The Many
Faces of Mutoh
The Ninja vs. Tim Horner
NWA Southeastern United States Junior Heavyweight Championship Challenge on September 1st, 1986

Event: NWA Battle of the Belts III
Location: Daytona Beach, FL
Announced Attendance: 

Tie-up, roll-up by Horner but it gets a two count. Side headlock by Horner into a hammerlock but Ninja does a handstand flip to get out of it. Side headlock by Horner, Irish whip by Ninja but Horner avoids his lariat and hits a hiptoss. Tie-up, wristlock by Horner and he hits a fireman's carry takeover. Horner picks up Ninja and armdrags him back down to the mat. Horner knees Ninja in the arm before re-applying the hold, Ninja tries to slam out of it but Horner keeps the arm lock applied. Hammerlock by Horner, Ninja pushes Horner into the corner and does a flip kick to Horner as he backs off. Irish whip by Ninja and he hits a back bodydrop. Snapmare by Ninja and he goes for a reverse chinlock, but Horner quickly gets out of it and applies a hammerlock. Inside cradle by Horner but it gets a two count. Leg snap by Horner and he punches Horner into the corner, snapmare by Ninja and he applies a reverse chinlock. Headscissors by Ninja, but he releases it after a moment and chops Horner in the head. Vertical suplex by Ninja, cover, but it gets a two count. Sleeperhold by Ninja but he releases the hold, Ninja picks up Horner and chokes him over the top rope. Headbutt by Ninja and he delivers an elbow drop. Punch to the gut by Horner but Ninja knocks him back and hits a back kick. Scoop slam by Ninja and he hits an elbow drop. Cover, but it gets a two count. Reverse chinlock by Ninja but Horner elbows out of it. Punches by Horner, Irish whip, and Horner hits a back elbow. Horner picks up Ninja, Irish whip, and Horner delivers a dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Vertical suplex by Horner, cover, but again it gets two. Horner goes off the ropes and hits a shoulderblock, he goes off the ropes again but Kendo Nagasaki hits him with the kendo stick from the floor. Rib breaker by Ninja, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the moonsault. Cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winner and new champion: The Ninja

Match Thoughts: Ninja was stripped of the title due to the outside interference and isn't officially recognized, but since he was presented the belt after the match I still called him the "new champion" as that was the way it was presented at the time. To me the most alarming thing here is that even in 1986, two years after debuting, Mutoh already had gotten down two distinct wrestling styles. Some of the moves were the same obviously, but the style and mannerisms of Mutoh and The Ninja from 1986 are very different. I reviewed a match of Mutoh's the following month back in New Japan against Fujinami, and aside from knowing it was the same person, the styles strongly contrast which I find very impressive at such a young age. As for the match, it was perfectly fine, Horner appears to be much better then Denny Brown which is a plus right there. The match was much more fluid then other Ninja in CWF matches I have seen, showing how he had adapted to wrestling in America as well as other wrestlers getting accustomed to his style. I understand the belt being stripped since Mutoh returned to New Japan soon after this, so no points deducted there. Fun match, and mostly enjoyable to watch the evolution of Mutoh getting practice for his Great Muta persona that would help make his career. Score: 6.0

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