July 10, 2010
Matt D & Vic
Legion of the Damned

Demolition vs Orient Express (Akio Sato and Pat Tanaka) - 3/19/90 - MSG

Vic: Been putting off watching this for awhile. Watched it in March during my first bout of tooth trouble this year and had difficulty getting into it.

There is history here with Demolition being Fuji's old team and the Express being the team he bought with his Powers of Pain money. Powers of Pain being the team he betrayed Demolition for.

I enjoyed the wolf/sheepdog section of the match. Tanaka gets knocked around the ring. Doing a 350 sell on a clothesline, which was probably too early in the match. Smash goes to punch him but Tanaka ducks only to be double clothelined. Smash lays him on the top rope and they start clubbering.

Tanaka tags in Sato. The only thing I can say about Sato is he is no Paul Diamond. I would rather seen Tarzan Goto as Tanaka's partner. Its not even that Sato is bad. Its just he incredibly bland. You could watch a 100 Sato matches and see one thing that makes you notice him.

AX takes to the mat with a headlock here. Something I have not see out of him in Demolition matches. Gets him up and hip tosses Sato while mocking Fuji. It seems like Ax knows that they are not meshing with these guys and starts taunting Fuji to rile the crowd. Starting a Fuuj the Stooge chant. Sato tries to whip AX into the corner but AX catches him with a back elbow.

Tanaka tags back in and he starts hitting AZ in the corner. Does not last and AX throws him into Smash's boot. Demolition maintains control with wristlocks, and arm wringers. They even hit a big double back drop. Smash gets thumbed in the eye and Express takes control.

Smash starts fighting out of the corner and starts hitting Sato with ax handles after a hip toss. The referee is distracted by AX for some reason. The camera misses Tanaka hitting a flying dropkick or a spinning heel kick.

Im just going to go into things that do not work for me. Demos are trying to wrestle a slightly even match with Tanaka and Sato. By that I mean they are trying to do something similar to the Brainbusters series. Where Demolition overwhelms them but they keep the advantage thru cheating, cunning and team work.

But Tanaka and Sato just do not have the teamwork or credibility to make this work. So I was having a hard time buying it when Smash was suppose to be face in peril. Even when Fuji hits him with the cane the Express are all out of place. With Tully and Arn or the Towers you see great tag teams that know how to control the match. Im not seeing this from the Express or at least Sato.

The Express look good when they are swarming Smash. Its the only time you buy them credibly keeping Smash down. Smash lifts up Sato and carries him across the ring but Tanaka clips him. Like the chops Tanaka hits on Smash including this claw type chop. Sato is tagged back in and he seems lost and quickly tags back in Tanaka. Smash hits a big clothesline on Tanaka who does the 350 bump. AX gets tagged and he lays into Tanaka.

Demos get ready to finish Tanaka with the Decapitator. But Fuji stops them. AX follows him outside but before he can get him Sato throws salt in his eyes giving the Orient Express the upset win by count out.

It was too early to squash the Express or even have them lose and Demolition losing to them by pinfall would be ridiculous. So we get this. I just wish this could of been Kato and Tanaka instead. That would been a great match. This was not bad. But its definitely low end Demolition.

Matt D: Early 90s WWF booking is relatively minimalist, but there were a lot of things happening between the cracks if you took the time to work them out. Our story begins with Jake Roberts and the Million Dollar Man. Dibiase had taken Roberts out in mid-late 1989 and Roberts, as revenge, stole the Million Dollar Belt and put it in the bag with Damien. Dibiase worked out a deal with Slick so that Bossman would retrieve the bag. He does but immediately turns on Slick and Dibiase when Ted insinuates that it wasn't about the law at all, but about Bossman being bought. Dibiase then immediately puts a bounty on Bossman's head which Slick tries to claim with Akeem. Suffice to say, Slick made out well in all of this. He took that money and bought the contract of one half of the Powers of Pain, Warlord, from Mr. Fuji, who in turn sold the other half, Barbarian off to Heenan. FUJI then used that money to bring together his Orient Express: Akio Sato and Pat Tanaka. They debuted in February 1990 and here they are in their very first marque match in the WWF at MSG vs Demolition. Generally, it was a bit of a trade down for Fuji but I think he came out with quite a profit from the whole deal which mattered to him as much as anything else.

The pre-match, pre-taped promos are good. Fuji seems to single out Ax which I find amusing for some reason. The Demos go on about Fooj the Stooge. There's obviously a lot of history here and it's somehow fitting that Fuji tests his new team first against Demolition.

Pat and Smash to begin. Tanaka gets outpowered and tries to outquick Smash, following a duck of a clothesline with a bow to the crowd. That gets him clobbered and Smash follows it up with his own bow and a revved up arm pump. Tanaka ducks another punch and bows once again only to get a double clothesline for his trouble and it's all a lot of fun. Yes, Demolition can do well timed comedy spots too. Another tag into Ax, a lift of Tanaka sideways onto the top turnbuckle and the double clubber. Basically, it's not looking good for the Express in the early going. A Fuji distraction allows for the tag. There's a ton of interaction between the Demos and Fuji. Lots of history there and they play up on it. Anyway, Sato fares no better against Ax and takes a powder. Ax uses this time to clap along to some disparaging chant from the MSG crowd about Fuji, including a great shot of one guy really into it. A cheapshot kick to the back as Ax comes off the ropes turns the tide for a moment with Tanaka swarming in upon him in the corner with a bunch of great strikes, but he can't outpunch Demolition and Ax rallies back and makes the tag. Smash hits a great scoop slam backbreaker on Tanaka followed up by a big double back body drop on him, but Tanaka comes back with an eyepoke and the swarming finally begins.

The story thus far has been that the Express has a game plan but they've just been unable to execute it in the face of Demolitions superior force. The plan? The swarm. Akio keeps on Smash. Smash tries to fight back but gets corralled into the Express' corner. Smash tries to fight back but he's hit by a sneak attack doubleteam. They continue the swarm attack, eventually throwing him out so Fuji can get the cane sneak shot in. More double teaming leading to Smash attempting to walk Akio over to his corner only to get a chop block from Tanaka cutting it off. That finally brings in an irate Ax but after pummelling Tanaka a bit, the ref keeps him out. More double-teaming. Another cut off. I thought the Express were working like a well-oiled machine at this point and Smash is doing a great job playing the wounded animal trying to do anything to escape. Ax is great at this point, swatting and kicking at anyone who comes near his corner. He wants in bad. All it does is allow for more doubleteaming by the Express though, who continue to make quick tags and swarm Smash at every opportunity with strikes. Finally Smash hits the clothesline out of the corner (with Tanaka doing the trademark Orient Express 360 sell) and makes the REAL hot tag. Demos were, and yes, we've said this a bunch, so good at knowing when to finally pull off the tag.

Ax comes in and just destroys Tanaka, finally setting up for the Decapitation. Fuji hooks the leg with the cane. Ax chases him around the ring, eats a facefull of salt and gets counted out. Yes Demolition loses to the Orient Express. I definitely found myself buying this match more than Vic did. Good comedy at the start. Then it took a while for the Express to get on offense and once they did they kept it in fairly believable ways.

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