29. Eddie Guerrero (WCW) vs. Shinjiro Otani (NJPW) (w/Sonny Onoo) (WCW Starrcade 1995)

Just one question…who is this Shinjiro Otani?!? I have never heard od him before! 30 years on from this PPV, he has retired now. But I’m going to have to seek out more of his matches. I chose this match to see a young Eddie Guerrero in action. While he was very good, Otani was even better!

This Starrcade is billed as ‘The World Cup of Wrestling.’ But it’s really just WCW vs NJPW…which is enough for me! I just happened to come across it on the WWE Network as I was scanning through WCW PPVs. I watched the opening bout, between Chris Benoit vs Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger. That was very good (probably write about that next time). But I saw Eddie’s name and thought ‘I’ll have to watch this bout.’ And it was equally very good (if not a tad better…).

Of course, with Shinjiro Otani, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve seen some other early Eddie stuff, and even early on in his wrestling career, he just understood the art. He’s as fluid as ever here, playing the clean babyface against the heelish Otani. No lying, cheating or stealing, just a fairly generic babyface. But he more than makes up for his lack of character between the ropes.

It sounds silly, but Otani looks nothing like a wrestler. Tall and lanky, he reminded me of Luigi (not not Italian and without a moustache). If you told me he was a high flyer, I would have laughed. But he flies just as good as Guerrero! On the mat, in the air, pure wrestling…this guy could/can do it all. After a quick Google, it looks like he was only in his early twenties here, just like Eddie! And they wrestle like they’ve been in the game for decades!

After the fantastic action in the ring, the quick ending is a disappointment. It comes out of nowhere. It does fit the match, two equals almost coming to a stalemate, but I wanted at least five more minutes. And with five more minutes, I reckon it would be ranked up there with Guerrero’s other classics, like his match with Mysterio at Halloween Havoc or against Edge on Smackdown. So close to greatness…

Hammy’s Rating: **** (out of 5)

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