Return to the NWA Title Tournament
Really cool opening video plays, first shot is the NWA belt laying in a pool of $100 bills, like it was a gangsta rapper. Then we see pictures of the various titles used over the years and the strapping men that held them, Thez, Rogers, Funk, Brisco, Rhodes, -ing. Nice tribute.
1) Tony Halme v. Masa Chono- 2
2) Barry Windham v. Keiji Muto- 4
3) Scott Norton v. Bam Bam Bigelow- 3
4) Steve Austin v. Arn Anderson- 5
5) Satoshi Kojima/ Hiroyoshi Tenzan v. Koji Kanemoto/ Osamu Nishimura- 3
6) Chris Benoit v. Jushin Liger- 7
7) Kensuke Sasaki v. Terry Taylor- 4
8) Rick Rude v. Shinya Hashimoto- 6
9) Steve Austin v. Keiji Muto- 5
10) Masa Chono v. Scott Norton- 3
11) Steiner Brothers v. Keiji Muto/ Kensuke Sasaki- 6
12) Kengo Kimura/ Shiro Koshinaka v. Shinya Hashimoto/ Osamu Kido- 7
13) Rick Rude v. Kensuke Sasaki- 6
14) Masa Chono v. Keiji Muto- 5
15) Rick Rude v. Masa Chono (NWA Title Match)- 7
Halme becomes Ludvig Borga, the Finnish monster in WWF in 93, here he's just a prick with a leather jacket. I hope this wasn't the opener of this particular show because it's a crowd killer. Mostly consists of Chono taking one hit and falling like Halme was a heavyweight boxer. Match drags me to Hell. Chono eventually works the arm over, and I guess you can constitute Halme as selling it well by screaming "Mother Fucker, that hurts!" over and over again. Next match was also slow paced, with armlocks, headlocks and chinlocks dominating the majority of the in ring time. The last few minutes showed what great work they were capable of, some awesome suplexes and such. Windham looked like he was carrying some babyweight but damn, could he throw a right hand. Keiji sold it like death too. Bammer and Norton was basically what I thought, 2 big dudes just bashing each other. Pace was also snail's pace but expected here. Norton got busted hardway and was juicing like a cantolope. Bigelow was taking some really cool bumps though and really busted his ass to put Norton over, just wasn't that much to it.
Loved the ring work here; smooth as Samurai Jack's Kitana. Mat work looked the best here, with some natural flow from both guys, transitioning from move to move effortlessly. Easy to see why Austin would become a big star and Arn would be a legendary figure. He and Bam Bam both take these quick back falls that look like they hit their heads and they both sell it like that. Arn takes a stun gun that looked more violent than the opening scene of Ghost Ship, if you've seen that shitty flick. Still have my buddy Steve's copy he stole from Blockbuster 6 years ago. Next tag featured 4 future stars, incl. the 2 future Heayvweight Champions on the losing end. Tenzan looked like a poor white boy trying to imitate the Fresh Prince, with tiny body, pink warmup tights and white bandage over his head. Tag match was limited in many ways, but Koji looked the most polished and not only mixed in some nice mat exchanges but got stiff on Kojima quite often. Osamu must have just come back from Somolia because he was literally skin and bones, but got the duke with a nice Liontamer. Benoit and Liger was just as awesome as I remember it. The opening stuff isn't fast paced, but done with a briskness that includes stiff shoulderblocks and rough whip in's. Also much more prefer these old type battles where they do the submission stuff pretty early on, no one taps, so they go into big spots with near falls. They infuse scientific counters in the same span of time which is simply "the balls", as Ron Burgandy would put it. I dare anyone not to mark out over Benoit's steroid-fueled powerbomb off the top rope to put Thunder down for the 3.
This match was obviously a lesson in school for young Kensuke. You could see Taylor calling out all the spots and working the pace. Match was so-so, Kensuke has always been explosive but his selling was like pushing over one of the rocks at Stonehenge. They worked some near falls at the end that didn't really get over, but Kensuke's final push, incl. the weird arm lock flip thing he won with. Spotted Dusty Rhodes & Bill Watts in the crowd; neither looked impressed. Rude= instant heat. Crowd was stir crazy over this match; Hash looked dangerous and pissed. Madusa was there as Rude got some loving from her just to incite the fans even more. Rude's selling was phenomenal; he did his hurt back routine I've seen from him before to the hilt. Hash eased it up on the kicks, but layed in a ton of stiff chops. They worked a nice match that built up to some big moves near the end. Rude hit a DDT from the top that should have killed Hash, as Dusty stood up and gave it a standing ovation in the crowd. Excellent match, afterwards, they showed a dejected Hash storming around the locker room like a horny horse looking to mate. Austin and Muto was almost identical to the Muto-Windham encounter, except all the mat work was drawn out much longer and they had a longer finishing sequence. Perfectly fine wrestling on the mat, Austin is great at selling a hold, but a little weak on applying and keeping the pressure on. Muto had wandering eyes while he was in a chinlock, like a recently divorced man visiting a college campus. Finish lacked the punch to knock it into recommendable range; just a simple moonsault while Muto was in control. This one was disappointing. Norton blew through his moveset in the first 2 minutes, so he ended up repeating it after the next five. Delivered some dangerously stiff and sloppy back suplexes that Chono didn't seem to keen on selling. Norton ate some tasty Yakuza's though; another technician versus monster match where Chono's strategy seems to be completely dead ass until near the end.
Awesome tag match here, both teams trade these dominating sequences early with the Steiners being exceptionally destructive. Rick's "Steiner-lines" were big and meaty and always above the chin. Scott was dumping the Jap heroes left and right on their heads. Kensuke seemed to improve leaps and bounds since the Taylor match, which was probably only a day or so before this one. The Steiners roughouse style suited him really well; not precisely a deep-layered story to tell, only have to worry about knocking dude's blocks off. Finish came off really well and teased that Muto had it in the bag, but a killer DDT from off Rick's shoulders was his undoing. Fans were going bonkers too. This was a g-d War! Before the bell sounds, Kido goes Terminator on Kimura and slams him down hard with an armbar. Refs, officials and other wrestlers are struggling to part them but no go. The whole match had this lingering hate resting over top the ring like that stupid ass slime shield from Ghostbusters 2. Kido and Kimura def. had the goods in delivering some respiteful attacks on each other, mostly vicious submissions, even though they were getting to the end of the pasture. And it's always fun to see Hash punish guys; he used Shiro's midsection as his kicking bag for most of the match. There were a few big schmazzes' during the match too, which is probably why I graded it even higher than normal. It was just a good old fashioned bar fight that could break out in a Japanese fuck club on any ole' Thursday night. Rude guided young rookie Kensuke to a brutal war that went damn near 20 minutes. Still giving us that bad back story, but underplayed, he unleashed tons of top shelf stuff for Kensuke to kick out of, really building him up. Some nasty superplexes, probably the most brutal on the disc were displayed here. Back and forth was good, crowd heat intense and the finish was cement for Rude as a top player; really dug this flying knee from the top he used, never once breaking out the Rude Awakening.
These two probably have some great war stories of past matches and past unmarked pills they took to kill the pain in dingy locker rooms around Japan, but this wasn't one of them. A long drawn out match that ultimately didn't put over Chono too strong. Opening was hot and the only glimmer of their younger days, with quick dropkicks and teases into the STF. Long, plodding submission devices filled up the bulk of the time allotted, with none really focusing on a certain body part of winning strategy. Chono brushed the moonsault off his shoulder like a dawg though. One sequence that had me really wincing was them trading a Yakuza kick, then a dropkick from Muto over and over, i'd say near 10 times in a row. Each time it got progessively slower and with less impact; crowd wasn't buying it. It led into a smart finish though and we're on to the main. Don't think these two had the chemistry Rude had with his earlier opponents, but he was on fire here, (yes, just like in NBA Jam; he could have hit a 3 pointer from anywhere on the court.) Rude actually controlled the match, calling out many spots noticeable to the novice camerman. Again, long chin locks and rest holds fed into the more brisk high spots near the end. Okay piledriver from Rude, off target Yakuza's, a couple botche rope spots, but the heat from the crowd was pouring into the ring. Chono then started matching each big offensive spot Rude would try and Rude escaping the STF had everyone on their feet, even Dusty who spilled his 3 soda's and 5 chilidogs in the stands. I almost thought Bill Watts died in the crowd he was so motionless. Anyways, finish was pretty clever, even if it was a flying shoulderblock but at least Rude didn't sell it like death. Satisfying main event, may have been generous with my score, but it was a historical moment and Chono's after match behavior looked genuine and thrilled. Love to see more of the G 1 climaxes, they're usually done as round robin things instead of straight tournies.