wrestling / Video Reviews

EL DANDY~! Comp #1-The Greatness Of Jumbo Tsuruta

October 7, 2003 | Posted by Tim Livingston

-The greatest thing about KaZaa: People are nice enough to put some very, very cool matches up. These specific matches, however, come from a friend who was nice enough to send these matches to me because I needed my Jumbo fix. So now that I have it, I’m ready to share it with you, the reader, who is looking for some good wrestling worthy of watching. It’s in chronological order for your happiness and all that.

-If you guys don’t know who Jumbo Tsuruta is, I don’t blame you. Not many people do. But if any of you like what you saw out of All Japan during the 90s, you can thank him indirectly for his contribution. For his 20 or so years of wrestling, Tsuruta turned the sport of professional wrestling into art. He crafted these beautiful matches with any type of wrestler you could think of. He was very agile for a man his size, he ran about 6’4″ and about 250-275 pounds over the course of his career, so some of things he could do at his size were unheard of for men his size back then. Be forewarned though: His matches take patience to watch. Don’t go in here looking for flashy big moves. Expect extended mat sequences. This is what wrestling was all about in the 70s and 80s. It’s just a great thing to watch if you take the time to sit down and watch it. His death in 2000 after battling hepatitis was one of the greatest losses I can recall in pro wrestling history, with All Japan losing not only him, but Giant Baba as well, all in the span of about a year’s time. This comp is 9 of his greatest matches, chronicling 15 years of greatness in the squared circle from somebody nothing short of brilliant when he laced up the boots.

6/11/76-2/3 Falls for the NWA Heavyweight Title-Terry Funk © vs. Jumbo Tsuruta-Terry looks so young here it’s not even funny. Funk was the mentor to young Jumbo and before he turned garbage wrestler in the latter stages of his career, he certainly was able to wrestle his ass off, and Jumbo was able to get his rub and carve his own niche in the annals of professional wrestling. Nice feel out to start, where neither man gets an advantage. Funk grabs an armbar, elbows the arm, and then brings him down and elbows it again. Now a legdrop on the arm, and then a kneedrop to Jumbo’s face. He goes to a wristlock, but Jumbo gets a fireman carry and places Funk on top to break. Knucklelock, where Funk goes to the top wristlock. Jumbo bridges out into his own, but Funk goes right back to the arm with a hammerlock. He goes to a surfboard and then a double chickenwing lock. Jumbo tries to fight out, but Terry controls and headbutts again. Another try, and Jumbo gets it. Funk tries to reverse, but no dice. Terry breaks it, but Jumbo keeps an armbar. Jumbo wrings the arm as Funk comes back with GREAT chops. Jumbo ducks two more chops, and goes to a hammerlock, but Funk hiptosses out. Funk tries another one, but Jumbo goes with it into a backslide for 2, going right back to the armbar. Funk gets a headbutt, but Jumbo holds on and Funk BUMPS OFF A YANK ON THE ARM. Cool beans. Jumbo goes to a hammerlock and the half nelson clutch for 1. Funk comes back with elbows and a chop in the corner, before his whip is reversed. Funk’s shoulder goes into the buckle, armdragged, and armbarred. Funk tries to dump him, but Jumbo holds on, goes back in, and amrdrags him over the top. That’s a great sequence. Another armdrag, and then he starts kneeing the arm. Funk stands out of it and gets an atomic drop, but he misses an elbow and gets armdragged again. Funk stands out of it and the two trade tackles running the ropes. Funk gets the Butterfly Suplex, but Jumbo wisely moves towards the ropes as Funk is trying to cover him, and he gets to them at 1. They run the ropes again, and Jumbo goes into a back rolling clutch for 2, and then a surprise sunset flip gets the first fall!!!

Second Fall: Funk takes a sabbatical with Dory and gets his arm rested a bit before coming back in. They get a handshake, and then he slaps Jumbo around. They lock up and exchange overhand chops. They go to the knucklelocks, and Terry headbutts Jumbo RIGHT IN THE FACE before hitting a swinging neckbreaker for 2. He sits up Jumbo and drops his body weight on his neck for 2. That was interesting. The dreaded piledriver gets 2. Funk tosses him and snapmares him on the floor, followed by a dropkick. Funk takes him to the buckle, and snapmares into the chinlock, WHEN IT MEANS SOMETHING. See, he worked the neck before hand. Nearly 30 years ago, the chinlock means something. I can’t believe it either. Funk keeps it on, but Jumbo battles out of it with elbows and then a Euro Uppercut. Funk bumps HUGE off the corner whip, and then bumps OVER THE TOP on a Euro Uppercut. He brings Terry back in with a suplex for 2. Jumbo whips him in for the Cobra Twist (abdominal stretch), but Terry counters into the Rolling Cradle for the 3 to tie it up!!! And Jumbo is MAD!!!

Third Fall: Funk starts with a body slam. Jumbo then goes right into the Cobra Twist. Funk gets to the ropes and then tosses him over with a hiptoss. Dory gets a shot in as well. Gutwrench suplex gets 2. Another try, but it’s reversed into a delayed version from Jumbo for 2. Euro uppercut, and a couple stomps, and now the Camel Clutch. Terry punches out, so Jumbo gets his Butterfly Suplex for 2. Terry dumps him with a backdrop and both men are down. Terry goes for the back rolling clutch, but Jumbo reverses into his own for 2. Backbreaker gets 2. Jumbo gets a big German, but is slow to cover and gets only 1. Terry grabs a headlock and they run the ropes, with Terry nailing a hot shot and covering for the pin, the fall, and the victory to retain over his student, as the teacher, although surprised at first, was able to come back and achieve victory through guile and intelligence. Just everything about this match SCREAMED psychology. The arm work in the first fall, the neck work in the second fall leading to the finish, the delay on the German costing Jumbo a certain victory. Terry bumped like a freak. Just an absolutely AWESOME match, and one I could watch all day. ***** Terry would not lose that belt for nearly an entire year before Harley Race beat him in February of ‘77 to start his second reign with the belt. Jumbo’s success in gold would come later that year, winning the NWA United National Title from Jack Briscoe after defeating Akihisa Takachiho.

4/22/82-NWA UN Heavyweight Title-Jumbo Tsuruta © vs. Harley Race-Race’s career was winding down, but it’s Harley Race and you know he brings the goodness from deep within his budding afro. The ring announcer for this match is as close to a Japanese Robert Goulet as you are gonna GET. SO ENJOY IT! If he started singing “This Is All I Ask,” I think I might have just cried. Race starts with a knee and a slam, but Jumbo reverses a suplex into his own. Jumbo gets a GREAT elbowdrop and then the Butterfly Suplex for 2. Race starts headbutting and hits a gutwrench for 2. Jumbo throws some GREAT punches, like a Terry Funk mentor SHOULD, and then eats an elbow like a man in the corner. Both men get corner whips, but Jumbo gets advantage with the Cobra Twist. Harley hiptosses out and hits a kneedrop RIGHT in Jumbo’s face. Piledriver gets 2, but Jumbo back body drops out of another one. Jumbo makes with the European Uppercuts, but Harley comes back with the headbutts, and BOY! do those hurt like hell. Headlock throat thrust sends Jumbo out. Jumbo gets taken to the table and the post, and then gets his neck snapped across the top rope. Race tries a piledriver on the floor, but Jumbo back body drops out. Back in, Race eats the jumping knee. TIMBERRR! Jumbo stomps away and locks in the Boston Crab. Race headbutts out of the corner, and then is NOT AFRAID to headbutt young Jumbo RIGHT IN THE MUG. I love this. He drops another one and then hits a great suplex for 2. Jumbo then gets tossed and posted and headbutted and everything else that says he’s fighting Harley Race, like the HARDWAY COLOR, DADDY! He then gets piledriven on the floor. And Jumbo is bleeding FIERCE. This is so great. Jumbo gets punched right on the cut, and then Race gives him a swinging neckbreaker for 2. Jumbo comes back with a slam and a flying bodypress for 2. Race tosses him, but comes back and eats steel. And is Race bleeding? You damn right he is! Race gets stomped but comes back and whips Jumbo in, who sunset flips Race for 2. Then Race and Jumbo start whooping upon each other with thunderous fury, with Race using those lefts and the headbutts and Jumbo using the double chops. Jumbo even gets a headbutt in. The ref tries to get in the middle of it somehow, but Jumbo and Race won’t let him, so he throws it out. It doesn’t deter these two who keep whooping each other’s asses until the seconds get in there and break them apart, but then it’s as if they say, “What seconds?” They keep whooping ass and such and it’s BREAKING DOWN IN THE BUDOKAN!!! Oh, man. I need the rematch already and such. Forget the non-finish. This match absolutely kicked MAJOR ASS until then, and it’s just a great, great, great, brawl. Jumbo and Race BOTH ruled it big time. ****1/4

6/8/82-NWA World Heavyweight Title-“Nature Boy” Ric Flair© vs. Jumbo Tsuruta-LOOK! It’s Jumbo Tsuruta, Japanese wrestler of the 80s vs. Ric Flair, American wrestler of the 80s! My god it doesn’t get much better than this. At this point, Flair was somewhat established, and had only won two titles. He’s still styling and profiling, by 1982 standards, and he’s already the heel when the crowd chants for Jumbo. Jumbo has gone from the red and blue starred trunks to wearing all black, and by the looks of things, his colors were transferred directly to the ring mats. Lockup goes nowhere, but Jumbo grabs a headlock. Couple of elbows, and Flair gets away. Waistlock goes nowhere, and Flair gets a hammerlock. To the mat, but Jumbo gets a Fireman’s Carry on to the top buckle to break. They run the ropes and Jumbo hiptosses Flair, and into a headlock. Flair rolls him over a couple of times for 1 counts. They run the ropes as Jumbo gets a back body drop. Flair breaks the Butterfly Suplex attempt. They trade armwringers and Flair bumps. Jumbo goes to the armbar, and into the surfboard. Flair tries reversing, but Jumbo says, “NO, SIR!” Flair breaks, then comes back with an elbow and a chop (with no crowd going, “WOOOO!” which is weird), but Jumbo falls out of a suplex and puts in the sleeper. He’s wrenching it in, but Flair gets to the ropes. Jumbo looks for the German, but Flair breaks, and then kicks him away. They trade stiff elbows and chops, and the Flair eats the big jumping knee for 1. Flair works Jumbo into the corner, and then whips him in for a back elbow. Another try, but Jumbo avoids it, and FLAIR goes flying over the turnbuckle to the apron after a Jumbo corner whip. Flair comes back with a knee, and then a snapmare/kneedrop for 2. Another one gets 2, and then he hits the chinlock. Now they go to the top wristlock, and Flair pulls him down by the hair. Sweeeeet. They trade elbows and run the ropes, where Flair gets a back elbow, but misses a jumping elbow. Flair whips Jumbo in, but gets Sunset Flipped for 2. Jumbo backslide gets 2. Now a staredown. They trade elbows and chops and Jumbo comes HARD with the chops and Flair FLIPS~! Side Butterfly Suplex gets 2. Jumbo locks in a Boston Crab, but Flair breaks. Flair with some elbow pats and he whips Jumbo in for the Cobra Twist, but Jumbo eventually gets it. Flair hiptosses out, and looks for a falling headbutt, but ends up flopping. Very funny twist on the FLOP~!, no doubt about it. They run the ropes and Jumbo gets a crossbody for 2. Flair takes a sabbatical. Flair comes back in with elbow pats and then a back elbow. Backbreaker gets 2. Cobra Twist by Flair. Jumbo hiptosses out, and then hits a MISSILE DROPKICK. That’s pretty sweet for a guy his size. Running dropkick gets 2. Jumbo wins a suplex battle for 2. He misses an elbow drop and Flair goes to the spinning toehold, but Jumbo rolls him up for 2. Flair gets a kneecrusher, and Jumbo gets to go to school. Kicks, stomps, figure-four (wrong leg, D’OH!) and Jumbo is in trouble. He can’t get to the ropes, but he does reverse it, and Flair breaks. Flair backdrop gets 2 as Jumbo rolls to the apron. Flair snapmares him back in, and goes up top. You guess the rest. It gets 2. Flying crossbody gets 2. Jumbo then plays off the figure-four reversal and locks in his OWN figure four. Swanky. Flair breaks. Jumbo tries twice more, but Flair breaks both times. Flair then mounts and pounds. They trade shots as Jumbo gets tossed. Flair suplexes Jumbo back in for 2. Ye olde AWA elbow gets 2. Flair gets a sleeper, but Jumbo breaks. They trade more shots as Jumbo whips in Flair, who FLOPS~!. Piledriver (complete with dramatic selling from Flair), but a foot’s on the rope. Jumping knee sends Flair out. Enzuigiri sends both men to the floor. Jumbo piledrives Flair on the floor, but Flair posts him in return. Both men beat the count, Jumbo gets a German, but Flair is on top of Jumbo’s shoulders while his own are down, and we get a double pin and a draw. One thing about All Japan in the 80s-They did a whole lot of those finishes because they liked keeping both men strong. So as it is, it’s a draw, and Flair retains. Psychology was good, but the selling wasn’t AS good as it could have been. Still, a great match from two of the greats. ****

5/13/84-NWA United National Title-Jumbo Tsuruta © vs. Rick Martel-Before he became “The Model,” he was merely Rick Martel, a good mat technician who had a great look and good charisma. This is in the AWA promotion and takes place in Minneapolis, MN, but with the Japanese announcing. Jumbo, since he’s from Japan and the AWA crowd isn’t exactly the smartest crowd in the world, is Evil Japanese Heel by default. Go fig. Jumbo goes behind, but no dice, as Martel locks in a top wristlock. Jumbo goes to a hammerlock, but Martel counters, which Jumbo counters into a reverse toehold. He works the knee with a standing kneelock, into a stepover toehold, which he drops down with to buckle Martel’s knee. Jumbo then goes into the Boston Crab. Martel powers out into a pin, but Jumbo rolls through and into the ropes they go. Jumbo goes after the leg again, but Martel rolls away. Jumbo with the headlock takeover, and they run the ropes, ending with a Martel dropkick as Jumbo takes a powder. Jumbo does this cool stall on a drop toehold that shows that it’s more than just a regular takedown spot. That’s really neat. Martel goes to the hammerlock and starts dropping knees on the arm. Half nelson rollup gets 1. Jumbo fireman carries out, putting Martel on the turnbuckle, and the crowd boos. Jumbo with a fireman’s carry into the armbar, but Martel is in the ropes. They trade armwringers, and Martel takes control as Jumbo BUMPS and gets his arm hit with a legdrop. Armbar follows. Jumbo backs Martel in the corner, reverses Martel’s reversal and eats a crossbody for 2. Martel gets to bodyslammin’, but he misses the elbow, and Jumbo goes to work with an armbar. Martel whips out of it tot he corner, but his elbow misses, and he gets armdragged into a wristlock. Jumbo does this SWEET armbar stretch that somebody in the UFC needs to steal already. Martel tries to stand up to break it, but is pushed back down. Martel does this SWEET rollthrough that the camera crew TOTALLY AAAs, and after seeing some couple in the stands, Martel gets the headlock. And he holds on, too. Jumbo can’t whip out of it. Jumbo goes back to the knee with a kneecrusher, but Martel holds on as he gets the kinks out of his knee. Jumbo does whip him in and hits the jumping knee. Nice psychology as the kneecrusher made him able to whip Martel in, AND it played off the work he did earlier on the knee. Couple Euro Uppercuts later, and then a piledriver in where he turned to show the crowd that Martel was gonna be DUMPED on his head, gets 2. Cobra Twist now, and Martel reverses. Jumbo gets to the ropes, so Martel pounds on him. Body Slam gets 2. Rib breaker, but the slingshot splash hits knees. Suplex gets 2. After some strikes, both men go down after colliding. Jumbo dropkick knocks Martel into the ref. Backdrop Hold gets 1 as he PUSHES THE REF (who after a couple of looks, looks like Kiniski) to get some MAJOR heat for that. Martel with the hotshot counter for the Thesz Press, and then a flying bodypress on a staggered Jumbo for the pin and the title, as girls go nutso and stuff. This match didn’t seem to click like other Jumbo matches, but I think it was because Jumbo had to somewhat dumb his offense down for the AWA audience. Still, nice psychology, nice matwork, and a good finish, although the ref bump was still something that was totally unnecessary, in my view. ***1/4

5/22/84-2/3 falls for the NWA World Heavyweight Title-Kerry Von Erich © vs. Jumbo Tsuruta-See, Von Erich, at this point, had pulled off the upset of the millenium to that point, defeating Ric Flair in Texas earlier that month to win his first, and only, NWA World Title. It WAS, however, in his home state of Texas, and it WAS at a World Class event, so there you go. He faces Jumbo in his prime. Lockup goes nowhere, and an armwring sequence ends with a Von Erich dropkick. Jumbo wrestles Von Erich to the ground but he squirts out. Jumbo with the headlock takeover. Jumbo wins the wristlock battle, and then they run the ropes, with Von Erich getting an armdrag. Jumbo fireman carries Von Erich to the corner. Jumbo works the corner with Von Erich, and then tries the Butterfly, but Von Erich blocks. Jumbo gets it anyways and Kerry goes for the ropes. Kerry comes back with an armwringer and some punches to the arm. Kerry misses an elbow and eats a cross body for 2. Jumbo then goes right back to the Cobra Twist, and rolls him up for 1. They jockey for position as Kerry goes for the IRON CLAW OF DOOM~! Jumbo blocks that, but eats a stomach claw instead. Jumbo pushes off and gets a backbreaker for 2. Jumbo goes to a front chancery and then tries the half nelson clutch, but goes back to the chancery instead, and Von Erich puts him on the top rope, pushing him after the break. They lock up and Von Erich pushes him off again! Jumbo returns the favor on the next lockup. DAMN RIGHT, JUMBO! Jumbo goes for the German but Kerry blocks, so eats elbows. Jumping knee almost puts Kerry out of the ring, but a second one does for sure. OH! Kerry sunset flips in for 2. Jumbo gets an armwringer, and then an enzuigiri, right into the BACKDROP! First fall goes to JUMBO!!!

Second fall: Jumbo goes crazy on Kerry to begin the second fall and Kerry is in big trouble, as in: Kerry is busted WIDE open. Kerry starts fighting back and gets a snapmare into a kneedrop. Kerry then grabs a sleeper. Blood trickles down onto Jumbo as he runs Kerry into the corner face first to break, but then eats a dropkick. Kerry threw a GREAT dropkick. Jumbo blocks a punch and then unleashes a flurry on Kerry in the corner. Kerry comes out looking for a suplex, but Jumbo reverses to his own for 2. Then, the collision spot. Jumbo with a piledriver for 2. Kerry fights back with big ol punches, but Jumbo comes back with chops. Kerry with the punch soon to be called the Texas Tornado, and now he wants the Claw, and he gets it. The crowd went NUTS when he made the signal for it. It gets a 2 count before Jumbo bridges up, but Jumbo falls to the mat again and Kerry gets the second fall. He keeps it on for about a minute afterwards, as well. Jumbo’s seconds massage his head to stop the effects. You know, as stupid as it looks, it was certainly a death-like move…

Third fall: Kerry goes right back to the head with punches and goes for the Claw again, but Jumbo blocks it and falls outside. Jumbo comes back in and gets whipped to the corner, but Kerry eats knee. And then, in the greatest act of psychology I’ve ever seen, Jumbo goes after the Claw hand. To the buckles twice, and then he stomps on it. This is SWEET. He rakes it across the top rope. Kerry comes back with a right, but his hand hurts too much! PSYCHOLOGY WITH THE CLAW HAND!!! Then Jumbo takes his hand and slams it on the bar between the post and the buckle, and then he wraps it on the post. Jumbo suplexes him in for 2. A close 2. Three armbreakers and then a juji-gatame with a wristlock and Kerry is in TROUBLE. Kerry comes back with a backdrop and an elbowdrop for 2. Piledriver hits, back diving elbow drop misses. Jumping knee into the Boston Crab by Jumbo. Kerry powers out and they go into a rollup series for 2 counts. Kerry punches away, but they both tumble over the top rope. They try getting back in, but Kerry gets the Claw, and Jumbo backdrops out, but he can’t get back in the ring in time, and the bell rings, we have the usual All Japan 1980s double countout in a big match, and Kerry retains. Kerry’s best match ever, and Jumbo is a miracle worker, no doubt. If you can get psychology with the CLAW, you’re the man. ***3/4

3/9/88-Tiger Mask II vs. Jumbo Tsuruta-Jumbo is the NWA Int’l champ, but I think this is non-title. There’s no proclamation or anything, so I’m assuming it is. Tiger Mask II is Mitsuharu Misawa, and this is somewhat of a lead in to what would happen down the road between the two of them. Jumbo is officially a living legend of wrestling at this time, as he has been in the middle of numerous great feuds, and this one is just starting to get hot. They trade go behinds and it ends with a Tiger headlock. A break, and then a Tiger kick to the head goes into another headlock. Jumbo tries to whip him off, but Tiger keeps it in, and HARD. Jumbo with a kneecrusher to break, but Tiger limps into another headlock. Jumbo tries to whip out again, but Tiger keeps it in again. He keeps it in for another minute as Jumbo lifts him up, but Tiger keeps it in. Jumbo rolls over for a couple of 1 counts. He does the kneecrusher again, but Misawa keeps it in and goes to a knee. Corner break, but Tiger gets an elbow and goes back to it. Another corner break, and then some Jumbo knees. Whip, and Tiger goes to the second rope and gets a flying headbutt. Snapmare gets 1 and then the headlock again. Jumbo breaks out and takes Tiger down with some Euro Uppercuts. Tiger comes back with a single leg takedown into the headlock again. This is just TENACIOUS. I love how it’s treated as a wear down move as opposed to a rest hold. The whip works this time, but he gets tackled and gets the headlock again. Jumbo knees out and now they run the ropes, with Tiger getting a dropkick for 1. Now the front chancery from Tiger into the headlock. Jumbo finally tells Tiger, “You asked for it…” and BOOM! He drops him with the backdrop. That’s such a GREAT bit of psychology. Now, it’s Jumbo’s turn to inflict some pain. Jumping knee (take notes, HHH) gets 2. Jumping piledriver gets 2. Butterfly suplex gets 2. Jumbo with strikes, but Tiger falls out of a suplex and hits a spin kick, and then a second one knocks Jumbo out. Tiger follows with a baseball slide, and then UPS THE ANTE with a springboard somersault plancha. A lariat sends Jumbo out again, and then Tiger follows with a plancha. This is SWEET. Tiger roughs Jumbo up with a kick rush, and then hits a missile dropkick for 2. German Suplex hold gets a CLOSE 2. Frog splash hits the knees, and now Jumbo goes back to work. Kitchen sink kneelift, OH!, and then some stomps, as he’s selling the frog splash hitting the knees. Tiger counters another kitchen sink into a school boy for 2. Jumbo chops away and tries a slam off the ropes, but Misawa turns it into that rolling clutch for 2. Hurracanrana gets 2. Another one gets turned into a hot shot and Tiger is not afraid to go into the top rope NECK FIRST. The patented Jumbo backdrop gets only 2! Tiger blocks another one and small packages for 2. Jumbo lariat misses, Tiger German is blocked, and Jumbo gets his backdrop for the win. This was just the tip of the iceberg with these two, and it showed that although nobody knew it, Misawa was READY to hang with the big boys. Jumbo took Tiger’s offense and made it DEADLY, and I’ll tell you right now, this might be my favorite type of Jumbo match: the underdog has to reach such insurmountable odds that he gets awfully close, but doesn’t have that killer instinct to get it done. A great match in a series of many between the two. ****

12/88-Genichiro Tenryu vs. Jumbo Tsuruta-So it went like this. Tenryu and Jumbo were good and all that and Jumbo needed somebody to feud with. Tenryu said he would…but only if he turned heel. It turned out that these two would go on to have the feud of the 80s in Japan, culminating in a match many people are calling the match of the 80s, on 6/5/89. Yeah, go find that match and watch it, too. If you look at Jumbo’s seconds…yes, that IS John Tenta. The other guy is Rusher Kimura, but yeah, EARTHQUAKE seconding Jumbo Tsuruta. Tenryu isn’t afraid to have a greasy perm that says, “This is 1988!” Tenryu grabs a headlock, but gets nothing. Little shove by Tenryu pops the crowd. Tenryu holds onto the headlock. Jumbo can’t break it with the wristlock, so he breaks with the ropes and shoves Tenryu. Another headlock from Tenryu, but Jumbo kneebreaks, only to see Tenryu hold on to the hold. Doesn’t Tenryu know that if you leave the headlock in long enough you get…BAM! Backdropped. Poor Tenryu should have listened. Jumbo slaps him around, but gets tossed and whipped to the rail. Jumbo tries to return the favor, but only tosses Tenryu, and gets whipped to the rail, but then he nails Tenryu as he gets back into the ring. OH! 41 year old dropkick gets 2. Jumbo goes back to his amateur days with a belly to belly for 2 as Tenryu gets to the ropes. Jumping piledriver gets 2. He hits the reverse chinlock. Jumbo then steps on his face because he’s a SURLY OLD MAN TRYING TO MAKE A LIVING WHOOPIN ASS. Cut to Tenryu with a kneebar and then some kicks into an enzuigiri. Corner lariat and an elbowdrop gets 2. German Suplex Hold gets 2. Stuff Powerbomb a comin’, but Tsuruta back bodydrops out. Tsuruta comes back with mounting punches and such. Jumbo tosses Tenryu and works him over on the apron. OH! Tenryu falls out of a suplex attempt and gets a kneedrop for 2. Tenryu locks in the rear headscissors. Jumbo gets out and goes to a Boston Crab. Tenryu breaks a second attempt…and kicks Jumbo in the face. Jumbo kicks the knee and goes to a stepover toehold. Tenryu tries to counter, but Jumbo then goes to a kneebar. Tenryu breaks, and Jumbo chops into a high knee, and then baseball slides Tenryu to the floor. He takes Tenryu to the table, but then he eats a lariat off the apron from Tenryu. Tenryu then does a tope with Tsuruta on the apron, which is a neat visual. They suddenly take a trip to Memphis as Tenryu nails Jumbo with a chair. Tenryu comes off the top with what looks like a Thesz Press, but Jumbo rolls through for 2. Tenryu with an enzuigiri and a lariat for 2. He tries for another lariat, but Jumbo high knees the lariat arm and steps on his face. It’s KAWADA! In his early purple glory!!! Jumbo elbows away, but Tenryu ducks a chop and we have a double lariat. Tenryu with a BOSS front flip clutch for 2. Jumbo elbows out of a German and hits the BACKDROPPPAH for only 2! They trade elbows and chops and Jumbo wins, but Tenryu catches the high knee and turns it into a half crab. Jumbo breaks and then clubs away in the corner. Tenryu gets a sunset flip off a whip for 2. Jumbo comes back by STANDING ON HIS FACE AGAIN. My god this is sweet. Tenryu comes back with a small package for 2, but Jumbo holds on for a 2 count. That was nifty. Tenryu grabs a headlock, but blocks the eventual backdrop by grapevining the leg. Tenryu dropkicks Jumbo in the face, and we see that Jumbo’s knee is acting up, maybe from the block on the backdrop, so Tenryu comes back with the figure-four. Jumbo then breaks, and gets kicked in the face for doing so. HA!!! He chops his back and then kicks the leg of Jumbo, but Tenryu eats an enzuigiri, which is TENRYU’S move. OH! Diving knee only gets 2! Tenryu comes back by catching a kneelift and going into a kneebar!!! It gets a couple 2 counts before Jumbo rolls over and elbows Tenryu in the head. Tenryu goes enzuigiri, slam, and back diving elbowdrop for 2. Tenryu looks for a lariat, but Jumbo kneelifts him and gives him an out of control powerbomb for 2!!! Thesz press gets 2!!! Neckbreaker drop gets 2!!! Jumping knee puts Tenryu in the corner, and a HUGE lariat follows. Jumbo then PUMMELS Tenryu in the corner, but won’t back off as the ref tells him, so as Tenryu fights back he kicks him RIGHT IN THE JEWELS. That puts Jumbo down in the corner, so Tenryu starts kicking away and then all hell breaks loose and Tenryu gets disqualified for the low blow and not breaking, as the crowd is rabid and Jumbo is in the corner in a fetal position. Just an absoultely AWESOME brawl, and the cheap finish lessened it, but it hinted at the greatness that was to come. ****1/4

6/8/90-Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Mitsuharu Misawa-To set it up, Jumbo had lost the Triple Crown to Terry Gordy a couple days before this, only for Gordy to lose it to Stan Hansen on this same show. So basically, Jumbo is PISSED that Hansen couldn’t beat him for the belts himself after a long feud that settled pretty much nothing until Jumbo finally ended it all by finally unifying what is now the Triple Crown. On top of that, Misawa is talking about how he’s the future and wants to take down Jumbo and all that. Add that up, and you got one mad legend. Also, it was widely regarded that Misawa wasn’t quite ready for a run with the TC yet, so Jumbo had to drop the belts to somebody, which was, in this case, Gordy. Misawa, on the other hand, was unmasked by partner Toshiaki Kawada a month before this, and started using his real name to get away from the Tiger Mask persona. Now, in the biggest match of his life, he has a chance to knock off Jumbo and lead the new charge. Misawa has the other three of what would collectively become known as “The Big Four” of All Japan in his corner, with Kawada, Kenta Kobashi, and Akira Taue. Unlike the first match between the two, there is no handshake here…Misawa doesn’t acknowledge Jumbo’s extension for one, either. See, it’s those little things…Jumbo gets his power advantage out early. Push offs on the lockups, a big tackle, and then a big slam, followed by the big “OH!” from the crowd. Jumbo whips him in, but Misawa avoids the jumping knee and gets a dropkick, only to eat a HUGE high kick from Jumbo. Jumbo then hits a lariat so hard the flesh smacks all the way to the rafters for 2. Jumbo works him over some more with elbows and such, and then a slam leads into the backdrop, but Misawa blocks it, turning it into a crossbody for 2. Jumbo rolls towards the ropes and Misawa kicks him underneath them to the outside, and then does his patented tope fake, followed by a dropkick off the apron, showing that Misawa will indeed land on his head to win this match, along with every other match for the rest of his career. A running elbow knocks Jumbo over the rail. A couple more elbows knocks Jumbo off the apron to the rail, and then Misawa follows with a running plancha. See, the elbow is now an effective move at this point. Misawa grabs a headlock and pounds away with elbows, into a front chancery. Jumbo grabs an arm and goes into a standing surfboard. Misawa reverses to his own, and then Jumbo does as well, only to have Misawa go with the momentum to take control again. Jumbo reverses for real, but then Misawa gets that flipping mule kick to counter. Misawa goes to a hammerlock, but Jumbo breaks, and then Misawa SLAPS THE TASTE OUT OF JUMBO’S MOUTH. Uh oh…Jumbo gives that look to the crowd like, “You kidding me? HE slapped ME?” Simple lockup, and Misawa DOES IT AGAIN. OK…now it’s on. Sound familiar? Sub the slaps for the pushes in the Von Erich match. Jumbo is really pissed and he lets Misawa know right away with his jumping knee. OH! Now, the Cobra Twist. Misawa reverses, so Jumbo hiptosses him over the top rope. He follows Misawa out, whips him to the rail, and then rolls him back in. UN BUENO Butterfly Suplex gets 2. Chinlock procured, then an elbow, and then he takes Misawa on a trip to the rafters and downwards. He tries again, but Misawa counters with a dropkick in midair, as expected. Slam, and then a missile dropkick get 2 for Misawa. Corner whip, back elbow, and a nice gutwrench suplex follow. Then a spinning hook kick, and then a slam into the frog splash for 2. He tries a crossbody, but Tsuruta hot shots him for 2. OH! as Jumbo stomps. Jumping piledriver gets 2. Thesz Press gets 2. Two kneedrops and the Jumbo dropkick get 2. OH! High kick gets 2. Jumbo with a high knee off the second rope, but Misawa blocks another Butterfly Suplex. A slam, OH!, and then Jumbo goes up, only for Misawa to meet him, so Jumbo punches him down. Diving knee gets 2. After some fighting, Jumbo gets the Stuff Powerbomb for a VERY close 2. Two elbows, but Misawa reveses the Butterfly Suplex into a backslide for 2. Jumbo sells a Misawa desperation elbow like he just got hit in the head by a friggin’ rail spike. Just BEAUTIFUL. Jumbo rolls out, and eats a dropkick through the ropes, taking it ALL the way back to the rail, and then Misawa follows with a plancha. Back in, Misawa gets some jump kicks, but Jumbo elbows out of a German, only to get rolled up with that back bridging rolling clutch for 2. Spin kick puts Jumbo down, but JUST like their 3/88 match, the frog splash hits the knees, and Jumbo covers for 2. Crowd gets behind Misawa as Jumbo slams into a Boston Crab. Misawa breaks. Another REALLY stiff lariat gets 2. ANOTHER one gets 2! My god…Misawa can’t take much more. Corner whip lariat, but Misawa pushes off the turnbuckle on the backdrop to lessen the blow. Misawa with a German Suplex hold for a CLOSE 2. Misawa looks for a Tiger Driver, but Jumbo back bodydrops out for 2. Jumping knee, OH!, and then a corner whip, where Misawa looks for that diving headbutt, only for Jumbo to elbow him away, showing he learned from the 3/88 match. This is just ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING. Jumbo hurt himself on the move, as well. The lariat arm is gone, so he goes for the jumping knee, only to crotch himself. The crowd senses it, and Misawa goes for a suplex, only for Jumbo to counter, but Misawa lands on his feet, and tries his own backdrop, only for Jumbo to fall on top for 2, but Misawa rolls through and gets the FLASH PIN OVER JUMBO F’N TSURUTA! The defining moment of Misawa’s career, and a match that shows the true legend of Jumbo Tsuruta, a man who whoops ass through surliness and honor. Dripping with psychology and stiffness, this match was just wrestled PERFECTLY with no mistakes throughout, and is a true classic that can stand the test of time for decades to come. ***** Misawa is raised on Kobashi and Kawada’s shoulders as the crowd just RUSHES the ring, chanting his name, with the rails being the only thing holding them back. Masa Fuchi and Rusher Kimura help Jumbo to the back, but Jumbo knows that he’ll get his shot at revenge down the line, and he does, about three months later, when he beats Misawa in a rematch with his backdrop suplex, in a match that is just a bit below this one, but still outstanding.

10/24/91-Triple Crown-Jumbo Tsuruta © vs. Toshiaki Kawada-Kawada was teaming with Misawa at the time, and basically thought, “Well, Misawa can beat him. Let’s see how good I can do!” In all reality, Kawada would need a miracle to take Jumbo down. Jumbo was into his last reign as TC champion before the hepatitis hit him in a couple of months. Kawada’s music is…peppy, not at all the Dangerous K from today. Kawada blocks an elbow to start. Kawada then slaps on a headlock, and he keeps it on for a minute and a half. Jumbo tries to get out of it for a while, and when he finally does and tosses Kawada, Kawada comes right back in, gets an elbow, and clamps the headlock back in. That is just so beautiful. Crowd chants for Kawada as Misawa looks on from afar. Tsuruta tries to backdrop out of it, but Kawada holds on. Another minute-plus headlock before Jumbo gets to the ropes and knees Kawada in the gut. Kitchen sink kneelift follows, and another one. Kawada comes back with two elbows and goes back to, you guessed it, the headlock. If this strategy sounds familiar, it’s a lot like what Misawa tried to do as Tiger Mask, but Kawada has it down to a T in this one. Jumbo counters with a knee crusher. Jumbo goes to an elevated half crab, but Kawada kicks out. Jumbo hits some chops to the back and an elbow, but Kawada comes back with an elbow and chops. Now the Cobra Twist, this time with him pushing down on Jumbo’s neck. He switches to the Stretch Plum before going back to the Cobra Twist. Jumbo gets to the ropes and hiptosses Kawada out, just like he did Misawa way back when. Kawada gets whipped to the rail, but comes back…with the Twist? Jumbo hiptosses him out. Back in, Jumbo gives Kawada some kneelifts, but Kawada comes back with some of his own. Kawada kicks the leg into the half crab. Jumbo breaks, but eats a slam and a senton for 2. Now the chancery. Jumbo breaks, and then LEVELS Kawada with the lariat. OH! Jumbo goes for it again, but Kawada counters with the gamengiri (jump kick to the face) in a very smart move. Kawada even checks the knee because Jumbo used the crab earlier. Cover gets 2. Kawada attacks the injured face with elbows and little punts to the face, but Jumbo comes back and hits the jumping knee. OH! Now a sleeper scissors, but Kawada gets to the ropes. Jumbo tries again, but Kawada armdrags out into his own sleeper scissors! Jumbo gets to the ropes. Jumbo gets kicked and elbowed and slapped but Kawada doesn’t know that he’s messing with Jumbo, apparently, so Jumbo reminds him with some elbows and the jumping knee. Kawada falls out on the suplex and slaps on the sleeper scissors again. Jumbo rolls out, gets whipped to the rail, and tossed back in. Back to the sleeper scissors, but Jumbo breaks. To the corner, where Kawada gets a springboard kick, and then a slam into the diving back elbow that he learned from Tenryu for 2. Kawada goes for it again, but Jumbo catches him for a backdrop, but Kawada falls on top for 2, only for Jumbo to roll through for 2. Nice play on the 6/8/90 match there, with the roles somewhat reversed. Jumbo high kick gets 2. OH! Jumbo backdrop reversed for 2. Kawada goes for a lariat, but it’s blocked, so an enzuilariat hits instead. He tries a half-nelson sleeper, but it looks too much like a choke, and it’s broken. Kawada does it right this time, but Jumbo gets to the ropes. Another try gets it, but Jumbo breaks again. Kawada looks for the Stuff Powerbomb, but Jumbo kicks out of it. Jumbo high kick blocked once, not twice for 2. Backdrop blocked for a 2 count for Kawada. A HUGE high kick from Jumbo. OH! Enzuilariat stops the backdrop block, and then Jumbo hits a TRES NASTY Backdrop Driver that Kawada sells LIKE TOSHIAKI KAWADA, and it only gets 2! Kawada kicks off Jumbo twice, brushes off a high kick and tries a lariat, but Jumbo’s is JUST a bit better. Thesz press gets 2. Dropkick, OH!, and then a Backdrop Driver Hold gets the win for Jumbo. Another great match in that mold of “Jumbo vs. new guy” matches. It’s interesting how they played off so many of MISAWA’S matches in this particular match. The backdrop counters, the headlock sequences, etc. Great psychology in this match, and although Kawada didn’t win, he was definitely thought of as being in that top tier of wrestlers in the Triple Crown fold. Jumbo was very stiff and surly in this match, and he truly did a great job crafting a match with Kawada. ****

Conclusion: While this isn’t every single great match he’s ever had (which would take up 10 CDs at this point), this is required viewing. If any of you would like to purchase this CD, I would be glad to put them all on a CD for you and send them for you. Either purchase or trade is acceptable at this point, and we can always work something out. If you choose not to get this, then at least go to some websites and get some of the best matches Jumbo has ever produced in some other comps. This isn’t just a recommendation for this comp, but for Jumbo in general.


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Tim Livingston

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