Wrestling History Lessons w/ Sean Orleans

We return to Japan for this installment of Wrestling History Lesson and it’s a doozy.  Here is the 1992 Match of the Year: Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi versus Dan Kroffat & Doug Furnas for the All Japan Pro Wrestling Tag Team Championship, in Kikuchi’s hometown of Sendai.

Some important points to take away from this bout:

1. Kroffat and Furnas (the CanAm Connection) disprove the notion that big, muscular men are mere bruisers incapable of technical wrestling.  One of them nails a FrankenSteiner in the match; a FrankenSteiner, foks.  How these guys didn’t dominate in North America is beyond me.

2. Kenta Kobashi is an absolute god in the wrestling ring.  If you don’t spend the 20 minutes of this match marveling at his ring generalship and then spend your free time this week tracking down his greatest matches on YouTube (including his appearances stateside), well I don’t know if we can be friends.

3. The crowd.  My god, this crowd.  Japanese wrestling fans are typically quieter than most fans.  They like to carefully observe and save their cheers and applause for the beginning and ending of a match, rarely breaking out in cheers during a contest.  Not this bunch of rabid fans.  I’m sure it helped that the match took place in Kikuchi’s hometown, but this crowd is the epitome of what a wrestling audience should be.  The fans here lose their collective minds several times throughout and it ultimately makes watching the match more enjoyable.  Yes, the match would still be great even if the fans sat on their hands for most of it, but their keen interest and boisterous pops shows how an audience can almost will a great match out of great wrestlers.

Until next time, knuckleheads.

Team Warfare at South Broadway this Saturday!

By Sean Orleans

mmwa-july-show

The Doctor is in this Saturday night at the South Broadway Athletic Club.  The “Doctor of Desire,” Tom Prichard, will compete in a MMWA ring.  Come see the former member of the Heavenly Bodies team up with “Gorgeous” Gary Jackson as they square off against Phil E. Blunt and the diabolical Lynn Mephisto!

Several things to look for in this match-up: Phil E. Blunt is back competing in the MMWA for the first time in months, Lynn Mephisto finally gets an opportunity to square off against Gary Jackson (albeit in a tag match), and of course, Tom Prichard is in the house.

Don’t know who Tom Prichard is, kiddos?  You’re talking about a USWA and Smokey Mountain Wrestling icon.  He has won singles and tag titles, including a two-month run as World Tag Team Champion with Chris Candido.  This guy has the smarts, too.  He’s an author, he conducts seminars across the country, and he has trained some of the biggest names in recent pro wrestling history: The Rock, Kurt Angle, Edge, Mark Henry and Dolph Ziggler.

If you still don’t trust the dude’s bonafides: CHECK. YOUR. HEAD.

And sure, we could say that’s your big match of the night.  Hell, any promotion would be happy to tell you putting a wrestling aficionado like Tom Prichard in a match against a returning favorite like Phil E. Blunt and have them each team with the beloved Gary Jackson and his nemesis-at-the-moment Lynn Mephisto would be enough — BUT OH NO!

Your MMWA Heavyweight Champion, Brandon “Espy” Espinosa is putting the gold on the line against your Battle Royal Champion, Raphael King!   Espy will need all his craftiness and cunning to escape Saturday night with the belt when he matches wits with wrestling’s renaissance man, the 6’5″, 225-pound Raphael King.

And MMWA Junior Heavyweight Champ A.J. Williams will be tested as he takes on “The Wild One” Andrew Wilder!  Wilder picked up a win last month against Flamin’ Freddie Fury and says he’s ready to bring the damage against A.J. Williams, but the champ has got bad intentions as he aims to hold onto his newly-won title!

These three plus many more, this Saturday night at 8 P.M. at the South Broadway Athletic Club.

As always: Card is subject to change.

Wrestling History Lessons w/ Sean Orleans

Last time, I asked what region of wrestling you wanted to see represented in the next ‘Wrestling History Lesson’ and–unsurprisingly–the United States got the most votes.  So I went deep into my wrestling think tank for this one and considered dozens upon dozens of classic matches: chain wrestling, grappling, catch wrestling, high-flying, tag bouts, gimmick matches, you name it.

And late one night after consuming a nice, tall Bloody Mary, it hit me: Ric Flair vs. Harley Race in a steel cage match for the NWA World Title, from the original Starrcade.  This year is the 30th anniversary of that match.  If that doesn’t make you feel old, then you’re a better person than me.

So much to love about this one: yet another chapter in the Flair-Race rivalry, Gene Kiniski as the special guest referee, Gordon Solie on commentary (“SU-PLAY!”), and of course, Harley Race’s facial hair and afro.

Ron Swanson WISHES he had that mustache/chops combo.  I heard that afro once beat Bruiser Brody in a falls count anywhere match in the old Dallas Sportatorium, but I digress.  Enjoy the match, knuckleheads; be prepared for a return trip abroad next time we go to the vault!

Espy vs. “TBD”: Who Gets the First Shot at Brandon’s Belt?

By Sean Orleans

Brandon Espinosa opened last month’s show with a stunning loss against longtime rival A.J. Williams.  The loss cost Espy his MMWA Junior Heavyweight Championship.  But with a sagacious (look it up, folks) display of tactile judgment, Espinosa inserted himself into that night’s main event, a bout between Big Dave Osborne and “Gorgeous” Gary Jackson for the MMWA Heavyweight Championship.  A three-way match ensued and at the end of the evening, it was Espinosa who surprised – winning the championship by pinning Osborne after hitting the big man with a flying kick from the top turnbuckle.

With the first title defense of Espinosa’s second reign approaching (July 13), we here at SaintLouisWrestling.com want to know: Who should get the first shot at the belt?

We’ve listed 3 potential contenders below each with an explanation why they deserve a shot at the strap (and even provided a possible write-in option).

1. Big Dave Osborne – The former champion was pinned, sure, but did not expect to be involved in a three-way match that night.  Not only that, there was some controversy in the finish. There were some at ringside who thought Osborne forced Gary Jackson to tap in a submission hold and the referee was simply out of place to see it, allowing Espy to climb the turnbuckle and hit that flying kick to Osborne’s head.

2. Gary Jackson – He wasn’t pinned in last month’s bout and showed up to wrestle at the South Broadway Athletic Club thinking it’d be a 1-on-1 confrontation with Osborne.  Doesn’t he deserve a 1-on-1 title shot?

3. A.J. Williams – Hey, he defeated Espy on the night Brandon went on to win the MMWA Championship.  Shades of Owen and Bret at WrestleMania X?

Wrestling History Lessons w/ Sean Orleans

Why do I keep going to All Japan Pro Wrestling for my history lessons?  Is it the fact the legends of the sport always go to Japan to ply their craft?  Maybe it’s the respectful audience?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s because I don’t think you’re ready to see some “British wrestling” just yet.  Soon enough.  In the meantime, enjoy Mexican wrestling hero Mil Mascaras taking on Ricky Steamboat and his STUPENDOUS arm drags from August 1981 (in a 2-out-of-3-Falls bout).

Special note: Why don’t MMWA refs have red or orange slacks like these Japan refs?  I gotta bring this up to Mr. Casta and Mr. Miller at the next meeting…

Wrestling History Lessons w/ Sean Orleans

Today’s trip into the vault is from April 1983 between two genuine Texas toughies: Terry Funk and Stan Hansen, in All Japan Pro Wrestling.

Don’t know who Stan Hansen is, kiddos?  Let me put it to you like this: if you put Terry Funk against a tyrannosaurus rex, Funk would let the T-Rex eat him and say he’s got the dinosaur right where he wants him (and Funk would be right).  Stan Hansen would walk up to the T-Rex and lariat the giant lizard into extinction.  Which may or may not have happened anyway.  Some fossil records have not been fully analyzed.

But I digress.  Enjoy the match, knuckleheads.

Wrestling History Lessons w/ Sean Orleans

Sean Orleans here…

While it is a well-established fact that the stars of tomorrow are in MMWA & SICW, it is equally important to understand and appreciate the great matches and competitors of wrestling’s past.  Since I consider myself a purveyor of fine wrestling prowess, I’m going to take time out of my busy schedule to both educate, enlighten and—frankly—culture the bulk of you wrestling fans out there who believe the “Five Knuckle Shuffle” is the bees’ knees and think wrestling history begins and ends with Monday night television and Sunday night pay-per-view shows.

Today’s trip into the vault is from January 1990, a tag team bout from All Japan Pro Wrestling featuring the British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid) taking on the original Tiger Mask and a young Kenta Kobashi.  Sit back and be quiet, knuckleheads; you might learn something.

I plan on posting new “lesson plans” when I get around to it, so be on the lookout.