A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Talk Puro, Lucha, Europe and "I FOLLOWED WRESTLING IN AUSTRALIA/PACIFIC ISLANDS/CARIBBEAN/AFRICA"
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Tigerkinney
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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:25 am

International Wrestling Enterprise invades New Japan!


September 18th 1981- NJPW Bloody Fight Series (Hiroshima Prefectural Gymnasium)

Tatsumi Fujinami & Tiger Mask vs El Solitario & Solar I

Tatsumi Fujinami: Fujinami at this point had held the WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship for almost two years, however with the arrival of Tiger Mask, and the sense he had achieved all he could at the lighter weight class his time as the 'face' of NJPW's Junior Division would soon be coming to an end.

El Solitario: A veteran luchador who began his career in 1960, El Solitario was the reigning UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Champion during is excursion to NJPW in 1981.

Solar I: Yet another luchador import from the UWA promotion, Solar I held the Mexican National Middleweight Championship during his excursion to NJPW.

The Match: A pretty basic tag match, that is to be honest pretty boring for the most part, until they decide to throw in an everyone do dives to the floor sequence (which was probably really exciting at the time- rather than the overused trope it is now), whilst prior to that there is yet another Tiger Mask botch, as he fucks up royally on doing a backflip off the opponent in the corner.

Anyway this is a far cry from the sort of breathtaking innovative action of today's Junior Heavyweight Tag Teams. In all honesty the only people who would want to seek this match out, is those who want to relive that time El Solitario and/or Solar I competed for NJPW (which I can't imagine there is many. ) ___________________________________________________________________________________________ 23rd September 1981- NJPW Bloody Fight Series (Denen Coliseum, Ota, Tokyo)

Solar I vs Tiger Mask

The Match: This was one seriously strange match- They do the usual feeling out process with some basic chain wrestling, but then Solar I starts favouring his left arm and does a lot of stalling, Tiger Mask then appears to get cheesed off with the stalling and goes all 'Bruce Lee' on the Mexican Luchador.

I think Solar, may have genuinely picked up an injury here (as it looked like he had problems with his rotator cuff) and they tried to work something on the fly and keep the match going as long as possible, but in the end the match just came off being incredibly awkward.

Andre The Giant vs Stan Hansen

The Match: Hansen primarily found himself in the role of 'monster' heel during his career, but here he was the underdog- as he looked to chop down the big ugly giant, and the NJPW fans who were usually happy to jeer him when up against homegrown heroes (in particular Inoki), were fully behind the roughneck cowboy throughout this match.

This was a really enjoyable 'hoss' brawl, that had surprisingly decent work-rate and was actually smartly worked in places, with Andre The Giant focusing a good chunk of his attacks on Hansen's arm, in order to try and eliminate Hansen's main weapon the Western Lariat. This was when Andre was still mobile and could move around the ring at the decent pace, and he puts in a great performance here , being vicious on offense but bumping like a madman for whenever Hansen got to him- which includes an eye-catching bodyslam spot.

The match is technically two matches, as it initially finishes as a double count-out, but neither man wanted it to finish that way. The break and restart is smartly worked into the match- giving the two big men a chance to recover, instead of blowing up and giving the fans more of the great spectacle, which they were lapping up with unbridled enthusiasm.

Unfortunately it does ultimately end with a chaotic non finish,(with several NJPW young boys trying to come between them and getting beaten up by both men for their trouble) which does take some of the shine off the match, but despite that this wild brawl between these two legend's is well worth seeking out.

Recommended

IWGP Asia Zone Preliminary League Match: Antonio Inoki vs Tiger Toguchi

Tiger Toguchi
: Toguchi began his wrestling career in the late 1960's as part of the defunct JWA promotion, before embracing his South Korean heritage and working under the Kim Duk name, splitting his time between working in America for various NWA affiliates (primarily the Dallas based WCWA and Mid Atlantic) and AJPW- before making the jump to NJPW in the summer of 1981 and reverting to the Tiger Toguchi name.

The Match: Toguchi has the offensive upper hand for a good portion of the match, but Inoki no-sells all his big moves (including a couple of pildrivers) throughout. We're not talking 'fighting spirit' here, we are talking lazy no selling, because Inoki's ego dictated that this guy wasn't worth looking the teensy bit vulnerable for.

Rolling out to the floor and catching your breath on the outside for a bit does not count as selling nor does kicking out of a piledriver with ease and then popping up straight after to nail your opponent with a drop-kick! If Inoki was to be obliterated by a nuclear missile, he would have no sold it in this match.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 8th October 1981- NJPW TV Taping (Kuramae Kokikugan, Tokyo)

Mask vs Mask: Masked Hurricane vs Tiger Mask

Masked Hurricane: Masked Hurricane, was actually the veteran luchador Bobby Lee, whose biggest achievement was a reign with the UWA World Welterweight Title during 1978.

The Match: This is a really short match, that has no flow to it and feels really disjointed and whilst not completely un-watchable, it ends up being a mediocre contest. At this point in his career, you could see the future potential with Tiger Mask as an in-ring performer and not just as a merchandise shifter, but he was still very rough around the edges.

Antonio Inoki vs Rusher Kimura

Rusher Kimura: Kimura made his name as one of the biggest stars in Japan, outside of the big two of NJPW and AJPW throughout the 70's with the IWE promotion, where he took part in the first cage match that took place on Japanese soil. Through IWE's working relationship with AJPW throughout the 70's, he also competed regularly competed in AJPW, as a representative of IWE.

When the International Wrestling Enterprise closed it's doors in 1981, Kimura along with several other IWE wrestlers 'invaded' New Japan, in what was to be the first 'invasion' angle in wrestling history.

The Match: A suited up Abdullah The Butcher comes out an interrupts the start of the match, but for once doesn't actually cause an trouble. Couldn't tell what he was saying, but my guess is that he was saying he still has beef with Inoki himself and is complaining that these invaders have jumped the queue.

Anyway as for the match itself, Inoki at least sells Kimura as being more of a threat than Toguchi, and they work what is primarily a wild brawl, that ends up with Inoki being busted open and sporting a crimson mask- despite that Inoki still comes out looking 'stronger' than his opponent by the end of the match. The finish is a controversial one with both claiming victory, leading to a post match confrontation between the NJPW roster and the IWE invaders.

The match itself was just OK, but the surrounding 'angle' felt heated and got across to the fans, that this was going to be a major story in NJPW going forward.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Mon Sep 07, 2015 9:21 pm

The IWE geeks find out that this is Tony Knock's house and they ain't worth shit!

5th November 1981- NJPW Toukon Series 1981 (Kuramae Kokikugan, Tokyo)

Animal Hamaguchi vs Tatsumi Fujinami

Animal Hamaguchi: Hamaguchi began his career in 1969 with International Wrestling Enterprise, with whom he would be a fixture as a respected tag team specialist (winning the IWA World Tag Team Championship 4 times) until the promotion's collpase in 1981.

During the late 70's Hamaguchi also made excursions to Canada's Stampede and Puerto Rico's World Wrestling Council, whilst also finding further tag team success in his native Japan alongside regular partner Mighty Inoue, when the pair captured the All Asia Tag titles in AJPW.When the IWE collapsed, Hamaguchi was one of several 'invaders' from promotion to come in to be brought into NJPW.

Tatsumi Fujinami: After holding the WWF Junior Heavyweight Title for two reigns lasting a whopping 1375 days combined between January 1978 and October 1981 (the only interruption being a blink and you will miss it 2 day reign for Ryuma Go in October 1979, Tatsumi Fujinami officially graduated to the Heavyweight Division after he vacated the belt.

The Match: They get right into the action from the opening bell, and Hamaguchi (sporting a somewhat un-fetching purple and red singlet) tries and fails to end things early with a big splash off the top turnbuckle.

The pace slows down after that point, with Hamaguchi trying to keep the more athletic Fujinami grounded. Some of the work here feels focused and purposeful from both competitors, whilst at other times the mat work is of the dreary 'rest hold' variety that can kill the momentum of any match dead.

The closing stretch picks up the pace once again, with Fujinami executing his always flawless suicide dive- it's just a shame that after the match really starts to impress once again after a solid but bland middle portion, it all ends in a disappointingly weak finish.

Gran Hamada vs Tiger Mask

Gran Hamada: 'Little' Hamada was one of the first trainees to graduate from the NJPW dojo in 1972 but due to his lack of size he appeared to have little future beyond being opening match fodder. In 1975 Hamada would begin an extended excursion to Mexico, where he would primarily work for the UWA promotion. Due to his lack of size meaning considerably less in the the world of Lucha Libre, Hamada was able to find success winning several singles championships in the UWA.

In 1979, with a Junior Heavyweight Division being built around WWF Junior Heavyweight Champion Tatsumi Fujinami, Hamada (now known as Gran Hamada) returned to NJPW, whilst still continuing to regularly work for the UWA promotion in Mexico.

The Match: A meeting of two Junior Heavyweight's, you might consider to be ahead of their time. The match has a slightly surprising amount of mat based submission work, but it's interspersed with plenty of nippy lucha inspired chain sequences.

There are times where both wrestler's penchant for trying something new, leads to some slight issues to miscommunication here and there but compared to some of his earlier matches I felt that Tiger Mask showed a more solid level of consistency in this match.

Unfortunately though the weak ending, that does absolutely nothing to tie in with the way the match was being built does put a slight dampner on what was a fairly entertaining contest.

Mildly Recommended

Abdullah The Butcher vs Dino Bravo

Dino Bravo: Italian born Canadian wrestler Dino Bravo, began his career in 1970 and made his name as a tag team specialist, winning various tag team titles, most notably the NWA World Tag Team Championship alongside Mr Wrestling in 1976 and the WWWF Tag Team Championship alongside Dominic DeNucci in 1978.

By the late 70's he had become popular enough in the Montreal/Toronto territory of Canada to enjoy a singles push, culminating in him defeating Gene Kiniski for the NWA Canadian Heavyweight Championship in December 1978.

In 1980 Bravo regularly worked for the AWA promotion but was yet to turn his stint there into championship success, the following year Bravo made his way across to Japan to tour with NJPW.

The Match: The video for this match last's nearly 16 minutes, but almost 10 of that 16 minutes is taken up by some pre-match faffing about, involving Bravo's and Butcher's seconds- where Dick Murdoch (Bravo) wants to turn the match into a tag team contest, because he is convinced that Bad News Brown (Butcher) will interfere. Anyway the referee stubbornly sticks to the contest being as advertised and eventually sends the bickering seconds on there merry way.

Butcher's disgusting head scars must have been busted open in a previous match and can't have healed properly as they already weeping blood. As expected the match soon descends into a garbage brawl, because Butcher doesn't know a hammerlock from a doorlock and his already weeping head wounds inevitably get busted open even more and we are greeted with the sight of a grotesquely obese man, bleeding all over the mat and his opponent.

As it turns out Murdoch was right to be concerned about the Bad News Brown interference, as he suddenly turns up and throws some powder into Bravo's face- It results in a DQ, but it gives Butcher the chance to pull out a blade and start stabbing at Bravo's face- resulting in both competitors leaving the ring with crimson mask's.

Unless you get some sick thrill out of watching two men pointlessly bleed for 'entertainment' then there really isn't anything I could recommend this festering display of garbage for.

Lumberjack Deathmatch: Antonio Inoki vs Rusher Kimura

The Match: This is part of the IWE invasion feud that took place over the autumn of 1981. There's nothing deathmatch about this, in fact you could barely call it a Lumberjack match, as those standing around at ringside do little more than just shove the wrestlers back into the ring, when they go out of the floor (or more to the point, they just shove Kimura back into the ring).

Anyway Inoki's ego was running wild with this one, as apart from being on the receiving end of one sloppy looking piledriver Kimura, the former IWE man is pretty much made to look like Inoki's bitch all match- ending the match being busted open after being slammed into a ringpost and spending what felt like two thirds of the match being put in a cross arm breaker by Inoki.

Invasion angles usually end up being a waste of time, as the bigger promotion never wants to end up looking 'weak' against the smaller promotion- especially went it comes to the promotion's tog dog(s) and that was certainly the case here.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Tue Sep 08, 2015 9:21 pm

Closing out 1981 on New Japan World.....

8th December 1981- 2nd Madison Square Garden Tag League (Kuramae Kokikugan, Tokyo)

El Canek vs Tiger Mask

The Match: The bells not even rung and Canek knocks Tiger Mask off the apron before he can even make it into the ring- damn it what a Rudo!
The match itself, is solid without ever kicking it up into the next gear to become spectacular. Canek's submission based offence is slow, methodical and very much in keeping with being the heel, or as they say in Mexico the Rudo! Tiger Mask when he is able to get control his more explosive, pulling off a couple of dives to the floor and even giving us the first sighting of the Tiger Feint (well at least the first sighting of his matches to feature on New Japan World).

The action's decent enough here, that I would have happily given it a mild recommendation, had it not been for the weak non finish, something neither wrestler was particularly pleased with.

Rusher Kimura & Tiger Toguchi vs The Texas Outlaws (Dick Murdoch & Dusty Rhodes)


Dick Murdoch: Murdoch began his wrestling career in the mid 60's, and found tag team success just a couple of years into his career working unde the name of Ron Carson, alongside Don Carson, capturing the NWA Gulf Coast Southern Tag Team Championship 3 times.

In the late 60's, Murdoch formed an even more notable tag team with future legend Dusty Rhodes, as the Texas Outlaws and then went on to have further tag team success with Bobby Duncum. The mid to late 70's saw Murdoch became more prominent as a singles wrestler across the territories of the NWA, winning a variety of regional title's, his most frequent successes coming with the NWA Tri-State North American Championship, The NWA Central States Championship and the NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship.

During the 1970's Murdoch also became a frequent visitor to Japan, with regular tour of AJPW. As the 70's turned into the 80's, Murdoch found further tag team success, this time alongside Junkyard Dog and after years of making AJPW his second home in Japan, jumped across to NJPW in the summer of 1981.

The Match: This match see's a reunion of the Texas Outlaws tag team, that had prominent success a decade earlier and the former IWE duo of Rusher Kimura and Tiger Toguchi.

The idea that wrestling matches in Japan always featured 'clean, decisive' finishes up until recently is a huge myth- as this is the umpteenth match to feature on NJPW World, where the finish wasn't clean nor decisive. Are the Japanese fans in attendance ever happy about such wonky finishes- no, but neither would any wrestling fan be.

At the end of the day all fans of wrestling are only truly satisfied when they see someone win by truly being the better man, but countouts, DQ's and the like have always been used to extend feuds and storylines and are there to play with our emotions- occasionally it's not entirely unwise to piss us off.

The work in this tag team match is fairly basic from both teams, but they manage to keep the simple affair reasonably entertaining, with Rhodes charisma particularly burning through the screen (workrate rise he was average but he knew how to work a crowd). Whilst the beginning of the chaotic end, is triggered by what was becoming the over-used trope of someone being sent into a ring-post, to get busted open and emerging with a crimson mask. This time Rhodes is the victim, and the commentators seem ever so keen to remind you that blood is getting into his blonde hair.

Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami vs Stan Hansen & Roland Bock


Roland Bock: A prominent wrestler in his home country of Germany in the 1970's, with a strong reputation for being a true shooter, Bock caused a major stir when he defeated Antonio Inoki, during the NJPW star and promoter's European tour of 1978.

However Bock suffered injuries sustained through a car accident following his success over Inoki, and it was until several years later having sufficiently recovered from that set-back, Bock made his way to Japan.

The Match: Bock's look can best be described as Terry Nutkins with a moustache. The German was a pretty big guy, standing 6 ft 5 and weighing nearly 300 Ibs and despite being the size of your typical hoss plodder, you could see that he had proper wrestling acumen. Unfortunately though you could also see that he was pretty unfit, as he moved around the ring as if though walking through a vat of treacle.

This was supposed to be a showcase for Bock, and to build up an eventual showdown with Inoki, where the almighty god of New Japan could avenge his defeat in Germany. However the only bits to really get excited about, were when Fujinami and Hansen were in the ring with each other. Those two had a great 'David vs Goliath' exchange near the end of the match , that had me salivating at the prospect of a singles match between those two. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10th December 1981- 2nd Madison Square Garden Tag League (Kuramae Kokikugan, Tokyo)

MSG Tag League 1981 Championship Playoff: Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami vs Andre The Giant & Rene Goulet

Rene Goulet: French Canadian veteran Goulet began his wrestling career as far back as 1957. He spent much of the early portion of his career throughout the 1960's with the AWA promotion, before bouncing around the AWA, NWA and WWWF throughout the 1970's with any success primarily being achieved as a tag team wrestler.

The Match: This is the finals of the 2nd edition of the MSG Tag League. Inoki and Fujinami defeated the team of Stan Hansen and Dick Murdoch, earlier on the same show to reach the finals- after both teams were tied on points in the league standings.

Well for some reason the video wasn't actually playing for me on New Japan World, but I did manage to seek out a low quality version of the contest on a video hosting site. Every other video plays fine, just that one which doesn't seem to play- hopefully it's just a temporary glitch.

Anyway the match itself is a short, largerly unmemorable affair until as fun closing stretch that see's Inoki and Fujinami combine to double team suplex Andre, Andre kicking out at one on the following pin as Inoki and Fujinami pile on top, and then Inoki topping the double suplex with Fujinami by bodyslamming the giant all by himself.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:41 pm

Thus far the NJPW World content, has just featured one or two selected matches from show, but we actually get what was the entire post intermission second half of a New Years Day show from 1982, held in front of what looks to be a completely packed Korakuen Hall.

1st January 1982- NJPW New Year Super Fight (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo)

Karl Gotch vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Karl Gotch: The German wrestling legend, who built his legacy in Japan, had mainly been working in a backstage capacity since the mid 1970's as both a booker and a trainer for NJPW but still occasionally strapped on the wrestling boots. However Gotch felt now was the time to fully retire from the wrestling ring- but not before he would have one more match.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara: A student of Karl Gotch, Fujiwara was one of the first students to emerge from the NJPW dojo in 1972 and three years later he won the Karl Gotch (Young Lions) Cup. However despite being a reliable and consistent member of the undercard throughout the 1970's and into the early 80's, Fujiwara rarely received opportunities to compete for titles or feature in matches with or against bigger stars either in singles or tag team competition.

The Match: This is the legendary Karl Gotch's final match, and it comes against one of his students in the form of Yoshiaki Fujiwara. This is really more about giving Karl Gotch a big send off, rather than the match itself- with what appears to be the entire roster for the show gathered in the ring with Gotch prior to the match.

The match itself is a super short 'greatest hits' display of technical wrestling between the pupil and his student, and ends exactly as it should with the move that Gotch made famous and has become a staple of Puroresu ever since.

Animal Hamaguchi vs Riki Choshu

Riki Choshu: Born in South Korea as Kwak Gwang-Ung competed as an amateur wrestler at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, before moving to Japan to pursue a professional wrestling career and changing his name to Mitsuo Yoshida.

Yoshida debuted in 1974 and competed under his real naturalized Japanese name, before being sent on excursion to America , before returning from his excursion in 1977 and changing his ring-name to Riki Choshu.

Choshu like fellow members of his generation at the time, such as Yoshiaki Fujiwara was finding it hard to rise above undercard status, with the old guard lead by Antonio Inoki and gaijin flavours of the month holding onto the top spots.

The Match: Choshu is sporting a punch perm, rather than the mullet he would become more recognized for, he's also considerably slimmer and fitter looking than the stockier/paunchier image most would have in their head of him.

Anyway the early portion of the match is basic mediocre mat work, bordering on being snooze-worthy, that makes you feel that it was no wonder Choshu wasn't being given opportunities to rise above plugging away on the undercard.

However as soon as Choshu upped the aggression, and changed up to the more rapid strike and power based offence he became more readily known for, the match all of the sudden starts to grab your attention- however just as it does that, it gets the legs cut out from underneath it with a weak finish, that makes the entire match feel like a waste of time and effort.

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid

The Match: This is the culmination of a tournament to find the next holder of the belt that Fujinami vacated in October, when graduating to the Heavyweight ranks.

This match, the second singles meeting in what would eventually become hailed as a great rivalry, is an enjoyable but strangely put together sprint, that saw Dynamite Kid pretty much throw the kitchen sink at Tiger Mask, including several piledrivers and a ridiculous diving headbutt, where he must have covered about three quarters of the ring. Tiger Mask pretty much no-sells Dynamite's brutal offence- but to be honest I personally have no problem with the no-selling because of the gimmick's super heroic connotations.

Dynamite Kid, then suddenly slows the pace down, to try and wear down Tiger Mask with a Figure Four, before a finish that literally comes out of nowhere. Much like their first encounter, there a glimpses of the greatness that was to come from these two but they were never going to get there with the time they were given for this match.

Mildly Recommended

WWF Championship: Bob Backlund (c) vs Tatsumi Fujinami

The Match: A technical affair, this was akin to a 1970's grapple-fest on fast forward. It made for a pretty good match, with Fujinami's submission work being focused on Backlunds arm.

I'm guessing that New Japan back in the day, wasn't chock full of controversial finishes, but they sure seem to like showing matches with them on NJPW World. This time the confusion and frustration comes out of a pinning exchange, where neither man is left is particularly happy with the referee's count- so much so that the eventual winner would rather carry on the match than accept what they perceive to be an undeserved victory.

Mildly Recommended

Antonio Inoki vs Roland Bock

The Match:
There are no title's on the line here , this one's merely about pride- as Inoki is looking to avenge his loss to Bock in Germany from three years prior.

Contested over the European style rounds format, this is pretty much 20 minutes of my life I won't get back. The first two rounds consist almost entirely of tedious grappling exchanges. There's a fine line with scientific wrestling between it being an engaging 'human game of chess' and a blur of blandness, and unfortunately this showdown between Inoki and Bock, landed firmly in the latter.

They change things up in the third round, with Inoki looking to wear down Bock with a consistent flurry of kicks to the German's calves, but then an already poor match gets further blotted with a lame DQ finish, designed to either protect both men and/or stretch out the feud for another match.
Last edited by Tigerkinney on Wed Sep 09, 2015 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by InYourCase » Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:33 pm

Still can't imagine sitting through all of these Inoki matches. The good news is your about to hit a string of awesome Fujinami matches! Really enjoying this.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Wed Sep 09, 2015 11:11 pm

InYourCase wrote:Still can't imagine sitting through all of these Inoki matches. The good news is your about to hit a string of awesome Fujinami matches! Really enjoying this.
It's not so much Inoki himself that is a chore to sit through, it's the choice of opponents. Inoki was actually a pretty good wrestler- technically sound, with decent athleticism, and a charismatic presence in the ring. I know I rip into him for his ego and politicking (but hey who doesn't) but he did in all honesty have main event star presence.

However many of his opponents/victims of his gigantic ego, were pretty dreadful- garbage gaijin brawlers like Abdullah The Butcher (who I have no time for what so ever) and faux 'MMA' tedium.

On a more positive note, Fujinami has been far and away my favourite wrestler from the early days of NJPW and I look forward to seeing more of his work. Though I would say we are into what I consider to be era 2 now, with the arrival of the Tiger Mask character, and the fact that the wrestling has actually evolved to being worked at a quicker pace

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Thu Sep 10, 2015 9:24 pm

Tiger Mask 'Evil Heel' edition arrives......


January 28th 1982- NJPW New Year Golden Series 1982 (Tokyo Metropolitan Gym)

Antonio Inoki vs Abdullah The Butcher

The Match: I know that Abdullah The Butcher is a legendary heel in Japan, but I'm going to go on record and say that he absolutely sucks, and is the epitome of what one would term a 'garbage wrestler'.

330 Ibs (most of it fat) of pure manure, Butcher made someone like Tiger Jeet Singh look like A.J Styles in comparison. A plodding kick and punch brawler, that had to rely on bloody psychopathic ultra violence to make an infamous name for himself in the wrestling ring.

Despite my intense dislike for Abdullah, this match wasn't actually that bad, because Inoki refused to be drawn into a tedious crowd brawl with the Butcher and kept the match in the ring , seizing control with stiff strikes and focused limb work.

In the end Inoki is in total control, wearing down Abdullah with a barrage of kicks to the arm and head, that had The Butcher squealing like a wounded animal. Unfortunately Abdullah's second Bad News Brown, see's the situation is so desperate for his gluttonous pal, that he sticks his unwanted oar in. Post match the scummy heels, try a despicable post match beat-down on Inoki but the rest of the NJPW roster help Inoki to keep them at bay.

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Dynamite Kid

The Match: The third of the matches from the lauded Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid rivalry to feature on New Japan World, and it's here that we begin to get a stronger glimpse as to why this is considered to be one of the top feuds in the history of pro wrestling.
Not everything is executed perfectly here and there are times where the match could do with a more coherent structure. But overall we get a balanced mix of scientific submission work, innovative (for the time) athletic spots, a bit of high flying and a fair deal of body jarring suplexes- in an evenly contested back and forth affair.

Tiger Mask is a much more consistent and assured performer compared to a year ago, whilst Dynamite Kid did great work as always as the aggressive heel, desperate to find a way to get one over on his nemesis.

Recommended ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ April 1st 1982- NJPW 5th Madison Square Garden Series

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Steve Wright

Steve Wright: After working for various local stations in the late 1970's, Steve Wright got his big break in 1980 when he was added to the Radio 1 roster, initially given a Saturday evening slot, he saw his role in the station expanded a year later when he was given a 5 days a week afternoon show......

Oh not the (w) right Steve.

Steve Wright the British wrestler, not the British DJ with a face for radio, began his in-ring career in 1969, and primarily split his time throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's working for the German based Catch Wrestling Association and doing tours of Japan with NJPW.

The Match: I took one look at Steve Wright, with his balding head and boring black trunks, and thought that he was going to be some bland European mat specialist, who was going to keep Tiger Mask down with dreary rest holds.....

Oh how wrong was I, because Wright was surprisingly agile, impressively agile- he wasn't just keeping up with Tiger Mask in this match, the German based English lad was setting the pace. Overall the contest was a smooth display of chain wrestling and athleticism, worked at pretty furious pace for the time. However the match is unfortunately let down by a weak finish, that comes out of nowhere and ends up feeling incredibly flat, which is a real shame as with a stronger finish this would have been a more memorable affair.

Mildly Recommended ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ April 21st 1982- NJPW Refugees Contribution Recruitment Charity Show (Kuramae Kokukigan, Tokyo)

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Black Tiger

Black Tiger: The first incarnation of Tiger Mask's 'evil twin' was played Mark 'Rollerball' Rocco, a British Wrestler who began his career in 1972, Rocco was a rising star of Joint Promotions (a sort of British equivalent to the NWA) throughout the 1970's, that included various runs with the British Heavy Middleweight Championship between 1977 and 1979.

After a tour of North America in 1980, most notably with the WWF- Rocco returned to England to engage in a feud with the then un-masked Tiger Mask, who was working under the name of Sammy Lee, whilst on excursion to Britain, before Rocco then went on to feud with Dynamite Kid over the World Heavy Middleweight Championship.

Rocco's series of matches with fellow 'Junior Heavyweights' Dynamite Kid and Satoru Sayama (Tiger Mask) caught the eye of New Japan officials and he was chosen to be the man who could turn the Black Tiger character into a reality.

The Match:
The evil counterpart to Tiger Mask, actually featured as Tiger Mask's main rival in the anime series, that the character originated from, with the storyline being that he was trained and sent to defeat Tiger Mask by a Yakuza like organization called the Tiger's Cave. Once the Tiger Mask character had been established, it was only a matter of time before they would produce his anime nemesis.

The first encounter between Tiger Mask and his evil counterpart, is not a particularly great match but it does it's just as a table setter for the feud. Black Tiger controls much of the match with methodical heelish offence, which could have done with being a little more brutal in my opinion to really seperate him in tone from the babyface Tiger Mask, though he does amp up the heelishness with a sneaky low blow counter to a German Suplex attempt down the closing stretch.

Anyway the whole thing ends in a double count-out, and whilst some might find the cop-out finish a little frustrating, it's understandable why they did it- as they wanted to keep the Tiger Mask character looking strong, whilst also immediately establishing Black Tiger as a serious threat.

Mildly Recommended- More for the history of this being the first match in a storied rivalry in NJPW that would go on to be portrayed by various incarnations over the years, than the match itself. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 26th May 1982- NJPW Big Fight Series 1982 (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Black Tiger (c) vs Tiger Mask

The Match: Tiger Mask sustained an injury the previous month, which meant that he had to vacate the title. Black Tiger then defeated Gran Hamada for the vacant title. Would Black Tiger merely be a 'caretaker' for the title Tiger Mask never actually lost or would Tiger Mask's evil nemesis retain the championship?

They told a solid story here, with Tiger Mask fighting from underneath throughout, as Black Tiger consistently cuts off any attempt of a rally from all the 'Little Shinji's' favourite wrestler. On the downside, some of Black Tiger's methodical offence to fit into the heel role of the match, was still a bit pedestrian to say the least.

The closing stretch though is fantastic and almost raises the match up another level- the highlight being Tiger Mask pulling off a beautiful rounding moonsault. It's displays of graceful athleticism and innovation, such as the aforementioned that helped to build up the legend of Tiger Mask.

Mildly Recommended

Abdullah The Butcher vs Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan
: Hogan had now left the WWF and switched to working for Verne Gagne's AWA. As with Hogan's first run of the WWF, Hogan initially worked as a bully heel, but the fans began to cheer for Hogan due to his charismatic presence, and thus he was turned Babyface, a decision that saw Hogan climb to the top of the AWA mountain and begin the road to becoming one of the top drawers in all of wrestling.

When Hogan initially toured New Japan in 1980 and into 1981, it was as the generic heel character he displayed during his first run with the WWF, but returning to NJPW the following year, he would display the new heroic babyface persona he had developed during is time with the AWA.

The Match: This match comes from some kind of alternate 'bizarro' world, where Hulk Hogan is the workhorse, that makes a match just about watchable against a lazy one trick pony of an opponent.

Hogan isn't some technical genius here, and just does brawling and power moves, but he does his best to make the contest watchable- pulling off some admittedly impressive displays of strength, such as lifting Abdullah up for a bearhug.

The pattern of the match see's Hogan control the early portion, but then go for one move too many- allowing Abdullah a way in- unfortunately that does lead to the Butcher pulling out his dirty blade from his sweaty crotch - and turning in into blood spilled Butcher borefest. Hogan does make a comeback 'Hulking Up' but it all ends in typical 'Hepatitis' Butcher fashion.

Whilst this wasn't as terrible as I thought it was going to be (entirely down to Hogan) I still had to endure the festering shitheap that is 'Hepatitis' Butcher.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:04 pm

How to settle an argument in a Japanese Elementary school......
18th June 1982- NJPW Summer Fight Series 1982 (Kuramae Kokukigan, Tokyo) WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Ultraman

Ultraman: Based on the 1960's Tokusatsu (Special effects series) superhero character of the same name, the man behind bringing the Ultraman gimmick to life inside the squared circle, was a Mexican luchador, who begin his career in the 1960's, working under a variety of different names, before being given the Ultraman gimmick in the late 1970's. Though as a wrestling gimmick it was born in Mexico, it would only be a matter of time before the wrestler would make his way to the birthplace of the character itself.

The Match: All the Little Shinji's attending elementary school back in 1982, could finally get the answer to 'The Big Question'.....Who would win in a fight between Tiger Mask and Ultraman?

This fantasy match-up for hyperactive kids who go at weak at the knees for a masked superhero, was for the most part an exciting fast paced display of lucha style athleticism and whilst everything didn't always come off perfectly and the match did end up looking a tad on the spotty side, the attempts at on the fly innovation on display is certainly admirable.

The highlight of the match, is the first sighting (well on NJPW World at least) of the Space Flying Tiger Drop (Carthwheel Plancha)- a move that still looks jaw droppingly spectacular to this day, even with tonnes of other feats of high flying being innovated since.

The lowlight of the encounter, happens down the stretch- a miscommunication with a top-rope diving crossbody from Ultraman, results in the move looking like an unmitigated disaster and has both competitors gormlessly standing around looking clueless as to what to do next before hastily going to the finish.

Mildly Recommended
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 23rd July 1982- NJPW Summer Fight Series II 1982 (Ishikawa Prefectural Industrial Exhibtion Hall, Kanazawa)

Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid

The Match: For some reason this match up between Tiger Mask and his perennial rival Dynamite Kid was a non title affair, whilst Dynamite Kid is also seconded by a young Bret Hart, sporting shorter hair and a pair of unflattering grey sweatpants.

A solid addition to the Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid series, they pretty much execute what by now we come to expect out of them, with Dynamite Kid controlling most of the match but Tiger Mask executing the more eye-catching spots. The non finish (that see's Bret Hart stick his nose in) however does end up putting a slight dampner on the match.

Mildly Recommended _________________________________________________________________________________________ 30th August 1982- WWF on MSG Network (Madison Square Garden, New York)

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Dynamite Kid

The Match: A rare sighting of the WWF Junior Heavyweight title, in the promotion it actually originated from, see's it's champion defend the belt against what thus far had been his chief rival in NJPW.

Basically the fans in attendance at Madison Square Garden, were treated to an abridged version of their previous match-ups. Out of all their matches thus far, this was probably the one that was executed the best, with both wrestlers being on point throughout, but it was far too short to give it anything more than a mild recommendation.

Mildly Recommended
__________________________________________________________________________________________________


21st September 1982- NJPW Bloody Fight Series 1982 (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)

Hair vs Hair: Antonio Inoki vs Rusher Kimura

Antonio Inoki: Inoki had now got to that point his career, where he no longer needed any kind of Championships in order to stay over with the fans, having vacated the NWF Heavyweight Championship (which served as the de-facto main title for NJPW throughout the promotions first decade of existence) the previous year. Championship's were now being fought over by other wrestlers on the roster, but despite no longer being in the title hunt his matches were still more often the main event.

The Match: Even though the IWE invaders had failed to become the dominate force in NJPW, as they would have hoped- they were sticking around and still being a thorn in the side of Antonio Inoki and the fellow 'home army' babyfaces.

The personal beef between Inoki and Kimura had now got the point, where both were now prepared to risk damaging their own personal pride by putting their hair on the line.

For a grudge match, this lacked the kind of intensity and feistiness to make it interesting, with the match mainly being a tedious mix of generic brawling and rest holds. Kimura it has to be said is more at fault here, as Inoki occasionally tries to spark the match into life. Though watching this plodder of a match, after gorging on more progressive action from the Tiger Mask lead Junior Heavyweight Division probably doesn't help.

Things do get a little more tetchy down the closing stretch, as the fight spills to the floor and Kimura's fellow IWE goons try to interfere on his behalf, with a scissor wielding Animal Hamaguchi, attempting to illegally snip chunks of Inoki's hair.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:08 pm

Tag Partners that don't get along and Inoki vs The IWE geeks apparently still isn't over.


8th October 1982- NJPW Toukon Series 1982 (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo)

Abdullah The Butcher, Bad News Allen & SD Jones vs. Antonio Inoki, Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami

Bad News Allen: Allen Coage was a noted Judoka, winning a bronze medal for the United States in the Heavyweight class at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

A year later Coage, would leave behind Judo and move into professional wrestling. Initially working for New Japan Pro Wrestling under his real name, Coage would also haves spells with the WWF, NWA, UWA and further spells with NJPW.

In 1982 Coage now settling for the name of Bad News Allen, split his time between NJPW and with Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling, where he became the promotion's North American Heavyweight Champion.

SD Jones: 'Special Delivery' Jones began his wrestling career in 1971, and proceeded to primarily work for the (W)WWF for the next decade, with little success as a permanent fixture in the lower reaches of the undercard.

The Match: We are the Nation of Domination! (wrong decade, wrong wrestling promotion :P ).

Anyway this was a heavily clipped six man tag (we get to see about 3 minutes of the approx 10 minutes it actually ran for). The real story here was Choshu (no longer sporting the terrible punch perm) and Fujinami not getting along as tag partners.

They argue with each other throughout the match, and then really lay into each other after the match is long over, Inoki and several other NJPW wrestlers try to come between them, but these two generational rivals really wanted to tear into one another.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 26th October 1982- NJPW Toukon Series 1982 (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Kuniaki Kobayashi

Kuniaki Kobayashi: Kobayashi's early career (which began in 1973) was spent as opening match fodder. With the rise of the Junior Division helping to bring smaller workers such as Kobayashi to a more prominent position- NJPW finally saw some potential in Kobayashi and sent him away on a two year excursion at the beginning of the 1980's- with stops in Mexico (primarily with the UWA) and then in the U.S for NWA Hollwywood, working under the name of Kid Koby.

When Kobayashi came back from his lengthy excursion in late 1982, he returned with a new heelish persona and was thrust into a feud with the division's number 1 babyface Tiger Mask.

The Match: This match starts off slow, with Kobayashi following the usual formula of using a more methodical style of wrestling against Tiger Mask, to try and wear down the favourite wrestler of all the 'Little Shinji's' in the crowd. A little dull at first, this slowly built match does gather steam down the stretch.

Until the finish this was heading for being a solid though not particularly memorable match, that all changed at the end when Kobayashi exploded into full blown heel mode, ripping away at the mask and then persistently trying to lay a post match beat down into Tiger Mask. In an instant Kobayashi had gone from generic challenger to being detested by all the Little Shinji's in the crowd.

Mildly Recommended

Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami vs Rusher Kimura & Animal Hamaguchi

The Match: Fujinami had been a semi-regular tag partner of Antonio Inoki, since the late 1970's when Fujinami's star began ro rise, and along with Inoki was at the fore-front of the on-going feud with the stable of former IWE immigrants.

A formulaic tag team match, is lifted by a hot crowd (who would be excited for Inoki reading the phone book) and the consistently entertaining ring-work of Fujinami. In all honesty the IWE pair are made to look like total geeks, who had to rely on cheap heel tactics to find a way to stay competitive against their far superior opponents. In all honesty this whole IWE invasion, has made Kimura and Hamaguchi look fairly useless, but I suppose their persistence to be irritating toward Inoki kept them over as a heel threat, albeit one that regularly got their asses handed to them. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ November 4th 1982- NJPW Toukon Series 1982 (Kuramae Kokukigan, Tokyo)

3 on 1 Handicap Elimination Match: Antonio Inoki vs Rusher Kimura, Animal Hamaguchi & Isamu Teranishi

Isamu Teranishi: Teranishi began his professional wrestling career in 1966, and then proceeded to spend the much of the next decade as a fixture of the International Wrestling Enterprise undercard. Along with the more celebrated Rusher Kimura and Animal Hamaguchi, he was one of several former IWE wrestlers to 'invade' NJPW after the closure of his former home.

The Match: Antonio Inoki must have gotten so fed up at the constant interference from other IWE wrestlers, in matches against them, that he was prepared to take them on all at once.

The match featured, not just one but three referees, to try and keep order and prevent the other IWE wrestlers from interfering, when it wasn't they weren't tagged into the ring. Despite persistent efforts from the trio of rule enforcers to keep things under control, the IWE geeks often found a way to gain an unfair advantage.

The match was smartly worked but a little dull in places, with Inoki trying to keep the match in the centre of the ring, as much as possible and away from the IWE corner. Kimura and company had a solid game-plan too working over Inoki's legs in order to restrict his mobility.

With a match format almost entirely based around mat and limb work, there were times where the drama of the match (helped by a crowd rabidly getting behind Inoki) would draw you in, but you still came away thinking that the contest could have done with them mixing it up a bit more or even edited down, so that the early portion of the match wasn't bogged down with so many rest holds.

The contest was pretty set up so that Inoki would still come out looking strong, win or lose- with the story being that either Inoki would be able to overcome the odds, or the numbers game would eventually wear him down

WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami (c) vs Riki Choshu

The Match: Fujinami defeated Gino Brito for the WWF International Heavyweight belt at an event in Madison Square Garden, and just as with the WWF Junior Heavyweight belt he won in 1978, he proceeded to take it with him in New Japan.

In effect the WWF International Heavyweight title had taken over as the main singles title in New Japan, from the NWF title that Antonio Inoki carried throughout the 1970's- though unlike the NWF belt it wasn't the main focus and played second fiddle to the main attraction, which was still Inoki himself.

Before the match even starts, we get to see the six man tag again, where Fujinami and Choshu were team mates that couldn't get along (why they felt the need to upload that as a separate video, especially when that video was clipped is a little bizarre).

The match itself is solid, rather than great- that is definitely helped along by a hot crowd. There's some decent limb work mixed in with some heated exchanges but it never quite reaches the next level and it's cause isn't helped by yet another non-finish.

I've seen a little of Choshu before and despite being the innovator of one of the greatest submission holds in wrestling history, in the Scorpion Death-Lock/Sharpshooter he has always come across to me as a solid rather than a great in-ring worker, that needs another good opponent in there with him to carry him to a good to great match.

Perhaps though I haven't seen enough Choshu, and my opinion will be swayed as I continue my trip through the archives of New Japan World.

Mildly Recommended

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:09 pm

Finally an Inoki free update, as Tiger Mask takes centre stage.

6th January 1983- New Year Golden Series (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo)

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Kuniaki Kobayashi


The Match: On New Japan World this match is billed as being for the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship, but according to Cagematch it was for the WWF Junior Heavyweight title- which is a bit confusing to say the least. Though it appears that he simultaneously held both titles at the same time.

The match itself started off a bit slow, with Kobayashi trying to wear down Tiger Mask with mat-based submissions and probably also look to bore the 'Little Shinji's' in the crowd to tears, who were probably all past their bed time. But boring armlocks and headscissors weren't going to wear down Tiger Mask's resolve or the Little Shinji's enthusiasm, as they continued to chant TI-GAH! TI-GAH!

The match was for the most part a slow burning mat based affair with the odd flurry of flashy offence from Tiger Mask and frustrated aggression from Kobayashi. Eventually it did build to a thrilling climax, with dives to the floor, a moonsault from Tiger Mask and a couple of brutal looking suplexes outside of the ring.

Trim some of the fat (the boring matwork) from the match and this could have been a classic encounter, as it is it's another solid addition to Tiger Mask's legacy, that's worth checking out if you enjoy his work.

Mildly Recommended. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3rd April 1983- NJPW Big Fight Series II 1983 (Kuramae Kokukigan, Tokyo)

WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami (c) vs Riki Choshu

The Match: This re-match is a tale of two halves, a mind numbingly boring opening section full of dull rest holds and a thrilling and smartly worked conclusion.

What I really appreciate in a match, is when a submission hold is applied or a body part has been worked over and it plays into the outcome of the match. In this case Choshu manages to put Fujinami into the Scorpion Deathlock, and whilst Fujinami does manage to battle his way to the ropes, having had to endure the hold, his explosiveness for the rest of the match has been diminished- little things such as a drop-kick that comes up short or unable to maintain the bridge on a suplex, really add to the immersive experience.

In the end the closing stretch is so compelling, that in all honesty it's easy to forgive and forget the tedious rest hold exchange at the beginning.

Recommended ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 21st April 1983- NJPW Big Fight Series II 1983 (Kuramae Kokukigan, Tokyo)

Akira Maeda vs Paul Orndorff

Akira Maeda: Maeda graduated from the NJPW dojo in 1978, after spending his early years as a young lion, in 1982 he embarked on a year long excursion to the UK, working under the name of Kwik-Kik Lee- winning the European Heavyweight Championship in the process. When Maeda returned to Japan, he reverted to working under his real name again and was ready to take the next step.

Paul Orndorff: 'Mr Wonderful' Paul Orndorff began his pro wrestling career in 1976, and it didn't take too long for him to win his first regional title, when he defeated Jerry Lawler for the Mid-Southern Heavyweight Title. Orndorff would then continue to win various regional titles across various NWA territories (both singles and Tag) throughout the late 70's and into the early 80's, before stepping up in class again to win the NWA National Heavyweight Championship in 1982, a feat he would manage a further two times.

The Match: This isn't billed as a title match but Maeda is carrying the European Heavyweight Championship he won whilst on excursion to the U.K. This is just a really odd addition to the NJPW World archive as well- the match is super short, pretty basic and has a sudden finish that the crowd don't buy into one bit. The only reason why I can think that this match was chosen, is that it was Maeda's return match after his excursion.

Decision match for the vacant NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid

The Match: On April 3rd 1983, Tiger Mask had to vacate his simultaneous NWA/WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship, after being injured in a tag match by the Dynamite Kid. This match is billed as being for the vacant NWA World Junior... title.

Out of all the matches in the Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid feud this is the one that virtually every wrestling fan, will be familiar with, as it is the one that Dave Melzer awarded 5 stars at the time. It also ended up being the culmination of their two year long rivalry, though that was more down to Sayama's shocking retirement from pro-wrestling later in the year- had Sayama stuck around, then surely there were more Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid matches to come.

Compared to many matches that came later, this match probably isn't worth the holy grail of five snowflakes and whilst the in-ring work here was innovative for the time, more dynamic and innovative Junior Heavyweight workers have emerged since. That's not to take anything away from how influential these two were and their place in history as wrestling greats are thoroughly deserved. Tiger Mask wasn't always as great as the legend suggests but he had improved immeasurably over the years and by this point had really settled into the character and ring style he had crafted for himself, and whilst Dynamite Kid may have been a grade-A jerk in real-life, no one can take away the fact that he was a more than solid in-ring worker throughout his career.

The real strengths of the match are the storytelling, that builds upon their previous encounters and Dynamite Kid's desperation to finally get one over on his eternal rival. Dynamite's heel work is fantastic here, being ultra aggressive, ripping at the mask and even being desperate enough to bring a bottle to try and clock Tiger Mask with into the match.

However the jerky match structure with a series of re-starts is a little strange to get used to, and does end up taking away from the flow of the match. It's perhaps testament to both the in-ring storytelling from both men, that they are able to take a match with such a strange match structure and still end up turning it into something special.

So in the end, whilst I personally wouldn't say this is one of the greatest matches ever, it's still a historically important and influential match, that is certainly worth checking out- if you haven't happened to have done so already. But I'm guessing given this match's fame and reputation, this is one many would have seen before New Japan World was even a thought in the brain of Takaki Kidani.

Recommended

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:16 am

Hogan, Maeda and Tiger Mask dominate the proceedings in this mid-year 1983 collection.....


27th May 1983- NJPW IWGP Championship League 1983 (Takamatsu Civic Culture Center)

IWGP League 1983 Match- Andre The Giant vs Hulk Hogan

The Match: Hulk Hogan's star was on the rise in both the AWA and in NJPW, where he had begun to establish himself as one of the top babyfaces in the Wrestling World- Hulkamania hadn't quite arrived yet but the seeds were being sown. Andre The Giant was still hugely popular and hugely protected in his booking wherever he went but this was also around the time where his physical decline as a performer was beginning to become more noticeable.

I'll be blunt this match was a snorefest- instead of going for a sub ten minute wild brawl that would have played to both men's strengths (even if Andre was starting to turn into a giant plodder) they try to shoot for a methodically worked technical affair- only problem is neither of these men are exactly Tatsumi Fujinami and instead all it really turns out to be is a drawn out exchange of tedious rest holds.

The absolute nadir of this painfully boring match is a double front chancery, with both men practically laying face down on the mat- that goes on for so frigging long, that someone in the crowd could have got up from their seat, taken a long dump in the rest room, purchased some Tiger Mask merchandise for 'Little Shinji' and got themselves a Pocari Sweat from the vending machine, and Hulk and Andre still would have been laying on the mat together.

They go to the more wild brawling format they should have gone with down the stretch but Andre's plodding immobility is a little sad to watch (certainly compared to when he was in his prime during the 1970's) and the finish of the match is disappointing to say the least- though considering the whole match felt like I had wasted a chunk of my life watching it, I'm not sure that disappointing would be an accurate description for the conclusion of the contest.

One to avoid, unless you seriously suffer from Insomnia.

IWGP League 1983 Match- Antonio Inoki vs Akira Maeda

The Match: Considering Maeda's infamous reputation as a stiff striking shooter, I was expecting something a little more fiery from this match, but what we had instead was something rather more underwhelming.

The match wasn't bad per se, but it just lacked any kind of spark, in spite of an admittedly enthusiastic crowd. Suffering from a flat format, they spend too much time exchanging submission holds at the start, that have little rhyme or reason and don't play any part in the conclusion of the match. Instead the closing stretch just see's Maeda bring out everything including the proverbial kitchen sink against Inoki- but this is Inoki after all and even with new stars being built, he was still booked as being virtually unbeatable. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
30th May 1983- NJPW IWGP Championship League 1983 (Chiba Park Gymnasium)

Akira Maeda vs Hulk Hogan


The Match: Many have commented before on how Hogan was an entirely different beast when competing in Japan, and that if you've only been used to seeing his North American work, seeing him actually attempt to apply submission holds and the like is a bizarre experience.

Admittedly though armbars and the like were never really Hogan's forte, nor did they certainly play to his strengths as a burly powerhouse. What is nice to see though, is that Hogan had more to him (at least in his younger days, when he moved pretty well for a man of his size) than the formulaic sports entertainment routine he would settle into as Hulkamania took off in the WWF, and besides the Ax-Bomber lariat was such a more convincing finisher, than the lame legdrop.

As for this very match itself, between Hogan and Maeda, it's far from a classic but it's a decent back and forth affair, as two men with contrasting styles and philosophies managed to co-operate enough to put together a solid match. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2nd June 1983- NJPW IWGP Championship League 1983 (Kuramae Kokukigan, Tokyo)

(Vacant) NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Tiger Mask

The Match: The NWA World Junior title was still vacant following the controversial draw between Tiger Mask and his rival Dynamite Kid. Now Tiger Mask would look to regain the belt he had to vacate through injury once again- this time stepping into the ring against another man who had built up a vendetta against the masked fan favourite Kuniaki Kobayashi.

Despite a somewhat 'flat' finish, this ended up being the best of the showdowns between Tiger Mask and Kobayashi. Whilst it lacked some of the heat of their earlier affairs, with Kobayashi focusing more on just trying to beat Tiger Mask and win the title rather than look to psychologically and physically damage the masked superhero- it made up for it with exciting back and forth action, that rarely let up the pace from bell to bell.
In a lot of ways, I preferred this to the acclaimed final match between Tiger Mask and Dynamite Kid and even with the anti-climatic end, this is among the original Tiger Mask's finest work in NJPW.

Recommended ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
12th June 1983 UWA Tercera Confrontacion Mexico - Japan (Mexico City)
2/3 Falls Match for the vacant WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Fishman vs Tiger Mask

Fishman: Jose Angel Najera Sanchez began his lucha libre career in 1969 and worked through a variety of gimmicks, before settling on his most famous creation of Fishman.

In 1971 Fishman would join the top promotion in Mexico EMLL (now known as CMLL) where his more brutal wrestling style labelled him as a rudo (heel). A rising star during his time with the promotion, Fishman was the victor of several Lucha de Apuestas (wager matches) and a three time Mexican National Welterweight Champion

In 1978 Fishman would be among a number of wrestlers to join the breakaway UWA (Universal Wrestling Association) the first real competition to the monopoly EMLL had on the top tier of Mexican Lucha Libre. Within UWA Fishman, would go on to have further success, thrice winning the UWA World Light Heavyweight Championship in the early 80s.

The Match: Taking place at a UWA event in Mexico City, this match is for the WWF Junior Heavyweight title, that Tiger Mask was also forced to vacate two months earlier- would he go on to become a simultaneous NWA and WWF Junior champion once again, or would the WWF Junior belt find a new home in Mexico?

This match is pretty significant in the annuals of history, as it contains the only time the original Tiger Mask was pinned by any wrestler. Not even his most bitter rival Dynamite Kid managed to score a pin on Tiger Mask in NJPW and it was probably only because this match took place in Mexico, that Fishman had the privilege of being the only man in history to do so during the classic original run of the Tiger Mask character.

As for the match itself, it's something of a mixed bag or rather it gets significantly better as the match matures. The opening fall is over-long and to be honest pretty boring, featuring lots of stalling from Fishman, and matwork that goes absolutely nowhere. Thankfully the next two falls are worked at a considerably more urgent pace, as they deliver an enticing mix of crowd pleasing dives and topsy turvy nearfalls.

Mildly Recommended (Though you can easily skip the boring first 15 minutes)

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Fri Sep 25, 2015 11:34 pm

A pioneering legend shockingly calls it a day


7th July 1983- NJPW Summer Fight Series 1983 (Osaka Prefectural Sports Hall)

Abdullah The Butcher vs Dick Murdoch

The Match:
Hard to know who to get behind in this match, on one side you have an obese blood freak who allegedly infected other wrestlers with hepatitis, whilst on the other side you have an alleged member of the Klu Klux Klan.

Anyway as for this match, it was the crappy garbage brawl you would expect it to be, both of them end up bleeding and it all ends in a tedious crowd brawl. Seriously why is this match even posted up to the NJPW World archives? It's a forgettable garbage brawl of little to no importance.
I honestly don't think you could find anyone who is nostalgic for a Butcher-Murdoch match from 1983, nor do I think any newer fans are going to be desperate to seek out such a contest.

Frankly Doc Gallows dick swinging his belt between his legs is more worthwhile 'entertainment' than digging this match up out of the New Japan tape library and that's something no one would want to bear thinking about.

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Isamu Teranishi

Ishin Gundan: Isamu Teranishi entered New Japan as one of the IWE invaders lead by Rusher Kimura, but by this stage most of the IWE members had merged forces with Riki Choshu's 'New Wolves' faction (that also included Masa Saito, Kuniaki Kobayashi and Killer Khan) to form Ishin Gundan (Revolutionary Army). The Choshu lead Ishin Gundan were the top heel draw in New Japan- effectively bringing to an end the Japanese babyface vs gaijin heel model at the top of the card that had been in place since the days of Rikidozan.

The Match: Teranishi comes across to me as a 1980's Yujro Takahashi- not so much in the gimmick but the fact that both appeared to be slightly irritating midcard heels that work a fairly bland style (in comparison to the peers of their time). For the about the first two thirds this match is the definition of 'meh' (it's not bad per se, it's just not all that engaging) but to their credit it does get pretty good down the stretch, and to be fair Teranishi he does get his working boots on alongside Tiger Mask as the pace of the match heats up.

The real interest though is in the post match angle, where the Ishin Gundan pair of Teranishi and Kobayashi attack Tiger Mask and rip off his mask. Fortunately for Tiger Mask some young lions are on hand with the trusty towel and spare mask to help keep his identity a secret, but the dick move from Ishin Gundan let Tiger Mask now that they weren't done with hunting him down.

Mildly Recommended (more for the post angle than the match itself)

WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Riki Choshu (c) vs Tatsumi Fujimami

The Match: Much like their previous encounter, this one takes a little too long to get going- as they do the whole slow build thing of looking to wear down the opponent of trading submission holds and working over a bodypart.

Once the match does kick into a higher gear, as with their previous encounters it becomes really good and the finish which see's a pissed off Fujinami put Choshu in the Ishin Gundan leader's own Scorpion Death Lock was stirring stuff. They've let to have a match that has completely blown me away yet from the New Japan archives but Fujinami and Choshu were putting together a solid programme against one another and it's easy to see why at the time they were seen as the men to carry New Japan on their back post Inoki.

Mildly Recommended _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4th August 1983- NJPW Summer Fight Series 1983 (Kuramae Kokukigan, Tokyo)

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Isamu Teranishi

The Match: To the shock of everyone this would be Tiger Mask's final match in an NJPW ring, as he surpisingly announced his retirement from the wrestling business whilst still in his prime. The truth was that Tiger Mask (Sayama) was fed up of the backstage politics and he would resurface once again in the wrestling business when he helped form the Shoot Style promotion UWF with several other NJPW defectors (most notably rising star Akira Maeda).

The match itself ended up being very similar to Tiger Mask's first encounter against Teranishi, in the fact that it consisted of a largely forgettable and somewhat bland first two thirds and a pretty exciting closing stretch. If it wasn't for the fact that this was Tiger Mask's final NJPW match, this would have been an enjoyable but fairly forgettable entry in his career.

Sayama was originally more sizzle than steak when he originally donned the famous Tiger Mask, and was just as likely to frustrate with his botches and miscommunications than with this stunning athleticism and innovative ringwork but by the time his run came to a premature end he had truly settled into being the ace of the Junior Division and it's a real shame backstage polictics forced him to leave the New Japan ring far too soon.

Mildly Recommended

WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Riki Choshu (c) vs Tatsumi Fujinami

The Match: Fujinami and Choshu had thus far produced a good set of matches in their feud over the WWF International title, but all of them were missing something to make them truly outstanding or more to the point, their previous matches all ended strongly but took a little bit of time to warm up.....

This is the match where everything clicked and the contest between them this time was compelling from beginning to end. Where as previous matches the early mat and submission work, looked as though they were going through the motions with rest holds, this time the submission work had more of an edge to it right away, as they looked to synch in truly damaging holds such as the Scorpion Death Lock and cross armbreakers straight away.

The match then gradually ramped up the intensity as it built towards the intense climax one had to come to expect from their battles against one another. Highlights down the closing stretch are a double lariat knockdown that leads to the possibility both men might get counted out at the same time, a crazy moment where Fujinami gets caught up in the ropes and a backdrop suplex on the floor.

Recommended _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

28th August 1983- NJPW Bloody Fight Series 1983 (Denen Coliseum, Tokyo)

Antonio Inoki vs Rusher Kimura

The Match: It's the feud that won't die! This wasn't bad, but it was just a match, and was pretty much what we've seen between these two already. This feud kind of reminds me of the Ishii-Makabe feud taking place right now in New Japan, where the match-up just keeps on producing diminishing returns because the pairing can't come up with anything original.

For some reason during the post match segment involving the Ishin Gundam stable, one of the members (which I assume is Killer Khan) has a blurred out face?! Wonder why that is?

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sun Oct 04, 2015 10:59 am

Better late than never, but here's the final run of matches from 1983...

21st September 1983- NJPW Bloody Fight Series (Osaka Prefectural Sports Hall)

Antonio Inoki vs Rusher Kimura

The Match: A fairly short match that was surely the nail in the coffin for this endless feud between Inoki and Kimura. Kimura controlled the early going by knocking Inoki out of the ring, but as soon as Tony Knock took control, it was all one way traffic as he basically squashed Kimura and left the former IWE man a bloody mess. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
November 3rd 1983- Toukon Series 1983 (Kuramae Kokukigan, Tokyo)

Tournament Finals for the Vacant NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship: Davey Boy Smith vs The Cobra

Davey Boy Smith: David Boy Smith started his wrestling career in 1978, wrestling alongside his cousin Tom 'Dynamite Kid' Billington under the name of Young David. As with Billington, Smith was spotted by the Hart family and transferred to Canada to compete in the Stampede Promotion.

Davey Boy Smith as he was now called, as with his cousin became a key member of the roster and by 1983 had two runs as the Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Champion, one reign as the Stampede World Mid-Heavyweight Champion and a Stampede International Tag title reign alongside Bruce Hart on his resume.

With Tiger Mask's shocking retirement a few months earlier, NJPW's Junior Division was forced to go into a new direction, and DBS who had feuded with his cousin in Stampede was eventually invited over to once again follow the footsteps of his cousin and compete in Japan.

The Cobra: George Takano began his wrestling career in 1977 , with his early years spent on the undercard of NJPW, losing more often than not. In 1982 Takano then went on to excursion, firstly to Mexico and then to Stampede Wrestling in Canada where he donned a new masked persona 'The Cobra' and began to be billed from Uganda. In 1983, as The Cobra Takano won the Stampede British-Commonwealth Mid Heavyweight Title from Bruce Hart- before returning to New Japan as The Cobra in the fall of 1983 to become part of a newly directioned Junior Division in the wake of Tiger Mask's shock retirement.

The Match: Davey Boy Smith entered this match under a mask himself, as 'The Bandit' but quickly unmasked to reveal himself as Davey Boy Smith, with whom The Cobra had battled against during The Cobra's stint in Stampede.

Smith was already looking pretty muscular for a Junior, and worked a powerhouse style you wouldn't normally associate with wrestler's working in that weight class, but then again being a powerhouse would have been Smith's unique selling point in that division.

For the most part this match was incredibly slow for a Junior Heavyweight match, even for the time period and they spend way too much time laying around on the mat, in crowd energy zapping rest-holds. Things occasionally spark into life with a power spot from Smith or a display of athleticism from The Cobra but the match fails to pick up any kind of momentum until the closing stretch.

The closing stretch which is all too brief does finally spark the match into life as The Cobra crashes and burns on a dive to the floor and they exchange piledrivers on the outside but then the finish itself is rather anti-climatic, ending on a move that the crowd and even the commentators can barely buy as the finish.

Seiji Sakaguchi vs Animal Hamaguchi

Seiji Sakaguchi: Sakaguchi was a key member of the roster during the early years of New Japan, enjoying status as the Number 2 native wrestler behind the omnipresent Antonio Inoki and competing for championships. A decade on however Sakaguchi found himself in the respected veteran role, still booked reasonably strongly and involved in high profile feuds such as the Sekigun vs Ishin Gundan war, but long since faded out of the title picture.

The Match: This match was the first in a four match series between the New Japan Sekigun and Riki Choshu's Ishin Gundan stable, that took place at this event.

I never found Sakaguchi particularly interesting during his peak years, and he' still not all that interesting here. I'm pretty sure the only reason he became a 'star' was due to his legit combat sports background (Judo). It's not that he was ever terrible, he was by and large a competent wrestler but watching his work on New Japan World has hardly filled me with excitement. It also has to be said that Sakaguchi's opponent here, Hamaguchi falls into much the same category of being competent but fairly dull.

So this match was as you expect a passable contest between two competent but fairly dull proponents of grappling. The lame finish also does the match no favours.

Akira Maeda vs Riki Choshu

The Match: This match comes alive in fits and bursts, as some fiery exchanges are unfortunately interspersed with some dull rest holds (such as the dreaded neck scissors), something that seemed to strangely plague Choshu's matches, despite them being worked a much quicker pace than the long drawn out grapplefests of the 1970s involving the likes of Inoki, Sakaguchi,Gotch etc.

As with Choshu's battles with Fujinami they manage to really pick things up down the stretch, with Maeda's desperation in trying to escape the Scorpion Death Lock, just about making the match somewhat worthwhile checking out.

Yoshiaki Yatsu vs Antonio Inoki

Yoshiaki Yatsu: Yatsu started out as an Amateur Wrestler, and competed at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, and would have also competed at the 1980 Moscow Olympics had Japan not followed the American led boycott of those games. Soon after that Yatsu announced his intention to become a Pro Wrestler and joined New Japan Pro Wrestling.

In the following years Yatsu would split his time between NJPW and being sent on excursions to the U.S for a variety of promotions including the WWF and WCWA, where we won the World Class World Television Championship.

The Match: You would think that with his legit background Yatsu would at least try to out-wrestle Inoki but he spends much of the match being a chicken-shit and looking to bail to a floor. To be fair Yatsu does manage to get in some offence during the middle portion of the match after somehow gaining a cheaply gained advantage but Inoki soon seizes back control and I'm pretty sure you can all guess how this one ends up. Not a great match, but 'angry' Inoki does make for a decent watch.

Foot- Note: A WWF International Title defence from Tatsumi Fujinami against Ishin Gundan member Killer Khan also took place at the same show, but for some reason they didn't decide to post that match up to New Japan World. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ December 7th 1983- NJPW MSG Tag League 1983 (Takamatsu Civic Culture Center)

MSG Tag League 1983 Match: 'North South Connection' Adrian Adonis & Dick Murdoch vs 'Ishin Gundan' : Animal Hamaguchi & Riki Choshu

Adrian Adonis: Keith Franke began his wrestling career in 1974, and worked the NWA circuit as Keith Franks. In 1978 he changed his ring name to Adrian Adonis and adopted the gimmick of a leather clad biker, before become a regular for the AWA promotion between 1979 to 1981.
Adonis would then move on to the WWF, whilst also doing his first tour of Japan in 1982 with NJPW through the two promotion's working relationship at the time. It was during this period that Adonis would form a Tag Team partnership with Dick Murdoch, calling themselves the North South Connection.

The Match: Well that was twenty minutes of my life I won't get back. This was twenty minutes of 'slow build' with basic brawling and tag team work before the match abrubtly comes to a halt with a crappy finish. I very much doubt that people have nothing better to do than to have to endure this tedious contest.

MSG Tag League 1983 Match: Antonio Inoki & Hulk Hogan vs Akira Maeda & Tatsumi Fujinami

The Match: This is considerably better than the borefest between Ishin Gundan and the North South Connection from the same show, primarily because (especially in the case of the Fujinami/Maeda tandem) the participants are a more dynamic set of wrestlers.
However it generally comes across as less than the sum of it's parts, due mostly to the fact that both team's come across more as a a pairing of individuals, rather than as proper well oiled tag teams. There's flashes of good work but it never quite reaches the level to captivate the viewer at home, even if the Takamatsu crowd (who would probably cheer Inoki reading the phone book) are wildly into the match throughout.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Wed Oct 07, 2015 4:18 pm

1984 would become something of a crisis year for NJPW, and that's reflected by the rather small selection of matches chosen to represent the year. In the middle of the year rising star Akira Maeda would lead a walk out of several wrestlers to form the UWF (the martial arts influenced shoot style wrestling promotion, that is seen as a fore-runner to the MMA boom that would was to follow) and then later in the year Riki Choshu and the rest of his Ishin Gundan allies walked out on New Japan to form their own promotion Japan Pro Wrestling- who would have a working relatonship with AJPW- though eventually Choshu and his 'invaders' would eventually become permanent fixtures in AJPW over the next few years.

1st January 1984- New Year Golden Series 1984 (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo)

Ishin Gundan (Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu) vs. Akira Maeda & Tatsumi Fujinami

The Match: Apart from another disappointing finish (what is with all these matches with crappy finishes on New Japan World?!) this was a well worked back and forth tag match, that got across the on-going intensity of both the Sekigun vs Ishin Gundan feud in general and Choshu and Fujinami's on-going personal rivalry. They seemed to be ready to take the match to the next level, when Maeda was on the wrong end of a spike piledriver but then ended up being the peak of a match that was good but not exceptional.

Mildly Recommended
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 27th January 1984- New Year Golden Series (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Nagoya)

Abdullah The Butcher vs Bad News Allen

The Match: Thus far in New Japan, Bad News Allen had tended to be on the same side as Abdullah The Butcher, when both were touring the promotion, but something must have happened that caused them to try and kill one another instead of somebody else. There's only so much the results section of either man's Cagematch profile can tell you.

Anyway I'm not entirely sure that this plodding but mercifully short scrap actually officially got started- as Bad News brings a broken bottle into the ring and then it just sort of merges into a pull apart brawl that predictably ends up with them scrapping amongst the crowd.
_________________________________________________________________________________________ 3rd February 1984- New Year Golden Series (Nakajima Sports Center, Tokyo)

Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu

Just to say that if you click on this video, you're not actually getting a match. An already bloodied Choshu comes to the ring, and basically himself and Fujinami engage in a Pull Apart Brawl. __________________________________________________________________________________

9th February 1984- New Year Golden Series (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)

Akira Maeda, Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Ishin Gundan (Animal Hamaguchi, Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu)

The Match: A pretty intense six man tag that is constantly on the brink of dissolving into total chaos, as the molten hot war between the NJPW Sekigun and Ishin Gundan continues. Yoshiaki Fujiwara (who ends up getting bloodied) spends much of the match playing 'Ricky Morton' but the heel control segments from Ishin Gundan are never allowed to get tedious and the rabid crowd fully behind Inoki and co. against Choshu's pack of wolves certainly helps lift the match.

Mildly Recommended ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 19th April 1984- NJPW Big Fight Series II Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu *

* This match-up was the final and decisive match-up of a 10 man gauntlet match between the NJPW Sekigun and Ishin Gundan. Also competing for the Sekigun side were Kengo Kimura, Nobuhiko Takada, Tatsumi Fujinami & Yoshiaki Fujiwara, whilst Animal Hamaguchi, Isamu Teranishi, Kuniaki Kobayashi & Yoshiaki Yatsu represented Ishin Gundan.

The Match: It's a real shame and frankly odd that NJPW decided not to post up the entire gauntlet match, rather than just the decisive showdown between the respective leaders.

Anyway what we do get between Choshu and Inoki, is actually pretty good- there are a few instances where the match unfortunately slows down for some rest holds (including the ever tedious neckscissors being applied by either man at some stage during the match), but for the most part they keep the pace high and deliver an enticing blend of technical submission work and intense brawling. As always whenever Inoki is involved, the rabid support for the legendary NJPW founder helps to lift any match that he is in, and at this stage Inoki was still able to repay the faithful by still being useful in the ring.

Mildly Recommended ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 24th May 1984- NJPW IWGP League 1984 (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)

IWGP League 1984 Match: Dick Murdoch vs Adrian Adonis

The Match: As stated in my previous entry for the back end of 1983, these two were regular tag team partners at the tine, but here they would be forced to face off in singles competition in the second running of the IWGP League (which in all honesty was just a renamed MSG League).
Of the frankly pathetic selection of matches we get for 1984 from the NJPW archives, they inexplicably choose this as one of them. This wasn't the worst match I've ever seen, but it was a forgettable and mediocre affair, with a strong dose of rest holds and shoulder tackles that occasionally sparked into life enough not be a total dud.

Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Ishin Gundan (Masa Saito & Riki Choshu)

Masa Saito: Saito represented Japan at then 1964 Tokyo Olympics in freestyle wrestling before turning to pro wrestling the following year. Saito's early career however was spent primarily touring the North American circuit, primarily for NWA affiliates where he would find tag team success alongside another Japanese import in Kenji Shibuya.

By the mid 70's Saito would eventually find himself working in Japan for NJPW but still spent a good chunk of time throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's working in North America, where he got over as a foreign heel and found particular success in the tag ranks, accumulating regional NWA title reigns alongside the likes of Ivan Koloff and Mr Sato (The Great Kabuki) and perhaps most notably for older western wrestling fans, with Mr Fuji in the WWF where they would twice win the WWF Tag Team Championship between 1981 and 1982.

The Match: This wasn't the most dynamic match that these four could have had, but it was well worked with a solid story that saw the Ishin Gundan duo control most of the match, and consistently cut off the attempted rallies of the fan favourites to gradually wear Inoki and Fujinami down to the point where the fresh man on the Sekigun side became increasingly ineffective. Unfortunately the finish is a little screwy, and is clearly designed to protect a certain someone who almost never 'jobs' with a supersized ego but that doesn't take away from the well executed storytelling throughout the contest.

Mildly Recommended _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1st June 1984- NJPW IWGP League 1984 (Takamatsu Civic Culture Center)

IWGP League 1984 Match: Riki Choshu vs Andre The Giant

The Match: The only real point of interest here is the fact that this was a rare one on one showdown between Choshu and Andre. Choshu tries his best to keep things mildly interesting with some fiery brawling and even mustering up the strength to bodyslam the lumbering giant at one stage but Andre was becoming more immobile with each passing year and unfortunately his leaden plodding drags the match down. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 14th June 1984- NJPW IWGP League 1984 (Kuramae Kokukigan, Tokyo)

IWGP League 'Finals' Match: Antonio Inoki vs Hulk Hogan

The Match: In the first edition of the newly renamed IWGP League, Hulk Hogan emerged as the victor, when he defeated Antonio Inoki by countout in the finals. Even though Inoki avoided defeat by pinfall or submission, a victory over him by any means was seen as a major deal and a sure sign that Hogan's star was sky-rocketing on both sides of the Pacific.

Hogan didn't take place in the 1984 league, which Inoki ended up winning but was here to defend the IWGP Trophy in the form of a token belt (this is where the confusion mostly arises when some people, including Hogan himself consider him to be the first IWGP Champion) that he had won the previous year.

Seeing Hogan attempting armbars is still bizarre, considering that over in America he would become the epitome of the brawling plus finisher type of wrestler that would become the staple of the WWF/E. Anyway they could have had the makings of a good match here, with Inoki fighting from the underneath against a stronger more powerful opponent, but unfortunately the match is hamstrung by a couple of hokey re-starts and a garbage finish (which see's Choshu stick his oar in), where some of the fans in attendance make their feelings known by literally throwing garbage into the ring.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2nd August 1984- NJPW Summer Fight Series 1984 (Kuramae Kokukigan, Tokyo)

Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu

The Match: Technically you could say that this was the second time Inoki and Choshu would meet in a single match-up, following both men facing off against one another in the Sekigun vs Ishin Gundan Gauntlet match in April.

A somewhat drawn out match that manages to delight and frustrate in equal measure- a problem I tend to find with many of Choshu's longer singles matches no matter who he happens to be in the ring with. The first ten minutes or perhaps more of the match are so slow, they feel like a throwback to 1972, but then things pick up in the middle where they draw in the crowd with a tensely dramatic sequence where Inoki stubbornly refuses to succumb to Choshu's Scorpion Deathlock.

Unfortunately instead of driving ahead towards the finishing stretch after that, the match suffers another lull of resthold based tedium- when the final stretch does come it's pretty good and has a smartly worked finish that see's the loser look strong in defeat but the winner comes across as out-smarting their opponent.

Mildly Recommended

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sat Oct 17, 2015 11:52 pm

It's now 1985 and New Japan was still reeling from the defection of several roster members (most nobably rising star Akira Maeda) to form the up-start UWF promotion and then the departure of Riki Choshu and the rest of Ishin Gundan, who would eventually show up in NJPW's traditional rivals AJPW.

There was hope on the horizon for New Japan with the emergence of an incredible class of wrestling talent (a class that included Mutoh, Hashimoto, Chono and Liger) that would go on to forge legendary careers but it would be several years yet before any of them would truly come to prominence. For now it was up to the enduring popularity of their icon and owner Antonio Inoki, along with the loyal Tatsumi Fujinami and a mix of gaijin imports to help NJPW ride out the storm.

April 18th 1985- NJPW Big Fight Series II 1985 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)

Antonio Inoki vs Bruiser Brody

Bruiser Brody: Beginning his wrestler career in 1973 Frank Goodish, settled upon the wildman brawler character of Bruiser Brody two years later, and that's when his wrestling career really began to take off. Brody then became a well travelled perfomer across North America working for the various NWA affiliaties, WWWF, WCWA and AWA, winning a variety of singles and tag titles and often engaging in feuds with other notable bloodthirsty 'psychopaths' such as Adullah The Butcher.

In 1979 Brody would travel to Japan for the first time to work for All Japan Pro Wrestling, and whilst he had a reasonable amount of success in North America, it was with AJPW during the early 80's where he would make a greater impact- twice winning the NWA International Championship (one of the belts that would eventually make up AJPW's Triple Crown). In 1985 having been associated with AJPW the entire time since coming to Japan, Brody made the slightly surprising move to jump ship to rivals NJPW and immediately engage in a feud with it's owner Antonio Inoki.

The Match: This feels like a throwback to the 1970s/early 80s and Inoki's battles with fellow gaijin heels in the vein of Tiger Jeet Singh and Stan Hansen. Basic story of this match was the ever determined Inoki trying to overcome the hard headed wildman that appears to be impervious to pain.

Inoki came into this match with his left arm strapped up and there were a few occasions where the injury appeared to come into play, with Brody seeing the arm as an obvious target early on and Inoki at one point struggling to suplex the wild brawler.
The first two thirds of the match swing back and forth between Brody man overpowering Inoki, and the NJPW founder rallying and putting together offence to consistently put Brody down but not out. Inoki then soon realises that attacks to Brody's noggin aren't having much affect, so he then viciously attacks Brody right leg, to the point that the unkempt wildman has a bloody knee, but despite Inoki's relentless attack Brody refuses to buckle under the pressure.

The crowd were really into this, as is always the case with Inoki's matches and they told a logical story here with Inoki changing up his strategy in the face of such as stubborn opponent, but in all honesty it could have done with condensing down a bit as Inoki's never ending stream of kicks towards Brody's knee towards the end of the match, ends up crossing the line into overkill.

Mildly Recommended _____________________________________________________________________ June 11th 1985- NJPW IWGP & WWF Champion Series (Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium)
WWF World Heavyweight Championship: Hulk Hogan vs Tatsumi Fujinami

Hulk Hogan: Now established as a megastar of the squared circle in both his native USA and Japan, Hulkamania had well and truly taken off, with Hogan in the midst of an 18 month long reign with the WWF World Heavyweight Championship (he would eventually hold it for just over 4 years).

The Match: WWF owner Vincent J.McMahon is in attendance for this match, but this tour would signal the end of NJPWs working relationship with the WWF, as McMahon forged towards his isolationist policy when it came to sharing talent with other promotions.

As much as Hogan would become an egotistical 'cancer' only in business for himself- seeing his work for NJPW showed me that it wasn't so much as case that he couldn't wrestle at all (as is often the common misconception), and more the case that when in America he knew his cartoonish schtik and simplistic moveset was enough to please the WWF fanbase. It was like he knew as soon as he touched down in Japan, 'Hulking Up' and wagging his finger at his opponent wouldn't wash with the Japanese fans. It's not that he suddenly turned into a wrestling genius outside of America, more a case that he wasn't completely devoid of 'work-rate' and/or technical ability.

Anyway the match itself, is simply OK- nothing more, nothing less. They start with some technical mat-work, with Vince at ringside visibly bored and internally asking himself 'why the hell isn't he hulking up?!' before they pick up the pace with Fujinami pluckily trying to go toe to toe with the gaijin powerhouse. The end unfortnately see's Hogan botch the Ax-Bomber- something that doesn't help the case for defence when it comes to going into bat for Hogan's ability as a 'wrestler' and not a 'sports entertainer' . Still at least he tried when in Japan, and it's a kind of shame we didn't see more of this side of Hogan in the West.

Andre The Giant vs Antonio Inoki

The Match: I'd rather be forced into watching an episode of Boku No Pico, than having to watch this mind numbing abomination of a match again. Most of the match consists of a barely mobile Andre The Giant putting Inoki in a string of tedious rest holds (including a nerve hold that feels like as though it has been applied for an entire millenia).

Once you've seen Andre in his prime during the 70s when he could move and bump pretty well for a man of his colossal size, watching him barely drag himself around the ring when the weight of his body caught up with him is depressing to watch.
________________________________________________________________________ June 13th 1985- NJPW IWGP & WWF Champion Series (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Nagoya)

IWGP Championship Match: Antonio Inoki vs Hulk Hogan

The Match: This would be the final showdown between Inoki and Hogan inside of a New Japan ring, as the working relationship with the WWF would end up being dissolved after this tour. Coming into this match these two wrestling icons (though Hogan was still establishing his legacy at this stage, where as Inoki was already perceived to be a legend) were 1-1 in singles matches, though both victories saw the loser avoid defeat by pinfall or submission.

The match itself isn't bad and they work it a pretty high pace throughout, keeping the early mat-work to a minimum and playing to their respective strenghts of Hogan as a powerhouse and Inoki's fiery determination. However if you've seen their previous two encounters, there isn't really anything new to see here, especially as the finish is still designed to protect (the ego) of the losing participant. ___________________________________________________________________________ 1st August 1985- NJPW Burning Spirit In Summer (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)

Antonio Inoki vs Bruiser Brody

The Match: Huss! Huss! Huss! Bruiser Brody, certainly had a rather unique form of tourettes- well that was until the Berzerker (John Nord) copied the gimmick wholesale.

Starting off with the good points from this match it's varied enough in structure from their previous encounter in April to be watched alongside that match, if you want to follow the feud between these two. Playing off the last match, Inoki looked to wear Brody down by targetting the legs early on, he abandons that later and goes back to trying to knock Brody down with enziguiri's in a back and forth closing stretch that see's Inoki take a piledriver on exposed concrete from the bearded madman.

However they once again go for long and epic, meaning that much of the early portion of the match gets bogged down with a Brody control segment and rest holds. Quite frankly these matches would be much better if they cut around 5 to 10 minutes of what I would only term to be faffing about and get to the meat of the match a lot sooner. Sometimes the slow build part can be interesting, but more often than not it's just there to falsely manufacture the feeling that the competitors have gone through an epic battle.

The contest also disappointingly finishes yet again in an inconclusive manner, they were clearly going for a narrative that this hard headed madman was going to be Inoki's toughest opponent yet and that he was consistently impervious to pain (Inoki can keep knocking him down, but Brody just keeps getting back up) but that doesn't make the lack of a concrete finish is any less frustrating.
___________________________________________________________________________ 30th August 1985- NJPW Challenge Spirit 1985 (Yamagata City Gymnasium)

Giant Machine & Super Machine vs Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi

The Machines: The Machines were masked wrestler's that wore the same style of maks as Super Strong Machine, though it was often obvious who the wrestler was under the mask. In the case of Giant Machine it was very obviously Andre The Giant. Worker under the mask of Super Machine was Bill Eadie a 12 year veteran who split his time working between America and Japan, mostly under the gimmick of The Masked Superstar.

The Match: I would rather watch an endless loop of Guns and Gallows vs The Kingdom matches, than have to watch this dreadful match again. The Machines are terrible (Andre was a spent force, Eadie is just boring) and Sakaguchi is his consistently average self. Inoki annoyingly omnipresent as he was still was in 80's New Japan, is the best thing in this match but he's not going to be able to do heavy lifting with the sacks of shite he has to work with in this time waster of a contest.

I know that New Japan were still reeling from the UWF walkout and the departure of Choshu and his Ishin Gundan chronies during 1985, but surely there must have been more interesting stuff going on that year, than this rubbish.
___________________________________________________________________________

18th September 1985- NJPW Challenge Series 1985 (Fukuoka Sports Center)

Keiji Mutoh vs Tony St.Claire

Keiji Mutoh: A future puroresu legend, Mutoh was a young lion at this stage with less than a year competitive in-ring experience.

Tony St.Clair: Hailing from Bolton England and beginning his wrestling career in 1966, St.Clair was a two time British Heavyweight Champion, who had been invited to tour with New Japan since 1979

The Match: Speaking of more interesting things going on in 1985, there was an impressive set of young lions coming through, and a talented chap by the name of Keiji Mutoh was part of what would arguably become the most revered class of dojo graduates in New Japan history.
The match is what you would call good in parts, as we get a strong glimpse of the dynamic performer Mutoh would become (before the knee problems took their toll), as he even pulls out the handspring back elbow and moonsault that would become signatures of his move-set to try and put St.Claire away. You already get the sense from watching Mutoh here, that he was going to be a special talent that would help evolve professional wrestling.

St.Clair was your typical mat based wrestler from Britain. There will certainly be others who will enjoy this style more than me, but personally I felt the match lost momentum and became a bit dull whenever he seized control.

The contest isn't consistently good enough for me to give this a recommendation of any kind, but if you're particularly interested in following Mutoh/Muta's NJPW career, then this isn't a bad place to start.
___________________________________________________________________________ 19th September 1985- NJPW Challenge Series 1985 (Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium)

Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami

The Match: If you suffer from a short attention span, then this isn't the match for you. They take slow build to the extreme here, as they spend most of the match on the mat exchanging and finding ways to escape from submission holds. The match does eventually come alive down the stretch, waking up the crowd in the process but it certainly takes a long time to get going.

The work in itself is well executed but only those heavily into this mat-based 'human game of chess' style are going to fully appreciate what Inoki and Fujinami were going for here. In terms of story, it somewhat recalls the early NJPW matches Inoki had with Karl Gotch. Except this time Inoki found himself in the role of the wily veteran who still had some gas left in the tank, and Fujinami was the top tier talent in the prime of his career.

The finish isn't without controversy, as special guest referee Lou Thesz calls for the bell, whilst it looked like the eventual loser of the match still had some fight left in them. ___________________________________________________________________________ 6th December 1985- IWGP Tag Team League (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)

* The NJPW World site has this incorrectly dated taking place on the 11th September. Possibly confusing the selected match with one between Dick Murdoch and The Masked Superstar against Nord The Barbarian (aka The Berzerker) and Hacksaw Higgins

IWGP Tag Team League Match: Bruiser Brody & Jimmy Snuka vs. Dick Murdoch & The Masked Superstar

Jimmy Snuka: A bodybuilder in Hawaii througout the 1960's, Fijian born Jimmy Snuka would turn to professional wrestling by the end of the decade. Throughout the 1970's Snuka would primarily work the NWA circuit, though it was with Pacific Northwest Wrestling where he would find his most consistent success, winning the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship 7 times (primarily alongside Dutch Savage) and the NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship 6 times. The turn of the decade saw two NWA World Tag Team title reigns (the first with Paul Ordnoff, the second with Ray Stevens) and a run as the NWA United States Heavyweight Champion.

In 1982 Snuka would join the WWF, working as a heel managed by Captain Lou Albano- Snuka would unsuccesfully challenge Bob Backlund for the WWF World Heavyweight title in a series of matches between the two, but Snuka's daredevil style of wrestling caught the admiration of the fans and he soon turned face, before feuding with Don Muraco the following year. That feud would lead to the defining moment of Snuka's career- the now legendary superfly splash off the top of the Steel Cage.

The Match: This turned out to be an average display of tag team Wrasslin' that would have felt more at home in Nashville than Tokyo. Brody and Murdoch both had their working boots on and did their best to keep the match relatively engaging throughout, however the Masked Chubster (Bill Eadie) added nothing to the match, whilst Snuka was a real disappointment and did next to nothing of note, except for one Superfly Splash for a nearfall. The weak ending only adds further fuel to the conclusion that this match is watchable but not worth going out of your way to see. ___________________________________________________________________________ 12th December 1985- IWGP Tag Team League (Miyagi Sports Center, Sendai)

IWGP Tag Team League Finals / IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura

The Match: A historically important match as not only was this match to crown the winners of the annual IWGP Tag League, but also to crown the first IWGP Tag Team Champions. Even though there had been an IWGP Championship belt for the annual IWGP League, it was not a proper championship defended all year round and the IWGP Tag belts were the first proper championships to be the property of New Japan, after effectively relying on receiving championships on loan from other promotions such as the WWF.

Had it not been for circumstances, this specific match up to crown the inaugral IWGP Tag Champions should not have taken place, that's because Bruiser Brody and Jimmy Snuka actually finished top of the league standings, whilst Fujinami and Kimura finished in second place. However Brody and Snuka ended up no-showing the finals, after being persuaded to jump back to AJPW, as the rivalry between the two leading promotions in Japan intensified during the 1980's.

Even though Brody and Snuka's no show must have been galling for New Japan, it perhaps worked out for the better that this ended up being the match to crown the first IWGP Tag champions, as the match ends up providing a nice passing of the torch moment. I don't normally like to give away the winner(s) of the match, even if is easy enough to look them up whilst reviewing these matches but it's hard not to do it with this match, as Inoki ends up putting Fujinami over. Inoki ends up kicking out a fraction too late after being pinned, and Fujinami's joyful reaction is priceless, as he can't quite believe he got the three count on the notoriously hard to beat legend.

Fujinami had enjoyed a consistently strong push since being the ace of the Junior Division in the late 70's but he it still felt as though he was in the shadow of the omnipresent Inoki. This match felt like the first real step towards Inoki actually finally passing the torch, even if he did do it in such a manner, to make it look as though Fujinami just about sneaked the victory over him.

As for the match itself, it goes over 30 minutes but it never feels slow or bogged down, as they keep a nice consistent pace throughout and constantly mix things up with a nice blend of technical mat-work and fiery brawling from both teams. Fujinami and Inoki as expected both bring their A-Game, but credit here to their lesser heralded tag partners Sakaguchi and Kimura who really step it up, to not end up being the weak links in the match.

I've never been all that impressed with what I have seen of Sakaguchi following the progress of NJPW on New Japan World but he had his working boots on here and certainly played his part in helping to deliver a quality contest to crown the first IWGP Tag champs.

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