I'm fully expecting this to be ignored by everyone since it's so old, but fuck it:
12.11.80 Real World Tag League Final: Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta v Terry Funk & Dory Funk Jr. (All Japan Pro Wrestling)
Epic match! You know how you get those matches that go 45+ minutes, but feel like they go by in 15? Y’know, Ric Flair was always good at them? Well that’s what this match does so well; uses a good deal of time (43 minutes exactly) to get their story – and in this case, stories – across, but does it in such a way that it never becomes boring and the viewer is always into it. And with all of that said, I feel this match’s biggest strength is its ability to transition flawlessly from story to story:
I feel it’s split into three main areas – Terry and Dory focus on the younger Jumbo; Jumbo and Baba focus on Terry; Jumbo gets pissed at Terry, building to the finish. The first is your standard face in peril type deal, with the older, wiser Funks focusing on you Tsuruta. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing of course, because it isn’t, and the crowd is suitably loud. The transition from part 1 to part 2 is excellent; Jumbo’s been trying to get himself out of there for a long time, but the Funks are just too good at cutting the ring in half, so when Terry goes for a butterfly suplex too neat the ropes, Jumbo seizes his opportunity, tossing Terry backwards over the top, allowing him to finally make the tag to Baba.
Part 2 is Terry’s beatdown! Much the same as the Jumbo work over period, they just cut the ring in half and try not to give Terry any chance of making a tag to his fresher brother. It’s simple, but it works ever so well. Eventually though, Terry’s persistence pays off – much like Jumbo’s did – and he makes a tag to Dory. Soon enough, with Dory’s freshness showing, the Funks are back on top, and this time it’s Baba who suffers the beatdown. Enter phase 3: with Baba on the receiving end of some heavy punishment, Jumbo says “To hell with this!” and takes a stand by himself, kicking Terry repeatedly in the head for daring to beat on his big goofy partner. From this point on, Jumbo is a pissed off maniac, and Terry’s his punch bag.
The last 10 minutes are just great! See, Terry wouldn’t drop to Jumbo’s level of aggression – he was there for the tag league, not to fight, and he was smarter than that anyway – so he managed to refrain from doing so. This may have been a mistake though, because Jumbo and Baa were really taking it to Dory, and without Terry being as fired up as possible – like Jumbo was for his team – they might not have what it takes. So when Jumbo goes for a top rope knee drop on Dory, Terry dives on top of his brother and takes the blow himself. Terry, for all intents and purposes, is dead at this point. Once again then, Jumbo and Baba try to put Dory away… but ol’ Dory just will not stay down. At all! And it gives Terry enough time to recover… and now he’s pissed!
Eventually the fight goes outside, with all four guys brawling on the floor. Then they realise the ref’ is counting them out, so a struggle to get back in ensues… which Terry and Dory narrowly miss out on. Unfortunately the count out finish is slightly anti-climactic, but the absolute awesomeness of the previous 42 minutes is just so, well, awesome, that it’s hard to find fault in a count-out. Sure it would’ve been better if they gave us a clean winner, but it’s the 80s – one who expects that every match is guaranteed to walk away disappointed… even if it is the final of the promotion’s biggest tag team league. So, somewhat weak finish included, this match is probably some of the absolute best tag team wrestling you’re likely to see in the 80s. In fact, I don’t recall one being this good for another year. Coincidentally, it happened in the 1981 final. Guess which pair of brothers were in that one?
I actually just got the 80, 81, and 82 Tag League Finals off of a torrent. Glad to know it was worth it
Talking about 80's All Japan, the 70's stuff is just as good too. Especially when Brisco, Dory, Terry, Harley, etc. went over to defend the title. Once you get used to the slower pacing, those matches are godly.