December 25, 2007
Matt Peddycord

Everybody thinks of Steamboat's amazing matches with Flair, but WHAT ABOUT MISAWA? Let’s head over to Japan for Steamboat vs. Tiger Mask II!

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ricky Steamboat vs. Tiger Mask II (AJPW TV, Tokyo Japan, 3/8/1989)

You talk about a dream match. Tiger Mask uses the Steamboat strategy of trying to get the win right from the bell with shoulderblocks and dropkicks. Tiger Mask stays consistent with a headlock and just will not let Steamboat go. Steamboat finally breaks free, but turns around into a crossbody for two. Now Steamboat applies a headscissors, then goes to a chinlock Tiger Mask makes the ropes, ducks a chop off a whip, and nails Steamboat with a high knee for two. Back to the headlock. Tiger Mask doesn’t just sit there either, he tries to get the three-count by shifting his weight on Steamboat. Back up, Steamboat ducks low and takes a chop for two. Tiger Mask GRINDS the headlock, which makes me cringe just watching. Tiger Mask breaks in the center of the ring, but only to knock him down with a standing dropkick for two. Wow, this would never be shown on NWA TV. Steamboat chops back for two, but so does Tiger Mask. Steamboat hits an inverted atomic drop for another two. Standing powerslam gets two. Tiger Mask comes back with a backdrop and a spin kick gets two. Another spin kick gets two. They do a criss-cross sequence and Steamboat skins-the-cat, but Tiger Mask dropkicks him out for a baseball slide into the guardrail. Piledriver on the floor?! YES! Yet Steamboat NO-SELLS and wins a chop battle and then hits the Flying Judo Chop for 1-2-NO! Tiger Mask gets a back suplex out of nowhere and climbs up top for the FROG SPLASH for 1-2-NO!! Bridging German suplex gets 1-2-NO! Steamboat chops back once again and hits a crossbody out of the corner, but Tiger Mask rolls through for 1-2-NO! Steamboat wants a piledriver, but Tiger Mask wildly kicks his feet and falls on top of Steamboat for 1-2-NO! Steamboat reverses and gets 1-2-3! (14:06) Misawa congratulates Steamboat with the ceremonial “raising of your opponent’s arm” to celebrate the match. This was very good with the psychology of the headlock working like a charm. I felt like it was way too short though. These two could’ve went thirty minutes easy. Also, Tiger Mask didn’t bust out anything too amazing to get the win here either, which keeps the NWA world champion Steamboat looking strong. Like I said, a very good match. Not great though, but very good. ***¼

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