365 Wrestling, Day 22: Jumbo Tsuruta & Great Kabuki vs. Michael Hayes & Terry Gordy (All Japan, 1/22/84)

365 Wrestling, Day 22: Jumbo Tsuruta & Great Kabuki vs. Michael Hayes & Terry Gordy (All Japan, 1/22/84)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

The project continues! And it’s not just about watching some good wrestling I haven’t seen yet, which, ya know … *gestures in the direction of the index of posts to date* … but also seeing matchups I haven’t seen. The more esoteric, the better! So when I saw that, on a day in Japan in 1984, Jumbo Tsuruta and Great Kabuki went against the Fabulous Freebirds, I thought that was definitely a match I needed to see.

The Context

Tsuruta is one of the biggest stars in Japanese wrestling of the modern era and he was a top talent for All Japan for more than a decade, including unifying the Pacific Wrestling Federation, NWA United National, and NWA International Heavyweight titles to become the first Triple Crown Champion in AJPW history. At the time of this match, Tsuruta is currently sans title, and about a month away from half of the NWA International tag champs with Tenryu. He’s also just a couple of days away from defeating Nick Bockwinkel to become AWA World Champion.

You probably know Kabuki for his work stateside, making his way around the territorial circuit in the 1980s. He was also the first wrestler to my knowledge to make use of the “Asian mist” in the ring, usually blowing it onto his hands, as depicted in the picture with this article.

Then there’s Hayes and Gordy, who at this point are nearly two years into their wild and wooly blood feud with the Von Erichs in World Class as two-thirds of the Fabulous Freebirds. The Freebirds actually lost a Loser Leaves Town match to the Von Erichs on Christmas night, and then spent most of January on this tour of Japan before returning to Texas.

The Match

I’ve always enjoyed Kabuki, who I’m most familiar with from his run in World Class. Watching some old WCCW episodes and matches recently gave me a new appreciation for Kabuki, especially during matches with Kevin Von Erich where they just beat the hell out of each other on every meeting. Kabuki had a few forays as a fan favorite in Texas but spent most of his time on the rulebreaker side of the fence. So get ready for some cognitive disconnect in this match, as the All Japan crowd treats him like a returning conquering hero.

Kabuki does the lion’s share of the work in this match, and when the Freebirds have control, they clap and chant his name like a diehard Southern rasslin’ crowd rooting for Ricky Morton to make the tag to Robert Gibson. Kabuki shows some old-fashioned babyface fire on a few occasions, although his mojo takes a permanent hit when Gordy smashes him into the ringpost on the outside. Kabuki comes up bloody — though it’s hard to tell given the quality of the video, Kabuki’s facepaint, and dark hair … at least until trickles of crimson start dripping down his chest.

The Freebirds play fine foils here. They act bewildered at Kabuki’s pre-match ritual of spraying the mist, with some great facial expressions by Hayes that transcend any language barrier. Hayes does most of the work for his team in the match, though Gordy makes the most of his action with the requisite amount of clubberin’, including sending Kabuki into the post. Once they have Kabuki bloodied, both Freebirds bite at his head until Kabuki counters a charge into the corner with a thrust kick — a Kabuki staple, and one that usually stands out in his matches with the Von Erichs. Gordy heads to the top rope but his attack is countered by a face full of mist from Kabuki. Gordy sells the mist like he’s been blinded with toxic chemicals, careening into the seats with Hayes trying to corral him, and ultimately getting the Freebirds counted out.

Final Rating: 5.5

This was an easy night’s work for Jumbo, an intriguing showcase for Kabuki, but an otherwise forgettable match aside from the relative novelty. While this wasn’t the only time these four met in the same match, if there’s another contest that’s reasonably accessible online, I haven’t found it. If you’re a big Kabuki fan like me, it’s worth watching for sure.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

What’s Next

Two in-ring greats walk into a bar.

Got a match you’d like me to watch as part of this 365 Wrestling project? Agree or disagree with my take on this match? Let me know by using the contact form on this site, or reach me on Twitter.

365 Wrestling, Day 21: Ricky Steamboat & Sting vs. Rick Rude & Steve Austin (WCW Clash of the Champions XVIII, 1/21/92)

365 Wrestling, Day 21: Ricky Steamboat & Sting vs. Rick Rude & Steve Austin (WCW Clash of the Champions XVIII, 1/21/92)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

Let’s presume that, if you’re reading this, you join me in being a fan of the professional wrestling.

Now, if you’ve been a fan for a while, imagine going back and telling 10-years-ago you “one day, there will be SO MUCH wrestling available to watch that you’ll never be able to see it all. Much less just keep up with all of the current stuff that’s accessible online.”

“No way,” 10-years-ago you would say in response.

“Way,” current-times you would reply.

Anyhoo, one of the biggest benefits for me in doing this project is going back and watching some of the good stuff. The Four Pillars. Joshi. Old-school Portland wrestling. Et cetera, et cetera…

The Dangerous Alliance’s run occurred during one of those times when I wasn’t paying a ton of attention to wrestling. And so, I’m hitting some of the high points of their heyday — nearly 30 years later (!), no less. case in point: our match selection for January 21, with Ricky Steamboat and Sting joining forces against the Alliance pair of Rick Rude and Stunning Steve Austin from Clash of the Champions XVIII.

UPDATE: Now that Peacock has rights to the WWE Network, and migration of the archive remains inconsistent, none of the WCW Clash events have been uploaded as of April 27. Luckily, you can find this match on Dailymotion, or embedded below:

The Context

Since our last visit to WCW in 1992, the Dangerous Alliance have been busy little bees. Five days before this Clash, Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton just won the tag titles from Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes at a house show in Jacksonville. Rude remains the U.S. Champion. Austin still holds the TV Title. Yep, it seems as if everything’s coming up Milhouse for Paul E. and his crew of ne’er-do-wells.

Earlier on this show, Paul E. cuts a tremendous promo promising to cripple one of the fan favorites before the end of the night. Right before this match, Barry Windham, Ron Simmons, and Rhodes get the best of Arn, Eaton, and Larry Zbysko in a really fun six-man tag sprint you should check out after watching this match (or before… do what you want… I’m not your supervisor). Adding to the mix for this match is that Sting, while battling the Alliance, is also set to challenge Lex Luger for WCW’s World Title at Superbrawl the following month. Luger attacked Sting at the last Clash back in November, wrecking his knee and leaving him easy prey to drop the U.S. Title to Rude.

Also, in case you didn’t know, WCW ran these Clash of the Champions events as special supercards on free TV. In these days, marquee matches between stars on free TV were few and far between. Times definitely have changed now, on that end …

The Match

Adding Sting to the mix for this match definitely brings the crowd interest and enthusiasm to a different level. We have to wait to see Sting in action, though, as Steamboat and Austin start out. I always felt these two had outstanding chemistry with one another in the ring and I saw nothing different in this match to alter that opinion.

Rude goads Sting into the ring with a slap to the face that we miss because the camera cuts to a random crowd shot (oh, those WCW production values…) I always liked Rude because he has this pretty-boy gimmick but he wrestles like a longshoreman in the middle of a bar bawl, which, if you believe some of the stories about Rude, is pretty in line with his real-life attitude and persona.

What’s interesting about this match is that the traditional face-heel dynamic shifts. Sting and Steamboat, in an effort to get the better of the Alliance, stoop to the level of their opponents — whether that be with illegal switches of the legal man while referee Nick Patrick is distracted or Sting unleashing some back rakes on Rude. The match maintains a brisk pace throughout with control ebbing back and forth between both teams. Ultimately, the fan favorites prevail by bending the rules once more; Austin has Steamboat up for a slam when Sting leaps off with a flying cross body — Steamboat’s own signature move — and Sting and Steamboat stack up on Austin for the pin.

The Alliance get the upper hand, though. Rude delivers a pair of Rude Awakenings to Steamboat, then uses Dangerously’s own belt to start whipping “The Dragon.” Sting covers Steamboat with his own body (I’m always a sucker for that spot) while Paul E. and Austin lay waste to a bunch of local and enhancement wrestlers decked out in Security shirts. This battle is over, but the war is sure to continue …

Random Thoughts

-Watching Rick Rude sell atomic drops (be they regular or inverted) always is a delight. I’m not alone on this; there’s even a Twitter account dedicated to chronicling Rude’s sells of this variety.

Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura pair on commentary for this match in what marked Jesse’s debut with WCW. They’ve got good chemistry and work well together. Ventura was so good in the antagonist color commentary role.

-Unfortumately Superbrawl in 1992 happened on February 29, a Leap Day, and thus, absent from the 2021 calendar. Oh, the cruelty of it all …

Final Rating: 6.0

There’s lots to like about this match. It showcases four of the top talents in WCW at the time, in the midst of a heated feud centering on the Dangerous Alliance faction. It’s also a tantalizing glimpse at Steamboat and Sting as a team, something that WCW didn’t really explore during any period where both were on the roster. This is a good match that is definitely worth watching, but I honestly preferred the six-man involving other members of the Alliance on this same cCash card.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

What’s Next

An All Japan mainstay and a master of the mist welcome a pair of visitors from Badstreet.

Got a match you’d like me to watch as part of this 365 Wrestling project? Agree or disagree with my take on this match? Let me know by using the contact form on this site, or reach me on Twitter.