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Big In Japan: Volume #1

I’ve decided to track down some interesting Japanese matches or review classic matches that took place in Japan. I’ve admittedly not watched a lot of Japan stuff, but I’m now going to be venturing into that style. As I said, I’ll picking matches that have been deemed must-see or simply interesting matchups that I’m curious to see how they play out.

For the first part of this series, I decided to go with an interesting match. Mike Barton wrestled in the WWF as Bart Gunn and was first known as a cowboy with his brother Billy as part of the Smoking Gunns. They had success in the mid 90s managing to win the WWF World Tag Team Championships. However, when they split in 1996, Billy went on to carve out a career that continues into 2020. Meanwhile. Bart had brief success in the Brawl For All before getting knocked out by Butterbean at WrestleMania and promptly knocked out of the WWF.

Vader was the top guy in WCW for most of the early 90s dominating the WCW World Championship scene having classic matches with Sting, Cactus Jack and Ric Flair. Vader eventually jumped ship to the WWF and remained in the main event picture for 1996, but failed to win the WWF World Championship. By the end of his run in 1998, Vader’s in-ring skill had fallen and he wasn’t seen nearly in the same light as he had been in WCW. However, Vader looked to return to his previous form by going to Japan where he had great success.

The match took place on June 11th, 1999 for All Japan Pro Wrestling.

They lockup but quickly let go for a standoff. Barton backs Vader into a corner, but backs away. Vader gets control of the match with several body shots against the ropes. Barton ducks a clothesline and knocks Vader down with a couple of shots to the stomach. Barton hooks Vader for a suplex, but Vader blocks with punches to the ribs. Vader misses a clothesline and Barton dropkicks Vader. Barton continues with a clothesline and he’s fired up. Barton waits in the corner and drops Vader with a running clothesline for a two count. Barton takes Vader over with a vertical suplex, which impresses the crowd. Vader rolls to the floor to regroup. Barton leaps off the top to take Vader out with a shoulder block to the floor. Barton rams Vader face first onto the apron a few times and slams Vader to the mat. Barton goes to the top rope hitting a missile dropkick. Barton chokeslams Vader for a near fall!

Barton ducks a clothesline and tries for a sunset flip, but Vader tries for a sit down splash only to miss it. Barton nearly wins with a pin attempt. Barton decks Vader again with a clothesline for a near fall. Barton leaps off the top, but is met with a powerslam in midair for a two count. Vader slams Barton and goes to the middle rope hitting a splash for a near fall. Vader pummels Barton with several strikes in the corner. Vader splashes Barton in the corner and plants Barton with a powerbomb to win the match. ***

For a match that goes less than seven minutes, I thought that was hard hitting and a good competitive match. Vader gave Barton a lot and made him look like a threat. I’m aware that Barton had a stronger run, but Vader is an icon there and I was figuring it would be a little more one-sided. I’m interested to see Barton more in Japan and against someone more on his level and I will be actively looking for Vader’s run in Japan right after his WWF run because he was on a mission and motivated Vader is a lot of fun to watch.

Thanks for reading.

Bob Colling Jr. View All

34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.

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