SATURDAY, 29 JANUARY 2011
EDILTZ (Every Day Is Like Tom Zenk) Special!! The Best Of Tom Zenk
You can only imagine my joy when, weeks after starting this blog, I spotted a DVD for sale from IVP videos called The Best Of Tom Zenk!! For the bargain price of $3, it consists of 2 hours of Zenk from his Japan tours between 1986 and 1994. This should be excellent.
Rick Martel & Tom Zenk vs the Funk Brothers (22/11/86)
The Funks start off playing face, showing mutual respect to Zenk and Martel, but early signs of frustration show when the younger team manage to keep up with them on the early exchanges. The first sign of the Funks' heeling comes when Dory repeatedly throws Zenk outside the ring (with some big bumps taken by Zenk) to be thrown back in by Terry, only for Terry to give Zenk an atomic drop (almost hitting a cameraman) before throwing him back in, to the rage of Martel. Martel begins to brawl with Terry outside, while Dory works over Zenk on the inside, hitting a nice piledriver for two. Martel comes in on a hot tag, following a reversal of Dory's spinning toe hold, and Terry does everything in his power to draw the ire of the crowd and make Martel look good: he runs away from Martel all around the ring, cowers in the ropes and offers a handshake in an attempt to placate Martel. Martel, as a good face, accepts the handshake, but the audience knows that Terry can't be trusted. So when Terry tries to double-cross on a clean break, and Martel avoids contact, the crowd erupts and a two count off a crossbody gets a huge pop. Zenk is brought back in with his own crossbody for two, but Terry rolls him up for three. Good tag affair with plenty of heat, the fired-up babyfaces meshing well with the sneaky heels.
Tom Zenk & Rick Martel vs Giant Baba & Hiroshi Wajima (12/12/86)
The crowd are psyched for Wajima right from the start. Zenk manages to hit one of the highest standing dropkicks I've seen on Wajima as Martel holds him in a bearhug. Baba comes in and the match quality quickly goes downhill, including him putting Zenk in a headscissors for what feels like ages. Wajima at least has some energy and shares some fierce exchanges with the two gaijin. This is my first time seeing Baba, and he's really not my cup of tea. His bumps and offence both are really low impact and go beyond being safe into being business-exposing.The difference between him and Wajima are night and day, so it comes as a relief when Wajima comes in like a house on fire and levels Zenk with a backdrop driver and a lariat for the win. Not a good match
Tom Zenk & The Terminator vs Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara (21/11/87)
The Terminator is the brother of Johhny Ace and Road Warrior Animal. At this point, Zenk is more established in Japan and is actually getting some decent offence in, getting to look good against both Tenryu and Hara. Zenk and Tenryu share some nice exchanges during the opening section, including a swank sequence where Zenk goes from a hammerlock into a headscissors on Tenryu. Zenk also nails a nice standing inziguiri on Hara. Terminator doesn't fare so well, making the mistake of exchanging chops with Tenryu. Zenk rescues his partner from a Tenryu top rope elbow, but is unable to stop him falling prey to an enzuigiri and powerbomb for the Tenryu win. Pretty enjoyable, if a bit short.
Tom Zenk & The Terminator vs John Tenta & The Great Kabuki (11/12/87)
Early bad break for Zenk as he botches an attempt to springboard out of the corner, only for things to get worse then Tenta press slams him. After his mistake of chopping with Tenryu last match, this time Terminator goes for a test strength with Tenta. Again he doesn't win, but does get to knock the big man down with a clothesline. Tenta looks great here, moving with a fair bit of speed and he sends Zenk flying out of the ring with a big shoulder tackle. He also levels Terminator with a dropkick out of the corner. In fact, aside from a small flurry of offence from Zenk, it's pretty much the Tenta show, as he soon squashes Terminator with a powerslam and an elbow drop for the win.
Tom Zenk & The Terminator vs Abdullah The Butcher & TNT (12/12/87)
This TNT sadly isn't Savio Vega. Zenk & Terminator get the chance to look pretty dominant in the early stages, working over TNT with some double-teams and sending him outside for more punishment. Against Abby, it isn't quite the same, with Terminator making an offensive mistake for the 3rd match in a row by trying to headbutt the Butcher. Abby works Terminator over outside, including feeding him to a TNT chairshot and pins him with an elbow drop inside. Match lasted about 5 minutes. This is the last Zenk/Terminator match on the disk, all of which have seen Zenk getting in some solid offence, only to be let down by his partner. At this point you'd assume Zenk would be looking elsewhere...
Tom Zenk & Stan Hansen vs Abdullah The Butcher & Jimmy Snuka (30/08/88)
One year later and Zenk has a hell of an upgrade for his tag partner. Hansen jumps Abby as he gets in the ring, and it is on. Abby and Hansen brawl outside, while Zenk and Snuka tangle in the ring (which most fans aren't watching). Eventually, we get back in the ring, where Abby and Snuka double team Zenk repeatedly, including a series of chokes on the rope and Abby jamming a fork into Zenk's neck. all Hell soon breaks loose again with both teams brawling outside, while Snuka chokes Zenk with a chain. Chaos keeps reigning with Hansen snapping at one point, hurling a table in the ring. Eventually the ref has had enough and it's a double DQ. Despite it's sloppiness and Snuka looking far from his best, this is a fun little brawl.
Tom Zenk & Dan Kroffat vs Toshiaki Kawada & Samson Fuyuki (18/04/88)
This is for Kawada & Fuyuki's All-Asian titles. Fuyuki is a future founding member of Team No Respect. This match is notably faster than the last few matches and provides a refreshing change of pace, with Zenk looking noticably energized in his early exchanges with Kawada. Kroffat also looks good and both teams seem to have nice chemistry. Kawada sends Zenk to the floor, but misses a pescado, allowing Zenk and Kroffat to double-team Fuyuki, leading to a Zenk springboard splash for two. Kroffat busts out Cattle Mutilation on Fuyuki at one point, before hitting him with a Razor's Edge and I'm really starting to love this match. Kawada gets double-teamed with a swank suplex/missile dropkick combo from the gaijin, and you get the feeling that Zenk and Kroffat should have teamed more often, with Kroffat just bringing out more and more swank offence, including a powerslam that has a real nice snap to it. Against the run of the match, Kawada hits a crucifix on Kroffat for the win, but this was just a great match by all four men.
Tom Zenk & Jim Brunzell vs the Fantastics (11/07/89)
Some more nice tag-team wrestling. Zenk almost sneaks an early pin by catching Fulton in a small package as he ducks a Brunzell leapfrog. Zenk also does some nice work by catching Rogers with a springboard crossbody from the corner, then faking him out on a second attempt to hit a beautiful dropkick. The Fantastics, predictably, work fantastically (sorry) as a team, but Zenk and Brunzell look good together too. Zenk hits a choice powerslam when he catches Fulton coming off the top rope. The Fantastics have some beautifully executed double-teams here, including a fun double monkeyflip on Brunzell. Zenk seems to be positioned as the powerhouse of the match, and he does good work in the role, catching Rogers and Fulton with a double clothesline before hitting a good running powerslam on Rogers. The end comes when the less-established team misses a double-team move, allowing the Fantastics to double-team Brunzell with an assisted top-rope backsplash for the win. I could happily have watched another 10 minutes of this.
Tom Zenk, Stan Hansen & Doug Furnas vs Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi (23/07/94)
Zenk is sporting some rather fetching pink trunks. A fun spot near the start sees Kikuchi running from Zenk and Furnas, thinking he's outsmarted them, only to get hammered by Hansen from behind, who throws him to Zenk and Furnas to attack outside the ring. The American team looks good early on, with Hansen and Furnas combining for a nice double-team shoulderblock on Misawa. The home team focus on keeping Hansen down, with Kobashi and Misawa both getting to look good against him, Kobashi even fighting to get the big man over for a suplex. It doesn't last too long, and soon Hansen and Zenk combine to hit a second-rope clothesline into a back suplex on Kobashi. Hansen also takes Kobashi to the floor for a DDT. The hot-tag to Misawa gets a massive reaction, which he repays by taking Hansen down with a flying elbow.Both teams exchange fast tags and offence, with a Furnas release German suplex on Kikuchi looking particularly impressive. Things break down quickly, until we're left with Furnas in the ring with Kobashi, who hits a moonsault for the win. Fast, frentic and crucially, a lot of fun.
Overall, this has done nothing to dilute my appreciation of Tom Zenk. What I saw on this disk was a great tag-team worker with great babyface fire and high athleticism. Four of the matches here are legitimately great, and I think it's fair to say Zenk pulled his weight in there. EDILTZ will continue, but it'll be hard for me to find better examples of how good he was than this
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