Quebrada Pro Wrestling, Puroresu, & Mixed Martial Arts Reviews by Mike Lorefice

NJPW '91 Starrcade in Tokyo Dome Commercial Tapes 3/21/91 Tokyo Dome

Animal Hamaguchi & Kengo Kimura & Osamu Kido & Kantaro Hoshino vs. Super Strong Machine & Hiro Saito & Tatsutoshi Goto & Norio Honaga 12:10. I have no idea what the purpose of this match was beyond getting a bunch of guys on the show. There was no particular story or heat to the old generation wrestling the new generation, and the match just kind of went along without developing, well, anything. They switched often, but the lack of guys who gave well or received well was extremely limiting. There weren’t many quality moves and no one seemed to wrestle enough to get on any sort of roll. They seemed to try, but didn’t know how to use the numbers to their advantage, so it wound up falling into the trap of the baseball all star game, just giving everyone an at bat and whatever happened, happened. *

Scott Norton vs. Equalizer 2:23. Saturday morning enhancement at the Tokyo Dome? They matched Norton against a gaijin who was as tall, and had him run right through him. Norton capped it off by not catching Equalizer properly on his powerslam finisher, resulting in there being less impact than placing a throw rug. DUD

Masahiro Chono & Masa Saito vs. Arn Anderson & Barry Windham 9:17. I wish Anderson & Windham had spent more time in Japan. This, unfortunately, wasn't a Japanese style match in the least. It wasn't American style either. In fact, I'm really not sure what it was. I expected to like this at least somewhat, but they didn't bother to actually wrestle. Instead, they did little beyond punch. The punching was fine, so if they had bothered to add a second half to the match, maybe it would have been decent. As it stands, it was just a waste of time and talent. 1/2*

IWGP Tag Title Match: Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Scott Steiner & Rick Steiner 12:56. I wanted to be a member of the bandwagon, but this wasn't much of a wrestling match. It's supposed to be the match where the vaunted Steiners finally had opposition on their level, but that only matters if they don't demean them by treating them as the usual jobbers whose sole purpose is to get tossed around like rag dolls so the Steiners look impressive. Basically they did a pro style version of Greco Roman wrestling, or rather a Steiner held Hase and eventually threw him. Steiners have great suplexes and Hase is a great bumper, but there wasn't any context for the throws, and not even much setup. These teams really weren't working together that well in the first 10 minutes. There was no particular chemistry or interplay; it was simply functional. It did have great offense throughout, but I wouldn't even say it was that exciting because the suplexes were incorporated in the most basic manner. The finishing segment was impressive because there was finally some sense of back and forth, some countering, some actual offense from Hase & Sasaki, but before the last few minutes there was no surprise, no drama, no sense of having come up with or earned something. ***

Big Van Vader & Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Ron Simmons & Butch Reed 13:17. Hard fought American style match. They put a lot of effort into making it good from start to finish. The problem was it was good early, but tended to get worse and pretty much ended out of nowhere. The Super Monsters were pretty consistent, but Doom was a bit more erratic. They do some good things, but in between they kill time in the boring US style, in other words with mediocre punches and rest holds. Despite their tough guy image, Doom were more than willing to sell a lot and take a beating. I preferred the early portion because Vader & Bigelow were on them, but rather than building to a finish it began to meander. Doom got along fine, and Simmons wasn't mad that Reed was pinned while Simmons was battling Bigelow on the outside. However, Reed was apparently mad that Simmons couldn't save him, as he attacked the All-American when his back was turned. **1/2

Greatest 18 Club No Time Limit No Referee: Riki Choshu vs. Tiger Jeet Singh 11:07. Any match with Singh is a worst match of the year candidate, unless the inclusion of Singh simply disqualifies it from counting as actual wrestling. The only highlight of his latest abortion was Choshu bending Singh’s toy sword into a bow shape, which had me laughing long enough to spare me from some of the torture. Choshu tried his best to take this seriously, but as Singh may not even understand wrestling, he was mostly forced to just play along with the aimless brawling. Singh began by attacking the timekeeper for interrupting his endless traipsing about by ringing the bell, and busted Choshu open almost immediately. Singh bled heavily as well, so between the novelty of a double juice brawl and the audience’s frustration with Singh beating up wimpy officials and using weapons on their beloved Choshu, they took their anger out on Singh in the manner the wrestlers hoped rather than laughing this circus crap out of the building. Choshu actually used his signature moves at the finish, not that Singh can even take a lariat decently. The crowd went nuts when Choshu put Singh in an armbar after the match. -*

Part 2

Shiro Koshinaka & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Takayuki Iizuka vs. Z Man & Brian Pillman & Tim Horner 12:10. I've never heard much about this match, but perhaps that's because it has no real involvement in anything NJPW or WCW or any of these wrestlers were doing at the time. Though just rolled out, the match did an excellent job of showcasing the WCW team, who was more than up to the opportunity to win over a new audience. The American junior style of the period provided energy, pace, and gymnastics, but lacked the highspots their athleticism would suggest. Horner is the perfect example of a guy that had all the ability to be a standout junior, but despite his capacity to control his body and get off the ground, his flying was totally vanilla. His work in this match was as good as anybody's, but he wasn't creative and charismatic like Pillman. Pillman was the standout because he worked the hardest and put the most effort into differentiating his offense. He was the one guy that had the moves, and was happy to use them. Z Man isn't great on his own, but he worked very well with Pillman. The WCW team tagged repeatedly, with Pillman & Z Man always setting each other up in transition. I enjoy when the winning team really goes out of their way to put the losers over, but the match really needed to go longer, as it was silly that Iizuka was destroyed for the majority of the match only to have the WCW team lose as soon as he finally made the hot tag. In any case, the teams worked really well together and the WCW guys, particularly Pillman, really made a positive impression. ***1/4

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. AKIRA 16:08. AKIRA had a new Muta inspired face painted gimmick, but this was still a one man show for Liger. Liger started flying early, and was on the offensive a lot more than usual trying to keep the quality up and the audience into the match. The crowd reaction was better than expected given a merely good junior match at the Tokyo Dome, as although thier sustained interest was in question for a while, they did keep reacting to the spots. AKIRA was, at best, good enough to be in there with Liger, but he didn't look polished and wasn't adding much in any regard. He knew he couldn't come close to matching Liger's offense, but his alternative was working Liger's knee, which wasn't getting any reaction, especially since the crowd preferred to see more of Liger's flying. The match was entertaining enough, but the work was well below the standard of Liger's big singles matches. AKIRA would become much more graceful and better at controlling his body in later years, but at this point he kind of just threw himself around, recklessly relying on pure athleticism. Liger didn't seem to be in top form either, but AKIRA's lack of precision wasn't making things easy on him. The match seemed to have some potential, but the finishing sequence was pedestrian, and generally not even executed that well. ***

El Gigante vs. Big Cat Hughes 2:16. In case Norton vs. Equalizer wasn't bad enough, they needed to give us Cat squash fever as well. Hughes got no more than a punch in. DUD

The Great Muta vs. Sting 11:41. I enjoyed the Muto vs. Sting series, but this wasn't one of the better entries. Muta wasn't meandering too much, and actually looked to push the pace more often than not, but it just felt really unfocused. In particular, the brawling was killing the match through stagnation and too much of what they did seemed random. Muta was, for once, only a notch or two below Muto. Sting always gave an effort in these days, but he was considerably mediocre here, with no real aptitude for the excessive rough housing. The match was way short, ending out of nowhere when Muta countered the Stinger splash with his mist. **1/4

NWA Heavyweight & IWGP Heavyweight Double Title Match: Tatsumi Fujinami (IWGP champ) vs. Ric Flair (NWA champ) 23:06. These two wrestled their age, and then some. Flair’s lack of subtlety was so out of place. The harder he tried to get a reaction by overdoing every mannerism, the more he was greeted with utter silence. Flair looked a lot older than Fujinami, but Fujinami was suddenly lazy, doing one rest or submission hold after another in the first half. Flair began wrestling, and it was decent, but still flat. They just seemed to lack motivation, or at least they were unable to convey any semblance of intensity, emotion or enthusiasm that would get the crowd into it. They had some good chop exchanges, but nobody cared. Fujinami busting Flair open by repeatedly ramming his head into the guard rail helped a little. The match actually seemed to be gaining a little momentum when there was a ref bump of all things, on Bill Alfonso of all referees to be officiating a Tokyo Dome main event. Fujinami pinned Flair, but Alfonso was no where to be found. Flair kicked out of a second pin in time, not that it mattered, and Fujinami wound up “accidentally” back body dropping Flair to the floor. Alfonso still missed this, but when Fujinami went for another pin a Japanese official came in and counted the fall. As it was Fujinami who scored the victory, the finish didn’t go over too poorly. Overall though, it just seemed the wrong version of each wrestler doing the wrong match for the wrong crowd. It wasn’t bad, but it was a match that was simply hard to care about, which is exactly what a Tokyo Dome main is not supposed to be. **


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