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Rikidozan Memorial II
by Digable James Cobo

Pre-Match the First: Antonio Inoki comes out to talk. I know that he was taught by Rikidozan (wasn't he?), and that this is an emotional moment, and it's pretty touching, but the fact is that I can't understand Japanese, so FAST FORWARD, BAYBEE!

1. Magnum Tokyo/Gran Hamada vs. CIMA/Sumo Fuji How fitting is it, that on what amounts to a huge WCW card (where all the appeal is in the undercard), the same strategy is being employed of putting high-flying lucha nutsedness on first to wake up the crowd? The only difference is that instead of Rey/Psichosis, we get a good ol' fashioned T-PANIC~!~!~! Match opens with typically spectacular entrances (I keep forgetting to work the CRAZY MAX hand motions into my everyday existance, alongside the Team No Respect dance). And for the record, as great as Magnum Tokyo's entrance is, the glue that holds it all together is his SUPERFLY music. An MP3 copy of that shall be mine; oh yes, it shall be mine. CRAZY MAX just TAKES OVER IN A GREAT WAY to start things off, using and abusing Hamada like he owed 'em money. The culmination of it all, of course, is CIMA's HYPER STIFF enzuigiri (I'd bet dollars to donuts that they heard it crystal clear in the back rows - it was STIFF.) The rest of the match is just CRAZY MAX double teaming both Magnum and Hamada BECAUSE THEY CAN. And y'know - though Sumo Fuji may be the worst member of CRAZY MAX offensively (which, to be fair, is like being the worst thinker in the School of Athens), he remembered his note from his mom, because he lets Hamada HURACANRA his fat ass WAAAAAAAY up in the air from the top turnbuckle, and he lets Magnum do his Gutwrench Driver into what amounts to a straight up neck bump. Cool, cool stuff, but WAY TOO SHORT- the match ends up feeling like CRAZY MAX controlled the whole thing except for a few neck bumps by Fuji and Magnum's finisher for the win. If they'd gotten a few more minutes, they could have made a very, very good match out of it. ***. I do worry that this is on the Toryumon scale, where Big becomes Small, and things are not always what they seem. Rest assured - this was pretty entertaining.

2. Naoki Sano vs. Yuki Ishikawa Sano you may recognize as having a classic series of matches with Jushin Liger. Ishikawa you may remember from having what Mike Lorifice called "The Best Match In BattlArts History" with Daisuke Ikeda. See, in a brilliant booking move, whoever booked this show is setting the matches along a sliding scale, from "goofy lucha maaaaaaadness" to "matwork with a few dives thrown in" to MMA and so on. And Ishikawa holds his own, and most everyone else's own, too - he's got to make up for Sano's lost step (his Liger series was about ten years ago, IIRC). And make up he does - for every one of Sano's shitty Indian Deathlocks (sans Bridge of Death) or ASSTACULAR pescados, there's some GREAT transitions between holds. I was most impressed with the way they changed so fluidly from a head scissors to a modified STF; it just made good sense. And, in one of the hallmarks of Good Matchery, while there are restholds, they're worked into the story of the match - so when Ishikawa slaps a Camel Clutch on Sano, it makes sense, since he's been working the neck/back all match. And Sano gets to sell LIKE A MAN, just crumpling when Ishikawa busts a piledriver out on him. The icing on the cake, of course, is Ishikawa's 3rd-Grade-Teacher-By-Day, Child-Molester-By-Night-looking ass cutting a promo after the match. *** 1/2. Good psychology, GREAT, fluid transitions, and a cool finish more than make up for Sano's fuddy-dudditude.

3. Yuki Kondo vs. Kan Tenjun Aw hell, it's MMA. I *HATE* MMA. At least these guys have fun music; I'm almost sure that one of the Fat Wreck Chords comps I have has Tenjun's theme on it (hereafter known as "Title Forthcoming"). And Kondo's music has a SERIOUS "Willow brings the baby back to the Munchkin village" feel to it. Funny, funny stuff. Anyway, on to the match: Punch, punch, punch, hold, reversal, punch in face, punch in face, punch in face, reversal to rear chinlock...tap. BUUUUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLLSHHHHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT. THAT sucked. The ENTRANCES took longer (someone alert Herb Kuenze! PRIDE's copying the WWF!). And people wonder why I hate MMA. DUD. Silly rabbit - I don't CARE about realistic fighting! THAT'S WHY I WATCH WRESTLING!

4. Hey, Joshi! Kyoko Inoue/Yoshiku Tamura/Yuka Nakamura vs. Dynamite Kansai/Azumi Hyuga/Tsubasa Kurigaki Well, since this is the first joshi I've ever seen in my Whole Soulless Life, I'll jump to conclusions (where's my mat?!) and guess that whoever's got all that blue on is Tamura, the other one's Nakamura, and the GIANT FATASS is Inoue. I mean, she's ORCA FAT. And since I've never seen joshi before, mayhaps someone can answer me if they're always throwing around this many DDTs? I mean, I counted three in a row at one point (all variants, of course). I will say that Nakamura does hit a very nice Northern Lights suplex, hereafter referred to as the "Cameltoe Suplex" (I regret NOTHING!). And hey, Nakamura has no reservations about throwing Kansai (whose role in the match is apparently "to get the hell beat out of") off the top turnbuckle ON HER HEAD via a German Suplex. Cool looking stuff, that. Of course, she follows it up with a flying...something, and it just looks stupid. And then not twenty seconds later, she's outright MISSING a somersault something off the top to the floor. Stick to headdropping, gal; leave the highspots to the city gals. Of course, if the word "brutal" could be described with a clip from this match, it'd be that top-turnbuckle double foot stomp on (of course) Kansai; way to FUCK HER UP, whoever did that. And despite all this punishment, Kansai ends up winning the match via a cool-looking German suplex variant where she holds one arm to her opponents' body. Or maybe she won because she took such a brutal ass-pounding; who knows. *** 1/4 Again, blown spots and a too-too-short time limit hurt a match that looked like it could have easily reached **** or higher. Such, of course is life, and the extra 1/4* is for the vicious ass-stomping Kansai took. Call it a sympathy star.

5. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Satoryu Sayama Hmm... This could RULE, or SUCK ASS. See, Sayama is better known as "Tiger Mask I", or "The Guy Who Pretty Much Invented The Junior Style". However, because this is the real world, and things like this always seem to end the same way, his legs were pretty much shot (see Liger, Jushin), thus guaranteeing a minimum of leaving feet. Anywho, they play "grab them cakes"/grapple-for-position-for-a-really-long-time-while-Digable-James-gets-more-and-more-furious, until FINALLY Fujiwara takes him down and apparently starts dry humping him. Sayama rolls him over, and dry-humps him back. If this match had a highspot, it'd be Sayama (of course) leaving his feet for a split second to solebutt Fujiwara while his other foot was caught. And down they go again. JEEEEEEEESUS, Fujiwara better be beating the Junior out of Sayama (a la Dreamer and Cactus Jack), because this match is less than good right now. Hey, wanna know the story of the match? Fujiwara shrugs off the four or five moves he lets Sayama have, then works on the leg. Then works on the leg. Then works on it some more. Then he lectures at Pepperdine about the potential impact of the Human Genome Project THEN WORKS ON THE LEG. Keep in mind, this isn't a good working-over - it's boring in every way that Flair/Steamboat was awesome. I'd say he busts out a MILLION BAZILLION leg locks in succession, and you can show me NINE HUNDRED NINETY NINE THOUSAND, NINE HUNDRED NINETY NINE BAZILLION of 'em, but the HUNDRED BAZILLIONTH I SHALL NOT TAKE. DUD. I won't lie and say I wasn't tempted to give it 1/4* just for old times sake, but it'd be unfair to call this match anything less than a big ol' bag of boring. Of course, I was about to give it 1/4* for Fujiwara's music, which sounds suspiciously like at any moment it might turn into a disco cover of "Ride of the Valkyries". Too-too-funny.

6. Junji Hirata/Ryuma Go vs. Osamu Kido/Tadao Yasuda Well, as far as the music goes, Osamu's is up there with Tokyo Magnum's as STELLAR, but of course, DISCO KICKS ASS. And then, as if to say, "Oh, don't worry - that music isn't going to be the funniest thing you'll hear this match", he and Hirata go into this squirmy-Deliverancy guy-comically-trying-to-avoid-falling-off-of-a-cliff noises. Fucking droll, it is. In fact, this whole match is pretty funny; too bad it's not a comedy match. I'd have to guess that the story of this match is that it isn't very good, with Osamu and Hirata sucking equally, Yasuda working his ass off when he's in, and Ryuma Go sucking more than enough for everyone else combined. At least he throws a few stiff forearms (probably by accident, of course). I'd have to say the high point of the match is the cool flow of Yasuda corner whipping someone, hitting them with a lariat, and then catching them with a DDT as they fall forward from the impact - very cool. Of course, the rest of the match consists of the other guys fucking up moves like "side arm bar", "german suplex", and "throw to outside". A cradle ends my torment. * 1/4 A good comedy of errors is still funny, and I think I've gotta reward Yasuda - he did the best he could with the tools of ignorance. Plus, Osamu's music kicks ass.

7. Tomoaki Honma/Ryuji Yamakawa vs. H/Naohiko Yamazaki God has answered my prayers! Let's run through the players in this game of human chess right quick: Honma - Awesome. Yamakawa - Even better, probably the best deathmatch worker in history (w/ Foley, of course). H - Good in spite of the fact that he's from FMW. Never heard of Yamazaki, though. And in case you care, I...MUST...HAVE...A...HONMA...SHIRT... Eizaki (H, FYI), wears Shawn Michaels' Disturbingly Short Shorts. A quick whip to the ropes shows us H's scarred-to-hell back, reminding us that DA JOOS IS INEVITABLEE IN DA HOUS! And speaking of H, boy, did he ever STUFF YAMAKAWA'S MUSH with a dropkick. I mean, DAMN. Yamakawa's revenge comes at the hand of his sweet little snap legdrops, on which he gets MAMMOTH distance - I'd say six feet, and maybe one in the air. And I'll probably never tire of seeing the ref knock Yamakawa's hand away as he yanks on H's hair to get him to release the death lock on his arm; he's got this serious, yet subdued, vibe of "Apparently you're unfamiliar with my body of work". As far as Yamazaki, the Great Unknown Commodity goes, he may be able to keep up with Honma and Yamakawa as far as the chain wrestling goes, but it's PEN TO DEATH WARRANT when you smack Ryuji MOTHERFUCKING AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT Yamakawa in the face like that. Yamakawa, secure in the knowledge that tonight he and his family would sup upon Cream of Yamazaki soup, lets him snap off a few front neckbreakers, and even has the courtesy to sell them like he's been shot. Whatta guy. And then, just to add insult to injury, Eizaki JACKS Yamakawa in the jaw when he's kicking him, so in retort, Yamakawa says "enough is enough" and evades H's slingshot senton. Of course, H's revenge would be in the form of a SWAAAAAANK reversal of a running powerbomb into a hurricanrana -neeeeeeeet. Meanwhile, Yamazaki is making himself look quite the fool (the April fool, as it were) by running at the ropes to tope onto Honma, stopping short, and then following through goofilly. BWAHAHA. Go back to FMW and die, Yamazaki; you can't hang with the bigguns yet. Ryuji eventually snaps off a nice crisp powerbomb, and it is good, but then Eizaki is all "Man, I make my money showing up everyone in FMW, I'll give it a shot against the Big Japan Mafia" and busts out the TD '91, the Michinoku Special #2 (Driver), and the 450 - IN A ROW. BOOMSHEEKA. He kicks ASS. I mean, when his contract's up, he needs to work in Big Japan TOOT SWEET - he clicks HARDCORE with Yamakawa and Honma both. Angels' Wings ends it, and what a way to end it if I do say so myself. **** 1/4. Psychology, HELLAFIED bumps, cool highspots, and no blood (!) all combine into one GREAT match, even outweighing the uselessness of Yamazaki. I don't know if this'll be going on my RSPW ballot, but it's a pretty great match, from three (well, four, but one don't count) of the most underrated guys on the planet when it comes to wrestling.

8. Yoji Anjo vs. Tarzan Goto INSERT STANDARD TARZAN GOTO MATCH HERE. For those fortunate souls who are unaware of what a "Standard Tarzan Goto Match" is, it's the lovechild of the "Standard Abdullah the Butcher Match" and "Standard Paul Wight Match", and as you can guess, that isn't a great lineage. And just because God hates me, Anjo's pretty awful, too. I'd have to say that matches like this are the bane of watching wrestling at 4:00 AM - I was about to pass out. And with good reason, too - this match can fairly be described as the fifth circle of hell, sandwiched right in between "drive through wench forgets your Hot Mustard Sauce" and "A Roy Cohn Christmas". Punch, repeat, repeat, WORLD'S SHITTIEST CHOKESLAM, some stuff, stalling, FORK IN THE HEAD, DQ. Way to honor Rikidozan, guys; I'm sure he's spinning in his grave. DUD. I wouldn't wish this match on anyone not named Diane Feinstein. It's EEEEEVil, like the FRUits of the DeVILL.

9. Gen'chiro Tenryu/ B.B. Jones vs. Shinya Hashimoto/Naoyo Ogawa Okay, mayhaps it WON'T suck, maybemaybemaybe... nah. Tenryu comes out to, apparently, "Theme from Road Rash". Hey, look - there's Jaime-san - whoops, nope - just another goofy honky in a mask :) Sometime around the third coming of Christ, Hashimoto shows up. And it looks like Ogawa remembered to take his "badass" pills tonight - he sure is working Tenryu stiffer than hell, getting his slap on, and his kick on, and his swagger on. He even PLANTS Tenryu with a leggrab backdrop, which Tenryu thinks about no-selling, then reconsiders. Not tonight, you don't. Unfortunately, that's pretty much the only WRESTLING MOVE the whole match, as Hashimoto turns on Ogawa and shoves him out of the ring. At least he and Tenryu are slapping each other CON AUTORITATE as he bleeds like a MAN. Tenryu kicks Hashimoto in the gut repeatedly, although it's pretty hard not to . And for the record, B.B. Jones SUCKS. BAD. He can't drop a leg with any presence...although it's enough for the pin? WTF? Que? 1/2 *. The Ogawa Show saved this one from certain DUD-dom, but not by much. Hey guys - try not to suck so much!

OVERALL WORTH OF SHOW: Well, that tag match was OUTSTANDING in more ways than one, despite the continued existence of Yamazaki (my new Japanese nemesis), and it was about 20-25 minutes long (I think), so it might be worth it for that. And by my count, there's three ***+ matches, plus the Comedy of Errors - all eminently watchable (except perhaps the last one - if you like MST3K, you'll like it.) At any rate, it's not a must-get like When Worlds Collide, but by no means is it a bad show. Mildly reccomended.

Digably Yours,
Digable James Cobo
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