Puroresu Pulse, issue 173: Early Summer Lay of the Land

Section 1- Results

Dragon Gate: Warriors retained the trios titles over Kamikaze on the 10th. Yoshino beat Sugawara to earn the big Kobe World Hall title shot.

New Japan: Notable round-robin results from the juniors tournament include Devitt and Richards over Liger, Liger over Ibushi, Ibushi over Devitt and Richards, and Taguchi over Kanemoto. In the semifinals, Devitt beat Ishimori and Ibushi beat Taguchi. Devitt beat Ibushi in the finals.

NOAH: Marufuji beat KENTA. Bison & Walker retained over Sugiura & Taniguchi.

Section 2- News

Dragon Gate: A 3-way 3-man tag will take place on the 8th, with World-1 vs Kamikaze vs Saito, Horiguchi & Dragon Kid. Yokosuka & Kness vs Mochizuki & Fujii for the tag titles is added to the Kobe show. Shingo vs Hulk is now hair vs hair. Last but not least, Hulk has retired his dance routine. Please don’t cry, fanboys and fangirls.

DDT: Set for Sumo Hall is Sekimoto vs Harashima for the title, Marufuji vs Ibushi, Tajiri vs Dick Togo, and a tag title contendership match that’s likely to be won by the tandem of Nakanishi and Poison Sawada Julie.

New Japan: Marufuji will defend against Devitt on Saturday. Nakamura will return and face Daniel Puder.

NOAH: Ishimori & Marvin will defend the junior tag titles on the 26th against Nosawa & Minoru Fujita. Kanemaru defends against Marufuji on July 10th, possibly title vs title if Marufuji is still champ. Morishima vs Yoshie is also on tap for that show.

Section 3- Shilldiving J

SO MANY COLUMNS IN TWO WEEKS. SO… MANY.

Clark, Wilson & Ditch: the ultimate trios unit.

Letting go.

Section 4- Media Corner

I Love The ‘80s Part 2: I Love Choshu, Fujinami & Dick Murdoch

Choshu vs Fujinami, WWF international title, New Japan April 21st 1983.

This was part of the feud that made Choshu into a superstar. First, Choshu had a series of bouts with Fujinami after declaring himself (and his stable) to be separate from New Japan. That happened in late ’82, and by this point Choshu had beaten Fujinami for the title (earlier in the month). In that bout Choshu hobbled Fujinami’s legs and pinned him after a rather cheap lariat, so Fujinami looks for a bit of revenge.

Choshu’s Army vs New Japan, Gauntlet match, New Japan April 19th 1984. Part 1.

Part 2.

One of the hottest crowds you’ll ever see, and maybe the hottest ‘big show’ crowd ever for Japan. Plenty of hate and intensity, plus some in-match continuity. Fujinami gets things started right, especially in his second matchup against Teranishi. The recently retired Yatsu looks great in the middle of the match, as does a very young Takada. Animal Hamaguchi, the pint-sized agitator, does his thing. The finalie of Inoki vs Choshu doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the match but it isn’t bad or anything.

Inoki & Fujinami vs Dick Murdoch & Adrian Adonis, MSG tag league final, New Japan December 5th 1984.

The North/South Connection was the hottest tag team going, first in WWF and then in Japan. Murdoch and Adonis bump and sell like crazy when babyfaces go on offense, but most importantly they put on a master’s class in tag team strategy.

Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs Dick Murdoch & Masked Superstar, IWGP tag title tournament, New Japan November 29th 1985.

Masked Superstar, aka Demolition Ax, is a darn good replacement for Adonis. After a slow opening we get truckloads of sweet technical work, punctuated by the occasional world-class Dick Murdoch punch (and a bad finish). Fujinami & Kimura is one of the top New Japan tag teams ever from a success and longevity standpoint.

Fujinami vs Maeda, IWGP league, New Japan June 12th 1986.

Long regarded as one of the best matches in company history, and certainly a prime example of ‘strong style’. Heat, strategy, hardway blood, and sadly an awful finish. But that’s the ‘80s. The way Maeda hurts Fujinami’s legs, then uses that to make Fujinami less able to avoid kicks, is done somewhat subtly and is absolutely brilliant.

Inoki vs Dick Murdoch, IWGP league final, New Japan June 19th 1986.

I really, REALLY love this match. Various New Japan vs UWF matches are what get the most praise from 1986, but I’ll take Dick F’n Murdoch working the arm like a fiend and throwing punches. Inoki doesn’t get much daylight in this but he brings it whenever he gets the opportunity. The intended finish is botched by the ref but they recover admirably. He also keeps selling the arm like crazy, which goes against the Inoki norm of forgetting to sell when he goes on the attack. There’s dozens of great moments and details in this, so pay attention and enjoy the show!

Section 5- The Scene in June

All Japan: It seems like a mortal lock that Suzuki retains over Kono. His following defense would be at Sumo Hall in August, and while Suwama would seem to be the logical pick for his opponent, it would also mean a quick climax for the veterans vs rising stars feud. Without Kojima and possibly Mutoh for the card they’ll need a lot of help to draw a crowd, so maybe Suzuki will face an outsider. I can’t see them going with Kea, who has nothing going for him, or Funaki, who has faced Suzuki so often over the last year. Man are they lacking in star power.

Dragon Gate: I’m uncertain about Yamato vs Yoshino. I always feel like Yoshino is a notch below the top stars of the company, plus he’s ever-so-slightly too small (like Dragon Kid). If Yamato retains, I predict that Hulk will beat Shingo and then dethrone Yamato before year’s end. If Yoshino wins, it sets up a string of fresh title bouts that could last a while. In the end it really doesn’t matter, because their roster is so deep and they can just throw any two guys against each other.

DDT: Seems blindingly obvious to me that Harashima is beating Sekimoto. The KOD title has been the best-booked belt in Japan for the last year, and having Harashima win at the second Sumo Hall show is fitting after he lost the title a year ago. What I wonder about is whether they can keep the momentum up. Ibushi got a title shot in May; Shuji Ishikawa just got one; Sanshiro Takagi got a shot in March. The winner of Tajiri vs Dick Togo would be a good choice for August, but after that I have no idea.

New Japan: Makabe is certainly not losing to Shiozaki in his first defense after waiting so long for the IWGP title (though I thought the same about Tenzan vs Nakamura in ’03). Tanahashi vs Yano strikes me as a de facto #1 contenders match. Makabe retains if he gets Yano in July, but I’m uncertain if it’s Tanahashi. Also, Devitt beats Marufuji on Saturday, he HAS to. The G-1 wouldn’t be effected regardless of if it’s Makabe or Tanahashi coming in as champ, and I’m thinking Goto, Nakamura, Bernard or Nagata will win, in that order. Nakamura is long overdue for a G-1 win, but he only just lost the title, so he might have to wait AGAIN.

NOAH: Despite being an unlikely champ, I really think Sugiura will have his reign stretch to at least September after a win over Takayama. The big guy is so broken down it isn’t funny. After that it seems like Akiyama is the logical challenger, though if I’m NOAH I’d do most anything to bring in Nakamura. Even having Nakamura beat Sugiura would work, because Nakamura vs NOAH would be the coolest thing to happen to the GHC title in years. Morishima is a possibility if he beats Yoshie. As far as the juniors go, I’m assuming Kanemaru will retain over Marufuji in the event that Marufuji loses to Devitt. If it were me, I’d put the title on Aoki next, but of course it isn’t me so who knows.

One Last Thing

Maybe there would be demand for this, maybe not, but I’d like to start a regular ‘mailbag’ feature. Be it responses to what I write, questions, thoughts on the matches I’m linking to, something YOU want to see me talking about, etc. More feedback, more content, more discussion; it just seems like a good fit. I know there’s enough of you out there to make it work! All it takes is one email to kick it off.

Next Time: We go from Dick F’n Murdoch to Dick Beyer. I love Dicks!

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