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wrestling / Video Reviews

Dark Pegasus Video Review: All Japan Classics #4

September 19, 2004 | Posted by J.D. Dunn

• NWA United National Title (Vacant): Genichiro Tenryu vs. Ricky Steamboat (2/23/84). The United National Title was vacated when David Von Erich died while on a tour of Japan. These two were selected as the top contenders to battle for the belt. GREAT choices, All Japan. Marvelous sequence opens the match as they criss-cross and Tenryu hits Steamboat with a chop. He goes for an enzuigiri, but Steamboat blocks it and gives him the dragon stance. The first five minutes sees Steamboat hold an extensive armbar. Don’t worry, it doesn’t get boring because Tenryu is constantly testing ways to get out of the hold, including countering to a Spinning Toehold. Tenryu starts to dominate with a front facelock. Steamboat sets him on the top rope in anticipation of a clean break, but Tenryu dives off with an elbow smash. Steamboat goes shoulder-first into the turnbuckle and falls outside. Tenryu snapmares him back inside and delivers a piledriver. The match slows down again as they work on the mat. Steamboat counters a headscissors to a figure-four, but Tenryu rolls them both to the outside. Back inside, Steamboat starts to dominate, including a nice sequence where he snapmares Tenryu over, does a Mr. Perfect neck snap and gets a nearfall off a jackknife rollup. Steamboat gets a Boston Crab, but Tenryu forces out of it. Steamboat then counters THAT to a sunset flip position. They collide for a double KO. Tenryu gets two off a gutwrench suplex. Steamboat gets a nearfall off a small package. Tenryu leapfrogs over a backdrop attempt and delivers the ENZUIGIRI! ONE, TWO, THR–foot on the ropes. Tenryu goes for the back elbowdrop, but Steamboat moves out of the way. Steamboat gets the FLYING CROSSBODY! ONE, TWO, THR—kickout by Tenryu. The finish sees Steamboat go for a hiptoss only to have it reversed by Tenryu to an abdominal stretch cradle for the pin at 21:08. Not quite as good as Steamboat’s work with Flair or Tenryu’s work with Tsuruta, but damn close. ****Ѕ Steamboat raises Tenryu’s hand after the match. Tenryu gives a victorious interview.

• AWA Heavyweight Title: Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Nick Bockwinkel (2/26/84). For some inexplicable reason, Terry Funk is again your special referee despite the fact that this is a rematch from a few days earlier necessitated because Funk’s officiating caused a screwy finish. Bockwinkel starts out with a viselike headlock, from which Jumbo has trouble escaping. Tsuruta finally tosses him into the turnbuckle, but Bockwinkel responds with a piledriver for two. Tsuruta takes a moment on the outside but gets caught in a Butterfly Lock once he gets back inside. He makes the ropes and gets two off a Jumping Knee. Bockwinkel takes over again with a dropkick and a flying crossbody for two. Tsuruta reverses a piledriver to a backdrop to regain the advantage. He gets a piledriver of his own. Bockwinkel locks in an abdominal stretch, but Tsuruta hiptosses out of it. They do a goofy crisscross spot with Funk. Both men fall to the outside and nearly get counted out of the ring. Bockwinkel collapses on a bodyslam attempt and almost gets pinned. Bockwinkel counters a Butterfly Suplex to a Boston Crab. Tsuruta forces out of it, and Bockwinkel takes an 11 count (out of 20). Tsuruta delivers the THESZ PRESS but it only gets two. Bockwinkel drop toeholds him into an anklelock. Tsuruta counters to a sleeper. Bockwinkel tosses Tsuruta out and tries to keep him on the outside long enough to win by countout, but Tsuruta wins a slugfest and makes it back to the ring. Tsuruta grabs a Boston Crab and works over Bockwinkel’s back. Bockwinkel goes to the throat to counter. They knock heads and tease a double countdown. Both men go for punches and knock each other down again. Bockwinkel tosses Tsuruta, again hoping for a countout. Again, Tsuruta makes it back to the ring. Bockwinkel goes hard after pinfall attempts, but Tsuruta keeps kick out of them. Bockwinkel gets frustrated and tosses Tsuruta to the outside. Tsuruta’s leg gets wrapped up in the ropes as he tries to re-enter the ring. Bockwinkel goes right after it and sends him back to the outside. This time, it looks as if Bockwinkel’s strategy may work, as Tsuruta’s might be too injured for him to return to the ring. Tsuruta does get back in the ring but falls victim to a figure-four leglock. Tsuruta makes the ropes and pulls them both to the outside. After much wrangling, Bockwinkel is able to extricate himself from the figure-four and starts to get back in the ring. BUT WAIT! Tsuruta grabs hold of Bockwinkel’s leg and prevents him from getting in the ring. Tsuruta salvages a double countout at 27:50 Great, long match. Much better than their earlier match. Slap a finish on this and it’s a classic. ****

• Thunder Sugiyama vs. George “the Animal” Steele (7/25/74). Thunder Sugiyama died in December of 2002. He’s a squat little guy in the Tazz mold. George Steele you either remember from the eighties or as part of the Oddities in the late 1990s. A-Train’s got nothin’ on this guy. Well, A-Train’s a little better worker. Steele plays heel and starts whacking Sugiyama with what looks like a ring wrench. Furthering the Abby connection, he hides it in his tights or on his side every time the ref checks him. Finally, the ref gets fed up and demands that Steele turn around so he can be frisked. Steele turns and hides the wrench in his mouth while he gets searched. Sugiyama gets pissed off and finally just grabs the object from Steele and begins pasting him with it over and over again. He covers for the easy pin at 4:38. It was pleasantly short. 1/2*

• U.S. Title, 2/3 Falls: The Destroyer vs. Mil Mascaras (10/9/73). The U.S. Title here is not the same one from WCW/WWE. The PWF had its own version.

First Fall: Destroyer schoolboys him but gets caught in a headscissor. Destroyer beils him over and holds a double underhook for a pinfall attempt but Mil bridges out and reverses to one of his own. They take turns reversing it until the reach the ropes. That’s some good amaresu right there. Destroyer gets an overhand wristlock takedown. Amateur sequence finishes with a wizard-and-seatbelt but they’re in the ropes again. Mil monkeyflips out of an overhand knucklelock and takes a headscissors on the mat. Destroyer kips out of it and we get a little staredown. Mil takes him down and tries for a single leg crab but Destroyer grabs Mil’s leg to block. Mil goes for the full Boston Crab but the Destroyer grabs his feet and they start a silly reversal sequence where each guy pushes up and cradles the other guy for a pinfall. Finally, they just fall into a sitting position and decide to separate. Everything they do here is tentative like they’re afraid to get caught making a mistake because they know the other guy knows how to capitalize. It’s pretty fun to watch. Destroyer flip-flops out of a headscissor in a sequence lifted for the Tiger Mask-Dynamite Kid series. Mil takes him over into a headlock. Oddly, Mil has been dominating the wrestling sequences with the Destroyer’s only offense being counters of Mascaras’ offense. Mil is controlling the pace all the way. Destroyer snapmares him over and goes for the kneedrop but Mascaras dodges it and hits a snap suplex. It gets two. A pair of Flying Cross Chops later and Mil claims the first fall at 12:24.

Second Fall: Destroyer is shaking out the cobwebs as they tentatively tie up. Mil hits another cross chop for a quick two and stretches the Destroyer with a Reverse Sitting Surfboard. Does not look fun to be in that. Mil converts it into a Butterfly Lock and gets backdropped over. He rolls through that into a sunset flip. Great counter wrestling. Destroyer counters his follow-up into a crucifix hold for a series of two counts and they go back to the amateur wrestling. Mil reverses an overhand knucklelock into a headscissors but the Destroyer wiggles out of it and goes for the dreaded (in those days) Figure Four Leglock. Mil immediately rolls away but gets caught in his own standing surfboard. Mil reverses out of THAT and they go back to the amateur work. Mil comes out of it with a standing Full Nelson Stepover Toehold. Finally, we get into the frustration as Destroyer breaks on the ropes and starts hitting forearms. Mil fires back but gets monkey flipped. Mil avoids another figure-four attempt and runs the ropes but Destroyer gets a dropkick and splashes Mil’s leg. He gets his figure-four in after all. Mil lasts a good ninety seconds in it before succumbing at 11:36 (24:55)

Third Fall: Destroyer starts off immediately going after another figure-four. Mil rocks him with a forearm to counter, but falls out of the ring because he can’t stand properly. Destroyer goes for it again and Mascaras squirms away like a fish. Destroyer gets frustrated and dives right back after the legs. Mil manages to twists his body sending Destroyer out of the ring. Mil stretches on the corner turnbuckle until Destroyer comes back in and gets a double leg takedown. He tries to splash the leg again but Mil moves out of the way and takes a Teioh Lock (or Chono Lock if you prefer). Either way it’s Standing Reverse Full Nelson. Destroyer powers out and hits a forearm but Mil gets his Flying Cross Chop on the way back. Mascaras rolls out of the ring and tries a slingshot splash but Destroyer moves out of the way. Destroyer tries the kneedrop but Mil avoids THAT. Mil hits another Flying Cross Chop and tries for a third. Destroyer ducks the shoulder and backdrops Mil over the top rope for the countout at 4:24 (30:34). Boooo!!!! Mil complains that he thought it should be a 20 count. This sets up a rematch a few months later. After watching this a few more times, it’s hard to pick between this and Funk vs. Brisco for MOTD. ****ѕ

• PWF Heavyweight Title: Shoehi Baba vs. The Sheik (4/28/73). Sheik endears himself to everyone by going after the ceremonial flower girl. Now, THAT’S a heel! They calm down for the intros but Sheik goes and gets a table from ringside. Of course, he ‘s the one who winds up going headfirst into it. Sheik battles back with a combination of blatant choking and blatant biting. He cuts Baba’s forehead open with something and starts biting it. That’s really unsanitary! Sheik pulls out his shiv and jabs Baba in the forehead a few more times. He accidentally drops it and the ref gets rid of it. Now Baba is biting Sheiks’ forehead! He tosses Sheik and rams him into the ringpost. Baba squeaks back in at what I assume is 19 and the Sheik gets counted out at 7:37. The Sheik continues to kick away at Baba until the seconds come in to break it up. In the end, Baba stands tall and gets his hand raised. It was violent and intense, but not really long enough or interesting enough to be worth anything. *3/4

Final Thoughts: I remember recommending this, but not very enthusiastically. In retrospect, this is a damn good tape. Steamboat vs. Tenryu is a must-have for a fan of either guy. The Bockwinkel vs. Tsuruta match was better on the fifth viewing. Mascaras vs. The Destroyer is truly a gem of a match and a legit MOTDC. The other two matches aren’t long enough to drag the tape down and are even somewhat entertaining in their own way.

Enthusiastic recommendation for All Japan Classics #4.

J.D. Dunn.

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