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Comp 1: Number One and the Best!
I think the big question is "Why did you give up about 15 hours of your life when you already have the matches on this tape (duh)?" Simple; I made this tape as a favor, as Das Autoritate wished to expand his horizons of general wrestling fanaticism outside of the standard Monday/Wednesday/Thursday night fare. The matches on this particular tape are of great impact to me personally; they're matches that shaped the way that I view wrestling as an art form. From the absurd to the absurdly awesome, from the touching to the touched-in-the-head, from the mat to the air... this is why I watch wrestling. Or to be more precise, these matches are the beginning of a series of compilations that I'm going to undertake (God help me) in order to offer those who want a unique viewpoint the chance to see why I think like I do. Or hell, worst comes to worst, you're definitely going to see some great wrestling. Hopefully, this tape reflects my watching patterns correctly; if not... well, there's always the next installment.
A few notes:
(a) You may be wondering why I included certain things like recap packages or Japanese interview segments or, most notably, the epic 9-minute Hardyz stall-for-heel-heat expo. Simple: Many of these matches are primarily about character, and these segments or what have you establish the characters in the match to a MUCH greater degree. Additionally, they let you gague crowd reaction a lot better than just letting the match rip. Finally, they're usually pretty interesting to watch.
(b) I swear on a stack of Important Items that every penny I make selling these tapes will go exclusively to the purchase of more wrestling tapes (AND ONLY more wrestling tapes), which will then be used to make more editions of the comp, which will yada yada yada. ENDLESS CYCLE OF SAMSARA~!
(c) I use the following abbreviations:
(d) I realize that some people may be buying this tape who have no idea who some of these wrestlers are. I will provide a short description of the wrestlers (if I think you might need it) in this token shade of yellow.
Copies are $16.50 ($13 + $3.50 for USPS Priority Mail shipping). I accept personal check, money order, well-concealed cash (although if it gets lost, I'm not responsible), or payment through PayPal (use the email address firstname.lastname@example.org).
1. HWA: Chris Benoit vs. Steven Regal
You may have heard of this match, despite the mystery fed... HWA is the promotion that runs the Pillman Memorial, and this match is the best one they've ever seen. It's flawless old-school wrestling; hell, my only real problem with it is that it's too short. You may not like this match, but I'll bet you dollars to donuts that you *will* respect the hell out of it. Unless, of course, you have some strong dislike for excellent wrestling.
2. BattlArts: Naoki Sano vs. Minoru Tanaka (FMW Junior Title)
Funny, that the best true juniors match of the year doesn't bring back the memories of, say, Liger vs. Sasuke (i.e. highspot-oriented) so much as it does Takada vs. Owen Hart (i.e. matwork oriented). It's mostly mat based, with a ridiculously great build to the finish. It's great, it's believable, and it's stiffer than you'll know what to do with.
Tanaka's tall and has purple trunks. Sano looks kind of old and haggard and has full-length tights.
3. WCW: Eddy Guerrero vs. Rey Misterio Jr. (title vs. mask, WCW Cruiserweight Title)
I've said it before: this match is the perfect amalgamation of US prostyle and the lucha highspotmania that Bischoff was desperately trying to inject into the American scene. The end result is a perfect balance of both, as Rey and Eddy pull off one of the five greatest American matches out of the last five years. Hell, it might be the absolute best match - it's one of those "can't stop it, can only hope to contain it" type deals.
4. Toryumon: Shiima Nobunaga/Judo Suwa/Sumo Fuji vs. Magnum TOKYO/Dragon Kid/SAITO (Elimination Match)
It's pretty hard to pick the definitive match of Toryumon - really, every Crazy MAX (which, for the uninitiated, is Shiima [later renamed CIMA] Nobunaga, Judo Suwa, and Sumo Fuji) tag rocks really hard in its own unique way. This one, however, is really special; since it's an elimination match, it gives each wrestler some time to shine. I don't think I could ask for a better single-match introduction to Toryumon; it's got everything that makes the federation the Number One With a Bullet Best Federation Around - the great match build, the awesomely outrageous characters, and, of course, the highspots that make mortals quiver. It's 45 minutes of lucharesu fireworks, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable match - or federation.
Shiima has fringe on his tights and arrows pointing to his ass and his genitals (a disturbing connection, I know). Sumo looks fat and short. Judo has a very small face and a topknot. Magnum Tokyo comes out first to that bad-ass entrance. Dragon Kid has the full body-suit and the Ultimo Dragon mask. SAITO is the other guy.
5. APW: Michael Modest vs. Christopher Daniels (1/15/00) (HH)
I remember - one of my prime directives for this tape was to give Gleine some Curry Man. The tradeoff is that with Curry Man, you don't get the kick-ass wrestling that you're pretty much guaranteed with a regular Christopher Daniels match, and this right here may be his best. It's definitely one of the best indy matches I've ever seen - stiff strikes, great matwork, seamless transitions, beautiful build to the spots, and some REALLY cool moves. Watching this match, you just know that both guys are destined for greatness, and you feel ultra-satisfied for being let in on the ground floor. It's like being able to say you were a Nirvana fan before "Nevermind" - there's just something cool about it.
Christopher Daniels has short hair, an ankh, and tights like shorts. Michael Modest has the words "Natural One" written across the ass of his trunks.
6. NJPW: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. El Samurai (Finals of the 1992 IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title tournament)
Those of you who may have a background in Japanese wrestling know that it's VERY hard to point to Jushin Liger's best match; he's pretty much had a new one every year. But ask someone who's in the know, and a pretty fair amount of the time, you'll find that this match comes up. It's just NUTS how much heat there is, and the work is out of this world to match it. The spots here aren't just nuts; they're nuts WITH A PURPOSE. This match epitomizes why people loved the NJPW Jr. scene so much back in the day - because work like this was always a possibility. People still love this match, however, because it's one of the rare times when it all came together.
Jushin Liger has the red-and-white bodysuit with the horns. El Samurai is the other guy.
7. AJPW: Akira Taue/Toshiaki Kawada vs. Mitsuharu Misawa/Jun Akiyama (Real World Tag League '96 Finals)
I'm not the world's biggest fan of AJPW, but I certainly do like it quite a lot. And here's the match that made me a fan for life. This match is really everything you COULD want from a wrestling match - majestic psychology, stiffness that'll make your unborn greatgrandchildren wince with pain, kickass wrestlers at the peak of their game (it's pretty much a good idea, in case you didn't know, to pick up anything that has a match where Mitsuharu Misawa's on one team and Toshiaki Kawada's on the other), and a story to tell.
Akira Taue is cleanshaven and has red trunks. Toshiaki Kawada has black pants with a yellow stripe down the leg and looks permanently pissed off. Mitsuharu Misawa has green-and-white pants and looks all stoic. Jun Akiyama has blue-and-white pants.
8. DDT: Onryo vs. Kiyohei Mikami (4/27/99) (HH)
Sigh... DDT. The little promotion that could. This isn't the best match in DDT history - hell, it's probably not even top five. But what it lacks in length and total wrestling perfection, it more than makes up for in kickass indy sleaze feeling. On the one hand, we've got Mikami, who's going to be a big name in the puro scene in five years due to his stiff-ass work and really good grasp of match flow. On the other hand, we've got Onryo, a decent wrestler who transcends his limitations by adopting the gimmick of a vengeful ghost, which may be the greatest idea ever. Hell, this is even a pretty good match - it's just short. But it's what DDT's all about - really good action mixed with that "you know you're watching an indy" tingle down the back of your spine.
Onryo is wearing decidedly raggedy-ass clothes. Mikami's the other guy.
9. Revolution Pro: Rising Son/Super Dragon vs. Ultrataro Jr./Excalibur (HH)
And from DDT to RevPro, which is the States' answer to kick-ass indies that deserve your attention. This is just whomp-ass great action from bell to bell, as Dragon's a star waiting to break out in the big time (this guy is DEFINITELY going to be big, at least among the workrate freaks - both of his matches in 2001, his first two matches back after fucking his leg up, have been ****+ and MotYCs to boot), Ultrataro channels Owen Hart like a champ, Excalibur's the poor man's CIMA Nobunaga, and Rising Son's like Jeff Hardy with a wider range of aerial moves with which to seriously endanger himself. This match is a great manifestation of a bunch of the litany of reasons that I love RevPro.
Rising Son is wearing the red-and-white mask, the white t-shirt, and the red pants. Super Dragon has a full black body suit with a red belt and a gold dragon on the front. Ultrataro Jr. has a mask with horns. Excalibur has a full black bodysuit with white lines and such all over it.
10. Toryumon: Judo SUWA vs. Dragon Kid (9/15/00) (Hair vs. Mask)
SUWA's quite the rising star, emerging as the lucharesu Corporate Rock - you may hate what he does, and you can recognize that he's a big ol' bastard, but he's got that undeniable charisma. Plus assloads more talent than Dwayne Johnson'll ever have. Dragon Kid, on the other hand, is all about being a stupidly high-flying babyface, and with good cause - his Dragonrana is one of the more impressive things you'll ever see one human being do (can you say "540 Hurricanrana"?). Problem with DK is that he's mostly all spots. This match, however, is all SUWA taking the parts where DK's not at the top of his spotastic game and leading him down the primrose path to Excellent Matchville, usually by (a) performing some variation of the stungun, or (b) hitting him REALLY HARD. This is EASILY DK's best singles match, but more to the point, it's probably SUWA's breakout singles match. If it didn't have the 3-minute false finish in the middle, this would just be a really good match; as it stands, it's "just" a pretty good one.
11. Michinoku Pro: Tiger Mask 4/Minoru Tanaka/Masaaki Mochizuki/Ricky Marvin/Shinya Makabe vs Kendo Kashin/El Samurai/Judo Suwa/Champinger/Super Boy (JIP)
Speaking of SUWA, he's smack dab in the middle of this one. He's got some REAL awesomeness in here with Tiger Mask 4, who is probably the Guy Who's Going To Blow Up Big This Year (Minoru Tanaka 2001-like). Speaking of Tanaka, he's in here too, and he also has a bad m'f'n match segment with SUWA. I won't lie - this match isn't all daisies and funtime. There's some real shit work in here (Chapinger, Mochizuki - take yo'sef's a bow!), but on the whole this is just a flat out fun-ass sprint for spots. And hell, there's plenty of good stuff - from Ricky Marvin's Standard Kickass Spots (if you liked the Dragonrana, just WAIT until you see the Tornillo corbata. Your jaw will be on the ground.) to Super Boy's Just Too Ph/Fat aerial moves that seem like they shouldn't be logically possible for a man his size. It's really, really fun.
Oh sweet Jesus, here we go: Tiger Mask 4 is wearing a mask that looks like a tiger. Shinya Makabe is wearing a red-and-yellow mask, and fights the guy with the shield (who, by the way, is Chaminger) during the second mini-match. Ricky Marvin has long hair and is wearing white trunks with flames down the sides (not that you're going to miss HIM). KaShin's wearing a mask that has a trailing streamer-type thing behind it. Super Boy is a a portly fellow. Mochizuki is the other guy.
12. Big Japan: Ryuji Yamakawa vs. Tomoaki Honma (6/22/99)
I'm not a big fan of garbage/hardcore wrestling; it seems to me like there just isn't a whole lot of art to it - shit, I've never taken Wrestling Lesson One and I know how to get hit with a board with a nail in it or whatever. But I make a point to go out and buy every Ryuji Yamakawa vs. Tomoaki Honma deathmatch out there, as they aren't garbage matches so much as wrestling matches that happen to have elements of garbage matches incorporated. There's a BIG DIFFERENCE between swinging a board of lightbulbs at someone and slamming them down onto it via a top-rope frankensteiner. And I tell you what - the astronomical difference between the severity of the moves makes the build to the big moves a whole lot more dramatic. The tombstone spot in particular is one of the most impressive and brutal things I've ever seen, and they teased it just right. But the REALLY cool thing that it took me four or five viewings to notice is that it's not just the bumps that they take, it's the bumps that they DON'T take; like the tope over the bed of nails that, had it been fucked up and resulted in a dive directly onto nails, might have resulted in One Dead Wrestler. And for your amusement and edification, I included not only the ring entrances (the mere fact that Yamakawa enters to Journey's "Separate Ways" is enough to make him the Coolest Wrestler Around) and the black-and-white kick-ass recap of all the murder in the ring over the credits, but the stupidly great from the Honma/Shadow WX match a few months earlier. Quite frankly, this is a garbage match for people who hate garbage matches. It's a durn dang blingin' blangin' shame that Honma's moved on to All Japan, because we'll more than likely never get another one of these.
Ryuji Yamakawa is the guy who has that epic-ass entrance. Tomoaki Honma has yellow trunks and tights.
13. WWF: Triple H vs. Cactus Jack (Chicago Street Fight for the WWF Title)
Ah, the REAL Match of the Year. I've already waxed rhapsodic about this match in my review of the Rumble 2000, so I won't go into too much detail, but basically, just watch HOW they work this match. Watch Triple H's punches. Watch the bumps that Cactus Jack takes. Watch the effect of the (damnable) interference by the Rock. Watch the way that they use foreign objects, not to mention which foreign objects they use. Watch how Helmsley's character treats Jack as an opponent - how does he treat him at first? (hint: like he's nothing to worry about) how about at the end? Watch WHEN Foley decides to take the blade to himself. Hell, just watch the match, and the fact that its' better than the TLC match should begin to make itself apparent.
14. UWF-i: Gary Albright vs. Nobuhiko Takada (semifinals of Wrestling World Tournament)
Shootstyle's a very interesting beast; it can either suck ass and just look like two guys punching each other for no reason, or it can be really, really good, with the combatants actually crafting a match out of the whole boondoggle. This match is one of the latter. Stiffer than all get-out, as both men brought their strikin' sticks to the table, but Takada does the unthinkable and carries Albright, ordinarily not exactly the greatest worker in the world, to a ****+ singles match, which was something of a rarity for Albright. Believe me - the sooner you can learn to appreciate Takada, the better.
Gary Albright is not Japanese. Nobuhiko Takada is.
(FYI, UWF-i uses a points system, wherein both combatants have 15 points to start, and lose one point whenever they break a hold by touching the ropes, and three points whenever they are downed via strikes or fatigue. It's really, really cool.)
15. AJPW: Kenta Kobashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada (Giant Series 2000)
If I had to pin down the moment that I knew that AJPW was headed for a really serious shakeup, it was when Kenta Kobashi, who can be the greatest worker in the world when he's got someone to control his spotty tendencies (hell, he's ONE of the greatest workers in the world even when he doesn't have someone to rein him in...) had a match with Toshiaki Kawada, who's pretty much the greatest heel of all time, that hit ****1/2 by a bunch of people's counts (including mine)... and nobody was just going nuts. That's just a damn shame. I mean, this match SMOKES Bret/Benoit in the Owen Tribute match (I mean, leaving the awesome-emotional-moment-ness out of it, the Owen Tribute really only hit ***1/2... Owen was the REAL best worker in that family), but people just didn't give it a good ol' fashioned pimpin'. I provide the match in all of it's face-kicky mammoth-suplexy glory, and leave the decision up to you.
Kenta Kobashi has orange tights and such.
16. Onita Pro: FM-TARO vs. Takeshi Sasaki
And once again, I feel the urge to follow up a great classical AJPW match with indy sleaze. This tape's a living study of contrasts :). At any rate, I figured you the viewer might need a juniorriffic break from all this strong-style/shootstyle stuff, so I go to the best source for real good lucha-come-lately stuff: the Japanese indy scene. This match in particular has made a bit of a buzz on the 'net as of late, as people REALLY dig it a lot, and with good reason. The highspots are really crisp, and both of these guys seem to be coming into their own VERY quickly - Sasaki in particular is really psychologically sound, while FM-TARO (dammit, if only I hadn't put that RevPro match on here, I could just refer to him as Taro) brings all kinds of tricked-out whomp-ass kick-your-momma-in-the-pattot highspots. In two years, you'll be able to say that *YOU* knew about these two guys two years ago, and your wrestling fan friends will all be impressed. In the meantime, you get to watch a kickass match.
FM-TARO has pink-and-black-and-white tights. Takeshi Sasaki has grey-and-blue-on-black shorts.
17. OMEGA: Hardy Boyz vs. Serial Thrillaz (12/5/98) (HH)
I mean, COME ON. Sometimes people wonder why everyone made such a big fuss about OMEGA. I only have four shows, but they all convey the same thing - kick-ass near-spotfests held together by a ROCK SOLID old-school Southern booking style, and it's just so awesome. I mean, the first time I watched this match, I was just infuriated by the 9 minute (!) intro. Of course, now it's on the tape, as it's a HEAT MAGNET TO THE EXTREME. The Hardyz couldn't possibly be more over as heels, and disturbingly homoincestuerotic ones at that. If they were hoping to get over as faces, then it doesn't help their case at all that (a) the crowd may well be the Hottest Crowd Ever, and (b) it's in the Serial Thrillaz hometown of Wendell, NC. By the way, the Thrillaz, for those of you not "in the loop", would be better known as Mike Maverick, a very above-competant worker who, as far as I know, is currently unemployed, and Shane Helms, who rocks every brand of ass that there is. And to make matters BETTER, Shane's the one in the match for the MEGA majority of the whole thing. I mean, you just want to see this. It's just that simple.
Mike Maverick is big. Shane Helms is not.
18. WCW: Steiner Brothers vs. Sting/Lex Luger (Superbrawl 1)
I'm as surprised as you that Lex Luger actually made the tape, but don't let anyone fool you - this is a really, really good match. Best of all, it's from the Japanese version (Thank you, local Video Japan!), so it's got Japanese commentary instead of the suckass English version, allowing you to concentrate on the really great match at hand instead of on some jerkass going on and on and on (Jim Ross, I'm looking at YOU). In case you're wondering, I hate Scott Steiner NOW because he REALLY used to rule back in the day, and it's depressing how bad he sucks ass now. Sting also used to rule; hell, even Rick Steiner used to be not too shabby. Luger, was, well, the best possible Luger he could be; my favorite parts of this match all center around Luger getting the shit beaten out of him as stiffly as the Law and State Gaming Commission would allow. There's a whole bunch of tapes from WCW from 1990 - mid 1994 that have some flat-out kick-ass matches (albeit with shitty stories behind them, but I FOLLOWS THE WORKRATE!); I can't think of half as many good PPVs from other 5.5 years of the 90s that were as good. This is one of the best.
(And just because I know that I'm going to get emails from at least one Ass Who Thinks He Is Smart, the guy doing the interference at the end is neither Tazz nor Goldberg. He is Nikita Koloff.)
18. NJPW: Ultimo Dragon vs. Shinjiro Ohtani
Hell, figured I might as well end Tape One with a good ending, and the ending to this match is one of the best. I mean, the last five minutes of this match are just OFF THE CHARTS, not that you'd expect any different from Ohtani and Liger, both of whom are really, really, REALLYREALLYREALLY good, if not at their peaks. AMAZING execution of every move; it all makes sense, and it's all really, really tight. Dragon works REALLY stiff, and Ohtani sells like he's never sold before or since. But really, the best part about all of this is the nearfalls - I can't express how great the nearfalls are by themselves. Every move is sold like it brought instant and unquestioned death to whoever took it by the end, creating one of the most dramatic ending sequences known to man. Even if you don't like anything else about this match (a prospect I find very hard to imagine - I pimp the Last Five, but the rest of the match was really, really, REALLY...really great), you WILL like the Last Five Minutes.
Shinjiro Ohtani: black tights, isn't Ultimo Dragon, kickass facial expressions
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