To commemorate the life of the recently deceased Gran Naniwa all three NHO writers will be sharing a link to one of his matches and a review of said match below:
Gran Naniwa and Super Dragon vs. Jimmy Yang and Fuego - '03 Japan - 2
I've always big a Naniwa mark. When we first started getting Michinoku Pro tapes in the late-'90's, he was an instant favorite, embarrassingly enough, when we did backyard wrestling matches I'd sometimes still his crab walk spot using a fence in place of ropes. This is clipped unlike my friend Steve's cock. I never knew Super Dragon went to Japan. I wonder if he had to buy two seats on the plane to fit his dumpy ass. Fuego is Amazing Red and he is, of course, amazing. I ran into a guy at a store the other day I hadn't seen in over a year but knew socially from parties and whatnot, he randomly told me (knowing I'm a wrestling fan, although I never knew he'd watched) that lately all he's been doing in his spare time is discovering this federation named "TNA" and watching "Amazing Red matches". I didn't want to burst his bubble that today's TNA is vastly different from the '04 variety he's indulging in. Yang's a guy who I feel like I've seen a ton of and I've never understood that spot where he runs up a guy in the corner and backflips off of them. It's the kind of showy, unnecessary shit that should have never made it past the level of armory indy shows. I didn't feel a real sense of struggle here or get pulled in by the minimalist storytelling. Yang's rolling senton off the top to score the victory was sloppier than Dragon's waistline and he needed to be reigned in more like his choice in DVDs (saw him at the food court at Tri-County Mall in Springdale, OH when he was working in a WWE developmental territory with a Sex and the City box set). Now that I recall I've actually seen this before on a "Best of Amazing Red and S.A.T. in Japan" video cassette I irresponsibly ordered as a teenager.
Gran Naniwa vs. Gran Hamada (ECW House Party 1998) - 5
The little older power house Hamada was going against the young Naniwa. The mat control by Naniwa over Hamada's small body was really great to watch. The best thing about this match was that both of these guys kept the M-Pro style and took it overseas to ECW. The match built and built, complete with mat-work and dives. I loved watching Naniwa heeling it up with hat guy, spitting on him and kicking in his general direction. The prior legwork came back into the match, which I really dug. Favorite spot of the match came when Naniwa dove off the rope and Hamada straight up caught his arm and put him in a Fuji-fucking-wara~! Naniwa walked around like a cocky son-of-a-bitch, pissing the fans off. God, he was good. Fun match with fun energy.
The Metal Master vs Gran Naniwa (2002) Japan
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Gran Naniwa v. Metal Master (Nov 2002, Mich. Pro)- 6
Some stuff years after Naniwa's prime years and run in Mich Pro where he was one of the top guys. Found this match on Daily Motion, wondered about the validity of it, not sure who Metal Master is but he posted the match himself, and also left some nice comments for the recently departed superstar so i gave it a chance. Was pleasantly surprised, a very tight 12 minute match that told a good back and forth story, more lucha based, started with both men trying to secure dominance on the mat, then started with the stuff more likely to finish. Couldn't see squat when they went outside but there were some really good reversals while inside the ring, liked the sunset flip near fall. Shockingly, Master goes over with a real nasty DDT version, but showed me Naniwa still had a lot of mileage in his tank. It's a damn shame Gran's passing and I hope this review we have cooked up is a good memoriam in his honor.