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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2016 12:48 am
The final instalment for 1991 see's the first ever G1- Climax finals, as 'The Three Musketeers' continue their elevation towards the summit of NJPW.
11th August 1991- NJPW Violent Storm in Kokukigan (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)
G1 Climax 1991 Finals: Keiji Mutoh vs Masahiro Chono
Since 1974 NJPW had hosted an annual tournament showcasing their best heavyweight pro wrestlers under a guise of various names: World League, MSG League and the IWGP League. 1989 saw the World Cup Tournament hosted, but no tournament was held in 1990.
The annual tournament was relaunched in the summer of 1991 under the name of the G-1 (Grade 1) Climax, which has endured to this day and has now become part of the fabric of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Since it's inception the G-1 Climax has often been used as a platform to push rising stars looking to take the leap from the midcard to superstar main event status.
The first ever G-1 Climax saw eight entrants divided into a two block Round Robin. Block A consisted of Keiji Mutoh, the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Tatsumi Fujnami, Big Van Vader and Scott Norton, whilst Block B consisted of Mashiro Chono, Shinya Hashimoto, Riki Choshu and Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow.
With victories over Big Van Vader and Tatsumi Fujinami Keiji Mutoh topped Block A to reach the finals. Over in Block B Chono and Hashimoto finished joint top, after a 30 minute timit draw following both scoring victories over both Choshu who shockingly finished bottom of the pile with zero points- (Choshu was the booker at the time and this was a selfless act on his behalf to help elevate three other talents) and Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow.
Chono and Hashimoto then fought again in a tie-breaker decision match, this time Chono was able to gain victory over Hashimoto to earn a place in the finals against Keiji Mutoh.
The Match: With Hashimoto also making it to the decision match, the first edition of the G-1 Climax is generally seen as the moment, NJPW began to put their faith in the 'Three Musketeers' as the new aces of the promotion....
And if this match is anything to go by, then they had good reason to do just that. They work the epic main event formula, slowly building up from technical submission based work before gradually gathering pace and intensity that leads into a back and forth battle of wills. Just when it looks like one of them has the match in the bag, their opponent was consistently able to do enough to survive or turn the momentum in their favour by having each other well scouted. The crowd really help too, responding with electric fervour to everything Mutoh or Chono tried with desperation and determination to gain the victory and prove themselves the best of the best.
It's a match that hasn't dated one bit, with work-rate and move-sets that wouldn't look at all out of place in today's NJPW. If you are desperate to nit-pick over something, then the early submission work doesn't really play into the finish but it's a minor grumble and it's only something you would notice, if you were specifically critiquing the match. In the end the drama and flow of the match, ends up over-riding any pernickity flaws to be found in either man's work.
23rd September 1991- NJPW Memorial Battle in Yokohama (Yokohama Arena)
Black Cat, Kengo Kimura, Osamu Kido & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Brad Armstrong, Great Kokina, Pegasus Kid & Wild Samoan
Black Cat: The son of Huroki Sito (a luchador in his prime during the 1960's), Victor Mar Manuel followed his father into the sport of wrestling in 1977, wrestling under the ring name of Kuroneko (like his father he worked a faux oriental gimmick).
His early career saw him work as a midcarder for the UWA promotion, before moving to Japan to join NJPW in 1981, working under the translated name of Black Cat - occasionally making the odd excursion back to Mexico to work for the UWA, due to the two promotions working relationship at the time.
Despite never winning any championships, Black Cat would go on to establish himself as a respected and dependable part of the New Japan undercard over the next decade.
Brad Armstrong: The second son of 'Bullet' Bob Armstrong, Brad made his pro wrestling debut at just 18 years of age in 1980 for the NWA's Alabama based territory South Eastern Championship Wrestling. With natural in-ring ability ,marketable looks and with the pedigree of his father's name behind him, Brad got an instant push in SECW, winning the NWA South Eastern Tag Team Championship with his father at the end of the year.
Over the next five years working for SECW, as well as the Georgia Championship Wrestling and Mid Atlantic (Jim Crockett Promotion's) territories, Brad would rack up an impressive number of championship reigns (albeit none of the title reigns he had were never all that long) that included 4 more reigns with the South Eastern Tag straps, three runs each with the NWA South Eastern United States Junior and NWA United States Junior Championships plus two runs each with the NWA National and NWA National Tag Team Championships.
In 1986 Brad would go on his first tour of Japan, to compete for AJPW where he would take part in a tournament to crown the first AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Champion- where he would lose to Hiro Saito in the finals of the tournament.
On his return to America Brad would find more success in the Alabama territory, now called the Continental Wrestling Federation, where he would feud with Jerry Stubbs over the Continental Heavyweight Championship , he would then move on to Bill Watts UWF winning the UWF Tag Team Championship, alongside Tim Horner as 'The Lightning Express'.
Armstrong then once again found himself part of the JCP roster (soon to become WCW) when the UWF was absorbed, but over the next few years he would struggle to find the same level of success working for the nationally ambitious WCW, that he did working for the old territories of the NWA-perhaps due to a perceived lack of charisma.
In May 1991, WCW finally began to take an interest in Armstrong and gave him something of a push for the first time in three years. However the (mini)push would come with a gimmick change, where he would wrestle under a mask and with the name Badstreet. Joining the Fabulous Freebirds stable, going on to win the short lived WCW Six Man titles alongside Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin.
Via WCW's working relationship with NJPW, Armstrong would then return to Japan for the first time since 1986, where he would work a short tour in September 1991, wrestling unmasked and under his real name.
Great Kokina: Later to become better known for his run in the WWF under the ring name of Yokozuna, Rodney Anoa'i, would be trained by his uncles the Wild Samoan's Afa and Sika, before making his in-ring career in 1984.
Wrestling under the ring name of The Great Kokina, he went on his first tour of Japan with NJPW in 1988 and over the next three years would be invited back to tour with NJPW on a regular basis- even earning a couple of IWGP Tag Team title shots alongside his cousin Samu (Wild Samoan) as the 'Samoan Swat Team' and as part of a monster heel duo with Big Van Vader.
His early career also saw him wrestle in the AWA under the name of Kokina Maximus and in Mexico for the UWA promotion, where he would win the trio's title alongside fellow members of the Anoa'i family clan Fatu (later to be Rikishi in the WWF) and Samoan Savage (Tama).
Wild Samoan: Trained by his father Afa and uncle Sika, Samula Anoa'i made his pro wrestling debut in 1980. In 1983 Samula would enter the WWF, supporting his father and uncle who were the defending WWF Tag Team Champions and for a while subbed in for the injured Sika to help defend the titles.
In 1984 the Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika) left the WWF but Samula remained and with the WWF's working relationship with NJPW still in effect at that time, would go on tours of Japan working under the name of 'Wild Samoan'.
Samula would leave the WWF at the beginning of the year in 1985 and for the next few years would split his time between more tours of Japan with NJPW and the Montreal based International Wrestling, working under the name of The Great Samu- that included a brief reign with the International Wrestling title.
In late 1987 whilst still working for International Wrestling, Samula formed a tag team with his cousin Solofa Fatu- that would become known as the Samoan Swat Team. The duo moved on to the Puerto Rico based World Wrestling Council, where they defeated Invader I and Invader II to become the first ever WWC Caribbean Tag Team Champions.
The Samoan Hit squad would then move on to the Von Erich's Texas based World Class Championship Wrestling- where they would have three reigns with the World Class Tag Team Championship, before moving on to WCW in 1989. After an initially promising push in WCW fizzled out, they left WCW the next year.
Samu would then continue to team with his cousins Fatu and Rodney Anoa'i (The Great Kokina) under the Samoan Swat Team banner on the US Independent circuit, in Japan with NJPW and with the UWA in Mexico.
The Match: Few things to note, Benoit retained the Pegasus Kid name whilst working in NJPW but had unmasked at this point (of course once again perfectly understandable if you would want to skip this match due to Benoit's presence in it.) The future Yokozuna 'The Great Kokina' is still a big unit here (trying to be polite here and not say a word that starts in f and ends in t), but he's not looking as hefty as he did in the WWF. I think once he got to the WWF he must have been encouraged to put on more weight to look like even more of a monster, eventually though he had put on too much weight for even the WWF's liking.
As for the match itself, this was a completely unremarkable 'two star special' multi-man filler tag that saw the gaijin heel unit control most of the match through a combination of dirty tactics and simply being stronger/faster than their ageining opponents. The only real interest in this match here, is if you're desperate to see Yokozuna (Kokina) in an NJPW ring.
Big Van Vader vs Scott Norton
Scott Norton: Since his debut in December 1990, Norton had been pushed as the next big dominant gaijin powerhouse- rarely losing and often being booked to look dominant with squash victories. His strong push was confirmed when he was booked to be part of the inaugural G-1 Climax- where he drew with the reigning IWGP champion Tatsumi Fujinami , scored a victory over eventual finalist Keiji Mutoh and only lost to Big Van Vader via countout.
The Match: Since his controversial debut in 1987 Big Van Vader had been the dominant monster/powerhouse in NJPW, highlighted by three runs as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion- Norton as the new unstoppable force on the block was trying to surpass Vader. This wasn't the first time they had met during 1991, with Norton even scoring a victory over Vader- but it came via countout, and to truly prove that he could have the beating of Vader in the eyes of the fans, Norton needed to beat Vader clean in the middle of the ring.
This is a match that might be best enjoyed with a rack of ribs and a bottle of good Ol' J.R's barbecue sauce, because this was a pure hoss fight that consisted almost entirely of two testerone fuelled beasts ramming into each other and grunting a lot. If the idea of that appeals strongly to you, then you might want to check this match out, but there's little here to recommend beyond being a wet dream for hoss fight fans. At the very least the match was given a strong finish, that helped to elevate one of it's combatants.
Different Style Fight: Shinya Hashimoto vs Tony Halme
Tony Halme: A former member of the Finnish Military, Halme first entered into combat sports by competing in show-fighting and boxing. He was then trained to be a pro-wrestler by Verne Gagne before debuting in Herb Abrams' California based UWF (not to be confused with the Bill Watts UWF or the Japanese UWF) before making his way to Japan to compete in NJPW.
Halme was put over strong on his arrival in Japan where he was instantly pushed as an ultra tough legitimate prize fighter, winning a series of Different Style Fights, that saw him score a victories over rising star Shinya Hashimoto.
The Match: Hashimoto was looking for revenge here against Halme, having being unable thus far to get the better of the Finnish import.
Usually these Rounds based Different Style Fights, range from just about watchable to absolutely dreadful but this one actually ending up being pretty captivating and about 95% of that is down to Hashimoto, as all Halme did was pretty much stand there and punch Hash with his boxing gloves. To Halme's credit he did at least play up to being the scumbag foreigner by throwing the odd hissy fit whenever the fervently pro Hashimoto crowd got on his case, helping to add extra heat to the match.
What Hashimoto does well here is, that you can see that he has a game plan to get weaken Halme's legs and take away the big Finns base- he has to bravely fight through a barrage of heavy punches from Halme in order to see his plan come to fruition and his selling is right on point whenever Halme is able to connect with a haymaker.
I'd still rather watch a proper wrestling match but to get something not only watchable but actually enjoyable from this type of match-up, spoke volumes of just how good Hashimoto was becoming and how he was really starting to catch fire with the New Japan fanbase.
Here's a sobering observation from this match, Chris Benoit was one of Tony Halme's seconds for the match, so it's eerie to think that both would end up taking their own lives
Great Muta vs Tatsumi Fujinami
The Match: Fujinami was still the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, but this was a non title match- against Keiji Mutoh's 'evil' alter-ego.
For better or worse this ended up being a typical 'Great Muta' match, with Mutoh's demonic character controlling most of the match by looking to destroy Fujinami by various nefarious means. Whilst Mutoh's commitment to the character was admirable, differing greatly from 'himself' by working more methodical stalkerish, it does at times come across as simple lazy and it is frustrating to think you could have been having a much more dynamic and exciting match if this was simply Fujinami vs Mutoh.
You can see the story they were going for here, as Fujinami tried to battle through Muta's dirty heel bullshit, with his frustrations seeping through towards the end of the match, such as pushing the ref aside when Muta finds himself trapped in a corner down the stretch; but the plodding nature of the match sometimes makes it feel longer than it's actual running time.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2016 11:54 pm
After the three previous Tokyo Dome shows drew good business, Inoki finally settled on an annual date that the Dome show would take place, settling for January 4th- a tradition that has continued to this day, though one that many feel should be abolished due to the set date not always falling on a weekend.
As with the previous years Tokyo Dome show, this was a joint venture with WCW presented under the Starrcade banner.
In this update I take a look at the first half of the show.....
January 4th 1992- NJPW/WCW Starrcade 1992 in Tokyo Dome
Black Cat vs Hiroyoshi Yamamoto
Hiroyoshi Yamamoto: Later to become better known under the ring name of Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hiroyoshi Yamamoto was about one year into his wrestling career coming into this match, having made his in-ring debut in January 1991.
The Match: Not yet Tenzan looks wildly different here, sporting a skinny undeveloped build along with regulation tights and a regulation haircut.
We join the match in progress, with Black Cat bossing the young lion that continues to be the theme for the rest of the match but Not yet Tenzan puts up a plucky fight and even manages to get in some token offence against the veteran, that includes a swandive headbutt.
It ultimately leads to Black Cat being forced to step up his game and increase the potency of his offence in order to cut off the young lions gutsy resistance. Only a year into his in-ring career, Not Yet Tenzan did well here and showed plenty of glimpses of future promise.
Kantaro Hoshino & Kengo Kimura vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi & Osamu Kido
The Match: All four of the competitors at this point in their career are just hanging around on the NJPW roster as respected veterans/nostalgia acts. The last time any of these four held a championship was Kimura, with the IWGP Tag straps back in 1988 alongside Tatsumi Fujinami. It's utterly perplexing as to why this filler was booked on the show, when the NJPW roster at the time could have provided plenty more potentially interesting match-ups than this one.
As with the opening contest, we join this one in progress and on this occassion it's probably no bad thing that they skip on what is most likely a fairly tedious feeling out process. The kindest thing you could say about this match, is that you can't fault the genuine effort put in by all four men here, but only really former Junior Division mainstay Kobayashi looks as though he would be able to keep up with those in their prime.
All in all though far from the worst wrestling match you will see, this was bland wrestling 101 executed by four men past their prime, well and truly past it in Hoshino's case.
Blond Outlaws: Norio Honaga, Hiro Saito & Super Strong Machine vs Jushin Thunder Liger, AKIRA & Masashi Aoyagi.
Norio Honaga: Blond Outlaw member established himself as the top heel in the Junior Division the previous year with a heated feud against Liger. He entered this match as the reigning IWGP Junior champion since November, after defeating AKIRA to begin his second reign with the belt.
Jushin Thunder Liger: The Junior Division ace would vacate the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title prior to the Top of the Super Juniors tournament in April, where he would be defeated by Norio Honaga in the finals. Liger would then engage in a heated feud with Honaga, finally over-coming Honaga's nefarious tactics to win the belt back in June, only to fail in his first defence of his fourth reign with the title against Akira Nogami two months later.
In December Liger would take an excursion to America to compete in WCW- as part of the working agreement between the two promotions- where he would defeat Flyin' Brian Pillman for the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship in his debut match.
AKIRA: Akira Nogami reached the top of the Junior division summit when he defeated Jushin Thunder Liger for the IWGP Junior belt in August but would see his reign brought to an end in November by Norio Honaga.
Masashi Aoyagi: Unlike the majority of fighters introduced via the Different Style Fight, Karateka Aoyagi would end up fully integrating himself into the NJPW roster, becoming a regular fixture on the New Japan undercard in 1991, and save for a couple of Karateka vs Boxer matches against Tony Halme, competed mostly in standard wrestling matches whilst still being pushed with his karate based gimmick.
The Match: Purple must of be the fashion choice for masked competitors in January 1992 as both Liger and Super Strong Machine are sporting purple versions of their ring gear for the Tokyo Dome.
That perhaps is more interesting than this meaningless six man, which much like the geriatric tag preceeding it isn't a badly executed match per se but is just utterly bland and forgettable and a complete waste of Liger's talent. They could easily put on something more meaningful here, such as a champion vs champion match between Liger and Honaga or a re-match from last years Tokyo Dome show between Liger and Akira. As it turns out this was indeed build towards another Liger vs Honaga match, but using a match to build to another match on the biggest show of the year, never sit right with me.
Michiyoshi Ohara & Shiro Koshinaka vs. The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko)
Michoyoshi Ohara: A young lion with a combat sports background in Judo, Ohara made his pro wrestling debut in June 1990.
The Match: This is the first match from this show to be shown in full and not have the opening 'feeling out' process clipped, though in all honesty the might as well have done the same for this match, as this was yet another competent but bland filler tag on a show that feels as though it's comprised entirely of that thus far. They worked more of a standard American formula here, with the gaijin heels controlling the pace of the match, before the babyfaces attempt to make a spirited comeback.
Dusty Rhodes & Dustin Rhodes vs. Kim Duk & Masa Saito
Dusty Rhodes: Dusty Rhodes began his wrestling career in 1968, and was initially packaged as a rule breaking villain, as part of the Texas Outlaws tag team alongside Dick Murdoch. However Rhodes natural charisma, entertaining promo's and his rotund physique that the man in the street could relate to evenutally saw Rhodes turned babyface in the mid 70's. Referring to himself as 'The American Dream' Rhodes becoming a blue collar hero for the American Everyman.
Throughout the 70's and into the 80's Rhodes would work for a variety of promotions in both America and Japan, working for various territories of the NWA, the AWA, the WWWF and both AJPW and NJPW. However it was in the NWA's Championship Wrestling from Florida territory, that included 10 reigns as the NWA Florida Heavyweight Champion.
In 1979 Rhodes defeated Harley Race for the NWA World Heavyweight title for the first time but immediately lost it back to Race just 5 days later in a re-match. Rhodes second run as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion would come 2 years later, when he defeated Roddy Piper for the title in the Mid Atlantic territory, before losing the belt around 2 months later to Ric Flair.
By the mid 80's Rhodes like many of the NWA's top talent began to make the Mid Atlantic territory under the banner of Jim Crockett Promotion's their priority. In October 1985, whilst feuding with Ric Flair Rhodes would cut his famous 'Hard Times' promo- considered by many to be the greatest wrestling promo of all time- it helped Rhodes Blue Collar Working Class hero character resonate even further with the American masses.
Rhodes would eventually get the better of his nemesis Flair a year later, when he defeated Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship- however Flair as with Harley Race in Rhodes first reign with the NWA's top prize, won the belt back in a re-match.
During his stint with Jim Crockett Promotions, Dusty Rhodes would also take over the book, where he would help to establish the idea of supercards, such as the annual Starrcade and become known for the 'Dusty Finish' a particular match ending, that resulted in a referee being knocked out and the original decision of the match being over-turned.
When Turner Broadcasting purchased JCP and evolved it into WCW, they laid down stricter rules on blood letting. Irriated by their interference, Rhodes booked himself in a match at Starrcade 1988 against the Road Warriors, that included a spot where Animal pulled a spike out from his shoulder pad and jabbed it into Rhodes eye, causing a severe laceration. Rhodes defiance over the blood letting policy, ultimately resulted in him being fired from WCW.
In mid 1989, Dusty Rhodes would sign for the WWF, however many felt that Rhodes (who was given a yellow polka dotted ring attire for much of his run) was mistreated as a joke during his time with the WWF, with his strong connections to the NWA/WCW counting against him. Following a match where he would tag with his son Dustin against Ted Dibiase and Virgil at the 1991 Royal Rumble- Rhodes would leave the WWF .
The following year Rhodes would be rehired by WCW as both an in-ring competitor and in an off-screen capacity as part of a booking committee.
Dustin Rhodes: Making is in-ring debut in 1988 Dustin Runnels, would follow in his father's footsteps by competing under the Rhodes name. He would begin competing for the Championship Wrestling from Florida promotion, which would change it's name to the Professional Wrestling Federation. Rhodes would win the PWF Tag team and PWF Florida championship's during his tenture there, whilst his early career also saw him compete as a low undercard worker in WCW, where he would form the Texas Broncos tag team with Kendall Windham and go on tours to Japan to compete for AJPW.
In 1990 Rhodes would follow his father to compete in the WWF, but he would achieve little of note during his first run there and would leave the WWF, alongside his father after the 1991 Royal Rumble.
Rhodes would soon be back in WCW, his second stint with the WWF's rivals would see Rhodes gain a stronger push with 'The Natural' Dustin Rhodes gimmick, that started to translate into some minor championship success that included a run with the short lived WCW Six man belts alongside Big Josh (Matt Borne) and Z-Man and more significantly the WCW Tag Team Championship alongside Ricky Steamboat.
The Match: Another meaningless filler tag, another 15 minutes of my life I won't be getting back, after watching this dross. Dusty Rhodes Junior (as the commentator calls Dustin throughout the match) is the only one who seems to be putting in any kind of real effort, where as his past their sell by date opponents and his father (who lets face it always got by more on his charisma, than work-rate) pretty much take it easy all match, competing in what seems to be a different time period (a.k.a the 1970s) to Dusty Junior.
Scott Norton vs Tony Halme
The Match: Both Norton and Halme were being given strong pushes as gaijin powerhouses, Norton as a babyface that can could stand up to the monster heels and Halme as a foreign bully.
It is expected for the most part a stereotypical hoss fight with simplistic brawling and plenty of grunting- but that's not necessarily the bad thing about this match. Instead of just going flat out for five minutes, they decide to drag it out with tedious rest-holds such as headlock- where at points you can clearly here Norton giving Halme instructions on what to do next, such as telling Halme to 'Hit Me' whilst he has the Finnish lump in a headlock. I know most wrestling fans are intelligent enough to realise that the match isn't a shoot, but they could have at least tried to maintain the illusion.
This literally was an advert for lots of brawn, very little brain.
It's pretty safe to say that the first half of the 1992 Tokyo Dome show was the drizzling shits- surely it picks up in the second half? It certainly can't get any worse can it.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 12:23 pm
Here's the second half of Starrcade in Tokyo Dome 1992.....Can the second half save the show, or will it continue on the path towards being one of the worst wrestling cards in history.....
January 4th 1992- NJPW/WCW Starrcade 1992 in Tokyo Dome- Part 2
Bill Kazmaier vs Shinya Hashimoto
Bill Kazmaier: Wisconsin native Bill Kazmaier first came to prominence as a power lifter when he broke the world bench press record in 1979. Kazmaier then moved into strongman competions, where he won the title of World's Strongest man three times in a row between 1980 and 1982. In fact Kazmaier was so dominant, that the organizers of the Worlds Strongest Man competition did not invite Kazmaier back for years, over fears of him being too dominant and making the competition a foregone conclusion.
During his run as a strongman , Kazmaier also seeked to apply his physical gifts to other sports- he had a try out with the NFL's Green Bay Packers in 1981 and then after training from Verne Gagne and Brad Rheingans dipped his toe into Professional Wrestling having brief runs with Stampede in Canada and Continental Championship Wrestling during the 1980's.
In the summer of 1991 he would get his biggest exposure as a Pro Wrestler when he joined WCW, even getting a push strong enough to earn a couple of shots at the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
The Match: For some reason the bright sparks in the NJPW offices at the time must have thought the way to build upon Hash's growing popularity was to give him turd polishing exercises such as this one.
Kazmaier is still pretty green as a wrestler, and he basically works a generic 1980's meathead style with lots of strongman spots and lazy no selling. He's terrible and it's a complete waste of time having him paired up with Hashimoto, even if Hash is possibly one of the best options on the New Japan roster to drag something even passable out of wrestling faeces.
In the end Hashimoto pretty much just resorts to counter-acting Kazmaier's crappy strongman spots and no selling with legsweeps- which at least leads to the right finish even if the match itself was a brain fart of an idea of the first place.
Big Van Vader vs El Gigante
Big Van Vader: Through the working agreement between NJPW and WCW In 1991 Vader started to take regular trips back home to the U.S to compete for WCW. He was still more of an NJPW wrestler at this point, but this would be his final year as an NJPW roster member, before becoming a full time WCW wrestler.
The Match: Was the person or persons booking this show drunk to the point of being horizontal when putting together the card for it? Because who in their right mind, would think this match up was a good idea?!
Vader attempted to have something that might resemble a wrestling match with Gigante, but he probably would been better served just stiffing the shit out of the useless stick. The match seals it's place into the wrestlecrap annuals by finishing in a double count out cop out, where WCW clearly wanted to protect both of their monsters came after Vader survived a Brain Claw from Gigante.
Antonio Inoki vs Hiroshi Hase
Hiroshi Hase: In November 1991 Hase would win the IWGP Tag Team Championship for a third time, this time teaming alongside Keiji Mutoh (Was he blissfully unaware of his nemesis The Great Muta being the alter-ego of Mutoh?!) when he defeated Rick Steiner and Scott Norton (subbing in for an injured Scott Steiner) for the straps.
The Match: This match pitted arguably the most criminally underpushed wrestler in NJPW history in Hiroshi Hase against the most self serving wrestler in NJPW history in Antonio Inoki.
At this point in his career Inoki was only wrestling a few time's a year. So do you think he's going to be putting an up and coming talent in Hase? But it's Egonoki, so you probably know where this is going.
The work in the match isn't bad, save for a middle portion where it falls apart with some stalling that was probably shoved into the match to help with the ageing Inoki's increasingly failing cardio. Hase actually gets to look good for portions of the match, tossing around Inoki with Uranage's, but it consistently looks like he has to put in twice the effort of Inoki, who ever is put over as some almighty godlike competitor that can down his opponent with ease.
Despite the urge to eye-roll at Inoki taking over down the stretch, they did at least make Hase put up a brave fight against a barrage of Enziguri's from Egonoki, rather than simply just being knocked out after one.
Had they not squandered the chance to put over someone in a huge way here, rather than Inoki once again jerking himself off- then this may have earned a recommendation, as it is at least it was an improvement on the tri-fecta of wank that proceeded it.
The Great Muta & Sting vs The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
The Match: Sting and Muta had been fierce rivals, so it must have been surprising to see them fighting together, I'm guessing the logic here is that Sting must have felt that in order to beat the Steiners he would need to enlist the help of his toughest rival and he must have admittedly thought of all the wars that Muta put him through.
Clocking in at just over 11 minutes, this match was worked as a non stop action packed sprint with the Steiners doing their thing, by suplexing their opponents from pillar to post. Muta especially gets treated like a rag doll, and whilst there is a fair amount of no selling from Muta, people complaining about that would kind of be missing the point, being somewhat impervious to pain is part of his supernatural-esque character.
Mutoh, sporting blue face paint here- works the match more like a hybrid of his Muta persona and as himself- maintaining the Muta mannerisms but doing away with the stalling and cheating you would typically associate with a Muta match- which is no bad thing, as that would have ended up dragging the match down.
Following a frantic closing stretch with dives to the floor, the match finishes in a messy controversial manner- it's the sort of finish that would normally frustrate, but on this occasssion it works in the context of the match with the referee simply unable to keep pace with the combatants.
Finally we have a breakthrough, as this steaming turd of a Tokyo Dome show, actually has a match worth seeking out.
WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Lex Luger vs Masahiro Chono
Lex Luger: Prior to becoming a wrestler, Larry Pfohl spent six years as an American Football Offensive Lineman, primarily playing for teams in the CFL and USFL. Whilst playing for the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits he would play alongside fellow future WCW wrestler Ron Simmons.
After a meeting with former Olympian Bob Roop, Pfohl was encouraged to make the switch to pro wrestling. After training under Hiro Matsuda, Pfohl adopted the ring name of Lex Luger, due to sounding similar to the comic book villain Lex Luthor, of whom he was a fan.
Luger made his in-ring debut in the autumn of 1985 and spent much of the early years of his career wrestling for the NWA Florida territory, where he would go on to hold the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship three times. Just one year into his career Luger would challenge Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, where he would take Flair to a time limit draw.
In 1987 Luger would move on to the Mid Atlantic territory of the NWA, that would eventually evolve into WCW. For the next few years Luger would be given a substantial push, where he was heavily involved with the Four Horsemen, first as a member and then as a rival. Between 1987 and 1991 Luger would hold the NWA United States Championship four times, and also hold the NWA World Tag Team Championship alongside Barry Windham.
In the summer of 1991 Luger became the Number 1 contender to Ric Flairs WCW World Heavyweight Championship, but a planned Steel Cage match, where the title could change hands on a DQ never occurred, after Flair walked out on WCW following disagreements over his salary.
With the WCW World Heavyweight Championship now vacant, despite Flair taking the actual physical belt with him. Luger battled former tag partner Barry Windham in a cage match at the 1991 Great American Bash, where he would emerge victorious and become the WCW World Champion. Luger would then have a controversial feud with Ron Simmons, before ending the year defending the belt against Rick Steiner.
The Match: Luger was starting to have his own contractual issues with WCW at this point, so the question here was would WCW continue to back a champion that be another walk out risk or take the risk of putting their belt on a Japanese import contracted to another promotion.
Luger was a wrestler that managed to get the the top, simply because he had 'The Look', he wasn't particularly charismatic and his ring skills were mediocre at best. The bulk of the match see's Chono trying to wear down Luger with some submissions, whilst the champ flexes and does generic powerhouse spots.
To be fair they do step it up in the closing stretch, after Chono escapes a torture rack attempt from Luger, that leads to a neat series of near-falls where each of them try to sneak victory via various roll-up attempts. Unfortunately the match is thrown into the shitter right at the end, when it all ends on a crappy low blow/double axe handle combination.
Even with the B.S finish, this ended up being one of the better matches on the show, but only because there was so many abominations that proceeded it.
Title vs Title- IWGP Heavyweight Championship/Greatest 18 Club Championship : Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu
Tatsumi Fujinami: In his fourth reign as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, 'The Dragon' had held the belt since March, having defeated Big Van Vader for the belt. Fujinami would then go on to defeat Ric Flair at the first Starrcade in Tokyo Dome, in another champion vs champion match, where he won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Flair.
Flair would win back the NWA belt on home-soil, in a re-match at WCW Superbrawl but Fujinami would continue to successfully defend the IWGP belt with a pair of defenses against Masahiro Chono.
Riki Choshu: Choshu was awarded the Greatest 18 Club Title (which physically was the old NJPW/WWF Martial Arts vanity belt that Inoki sporadically defended) the previous year and he would go on to successfully defend the title against Tiger Jeet Singh and Shinya Hashimoto.
The Match: The main event of what was thus far a poor (and I'm being kind there) show, pitted the IWGP Champion in Fujinami, against the Greatest 18 Club champion in Riki Choshu. This wasn't a unification match, but whoever won would get to hold both titles.
I'll get straight to the point this was a disappointing main event, it only last's around 12 minutes but everything about the match feels sluggish, with both Fujinami and Choshu working it like a slow paced 1970's match. All in all it was a match that only seemed to hammer home the point, that both of them were past their prime and really should have been stepping aside for the next generation- something that seemed to be happening after the first G-1 but here we were with the two old timers Fujinami and Choshu in the main event, continuing on their decade old rivalry.
Despite being generational rivals, I've never actually been blown away by a Fujinami vs Choshu match- they would have good matches against other opponents but from what I've seen they never hit it out of the park against each other, and a match between them past their prime, never stood much chance of being anything other than mediocre and simply trading on their past accomplishments.
Delving into the past matches, I've reviewed on here- personally I've always found Choshu to be hit and miss. Fujinami on the other hand, was in my opinion one of the best workers in NJPW throughout the 80's (To my eyes he was the first of a line of wrestlers that went against the strike and submission style established by Inoki, instead working a style that combined technical accumen with athleticism, that continued with Keiji Mutoh and on to Hiroshi Tanahashi), but for me he had lost a step after returning from the serious back injury that put him out of action for over a year between June 1989 and September 1990.
Overall Show Verdict: This show might have done great business, drawing 50,000 fans (though as always we are never sure how many actually paid) but what the fans came to see (with the exception of Sting/Muta vs The Steiners) was pretty much dross from top to bottom. It appeared in those heady days, wrestling was so popular in Japan that they could literally get away with getting the fans to pay money for old rope.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 12:02 am
This update looks at the feud centred around members of the NJPW roster battling against Karate invaders.
8th February 1992- NJPW Fighting Spirit 1992 (Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo)
Akitoshi Saito vs Michoyoshi Ohara
Akitoshi Saito: Saito followed his Karate sensei Masashi Aoyagi into the pro wrestling business, making his debut for the small indie Pioneer Senshi in December 1990, before going on to work for the Garbage wrestling promotion W*ING, formed by defectors from FMW. In 1992 Saito would join his mentor Ohara, as the pair would try to prove that their Karate based skills were stronger than those only versed in pro wrestling, in a feud that primarily pitted them against former Junior Division standouts Kuniaki Kobayashi and Shiro Koshinaka.
The Match: Saito has actually made his debut with a victory over Kobayashi, that immediately put him over as a threat. Ohara comes out with plenty of fire, but ends up getting the snot beaten out of him and ends up a bloody mess.
The wrestling itself was in the kindest of words messy, but there was plenty of intensity there as the Saito's fellow Karate dojo crew ended up engaging in handbags with the tracksuited wrestlers (For some reason every NJPW roster member seemed to be issued with a gaudy purple shellsuit with their name written on the back).
Post match Saito decides to be a massive dick and continues to lay into a bloodied and beaten Ohara- that leads to a massive melee between the Karateka's and the NJPW roster, where we get to see a young Satoshi Kojima attempting to lay the smackdown on some nameless Karate dude.
Normally these Wrestling vs other combat sport angles are a waste of time, but this one already had an intensity that made it feel different and that it would actually end up leading to something.
Mild Recommendation, for the general angle more than the match itself.
9th March 1992- NJPW Big Fight Series 1992 (Kyoto Prefectural Gymnasium)
Akitoshi Saito & Masashi Aoyagi vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi & Shiro Koshinaka
The Match: Kobayashi and Koshinaka are looking for instant revenge, over the hellacious beating young lion Michoyoshi Ohara endured the previous night at the hands of Saito and restore some honour to the NJPW roster.....
This ended up being another wild and violent chapter in the history of the feud. This was another messy brawl, with all four competitors in the ring at all times, however the blood fuelled intesity managed to keep things interesting. The story being told here, was that the pro wrestlers were able to seize the momentum by being able to mix it up by bringing techncial mat skills into the mix, alongside being able to brawl, however the Karateka's ferocious striking always kept them in the fight.
The match appears to end when one of the combatants gets seriously busted open around their eye- causing a stoppage. However the referee then allowed a replacement to come into the ring, only for the replacement to be utterly useless and have no effect what so ever in turning the tide of the match in his team's favour.
30th April 1992- NJPW Explosion Tour 1992 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)
Different Style Fight: Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Akitoshi Saito
The Match: We were now getting towards the decisive point of this two month feud, as Kobayashi looked to avenge his loss to Saito the previous month.
This was titled as a different style fight, but save for Saito the Karate guy wearing his Karate gear inside the ring, this was just a regular wrestling match.
Saito seemed to have learned some grappling skill which made him a slightly more unpredictable proposition for Kobayashi to deal with. As with the previous matches in this feud, this soon turns very violent, as Saito gets busted open and ends up with a blood soaked Gi, following a series of vicious headbutts from Kobayashi, to the point that he looks like he's just walked off the set of a splatterhouse horror movie.
1st May 1992- NJPW Explosion Tour 1992 (Chiba Port Arena)
Different Style Fight: Shiro Koshinaka vs Masahi Aoyagi
The Match: The conclusion to the feud saw Koshinaka battle against the leader of the Karate Dojo invaders Aoyagi. Would Koshinaka prove New Japan Pro Wrestling to be the king of sports and send the Karateka's packing with their tails between their legs?
The story being told here is that Koshinaka has to endure and find an opening amongst Aoyagi's barrage of kicks. Koshinaka sells each of Aoyagi's kicks as though he's being hit with concrete throughout the fight, but Aoyagi's predictability and Koshinaka's more flexible skill set allows him to stay in the fight.
It's a simple formula that they executed well, with the Karateka's being put over as superior strikers/brawlers but the pro wrestlers being put over as better all round fighters. Whilst this wasn't anywhere near as violent as the Kobayashi vs Saito match, this one probably ended up being a more complete match and a fine conclusion to a feud that could have ended up being a disaster but surprisingly turned out to be pretty good.
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Big Van Vader & Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase
The Match: Vader and Bigelow won the Tag titles from Mutoh and Hase in March, this was a rematch for the belts with Mutoh and Hase looking to become two time champions together.
Through a combination of teamwork, strategy and just sheer fighting spirit Mutoh and Hase managed to control the early portion of the match, but the size and strength of their opponents meant that they were never quite able to wear down either Vader or Bigelow for long enough.
The tide then turned in the favour of the super heavyweight pairing, when they latched on to the fact that Hase was covering over cut on his forehead with a bandage. Ripping the bandage off, they went right after opening up the wound, leading to Hase sporting a crimson mask and desperately staggering around in the 'wrong part of town'
With encouragement from the crowd and his partner, Hase somehow manages to muster up the fighting spirit to get Mutoh back into the match, and give the challengers a fighting chance. A frantic closing stretch, see's Mutoh and Hase desperately trying to keep Bigelow on the outside looking in, whilst they try to put away Vader with waves after waves of attacks, only to find that the behemoth pairing are extremely hard to keep down.
There are one or two moments where the match starts to feel a little disjointed, but overall this was an enthralling tag team match, with three distinct acts that managed to make up one compelling whole.
This Tag Team run for Bigelow and Vader would prove to be the final significant action for the two most prominent gaijin big men of the late 80's/early 90's era of NJPW, as Bigelow would return to the WWF later in the year, whilst Vader would go on to fully concentrate on becoming as star in his native America with WCW.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2016 6:19 pm
Not the whole show, but we get a chunk of matches from a big mid-year card in Osaka for NJPW in 1992 as Riki Choshu puts the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on the line against Keiji Mutoh.
17th May 1992- NJPW Crush The Super Heavy III: Over Heat Night (Osaka Jo Hall)
IWGP Junior Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs El Samurai
Jushin Thunder Liger: Liger started the year as the WCW Light Heavyweight Champion and then would go on to defeat his chief rival of the time Norio Honaga for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight belt to win the title for a 5th time. Liger would lose the WCW belt later in the month of February to Brian Pillman, ending Liger's guest stint in WCW and returning his focus to matters back at home.
Liger would then compete in the third edition of the Top of the Super Juniors tournament, going on to become the first man to win the tournament whilst holding the IWGP Junior belt.
El Samurai: After five years of working under his own name as a young lion Osamu Matsuda would go on excursion to Mexico with the UWA promotion, where he adopted the masked gimmick of El Samurai.
El Samurai would spend roughly a year with UWA between March 1991 and February 1992 and was given an immediate push as one of the new stars of the Junior Division upon his return. Samurai's push was confirmed when he defeated Jushin Thunder Liger in his opening match of the Top of the Super Junior's tournament, before going on to top the Block. However the finals which saw Samurai go to battle with Liger once again, saw the 'newcomer' come up short.
The Match: Though he came up short in winning the Top of the Super Juniors tournament, Samurai did score a victory over Liger, to justify earning a title shot.
It's a real shame that their Top of the Super Juniors Final match hasn't been posted up to the NJPW World archives, seeing as that match earned the hallowed 5-Stars from Big Dave Meltzer. Would have been nice to see how the two matches compare.
On to this match, and Liger is sporting a uber-cool White version of his iconic outfit for this match. The contest itself, is structured very much to the slow build formula, with mat based limb work dominating the early going with Samurai edging the early exchanges as he looked to take away Liger's wheels by working over the legs. The match gradually picks up the pace as it heads towards the closing stretch, with Liger busting out a swanton bomb to the floor, and the Shooting Star Press.
It's a fairly good match, but certainly not one without it's flaws, in all honesty the early portion of the match drags a little and the limbwork from Samurai goes absolutely nowhere, especially as he tries to force Liger to tap out to an arm submission later in the match, when his early attempts to try and wear Liger down was focused on the legs. Unfocused and meaningless submission work is just a bugbear of mine when it comes to wrestling.
Shinya Hashimoto vs The Great Oz
The Great Oz: Kevin Nash played NCAA College Basketball for the Tennesee Volunteers before attempting to forge a professional Basketball career in Europe, only for his career to be cut short in 1981 after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury whilst playing for the Giessen 46ers in Germany.
After working various jobs throughout the 80's, that included enlisting in the German Military Police and working as a Strip Club Floor Manager, the 7ft tall Nash was encouraged to try his hand at Professional Wrestling. Already over 30, Nash was coming to pro wrestling fairly late, but his imposing height caught the attention of WCW.
Nash would make his pro wrestling debut in 1990, where sporting an orange mohawk he worked the gimmick of 'Steel' as part of the 'Master Blasters' Tag Team. After being given an initial push as a monster heel tag threat, the team quickly ran out of momentum and broke up in February 1991, with Nash working solo as 'The Master Blaster'
However just months later in May, Nash was repackaged again as 'Oz' a gimmick based on 'The Wizard of Oz'. After the absurd Oz gimmick failed to get over, Nash was repackaged yet again with a wisecracking mobster gimmick in January 1992 under the ring name of Vinnie Vegas.
The Match: Back home in America, Nash had already moved on to his third awful gimmick that WCW decided to saddle him with in just three years, but here in Japan he was still being billed as The Great Oz, rather than Vinnie Vegas having worked a couple of matches in October for NJPW under the Oz gimmick. At this point in his career Nash, was clearly someone WCW signed because he was 'Tall' and looked 'Menacing' but they has absolutely no clue how to package him or were simply trying way too hard to give him a gimmick.
Kevin Nash is well documented as someone who made it in the wrestling business, not through being a great in-ring performer but through a combination of finding his feet as a performer on the mic and shrewd backstage politics. His work here is as you would expect from Nash, is uninspiring and without the cooler gimmick he would develop in the WWE as Diesel and then under his own name in WCW as part of the NWO he just comes across as a plodding generic big man.
To be fair Hashimoto doesn't exactly bust a gut here either to put over 'Oz' as a threat, instead making the WCW loanee's height advantage look like a mild irritation- when all is said and done the combination of Nash's mediocre ring skills and a half-arsed Hashimoto leads to a forgettable two star level match.
Antonio Inoki & Hiroshi Hase vs Brad Rheingans & Rambo
Rambo: French Canadian Luc Poirier made his in-ring debut in 1982 for the Montreal based International Wrestling Association. After a brief stint as a low card local talent for the WWF on the Eastern Canada House show circuit, Poirier would find his greatest success in Europe for the Catch Wrestling Association under the ring name of Rambo, culminating in a reign as the CWA World Heavyweight Champion in 1991. As well as receiving a strong push in the CWA around the same time Poirier began getting invites to tour Japan with NJPW.
The Match: The gaijin pair must have done something to rile Inoki up, because he comes out with plenty of fire at the start of the match. That proves to be a very brief false down however as this soon turns into meandering slow paced tag match. Hase attempts to inject some urgency into the match on occassions but old man Inoki isn't up to the task and the North American imports are still stuck in the 1980's with their work-rate.
The crowd hate Rambo (Poirier) giving him plenty of stick throughout the match and it's hard to tell if it's heel heat or 'you suck, get out of the ring' heat- my guess is that it was a combination of both.
Pegasus Kid vs Tiger Mask III
Pegasus Kid: Working under the name of Pegasus Kid (and initially as a masked gimmick) Chris Benoit had established himself as part of NJPW's Junior Division since 1990. In August of that year Benoit, defeated Jushin Thunder Liger for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, and though his reign was brief- losing the belt back to Liger in the title re-match, it established Benoit as a force in the Junior Division.
Despite being unable to regain the title since then, the Pegasus Kid continued to have a solid push within the Junior Division, competing in both the 1991 (where he reached the semi finals) and the 1992 Top of the Super Juniors tournaments.
Tiger Mask III: Koji Kanemoto made is in-ring debut in November 1990 and spent the next year primarily competing against other Young Lions. In May 1992 he would take part in the Top of the Super Juniors tournament but would finish bottom of the block, after scoring a solitary win against Mexican import Negro Casas- but the fact he scored any kind of win, whilst still only a Young Lion pointed to the fact that the NJPW officials, saw Kanemoto as a potential new star for their Junior Divison.
That was confirmed when Kanemoto was given the opportunity to become the third man to don the Tiger Mask, after Satoru Sayama and Mitsuharu Misawa (who worked as Tiger Mask in AJPW from 1984 to 1990).
The Match: This is Kanemoto's 'debut' as Tiger Mask, and he's still technically just a young lion at this stage, having not even been sent out on the traditional excursion- so New Japan were taking something of a big risk here.
Benoit was chosen as the opponent here, as they were obviously trying to recreate the Tiger Mask-Dynamite Kid rivalry, with Benoit under the Pegasus Kid name, strongly influenced by Tiger Mask's original nemesis.
There's little snippets of a good match here, but unfortunately Kanemoto wasn't quite ready to take on the Tiger Mask gimmick at this stage- never quite looking comfortable doing the flashy high spots expected of the character and even having a horrible looking botch, which saw him simply fall off the top turnbuckle to the outside, after being planted on top for a superplex. I probably shouldn't go here, but a pissed off Benoit, looked as though he was about to kill Kanemoto for screwing up something so simple.
The NJPW official's must have felt the same way after this match, as Kanemoto would go back to being his regular self, before New Japan would decide to try again with Kanemoto under the famous Tiger Mask gimmick a year later.
Big Van Vader vs Tony Halme
The Match: Talking of people the crowd clearly hated, here comes Tony Halme. For some reason he got an inexplicably big push, probably because he was a 'legit' tough guy, and had the sort of C.V that Inoki would cream his pants over. Vader found himself as the de-facto face here, through a combination of winning the NJPW fans respect over the years and the fact he was up against Halme.
The match itself is as you would expect a plodding brawl- personally I find Vader a little bit overrated and was someone who needed a good opponent to carry him to a good match. Don't get me wrong, he played the 'bully' heel role well and had a decent level of agility for his size but he wasn't someone who could 'polish a turd', and unfortunately as opponents go Halme was a bit of a turd.
After around ten minutes of generic hoss brawling, the match ends with a BS flash pin finish- that makes the winner look like a fluke and the loser like a goof.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Riki Choshu vs Keiji Mutoh
The Match: Coming into the match Choshu was in his third reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion since January, he was also in possession of the Greatest 18 Club Title- not that anyone really cared about that. Mutoh was a big part of the generation trying to cement themselves at the top of the New Japan mountain, and was a G-1 Climax finalist the previous year- but the old guard of Choshu and Fujinami weren't about to go away without putting up a strong fight.
This one of those matches that took a bit of time to get going but gradually got better as it went along- the strange thing is that despite the sluggish start, the closing stretch itself ended up feeling rather abrupt.
They began with mat based limb work, focusing on the legs and I've always felt that despite the Scorpion Deathlock being a large part of Choshu's arsenal, his limb work in trying to set up for the submission has never been all that engaging. Thankfully after Choshu finally slaps on his signature submission and Mutoh manages to battle his way out of the predicament, the match picks up with Mutoh's more dynamic offence taking over in terms of dictating the pace of the match.
The closing stretch pretty much see's Mutoh try to wear down Choshu with a strike and move strategy, only to find the a resilient Champion in his way and one whose deadly Lariat would prove to be a potent weapon.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:09 am
A long time since the last update (but been busy with other stuff), but here comes content from Summer 1992, as a new NWA World Heavyweight Champion is crowned.
26th June 1992- NJPW Masters of Wrestling (Nippon Budokan, Tokyo)
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Big Van Vader & Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
The Match: The Steiners were the reigning WCW World Tag Team Champions coming into this match and were looking to become the IWGP Tag Team Champions for a second time, and hold major Tag Team Titles in America and Japan simultaneously.
The beginning of the match feels a bit flurried and disjointed, but it settle's down in to a more cohesive pattern once the Monster duo of Vader and Bigelow take control. Rick Steiner then won back control with a couple of impressive power spots (including a German Suplex on Vader) before getting the tag into Scotty.
Just as it looked like the Steiner's had all the momentum, Scott slips on the top turnbuckle- whether this was planned and made to look like a botch or a legitimate botch- they end up working the mistake into the match, as Scott now found himself being worked over by a pair of 300 pound plus monsters.
The Steiners do eventually battle their way back into the match, but even down the closing stretch the sheer size of their opponents, looks to be a brick wall too far and even the Steiners combination of natural power and athleticism might just not be enough to overcome the monsterous champions. The finish when it does come, is sharp and sudden but on this occassion the flash finish actually manages to work pretty well within the context of the match.
Prior to Scott's top turnbuckle 'accident' this was a disjointed exhibition, it was after that point, the match got the added bit of drama it needed to draw you into the match and get the crowd behind the Steiner's bid to dethrone the monsters. After a slightly shaky start, this turned out to be a very well put together and enthralling tag match that played to the strengths of both of the teams involved.
July 31st 1992- NJPW Summer Struggle 1992 (Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo)
Masahiro Chono vs Shiro Koshinaka
The Match: Koshinaka now sporting a new shaven headed look, was in the process of turning his back on being part of the New Japan Sekigun and form the Heisei Ishingun Unit. Last year's G1 Climax winner Masahiro Chono would be looking to pick up some momentum, ahead of looking to repeat as the G1 Climax Champion.
Maybe someone can enlighten me, but Chono seemed to have a lot of beef with Koshinaka in this match and was acting very heelish by using more vicious offence, to the point that the crowd were firmly behind Koshinaka (who was seen as something of the underdog anyway) in this match.
Though Chono for the most part was still a babyface at this stage of his career, we got a glimpse into the future here, as Chono would primarily work heel from the mid 90's onwards.
The match starts at a fast pace with Koshinaka bringing it to Chono, but the reigning G-1 Climax holder soon takes control. There was then a bizarre sequence in the match, that saw them both challenging each other to give one another top-turnbuckle brainbusters. After that strange game of 'I'm tougher than you', Chono continued to dominate most of the match with Koshinaka (who gets busted open during a brawl out on the floor, to add further to the drama)occasionally having little rallies to get the crowd to believe that he could pull off the upset win, that included a close two count with a Dragon Suplex.
This wasn't quite a 'squash' but for the most part this was all about Chono bullying Koshinaka from pillar to post, with the crowd firmly behind Koshinaka's brave struggle.
August 12th 1992- NJPW G1 Climax 1992 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)
G1 Climax 1992 Finals/NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Masahiro Chono vs Rick Rude
Rick Rude: After training under Eddie Sharkey, Minnesota native Richard Rood made his pro wrestling debut in 1982, under the name of Ricky Rood. His early years were spent as a babyface with very little in the way of success. Two years into his career Rood would change his character to the narcissistic overconfident heel character that he would became known for, for the rest of his career 'Ravishing Rick Rude'.
Between 1984 and 1987, Rude would first find consistent success in the NWA's Championship Wrestling From Florida territory, where he would twice win the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship, before moving on to the Texas based World Class Championship Wrestling, where his star would continue to rise with a reign as the World Class World Heavyweight Champion. Before going on to have a reign as an NWA World Tag Team Champion alongside Manny Fernandez, whilst competing for Jim Crockett Promotions.
In the Summer of 1987, Rick Rude would join the WWF, whom he would remain with until the autumn of 1990. Rude's most notable feud whilst in the WWF would be with the Ultimate Warrior, Rude defeated the Warrior for the WWF Intercontinental title at Wrestlemania V, before losing the title back to his rival at Summerslam 1989. After The Ultimate Warrior won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, Rude and Warrior would resume hostilities, culminating in a Steel Cage match at Summerslam 1990, where Rude was unable to defeat his rival and win the World Title.
After a year spent working on the independent circuit and a brief tour of Japan with AJPW in the summer of 1991, Rude would return to WCW (formerly Jim Crockett Promotions) where he would be the 'crown jewel' of the Dangerous Alliance stable, managed by Paul E.Dangerously (Paul Heyman). It wouldn't be too long that Rude would find championship success, when he defeated Sting for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship in November 1991.
The Match: Unlike the previous years G-1 Climax, the 1992 edition of the G-1 Climax was a 16 man single elimination tournament. That year not only would it be for the G-1 Climax trophy, but the winner would also be crowned the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion. The title was made vacant, when Ric Flair was stripped of the title after signing for the WWF. The 16 man tournament featured a mix of NJPW and WCW contracted talent looking to win the vacant NWA title.
Chono reached his second consecutive G1 Climax Finals with three successive submission victories over Tony Halme, Scott Norton and in a repeat of last years Final's Keiji Mutoh. Rick Rude's path to the finals saw him defeat three consecutive home members of the New Japan roster Super Strong Machine, Shinya Hashimoto and Kensuke Sasaki.
The storyline therefore was set, would Chono be able to win the G-1 Climax for a second time and overcome the invading foreign heel, that had already run three respected members of the New Japan roster.
Rude was accompanied by Medusa to the ring, but thankfully she doesn't interfere in the match. In fact Rude, did very little in the way of full blown cheating, but he still got his heel character over and the crowd fully behind Chono, with his arrogant manner.
The first two thirds of the match are slow paced and admittedly do drag a bit- it does however lay the foundations for a strong closing stretch, with Chono having a game plan to try and wear down Rude on the mat, but the foreign invader having the more notable physical gifts.
As the match began to head towards the closing stretch, it became evident that the physically stronger Rude was beginning to overwhelm Chono. However a gutsy Chono simply wouldn't go away, as Rude chucked the proverbial kitchen sink at Chono. And as Rude's frustration's at being unable to put his opponent away, Chono was able to edge his way back into the match. The crowd were absolutely electric, any time Chono was able to grab back the advantage, especially anytime Chono was able to synch in the STF.
Rick Rude was one of those performers who may well have looked like the stereotypical 1980's American wrestler, with the bodybuilder physique but he also had decent athleticism, a solid technical game and played his arrogant narcissist character incredibly well.
August 15th 1992- NJPW G1 Climax Special 1992 (World Memorial Hall, Kobe)
Heisei Ishingun: Shiro Koshinaka, Masashi Aoyagi & Kengo Kimura vs Riki Choshu, Tatsumi Fujinami & Osamu Kido
Heisei Ishingun: After an intense feud against the Karateka's of Masashi Aoyagi and Akitoshi Saito earlier in the year, Junior Division veteran's Shiro Koshinaka and Kuniaki Kobayashi would form a new faction with their former rivals and turn their back on being part of the New Japan Sekigun, with fellow veteran Kengo Kimura also joining the newly formed stable.
Perhaps someone else can enlighten me further as to how and why Heisei Ishingun came to be, after Koshinaka and Kobayashi had an intense blood feud with the Kartateka's. I can only assume that they found a respect for the Karateka's, and that Koshinka and Kobayashi were disappointed with the rest of the NJPW roster in leaving the battle to defend pro wrestling's honor up to them?
The Match: I can only assume that this match was chosen to be on New Japan World due to the slightly surprising result at the end, as this was pretty much your run of the mill multi-man tag, the sort you would see on 'Road To' shows or PPV undercards in modern New Japan. Pretty basic stuff here, as both teams traded working over a member of the opposite team over in the corner, before they picked up the pace down the home stretch. The crowd mostly came alive for the exchanges between former tag partners Fujinami and Kimura, and that particular story would end up playing a part in the finish of the match.
Post match Heisei Ishingun attempted a beatdown on the veterans, but some other NJPW loyalists including Shinya Hashimoto were able to make the save and send Koshinaka and co. packing before they could do any significant damage.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:51 pm
Just because I feel like it, I've decided to resurrect this project from the grave.
Anyway I lost track doing it for a variety of reasons, such as buffering problems with New Japan World at the time and just generally being a bit burnt out with writing ( I also had an anime reviews thread on another forum, that I ended up stepping away from, because it was becoming a chore to do)
23rd September 1992- NJPW Battle Autumn 1992: Battle Hold Arena (Yokohama Arena)
NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Masahiro Chono vs Steve Austin
Texas native Steve Williams began his pro wrestling career in 1989, where he debut for World Class Championship Wrestling, which would eventually merge with the CWA to form the USWA promotion. Though Williams initially worked under his real name, there was already a well known wrestler of the time with the same name 'Dr Death' Steve Williams, so the decision was made to change his ring name to Steve Austin.
In 1991, now known as 'Stunning' Steve Austin, he would be signed by WCW and in June that year Austin would earn his first significant championship reign in wrestling, when he defeated Bobby Eaton for the WCW World Television Championship. Austin would go on to have a lengthy reign with the belt, holding it almost for an entire year (329 Days), where he lost the title to Barry Windham in a 2/3 Falls match.
However Austin would then regain the title from Windham the next month. Austin's second reign with the belt wouldn't be quite as lengthy, but he still managed a 109 day reign before being defeated for the title by Ricky Steamboat.
Austin had only worked three previous matches in NJPW, so was still pretty unknown to the Japanese fans. Unfortunately the nonplussed response from the fans to whatever Austin did ends up sucking the life out of the match. Fancy that a Steve Austin match where you can hear the sound of crickets in the background, but to be fair this was the pre stone cold, blonde haired Austin, so it's like comparing a Granny Smith with a Pink Lady.
The work in the match is sound enough, but no one cares and Austin though showing himself to be a fairly decent technical worker, doesn't really do anything here to get the fans on the edge of their seat or invested in what he's doing. In all honesty he tries too hard to show that he has decent wrestling skill, instead of gaining heat by being a jerk-ass heel.
The ending of the match however is historically notable, as Austin would execute a sloppy looking Piledriver on Chono, which is said to have messed up Chono pretty bad and force Chono to change to a less impactful ring style. Incidentally enough Austin would suffer a career shortening neck injury after being on the receiving end of a similarly sloppy piledriver from the late Owen Hart. It is said that Austin harboured a resentful real life grudge against Hart for the piledriver that ended up shortening his own career but does anyone know how Chono feels about Austin?
23rd October 1992- WAR (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo)
Genichiro Tenryu & Koki Kitahara vs Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura
Genichiro Shimada entered the world of Sumo Wrestling as a thirteen year old teenager and would continue as a Sumo Wrestler, for the next 13 years before 'retiring' from the sport at the relatively young age of 26. Though 'Tenryu' as he was known by his Shikona, still had a promising Sumo career ahead, he did not get on his stable master and instead decided to turn to Puroresu (western style professional wrestling)
Incorporating his Sumo Shikona into his ring-name, Genichiro Tenryu would be signed by Giant Baba's AJPW promotion in 1976, but would immediately be sent out on excursion to America. Tenryu would then spend the early years of his career gradually moving up in rank on the All Japan undercard and going out on excursion to work in America for a variety of NWA territories, most notably with Mid Atlantic (Jim Crockett Promotions
In 1983 Tenryu would form what would become a successful tag team with Jumbo Tsuruta. Between February 1984 and February 1986, the pairing would hold the NWA International Tag Team Championship for a reign that would last over two years. During that time Tenryu would also earn his first singles championship in AJPW, when he defeated Ricky Steamboat for the vacant NWA United National Title.
In 1987 Tenryu and Tsurata would break up their successful team, with Tenryu going on to head up a new stable 'Revolution', as All Japan looked to shake things up following the departure of the Japan Pro Wrestling stars headed by Riki Choshu, who made their return to NJPW. Tenryu and his Revolution stable mate Ashura Hara, would feud with Tsurata and his new partner Yoshiaki Yatsu over the PWF World Tag Team Championship and then the unified AJPW World Tag Team Championship.
In April 1989 Jumbo Tsurata became the first holder of the AJPW Triple Crown, with his first challenger being his former tag partner Tenryu. Tenryu failed in his first attempt to win the belt from Tsurata, but would be succesful the second time round, Tenryu would go on to hold the title for a further four months before losing the title back to his rival in October. The feud between Tenryu and Tsurata over the Triple Crown was a great success and firmly established the pair as the 'Aces' of AJPW. The same year Tenryu would also finally score a pinfall victory over the legendary Giant Baba, and have further tag team success alongside Stan Hansen with a pair of AJPW World Tag Team Title reigns.
However in April 1990, Tenryu would stun AJPW by leaving them, to go and help start up a new rival promotion Super World of Sports. Tenryu managed to strike up a working agreement with the World Wrestling Federation and in 1991 Tenryu would feature at Wrestlemania VII alongside Koji Kitao in a tag team match against Demolition. Backed by Japanese Eyeglasses manufacturer Megane Super, SWS would throw a lot of money at veteran talent in an attempt to become a significant player in the Puroresu world, that could challenge the old guard of NJPW and AJPW, but by 1992 the promotion had collapsed.
However later that same year following the collapse of SWS, Tenryu did not decide to return to AJPW nor sign a contract with rivals NJPW, instead deciding to start up his own promotion WAR (Wrestle and Romance). Employing mainly freelance workers, Tenryu would strike up a significant working agreement with New Japan, that would lead to the two promotion's having an 'Interpromotional' feud.
A trainee of Genichiro Tenryu, Kitahara would make his pro wrestling debut in 1988- and would spend the next year as a jobber whilst being part of Tenryu's Revolution stable. In March 1989 Kitahara would go out on excursion to Canada, to work for Stampede Pro Wrestling, where he would win the Stampede International Tag Team Championship alongside fellow Japanese import Kensuke Sasaki.
Following Stampede's closure at the end of the year, Kitahara would return to AJPW but would then follow his mentor (Tenryu)
to Super World of Sports. As expected following the collapse of SWS, Kitahara would then join the WAR roster.
: Heisei Ishingun invaded Tenryu's WAR promotion the previous month, kicking off a cross-promotional war that would see Tenryu's band of WAR loyalists invade New Japan.
In complete contrast to the Chono- Austin match, the Korakuen Hall crowd are absolutely rabid here, so rabid that at times that it feels like the match is about to break out into a full scale riot, especially when the action spills to the outside and the supporting members of WAR and Heisei Ishingun attempt to get their licks in.
The story here is simple but effective, as Kitahara is presented as the weak link and spends a considerable amount of time taking a hellacious beat-down from the invaders. Tenryu is made to suffer too and gets busted open in the process, due to his partner being so weak. But despite the collective strength of Koshinaka and Kimurua being considerably greater, the combined pluck of Kitahara and the fiery strenght of Tenryu keeps the home team in the match.
If one criticism can be levelled at the match, is that after an explosive start, the middle portion of the match does begin to drag a little but they do manage to pick things up once again with a hot closing stretch. Heisei Ishingun do particularly good work as the sadistic invaders, and Kimura is infinitely more interesting as a bitter heel, than he ever was as Tatsumi Fujinami's inferior tag partner.
23rd November 1992- NJPW Wrestling Scramble 1992: Battle Zone Space II (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)
'WAR' Genichiro Tenryu, Koki Kitahara & Takashi Ishikawa vs. 'Heisei Ishingun' Kengo Kimura, Masashi Aoyagi & Shiro Koshinaka)
Under the Shikona of 'Onoumi' Takashi Ishikawa would have a brief Sumo career between 1975 and 1977 before switching to pro wrestling (making his debut in November 1977). Though Ishikawa would never rise anywhere near to main event level status over the next decade, he would carve himself out a spot on the AJPW roster as a dependable midcard tag specialist, with 5 reigns as an AJPW All Asia Tag Team Champion between 1981 and 1988.
In 1990 he would make the jump from AJPW to the short lived Super of World of Sports, headed up by Genichiro Tenryu. When SWS collapsed Ishikawa once again followed Tenryu and joined WAR.
Interestingly even though Heisei Ishingun were heels they got some big time cheers , whilst the fans were ready to boo the WAR team out of the building. I guess invading heels always trumps anything when it comes to the targets of disdain for the loyal fans of the lion mark. Meanwhile Big Time Tony Knock is front row ringside, scowling in disgust that these invaders are infecting his ring!
There was nothing pretty about this match, this was two teams who just wanted to re-arrange each others faces and kick the living shit out of one another. The first half of the match is pretty much just all kicks, punches, chops and in the case of Koshinka hip attacks, but that kind of simple brutality suited the purpose of this match. They do vary things up a bit more down the stretch, with Koshinaka dumping Tenryu with a beautifully executed German Suplex but there's a real nastiness that's retained even when the match gradually moves from being little more than a wild scrap to something resembling a wrestling match.
All this being said for such an intense hate fuelled scrap of a contest, the finish itself feels a little anti-climatic.
14th December 1992- NJPW Final Battle 1992 (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)
Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shiro Koshinaka
With WAR and Heisei Ishingun invading one another's promotions and being booed out of the building by the loyal home fans of each promotion, the feud appeared to be coming to a head here with a one on one showdown between the two factions respective leaders in the form of former AJPW legend Tenryu and former Junior Division star Koshinaka.
I can't help but think that one of the previous matches on the card this match is from must have been an absolute bloodbath, because they're having to roll around on a disgustingly blood-stained mattress, it's so squalid they might as well be rolling around on the floor of a residence inhabited by G.G Allin.
Anyway Koshinaka (or Poetry Echizon as his name weirdly translates to on NJPW World)
wastes no time going after Tenryu, attacking the WAR head before his own introduction, he continues to press a high pace until he decides that isn't really wearing down a stubborn Tenryu, so he decides to switch tactics to working over Tenryu's arm instead, an obvious tactic to try and take away the effectiveness of Tenryu's lariats and chops....
Sadly it doesn't work and Koshinaka ends up with a crimson mask after being busted open hard way with a stiff boot from Tenryu. That doesn't stop Koshinaka from pluckily trying to take down his opponent, as it becomes increasingly clear that Koshinaka is having to throw the kitchen sink and then some at Tenryu to have any chance of winning the match, whilst the grizzled veteran needs only a few clubbing blows to turn the momentum back in his favour.
In the end this was a match where we had a plucky underdog (Poetry Echizon)
doing anything he could to scratch out the victory against his considerably more powerful opponent (Tenryu
). I wouldn't call this a great match but it's a solidly produced slice of the well trodden David vs Goliath formula.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 5:27 pm
As it turns out the reason why the mat was in such a disgusting state for the Tenryu-Koshinaka match is that it was the main event on the same card as the infamous Muta Scale match, a famous match for reasons I possibly can't fathom that has not been posted up to NJPW World.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:36 pm
It's on to 1993, where we can spot our first glimpses of future NJPW legends Yuji Nagata and Koji Kanemoto ringside as young lions at the Tokyo Dome. Kicking things off for this year, is the first half of that years Tokyo Dome show, which I will admit is a bleedingly obvious place to begin the year at!
4th January 1993- NJPW Fantastic Story in Tokyo Dome - Part 1
'WAR' Koki Kitahara, Masao Orihara & Nobukazu Hirai vs. 'NJPW' Akira Nogami, El Samurai & Takayuki Iizuka
Masao Orihara: Trained in the All Japan Dojo under the tutelage of Genichiro Tenryu, Orihara made his debut for AJPW in 1989, before following Tenryu to the short lived Super World of Sports and then WAR.
Nobukazu Hirai: Another one of Tenryu's disciples, Hirai made his debut for Tenryu's SWS in 1991, before inevitably following his mentor to WAR, after SWS folded.
El Samurai: 1992 would prove to be Samurai's break out year, as he defeated Jushin Thunder Liger for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title in June. Samurai would go on to have a solid five month reign with the belt, achieving three succesful defences against Pegasus Kid, Dean Malenko and Liger, before being defeated for the title by Ultimo Dragon.
The Match: Samurai was Junior champ only a few months prior, but having lost the belt he has to settle for teaming with Akira without the make-up and a pre Iron Glove garbage Iizuka against a team of WAR Z-listers, to find his way on to the Tokyo Dome card.
The NJPW team dominate most of the match, managing to isolate the two WAR 'Young Boys' for most of the match, in front of a crowd who couldn't really care less. The only time the crowd really gets riled up, is whenever Kitahara tried to break up a pin. It's hard to know if they really hated Kitahara and his Billy Ray Cyrus mullet or they just wanted to this over stretched squash match over and done with.
Heisei Ishingun (Akitoshi Saito, Masashi Aoyagi, Shiro Koshinaka & The Great Kabuki) vs. Raging Staff (Hiro Saito, Norio Honaga, Super Strong Machine & Tatsutoshi Goto)
The Great Kabuki: Kabuki was a member of the WAR roster, but when Heisei Ishingun decided to invade, instead of going into battle with Tenryu, he instead decided to join forces with the invading faction from New Japan.
Raging Staff: During the previous year, the faction previously known as The Blond Outlaws evolved into Raging Staff, after they dropped the 'Blond' gimmick and officially added the masked Super Strong Machine to their ranks.
The Match: Raging Staff had aligned themselves with the WAR invaders, so were the de-facto heels here, but I suppose even though Heisei weren't exactly clean cut New Japan Army babyfaces, they were going through something of a gradual face turn with their battles against the WAR invaders and the even more heelish Raging Staff.
The match itself is one of those multi-man tags that looks to be a back and forth affair on the surface but the truth is that one team (on this occasion Raging Staff) were actually in control for the majority of the match. The match suffers greatly from the best worker Koshinaka spending most of the match looking on from the ring-apron whilst the karate guys Saito and Aoyagi play 'Ricky Morton'. It's not that this match was really bad, but it was just one of those 'meh' multi man tags and could have done with being a little wilder and they never really got across that these two factions couldn't stand one another.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Ultimo Dragon (c) vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Ultimo Dragon: Yoshihiro Asai graduated from the New Japan Dojo in 1987, but instead of sticking around as a New Japan young lion, he immediately left for Mexico. After competing for UWA, where he would claim his first championships (a reign with the UWA Welterweight belt before two reigns with the Middleweight title), he would go on to compete for rival Lucha promotion CMLL, where he would evolve into the Ultimo Dragon gimmick.
Though Mexico is where Asai/Dragon was making his name, by the early 90's he was beginning to make trips back to Japan, having a short lived run with the UWF in 1990, before going on to compete for Tenryu's failed SWS project in 1991, in 1992 he would join Tenryu's WAR (a considerably more enduring venture than SWS) and due to the NJPW/WAR feud (in reality co-promotion between the two) Asai found himself working for NJPW again since his departure in 1987.
In November 1992, Ultimo Dragon would successfully challenge El Samurai for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, the biggest achievement of his career to date.
Jushin Thunder Liger: Now firmly established as the 'Ace' of the Junior Division, Liger would enjoy a fifth reign with the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title between February and June of 1992, winning the title from Norio Honaga before losing the belt to El Samurai after three successful defences.
The Match: Liger is a rocking a pretty sweet Blue edition of his iconic outfit for the 1993 edition of the Tokyo Dome show, he also ends up holding this match together, because I don't know if it's nerves or if he was just really inconsistent at this stage in his career but Ultimo Dragon is more like Ultimo Botch Machine in this match. Some wrestlers can just about get away with being sloppy, because they are crazy as hell and try things they probably shouldn't on the fly- think Sabu or Hiromu Takahashi/Kamataichi but Ultimo isn't one of them, and it's not like he was botching on batshit insane stuff here, he's screwing up royally on run of the mill missile drop-kicks.
They start off slow with a typical mirror sequence before both try to wear the other down with mat based submission holds, thankfully just as the crowd are about to nod off they decide to move it up a gear. Unfortunately this is also where we have the emergence of Ultimo Botch Machine. Thankfully Liger is as great as he always is in this match and manages to salvage the contest from being a complete disappointment, so much so that it actually ends up being pretty good by the end with a hot closing stretch that see's both combatants work in a nice mix of 'big bombs' and 'flash pins' to try and squeeze out the victory.
Hopefully given his reputation, Ultimo will put in more assured performances than this as the years progress during his run as part of New Japan's legendary mid 90's Junior Division.
Ron Simmons vs Tony Halme
Ron Simmons: Simmons would be making his second trip to the Tokyo Dome, having competed alongside Butch Reed as part of the actually having already broken up in WCW Doom tag team. Since that break up Simmons, received a big singles push that culminated in him winning the WCW World Heavyweight title from Big Van Vader in August 1992.
The Match: Neither of these two are exactly technical wizards inside the squared circle, so this went exactly as you would expect a plodding brawl between two guys that would be better served being hidden away in some form of tag team match.
It ends with a sloppy botched spinebuster as the finish but on the upside, they mercifully kept the match fairly brief, before it managed to spill over into offensively bad territory.
Hiroshi Hase vs Sting
Hiroshi Hase: Despite continuing to team with Keiji Mutoh, Hase would once again reignite his feud with Mutoh's evil alter-ego The Great Muta, culminating in the infamous 'Muta Scale' match on 14th December (sadly not on NJPW World for some inexplicable reason).
Sting: 1992 would see Sting continue to establish himself as one of WCW's key main eventers, with his first WCW World Championship reign. 'Real Estate Steve' would have a 134 day reign with the belt between February and July, that was ended by the 450 pound monster Big Van Vader.
The Match: One thing I've noticed that is missing from modern era New Japan is the amusingly ridiculous title's they used to give matches, for instance this was billed as a 'Burning Stars Battle'...Now I really don't know what was burning about either of the two men competing in this match up.
This ended up being a pretty decent back and forth singles match that pitted Hase's pure wrestling skills against Sting's athleticism and heart, keeping the crowd engaged throughout a match that kept ticking along at a solidly worked but never frenzied pace.
Hase was one of the most consistent workers on the New Japan roster during this time period, and really deserved a better push and he put in another good performance here and whilst Sting was never an elite level worker, he was a good athlete during this stage in his career and no one can say that he didn't have his working boots on for this match.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:33 pm
It's the conclusion of the annual Tokyo Dome show, as Muta and Chono fight over two titles and the NJPW vs WAR feud takes centre stage.
4th January 1993- NJPW Fantastic Story in Tokyo Dome - Part 2
Dustin Rhodes & Scott Norton vs. Masa Saito & Shinya Hashimoto
Dustin Rhodes: 1992 would be a mildly successful year for the Grandson of a Plumber, as he enjoyed a short tag title reign with Ricky Steamboat before forming a successful pairing with Barry Windham, that saw the pair defeat the Miracle Violence Connection (Steve Williams and Terry Gordy) for the WCW World Tag Team Championship. Their reign would last only two months (losing the belts to the team of Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas)
Scott Norton: The closing months of 1992 would see Scott Norton achieve his first taste of championship success in New Japan, as he would defeat the Steiner Brothers alongside fellow gaijin powerhouse Tony Halme for the IWGP Tag Team Championship. Their reign did not last long though, as they lost the belts in their first defence to the Hellraisers (Warrior Hawk and Power Warrior).
Masa Saito: Around two years on from his last championship success (an IWGP Tag title reign alongside his partner for this match, Hashimoto), the ageing veteran Saito was clearly being phased out of relevance, mostly competing in tags and with the few singles matches he was given coming against gaijin midcarders such as Tony Halme.
Shinya Hashimoto: Despite the torch seemingly being past to the Three Musketeers (Hashimoto, Mutoh & Chono) at the 1991 G-1 Climax, 1992 would actually be a frustrating year for Hashimoto, as he failed to add any form of championship gold....the highlight of his year being an unsuccesful attempt to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from The Great Muta.
The Match: Scott Norton is Scott Norton in this match, so he does lots of manly chops, power moves and no selling, Saito does some backdrop suplexes but is generally looks off the pace, 'Dusty Rhodes Jr' is just sort of there and Hashimoto tries is damn hardest to try and drag the mediocrity he's having to share the ring with to something that resembles a decent match.
Hashimoto deserved better than being dumped into this mid card filler tag, thankfully his true breakthrough would come by the end of the year.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship/ NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Great Muta (c) vs. Masahiro Chono (c)
The Great Muta: Under his Great Muta gimmick, Keiji Mutoh would win his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship in August, after ending the 8 month reign of Riki Choshu. At the same time Mutoh would also win the Greatest-18 Championship Choshu had awarded to him the previous year- though he would quickly discard the short lived Greatest-18 title after a successful title defence against generational peer Shinya Hashimoto.
The Match: I'm really not a great fan of the companies top title not being defended in the main event. I accept that there are sometimes the odd special circumstance where a non title match should be the main event but was the NJPW vs WAR feud enough of a reason for the title match not to be main eventing the show? At the very least this should have been the semi-final, I can just about understand having the Choshu vs Tenryu match as the main event, as it's two iconic legends but in the semi main slot we have Fujinami (admittedly a New Japan legend in his own right) vs an ex All Japan Midcarder.
The Three Musketeers may well have had their breakout in the 1991 G-1 Climax but for the past two years they have still found themselves still playing second fiddle to the old guard. Naito really had nothing to complain about in 2013, when his IWGP Heavyweight title challenge didn't get to main event that Tokyo Dome show - at least he was in the semi main event, Muta and Chono aren't even afforded that accomplishment! But I suppose you can't argue with a 63'500 attendance (even if a percentage of that probably was papered).
On to this match though, which would see both Muta (Mutoh) and Chono put their respective IWGP and NWA titles on the line, whoever won this match would come away a double champion.
Muta worked his usual quick/slow pace during the match, mixing explosive bursts of offence with deliberate time wasting tactics and teases of taking the match in a more violent direction (at one point he pulls an ice pick from under the ring). I suppose the nearest modern day equivalent to Muta, in the way that he works would be Ingobernable Tetsuya Naito, albeit minus the face paint- which as always ends up peeling off anyway.
Chono's initial gameplan is to keep things in the ring and on the mat, but he's unable to do either of those, so he has to switch to trying to take advantage of any mistakes Muta makes and look for opportunities to slap on the STF. Muta's risk taking affords him those opportunities but he's just never quite able to get Muta into the centre of the ring and cut off any escape routes.
Muta's penchant for stalling tactics lead to the match having a slightly slow beginning (but really that's no less interesting than a pair of wrestlers working over a limb for the sake of slow build) but from around the mid point on the match is worked at a brisk pace with very little let up in the way of action.
IWGP Tag Team Championship: The Hell Raisers (Hawk Warrior & Power Warrior) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
The Power Warriors: In the summer of 1992 Road Warrior Hawk, would quit the WWF after a disagreement with creative over the direction of how the Legion of Doom were being portrayed, finding the idea of being paired with a wooden dummy called Rocco as 'stupid'. Despite Road Warrior Animal feeling that the gimmick was equally dumb, he would decide to stick it out in the WWF, then when Animal suffered a career threatening back injury a short while after Hawk's depature that looked to be the end for the legendary Road Warriors/L.O.D tag team for good.
Hawk would decide to return to New Japan Pro Wrestling, in the fall of 1992 where he was immediately paired with a repackaged Kensuke Sasaki, who now competing under the name of Power Warrior adopted the Face Paint and Spiked shoulder pads of the Road Warriors/L.O.D.
The pair no stranger to Tag team title success, with Hawk winning multiple tag titles alongside Animal and Sasaki having tasted IWGP Tag Team success twice himself, during a successful pairing with Hiroshi Hase, saw immediate success, with the pair destroying any team that got in their way , culminating in them winning the IWGP Tag Team Championship after less than a month together.
Steiner Brothers: Collectively the Steiner's had another stellar years a team both for WCW and NJPW, with WCW and IWGP Tag Team title reigns during the year. Whilst the fall of 1992 would see Scott being afforded his first real singles push, that saw him defeat Ricky Steamboat for WCW World Television Championship....
However the Steiners felt they were lowballed during their contract renegotians and took the decision to leave WCW and jump ship to rivals WWF. Steiner who was still TV Champion at the time was stripped of the title. The Steiners had already debuted with WWF before the end of the year, but were still allowed to work the occasional show for NJPW.
The Match: I could feel my testosterone levels rising just watching this match. As you would expect this match was full of heavy hitting, big suplexes and lots of no selling, from men too proud to look weak. Power Warrior (Kensuke Sasaki) is the only one to show any semblance of vulnerability in the match, working as the Ricky Morton for what was basically the Legion of Doom under another name, because Hawk sure as hell wasn't going to sell a beating. In fact Hawk takes macho no selling to a whole new level, when Rick Steiner puts him in a Boston Crab only for him to start doing press-up's whilst in the hold.
But the no selling can be forgiven due to the pace and action being tremendously engaging throughout, climaxing with an insane Doomsday Device to the floor from The Legi...Hellraisers. It leads to an inconclusive finish that the Tokyo Dome fans end up shitting on in frustration but such a finish of the kind we ended up with here actually ended up being rather fitting for a match, where all four men were too proud to be the one to fall.
Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Takashi Ishikawa
Takashi Ishikawa: A former amateur Sumo wrestler, Ishikawa joined Giant Baba's All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1978, after spending most of his first year on excursion in the USA, Ishikawa then went on to establish himself as a tag team specialist in the All Japan midcard over the next decade, with 5 All Asia Tag Team reigns.
Ishikawa would retire from pro wrestling in December 1988, but would return to the ring under two years later but instead of returning to All Japan, Ishikawa would join Genichiro Tenryu's Super World of Sports. When SWS collapsed in the summer of 1992, Ishikawa would continue to follow Tenryu to Tenryu's new attempt at running his own promotion WAR.
The Match: Even if the NJPW vs WAR feud did have a lot of heat behind it, I'm still baffled as to why a match that pitted Fujinami against someone who never rose above midcard status in All Japan was afforded the semi main event slot, that being said this ended up being a surprisingly decent match.
Both men were determined to show they had their working boots on from the opening bell, with Fujinami pulling off a suicide dive and then Ishikawa following that up with a plancha in the opening minutes of the match. Unsurprisingly given their ageing bodies they are unable to keep up the hot pace, with both men resorting to rest holds. Fortunately the match doesn't descend into an old school snoozefest and they still manage to punctuated the rest spots with fiery burst of offence.
The closing stretch sees the match settle into a pattern of Fujinami trying to lock on the Dragon Sleeper and Ishikawa trying to wear the Dragon down with Powerbombs (to the ire of the fervently pro New Japan fans).
Riki Choshu vs. Genichiro Tenryu
The Match: Though this is the first time Choshu and Tenryu would be battling in a singles match inside a New Japan ring, their rivalry dates back to the mid 80's when Choshu competed for AJPW under the banner of his own Japan Pro Wrestling Promotion. As vanity promotions go, JPW was perhaps an even more pointless venture than Tenryu's Super World of Sports.
So we have a match here between someone who defected from New Japan to apparently start their own but really just defected to NJPW's biggest rivals All Japan, but eventually came back and someone pretty much synomynous with AJPW but is now on his second attempt at starting his own promotion. It appears though that Inoki and the New Japan fans have forgiven Choshu enough for his mid 80's defection to the rival promotion, because surely otherwise he wouldn't be put in the position to defend the honour of New Japan against the invading upstarts or maybe Choshu just had unfinished business with Tenryu.
These two are almost mirror images of each other, in the fact that both are burly heavyweights who seem to be permantly grumpy. So what do we get when we throw two grumpy old bulls in the ring together....we get a stiff as a board bowling shoe ugly scrap, that's what we get.
The fact that this match mostly consists of scrappy brawling is a good thing, as it plays to their strengths. Choshu in particular is always more entertaining to watch when a match is a fight rather than wrestling match.
The closing stretch see's Tenryu botch a powerbomb, but it's one of those forgiveable botches that ends up working into the context of the match and puts over the wear and tear of the stiff strikes and bumps each of these surly warriors made one another endure.
Overall Show Verdict: This was the last of three Tokyo Dome shows, that were co-promoted with WCW, though it has to be said that the presence of Tenryu and his fellow invaders from WAR were put across as a much bigger deal than the WCW contingent for this show.
Putting issues about card placement aside, this ended up being a considerably better show than the frankly terrible 1992 Tokyo Dome show. Though I wouldn't say that there is a true standout all time classic match on this show, at least half of the matches on the show can be considered good, whilst the other half (with perhaps the exception of Simmons vs Halme) can be considered to be solidly inoffensive. As Tokyo Dome shows go this was by some margin the best one NJPW had put together thus far.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:08 am
Tigerkinney wrote:As it turns out the reason why the mat was in such a disgusting state for the Tenryu-Koshinaka match is that it was the main event on the same card as the infamous Muta Scale match, a famous match for reasons I possibly can't fathom that has not been posted up to NJPW World.
Pretty baffling indeed that NJPW World doesn't include this famous match in their archives, but it is on YouTube, albeit in less than stellar quality.
This was my first time seeing this match and I really enjoyed it. I'm not familiar with the backstory of the Muta/Hase feud, but the hatred from both guys really comes across throughout this match, even before Hase jams an icepick into Muta's forehead (causing the infamous bloodletting). The New Japan referees were just as unlikely to strictly enforce the rules in the '90s as they are today it seems.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:44 pm
Frank Olson wrote:
Pretty baffling indeed that NJPW World doesn't include this famous match in their archives, but it is on YouTube, albeit in less than stellar quality.
Non HD video looks so shitty nowadays, but we used to watch video's on the internet in that quality and we thought nothing of it
New Japan World does have some strange omissions from it's archives and also some equally bizarre inclusions, take for instance this match from February 1993.....
10th February 1993- NJPW Fighting Spirit (Gifu Industrial Hall)
Black Cat vs Osamu Kido
The infamous Muta Scale match doesn't make it onto the New Japan World archives, but some how this match does. I'm sure NJPW fans in 2016 are really clamouring to see a match between a low end midcarder who never won anything (Black Cat)
and an ageing veteran in Kido, who last held a title in the mid 80's. But you never know this match might be some lost classic......
The answer to that turns out to be sadly but unsurprisingly no. It is as one would have predicted a bland sub ten minute two star special of match and by the end of wasting ten minutes of my life to watch this match, I really couldn't care who won and how they won. And it's not just NJPW fans in 2016 who wouldn't care less about this match-up either. Fans back in 1993 would have been handwaving this one as well, given the dead reaction this match got from the Gifu crowd.
Surely this match takes the prize for most absurd upload from the New Japan archives.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:16 pm
Just want to chime in with a thank you for this. I have been going through the whole thread for the last week.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:41 am
16th February 1993- NJPW Fighting Spirit (Ryogoku Kokukigan- Tokyo)
Heisei Ishingun (Kengo Kimura, Shiro Koshinaka & The Great Kabuki) vs. Keiji Mutoh, Masahiro Chono & Shinya Hashimoto
The Three Musketeers were never what you would call a proper full time stable, each man clearly had ambitions of their own to make it to the top of New Japan but they had a common bond in the fact that they rose up the ranks of NJPW together and were seen as the one's to usher in a new era. Of course at the same time there was also this mist spewing weirdo called Great Muta weirdo who was IWGP Heavyweight champ at the time, people suspected that he was in fact an evil alter-ego of Keiji Mutoh- because you never saw them in the same building together....all rather suspect!
Anyway this match features the heralded trio against Heisei Ishingun, who feature their own face painted, mist spewing weirdo in The Great Kabuki, who comes across as being a fat inferior version of Muta.
It's pretty obvious they were building to a Muta/Mutoh vs Kabuki programme with this match, as we had some mist spewing and Mutoh flipping off Kabuki during a hot opening stretch. As the match progressed it was becoming pretty clear that the Musketeers were being put over as consideraby superior to their opponents, controlling much of the middle portion of the match and that Heisei Ishingun would need to resort to less than noble tactics to even the odds...
Heisei managed to do just that, when Chono made the error of going up top for a flying shoulder block. After being cut off Chono was then worked over by Heisei, before fighting his way back to safety, that seemed to be that and The Musketeers would put their inferior opponents away, but Heisei now in full blown cheat to win mode had other ideas. The closing stretch had the Sumo Hall crowd on the edge of their seats would The Musketeers overcome Heisei Ishigun's dirty tactics with their superior skill or would they eventually become overwhelmed.
A good six man tag that told a well executed story without sacrificing on the action.
Best Two Out Of Three Falls Ten Man Tag Team Match: WAR (Ashura Hara, Genichiro Tenryu, Hiromichi Fuyuki, Koki Kitahara & Takashi Ishikawa) vs. NJPW (Hiroshi Hase, Osamu Kido, Riki Choshu, Takayuki Iizuka & Tatsumi Fujinami)
A former Rugby player, Susumu Hara was scouted by the International Wrestling Enterprise promotion in 1976, but did not make his in-ring debut until the summer of 1978. Hara was soon sent out on excursion to the likes of Stampede Pro Wrestling in Canada and CWA in Europe.
When he returned from excursion he was now working under the ring name of Ashura Hara. Over the next couple of years Hara would win the WWU Junior Heavyweight title before making a brief appearance in New Japan (where he would unsuccessfully challenge Tatsumi Fujinami for the WWF Junior Heavyweight title)
. He would then go on another excursion to work for Bill Watts Mid South Wrestling (during which he would bulk up to Heavyweight) on his return to the IWE he would win the IWA World Tag Team titles alongside Mighty Inoue, but by August 1981 IWE had folded.
Following IWE's closure Hara, alongside several other fellow IWE alumni entered AJPW, initially as part of an invading stable. Hara would go on to establish himself in the All Japan midcard during the remainder of the 80's, where he would become a three time All Asia Tag Team champion. By 1987, Hara looked to be receiving a more prominent push when he began teaming with Genchiro Tenryu, a partnership that bore fruit with runs as PWF Tag Team champions and then a run with the unified AJPW Tag Team championships. However in November 1988 Hara's All Japan run was brought to a crashing halt, when he was fired by Giant Baba for accumulating massive gambling debts.
After a two and a half year hiatus, Hara would re-emerge as part of Tenryu's Super World of Sports promotion, then following SWS closure, as with much of the roster he followed Tenryu to WAR.
Fuyuki made his pro wrestling debut for IWE, but following the closure of that promotion, he applied to be part of the All Japan dojo. Fuyuki would then make his All Japan debut in the summer of 1981.
Fuyuki would then spend much of the next decade working in the undercard, but as the 80's drew to a close, he would form a succesful team alongside future AJPW main eventer Toshiaki Kawada. As part of Genichiro Tenryu's Revolution Army stable, the team known as Footloose would capture the All Asia Tag Team belts three times between 1988 and 1989.
In the summer of 1990 Fuyuki would be amongst several wrestlers to defect with Tenryu to his new venture Super World of Sports, before following Tenryu to WAR, when SWS folded.
Whilst it was Heisei Ishingun who invaded WAR and not the New Japan Army, since WAR have returned the favour and invaded New Japan the feud seems to have evolved on to WAR vs NJPW, more than WAR vs Heisei.
Whilst the rest of the WAR team all got nothing but boos, you could hear a few cheers mixed in for Tenryu- showing that the NJPW fans at least had a begrudging respect for the WAR head, despite the fact that Tenryu was leading the invasion and also had a strong association with NJPW's traditional rivals (in business terms)
The first fall starts off with a frantic back and forth, but as things progress the WAR team gradually gain the upper hand managing to isolate Hase and then Fujinami for extended periods, the latter coming after the extremely unpopular Kitahara saves Tenryu from falling to Fujinami's Dragon Sleeper.
The remainder of the match see's Ashura Hara somehow being busted open, Iizuka (hard to believe it's the same guy that now stinks it up the ring these days with his stupid iron glove) being the latest to find himself being isolated in the wrong part of town for an extended period for the New Japan team, and Osamu Kido destroying people with Fujiwara Armbar's, to the point that he ends up putting Tenryu out of commission for the remainder of the match.
Kitahara is the key man down the stretch for the WAR team, continuosly making the save for his team whenever the New Japan side seemed to be getting the upper hand, much to the annoyance of the pro New Japan fans. It's all set up for him to be the difference maker or for him to be the one to get his comeuppance and they're smart enough indeed to book one of those two scenario's as the ultimate conclusion of this ten man battle.
23rd March 1993- NJPW Hyper Battle (Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium)
Shinya Hashimoto vs Hiromichi Fuyuki
: With his long hair and portly physique Fuyuki looks like a 100 Yen Shop Choshu. Unfortunately he also wrestled in a manner more boring than Choshu on his worst day- as he wanted to take it to the mat for some sweaty hugging, take regular trips to the apron and occasionally engage Hashimoto with some generic brawling. To his credit he does manage to rile the crowd up by going for NJPW icon Fujinami's Dragon Sleeper as a finish but that's the only positive thing I can say about Fuyuki's performance.
Hashimoto, who is probably seething for real that he's been lumoxed with yet another carry job , tries his best to drag the match to be something half decent and it improves about 200 per cent when he's on offence. But even a pissed off Hashimoto can't save this contest from being mediocre at best.
3rd May 1993- NJPW Wrestling Dontaku in Fukuoka Dome
The Great Muta vs Hulk Hogan
: For almost a decade Hulk Hogan established himself as the face of the WWF, with 5 World Heavyweight Title reign between 1984 and 1993. However a steroid scandal that ended up embroiling the WWF and implicating Hogan as a beneficiary of the steroids, was the beginning of the end for Hogan, as the WWF in the wake of the scandal looked to put emphasis on more natural wrestlers. Hogan's last run as WWF champion would come to an end in June at the hands of Yokozuna, but he would wrestle on the house show circuit for a few months before seeing out the rest of his contract.
Hogan was still the WWF champion at the time of this match, but was probably working this event for NJPW in knowledge that his time as the face of the WWF was coming to an end. Muta was also still the IWGP Heavyweight Champ at this point, but it's non title, so take a guess on who decides to swallow their pride and put the other man over.....
Hogan in Japan is always an interesting watch, as witnessing him putting in some effort and actually trying to wrestle, rather than just coasting by doing as little as possible, does end up changing the image of someone who couldn't wrestle most of the time, to someone who knew he could get by with doing the bare minimum most of the time. Which is both a good and bad thing.
Hogan's attempts at proper wrestling, do come across as a bit 'Hey look I can actually wrestle', especially when he decides to go for a Cross Armbreaker, but you can't fault the man for trying or at least having the sense to know that he wasn't going to be able to coast by with the simplistic brawling style accepted by the average WWF fan of the time.
Anyway this match is slow and pedestrian for the most part, but that has just as much to do with Muta as Hogan. At the mid point they're doing some generic brawling on the outside, and by this point the match looks to be an uninteresting write off. But then something happens to change the dynamic of the match....Hogan reacts a little too aggressively for the fans liking to some nefarious tactics by Muta, and you can feel the face/heel dynamic of the match change and to Hogan's credit he does sort of go along with the flow as he starts to play up to the arrogant gaijin invader dynamic.
They actually end up working a pretty hot closing stretch, that includes Muta doing some crazy spot that involved him launching himself at Hogan by swinging off a rope ladder of all things.
Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami vs Genichiro Tenryu & Riki Chosu
Apparently the NJPW vs WAR feud was still on going at this point, so who knows why Choshu is Tenryu's tag partner here but on the other hand this was the main event of a Dome show (not the usual Dome, the Fukuoka Dome on this occassion) and I guess one of Tenryu's underlings from WAR wasn't going to cut it in the company of legends.
This ended up being an overlong mixed bag of the match, that featured way too much mat wrestling for it's own good and could have done with having at least ten minutes shaved off. It felt like one of those matches that went 'long' just for the sake of it, and for the most part I cannot feel any real urgency in the performances of three out of the four men involved in this match.
Who actually ends up being the best thing about this match is Inoki. Though I sometimes give him a hard time for being a self serving egomaniac, Inoki who was now working an extremely limited schedule is the one to show the most fire throughout the contest as though he's determined to show that he still has 'it' and isn't just there to coast along on rest holds and signature spots.
The closing stretch ends up being pretty decent, but that's par for course and it doesn't forgive the fact that around two thirds of this laboured match is a bit of a chore trying to get by on star power alone.
15th June 1993- NJPW Explosion Tour (Nippon Budokan- Tokyo)
IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Great Muta vs. The Great Kabuki
We finally get the long awaited showdown between face paint wearing, mist spewing weirdo's Muta and Kabuki. It's one of those matches that sounds like a good idea in fantasy, but the reality was Kabuki was flabby and old at this point of his career and though the Muta gimmick was a fun bit of entertainment, Keiji Mutoh was much better wrestler sans the constraints of working said gimmick.
There's an early Red-Shoes Uno appearance, and he's wearing his famous red shoes! Anyway Red Shoes takes an early ref bump in this match, which Muta takes advantage of by nailing Kabuki with the belt. That causes Kabuki to be busted open and Muta dominates the match to the point that it looks like this is going to be little more than an extended squash/total dismantling of Kabuki. But then Muta makes a mistake, which Kabuki takes full advantage of and ends up giving Muta a receipt in full, with the IWGP Heavyweight champ now registering on the 'Muta Scale'.
The match is an ugly garbage brawl, but in all honesty that is what the fans would have wanted out of this match, no one was coming to see these two 'wrestle'. Unfortunately the finish ends up being the ugliest thing of the entire match....Red Shoes endures another ref bump and we get a BS finish involving mist, replacement referees and a non folding chair that the crowd rightly crap upon.
If it wasn't for the shitty finish, this might have just about scraped a mild recommendation for playing to the strengths of it's participants and delivering a trashy guilty pleasure of a match.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 1:44 pm
The second half 1993- A year I feel has ended up being under-represented on New Japan World.
22nd July 1993- NJPW Summer Struggle (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo)
Black Cat vs Tatsuhito Takaiwa
Tatsuhito Takaiwa: A young lion at this stage of his career Takaiwa made his debut for NJPW in the summer of 1992. Many of his early matches saw him matched up against future legends Hiroyoshi Tenzan (then Hiroyoshi Yamamoto) and Satoshi Kojima.
The Match: Whats with all these Black Cat singles matches on New Japan World?
I know that he's passed away but he didn't achieve anything of note during his run with NJPW. What makes it all the more strange is that the matches aren't even Black Cat vs a big name of the time. Right here we have Black Cat vs a Young Lion with one year of experience under his belt. Baffling.
This actually isn't a bad match in the end, but it's not necessarily a good one either. Takaiwa got in plenty of young lion offence, managing to get Black Cat in a variety of submission holds, including the usual Young Lion Boston Crab but the veteran always looked to be a step ahead.
The most notable thing about the match though is Black Cat almost stopping Takaiwa's career dead with a botched powerbomb that ends up turning into a sloppy piledriver kind of thing. Thankfully Takaiwa was OK, and bounced back pretty much straight away but to me it looks like Black Cat got away with his powerbomb attempt just looking crap.
7th August 1993- NJPW G1 Climax 1993 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)
G1 Climax Final Match: Hiroshi Hase vs Tatsumi Fujinami
1993 G1 Climax: The 1993 G-1 Climax was as with the previous year a 16 man single elimination tournament, though this time the tournament would just be for the G-1 Climax trophy and nothing else was on the line, unlike the previous year where the tournament was also for the vacant NWA World Heavyweight title.
Hase's path to the finals saw him defeat Shinya Hashimoto in the first round, overcome Kengo Kimura in the Quarter Finals and then upset the previous years winner Masahiro Chono in the Semi Finals.
Fujinami would defeat the veteran pair of Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Osamu Kido in the first round and quarter finals, before going on to face IWGP Heavyweight Champion Keiji Mutoh in the semi finals.
Other participants for that year included Hiromichi Fuyuki, Ashura Hara, Takashi Ishikawa and The Great Kabuki from the WAR promotion, Super Strong Machine, Shiro Koshinaka Michiyoshi Ohara and Takayuki Iizuka.
The Match: The 1993 G-1 Finals would see Hiroshi Hase, a man who always seemed on the cusp of breaking through into the main event scene but never quite getting there, against an established but ageing main event player in Tatsumi Fujinami. The early 90's was a period of transition that saw the elevation of the Three Musketeers (Mutoh, Chono and Hashimoto) but at the same time the likes of Fujinami and Choshu weren't quite ready to pass the torch entirely and completely bow out of the main event scene/IWGP Heavyweight title picture.
This was a very technical match with lots of submissions but one that never felt like it really got out of third gear until the final few minutes of the contest. After the opening portion Hase would get the upper hand after a couple of Uranage's out on the floor, that would see Hase follow those up by targeting Fujinami's back.
The Dragon would battle his way back into it and the closing stretch came down to Hase trying to put Fujinami away with his arsenal of suplex variations, whilst Fujinami would go into the playbook of his old arrival Riki Choshu and look to rely upon the Scorpion Deathlock to see him to victory.
In his own review of the match, VOW bigwig Rich Kraetsch said that the match felt like a showcase- which I would say is a pretty accurate assessment of what Fujinami and Hase put together here. Both were more than competent wrestlers (Fujinami may have lost a stepped slightly by this point but was by no means washed up), the work was excecuted well enough but it just lacked that spark to take this match to that next level.
23rd September 1993- NJPW G1 Climax Special 1993 (Yokohama Arena)
Hulk Hogan & Great Muta vs The Hell Raisers (Hawk Warrior and Power Warrior)
The Match: Both Muta and The Hell Raisers were coming off having their title runs ended, in the case of Muta by Hashimoto and the Hell Raisers by the all gaijin duo of the Jurassic Powers (Scott Norton & Hercules Hernandez).
Hulk Hogan is the odd man out here, looking like someone's who stumbled across a face painting party. They sort of play up Hogan and Muta being uneasy tag partners at the start, or more to the point Hogan just gives off an air that he can't fully trust the weirdo he's been paired with.
The match begins with Hawk getting in Hogan's face, he gives zero fucks that it's Hogan he's in the ring with and that he backs down from no one. What transpires after that though is a competent but pedestrian tag match, where The Hell Raisers are clearly positioned as being the better team, with them controlling the majority of the match. Does that take them all the way to the victory here? Well lets just say Muta's favourite difference maker comes into play.
Genichiro Tenryu vs Hiroshi Hase
The Match: As puroresu legends go was Tenryu, ever a super worker? He always tended to walk around the ring at a pedestrian pace, but he always had an undeniable prescence about him and his heavy chops always looked as though they legitimately hurt. He was the sort of wrestler who could endure having the kitchen sink thrown at him by his opponent and then just nail them with one hard hit, and the fans would buy into it, as he had that aura of being a stoic bad ass.
The always hard working Hase made for a great opponent for Tenryu in this match, as he tried everything he could to try and keep Tenryu down from Uranage's out on the floor to putting Tenryu in the Scorpion Death Lock, only for the WAR head to keep getting back up.
It baffles me as to why New Japan at the time never pulled the trigger on Hase, as not only was he one of their best in ring talents at the time, but he was clearly also over- as the crowd were desperately willing him on to get the upset win over Tenryu. In fact I would say more than that, you could hear that the fans believed in Hase at this point and that his appearance in that year's G-1 Finals was eventually going to lead to something.
10th December 1993- NJPW Battle Final 1993 (Aichi Prefectural Gymansium, Nagoya)
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs Keiji Mutoh
Hashimoto got his big breakthrough win three months earlier when he ended The Great Muta's near long title reign in September, to begin his first reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Mutoh wrestling as himself again, rather than his Muta persona would be looking to reclaim the title in the same building that he lost to Hashimoto in three months earlier.
The Match: Somehow Hashimoto ends up wrestling most of this match with a nosebleed, and I'm really at a loss as to how, because the first half of this match was slow paced mat and limb work.
In fact the first half is detrimentally slow, with the match suffering immeasurably from long match syndrome. It does eventually come into focus that Mutoh is targetting Hashimoto's right arm but it does not take away from the fact that much of the matches first half is laborious and lacking in urgency.
As to why Mutoh went after the arm is also a bit baffling, as it's Hashimoto's trademark kicks that end up helping him get a foothold back into the contest. The closing stretch to it's credit does save the match from being a complete disappointment, the match really comes alive and there's a particularly great sequence where Hashimoto manages to avoid a moonsault, then tries to fire back immediately with the spinning heel kick, only for Mutoh to duck his way under that.
If the match was entirely like the hot closing stretch, this would be a solid recommendation, but that pedestrian opening cannot be ignored. As it is the closing stretch just about makes the match worth a look, but far from a lost classic.