A history of NJPW with New Japan World

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:17 pm

24th April 1989- NJPW Battle Satellite in Tokyo Dome

For the first time in their history New Japan Pro Wrestling would hold a show in the Tokyo Dome, something that would eventually become an annual tradition that would always take place on the 4th of January. The centrepiece of this first ever Tokyo Dome show is an 8 man one night, single elimination tournament to crown a new IWGP Heavyweight Champion, with Fujinami the defending champion vacating the belt so that the champion could be decided in this special tournament.

In this update, we have the first half of the card featuring the first round and semi finals of the IWGP Heavyweight title tournament.

Young Lion Cup 1989 Finals: Naoki Sano vs Hiro Saito

Naoki Sano: Sano graduated from the same revered dojo class as Mutoh, Chono, Hashmito and Yamada (Liger). As is usually the case Sano's early years were spent competing as Young Lion in the Junior Heavyweight class, before being sent out on excursion at the back end of 1987 and spending around a year with the UWA promotion in Mexico.

Hiro Saito: Saito made his debut with NJPW in 1978 before being sent on excursion in 1982, where he would primarily compete for Stampede Wrestling in Canada, where he would form a tag team with fellow New Japan young lion Shunji Takano. After nearly two years away from New Japan, he returned in the autumn of 1984.

The following summer Saito would feud with The Cobra (George Takano) over the WWF Junior Heavyweight title, holding the title for a two month reign. However towards the end of 1985 Saito would jump across to All Japan, where he would reform the Calgary Hurricanes with Shunji Takano.
The following year Saito would become the inugural AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Champion, defeating Brad Armstrong in a tournament final. After a four month reign Saito would lose the title to fellow New Japan defector Kuniaki Kobayashi.

Saito along with several others (that most notably included Riki Choshu) would then decide to finish with All Japan in the spring of 1987 and jump back to New Japan.

The Match: Neither of these guys are exactly what you could call Young Lions, you could have still made a borderline case for Sano but Saito was a former WWF and AJPW Junior Champion, so them competing for this Young Lions Cup is frankly a bit baffling- did they not have any actual Young Lions at the time to compete for this (worthless) title?

Maybe I was imagining things but I'm pretty sure I could here the chirpings of Cicada's in the building, as Sano and Saito were going about their business. It's a shame that the Tokyo Dome crowd isn't Korakuen Hall x 100 but instead it's filled with casuals who like to sit on their hands.
In fairness the crowd do start to respond after Saito crashes and burns into the guard-rail after a failed suicide dive and then Sano follows that up with a plancha off the top rope. The match picks up from that point, as they try to put one another away with German Suplexes down the stretch but all in all though both competitors put in a spirited effort, the work here is fairly basic and worked near enough like a Young Lion style of match. All that was missing were the obligatory Boston Crab spots.

IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament 1st Round: Masahiro Chono vs Big Van Vader

The Match: They tease the match being a wild brawl from the opening bell but after a feisty opening minute, the match unfortunately grinds to a halt with Vader taking complete control.

Chono's desperate attempts to get back into the match fail miserably both in a kayfabe and a literal sense, as an attempt at a German Suplex on Vader, goes horribly wrong with the big gaijin monster just landing on top of him. In a strange way though the botch helps to get Vader over as an immovable object even more.

Chono literally ends up getting 'squashed' by Vader and at this stage of his career he was a midcarder that was just in the tournament to make up the numbers and put the big bad gaijin monster over, rather than be seen as an actual title contender.

IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament 1st Round: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Vladimir Berkovich

Vladimir Berkovich: Kazakh born Berkovich, was one of several 'Russian' wrestlers brought in by New Japan in 1989. There is very little information on the internet, as to Berkovich's background in pro wrestling prior to his appearances with NJPW, but more than likely he had a background in amateur wrestling.

The Match: Right from the very beginning of NJPW's birth, Inoki was obsessed with putting New Japan's wrestlers over as the strongest fighters on the planet and was constantly looking for ways to 'legitimize' pro wrestling as a sport- even though only the most deluded of fans or kids would not be able to see that it is scripted fighting. That's not a knock, otherwise I wouldn't be a pro wrestling fan, just the reality of what pro wrestling is. Inoki was pretty much obsessed with blurring that line (or perhaps his mind was just blurred) by bringing in those with legit fighting backgrounds and the influx of 'Russians' with their legit amateur backgrounds certainly fitted right into Inoki's obsession with presenting pro wrestling as being on the same level as actual legitimate combat sports.

This match isn't very good, as Fujinami had his work cut out trying to carry a very green looking opponent through a fairly basic five minute match. Berkovich frankly looked out of a fish out of water here and needed to spend a bit more time in the dojo learning the 'Strong Style' before stepping out in front of a live audience. There is little wonder that Berkovich failed to make much impact during his short stint in pro wrestling. At least Inoki had not completely lost his marbles at this point and have Fujinami but this green as grass 'Russian' over.

IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament 1st Round: Buzz Sawyer vs Victor Zangiev

Buzz Sawyer: Sawyer made his debut in 1979, and for the next 6 years would compete primarily for a variety of NWA affiliaties, most notably with the Mid Atlantic (Jim Crockett Promotions) and Georgia Championship wrestling territories.

Though Sawyer would find championship success in both the singles and tag ranks (alongside Matt Borne and his brother Brett) his reigns with were usually short and transitional. However his work as a crazed heel (earning him the 'Mad Dog' nickname) did lead to some memorable feuds, most notably with Tommy Rich that culminated in their blood-feud ending with an enclosed cage match, that Shawn Michaels credits for inspiring the Hell in A Cell concept that would be used in WWE several decades later.

In 1986 Sawyer would compete for World Class Championship Wrestling, where his stint with the Texas based promotion would see him have a lengthy reign as the World Class Tag Team Champion alongside Matt Borne and a brief reign as the World Class Television Champion.
However Sawyer's run with WCCW was brought to an abrupt end when he was fired for failing a Drugs Test. The following year Sawyer resurfaced with NJPW, looking to rebuild his career in Japan.

Victor Zangiev: Zangiev was another one of the crop of former Soviet amateur wrestlers invited by Antonio Inoki to train in the New Japan dojo and then be brought onto the NJPW roster, with their legit wrestling skills, seeing them by-passing the usual young lion stage and given an immediate push.

The Match: The combined ugliness of the two men competing in this match could have broken an entire hall of mirrors. Zangiev has so much body hair it could probably take on a life of it's own.

The match itself is another short first round match in this tournament for the IWGP Heavyweight title vacated by Fujinami. Zangiev looked a little bit better than Berkovich, but the match was still nothing to write home about and was your basic mix of grappling and throws. The finish saw Sawyer celebrate too early, before being tossed by Zangiev with a German.

IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament 1st Round: Riki Choshu vs Shinya Hashimoto

The Match: This match is super short (as are all the first round match-ups) but they pack a lot of action and manage to tell a neat little story, in the tiny amount of time that they are given.

Choshu tries to 'bully' the younger Hashimoto early on but Hash is having none of it and it doesn't take long for him to return his own hard hitting combination of strikes and kicks. Choshu then appears to seize back control downing Hash with a Lariat and then going for the Scorpion Death Lock but Hashimoto manages to counter into a roll-up to leave Choshu and the Tokyo Dome crowd in shock.

The result would have been a major upset at the time, as Choshu was one of the biggest stars in the promotion and Hashimoto was a midcarder that had only recently returned from excursion not so long ago. However they were obviously looking to elevate Hashimoto up the card and they did it in such way to protect Choshu, whilst still making Hashimoto look like both a strong and intelligent fighter.

Mildly Recommended

* There was also an actual Kickboxing match between Shinya Asuka and Benny Urquidez, that took place on the show between the first round and semi final of the IWGP Heavyweight Title tournament. I've decided to skip pass it though, as for me it has no business being on a Pro Wrestling card, and is amongst the absolute worst examples of the sort of crap that Inoki forced onto his shows whilst he was on charge of NJPW.

I'll just about suffer through the 'Different Style Fights' if they feature a pro-wrestler, but neither of these guys stepped into a pro wrestling ring after this match, that had zilch all to do with pro wrestling. If I want to watch kickboxing, I'll go and watch Kickboxing. I'm pretty sure those attending a kickboxing event, wouldn't have wanted to see some random pro wrestling match at one of their events.

IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Semi Final: Big Van Vader vs Tatsumi Fujinami

The Match: With Choshu knocked out in the first round, after falling on a Hashimoto shaped banana skin, whoever won this match would surely be the favourite to claim the vacant IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

The second IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Fujinami had held the title for nearly a year (though technically for two reigns, due to some nonsense where his second title defense against Choshu in his first reign ended in a no contest and the belt was upheld), before vacating the title for a new champion to be decided by this one night tournament at the Tokyo Dome.

Despite being introduced as an unstoppable monster on his debut, Vader didn't necessarily have it all his own way when up against the top stars of New Japan and Fujinami was one of those he regularly has trouble against, with 'The Dragon' getting the better of Vader a year earlier to claim the belt vacated by it's first champion Antonio Inoki.

Those expecting Fujinami to play the underdog role here would be off the mark, as 'The Dragon' was actually in control for most of the match, working over Vader's arm and even mustering up the strength to dump the considerably larger gaijin monster with suplexes.

However Vader's sheer stubborness against wilting under the constant pressure of Fujinami's relentless offence gradually began to turn the tide and eventually Vader's size and power began come into play, whilst Fujinami also began to feel the pressure of trying to put the monster away whilst he had the upper hand.

This wasn't a classic by any means, but it was a solidly worked match with a surprising dynamic as though technically Fujinami was the defending champion here and an established and respected New Japan main eventer, I would have expected him to be fighting more from underneath throughout the match.

Mildly Recommended

IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Semi Final: Shinya Hashimoto vs Victor Zangiev

The Match: To the crowd in attendance Hashimoto's win against Choshu in the first round probably looked like a bit of a fluke and the up and coming midcarder and he's generally portrayed to be out-matched here in 'wrestling skill' by the Russian Wookie, as Zangiev tosses Hash around and take his arm to pieces for most of the match.

However Hashimoto yet again has no quit in him and he is one again able to quickly turn the tables when he was able to clean Zangiev's clock with his spin kick and then place the walking shagpile carpet into a Figure Four forcing the Russian to tap out. Hashimoto's unlikely march to the finals continues but in his way would be a certain masked monster, would Vader be one step too far?

This wasn't bad as Zangiev was certainly better than the other Russian in the tournament (Berkovich) but it's not really worth going out of your way to see, other than wishing to experience New Japan's first Tokyo Dome card in it's entirety.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sun Dec 27, 2015 10:54 am

It's the conclusion of NJPW's first ever trip to the Tokyo Dome as a new IWGP Heavyweight Champion is crowned, Jushin Liger makes his debut and Inoki and his ego feature in the main event against a judokigi wearing Russian.

Masa Saito vs Wahka Eveloev

Wahka Eveloev: Eveloev was yet another one of the former amateur wrestlers, that Inoki decided to import in from the then Soviet Union.

The Match: Eveloev is unfortunately another Berkovich from the singlet wearing brigade of Soviet ex Amateurs. Whilst his basic wrestling skills may be solid, he is another who clearly doesn't 'get' pro wrestling, with questionable bumping technique and all the personality of a cucumber.

Anyway they go through some boring routine grappling for a few minutes, before Saito tries to up the pace to no avail , then all of a sudden Eveloev makes Saito (who was feuding with Inoki the previous year) tap out to an armbar. No fucks were given by the Tokyo Dome crowd and who could blame them because Evostik flat out sucked.

IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Final : Shinya Hashimoto vs Big Van Vader

The Match: With Fujinami defeated by Vader in the semi final round, we would have a new IWGP Champion crowned here. Riki Choshu was clearly the favourite to be facing either Fujinami or Vader in the final but Hashimoto managed to upset Choshu in the first round and then complete his surprising run to the Final by overcoming the walking shagpile carpet that was Viktor Zangiev. Would Hashimoto upset the odds again or would the big gaijin monster finally get this hands on the IWGP Heavyweight Championship that had thus far alluded him since his controversial but impactful debut as the year of 1987 drew to a close?

The tournament final ends up having it's good points and it's bad points, well in all honesty there is only really one bad point but it ends up hurting the match and it's neither of the actual competitors fault. They worked a solid story here that simultaneously helped to elevate Hashimoto as being able to 'hang' at this level, whilst also still continuing to put over Vader as a dominant monster.

Hashimoto continuously looked to work over Vader's weakened arm, with the gaijin big man doing his best to sell Hashimoto's relentless pin pointed offence as being effective, with the crowd gradually buying into/losing their shit that Hashimoto might just have a chance to pull of the unthinkable here.

However Vader is as tough as nails and it only takes a lariat (or even a freaking drop-kick at one point) here or a clubbing blow there for the monster to halt Hashimoto's momentum and turn the tide. Hashimoto keeps coming back though, undettered but eventually he takes one clubbing lariat too many from Vader.......

And this is where the bad part of the match comes in, as Lou Thesz who was the special guest referee for this match, takes an eternity between the two and three count, thus making Hashimoto look weak at the finish- which is a real shame, as this should have been a star making performance for Hash. The match is still good enough to be worth your while checking out but Thesz failure on the three count, does end up putting an anticlimatic dampner on not only the match but the entire title tournament. Weirdly enough as well the IWGP Tournament final wasn't the main event either, as there were four more matches to come with Egonoki putting his faux MMA wankery in the main event instead.

Mildly Recommended

George Takano & Super Strong Machine vs Hiroshi Hase & Shiro Koshinaka

Hiroshi Hase: Before turning to professional wrestling Hase competed as the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where he placed 9th in the Greco-Roman wrestling tournament.

Trained by Riki Choshu, when he turned professional Hiroshi Hase's early years were spent away from his home country, first off competing in Puerto Rico for the World Wrestling Council and then for Stampede Wrestling under a mask as one half of the Viet Cong Express, alongside fellow Japanese import Fumihiro Nikura- with the duo winning the Stampede International Tag Team Championship. In the latter part of his run with Stampede he would unmask and begin to compete under his own name.

Perhaps because of his legitimate wrestling credentials, Hase by-passed the usual young lion stage on his return to Japan, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship on his debut for NJPW in December 1987, where he would hold the title under May 1988, losing the title to Owen Hart.
Coming into this match Hase was now in his second reign as IWGP Junior Champion, winning the belt in March from Shiro Koshinaka.

The Match: Hase's been in New Japan for over a year and has even had a Junior title run, but this is the first time we actually get to see him wrestle in a match on New Japan World, rather than seeing him second his mentor Riki Choshu to the ring.

Strong Machine and Takano are the reigning IWGP Tag Team Champions, having defeated Masa Saito and Riki Choshu for the titles in March but this is a non title match against two of the current stand-outs of New Japan's Junior Divison.

Lou Thesz's day out from the wrestling pensioner's home continues, as he also gets to referee or screw up a few three counts in this match. The match is worked at a pretty fast pace throughout, with plenty of nearfalls and momentum switches, it's the sort of match where you can see the modern way of working starting to take over from the slower paced traditional style and at times it appears to be all too much for the doddery Thesz to process- By today's standards it is of course pretty tame in comparison, but just imagine if Thesz was still around to referee a Young Bucks match!

There a couple of Takano's usual botches in there, but even his efforts can be appreciated in a match where the work-rate never drops, as all four men bring out their most heavy hitting arsenal including suplexes, piledrivers, stereo dropkicks and flying headbutts to try and claim victory in a match where the crowd would have been believing by the end of the match either side could have easily come away with the victory.

If there is a criticism that could be levelled at the match, other than Takano's sometimes shaky execution, is that the match is perhaps a little too much of a back and forth affair with very little room for the crowd to get behind one of the teams and become emotional invested in the match. In the end it's the sort of match that will illicit plenty of 'oohs and aahs' in admiration for their admirable efforts but won't necessarily have you on the edge of your seat.

Mildly Recommended

Jushin Liger vs Kuniaki Kobayashi

Jushin Liger: New Japan wanted to recreate the success they had in the Junior Division at the start of the decade with Tiger Mask, by creating a wrestler based on a popular anime supehero. The choice was Jushin Liger, from an anime series based on a manga by popular mangaka Go Nagai (whose notable hits included Cutie Honey, Mazinger and the Devilman series).

New Japan of course needed the right man to recreate the character in the ring. Yamada who had debuted the spectacular Shooting Star Press two years earlier, certainly had the physical credentials to be able to pull off a 'superhuman' gimmick and though he had enjoyed a solid undercard push under his own name (receiving several shots at the Junior Championship, but always coming up short), NJPW obviously felt he could go even further with the Jushin Liger gimmick. History tells us that was a wise decision, as the Liger gimmick gave Yamada that sprinkling of star power to go along with his already stellar in-ring abilities.

The Match: The retirement home called to say that Lou Thesz needed to be back for his nightly round of medication- so we don't have to suffer through any more of his attempts at refereeing.

All jokes about old man Thesz aside, this was the 'debut' of Jushin Liger. Of course the man wearing the mask and costume had been a member of the New Japan roster for five years and had already established himself as a solid member of the Junior Division, but he was about to be handed an opportunity here to elevate himself to the next level. Would Yamada impress in his debut as Liger or he would wilt under the pressure of a gimmick, New Japan were clearly hoping would be the next Tiger Mask.

Liger is sporting the now largely forgotten original costume here, instead of the more iconic 'Thunder' version, as with the anime character he was based on he would eventually 'power up' into the Thunder version. Unsurprisingly because the Thunder version looked way cooler than what he had on here (though in all fairness as costumes go this was far from embarrasing) New Japan didn't bother changing it back, once the change was made.

Kobayashi was probably chosen as Liger's first opponent, due to his experience and also because of being a dick heel foil to Tiger Mask. The match starts off fast with Liger hitting a dive to the floor, but then Kobayashi takes over and grinds the pace to a halt- thankfully Kobabyashi remembers to bring some dickishness into play, as he goes after Liger's mask and even sneaks in a low blow at one point but as expected though Liger eventually makes his comeback.

All in all this didn't end up being the spectacular debut for the Liger character one might have been hoping for, but the match certainly isn't so bad that Liger's 'debut' could be called a DUD and that they had an uphill battle to establish the character after a poor start. At times Liger is a touch sloppy here and there and he looks as though he is still trying to get used to working under a mask, but in general they tell a sound story here even if perhaps it did end up being not quite as impactful a debut as would have been hoped for.

Post match Kobayashi tries to unmask Liger, but is eventually pulled off- Liger however is having none of Kobayashi's bullshit, so he lifts up his mask ever so slightly and then goads Kobayashi back into the ring by spitting at him, before ensnaring Kobayashi in a figure four leglock. Whilst spitting can hardly be seen as the actions of a heroic babyface, Liger did come across here as someone who wasn't going to back down from a fight, and it perhaps does more than the match itself to instantly put over Jushin Liger as someone the rest of New Japan's Junior Division should be wary of.

Mildly Recommended for Liger fans, who are curious to see the character's debut.

Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs Salman Hashimikov

Salman Hashimikov: Chechen born Hashimikov was once again part of the glut of former Soviet amateurs, personally invited over by Antonio Inoki to train at the New Japan Dojo and to be bought onto the roster. Hashimikov was perhaps the most celebrated of all the 'Russians', with an amateur wrestling pedigree that saw him win 4 World Championship gold medals in freestyle wrestling between 1979 and 1983.

The Match: Whilst he didn't enjoy quite as strong a push as Vader, Bigelow was being placed as another gaijin monster heel threat and was expected to provide a stiff challenge for Hashimikov. But Inoki clearly had a hard on for the Russian shooters, and Hashimikov ends up winning this in under three minutes- which is frankly baffling as all it did was make Bigelow look like a total loser and a goof.

The way Hashimikov won was actually quite impressive, with him managing to muster up the strength to lift up the much larger Bigelow, before slamming Bam Bam onto the mat. In fact it would have made for a good finish after a hard fought match, unfortunately we didn't get a hard fought match here, all we got was Inoki's usual jerking off to anyone that is a 'shooter' by booking them super strong and not caring if his opponent ends up looking like shit.

NJPW (WWF) Martial Arts Title Match: Antonio Inoki vs Shota Chochishvili

Shota Chochishvili: Hailing from the Soviet republic of Georgia, Shota Chochishvili was a Judoka that competed at both the 1972 (Munich) and 1976 (Montreal) Summer Olympics. Winning Gold in the Half Heavyweight Class in Munich, and Bronze in the Openweight Class in Montreal.

The Match: Inoki had revived the WWF Martial Arts Title that he was awarded way back in 1979, so that he can main event this match. This is fought under the usual 'Different Style Fight' rules with the match fought over rounds, rather than than being one fall to a finish within a set time limit. They amp up the gimmick even more this time, by removing the ring-ropes, I suppose in an attempt to make the match feel more special.
This wasn't quite as bad as it could have been, but still wasn't exactly great. Inoki sold like a trooper for his judogi wearing opponent, but whilst Chochisvilli was proficient at tossing Inoki about with his judo throws, he looked a little lost in the ring transitioning into anything else.

In fairness the Tokyo Dome crowd were into this, but then again they would probably have been into Inoki punching his own face whilst taking a big steaming dump in the middle of the ring, which is probably why he could get away with pushing through his hare-brained idea's such as this for so long.

Overall Verdict on New Japan's first Tokyo Dome Card: Much like the WWF's first Wrestlemania wasn't particularly good, New Japan's first venture into the Tokyo Dome wasn't particularly good either. Business wise it did fine, drawing 53,000 fans but from a critical standpoint of what the actual show itself was like, then calling it an 'average' show might even be generous. It was hamstrung by a heavy dose of Inokism with one of Inoki's gimmicky 'real' fights as the main event, the absurd kickboxing match in the middle of the card and Inoki's sudden hard on for Russian shooters, most of whom were pretty dire.

The show's centrepiece the Heavyweight title tournament wasn't anywhere near as good as it could have been, and though they had a nice little story going with Hashimoto's 'cinderella' run to the finals, culminating in a pretty good finals match against Vader it ended up getting hamstrung by Lou Thesz's doddery attempts at being a referee.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Wed Dec 30, 2015 11:53 pm

This time action comes from a good chunk of the card of the follow up supershow in Osaka to New Japan's first ever foray into the Tokyo Dome. Once again the Russians known collectively as the 'Red Bull Army' have a significant presence on the show.

25th May 1989- NJPW Battle Satellite 1989 in Osaka (Osaka Castle Hall)

Hiro Saito & Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Naoki Sano & Shiro Koshinaka

The Match: This was a solidly put together tag match, that probably went just the right length of time to build an engaging story in the ring and gradually ramp up the pace and nearfalls towards the end. Saito and Kobayashi were the heel team here, consistently looking to slow the pace and work over their opponents with more methodical offense, whilst Koshinaka and Sano, consistently found themselves fighting from underneath and having to make desperation save's throughout.

The first two thirds of the match, though solidly worked are by all means a generic formula tag but there's enough excitement and desperation from the babyfaces in the closing stretch to make this solid midcard tag match one worth checking out, if you're not too pressed for time.

Mildly Recommended

Masa Saito vs Timur Zalasov

Masa Saito: Saito feuded with Antonio Inoki on his return to Japan in 1987, with their feud culminating in a two hour long Island Death Match, that took place on Ganryujima Island (This match is not available on New Japan World, but the general consensus is that it's a dire overlong mess of a match).

The following year Saito won the IWGP Tag Team Championship alongside Riki Choshu, defeating three time champions Kengo Kimura and Tatsumi Fujinami to win the titles. After a considerable nine month reign with the belts, Saito and Choshu were upset by the duo of George Takano and Super Strong Machine in March 1989.

Timur Zalasov: Zalasov was one of the lesser lights of the 'Red Bull Army' made up of former Russian amateurs. Information about this wrestler across the interweb appears to be non existant.

The Match: This was just about passable, Zalasov like pretty much all the other Russians, had legitimate in-ring wrestling ability and strength but didn't really appear to know how to transition those skills into the pro-wrestling environment and had that typical non existent charisma.

The match began as a snore inducing grapplefest but it thankfully transitioned into a suplex trade off down the stretch with Zalasov admittedly displaying some impressive feats of strength. Still not enough to make this match worth your while, but it didn't end up being quite as painful to watch as one would have feared from the opening couple of minutes.

IWGP Tag Team Championship: George Takano & Super Strong Machine vs Kengo Kimura & Osamu Kido

Kengo Kimura: At the turn of the year in 1988, Kengo Kimura reunited his tag team with Tatsumi Fujinami, after the pair dissolved their partnership whilst still the IWGP Tag Team Champions , about 11 months earlier. With Fujinami, Kimura won his third IWGP Tag Team Championship, winning the belts from 'UWF' duo Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Kazuo Yamazaki.

They held the belts for roughly six months, the final month of which saw Fujinami simultaneously the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Tag Team Championship. Following the loss of the Tag Titles to Saito and Choshu, Fujinami continued to focus on the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, whilst Kimura slipped back further into the midcard.

Osamu Kido: Whilst many of the UWF contingent once again followed Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada out of New Japan to join the Newborn UWF in 1988, veteran Kido this time decided to stay loyal to NJPW, because this time his mentor Karl Gotch wasn't involved with the new version of the UWF.

The Match: This was an average tag team match, where the work-rate was solid but they failed to tell a particularly compelling story. This was one of those matches where the momentum swung back and forth throughout but just looked like they were told to just go out there and do some wrestling. So what we got was a hodge podge of matwork, suplexes, brawling and the odd double team with little in the way of flow or transition between the other.

They picked up the pace down the stretch following a double team miscommunication between Machine and Takano, but that's par for the course and unfortunately the finish itself was pretty weak. Perhaps the most interesting thing in the match was the fact that Kimura was working with a slightly more aggressive/heelish attitude- throwing close fist punches and even appearing to try and undo Machine's mask at one point.

Other things of note in the match was that Kido was now sporting a dodgy mustache and that Takano managed to not botch anything for once! (I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt that the miscommunication down the stretch was in the script and it wasn't Takano being his usual self)

Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs Wahka Eveloev

The Match: 'Dr Death' Steve Williams is at ringside to offer 'support' to Bigelow and I'm guessing that he must have lost a bet because he's sporting a ghastly ensemble of white shell suit and United States Flag flatcap.

Williams fashion disaster, is more interesting than the match which ends up being a competent but bland grappling exchange that obviously does little to play to Bigelow's strengths of being a powerhouse with surprising agility. Of course the format of the match was designed to play more to Eveloev's legit wrestling background, only problem with that is that Evostik has less personality than a tube of wallpaper adhesive.

'Red Bull Army' Victor Zangiev & Vladimir Berkovich vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Riki Choshu

The Match: Generational rivals Fujinami and Choshu appear to have buried the hatchet for now, to defend the honor of Japanese Puroresu against the Soviet Invaders.

I really have nothing to say about this nothing tag match. If in 1989 you were yearning for what wrestling was like twenty years earlier, then the 'Russians' would have been right up your alley. So if you like basic throws and grappling, then you might just enjoy this, if you prefer the fact that pro wrestling evolved from this you may want to skip this and pretty much everything else that involved the 'Red Bull Army', who unlike the slogan for the popular energy drink, most definitely did not have wings.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Hase vs Jushin Liger

The Match: Hase was in his second reign as Junior Champion but despite holding the belt for over two months, this was his first title defence.
Hase came out of the blocks quicker than Liger and was in control for most of the match, the anime superhero however gradually gained a foothold back in the match and was able to nail Hase with a flurry of koppu (rolling wheel) kicks down the stretch before planting the former olympian with the Liger Suplex (Bridging Leg Hook Belly to Back Suplex).

This wont go down as a classic Liger performance but he had a solid ten minute match with Hase, who appeared willing to pass the torch and solidly put Liger over as the new face of the Junior Division, before graduating to the Heavyweight ranks.

Mildly Recommended

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Big Van Vader vs Salman Hashimikov

The Match: If it wasn't for the shock result of Hashimikov sleighing Vader in the gaijin monster's first title defence, this would have been a completely forgettable match. In all honesty I can barely remember anything about this match, prior to the finish itself.

Hashimikov was to his credit one of the better of the Soviet Imports, but that's not saying much when most of them whilst competent in the basics, looked like fish out of water in a pro wrestling ring. Hashimikov looked a little more comfortable in there, compared to say an Eveleov or Berkovich but the mega push towards even challenging for the belt was baffling, especially when he appeared to lack the cardio to go no longer than 10 minutes (hardly what's expected of a main event performer) but then again this was just another one of Inoki's absurd brainfarts.

NJPW Martial Arts Championship: Shota Chochisvilli vs Antonio Inoki

The Match: The much anticipated (or not) rematch for this Inoki vanity belt- who wanted it back after he shockingly lost the title to Chochisvilli at the Tokyo Dome. Then again Inoki was always more willing to put over those with legit fighting backgrounds than regular wrestlers and if they also happened to be a gaijin that was even better.

Same shit, different City. As with the Tokyo match, the match is in the rounds format they once again do away with the ring ropes and Chochisvilli is wearing a Judokigi.

Chochisvilli still looks completely lost doing anything more than Judo throws, absurd as it may seem he actually manages to look even more clueless than the first match. Mercifully this time however they call time on this shower of shit, when the Russian suddenly taps out after barely struggling through about five seconds of being caught in some kind of arm submission from Inoki.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sat Jan 09, 2016 12:20 pm

Liger vs Sano over the Junior Championship ends up being the highlight, as we dive into the second half of 1989 and bring the 80's to a close.

13th July 1989- NJPW @ Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Liger vs Naoki Sano

The Match: This is Liger's second defence of the IWGP Junior belt since winning it from Hiroshi Hase in April. His first defence was a rather odd one, a European Style rounds match against the original Black Tiger (Mark Rocco). Sano won the (Not) Young Lions Cup earlier in the year and was looking to take that next step by claiming his first proper championship.

Whilst these two would go on to have more emotionally intense matches as the feud between these two evolved over the coming year this outing was not short on physical effort.

The match began relatively slowly with both competitors looking to wear down the other with submissions targetting the legs and the back. Eventually though both realised they needed to step it up a gear and put more on the line in order to gain the victory- leading to some pretty insane spots down the stretch, that included a top turnbuckle swanton bomb to the outside by Liger.

The selling here of the physical toil and sheer desperation from both competitors really helped to pull you into a match, though unfortunately that effort ends up getting betrayed by a weak and disappointing finish.

Mildly Recommended __________________________________________________________________________________ 20th September 1989- NJPW Bloody Fight Series 1989- Super Power Battle in Osaka (Osaka Castle Hall)

Billy Jack & Kendo Nagasaki vs Kengo Kimura & Osamu Kido

Kendo Nagasaki: Under the Kendo Nagasaki gimmick, Sakurada would continue to split his time between working in Japan for NJPW and for various promotions in North America. He would find particular success alongside his regular tag partner Mr Pogo in Puerto Rico for the World Wrestling Council winning their tag team championship four times between October 1987 and August 1988, primarily trading the belts with The Youngbloods.

Whilst Mr Pogo would leave New Japan in the Summer of 1988, Sakurada continued to be booked without his regular tag partner well beyond the point Pogo left the promotion.

Billy Jack: Portland Oregon native William Albert Haynes III came into pro wrestling relatively late at the Age of 28, where he was trained by the legendary Stu Hart. Haynes made his debut his debut with the Hart's Stampede promotion, before moving on to working for other territories, most notably with his hometown promotion of Pacific Northwest Wrestling, where he would start to work under the moniker of Billy Jack.

In 1986 Haynes would sign on with the World Wrestling Federation, where his muscular physique fitted in with Vince McMahon's vision for the kind of workers he wanted populating the WWF roster. Initially feuding with Randy Savage over the Intercontinental title, he would go on to have an intense feud with fellow powerhouse Hercules Hernandez.

Later on his WWF run Haynes would team up with fellow Oregon native Ken Patera, but despite seemingly having the tools to succeed in a wrestling promotion more concerned with look and charisma rather than actual wrestling ability, Haynes would leave the WWF under a cloud of controversy early in 1988.

The Match: The team of Face Painted Terry Nutkins (Nagasaki) and generic hoss Billy Jack is a rather odd one and in fact I'm completely baffled as to why this match has been posted up to feature on New Japan World. Are there really people out there clambouring to reminisce about Billy Jack Hayne's brief tenture in NJPW.

Haynes kind of reminds me of some of the dross that has recently been brought in via the NWA Invasion angle in recent years, that now appears to have petered out. In terms of in-ring ability Haynes generic powerhouse ring work lies somewhere between Michael Tarver and Big Daddy Yum Yum- so unless you're delusional, that's not exactly meant as a compliment.

As for the match itself, sadly enough it lived up to the low expectations I had coming in for it with the heels in mind numbingly boring control for most of the match. Though it would be unfair to say that I haven't seen worse, the match ends up just being forgettably poor rather than memorably terrible.

Owen Hart vs Tatsutoshi Goto

Owen Hart: Though initially reluctant to follow the family tradition of carving out a career in the pro wrestling business, Owen eventually followed his older brother Brett into the squared circle. As with all of the Harts he was trained in the infamous Dungeon and in 1983 made his debut for home promotion Stampede. Owen's early years were spent splitting time between Stampede and the UK based Joint Promotions for whom several members of the Stampede roster (such as Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith) had also worked for earlier in their career.

In 1986 Owen would win his first title in Stampede, winning the Stampede International Tag Team Championship alongside Ben Bassarab. The following years would see Owen break out as a singles performer in Stampede, which would include a solid near 10 month reign as the Stampede British Commonwealth Mid Heavyweight Champion and two reigns as the Stampede North American Heavyweight Champion, his first reign for a mere 11 day, his second though saw him hold the belt for over a year.

In 1987 Owen Hart would branch out to working in Japan, going on tours with NJPW. In 1988 he would win the IWGP Junior Heavweight Championship from Hiroshi Hase, though less than a month later he would lose the title to Shiro Koshinka. Though Hart's reign was brief to say the least, he had made history by being the first gaijin to hold the title.

Through Stampede's working relationship with the WWF, Hart would also begin to make appearances for the World's biggest wrestling promotion. A few brief appearances in 1986 saw him work under his own name and the slightly adjusted moniker of Owen James at House Shows but in the summer of 1988 after establishing himself as a rising star in both Stampede and with his tours of NJPW, Hart would begin to work for the WWF on a regular basis, though it would be under the masked superhero gimmick of the Blue Blazer (initially the Blue Angel for the first month of the gimmicks run).

Hart worked the Blue Blazer gimmick for about a year in the WWF, but he was unable to rise above undercard status and left the WWF to return to the independent circuit and in the autumn of 1989 went on another tour of Japan with NJPW.

The Match: Though not a bad match , there are probably plenty of other matches from Owen Hart's NJPW run that would have served as a better showcase of his NJPW run than this one.

Most of the match is a slow paced technical affair, with Hart mostly in control as he works over Goto's back and mid-section. The work here comes off as being rather 'dry'- technically sound but lacking any sort of emotion, though really the blame here is more on Goto than Hart in failing to sell the wear and tear his body is gradually receiving from Hart's submission work.

The final two minutes sees the pace of the match suddenly shift through several gears, as a desperate Hart begins to realise that grind em down strategy isn't having much effect and decides to go more high-risk by gambling on a couple of top rope manouevers.

Salman Hashimikov vs Italian Stallion

The Italian Stallion: Gary Sabaugh made his pro wrestling debut in 1983, initially under the name of Gary Quartanelli before switching to the more easy to remember Italian Stallion.

He would work primarily for his hometown (Charlotte, North Carolina) promotion of Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling (which would go on to be the territory that would transition into WCW) throughout the 1980's- though one who never rose above undercard status without anything in the way of championship success. In 1989 Sabaugh, working under the Italian Stallion gimmick would go on an extended tour of Japan with NJPW.

The Match: I'm at a loss as to what's particularly Italian Stallion about a slightly portly looking man with a mullet. If you're going to work a fake Italian gimmick at least try and look a bit more Italian. Simply wearing a pair of green trunks with the word Italy plastered across your backside just doesn't cut it.

As for this five minute non entity of a match, the more aggressive Stallion was in control for most of the match, before Hashimikov simply ended things with his Water Wheel Slam- which to be fair was very well protected as a finisher and sold like death anytime was on the receiving end of it.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Naoki Sano vs Jushin Liger

The Match: Sano came up short in his first challenge for the IWGP Junior Championship in July, but would challenge again a month later and this time would get the better of Liger. Liger is looking to regain the title here in Sano's first defence as champion.

Liger's feud with Sano is a somewhat underappreciated gem, in the fact that it came early in Liger's legendary run, several years before the Super Junior scene really began to thrive and form the basis of what would become the peak era of New Japan's Junior Division during the mid 90's.

There's a subtle change to how they worked the slow build portion of this match to the earlier one to be posted on NJPW World from July 1989, in the fact that there is a little more brawling mixed in with the technical work and you get a sense that the rivalry is starting to heat up. Everyone knows how good Liger is, but it's the underrated Sano who actually holds the match together here and is really the better performer on this occasion. This is none more evident during a moment where Liger unfortunately stumbles on a springboard manouevre- instead of looking flummoxed by the botch, Sano immediately looked to take advantage of Liger's mistake by looking to lock in a figure four. Botches happen, but Sano on this occasion was smart enough to think on his feet and find a way to work Liger's mistake into the story of the match.

This time the frantic closing stretch, concludes with Sano desperately trying to fight off an avalanche Brainbuster from Liger, and thankfully this time round the match gets the decisive finish that the effort put into the earlier meat of the contest fully deserves.


IWGP Tag Team Championship: Riki Choshu & Takayuki Iizuka vs Masa Saito & Shinya Hasimoto

Takayuki Iizuka: Iiziuka would graduate from the New Japan Dojo in the fall of 1986 and would spend the next few years working as a young lion. In June 1989 Iizuka would be sent on an excursion to Russia (at that point still the USSR) to be trained in Sambo.

Following his Sambo Training, Iizuka would begin to receive a more solid push, gaining victories over more established midcard talents and winning his first Championship alongside main event veteran Riki Choshu, the IWGP Tag Team Championship after the pair dethroned George Takano and Super Strong Machine for the titles.

The Match: This is Choshu and Iizuka's second defence of the title since winning them from Takano and Machine in July.

For those who don't know already, Iizuka is indeed the same man that would go be the crazy mad man sporting a shaved head and evil beard. He looks so different and so innocent here that it's hard to believe it's the same person. He could also work in his younger days too, so for those more used to present day Iizuka, it might come as a shock that he wasn't always amongst the most wrestlecrappiest of workers in all of Japan.

The match itself features next to nothing in the way of innovative tag team work and feels more like a collection of four individuals than two cohesive teams facing off against one another. Despite that shortcoming however they do manage to tell a fairly engrossing story, centred around Iizuka being the weak link on his team.

Choshu and Iizuka manage to be more in control during the early portion of the match, but as the match wears on Hashimoto and Saito are able to increasingly isolate Iizuka and keep Choshu on the outside looking in. However even as things look to be going the way of the challengers, Iizuka keeps fighting valiantly, and Choshu consistently looks enough of a threat to save the belts from changing hands.

Mildly Recommended

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Big Van Vader vs Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow

The Match: It seemed like Inoki quickly came to his senses and realised that putting the promotions main title on an unknown Russian probably wasn't the brightest of ideas and had Hashimikov drop the belt to Choshu in his first defence. Choshu however would then lose to Big Van Vader, the man that Hashimikov shockingly beat for the title in his first defence. This is Vader's first defence of the title in his second reign and one he would be hoping would last a lot longer than his first.

Tony Knock is the special guest referee for this match, hopefully he can do a better job than doddery Lou Thesz in his spot. Though before the match has even started he's made a faux pas by matching zebra stripes with red slacks. Red Shoes are perfectly acceptable clobber for a referee, but red trousers?!

This was in all honesty disappointing match. Whilst there is the odd display here and there of these two bulls impressive strength and surprising agility for men of their considerable size, far too much of the match is spent on the mat in rest-holds that feel like blatant padding out. This would have been a much better match if they went under 10 minutes and decided to go all out, rather than looking to needlessly stretch it out. To top things of the finish felt a bit flat and anti-climatic too.

Post match the loser of the match obviously felt that Inoki's count decides to attack the NJPW founding father. Of course a hot headed Inoki, reacts to this and decides to front up both competitors both match.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________ December 31st 1989- NJPW Special Event in the USSR (Luzniki Stadium, Moscow)

Riki Choshu vs Viktor Zangiev

The Match: This is from a special end of year show New Japan did in Moscow, to take advantage of the influx of Russians they had come onto their roster during the year. For some reason though we get one of the midcard matches, rather than the main event to represent the show on New Japan World.

As expected this isn't some hidden gem, that you should go out of your way to see and was pretty much the epitome of the apathetic phrase 'This was a match'. Basically what happens is that they roll around on the mat for a bit trying to apply submissions, Zangiev gets a bit carried away being in front of his home fans and decides to take a risk by going up top. I think you all can guess how well that decision ends up going for him.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sat Jan 09, 2016 4:41 pm

Here is an updated recommended matches list up to and including 1989. I've decided to split into full and mild recommendation this time round. Still no match has quite achieved a High Recommendation from me yet (which is pretty much equivalent to about a 5 star match)- I've got faith that the likes of Mutoh, Hashimoto and Liger will get us there during the next decade.

Will next update the list after 1995.


Dec 1975- 2/3 Falls Match NWF World Championship: Antonio Inoki (c) vs Billy Robinson

Sep 1981- Andre The Giant vs Stan Hansen

Jan 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid

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
Aug 1983- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Riki Choshu (c) vs Tatsumi Fujinami

Dec 1985- IWGP Tag Team League Finals / IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura

Jun 1986- IWGP League 1986: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Akira Maeda

Feb 1987- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Shiro Koshinaka (c) vs Nobuhiko Takada
Mar 1987- (Vacant) IWGP Tag Team Championship: Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka
Mar 1987- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka vs Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada

Jan 1988- Top of the Junior Tournament Match: Shiro Kosinaka vs Keiichi Yamada

Sep 1989- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Naoki Sano vs Jushin Liger

Mildly Recommended

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

Nov 1981- Gran Hamada vs Tiger Mask

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
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

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

Jan 1986- Akira Maeda vs Nobuhiko Takada
Mar 1986- 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
May 1986- Keiichi Yamada vs Nobuhiko Takada*
May 1986- Tatsumi Fujinami vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara*
May 1986- Tatsumi Fujinami vs Akira Maeda*
* All part of a 10 Man Gauntlet series of singles matchese between NJPW and the UWF
Jun 1986- IWGP League 1986 Final: Antonio Inoki vs Dick Murdoch
Aug 1986- IWGP Junior Championship: Nobuhiko Takada (c) vs Shiro Koshinaka
Nov 1986- Antonio Inoki & Kevin Von Erich vs Keiji Mutoh and Kengo Kimura
Dec 1986- Tatsumi Fujinami vs Kengo Kimura
Dec 1986- Japan Cup Tag League Grand Final: Akira Maeda & Osamu Kido vs. Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Apr 1987- Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito
May 1987- IWGP League 1987 Match: Akira Maeda vs Masa Saito
Jun 1987- IWGP League 1987 Final/IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito *
* Match itself is pretty average, but it's an important part of New Japan's history and the post match mic work was entertaining.
Aug 1987- Antonio Inoki & Keiji Mutoh vs Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami
Sep 1987- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Dec 1987- Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader *
* Another one where the recommendation isn't really for the match itself, but rather the fact it was a notable event in NJPW history.

Jun 1988- (Vacant) IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu
Jun 1988- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader
Jul 1988- IWGP League 1988 Match: Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu
Jul 1988- Keiji Mutoh, Shinya Hashimoto & Masahiro Chono vs Tatsumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura & Shiro Koshinaka
Jul 1988- IWGP League 1988 Match: Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader
Oct 1988- Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu

Feb 1989- Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu
Apr 1989- IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament 1st Round: Riki Choshu vs Shinya Hashimoto
Apr 1989- IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Semi Final: Big Van Vader vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Apr 1989- IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Final : Shinya Hashimoto vs Big Van Vader
Apr 1989- George Takano & Super Strong Machine vs Hiroshi Hase & Shiro Koshinaka
Apr 1989- Jushin Liger vs Kuniaki Kobayashi *
* Far from his best, but it's Yamada's debut under the Liger gimmick- which would go on to be the most enduring and iconic masked gimmick in NJPW history.
May 1989- Hiro Saito & Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Naoki Sano & Shiro Koshinaka
May 1989- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Hase vs Jushin Liger
Jul 1989- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Liger vs Naoki Sano
Sep 1989- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Riki Choshu & Takayuki Iizuka vs Masa Saito & Shinya Hasimoto

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:37 am

Just two matches this time from January 1990. As the next update will cover pretty much the entire February 1990 Tokyo Dome show....

18th January 1990- NJPW TV Taping (Tokuyama City Stadium)

Riki Choshu vs Tatsutoshi Goto

Tatsutoshi Goto: The losing finalist of the 1986 Young Lion Cup, Goto had done little of note since then, pretty much just drifting along as an unremarkable undercarder. However in late 1989 he would undergo and image and attitude change, dying his hair blond and joining heel unit The Blond Outlaws.

The Match: A pretty short affair between these two, with the post match chaos perhaps being more of a note than the match itself. This was basically a short brawl, with lots of ramming one another's head into the turnbuckle, resulting in both competitors getting busted open, then just as it looked like they were about to step things up a gear following a top-rope brainbuster from Choshu the match abrubtly ended.

Througout Goto's fellow Blond Outlaws Saito and Honaga (though both sported more a copper hair colour than blond) looked to interfere in the match- I suppose compared to the Bullet Club heel shenanigans of modern day New Japan, their antics were tame by comparison but it should be noted that NJPW never actually existed as this mythical promotion that always had cleanly contested matches with clean finishes.

Post match after Choshu fights off the Blond Outlaws, he suddenly gets attacked by Super Strong Machine. The Outlaws then appear to try and recruit Strong Machine but he appears to reject their offer, only for Animal Hamaguchi to suddenly come out and start laying into Choshu himself. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ 31st January 1990- NJPW TV Taping (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Naoki Sano vs Jushin Thunder Liger

The Match: Naoki Sano was proving to be a major thorn in Jushin Liger's side and an opponent that Liger had been unable to better of over the course of several matches over the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title. Just as the character he was based upon powered up in the anime from Jushin Liger to Jushin Thunder Liger, at the turn of the year the wrestling incarnation powered up in order to try and reclaim the Junior Championship. Liger then battled his way through a single block contenders tournament throughout January in order to once again face off with his fierce nemesis.

Liger was now wearing the iconic Thunder Liger costume, that he would pretty much stick with for the rest of his career. He's sporting the classic red and white version of the outfit, that he rarely deviates from these days.

Right from the very start of the match, where Liger refuses a handshake from Sano and slaps him right across the face, you know straight away that this is going to be an intense fight, rather than a sporting contest to see who is the better wrestler. The match starts out with Liger setting a fast pace, but Sano is soon able to seize control and it's here that the story of the match really begins to take shape.

Sano rips at Liger's mask, to the point that it's barely hanging to the costume and Liger is left practically unmasked. Caught between trying to keep his identity hidden and trying to fight back, Liger finds himself on the end of a vicious methodical beatdown from Sano and ends up getting busted open. It becomes pretty clear at this poin that Sano doesn't just want to retain his title, he wants to humiliate Liger.

Eventually Liger has no choice but to try and fight back in order to save his pride and have any chance of reclaiming the title from Sano, but every time it looks like Liger is about to come back, Sano is able to cut him off and regain/maintain control. Gradually though Liger is able to come into the match more and more down the stretch to the point that he's able to pull off the Shooting Star Press (Note: It's not the best SSP to be honest- but it's not executed to badly to take away from the match).

This ended up being an emotionally captivating match, with fantastic dick heel work from Sano and superb selling from Liger, whose gradual comeback during the match is believably paced. In fact the pacing of the whole match is right on the money, just when it looks like the Sano control periods are about to drag on a little too long, they throw a little ray of hope the fans way that Liger is about to make a comeback.

The post match stuff is priceless too, with a livid Liger being so enraged at being unmasked by Sano during the match, that he has a hissy fit by beating up a few young boys and then storming out of the ring.

Liger would go on to have more technically and/or athletically impressive matches but there a few that can match the sheer intensity and emotion of this 'war' with Sano, that has to go down as the first truly classic match in what would go on to be a long and storied career.

Highly Recommended

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Thu Jan 28, 2016 1:05 am

Lets get this NJPW history project rolling again... In this update I have the first part of New Japan's second trip to the Tokyo Dome.

10th February 1990- NJPW Super Fight in Tokyo Dome

Osamu Matsuda vs Takayuki Iizuka

Osamu Matsuda: A Young lion that made his debut in 1987, it would be several years before Matsuda would find success under the masked gimmick of El Samurai.

The Match: This was worked pretty much as Young Lion style match, with nothing too flashy from either man, even down the stretch when the pace of the match inevitably picked up.

The match ends up being about five minutes too long but had they worked at the quicker pace from the start they would have had a much better match, because the meandering first half was met with the proverbial crickets. Once they actually started to fight with a bit more desperation they did manage to get at least a portion of the Tokyo Dome crowd to care.

Akira Nogami & Jushin Thunder Liger vs Naoki Sano & Pegasus Kid

Akira Nogami: Part of the same revered dojo class from 1984 as the likes of Mutoh and Liger (Yamada), unlike his peers Nogami had yet to really break out from what would be considered to be the young lion phase. By 1989 he was starting to feature in more prominent matches but had yet to have that breakthrough victory over a more established talent.

Pegasus Kid: Hailing from Edmonton in Canada, Chris Benoit idolized the likes of Brett Hart and the Dynamite Kid from Stampede Wrestling. Benoit didn't just want to admire them, he wanted to be just like them and thus he enrolled to be trained at the infamous 'Dungeon' run by Stampede founder Stu Hart before obviously proving he had what it takes to graduate to competing for Stampede.

Benoit would make his debut in late 1985 and it didn't take him long to win his first championship winning the Stampede International Tag Team Championship alongside Ben Bassarab, though the reign was only brief he would go on to win the title again later in the year, this time with Keith Hart. Benoit would go on to have further championship success in Stampede during the second half of the 1980's, winning the International Tag belts a further two times (w/ Lance Idol and Beef Wellington) and having four reigns as the Stampede British Commonwealth Mid Heavyweight Champion, the first reign coming in March 1988.

Through Stampede's relationship with New Japan, much of 1987 was spent on excursion to Japan, competing for the same promotion his idol the Dynamite Kid has prominent success in. However in 1989 with business dwindling, Stampede would close it's doors, leaving Benoit without a promotion to call home.

Undersized as a wrestler in an era where jacked up big men were still featured most prominently in America's biggest promotion the WWF, Benoit knew he had a greater chance of success overseas and returned to New Japan to compete in their Junior Division, this time under the masked gimmick of the Pegasus Kid.

The Match: For some reason this match has been heavily clipped, with only about half of the actual match shown, but what we do get to see is pretty darn good. Though pretty conservative compared to today's Junior Tag Team offerings, we get glimpes here into where tag team wrestling would eventually be heading towards with some fairly innovative teamwork for the time (especially from the Sano/Pegasus Kid team) and the crowd popping dive to the outside.

Of course the fact that Chris Benoit (albeit under a mask) is in this match may be a stumbling block for some people and I don't think I need to explain why. I'm at the point now where I can seperate Benoit the wrestler from Benoit the person but it's absolutely understandable if you're someone who still can't bear to watch any of his matches due to what he ended up doing.

Mildly Recommended

'Blond Outlaws' Hiro Saito, Norio Honaga & Tatsutoshi Goto vs Hiroshi Hase, Kantaro Hoshino & Kuniaki Kobayashi

Hiro Saito: Following his return to NJPW in the spring of 1987 from rival promotion AJPW, Saito had established himself as a solid but unremarkable midcarder. In late 1989 however he would be one of several wrestlers to reach for the blond hair dye and take on a villainous attitude to form the rebellious Blond Outlaws stable.

Norio Honaga: Honaga made his debut for New Japan in 1980 and would compete as a young lion for a few years, before being sent on excursion in the autumn of 1982 to Mexican promotion the UWA.

Honaga would return to a New Japan going through political turmoil and he would be one of a number of wrestlers to leave the promotion in 1984, joining Riki Choshu's Japan Pro Wrestling Group, that would end up working with AJPW. Whilst in AJPW Honaga would hold his first championship the All Asia Tag Team Championship alongside Isamu Teranishi, however he did not actually win the title, instead inherting the belt from Animal Hamaguchi as a nominated injury replacement.

As with the rest of those who defected with Choshu, he would return to New Japan in 1987. The following year he would compete in the first Top of the Super Juniors tournament, but would have the embarrasing 'achievement' of finishing dead last in the single block tournament with zero points.
A semi regular tag partner of Hiro Saito since his return to New Japan, Honaga would join forces with Saito and Tatsutosi Goto in the autumn of 1989 to form the Blond Outlaws stable.

Kantaro Hoshino: A veteran from the days of the Japan Wrestling Association in the 1960's, Hoshino was now nearing 50 years of age and had not won any kind title since 1979, but continued to have a popular and respected presence on the NJPW undercard.

The Match: As with the previous match, this one has also been chopped in half. Strange, because if any match could have benefited from clipping it would have been the opener between Iizuka and pre El Samurai Matsuda.

We appear to join this match literally about half way into it with plucky veteran Hoshino, playing 'Ricky Morton-San'. Hoshino is soon able to battle his way to safety and what get for the rest of the match is a back and forth battle with neither side really in control for long. What we got to see here was 'fine' but nothing more than that, though in all honesty I imagine the match benefitted a little from being clipped as more than likely the first half of the match was a tedious heel control segment with The Blond Outlaws isolating the weakest link, Hoshino.

Speaking of The Blond Outlaws, only Goto actually seemed to had found the correct coloured hair dye because both Saito and Honaga appeared to had confused blond with ginger.

Brad Rheingans vs Viktor Zangiev

Brad Rheingans: An amateur wrestler in the Greco-Roman style Rheingans competed at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, where he just missed out on a medal placing 4th. He qualified for the Olympic team in 1980, but due to the USA's boycott of the Moscow Olympics did not get to compete.

Rheingans would then switch to professional wrestling, signing to Verne Gagne's AWA promotion for whom he would primarily compete for throughout the next decade, save for the odd tour of Japan with AJPW and an unsuccesful stint with the WWF in 1987. Despite his long tenure with the AWA Rheingans only championship success with the promotion came at the end of the decade in 1989, when he won the AWA World Tag Team Championship alongside fellow Olympian Ken Patera. With the AWA now a struggling entity as the 80's were about to turn into the 90's, in 1989 Rheingans began to go on more regular tours to Japan, this time with NJPW rather than AJPW for whom he competed for earlier in the decade.

The Match: With two guys wearing singlets, this was exactly what you would expect to be- an amateur style grappling contest with a few suplexes thrown in down the stretch. They do enough down the stretch here to prevent this from ending up as a total snoozeathon, but you've really got be into this purer style of wrestling to come away with a strong appreciation for a match like this and I'll fully admit stuff like this just isn't my cup of tea. Though in all honesty it didn't seem to appeal much to many of the salarymen in the audience who were probably thinking more about the next day's tasks at work than what was occurring in the ring.

Salman Hashimikov vs Steve Williams

Steve Williams: Trained by Bill Watts and Buddy Landell, Williams would make his pro wrestling debut in 1982 for Watts Mid South Wrestling promotion, that later be renamed the Universal Wrestling Federation (not to be confused with the Japanese promotion of the same name).
Williams first championship success came in the UWF's tag division, alongside Ted Di Biase, before gaining his first singles title in 1987 when he defeated Big Bubba Rogers for the UWF Heavyweight Championship, however he would be the final holder of the belt following the UWF being taken over by Jim Crockett Promotions/Mid Atlantic Wrestling.

Williams would still maintain a relatively strong push within the NWA affiliated Mid Atlantic- where he would initially feud with Kevin Sullivan's Varsity Club stable, before turning heel and joining the Varsity Club in late 1988. With the Varsity Club he would find tag team success, initially with Kevin Sullivan with a reign as the NWA United States Tag Team Championship, then alongside Mike Rotunda and Rick Steiner with the NWA World Tag Team Championship under the 'freebird' rule.

In 1986 Williams begun to take regular trips to Japan, going on several tours with NJPW for the rest of the decade. However it would be with AJPW in the 1990's where Williams would make his biggest impact in professonal wrestling.

The Match: This is yet another match from this 1990 Tokyo Dome show that has been given the clipping treatment. I've actually got absolutely nothing to say about this match- it wasn't terrible but it was just a match and as with the previous Russian vs American match that's how the hordes of salarymen in attendance appeared to feel as well.

This is prior to 'Dr Death' really getting over in Japan (albeit with rival promotion AJPW) and the Russian experiment was a failure, as they just weren't over at all- given the apathetic crowd reactions to them. Hashmikov probably was the least over IWGP Heavyweight Champion in history and whilst he wasn't given much of a run with the belt, he should have never have been champion to begin with.

AWA World Heavyweight Championship: Larry Zbyszko vs Masa Saito

Larry Zbyszko: Born Lawrence Whistler, the Pittsburgh native was trained by Bruno Sammaratino (the biggest star in the WWWF) with his ring name of Larry Zbyszko a tribute to Stanislaus Zbyszko, a Polish immigrant wrestler from the 1920s.

In 1977 Zbyszko would form a tag team with Tony Garea in the WWWF and that would result in Zbyszko earning his first championship gold when the pair captured the WWWF Tag Team Championship.

By the turn of the decade Zbyszko had become frustrated at being able to shed the label of being Sammartino's protege and challenged his mentor to match. When Sammartino seemed to be getting the better of his pupil, Zbyszko snapped and by struck Sammartino with a chair and leaving his mentor in a pool of blood- completing a turn from blue chip babyface to despised heel. Zbyszko would continue to feud with his mentor throughout 1980- with their feud culminating in a steel cage match at Shea Stadium in New York, where once again Zbyszko was unable to get the better of Sammartino. The following year Zbyszko would leave the WWWF for the Georgia Championship Wrestling territory of the NWA. During a two year stint there, Zbyszko would have three reigns as the NWA National Heavyweight Champion.

In 1984 Larry Zbyszko would join Verne Gagne's Minnesota based AWA promotion, and the following year he was awarded the short lived AWA America's Championship, where he engaged in a feud with Sgt Slaugther over the title. The following year Zbyszko would feud with AWA mainstay Nick Bockwinkel, before helping Curt Henning win the AWA World Title from Bockwinkel, when he handed Henning a role of dimes. Zbyszko was then 'suspended for life' from the AWA when he viciously 'put Bockwinkel into retirement' during a rematch between Henning and Bockwinkel over the AWA World title.

The reality was that Zbyszko was moving on once again, this time to work for the Mid Atlantic/Jim Crockett Promotions territory of the NWA. During a stint that would last around a year between late 1987 and early 1989 with the NWA, Zbyszko would feud with Barry Windham and hold another short lived title the NWA Western States Heritage Championship.

Despite being 'suspended for life' following his vicious attack on Bockwinkel, under two years later Zbyszko was back in the AWA. With the ailing AWA's roster becoming depleted by the retirement of Bockwinkel and talent raids from the increasingly dominant WWF, Zbyszko was pushed into an even more prominent role on his return, capturing the AWA World Heavyweight Championship on February 1989.......

The Match: ......Zbyszko had held the AWA World Championship for over a year, but in a desperate attempt to keep themselves remotely relevant, the AWA agreed for Zbyszko to defend their top championship at the Tokyo Dome in NJPW. Saito who had competed for the AWA since 1983, and would still make occasional trips to the promotion long after he would call NJPW his primary employer, was the obvious choice from the New Japan roster at the time to challenge Zbyszko for the title.

The story of the match here was that Zbysko was the weak but resourceful champion, with Saito in control for much of the match. Throughout the match Saito would wear down Zbysko both on the mat with Figure Fours and with back drop suplexes but through various nefarious means, such as low blows Zbysko would maintain a foothold in the match.

This wasn't a great match by any means but at least they had a solid frame to work with, even if the finish itself came off as a bit weak and ended up somewhat betraying the narrative of the match.

Unfortunately the two NJPW vs AJPW cross promotional tags that were part of this show, have not been uploaded to New Japan World. The matches being Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu vs Kengo Kimura & Osamu Kido and Genichiro Tenryu & Tiger Mask II vs Riki Choshu & George Takano.

The next update will feature the remainder of the NJPW Super Fight In Tokyo Dome card that is available on New Japan World.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:41 am

Here we go with the remaining matches from the Super Fight in Tokyo Dome event from February 1990

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Big Van Vader vs Stan Hansen

Stan Hansen: Hansen had already begun to carve out a reputation as a bruising gaijin monster, during his tenure with NJPW in the late 70's and early 80's, but it was his run in All Japan between 1982 and 1990 where his star in the orient really sky rocketed. Hansen was able to earn both singles and tag team success in All Japan, winning the PWF Heavyweight Championship four times prior to it being unified with the NWA United National and NWA International Heavyweight titles, that would make up the AJPW Triple Crown and the PWF World Tag Team (4 times) and the AJPW Tag Team Championships 5 times, with a variety of partners that included a number of future legends themselves in Ted DiBiase, Terry Gordy and Genichiro Tenryu. However it wasn't really the championships Hansen had accumulated whilst in AJPW that cemented his star in Japan, it was the fact that he was the only wrestler to score a pinfall victory over both of Japan's iconic babyfaces in NJPW icon Antonio Inoki and AJPW founder Giant Baba.

Whilst Hansen enjoyed considerably a greater level of stardom in Japan, than his native America, he did still enjoy a degree of success on the North American circuit with his most notable achievement being a reign as the AWA World Heavyweight Champion during the first half of 1986.

The Match: Hansen and Vader would both go down as two of the most prominent gaijin in puoresu history (though Hansen had already established his legendary status by this point, where as Vader was still in the midst of building his legend in Japan), they were also two of the roughest, toughest, stiff as a brick bad-asses ever to step into the ring.

As expected this was two burly bruisers attempting to beat the stuffing out of one another, all it needed was Good Ol' J.R on commentary calling the match a 'Slobberknocker'. In fact this one gets so stiff at one point, that Vader ends up getting punched so hard on the face by Hansen that he has to abandon his mask, and pop his eyeball back into it' socket.

In all fairness this is the kind of chaotic brawl that would be a bit of chore to get through in lesser hands, but the crowd are into the match and the legitimately scary levels of stiffness add to the spectacle.

Mildly Recommended

Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs Koji Kitao

Koji Kitao: A former sumo wrestler, Kitao made his debut at at the age of 15 where he joined the Tatsunami stable. By 1984 he had reached the top division in Sumo the Makuuchi Division, and then went on to score a victory over the then Yokuzuna Kitanoumui.

Two years later Kitao would rise to Sumo's highest rank of Yokuzuna (the 60th in it's history), where he would adopt the Skikona Futahaguro, but his downfall would prove to be more dramatic than his gradual rise to the top, as he failed to win any of Sumo's top tournaments whilst holding the Sumo's more revered accolade. In December of 1987 would get into a heated argument with his stable master Tatsunami, allegedly striking Tatsumani's wife in the process. Futahaguro (Kitao) ended up being expelled from Sumo over the disgraceful incidident being the first Yokuzuna ever to be expelled from Sumo.

After being linked with a move to play American Football in the NFL, the disgraced Yokuzuna now once again known under his given name turned to pro wrestling, looking to rebuild his reputation after this fall from grace.

The Match: This was yet another one of Inoki's desperate brain farts to push someone with a legit combat sports background in a pro wrestling environment. This is Kitao's debut match, and curiously enough despite being a former sumo yokuzuna, it's Bigelow who has more of a sumo wrestler's physique, being that Kitao is more tall and rangy than the rotundness you would normally associate with a sumo wrestler.
Vince must have been watching this match, as this must have given him the idea to get Bigelow to do a carry job with Lawrence Taylor at Wrestlemania VI, as Bigelow does indeed do a pretty good job here carrying the green and awkward Kitao to a watchable match. It's still not great by any means but with a less experienced and capable opponent opposite Kitao at least this didn't end up being the disaster it could have ended up as.

Koji Kitao continued: Kitao was by all means a pretty vile screw-up, as he would screw up his opportunity with New Japan by racially abusing Riki Choshu (who is a naturalized Korean) an incident that got him fired only three months into his tenure with NJPW, this of course following on just a few years later from being kicked out of Sumo for striking the stable boss' wife. Kitao would then be hired by the short lived Super World of Sports promotion, but would blot his copybook again when he went nuts on John Tenta during a match, before getting on a microphone to proclaim pro wrestling as fake and that Tenta wouldn't be able to beat him in a shoot.

Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi vs Masahiro Chono & Shinya Hashimoto

The Match: The main event here was a battle of the generations, with Inoki and Sakaguchi flying the flag for the generation that would lay the foundations for NJPW during the 1970's and would continue to be pillars of the roster into the next decade (more so in Inoki's case, with Sakaguchi gradually slipping more and more into a veteran midcarder role as the 80's wore on) up against two thirds of the Three Musketeers- the leading lights of the generation that was on the cusp of overtaking the previous generation's as the pillars of NJPW.

If this main event wasn't already hindered enough by Inoki and Sakguchi being past their sell by date at this stage of their careers, they decide to once again call up the retirement home Uncle Lou Thesz must have been residing in and give him another day out to 'referee' again. Thesz was by anyone's count a legendary pioneer of wrestling, but the constant wheeling out as a special guest referee after he hung up the boots was consistently awful, as he couldn't referee for a Werthers Original.

Hashimoto and Chono had their work cut out here making this match at least somewhat watchable and in all honesty have a similar carry job to do as Bigelow did with Kitao in the semi main event. They are forced to grind through the match at the old timers pace- Sakaguchi was never the most dynamic or mobile wrestler to begin with but by this point with his advancing age he was becoming even more cumbersome and whilst Inoki wasn't quite as bad, he too was starting to show his age and by this point in his career should have really been using his star power to start consistently putting new stars over, something his oversized ego had real trouble coming to terms with.

The match awkwardly grinds along for about fifteen minutes, before being dragged down even more by a weak ending that see's Uncle Lou, screw up the three count yet again. All in all the idea for this main event looked much better on paper, than it did in practice.

Overall Opinion on Super Fight in Tokyo Dome card: It's hard to really judge how good this second trip to the Tokyo Dome was for NJPW, when both of the NJPW vs AJPW tag matches are missing and the Junior Tag match featuring Liger etc was heavily clipped and was arguably the best match on the show. Of the fully shown matches only really the gruesomely stiff slobberknocker between Vader and Hansen is worth your while.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Mon Feb 01, 2016 12:17 pm

Four more matches from the spring of 1990, as a future WWE legend makes an appearance, Hashimoto features prominently and Keiji Mutoh returns!

2nd March 1990- NJPW Big Fight Series 1990 (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo)

Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow & Punisher Dice Morgan vs Masa Saito & Shinya Hashimoto

Punisher Dice Morgan: Mark Calaway made his pro wrestling debut for World Class Championship Wrestling in 1984 under the gimmick of Texas Red. Calaway would spend the earlier part of this career wrestling for World Class, before joining the Continental Wrestling Association- which would eventually merge with WCCW to become the USWA promotion.

Whilst in the USWA would work several gimmicks that included The Punisher and The Master of Pain. In 1988, under the Master of Pain gimmick, Calaway would have his first notable success when he defeated Jerry Lawler for the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship- though his reign was short lived with Lawler winning the title back three weeks later.

In 1989 Calaway would join WCW under the gimmick of Mean Mark Callous giving him his first real exposure on a national wrestling stage, where he was quickly drafted into the Skyscrapers Tag Team to replace the injured Sid Vicious. The following year Calaway would take a brief tour of Japan to work for NJPW under yet another gimmick- Punisher Dice Morgan. Later in the year Calaway would join the WWF and be given the Undertaker gimmick and eventually go down as one of the most legendary figures in the history of sports entertainment.

The Match: NJPW World providing a 'Before they were famous' video, as this match features The Undertaker in one of his many gimmicks prior to joining the WWF. This was actually his debut match for NJPW in what would only end up being a one month tour.

This was a strange match, as it mostly consisted of the gaijin monster heel pairing working over and isolating Masa Saito for the majority of the match with Hash barely get a look in. It was obvious that they wanted to push their new heel toy in Punisher Dice Morgan but it's surprising to see Saito who was feuding with Inoki in the not too distant past be given such a mugging here, especially as Saito and Hashimoto were the reigning IWGP Tag Team Champions plus the fact that Saito had recently been crowned the AWA World Champion (Not that really mattered seeing how worthless the AWA had become by that point).

The heel beatdown work by Bigelow and the future Undertaker is not bad but the fact that the match is so one sided leads to a completely flat reaction from the crowd throughout the entire match.

The man that would become The Undertaker was pushed pretty strongly during his very brief run with NJPW and had he stuck around then he could well have won the fans over with his combination of big man power and surprising levels of athleticism. However apart from the curiosity of seeing a pre Undertaker outside of the WWF/E there isn't really much else to recommend this match for.
________________________________________________________________________ April 27th 1990- NJPW TV Taping (Tokyo Bay NK Hall, Uruyasu, Chiba) IWGP Tag Team Championship: Shinya Hashimoto & Masa Saito vs Masahiro Chono & Keiji Mutoh

Keiji Mutoh: Whilst fellow 'Three Musketeers' Hashimoto and Chono stuck around in NJPW following their return from excursion in 1988, Mutoh would continue to resue overseas, spending the whole of the next year in the U.S, initially for a few months with the World Class Wrestling Association under the Super Ninja gimmick, and then for the Jim Crockett Promotions territory of the NWA, that would eventually evolve into WCW.
It was in the NWA that Mutoh debuted his famous Great Muta alter-ego, which was based upon the Great Kabuki character that Mutoh's stateside manager Gary Hart managed prior to Mutoh. Mutoh's mysterious, face painted, mist spewing character got over with the American fans and he would have a notable feud with fellow face painted wrestler Sting, whom he would defeat for the NWA Television Championship.

After a successful run under the Great Muta persona during his American excursion, Mutoh would return to New Japan in March of 1990, though initially his return to Japan would see him wrestle under his own name and minus the face paint.

The Match: The duo of Saito and Hashimoto won the IWGP titles from the veteran/young lion pairing of Choshu & Iizuka in September 1989 and were making their fourth defence of the belts against the other two thirds of the 'Three Musketeers' in Chono and Mutoh.

This was also Mutoh's first match back from excursion, so it was pretty clear New Japan were going to be hitting the crowd running with Mutoh upon his return from his America and the crowd were molten hot for Mutoh's return having clearly remembered him for the promising talent he was prior to his lengthy time away from Japan.

Perhaps feeding off the energy of the crowd the challengers have the better of the early exchanges, but gradually the champions being to assert control and they are able to isolate Chono and the match becomes built around whether or not Chono can get the hot tag to a fired up Mutoh. There are times where the long control segment from the champion's drags in places, more so when Saito is in the ring, because watching Hashimoto was one of those wrestlers who managed to be alluring just by simply kicking the stuffing out of his opponents.

The closing stretch once the long anticipated hot tag is made to Mutoh, doesn't stretch out for all that long but they still manage to squeeze in plenty of drama into a finish that has the crowd popping at the climax.

Mildly Recommended ___________________________________________________________________________ 24th May 1990- NJPW Crush The Super Heavy 1990 (Tokyo Bay NK Hall, Uruyasu, Chiba)

Big Van Vader, Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow & Steve Williams vs. Koji Kitao, Masa Saito & Shinya Hashimoto

The Match: Despite being on the native 'Babyface' side Kitao gets booed by the crowd, whose opinion of the disgraced former Sumo Yokozuna is that he stinks worse than a jar of natto. In all honesty if it wasn't for the presence of the despised Kitao, this would just be a solidly worked but unremarkable six man tag but the crowds sheer disdain for Kitao just being in the ring makes the match an interesting watch. Before the term X-Pac heat was even coined, Kitao had that tonnes of it....the New Japan fans simply wanted him to go away.

Anytime he was in the ring the crowd would suddenly start cheering for the gaijin heels, effectively turning the likes of Vader into babyfaces for a brief moment during the match- sure the crowd had come to respect Vader but it was an entirely different dynamic when either Hashimoto (who the crowd were really starting to catch on to as a next big thing) and Saito were in the ring.

Things got even worse for Kitao, when part way through the match his tag partners think 'why are we bothering to tag in this fucker, this crowd hate his guts' and just tag each other into the match despite effectively giving themselves a disadvantage.

Post match Kitao then challenged Vader, who was still the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion at the time to a singles match. Guess how well that went down? __________________________________________________________________________________________ 28th May 1990- NJPW Crush The Super Heavy 1990 (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)

Riki Choshu vs Shinya Hashimoto

The Match: The mid 80's dojo class of Hashimoto, Chono, Mutoh etc felt it was now their time to break through the proverbial glass ceiling and claim their places at the summit of New Japan. Meanwhile Riki Choshu was a 16 year veteran at this point in his career and a prominent main eventer for both New Japan and their rivals All Japan throughout the 1980's. In order to prove truly himself as main event worthy, Hashimoto would need to gain victories over established headliners the likes of Choshu.

This isn't quite a sprint but they sensibly don't try to pad things out with too much mat grappling here either, playing to their brawling/striking strengths as Choshu looked to wear down Hashimoto with Lariats, whilst Hashimoto peppered the legend with his wicked kicks.

This ends up being a slugfest with both men simply looking to overcome the punishment being absorbed by their girthy bodies. The finish comes a bit of nowhere but worked well in the context of the match, which ended up being further proof that New Japan's heavyweight division was in the midst of a sea change.

Mildly Recommended

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:13 am

It's Summer 1990, as Vader's reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion is put to the test.

12th June 1990- NJPW Battle Line Kyushu 1990 (Fukuoka Kokusai Center)

Different Style Fight- Jushin Thunder Liger vs Masashi Aoyagi

Masashi Aoyagi: With his background in Karate, Aoyagi featured in the first two main events of the up-start 'Garbage' wrestling promotion Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling against it's founder Atsushi Onita. Around half a year later Aoyagi would return to pro wrestling but this time on the considerably larger stage of NJPW.

The Match: As with previous 'Different Style Fights' this was fought over three minute rounds. This wasn't your typical Liger match and whilst it wouldn't really say it was bad, it wasn't that good either....it was just different.

The match mostly consisted of scrappy grappling but we did get to see 'Pissed Off' Liger, which is always supremely entertaining. The story here is that Aoyagi decides to be a prick and rips at Liger mask. Halfway through the bout, Liger decides to abandon the mask all together (By this point his mask had been ripped away at enough times in previous bouts, that people would know it was Yamada under the mask anyway). After that Liger, clearly enraged about his mask being destroyed, comes out super aggressive and gives Aoyagi a hellacious beating, to the point that his white gi ends up a blood stained mess. Aoyagi was just clinging on after that.

Angry Liger is always a joy to watch and this was better than the majority of the Inoki Different Style Fights but there's not really enough here to recommend it beyond being a curio for Liger fans. But then again who isn't a fan of Liger?!

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Big Van Vader vs Stan Hansen

The Match: This is a rematch to the bout where Vader's eye popped out of his socket back in February, as the two biggest gaijin draws at the time for NJPW and AJPW respectively once again locked horns.

This is as expected by and large another slobberknocker as a certain commentator Tennesesee would say with both Vader and Hansen ending up with 'color' by the end of the match. Unfortunately this time round they decide to needlessly stretch the match out for longer padding it out with rest hold sequences. It's understandable that they didn't want to go for a facsimile of their first match but at times this re-match feels really bogged down.

The finish is really weak too and probably a case of politics between NJPW and AJPW coming into play, with the citizens of Fukuoka really letting them know that they were none too impressed with the manner that the match was concluded.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________ 22nd July 1990- NJPW TV Taping ( Tsukisamu Green Dome, Sapporo)

Keiji Mutoh & Mashiro Chono vs The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Animal & Road Warrior Hawk)

The Road Warriors: Rookie wrestlers Joseph Laurianitis and Michael Hegstrand were brought together as a tag team as part of Paul Ellering's Legion of Doom stable in NWA territory Georgia Championship Wrestling under the names of Road Warrior Animal and Road Warrior Hawk.

The pairing's Power and Paint gimmick quickly got over with the fans and they were able to by-pass the usual paying their dues period due to being so believable as powerful monsters, quickly gaining a reputation for no selling and being incredibly stiff, often resulting in their matches ending up as short squashes. Within only six months of teaming together the would win the NWA National Tag Team Championship, a title they would go on to hold a further three more times during their stint in Georgia Championship Wrestling.

In the summer of 1984 The Road Warriors would move on to the AWA promotion in Minnesota, along with their manager Verne Gagne. They would defeat The Crusher and Baron Von Raschke for the AWA World Tag Team Championship, then would go on to hold the titles for over a year feuding with the likes of The Fabulous Ones and The Freebirds. During that year, the Road Warrior would also split their time between the AWA and the NWA where they would also feud with The Russians (Ivan & Nikita Volkoff), within the same year The Road Warriors would also take their first trip to Japan to work for All Japan, making an immediate impact by squashing the veteran team of Killer Khan and Animal Hamaguchi in under four minutes, from then on the Road Warriors would continue to make regular tours to Japan, primarily for AJPW.

By 1986 The Road Warriors had moved on exclusively to work for the Jim Crockett Promotions/Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling territory of the NWA as their 'home' in America. They would triumph in the inaugural edition of the Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament, defeating Ronnie Garvin and Magnum T.A in the finals. Continuing their strong push they would have notable feuds with The Midnight Express (resulting in a Scaffold Match between the two teams) and against The Four Horsemen, where they would team up with Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Volkoff to battle The Horsemen in the first ever War Games match. The Road Warriors would then engage in a battle with fellow Power and Paint team the Powers of Pain (The Barbarian and The Warlord) but that angle would come to a sudden halt when the Powers of Pain left the NWA, reportedly unhappy that they were booked to come out on the losing end of a series of Scaffold matches.

Back in Japan The Road Warriors defeated Jumbo Tsurata and Genichiro Tenryu for the NWA International Tag Team Championship, going on to have a dominant 15 month reign with the belts before losing to PWF World Tag Team champions Jumbo Tsuruta and Yoshiaki Yatsu in a unification match for the new AJPW World Tag Team Championship.

Despite playing a prominent role during their latest NWA tenure, The Road Warriors had yet to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship, but that ended in the Autumn of 1988 when they defeated the Midnight Express following a heel turn. Despite becoming increasingly more brutal and violent as heels, the fans still overwhelmingly got behind The Road Warriors forcing the bookers to turn them face again. Their reign as NWA World Tag Team Champions was brought to an end in controversial fashion, when Teddy Long performed an excessively fast count in a defence against The Varsity Club pairing of Mike Rotunda and 'Dr Death' Steve Williams.

Surprisingly that would prove to be their only reign as NWA World Tag Team Champions, before leaving the NWA in May 1990 before signing on with the WWF the following month. The Road Warriors were allowed a brief one week tour of Japan in July, competing for NJPW before committing to the WWF full time.

The Match: Unfortunately this was one of those matches where politics ended up hampering the match. The WWF would have wanted their new acquisitions to look strong, whilst NJPW wouldn't have really wanted their Tag champions to lose to a team that was only sticking around for a cameo appearance.

So what we got was the Legion of Doom showing off some power spots, Chono playing 'Ricky Morton' for a good bulk of the match plus a tease of Chono slapping his signature STF and then the hot-tag to Mutoh, who buzzed around the ring for a bit with his high octane offence, before the match abrubtly ends with a screwy DQ finish. Post match the Road Warriors give a Doomsday Device to a young boy and the two teams have a stand-off whilst holding folding steel chairs. The bulk of the match provided a microcosm of what both of these teams brought to the table, but the political cop out of a finish rendered it all rather pointless. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 16th August 1990- NJPW TV Taping (Chiba Park Stadium)

Animal Hamaguchi vs Masanobu Kurisu

Animal Hamaguchi: When Riki Choshu's Japan Pro Wrestling Promotion was dissolved in 1987 (though it essentially was just a stable in AJPW that occassionally held it's own shows) the majority of the JPW 'roster' returned to NJPW whom they originally debuted with, with a few staying on in All Japan. The near twenty year veteran Hamaguchi however decided to retire from competing in the ring all together. However in the spring of 1990 Hamaguchi would come out of retirement and return to NJPW.

Masanobu Kurisu: Kurisu was amongst the first batch of New Japan dojo graduates in 1972, but never rose above lower card status in over a decade with the promotion, even after his excursion to Mexico for the UWA promotion in 1979 Kurisu still struggled for relevancy upon his return.
In 1984 Kurisu would be one of a number of defectors to join Riki Choshu's Japan Pro Wrestling project that would effectively be absorbed by New Japan's main rivals at the time AJPW. Kurisu would continue to work for AJPW until 1988 (even after JPW folded) but the now ageing star still struggled to be anything more than a lower card act.

After a brief break through much of 1988 and into 1989 where Kurisu concentrated on establishing his Kurisu Masanobu Training Gym in Osaka, he returned to the ring in late 1989 for the up-start FMW promotion. It was whilst in FMW that the previously milquetoast Kurisu, finally began to his find his forte as a rule breaking heel. The following year a revitilised Kurisu would return to where his career began.

The Match: This was a match-up between two veteran wrestlers, looking to breathe new life into in-ring careers that appeared to have being winding down. Hamaguchi coming out of retirement, whilst Kurisu finding new life in being a crazed heel. They also had similar history in the fact that both were part of the New Japan defectors that followed Riki Choshu to his JPW vanity project, with both happening to return to NJPW at around the same time. The difference between their careers though was that Hamaguchi at least managed some Midcard championship success over the years, where as Kurisu was barely able to rise above jobber status.

I was all prepared for this match between these two creaking veterans to be a chore to sit through but it ended up being surprisingly entertaining for the relatively brief time they were given. The match is by and large a garbage brawl, starting out with Kurisu brutilising Hamaguchi with a steel chair but they manage to keep things moving along nicely and the match never gets bogged down with too much rote crowd brawling.
It's by and large Hamaguchi that makes the match watchable, with Kurisu not really bringing much else to the table other than this heel character work. Hamaguchi who had come out of retirement, shows off some surprisingly decent athleticsm and looked revitilised after his long break from in-ring competiton.

In the end it's not quite good enough to earn any kind of a recommendation to go out of your way and watch this but I was pleasantly surprised by what these two old men managed to put together.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 19th August 1990- NJPW TV Taping (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Big Van Vader vs Riki Choshu

Riki Choshu: By the summer of 1989 Riki Choshu had been with NJPW for two years, following the collapse of his JPW project but he had still yet to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. That would change on the 12th July 1987, when he defeated the Soviet Import and surprise champion Salman Hashimikov. However Choshu's reign would not last long as he would lose the title in his first defence to Big Van Vader.

The Match: After both Hashimikov and Choshu's blink and you will miss them reigns with the IWGP belt where neither man was able to successfully defend the belt in their first defence, Vader was given a lengthy run with the belt and by the point of what was his 5th defence against Choshu he had the belt for over a year.

They sensibly work this one as a sprint playing to both men's strengths as bullish brawlers but still manage to pack in a lot of 'story' into a relatively short match, particularly for a main event. Vader's damaged left eye was still bothering him and Choshu immediately went after it, as he tried to hone in on the monster's weak point.

I will fully admit that I'm not Choshu's biggest fan but he's excellent value here selling the sheer grind of just being able to get the big man off his feet, as he looked to wear down Vader with a relentless barrage of lariats. Vader here too is equally excellent value as the wounded but angry animal, who remains a dangerous threat despite being on the receiving end of a barrage of punishment throughout the contest.

There's little in the way of impressive technical prowess or jaw dropping high spots (Choshu's impressive top rope brainbuster on a near 400 Ib Vader being the exception) but this is something of an under-rated gem that saw them combine the expected hard nosed brawling with well thought out and emotional storytelling.


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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:20 pm

Here we go with the final three matches from 1990, as the spotlight is put upon the rivarly between Hiroshi Hase and Keiji Mutoh/Great Muta.

14th September 1990- NJPW Explosion Tour 1990 (Hiroshima Sun Plaza)

The Great Muta vs Hiroshi Hase

Hiroshi Hase: Former Amateur wrestler Hase had been part of the Heavyweight Division for over a year, since graduating from the Junior Division but he had yet to really rise above midcard status, only really gaining victories over those seen to be around or below his standing.

In May 1990 he would unsuccesfully challenge Keiji Mutoh and Mashiro Chono for the IWGP Tag Team Championship alongside fellow Junior Division graduate Shiro Koshinaka. The following month Hase would be lucky to be alive, yet alone be able to continue his in-ring career when he was knocked unconcious following a backdrop suplex from Tatsutoshi Goto during an eight man tag.

The summer of 1990 would see Hase start to team up with Kensuke Sasaki, a partnership that would prove to be fruitful for both of their careers.

The Match: The Great Muta entered the match with red face paint and left with the paint almost entirely sweated/peeled off his face, meanwhile Hiroshi Hase entered the ring with a clean face and ended up leaving the ring with a redder face than Muta!

The match began slowly with low key technical exchanges but then really got going after Hase had been busted open and ended up with a crimson mask. You obviously don't need blood to have a good match but this was a match that greatly benefitted from someone being busted open.

Mutoh doesn't really have his working boots on here, but as Muta his style always was more deliberate and methodical and he's good value here as a sadistic heel looking to slowly pick apart his bloodied opponent. However it's Hase who really makes this match, fighting on with bloody minded determination despite running on nothing but fumes.

As the match wears on it feels as though the blood loss is gradually beginning to fire up Hase more and more, who by all means has been allowed to battle his way back into the contest by Muta's lacksadaiscal attitude to putting the proverbial nail in Hase's coffin, with Hase's determination in face of what Muta would hope to be insurmountable odds eventually leading to the sadistic alter-ego of Keiji Mutoh 'snapping'.

Recommended __________________________________________________________________________________ 30th September 1990- NJPW Antonio Inoki 30th Anniversary Memorial Festival

Antonio Inoki & Tiger Jeet Singh vs Big Van Vader & Animal Hamaguchi

Tiger Jeet Singh: After rising to prominence in Japan in NJPW as a gaijin heel foil to Antonio Inoki during the fledgling years of the promotion, Tiger Jeet Singh with his role gradually diminishing as the 70's turned into the 80's would defect to rivals AJPW in 1981.

He would spend the rest of the decade in All Japan, but would never return to the main event/championship level success that he enjoyed with NJPW in the early to mid 70's, instead becoming a heel attraction in All Japan's midcard. In 1988 he would form a tag team with fellow gaijin heel/hardcore legend Abdullah The Butcher, with the pairing competing in the 1988 and 1989 editions of AJPW's Real World Tag League.

After roughly a decade of service with All Japan, Tiger Jeet Singh would shockingly return to NJPW as the mystery tag partner of his former nemesis Antonio Inoki for Inoki's 30th Anniversary match.

The Match: This is a long video, as it starts out with some pomp and ceremony to celebrate Antonio Inoki being 30 years in the wrestling game man and boy. A string of mostly gajin legends whose prime was generally in the 1970's come out to congratulate Inoki and shake his hand.
The guest list includes: Lou Thesz, Nick Bockwinkel, Tiger Jeet Singh (big cheer when Singh shook Inoki's hand!), Johnny Powers, Billy Robinson, Willem Ruska, Hiro Matsuda (Japanese but spent the majority of his wrestling career in Florida), Stan Hansen, Andre The Giant (at this point Andre looked as though he called barely move and sadly three years later he would pass away from heart failure) and finally Johnny Valentine (hobbling in on crutches and needing help to get into the ring).

Lou Thesz then gives an ego stroking speech (translated later for the majority of fans in attendance who wouldn't have understood a word he said), saying how Inoki is a global wrestling superstar and that he was now on the path to brokering world peace! Inoki had actually stepped into politics at this point, being voted into the House of Councillors in the Japanese Diet, as a representative of the Sports and Peace Party. Putting aside the digs at Inoki's gargantuan ego, Thesz did look genuinely emotional delivering the speech to a man he called his friend. The pomp and ceremony portion of the video then concludes with Inoki being given a gift before giving a speech and handing out gifts to each of his special guests.

The match itself benefits greatly from a hot crowd, as the ring work is often slow and sloppy but given the fact that the match comprises of three men past their prime and a super heavyweight (albeit one who was agile for his size) that should have come of little surprise.

However the match is made enjoyable by the fervant crowds's reactions to every move, raucously getting behind Inoki and Singh whilst rabidly booing the heels, in particular giving it with both barrels to Vader, whenever the behemoth looked to taunt or brutalize or Inoki.

As a wrestling match it's mediocre at best, but the whole package including the pomp and ceremony before hand made for a great and what would have felt at the time an emotionally captivating spectacle.

Mildly Recommended
1st November 1990- NJPW Dream Tour 1990 (Nippon Budokan, Tokyo)
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Masahiro Chono & Keiji Mutoh vs Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki

Kensuke Sasaki: Sasaki would make his debut in 1986 for Riki Choshu's Japan Pro Wrestling project, effectively becoming part of the AJPW roster. In June 1987 after JPW had folded, he would follow Choshu and the majority of the JPW contracted talent to NJPW.

Sasaki would continue to work as a 'Young Lion' before being sent on excursion in 1989, where he would compete for the World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico, Catch Wrestling Association in Germany and Stampede and the Canadian National Wrestling in Alliance in Canada. During his time in Stampede (where he competed under the name of Benkei Sasaki) he would pick up his first championship, winning the Stampede International Tag Team Championship alongside fellow Japanese import Koki Kitahara (competing as Sumo Hara) having a brief one month reign in the summer of 1989, prior to Stampede closing their doors later in the year.

Sasaki would return from excursion in the spring of 1990, before forming what would become a successful and popular tag team with Hiroshi Hase during the summer.

The Match: Mutoh, Chono and to a lesser extent Hase were in the process of establishing themselves as top of the card draws at this point of their career, whilst Sasaki had returned from excursion and was just stepping out of the young lion phase of his career, thus the inexperienced Sasaki was probably perceived to be the 'weak link' coming into the match.

The first two thirds of the match are in all honesty, pretty routine and forgettable but things start to pick up when Sasaki finds himself isolated in the wrong corner and it becomes about whether or not the young powerhouse has the guts and ability to battle his way out of trouble and get Hase back into the contest.

It then transitions into a fantastically frantic closing stretch, as you feel the desperation from both teams to either retain or gain the titles. Near fall after near fall comes in rapid succession- the highlight being a top rope suplex/diving splash combo from the challengers.

It really doesn't matter on this occasion that the bulk of the match isn't all that interesting, the breath taking closing stretch more than makes up for it and makes this classic 90's tag battle match an easy recommendation.


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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sat Feb 20, 2016 12:47 am

The first offering from 1991 is a cross promotional Tokyo Dome show between NJPW and WCW. Business wise the show was a big success with 64,500 fans in attendance (though it's unknown how many of the tickets sold were 'papered'). In this first update, we have the opening four matches from the event.....

21st March 1991 - NJPW/WCW Starrcade 1991 in Tokyo Dome

Animal Hamaguchi, Kantaro Hoshino, Kengo Kimura & Osamu Kido vs. Blond Outlaws (Hiro Saito, Norio Honaga & Tatsutoshi Goto) & Super Strong Machine

The Match: This opening 8 man tag would pit a team of ageing veterans against the Blond Outlaws and Super Strong Machine (who had become a sort of associate member of the stable- never officially being a Blond Outlaw but often tagging with the midcard heel unit).

The Outlaws jumped the geriatric babyfaces early and gained the early advantage- the match would then follow a rinse and repeat pattern of the Outlaws isolating one of their opponents, but the plucky vets battling their way out of trouble.

The match goes on for far too long with it's rinse and repeat formula, and either needed to be a brisker affair or have the Outlaws have more solid control of the match, before the plucky old guys could battle their way back into the contest.

This wasn't terrible and the effort from the veterans was admirable- particularly from the ancient Hoshino (who showed he still had plenty of pluck and enthusiasm)- but it was far from being the most dynamic or interesting way to open the show.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Brian Pillman, Tim Horner & Z-Man vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi, Shiro Koshinaka & Takayuki Iizuka

Brian Pillman: After a brief Pro Football career in the mid 1980s, that saw him play for the Cincinatti Bengals and Buffalo Bills (pre season only) in the NFL and the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL, Pillman turned to professional wrestling in 1986, joining the Calgary based Stampede promotion, being trained by the legendary Stu Hart before making his debut in November of that year.

Pillman would successfully team up with Bruce Hart under the name of Bad Company, with the partnership bringing championship success in the form of two Stampede International Tag Team Championship reigns.

Pillman would move on from Stampede in the spring of 1989, working a brief tour for New Japan Pro Wrestling before moving on to the Jim Crockett Promotions/WCW territory of the NWA, where is athletic high flying style would earn him the moniker of Flyin' Brian.

In February 1990 Pillman would earn his first championship within JCP/WCW when he won the then vacant NWA United States Tag Team Championship alongside Z-Man (Tom Zenk), defeating the Fabulous Freebirds of Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes to claim the vacant gold.

Tim Horner: Making his pro wrestling debut in 1978, Horner would work for the southern eastern based territories of the NWA throughout the 1980's, finding considerable minor success in the Tennesee/Alabama based South East Championship Wrestling with multiple reigns with both the NWA Southeastern United States Junior Heavyweight and NWA United States Junior Heavyweight Championships between 1983 and 1986.

In 1984 whilst working for the Jim Crockett Promotions territory he would form the Lightning Express Tag Team with Brad Armstrong, winning the NWA National Tag Team Championship that year- though further championship success would not arrive until three years later when they won the UWF Tag Team Championship. The pairing would split up the following year in 1988, though would sporadically reform throughout the early 90's without any notable success.

Z-Man: Coming from a Bodybuilding background, Minnesota native Tom Zenk would make his pro wrestling debut for the AWA promotion. After nearly two years of primarily working for the AWA, Zenk would move on to NWA affiliate Pacific Northwest Wrestling where he would have first taste of championship success, firstly winning the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship alongside Scott Doring in late 1985 and then having a brief reign as the NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Champion just a few months later.

Later that year Zenk would move on to the Montreal based International Wrestling Association, where he would form the Can-Am connection alongside Rick Martel and Dan Kroffatt, that would include a reign alongside Kroffatt with the Canadian International Tag Team Championship. The Can-Am Connection would then go on to work for both the WWF and in Japan with AJPW throughout 1986 and 1987.

After the Can-Am Connection split up following Zenk's departure from the WWF, Zenk would continue to work multiple tours of Japan with AJPW, whilst also making sporadic appearances for his original home of the NWA.

In the autumn of 1989, Zenk would join the JCP/WCW territory of the NWA going under the new moniker of 'The Z-Man', where he would team up with Brian Pillman, with the partnership bearing fruit in early 1990, when they would enjoy a 96 day reign as the NWA United States Tag Team Champions. Later that year Zenk would have a brief taste of singles succes when he defeated Arn Anderson for the NWA World Television Championship, though sadly for Zenk the title would be made inactive in January 1991, when WCW officially split from the NWA.

The Match: In what would probably been better suited as an opening contest to fire up the crowd, this match saw a trio of WCW Junior Heavyweights take on a team of counterparts from NJPW. Well in all honesty both Koshinaka and Iizuka were competing as Heavyweights's at this point but both were still athletic enough to be able to comfortably compete in a Junior style tag such as this.

It's always weird seeing Iizuka work as a clean cut babyface that actually put a shift in- considering what he would turn into later in his career. The pattern of the match see's the WCW import gradually take control with their superior team work compared to the native trio who at times do look three men randomly thrown together. The least experienced of the trio Iizuka in particular becomes cut off down the stretch and the simple story here is whether or not he can battle his way out of trouble and get his more experienced team mates back into the contest.

The match never quite hits top gear, but the work-rate from everyone involved cannot be faulted, particularly the WCW imports and in the end what results is solid six man tag worked at a consistently quick pace throughout.

It's Pillman though that really shines, looking considerably more progressive for the time than everyone else involved in the match, often injecting a wow factor into a match that would probably be considerably blander without his presence.

Mildy Recommended _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Equalizer vs. Scott Norton

Equalizer: Coming from an American Football background (that included a brief pro career playing in the short lived USFL) William Dannehauer like many failed Pro Footballers before him turned to pro wrestling, apparently inspired to do so after meeting Harley Race whilst attending a high school tournament.

Begining his pro wrestling career at the relatively late age of 32, Dennehauer would make his debut in 1989 after being trained by Len Denton. The first two years of his career would primarily be spent working for Portland, Oregon based NWA affiliate Pacific Northwest wrestling, where under the name of The Equalizer, Dannehauer would enjoy two brief reigns with the NWA Pacific NorthWest Tag Team Championship alongside his mentor Len Denton (as The Grappler).

Whilst Dannehauer's early years would also take in a tour of Europe with the Germany based Catch Wrestling Association, working under the name of 'The Barbarian'.

Scott Norton: A prominent arm wrestler, that won 30 championships (including 4 U.S Nationals), seeing his potential to fill a role on their roster as a gaijin powerhouse Norton was originally approached to switch to pro wrestling by NJPW whilst touring the arm wrestling circuit in Japan but originally turned the opportunity down. His prominence in the arm wrestling world earned him a minor role in Sylvester Stallone flop Over The Top , whilst he also worked security for Prince's 1999 and Purple Rain tours.

In 1989 Norton finally decided to make the switch from Arm Wrestling to Pro Wrestling, where he was trained by former Olympian Brad Rheingans and debut with the Minnesota based AWA, where he would team up with John Nord as the Yukon Lumberjacks.

The next year Norton moved on to Pacific North West Wrestling, where with the nickname of 'Flapjack' he continued with the Lumberjack gimmick and continued to team with Nord who followed Norton out of the AWA. Norton though would turn heel and ditch the Lumberjack gimmick leading to his first singles push, resulting in him winning the Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship from Brian Adams, but his reign would last only a month after being stripped of the title.

In December 1990, Norton would go to Japan and sign with NJPW- the promotion that originally approached Norton to pursue a pro wrestling career.

The Match: The Google translate on NJPW World hysterically lists this match as Steroid Warriors Showdown. To keep things as short as the match, this was a really bad match where two 'hosses' basically tried to knock each other off their feet with really basic moves and then one of them won with a really terrible looking powerslam- no prizes for guessing who. The only saving grace for this steaming turd of a match is that it was short.

Norton would go on to have a pretty successful career, notably with NJPW whilst The Equalizer (Dannehauer) would get a more permanent gig in WCW a few years later, working the sort of gimmick that is sure to sink anyone's career- Kevin Sullivan's dyslexic brother. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ IWGP Junior Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs AKIRA

Jushin Thunder Liger: Now firmly established as the centre-piece and 'Ace' of the Junior Division, Liger was now in his third reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. His second reign saw him hold the belt for 8 months, until losing it to Pegasus Kid (Chris Benoit) in August 1990 but he would regain the title three months later to begin his third reign with the title.

AKIRA: After an excursion that saw him work for the Catch Wrestling Association in Europe during the second half of 1990, Akira Nogami would return to NJPW with a new gimmick Kabuki style face painted career under the name of AKIRA. Much like Keiji Mutoh however, Nogami would switch between working under his real self and his more flamboyant alter-ego.

The Match: As far as I am aware this was actually AKIRA's first match back from excursion and the fact that he was instantly getting a Junior Title shot here with this new eye-catching gimmick seemed to indicate that the NJPW officials saw some star potential here in Nogami. Despite going on to have a solid wrestling career he never did quite become a major star, even in Junior Heavyweight terms.

Jushin Thunder Liger's most frequently seen version of his instantly recognisable ring gear is the red and white version, as he doesn't wear anything else these days but earlier his career he would switch it up for the big shows, as he did here sporting a swanky green and gold version of the iconic mask/bodysuit combo.

Liger hits AKIRA with a whirlwind of offence early and it looks as though Liger is going to assert his dominance with out much fuss but AKIRA gradually gets a foothold in the match, in particular placing focus on working over Liger's arm...

The complexion of the match changes when AKIRA counters a slingshot plancha from Liger with a drop-kick to the knee. Though AKIRA ends up doing a little damage to himself as he puts his own body on the line, Liger comes off worse and when they return to the ring AKIRA smartly switches focus to Liger's damaged leg....

The sell job here from Liger here on out is tremendous, providing a central focus for the match to be built around. Liger gets over the desperate situation he finds himself in by consistently looking for small opportunities to go for roll-ups and when he is able to sustainbly regain control from AKIRA, he continues to sell the fact that the leg is bothering him- not only selling the injury after going for big moves but even selling the fact that several moves are too troublesome to pull off.

The match isn't packed with the sort of daring high-risk spots that would become the modus-operandi for Junior Heavyweight fare over the coming decades, but there's still enough crowd popping moments to get the crowd on the edge of their seats down the stretch whilst still managing to be logically woven into the fabric of the match.

It's this level of detail and commitment to in-ring storytelling and selling that places Liger in the elite class of not just Junior Heavyweights but pro wrestling in general.


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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sun Feb 21, 2016 9:05 pm

We hit the midcard of the NJPW/WCW Starrcade in Tokyo Dome event, in an update that will probably end up coming across more as a history lesson on early 90's employees of WCW

21st March 1991 - NJPW/WCW Starrcade 1991 in Tokyo Dome - Part 2

Arn Anderson & Barry Windham vs. Masahiro Chono & Masa Saito

Arn Anderson: Martin Lunde started his pro wrestling career in 1982, first finding a degree of success in South Eastern Championship Wrestling where he was a three time South Eastern Tag Team Champion during 1984.

Due to his strong physical resemblance to Ole Anderson and the fact that they both shared the same no nonsense technical style of wrestling with a strong focus on picking apart a body part- Lunde soon settled on the ring name of Arn Anderson and was paired up with Ole, when he moved on to Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling/Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985- seeing a revival n of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew with Arn taking the place of Gene Anderson and billed as Ole's kayfabe nephew.

The revived Minnesota Wrecking Crew soon found success winning the then vacant NWA National Tag Team Championship from Ole's former partner Thunderbolt Patterson and Manny Fernandez.

The latter half of 1985 saw The Minnesota Wrecking Crew form a then loose-knit alliance with fellow heels Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard, however by the next year the alliance's bond had grown stronger, gained a manager in J.J Dillon and now had an official stable name 'The Four Horsemen'. It was at the turn of the year that Anderson also saw his first success as a singles wrestler winning the vacant NWA World Television Championship when he defeated Wahoo McDaniel.

At Starrcade 1986 The Minnesota Wrecking Crew lost a Steel Cage match to the Rock'N'Roll Express, kicking off an angle where Arn's ageing partner Ole was presented as the weak link of the team- eventually resulting on the rest of the Horsemen turning on Ole and kicking him out of the group and replacing him with Lex Luger.

In Mid 1987 Arn Anderson began to regularly team with fellow Horseman Tully Blanchard, the partnership went on to have even greater success than the Minnesota Wrecking Crew, twice winning the NWA World Tag Team Championship between 1987 and 1988. Anderson and Blanchard's first reign ended by Lex Luger (who has defected from the Horsemen) and Barry Windham, but they would regain the belts when Windham turned on Luger and took the spot of the Fourth Horseman.

However by the summer of 1988 both Arn Anderson and Blanchard were in dispute with Mid Atlantic promoter Jim Crockett over pay and the pair would depart from the territory dropping the NWA World Tag Team Championship to the Midnight Express.

Anderson and Blanchard would move on to the WWF, wrestling under the name of The Brainbusters, where the following year they would end Demolition's dominant 478 day title reign to win the WWF Tag Team Championship- they would drop the belt's back to Demolition three months later but continued to look as through they would be a force in the WWF's Tag Team Division......

However by December 1989 Arn Anderson had returned to the NWA and the Jim Crockett Promotion's territory that had now been renamed WCW after ownership was taken over by billionaire media mogul Ted Turner, who wanted to turn the promotion into a rival that could not only compete with but defeat the WWF. On his return to the now newly renamed WCW, Anderson helped reform the Four Horsemen with Ric Flair, Ole Anderson and former rival sting. Blanchard was slated to return as a Horseman but WCW took the decision not to rehire Blanchard after learning that he failed a drugs test whilst in the WWF.

Following his return from the WWF, Anderson would begin his second reign as the NWA World Television Champion, defeating The Great Muta at the turn of the year in 1990, a reign that would last almost an entire year before it was ended by Tom 'Z-Man' Zenk, however the NWA version of the World Television Championship was retired a month later and Anderson would defeat Zenk for the new WCW World Television title that replaced the outgoing NWA title.

Barry Windham: Trained by his father Blackjack Mulligan, Windham made his pro wrestling debut in 1979 and soon found success as both a singles and tag team wrestler in the NWA's Championship Wrestling from Florida territory, winning several singles and tag team titles (including three runs as the NWA Florida Heavyeight Champion) whilst working in Florida. In 1984 he began to regularly team up with his brother in law Mike Rotunda, and the pair found success in Florida, winning three NWA Florida United States Tag Team Championships.

In the Autumn of 1984 Windham and Rotunda (billed as Mike Rotundo) took their team to the WWF, having achieved all they could in Florida-under the name of the U.S Express. In January 1985 they would defeat the North-South Connection of Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonnis to win the WWF Tag Team Championship before going on to have a 2nd title reign later in the year. The U.S Express then quitely disbanded in the WWF at the end of the year, and though they continued to team up outside of the WWF, including a tour of Japan with AJPW at the turn of the year, the team was officially brought to an end when Windham returned to the NWA.

Windham once again made Championship Wrestling from Florida is primary home, feuding with Ric Flair over the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on his return, after failing to dethrone Flair for NWA's most coveted belt, Windham moved on to feuding with Ron Bass over the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship during the second half of the year , resulting in three more short reigns with the belt- as Windham and Bass traded the belt back and forth.

Windham would then move on to the NWA's most prominent territory Mid Atlantic (Jim Crockett Promotions), where he continued his feud with Ric Flair, taking the NWA Heavyweight Champion to series of 60 minute time limit draws but never quite able to get the better of Flair.
After his initially strong singles push, was shifted back into the midcard and once again featured more prominently in the Tag ranks. Windham was able to form another successful team this time with Ron Garvin, winning the NWA United States Tag Team Championship and continuosly getting the better of a feud with the Midnight Express.

The second half of 1987 saw Windham return to singles competion, albeit firmly entrenched in the midcard- where he defeated Black Bart in a tournament final to become the inaugural holder of the extremely short lived NWA Heritage Western States Title- before dropping the fairly meaningless belt to Larry Zbysko at the turn of the year.

Windham would then climb back into a more prominent position in 1988 as he became embroiled in the Four Horseman feud/angle that had played a prominent role in the NWA since 1985- Windham would win the NWA World Tag Team Championship with Lex Luger (who had defected from the Horsemen) only for Windham to turn on Luger a few weeks later in a title defence against Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, and take the 4th Horseman spot that Luger had vacated.

As a member of the Four Horsemen Windham would go on to win the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship, defeating Nikita Volkoff in a tournament final for the then vacant belt. He would go on to have a solid 289 day reign with the belt, before losing the title to former partner Lex Luger in February 1989.

Windham's contract with the NWA expired soon after that, and he returned to the WWF in June 1989. Given the nickname of the Widowmaker- Windham went undefeated for four months and given a place on Randy Savage's Survivor Series Team- Windham looked set for a strong push but he was replaced by Canadian Earthquake and departed the WWF once again for undisclosed personal reasons.

After another short tour of Japan in early 1990 with AJPW that culminated with a failed attempt to win the Triple Crown from Jumbo Tsuruta, Windham joined WCW- where he reunited with the Four Horsemen. At the time of joining all four spots were occupied with: Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson and Sid Vicious making up the stable but Ole had become only semi-active at this point and turned to more of a management role, following Windham's return to the group.

The 1990 version of WCW's Halloween Havoc event saw Windham involved in a controvesial match that saw Sid Vicious challenge Sting for the NWA World Championship. Vicious appeared to pin Sting but it was actually Windham dressed as Sting - once the ruse had been rumbled- the real Sting was able to defeat Vicious and retain his title. The rest of the year saw Windham team up with Arn Anderson, as they feuded with Doom (Butch Reed and Ron Simmons) over the NWA World Tag Team Championship.

The Match: This ended up being a passable but far from great sub 10 minute midcard tag. The match was at it's best when Chono and Anderson were in the ring together- Chono at this point in his career was a 'work-rate' guy and whenever he's in the ring the match gets a decent injection of pace.

The match though is largely worked around the Four Horseman pairing controlling the match with their superior teamwork- thing is the teamwork is of the plodding old school variety that slows the pace of a match down. The finish itself is neatly worked, putting a twist on a well worn tag team wrestling trope but it's not enough to add some shine to what ends up being a somewhat disappointing contest.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________ IWGP Tag Team Championship/WCW World Tag Team Championship: Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki (c) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner) (c)

The Steiner Brothers: Robert 'Rick' Rechsteiner, the eldest of the 'Steiner Brothers' was an amateur wrestling standout for the University of Michigan, placing second at the Big 10 Championships and establishing the fastest pin record in the school's history at 15 seconds. After graduating from college in 1983, Steiner immediately entered the Professional Wrestling business.

Rick's early career saw him bounce around the territories, working for the likes of the AWA in Minnesota, IWA in Montreal and Bill Watt's UWF in the Mid-South. Whilst in the UWF Steiner formed a team with future WCW icon Sting (Steve Borden)- a partnership that brought Steiner his first championship success (albeit a short lived one) with a UWF Tag Team title reign.

When the UWF was bought out by Jim Crockett Promotion's, much of their roster ended up being incorporated into the territory that would eventually evolve into WCW. Steiner went on to form the Varsity Club stable with Kevin Sullivan and Mike Rotunda with the stable's gimmick built around their amateur wrestling background. Steiner would turn face in late 1988, following months of tension between himself and the rest of the Varsity Club and go on to feud with Mike Rotunda over the NWA World Television Championship.

Scott like his older brother was a standout in University of Michigan's Amateur Wrestling programme, placing as runner up three times in the Big 10 conference and becoming an NCAA Divison I All American in 1986. After graduation Scott, like his older brother Robert (Rick) would follow the same path into Professional Wrestling.

Perhaps due to his legitimate wrestling skills, Scott Rechsteiner enjoyed a strong push right out of the gate, when he debut for the World Wrestling Association promotion based in the Great Lakes region, winning both the WWA World Heavyweight Championship and WWA World Tag Team Championship.

Now wrestling as Scott Steiner, he would move on to the slightly larger stage of the Memphis based Continental Wrestling Association, where he would become a three time CWA Tag Team Champion.

In 1989 Scott would join his older brother Rick in the NWA territory that was in the process of evolving into WCW. He would initially debut as a 'second' to his older brother, before wrestling in singles bouts, before the brother's finally decided to team together.

In November 1989 The Steiner Brothers would win what would be the first of many championships together, when they defeated The Fabulous Freebirds duo of Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes for the NWA World Tag Team Championship, going on to have a near 200 day reign with the belts. The following summer they would go on to hold the NWA United States Tag Team titles, winning those belts from the Midnight Express of Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane.

The Match: After dethroning Keiji Mutoh and Masahiro Chono for the titles in November, Hase and Sasaki would lose the belts to Hiro Saito (of the Blond Outlaws) and Super Strong Machine the following month, before winning back the belts from Saito & Machine in March. This would be Hase and Sasaki's first title defence of their second reign with the belts, in a match that would also see The Steiners put their WCW World Tag Team Championship on the line in a champions vs champions showdown.

This ended up being one those matches, where perhaps over expectation tempered by enjoyment of the match. Whilst the match does feature some eye catching power spots from the Steiner and some nifty tandem spots from both teams, the match ends up being more just that a collection of impressive spots, rather than a continuos flow of awesome- there's some great stuff, particularly down the stretch such as Sasaki superplexing his own partner onto one of the Steiners or Scott popping off the Frankensteiner.

For the most part the match comes off as a showcase for The Steiners who overpower Hase and Sasaki both individually and as a team for about 75% of the match, perhaps it's because of this uneven, booking of the match- falling somewhere between fully fledged squash and competitve back and forth contest, that the match didn't quite click with me, as much as I thought/hoped it would. The highlights are enough to make the match worth checking out to some degree but in my opinion, it's not aged particularly well as a tag team classic.

Mildly Recommended __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Big Cat Hughes vs. El Gigante

Big Cat Hughes: A former college football player at Kansas State University, Curtis Hughes would turn to pro wrestling in 1988. Debuting for Central States Wrestling, he would then move on to fading force that was the Minnesota based AWA. Perhaps seeing some potential in Hughes as a monster heel/enforcer, he would be signed by WCW in November 1990.

El Gigante: Standing at 7ft 7 , Jorge Gonzalez played professional basketball in his native Argentina. Gonzalez would attract the attention of scouts from the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and he would subsequently be drafted in the third round of the 1988 NBA draft by the Hawks.

Gonzalez however picked up serious knee injury and struggled to adapt to the more gruelling physical demands of the world's premier Basketball League and he ended up retiring from Basketball altogether only a year into his NBA career.

The Hawks owner Ted Turner who also owned WCW, saw potential in Gonzalez with his huge size to be an attraction in professional wrestling. After a year of training, Gonzalez was introduced to fans in May 1990 at the Capital Combat PPV under the ring name of El Gigante before making his in-ring debut two months later.

The Match: Hughes is not a small man but he looks like a dwarf compared to the freakishly large Giant Gonzalez. It's hard to make a judgement on Hughes, as this is booked as a squash to showcase Gonzalez as a freakish monster. Problem is all Gonzalez has going for him is his circus freak size, as he clearly can't wrestle at all- pulling off a weak vertical suplex for a man of his gargantuan size and botching a running kick.

The one saving grace as with the earlier stinker between Norton and The Equalizer, is that it was kept mercifully short. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Big Van Vader & Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Doom (Butch Reed & Ron Simmons)

Butch Reed: Reed began his Pro Wrestling career in 1978 after a brief tenure in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs. His early career was spent primarily with various NWA territories such as Georgia Championship Wrestling and the Kansas City based Central States Wrestling, where he won his first championship in 1980, the NWA Central States Tag Team Championship.

Between 1983 and 1986 Butch Reed would receive a strong, consistent push with Bill Watts Mid-South Wrestling (Later to be renamed the UWF when Watts attempted to turn the territory into a national promotion) consistently being booked in major feuds and storylines and accomplishing several title reigns- that included three runs as Mid-South North American Champion.

In the autumn of 1986 after a solid three year run with Mid-South Reed moved on to the WWF, where he was joined by his manager from Mid-South Slick, sporting Bleach Blond hair, he was given the nickname of 'The Natural' and was introduced as an arrogant heel with a motormouth manager.
Reed however never received the sort of consistent push he would enjoy in Mid-South and suffered the ingominy of being the first wrestler to be eliminated in the first ever Royal Rumble match in 1988.

Reed would depart the WWF a few months later after Wrestlemania IV and then join up with the NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions (soon to become WCW) but once again initially found himself floundering as a midcard afterthought.

In late 1989, Reed was paired up with fellow 'African American' wrestler Ron Simmons, as the tag team of 'Doom'- Initially the pair were under masks, but though Kayfabe wasn't quite dead at this point, it was pretty obvious to almost everyone that Reed and Simmons were under the hoods.
However the team would receive a strong push winning the NWA World Tag Team Championship in May 1990 and holding the belts until WCW seceeded completely from the NWA. Doom were then immmediately awarded the new WCW World Tag Team Championships, effectively continuing their reign, however they would eventually see their reign ended in February 1991 by The Fabulous Freebirds of Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes.

Ron Simmons: Simmons much like his future tag partner Butch Reed would come from a Professional Football background, having a brief tenure in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and a tenure with the Tampa Bay Bandits in the ill fated USFL. After the USFL's collapse in 1986, Simmons retired from Football and turned to Pro Wrestling.

Simmons early in-ring career was spent primarily working for the south eastern territories of the NWA, and in December 1986 he won his first championship the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship. From the summer of 1987 onwards Simmons would begin to primarily work for the Mid Atlantic/JCP territory- initially introduced as a face he would turn heel in early 1989.

Later that year Simmons who was floundering in the midcard as a singles act would be teamed up with fellow African American wrestler Butch Reed (who was suffering the same fate) unde the name of Doom- a pairing that ended up being beneficial to both of their careers at the time, going on to be the last NWA World Champions before WCW decided to go it alone.

The Match: Vader and Bigelow had worked primarily as gaijin monster heels during their tenure's with NJPW, but due to their affinity with the host promotion, they are the de-facto babyfaces in the match.

Doom had actually effectively broken up prior to this match, WCW's Wrestlewar PPV the previous month, when Reed turned on Simmons following their WCW World Tag Team Title defence against the Fabulous Freebirds.

The opening portion of the match is a solid showcase for what everyone brings to the table, The Doom pairing of Simmons and Reed are put over as strong powerhouses, capable of lifting and slamming larger opponents whilst Bigelow continues to surprise with his speed and agility for a man of his considerable size. Vader probably does phone it in a bit here, but he's the most over man in the match and is probably entitled to put in the least amount of work.

After an even opening, opportunity puts Doom in control, as they manage to isolate Bigelow. Doom do solid subtle heel work, as they continuously cut Bigelow off from making the hot tag to Vader- who makes for a surprisingly effective 'Ricky Morton'.

The heat segment however probably goes on a little too long, as despite solid work on the storytelling side of things, Doom's bland ring work unfortunately ends up coming to the fore whilst the closing stretch never gets going. What was on the way to being a solid big man tag, ends up petering out with a bit of a whimper.

Post match Doom confirm that they done with each other, when Simmons and Reed start laying into each other and have to be separated by the locker room. Following the break up Simmons would get the better of a brief feud between the former tag partners, before going on to have a main event level push, whilst Reed's WCW career would peter out culminating in him leaving WCW the following year.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:02 pm

It's the final instalment of the Starrcade in Tokyo Dome card as Fujinami and Ric Flair face off in a champion vs champion showdown....

21st March 1991 - NJPW/WCW Starrcade 1991 in Tokyo Dome - Part 2

Great Muta vs. Sting

Sting: Steve Borden began his pro wrestling career in 1985 with the Continental Wrestling Association, working under the name of Flash and teaming up with Jim 'Justice' Hellwig (the future Ultimate Warrior) as The Freedom Fighters.

The pair would move on to the UWF in 1986, as heel henchmen of Eddie Gilbert with Borden now known as Sting and working under the team name of The Blade Runners. Hellwig left for the WWF that year, but Sting would go on to twice win the UWF Tag Team Championship with Gilbert and then again with Rick Steiner.

In 1987 the UWF was bought out by Jim Crockett Promotions just as Sting looked to be in line for a strong singles push, however the future WCW knew they had a potential superstar on their hands and continued with Sting's gradual ascent towards main event status.

In March 1988 Sting would challenge Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship but came up short of dethroning Flair for the title after a 45 minute time limit draw. It would continue a (kayfabe) frustrating year for Sting, who would receive a number of title shots for various belts but just come up short often denied by the time limit rather than the opposing wrestler(s)- putting across Sting as someone that could strongly compete but wasn't quite able to do enough to finally get a title round his waist.

The beginning of 1989 saw Sting challenge Ric Flair yet again for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship but once again Flair survived with another Broadway time limit draw. Finally in March 1989, after a year of failed title shots- Sting would finally get his hands on a Championship when he defeated Mike Rotundo for the NWA World Television Championship.

After a brief tour of Japan with AJPW, Sting would engage in a feud with Japanese import The Great Muta. Their first match which saw Muta challenge for Sting's NWA Television title, initially resulted in a successful title defence for Sting but replays showed that Muta's shoulders were up at two. The controversial finish resulted in the belt being vacated and series of rematches between the two over the title ended in a series of non finishes.Eventually Muta would win the title in a No DQ match.

After coming to the aid of his old rival Ric Flair, when Flair defended the NWA World Heavyweight title against Terry Funk, following interference from Funk's stablemate The Great Muta, Sting joined the now face Four Horsemen, consisting of Ric Flair, Ole Anderson and Arn Anderson. However after Sting earned a shot at Ric Flair's World Heavyweight title , after winning a round four man round robin tournament at Starrcade, tensions began to surface when Sting refused to give up his title shot.

Sting would be kicked out of the Four Horsemen in February 1990, who reverted back to their natural heel ways. However Sting would suffer a legitimate knee injury , denying Sting of his title shot.

However Sting would finally receive his World title shot in July in his first match back from injury, where he was able to dethrone Ric Flair, completing Sting's gradual two year push towards being a fully fledged main event. Sting would then hold the title until January 1991, where Flair was able to regain the title, after Sting managed a string of solid defences against Flair himself and Sid Vicious.

The Match: This was basically one last go round of the Sting-Muta feud from two years previous, in front of a huge audience in Muta's home of Japan. At this point in his career Sting was still 'Surfer' sting with the bleach blonde spiky hair and colourful face paint- he was probably also at his physical peak, combining athleticism with power.

The familiarity between the two opponents gave the match a solid storyline and Sting had his working boots on, but the match would grind to a crawl at times whenever Muta was in control. As much as Muta's deliberately slow style was good at gaining heel heat, the match quality however would invariably suffer- it's a similar problem people are finding with Tetsuya Naito in present day New Japan, since Naito's switch to his Los Ingobernables gimmick.

The closing stretch sees' the winner just about sneak by with the victory, only for the loser to gain a measure of revenge by attacking the victor post match. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ No Holds Barred match for the vacant Greatest 18 Club Championship: Riki Choshu vs Tiger Jeet Singh

Riki Choshu: In August 1990, Choshu would end the year long plus IWGP Heavweight title reign of Big Van Vader for his second run as champion. Choshu would go on to hold the belt until December, managing one succesful title defence against Shinya Hashimoto but failing in his second defence against old rival Tatsumi Fujinami.

The Match: During Antonio Inoki's 30th Anniversary- New Japan established a Hall of Fame known as the Greatest 18 Club. NJPW then established The Greatest 18 Championship, which was the same belt as the sporadically defended Martial Arts Championship, and was immediately awarded to Riki Choshu. Possibly originally intended as an undercard Legends title for veterans, it would eventually evolve into a short lived fore-runner to the present day Intercontinental Championship, albeit a short lived fore-runner that existed a quarter of a decade ago.

There's no referee, so the winner is decided when their opponent is unable to answer a ten count. What occurs is a garbage (literally) brawl, where both of them end up bleeding buckets and Tiger Jeet Singh delves into his usual dirty heel manual- often resulting in tedious choke holds. Singh for the most part, always was garbage and this match is no exception. Unlike two duds from earlier on the card, this unfortunately wasn't kept mercifully short.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ IWGP Heavyweight Title / NWA World Heavyweight Title Match: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Ric Flair

Tatsumi Fujinami: For much of 1990 Fujinami was on the shelf with a major back injury and did not make his in-ring return until September of that year. On Boxing Day of that year Fujinami would defeat Riki Choshu for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for his third reign with the belt.

However his third title reign was a short lived one losing the title in his first title defence against Big Van Vader the following month, but 'The Dragon' would then regain the belt from Vader just two months later in a re-match for the belt.

Ric Flair: After being introduced to Verne Gagne by Ken Patera, Richard Fliehr joined Gagne's Wrestling training school in 1971, before graduating to the AWA roster in 1972. Adopting the snappier ring name of Ric Flair- he was a far cry from the 'Nature Boy' image he would adopt for the rest of his career, sporting short brown cropped hair, weighing nearly 300 Ibs and working more of a brawling style.

In 1974 Flair would move on from the AWA to work for Jim Crockett's Mid Atlantic territory in the NWA- he captured his first title in July of that year- the NWA Mid Atlantic Tag Team Championship with Rip Hawk before going on to capture his first singles championship the NWA Mid Atlantic Television Championship in February the following year.

On October 1975, Flair was involved in a serious plane crash in Wilmington, North Carolina with several other wrestlers, the crash ended up paralyzing Johnny Valentine and Flair with his back broken in three places was told by Doctors that he would never wrestle again. Flair however after a rigorous physiotherapy schedule was back in the ring after only 8 months, but the crash forced Flair to change his ring style to the more cerebral/technical style that he become known for, rather than the powerhouse/brawler style he used prior to the crash.

The rest of the decade saw Flair gradually climb the ranks within the NWA, accumulating a number of reigns with Undercard and Regional belts. Between 1974 and 1981, Flair's resume read: 3 reigns as NWA Mid Atlantic Tag Team Championship, 2 reigns as NWA Mid Atlantic Television Champion, 3 reigns as NWA Mid Atlantic Heavyweight Champion, 3 reigns as NWA World Tag Team Champion and 5 reigns as NWA United States Champion.

Flair's runs as the NWA United States Champion in particular would help build Flair as a future by the turn of the decade, feuding with the likes of Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine over the title. Perhaps Flair's true ascension towards stardom can be traced back to the year of 1978, where he started to refer to himself as 'The Nature Boy'. Inciting a feud with the original 'Nature Boy' Buddy Rogers, with Flair being put over by Rogers in the brief feud between them.

In September 1981 Flair completed his ascension towards the very top of the NWA when he defeated Dusty Rhodes for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Flair would go on to have a dominant 18 month long reign with the belt. With is savvy ring style, striking look and charismatic promo skills- Flair would cement himself as the crown jewel of the NWA, who were facing increasing competition from the ambitious Vince McMahon's WWF.

The next decade would see Flair go on to have seven more reigns as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, having prominent feuds with the likes of Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat and Sting amongst many others, whilst also being a founding member and leader of the Four Horseman stable, that would be the dominant heel group in the NWA throughout the latter half of the 80's and would continue to endure until the end of the next decade. Throughout the 80's Flair would also partake in occasional tours of Japan, working for AJPW where he would put up NWA World Heavyweight title defences against the likes of Riki Choshu, Jumbo Tsurata and Genichiro Tenryu.

The Match: The match-up itself was a bit of a political minefield, as WCW were in the process of breaking away from the NWA. Ric Flair was both the WCW and NWA World Heavyweight Champion at this point, but only his NWA title would be put on the line- even though the belt Flair actually carries to the ring with him is the WCW title- aka The Big Gold Belt.

The match itself ends up being a by the numbers Ric Flair match, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just not the forgotten classic it could have had the potential to have been back in the day. They both look to wear down their opponent and work over body parts at the start of the match in an attempt to synch in their signature submissions, before the second half turns into more of brawling affair, with Flair running through his usual bumping spots.

Flair gets busted open in an attempt to add more drama to the match, though in all honesty the bladejob feels a little out of place here and we get a ref bump before a finish clearly designed to protect the loser as much as possible.

Much like the IWGP Tag Team title match from earlier on the show, it has it's moments and it's solid enough to earn a mild recommendation to check the match but it doesn't quite blow you away, and in the main event slot that has to be seen as slightly disappointing.

Mildly Recommended

Overall Verdict on NJPW/WCW Starrcade in Tokyo Dome: Even though this third trip to the Tokyo Dome was far from perfect (with obvious low points in the Norton squash, Giant Gonzalez showcase and Choshu-Singh garbage), overall it ended up being a much better show than the previous years efforts and though the main event can be considered to be disappointing it's still a decent match and a whole lot better than some faux MMA garbage featuring Inoki or Hashimoto/Chono trying to carry a well past their sell by date Inoki and Sakaguchi to a passable match- which is what we got in previous years.

Highlights include the six-man Junior tag that ended up being a solid showcase for Brian Pillan, an excellent Junior title match between Liger and AKIRA and the still good but somewhat over-rated at the time, IWGP Tag Team title match between Sasaki/Hase and the Steiners.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Wed Feb 24, 2016 11:32 pm

It's the spring of 1991 as Liger has problems with a Blond Outlaw and Fujinami celebrates 20 years in the wrestling ring.

30th April 1991- NJPW Explosion Tour 1991 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)

Top Of The Super Juniors Finals/(Vacant) IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Norio Honaga

Top of the Super Juniors Tournament 1991: This was the second hosting of the Top of the Super Juniors Tournament after the original edition in 1988. Prior to the tournament the reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Jushin Thunder Liger vacated the title, with the winner of the tournament also being declared the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. The tournament was a 7 man round robin, that included Liger, Norio Honaga, David Finlay (Fit Finlay), Flyin' Scorpio (2 Cold Scorpio), Negro Casas, Owen Hart and Pegasus Kid (Chris Benoit).

Liger, Honaga, Pegasus Kid and Negro Casas were all tied on 8 pts after the round robin stage. Honaga then bested Pegasus Kid in one semi final, whilst Liger overcame Negro Casas to set up the Finals and IWGP Junior Championship match.

The Match: Honaga was of course the antithesis to Liger's combination of aerial grace and technical accument, instead working a more slower paced mix of power moves and dirty brawling- something that meshed well with his win by any means necessary heel character, something that perhaps gets lost on a lot of today's wrestlers- who still want to impress with flashy crowd pleasing offence even when they are working as a heel.

The match starts out with some relatively slow paced technical exchanges , with Honaga apparently looking to win by fair means. However when Liger crashes and burns on a plancha to the outside, the asshole switch goes off in Honaga's head and he tries to brutalize Liger with a powerbomb on the announce table and then goes into full dick mode when he tries to rip off Liger's mask.

Liger does manage to battle his way back into it, and the extended closing stretch is a compelling back and forth tussle, as both men desperately try anything to pick up the win- whether that's keeping their opponent down for the count long enough with a power move such as top-rope brainbuster or a suplex or simply looking to just sneak by with a quick roll-up. In the end though one man would just show they were more desperate for the victory than the other and go that extra mile to pick up the win.

Liger is of course as always excellent here, but take nothing away from Honaga- whilst his style might not be the most crowd pleasing, he was good value here as a win by any means necessary heel.

Recommended ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 31st May 1991- NJPW Super Heavy Crush 1991- The Legend of Dragon: Tatsumi Fujinami 20th Anniversary (Osaka Castle Hall)

Hiro Saito & Tatsutoshi Goto vs Kim Duk & Masanobu Kurisu

Kim Duk: Working under the name of Tiger Chung Lee, Duk had been with the WWF since 1983 but after five years of losing more often than not and only really picking up wins over jobbers- Duk would depart the WWF in January 1988.

He would then move on to the World Wrestling Council promotion in Puerto Rico, where he found himself being pushed as a bigger deal within that promotion, resulting in two runs with the WWC Caribbean Heavyweight Championship between September and February 1991.

In May 1991 Duk would return to NJPW for the first time since 1985 (when NJPW's then working relationship with WWF came to an end).

The Match: Hard to know who the crowd were supposed to cheer for here, as The Blond Outlaws were basically a band of disrespectful punks that resorted to cheap heel tactics, whilst their opponents were a pair of grumpy veterans who weren't afraid to fight dirty themselves.

I guess Kurisu and Duk were the de-facto faces here, as the Outlaws are the first to attempt to gain an advantage via unfair means, but as the match progresses the grizzled vets show that they are more than willing to fight dirty themselves.

The story they were going for, of the rule breaking punks meeting their match was fine enough in theory but the execution here made for a horrible match filled with pedestrian brawling and mind numbingly boring heel tactics from both teams. This match is so tediously bad, that it would make a match-up of Mananbu Nakanishi & Captain New Japan vs Cody Hall & Yujiro Takahashi look like a 5 star classic in comparison.

Kudos though for New Japan's willingness to show the history of their promotion, warts and all! _________________________________________________________________________ Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow & TNT vs Keiji Mutoh & Riki Choshu

TNT: Puerto Rican native Juan Rivera had a martial arts background and tried out for the WWF but was told to get more experience under his belt before he could be part of the WWF roster. Adopting the ring name of TNT and working a stereotypical martial arts gimmick, Rivera joined his home promotion of the World Wrestling Council.

As TNT he won his first championship in May 1987- the WWC North American Heavyweight Championship. Under the TNT gimmick Rivera would gradually work his way up to the top of the WWC card, and by the early 90's he had racked up a fine list of accomplishments within the Puerto Rican based promotion- Racking up 3 reigns each as the WWC Televison Champion and the WWC Caribbean Heavyweight Champion by the spring of 1991.
As well as regularly turning out for the World Wrestling Council, Rivera also worked a couple tours of Japan with AJPW in 1987 and 1988, albeit as little more than a gaijin enhancement talent. He would then make another trip to Japan in the autumn of 1990, but this time with NJPW.

The future Kwang/Savio Vega in the WWF would continue to split his time between the WWC in Puerto Rico and NJPW in Japan over the next three years, before finally achieving his goal of signing with the WWF in 1994.

The Match: This was a nice little 'showcase' tag that was worked at a fairly brisk pace and was pretty much non stop action from bell to bell. Mutoh had his working boots on here, which he usually did when he wasn't working the Muta gimmick, Choshu and Bigelow both pulled off some pretty impressive power spots and Savio...oh I mean TNT didn't really do much more than some stereotypical martial arts kicks and poses but he did OK and didn't look out of place in the ring.

What the match lacked in deep psychology or selling it made up for by doing away with needless slow build and rest holds and keeping the action constantly flowing.

Mildly Recommended _____________________________________________________________________________________________________

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Norio Honaga vs Jushin Thunder Liger

The Match: This feud is not too dissimilar to the Tanahashi vs Yano feud from last year in NJPW, with Liger playing the Tanahashi role as the superior skilled wrestler and Honaga in the Yano role, as his sneaky 'banana skin' of an opponent.

Liger dominates the early going making Honaga look completely out of his league but the Blond Outlaw member eventually resorts to what he knows best- fighting dirty, to not only get a foothold back in the match but turn things firmly in his favour.

Honaga then levels up even more on being a massive dick and rips Liger's mask right off. After Liger is able to take advantage of an opportunity to swing things back in his favour, instead of attempting to re-cover his face, he abandons the mask completely and proceeds with brutalizing Honaga.

Liger/Yamada busts Honaga open with a chair and he's hell bent on getting revenge for the un-masking. Thing is as Liger continues to focus on destroying Honaga (to the point that it looks like Liger literally wants to rip Honaga's face off), he loses focus on just winning the match and the more he travels down the path of brutality and revenge the more opportunity he gives Honaga to 'survive' and find a way to sneak another cheap victory over Liger.

This wasn't what you would call your typical Junior style showcase of high flying/technical exchanges and was definitely more of a character focused match built around wild brawling but it was the story they needed to tell at this point in the feud and anytime we get an un-masked and pissed Liger/Yamada it only leads to good things.

Recommended ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Different Style Fight: Randy Thornton vs Shinya Hashimoto

Randy Thornton: Thornton played for the Denver Broncos in the NFL as a Linebacker between 1988 and 1990. After his release from the Broncos, Thornton who had a background in martial arts, trained to be a pro wrestler under the tutleage of Brad Rheingans. He would debut for the AWA in May 1991, before being invited over to Japan to take on rising star Shinya Hashimoto in one of New Japan's worked MMA style bouts that were titled 'Different Style Fight's'

The Match: Inoki might have been semi retired in the ring at this point, but his influence on New Japan was still strong and if he wasn't going to partake in these pointless 'faux MMA' challenges, then he would happily send one of his roster members into battle- Hashimoto with his legit martial arts skills was chosen as the representative here.

Thornton wearing boxing gloves, seems to think this is a legit fight and appears to be pretty un-cooperative in putting Hashimoto over- which is what these fights were designed for- Inoki wanted to put his wrestlers in the ring against fighters from different backgrounds and use these fighters to make his wrestlers look strong.

Of course what happened a lot of the time, as was the case here is that the fighters from other backgrounds were pretty clueless when it came to pro wrestling, often turning the worked match into a legit fight- due to Thornton being a stubborn git, a light switched on in Hashimoto's head that he needed to legitimately bring it and when that happened Thornton found himself caught in a whirlwind.

As these faux MMA bouts in New Japan go, there have been far worse but this still felt like a waste of time and energy.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Masahiro Chono

The Match: Fujinami gets to defend the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in the very show dedicated to his 20 years in the wrestling game. Would he successfully defend his title or would Chono upset the party and signal a passing of the torch from the Fujinami/Choshu generation to the one headed up by Chono and his fellow three musketeers Hashimoto and Mutoh.

Fujinami was 37 years old coming into this match and probably felt that he a few more years yet left as a top of the card performer in New Japan, his opponent Chono is about ten years younger and entering the prime years of his career.

The match itself ends up being a slow burning, submission based affair, the only problem is that the limb work, lacks any kind of focus from either Fujinami or Chono. Technical mat based wrestling is great, when it looks like a limb is being worked over and it's actually leading to something, but when it's just an unfocused hodge podge as it was here at times it's a bit of a chore to sit through.

There's the odd injection of excitement and urgency, such as an exchange of slaps, a shoulder block to the outside from Chono and Fujinami showing that he's not washed up athletically with a tope suicida but the match never gets out of second gear.

I really wanted to like this match as it's got Fujinami in it after all, and thus far I've generally enjoyed Fujinami's work. But this match was disappointing and though I wouldn't necessarily say it was Fujinami's fault, I do wonder if there were signs here that this was the beginning of the decline for Fujinami in being able to deliver top quality matches and that he was entering that phase in his career where he would be trading more on his name and reputation more than his in-ring ability. I'd like to think though that there are few more good matches in 'the Dragon' yet and this was just a disappointing blip.

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