Re: Official Puro Match/DVD Discussion Thread (NO SPOILERS)
Its amazing watching that match and seeing how they manage to establish parity between both men by highlighting how their respective strengths are essential to winning the match. Benoit is superior in the technical exchanges and despite Eddie not being made to look grossly inferior, its clear he NEEDS to create distance and use his superior agility and quickness to beat Benoit. Both of those competing dynamics dominate the entire match and ensure the match moves along in one constant direction instead of stopping and starting, and without any half hearted matwork to begin before running ropes and heading into a finishing stretch.
I still can't quite fathom how that sort of match cannot be replicated in this day and age. Nowadays juniors seem to think 'parity' consists of at best a 2 minute fast flurry of hold trading before they indulge in strike exchanges, big spots and a huge finishing stretch. Benoit & Eddie just perfectly illustrated how to create parity between the two characters and let the exchanges develop from there.
Anyways, watched some puro the past few days, going on a Tenryu 1992-1994 binge today and tomorrow so looking forward to rewatching the best of the New Japan/WAR feud and in particular the trio of Tenryu/Hashimoto singles matches.
Tenryu & Kitahara vs Koshinaka & Kimura - (New Japan 10/23/92)
Oh man pretty much the beginning of the New Japan/WAR feud and Korakuen is fucking rabid throughout. Koshinaka and Kimura are just fucking bullies to the highest degree and beat the piss out of Kitahara throughout, and manage to create a nice underdog story with Kitahara trying to take the fight to both but ultimately needing TENRYU to bail him out of predicaments. TENRYU was just fucking godly in this, there's this incredible moment where Kimura walks round the ropes and tries to punk him out, and TENRYU just starts to ominously stride towards him and pushes the referee aside. TENRYU also gets cut hardway from some stiff punches, and he has at least 6 awesome blood soaked visualsa of him just looking on with both Koshinaka and Kimura with sheer contempt as blood pours down the side of his face. The seconds are also brilliant throughout in constantly trying to kill each other and in the process threatening to send the match into a wild and uncontainable massacre. TENRYU just casually murdering Kohsinaka repeatedly with powerbombs even after the match is over warmed my coccles, fuckin' TENRYU man!
Shinya Hashimoto (c) vs Hiroshi Hase - (New Japan 12/13/94)
One of the finest IWGP bouts I can recall seeing. Most of the match is spent of the mat with both men jockeying for position and constantly looking for a limb to target and exploit, despite neither man actually really securing any advantage in making a limb a target point they do a remarkable job at continuing the matwork and making it feel important and crucial to an advantage developing in the match. Throughout this Hase manages to create a truly subtle but splendid underdog story with him being out-hit in the first strike exchange and looking almost helpless after finding no way of dominating Hashimoto on the mat or in the strikes. Also, Hase continually hanging with Hashimoto the longer the match progressed really added to his underdog story, he wasn't throwing repeated bombs at Hashimoto but every minute that passed with Hashimoto not being able to actively dominate Hase just made you believe a little bit more, and as a result when they eventually get desperate and start to go for their big moves it feels warranted and necessary to winning the match, rather than the earlier portion of the match feeling empty and worthless. Every bit of struggle Hase has to overcome just to hit the uranage is incredible and keeps the crowd invested and Hashimoto's final combo flurry was a perfectly fitting finish to finally put Hase down. Without doubt the greatest spinning wheel kick I've ever seen in a match as well.
Shinya Hashimoto vs Naoyo Ogawa - (New Japan 3/1/00)
Amazing spectacle with Hashimoto trying to beat the shoot style machine who a year earlier made him his 270 pound bitch. Crowd is ridiculously molten for everything Hashimoto does and the repeated shots of Fujinami and Inoki looking on in the crowd truly adds to the story of Hashimoto defending the honour of New Japan against this invader. Some of Hashimoto's strikes were incredible and I LOVED the spot where he stalled on the ring only to bait Ogawa near the ropes and hit a sweeping leg kick to finally ground him as it really came off as Hashimoto using all his pro wrestling expertise to school the more inexperienced Ogawa. Both men had some really tremendous strike exchange flurries with the crowd continually losing their shit everytime Hashimoto creates an opening. Finish also came off really well to me, Ogawa looks weakened and in danger of losing and tries to snap Hashimoto's neck off the canvas at every opportunity and it finally proves too much with Hashimoto being unable to register the referee's count. Really felt like Hashimoto had taken Ogawa as far as he could and Ogawa's onslaught came off far more like a worried animal seizing on any opportunity instead of the ruthless and trouble-free maestro from their '99 bout.
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Kazuo Yamazaki - (UWF 7/24/89)
Oh man, its been a while since I rewatched this one but it still held up as a truly sensational match and only reinforces my now week long belief that Yoshiaki Fujiwara is the GOAT to ever set foot inside a ring. Between the flawless and gritty matwork that dominates both men's exchanges, Fujiwara just adds so much character and story into the match its remarkable. Little touches like him signalling to grab for the ropes, only to wave his finger and then slowly counter as well as this awesome spot where he manages to establish guard position and casually stroll away as Yamazuki is left periless on the mat were just sensational character moments. His facial expressions are also fucking majestic, whether he's looking stoic and calculating or looking pissed off at Yamazaki's continued kicks and headbutts, they're all just beautiful in capturing his emotions and adding intrigue to his next focus of attack. Whole ending stretch is sublime with Yamazaki being 1 takedown away from losing the match, so he resorts to a flurry of kicks and headbutts to keep Fujiwara at bay, only to piss Fujiwara off who manages to shoot in and unleash a barrage of headbutts to score the winning takedown with a minute to spare. Also, it can't be overstated just how excellent of a seller Fujiwara is, I adore the spot he employs against strikers where he'll catch a kick whilst absorbing the impact and slowly collapsing to the mat with him unable to hold on to the kicking leg. It just really adds mystique to every exchange he's involved in with you expecting him to catch as many kicks as he eats. FUJIWARA, the GOAT.