Tuesday, July 17, 2018

They Don't Just Call Him The Good Sasuke

the Great Sasuke VS Ultimo Dragon - J-Crown Finals 5/8/1996

JJZ: To my surprise finding a Great Sasuke match from 2000-2010s that I wanted to play forward was really hard. So I got to the point where I said screw it I'm picking something that I just feel like watching. I picked a match against my favorite junior of all time in possibly the greatest year in wrestling history. I'm sure we've seen this match before probably many times over. It's an amazing match. A match that should be studied by the juniors of today. The match is part of a tourney so the pace is slightly different than a normal title defense. I loved the finish and could watch these matches all day.

CJD: Last week I talked about how I'm sure one of us had that Hayabusa/Sasuke match on a VHS comp buried somewhere. Well this week I absolutely know I have this match on a Best of Ultimo Dragon tape in storage. Ultimo was my brother's favorite wrestler and we watched that thing beginning to end so many times over that we started to rank Ultimo's gear in each match from favorite to least favorite (this one fared pretty well).

Needless to say I was really curious to see what I'd think with fresh eyes. Play It Forward is a perpetual motion machine of pro wrestling positivity so I'm going to get the negative out of the way quickly. I didn't like the execution of the finish. And I disagree that it's a match that should be studied by young wrestlers today. I think they needed to slow down, do a little less, and sell a little more in the second half to make everything they were doing count as much as it should. It would have been the difference between a very good match and a great match in my opinion.

But make no mistake that what we have here is very good. I liked the pace for a tournament final, it felt like both guys needed to press the advantage early and often to put the other away quickly. I liked the matwork this era so often gets criticized for. I liked the story of Ultimo largely having Sasuke's number, and Sasuke needing to take every risk imaginable to even the playing field. And I loved two moments from Sasuke in particular, his sell draped over the guard rail, and the look of total "well, fuck me" every inch of his body communicated as he went for that one dive off his back foot from the top to the outside. That might not have required much in the way of showmanship but it was still awesome.

I want to keep this blog largely spoiler free, so I'll giver readers the option to go forward with the answer to the next question... what exactly did you like about the finish?

JJZ: I loved that I didn't remember it and that it was so sudden. Sasuke got a little lucky and barely was able to keep Dragon's shoulders down for the three. They did their fair share of falsies in this era but by doing a finish like this it keeps every pin attempt more honest for future matches. They never do that in tournament finals today.

CJD: Great points. I don't like that Ultimo had to stay strong taking the L though brother. I wish he'd kicked out a half second later or they sold that the ref made a mistake! He clearly got his shoulder up before three. But it happens so fast it's totally believable.

JJZ: I actually disagree with you on that. I rewatched it and thought it was super close but he got it up late. He was moving his legs before the three.

CJD: Oh we're going to break it down frame by frame the next time I see you!

JJZ: Game on.

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