365 Wrestling, Day 35: Super Crazy vs. Tajiri (ECW, 2/4/00)

365 Wrestling, Day 35: Super Crazy vs. Tajiri (ECW, 2/4/00)

365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

If familiarity breeds contempt, it’s no wonder that the rivalry between Super Crazy and Tajiri in ECW is so delightful.

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. Without their matches against one another, neither would have the level of fame or notoriety in the wrestling community they rose to achieve.

In this entry we examine one of their meetings: 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.

The Match

These two are familiar foes by now. 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. 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. There are some excellent technical exchanges in Crazy-Tajiri matches but this is not one of those matches. Super Crazy sprints to the ring, launching himself at Tajiri with a springboard missile dropkick, and it’s violence, plunder and blood from there.

This is ECW, and a gimmick match, which means chairs, tables, and a fair amount of “hitting each other with stuff” spots, along with some degree of “setup time.” Setting up a table or ladder spot can seem endless and kill a match’s momentum. Here, 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).

Both men end up bloody by the conclusion of this match, which sees both incorporate plunder into some of their signature offense. Tajiri delivers his baseball slide dropkick with Crazy in the Tree of Woe, but places three chairs in front of his nemesis’ head before delivering the blow. Later, Super Crazy soars off the top rope with a legdrop on Tajiri through a table on the floor. Upon impact, the far end of the table flips up and hits Crazy–not planned and likely painful but adding positively to the mayhem.

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). 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 Crazy’s forehead.

The violence builds. At one point, fans ringside feed chair after chair to Super Crazy at one point in the match while chanting “ECW!” in a great example of the organic, visceral feel that gave ECW its charm. The match culminates with one of the nastier spots I have seen in bouts of this type. It’s so over the top that it should end the match, and does.

One more note: Lost in the weapons and chaos is one of the smoother variations of Tajiri’s handspring back elbow. Tajiri sprints into the ropes, and Super Crazy comes forward into the elbow, avoiding the “standing there waiting to be hit” that is seen often with similar moves of this type.

Final Rating: 6.5

Tajiri and Super Crazy brought out the best in one another. They had better matches than this one, but this 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.

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

Up Next

A triple threat with the members of the Shield before they became the Shield.

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365 Wrestling, Day 1: Rey Mysterio, Jr., vs. Tajiri (SmackDown, 1/1/04)

365 Wrestling, Day 1: Rey Mysterio, Jr., vs. Tajiri (SmackDown, 1/1/04)

365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

The first installment in the project and we’re kicking things off by spotlighting two of my all-time favorites.

Rey Mysterio, Jr. has slowed down some, naturally, after the pile-up of years and injuries but his appeal, his style and many of his signature moves remain, in many ways, timeless. Tajiri, meanwhile, is a fine example that a wrestler doesn’t have to take a turn as a headliner to be memorable. Tajiri spent his entire time in American wrestling in the midcard, but his look, style and charisma paved a path to success for the Japanese Buzzsaw in WWE and ECW. Like Mysterio, Tajiri is still active. Though he’s slowed down more than Rey, Tajiri became MLW Openweight Champion near the end of 2021.

You can check out this match on Peacock. You can also watch a clip from the match in the video above.

The Match

Rey gets one more crack at Tajiri, who dethroned Mysterio for the Cruiserweight Title the previous September. Tajiri’s reign included him bringing on two lackeys to watch his back and interfere on his behalf, Akio (better known as Jimmy Yang) and Sakoda.

This culminates a four-month rivalry between Rey and Tajiri, and their familiarity shines through in this one. Rather than go right at one another, and flying around the ring, at the opening bell, they opt for a more patient, mat-based battle in the opening minutes. Each man anticipates key offense of the other: Rey blocks signature Tajiri maneuvers like the springboard back elbow and the Tarantula, while, late in the bout, Tajiri avoids a springboard senton by Rey with a sweet counter to a half crab on the left leg, which is the main target of Tajiri’s offense for most of the match.

After relying on a distraction from Akio and interference by Sakoda to get control of the match, Tajiri really works over that leg. The highlight of that attack is a pinpoint standing dropkick to the knee while Rey is hanging upside down in the Tree of Woe.

The finishing stretch is strong with each man scoring a very believable false finish. Ultimately, Rey foils interference by Akio and Sakoda, hooking Tajiri with a huracanrana into the pin to become two-time Cruiserweight Champ.

Final Rating: 7.6

This is a very good match that showcases both Rey and Tajiri in their primes. Everything flowed well and looked good. At under 12 minutes (counting entrances, and minus an early segment of the match we don’t see due to the commercial break), this is a brisk, action-packed match with real stakes, a strong narrative centered around Rey’s left leg, and a satisfying, definitive conclusion. Seek out this match if you haven’t seen it.

What’s Next

We head to Japan and ring in 2013 with a death match.

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

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