Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Iceman Cometh

Dean Malenko (c) VS Yuji Nagata - WCW Saturday Night United States Championship 5/24/1997

CJD: I have a confession to make. Even though now he's a personal favorite, in the 90s watching him in WCW I hated Yuji Nagata. I'm sure it was the presentation because watching him here he's very, very good. I remember him being "Token Japanese Wrestler #5" but he really gets a chance to shine here on Saturday Night. And man is Dean game defending the US title. This is one of those rare matches too where Schiavone and Dusty balance nWo and Kevin Greene (RIP) talk with giving the action its due. Schiavone talked about this on AOW, how it was totally up to them to tie the Saturday Night stuff into regular WCW continuity, because everyone else in the company basically ignored it. So kudos to them and to Jimmy Hart who I'm pretty sure booked it most of the way through. Also it's interesting hearing Dusty lay back on his gimmick so much. I cannot wait to see what you come back with from Blue Justice!

JJZ: I wasn't a fan of Nagata's WCW run  at the time either. I don't even remember why to be honest. Based off this match alone I was dumb. I definitely don't remember him ever wrestling in red pants before. I expected a tight mat based match and that's what I got. Watching these guys go back and forth was great. Matches like this are what made WCW Saturday Night special and turned me around on a bunch of guys in wrestling. I think both Dean and Yuji are wrestlers that everyone talks about being great but neither are in the forefront of a wrestling fan's mind when thinking about top guys. After watching this match I wonder why? This was almost a perfect TV match. When given big chances these guys always delivered. I guess some are just missing an it factor? I dunno I feel like I'm rambling. Loved the pick. Excited to showcase Nagata next week.

CJD: With Dean I think it's a relatively short peak. With Nagata I really don't know. The black mark of his failed MMA crossover haunting him as they tried to make him the ace? He has done nothing but climb my all-time rankings as I explore more footage over the years

JJZ: Solid points. The MMA thing always hurt Nagata. Thinking more about the Dean stuff I guess it's pretty simple about his size and lack of mic skills.

CJD: I'm not the first person to say this but imagine if Dean had physically been able to have a Jamie Noble type mid 2000s indy run.

JJZ: JESUS! That would've been spectacular.

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