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The Single-Match Swift Report: 2001 G1 Tag League Final, Tenzan/Kojima vs. Barton/Steele

The Single-Match Swift Report: 2001 G1 Tag League Final: Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima vs. Mike Barton/Jim Steele

There are, to the best of my knowledge, three kinds of Match of the Year candidates (and this applies to both the USA and Japan). There’s the first kind, which are the dead-on locks. These are the matches where it’s a disappotintment if it ISN’T a MoTYC, usually involving guys like Chris Benoit and Kenta Kobashi. Then, there are the ones that kind of sneak up on you…either one or both competitors are the middling type, or it’s a match on a minor show, something like that. Then, there are the “WTF?!” types – you know the kind, I’m sure. Now, here is a match that I would put firmly in the second category, but many on the Internet have placed in the third. I don’t see what their problem with Mike Barton (the former Bart Gunn, if you didn’t know) and Jim Steele (the former Wolf Hawkfield, but if you aren’t a NJPW or Virtua Fighter fan, that means nothing to you). They’re perfectly servicable heavyweights who do pretty well within the context of the Japanese style, and they’re exactly the sort of solid-but-unspectactular types who make a perfect foil for opponents with more flashy offenses. My main problem out of these four lies with 2001-era Tenzan, who I thought was particularly fucking awful. Headbutt, headbutt, Mongolian chop, headbutt…it’s enough to drive someone insane.

So, while many around the Net would intro this by saying: “Man, can you believe it? A Match of the Year candidate with Mike freaking Barton and Jim freaking Steele?”, I’ll do so by saying: “Man, can you believe it? A Match of the Year candidate with freaking TENZAN?”. Yep. You better believe it.

By way of background (and since I’m an unbelievably anal completist), here is each team’s road to the final (results from www.puroresufan.com):

11/30/01: Mike Barton/Jim Steele [2] beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima [0] (17:33) when Barton used the Barton Buster on Kojima.

12/1/01: Kensuke Sasaki/Dan Devine [2] beat Mike Barton/Jim Steele [2] (13:19) when Sasaki used a cross-armbreaker on Steele.
12/1/01: Osamu Nishimura/Jushin Liger [2] beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima [0] (25:57) when Liger used a shotei on Tenzan.

12/2/01: Mike Barton/Jim Steele [4] beat Hiroshi Tanahashi/Kenzo Suzuki [2] (16:50) when Steele used the Turbo Drop II on Tanahashi.
12/2/01: Masahiro Chono/Giant Silva [6] beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima [0] (12:54) when Chono pinned Tenzan after a union sky high lariat.

12/3/01: Mike Barton/Jim Steele [6] beat Osamu Nishimura/Jushin Liger [4] (20:16) when Barton used the Barton Buster on Liger.
12/3/01: Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima [2] beat Hiroshi Tanahashi/Kenzo Suzuki [2] (13:04) when Kojima used a lariat on Tanahashi.

12/701: Mike Barton/Jim Steele [7] vs. Scott Norton/Super J (the fake Sting) went to a draw (30:00) when the time limit expired.
12/7/01: Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima [4] beat Yuji Nagata/Manabu Nakanishi [4] (18:11) when Tenzan used the Tenzan Tombstone Driver on Nakanishi.

12/8/01: Yuji Nagata/Manabu Nakanishi [6] beat Mike Barton/Jim Steele [7] (18:44) when Nakanishi used an Argentine Backbreaker on Steele.
12/8/01: Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima [6] beat Kensuke Sasaki/Dan Devine [6] (14:28) when Kojima used a lariat on Devine.

12/9/01: Mike Barton/Jim Steele [9] beat Masahiro Chono/Giant Silva [6] (11:44) when Barton pinned Chono.
12/9/01: Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima [8] beat Scott Norton/Super J [7] (15:32) when Tenzan used a moonsault on Super J.

12/11/01: Semifinal: Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima beat Yuji Nagata/Manabu Nakanishi (17:25) when Kojima used a lariat on Nakanishi.

So, the story is this: the All-Japan invaders (they work for NJPW now, but not in 2001) were consistent throughout the tournament, beating the teams they were supposed to beat (and getting the upset wins over TenKoji and Chono/Silva). Not only that, but they are well-rested, and have that win over their opponents in the first match of the group stage. Conversely, the home favorites have already wrestled a 17-minute slugfest over one of the tournament favorites, have the prior loss to the invaders, and had to recover from a very slow start (including one of the biggest upset losses in G1 history, with Liger pinning Tenzan) to even make it to the semifinals.

The stage is set. Here we go, as 6,500 fans look on in the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. The gaijin come out first to Concerto Moon’s “Waltz For Masquerade”, and then the crowd favorites come out to the “TENZAN/RUSH” combo theme. With the preliminaries done, it’s on!

Steele and Tenzan start us off. Long lockup ends up in the corner, but neither guy can get the advantage – this is a pretty common opening spot in Japanese matches, as a sort of parity-establisher. Lockup again, and Tenzan goes right to the eyes to take control. He works Steele over a bit, and takes it into a headlock. Steele eventually fights out, and it goes into the no-selling of shoulderblocks bit. For those unfamiliar with puro, this is also a common occurrence – but, it’s more a fighting spirit thing as opposed to a Kevin Nash thing. With no luck there, Tenzan goes to Mongolian chops. Yurgh. As is usual for a match of this type, the next exchanges remain even and sequential, as Steele’s flying shoulderblock is repaid shortly after with a flying Mongolian chop (you see why I am SUCH a fan of the Tenzan of this time period, I’m sure). Tenzan keeps on him (believe me, I’m saving myself the trouble of writing and you the trouble of reading every stomp and punch…that’s the cure for insomnia, in my estimation). Steele reverses a whip, then gives us our first big bump of the match, as he vaults himself clear over the turnbuckle and to the floor. Guess he had the coordinates wrong on THAT bodypress. Steele kicks the guardrail in frustration, and rightfully so…he hasn’t been able to do much with Tenzan so far. Tenzan catches him coming in, and takes a second to rile up the crowd. He has Steele on the apron, and they fight over a suplex. Steele comes wrenchingly close to getting it, but Tenzan wins the battle right after. However, this whole sequence is made by Barton on the outside, as he’s living and dying on the apron with every swing in momentum of that mini-battle. To me, tag team wrestling is almost as much on the apron as it is in the ring. Finally, around the 5:00 mark or so, Steele is able to muscle Tenzan into his corner, and the tag is made.

Barton doesn’t waste any time, immediately putting the boots to Tenzan. Amrwringer into a shoulder hold, but Tenzan fights out, and goes to the eyes in order to make the tag. I’m saying this a lot, but this is also a common occurrence in Japan – in tag team matches, the teams will pair off, and each pair will have a longish segment with very little in the way of transition in between. Sometimes they just both tag out at once, often there’s only a few seconds in between, like this match.

At any rate, Kojima’s in, and goes right on the attack. He opts for a knifehand chop, which then leads into the also-common spot of trading chops, where each guy is daring the other to hit them even harder than they did last time. Barton has enough, and punches his way out. They trade some basic stuff, but Kojima wins that battle. A running somersault senton puts the home team (so to speak) firmly in control. They fight into the corner, and Kojima whips him, following with a cross-corner lariat. Keep in mind that there’s two grades of lariat in Japan…there’s the more garden-variety one that is primarily a wear-down move, and then there’s the Lariat used as a finisher (often called the Western Lariat, in honor of the great Stan Hansen). Kojima throws a fist or two, and now Tenzan’s back in.

Tenzan seems to have a sleeper countered, but he goes to the eyes yet again. But, Barton is able to fight his way out, allowing him to get to his corner. Again, for the benefit of those who don’t get to see this stuff, sometimes the pairs have two or three segments together before the match deviates from sequential order. Also, you’re not going to see a traditional “face-in-peril” segment as often as you do in the States. And, when you do, you’re certainly not going to see it (or the corresponding hot tag) 4 minutes into a match. It’s certainly not for the ADD-types, that’s for sure. Anyway, Barton tags out to Steele.

Steele gets the advantage, and a back elbow off an Irish whip gets the first two-count of the match (8:00 or so in). He tags right out to Barton, and we’re treated to a battle of the chops, knifehand vs. Mongolian varities. How is anyone supposed to take the latter seriously when the first sounds like it hurts so damn bad (and, by all accounts, actually does)? Maybe the Mongolian chops really do hurt, but I can’t take Kin Korn Karn’s big move in the NES game Pro Wrestling seriously. Sorry. It’s definitely a battle between him and Fighter Hayabusa as to who was the lowest of the enhancement talent in THAT federation. Anyway, Tenzan wins, and tags out to Kojima.

With that, we have our first neat double-team of the match, as Kojima enters via slingshit elbowdrop, to match Tenzan’s falling headbutt. That gets 2, but Tenzan spends too much time jawing with Steele. Kojima holds Barton up, and in very American fashion, Tenzan ends up lariating his own partner. A big left hand to the gut keeps Kojima down long enough for Barton to get the tag to Steele.

Steele hits a few HHH-style facebusters, and connects with a Russian legsweep for 2. He then moves from Helmsley to Hennig (it’s even consistent alphabetically!) with the rolling necksnap, and springs right out of that to knock Tenzan off the apron. Meanwhile, Masahiro Chono is doing color…the significance of that is that TenKoji were both in…shit. I’m not sure if it was still nWo Japan at this point, or if Chono had already quit and taken everyone not named Mutoh to form Team 2000. Probably the latter, this being in 2001 and all. Nice elbowdrop gets 2. Now, around the 10:00 mark, this is the first sustained offense that either team has had up to this point.

Tag to Barton who goes for (and gets) first a trifecta of bodyslams, then a hat trick of elbowdrops. That gets 2. Kojima just misses a tag, as Barton tauntingly and methodically beats him down. The crowd is starting to wake up now, with the first “Ko-ji-ma!” chant of the match. Kojima fights back, but some elbowsmashes take care of that. Barton calls for the Barton Buster (fall-forward powerbomb), but Kojima flips out, and gets the desperation backdrop suplex.

That lets him get the tag to Tenzan, who comes in as the American style House O’Fire, except with his supremely crappy offense. He does do the one halfway decent wear-down move he had back then, though – the one where he has the guy in the corner, he goes up to the top rope, then falls forward with his knee against the guy’s head. That gets 2. Tenzan stomps away, but runs into a spinning sideslam for 2. As Tenzan is rolling out of the ring, Kojima makes the mistake of looking away…so Barton clobbers him, and in highly unusual fashion (for Barton, anyway), comes off the top with a plancha to the floor on Tenzan. Barton’s in first, and although the camera misses it, he makes the tag to Steele.

Barton goes back to the floor to clobber Tenzan some more, while Steele takes out Kojima. The crowd is getting behind Tenzan, who is rolled into the ring, and immediately covered for two very close two-counts. See, while the big dives to the outside are mainly throwaway moves here in the States, those near-falls (especially when the cover comes around 20-30 seconds after the actual move) make the dive really mean something. Steele goes to the camel clutch, but Kojima quickly has enough of screaming for Tenzan to escape, and makes the save himself. Steele hangs on though, and it takes two more stomps to finally pry him loose (fitting in with the theme of the recap, this too is a common puro “fighting spirit” spot).

Steele makes the tag. They double-team Tenzan for a bit, but Barton is about to be on the losing end (again) of a chop battle before he elbows his way out of it. Nice hanging vertical suplex from the gaijin gets 2. Puro newcomers, notice how we’re at the 13:00 mark or so, and the most devastating moves have been lariats, a backdrop suplex, and a basic plancha. This is the heavyweight “Strong Style”…it’ll pick up later, I promise. By way of a warning, if this seems like it would bore you, you might want to hunt down the junior-heavyweight sprints instead. Find a nice 6-man tag with guys like Liger and Kanemoto, and you’ll be set. Anyway, Barton has tagged back out to Steele.

Tenzan shocks him right away with a quick sunset flip for 2, but Steele forces him into the corner, and connects with three straight running lariats. He follows by spiking him with a DDT, as the crowd begins to get into it again, urging Tenzan on. Steele connects again with the DDT, but he wants a third (and why not, him and Barton have been doing it all match). Tenzan tries to fight it, but gets planted again in short order. This also makes sense, because both the Turbo Drop II (spinning Doctor Bomb) and the original Turbo Drop (tilt-a-whirl powerslam off of the ropes, kinda like a Oklahoma Stampede, now that I think of it) work the head/neck. So does Barton’s big moves, for that matter. That gets 2, so Steele knocks Kojima off the apron, seemingly out of frustration more than anything else. He whips Tenzan into the ropes, and sure enough, the Turbo Drop follows. It only gets 2, which isn’t shocking – Japanese fans tend to be extremely knowledgable, and if they don’t buy the move as a finish, it’s probably because there’s no way it’s going to be one. Sure enough, Tenzan kicks out, but it does get the first “uaaaaaahhhh”-with-foot stomping that you may have read about in Mick Foley’s book. Steele says this is it, and goes for the Turbo Drop II. Kojima tries to save, but Steele elbows him away, and then succeeds in hitting the TD II. It gets a VERY close two before Kojima can make the diving soccer goalie-style save.

The place is ROCKING now as Barton jumps in to incapacitate Kojima with a lariat and a sleeperhold. Steele and Tenzan are still legal, of course. It looks like he’s going for the TD II again, but he takes it into an Argentine backbreaker (like A-Train’s finisher, but without the dropping part). Kojima breaks away from Barton (the camera misses how, but you can hear Barton hit the mat), and makes the save. Not satisfied, he gives Steele the Koji Cutter to boot. The crowd is urging Tenzan in again, but he’s all the way across the ring from Kojima, and Barton and Steele (although both are prone), are both in his way. Steele is up first, but he runs into a Mountain Bomb (basically a back bodydrop, but you’re holding onto the guy instead of launching him into the air). Barton is still down, so Tenzan is finally able to make the second hot tag of the match, this time to Kojima.

Elbowsmash for Steele! Elbowsmash for Barton! Dropkick on Steele! He sends Barton out, allowing him to get the cross-corner jumping elbowsmash-then-Bakayaro elbow (diving elbow drop with crowd chant-a-long beforehand) sequence for two. They trade elbowsmashes (keep in mind that the Bakayaro elbow isn’t a finisher of any sort…it’s more for the crowd participation than anything else), but Kojima wins the battle with an inverted atomic drop, followed by a dragonscrew legwhip. Koji’s too tired to follow up, though, and Steele manages to vault onto the top rope for his flying shoulderblock. He knocks Tenzan off the apron (smart strategy, as he could have come in and prevented the tag otherwise), and makes the tag…thus ending our one heel-in-peril segment.

Steele slams Kojima down, and they both go up top. They both hit flying splashes, and Steele neutralizes Tenzan as Barton covers for 2. Barton gets his big left hook into the body, while Steele still has Tenzan tied up. Barton goes for, and gets, the Barton Buster. Cover, but Kojima kicks out at 2, in the closest near-fall yet. Osaka is going APESHIT as Barton says this is it. The “Ko-ji-ma” chants start up again, as Barton runs the ropes. This has disaster for the gaijin written all over it (if you follow this stuff long enough) and sure enough, Kojima damn near decapitates him with the Western Lariat.

Both guys tag out, and for those skipping ahead, this is the denouement of the match. Both guys lariat each other at the same time, then bounce off the ropes and do so again. The third time isn’t any more fruitful than the last two, but on the fourth, Tenzan is finally smart enough to opt for the kneel kick (not a knee kick, this is a version of a spin kick) instead of a lariat. That gets 2, before Barton saves. Kojima cancels him out though, and then Tenzan comes over to help Kojima take him out with the 3-D (not sure what their name for it was…I’m going to go with “union Koji Cutter” and move on with my life). Barton’s pretty much done, leaving Steele in alone with TenKoji. Kojima bounces off the ropes, and hammers him with a Western Lariat to the back of the head. Steele doesn’t go down, but he does walk right into the Tenzan Tombstone Driver…

…which he kicks out of at about 2 and nine-zillionths. The crowd pops pretty huge in surprise and appreciation for Steele’s fighting spirit. However, the last of our theme of common puro occurences comes into play here. Very often at the end of a match, a guy will take a series of finishers, and kick out of all of them. But, then a basic move (or a lesser finisher) will then be enough to finish the guy off. Unlike America, Strong Style isn’t a Race to a Finisher…it’s a race to hit enough of them to finally wear the other guy down. I like the latter better, to be completely honest. Anyway, Tenzan comes off the top with a moonsault, and that keeps Steele down for the three count, ending what turned out to be a pretty gallant challenge from the gaijin invaders. The resulting crowd pop shows how effective Barton and Steele were in this role – if the fans didn’t buy them as a threat to TenKoji, they wouldn’t react the way they did to this finish, that’s for damn sure.

Kojima and Tenzan celebrate like they’ve won the World Cup, the fans are rocking out, and a lot of very surprised people have to admit that this match was pretty fucking awesome. First of all, I’m biased towards finishes…if the beginning and middle of a match don’t actively take away from the experience, then a brilliantly-executed finish is usually all it takes to make me really like a match. However, this was several notches above that, in my opinion. The gaijin team were more than servicable during the face-in-peril segments, and they timed the big moves exactly right (and spaced them out well) to maximize their impact on the crowd and to the quality of the match. And, while Tenzan (and even Kojima, to a much lesser extent) are certainly not going to win any Best Offense in Japan awards, they played their part perfectly, too. This was a great Strong Style match with insane crowd heat (especially towards the end), one or two people working over their heads, and an excellent finish. This was definitely worthy of being a G1 Final, and when you factor in the fact that TenKoji already had wrestled for 17 minutes earlier in the evening, you have to tip your hat to this match that much more.

2001 G1 Tag League Final: Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima beat Mike Barton/Jim Steele (24:02) when Tenzan used a moonsault on Steele.



The only thing better than Arsenal winning the EPL title is Arsenal winning the EPL title AT Shite Hart Lane.

It's not like the Scum need any more reason to suffer an inferiority complex, but the way we stomp these fucks down time after time after time is something to savor. Awesome.


The mainstream sports media are idiots, Exhibit # 193,191,948,827

Bill Clement breaks down the Canadiens-Lightning series. I break down Bill Clement. I'll be in bold, because, well, it's my blog, dammit.


Montreal is a defense-first team while Tampa Bay relies more on offense,

A ridiculous over-generalization that discounts the fact that Montreal is rolling on offense, and have more dangerous players than you'd think. The US media refuses to admit how good this team is, I feel mainly because it renders so many of their preseason predictions (hell, their playoff predictions, too) so very, very wrong. On Tampa's side, they were one of the best defensive teams in the league...they're strong everywhere. Just because you haven't heard of these guys doesn't mean they aren't gifted. Actually, both teams are pretty strong in both departments.

but the Canadiens have the most dominant line in the playoffs right now in Alexei Kovalev, Saku Koivu and Richard Zednik.

You goddamn right.

It remains to be seen whether they can match that in the second round, though, and until they do, the advantage goes to Tampa Bay and its six 20-goal scorers.

Uh-huh. There's no rhyme, reason, or analysis to this statement. Opinion is fine...hell, it's great, even. But, don't mark something as analysis if you're going to have some guy just saying shit off the top of his head, with nothing even close to substantial to back it up. The Canadiens' top line is hot RIGHT NOW, while the Lightning's top line didn't have much of a test against the Islanders' defense. Their offense vs. the Isles' defense is like you or me vs. a cardboard cutout. Sure, maybe the Habs will cool off some, but to take what amounts to an awkward stab at it in an analytical "breakdown" is silly and not worth the reader's time. For what it's worth, I feel that there has to be some measure of incumbency here...you have to assume that inertia will hold true until someone or something proves different. That goes double for this situation, where the Habs had 7 tough games, while the Bolts sat on their asses for a week or so after annhilating one of the few real scrub teams in the tournament in 5 games.

Martin St. Louis
He got better with each game in the first round, including scoring the series-clinching goal in overtime of Game 5, and he is the fuel for the Tampa Bay engine.

Yep. I'll give him this much.

Alexei Kovalev
He has been on fire since his game-ending gaffe in Game 4. He scored five combined goals in Games 3-6 and had two assists in Game 7, making him the hot hand and the guy to watch. Amazing what a little guilt can do for a player.

Good LORD. He was the best player in the series from Game 2 on, long before the "gaffe", which consisted of getting slashed on the hand, combined with a little bad luck. But, since when does a guy like Clement let facts get in the way of a good story?

Tampa Bay power play vs. Montreal penalty kill

Tampa got just two goals in 23 power-play chances in the first round, but the Lightning has had some time to recover and practice that part of the game over the last few days, and that will be a big help.

I see. Because they don't work on that at all in practice during the series. Riiiiight.

Montreal's penalty killers did not face a stiff test from Boston in the first round

Yep. That Nylander-Bergeron-whoever line sure did suck for them, huh? Maybe, just maybe, Montreal's penalty killers did their job, huh? But, someone like Clement (who I believe only called one game in the series) probably just looks at a media guide, sees the regular season stats (and the Habs' relative lack of size), and then formulates a conclusion with, again, no real basis. They weren't so good in the regular season, but then again, a 7 beating a 2 (as often happens, as does 8 beating a 1 sometimes) shows just how much the regular season means when the playoffs come around.

so they might not be ready for a group led by Dave Andreychuk -- the all-time leader in power-play goals -- which has the ability to overpower teams.

Fair enough...Andreychuk is a hell of a player, but again, there has to be some measure of incumbency here. The Habs' penalty kill is rolling, and until someone proves different, it makes more sense to assume that they're still rolling.

Montreal power play vs. Tampa Bay penalty kill

The Canadiens don't have a point man who is dangerous enough to make their power play a big-time threat.

Right here, Clement shows that he has no idea of anything related to this Montreal team. There's some guy...Sheldon something-or-other. Hardest shot at the Skills Competition this year. Scored a crapload of goals before getting injured mid-season. I wonder if Billy Boy has ever heard of him.

Tampa faced just 16 shorthanded situations against the Islanders and should get better as it gets more time on the kill, so the edge goes to the Lightning.

GAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH. First off, it's the ISLANDERS. Second of all, it's equally likely (if not even more plausible) that the Canadiens' speedy forwards will have a pretty good shot with an extra man, especially against a team that is a little smaller than Boston was. If he wanted to say that Tampa is a threat to score shorthanded goals, then fine -- it's something I'm horrified about with this series. But, that'd be actual analysis, and I guess that's just WACKY...especially for MTV...err...I mean ESPN.

Montreal's Jose Theodore is a former Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP and Vezina Trophy winner as the league's best goalie, and he got back to that form as the Canadiens overcame a 3-1 deficit in the first round. Tampa Bay's Nikolai Khabibulin was more consistent on a game-to-game basis, though, and how he responds against Theodore could be a defining moment for him. But Theodore gets the advantage based on his résumé.

Uh-huh. The only past performance that means half a dog turd is in this year's playoffs, and even that isn't going to determine how the goaltenders are going to play. What should have been mentioned is that Khabibulin was never really tested against the Isles, wile Theodore almost always faced 30 shots or more in the Bruins series.


Tampa Bay's John Tortorella seems to be pushing the right buttons at the right time, while Montreal's Claude Julien has seen everything he touched turn to gold at the end of the Boston series. Had Montreal not turned things around and completed the first comeback from a 3-1 deficit in franchise history, the advantage would go to Tortorella, but Julien is on a roll when it comes to matchups and handling adversity, so that makes it too close to call.

Most of this is fine, but if Montreal hadn't turned things around, then we wouldn't be having this fucking discussion, now would we? GODDAMMIT.

The rest Tampa Bay has gotten since eliminating the Islanders will help the Bolts physically and mentally, and it also gave them a chance to work out the kinks on the power play. The Canadiens are facing a quick turnaround after eliminating Boston, and the freshness of the Lightning will be tough to overcome.

Right...a team with a little rust after a relative vacation is going to have the advantage over a team still adrenalized from being the first Canadiens team in forever to make franchise history in anything. Does Clement have an intern actually write these things?

Tampa Bay in six.

Fair enough. I say Habs in seven.



Go away, Boston Bruins. No one likes YOUR style.


One down...

Kilmarnock 0-1 Celtic (Stilian Petrov 32)

And with that, Celtic are the champions of Scotland once again. I wonder how those tossers on the other side of the river are feeling right about now.


What a night.

What an awesome night.

The Metros stuff the DC Scum, and now, the Canadiens use some timely empty net goals to take Boston to Game 7, winning 5-2 (though that scoreline does flatter the Habs...it really was a 3-2 win). Combine that with Arsenal and Celtic set to win their championships, and I'm loving life right now.

Metrostars 3-2 DC Scum

Wow, that was some experience.

First off, the height of ridiculousness, and Exhibit A in why New Jersey sucks so bad in general. I have to take a bus from Weehawken, NJ to the Port Authority bus terminal in NYC, to get the bus to Giants Stadium, which is like 10-15 miles away (or something like that) away from Weehawken. There is no way that I know of to get between the two otherwise. And, because the Nets were tipping off against the Knicks the same time as the Metros kicked off with the Scum, the Port Authority was a fucking nightmare.

Oh, and of course, since Freddy Fucking Adu was playing tonight, that meant that the Metros probably outdrew the Nets by a pretty healthy margin. All told, 31,000 showed up at Giants Stadium, half of them there just to see the new guy on the other fucking team...but, if it helps the sport in this country, I'll learn to deal with it.

Now, I got half-season tickets from my brother and his girlfriend as a Christmas present, and the seat itself is great. It's like 20 yards away from midfield, and like 15 or 16 rows up from the field. I can easily read player names on the back, see facial expressions, lip-read a little (especially when the ref yells at people), so in that respect, it's awesome. And, the knowledge level out with the casual fans isn't as horrendous as I thought it would be...there were three Jamaican dudes in front of me who definitely know the game (even if they complain a little too much), and there's a lovely older couple that sit on my right-hand side, who have been going since season two. They were awesome...they knew their shit, didn't yell at the team for every little thing they did wrong, and were nice, pleasant people...perfect fans, really.

But, oh my fucking god, the guy on my left is going to die before the All-Star Game. Picture Larry David, from Curb Your Enthusiasm. Give him curly gray hair, kinda white-afroish, but balding in front. Give him an even more grating, annoying voice than Larry David's. Now, imagine him loudly complaining at every turnover, every missed defensive coverage 70 yards away from our own goal, shit, everything, really. The guy literally does not shut up for a single consecutive minute of the game...it really made the experience almost unbearable. I have a really long fuse, and my friends will tell you that I'm generally a happy-go-lucky, pleasant kinda guy. But my god, I swear if this keeps up, I will jiu-jitsu choke him and throw him into the opposition's bench (which I could easily do) by the 5th game I spend there.

Luckily, it's only half-season passes, so I can spend the other half standing in my usual section (behind the home goal) with the really crazy fans, the Empire Supporters Club (www.empiresc.com). I kinda missed being there today, especially because it was the first derby day of the year.

Enough of that stuff, what about the game? And, what about me continuing to rip off the late, lamented @FC Online Fanzine?

DC passed very well in the first half, and Dema Kovalenko really had a blinder -- he terorized Craig Ziadie down the left flank for the entire 45. Their goal, when it came, was inevitable to say the least. It was a kind of gristly bundled-in thing, but they count just as much as the Owen wonder strikes. Also, it should be mentioned that as much as they can be dicks on the bigsoccer.com boards, the DC fans who made the trip really did contribute to the atmosphere. Both the Screaming Chickens (OK, OK, the Screaming Eagles) and La Norte were represented, leaving only Barra Brava without a presence for them. They were in pretty fine voice most of the way, even as the tide turned in the second half. They're still wankers, though!

The Metros managed to survive the first 45, and whatever Jeff Bradley said, it fucking WORKED. The boys came out storming in the second half. Joselito Vaca and Amado Guevara didn't have the best first half in the world, but they bossed the midfield from the second half whistle on. Mike Magee had to come off at the interval for some reason, so new Jamaican striker Fabien Taylor came on to partner with John Wolyenic up front. All he did was score two goals to give us the lead, and they were no less than we (and he) deserved. They weren't any prettier than DC's first (the second being a pretty big softie from their backup keeper, Warren), but they were exactly the kind of garbage goal that we never got last season. Then, up 2-1, John Wolyenic did the same thing he did last year, score a Goal of the Year contender. Amado Guevara whipped in a thunderous cross, and Woly got on the end of it with a diving header that no keeper on Earth could stop. He also crashed into the goalpost doing it, showing exactly the kind of character guy he is. It's odd, because he's more the prototypical center forward, scoring with his head and whatnot. But man, awesome, awesome goal.

Oh, yeah, then that Freddy Adu guy came on, and everyone cheered. Good god. HE'S ON THE OTHER FUCKING TEAM. All credit to the kid, though. He was in the right place at the right time, and made no mistake when an easy tap-in chance came his way from a pretty nice cross from....Jaime Moreno, I think. I don't know HOW he was left that open, but still, he took his chance well. As someone said, everyone won today (except for DC, but fuck them)....we won cause we won the game, and MLS won cause Freddy Adu scored, which is all SportsCenter is going to show from the game, of course.

Fine. Fuck Adu, fuck SportsCenter, fuck DC United, and fuck SportsCenter again. We're 2-0 now, rolling along very nicely, and hopefully we'll tonk New England too when they come to town next weekend. I'll be in Section 101 (the Empire End), chanting "You suck, asshole!" during the other team's goal kicks. Man, I've missed that!


It's been a while...

...since I posted anything of substance. I'm just so tired these days...my job requires so much focus (and I even screwed up some things, so I'm ducking and covering and home it wasn't really bad), that I'm just mentally and physically drained all the time.

That said, some things.

-- I was at the Mets-Braves game last night, and it was a great time. My brother had, of all things, a knife on him as we got off the subway. So, after some thinking, he stashed it Grand Theft Auto style right where the "B-1" sign in the parking lot was...there's a little square of weeds surrounding the pole, and it was enough to conceal it. Of course, after all that, they don't search us at ALL heading into the Stadium. HA! The seats were right behind home plate in the second section up, and it was a fun little ballgame.

-- While that was going on, the Canadiens demolished the Bruins 5-1 to shut up not only their fans, but some of the worst ones of ours, too. I was really happy to see that The Best Canadien In The Playoffs, Alexei Kovalev, scored AGAIN. It not only helped the team, it also went a little way towards shutting the media pukes up. Fuck yo' sensationalist story, reporter-fuck! I'm Alexei Kovalev, BITCH! Even if the Habs don't win the series, they showed what they're truly made of. I'm proud of this team, and what they've accomplished already.

-- Hey, the Calgary Flames are looking good, eh? I TOLD you so.

-- The Giants got Jason Schmidt back tonight. All I can say is THANKFUCKINGGOD.

-- Boston's kicking the shit out of the Yankees right now. Neat.

-- Arsenal demolished Leeds United 5-0 to go 10 points clear up at the top of the EPL. If my calculations are correct, 5 points will clinch at least a tie at the top, and I'm pretty sure our goal difference will be better than Chelsea's. Two wins, with 5 matches left to go, and we are the champions. Awesome. Meanwhile, Celtic has the SPL pretty much locked up, so I can't complain at ALL about this season, even with the various disappointments in the Champions' League, FA Cup, and UEFA Cup.

-- The Deftones' "White Pony" is a fucking AWESOME record.

-- Chris Benoit and Eddy Guerrero are still the WWF World Champions. Nope. Hasn't gotten old.



...say what you want about the guy who, I state again, has been our best player in the series by miles, but to be SO sure that he "feigned the injury" right before the Bruin goal.....it's the kind of thing that makes me want to tour the media centers of the world with a chainsaw.

Sit your fat ass down, reporter-boy, and until you've taken a slash from even a pee-wee hockey player, keep your idiotic opinions to yourself. Thanks.


Isn't this a bitch?

Well, that's that. Of all the ways to lose, this one has to be the worst possible. I can't believe I have to somehow go to sleep and then go to work tomorrow after this. I want to crawl in a fucking hole and stay there for about a week.

Make no mistake -- Alexei Kovalev was our best player by a long, long, LONG way. Sure, Ribiero had the two goals, but Alex was our biggest threat all evening, and he got the big goal early on in the game. But for this to happen....I suppose we could blame a lot of things...(by the way, if you didn't see it, Alexei Kovalev got slashed by a Bruin, he clutched his hand, Sheldon Souray crashed into him, allowing Glen Murray to nip in for the inevitable goal to end the game (and, I feel, our season...Boston isn't losing at home with the series on the line).

You could blame Jose Theodore, who gave up two more soft goals. But, he also made 40-something saves, so what more can you ask of someone, really?

You could blame the referee for not calling the (very obvious) slash. But, Montreal were no angels in the overtime either. And, they did call the penalty on Murray earlier in the overtime.

You could blame the Canadiens' power play, which has been anemic for ages now. But, you could conversely say that Boston was especially good penalty killing.

You could blame Souray, as that wasn't the first bad mistake he made during the game. But, Stephane Quintal got hurt much earlier, and the Habs were stuck with only 5 defensemen for the rest of the way...they had to be exhausted.

You could blame dumb fucking luck. But, I think that's an insult to a Boston team who played a tremendous game.

I choose to blame Andrew Raycroft -- the kid is the real fucking deal.

That said, 99% of me feels like we have nothing to be ashamed of...the Canadiens fought with everything they had, and I think overall, the team did themselves proud. I would say without a shadow of a doubt that we're as good a hockey team as the Boston Bruins are. Hockey just fucking sucks sometimes.

I want to say I still believe we can win it, but now, even I (who has done NOTHING but stand up for and believe in this team all season) concede defeat, even though I know that the team itself won't. They'll fight just as hard as they have since Game 2, but it's just a matter of not showing up in Game 1 combined with this most unfortunate of breaks giving the Bruins an insurmountable lead. However, this is a giant step ahead for us...Bob Gainey will build on this, and make us even better next season. Maybe we'll even have home ice in the first round for the first time in forever.

Good season. I already can't wait for next year.

22 fucking seconds away...

Well, here it is. This is the season right here, boys. 3-1 up at home after 2 periods, you should always, ALWAYS win the goddamn game. Oddly, I thought it would have been The Worst Alexei Kovalev Penalty Ever that did it if anything was, but it was just Andrei Markov getting outmuscled by Knuble down low, and then an improbably great backhand from said Bruin.

So now, it goes to overtime. Win, and it's 2-2 heading out to Beantown. Lose, and it's 3-1, and the series is most likely over. This reminds me of the game in the Buffalo series in 1993, when Yuri Khymelev scored with seconds left to tie the score at 3-3, and then Montreal had to get a clutch OT goal to win it. Of course, we were up 3-0 in that series, and Dominik Hasek was still early in his career.

Why yes, I am clutching at straws.



Great, GREAT game from the boys tonight. The first two periods were basically OWNED by Alex Kovalev and the Canadiens, and despite the terrible two goals Theodore gave up, he was fucking outstanding for us every other time he was called upon.

Hopefully, we can do an even better job of converting on scoring chances in Game 4 (really, this game should have been like 6-2 or 7-3, but Raycroft was awesome, and we also missed the net entirely too much), and then come back into Beantown with some real momentum going.

But, man, that third period felt like someone was using my nerve endings for violin strings. Can we win the next one like 7-1 or something? PLEASE?! :)

Now, I can watch the Flames and Canucks and not feel a lump in the pit of my stomach for the entire game. :)

By the way, congratulations to Phil Mickelson for finally winning a major. It's not that I feel overly sorry for a guy who plays golf for a living, with a gorgeous wife, shitloads of money and three cute kids...but, the scumbag sports media are going to be without someone to character assassinate for a few days, and that makes me about as happy as I can get. On top of that, it's nice to see someone other than Tiger winning. Excellent.

T-Minus 2 minutes or so...

In some year or another, the Montreal Canadiens were the lower seed in a playoff series vs. a powerful hockey club, one that went 47-27-10 (104 pts) in the regular season. You see, that's some coincidence, because this year's Boston Bruins had...survey says...104 points.

Against said hockey club, the Canadiens went on the road and got beat twice -- once in a close 3-2 game, and again in a 4-1 rout in which the score flattered our heroes.

In Game 3 of that series, the Canadiens came home in a game they HAD to win, in a game that nobody THOUGHT they could. The Canadiens won that game 2-1, won the next one, won the next one, and then kicked the ever-loving shit out of the other team 6-2 to win the series 4 games to 2.

The other team was the Quebec Nordiques, the year was 1993, and I hear the Canadiens did kinda-sorta all right in those playoffs.

Don't lose faith, friends. Our team needs us to be 100% behind them, and I believe in this team EXACTLY as much as I said I believed in them while we were on that giant winning streak. I honestly believe this team can win the whole fucking thing.



Mixed bag this afternoon

Worse news first: Villareal actually led Celtic 1-0 at the half (AT Celtic Park!) before Ghod finally equalized with a header off a cross from Didier Agathe towards the hour mark or so. Well, it could be worse. Being down 1-0, and an away goal at that, would probably have been murder to our chances of making the semifinals. However, 1-1 isn't so bad, especially because Ghod can score at any time, in any stadium, against anyone. And, keep in mind that the Bhoys had to go to Barcelona and somehow get a result at the daunting Nou Camp. They did, and that's what got them to the tie with Villareal in the first place. I'm not proclaiming victory by any means, just because we got past a better side from the same league in the previous round. Far from it, actually. But, with Henrik Larsson around, with David Marshall playing so well in net, with a great midfield anchored by Stilian Petrov, yeah, I kinda like our chances.

The better news by far came from Highbury, where a potential misery-inducing match against Liverpool instead became just the tonic the club, the players and us fans needed after the devastating defeats in the FA Cup semifinal and the Champions' League quarterfinal. Actually, the Scousers were up 2-1 at the break, thanks to Sami Hyppia (perhaps one of the planet's most underrated center halves) and some guy named Owen or something. However, Thierry Henry - as he has done so often this season already - absolutely REFUSED to let us lose, and a stunning hat trick led the way to a 4-2 victory for the Gunners. To put four past old boring defensive Liverpool is good enough on any day, but on a day where any kind of positive result was mandatory if this club was going to have anything left in the drive to make sure the championship doesn't get away THIS year, it's like we've won the Planet Football lottery.

Maybe this will shut up not only all those gloating Mank and Chelski supporters, but also our own moaning, whining contingent of fair-weather fans too.


Links section...

...do I have everyone on ITVR now?

Good GODDAMN, that was awful...

Dear Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club:

The first game of a series counts, you know. Please show up for Game Two. Thanks.


The Management.

Dear Alexei Kovalev:

Please contribute something positive to the Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club. Thanks.


The Management.


Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

Ever have one of those sporting experiences where you feel like someone drove a sledgehammer into your gut?

Arsenal crashed out of the Champions' League to, of all teams, fucking Chelsea. Godfuckingdammit. I know the run had to end sometime, but to concede in the 87th minute to a fucking fullback against your local fucking rivals in a match where all we had to do was fucking draw 0-0 or win the fucking thing to advance into the semifinals against fucking Monaco (who I had a feeling about, by the way...I wish I had verbalized it. Shit, I wish I had bet money on it)...FUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKK. The worst part was that I was at work, so I had to keep going and just do my shit afterwards. I didn't even have a chance to break something or at least pound a Guinness.

That said, even if Arsenal manages to choke in all THREE championships that they should have won (I still think we'll hang on to the EPL, but it'll probably end up being way more interesting than it should be), I refuse to be one of those fair-weather cunts that are on board and bragging when we're unbeaten in 20-something, but bails and starts slagging off the players, the manager, the fucking groundskeeper and the concession workers when we lose a big game. Look, last season still hurts. Between Arsenal and Celtic, I was on the receiving end of a metaphorical kick to the groin not once, but twice. Even if it happens to Arsenal again, and three times at that (at least Celtic has theirs pretty much locked up), I am still very thankful for getting to witness the amazing football and awesome determination they showed in staying unbeaten for so long. How DARE anyone bitch about losing in the Champions' League when we had to win in Milan to get to the second round in the first place? And, as much as we hate Manchester United, as much as we hate Chelsea, they're still unbelievably good sides, and sometimes, they're going to be the better team on the day. That's just the game we know and love. Sometimes it's sweet, sometime it kicks you in the nads. Whatever happens the rest of this season, I'm proud of this team, this manager, and (most) of our fellow supporters.

There's still the EPL to win, and while the Manks will probably win the FA Cup, the Champions' League is still no guarantee for Chelsea...not by a LONGSHOT, not while AC Milan still survives. So, this season is definitely not a lost cause, and we still have a very strong argument for being the best that England has to offer. COME ON YOU GUNNERS!


NHL predictions

The Matchups

1. Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 8. New York Islanders
2. Boston Bruins vs. 7. Montreal Canadiens
3. Philadelphia Flyers vs. 6. New Jersey Devils
4. Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 5. Ottawa Senators

1. Detroit Red Wings vs. 8. Nashville Predators
2. San Jose Sharks vs. 7. St. Louis Blues
3. Vancouver Canucks vs. 6. Calgary Flames
4. Colorado Avalance vs. 5. Dallas Stars

1st Round:

Tampa Bay 4, NY Islanders 1
Montreal 4, Boston 3
New Jersey 4, Philadelphia 1
Toronto 4, Ottawa 2
Detroit 4, Nashville 0
San Jose 4, St. Louis 1
Calgary 4, Vancouver 2
Dallas 4. Colorado 3


Montreal 4, Tampa Bay 3
New Jersey 4, Toronto 2
Calgary 4, Detroit 3
Dallas 4, San Jose 2


Montreal 4, New Jersey 2
Calgary 4, Dallas 3


Calgary 4, Montreal 2

It's on like neckbone...



Bring it on, Boston bitches. We did once, we'll do it again.


Sorry for the non-updating going on...

...but once I get into the groove of the new job, I should be fine again.

Some random things, though.

1. Manchester United are a bunch of cheating cunts.
2. Asking any soccer team to play four games in a week is ridiculous. If it were the beloved-by-frontrunners-everwhere Manks in our situation, the FA would have been tripping over themselves to make things easier for them.
3. Montreal went from threatening for fourth place to needing a point against Buffalo to ensure that they don't finish in 8th. Tampa Bay is waiting for wheoever finishes in the final playoff spot, while (at the moment) Ottawa waits for the 7th-place team. Personally, I'd much much much much rather play Ottawa. 5 losses in a row at this stage of the season is unacceptable, and they better fucking wake up.
4. Celtic, with two late goals to salvage a 2-2 draw with Heart of Midlothian, is now unbeaten at home in...I think it's 76 straight games now. That is simply amazing, no matter how weak the league is.
5. Downside of Freddy Adu joining MLS: Yeah, stadiums selling out or getting close to it is nice, but a) The novelty isn't going to last, especially because there's no way a 14-year old is going to be anything other than "average" (make no mistake, this is only so he can get regular games and develop for a few years until Europe comes calling), and b) I SO cannot wait for the droves of clueless soccer moms asking me (I got half-season tickets as a gift, so for half the home games, I'm going to be away from the knowledge and craziness of the Empire End) what offsides is, and why hasn't Freddie Adu scored 5 goals yet, even though he's playing for the DC Scum.


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