen him. Robinson goes for a British-style offense there. So far, the match has been about holds with no strikes whatsoever. It’s a very realistic match, but it’s not boring at all. Robinson just slaps Dory’s face, and the match has some heat to it. Billy’s style is different from everyone else’s. He is, indeed, very unique. The match goes outside for a second. Robinson comes back to ring and looks upset. Dory rolls out. This tells a lot about these men. Although both have a similar approach to the art, Robinson is more explosive while Dory is more of a patient wrestler. A modified Backbreaker by Robinson shows more about the kind of wrestler he is. This match is fascinating to look at. It’s old school grappling, but there’s a nice dynamic to it. Robinson makes those holds meaningful. Even common ones look painful when he is applying them. A small botch there hurts the perfect wrestling match they had so far, but nothing that can’t be excused. Submissions are countered into pins, pins into submissions. There’s a real grappling masterpiece taking place. Dory goes for the forearms, and Robinson sells like a king. Bodyslam by Funk. Someone in the crowd asks for the Toe Hold. It looks like I am not the only one who likes that move. Dory’s on control now.  A Neckbreaker by Robinson looks like things are gonna change, but both men just collapse after hitting each other. Dory goes for the Toe Hold, but Robinson denies. Now Robinson with Abdominal Stretch. That is the kind of move that looks really cool. Boston Crab by Robinson. Another Backbreaker and Robinson hurts Dory’s lower back and his own knee. Funk goes for the Toe Hold again as the time limit count out starts. Robinson goes for a Tackle and tries the pin, but it’s too late. Twenty minutes time limit draw.


AJPW GRAND CHAMPION CARNIVAL I – DAY 21 (OMIYA, 1984)

DORY FUNK JR vs STAN HANSEN

Probably going for another crazy brawl as Dory faces Hansen here. Hansen attacks right away showing no mercy whatsoever. He is even more vicious than Robinson. Dory tries the Spinning Toe Hold very early in the match but is unsuccessful. Well, I have to say this match already has more holds than I originally expected. Dropkick by Hansen, and that reminds me of why he is so awesome. Hansen’s chin lock is more bestial than scientific. He’s just a crazy cowboy trying to hurt his opponent. Dory steps up, though, and faces him like a man. So far, we’ve seen him against a lot of opponents that are completely different from each other, and, every single time, he adapted himself to the game. That shows how great of a professional wrestler is Dory Funk Jr. Even the matches that weren’t that fun, had a flavor to it that you don’t see everywhere. Every time Dory is on control in this match, he slows things down. He is trying to calm the beast in Hansen. That doesn’t seem to be a very good idea. Hansen is a brute, and he attacks like one every time he gets the chance. His holds, unlike Dory’s, are nasty. They are not visually pleasing, and they are not supposed to be. His style is not pretty, and he’s not worried about it. Hansen uses his knees a lot. If you think about it, that’s the nastiest part of the human body, and the one with the potential to cause the most damage. Bodyslam. He goes up and tries to hit a Diving Double Knee Drop. He misses. The match goes outside and, when it looks we’re getting another crowd brawl, Dory brings the bout back to the ring. He hits Hansen’s head against the ring post and busts Stan open. Hansen gets the advantage back and hits a piledriver. He’s wearing the crimson’s mask as he hits a suplex. Dory back in control. Spinning Toe Hold. And, out of nowhere, Bruiser Brody hits the ring and attacks Dory. They remove the protection from outside the ring as Brody piledrives Dory into the exposed floor. Brody and Hansen celebrate and leave. At this point, their reign of terror in All Japan is at its prime.


As I said before, I am not posting any links unless I am completely sure they are 100% legal. However, I encourage you to search for these matches. They are not very hard to find, and you can have a nice time watching and analyzing them.

Omindá: Water that Connects

For most of you, André Abujamra may just sound like another name that is just impossible to pronounce. Well, you’re that wrong. Even I can’t say the guy’s name. However, you should pay attention to him.

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André is not exactly a big name in Brazil. His father was a mildly famous talk show host and actor that had a lot of talent himself. André, on the other hand, is better known for being responsible for the score of Castelo Ra-Tim-Bum, a 90s kids TV show that had a lot of similarities to Harry Potter. That’s really sad because the guy is a genius.

I found Omindá by accident. I didn’t know he was releasing an album. To be fair, I wasn’t exactly following his career. That’s when I decided to give it a shot. I mean, it’s always nice to go out there and try new stuff. What could go wrong, right?

At first, it didn’t get me. The album starts right away with and a capella singing by Abu that might drive the less patient away. I have waited, though, and it has paid out. Once that giant harmony gets in, with that huge amount of instruments I can’t name, I got hooked.

I am no music specialist. I can’t describe the specifics here. I don’t even know if what he is doing is new in music. I know this touched me, though, and that’s what is really important.

There’s a common theme throughout Omindá that fits really well within the current context. Omindá is about bonding. It’s about connecting and uniting. The world itself is connected to that. It comes from the Yoruba language where “omin” means “water” and “da” means “soul”. And that’s what Abujamra with to accomplish here. He wants a borderless world where people can finally connect and humankind can be finally one.

Besides the whole concept behind the album, the structure itself works to achieve such goals. Artists from different countries are featured here singing in their own languages in a beautiful mix of voices and styles.

The lyrics also call for this union. Abu celebrates the humankind (How beautiful these people/To hear and to see). He shows that we are all connected (I suffer/Everybody suffers/The rich, the poor/The lucky, the unlucky). Water is everywhere, as well. He talks about rivers, lakes, oceans and even tears to show that this magic liquid is what connects us all.

In conclusion, Omindá is a masterpiece. It seeks something pure and beautiful within the heart of men. We’re all 60% of water. Our blood is 95% water. If we realize that we’re just drops and that only together we can be an ocean, maybe the world will be a better place.

 

New Japan Cup – Day 2 – Review

LANCE ARCHER vs TOA HENARE

Archer is doing his Brody gimmick where he comes to the ring destroying everything on his way. Henare is more traditional. The match starts with a big boot. The size difference is noticeable. Archer pins Henare against the corner. Goes for the ten punches position. Powerbomb by Henare. Nearfall. They go outside and Henare is in control. Archer throws Henare against the barricade and puncher a Young Lion just after. I really like how he plays the audience. We almost had a count out here. Lariat by Archer. He goes for a shoulder tackle and hits it. He humiliates Henare to show how much better he is. Old-school time. Henare shows some heart, but he is no match for the big man. Lariat by Henare. He hits a series of forearms and goes for a samoan drop. Archer tells the crowd to shut up, but they just make more noise. That allows Henare to go for the vertical suplex. A side tackle throws the New Zealander all the way across the ring. Uranagi. Chokeslam. Nearfall. Headbutt by Henare. Huge lariat by Archer. He hits the blackout and pins his opponent.

Rating: ***


HIKULEO vs MIKEY NICHOLLS

Jado is here so you can expect some shenanigans. They trade some slaps to the chest. Nicholls is thrown outside and Jado uses the kendo stick to beat him. Hikuleo looks like a giant Haku, no need for a paternity test here. If he puts some weight, he will be the scariest thing in wrestling. I think Nicholls is getting too much offense here. A guy like Hikuleo should be better protected and should not be selling for a guy the size of Nicholls. He got a couple of lariats and a vertical suplex, and it’s just not believable. The Samoan gets back on top after a missed moonsault by the Australian. Jado interferes again. Nicholls reverses a double-arm chokeslam, but the camera misses. Oh my God, I am slowly turning into Jim Cornette. Seeing Nicholls in control is really bothering me. Also, he just pinned the big guy. I understand that you don’t want the guy losing in his debut, but I really think you should have put him against someone else.

Rating: **3/4


BAD LUCK FALE vs WILL OSPREAY

Ospreay with a dropkick to start things fast. Jado is here and the first interference takes place. Fale teases a suicide dive and Jado strikes Ospreay with a kendo stick. Fale is threatening Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero, and that’s how you book a monster heel. I hope Vince McMahon doesn’t see Fale in this army pants here, or he’ll probably try to hire him and put him in some stupid 1997 gimmick. Fale works Ospreay’s lower back. By hurting that body part, the big man destroys his opponent stability. The Aerial Assassin is the best seller on the world right now, and even when it seems he’s not going to sell, he does exactly that right after. He uses his speed to put the big man down. By flying all around, Will rises to the occasion. It’s like that Greek myth where the strength of your opponent is connected related to him being connected to the land he steps in. You take him up, he loses it. Fale uses Red Shoes as a shield and Jado hits Ospreay with a sickening strike. Now it’s two against one. Ospreay takes hold of the stick and, after putting Jado down, hits Fale with a series of strikes. Spear by Fale, though. Grenade, he goes for the pin, but Ospreay kicks out. The crowd is all for the Englishman. Bad Luck Fall in position, but Will reverses and pins Fale.

Rating: ***3/4


KAZUCHIKA OKADA vs MICHAEL ELGIN

Okada is one of the best in the world. Elgin is one of the most underrated wrestlers on the planet. Every time these two meet, there’s always a spectacle. I think it’s going to be no different here. Elgin looks thinner than usual. He’s still a beast, though. Some hard chops by Elgin here. I may not call this match as much as I really get distracted here. There’s some good stuff so far. Missile dropkick by Elgin. Big Mike is in control. I think he’s probably the only major guy in wrestling right now with any resemblance to that Steve William/Gary Albright style that I really love. Some more chops by Elgin and Okada seems to have been wakened up. Powerslam by Elgin. A close up to Okada’s chest and I think I don’t want to ever be chopped by a professional wrestler. Now I can’t avoid but imagine a match between Big Mike and Dr. Death. He hits a northern lights suplex, and that doesn’t help. This match is so fluid it’s hard to describe. We are indeed seeing two of the very best. Diving elbow drop by Okada but Elgin reverses into a crossface. There’s another wrestler I would like to see Big Mike facing right now, but I won’t mention his name for kayfabe reasons. Elgin hits his opponent with some Vader-style lariats. Flapjack by Okada. Neckbreaker. The bruises at Okada’s chest! Oh, God! That must hurt, right? Enzuigiri by Elgin. Double german suplex followed by a dragon suplex and a tiger bomb. That’s a hell of a sequence there. European uppercut by Okada. Superkick by Elgin. This match rules. Bronco bomb + Elgin bomb by Okada. Yes, by Okada! Rainmaker by Elgin. And this match is getting better and better. The best dropkick in the business enters the game with Okada. Elgin reverses the Rainmaker with a pop-up powerbomb and goes for the crossface. Each man is trying to prove themselves in their own way. Okada wants to get back to the top. Elgin wants that break to finally take place. That’s why they’re hitting everything they have. Bronco bomb by Elgin. He tries to hit another rainmaker, Okada reverses. A back fist by Big Mike, and I want these men to duel now. Tombstone by Okada. He hits the rainmaker and it’s over. What a match!

Rating: ****1/4

Dream Wrestlers, Dream Matches – Gene Kiniski

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Height: 1.93 cm (6′ 4″)
Weight: 123 kg (271 lbs)
Debut: 1952
Trainers: Dory Funk Sr., Stu Hart

AWA World Heavyweight Champion
NWA International Heavyweight Champion
NWA World Heavyweight Champion


JWA TV SHOW (OSAKA, 1967)

GENE KINISKI vs GIANT BABA

The legend of Giant Baba lives. I am used to watching old Baba wrestling among the newcomers by the early ’90s, so it’s nice to see him on his prime here. He starts by controlling his opponent with some nice submission moves. This match, like the others, starts slow. It requires a lot of patience from the viewer. Kiniski tries to answer back, but he is not in a metaphorical position of doing so. He’s not only locked in a submission, but he’s also in Baba’s country at his home promotion with the whole crowd against him. When you look at those early Japanese days in professional wrestling, that’s what the figure of the hell gaijin basically does. Of course, at first, the non-finishes were really common since they couldn’t get to a clean finish. Anyway, after some nice exchanges, Baba scored what looked like the first fall of the match. Gene starts the second fall in control. It’s important to notice how the heel needs to establish himself as a threat in this situation. Therefore, a lot of offense is necessary. What really has been impressing me watching those old matches is how the punches and slaps these guys deliver are so great. It’s a shame they spend 80% of their matches in endless meaningless holds. If this was all chops and punches, it would be a lot better. Of course, in such an environment, we need to understand how professional wrestling was viewed as a competitive sport and structure as such. The narrative is still there, though, it’s just harder to find. Kiniski uses some underhanded tactics to dominate the bigger Baba. It makes sense considering the size difference, and it adds to the match. The slaps to the chest are awesome. These used to apply those headscissors a lot, I wonder why today guys don’t use such a tactic. Because it’s so unusual today, I’m sure it would get over. Baba runs with some shoulder tackles, sending Kiniski flying across the ring. Gene throws his opponent outside, but just for a second. The match is back in the ring and Kiniski is using his knees to punish his opponent. He goes over the top rope and does the King Kong Knee Drop (I’m not sure if the move was called that back then) twice and scores the second fall. Baba seems like he’s out. They’re doing a great job at selling it. Boy, this place is full. I think they are in some sort of stadium, and I can’t see any empty seats. That’s how you see how great Rikidozan was. An atomic drop puts Baba back in the match. He kicks the hell out of Kiniski, but the gaijin gets back on top. He goes for Baba’s throat with a move that looks illegal. He’s using everything to win here. Both men run into each other only to collapse into the ring. Backdrop by Kiniski. Knee to the face by Baba. The match has been very back and forth, so far. Baba steps on Kiniski head, burying it into the ground. That’s him saying “This is MY ring, MY country, MY business”. Kiniski doesn’t give up, though. He’s a valuable opponent. He answers with some stomps of his own and follows with a back breaker. He goes for another knee drop, but the bell sounds. Gene continues the attack, though. I don’t understand Japanese, but I think it’s a time limit draw. Kiniski is playing the referees into giving him the win. The match looks like it’s going to restart, though. Both men get back to their corners, and the crowd goes crazy. Kiniski uses a headlock, but Baba answers with an insane dropkick. The giant can fly! The match goes back down. Baba bodyslams Kiniski, but is unable to capitalize. Nothing any of these men can actually put their opponent down. Kiniski throws Baba outside in an attempt to have the ring for himself. He’s using the ropes to hurt his opponent. The ring is now a weapon by itself in the hands of this disgusting gaijin. Backbreaker by Kiniski. Hits the first over the top knee drop, but missed the second. The higher you are… Baba attacks his legs. He goes for the half crab. Gets the win by submission. Kiniski lost thanks to his own mistake. He went over his head and paid the price for it.


Dream Wrestlers, Dream Matches – Pat O’Connor

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Height: 1.83 cm (6′ 0″)
Weight: 106 kg (233 lbs)
Debut: 1950
Trainers: Buddy Rogers

NWA World Heavyweight Champion (3x)


AJPW OPEN  CHAMPIONSHIP LEAGUE – DAY 10 (SENDAI, 1975)

PAT O’CONNOR vs DICK MURDOCH

All Japan was home to dream matches. You can see it here when two of the top names from territory days face each other in Japanese land. The match starts very slow, with none of the competitor getting a clear advantage. Murdoch finally gets in control for a while and starts to complain with the referee. By keeping Pat’s head between his legs in a headscissors he shows he’s in control. O’Connor doesn’t give up, though, keeping himself in constant movement. Every time Pat tries a counter-attack, he goes immediately for a chin-lock, only to get back in Murdoch’s headscissors. It’s getting stupid by now. After seeing him trying the same strategy a lot, he tries something new. Murdoch finds a way t bring the match down yet again. We’re ten minutes in and it’s safe to say eight of these minutes were spent with headscissors going in. O’Connor now gets in control and does some weird rolling armbars. He is unable to fully lock the hold as it seems. O’Connor does a pop-up and I’m impressed. The match goes back to the usual shtick. Although the moves are well performed, it’s too much of the same over and over again, and it’s getting kind of boring. Murdoch attacks O’Connor’s heel and that may be an interesting narrative. Throughout his career, Pat’s been an important figure for different major promotions. Murdoch, on the other hand, has two memorable moments in his career: his championship wins in Japan and the tag team with Dusty Rhodes. Maybe, by attacking O’Connor’s leg, Murdoch is also attacking Pat’s proficiency in the world of professional wrestling. It’s fair to say, after all, that the other seems like a bigger star. Murdoch likes to trash talk a lot, and he makes the match more interesting with it. His mind games are a nice touch to his character. Now, O’Connor goes for the leg with not much of an impact. Murdoch gets back at the top and throws some illegal punches. Do you remember when punches to the face were illegal? O’Connor answers with nice punches of his own, and the crowd seems to like it. Now, this turned into an old school boxing match. O’Connor fakes a punch, but that’s enough for Murdoch to stand back. It looks like old Dick is getting scared of losing some more teeth. He goes for an elbow, and then for a neckbreaker. Both men get to Junkyard Dog position and start to headbutt each other. This is slowly turning into a comedy match. Atomic drop by O’Connor, and it looks like he hurt his own knee on the process. Pat looks like he’s getting mad. Nice exchange there. Both men have been trading some pinfall attempts, but nothing for real so far. Another pop up by O’Connor, he goes for the roll-up pin, but Murdoch throws him away. More illegal punches by Murdoch. O’Connor answers back and looks like he’s going to knock his opponent dead. Still, no one is on a clear advantage. The ring bells, and it’s a time limit draw. It makes sense considering the kind of match we had here. They were equal to each other, and that’s it.


AWA EVENT (ST. PAUL, 1981)

PAT O’CONNOR vs NICK BOCKWINKEL

I found this weird footage from an AWA event that took place in Minnesota. O’Connor is the clear babyface here, and people love watching him beating Bock. Nick was one of the best sellers of all time, so this only adds to the match. This is much faster and dynamic than the Murdoch match, although also based in submissions. That’s because of the way Bockwinkel moves. Even when he is down, he gives dynamism to the match that few could. The illegal punches show up thanks to Pat. O’Connor works from the top. This would never work in today’s environment. These wrestlers were so awesome to the point you can have a babyface work over a heel and keep things interesting. I think it comes from that Gorgeous George tradition, and I believe Bock is right there in that lineage of fabulous heels. O’Connor pins Bockwinkel against the corner and throws some punches. He goes for a sleeper hold and the crowd goes crazy. No question the world changed since. Victory roll by O’Connor, Bock reverses and gets the win. Those dastardly heel antics got the better out of the valiant babyface. Classic match structure here, and it worked just fine.


 

Dream Wrestlers, Dream Matches – Lou Thesz

ProfileUntitled

Height: 1.85 cm (6′ 1″)
Weight: 102 kg (224 lbs)
Debut: 1932
Trainers: Ad Santel, Ed Lewis, George Tragos

World Heavyweight Champion (2x)
NWA World Heavyweight Champion – Association (3x)
NWA World Heavyweight Champion (3x)


NJPW TOUKON SERIES – DAY 38 (TOKYO, 1975)

LOU THESZ vs ANTONIO INOKI

From the very beginning, Thesz shows who he is. He drops Inoki with an insane back suplex, maybe the best one I have ever seen. He gets on top, controlling Inoki. New Japan legend goes for a quick body scissors and leaves the ring. He’s hurt. He was dropped on his head. Maybe that will teach him a lesson about challenging such a legend. Both men look confident, although Thesz has an aura around him. That’s even more evident considering that he is facing one of my favorite wrestlers of all time and I can’t still take my eyes out of him. The match goes to the ground, and it’s kept in a very traditional style. That’s Thesz bringing Inoki to his game. Lou controls the match, right there in Japan, Inoki’s house. Antonio fights bravely, he is a master of the grappling himself. He tries to ground Thesz, bring him down. He needs to slow down the legend if he wants to get the best of him. It’s interesting to see Inoki playing opposite to a role he would get used to do himself as his career progressed. Thesz old school punches Inoki’s midsection, and I start to wonder how much old Lou is being real there. The match is a test of strength. Two legends in different moments of their career fighting to prove who’s the best. It’s interesting to see how both men try to take the match to the ground. That shows how similar are their approaches to the art. It also shows that they are probably on the same level as competitors. Lou doesn’t look like an old man, neither is he presented as one. He is clearly a veteran, but he can still go. Inoki counter-attacks an irish whip with a should tackle/headbutt, and the match goes down again. This is definitely old-school, so it requires some patience from the watcher. Thesz gets mad at the ref for a rope break, and maybe that’s him showing some frustration. Maybe this Japanese guy is better than him. Thesz throws Inoki out of the ring, one of my favorite moves from veterans. It shows who controls the ring. When back, it’s through another back suplex by Thesz. Inoki hits one of his own, and right after throws a move that I can’t name right now for the pinfall. Thesz looks upset. Inoki was the better man here.


NJPW KING OF KINGS (SHIZUOKA, 1990)

LOU THESZ vs MASAHIRO CHONO

If you thought Thesz was old when he faced Inoki back in 75, look at him here in 1990. Actually, just by looking at him, you won’t say he is 72. Chono, on the other hand, is still a weird looking kid, this was before his Yakuza gimmick, after all.  The match starts the same way as the one against Inoki, with a nice back suplex. Lou is a lot less agile here, and there’s some old-man-wrestling-awkwardness going on. His submission moves are still perfectly laid, though. Chono goes for a back suplex, but Lou reverses with a Thesz press, and only now I realize it’s the first time I actually see him performing his own move. There’s a botch by Thesz, but we’re definitely letting it go here. Just like the Inoki match, this is played old-school. Thesz doesn’t look as good here, though. Unlike his performance against Inoki, when he’s on top, he doesn’t look that dangerous. He’s still great for a 72-year-old, though. I hope I get there. There’s another botch by Lou, but this one plays to the match. The crowd strongly chants Thesz name. Chono goes for an STF and gets the win by submission. This time Thesz don’t complain, though. He’s old, and he knows he can’t hang anymore. The legend’s career is over. Time to walk into the sunset.


  • I am not going to post any links for the matches here for copyright reasons. I strongly recommend you to search for these matches, though. They are available somewhere. Also, you can try to subscribe to these companies streaming services and support them.