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

NJPW World Pro Wrestling Immortal Fighting Spirit Tradition #167 10/10/06
taped 4/28/91 & 5/11/91

4/28/91 Saitama Omiya Skate Center

Top of the Super Junior II League Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Owen Hart 14:58. Graceful and precise wrestling, truly a thing of beauty. The junior division has been very disappointing in ’91, largely because there are no natives beyond Liger that are doing anything of note. This is the match that could have, should have been a classic. Owen was in top form and they were certainly wrestling at that level, both individually and collectively, from the get go. However, the second problem with the junior division in ’91 is the brevity of the matches. I can see that there might be some benefit in not having Casas’ matches go too long because his style is somewhat alien to NJPW rings, and this was actually quite a bit longer than any of the other junior matches that have been shown, but for a match where they were committed to doing some legitimate body work in the middle, they would have benefited from not having to pack so much into 15 minutes. The opening was great, then it slowed in the middle but Owen’s attack of Liger’s left elbow was very well done. It would have been a strong point if it wasn’t totally dropped due to time constraints or laziness, and Liger’s body attack that never really developed was another point where you felt as though the match would have really benefited from even 3 more minutes. As they transitioned to the finishing segment, there were a few spots where the choreography was a little off, but generally the match was better than their even shorter match from 1/30/90 because they seemed so much more comfortable working with each other. They were on the same page, and able to do whatever they could think of. The offense in the final minutes was highly impressive, but they didn’t do a great job of making it as dramatic as it could have been, of making you buy into the near finishes, which there also didn’t seem to be enough of. One could argue that 15 minutes should have been ample, but either way, this was not a blow away match by any means. Maybe I wanted them to do a final rather than a league match because that's what this should have been (unless Pegasus came through), but regardless, this was their only opportunity and as good as it was, they also very clearly left a lot in the tank. Still, it was the best NJ junior match thusfar in 1991 by a wide margin. ****

Tatsumi Fujinami & Riki Choshu & Keiji Muto vs. Scott Norton & Great Kokina & Wild Samoan 11:58. Muto being one of the only guys that ever made Norton look good is the obvious point, but Norton actually brought out the best in Muto as well. Norton’s size and strength forced Muto to rely on his quickness and athleticism, which was the most entertaining aspect of Muto when he actually had knees, and the fact that the fans were reacting to Flash calling Muto out and trying to bully him kept Muto focused and on the go. Muto was on top of his game here, and Norton, though somewhat clumsy and inflexible, did a great job of playing the obnoxious badass heel, taunting and challenging Muto at every turn. He even busted Muto open by dropping him on the exposed turnbuckle, causing Muto to bleed heavily enough to do a decorative spew. There was too much Kokina, and the rest of the match wasn’t particularly distinguished, but the others knew what the match was about, and were willing to make a minor contribution then get out of Norton & Muto's way rather than distracting from the focus or trying to steal their thunder. Norton got so far under Muto’s skin that Muto armbarred him after the match until his partners took pity on Norton and pulled him off. ***

5/11/91 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

Karate vs. Boxing Ishu Kakutogisen 3 min 10 Rd: Masashi Aoyagi vs. Tony Halme R3 1:57. I expected an out and out travesty, but the match actually could have been good if Halme would only have punched believably. Aoyagi was entertaining, throwing a lot of nice kicks from the outside and trying to use his knees when Halme pinned him in the corner. The match was pretty good with Aoyagi on offense, but Halme was so atrocious one wonders how he was ever asked back. It was easily a worst match of the year candidate with Halme on offense. His showboating and hamming it up would have made it hard to take serious, if his whiffing on most of his punches and making minimal contact on the rest didn’t already render the notion impossible. The match would have been better if there were a third as many knockdowns, but of course the real problem was Aoyagi kept diving to the canvas from phantom punches. DUD

Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami 19:52. Looking back, it’s hard to figure why Hase didn’t amount to more. Despite being a former junior he was as tall as the other three wrestlers in this match, who happen to have 14 IWGP Heavyweight Championship runs between them. He was stealing the show in every tag match, totally over, and had begun to seem to be the man in the tag division due to a successful push. Choshu & Fujinami were not only taking him seriously and totally motivated to wrestle him, they were putting extra effort into knocking him off his perch. Hase was diverse and cocky enough to take both on in their own element. Tonight's match was more about him matching technique with Fujinami, but I loved the intense bruising exchange he had with Choshu. Choshu was the disdainful grumpy old man here, on a mission to keep the new generation firmly behind the old one (in story, in booking he was taking a step toward the opposite). He was out to put a beating on the tag champs, and it was one of his stiffest and most intense performances of the year. Sasaki never did too much in any of these matches with Hase; he was always alright, but it was the Hase show with Sasaki playing a totally supporting role. Hase logging so much ring time finally didn’t work out here, and I disliked him doing the job which felt counter productive, but overall the match still seemed to put the duo on a higher plateau. I preferred this match to most of the other Hase & Sasaki tags because they actually got strong support from the opposition, mainly Choshu stepping up the intensity and making the contest feel important. ***1/2


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