Wrestler of the Day – January 21: Arnold Skaaland/Go Shiozaki

No one really jumped off the page at me today so I’ll do a double shot of two not bad guys. Today it’s Go Shiozaki and Arnold Skaaland. We’ll start with the old guy: Arnold Skaaland.

Skaaland is one of those guys that you hear about on occasion but almost no one remembers. He was a big deal back in the earlier days of the company, dating back to the 1950s. Skaaland also owned a piece of the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, which is probably part of the reason why he was pushed for so long. Here’s a tag match from January 6, 1966, which is one of the oldest things I’ve ever reviewed.

Antonio Pugiliese/Arnold Skaaland vs. Angelo Savoldi/Tony Altimore

This is 2/3 falls. Antonio is billed as Bruno Sammartino’s cousin, which is an old tactic to give people a head start to getting over. Before the match, the announcer praises Vince McMahon (senior) for making up next week’s card already. We also hear the term dark match on television, as we hear of Bruno appearing in a tag match at the end of the taping next week. Skaaland’s team is the crowd favorite here.

Altimore and Skaaland get things going here with Tony trying to lure him into the heel corner. This goes nowhere until Arnold slaps him in the face and hooks an armbar. Savoldi tries to come in so the faces change without tagging. The referee throws Savoldi out so the good guys cheat again, resulting in Arnold hooking another armbar. Altimore counters into a front facelock/choke which he keeps getting admonished for.

Antonio comes in and hooks a cravate on Altimore. He lays Altimore on the mat and pulls on Tony’s arms with his feet on Tony’s shoulders in a submission hold which gets a bunch of two counts. Antonio literally rides around on Altimore as he crawls on all fours. Tony finally gets up and yells a lot, nearly punching out the referee. Antonio takes Altimore down again and hits a flying headscissors to bring Savoldi in as well.

Antonio snap mares Tony down as Savoldi tries to cheat some more, only to get hit in the chest. I don’t think Savoldi has been in yet at all. Naturally as I say that he gets tagged in, only to run away, landing in the wrong corner. Skaaland, ever the nice guy, holds Angelo in the corner so Antonio can hammer away. The heels double team Antonio in the corner as I guess we’re waiting on a hot tag to Arnold.

Scratch that as well as Antonio clotheslines Angelo down and brings in Skaaland for a full nelson. Altimore’s cheating fails as he hits Savoldi in the exposed chest. Savoldi backdrops Skaaland and I think we get a botch, as Angelo looks surprised that it worked. Immediately thereafter, they do the same spot with Skaaland hooking a sunset flip for the pin and the first fall.

It’s Skaaland vs. Altimore to start the second fall with Arnold hitting a quick monkey flip. The thud on the map sounded like thunder going off. Tony starts choking and is immediately caught, but it’s enough to let Savoldi get in some choking. Skaaland avoids a shot in the corner and the heels nearly have a fight over it. The legal guys circle each other for a bit before Altimore grabs Arnold’s arm for some cranking.

Savoldi tries to come in but Antonio literally chases him away. Everything breaks down for a bit until we get back to normal with Altimore punching Skaaland down. Unfortunately he punches him into Antonio who picks Tony up and lays him on the top rope. Antonio pounds Altimore over and over again in the face before dropping some knees to the head for the jackknife pin.

Rating: C+. For a match that ran over twenty minutes, I had no problem with this at all. It wasn’t exactly the Midnights vs. the RNRE, but this certainly wasn’t boring. A lot of the moves are ones you would see today and it was clear who the good guys and bad guys were. The ending with Altimore getting beaten down and pinned was fine stuff. This wasn’t boring at all and I’m rather surprised by that.

We’ll stick with the tag stuff and look at a match from Big Time Wrestling out of Detroit with the tag team champions the Hell’s Angels facing JJ Dillon and Arnold Skaaland.

Hell’s Angel’s vs. Arnold Skaaland/Jim Dillon

The Angels (Ron and Paul Dupree in a biker gimmick) are tag champions here, which if the records I can find are correct, would put this at some point in 1968 or 1969, making JJ a rookie. I’m pretty sure this is non-title. The Angels take forever to get out of their gear and it’s Angel #1 vs. Dillon, who is a cowboy here, to start. #1 takes Jim down by the trunks and the Angels do a switch without the tag to ensure that they’re the heels.

The Angels change again to stay on Jim’s arm as we might be in a squash match here. We stick with the old school tactics here as the good guys make a tag but the referee doesn’t see it so the biased referee won’t let it count. A second attempt works a bit better and Skaaland cleans house to a big reaction.

Back in and #1 gets to try his luck with Arnold but #2 gets in a cheap shot from the apron to take over again. Choking ensues and the Angels cheat even more to keep Skaaland in trouble. The referee admonishes the champions long enough to allow a tag off to Dillon but the Angels quickly slam him down and #1 drops a top rope knee for the pin.

Rating: D. This was a really sloppy match as it felt like they were trying to have a squash but the good guys got in too much offense. Dillon was very green at this point but the only way to get better is to be in the ring. The Angels were nothing to see either, though they had the crowd into their heel antics.

I’ll fit in a singles match to make this actually about Skaaland. This is from December 19, 1977.

LouAlbanovs. ArnoldSkaaland

We get our first story here as Arnold won Manager of the Year and Albano is ticked off about it, resulting in them fighting over it. The face, Arnold, jumps Lou during introductions to show he means business. Fans are WAY into this which always helps. Albano runs immediately and still has his jacket on. A foreign object ends that though and we’re ready to go.

Super Mario needs a shirt while wrestling. Allegedly these two weigh the same thing but I have a problem believing that one for some reason. Somewhere around the 8th shot with it the referee sees it or at least thinks he sees it so he plays Find the Object in Albano’s Pants. That’s a good one to play at a party where there are no women or alcohol. Arnold gets it and beats on Albano with it, busting him open.

Arnold pounds away as Albano tries not to fall down. And so much for that theory as Albano hits the floor. For about the 5th time he adjusts his tights and then runs to the back for the relatively cheap count out. I say relatively as this sets up another match down the road I’d assume.

Rating: D. Well the crowd was into it if nothing else. The match itself sucked but when it’s a battle of managers how much can you expect? It’s less than five minutes long though and Skaaland (dang that’s hard to type) made a comeback to a nice pop so this worked fine for what it was. Match was awful though from a wrestling standpoint which is what we’re going for here.

Skaaland is a guy that was good for his time but just doesn’t hold up all that well in modern wrestling. Now that being said, the fact that it was a different era means a lot. Skaaland was nicknamed the Golden Boy so having him be a generic guy like this makes sense. Also he sold tickets for the company as one of the top faces, even though he never won a singles title. He’s an interesting piece of history but not much more than that.

On to Go Shiozaki who is best known for his time in Pro Wrestling Noah. Therefore, we’ll start over there with Shiozaki challenging Nigel McGuinness for the ROH World Title on January 20, 2008.

ROH World Title: Nigel McGuinness vs. Go Shiozaki

The mat is green which is taking a bit of getting used to. Nigel ducks a big chop to start as we’re still in the early feeling out process. The champion takes Go into the corner for some chops but this is Japan so it turns into a contest. Since that’s going nowhere we hit the mat for a chinlock on Shiozaki that lasts all of five seconds. They head to the apron where Go tries a German suplex on the apron but settles for ramming Nigel’s arm into the barricade. Another shot into the steel puts McGuinness down and a ram into the post makes him groan.

Nigel tries to sucker Go into chopping the post but Shiozaki fakes him out and chops Nigel again. The second attempt works a bit better and the chopping loses its power. This time Nigel is the one ramming his opponent’s arm into the post before bending Go’s hand around the piece of metal that connects the buckle to the ring. Back in and the champion takes Go down with chops of his own before avoiding a charge, sending Shiozaki’s arm into the post. Nigel wraps it around the post again before putting on a Fujiwara armbar.

McGuinness gets all cocky as is his custom before putting on an armtrap chinlock, similar to a Tazmission. Now he sits on Go’s back and cranks on the arm which has the fans interested. Shiozaki finally fights up but chops with the good arm, allowing Nigel to take over again. The Tower of London (Diamond Cutter off the top) is broken up so they trade forearms, with Go using the bad arm. A slam puts the champion down and a middle rope knee drop gets two.

Nigel blocks a superkick but gets taken down with a fisherman’s buster for two more. Go gets crotched on the top and now the Tower of London connects for two. There’s a seated armbar ala Leo Kruger’s GC3 but Go is quickly in the ropes. A Tower of London off the apron knocks Shiozaki senseless but it takes awhile for him to get back in, meaning Alex only gets two. Back to the seated armbar but Go makes the ropes again.

Now Nigel gets creative by loading up a hammerlock belly to back superplex but Shiozaki counters into a cross body for two. Something resembling Rolling Germans get two for Go and the final one sends Nigel into the corner. A great looking moonsault gets two and Shiozaki locks in a Kimura. Nigel makes the rope and is placed on the top, only to come back by crotching Shiozaki on the top rope. A middle rope lariat gets one as Shiozaki starts Hulking Up.

Go comes back with a BIG sitout brainbuster but can’t follow up with a cover. They slug it out from their knees before trading pinning combinations for two each. Off to an Anaconda Vice by Nigel but Go breaks free with the bad arm and gets into the ropes as well. A series of strikes get two for Go and he hits a suplex into a sitout Rock Bottom but Nigel counters the cover into another seated armbar, finally getting the tap.

Rating: B+. I liked this a lot more than I was expecting to even though I’ve always been a fan of Nigel’s work. The arm work paying off in the end helped this a lot as I was afraid they were going to keep building on that and then going absolutely nowhere with it. Good, good match here with Nigel getting to show off.

We’ll continue our international theme by going to Mexico for a four way tag team match for Shiozaki/Atushi Aoki’s AAA Tag Team Titles from Triplemania 18.

Tag Titles: Los Maniacos vs. Beer Money vs. Atsushi Aoki/Go Shiozaki vs. Nicho/Joe Lider

 

This is under elimination rules and Shiozako/Aoki are champions coming in. Los Maniacos are Silver Cain (Silver King from WCW who has lost his mask and Ultimo Gladiator). An interesting point here is that the champions are introduced by the wrong name with one guy not getting an announcement at all. Also from what I’ve read, only Konnan knew either their names or Beer Money’s names. Cain basically is something like Mr. America where everyone knows it’s Silver King but officially it’s a different guy as his name is different if that makes sense.

 

The wrong music plays for the champions as it’s Beer Money’s song instead. Ok here is Beer Money to the right music. They’re part of the Foreign Legion tonight. See how the group works now? In the back the final team is coming to the ring but some guy in a suit says Konnan is out there and not to go after them. That would be Nicho/Lider who are La Hermandad 187 (the 187 Brotherhood). Nicho is more famous as Psicosis without the mask. The Japanese guys and Lider almost get into it before the match.

 

No tagging here again it seems. This is going to take some getting used to. Roode and someone are on the floor. Also cut out the wide shots. I can’t see anyone specifically for the most part. Four in the ring and four on the floor at the moment. I think Beer Money is on the floor. It’s the Japanese guys and Los Maniacos in there at the moment. Nicho who is apparently a millionaire is down.

 

Only the champions (Japanese guys remember) are staying in the ring and on their feet the whole time. One hits a frog splash to I think Lider for two. Beer Money vs. Japanese guys at the moment. I know I’m saying Japanese guys a lot but it’s the best description I can give you in a short amount of time. Hermanadad gets in Konnan’s face with chairs but the champions jump them to save K-Dawg.

 

Beer Money works on Nicho with a wheelbarrow/Codebreaker combination. They set for the BEER MONEY thing but Hermanadad gets a pair of rollups for two each. Nicho vs. Aoki at the moment with the champion winning. Storm is ripping Cain’s mask and almost has it off. Nicho vs. Aoki in the ring at the moment and Aoki is sent to the floor. Tope con Giro by Nicho takes down Aoki.

 

La Hermanadad beats on Aoki now until Shiozaki comes in. A middle rope Backstabber out of nowhere to Shiozaki puts him out and the champions are gone! Konnan FREAKS as we’re down to three teams. Storm has a chair now and sets it up in the corner. Beer Money beats on the Hermanadad as we haven’t seen much from the masked dudes. Beer Money screws up and Roode head winds up in Storm’s crotch.

 

Los Manacos get into it again and go after 187 which is what I’m going to say instead of La Hermanadad. 187 is down but get up to hit stereo Downward Spirals to Beer Money. Storm takes what we would call a Mooregasm and then add….something which gets two on Storm. It was some double team move but it was hard to see what it was. Konnan distracts 187 again and a chair to the head of Lider by Storm ends them and we’re down to Los Manacos vs. Beer Money for the titles.

 

Tower of Doom spot doesn’t really work at all but it looked ok and got two for Roode. Nicho goes after Konnan with a chair but can’t hit him. The fans are completely behind Manacos. Cain misses a moonsault and the slingshot DDT kills Gladiator as it’s all Beer Money with the spinebuster to Cain. Heel miscommunication occurs though and it’s Gladiator vs. Storm.

 

There are two referees in the ring for some reason. Spear takes down Storm for two. Roode and Cain have gone off to find a Bingo game or something. Storm hits a powerslam for two. Superkick by Storm misses and Cain hits a Death Valley Driver for the pin and the titles. HUGE pop for that as they’re faces and Mexicans hold the titles again.

 

Rating: B-. This was a more fun match than the rest of them. While it was still hard to follow it was less difficult than the other matches. This lack of tagging thing is something I’m having issues getting used to. Either way, there was more of a flow here and I had a better idea of what was going on which is certainly a good thing.

 

We’ll close it out in Kenta vs. Go Shiozaki from November 23, 2012 in the Global League Tournament. I’m aware that Kenta usually spells his name in all caps and I’m not typing it that way. Get over it.

Kenta vs. Go Shiozaki

Kenta appears to be the big crowd favorite. They strike it out to start with Kenta getting the better of it via kicks to the chest and a running knee to the ribs. Kenta charges into a boot in the corner and is lifted up for a suplex before Go just drops him onto the floor. Go whips him into the barricade and they head back inside for a strike off until Shiozaki dropskicks him down for two.

They blow a spot in the corner where I believe Kenta was supposed to have a boot up so Go just awkwardly forearms him instead. Another attempt works a few seconds later with Kenta getting the boots up. Since this is Japan though, Go completely no sells it and hits him with a chop. There’s a half crab but Kenta is quickly in the ropes for the break. Some running forearms knock Go down and Kenta locks on an STF.

Go is about to get the rope so Kenta lets go and drops him with a knee to the ribs for two. A springboard missile dropkick and a running boot in the corner have Go in trouble but he explodes out with a clothesline. I can live with this as he stays down after the clothesline so it’s not as bad. Kenta tries an arm lock but Go comes back with a hard shot to the head for two. Kenta’s GTS (he invented it) is escaped, allowing Go to superkick him (Kenta doesn’t go down of course) and get two off a kind of chinlock suplex.

That pretty awesome suplex into a sitout Rock Bottom is almost countered into a guillotine choke but Go powers Kenta up for two. A big running lariat gets two for Go and a superkick actually puts Kenta down for a second. Go loads up a modified pumphandle slam but Kenta counters into a Hell’s Gate followed by the YES Lock, making Shiozaki tap out.

Rating: C. REALLY annoying no selling aside, this wasn’t bad. I totally get why Kenta is such a smark favorite: he’s basically a video game character as a wrestler with a lot of the American finishing moves as regular moves (yes I’m aware he was likely doing a lot of them first). The match wasn’t doing much for me as Shiozaki worked much better as a face than the heel he was playing here.

Go Shiozaki is talented but he didn’t do much to stand out for me. The McGuinnes match was good but I’ve seen Nigel have good matches with just about anybody. Shiozaki is a guy I’ve heard a few good things about but he’s not someone that I have much of a desire to watch do anything more.

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2 comments

  1. Killjoy says:

    Silver King has to re-spell his name as “Silver Kain” whenever he wrestles in Mexico City due to the athletic commission there forcing him to honor his unmasking as “Silver King”. Same thing with Psychosis who nowadays goes by that name except in Mexico City.

    Who’d think a fake sport would be forced to follow real laws like that?

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Back in the day a wrestling match wasn’t allowed to go on past either 10 or 11pm in New York City. Matches and shows would regularly be stopped if they went that long. Main events would sometimes last less than four minutes due to the rule.