It’s a very special Dream Matches column for you tonight, as I review a great 30-minute NWA Title defense by Ric Flair against Jumbo Tsuruta from 1982! Jumbo’s one of Japan’s biggest legends and was put over hugely by various NWA Champions during their title defenses, so it’s time to see what Flair can get out of him!
Since that’s such a long match, I’ll add a few interesting shorter ones- chief among them is the debut of Mark Jindrak & Sean O’Haire on WCW TV, as they take on Rey Mysterio & Juventud Guerrera- the Filthy Animals! And then we finally get another FAT MAN STAND-OFF in this column, as Vader comes to WWF Shotgun Saturday Night to face The Sultan! And a super-quick TV job featuring Jushin Liger hitting WCW to wrestle Eddie Guerrero! And finally, it’s one of only two TV matches for Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz, as he faces jobber Ron Cumberledge!
NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE:
RIC FLAIR vs. JUMBO TSURUTA:
(All Japan Pro Wrestling, June 8th 1982)
* I’ve heard these matches are all FANTASTIC, so I’ll grab the World Title match, which is quite highly rated. These two fought a bunch, as the NWA worked with AJPW at this time, leading to Flair as travelling champion taking on the Ace. Both guys come out to what sounds like anime music, though Flair has his ’80s mane and a powder blue robe, with trunks to match. Jumbo is apparently debuting his black trunks & boots look, meant to evoke Lou Thesz, which sends the signal to the fans that this is the future “Ace”. Flair’s a bit doughy at this point, but has a really broad chest compared to later on (he was a bodybuilder in the ’70s, surprisingly)- Jumbo’s a bit taller but not extremely so. Man, the NWA Title was TINY at this point.