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Complete Playbook: AJPW Classics on Samurai TV December 8, 1996

December 1, 2006 | Posted by Ryan Mancuso
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Complete Playbook: AJPW Classics on Samurai TV December 8, 1996  

After a lengthy absence, I am back reviewing. I had to take some time off so that I could focus on school and other work. I have returned with a review from Samurai TV airing All Japan Pro Wrestling classic matches from the early years of the promotion. This review will matches from 1973 and 1974. This was actually a review I did back in the TWTF days. In the 1970’s, 2 out of 3 falls matches in Japan were present a fair amount. This was especially true for title matches. As time passed by, the 2 out of 3 fall concept became more of a novelty. The main event of this classics show is match for the US Heavyweight Title between legends The Destroyer and Mil Mascaras. I am not sure what territory this US Heavyweight Title came from. It was not the WCW/NWA version of the title because that title was created in 1975. It was not the Detroit version of the US Title that the Original Sheik, who many fans today will know of being Sabu’s uncle, held many times because neither man were a part of that title’s lineage. Onto the review:

2/3 Falls: Hiro Matsuda & Thunder Sugiyama vs. King Curtis Iaukea & Tony Parisi

This match took place on April 28, 1973. King Curtis Iaukea had his biggest success in Hawaii during the 1960’s and 1970’s as he won the Hawaii Heavyweight Title many times. He also played Kevin Sullivan’s “father” during the Dungeon of Doom angle for WCW in 1995. Hiro Matsuda is more famous within US wrestling fans for being a manager and trainer than a wrestler. He was one of the many managers the 4 Horsemen had during their glory days of the 1980’s. He also trained many major wrestling stars. His most famous star was Hulk Hogan. Some other stars included Lex Luger and Keiji Muto (Great Muta) during one of Muto’s learning excursions in the States. He lived in the US in the 1980’s until his passing a few years ago.

I was not expecting much from the match, but it was better than I expected. With the gaijin team being wild brawlers, they had a few moments where they would take their opponents to the crowd and brawl with them there. While most people know of All Japan’s high quality in ring match during the late 1980’s and 1990’s, but there were many going into the crowd type of brawls back in the 1970’s until the mid 1980’s. The first fall ended when Iaukea got the pin on Sugiyama by using a diving body press off the second turnbuckle. Sugiyama tied the match up for his team when he used many sitdown splashes onto Iaukea to get a pinfall. In the final fall, it was Matsuda who won the fall for his team when he used a Cobra Twist to make Parisi submit.

2/3 Falls for US Heavyweight Title: The Destroyer © vs. Mil Mascaras

This match took place on July 25, 1974. Mil Mascaras is a name many old school wrestling fans know. The man means “The Man of a Thousand Masks” because he would use different masks for every match. He would even wear a mask over another mask. He started out his pro wrestling career in 1965. His persona was created for the wrestling/horror films in Mexico that were made very popular by El Santo. These movies were such a hit that it quickly elevated Mil’s status of popularity by wrestling fans over there. Unfortunately, most people know of him in a negative light because of Mick Foley’s first book. While plenty of what Foley had said about Mil was true after the 1970’s, but that should not diminish his prime. During his prime, he was also a very good wrestler by using a lot of flashy moves that were very unique for this time period.

The Destroyer, whose real name is Dick Beyer, was the embodiment of what a wrestler looked like before the 1980’s. He did not have the six-pack abs. Even with him wearing the mask, it was so easy to see through the battle scars many wrestlers had with the missing teeth and a broken nose many times. The Destroyer was very popular in Japan because he had been wrestling over there since the Japanese Wrestling Association days, which was the only pro wrestling company before they shut down and New Japan and All Japan opening up in 1972. The Destroyer wrestled exclusively in All Japan for the first six years of the company’s existence. The Destroyer did a whole lot to help All Japan grow. During his lengthy stay in Japan, he also became a late-night television personality.

This was a really good match from the two legends. The Destroyer is one of the best old school wrestlers that fans never heard of. He could adapt to any style during that period whether it was doing crazy brawls with Abdullah the Butcher and The Original Sheik, or more mat-based wrestling matches with Jumbo Tsuruta and Giant Baba. In this case, it was him facing the high flying Mil. The first fall was very mat-based, but there was a good pace with each hold having a sense of importance. It did not come off like they were on the mat just to kill time.

The second fall was a faster pace and the third fall was done as a good way of concluding the match with them teasing that Mil was going to win the title. I was totally digging the figure-four teases from both men, and it meant a bigger deal when it was finally successfully put on. Also, The Destroyer took some pretty crazy looking bumps onto the floor during that third fall. It is too bad they did the ref stop by accidental groin shot finish, but that is how a lot of big matches were finished back then. Overall, a very good match fans that are curious about the 1970’s style should check out. Here is my play-by-play:

The bell rings, and they have a collar and elbow tie up. Despite both men fighting for positioning, neither man can gain an advantage. They tie up again, and Destroyer uses a hammerlock. Mil takes Destroyer down, but Destroyer keeps the hammerlock on. Mil escapes the hammerlock by crawling between Destroyer’s legs. Destroyer takes Mil down with an armdrag, and works on Mil’s arm while on the ground. Mil powers out of an armlock by standing up, while lifting up Destroyer, and throws Destroyer off with a fireman’s carry. Mil with an Indian Deathlock, and adds a headlock on while locking up Destroyer’s arms. Destroyer manages to escape the hold, and both men are back standing.

They tie up and Mil uses a side headlock. Mil takes Destroyer down. He keeps the headlock on. Destroyer bridges out of the headlock then takes Mil down with a hiptoss. They tie up in a knucklelock, and Mil monkey flips Destroyer over in that position. Mil puts on a Boston crab, but Destroyer was able to escape without suffering any damage by using his legs to roll over Mil. Mil with a single-leg takedown, but Destroyer would not allow Mil to gain an advantage while on the ground. Destroyer whips Mil off the ropes, and uses a drop toehold. Destroyer goes for a figure-four leglock, but Mil was able to escape the attempt.

Mil with an armdrag and transitions into a full nelson. Mil takes Destroyer down, but Destroyer positions himself into putting Mil in a hammerlock. Mil standups and reaches the ropes for a break. Destroyer is now the one who puts on a full nelson, but Mil escapes and catches Destroyer with a headscissors takedown. Mil keeps the headscissors on and when Destroyer tried to standup Mil would just headscissor him down again. Destroyer finally escapes the headscissors, and tries for the figure-four leglock again. However, Mil is still not vulnerable enough to be put in that hold. Things were getting heated as they were finally throwing some strikes, with Destroyer throwing elbows and Mil throwing punches. The pace did calm down when Mil took Destroyer down with a drop toe hold. Mil wears down Destroyer with a wishbone hold then attempts a figure-four leglock of his own. Destroyer, not allowing Mil to one up his strategy, is able to escape and point to his head.

Mil whips Destroyer off the ropes, but Destroyer knocks Mil down with a shoulderblock. Destroyer runs off the ropes, and Mil catches him with his famous flying cross chop. Mil goes for the pin, but Destroyer escapes at 1. Mil whips Destroyer in the corner and catches him with another flying cross chop. Mil goes the pin again, but Destroyer continues to kick out at 1. Mil whips Destroyer into the corner, and charges in. Destroyer gets out of the way, and Mil rams his head into the corner. Destroyer capitalizes with a kneedrop then climbs the top turnbuckles, and connects with a diving kneedrop. He goes for the pin. 1! 2! 3! The Destroyer wins the first fall.

The second fall begins and Destroyer works on Mil’s neck with elbow. He continues the work by using a swinging neckbreaker. Destroyer goes for the pin, but Mil kicks out at 2. Destroyer whips Mil off the ropes, and goes for a dropkick. However, Mil is able to dodge it. Mil uses a bodyslam then stretches Destroyer’s arm while sitting on his neck. Destroyer was able to escape the submission without reaching the ropes. Mil whips Destroyer off the ropes, and uses a backdrop. Mil tries it again, but Destroyer counters with a sunset flip that got a 1 count.

Destroyer uses a few forearm smashes then attempts to ram Mil’s head into the corner. However, Mil pushes off and Destroyer runs into the corner. Mil successfully rams Destroyer’s head into the corner. He whips Destroyer off the ropes and connects with another flying cross chop. Mil goes for the figure-four leglock, but Destroyer rolls out. Mil rams Destroyer’s head into the corner again then uses a vertical suplex. Mil climbs the top turnbuckle and catches The Destroyer with his famous Flying Cross Body Press. 1! 2! 3! Mil Mascaras has tied this match up.

The third fall begins and Mil continues the work from the second fall by ramming Destroyer’s head into the corner. Mil bodyslams Destroyer, then picks up Destroyer and succeeds with a piledriver. Mil goes for another piledriver, but Destroyer counters with a backdrop. Destroyer goes for another figure-four leglock, but Mil rolls out of the attempt. Destroyer with a single-leg takedown, but Mil is able to position himself on the ground by putting on a bodyscissors. Destroyer escapes by standing up, and finally succeeds with the figure-four leglock. Mil is in serious trouble. He tries to roll on his stomach to put some damage on Destroyer, but it did not work. After a lengthy struggle, Mil finally reaches the ropes to break the submission. The legs were so tied up on the hold that the referee had to physically break the hold.

Mil’s leg is really hurt, and Destroyer kicks at the injured leg a few times. Destroyer places Mil’s leg on the ropes, bounces off the ropes and lands on the leg. Destroyer goes for it again, but Mil pushes Destroyer, with his leg, over the top rope and takes a nasty fall onto the floor. Destroyer gets up and Mil catches him on the apron. From there, Mil vertically suplexes Destroyer back into the ring. Mil whips Destroyer off the ropes, but Destroyer takes Mil down with a shoulderblock. Destroyer runs off the ropes, but Mil leapfrogs over him. Destroyer does not bounce back off the ropes. Instead, he falls through the ropes and takes a crazy bump on the floor.

Destroyer rolls back in the ring and Mil bodyslams him down. Mil runs off the ropes, bounces off the second turnbuckle and lands a splash. Mil goes for a pin, but Destroyer kicks out at 2. Destroyer is whipped off the ropes, but this time it is Destroyer who catches Mil with a flying cross chop. Both men are down then get up at the same time. Mil whips Destroyer off the ropes, and tries a leap frog. However, there was an accident as Mil did not jump high enough and Destroyer accidentally headbutts Mil in the groin. Mil was in serious pain, and the referee stops the match. The referee gives the fall to the Destroyer since Mil could not continue and the groin shot was accidental. Destroyer was not happy with the way he won and checked on Mil after the match. Destroyer grabs the microphone and puts Mil over as a great opponent.

The 411: This was really good episode of All Japan Classics. The Destroyer and Mil Mascaras had a great match. I think fans today could really enjoy it because of its simplicity on how it was able to tell a story through moves. I need more Destroyer matches. The opening tag was watchable too. I will definitely recommend this episode, and even go as far to say that The Destroyer vs. Mil Mascaras is a must see match.
Final Score:  7.5   [ Good ]  legend

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