Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Project 33" - Match #40 - Funks vs. Brody & Hansen

Dory Funk Jr. & Terry Funk vs. Stan Hansen & Bruiser Brody
13 December, 1982
Sumo Hall; Tokyo, Japan
Real World Tag League Finals

Part 2

This match was suggested by Lacelle at the DVDVR!  

This match was somewhat unusual for a number of reasons.  For starters, this was the final of a major Japanese tournament, and it showcased two American tag teams.  Since the Americans were always booked as the heels in Japan at this time, essentially AJPW booked a heel vs. heel match for the tournament final.  This cannot be underscored enough, as the way wrestling was booked in Japan since the days of Rikidozan, the Americans were the evil foreigners who were out to crush the native Japanese, and the fighting spirit of the people of the land of the rising sun fought them off.  This was unusual for such a big show.

The reason it could be done however was also unusual - the Funk Brothers had become fan favorites of the Japanese.  Although they still cheered the natives when facing the Funks, the Funks were almost always cheered when going against other gaijin. 

The third thing that makes this unusual was that you had a major Japanese tournament end with a disqualification.  The significance of this cannot be stated enough.  While there were certainly disquialifications in matches in Japan, the major tournaments like the Real World Tag League were very important and very big shows.  While it was done in a round-robin "league" format and not a "bracket" style tournament, this was the deciding match, and the Funks essentially won a championship by disqualification. 

However, this match worked, because of how those factors were blended together.  At this point in time Terry & Dory funk were the foreign bookers for All-Japan, and they were big supporters of fellow Texans Brody & Hansen.  Brody & Hansen had been running roughshod over the competition in AJPW, and this match against the Funks saw Terry & Dory work totally as the underdog babyfaces, with Hansen & Brody bloodying them up and pounding on them.  The Funks had enough support from the Japanese fans that letting themselves be torn apart by Brody & Hansen, and continuing to fight back, showed their fighting spirit, and actually solidified them as babyfaces.  Not only that, but the cheap heat from a championship match being decided by a disqualification put the heat on Brody & Hansen.  In the eyes of the Japanese fans, Brody & hansen didn't care about the prestige of the championship, they just were looking to hurt people.  However, the Funks, longtime competitors in AJPW would just not give up.

In the end, this match, which was a huge deal in its own right, would open the door for the Funks to draw huge money against other wrestlers from the US as the dastardly heels.

As far as the actual ring work, this was a flat-out brawl. Lots of stiff exchanges between guys that took just as hard as they gave.  There wasn't anything fancy, no unique moves or crazy weapons. This was just four guys literally slugging it out and going at it with a great amount of physicality. 

And, did Dory Funk Jr. ever look young?  He looks almost the same now in 2010 as he did in 1982 - old as hell.

Back then...

Pretty Recent

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