A history of NJPW with New Japan World

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:29 pm

Before I move on to 1986 and what I would perceive to be a beginning of a New era for NJPW with the return of the UWF defectors, here's an overview of the matches worth seeking out thus far....

Recommended Matches List:

This includes all matches to feature within an NJPW ring that I have either given a rating of Recommended or Mildly Recommended.

Dec 1975- 2/3 Falls Match NWF World Championship: Antonio Inoki (c) vs Billy Robinson
Jul 1978- WWWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami (c) vs Ryuma Go
Jun 1979- WWF Junior Heavyweight Title: Tatsumi Fujinami (c) vs El Canek
Dec 1979- WWF Junior Heavyweight Title: Tatsumi Fujinami (c) vs Kengo Kimura
Feb 1980- WWF Junior Heavyweight Title: Tatsumi Fujinami (c) vs Dynamite Kid
Apr 1980- NWF World Heavyweight Title: Stan Hansen (c) vs Antonio Inoki
Sep 1980- NWF Heavyweight Title: Antonio Inoki (c) vs Stan Hansen
Sep 1981- Andre The Giant vs Stan Hansen
Nov 1981- Gran Hamada vs Tiger Mask
Jan 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Jan 1982- WWF Championship: Bob Backlund (c) vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Jan 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Dynamite Kid
Apr 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Steve Wright
Apr 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Black Tiger
May 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Black Tiger (c) vs Tiger Mask
Jun 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Ultraman
Jul 1982- Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Aug 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Dynamite Kid
Oct 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Kuniaki Kobayashi
Nov 1982- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami (c) vs Riki Choshu
Jan 1983- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Kuniaki Kobayashi
Apr 1983- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami (c) vs Riki Choshu
Apr 1983- Decision match for the vacant NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Jun 1983- (Vacant) NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Tiger Mask
Jul 1983- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Isamu Teranishi
Jul 1983- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Riki Choshu (c) vs Tatsumi Fujimami
Aug 1983- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask (c) vs Isamu Teranishi
Aug 1983- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Riki Choshu (c) vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Jan 1984- Ishin Gundan (Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu) vs. Akira Maeda & Tatsumi Fujinami
Feb 1984- Akira Maeda, Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Ishin Gundan (Animal Hamaguchi, Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu)
Apr 1984- Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu *
* This was the end of a Gauntlet match between NJPW Sekigun and Ishin Gundan.
May 1984- Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Ishin Gundan (Masa Saito & Riki Choshu)
Aug 1984- Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu
Apr 1985- Antonio Inoki vs Bruiser Brody
Dec 1985- IWGP Tag Team League Finals / IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura

List of NJPW Wrestlers to feature in more than 2 Recommended Matches:

Tiger Mask (Satoru Sayama)- 14 Matches
Tatsumi Fujinami- 12 Matches
Antonio Inoki- 9 Matches
Riki Choshu- 8 Matches
Dynamite Kid- 6 Matches
Kuniaki Kobayashi- 3 Matches
Stan Hansen- 3 Matches

Great Rivalries:

Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid (1982/1983)- 5 Matches
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (1982-1984)- 4 Matches (+ 2 Tag Matches)
Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (1983)- 3 Matches
Last edited by Tigerkinney on Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Morten VH » Thu Oct 22, 2015 11:24 am

This series is pure gold! Please keep up the very good work!

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Fri Oct 23, 2015 12:06 am

Morten VH wrote:This series is pure gold! Please keep up the very good work!
Thanks :) It's been fun doing this, even if some of matches have been a chore to sit through (e.g Inoki vs Andre from 1985), but on the whole it's been a pleasure to delve into New Japan's rich history.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:49 am

Into 1986 and the UWF defectors are back in New Japan and ready to instigate a revolution within the 'House That Inoki Built'

3rd January 1986- NJPW New Year's Dash (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo)

Akira Maeda vs Nobuhiko Takada

Akira Maeda: Maeda was amongst the most high profile defectors from New Japan to form the UWF in 1984, however despite the promotion doing relatively good business, it fell apart over disagreements between Maeda and Satoru Sayama (Tiger Mask) over the direction the up-start should go in. By the end of 1985 the promotion folded and Maeda and several other NJPW defectors, returned to New Japan as an invading stable.

Nobuhiko Takada: Graduating from the New Japan Dojo in 1981, Takada was one of several New Japan wrestlers to join the up-start UWF in 1984.

The Match: The UWF 'Invasion' actually started off pretty low-key with this showcase match between two of the defectors to the renegade promotion. Whilst there have been glimpses of what most would consider to be Strong Style in the past, on the whole the wrestling in New Japan was a combination of influences from America, Europe and Mexico (more the Juniors). It's here with the return of the UWF defectors, that we get the sense that the promotion is about to shift towards the combination of stiff strikes and focused submission work that would come to define the term Strong Style.

Though not a classic by any means, this match is a solidly worked example of the style that would come to define New Japan, as they combine intense back and forth striking with mat based submission work that includes some neatly delivered reversals down the stretch.

Mildly Recommended _____________________________________________________________________
5th February 1986- NJPW New Years Dash (Osaka Castle Hall)

Akira Maeda vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Yoshiaki Fujiwara: A seemingly loyal member of NJPW since it's inception in 1972, but perhaps due to his lack of championship success and perennial midcarder status within Inoki's promotion, the veteran was amongst those to join the Maeda led walkout to the UWF in 1984.

The Match: Another all 'UWF' affair as Maeda tests himself against the veteran Fujiwara. This was technically 2 matches , because at one point they get tangled up in a submission on the outside, and the ref re-starts with the match after both competitors agree that they did not want their contest to end with a non decisive finish.

The match itself is primarily a grappling affair with both men looking to sink in submission holds with the occasional burst of tectchy brawling. Unsurprisingly Fujiwara main point of attack is to slap his signature Fujiwara armbar on Maeda, whilst Maeda is mainly focused on leg based submission holds. It's a match where you can appreciate the technical craft from both of the competitors, but they fail to consistently hold your attention, with the match only coming alive in fits and starts- something that is reflected by the rather in and out reaction to the match from the Osaka Castle Hall crowd.

Antonio Inoki & Keiichi Yamada vs Nobuhiko Takada & Osamu Kido

Keiichi Yamada: Junior Heavyweight Yamada is now part of the revered 'Class of 1984' that would end up delivering a number of future wrestling legends. Yamada would go on to be arguably the greatest Super Junior of all time- though it wasn't until he was given an iconic mask and gimmick that he would achieve those heights.

Osamu Kido: Kido began his in-ring career in 1969 for the long defunct JWA promotion, before jumping across to New Japan in 1972. A solid hand Kido, was unable to rise above the lower midcard during his lengthy tenure with NJPW due to his lack of charisma and unflashy wrestling style. Amongst those to jump over to the UWF, Kido was able to get over stronger than he ever did in over a decade with NJPW, in a promotion that put legit in-ring ability above anything else.

The Match: It's certainly strange seeing the future Jushin Thunder Liger as a young lion, even the trademark long hair isn't there yet. Yamada basically spends most of the match being taken to the school of hard knocks by the UWF pair by being stretched and kicked all over the ring- occasionally getting the odd bit of respite by tagging in Inoki who is able to briefly turn the tide, only to foolishly tag his young lion partner back in.

Yamada (Liger) looks solid enough here for a young lion, though if you were watching this match at the time, I doubt you would be thinking that here was going to be a future legend in the making. Overall the match itself is decent enough, though will only be of particular interest to those who want to see a future legend at the early stage of their storied career.
_____________________________________________________________________ 6th February 1986- NJPW New Years Dash (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Shiro Koshinaka vs The Cobra

Shiro Koshinaka: Koshinaka made his debut for Giant Baba's All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1979 and would spend the early years as a young lion primarily putting other talent over. In 1983 it would appear he would begin making a breakthrough in AJPW, when he won the Lou Thesz Cup tournament, defeating future legend Mitsuharu Misawa in the process.

Koshinaka was then sent on excursion to EMLL under the guise of Samurai Shiro, but whilst languishing in Mexico, he felt forgotten about by AJPW and when he returned to Japan he decided to jump across to the rival NJPW, where he hoped to find success within their Junior Division.
The Cobra: George Takano under the guise of 'The Cobra' had been part of NJPW since 1978, but had also been making regular excursions to the Canadian based Stampede Wrestling during the past couple of years, where he was a 2 time Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Champion.

Takano also found success within New Japan itself, twice winning the WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship, before the title was retired when the working relationship between NJPW and the WWF was dissolved in the fall of 1985.

The Match: This match was to crown the first ever IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and though not a bad match, you couldn't exactly call it a classic either. Unfortunately at this moment in time the Junior Division was in a transitional phase after the Tiger Mask era and before the emergence of Jushin Thunder Liger and several other notable Juniors that would come to prominence during the next decade.

Koshinaka was a solid hand but he wasn't really someone you would want to carry the division, a sort of Ryusuke Taguchi of his time (which is kind of a fitting analogy really, seeing as Taguchi is now copying his penchant for butt based offence). He's the better of the two here though, as at times George 'The Cobra' Takano tries a little too hard to add some flash to his attack- this results in two incredibly lame moments from The Cobra in quick succession. The first see's The Cobra go up top, look as though he is about to hit a missile drop-kick but then just kind of stumble into the ring, the second see's him go for a somersault plancha only for him to completely botch the landing.

The closing stretch to it's credit is fairly thrilling and almost earns the match a minor recommendation (still you might just want to check this out for the historical importance). Koshinaka goes for various pinning combinations, whilst The Cobra tries for a more vicious approach. In the end the eventual loser lets victory slip from their grasp, as they make an error in judgement that allows their opponent to immediately strike the vital blow.

Antonio Inoki vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara

The Match: You get the sense that Inoki could have literally just taken a nap in the middle of the ring and the crowd would still be into any match that he was in, that's how over he was with the New Japan fans, and it has to be said that their consistently rabid reaction to his bouts consistently lifts in the most mediocre of his matches.

However that opening statement doesn't really apply to this match, as this blend of grappling and grouchiness turned out a pretty good match, regardless of crowd interaction. They kick things off with some tetchy brawling, where you really get the sense that Inoki is pissed at these traitors coming back to strut around in 'his' ring. The match settles down as both look to wear down the other with submissions, keeping the obvious rest-holds to a minimum by consistently looking to either escape or reverse the hold. Even in the rest spots such as double leg-lock exhanges they keep the crowd and viewer engaged with grumpy trash talking. The match then kicks up a notch again towards the end, with headbutts, kicks and punches furiously exchanged.

The post match angle see's several NJPW and UWF representatives storm the ring and get into it with each other, and you a sense here that the feud between NJPW and the returning invaders was about to really take off from this point.

Mildly Recommended ___________________________________________________________________ 23rd March 1986- NJPW New Wave Dash (Tokyo Metropolitan Gym)

5vs5 Elimination Match: 'NJPW'- Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura, Kantaro Hoshino & Umanosuke Ueda vs 'UWF' Akira Maeda, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Nobuhiko Takada, Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido

Tatsumi Fujinami: A loyal member of NJPW since it's exception in 1972, Fujinami had risen through the ranks, first establishing himself as the ace of the Junior Division in the late 70's and then rising further during the first half of the 1980's to be one of New Japan's top stars, where he twice held arguably the promotion's top title before the creation of the IWGP Championships- the WWF International Heavyweight Title before he had to vacate the belt whilst champion, due to the dissolving of the working relationship between NJPW and the WWF.

In December 1985, Fujinami would become one half of the inaugural IWGP Tag Team Champions alongside Kengo Kimura, when they defeated the iconic veterans Antonio Inoki and Seiji Sakaguchi for the fledgling titles.

Kengo Kimura: After moderate success as a Junior Heavyweight in the late 70's and early 80's, that included a run as the NWA World International Junior Heavyweight Champion, Kimura transitioned into the heavyweight ranks. In 1984 he began to regularly team with Tatsumi Fujinami, a partnership that proved fruitful- bringing reigns with the shortly revived WWF International Tag Team Championship (the titles were originally retired in 1971 and were only revived to be defended in NJPW as part of the working relationship with the WWF, however their revival was brief due to the relationship falling apart in the fall of 1985) and then the IWGP Tag Team Championship.

Kantaro Hoshino: Since the retirement of his most prominent tag partner Kotetsu Yamamoto, veteran Hoshino had been plugging away in the lower end of the midcard to little success or fanfare.

Umanosuke Ueda: Ueda first made an impact in NJPW during the 1970's, as one of the first fully fledged Japanese born heels, where he formed a terrorizing partnership with the despised gaijin heel Tiger Jeet Singh. In 1981 he jumped across to AJPW, where he stayed for around a further 4 years and revived his tag team with Tiger Jeet Singh, where they had very brief run with the NWA International Tag Team Championship in 1983.

In 1985 Ueda would return to NJPW, initially returning once again as an antagonistic heel, Ueda became the 'token evil team-mate' to defend the honour of NJPW against the invading/returning force from the UWF.

Kazuo Yamazaki: A student of the original Tiger Mask (Satoru Sayama) Yamazaki graduared from the NJPW dojo in 1982. With Sayama as one of the founding fathers of the renegade UWF promotion, it came as little surprise that Yamazaki was to be one of the defectors and follow his mentor to the UWF. After disagreements between Sayama and Maeda caused the UWF to fail, he returned to NJPW along with many of the others who formed the UWF.

The Match: This is where the NJPW vs UWF feud really began to take off, as for the first time we see the NJPW Sekigun and the UWF representatives engage in all out war with this 5 vs 5 elimination match. The in-ring work is solid throughout the match, if never really bordering on the spectacular but as is so often the case with these kind of matches it's the in-ring story telling both in terms of the overall picture and the individual components that can make or break these matches.

Thankfully this match did offer up several compelling stories to keep the rabid crowd in attendance and the viewer at home engaged with the match throughout. Overall we get the sense that the UWF team are more ruthless and aggressive, instantly putting them in the role of the invading heels, trying to force through their agenda. In terms of being heels the UWF were what you would call subtle, and they rarely (if ever) do anything to break the rules, but their viciousness in contrast to the NJPW Sekigun is enough to place them in the role of antagonists, especially when plucky underdog veteran Kantaro Hoshino finds himself in the ring against one of them.

However it's the presence of the previously despised heel Umanosuke Ueda on the home team that really drives the story of the match, with the rest of the NJPW's Sekigun recitence in trusting the notarious rule breaker, placing an extra burden on the team in the face of their more aggressive and in general more athletically gifted opponents.

Mildly Recommended.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sat Oct 24, 2015 2:05 pm

Content from just the one show this time, as we get an oddball tag match involving Inoki and Andre with unexpected tag partners and then the NJPW Sekigun and UWF Invaders go to war in a gauntlet of singles match-ups.

1st May 1986- NJPW Big Fight Series 1986 (Ryogoku Kokikugan, Tokyo)

Antonio Inoki & Umanosuke Ueda vs Andre The Giant & KY Wakamatsu

KY Wakamatsu: Beginning his wrestler career in 1979, Wakamatsu was an undersized wrestler of little success who had a three year spell in Canada with the Stampede Promotion during the early 80's. It was there that he transitioned from the generic Ichimasa Wakamatsu to the more comedic persona of KY Wakamatsu.

When he returned to his native Japan with NJPW in 1985, he returned as a ringside manager rather than as an in-ring talent, becoming the obnoxious megaphone holding mouthpiece for the Machines stable and only stepping back into the ring on very limited occasions.

The Match: This should be........... good (said through gritted teeth)....

Lots of faffing about to start the match, as Andre (who is carrying a riding crop for some odd reason) and Wakamatsu (who is dressed in an ensemble of kaleidoscope pattern pyjamas, porkpie hat and zorro mask with megaphone accesory) want some scrawny looking hippy to referee the match. A coin toss decides who refs the match, and it determines that the real ref should be the man in the middle, the bizarro world team try to protest the decision and make accusations that a two headed coin was used- but the decision stands. Wakamatsu then strips out of his ridiculous gear to reveal matching trunks with Andre, leaving me actually somewhat disappointed that he wasn't going to try wrestling in the pyjama's.

'Team Bizarro' take control, when they expose a turnbuckle and bust Ueda open- the reformed heel manages to tag out to his unlikely tag partner Inoki, who falls victim to the same dirty tactics. Eventually though 'Team Unikely Tag Partners' turn the tide, isolating Wakamatsu and busting the obnoxious manager open in the process- when all is said and done Andre's the only one who come's out of the match unscathed.

In all honesty going down the garbage brawl route probably made this match less of a chore to sit through, than if they tried to have a straight wrestling match....doesn't mean that it wasn't still pure manure though.

10 Man Gauntlet Series NJPW Sekigun vs UWF*

* This is one of those gauntlet matches where only one member of each team is allowed in the ring, and plays out as a series of singles matches rather than a Tag Match. The winner remains in the ring, whilst the loser is eliminated- the team with no members left to fight are declared the losers. Unlike the NJPW Sekigun vs Ishin Gundan match of this type in 1983, where we only got to see the decisive match-up between Antonio Inoki and Riki Choshu, this time we get to see all the match-ups.

Match-Up 1: Keiichi Yamada (NJPW) vs Nobuhiko Takada (UWF)

We begin with footage of the pomp and ceremony, for the announcement of the running order of the respective teams, unsurprisingly the two team captains Fujinami for NJPW and Maeda for the UWF save themselves for last. Shibata's Dad is the man calling it down the middle for this battle of singles match-ups between the NJPW Sekigun and the UWF.

The fact that Yamada was given a slot in on the NJPW team, had to sure some degree of faith by those within NJPW that here was someone worth getting behind once he had completed his apprenticeship as a young lion. Much of the match is spent on the match with the more experienced Takada in control for most of it, but Yamada able to prove that he could hang with the UWF man and that he wasn't going to go down easily. All in all the match appeared to be heading towards being solid but largely forgettable.

However they really pick things up down the closing stretch, as Takada finally gets irritated by Yamada's resistence to his submission based offence and then starts wailing on the young lion with a barrage of kicks. However Yamada sucks it up, Takada goes to the kick well once too often and the plucky youngster counters into a leg submission. Yamada then continues to show more fire coming back with more offence and making the crowd believe that he might just pull off the unthinkable upset.....

Mildly Recommended

Match-Up 2: Seiji Sakaguchi (NJPW) vs Nobuhiko Takada (UWF)

Yamada certainly made it a closer run thing than Takada would have been hoping for, but the UWF man managed to just about sneak by, but this time he had a much different proposition to contend with in the form of the near twenty year veteran Seiji Sakaguchi.

This was a much shorter affair than the previous match-up. Takada tried to wear down the larger Sakaguchi with his arsenal of kicks, but the big man was too resilient and in the end with the wear and tear of the previous match having caught up with him, Takada had no choice but to tap out when caught in an over the shoulder backbreaker.

Match Up 3: Seiji Sakaguchi (NJPW) vs Kazuo Yamazaki (UWF)

For the second match-up in the row New Japan's veteran big man, makes short work of his UWF opponent. Yamazaki manages to get a series of submission holds locked on Sakaguchi in quick succession, but in the end the ex Judoka proves far too resilient and ends up turning the tables on his younger opponent.

They packed a fair amount of comment into the short time that this match-up in the Gauntlet Series was given, but the fact that Yamazaki gave up a little too easily as the new entrant made him look a little bit weak. He lasted no longer than Takada, but at least Takada had the excuse of being in a surprisingly taxing match-up with Yamada prior to stepping into the ring with Sakaguchi.

Match Up 4: Seiji Sakaguchi (NJPW) vs Osamu Kido (UWF)

NJPW were now up a man, and after intitially claiming the advantage the UWF side were reeling from the fact that Takada and then Yamazaki were dispatched in short order by Sakaguchi. Would the equally experienced Osamu Kido be able to put up more of a fight against his fellow veteran- both having made their starts in pro wrestling during the JWA era.

To call Sakaguchi lumbering as a wrestler would be harsh, however to call him ungainly would surely be a valid observation of the man's in ring work. Anyway this was yet another short affair as Kido catches the big man off guard and sneaks through with a roll-up.The ageing Sakaguchi ended up spending about the same time in the ring as Yamada for the NJPW side, but saw his time in the ring split up between three short sprints- a sign that NJPW still saw the veteran as valuable asset but now had to look to 'protect' Sakaguchi by not over-exposing him in longer singles affairs.

Match Up 5: Shiro Koshinaka (NJPW) vs Osamu Kido (UWF)

All square yet again, as Sakaguchi was finally dispensed with, would the IWGP Junior champ Koshinaka regain the advantage for the NJPW side or would things continue to swing back in UWF's favour?

Well this match-up had a whiff of BS to it, and it probably all entirely had to do with the size based politics, where it's pretty much unheard of for a wrestler billed as a Junior to go over a wrestler billed as Heavyweight. Anyway Koshinaka has about 90% of the offence in this match, including a piledriver on the outside from the very start but still ends up losing, after a picking up a DQ for I'm not entirely sure what. To me it looked like Shibata's Dad should have called the finish as a double count-out.

Match Up 6: Kengo Kimura (NJPW) vs Osamu Kido (UWF)

The UWF team had gained the advantage once again in rather dubious circumstances, could tag team champion Kengo Kimura even things up for the Sekigun?

Whilst I feel that most of the UWF returnees, added something to the NJPW roster it has to be said the Kido was pretty damn dull. But then again it might be the fact that these short match-up's don't exactly play to his strengths and that his style of wrestling is more suited to slowly built affairs.
Anyway five minutes pass with not much of note happening, before Kimura gets Kido into a Boston Crab and forces the veteran to submit.

Match Up 7: Kengo Kimura (NJPW) vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara (UWF)

With Kido finally taken care of, it was even stevens once again. Could Kimura press home the advantage for the NJPW Sekigun or would UWF continue to stay one step ahead by taking the lead yet again?

Kimura starts the match off in ultra aggressive fashion and ends up busting Fujiwara open in the process. However Fujiwara is made of tough stuff and comes back with a defiant flurry of trademark headbutts. The match soon settles into a mix of mat based submission work and tetchy strike exchanges before Fujiwara gets Kimura in his trademark armbar- Kimura is able to make it to the safety of the ropes once, but when Fujiwara quickly locks it on again, the tag champion is forced to give up despite only been inches away from making another rope break.

Match Up 8: Tatsumi Fujinami (NJPW) vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara (UWF)

Tatsumi Fujinami was now the only man left standing for the NJPW Sekigun, and in order to prevent a UWF victory the team captain and other half of the reigning IWGP Tag Team Champions had to overcome the stubbornly tough Fujiwara and the UWF's ace and leader Akira Maeda.
Fujiwara with his military grade skinhead and weather beaten face of a thug, couldn't be any further removed from today's NJPW populated by feather haired bishonen 'posers'.

Fujinami controls much of the early going but as always Fujiwara is stubborn in is resistance and eventually lures Fujinami out to the floor as he begins to engage in some stalling tactics. It's on the floor where the match takes a nasty turn, as Fujiwara gives 'The Dragon' a vicious piledriver on exposed concrete , that results in Fujinami sporting a crimson mask.

Fujinami somehow manages to catch Fujiwara off guard with a backslide, but the vicious veteran had managed to successfully soften up Fujinami for Maeda as the battle headed towards it's decisive conclusion.

Because he's an obnoxious dick, post match Fujiwara sneaks in another headbutt for good measure, instead of just gracefully accepting defeat. He then looks for a sporting handshake from Fujinami, but an incensed 'Dragon' has none of it and defiantly slaps Fujiwara across the face.

Mildly Recommended

Match Up 9: Tatsumi Fujinami (NJPW) vs Akira Maeda (UWF)

Facing Maeda would have been a tough enough proposition for Fujinami without having been busted open by a piledriver out on the floor. Would 'The Dragon' be able to muster up an incredible amount of fighting spirit to overcome the odds and defend the honour of NJPW or would the combination of blood loss and the ruthless attack of Maeda prove a challenge too far?

As one might have expected with Fujinami's blood loss from the previous match, this wasn't a long drawn out affair and that Maeda was the primary aggressor throughout the match. However Fujinami shows enough fighting spirit and gets in just enough bursts of offence, to make the crowd believe that he can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Whether he does or not and the NJPW Sekigun emerge victorious, well for this final match-up you're either going to have to actually watch the match or be lazy and look up the result on Cagematch.

Mildly Recommended

From an overall perspective I would give the 5vs5 series a Mildly Recommended rating, as they told an enjoyable story here but very few of the match-up's are worth seeking out by themselves, and as NJPW World decided to divide the series which will roughly take up just over an hour of your time, I decided to rate each match-up individually. If you can't be bothered to work your way through the gauntlet in it's entirety, then only really the opening contest between Takada and (pre Liger) Yamada and the final two matches with Fujinami are worth cherry picking , with Fujiwara/Kimura being a borderline case for making it into an abridged version of the gauntlet.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:24 pm

The NJPW vs UWF feud was dominating the main event scene of the New Japan card in 1986, but they still found room to have this annual tournament to crown an annual IWGP Champion, though it wouldn't be until the following year that the IWGP Heavyweight title, became a fully fledged championship to be defended throughout the year rather than just the annual achievement it had been since it's inception in 1983.

The 1986 version of the IWGP League was divided into two blocks, much like what we see today with the G-1 Climax. The 14 man field saw Block A consist of NJPW legends Inoki and Sakaguchi, Tag champion Kengo Kimura, IWF representative Yoshiaki Fujiwara and gaijin imports Andre The Giant, Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie) and the long forgotten European import Klaus Wallas. Block B featured NJPW uppercard mainstay Tatsumi Fujinami, UWF leader Akira Maeda, 'reformed' heel Umanosuke Ueda and gaijin imports Dick Murdoch, Jimmy Snuka, The Wild Samoan and The Cuban Assassin.

In this update we have four matches from the tournament, two matches from Block B featuring Akira Maeda, one of the semi-finals and the Final.

6th June 1986- NJPW Big Fight Series 1986 (Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo)

IWGP League 1986: Umanosuke Ueda vs Akira Maeda

The Match: A young Katsuyori Shibata might have been watching this match, thinking one day I want to be just like Akira Maeda and kick the stuffing out of people- rather than of dreaming of being like his dad, who just so happened to be refereeing this match.

It all begins a bit oddly though as they engage in some low-key leg submission work. Maeda soon has enough of the faffing about and just unleashes a barrage of stiff as a board kicks- that end up with Umanosuke Ueda sporting his favourite look of blonde hair with red highlights.

With Ueda taking a right mugging from Maeda, the blonde haired rebel snaps and resorts to what he knows best.....fighting dirty. The match ends rather abrubtly after that and the two have to be pulled apart by Shibata's Dad, another ref and several other members of the roster after the bell has been rung. ___________________________________________________________________ 12th June 1986- NJPW Big Fight Series 1986 (Osaka Castle Hall)

IWGP League 1986: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Akira Maeda

The Match: They start off with some low-key matwork, but none of it feels like pointless padding, as you can see a gameplan from Fujinami to try and nullify Maeda's big weapons- the feet that deliver his arsenal of lethal kicks. If any criticism can be levelled at the match is that the early legwork, doesn't really have much effect as Maeda pretty much no sells it for the remainder of the contest....

But that doesn't take away from how great this becomes, once it really begins to heat up- as Fujinami comes under constant fire from Maeda's barrage, that has Fujinami and the fans wincing throughout the ordeal. Fujinami does a great job of fighting from underneath throughout, almost looking down and out in several places but then mustering the fighting spirit to come back with a flurry of his own offence, but all he can really do is just stem the tide rather than completely seize back control.

Towards the end of the match, Maeda's boot accidentally connects with Fujinami's head so hard, that 'The Dragon' begins bleeding like a trooper from above his eyebrow. It's just such a shame that moments after the incident, the match ends up finishing in a fairly weak manner not all befitting for a match of such intense emotion and quality. One suspects that they were forced to hurry to a finish, due to the unexpected blood loss from Fujinami that resulted from Maeda's errant kick.

Post match despite being on opposite sides of the war, these two warriors of the squared circle have a nice moment showing respect to one another for the hard fought battle that they have endured together.


* A better finish and this would have got the rare Highly Recommended accolade. _________________________________________________________________________ 17th June 1986- NJPW Big Fight Series 1986 (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Nagoya)

IWGP League 1986 Semi Final: Antonio Inoki vs Andre The Giant

The Match: The Semi Finals brought us another Inoki vs Andre match- in terms of hype and spectacle these were still a major deal that would have had the crowds abuzz but in all honesty no one would have been expecting a match of high excitement out of these two any more- as evidenced by their stinker against one another the previous year.

Andre's ringwork had been rapidly declining since around 1982 and all he had going for him was the legendary status and 'freak show' spectacle. Sadly but not at all unsurprisingly this was another dreadful match conjured up between these two legends, even if a flurry of Inoki offence does bring the crowd to life towards the end, after being put to sleep by narcoleptic 'action' that preceded it. If your idea of a good match is watching someone sit on their backside, whilst placing their opponent in a neckscissors for an eternity then this is the dream match for you!

This would prove to be the final match Andre would have inside in an NJPW ring and whilst his colossal star still shone brightly, in terms of actually being fun to watch he was a good few years past his sell by date.

Bonus Note: Not available on New Japan World is the infamous match between Andre The Giant and Akira Maeda that ended up turning into an ugly mess of a shoot. Lots of conspiracy theories surround this legendary (for all the wrong reasons) match, that include Andre unable to co-operate due to being drunk as a skunk and Inoki actually instructing Andre to be awkward in order to bring Maeda (who he thought was getting too much of an attitude with his boasts over his legit fighting skills)down a peg or two. There is no doubt that Maeda was a talented and stylistically influential wrestler but his hair trigger temper and penchant for turning his wrestling matches into shoots meant that he just couldn't keep away from controversy. ________________________________________________________________________ 19th June 1986- NJPW Big Fight Series 1986 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)

IWGP League 1986 Final: Antonio Inoki vs Dick Murdoch

Antonio Inoki : There was little surprise as to why the likes of Maeda and Choshu felt frustration at being held down with Inoki still hogging the spotlight. When the WWF International Heavyweight belt replaced the NWF title that Inoki carried throughout the 70's it looked as though Inoki was ready to start taking more of a backseat but with the advent of the IWGP League in 1983, and it's annual trophy becoming the de-facto main championship in NJPW Inoki featured in three of the four finals. The only time he wasn't in the finals was in 1985, when he didn't enter the tournament and it was reduced to a single elimination after thought. And to add to the native talent's frustration further,if Inoki wasn't winning the trophy, some gaijin import 'star' would do instead.

Take nothing away Inoki was a star and the Japanese fans loved him, he was a good wrestler too- not the greatest but good enough to work in the main event even as he was starting to move towards the twilight of his in-ring career in the mid 1980's but there can be no doubt that Inoki fought his way to the top of the Puroresu mountain and kept his place a-top it with ruthless politicking that makes Triple-H look like a lightweight in comparison.

The Match: Lasting around the half an hour mark, one fears that this match would be slow and plodding but even though they probably do end up over-stretching things slightly, the match though methodically paced is largely engaging for the most part.

Whilst the in-ring action isn't necessarily the most dynamic, the application of the story being told inside the ring is delivered efficiently, as Murdoch targets the left arm of Inoki with ruthless precision throughout the match. Inoki does an excellent sell job of Murdoch's limb work throughout the match, barely using his left arm during his offensive rallies, built mostly round his trademark Enziguiri kick (down the line the Enziguiri transformed into a counter move for lightweights to use against heavier opponents but for Inoki it was a major weapon in his arsenal). The match pretty much hinges on Murdoch occasionally losing focus on his arm targeted game plan and it's those lapses that effectively allow Inoki to get a foothold in the match.

Late on in the match, Inoki gets busted open when he is sent into a ring-post by Murdoch, but on this occasion the 'blood' feels a little needless and adds nothing to the drama of a match, that was mostly a technical affair with a bit of bite, rather than a raging brawl.

For all Murdoch's possible alleged undesirable faults as a person with the fact that he was a suspected member of the Ku Klux Klan, one cannot deny that he was a pretty solid wrestler whose technical acumen inside the ring belied his unflattering flabby look.

Mildly Recommended

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sat Nov 14, 2015 11:53 am

Things got derailed with my look into the NJPW World archives due to a mix of man-flu (a fortnight ago) and simply being busy with other stuff but I'm going to be getting the project back on track with four more matches from 1986 that include the return of Bruiser Brody.....
5th August 1986- NJPW Burning Spirit In Summer (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo) IWGP Junior Championship: Nobuhiko Takada (c) vs Shiro Koshinaka

The Match: Koshinaka's run as the first IWGP Junior champion, was to put in bluntly weak. Lasting just over three months at a 102 days, it featured one succesful title defence against veteran Don Arakawa via a double countout, before his run as champion was ended in his just his second defence by the UWF invader Takada (a title switch that we unfortunately did not get to see on New Japan world- as it took place at a non televised Korakuen show).

Koshinaka was then unable to regain the title in a rematch that ended in a double count-out but due to the indecisive conclusion to that match he was granted a second opportunity to regain the title from Takada.

If ever the phrase 'good in parts' were to apply to a wrestling match, it would be this one. At times the match is a feisty affair bristling with nasty looking brawl exchanges, that see Koshinaka not only trying to survive Takada's sickeningily stiff barrage of kicks but also give as good as he can back through slaps and his unique hip attack (which lets face it always looks as though the wrestler is hitting the other one with their derrière) offence.

Unfortunately though there are also points where the match dives into a malaise of grab a leg style rest-holds in order to pointlessly stretch the match out and fill simply fill up time. Had they shaved off around five minutes of unnecessary meandering then this could have been a great match, rather than just one that showed glimpses of potential to be just that.

Mildly Recommended

IWGP Tag Team Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura (c) vs Akira Maeda and Osamu Kido

The Match: Fujinami and Kimura were 8 months into their run as the inaugural IWGP Tag Team Champions when they put their belts on the line against the 'IWF' pairing of Maeda and Kido.

Whilst there's some good bursts of action in this match and some tidy looking submission exchanges and reversals, the match lacks flow probably due to the fact that both teams feel more like individuals thrown together, than proper well oiled tag teams, showing little more than basic teamwork. Given that Fujinami and Kimura had been tagging together for a while this does come across as something of a disappointment but perhaps we had yet to really drive ahead into the era where slick teamwork was to be expected of the truly great tag teams.

The fact that the match ends in a flash finish that comes out of nowhere also doesn't help this match to stand up particularly well.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 16th September 1986- NJPW Challenge Spirit 1986 (Osaka Castle Hall)

Antonio Inoki vs Bruiser Brody

The Match: Though Brody left NJPW in the lurch a year prior when he defected back to AJPW, just as his team with Jimmy Snuka reached the finals of the Tag League- he was now back in NJPW once again to reignite his war of attrition with Inoki.

Matches that go broadway- they sound so epic on paper but in reality they are all too often bloated tedium, that could have been condensed into a quarter of the time.

The problem with matches that go all the way is that you just know they are building to a match being super long, and that's even without looking at the time stamp. The first two thirds of this match is spent almost entirely with Inoki putting Brody in a leglock, I might be wrong but that's what it felt like.

Granted the match does come alive in the final third (following the introduction of a replacement ref, following the original one being knocked out by an errant flying kick from Inoki) , as Inoki throws the kitchen sink (including a springboard drop-kick at one point) at Brody but can't quite put the hard headed wildman away. The final five minutes, capture a lethargic desperation from both men, as they try in vain to put the other way but despite the energy seemingly being zapped from one another, their opponent has just enough fighting spirit left to deny the other coming away victorious.

I wanted to like this more but in the end they could have told the same story of stubborn toughness without dragging it out for an hour.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 19th September 1986- NJPW Challenge Spirit 1986 (Fukuoka Sports Center)

Tatsumi Fujinami vs Bruiser Brody

The Match: This match pretty much played out as an extension to the battle's that Brody had with Inoki, with Fujinami looking to wear down the wildman brawler by working over the legs and then desperately throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at Brody, and as Inoki found out Brody is a hard man to keep down.

This wasn't bad, but I was hoping Fujinami was going to bring something different to the table, rather than be a facsimile version of Inoki whilst yet another weak non decisive finish in a Brody NJPW match ends up being another source of frustration.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Alan4L » Tue Nov 17, 2015 9:42 pm

Some seriously great work in this thread mate!

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:33 am

Alan4L wrote:Some seriously great work in this thread mate!
Thanks mate :) Glad you're enjoying the series so far. Should have the remainder of 1986 up by the weekend.

I juggle this with an anime (my other passion) reviews thread I do on another board, so progress is always going to be stop-start but the fact that people are both reading and liking this, has given me the drive to keep the project going and see it through to the end- even if it ends up taking me a whole year to do so!

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:36 am

9th October 1986- NJPW Inoki Toukon Live (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)

Different Style Fight: Akira Maeda vs Don Nakaya Nielsen

Don Nakaya Nielsen: A rising star in the world of Kickboxing, Half Japanese American Nakaya Nielsen's star would rise further over the next decade primarily for the K-1 Kickboxing promotion and in a variety of MMA bouts against the likes of Ken Shamrock, whilst also finding the time to 'star' in straight to the video shop bargain bin chop socky fare such as Blood Ring.

Now retired from combat sports altogether, these days Nakaya-Nielsen has succesfully made the transition into being a qualified chiropractor.

The Match: It's been a while since we've had to endure one of these faux MMA bouts- surely Nielsen can't be any worse than some of the dross Inoki had to face in the 70's such as Chuck Wepner?!

Nakaya- Nielsen is wearing boxing gloves to really ram home that he was a different style of fighter. In all honesty these 'Different Style' fights were just an ego stroke for the wrestlers to make out they were stronger fighters than anyone else. Who knows how things would have turned out in an actual shoot fight, but the one dimensional Nielsen ends up looking pretty pathetic here, as his kick and punch offence barely troubles Maeda through five rounds of repetitive action and he spends most of the match desperately scrambling for the ropes after Maeda gets him to a submission after a takedown.

To make matters worse for the Kickboxer, Maeda's own kicks look more effective all match. Maybe Nielsen was hot stuff in the kickboxing world but with offence this one dimensional I couldn't imagine him being all too effective anywhere else shoot or not. On the plus side the match is at least watchable throughout, as kicking types such as Karateka and Kickboxers tend to make for more active opponents than Boxers.

The highlight of the whole thing however comes between the first and second rounds, as Nakaya-Nielsen's corner-man gives him a pep talk that sounds as though it's been scripted for one of those ropey bargain bin movies he would end up starring in.

Looking round the interweb in research of the match, there seems to be opinion that this is generally considered to be one of the best, if not the best mixed style fight. Whilst I would say that the match is a cut above many other matches of this ilk, I still can't really bring myself to give this a recommendation. I guess at the end of the day, I like my pro wrestling to be pro wrestling.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20th October 1986- NJPW Toukon Series 1986 (Kanagawa Prefectural Society Industrial Gymnasium)

Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura vs Nobuhiko Takada & Osamu Kido

The Match: A pretty odd choice to dig out of the NJPW archives, this is a pretty forgettable tag match with a weak finish that took place in front of a pretty dead crowd taking place on what these days would be called a 'Road To' style of card. The match isn't terrible, but I'm at a loss as to why they posted such an average match with absolutely no historical significance onto NJPW World. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3rd November 1986 - NJPW Toukon Series 1986 (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo)
Antonio Inoki & Kevin Von Erich vs Keiji Mutoh and Kengo Kimura

Kevin Von Erich: The eldest son of Fritz Von Erich, Kevin Adkinsson like this younger brother along side him, would wrestle under the Von Erich just as their father did- with the Von Erich family becoming the backbone of their father's promotion World Class Championship Wrestling.
Making his debut in 1976, Kevin would win several tag titles alongside his brother David - that even included a brief reign as the All Asia Tag Team champions in AJPW. As well as tag team success , Kevin would also find success as a singles performer, most notably as a five time NWA American Heavyweight Champion.

However it was his work in his home promotion of WCCW that Kevin would be most noted for, especially in six man tag action, often alongside other members of the Von Erich family, winning the World Class Six Man Tag Team Championships seven times between 1983 and 1986 and engaging in a company defining feud with The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts). In the the autumn of 1986 Kevin would reach perhaps the pinnacle of his career when he became the World Class World Heavyweight Champion but this would prove to be the only time he would win the title

In a tragic turn of events Kevin's younger brother David would die at the age of just 25, during a tour with AJPW in 1984. Though David wasn't the first of Kevin's siblings to pass away, their eldest brother Jack Adkisson Jr. died from electric shock at the Age of 6, little did Kevin know at the time of David's sudden passing, that by 1993 he would be the only surviving member of his siblings, as Mike (1987), Chris (1991) and Kerry (1993) would all tragically take their own life.

The Match: Seeing as Keiji Mutoh is the grand old statesman of the puroresu world these days, it is a little bit odd watching him as a young lion. Even though it was clear for all to see that Mutoh was a future headline act in the making, he was still very much a young lion here- something that particularly comes to the fore when at one point during the match Mutoh is about to tag out, the veteran Kimura gives him a slap across the face to 'Man Up!' having felt Mutoh wasn't worn down enough or wrestled control for their team to justify tagging out.

Anyway this match appeared to be heading towards being a passable but forgettable tag affair, save for Mutoh busting out his Moonsault (which might not seem anything all that special these days, but there was little else cooler or flashier than a Moonsault in the mid 80's). However Mutoh somehow gets busted open and it's actually one of those times where a bit of 'color' instantly makes a match more interesting- what's even more surprising is the finish to the match that leads into a spot of post match handbags between the two teams but with the focus primarily on Inoki and Mutoh. Mutoh isn't going to stand for being held down/shoved about by Inoki, who in turn just wasn't going to stand for this young 'punk' having the gall to stand up to him.

On a sidenote, I'm not sure which of these three things were actually more ridiculous about Kevin Von Erich in this match- The fact that he's wrestling barefoot, the sickeningly garish neon lime green trunks he is sporting or the Von Erich's signature move the Iron Claw. Was there ever a more silly signature move than the Iron Claw?- I could just about buy it as 'damaging' if wielded by someone with giant hands but I'm not entirely convinced Kevin Von Erich's hands would have been 'crushing' anyone's skull.

Mildly Recommended _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10th December 1986- NJPW Japan Cup Tag Team League 1986 (Osaka Castle Hall)

Tatsumi Fujinami vs Kengo Kimura

The Match: Fujinami and Kimura had won back the IWGP Tag titles from the UWF pair of Maeda & Kido, so I'm not entirely sure why these two appeared to be bristly with one another at this time, and were having this singles match to settle their difference- maybe they just simply wanted to find out who was the strongest partner in the team.

The match starts off with Fujinami being aggressive right from the bell, before settling down into some low key mat based wrestling. Thankfully the aggression from both is soon ramped up again as the match progresses- in the end however it's not a devastating head drop that ends it but a smartly executed roll-up showing superior wrestling acumen from the victor that settles the match. Post match with their frustrations with another out of their system, the differences between Fujinami and Kimura appeared to had been settled.

Mildly Recommended.

George Takano & Keiji Mutoh vs Kendo Nagasaki & Mr Pogo

George Takano: For an approximately three year spell between 1983 and 1986, Takano worked under the masked gimmick of The Cobra, first establishing the gimmick whilst on excursion to Stampede Wrestling and then becoming part of NJPW's Junior Division- where he was in regular contention for the WWF/NWA Junior Heavyweight title and was reached the finals of the tournament to crown the first IWGP Junior Championship.
By the mid-summer of 1986 however following a failed attempt to win the IWGP Junior title from Nobuhiko Takada, Takano decided to say goodbye to the Cobra Mask and move up to the Heavyweight Division, wrestling un-masked under his own name.

Kendo Nagasaki: Not to be confused with the original British proprietor (Peter Thornley) of the Kendo Nagasaki gimmick- that saw the wrestler come to the ring wearing a Kendo outfit (hence the name), this version of Kendo Nagasaki actually was actually performed by an actual Japanese man (Kazuo Sakurada) rather than a British man pretending to be Japanese. That being said old school British Wrestling fans rather fondly remember the original from the 'World of Sport' era, and would probably see Sakurada's tribute as an inferior imposter. The key difference it must be noted between the two versions, is that Thornley's original take on the gimmick, wore another mask under the Kendo Men (helmet) whilst Sakurada chose to sport face paint instead.

Sakurada himself was a veteran who began wrestling in the Japan Wrestling Alliance, before moving to All Japan, as with so many Japanese wrestlers Sakurada found his earliest success when he went away on excursion to North America, where as Mr Sakurada he won the Stampede North American Heavyweight title, and found tag team success alongside Mr Hito.

Throughout the early 80's Sakurada would make trips back to Japan with AJPW but it was in North America where he would continue to find most of his success, and it was in 1982 whilst working for the Continental Wrestling Association, Sakurada took on the Kendo Nagasaki gimmick and had contineud to have further success on American soil, winning the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship and the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship.

Mr Pogo: Tetsuo Sekigawa made his wrestling debut for New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1972, but frustrated by rigidity of Japanese wrestling at the time, quickly quit the promotion and headed across the Pacific to North America. Over the next decade Sekigawa would tour the North American circuit, working under a plethora of different names that included Mr Seki, Mr Sekigawa and The Ninja before settling on Mr Pogo.

Sekigawa would find moderate success, mainly as a tag team wrestler during the first half of the early 80's, winning several regional tag team championships- before returning to NJPW under his Mr Pogo gimmick alongside fellow returning export Kazuo Sakurada (Kendo Nagasaki) in 1985, as The Ninja Express.

The Match: To further add to the image that the Ninja Express were a gimmicky circus act, they were accompanied to the ring by irritating manager KY Wakamatsu. In the opposite corner to them, perhaps a young Keiji Mutoh , though he could see the future- and I'm not referring to the Terry Nutkins style Skullet sported by fake Kendo Nagasaki but the face paint adorned by the Ninja Express.

As expected Mutoh is head and shoulders above anyone else in this match and his exciting, innovative ringwork really stood out as a breath of fresh air, though to give The Ninja Express their due, though pretty ropey as indiviual wrestlers they did display some decent teamwork.
This one ends when the Ninja Express frustrated by being outmanoeuvred by their opponents (almost entirely down to Mutoh, Takano looked like the weak link passenger throughout the match)end up reaching for the plunder, which inevitably involved a stash of Kendo Sticks.

Japan Cup Tag League Match: Akira Maeda & Osamu Kido vs Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara

The Match: Even though for the most part they were still sticking together by this point of the year the UWF defectors had been fully integrated back into NJPW, hence why Inoki was happy to choose the veteran Fujiwara as his partner for the Japan Cup Tag League.

For instance one would surely assume that the hatchet between the NJPW loyalists and the returnees from UWF must have well and truly been buried, if evidenced by the fact that one of the other teams for the league saw Junior Championship rivals Nobuhiko Takada and Shiro Koshinaka partnered up with each other.

In the 1986 edition of the tag league the round robin stage winners would get a bye to the final whilst the teams in second and third place would play-off in a semi-final to face the winner of the league stage.

The exchanges between Inoki and Maeda are consistently racked with tension and anticipation, though it's the feisty exchanges between Maeda and Fujiwara that actually end up being the highlight of this match, the eternally bland Kido is as per usual in these kind of affairs, the weak link of the match.

On paper the match ends up being a solid mix of technical submission work and tetchy brawling exchanges but in reality it ends up becoming less than the sum of those parts- consistently teasing that it can move up a gear but never quite getting there.

The finish is interesting though, as Fujiwara teases where his loyalties lie by stepping down off the apron when about to take a tag from Inoki, but then moments later tripping Maeda up from the floor, allowing Inoki to strike Maeda with one of his patented Enziguiri's.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 11th December 1986- NJPW Japan Cup Tag League 1986 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)

Japan Cup Tag League Grand Final: Akira Maeda & Osamu Kido vs. Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara

The Match: This re-match took place just one day after the round robin stage match that took place in Osaka. Inoki and Fujiwara ended up topping the standings and earned themselves a bye to the final, whilst earlier in the night Maeda & Kido earned themselves this re-match when they were able to best the all gaijin combination of Dick Murdoch and The Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie) in the 'Semi Final' match.

In all honestly this re-match was heading for the same problem as their first encounter, in the fact that it had some solid components but the composition of the match itself ended up feeling a little flat- however a frantic final few minutes that saw Inoki isolated on the wrong side of the ring and heroically fending off a two pronged attack from Maeda & Kido manages to just about notch this re-match up another level.

Mildly Recommended ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 14th March 1986- NJPW New Wave Dash 1986 (Kagoshima Prefectural Gymnasium)

Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Kantaro Hoshino, Kengo Kimura & Tatsumi Fujinami

* This is one I missed from earlier in 1986- that's because on NJPW World it strangely appears out of sequence after a bunch of matches from December.

The Match: Taking place during the point where the NJPW vs UWF Defectors feud was still at and intense level, this is a pretty standard fare six man tag, that like many of these sort of contests ratchets up the action down the closing stretch. It's a solid 'house show' tag but not particularly worth seeking out either.

Some chaotic post match brawling between the two warring factions, adds in getting across the intensity of the feud- so you may want to check this one out, if you're particularly interested in following that particular feud/storyline from New Japan in 1986.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sun Nov 29, 2015 11:35 pm

We head into 1987 as Keiji Mutoh takes his first real steps towards becoming a star and Inoki has a new rival in the form of Masa Saito.

4th February 1987- NJPW New Year Dash 1987 (Gifu Industrial Hall)

George Takano, Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsutoshi Goto vs. Kazuo Yamazaki, Nobuhiko Takada & Osamu Kido

Tatsutoshi Goto: Goto began his pro wrestling career with NJPW in 1982. Performing young lion duties for the first few years of his career, Goto got his first real breakthrough and step towards moving up the ranks when he got to the finals of the 1986 edition of the Young Lion Cup, where he was bested by the future Jushin Thunder Liger, Keiichi Yamada.

The Match: Four out of the six participants in this match are sporting generic black trunks- meaning that we were very much still in the era where even the established wrestlers wore bog standard ring gear yet alone the young lions.

Anyway this workman like six man tag isn't bad but there's nothing really outstanding about it either with the only real point of interest being the opportunity to see a pre bleach blonde delinquent heel Goto, work as a young lion.

Also the more I see of George Takano, the less impressed I become. How he got any push beyond looking up at the lights is beginning to baffle me, because he's like the Yujiro of his day minus the slight saving grace of having a little bit of charisma and the distraction of having a hot scantily clad lady on his arm.

There's one noticeably groan worthy moment in the match, where it looks like Takano is about to go for a top-rope drop-kick but he basically just slips off the top rope and stumbles into the ring- I know that botches even happen to the most talented of wrestlers from time to time but this was like some kind of confirmation towards my feelings that Takano kind of sucked. __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 5th February 1987- NJPW New Year Dash 1987 (Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo)

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Shiro Koshinaka (c) vs Nobuhiko Takada

The Match: Koshinaka had won the belt back from Takada in September , and the UWF man was looking to take the IWGP Junior title back here, as their feud continued to be the definitive Junior Division rivalry in the first year of the belt's existence.

This match ends up going quite long, but it doesn't feel that way as the initial slow build period doesn't last for all that long at all, instead they get to believe that Takada with his vicious combination of ultra stiff kicks and relentless array of submissions is going to steamroller the champion, take the title back and put Koshinka in the rearview mirror....

But Koshinka despite getting a bloodied mouth at one point from one of Takada's hellacious kicks, just refuses to give up. His attempts at a rally are consistently cut off but he keeps hanging in there until he is finally able to hone in on Takada's weak point- with the UWF man's taped up fingers ending up as an obvious target of merciless aggression from Koshinaka.

The ending itself ends up being a slight anti-climax but that takes nothing away from this being a solidly worked match with a well told 'fighting spirit' story.

Recommended _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20th March 1987- NJPW Spring Flare Up 1987 (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo)

Young Lion Cup 1987 Final: Shinya Hashimoto vs Masahiro Chono

Shinya Hashimoto: A Judo practioner during his high school years, Hashimoto made his debut for New Japan at only 19 years of age- as part of the now historically revered NJPW 'Class of 84'.

Masahiro Chono: Born in Seattle in the United States but raised in Japan, Chono was also part of the revered class of 84.

The Match: Whilst Keiji Mutoh was already looking like a break-out star who had already begun to transition out of the young lion phase, fellow future legends Hashimoto and Chono were very much still in the young lion phase. Though the fact that both had reached the final of the Young Lion Cup, surely had to mean that the NJPW officials saw plenty of potential in either competitor by this stage of their careers.

This wasn't a bad match but there's actually little evidence on offer here that either Hashimoto or Chono would go on to become future legends and that both were very much a few steps behind their contemporary Mutoh in terms of carving out their own identity.

They were given a fair amount of time but the match rarely went beyond base level young lion fare and the weak finish did nothing to help elevate either competitor. There is some mild interest here in seeing Hashimoto and Chono working as young lions but this is far from being some early 'diamond in the rough' classic from these two New Japan legends.

(Vacant) IWGP Tag Team Championship: Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka

The Match: If you need any further proof how much further ahead in standing, Mutoh was ahead of his fellow graduates from 1984 at this stage, then certainly the fact that he was challenging for the IWGP Tag Team Championship would surely give a rather large hint to that fact.
Muta and Koshinaka are rocking matching beards and long pants for this match, where as Maeda and Takada are sporting matching generic black short trunks, because well 'real men' only wear black short trunks!

In February, the reigning IWGP Tag Team champions Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura decided to go their separate ways and thus they vacated the title. The two teams here came through a single elimination tournament to be the two pairings that would vye to become the new IWGP Tag Team Champions.

After a little bit of a feeling out process, this develops into a compelling tag match than nicely moves up the gears, as the action gradually gets more and more frantic. The 'UWF' tandem able to stay that slight step ahead and consistenly cut the ring in half throughout the match. The more makeshift duo of Koshinaka and Mutoh do manage to grind their way back into the match and Mutoh once again brings an extra spark to the match with his innovative (for the time) style.

The finish itself does come off as a more of a fluke than anything else but it does little to take away from what was a well structured and well paced tag team contest.

Recommended _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 26th March 1987- NJPW Inoki Toukon Live II (Osaka Castle Hall)

IWGP Tag Team Championship: Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka vs Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada

The Match: After such a tight finish to their previous match to crown new IWGP Tag Champions, there was little surprise that there should be calls for an immediate re-match here.

Once again the UWF pair of Maeda and Takada dominate the bulk of the match with their more aggressive striking gaining them the advantage but through a combination of pluck and luck Koshinaka and Mutoh once again manage to battle their way back into the match.

The finishing stretch is a nice call back to the first match with a string of pinning combinations, only for the actual finish itself to be considerably more conclusive than their first meeting just six days earlier at Korakuen Hall.

Neither match is flawless and both have their issues but both are worth seeking out. You had four talented competitors coming together to put on a pair of enjoyable action packed matches with just enough 'story' and emotion for the crowd to become invested in.


Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito

Masa Saito: After departing New Japan in the summer of 1984, Saito split his time for the next few years between All Japan and working in America, primarily for the AWA.

However the latter half of 1985 and much of 1986 were spent behind bars. In April 1984, Saito and fellow wrestler Ken Patera , threw a boulder through the window of a McDonalds after they were refused service. Things got worse however when they were arrested for the incident when the two wrestlers were uncooperative and turned violent against their arresting officers. This unsavoury incident in the life of Masa Saito, ended up with himself and Ken Patera each being served a two year prison sentence for battery of a police officer.

One has to wonder if 'Roid Rage' was a factor that came into play during Saito's and Patera's stupidity to get all angry and aggressive during their arrest. Had they been cooperative the worst they probably would have been served with was paying for the damages and/or doing some community service.

Following his release from the slammer, Saito returned to working for the AWA before moving back to Japan, where he joined NJPW and immediately started to engage in a feud with Antonio Inoki.

The Match: This was one strange match. The bulk of the contest is unfortunately pretty dull as apart from the odd burst into action with a suplex here and there, most of the match is spent with sweaty hugging and repetitive pinning combinations on the mat.

However the match then takes a turn for the bizarre when a mysterious man comes to the ring. This strange interloper is dressed in an absurd ensemble of clothing that looks like they are about to audition for a part in the Christmas panto production of Aladdin combined with a Jason Voorhees style hockey mask. 'Aladdin Voorhees' then proceeds to attack Saito for reasons unknown and well as you can probably guess things just devolve into a mess from there.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 27th April 1987- NJPW Blazing Cherry Blossom 1987 (Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo)

Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito

The Match: Before the match get's started Riki Choshu sporting a rather suave pair of aviators can be seen cooly sitting amongst the crowd, having severed ties with AJPW just a few months earlier, suggesting that he was about to return to New Japan.

This was a very disjointed match but one that had plenty of drama to make up for it's structural short-comings. After a slow start, Saito begins to take control and Inoki consistently finds himself having to fight his way out of the Scorpion Death Lock.

Things then take a strange turn, when part way through the match the ring ropes are disbanded from the ring. However it's after this unusual turn of events that the match becomes considerably more dramatic and brutally violent, as a pair of handcuffs come into play and Saito's face is left a bloody crimson mess after it's rammed into a ring post and then repeatedly pummelled by Inoki's fist.

Plenty of drama post match too, as Fujinami decks Inoki post match, possibly for turning into a rabid psychopath and going too far, whilst Choshu tries to jump over the guard-rail and renew hostilities with his fiericest rival (Fujinami) from his first stint in New Japan.

Mildly Recommended

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Fri Dec 04, 2015 4:57 pm

1987 concludes with one of the most infamous incidents in NJPW history....

5th May 1987- NJPW IWGP Champion Series 1987 (Chiba Park Gymnasium)

IWGP League 1987 Match: Akira Maeda vs Masa Saito

The 1987 edition of the IWGP League featured 14 wrestlers divided into two blocks...... The A Block featured defending champion Antonio Inoki, veterans Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Seiji Sakaguchi, upper card mainstay Tatsumi Fujinami, Tongan Wrestler Konga The Barbarian and American Imports Scott Hall and Killer Tim Brooks. Competing in the B Block were recent NJPW returnee Masa Saito, UWF leader Akira Maeda, former tag champion Kengo Kimura, delinquent brawler Umanosuke Ueda, former Junior George Takano and gajin imports Alexis Smirnoff and Hacksaw Higgins.

The Match: This match from the B Block saw Maeda assaulted by Super Strong Machine before the match, and left with a crimson mask before he's even stepped into the ring. At this point it looks like Maeda isn't even going to make it into the ring.....

But Maeda's as bad ass as they come, and the match actually takes place, despite the fact that Maeda looks as though he can barely stand. He looks like easy pickings for Saito and it's no surprise that Saito immediately seizes control of the match, as Maeda's horrifically crimson red face, drips blood all over the mat.

However Maeda not only manages to find the fighting spirit to keep himself alive in the match, he even manages to come back with his own flurry of offence- before the decisive action ends up taking place outside the ring, the loser left brutally incapitated after taking a suplex out on the floor.
This match is super short but they pack a fair amount of action and a tonne of drama into the little time they were given to work with, and besides with the state of Maeda's blood loss there was no way the match could have conceivably been able to go much longer than it did.

Mildly Recommended _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 12th June 1987- NJPW IWGP Champion Series 1987 (Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo)

IWGP League 1987 Final/IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito

The Match: Unlike previous years where the IWGP Championship would be 'defended' annually, this years tournament would crown the first true IWGP Heavyweight Champion with the winner going on to defend the title throughout the year. Antonio Inoki who topped the A-Block and Masa Saito who topped the B-Block were the two men who would battle it out in the finals to crown the first champion.

The match itself fizzles into life through fits and bursts of hard hitting violence, the highlight being a stubborn exchange of headbutts, however it never quite manages to step out of third gear, and the fluke finish comes off as an incredibly weak way to crown the champion.

It's probably always the intention to make the loser look strong in these sort of situations, and in fact the loser probably looked a tad stronger throughout the contest but the reality is that the loser who probably should have won, ends up looking like more of a loser by losing in such a piss weak manner. And the finish when it comes is a real shame, because that's when the match was just starting to build into something really good.
Post match Riki Choshu steps into the ring, grabs a microphone and starts ranting and raving- to the point that though I can't understand a word he is saying I can only presume he's making a challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

Other big players like Akira Maeda and Tatsumi Fujinami get on the mic too, during an entertaining post match argument/debate. In fact Maeda's look of 'Hey I'm not going to be the one to job to that egotistical prick' is priceless. This post match stuff is so good, it's worth watching the video just for that, rather than the decent but not great match that preceeded it.

Mildly Recommended *
* Mostly for the post match stuff. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20th August 1987- NJPW Summer Night Fever In Kokugikan (Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo)

Antonio Inoki & Keiji Mutoh vs Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami

Riki Choshu: In the autumn of 1984 Riki Choshu and his Ishin Gundan stable walked out of NJPW and formed their own promotion Japan Pro Wrestling, whilst at the same time Choshu and his gang ended up invading All Japan.
Whilst JPW never really amounted to anything more than an irregular vanity project for Choshu, as in New Japan Choshu and Ishin Gundan became the top heel stable in the promotion.

Whilst in AJPW Choshu held the NWA International Tag Team Championship alongside Yoshiaki Yatsu for a whole calendar year between February 1986 and February 1987 and then to further prove his dominance he defeated Stan Hansen for the PWF Heavyweight Championship in 1986, only then relinquinshing the title almost a year later when Choshu made the decision to jump back to New Japan.

The Match: Well it's certainly a bit strange seeing long time rivals Choshu and Fujinami team up together, without knowing the full history, had they buried the hatchet over the summer or was this a 'tag team partners that don't like each other sort of the deal' ?
After some a pretty extended period of pre matching faffing about, where it looks as though Mutoh enters as a mystery random tag partner of Inoki's choosing- the match finally gets underway.

For two thirds of the match, it is in all honesty a bit of a dull affair. If you like watching men sit on their backsides whilst applying figure four leglocks- then this is the match for you. This truly was heading for 'collecting a pay cheque' territory and the only saving grace was the hot crowd- who quite frankly would have cheered Inoki stroking himself off in the ring.

Then all of a sudden for the final five minutes, they flicked a switch and went into turbo mode. The catalyst of the sudden injection of pace is once again young Keiji Mutoh, who pulls out not one, but two moonsaults to spark the match into life.

The closing stretch is truly frantic and fantastic, it's just such a shame we are forced to sit through around ten minutes of sweaty backside tedium to get there.

Mildly Recommended ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1st September 1987- NJPW Sengoku Battle Series 1987 (Fukuoka Sports Center)

IWGP Tag Team Championship: Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara

The Match: Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada had held the IWGP Tag Team Championship since March, here they were putting their titles on the line against fellow UWF alumni Kazuo Yamazaki and Yoshiaki Fujiwara.

This match had all the stiff kicks, angry slaps, limb snapping armbars, neck shortening suplexes and fighting spirit/no selling you would expect of an all UWF affair.

It's perhaps though because of the latter that this match never quite hits the mark emotionally, it's a fairly entertaining back and forth affair and the finish manages to come out of nowhere in a good way but throughout the entire match it lacks that extra ingredient to take it to the next level.
Fighting spirit is fine, but the no selling here throughout leads to the match just feeling like tit for tat striking, rather than a captivating struggle between these two pairs of legitimately tough customers.

Mildly Recommended _______________________________________________________________________________________________ 14th September 1987- NJPW Sengoku Battle Series 1987 (Okayama)

Antonio Inoki, Keiji Muto & Nobuhiko Takada vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi, Super Strong Machine & Tatsumi Fujinami

Kuniaki Kobayashi: Kobayashi was one of several Ishin Gundan members to follow Riki Choshu in the autumn of 1984, and then return with Choshu to New Japan during the spring of 1987.

During his time with AJPW, in the summer of 1985 Kobayashi won the NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship from another former New Japan alumni in the Dynamite Kid before losing the title to the second incarnation of Tiger Mask (Mitsuharu Misawa). Then during the autumn of 1986, Kobayashi was the second man to hold the newly established AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Championship, winning the title from Hiro Saito.

Super Strong Machine: Junji Hirata made his New Japan debut in 1978, and then proceeded to spend the next 5 years working as a young lion under his real name, before being sent on excursion to Canada's Stampede Wrestling and Mexico's UWA. Whilst in Canada with Stampede, where he worked under the name of Sonny Two Rivers he had a run as the Stampede British Commonwealth Mid Heavyweight Champion.
On his return to Japan in 1984, Hirata then donned the Strong Machine mask and gimmick that he is most noted for. In 1985 Hirata defected to All Japan along with his Super Strong Machine gimmick, where he had a brief run as the All Asia Tag Team Champion alongside Ashura Hara before vacating the belts when he followed the likes of Riki Choshu back to their original home of New Japan.

The Match: Inoki and Takada on the same team, and Fujinami on the opposite side- who would have thought they would be seeing those teams a year prior?

On the whole this is a solidly worked but forgettable six man tag. However the gradually boiling tension that was brewing between Inoki and Fujinami does add a slight of intrigue to the match and it feels as though they were sowing the seeds here of a slow build towards a major confrontation between the owner and icon of New Japan and the man who had effectively been pushed as the bridesmaid of NJPW throughout the 1980's.

I don't know if the intention was there to sow the seeds of a heel turn for Inoki, but he comes off as a bit of a 'dick' throughout the match by consistently ducking any engagement with Fujinami. Then again throughout his career Inoki displayed some heelish behaviour and still remained beloved by the large majority of New Japan fans.

At this back stage animosity towards Inoki was starting to bubble away within Fujinami, who was beginning to become disillusioned by the fact that the ageing Inoki was still pushing himself as the man to beat in NJPW. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 27th December 1987- NJPW Year End in Kokugikan 1987 (Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo)

Keichi Yamada vs Masakatsu Funaki

Keichi Yamada: Part of the now what was to become an exceptional class of talent that graduated from the New Japan dojo in 1984, Junior Heavyweight Yamada returned from a near year long excursion in the summer, during which he worked for All Star Wrestling in the UK and Stampede in Canada.

It was in the UK, working under the name of Fuji Yamada where he would enjoy his first title success having a brief reign as the World Mid Heavyweight Champion where he defeated Mark Rocco (who was working as Black Tiger in New Japan at the time) for the title.

Masakatsu Funaki: Inspired by the martial arts films that he was exposed to at a young age by his movie theatre owner father, Funaki only ever saw a life for himself in the world of combat sports and instead of going to high school, instead took the decision to enrol in the New Japan Dojo.

The dojo had a reputation for being notoriously harsh on it's trainees, creating an environment where only the very best of each class would graduated, but the young Funaki impressed the trainers with his athletcism and natural talent for submission grappling, where he was able to immediately form a strong bond with head trainer Yoshiaki Fujiwara and in December of 1985, Funaki made his full New Japan debut as a Junior Heavyweight at the exceptionally young age of 15.

The Match: This is one of those matches that now holds some form of significance wth hindsight but barely mattered to anyone watching at the time. Both Yamada and Funaki would go on to forge legendary careers in the world of pro wrestling and MMA, with Yamada transitioning into arguably the greatest Junior Heavyweight of all time in Jushin Thunder Liger and Funaki being an MMA pioneer by co-founding the shoot wrestling promotion Pancrase alongside Minoru Suzuki in the mid 90s.
However the match here is met with little more than the odd mild appreciation of their efforts from the Sumo Hall crowd. There's nothing particularly bad about it, but it's a fairly basic affair with the more experienced Yamada getting the bulk of the offence in against his teenage opponent.

Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader

Big Van Vader: An ex (American) Football Offensive Lineman, Leon White was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the third round of the 1978 NFL Draft. However he was forced to retire from football after only a couple of seasons due to a ruptured patella.

A few years later White was encouraged to make the switch to professional wrestling. Trained by Olympian Brad Rheingans, White made his pro wrestling debut with the AWA in 1985 and by the next year the rookie powerhouse was already challenging the legendary Stan Hansen for the AWA World Heavyweight title.

White also gained further experience, working in Europe for the CWA promotion, where he ended Otto Wanz near decade long reign as the CWA World Heavyweight Champion.

In the winter of 1987, White signed with All Japan Pro Wrestling but in an unusual move AJPW owner Giant Baba, immediately traded White's contract to NJPW, where he debut under the gimmick of Big Van Vader.

The Match: Well this video is actually much more than just Vader's debut against Antonio Inoki. What we have here is a document of one of the most controversial and infamous chapters in New Japan history.

In the winter of 1987 renowned actor, comedian, director and general all round entertainment personality 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano was going to invade NJPW with his own stable and claimed he had a wrestler from the U.S that would 'destroy' New Japan.

That wrestler just so happened to be Big Van Vader a super heavyweight behemoth of a man that came to the ring wearing an intimidating samurai-esque combination of mask and upper body armour.

The original plan was that Vader was going to make his debut in a Tag match and go over Tatsumi Fujinami but Fujinami was going to job. Meanwhile Riki Choshu who was just returning from an orbital bone injury, suffered from Akira Maeda shooting on him (another controversial incident that the volatile Maeda subsequently got suspended for) during a six man tag match in October would face off against Antonio Inoki in the main event.

However Fujinami refused to job to the newcomer and plans for the show had to be changed. Choshu teamed up with Masa Saito to take on Fujinami and Kengo Kimura in a tag match- the relatively short lived tag match was met by the fans throwing trash into the ring who weren't ready for any form of 'sports entertainment' style celebrity involvement at the time and met the sudden involvement of Takeshi Kitano in the main event picture with derision.

Choshu pinned Kimura during the tag contest, and then got on the microphone to challenge Inoki to a match there and then. Some weird stuff happens where both men decide to head off backstage, appearing to blow off the match before they finally lock up. Choshu gets busted open early during the match and pretty much ended up getting squashed by Inoki, with Hiroshi Hase who was in Choshu's entourage effectively throwing in the towel by interfering in the match and causing the referee to call for a DQ.

Vader then comes out and finally makes his in-ring debut, challenging Inoki and then proceeding to destroy the NJPW owner and icon in under three minutes. This was completely shocking to everyone, because Inoki had not been defeated by anyone during the last five years. The outcome lead to a post show riot (which we don't get to see much of in the video to be honest) at the Ryogoku Kokukigan, leading to New Japan being banned from the arena until the ban was finally lifted two years later.

There was probably a combination of reasons that lead to the NJPW fanbase boiling over in disgust at what they just saw. These being many of them just didn't want to believe that Inoki who was built up to have almost godlike status, could be beaten so easily, another reason could be that the fans felt short-changed by the main event being a squash match and the final reason was that the fans just didn't want to see this kind of American Sports Entertainment style hokiness in Puroresu.

Suffice to say Takeshi Kitano's involvement in the world of puroresu was rather short lived and he was not invited back to NJPW. On the other hand whilst the manner of Vader's debut caused a seismic shock to the New Japan fanbase it did immediately establish the gaijin as a a fearsome unstoppable monster heel.

Mildly Recommended - Not for the wrestling itself but more over the intrigue of the Vader debut and the events on the night that lead to one of the darkest chapters in NJPW history.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sat Dec 12, 2015 12:51 am

Sadly 1988 is a very neglected year when it comes to content posted on New Japan World, with only a paltry 10 matches being posted. Here are the first 4- the remainder will probably be posted up early next week...

25th January 1988- NJPW New Year Golden Series 1988 (Gifu Industrial Hall )

Top of the Junior Tournament Match: Shiro Kosinaka vs Keiichi Yamada

A fore-runner to the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, the Top of the Super Juniors was a 12 man league format, with the top two meeting in a finals match to decide the winner.

The participants were Hiro Saito, Hiroshi Hase, Kazuo Yamazaki, Keiichi Yamada, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Masakatsu Funaki, Norio Honaga, Nobuhiko Takada, Shiro Koshinaka, Tatsutoshi Goto and gaijin imports Owen Hart and Tony St.Clair.

Sadly we only get to see one match from this tournament and in a puzzling move it's not even the finals. Hase was the reigning IWGP Junior champion at the time having defeated Kobayashi in December, who had reigned since August when he defeated Takada for the belt vacated by Koshinaka through injury.

The Match: Strangely there is no commentary for this match, whilst the other thing that strikes me is just how much bigger the crowds were in the rural outposts. Sad to say, I just don't see any puroresu promotion being able to return to that level of popularity again.

The bulk of the match is taken up with Yamada relentlessly targetting the right foot of Koshinaka. In lesser hands this could have been a drag to sit through but Yamada is so focused on destroying Koshinaka's foot, that he manages to draw the crowd and the viewer at home into the match.
Koshinaka, was the top Junior Division babyface at the time, but it's a pre Liger Yamada's subtle heel work that helps to drive the story of the match, such as sneakily trying to unlace Koshinaka's wrestling boot or viciously attacking the ankle with the ring bell.

Once Koshinaka finally manages to get a foothold into the match, the final stretch is a frenzied exchange of nearfalls, with the match hanging in the balance right up to the very end.

Overall this was a really well built match, that just goes to show that 'Liger' was pretty great before he even donned the famous mask and costume. Don't be put off by the lack of commentary here or the slow start that is met with the sound of cicada's amongst the living dead, this match ends up being pretty great.

Recommended _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 22nd April April 1988- NJPW Super Fight Series 1988 (Okinawa Gymnasium)

Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader & Masa Saito

The Match: So if you're looking for a great match you're not going to find it here- this ends up being a heavily clipped match, where the 'losing' team ends up being DQ'd.

What's more interesting is the post match footage, where we see Inoki sitting on a folding chair in the dressing room with a towel on his head, contemplating which wrestler he can hold down next... ..when he's interrupted by Fujinami. The pair then proceed to have a heated but polite argument, when Fujinami starts snipping off some of his hair with a pair of scissors- which struck me as a bit odd but maybe he was trying to get across how desperate he was for Inoki to face him mano y mano.

I think they were gradually building towards a feud, that built upon the real life animosity Fujinami was starting to feel towards Inoki, at having to constantly play second fiddle to the iconic owner of NJPW and that is was about time Inoki properly passed the torch. But it never really went anywhere as the next month Inoki happened to conveniently fracture his foot- forcing him to vacate the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, rather than having to actually be defeated for it. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 24th June 1988- NJPW IWGP Champion Series 1988 (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)

(Vacant) IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu

So due to the unfathomable reason that the 1988 content is sketchy, it's best that we get a bit of backstory first before we delve into this match. On the 2nd May 1988 inaugural IWGP Heavyweight Champion Antonio Inoki vacated the title due to fracturing his left foot.

On the 8th May 1988 at the Ariake Colisseum in Tokyo, Tatsumi Fujimami and Big Van Vader competed for the vacant championship, where Fujinami emerged as the new champion after winning the title via DQ.

Fujinami then made his first title defence against long time generational rival Riki Choshu in Sendai on the 27th May 1988- where the match finished in a no contest, causing the title to be 'held up'.

The Match: Effectively you could say that this is Fujinami's second title defence of his first title reign but official records show the title as being vacated after their first encounter ended in a no contest.

I saw a comment somewhere, describing Riki Choshu as a two move wonder with really bad hair- whilst that may seem a bit harsh in regards to Choshu's wrestling ability, in all honesty it's not too far from the truth, because the Lariat and Scorpion Deathlock are so integral to everyone of his matches.

Anyway not a lot really has changed between Choshu and Fujinami, since Choshu decided to swan off to All Japan for a couple of years. There's still the same borderline pointless slow build that appears to be going nowhere, before the match begins to get considerably more interesting about two thirds of the way in.

Choshu, as expected brings out his trusted arsenal, and one powerful lariat sends Fujinami flying off the apron and busting 'the Dragon' open in the process. That leads to a frantic final couple of minutes with a crimson masked Fujinami looking to simply find a way to grab victory any way he can, without having to resort to breaking the rules- rather than looking to be dragged into a physical war with Choshu.

As is so often the case, the closing stretch 'saves' the match whenever these two lock horns, it would just be nice for once if their matches manage to grab your attention from the opening bell.

Mildly Recommended. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 26th June 1988- NJPW IWGP Champion Series 1988 (Nagoya Rainbow Hall)

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader

The Match: Vader was being pushed as the latest gaijin monster heel threat, since he made his debut in New Japan at the very end of the previous year, at the infamous show that resulted in NJPW being banned from running shows in Sumo Hall for a couple of years.

To help with the push, Vader had not suffered a 'clean' loss by pinfall or submission and to put him over even further as an unstoppable monster, he was often booked in Handicap matches, where he could 'squash' multiple opponents at the same time.

His first attempt at winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, ended in failiure when he ended up being DQ'd when fighting Fujinami over the then vacant title- giving the fans the impression that the biggest threat to Vader's success was his own uncontrollable rage and not the usually hapless sod who dared to step into the ring with the near 400 Ib behemoth.

Over the years Vader would build up a reputation for being one of the most impressively athletic super heavyweights in wrestling history, but you see little evidence of that here- it's not that he plods around the ring, in fact you can already see that he moves very well for a man of his size but his offence consists of little more than big man/monster staples such as powerslams and using his bulk as a weapon.

Fujinami using a combination of wrestling smarts and sheer bloody minded desperation at times, carries the match both from a work-rate and story perspective. In the end they manage to turn out a reasonably entertaining contest, despite the fact that I was hoping for more given Vader's reputation but in all fairness at this stage he was still a work in progress.

Mildly Recommended

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Thu Dec 17, 2015 1:12 am

The remainder of New Japan World's paltry selection for 1988 (thankfully 1989 has considerably more content) with Inoki still omnipresent as ever.

22nd July 1988- NJPW Summer Fight Series 1988 (Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo)

IWGP League 1988 Match: Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu

The 1988 IWGP League only featured 5 wrestlers in a single block: Antonio Inoki, Big Van Vader, Kengo Kimura, Masa Saito and Riki Choshu, with the winner going on to face Tatsumi Fujinami for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

The depleted field for that year, probably had much to do with the fact that most of the UWF contingent (Maeda, Takada, Yamazaki etc) had once again become disillusioned with the way the promotion was being run by Inoki andwalked out on New Japan.

In Maeda's case he was actually fired after he refused to go on excursion to Mexico, this following his suspension for breaking Choshu's orbital bone was the final straw in breaking Inoki's patience with the abrasive Maeda. However those loyal to Maeda, were soon to follow him out of New Japan and formed the Newborn UWF. On this occasion veteran's Fujiwara and Kido would remain loyal to NJPW, though the next year Fujiwara wanted out of New Japan and to become part of the 'newborn' UWF.

The Match: Inoki's tactic is to try and keep the action on the mat and gradually wear down Choshu with submission work, but this short quick paced match plays largely to Choshu's strengths as a burly powerhouse brawler and is all the better for it, rather than trying to pad things out with slow build limb work that ends up heading absolutely nowhere.

Satisfyingly as well the match ends with a decisive victor and not necessarily the one everyone would have been expecting, given the eventual loser's general reluctance to put overs other in a convincing manner.

Mildly Recommended __________________________________________________________________________________ 29th July 1988- NJPW Summer Fight Series 1988 (Ariake Colisseum, Tokyo)

Six Man Tag: Keiji Mutoh, Shinya Hashimoto & Masahiro Chono vs Tatsumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura & Shiro Koshinaka

'The Three Musketeers': Whilst working together on excursion in Puerto Rico, fellow class of '84 graduates Keiji Mutoh, Shinya Hashimoto and Masahiro Chono would form the alliance known as Toukon Sanjushi (or The Three Musketeers to give the faction it's name more commonly known to western fans).

Whilst Mutoh was perhaps already enjoying a push past young lion status, given his brief Tag Team Championship reign with Shiro Koshinaka, the redebut of Hashimoto and Chono following excursion would mark the point where Mutoh's fellow classmates would begin to rise the ranks and put their young lion days behind them.

The Match: A fairly short six man tag but one where they tell a pretty captivating story with the brief time that they are given. The returnees heel it up here, as the brash young up-starts looking to climb the ranks by attacking the trio of veteran fan favourites before the bell has even rung.
You get a real sense here that Mutoh (somewhat unrecognisable from his 1987 look, with a buzzcut, beard and sporting short trunks), Hashimoto and Chono are fed up with 'paying their dues' and that they feel it's time for the previous generation to move aside.

By the end of the match though the 'Three Musketeers' petulence leads to the veteran's displaying a more aggressive side themselves and Mutoh and co end up picking up a few receipts themselves.

Mildly Recommended

IWGP League 1988 Match: Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader

The Match: In kayfabe terms, by this stage Inoki was well aware of the strength and power that Vader possessed, so on this occassion was better prepared for what Vader was about to throw at him. The match pretty much followed a simple formula of Inoki enduring Vader's heavy hitting offense and finding little openings to strike back whenever the gaijin monster felt he had the match under control and took the proverbial foot off the gas.

In particular, Inoki relentlessly looked to work over Vader's right arm at any opportunity...this works into the finish with an increasingly frustrated and desperate Vader looking to finish Inoki off by any means necessary. This leads to a decision to bring a foreign object in to play back-firing and being used by Inoki to inflict further damage upon Vader's already worn down right arm.

Mildly Recommended _________________________________________________________________________________________ 8th August 1988- NJPW Super Monday Night In Yokohama (Yokohama Bunka Gymnasium)

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Antonio Inoki

The Match: Inoki came out on top of the IWGP League to earn a chance at regaining the title he had to vacate through injury.
This match is a prime example of why going the limit, sounds great in theory but is often a major let down in practice. They could have had a very good 30 minute main event here, but Inoki's ego got in the way of putting Fujinami over in a more decisive manner, so they ended up with a drawn out hour long match that features all the usual padding, such as long submission sequences and flailing around on the mat selling the gruelling exhaustion.

The closing stretch could have been pretty good, if it wasn't so obvious they were going broadway, with Inoki desperately battling his way through a variety of submission holds from Fujinami before getting his millionth wind and return a final desperate barrage of offense himself- the final minute as expected is a flurry of exhausted pin attempts.

In closing there was a good match in there somewhere but politics got in the way.
_________________________________________________________________________________________ 12th September 1988- NJPW Sengoku Series 1988 (Fukuoka Kokusai Center)

Big Van Vader vs Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow

Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow: With a distinctive look that saw his bald head covered with a flame tattoo, Scott Charles Bigelow was trained by Larry Sharpe and made his pro wrestling debut in 1985. However it wasn't also Bigelow's striking look that got him noticed but also his unique combination of size and athleticism.

Often working a russian gimmick as Crusher Yurkoff, Bigelow quickly found championship success across various territories, winning the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship and the WCCW Television Championship, just a year into his career.

Bigelow then debuted in New Japan in 1987, even challenging the then champion Antonio Inoki for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, before being signed by the WWF. Despite initially receiving a strong push, that saw him survive longer than Hulk Hogan as part of Hogan's team during the 1987 Survivor Series, Bigelow's run in the WWF was derailed by a knee injury that required surgery and the following year left the WWF to return to NJPW.

The Match: Bigelow had actually made his debut in New Japan prior to Vader, but was lured over to the WWF before Vader made his debut, but when Bigelow returned the feud between these two behemoths that also contained surprising agility for men of their size was an obvious feud for anyone to book.

Though this match is far from bad, I can't honestly say it's all that great either. Both men get to showcase their impressive combination of power and agility but for me the contest never comes together as a match and in all honesty lacked the sort of heated emotion to pull you in, with the weak crowd brawling finish feeling like an excuse to keep the feud ticking over, rather than adding further incendiary fuel to the fire.
Given both men's reputations as exceptionally agile super heavyweights, I was ready to be left impressed by this match, but came away feeling disappointed and in the end it just felt like they cancelled each other out, rather than bringing the best out of one another.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________ 19th October 1988- NJPW Fighting Spirit Series 1988 (Shizuoka Industry Pavillion)

Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu

The Match: It doesn't take too long for Inoki to become enraged at just the site of Choshu's terrible hair, that he wants to turn the match into a proper fight rather than a human game of chess. Which is for the best, as enraged pissed off Inoki is so much more entertaining than drag the match out with pointless limb work Inoki.

Both decide to expose turnbuckles, which does end up coming into play down the stretch, as Inoki ends up getting badly busted open. However as is so often the case, instead of weakening Inoki, it sends him into 'rabid beast mode', with him attempting to literally choke out Choshu.

The post match visual of an enraged and bloodied Inoki trying to attack anyone who dare crosses his path, including a young Tiger Hattori as the official is perhaps even more entertaining than what ended up being a pretty decent heated brawl between two puroresu icons.

Mildly Recommended
Last edited by Tigerkinney on Thu Dec 17, 2015 11:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Thu Dec 17, 2015 11:53 pm

It's the final year of the 1980's...... Just three matches this time, as the next up-date is an entire card's worth of content from New Japan's first trip to the Tokyo Dome.

16th January 1989- NJPW New Year Golden Series 1989 (Osaka Prefectural Gymnansium)

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow

The Match: The story of the match here is that Bigelow pretty much dominates Fujinami with his size and power, with 'The Dragon' fighting from underneath from start to finish.

It's a tried and tested formula and the work here from both men is fine enough, but the match ends up suffering from a lack on interest from a surprisingly dead(ish) Osaka crowd who must be comprised of zombified overworked salarymen. That results in Fujinami and Bigelow being unable to feed off the crowd and raise their contest from functional to engaging.
___________________________________________________________________________________________ 9th February 1989- NJPW New Year Golden Series 1989 (Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo)

Antonio Inoki vs Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow

The Match: Be thankful for today's New Japan crowds filled with fangirls, because not only do they make the crowd better to look at your mind happens to wonder during a boring match (I've got no shame in admitting that) they also bring plenty of enthusiasm and energy. This Sapporo crowd was even deader than the Osaka one for Fujinami vs Bigelow!

The match itself saw Inoki pretty much revisit his match with Vader towards the end of the previous year, with the game plan being to focus in and weaken the arm of his bigger, more powerful opponent. As with Bigelow's match with Fujinami, the match itself is fine enough it just suffers from the (lack of) crowd reaction adding nothing to the match.

Weirdly enough however the crowd do suddenly come alive (as though daylight has just ended and they are vampires that have risen from their caskets) for the post match angle which see's Vader attack Inoki post match and then see's Inoki heroically fight off a two on one beat down from the acrofatic duo. _______________________________________________________________________________________ 22nd February 1989- NJPW Special Fight in Kokukigan (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)

Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu

The Match: This was the main event from New Japan's first show back in Ryoguku Kokukigan (aka Sumo Hall) since the ban was lifted on them running shows in that building due to the infamous 'Kitano riot' incident that took place at the end of 1987.

Despite Inoki employing his usual tactic of targeting the arm of a larger powerhouse opponent (something that makes sense with Choshu, given that one of Choshu's main weapons is the lariat) very little of the match is wasted on turgid slow build matwork, and this is a pretty much heavy hitting action packed affair from bell to bell.

However what the match gains in action, it loses its way in psychology as Inoki's limb work on Choshu is wasted on a finish, where the latter is pretty much trying to knock out the former by the way of a million lariats.

An entertaining match but not one for those who like to nitpick over poor selling.

Mildly Recommended

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