An Englishman in New Japan – RULE BREAKERS!

This week I’m looking at some of the legendary rule breakers of the vintage era of the WWF plying their trade on tours of Japan.

North-South Connection – Online World of Wrestling

Cowboy Bob Orton vs. Tatsumi Fujinami (Tokyo, Japan, November 1st, 1984)

Ace is in the green trunks, brown stetson and brown vest that’s frilled so far up that it may as well be a crop top.  Tense handshake to start. Bob’s shaky leg selling is always fun to watch. He takes a top wristlock after a monkey flip, into a rolling sequence, with Fujinami backed into the ropes off a backslide attempt. Some forearms shivers from Orton end the mutually agreeable technical wrestling, but Fujinami obstructs his flurry with a small package, so it’s kneelifts from there. Bob’s reversed into the corner and does his oversell on the top turnbuckle. One-inch punches are the next strike, leading to a rear chinlock. Wind up elbow over the nose, followed by an elbowdrop that you can tell didn’t hit, but looks stiff as hell. Snake Eyes on the ropes. I notice a big apron around the ring, at least a foot each side. Orton eats dropkick and does a drunken fall out of the ring, then gets hip tossed back in. Fujinami uses a headscissors to ground him and wear him down, but Orton reverses out into a toehold and then an interesting spinning toehold into a legdrop that I’d be surprised if Randy’s never cribbed. Atomic drop into a nice bridging German suplex for two. Going straight up a gear, both guys enter into a slugfest with one another, and Fujinami works the leg in the corner a bit, but Orton gets the better of it. Bulldog from Orton for two. Piledriver attempt is reversed into a backdrop. Dropkick from Fujinami right to the face and then another to the outside. Back in, they bash heads on a collision. Fujinami is back up first, with kicks to the legs, but he misses a dropkick and Orton mounts the ropes for a flying stomp. Knees up on the corner splash, unsurprisingly, but Orton blocks a suplex by going low. He goes for his own, but Fujinami flips over and they both go out on an O’Connor roll that goes through the ropes. Orton returns first and suplexes Fujinami back in. Flying fist off the top for two, then another trip upstairs. Fujinami catches him and slams him off, then locks in the Scorpion. Orton won’t submit, but the ref wants to call it on his account and awards the match to Fujinami. The Tokyo screwjob! A bit disappointing given the participants, they stated in a certain gear and never went above it. BUST!

The Masked Superstar and Don Muraco vs. Seiji Sakaguchi and Tatsumi Fujinami (Tokyo, Japan, March 30th, 1984)

Maybe Bill Eadie could make a Cocoon-age comeback on The Masked Singer these days. Muraco is pretty awesome and open in his current podcast, with his Bobby Heenan story about a loaded $10 bill and Iron Sheik’s story about rooming with a drunk Brain one night being pretty funny (“I no put him over!”). Apparently Superstar’s mother-in-law used to make his entrance gear and it looks very much like he’s wearing it exactly because he doesn’t want to displease his wife. Don’s actually getting a decent crowd chant despite being the heel. He’s approaching his first chubby phase at this point. The Japanese team make for an interesting combination of size and speed. It’s Fujinami’s dropkick to Superstar that’s the first offensive blow. Superstar takes him over with a side headlock and Muraco comes in with shots and kind of tumbles with him into the corner. Gotta say, it’s not as technical as the last match, but the pace is a lot better. The heels alternate on front facelocks until Fujinami fights back and Muraco takes a Ray Stevens bump off an Irish whip. Sakaguchi tags back in and helps split the legs, then gets a backbreaker for one. Doesn’t feel like he’s ranked as highly in the pantheon of great Japanese wrestlers, but it seems like he knows what to do and when to do it. Nice high knee to topple Muraco and set him up for a Fujinami flying kneedrop. Superstar breaks up the subsequent abdominal stretch, but gets taken outside on a clunky cross body block. The other two join them and the heels are run into one another and then the railing to get counted out. Shit finish to what was building up into a decent match. Better feelings for this one than the last, honestly. ICHIBAN!

Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura vs. Dick Murdoch, Adrian Adonis and King Kong Bundy (Omiya, Japan, May 31st, 1985)

Bundy has his rarely-seen Dracula cape for this one! Inoki starts with Adonis, taking him down to work the legs before bringing Kimura in. They get into a hair pull with one another before Tatsumi enters. Captain Redneck tags in to battle Kimura and pulls off a dropkick in his first minute, but gets caught in a hammerlock. Kimura misses his dropkick, but manages to tag in Inoki, who quickly gets his own dropkick and headscissors – you know Dickie will want to show off his before this match is done! Bundy tags in and Inoki kicks at him before he’s even in. Kimura gets that dropkick on him, but Bundy won’t go down. Bundy almost avalanches him, but misses, and Fujinami gets him down for two. Can’t slam him, though, and Bundy gets his slam and kneedrop on him. I think it was Bret Hart that conceded that he was a big, big guy, but the weight wasn’t all in his belly, he was wide and had massive legs too. Adonis gets a Hart-like elbow and holds Kimura for proto-decapitation elbow for Murdoch. Murdoch gets a sunset flip to continue the aerial moves. Bundy gets a stiff clothesline and not quite a splash but certainly a heavy, falling pin. Kimura tries a couple of charges on him, but gets elbowed down and tags in Inoki, who fakes going for a test of strength and throws punches instead. Murdoch tags in to wail and stomp on him. Adonis gets elbows from the outside. The camera misses Murdoch getting the brainbuster on the inside while Kimura attacks Adonis outside, then Dick gets a backbreaker and holds Inoki prone over the knee. Back suplex gets two. Nasty calf branding and elbow, but Kimura breaks up a pinfall attempt. Adonis gets his own backbreaker for two, then an abdominal stretch. Inoki reverses, but Bundy tags in. He backs off and brings in Kimura, who gets wrestled down by Bundy. Murdoch back in with gut shots, but Kimura makes his comeback on him with a leg lariat, inspiring a young Illustrious Johnnie Stewart out there somewhere. Inoki tags in and dropkicks Murdoch into Adonis, who then comes in and gets more of the same. Inoki and Fujinami team up for a flying kneedrop, but everyone comes in and then head outside, leading to a double count out. Seems like that’s the way to save face for everyone. Match was fine, with even Bundy putting his working boots on. ICHIBAN!

Melting it down: Interesting divergence between expectation and result this week. Goodbye for this week, and aloha for next week!