Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bruiser Brody Japanese Rampage (1981-1988)

Bruiser Brody is a legendary name in the wrestling business and is credited with innovating and molding the brawler style wrestler that has become synonomous with such luminaries as Mick Foley and Necro Butcher; Brody was the original, but unfortunately I hadn't seen that much of his most noted stuff, his time spent in All Japan. As with the other hardcore guys i've looked at in depth over the last 12 months (Ryuji Ito & Mad Man Pondo) Brody fit right in as a wild, uncontrollable brawler who would rather fight outside the ring than in it that also aren't the most technically sound, but my job as an NHO member is to watch and review with no bias, prejudice or personal proclivities and report my findings as scientifically and honsetly as possible; that being said, it was a rare treat to watch a bulk of Brody matches like this. Besides being the kingpin of brawling, the other most remembered thing about Brody's career , unfortunately, was how it ended; in a tragic murder in a shower in Bayamon, Puerto Rico in the WWC locker room. okay let's get to the matches:

1) vs. Abdullah the Butcher - 2
I'd heard tale of these two legendary feuds all across the globe, but this must have been the beginning of one, Brody hussed and booted Abby out of the ring at every chance, Abby blading w/in 30 seconds per usual, then deterioted into a crowd brawl so not a lot to see here, but some intense, ugly people hitting the crap out of each other in a sea of Japanese people.

2) vs. Giant Baba- 4
This was worked as your big man match, which by the way Brody does a lot of selling as the giant redwood that won't quite go down; here it worked accordingly, but in other matches, he does it as a strange kind of Terry Funk-esque thing that is really bizarre. Him going bug eyed and throwing his hands up in the air like a zombie every time Baba throws a big chop is such strange scenery to be on my tv set. Mechanics were all basic but worked fine here as it was kind of cool seeing Baba still spry enough to bounce off the ropes and not look emaciated. Surprise ending notched it up a point.

3) vs. Dory Funk jr- 5
This was the first match that made me see that Brody could actually work; he got to control the match and pace in this one and it wasn't all about brawling, it made me realize maybe this guy can work a story. Still not a huge fan of his selling, it's haphazard and strange, but Dory was a perfect opponent for him because he could get the crowd into his comebacks upon huge helpings of punishment. Brody's punches were hit and miss but Dory's uppercuts truly are of legend. Brody gets blood, seemingly hardway, but it didn't add much to the drama here. The finish was just poor, and the fans booed it which took something away from this match.

4) vs. Terry Funk- 6
This started out slow, like Carl Fredrickson getting the mail, but both men quickly realized on the mat is not where anyone wanted to see this match. Funk was bumping like a madman for all of Brody's stuff and was really mobile and vocal in his selling which was fun. The outside brawling was both guy's trying to get something off, it felt like two of Charlie Brown's teachers talking at the same time. Loved the use of piledrivers and blood, had a classic streetfight feel to it and the ending was satisfactory. Terry Funk was one of the greatest of all time.

5) w/ Jimmy Snuka v. Dory & Terry Funk- 7
Holy fuck this match was just ripe with legendary fighters, as Brody's team was accompanied at ringside by Mr. Borger, TX himself, Stan Hansen. Wow, so much greatness here to describe. The Funks teamwork was awesome, it was Anderson style but they would work over a guy's ribs or his leg but not all with submissions and rest holds, they used punches and kicks like they do business down at the DoubleCross. Again, Terry was a bumping machine, loved him taking Brody's huge boots and Snuka's headbutts. Jimmy had this presence to him as well, his selling was typical Superfly, gyrating in strange ways like he had brain freeze from eating some Coconut Ice Cream too fast. He took a good amount of punishment too; he and Brody's teamwork wasn't near as well done as the brothers Funk, but consisted of them abusing their opponents in harsh ways. Turning point of the match was Terry getting hit with the Lariat outside and selling it like pure death in the most dramatic thing on this DVD. So, Dory has to go it alone against both huge men, awesome spot where he cranks Snuka with the spinning toe hold about 20 times in a row, desperately trying to get the win before Brody comes in and smashes his cranium with a boot. Great nearfalls on scientific stuff for Dory leading up to a good finish to a great bout.

6) vs. Dory Funk jr- 6
This match differed from the earlier one in they went more toe to toe against each other here, with Dory using technical prowess to keep Brody down as well as mixing in brawling with him. One thing I noticed was after Dory hits a huge vertical suplex, either he let go early or Brody just flopped over with it as if having no knowledge how to take the bump. Struck me as very odd. Also Brody gets blood here, he does in most matches but he never does it the same way, and usually doens't go with the "crimson mask", it's usually on the side of the face or around the eye area. Dory takes flat bumps like a pancake being flopped down on a hot griddle. One really hot spot was the spinning toe hold, Brody finally got out of it, so he goes for his huge King Kong kneedrop and misses and Dory goes for the rollup again but no ref, crowd had a huge boner for this match.

7) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta- 3
The major problem I had with this match was Brody. It was built around Jumbo controlling nearly the whole match, early on with simple stuff like headlocks and takedowns, but built up to leg locks, figure fours, and other holds manipulating the lower joints, but Brody never sold them! As soon as he could get up and get the advantage, he would just do his brawling and power moves with no attention given to his legs being worked over the whole time. Really ruined the legitimacy Jumbo was trying to establish so the match was really poor in that regard.

8) w/ Stan Hansen vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu- 5
This was a pitch perfect fun 12-14 min tag match. Both sides got their control, I love watching Hansen in the ring (although i'm sure it'd be just as fun to watch him work an iPhone or try to break the BBQ rib record at Montgomery Inn). He gives these great setups for failure as a good heel should do, but everything he does looks nasty, especially these huge elbowdrops. Brody was starting to gray, like Nadine Cross from the Stand but still hit all his basic spots that get a pop (dropkick, cross body, running knee drop) as the young Japanese stars took their beatings and dealt with it. Tenryu was in most of the match and they ran their offense like an opening New Japan match, just simple, grinding matwork. It felt good to see the flying back elbow from Tenryu when he could still jump with it and not just fall down, beautiful thing. Jumbo took a nasty bump on top of the barricade outside that the camera pretty much missed to my dismay. Awesome double back suplex spot near the end but I tell you, the betting lines are usually on Brody, i've noticed.

9) w/ Stan Hansen v. Giant Baba & Dory Funk jr- 2
This was just bad wrestling, despite who's in there, I can't hand over. Everyone looked a lot older not just in appearance, as Brody was going gray, Hansen got his gut, Baba's skin was hanging and Dory's bald spot was so pronounced it was refelcting a sun that hasn't even been discovered in this galaxy yet. Really tired effort though, Brody's stuff was looking sloppy and Baba just didn't care. Dory's bumps were like a puddle of kid's play slime oozing over the edge of a table. So many spots came off at half speed and the connection was weak. Brody put the icing on the cake trying a crossbody late in this stinker and Dory turned his back to him and fell on top of Brody. A blackhead on the nose of these four's careers.

10) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta- 4
Our final match on the disc and Brody was aging rapidly before our eyes. He pulled back his trademarked tangled hair to reveal half of it was white and his selling was even more goofy than before; even his big kicks and kneedrop didn't have the oomph they used to and his flying legdrop just couldn't cut the Hulk mustard. Jumbo was still a phenomenal worker at this time but I don't like their stuff together. Brody tries something new and chain wrestles the first portion of this and tries to grind out Jumbo. Jumbo is obliged to kind of slink through the middle part of the match, placating Brody's urge to ride the mat. Cool lead up to Jumbo hitting the side suplex but the finish wasn't justified, although both men were playing desperation to get the win very well in a decent piece of business.

Overall thoughts were Brody def. innovated when it came to the wild style of brawling and giving the fans a real fight for their money, as well as being your character, living and breathing it in most seconds of your performance, most notably that near every match ends with a long out of control brawling fight. His selling was never top notch and I think could only have a great match with a great worker to help him through it but I still enjoyed getting to see a wide range of his stuff from Japan. What makes a guy like Brody legendary is that there will never be another one like him and that is a compliment.

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