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.
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…
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.
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.