365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
You’ve probably heard the old cliche about certain wrestlers being so talented that they could “carry a broomstick to a good match.” Generally speaking, though, a wrestling match is a collective effort. Sometimes, pairing two wrestlers or two teams serves to elevate all parties involved. That’s definitely the case when looking back at the shared history of Super Crazy and Tajiri in ECW.
Whether it be in a singles match, a three way dance, or a tag team match (as opponents and occasionally as partners), Tajiri and Crazy consistently brought out the best in one another. It’s not hyperbole to say that, without their series of matches, neither would have the level of fame or notoriety in the wrestling community they rose to achieve.
As the 365 Wrestling project continues (sluggishly), I take a look at one of their meetings: specifically, a Japanese Death Match from an ECW house show held February 4, 2000, in Jacksonville, FL.
The handheld version of this match, which is what I watched, is available on YouTube. You can also find it on the Highspots Wrestling Network. It later aired on the Feb. 13 episode of ECW Hardcore TV.
By the time of this match, it’s been a little more than a year since the first ECW meeting between Tajiri and Super Crazy. They had a couple of house show matches before their contest at the 1999 Guilty As Charged pay-per-view that really sparked their rivalry in the promotion. According to Cagematch, this battle in Jacksonville is the 28th singles match between Tajiri and Crazy in ECW, with the two mostly trading wins back and forth since the rivalry began the prior year. It also doesn’t count some excellent three-way matches, with Little Guido and Jerry Lynn as the respective third man.
This particular match happens just a few weeks removed from the 2000 version of the Guilty As Charged pay-per-view, where Tajiri and Crazy teamed together on the whim of Steve Corino to face another haphazard duo in Guido and Lynn, whose team fell apart when Guido turned on Lynn. And yes, it was as confusing to watch as that last sentence was to read.
A Japanese Death Match might sound like something in Big Japan, but here, it just means there are no disqualifications and any and all weapons are allowed. It drives me crazy sometimes to see a heated grudge match start out with chain wrestling, so after fighting one another for more than a year of battles and given the stipulations, Super Crazy gets right down to business, launching himself at Tajiri with a springboard dropkick. The action stays hot and heavy from there all the way through the match.
This is ECW, and a gimmick match, which means chairs and tables, and a fair amount of “hitting each other with stuff” spots, along with some degree of “setup time.” While there are a couple of pauses that threaten to go on too long, Crazy and Tajiri both do a credible job of keeping the action going without requiring too much suspension of disbelief (aside from the usual level of suspension of disbelief required to watch wrestling in the first place).
The history between these two and the talent of both wrestlers help elevate this beyond a standard grudge match with weapons. In this case, familiarity definitely breeds contempt. Both men end up bloody by the conclusion of this match (with Tajiri getting the superior amount of crimson). Tajiri delivers his baseball slide dropkick with Crazy in the Tree of Woe (a standard element of Tajiri’s offense), but places three chairs in front of his nemesis’ head before delivering the blow, busting open Super Crazy.
Tajiri is more polished in his match with Rey Mysterio from the very first entry in the project, but here, he’s younger and incredibly over with the crowd despite technically being a heel (though a turn is not far away for the Japanese Buzzsaw). All of his kicks are delivered well, with apparent evil intent. At one point, after Super Crazy gets lacerated, Tajiri makes the most of it with the crowd: licking his fingers (ew), wiping his enemy’s bloody head against the shirt sleeve of the referee, and biting at the forehead.
Super Crazy, meanwhile, attacks Tajiri with reckless abandon. After regaining control on a lightning-quick transition through a rapid combination of moves, he launches off the top rope with a legdrop on Tajiri through a table, apparently taking damage himself when the far end of the table flips up and hits him upon impact.
The match culminates with one of the nastier spots I have seen in matches of this type, in terms of excess and violence. It’s so over the top that it should end the match, and does.
–If you’ve seen a Tajiri match you’ve likely seen him hit the handspring back elbow but this is one of the better ones you’ll find. The maneuver unfurls at a rapid pace. Tajiri sprints into the ropes, and Super Crazy comes forward a bit into the elbow, avoiding the “standing there waiting to be hit” that is seen often with similar moves of this type.
–Watching the level of violence in this match, and knowing this was par for the course in the rivalry between these two, it’s pretty amazing that Tajiri and Super Crazy are still active more than 20 years later.
–Tajiri puts his hands up on a chairshot from his nemesis. Not something you saw often in this era, but should have happened more regularly all across wrestling.
–Watching fans ringside feed chair after chair to Super Crazy at one point in the match is part of that organic visceral feel that gave ECW its charm.
Final Rating: 6.4
Tajiri and Super Crazy are both extremely talented and produced their best work when going against one another. They were pretty phenomenal as a team as well. They brought out the best in one another. They had better matches than this one, but this overall sample from their body of work is elevated by the finishing spot, which I am determined not to spoil and for you to witness instead.
Back to 1980s All Japan for one of the best tag matches you might never have seen.
Feel free to reach out on Twitter where you also can keep up with all the updates on 365 Wrestling. Send a tweet, a DM, or fill out the contact form on the site to suggest a match to watch for one of the upcoming dates.