Fire Pro Wrestling Returns: The Briefcase Cup – Match 15

MATCH 15: “THE PLAYBOY” CRAZY ROSE v. THE SPIKE

IntroductionMatch 1Match 2Match 3Match 4 Match 5
Match 6Match 7Match 8Match 9Match 10 – Match 11
Match 12 – Match 13 – Match 14

Only two matches left in the opening round! TONIGHT, two of the greatest wrestlers of the ’90s go head to head. What’s sharper: the thorn of the Crazy Rose, or the… uh… spike… of The Spike? We’re pushing it to the limit and walking on the razor’s edge in match 15! YOU READY, CHICO? WOOOOO!

CRAZY ROSE

Scott Hall

scotthallHow do you get “Crazy Rose” as a fill-in for what is clearly WWE Hall of Famer Scott Hall? That’s a bit of a tough nut to crack. My best guess? It’s a play on the “rāz” sound in “Razor Ramon,” the character Hall portrayed during the WWF’s “New Generation” era. Rose’s nickname suggests that Hall may have been a bit of a “playboy.” Was he? YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE IT.

“The Playboy” also could be an inept nod to “The Bad Guy,” Hall’s nickname during the Razor Ramon era.

04Crazy Rose forms one half of the team FPWR calls “The Outlaws.” The other member of that team is Raven Gush, who, as we have previously discussed, is a carbon copy of Kevin Nash. If you’ve been taking notes, you’ll remember that Hall and Nash formed the team known as The Outsiders, the founding fathers of the New World Order and one of the most popular duos in wrestling history. During his time as an Outsider, Hall’s finishing maneuver, a crucifix powerbomb, was dubbed “The Outsider’s Edge:”

Crazy Rose uses that same maneuver as a finisher, though it’s been run through the FPRW trademark remover and renamed “The Outlaw’s Edge.”

As a personal aside, Razor Ramon was probably my favorite wrestler when I was in middle school. Loved him so much I got the shirt.

il_570xN.464886689_ogim

I’d like to tell you that the girls read this shirt, saw that I was “oozing machismo,” and fell all over me. That’s it. there’s no more to that sentence. I REALLY would like to be able to tell you that.

My childhood fandom is why it’s difficult to go into why FPWR’s profile calls Crazy Rose “a drunk character with a huge body.” Scott Hall’s issues with substance abuse are well-documented. ESPN even did a piece on it. Even so, that bit of the bio trikes me as mean-spirited, so we won’t crack jokes here; we’ll just say that we’re happy that Scott Hall’s on the road to getting better.

Like Kevin Nash, Hall was a champion in both WCW and WWF, which were, at one point, the two largest wrestling organizations in the WORLD. And again, the NWO, a faction which Hall helped form, even had a Japanese branch. Hall qualifies for JAPANESE LARGENESS on those grounds alone. That being said, you might be surprised to learn that his Japanese roots go a leeeeetle bit deeper than that:

That there is the man himself providing shaky cellphone commentary on a 1987 match from New Japan Pro Wrestling, in which he partnered with Masa Saito against the team of Yoshiaki Fujiwara and “The World’s Most Confusing Muslim” Antonio Inoki. Trust me, dear reader, that’s some serious Japanese wrestling royalty right there. Hall got BIG IN JAPAN just by sniffing their boots. Hall’s commentary here is pretty priceless here; if you like wrestling history, the video is worth a watch.

Crazy Rose should be a real A-lister. A blue chipper, if you will. The Bad Guy is a real badass – so we just HAD to give him a world class opponent.

THE SPIKE

Sting

StingNo, that’s not Brandon Lee. The man called Spike is the man called Sting. This one’s practically a layup. Dresses like The Crow? Check. Named after something sharp and pointy? Check. “Has what it takes to be a star?” I’m not sure where they were going with that one, but, uh… check.

The Spike utilizes the Sharpshooter as his finishing hold. The Sharpshooter was a move was first popularized by Riki Chōshū, who called the hold the “Sasori-Gatame,” which loosely translates to “scorpion hold.” That explains why when Sting applied a Sharpshooter, it was called THE SCORPION DEATHLOCK.

That, and you know, that whole scorpion motif he was always rocking on his tights. You may recall that this is the same finishing hold employed by Blood Love/Bret Hart. You may ALSO recall that FPWR nicknamed Hart “Blood Venom.” The Spike is nicknamed “Silver Venom.” I can only assume that this similarity in nicknames is a nod to their identical finishing maneuvers.

Sting didn’t always dress like the Crow. Throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, Sting was WCW’s omnipresent good guy in residence, and he looked like this:

Robocop

He was the Hulk Hogan of WCW… that is, until Hulk Hogan actually joined WCW… but you get the picture. The standard-bearer for WCW, Sting wrestled exclusively for that promotion from 1988 to 2001 – the entirety of its existence.

…what? Oh, yeah, that’s Robocop. You didn’t know that Sting was friends with Robocop?

Unfortunately, even FPWR isn’t brazen enough to rip off a Hollywood property like Robocop, so Alex Murphy will not be aiding Sting tonight.

ANYWAY, the fact that Sting spent most of his career in WCW did not foreclose him from Japanese stardom. WCW had a very good working relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling, which led to Sting having fantastic matches with many luminaries of the Japanese wrestling world. Here he is facing off against The Great Muta, one of his fiercest rivals:

The Stinger was definitely BIG IN JAPAN. But will that be enough for The Spike to overcome the “large body” of Crazy Rose? Sting has racked up some W’s over Scott Hall in the past, but will this translate to FPWR? LET’S FIND OUT!


LET’S WRESTLING

I thought they called these things “finishers?” Crazy Rose survives two Scorpoion Deathlocks (not to mention several Scorpion Death Drops) to pick up the win after an Outsider’s Edge and a fallaway slam. Get ready to say hello to the bad guy in round 2!

NEXT TIME! It’s the last match of the opening, and we go ATOMIC as Dr. Nuke attempts to tame the Wild Bronco!

Fire Pro Wrestling Returns: The Briefcase Cup – Match 14

MATCH 14: “GIANT HIP” SUMO v. “THE PLANE” TATTOO

IntroductionMatch 1Match 2Match 3Match 4 Match 5
Match 6Match 7Match 8Match 9Match 10 – Match 11
Match 12 – Match 13

Despite what you may have heard, when viewed as a whole, pro-wrestling can really be considered quite the progressive profession. Promoters appear to have no problem letting their employees self-identify as a member of any race, creed, species or class they might choose. The wrestling world doesn’t care if you’re a Puerto Rican who claims to be a ninja from Japan, it doesn’t even care if you’re a giant white lummox who puts on a dashiki and suddenly decides he’s from Africa!

TONIGHT, we celebrate that diversity, as a Samoan Sumo takes on an “Indian” madman from Michigan!

SUMO

Rikishi (2)

RikishiSumo is Rikishi, which is appropriate, because “rikishi” is the Japanese term for a sumo wrestler. Instantly identifiable by his bleached blonde hair and be-thonged backside, Rikishi was a crowd favorite during the WWF’s Attidude Era, wowing audiences with his unique brand of ass-based offense. Sorry – where are my manners? Hip-based. His offense was hip-based. Just take a look at his “Corner Hip Drop” in action.

Could you imagine having all that hip dropped on your chest? Clearly the nickname “Giant Hip” is well-deserved. Rikishi also earned quite a bit of fame rubbing his hip in his opponents’ faces:

Despite employing an ostensibly Japanese gimmick, Rikishi is actually a Samoan-American from San Francisco. Indeed, it wasn’t too long after his “debut” that the WWF dropped any pretense of him being from Japan at all, as he quickly teamed up with two white rappers and formed the tag team we all lovingly remember as Too Cool.

That isn’t all that strange for a wrestler… until you consider the fact that just a year prior, he was wrestling as “The Sultan,” an ostensibly Iranian wrestler managed by the Iron Sheik.

Sultan

And a year prior to that, he was wrestling as… well, himself: a Samoan dude from San Francisco.

Fatu

… and a year before that, he was wrestling as a head-shrinking savage.

headshrinkersfs

So yeah, he’s had a bit of an identity crisis; but that doesn’t mean we love him any less. We at Subspace Briefcase accept you for who you are, you big Japanese-Iranian-Samoan lug.

Anywho, despite his Japanese trappings, Rikishi never fought much in Japan.  Notably, he did wrestle the famous sumo Akebono in a match or two in All Japan, but that’s about it.

So Rikishi and his big hips were not particularly BIG IN JAPAN. Will his otherwise sterling reputation be enough to carry him to a victory over…

TATTOO

Sabu (2)

sabu1Much like the infamous Sabu, Tattoo is “famous for reckless and daring moves.” One of this Philadelphian’s favorite wrestlers of all time, the always entertaining Sabu is notorious for being a danger to himself and others. Tatoo even uses a “moonsault press” for his finishing maneuver, which sure sounds like it could double for Sabu’s triple jump moonsault:

Tattoo is a dead ringer for Sabu, the tights, the beard, the tape… But why “Tattoo?” Well, Ta-too does sound kind of like “Sah-Bu…” but why is his nickname “The Plane?”

Well I got two words for ya’: Hervé Villechaize.

herve

Whoa, wait, where are you going? Just hear me out! For those in need of a Hervéducation, Villechaize was a French-born actor of Filipino decent. Born with proportionate dwarfism, Villechaize achieved a great deal of fame portraying undersized sidekicks of crazy rich dudes. Fans of the James Bond films will no doubt recognize him as the actor who portrayed Scaramanga’s henchman, Nick Nack, in 1974’s The Man with the Golden GunUsing the Bond franchise as a launching pad, Villechaize became a star of both the big and small screens. He even recorded a single or two:

Villechaize achieved his greatest fame as a regular on the television series Fantasy Island from 1978-1984, where he helped make all our dreams come true in the role of – wait for it – TATTOO, the sidekick of Ricardo Montalban’s Mr. Roarke.

If you watch the above video for all of 20 seconds, you’ll here Villechaize utter Tattoo’s signature line:

“THE PLANE! THE PLANE!”

BOOM. That was me dropping the mic.

Coincidence?

…..yeah, probably. Particularly considering the fact that one of Sabu’s signature moves was commonly referred to as “Air Sabu:”

ANYWAY, if you’re reading this, you probably have a good idea who Sabu is, but if you don’t, it will suffice to say that he’s one of the greatest hardcore wrestlers of all time.

Like Rikishi, Sabu has eschewed his inherited ethnicity. Born in Long Island and reared in Michigan, Sabu (real name: Terry Brunk) frequently portrayed himself as a nonverbal maniac from Bombay. It runs in the family, I guess: Sabu’s uncle is Ed Farhat, the Original Sheik, a wrestler from Lansing, Michigan who claimed to be from the “Syrian Dessert.” As Sabu’s career went on, he repatriated, claiming to be from “Bombay, Michigan,” a town that does not exist. We at Subspace Briefcase respect that choice, and you should too. Or Sabu will kill you.

So, anyway, was Sabu BIG IN JAPAN? Yes. Sabu had some of his most violent and dangerous matches in Japan. Here he is in FMW taking on Tarzan Goto in a barbed wire match back in 1993 (be forewarned, this is gnarly, and damn near unwatchable):

If you’re interested, YouTube user PFLaw317 has prepared an excellent compilation of some of Sabu’s early matches in Japan:

So yes, Sabu was BIG IN JAPAN. But does that mean that Tattoo will be able to overcome the fact that Sumo is BIG IN THE HIPS? We’ll just have to see…


LET’S WRESTLING!

Sumo takes it at 9:33 with a hip drop. What else can I say, but…

710

NEXT TIME: We push it to the limit as Crazy Rose takes on the man called Spike!

Fire Pro Wrestling Returns: The Briefcase Cup – Match 13

MATCH 13: “THE GENOCIDE” RAVEN GUSH v. “THE YELLOW BEAST” PAPAYA TOKUMA

IntroductionMatch 1Match 2Match 3Match 4 Match 5
Match 6Match 7Match 8Match 9Match 10 – Match 11
Match 12

“Then this giant man beguiling/my yellow beasthood into smiling/By the big and sexy decorum of the countenance he wore/’Though thy clique is just too sweet, thou,’ I said, ‘can sure be beat/Big Daddy Cool, ancient Raven wandering from wolfpac of yore/Tell me what thy lordly name is on the NWO’s red and black shore!’/Quoth the Raven ‘Nash no more.'” … TONIGHT
RAVEN GUSH

Kevin Nash

KevinNAshWhile “Raven Gush” is about as ridiculous as FPWR‘s names get, it sort of sounds like a moniker I might use if I was trying to doctor a passport using a photo of “Big Sexy” Kevin Nash. Raven’s about 7′ tall, he’s got the long hair and beard, and he’s using a powerbomb for a finishing maneuver.

If it looks like a duck and cliques like a duck, it’s probably a founding member of the NWO.

04As any fan of ’90s wrestling can tell you, Kevin Nash was one half of The Outsiders with his long time compatriot, Scott Hall. Raven Gush just happens to be a member of a team called “The Outlaws.” Methinks this is no coincidence.

In 1996, the Outsiders joined forces with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan to form the original lineup of the New World Order, which is arguably the most influential wrestling faction of all time, both inside the ring and out. At the height of the NWO’s popularity, Nash was actually serving as the head booker of WCW – a period during which he (in)famously booked what became known as “The Fingerpoke of Doom.” This is why Raven Gush “was a backstage boss the previous org.”

Raven Gush is very clearly an ersatz Kevin Nash – so was our man “Big Sexy” BIG IN JAPAN? Kevin Nash was a world champion in both WCW and WWF, which were, at one point, the two largest wrestling organizations in the WORLD. The NWO, a faction which Nash helped form, even had a Japanese branch. He has even wrestled in Japan as recently as 2012.

So yes, Big Daddy Cool is BIG IN JAPAN. He’s big everywhere. Unfortunately, if… uh… Japanese-ness actually counts for anything in FPWR, I don’t know if anybody is quite as, uh, “Japanese…” as…

PAPAYA TOKUMA

MangoFukada

MangoFukada2By all rights and measures, Papaya Tokuma, who is practically identical to Mango Fukuda (real name: Takayasu Fukuda), shouldn’t even be here. This is a tournament for ridiculous facsimiles of prominent wrestling stars who are somewhat recognizable in the West. I just couldn’t help myself, though, and I threw him in anyway, because… well, shit: look at him. Regardless, I put him in here, and he’s getting the bio that he rightfully deserves.

salserosNo time for jokes. Just trust me – Papaya Tokuma is Takayasu “Mango” Fukuda. Mango Fukuda started his career under the tutelage of Último Dragón, one of the most innovative wrestlers to ever lace a pair of boots. Último Dragón spent much of his career wrestling in Mexico, and that’s precisely where young Mango made his debut back in 2003. Hence, Papaya is a “young cannonball from Latin.” Latin is my favorite part of Mexico.

Mango earned his… uh… fame… as part of the villainous Los Salseros Japonaises with Pineapple Hanai and Takeshi Minamino. As their name implies, Los Salseros Japonaises were a trio of evil Japanese salsa dancers/wrestlers, who, amazingly, were quite successful in the ring. Somehow, this explains why FPWR has placed him on a team called the Lations. I am not sure if that is racist. Someone test it out and report back to me.

After achieving a modicum of success in Mexico, Mango and his compatriots moved to Michinoku Pro Wrestling, which is precisely where FPWR places him. “But, Steve,” you say. “He’s clearly in an organization named ‘Blizzard.'” Well howabout this, Einstein-san: The term “Michinoku” refers to a region in northeastern Japan, where MPW was based. Take a look at the annual snowfall in Morioka, the capital of the Iwate Prefecture, which happens to be the city where MPW maintained its headquarters. “Blizzard” is a suitable substitute for “Michinoku.”

So anyway, once Mango arrived in Japan, he and his buddy Pineapple got to work, winning the Futaritabi World Tag League in 2004. Not content to rest on their laurels, shortly thereafter, the Salseros captured the UWA World Trios Championship by defeating the team of Solar, Ultraman and Ultraman, Jr. Maybe this isn’t resonating with you, fair reader, but once you set eyes on Solar and Ultraman, this tremendous accomplishment might carry a little more weight.

SolarUltraman

WHAT? You still aren’t impressed? Well don’t blame me when Solar and Ultraman come knocking on your door. Because they’ll likely be bringing their buddy, Utraman, Jr., who is not pictured above. Hold on – You’ve never heard of Ultraman, Jr.? Sheesh. He’s only the guy presently wrestling under the name of Starman, you ignoramus. No, not Star Man. STARMAN. Got it? Good.

Now, of course, you understand, how powerful Los Salseros Japonaises were. Not just anybody beats Ultraman Jr. I mean, seriously, Ultraman Jr.’s the guy that unmasked El Tortuguillo Karateka IV. That’s right, ULTRAMAN JR. RIPPED THE FACE OFF OF A NINJA TURTLE. Unfortunately, I can’t find video of this, so here’s video of one of Los Tortuguillos Kareatekas in action as compensation.

El Tortuguilla Karateka IV is not, of course, to be mistaken for that the infamous Kowabunga, who I am pretty sure wasn’t actually a reptile.

*AHEM*

Anyway, after returning to Japan, Los Salseros wrestled in many organizations, including DDT, where, among other things, they lost a match to a ladder, along with several other wrestlers.

That ladder had THREE TITLE REIGNS, by the way.

(For those keeping score: Ladder > Los Salseros Japonaises > Ultraman = Ultraman Jr. = Solar > El Tortuguillo Karateka IV)

“Well all this back story is great, Steve, but why is his nickname ‘yellow beast?’ He doesn’t look very beastly to me.”

Well, I’m glad you asked, reader. Ever eager to take his unique brand of salsa inspired offense to a larger audience, Mango Fukuda spent his off days wrestling in the now-defunct HUSTLE promotion. HUSTLE, the brainchild of famous Japanese wrestler/MMA fighter Nobuhiko Takada, focused its efforts on providing an alternative to the “serious” story lines which dominated much of Japanese wrestling at the time. I am fully aware that I just preceded this paragraph with a video of several Japanese men wrestling a ladder.

TakadaBisonAt the end of the day, HUSTLE was all about giving the aforementioned Mr. Takada an excuse to dress up like M. Bison and act like a supervillain on the weekends. In HUSTLE, Generalissimo Takada (that’s really what he called himself) ran a team of evil heels called the “Takada Monster Army.” Their chief opposition? The Hustle Rangers, a group of five dudes who dressed up like power rangers.

Did that fat yellow power ranger look holding those giant spoons look familiar? He should – when he wasn’t a mild-mannered salsa dancer, Mango Fukuda protected us all from Takada’s evil army under the mantle of HUSTLE RANGER YELLOW.

Unfortunately, all that extra body weight caught up with Salsa Ranger Mango, and he got captured and BRAINWASHED by the evil Monster Army. At this point he turned on his allies and took up the name of MONSTER RANGER YELLOW.

Mango stayed evil until 2006, which means he would have been wrestling as Monster Ranger Yellow at the time FPWR was being developed. So there you have it: That’s why our rotund little salsa dancer is a yellow beast, and that’s three hours of my life I’ll never get back again. I hope you’re happy.

Anyway, his finisher is a Fujiyama driver – or as Mango called it, “Purupuru Mango.”

So was Mango Fukuda BIG IN JAPAN?

How the hell should I know? Let’s get to the fight.


LET’S WRESTLING!

I’m pretty sure Kevin Nash can sue me for this. Papaya takes it at 13:28 via a Doctor Bomb.

NEXT TIME: A recently ordained hall of famer takes on a genocidal maniac! Hey, if you stuck with me this far, you’re tuning in anyway, right?

Fire Pro Wrestling Returns: The Briefcase Cup – Match 12

MATCH 12: KAZUYA v. BILL “THE RAIDER” BULLET

IntroductionMatch 1Match 2Match 3Match 4 Match 5
Match 6Match 7Match 8Match 9Match 10 – Match 11

We GUARANTEE that someone will go to sleep in Match 12! Heads will be kicked, nuts will be slapped, and if we’re lucky, a guitar will be broken, as American wrestling royalty takes on a crown prince of Japanese grappling! It’s KAZUYA vs. Bill Bullet… TONIGHT.

KAZUYA

HideoItami

Kenta-KobayashiI’m certain that Kazuya is the wrestler formerly known as KENTA. I haven’t capitalized his name for emphasis; that’s how he spells it. Why, you ask? Well, KENTA’s given name is Kenta Kobayashi. This, you may note, sounds quite similar to Kenta Kobashi, the Japanese wrestling legend we profiled in a piece two weeks ago. Further confounding things, Kenta Kobashi actually trained young master KENTA. As KENTA frequently teamed-up with Kenta, he did the world a favor and just capitalized the shit out of his name so we could all tell them apart. This is a great idea. America really needs to embrace typography in naming conventions. Should I ever have a son, I will name him steve, so that nobody will be confused as to who the genuine article is.

KENTA now wrestles in WWE’s developmental territory under the name Hideo Itami, but don’t let his status as a “prospect” fool you. Your favorite American wrestlers have been borrowing from this guy for years. Kazuya, like KENTA, utilizes “Go 2 Sleep” as his finisher, a maneuver that was famously co-opted by former WWE wrestler C.M. Punk. Let’s watch it 100 times.

Kazuya is billed as a “Kick Master,” and I believe this highlight video supports FPWR‘s claim that “his fatal kicks are extremely dangerous.”

Astute viewers will also note that Daniel Bryan has also borrowed some moves from KENTA as well. So BIG IN JAPAN that the biggest names in American borrow from him. This guy should be huge!

Like his mentor, Kazuya is wrestling in SUPER NOVA, which is a stand in for Pro Wrestling NOAH. At the the time of FPWR‘s release, that was KENTA’s homebase, and if my calculations are correct, he was probably the GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion back then. The transitive law of video game simulation (the Bo Jackson Corollary) means that this should make him improbably powerful. His opponent better have some chops (woo)!

JEFF JARRETT

JeffJarrett

Jarrett_WWF_1999

Now this is the kind of alliterative identity theft I can get behind. Bill Bullet is a dead ringer for American wrestling omnipresence Jeff Jarrett. “Double B” bears a lot of similarities to “Double J,” not the least of which is his finishing maneuver, a legsweep facebuster. Jarrett calls his version of the maneuver “The Stroke:”

Jeff Jarrett is the son of Jerry Jarrett, who has famously owned and/or operated quite a few American wrestling promotions, including the Continental Wrestling Association, the United States Wrestling Association, World Class Championship Wrestling and, most recently, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Accordingly, Bill Bullet’s bio accurately reflects that “his father was a wrestler/promoter.”

If “wrestling memories” are a thing that you have, you probably have more than a few of Jeff Jarrett. He was the “other guy.” Remember when Hulk Hogan angrily walked out on WCW at Bash at the Beach 2000? He was the other dude in the ring. Remember when Chyna became the first woman to win the Intercontinental Championship? She beat Jeff Jarrett. Rememeber when Owen Hart was going through his last great run as the Blue Blazer? Jeff Jarrett was his partner. That blurry figure in the background of every wrestling photograph ever? Jeff Jarrett. He’s always there.

As far as I can tell, Jeff Jarrett invented the insult “Slap Nuts,” which probably qualifies him for some kind of Nobel Prize, or at least a Newbery Medal. Also, he’s famous for hitting people with gimmicked guitars:

There’s a strangely prophetic element to the “Bill Bullet” moniker. Just last year, Jeff Jarrett founded Global Force Wrestling, a wrestling company which has recently served as the U.S. pay-per-view distributor for New Japan Pro Wrestling. In connection with this business alliance, Jarrett has appeared on New Japan’s pro wrestling as a member of the faction known as…. The Bullet Club. We should have seen this coming. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

But when FPWR came out? Jeff Jarrett was no slouch, but he wasn’t BIG IN JAPAN. He was probably well into his fourth or fifth reign at whatever TNA was calling the NWA Championship at that point… but he had nothing on KENTA. This might get ugly folks.


LET’S WRESTLING!

Guess that’s why they call it “Go to Sleep.” Kazuya takes it at 12:52 as Double B bites the bullet (club)!

NEXT TIME: Papaya juice will gush everywhere.

Fire Pro Wrestling Returns: The Briefcase Cup – Match 11

MATCH 11: “THE INVENTOR” G.O. BRIGHT v. “SUPER GIANT” GREAT SHIBA

IntroductionMatch 1Match 2Match 3Match 4 Match 5
Match 6Match 7Match 8Match 9Match 10

We hit the next mile marker on the highway of agony as we head into match 11! TONIGHT, it’s India vs. Pakistan by way of Nebraska, as a wrestling legend takes on a legitimate giant!

G.O. BRIGHT

GaryAlbright

Gary_AlbrightSay “G.O. Bright” fast enough, and you’ll get something that sounds like “G. Albright.” It can be no coincidence, then, that Mr. Bright bears such a striking resemblance to the late Gary Albright. As you might guess from his singlet, Gary Albright was an accomplished amateur wrestler out of the University of Nebraska, where he still holds the records for total falls in a season. It should come as no surprise, then, that Albright made his name in the UWFI, a Japanese organization that put great emphasis on making their matches look as “legitimate” as possible. Check out the end of this match between Albright and Japanese superstar Kiyoshi Tamura:

I agree with the commentators for Russian ESPN: Albright throws one hell of a German suplex, an assertion which is corroborated by his FPWR bio. You’ll note that Albright’s bout with Tamura ended in a referee stoppage, which is a somewhat uncommon ending for a pro wrestling match. Gary was often booked to “knock out” his opponents with his impressive suplexes, giving him a reputation as “Suplex Machine.”

In the 1990s, Japanese pro wrestling was all about dropping people on their necks as hard as possible, and Albright was clearly very good at doing that. He was breaking necks and cashing checks all over Japan. This is why G.O. Bright employs the particularly nasty “full nelson suplex” as his finishing maneuver, which Albright himself utilized to great success:

FPWR categorizes Bright as an “Olive Japan” legend, paying homage to Albright’s 1995-1999 stint in All Japan Pro Wrestling, during which he was a frequent partner of our buddy Steel James. In fact, we’ve covered this before – Albright was included in All Japan’s officially licensed game. As previously noted, being officially licensed in a country with apparently no meaningful laws relating to likeness theft is a HUGE deal. We’re calling it right here: Gary Albright was BIG IN JAPAN.

KarachiVice…but that’s not where this ends. You see, Albright got his start in Canada’s Stampede Wrestling, where he wrestled under the name “Vokhan Singh.” Under that moniker, Albright formed one half of the tag team “Karachi Vice.” His tag team partner? A guy named Mike Shaw (who WWF fans know as Bastion Booger), wrestling under the name “Mukhan Singh.” As our more geographically inclined readers may note, Karachi is in Pakistan. Yes, Gary Albright, a giant corn-fed white dude, was part of a Pakistani wrestling faction. So why is this relevant, you ask?

GreatKhali

KhaliBecause he’s about to take on the world’s most terrifying Indian, that’s why. Not the best time to be from Pakistan. “Great Shiba” is FPWR’s lawsuit-proof stand in for the one and only Great Khali. Shiba shares a birth year with Khali, and there’s really only one giant Indian wrestler of any repute, so we could probably end the analysis right here. But that wouldn’t be sporting, would it?

Khali, who wrestled in Japan as “Giant Singh,” has never been known for his wrestling ability, but rather his size, and nobody can argue that he didn’t succeed at being large. In the world of pro wrestling, giants serve two cardinal purposes:

  1. Picking up smaller people and slamming them.
  2. Allowing themselves to be slammed, making smaller people look impressive.

Anything else is just value added. That being said, there’s no way around it: Khali is a notoriously bad wrestler. Shiba’s finishing maneuver is a “Final Powerbomb.” Try to find video of Khali performing a powerbomb, and this will probably be your first hit:

Great googledy moogledy. That can’t really be his finishing maneuver, can it? No, of course not. Fans of Khali’s work know that he utilized a two-handed choke slam as a finisher. I can only think that FPWR‘s developers made a mistake here. Either that, or they were making a snide reference to the egregious powerbomb in the video above.

Khali did wrestle briefly in Japan. Just check out this blurry bigfoot footage we found somewhere in the ass end of YouTube:

So yes, he was BIG, and yes, he was, at one point in time, in Japan. His time in Japan lasted under a year, however, so we can’t really call him BIG IN JAPAN. Shiba isn’t going to be getting one of his tree trunks up on G.O. Bright on account of his strong Japanese fanbase.

BUUUUT… Here’s the thing. Shiba’s bio notes that he has “suddenly emerged.” Around the time of FPWR’s release, Khali had just made his WWE debut. Mere months after popping up in April of 2006, Khali rattled off victories over luminaries like Rey Mysterio, the Undertaker, and numerous others. Today, Khali is known as a bit of a goofy comedy act. Back in ’06-’07, though, he was an unstoppable monster who had yet to truly know a meaningful defeat. Nobody knew how high he would go. Great Shiba should be indicative of Khali at his theoretical maximum.

That wasn’t very funny, was it? Here’s a video of him singing

Shwew, saved.


LET’S WRESTLING

Oof. Karachi Vice my ass. Well, hopefully this settles the age-old beef between India and Pakistan. I guess when your fighting style revolves around throwing people over your head at high velocity, it helps if your opponent isn’t an 7’4″, 450 pound giant. Shiba takes it at 11:27 via a choke slam.

NEXT TIME: A master of kicks takes on a slapper of nuts!

Dragon’s Crown

Dragon'sCrownDragon’s Crown
Playstation 3 – August 6, 2013
Developer: Vanillaware
Publisher: Atlus

Better late to the party than never, right? I love side-scrolling fantasy brawlers, so I was quite pleased to find Dragon’s Crown under my Christmas tree this past December. While I missed it upon its original release, Dragon’s Crown has long been on my to-do list. There are few things I love more than dashing to the right while slashing everything in sight; it’s as close as you can get to safely running with scissors.

Dragon's Crown Gameplay Screenshot 2015-02-01 17-22-23

Dragon’s Crown was directed by Capcom alumnus George Kamitani, who helped design such genre classics as Tower of Doom and Shadow Over MystaraThe game does not shy away from this pedigree; its packaging  bills it as “George Kamitani’s stunning homage to classic fantasy gaming.” “Stunning,” is an apt descriptor. Dragon’s Crown is one of the rare PS3 games that supports 1080p, and nearly every screenshot looks like it could double as the cover for a Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Dragon's Crown Gameplay Screenshot 2015-02-01 17-24-06

Unfortunately, Dragon’s Crown’s stunning visuals can also work against it. In any 4-player brawler, it’s quite easy to lose track of your character when the action gets heated; any gamer old enough to have set foot in an arcade can attest to this fact. Dragon’s Crown is no exception to this rule, and its lavish visuals often exacerbate the problem. Keep an eye on the Dwarf (me) in the video below:

The astute observer will note that I am spending a lot of time flailing around like an asshole, targeting nothing in particular. That’s not because it’s my preferred method of attack (though it does seem to work well enough) – I just kept losing track of myself in the action. While you’ll get somewhat acclimated to the clutter over time, your character never stands out from the setting quite as distinctly as they should.

Clutter aside, while there’s nothing mind-blowing about the minute-to-minute gameplay in Dragon’s Crown, it’s more than serviceable. Vanillaware brings no stunning innovations to the table, but Dragon’s Crown is, at its core, a wonderfully mind-numbing fantasy brawler. It feels astonishingly similar to its spiritual predecessor, the aforementioned Shadow Over Mystara.

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It’s clear that the talented artists at Vanillaware poured a lot of love into Dragon’s Crown (just take a look at the gallery at the end of this post). In fact, maybe they poured a little too much love into this project. At times, it seems as though Kamitani and his crew were vying for the title of “world’s most talented perverts.” You know, on second thought, I don’t even think anybody is even punching in their weight class.

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“Hey boss, I finished the concept art for the dragonkin.”
“Can you put boobs on it?”
“What? Uh… well, I guess.”
“Did you put boobs on it?”
“Uh, no.”
“Back to the salt mines, Yoshi.”

Dragon’s Crown’s art style is well-worn territory on the Internet, so I’ll simply say that I found that it detracted from what was otherwise a perfectly enjoyable game. Dragon’s Crown is a game that wants you to play it for hours on end – a single playthrough took me just under 20 hours. It’s difficult to want to play more than that when you have to deal with the shame of explaining things like this to your wife:

Dragon's Crown Gameplay Screenshot 2015-02-01 17-36-33

All that aside, I enjoyed my time with Dragon’s Crown. It’s got a few issues, but it’s a solid entry in a genre that doesn’t get a lot of love these days. If you’ve got any love for 2D brawlers, it’s well worth the $19.99 they are selling it for these days.

Played on a Playstation 3