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Zen Arcade Reviews: Every Match Dave Meltzer Gave 5+ Stars To (1987-1988)

January 31, 2019 | Posted by Jake St-Pierre
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Zen Arcade Reviews: Every Match Dave Meltzer Gave 5+ Stars To (1987-1988)  

NWA World Title: Ric Flair vs. Barry Windham
World Wide Wrestling January 20, 1987.

Windham topples Flair with a shoulderblock in the opening seconds, knocking Flair for an early loop. Flair tries taking it to the mat, but Windham has his number there too and reverses him. Flair fires off some chops, but Windham has that scouted as well, taking Ric down with a hiptoss and grounding him with a headlock. Tony Schiavone sounds exactly like Eric Bischoff on commentary and it’s killing me. Mostly because the idea of hearing Eric Bischoff talk isn’t a great prospect. Flair tries more chops, but Windham just keeps on him with punches and never lets him get ahead. Flair is frustrated at this point, and he runs into the crowd to catch a breather. Flair catches Windham running and hits him with a Stun Gun, but Windham scoops him into a Small Package for a two count right as we head to a commercial break. We’re back with Windham still in control, working over the champion as he has this entire match so far. Flair again uses Windham’s momentum against him and sends him to the floor, where he’s able to use the guardrail to slither his way into some semblance of control. That control continues as he steps back into the ring, but Windham doesn’t go down without a few punches here and there. Those punches soon turn into a barrage of punches in the corner, garnering a Flair Flop and a huge pop from the crowd. Flair tries begging off and tries a roll-up with the ropes, but Windham kicks out and keeps up with the comeback. The action spills to the floor, and Windham is in control as we head to a break. We’re back, and now Ric Flair is in control. Flair knocks Windham to the floor, but Windham counters a suplex into a punch for the first big nearfall of the match. Flair fires back with a Back Suplex and THE FIGURE FOUR! Flair works it with the ropes to put more pressure on Windham, but referee Tommy Young catches him and forces him to break the hold. Flair isn’t too worried about it, hoping the damage has been done on the leg. Windham is in trouble, but continues to fight back and nearly gets the victory with a Sunset Flip. Flair senses this fight, and tries a Sleeper to slow things down. Windham boots himself out of it and comes off the second rope with a clothesline, but Flair just barely gets his feet on the ropes. Windham tries following with a Big Splash, but Flair gets his knees up and stops the momentum for now. Windham is as persistent as ever, and he hits a nice Suplex, but he misses the follow-up diving elbow after taking too long. Flair tries dropping the knee, but Windham moves and starts working the leg because of it. FIGURE FOUR FROM WINDHAM! Flair is able to get the ropes, but Flair is on ice now. Flair hits Windham with a Manhattan Drop as we head to another commercial break, and we’re back on the air to a slugfest until Windham counters a hiptoss into an Abdominal Stretch, but Flair counters out of it and ends up bumping Tommy Young. We have five minutes left in the time limit and WINDHAM HITS A DIVING ELBOW! TOMMY YOUNG CAN’T COUNT! FLAIR KICKS OUT! SLEEPER FROM WINDHAM! COUNTERED WITH A BACK SUPLEX! CROSSBODY FROM FLAIR… ROLLED THROUGH INTO A PIN BY WINDHAM! FLAIR KICKS OUT! SLEEPER FROM WINDHAM AGAIN! O’CONNOR ROLL! FOR 2! PUNCHES IN THE CORNER! LARIAT FROM WINDHAM! SUPLEX FROM THE APRON! ONE MINUTE LEFT! BACKSLIDE FROM WINDHAM! FLAIR KICKS OUT! DEADLY DRIVER TO FLAIR UP TOP! POWERSLAM! FLAIR KICKS OUT!! FLYING LARIAT! FLAIR KICKS OUT AT THE BELL! It’s a 45 minute time limit draw. ****1/2 Ric Flair matches always tend to pass the test of time, and this match is the perfect example to back that up. He’s the consummate professional wrestler. When Ric Flair goes out to wrestle, he does two things; he goes a mile a minute, but he also makes his opponents look like a million bucks. There’s probably never been a heel wrestler as good as Flair at making their adversary look like the beater of all worlds. If we’re looking at this match from a kayfabe perspective, Barry Windham looked like the best on the planet. He had everything Ric Flair did scouted, frustrated him, and overall just made him look like he wasn’t the champion. Not in a bad way at all, more so that Windham was just that good. Ric Flair had to stoop to his usual chicanery and tactics to even have a chance of winning, and it turns out all he had to do was last the time limit and keep his crown. The draw wasn’t anything resembling a disappointment, because it wasn’t a cop-out. After all, despite Windham’s success, Ric Flair was the World Champion. He wasn’t ever going to lose in three minutes. Everyone knows he can wrestle for days. But juuuuust when you thought Windham was finally going to usurp him, the lucky son of a bitch wormed his way out of losing. That’s the mark of a great heel, and the mark of a great match when you get sucked into the bout so much that you kind of feel like a mark again after the finish. If you only had another minute, Barry Windham might be champion. But it wasn’t to be, and Ric Flair did what he did best; work for the long haul and escape. There’s a reason Flair’s the best.

Chigusa Nagayo vs. Lioness Asuka
AJW February 26, 1987.

Asuka pummels Nagayo with high kicks early, but Nagayo fights right back until Asuka dumps her to the floor. Nagayo re-enters and they slow the pace down, largely referring to tests of strength to establish dominance. Asuka establishes it first, reverting to holds to wear Nagayo down. Nagayo is right there with her though, rolling through and grabbing holds on the counter when she can. Asuka struggles to escape a Half Crab, but is eventually able to reverse out and attempt to go back on the offensive. Nagayo bails, so Asuka follows her to the floor with a Tope Suicida accompanying a shaky camera that would give WWE vertigo. Nagayo battles back in the ring and hits Asuka with a suplex before throwing up a Triangle to keep the offense going. Asuka returns the favor with a Piledriver and heads up top, hitting Nagayo with a sweet looking diving clothesline for 2. Nagayo rolls with the punches and hits an even sweeter looking German, followed by a Tombstone that gets her a two count. Nagayo heads up top now for a diving spinning heel kick, only for Asuka to roll with that and hit a German of her own. Asuka can’t get the pin there, so she goes to a Figure Four to try and put Nagayo away that way, only for Chigusa to get under the ropes to break it. Asuka puts Nagayo up top with her and comes down with a Back Superplex, but Nagayo kicks out. Nagayo fires up with some palm strikes before putting in a Sharpshooter, before giving Asuka a Superplex of her own, this time a regular one. These girls’ cardio is unreal, especially seeing as though Asuka gives Nagayo an INSANE GIANT SWING on the back of all that, before directly heading up top for a Missile Dropkick. Asuka hits a Back Suplex with the leg captured, but only gets 2. She whips Nagayo off the ropes though, only to get spin kicked and nearly pinned with a bridging O’Connor Roll. Asuka scoops her back up for a Tombstone but only gets 2, and follows with a Superplex that gets the same result. These girls are just aimlessly trading moves now and it’s… not really as appealing as it sounds. They trade cradles and… the bell rings? Not sure what’s going on here. Maybe a 15 minute draw considering we’re not even 20 minutes in? The referee looks kind of like a Japanese version of the locksmith from that episode of Broad City. Don’t know how to feel about it. It appears they restart, so we’re off again. The crowd obviously approves given they’re in the middle of a deafening Chigusa chant. Speaking of Chigusa, she hits Asuka with a Piledriver before going up top, only for Asuka to dodge a crossbody and hit a Suplex for 2. Asuka follows with a Spinebuster and various other maneuvers but can’t get the win. Another Piledriver scores for Asuka, but only for two. Nagayo dodges a dropkick, but misses a spin kick and get caught in another Giant Swing. They trade moves some more until the bell rings again. I guess it’s a draw. Whatever. ** I really, really wanted to like this match. The last Joshi match we got here was Asuka vs. Jaguar Yokota, and that was tremendous. But this fell victim to every Joshi stereotype in the books. There was nothing resembling a structure here. And it goes without saying that without that structure, the psychology was also nowhere to be found. And that’s okay if you have incredible athleticism or spots to compensate, but it was obvious at about the 10 minute mark that these women had zero ideas. They worked the same exchanges over and over. One girl hits a German Suplex, the other pops up immediately and hits a Piledriver. One girl hits a Piledriver, the other rolls them up immediately after. These exchanges are not horrible ideas on paper, but they become bad when they are used carte blanche, with exactly zero of these moves having anything resembling an impact on their recipient. It’s like the worst of Lucha. It’s “my turn/your turn” wrestling without the showmanship or the interesting storytelling that can come from that. This was a slog to get through and while I absolutely marvel at the shape these two women were in, as a match, this would make Teddy Hart step back a bit. Hell, no-selling sequences can work, have worked before, and will continue to work until the end of time if they are implemented correctly. But like anything in wrestling, if something is not done correctly, both women end up looking like rambling messes that also happen to be athletic. No one benefits from this, because it goes by so fast that you can’t register it and it cheapens the move and the women performing them because nothing sticks or makes a difference. And we didn’t even get a finish to get a good resolution to that story! That’s the worst part. It would have been at least logical to finally hit a move that put one of the women down, but they didn’t even do that. It was frustrating to a point where I can’t believe it actually bothers me. This match is essentially what your Jim Cornette types complain about with today’s wrestling and about twice as bad. The only thing saving this from a DUD rating is the fact that these women were MACHINES and kept running and running for 20 minute straight, one of the most impressive displays of cardio I’ve ever seen in wrestling… and, this crowd was NUTS for all of it and it’s not fair to say it was a bad match when they played to their crowd perfectly. That’s not what a bad match does, even though I personally thought this was one of the most difficult matches to get through thus far by the end. Diff’rent strokes, I suppose.

Keiji Muto & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada
NJPW March 20, 1987.

Koshinaka and Takada start things off, and Takada keeps Koshinaka at distance with kicks before trying to school him with holds on the mat. Muto sees his first bit of action in the match, shooting low for a takedown to try and get away from Takada’s striking. Maeda tags in as well, and he and Muto battle over leglocks before Koshinaka heads back in. Koshinaka tries a back elbow, but Maeda counters it into a German in great spot before tagging back out to Takada. Takada tries working kicks with Muto, who goes toe-to-toe and drops him with a Back Suplex. Takada spin kicks Muto to the floor and brings him back in for some more punishment in the form of Akira Maeda, who kicks the living shit out of him. Not sure that was him being an asshole but it wouldn’t have been out of character. Nobuhiko Takada moves so fast in the ring it’s insane. The way he just casually schools Koshinaka here is fantastic. Maeda tags back in and tries a spin kick, but wipes out in the corner when Koshinaka moves. Takada is there to bail Maeda out though, knocking Koshinaka out of a Boston Crab. Koshinaka is eventually able to get the tag though, only for Takada to come back out on top with help from Maeda. Muto breaks up a Dragon Suplex from Maeda, and breaks the pin off of a spin kick as well. A Takada lariat scores, but he nearly gets caught with a small package before Muto hot tags… FOR A MOONSAULT! MAEDA BREAKS IT UP! I forgot how ridiculous Muto’s moonsault was before it ruined his knees. SPIKE PILEDRIVER ON TAKADA! SPINNING HEEL KICK ON KOSHINAKA… KOSHINAKA BACKSLIDES MAEDA! MAEDA KICKS OUT! BACKDROP DRIVER FROM TAKADA! MUTO BREAKS IT UP! SHARPSHOOTER FROM TAKADA… COUNTERED INTO A SMALL PACKAGE! Shiro Koshinaka pins Nobuhiko Takada in 15 minutes. **** With about 5-7 more minutes and a little more focus, this might have been the best match I’ve reviewed thus far. This was so much fun, and the best kind of clash of styles you could ever want for. That styles clash made sense too given this was an interpromotional match of sorts, but it came off so legitimate and fluid that I’m really in awe of it. The star of the match by far though, was Nobuhiko Takada. He had one of the best matches I’ve ever seen against Kazuo Yamazaki in 1984, but in some ways he was in even finer form here. He was phenomenal as the laser-focused faux-MMA fighter, moving around the ring with a fluidity and purpose only few wrestlers I’ve ever seen can really match. He and Maeda were an airtight unit as well, meaning the extended heat and beating both of their opponents received at points became an engrossing segment of the overall arc rather than a time-filler. Their fighting vs. wrestling war with Muto and Koshinaka was endlessly entertaining and like I said, I’d have killed to have this a little more fleshed out. Or maybe I’m a Takada mark and am just now realizing it. As crucial as his involvement was to PRIDE, I do wish he’d have really given his all to pro wrestling. To be fair to him, he was a very large part of probably the biggest money angle in Japanese history in the UWFi vs. New Japan interpromotional feud, but I feel like too much of his legacy is his fraudelent MMA career rather than the natural talent he was as a pro wrestler. At least Shibata eventually got tired of being an awful MMA fighter, ya know? Maybe I’m selfish considering the guy was very instrumental in PRIDE being a thing and really, who didn’t love PRIDE? I actually can’t wait until we get to the Kiyoshi Tamura match in 1998 because they’re startingly similar in a lot of ways now that I think about it. Either way, this was all great, great stuff and one of the more pleasant surprises of the compilation so far.

NWA World Title: Ric Flair (c) vs. Barry Windham
Crockett Cup April 11, 1987.

This is a fancam shoot with no commentary, but in terms of fancams, it’s hard to complain about the quality of it. Flair tries forcing Windham down by his hair, but Windham kips right back up and admonishes him for it. Windham overpowers up on a top wristlock, but Flair scurries to the ropes immediately to escape harm. He fires off a quick chop, but hilariously struts away when Tommy Young prevents Windham from tearing him apart. On the third chop Windham finally gets him cornered, but Tommy Young negotiates him out of the ten punches. No matter, Windham instead just dropkicks him for a two count. Windham even telegraphs a dropdown and just locks on a headlock to the amusement of the crowd. Flair gets the action to the floor as my two cats fight in the North South position on my floor. They have potential but need a little more pacing and psychology to really match this Flair/Windham encounter. My wife’s cat is much larger, but the speed with which my kitten uses to run circles around him is impressive. Back to the topic at hand, Flair has the upperhand after the fight on the floor, working over Windham in the ring. Windham is persistent though and keeps fighting back, with a barrage of punches getting a Flair flop. Now he finally mounts him in the corner and throws the Ten Punches, but Flair dodges a dropkick and puts on the Figure Four! Tommy Young catches him grabbing the ropes though, and a shoving match breaks out, allowing Windham to recover and hit his flying clothesline. The tape cuts out and skips, and now we’re on the floor with Ric Flair in control. Don’t you love the 80s? Windham isn’t in too bad of shape, as he pulls out a Sunset Flip for a close nearfall. He gets a Backslide with the same result. Flair bails to the floor for a respite and finally makes his reentry upon Tommy Young’s request. Windham is a house of fire as he gets back into the ring though, punching Ric Flair to a pulp and suplexing him back into the ring from the apron for the closest of nearfalls. Windham tries his diving elbow, but Flair telegraphs it and moves. Windham catches Flair with another pin combo, but the champ is able to battle out and put in a Sleeper… only for Windham to rum him face-first intot eh top turnbuckle before any real damage can be done. Flair tries a Crossbody, but Windham rolls into a pin combination for 2. Windham counters a Suplex with a Sleeper, and nearly gets the pin off of it until Flair gets his foot on the rope. Windham tries a Big Splash, but Flair gets his knees up. Flair heads up top, but that proves foolish for him as Windham slams him down. Windham now puts in the Figure Four, but Flair goes at the eyes to get out of it. Flair hits the ropes, but runs into a Windham Powerslam for two. Windham tries the Figure Four again, but gets an eyerake and a crossbody that kind of sends him to the floor. Windham heads to the top and hits a missile dropkick, but Flair gets his foot on the ropes. Windham thinks he’s won, but no dice. Windham hits a flying clothesline but like an idiot, doesn’t hook the leg near the ropes and Flair finds them again. Suplex scores for Windham, but Flair kicks out again. Windham with a backslide, but no dice. Windham tries an O’Connor Roll, but Flair counters into one of his own for the win in 26 minutes. ***1/2 Basically a dumbed down, shorter, house show version of their awesome TV match I reviewed earlier. Given it was a Flair match, they worked the exact same finishing stretch with the exact same spots and false finishes, and while that’s fine given the time period, it wasn’t helped by the great build-up to make it work like their World Wide Wrestling bout did. It was just copy and paste opening with no real point until they went home, which definitely has its exciting points given these two’s obvious chemistry, but you can’t work the exact same match from before and cut the best moving parts out of it without seeing diminishing returns. If you’re going to watch a Flair/Windham match this isn’t a terrible choice at all, but you are much better served if you commit to their January 1987 match in my opinion. You’ll find yourself feeling more rewarded for your time and with much more to sink your teeth into.

War Games: The Road Warriors, Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, & Paul Ellering vs. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Lex Luger, & War Machine
NWA Great American Bash 1987.

War Machine is some masked fat guy (actually Big Boss Man, but mystery is more enticing), and not the MMA fighter rotting in prison. And given Jon Koppenhaver was born at this point, this War Machine could never be the worst one alive so at least we can take solace in that. Dusty and Arn start things off, and Dusty runs wild in the early exchanges. Arn clips his bad leg and starts trying to work at it, but Dusty hits him with a DDT on the rebound. Dusty tries working on his leg, but Arn goes after his eyes to break it up. Dusty fights back and rubs Arn’s face against the cage, and he draws first blood. Dusty works a Figure Four now, trying to make Arn useless as the match progresses. The coin toss is up now outside the cage, and the Horsemen win, sending in War Machine. Given this is War Games, you can probably see how this goes for Dusty Rhodes. The period ends after 2 minutes though, and Road Warrior Hawk makes his way in to save the day. He cleans house with powerslams and dropkicks, generally making the Horsemen pay. That moment of comfort ends for the babyfaces though, as Ric Flair makes his entrance and isolates Hawk in the other ring alongside Arn Anderson. Ric makes his way to the other ring again and beat on Dusty while Arn has his way with Hawk to the right. Hawk gets in his no-sell of the Piledriver though, and Arn is not exactly happy about it. The next babyface in is Nikita Koloff, who walks right into a Piledriver from Koloff, who no-sells it too! He isolates Flair in the opposite ring and runs wild on him, walking through all his offense and hitting the RUSSIAN SICKLE~! The babyfaces have their way with the Horsemen, but Tully Blanchard hits the ring to give his side the numbers advantage. Blanchard swings off the top of the cage to kick Dusty in the face as the Horsemen continue their onslaught. The fourth man in is Road Warrior Animal, and boy is he the poster-boy for Roid Belly. Animal cleans house as you’d imagine, running Tully into the fence about as homoerotic a manner as one could imagine. Well, maybe not if you imagine super hard, but you know. The bell sounds, and the last man in for the Horsemen is Lex Luger, who OSW Review has totally shone a new light upon considering all I can hear now is OH~! and OW~! every time he moves. It’s a Pier Sixer in the ring now, with blood everywhere, and Paul Ellering makes his way in to begin the MATCH BEYOND. Animal dodges a War Machine diving headbutt and takes him out, and Hawk comes in for a shot too… as well as one from Dusty! And now Nikita! Paul Ellering’s spiked bracelet gets raked into War Machine’s face until he submits, and that’s the match in 20 minutes. **** Something tells me that modern fans would find this a bit bland and abbreviated which is totally understandable, but I’m such a mark for War Games that it was all still so fun to watch. It’s definitely not the pinnacle of the gimmick given we have two later War Games entries in the years to follow, but this was such a chaotic and fun fight that I still found a lot of things to like about it. War Machine’s inclusion was an obvious telegraph that he’d be the one to submit, but fat masked jobbers are always the best sort of wacky fun you can have with old school NWA and it was a nice nostalgia trip. Dusty Rhodes was the star of the babyface team – obviously since the dude made up the match and booked for himself – showing really exciting explosive power when his team was on the brink of defeat, as well as the usual Road Warrior no-sells that gave the match a bit of an aura there. This is hardly rocket science and goes by far too quickly to really sink your teeth into, but as an introduction to what has become a legendary match, this wasn’t too shabby.

NOTE: There is a Chigusa Nagayo, Yumiko Hotta, Mika Suzuki, Yachiyo Hirata, & Mika Takahashi vs. Lioness Asuka, Mika Komatsu, Kazue Nagahori, Mitsuko Nishiwaki, Etsuko Mita, & Sachiko Nakamura match with a ***** rating, but I cannot find it without clipping so I won’t bother reviewing it. I found it to be a waste of time with the Sheepherders vs. Fantastics match so if I find a clipped match, I’ll put a note here so at least it’s acknowledged. Hopefully that doesn’t come off as lazy but considering how many fucking matches I’m reviewing for this, I think I can skip a clipped match.

Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada vs. Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy
AJPW December 16, 1988.

Bam Bam and Kawada start us off, and Gordy dodges a wild spinning kick from Kawada before they tie up. Gordy hits a beautiful Snap Suplex for an early one count. He tags in Hansen, who dodges a spinning kick himself as Kawada sends him off the ropes. Kawada tries to catch a Sunset Flip on him, so Hansen just heaves the poor bastard out of the ring so Bam Bam can run him into the guardrail. Gordy tags back in proper, but runs into a successful Kawada spinning kick, giving Kawada enough of a break to finally tag in Tenryu. The crowd LOSES IT when Tenryu marches in, and he takes Gordy to school with a textbook Vertical Suplex. Gordy is right back up though, flattening Tenryu with a dropkick and tagging in Hansen so he can bumrush Tenryu to the floor for some more punishment. Gordy tags back in and makes the mistake of trying to trade chops with Tenryu, who fires back in kind and tags in a refreshed Kawada, who takes Gordy down with a running high cross. Gordy immediately tags Hansen back in though, who finds himself on the floor after a Kawada dropkick followed by a pescado. Kawada finally gets a rhythm going against both Hansen and Gordy, allowing he and Tenryu to drop Gordy with a wild double team spin kick. Gordy finds himself in something of an inverted triangle choke, so Hansen walks in and clubs Tenryu half to death just to break the hold. Hansen tags in proper, but takes his eye off the ball and walks right into a Tenryu lariat. Tenryu lights him up with a bevvy of chops before tagging in Kawada to continue their momentum. Kawada starts running wild on Hansen in the corner, but Gordy blindsides him upon seeing the tide threaten to turn. Kawada dodges a Gordy Avalanche and turns his momentum right into a BIG GERMAN SUPLEX that Stan Hansen breaks up. Hansen sees the trouble and clobbers both of his opponents to the floor, beating on them out there a bit before chucking Tenryu in the lion’s den as Gordy beckons in the ring. Hansen keeps on punishing Kawada on the floor, just ripping the dude’s tights and kicking his leg. Gordy fares just as well in the ring with Tenryu, cracking him with a lariat for a close nearfall. Hansen gets back on the apron for the tag and they bowl over Tenryu with a double shoulderblock. Hansen measures for a Powerbomb, but Tenryu muscles out of it. That earns him a good punch to the face from Gordy. Hansen takes his eye off Kawada though, who makes a HUGE SAVE for Tenryu by saving a Powerbomb pin. He hammers away at Gordy in the ring, but Hansen intercepts him and throws him outside of the ring to continue working at his knees. Tenryu almost catches Gordy with a small package, but not quite. Hansen tags in, but takes his time a little too much and gets tripped into a toehold from Tenryu, who pays for that transgession by way of a barrage of Gordy boots to the torso. Kawada rises up and drags Gordy off of the apron, but Gordy kicks at his leg and tries to tie him up in the guardrail. Tenryu fires up and floors Hansen with a palm strike combo, but Gordy catches him with a NASTY LARIAT! ENZUIGIRIS FROM TENRYU! DIVING BACK ELBOW! Gordy saves the day for Hansen, but Tenryu avoids him and superkicks Hansen… followed by a POWERBOMB! GORDY SAVES BY POWERBOMBING TENRYU! HE’S NOT LEGAL! LARIAT FROM HANSEN~! That puts away Tenryu in 21 minutes. ***3/4 I think for the first time in this series so far, I can say I’m a bit disappointed. I’ve been spoiled by some absolutely phenomenal All Japan tag matches thus far – Yatsu/Choshu vs. Tenryu/Tsuruta especially – that this lagged behind a fair amount. This match had a lot going for it but needed that extra push towards the finish line to really give it the shine it deserved, and that didn’t quite happen. With that being said, I think Hansen and Gordy are a match made in Hoss Heaven as a team. They’re one of the few acts in wrestling you can look at and cower without even needing to be in their presence. Prime Gordy was one of the best big men to ever do it, and one of the only similar-style workers in front of him was Stan Hansen. Watching them beat up on young Kawada was really fun, especially supplemented with Tenryu being the great equalizer in terms of force. Kawada was the crafty one of the group, using speed and cunning to find his way, but Tenryu was the man who stood up to the big Americans in competition. That all made for a fantastic tag match that you should absolutely go out of your way to see, but when compared to some predecessors it takes a bit of a backseat. Hindsight is a bitch sometimes.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
This batch of matches was definitely a step below the previous entry, but there's still tons of wrestling fun to be had. The first Flair vs. Windham bout is a classic, watching Nobuhiko Takada in action is never a bad thing (unless you're watching him fight), and the first-ever War Games match is a surprisingly entertaining nostalgia watch. Nothing here touches Takada vs. Yamazaki from 1984, but that's a difficult ask, so don't let that deter you.