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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:22 pm
Keiji Mutoh takes centre stage in this update with two G-1 matches and a 'routine' title defence.
13th August 1995- NJPW G1 Climax 1995 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)
1995 G-1 Climax: The 1995 edition of the G-1 Climax featured an 8 man field divided into two blocks with the top two in each Block advancing to a knock-out semi final round. Block A featured the current IWGP Heavyweight champion Keiji Mutoh, defending and three time G-1 Climax winner Masahiro Chono, Heisei-Ishingun leader Shiro Koshinaka and multi time World Champion Ric Flair. Block B featured former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Shinya Hashimoto, last years beaten finalist Kensuke Sasaki, gaijin powerhouse Scott Norton and Hiroyoshi Tenzan in what would be his first G-1 of many to come.
G1 Climax A-Block: Keiji Mutoh vs Ric Flair
The Match: The bulk of the match was worked at a slow and methodical pace, with Flair mostly in control. Flair is probably one of the more engaging people to work an old school style however, as he is able to nuance his ring work with heelish mannerism's. As Flair was looking to dismantle Mutoh limb by limb the IWGP champion would have the odd burst of offence here and there but was never quite able to gather enough momentum to seize control from Flair.
Mutoh who came to the ring sporting a bandage over this forehead, eventually saw that wound re-open but that only seemed to fire Mutoh up, who finally looked to have turned the match in his favour. But a missed moonsault saw Flair sadistically take advantage with the multi time world champion targetting the re-opened wound on Mutoh's forehead.
Eventually the blood loss became so great that Mutoh was practically turning into The Great Muta. Flair then went to the Figure Four, but a desperate crimson faced Mutoh managed to survive. The closing stretch then saw Mutoh try anyway possible to sneak a victory over an increasingly sadistic Flair.
This is one of those matches that certainly benefited from someone bleeding like a stuck pig, because without Mutoh sporting a crimson mask by the end of the match this probably wouldn't have been anywhere near as good, because it's the blood that ended up adding the much needed drama to this match.
Without the blood this would have been a fairly decent 'clash of styles' match, with the work perhaps even being good enough in the end to earn a mild recommendation but once Flair looked to take advantage of Mutoh's cut be re-opened, the match moved up another level.
15th August 1995- NJPW G1 Climax 1995 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)
G1 Climax Finals: Keiji Mutoh vs Shinya Hashimoto
The Match: Both Mutoh and Hashimoto topped their respective Blocks with Mutoh then making it past Scott Norton and Hashimoto getting the better of Chono to reach the semi-Finals.
Mutoh and Hashimoto had a decent but somewhat disappointing match for the IWGP Heavyweight title, three months earlier in Fukuoka but I was hopeful that in front of the considerably more rabid Tokyo fans they would be inspired to take things to the next level.
As with their previous match, they started out with a bit of a feeling out process but the limb work, especially from Mutoh felt a little more focused this time round and not just rolling around on the mat for the sake of slow build.
Hashimoto however managed to survive Mutoh's assault on his legs, forcing the advantage with his superior striking game. Hash then looked to drill Mutoh with the Fisherman Buster, but just as in Fukuoka, Mutoh was able to counter that into a cross armbreaker.
Despite that Hash seized back the advantage and planted Mutoh with a vicious looking DDT that re-opened the forehead wound Mutoh had picked up earlier in the tournament. A huge brainbuster from Hash then looked to have just about killed Mutoh, but the IWGP champ must have caught Hash with his knees on the way down and both men were left starting at the lights, as they teased a countout spot.
A molten hot closing stretch then saw both men crash and burn on top-rope moves, with Hashimoto unable to connect with a diving elbow drop and Mutoh missing the mark with a moonsault, whilst a pop-up Frankensteiner out of nowhere from Mutoh popped a huge near-fall gasp from the molten hot Tokyo Dome crowd.
There are things you can be nitpicky about with this match, such as a lack of selling from either man after the limb-work during the early portion of the match, or Mutoh actually not quite connecting with the knees in his counter to Hashimoto's Brainbuster but if everything can't be worked to perfection then I'd rather trade off obsessive limb selling for an exciting closing stretch, where the two combatants are throwing their biggest bombs at one another whilst desperately surviving the other man's best stuff.
For sure the lack of limb selling does render at least half of the match to be a completely pointless exercise and that if they put in an ounce more effort selling their arms and legs being worked over then it would have rendered this match to be an all time classic but if you aren't going to be focused on that, then the increasingly dramatic closing stretch more than makes up for those shortcomings.
All things considered minor gripes aside, this was a well constructed match that got across the feeling that both men were desperate to win the tournament and assert themselves as the top dog in New Japan.
23rd September 1995- NJPW G1 Climax Special 1995 (Yokohama Arena)
Riki Choshu & Yuji Nagata vs Yoji Anjo & Tatsuo Nakano
Riki Choshu: Choshu who was now the New Japan booker, had a low key in-ring year as he kept himself out of the title picture, to the point that he didn't even compete in that year's G-1 Climax.
Yoji Anjo: Anjo made his pro-wrestling debut in 1985 for the original UWF, and when the promotions collapsed just a year later he joined New Japan as a low-ranking member of the UWF invasion angle. Anjo would stay with NJPW until 1988, but once again left with the likes of Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada to form the Newborn UWF.
When the Newborn UWF closed it's doors in December 1990, Anjo was one of many from that roster to join Takada in continuing the UWF legacy, with UWF-I. However at the end of 1994 Anjo was involved in a incident that may well have damaged UWF-I's reputation and brought along the eventual decline of the worked shoot promotion, when he came out on the wrong end of a legitimate shoot fight with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master Rickson Gracie.
Tatsuo Nakano: Debuting a year before Yoji Anjo, Nakano's pro-wrestling career up to that point would follow the same path.
The Match: Anjo and Nakano are a pair of invaders from the UWFI promotion. The subsequent interpromotional war between NJPW and UWFI would go on to be the most lucrative feud in Japanese wrestling history, drawing three crowds of over 50,000 to the Tokyo Dome in a storyline that unfolded in under a year.
This was a bowling shoe ugly scrap of a match but one that established the dynamic for the feud going forward, with the UWFI invaders put over as legit tough guys with their shooter offence and that the NJPW wrestlers were prepared to strike back just as hard in order to defend the honor of their wrestling.
The key moments are between Anjo and Nagata (who despite being a New Japan loyalist was developing a style that wouldn't have looked out of place in the worked shoot environment of UWF). Nagata is left with a swollen eye after taking some legit offence from Anjo but later in the match a pissed of Nagata gives Anjo a receipt by shooting on the invader and giving the UWFI invader a swollen eye in return.
Without the pro New Japan crowd getting firmly behind their guys against the invaders this scrappy affair of a contest wouldn't be much to write home about but with a charged atmosphere fuelling the simmering air of chaos, it ends up serving as a tempting taster of what was to come.
25th September 1995-NJPW G1 Climax Special 1995 (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs Junji Hirata
Junji Hirata : In July, Hirata would team up alongside former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Shinya Hashimoto to challenge Masahiro Chono and Hiroyoshi Tenzan for the IWGP Tag titles vacated by Mutoh and Hase. On that occasion Hashimoto and Hirata would be defeated, but Chono and Tenzan would be forced to vacate the title after only a month and this time the pair would win the titles in another decision match against the all gaijin team of Scott Norton and Mike Enos.
The Match: I can only guess that Hirata must have been given a title shot here by simply making a verbal challenge, that Mutoh accepted because I can't see how he would have earned it any other way.
Anyway this is a match of two distinct parts of greatly varying quality. The opening portion of the match is mind numbingly boring with Mutoh and Hirata working at a snails pace and doing a whole lot of nothing. The work here is so bland, it's about seven or so minutes that feel like seventy minutes.
Hirata then seized control and built up a run of offence with a few Germans and Lariat before missing a diving headbutt. Mutoh then took advantage with a pop up Frankensteiner but perhaps made a far too arrogant cover, allowing Hirata to kick out at two. Still though at this point it was looking as though all Mutoh had to do was run through his signature stuff and file Hirata away as the most routine of routine defences.
But Hirata was able to halt Mutoh's momentum with some more lariats before planting the champion with a huge sitout powerbomb that had the crowd now believing that Hirata might just have a chance of causing the upset here. A frantic closing stretch then saw Hirata connect with the diving headbutt when he went to that well for a second time and Mutoh pulling out the top rope Frankensteiner and the Moonsault in order to keep hold of the title.
The closing stretch was great and brought the crowd round to Hirata actually having a chance but the insipid build up cannot be ignored either, when putting together a balanced assessment of this match. In fact I will say skip straight to the half way point of the match with this one, you will miss absolutely nothing by doing so!
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:22 pm
Time to get this project back on track, which was derailed by a combination of me being grounded with a cold last week and present day New Japan having a glut of shows in a short space of time. Anyway the next couple of up dates are all about one thing and that's the NJPW vs UWFI feud.
9th October 1995- New Japan Pro Wrestling vs UWF International (Tokyo Dome)- Part 1
NJPW vs UWFI Feud: Just a year earlier the latest incarnation of the UWF was proving to be a success, as it actually lead the world of wrestling in average attendance per show in 1994. But throughut 1995 the promotion started to lose momentum, due to a combination of poor booking and the rise of MMA/Shoot wrestling- which was starting to hurt the perception of UWFI's worked shoot approach.
By the summer of 1995, things had gotten to the point, where the UWFI needed help to get back on track- so in a desperate attempt to regenerate interest in their promotion they went back to the past and agreed to once again work with New Japan and do another invasion angle. The problem for UWFI though is that they were now in such dire straits, they handed the booking of the feud completely over to the New Japan office- and it doesn't take a genius to guess why that probably wasn't going to end up being the best idea for their survival.
Unsurprisingly this feud didn't end up saving UWFI but it did end up proving to be a great piece of business for New Japan, who managed to get three Tokyo Dome shows out of the feud, whilst it would also prove to be the inspiration for a history changing angle over in North America- the NWO storyline in WCW.
Tokimitsu Ishizawa & Yuji Nagata vs Hiromitsu Kanehara & Kazushi Sakuraba
Yuji Nagata & Tokimitsu Ishizawa: Nagata and Ishizawa graduated from the same dojo class three years prior, both were at this stage of their careers still very much being booked as young lions.
Hiromitsu Kanehara : Kanehara would make his debut for shoot style promotion UWFI in 1991. He would go on to struggle to have much impact in puroresu throughout the 90's before switching to MMA in 1999, notably working for Fighting Network Rings and Pride.
Kazushi Sakuraba: After considering joining the proto MMA organisation Pancrase, Sakuraba made his debut for the worked shoot UWFI promotion in 1993. He would though go on to find greater success in the world of MMA competing for the likes of Pride and UFC and earning the nickname of the 'Gracie Hunter'.
The Match: The video for this one begins with Inoki decked out like a Yakuza boss, introducing the up coming event to a packed Tokyo Dome crowd. It then cuts to a shot of said crowd, and it's all men....a mixture of nerdy looking wrestling otaku and suited up salarymen- a far cry from today's New Japan crowds. I know there were some female fans in attendance back then, but the amount of women that follow the NJPW product certainly seems to have shot up in the past decade.
As with the tag match involving Nagata from September, this was another feisty but scrappy affair but that's par for the course with the UWF worked shoot style. There's elements I like from the style such as the more realistic submissions and the stiff kicks but because they are trying so hard to make it look like a real fight all the time, the matches can end up looking a mess.
The match was it's best when Nagata and Sakuraba were in there- Nagata was really starting to develop his own style that took on elements of the UWF way of working, without completely abandoning the basics of traditional puroresu, whilst Sakuraba displayed a better grasp of pro wrestling than his tag partner. Looking at this match, there was little wonder why Kanehara never went anywhere as a wrestler- but then again Inoki would develop an increasing hard-on for shitty MMA types.
Shinjiro Otani vs Kenichi Yamamoto
Shinjiro Otani: Otani would continue to build on his break out year in 1994, holding the UWA World Welterweight title until April, which he lost in a champion vs champion match against generational rival Koji Kanemoto. He would however avenge that loss to Kanemoto in the semi finals of the Best of the Super Juniors but would come up short against eventual winner Wild Pegasus.
Kenichi Yamamoto: A disciple of the Seidokaikan school of Karate, Yamamoto would embark on a pro wrestling career in the mid 90's, making his debut for UWFI in 1994. As with many of his UWFI alumni Yamamoto would make the switch to MMA at the end of the decade.
The Match: Another problem with much of the UWF roster, especially the one's that were being brought through is that a lot of them come across as 100 Yen shop Takada's and Yamamoto was as generic a UWF worker as they come.
Anyway this fairly short match saw Otani dragged into a fairly tiresome faux MMA style bout until he thankfully got fed up with that in the end and just started killing Yamamoto with Dragon Suplexes. Otani abandoning the faux MMA wankery and going back to pro-wrestling, saved this match from being a complete dud.
Takashi Iizuka vs Yoshihiro Takayama
Takashi Iizuka: After years of competing under his real name of midcarder Takayuki Iizuka made the decision to compete as Takashi Iizuka instead. Alongside Akira Nogami as JJ Jacks he would once again compete in the Super Grade Tag League, but yet again the team struggled towards the end of the standings, despite being one of only a few regular units competing in NJPW at the time.
Yoshihiro Takayama: Takayama would make his debut for UWFI in 1992. Despite dabbling in MMA during the early 2000's, unlike many of his peers that started their wrestling career with UWFI, Takayama did go on to have a significant pro wrestling career, going on to win titles in AJPW, NJPW and NOAH.
The Match: Knowing that I probably won't get the repercussion of a knee to the face for saying this but Takayama has to be one of the butt ugliest wrestlers in the history of his pro-wrestling. He's sporting a greasy ponytail in his natural hair colour and his huge for a Japanese wrestler 6ft 5 frame hasn't quite filled out yet but he still has that face only his mother could love.
This followed much the same formula as the previous match with the UWF guy dominating the early going with their heavy striking and shooter grappling, whilst the NJPW guy kind of looks lost, until the NJPW guy kind of says 'fuck this shit' and just starts doing their own kind of puroresu, which in Iizuka's case meant tossing Takayama around with some suplexes.
In comparison to Yamamoto, Takayama did at least have a presence about him- so you could see the potential there for him to develop a solid pro-wrestling career outside of the UWFI environment.
Jushin Thunder Liger vs Naoki Sano
Jushin Thunder Liger: After almost a year out with a fractured left ankle (an injury that forced him to cut short his record breaking IWGP Junior title reign), Liger returned to the ring in August.
Naoki Sano: An early rival of Jushin Thunder Liger, Sano had a lone IWGP Junior title reign in 1989. Following an excursion to Canada however, Sano defected to Genichiro Tenryu's up-start Super World of Sports promotion that was backed by Megane Super, where he was pushed as the short-lived promotions top Junior and was the only man to hold their Light Heavyweight Championship. When SWS collapsed in the summer of 1992, Sano moved on to work for UWF-International.
The Match: These two had a superb heated feud against one another during the fledgling years of Liger's push towards being established as the ace of the Junior Division. Since then Liger had become a 6 time Junior champion, and despite a consistently evolving Junior Division that was deeper than ever, Liger was still undoubtedly New Japan's biggest Junior division star. On the other hand Sano decided to do the equivalent of a top class soccer player going to China by accepting a mega contract with SWS- where he was pushed as their junior ace but in a division without the competition or cache of competing for NJPW.
Whilst this lacked the hate fuelled heat of their previous matches, Liger and Sano showed that they still had excellent chemistry with one another. Whilst this did have a bit of a more UWF vibe to it, with plenty of shoot style grappling and submission exchanges, the match did not go overboard with pushing that style, to the point that Sano even pulled out a suicide dive at one point.
As the match unfolded Liger would always seem to b a step ahead of Sano but he was never quite able to fully take control of the exchanges and that Sano was always in with a chance of capatilizing on a mistake from his old rival.
All in all this was probably their weakest match they've had against each other but that's understandable given that this was given midcard match time and that their once heated rivalry with one another had dissipated when Sano left NJPW 5 years earlier. Still though for the time they were given, this was still good stuff and definitely the best match on the first half of the show.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:47 pm
The final up date for 1995 see's the remainder of the first NJPW vs UWFI Tokyo Dome show and two matches from a smaller NJPW vs UWFI centred event.
9th October 1995- New Japan Pro Wrestling vs UWF International (Tokyo Dome)- Part 2
Riki Choshu vs Yoji Anjo
The Match: Just as heads up, the first two minutes of the match video are Antonio Inoki being interviewed by one of the announcers. This was short and scrappy with Choshu dominating most of the exchanges and pulling out the two moves he only ever really needed the lariat and the Scorpion Death Lock. This wasn't terrible but it ended up being not much more than a squash match.
Kensuke Sasaki vs Masahito Kakihara
Kensuke Sasaki: After his failed title challenge at the annual Tokyo Dome show on January 4th, the brakes were put on Sasaki's main event level push during the year. He would still compete in the G-1 Climax but in contrast to the previous year where he would top his Block on the way to the finals, Sasaki would finish joint bottom of his Block.
Masahito Kakihara: Kakihara made his debut for the Newborn UWF in 1990, before moving on to Takada's UWF-I the following year.
The Match: As with the last match this one starts off with Inoki gas-bagging to some announcer- only this time they're joined in the conversation by Masa Saito.
This a more evenly fought battle than the last match but was dragged down by a malaise of mat based grappling during it's middle portion. The problem with much of the UWF roster is that a lot of them were just clones of each other or more specifically clones of Maeda/Takada but without any of the personality. They all do the stiff kicks mixed with shooter submissions approach and in the end they all just merge into one forgettable sea of blandness. Sasaki was still quite a limited worker and certainly didn't have it in him to drag this match above being just sort of 'there'.
Shinya Hashimoto vs Tatsuo Nakano
Tatsuo Nakano: Debuting a year before Yoji Anjo, Nakano's pro-wrestling career up to that point would follow the same path.
The Match: Very similar to the Choshu match, in that Hashimoto dominated the match so much to the point that this was pretty much a borderline squash match. Nakano brought absolutely nothing to the table to the point that this might just be the least interesting Hashimoto match available on New Japan World.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs Nobuhiko Takada
Keiji Mutoh: 1995 would prove to be a banner year for Mutoh, winning the IWGP Heavyweight title from generational peer Hashimoto in May and then going on to win the G-1 Climax in August as the reigning IWGP champion.
Nobuhiko Takada: When the Newborn UWF closed it's doors in December 1990, Takada would go on to form the UWF-I, where he would push himself as the promotion's top star. In 1992 Takada was awarded an old NWA World Heavyweight title belt by Lou Thesz and was declared the Pro Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion.
Takada would hold the belt for almost two years, before being defeated by NJPW alumni Big Van Vader (working under the ring name of Super Vader). Takada would win the title back in April 1995 but would make no further title defences before retiring the title later that year.
The Match: Apart from the Liger vs Sano match, all of the other matches on this show have been average at best. In fact the second half thus far has been a string of disappointingly mediocre two star specials. However Takada was the ace of UWFI, so he should at least be able to bring more to the table than the forgettable stylistic clones he brought along with him as part of this invasion angle.
The opening portion of the match is rather ponderous, as they engage in a mat wrestling battle. However after a slow start, the match does begin to pick up steam when Takada switches to the stiff kicks that he's known for, however Mutoh showed plenty of fire by showing that he was prepared to go toe to toe with the UWFI leader.
However a missed moonsault from Mutoh put Takada in control, and a barrage of kicks and a cross armbreaker looked to have the champion in trouble. Mutoh however wasn't going to give in and found a chink in Takada's arsenal, which was to go after the UWFi leader's main weapon his legs- this then saw the match turn into a fascinating war of attrition down the closing stretch with Mutoh trying to survive Takada's relentless barrage of kicks, whilst Takada was looking to survive an equally relentless barrage of Dragon Screw Leg Whips and Figure Four Leglocks from Mutoh.
The match started off slow but got really good down the stretch, which offered up a more psychology based form of story telling than the usual 'Lets throw the kitchen sink at each other' finisher fest - not that I'm ever one to complain about those sort of closing stretches but it's also nice to see something a little different sometimes.
Overall Show Verdict: From a box office stand point this show as a roaring success, as it managed to attract 67,000 fan to the Tokyo Dome. Now no one knows how much of that 67,000 attendance was 'papered' but you've got to think that a good portion of the fans paid to see the show- which obviously caught the imagination of both NJPW fans and UWFI die hards who would have also been in attendance to support their guys.
From a critique stand point though, this show isn't all that good. There have been worse Tokyo Dome cards and there isn't anything offensively bad on here but apart from the main event and Liger vs Sano, everything else lies somewhere between the mediocrity of two stars and averageness of three stars.
From a booking stand point NJPW won most of the matches, but the UWFi didn't manage to pick up enough wins to at least look like something of a threat.
29th October 1995: NJPW October Suprise (Marine Messe, Fukuoka)
Keiji Mutoh & Yuji Nagata vs. Masahito Kakihara & Yoshihiro Takayama
The Match: This match only really got going in the final minute or so, when Kakihara got all cocky and demanded that Keiji Mutoh get back into the ring- only to get the crap stomped out of him by the IWGP champ, however that wasn't to prove to be the decisive moment in the match, as Mutoh tagged young lion Nagata back in, giving the UWFI pair a chance to come away with the victory.
If the whole match was like the fiery closing stretch this could have been pretty great, as it was most of this ended up being a JAM (Just A Match).
Kensuke Sasaki vs Yoji Anjo
The Match: Anjo who is now sporting new ring gear (A black vest and long black trousers) gets instant heat from the crowd, whilst Sasaki refuses the offer of a handshake from the UWFI man at the start of the match.
Anjo to his credit does a pretty great job of adding more flavour to his character, than simply been a shoot style wrestler for this match. He plays dirty at points, even head butting Sasaki in the lower extremities at one point and just generally giving off a being a bit of an asshole. It's a considerably better performance than the one he put in against Choshu at the Tokyo Dome, where he did come across as just like any of the other Shoot Wrestler clones that made up most of the UWFI's army of invaders.
The match itself felt like a Riki Choshu style sprint, in the fact that it got straight to the point by forgoing the slow build, and instead putting on a fiery mix of brawling and Sasaki dramatically fighting off an array of submission attempts from Anjo.
This resulted in one of the more enjoyable Kensuke Sasaki singles performances from this period of his career - because at this point he simply wasn't ready to work 'epics' and was much more suited to working fiery sprints such as this.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:56 pm
Updated Recommended Match List:
Jan 1990- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Naoki Sano vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Aug 1991- G1 Climax 1991 Finals: Keiji Mutoh vs Masahiro Chono
Feb 1994- Shinya Hashimoto vs Genichiro Tenryu
Apr 1994- Super J Cup Semi Final: Jushin Thunder Liger vs The Great Sasuke
Apr 1994- Super J Cup Final: The Great Sasuke vs Wild Pegasus
Jul 1995- Best of the Super Juniors II- Semi Final Match: Wild Pegasus vs Black Tiger II
Dec 1975- 2/3 Falls Match NWF World Championship: Antonio Inoki vs Billy Robinson
Sep 1981- Andre The Giant vs Stan Hansen
Jan 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Apr 1983- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu
Apr 1983- Decision match for the vacant NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Jun 1983- (Vacant) NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Tiger Mask
Aug 1983- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Riki Choshu vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Dec 1985- IWGP Tag Team League Finals / IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi vs Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura
Jun 1986- IWGP League 1986: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Akira Maeda
Feb 1987- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Shiro Koshinaka vs Nobuhiko Takada
Mar 1987- (Vacant) IWGP Tag Team Championship: Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka
Mar 1987- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Keiji Mutoh & Shiro Koshinaka vs Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada
Jan 1988- Top of the Junior Tournament Match: Shiro Kosinaka vs Keiichi Yamada
Sep 1989- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Naoki Sano vs Jushin Liger
Aug 1990- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Big Van Vader vs Riki Choshu
Sep 1990- The Great Muta vs Hiroshi Hase
Nov 1990- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Masahiro Chono & Keiji Mutoh vs Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki
Mar 1991- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs AKIRA
Apr 1991- Top Of The Super Juniors Finals/(Vacant) IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Norio Honaga
May 1991- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Norio Honaga vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Jan 1992- The Great Muta & Sting vs The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
May 1992- Different Style Fight: Shiro Koshinaka vs Masahi Aoyagi
May 1992- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Big Van Vader & Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase
Jun 1992- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Big Van Vader & Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow vs The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
Aug 1992- G1 Climax 1992 Finals/NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Masahiro Chono vs Rick Rude
Oct 1992- Genichiro Tenryu & Koki Kitahara vs Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura
Jan 1993- IWGP Heavyweight Championship/ NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Great Muta vs. Masahiro Chono
Jan 1993- IWGP Tag Team Championship: The Hell Raisers (Hawk Warrior & Power Warrior) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
Jan 1993- Riki Choshu vs. Genichiro Tenryu
Feb 1993- 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)
Sep 1993- Genichiro Tenryu vs Hiroshi Hase
Jan 1994- Hiroshi Hase & Keiji Mutoh vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
Jan 1994- IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masahiro Chono
Feb 1994- Shinya Hashimoto vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Apr 1994- Super J Cup 1st Round: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Hayabusa
Apr 1994- Super J Cup 2nd Round: El Samurai vs The Great Sasuke
Jun 1994- Best of the Super Juniors Finals: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Super Delfin
Oct 1994- Super Grade Jr. Heavyweight Tag League Final Match: Black Tiger II & The Great Sasuke vs Wild Pegasus & Shinjiro Otani
Feb 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Title #1 Contendership Match: Keiji Mutoh vs Scott Norton
Aug 1995- G1 Climax A-Block: Keiji Mutoh vs Ric Flair
Aug 1995- G1 Climax Finals: Keiji Mutoh vs Shinya Hashimoto
Oct 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs Nobuhiko Takada
Jul 1978- WWWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Ryuma Go
Jun 1979- WWF Junior Heavyweight Title: Tatsumi Fujinami vs El Canek
Dec 1979- WWF Junior Heavyweight Title: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Kengo Kimura
Feb 1980- WWF Junior Heavyweight Title: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Dynamite Kid
Apr 1980- NWF World Heavyweight Title: Stan Hansen vs Antonio Inoki
Sep 1980- NWF Heavyweight Title: Antonio Inoki vs Stan Hansen
Nov 1981- Gran Hamada vs Tiger Mask
Jan 1982- WWF Championship: Bob Backlund vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Jan 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Apr 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright
Apr 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Black Tiger
May 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Black Tiger vs Tiger Mask
Jun 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Ultraman
Jul 1982- Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Aug 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid
Oct 1982- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi
Nov 1982- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu
Jan 1983- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi
Jul 1983- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Isamu Teranishi
Jul 1983- WWF International Heavyweight Championship: Riki Choshu vs Tatsumi Fujimami
Aug 1983- WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship: Tiger Mask vs Isamu Teranishi
Jan 1984- Ishin Gundan (Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu) vs. Akira Maeda & Tatsumi Fujinami
Feb 1984- Akira Maeda, Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Ishin Gundan (Animal Hamaguchi, Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu)
Apr 1984- Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu *
* This was the end of a Gauntlet match between NJPW Sekigun and Ishin Gundan.
May 1984- Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Ishin Gundan (Masa Saito & Riki Choshu)
Aug 1984- Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu
Apr 1985- Antonio Inoki vs Bruiser Brody
Jan 1986- Akira Maeda vs Nobuhiko Takada
Mar 1986- 5vs5 Elimination Match: 'NJPW'- Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura, Kantaro Hoshino & Umanosuke Ueda vs 'UWF' Akira Maeda, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Nobuhiko Takada, Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido
May 1986- Keiichi Yamada vs Nobuhiko Takada
May 1986- Tatsumi Fujinami vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara
May 1986- Tatsumi Fujinami vs Akira Maeda*
* Part of a 10 Man Gauntlet series of singles matchese between NJPW and the UWF
Jun 1986- IWGP League 1986 Final: Antonio Inoki vs Dick Murdoch
Aug 1986- IWGP Junior Championship: Nobuhiko Takada vs Shiro Koshinaka
Nov 1986- Antonio Inoki & Kevin Von Erich vs Keiji Mutoh and Kengo Kimura
Dec 1986- Tatsumi Fujinami vs Kengo Kimura
Dec 1986- Japan Cup Tag League Grand Final: Akira Maeda & Osamu Kido vs. Antonio Inoki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Apr 1987- Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito
May 1987- IWGP League 1987 Match: Akira Maeda vs Masa Saito
Jun 1987- IWGP League 1987 Final/IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito *
* Match itself is pretty average, but it's an important part of New Japan's history and the post match mic work was entertaining.
Aug 1987- Antonio Inoki & Keiji Mutoh vs Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami
Sep 1987- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs Kazuo Yamazaki & Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Dec 1987- Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader *
* Another one where the recommendation isn't really for the match itself, but rather the fact it was a notable event in NJPW history.
Jun 1988- (Vacant) IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu
Jun 1988- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader
Jul 1988- IWGP League 1988 Match: Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu
Jul 1988- Keiji Mutoh, Shinya Hashimoto & Masahiro Chono vs Tatsumi Fujinami, Kengo Kimura & Shiro Koshinaka
Jul 1988- IWGP League 1988 Match: Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader
Oct 1988- Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu
Feb 1989- Antonio Inoki vs Riki Choshu
Apr 1989- IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament 1st Round: Riki Choshu vs Shinya Hashimoto
Apr 1989- IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Semi Final: Big Van Vader vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Apr 1989- IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Final : Shinya Hashimoto vs Big Van Vader
Apr 1989- George Takano & Super Strong Machine vs Hiroshi Hase & Shiro Koshinaka
Apr 1989- Jushin Liger vs Kuniaki Kobayashi *
* Far from his best, but it's Yamada's debut under the Liger gimmick- which would go on to be the most enduring and iconic masked gimmick in NJPW history.
May 1989- Hiro Saito & Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Naoki Sano & Shiro Koshinaka
May 1989- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Hase vs Jushin Liger
Jul 1989- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Liger vs Naoki Sano
Sep 1989- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Riki Choshu & Takayuki Iizuka vs Masa Saito & Shinya Hasimoto
Feb 1990- Akira Nogami & Jushin Thunder Liger vs Naoki Sano & Pegasus Kid
Feb 1990- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Big Van Vader vs Stan Hansen
Apr 1990- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Shinya Hashimoto & Masa Saito vs Masahiro Chono & Keiji Mutoh
May 1990- Riki Choshu vs Shinya Hashimoto
Sep 1990- Antonio Inoki & Tiger Jeet Singh vs Big Van Vader & Animal Hamaguchi *
* This was Inoki's 30th Anniversary match, in terms of ring work it was mediocre at best but it ended up being an entertaining 'spectacle' in front of a fervant crowd.
Mar 1991- Brian Pillman, Tim Horner & Z-Man vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi, Shiro Koshinaka & Takayuki Iizuka
Mar 1991- IWGP Tag Team Championship/WCW World Tag Team Championship: Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki (c) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner) (c)
Mar 1991- IWGP Heavyweight Title / NWA World Heavyweight Title Match: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Ric Flair
May 1991- Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow & TNT vs Keiji Mutoh & Riki Choshu
Sep 1991- Different Style Fight: Shinya Hashimoto vs Tony Halme
Feb 1992- Akitoshi Saito vs Michoyoshi Ohara *
* More for the heated post match angle than the match itself.
Mar 1992- Akitoshi Saito & Masashi Aoyagi vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi & Shiro Koshinaka
Apr 1992- Different Style Fight: Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Akitoshi Saito
May 1992- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs El Samurai
May 1992- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Riki Choshu vs Keiji Mutoh
Jul 1992- Masahiro Chono vs Shiro Koshinaka
Nov 1992- 'WAR' Genichiro Tenryu, Koki Kitahara & Takashi Ishikawa vs. 'Heisei Ishingun' Kengo Kimura, Masashi Aoyagi & Shiro Koshinaka)
Dec 1992- Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shiro Koshinaka
Jan 1993- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Ultimo Dragon vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Jan 1993- Hiroshi Hase vs Sting
Jan 1993- Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Takashi Ishikawa
Feb 1993- Heisei Ishingun (Kengo Kimura, Shiro Koshinaka & The Great Kabuki) vs. Keiji Mutoh, Masahiro Chono & Shinya Hashimoto
May 1993- The Great Muta vs Hulk Hogan
Aug 1993- G1 Climax Final Match: Hiroshi Hase vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Dec 1993- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs Keiji Mutoh
Jan 1994- Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tiger Mask III
Jan 1994- Hulk Hogan vs. Tatsumi Fujinami
Jan 1994- Antonio Inoki vs. Genichiro Tenryu
Feb 1994- Hiroshi Hase vs Tadao Yasuda
Mar 1994- IWGP Heavyweight Championship- Shinya Hashimoto vs Scott Norton
Mar 1994- Young Lion Cup Final- Satoshi Kojima vs Manabu Nakanishi
Apr 1994- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs Tatsumi Fujinami
Apr 1994- Super J Cup 1st Round: Shinjiro Otani vs Super Delfin
Apr 1994- Super J Cup 1st Round: Black Tiger II vs TAKA Michinoku
Apr 1994- Super J Cup 2nd Round: Wild Pegasus vs Black Tiger II
Apr 1994- Super J Cup 2nd Round: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Ricky Fuji
Apr 1994- Super J Cup Semi Final: Wild Pegasus vs Gedo
May 1994- IWGP Heavyweight Title: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Shinya Hashimoto
Oct 1994- Super Grade Tag League IV Final Match: Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase vs Masahiro Chono & Super Strong Machine
Jan 1995- Koji Kanemoto vs Yuji Nagata
Jan 1995- IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Hiroshi Hase & Keiji Mutoh vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
Jan 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kensuke Sasaki
Feb 1995- El Samurai & Shinjiro Otani vs. Gran Hamada & Koji Kanemoto
Feb 1995- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Norio Honaga vs Dean Malenko
Feb 1995- Kensuke Sasaki & Manabu Nakanishi vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
Feb 1995- Hiroshi Hase & Shinjiro Otani vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Koji Kanemoto
Feb 1995- Mike Enos & Scott Norton vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)
Feb 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Apr 1995- Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Keiji Mutoh
Apr 1995- Akira Hokuto vs Bull Nakano
May 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Title: Shinya Hashimoto vs Keiji Mutoh
Jul 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Title Keiji Mutoh vs Hawk Warrior
Sep 1995- Riki Choshu & Yuji Nagata vs Yoji Anjo & Tatsuo Nakano
Sep 1995- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs Junji Hirata
Oct 1995- Jushin Thunder Liger vs Naoki Sano
Oct 1995- Kensuke Sasaki vs Yoji Anjo
Next Recommended match listing update after 1999.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:20 am
Wrestling fans who are in their 20-30 years who write historic wrestling reviews don't have any time-related views, and pass their 2015-2017 opinions, solely based on today's smark standards. You watched decades later all those 1970's-1980's videos you found somewhere and you wrote reviews on everything, as well as you pass your 2017's smark opinions. This is quite remarkable to find reviews of NJPW old stuff today. I am pleased, but not totally 100% pleased. Especially when I've just read in the 2 first pages here.
Quote from page 2 on Abdullah vs Dick Murdoch: "Seriously why is this match even posted up to the NJPW World archives? It's a forgettable garbage brawl of little to no importance.I honestly don't think you could find anyone who is nostalgic for a Butcher-Murdoch match from 1983, nor do I think any newer fans are going to be desperate to seek out such a contest." I agree for the "newer fans" matter (as they'll rather search for Jun Kasai stuff or tubes/razor boards/glass matches), I totally disagree for the "not finding anyone who is nostalgic for a 1983 garbage match" . It's underestimating 1983 fans who have a good memory having watched those matches in Japan and USA. I watched a lot of wrestling when I was a child in the 1970's-1980's, and today, I am fond/nostalgic of many matches I watched as a kid (scientific-garbage...), and I can't rewatch anymore them for 30-40-something years, because many of those TV tapes are long lost. There's many Facebook pages dedicated on vintage pro wrestling, sharing pictures-articles from past magazines-Youtube videos. I'm a admin/creator on one of those FB pages for over 6 years, with almost 500 members, and other groups have up to over 3000 members !
And for your comments (especially on page 2) that "Abdullah infected many wrestlers with hepatitis"... try to understand that he was a product of the 1960's-1970's, so him, The Sheik, Tiger Jeet Singh and dozens of "hardcore" wrestlers from that era (count Dusty Rhodes and Jerry Lawler in the list) all cut their opponents, to draw halls-arenas & stadiums in America & elsewhere, and that was the big thing in the 1960's-1970's-1980's when they found audience, fed by violence on television (absolutely no internet back then), before WWF emerging with a smoother family-oriented product. To answer to your occasional "pointless" quotes on bleeding, blood in wrestling in the old decades does have a point, to shock people back then, and to draw audiences, as well as the feuds themselves, while not having any PPV schedule crap that today's companies have. Today in 2017, everything is done full circle, everybody has seen & know everything (with internet), there's barely little to no shock value in today's wrestling.
It just happened that Butcher was the last sole one from that old era who carried a career of bad shit from Japan-Puerto Rico-America for decades, to end up spilling a blood disease in the 2000's indies. The crybaby Nicholson sued him, sent him to bad press, and finally got cured from hep.
Despite the hep happening when Butcher should have retired instead of doing freak shows in the indies in the 2000's, I have to mention that Abdullah was real influential in Japan, doing TV ads, acting in a 1982 martial arts movie, he and Andre The Giant influenced mangas and fighting videogames, quite a cartoonish fantasy world back in Japan in the 1980's-1990's. This is not something to neglect or overlook in my view. Gaijins like Freddie Blassie up to Abdullah left quite a big mark in Japan wrestling history and their fans, history-speaking.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:03 am
retropabst wrote:Wrestling fans who are in their 20-30 years who write historic wrestling reviews don't have any time-related views, and pass their 2015-2017 opinions.......
I'm not going to argue back and claim to be an oracle on wrestling from when I wasn't even born or when I was just a young kid- because I'm not. I will admit that I'm looking at those matches from the perspective of someone looking at the past, rather than experiencing them in the moment but that can be said about any match being experienced that way. A lot of matches tend to be better if you're invested in the story of the match or the feud that goes with it. So really what I'm doing here is judging the matches on merit to see if they still stand up (in my opinion)
I actually appreciate your impassioned defence of Abdullah The Butcher and it's given me a more balanced perspective on him as a performer and his style of wrestling and I probably was a bit flippant with my comment about no one being interested in seeing a '1983 garbage match'. That being said that style of wrestling still isn't my cup of tea and as I respect your right to be nostalgic for that style/era of wrestling, you should also respect my right to not be impressed by that sort of wrestling.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:31 am
I've been using this list and Mr Lariato's quite a lot recently to go back and watch old stuff on New Japan.
Going back to old stuff is not something I find easy for a number of reasons. Very simply, there is a time factor; so with a lot of new wrestling on offer regularly I prioritize that. Then there is the simple matter that I find myself having to be in the right mood (whatever that is) to watch an old match or show out of context. And finally, I know many prefer the Japanese commentary, but when you are dipping back in time; I feel that me not understanding what is being said doesn't make it any easier for me to just slide into a relatively random match or show.
So, I very much appreciate that any reviewer's opinion is their opinion and may be shaped by many many factors, but I did want to say that I have found and am still finding this a really valuable resource to help me wade through decades of old New Japan stuff.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:10 am
It's 1996 and Brit-Pop has reached it's peak....But that's a discussion for another site! Here once again we arrive at the annual Tokyo Dome show, as in this update we look at the first half of the card....
4th January 1996: NJPW Wrestling World in Tokyo Dome - Part 1
Hiromitsu Kanehara, Kazushi Sakuraba & Kenichi Yamamoto vs. Shinjiro Otani, Tokimitsu Ishizawa & Yuji Nagata
The Match: This ended up being an awkwardly worked six man tag between a trio of UWFI midcarders and a trio of NJPW Juniors/Young Lions in front of a Tokyo Dome crowd who couldn't care less.
The UWFI guys wanted to impose their shoot style wrestling onto the match but the NJPW trio just weren't interested in putting them over any sort of threat. In the end this ended up being a drab pool of nothing. It was literally just a bunch of guys trading kicks and slaps and tagging in and out. Not a good opener at all and prime evidence that most of the NJPW vs UWFI feud looked better on paper than it actually did in practice.
Anything you might of read before about this being Nagata's send off match before going on excursion to WCW, is something you must have dreamt up, that excursion didn't happen until the following year!
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Satoshi Kojima
Hiroyoshi Tenzan: The final months of 1995 saw Hiroyoshi Tenzan win the Super-Grade Tag League alongside Masahiro Chono, with Ookami Gundan defeating the pair of Osamu Kido and Kazuo Yamazaki in the finals. However they would come up short in their challenge for the IWGP Tag team belts against Shinya Hashimoto and Junji Hirata in December.
Satoshi Kojima: Under the ring name of Joe Joe Lee, Kojima spent all of 1995 on excursion in Europe wrestling for the German based Catch Wrestling Association.
The Match: Whilst Nagata was about to go off on excursion- next year!, Kojima was returning from his and it seems rather fitting that his return match would be against the man, who would end up being the most closely linked to his own career both as a tag partner and rival.
Kojima is all fired up and goes right after Tenzan just as the bell has barely rung, nailing Tenzan with his own Mongolian chops and then following up with a lariat and a tope suicida. From then on it's all Kojima as he throws the proverbial kitchen sink at Tenzan, but not even a top rope elbow trop and then a moonsault can keep Tenzan down. Eventually Kojima just runs out of steam leading to Tenzan making a comeback, with the 'Fighting Bull' cycling through his signature stuff.
On one hand this match got over, that Kojima had come back a stronger fighter after his excursion but the structure of the match ending up telegraphing who the eventual winner would be, due to one man dominating the match so much that only novice wrestling fans would not be able to see the eventual comeback rally from the winner. That being said the work here from both men was very solid and worth checking out, if you're interested in seeing two current New Japan Legends during the developmental period of their careers.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Koji Kanemoto vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Koji Kanemoto: After regaining the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from Sabu in June, Kanemoto made succesful title defences against Wild Pegasus and Alex Wright at a WCW event in America.
Jushin Thunder Liger: In December Liger took part in and won the second Super J-Cup that was hosted by Genichiro Tenryu's WAR promotion, defeating Gran Naniwa, Ultimo Dragon and Gedo on his way to emerging as the tournament's victor.
The Match: Currently two of the best wrestlers over 50, here we get to see Kanemoto and Liger compete against one another in the prime of their careers. Though to be more accurate Liger had already long since established himself as one of the finest Junior Heavyweights of his generation, whilst Kanemoto's rise to legendary status had just begun. 1995 was Kanemoto's break through year, holding the IWGP Heavyweight belt for most of the year and putting the relative failure of his run as the Third Tiger Mask well and truly in the rear view.
Liger's half red/half blue edition of his famous ring attire, kind of makes him look like a court jester but I don't think Kanemoto would have been laughing after the amount of punishment he ended up taking in this match- though it has to be said by the end of this gruelling contest that finally showcased the Junior Division to it's absolute best in front of a Tokyo dome crowd, both competitors well and truly were put through the ringer.
Kanemoto started the quicker out of the blocks, but was unable to put Liger away early before the match settled into the usual exchange of mat based submission holds. Whilst these segments can drag a little and it's certainly the flatest portion of the match- they are kind of needed to provide pacing to a match and perhaps more to the point give the wrestlers a much needed breather before heading into the home stretch and given how physical the home stretch ended up being here, you can't blame either Kanemoto or Liger for filling a bit of time with some slow paced mat work during the early to middle portion of the match and if you're going to nit-pick anything about the match is that neither man really sells any of the limbwork to any great degree down the stretch.
That home stretch though doesn't just end up being a quick sub five minute burst of action tagged on to endless ponderous slow build though, it ends up being a gruelling war of attrition. It all starts with Kanemoto surviving about 5 Fisherman Brainbusters in a row , then a sheer drop brainbuster from Liger. After this tremendous amount of fighting spirit from the champion, he somehow manages to survive the top-rope frankensteiner from Liger, before rallying and coming back with moonsaults and top-rope brainbusters of his own- only for Liger to be equally stubborn at going down, before replying in earnest once again with a series of Liger Bombs that ends up with Kanemoto showing a mixture of both bloody fighting spirit and frustration by kicking a turnbuckle.
Some nagging minor flaws (ignored limbwork, a slightly laboured middle portion) just prevent this from earning the highest of praise, but all in all an excellent match between two NJPW legends in the making.
Masahiro Chono vs Shiro Koshinaka
Shiro Koshinaka: Koshinaka teamed up with fellow Heisei Ishingun member Tatsutoshi Goto in the Super Grade Tag League, with the duo posting up a mid table finish, before Koshinaka made an unsuccesful IWGP Heavyweight title challenge against Keiji Mutoh.
The Match: Chono is the heel here, displaying dirty tactics throughout the match and having fellow Ookami Gundam member Hiro Saito consistently intefere on his behalf throughout the match. At this stage I'm not really sure where Koshinaka and Heisei Ishingun were alligned on the face vs heel spectrum but more than likely they had settled into that 'tweener' existence that besets many heel factions, once they are no longer portyayed as the biggest threat to the promotion itself.
This ended up being a passable two star special of a match. After a first half of laboured mat work, it does pick up enough down the stretch not to be a negative blot on the show, or more to the point Koshinaka works hard enough down the closing stretch to make it watchable, because Chono looked disinterested throughout the contest. More than likely he was disappointed with being in a relatively throwaway match at the Tokyo Dome, fourth from the bottom of the card.
Hiromichi Fuyuki vs Yoji Anjo
Hiromichi Fuyuki: A mainstay of Genichiro Tenryu's WAR promotion- Fuyuki formed an alliance with the tag team of Gedo and Jado in 1994, which would prove to be succesful for the trio who would go on to have three reigns with the WAR World Six Man Tag Team Championship between June 1994 and October 1995.
The Match: Fuyuki is accompanied to the ring by Gedo and Jado, who end up running interference throughout the match- including helping Fuyuki to give Anjo a triple team powerbomb twice (one right at the start) and Gedo wrapping Anjo's face in duct tape of all things! In fact Shibata's Dad who is the referee here, might as well not even been out there, as he had zero control over the match. Even more laughable is that Anjo has his own back up of UWFI guys, but they do next to nothing in preventing Gedo and Jado's interference running rougshod over the match.
Though Anjo was a heel in New Japan as part of the UWF invaders, up against Fuyuki he comes off as the babyface here, as it's the WAR trio of Fuyuki-Gun that resort to cheap tactics throughout what ended up being a garbage sprint. Post match some more UWF guys (including Takayama) hit the ring and engaged in a brawl with Fuyuki-Gun- though their intervention does rather feel too little, too late.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:47 pm
4th January 1996: NJPW Wrestling World in Tokyo Dome - Part 2
Hiroshi Hase vs Kensuke Sasaki
After vacating the IWGP Tag Team Championship, when Keiji Mutoh won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and could not commit to defending both belts- Hiroshi Hase concentrated on his political career not wrestling for the rest of the year. Following his election to the Upper House of The Diet, Hase announced his intention to retire from wrestling.
Sasaki would compete in the Super Grade Tag League, initially alongside Riki Choshu and then Masa Saito (after Choshu picked up an injury in their first match)
but in a continually disappointing (in Kayfabe terms)
year for Sasaki who saw his push halted in 1995, his team would finish joint bottom of the standings.
The Match: I
t's a shame that Hase never quite got the single recognition he deserved during once he graduated to the Heavyweight Division during his run with New Japan, but if I'm being completely honest he probably didn't quite ever have that added x-factor to be an IWGP Heavyweight champ. If he was around in the modern era, he would have been ideal for holding the NEVER Openweight belt- as he was sort of the Goto of his day.
Anyway the first half of Hase's send off match was rather laboured as they cycled through some generic submission exchanges and mat work, with Sasaki continuing to look unconvincing in that portion of his wrestling skillset.
Thankfully it picked up after the half way point and actually ended up being a decent match by the end, as Hase's cycled through some of his most crowd pleasing such as pulling out the Giant Swing and going close with his trademark Northern Lights Suplex. However Sasaki was proving hard to put away and the more powerful youngster was able to bulldoze his way back into the match.
Hase was his usual consistently solid self throughout, whilst Sasaki showed that he was still a work in progress- all in all it resulted in a decent but not great match that just about earn's a mild recommendation due to the added emotion of it being Hase's send off.
INOKI FINAL COUNTDOWN 5TH: Antonio Inoki vs Big Van Vader
Big Van Vader:
Since Vader's last match with NJPW in the summer of 1992, he continued to have success in WCW adding two more World Heavyweight title reigns and a United States title reign.
In 1993 he would return to Japan under the ring name of Super Vader but instead of once again touring for New Japan he would instead compete for Nobuhiko Takada's UWFI promotion. In August 1994 Vader would defeat Takada for the the UWFI's top title the Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Championship but would lose the belt back to Takada in April 1995.
: The problem I have with many of Inoki's matches, especially in the latter part of his career is that he would work this formula where he would get beaten up for most of the match and then make a superhuman comeback where he would beat his opponent after about three months- though the closing stretch of this match does end up erring a little too close to the hokey superhuman Inoki formula, in the fact that he ends up surviving a Vader Bomb, Running Corner Splash and a god damn Vadersault all within quick succession of one another, he never looked completely overwhelmed by his opponent to the point that his eventual/inevitable comeback would look completely unbelievable.
The story here is that Vader is bigger and stronger than Inoki, but he spends too much time toying with legend, allowing Inoki to get in rally's of hopeful offence before eventually being overwhelmed. One such example is a spot where Vader pretty much kills Inoki with a nasty release German Suplex but fails to follow up immediately allowing Inoki to regain his bearings and seize a foothold in the match.
The match then spilled out to the floor at one point, resulting in a desperate Inoki creaming Vader with a chairshot to the head, that resulted in the big monster being busted open. Following that Inoki put together a flurry of offence that included the diving knee top rope knee drop, which is the point where you think he is going to put Vader away, only for the mastadon to weather the storm and overwhelm Inoki once again. When all is said and done Inoki ends up taking a hellacious ass kicking from Vader but it's worked in such a way that on this occassion you will believe Inoki has just enough in the tank to find that one last reserve of fighting spirit from somewhere and find a way, just some way by whatever he can to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
I'm hardly Inoki's biggest fan, as I felt he could have done more in the twilight years of his career to put other's over and be considerably less self serving but I'll give credit where's it's due here and say that this was not only one of his most enjoyable matches since the prime years of his career but just one of his most enjoyable matches period.
Masahito Kakihara vs Riki Choshu
Here you had what was considered to be one of the UWFI's most promising talents up against a man already considered a puroresu legend. There was no doubt that Choshu would go over, as Kakihara wasn't yet at that level where the fans would buy into him pulling off the upset but would Choshu allow him to show enough where he would put in a strong enough performance to be able to raise his stock in defeat or would Choshu (who was booking the NJPW vs UWFI feud at the time)
just make Kakihara look like some young punk who had no business even being in the same ring as him....
Sadly for Kakihara and I will also have to say anyone watching this match it was the latter, as Choshu just no sold Kakihara's offence and then just pretty much proceeded to squash Kakihara, making him look as though he was on the level of a scrawny young lion fresh out of the dojo.
In all honesty this was an utter waste of a Tokyo Dome match and proof (if you really needed any more)
that save for the odd token set-back, New Japan had no interest what so ever in making the UWFI invaders look like a legitimate threat during the interpromotional feud.
Kazuo Yamazaki vs Shinya Hashimoto
Since Yamazaki departed New Japan in 1988 during the second UWF walkout he competed for both the Newborn UWF and it's third incarnation the UWFI. However after continually being overlooked for title shots in the UWFI, he quit the promotion and returned to New Japan in the summer of 1995- though it only be a few months later that UWFI would start co-promoting with New Japan as part of yet another NJPW vs UWF angle.
As part of his tag team with Junji Hirata, the pair lost in a semi final playoff to the team of Chono & Tenzan during the Super Grade Tag League but were able to avenge that loss a few months later when they successfully defended the IWGP Tag team belts against the same team.
They wasted no time in getting right into it when they peppered one another with a flurry of kicks, they both weathered the storm before the match settled into a period of both trying to work one another over's arm, by locking in potentially match ending submissions.
When that strategy didn't work for either Hash or Yamazaki, they returned to stiffing each other with kicks and strikes before a nasty looking sheer drop brainbuster ended up bringing an abrupt end to the match.
This was a solidly worked match with very little in the way of 'filler' but it ended up being one of those matches that ended up having the legs cut out from underneath it, because just as it was moving up a gear and starting to get really good it was then brought to an abrupt end. Given more minutes we could have been talking about great match, rather than one that was merely enjoyable.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Keiji Mutoh vs Nobuhiko Takada
The Match: Mutoh managed to just about survive a challenge from the UWFI leader back in October, but would he be able to survive a second challenge from Takada and pretty much end the NJPW vs UWFI feud right here or would Takada take full advantage of his second opportunity and show that his wrestling could compete with the wrestling of New Japan?
As expected this match had a shoot-style influence to it, with lots of striking and grappling for position over submission attempts. Shoot-Style can often end up looking like a drab mess, and there were times where this match did fall into that unfortunate trap but for the most part due to the fact that Takada, despite being grounded in the shoot-way of working still had a strong grasp of telling a story in the ring, whilst it also helped that Mutoh was willing to co-operate in putting over Takada's offence as strong- which can't be said for pretty much anything else when it came to the NJPW vs UWFI feud.
To be accurate, the match is tell of two halves...the first half which includes a long drawn out sequence of Takada trying to put Mutoh into an arm submission whilst they hug it out on the mat really drags. However the second half of the match following Mutoh being able to make the ropes after being put into the arm submission really picks up the pace and more than makes up for the laboured opening period.
Things really begin to heat up when Mutoh has Takada reeling with a flurry of offence that results in him pulling out the Moonsault for a nearfall, and from that point on Mutoh and Takada have a now molten hot 60,000 Tokyo Dome crowd on the edge of their seats. What follows is a great war of attrition with Takada looking to wear down Mutoh with his stiff kicks , whilst Mutoh tries to counter Takada's barrage with Dragon Screw Leg Whips and Figure Four Leglocks- but even then on the mat Takada is able to find a weakness in that strategy by countering with a heel-hook. Eventually it comes down to one man's wrestling overwhelming the other and forcing the other one to tap out.
Even with the laboured opening portion with them struggling on the mat, this still ended up being an excellent main event- if the opening sequence ended up featuring more hitting and less hugging, then we would have been talking about an all time great match.
Overall Show Verdict:
In the end this show ended up batting about .500 in terms of stuff worth cherry picking and stuff that isn't so good, but even then the skippable stuff isn't anywhere near as bad as the worst stuff from the previous year's show.
There are three excellent matches including the main event, the Junior title match and Inoki's best match in a long while against Vader, plus a couple of decent bouts in Hase's 'retirement' match and Hashimoto/Yamazaki. All in all there's enough good stuff here to make the 1996 edition one of the stronger editions of the annual Jan 4th Tokyo Dome show to that point and a considerable improvement on the previous years disappointing outing.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:05 pm
As with the previous year, we have almost entire cards posted up of a February double header of shows that took place in Sapporo. Here's what made the cut for the first show....
3rd February 1996: NJPW Fighting Spirit 1996 (Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo)
Hair vs Hair: Akira Nogami vs Kuniaki Kobayashi
The Match: Obviously these two must have an on going issue with one another over the previous few months at the very least to be putting their hair on the line against each other, but with the archive uploads on New Japan world being sketchy you don't really get a feel of how feuds have been built up- especially lower card feuds such as this one. Thing is would they be able to get across their hatred at the time for one another, in this match?
As an observation before the match even starts Heisei Ishingun (of which Kobayashi is a member) are now coming to the ring wearing regular tracksuits, instead of the Karategi they wore in previous years- in all honesty it made them just look like any other faction at the time- as the Karategi at least gave that ragtag of midcarders their own identity.
Though the match didn't quite get across that these two really didn't like one another they did work hard through out a match that started off at a hot pace and never really yet up. To be more accurate Kobayashi worked the match with an aggressive edge, where as Akira worked the match more as though he was just trying to find a way to win the match. From a basic technical level Akira's work here was fine but it just lacked that edge, to take the match up from pretty good to really good.
Even with the hot start that saw Kobayashi take the fight to Akira from the sound of the bell, it took the Sapporo crowd a while to warm up to the match, but the effort from both men eventually saw them win over the crowd.
Post match we got to see the loser take a trip to the 'Barbers', resulting in the person doing the shaving being more emotionally traumatized by it, than the wrestler who just lost the wager.
Gedo & Hiromichi Fuyuki vs Osamu Nishimura & Satoshi Kojima
Gedo: As well as finding tag team success alongside Fuyuki and Jado, with the trio winning the WAR Six Man title's 3 times, Gedo also continued to have success as a singles performer throughout the previous year with two reigns as the WAR International Junior Heavyweight Champion, as well as reaching the finals of the 1995 Super J-Cup, where he bested Masayoshi Motegi, Don Caras and the defending champion Wild Pegasus on his way to the final.
Osamu Nishimura: Nishimura had spent nearly two years out on excursion working for various promotions in America, including GWF (where he was the short lived promotion's final Light Heavyweight Champion), ECW, WCW and Smoky Mountain Wrestling before returning to New Japan in October 1995. Nishimura would then partner Keiji Mutoh in the 1995 edition of the Super Grade Tag League, with the pair posting up a mid-table showing.
The Match: Gedo was still 'fat' Gedo at this stage of his career, but he now sported a bleach blond quiff instead of an undercut mullet. In all honesty this pairing of WAR invaders are rather flabby all together.
Throughout the match Fuyuki and Kojima would taunt one another with strong man poses and make weird screaming noises at each other- I would gather this was more of a weird Fuyuki thing, than a Kojima thing and that Kojima engaged in this strange psychological warfare as a form of mockery.
As for the match itself the Fuyuki-Gun pair were able to isolate Nishimura for an extended period of time before a missed Gedo moonsault gave Nishimura the opportunity to tag Kojima into the match. The action then spilt to the floor, where Gedo found himself being suplexed onto a table, before surviving a string of suplex variations from Nishimura.
Gedo then tried to turn things around with a sneaky low blow, but was still unable to get Fuyuki back into match, so he had to endure more punishment including a sloppy looking moonsault from Kojima until the match was abrubtly ended when someone put their hands on Shibata's Dad.
This wasn't a bad tag match, as save for the Fuyuki-Gun control segment dragging on slightly, the match had pretty good pacing, with Kojima showing hints of the star charisma that would have him pegged as a future main eventer. But some of the excecution was a little sloppy in places and the messy inconclusive finish certainly didn't help matters.
Golden Cups (Yoshihiro Takayama & Yoji Anjo) vs Ookami Gundan (Hiro Saito & Hiroyoshi Tenzan)
The Match: With their stiff strikes and superior submission game the UWF pair controlled much of this tag team contest between two heel units, with Tenzan in particular enduring an extended period of suffering but Chono who had commandeered the announced table was able to distract the Golden Cup's enough to allow his Ookami Gundan brethren to find a foothold back into a match that at times had that feel of always being on the edge of chaotically falling apart.
After a match that was solid enough to be watchable but not quite good enough to earn any form of recommendation, a big post match angle saw Chono unhappy at Saito's performance in the match, resulting in Chono and Tenzan turning on Saito and kicking him out of Ookami Gundan!
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Black Tiger II
Black Tiger II/Eddie Guerrero: After reaching the semi Finals of the Best of the Super Juniors, Eddie Guerrero would concentrate on wrestling in America under his own name. in ECW he would feud with Dean Malenko over the Television title- having won the belt in April, he would lose the title to Malenko in July, regain the belt in August but would then drop the title to Too Cold Scorpio- before Guerrero and Malenko who were both WCW bound then had one more match against each other, that resulted in them drawing 1-1 in a 2/3Falls match.
The Match: A pretty cool thing about this video, is that unlike many of the other's dug up from the archives, is that we actually get to see a wrestler's full entrance- as on this occassion we get to see Liger heading down to the ring whilst his famous theme song plays out over the speakers.
The match began with some cagey mat wrestling, before they picked up the pace with some chain wrestling, that ended up with Liger trying to take out Black Tiger with a plancha to the floor only to be caught and then whipped into the guard-rail.
Black Tiger then seized control for a period, getting a two count off a top-rope hurrancanrana that saw the gaijin masked man admonish the referee for what he perceived to be a slow count. A koppou kick soon after from Liger saw him swing the momentum in his favour before going close himself with a pop-up rana and a Fisherman Buster.
The closing stretch then saw the typical see-saw momenum exchanges and big move kick outs, with Black Tiger pulling out his Black Tiger Bomb and Liger going for an avalanche brainbuster in order to try and come away as the Junior Champion.
This ended up being a good but not great match- the work here as you would expect with any Liger match was solid but could have perhaps done with a slightly more extended closing stretch to help take the match to the next level, because it ended just as they were starting to get the crowd (who were disappointingly non plussed througout much of the contest) into the match.
Often it is a hot crowd that can make all the difference between a match being just good as opposed to great, and unfortunately on this occasion the quiet crowd ending up taking away from the match.
Keiji Mutoh & Kensuke Sasaki vs Heisei Ishingun (Akitoshi Saito & Kengo Kimura)
The Match: The first of two NJPW home army vs Heisei Ishingun tags as the recently dethroned former IWGP Heavyweight champion Keiji Mutoh teamed up with Kensuke Sasaki.
Sasaki basically played 'Ricky Morton-san' for most of the match before making the hot tag to Mutoh. At that point it looked like Mutoh was just going to run through his signature stuff but the Heisei Ishingun pair being fresher were able to halt Mutoh's momentum only for Mutoh to get Sasaki back into the match, who then put Saito into a world of hurt with a cloverleaf and then a Lariat.
This was a two star special of a tag match, but then again any combination of Heisei Ishingun minus Koshinaka were the masters of the two star special during this era of New Japan.
Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs Heisei Ishingun (Shiro Koshinaka & Michiyoshi Ohara)
The Match: Hashimoto and Hirata had been the reigning IWGP Tag Team champions since July 1995, but this was a non title contest. On paper this should be a bit better, as Koshinaka was by far and away the most talented member of Heisei Ishingun (I suppose Kobayashi was still decent as well, if past his prime).
After the usual back and forth feeling out process, the Heisei Ishingun pair were able to take control when they drilled Hirata with a spike piledriver out on an exposed floor! Hirata then somehow managed to survive another piledriver inside the ring from Ohara, before battling his way to safety.
Ohara then found himself in the wrong part of town but miscommunication between the Tag champions, allowed Ohara to get to safety before Koshinaka cleaned house with his patented hip attacks, a missile drop-kick and then a powerbomb for a two count.
We then got lots of momentum switches down the stretch with Hirata getting a close two count on a diving headbutt, until the decisive moment ultimately ended up coming down to the eventual winners taking advantage of a miscommunication from the other team.
This did indeed end up being pretty good, not blow away must see good but a solidly worked tag match with the Heisei Ishigun pair, actually looking the more impressive pair in terms of teamwork. I'll actually go as far to say that Ohara was the standout, to the point that i feel like I must have been selling him short at the start of my review for this match. If anything Hashimoto was the weakest link in this match in terms of effort but that's often the case- the bigger the name- the more minimal the effort in throwaway fare such as this, where as your unheralded undercarders such as an Ohara, will see it as their chance to impress.
2/3 Falls Match: UWF ( Hiromitsu Kanehara, Kazushi Sakuraba, Kenichi Yamamoto & Masahito Kakihara) vs NJPW ( Shinjiro Otani, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Tokimitsu Ishizawa & Yuji Nagata)
The Match: Hey Yuji Nagata is still here, turns out he didn't go out on excursion to WCW after all- He does next year though!
Though the NJPW vs UWFI feud was the biggest thing going at the time in New Japan, this is still a rather intriguing main event as none of the people in the match on either side are what you would have called main eventers. UWFI's only real star was Takada and he wasn't featuring here, whilst the New Japan team for this match was a mix of Juniors and Young Lions.
What's the difference between UWF 'Shoot Style' and New Japan 'Strong Style', not a lot if you went by the evidence of this match, but in all honesty the New Japan team were all made up of guys who have clearly been influenced in the UWF style and have worked that into their own move-sets.
Basically if you like lots of slaps and kicks, mixed in with the odd submission or suplex here and there, then you'll like this match. It's a match that felt a little messy and chaotic at times, but on the upside there was never any down time in the match and they were wise enough not to spend long periods rolling around on the mat.
I won't talk about the falls, as I'm trying to leave these reviews relatively spoiler free as much as possible but for once the UWFI side are at least made to look competitive, but then again they weren't up against the very top New Japan guys on this occassion.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:34 am
Here's the 'best' of the action from the second part of the 1996 Sapporo Double Header. Once again we get another NJPW vs UWFI midcarders 8 man tag to close out the show and a whole other bunch of tag matches but amongst all that there is a promising looking Junior singles match.
4th February 1996: NJPW Fighting Spirit 1996 (Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo)
Gedo & Hiromichi Fuyuki vs Golden Cups (Yoshihiro Takayama & Yoji Anjo)
The Match: Golden Cups found themselves in the position of being the de-facto babyfaces here, as though anyone from UWFI would have been viewed as arrogant shoot style invaders, they were at least more respected than the WAR pairing of Gedo and Fuyuki that were always willing to break the rules.
In fact the crowd really seem to have it in for Fuyuki and his weird screaming gimmick in particular, letting the flabby Fuyuki-Gun leader have it with both verbal barrels anytime he enters the ring.
Takayama with his stiff kicks and knee strikes was presented as a bad-ass throughout the match and in general the UWF pair looked the stronger wrestlers but some moments of miscommunication allowed for Gedo and Fuyuki to regain a foothold in the match, and at one point Anjo found himself in trouble when he had to survive an elevated seated senton and an assisted powerbomb. However the miscommunication issues would eventually effect the Fuyuki-Gun pair, allowing Golden Cups to regain their momentum.
This actually ended up being a really entertaining tag, the crowd's absolute disdain for Fuyuki added some real heat to the match. Add to that Golden Cups worked to the best elements of shoot style (stiff strikes and legit submission holds executed at crucial points) rather than to the worst elements of shoot style (sweaty hugging on the mat), whilst the Fuyuki-Gun pair kept the shenanigans to a minimum. They were still there, including a low blow from Gedo down the stretch but they were never overbearing.
Ookami Gundan (Hiro Saito & Hiroyoshi Tenzan) vs Osamu Nishimura & Satoshi Kojima
The Match: The post match angle from the previous show made it look as though Saito had been kicked out of Ookami Gundan but here we was tagging with Tenzan again the next night.
Just as I was about to write this one off as one of those matches where the work was solid but forgettable in front of a disinterested crowd, it actually got really good down the stretch and as a result of that, the crowd woke up. The Ookami Gundan pair took control when Kojima found himself hung in the tree of woe, before Tenzan then went up top and landed a diving headbutt on Nishimura only for Kojima to untangle himself just in time to make the save.
Ookami Gundan continued to maintain momentum however, and Nishimura once again found himself in trouble when Saito landed his trademark senton bomb off the top turnbuckle. But that still wasn't enough to keep Nishimura down, as the babyfaces found a way to get back into contention with Kojima pulling out a Rydeen Bomb to great effect.
Post match the winning team signalled that they wanted a shot at the IWGP Tag Team belts.
UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Championship: El Samurai vs Dean Malenko
El Samurai: Though he was unable to get back into contention for the IWGP Junior belt following a mid table finish in the 1995 Best of the Super Juniors, Samurai did go on to earn his first singles title in over a year when he defeated Sabu for the UWA World Junior belt in December.
Dean Malenko: Outside of regularly touring with NJPW throughout 1995, Malenko had a strong year in ECW, feuding with Eddie Guerrero over the TV title and winning the ECW World Tag Team title's alongside Chris Benoit. Malenko along with Guerrero and Benoit would eventually catch the attention of WCW, with all three finishing up with ECW by the end of August.
The Match: Before we get to the match itself.....The UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight belt began it's existence in the UWA promotion in Mexican, but following the UWA's closure in 1995, the last champion to win the belt in the UWA Grand Hamada brought the belt with to New Japan. Sabu defeated Hamada for the belt in November before losing it to El Samurai a month later. It went to show just how deep the Junior Division was during this era, that New Japan could use the UWA belt to put on a second singles Junior Heavyweight title programme alongside the IWGP belt.
Malenko took control of the early stages, as he tried to wear Samurai down on the mat. When that strategy wasn't working, he got more aggressive taking the match to the floor and suplexing Samurai on exposed concrete.
Samurai then got in a few hope spots with a German Suplex and an over the shoulder power bomb but could never quite string enough offence together to swing the momentum in his favour, as Malenko continued to maintain control, with a Gutbuster and then a Cloverleaf causing Samurai considerable consternation.
As the match headed towards it's closing stretch Samurai was finally able to string together a flurry of offence, with an avalanche suplex and then a diving headbutt following each other in quick succession. However Samurai could only really get back on a even footing down the stretch, with Malenko continuing to look dangerous until the very end, especially following a super gut buster off the top turnbuckle, that had the crowd gasping.
The work was solid and they told a pretty solid story of Samurai trying to survive Malenko's clinical wrestling, it's just a shame that apart from a few big spots down the closing stretch, the crowd were largely disinterested by this and I'm afraid once again this Sapporo crowd's apathy towards the Junior Heavyweight's ended up hurting another title match.
Heisei Ishingun (Shiro Koshinaka, Kuniaki Kobayashi & Akitoshi Saito) vs Shinya Hashimoto, Junji Hirata & Akira Nogami
The Match: Apart from a fun spot where Hashimoto, Hirata and Akira take turns double stomping Saito's chest from the top turnbuckle, the majority of the early and middle portions of the match see Akira being worked over by the Heisei Ishingun trio.
A miscommunication between Koshinaka and Saito, gives Akira the opportunity to tag out before Hashimoto cleaned house with a flurry of DDT's. Akira was then tagged in, nailing Koshinaka with a missile drop-kick only for Heisei to seize the momentum back and put Akira in trouble again- with a Fisherman suplex from Kobayashi almost bringing Heisei victory.
Hashimoto once again came to the rescue, only to be halted in his tracks with a flurry of kicks from Saito- but that wasn't enough to prevent Hashimoto from pulling out the Fisherman Buster during a frantic closing stretch.
Another pretty good match that had a frantic pace throughout, even during Heisei's extended heat segment on Akira.
Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido vs Keiji Mutoh & Kensuke Sasaki
The Match: This one started out with Yamazaki trying to cave Mutoh's chest in with stiff kicks before giving the former IWGP champ a Dragon Screw Legwhip. After that relatively hot start, the match just sort of meandered along in an inoffensive but forgettable way until they heated things up a bit with a closing stretch built around the application of submission holds, well at least things seemed to be building that way until the match ended in a fairly lame flash roll-up.
Kido and Yamazaki applying stereo armbars down the stretch provided a pretty cool visual, otherwise this was an average at best match and probably the weakest match of the selection plucked out of the archives from this show.
2/3 Falls Match: NJPW (Koji Kanemoto, Takashi Iizuka, Yuji Nagata & Black Cat) vs UWF (Hiromitsu Kanehara, Kazushi Sakuraba, Kenichi Yamamoto & Masahito Kakihara)
The Match: The UWF team is exactly the same as the one from the previous match but the NJPW team on this occasion has a stronger veteran prescence with only Nagata retaining his place from last time, Kanemoto with 2 IWGP Junior title reigns under his belt probably had a slight experience edge over Otani at this point, whilst Iizuka and even more so Black Cat provided considerably more in ring experience than either Takaiwa or Ishizawa.
This one ended up going longer than the 2/3 Falls 8 Man Tag from the previous night, but wasn't necessarily better, as the action building up to the first fall seemed a little meandering at times and slipping into some of the more tedious elements of shoot style. You would have the odd burst of more intense action, but it just took a bit of time to get going.
After the first fall though, they managed to keep up a consistently more intense pace, right through to the post match angle with the losing team wanting to continue the fight and the winners lapping up their victory by celebrating with gleeful pride in the losers faces. I would give the edge to the first match but the last 10 minutes of this one are probably good as the last 10 from the previous night. In a nutshell this was a good but not great main event that rounded off an entire cards worth of good but not great matches.
One observation I will make, is that coming into this I thought that Black Cat might struggle with this kind of match but he really stepped up here and put I have to say this was the most intense and as a bi-product of that the most interesting Black Cat performance I've see from the New Japan World archives thus far.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:59 pm
In this update the NJPW vs UWFI 'feud' if you could call it that continues and for some reason we only get a selection of matches from the April Tokyo Dome show, but at least they left the most important one there...
25th February 1996- NJPW Fighting Spirit 1996 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs Golden Cups ( Yoji Anjo & Yoshihiro Takayama)
The Match: As an attempt to get gain some kind of psychological advantage over Hirata, Golden Cups wore Super Strong Machine mask's to the ring. They unmasked as soon as the bell rang but in Takayama's case.....no I'm not going there, there's probably someone out there other than his mother who finds him attractive.
This match was kind of a mess but really entertaining at the same time. It had no structure to it what so ever and was just four guys trying to beat the crap out of each other and in doing so completely ignoring the rules of a tag match. This may well have been a 'Tornado' tag, because I really don't know what the fuck Tiger Hattori was doing in this match, he may as well have not even been there.
Structurally it might have been a mess but it was never dull and I will never tire of pissed of Hashimoto trying to cave someone's chest in with a flurry of stiff kicks and though this tag team run might have felt like a slight waste of Hashimoto, I will have to say that his team with Hirata was actually pretty fun and brought the very best out in Hirata- who whilst he didn't turn into some sort of work rate machine did seem to work that bit harder when tagging with Hashimoto.
Keiji Mutoh & Jushin Thunder Liger vs Nobuhiko Takada & Naoki Sano
The Match: Both Mutoh and Liger want to avenge recent losses to the pair of UWF invaders, as Mutoh was defeated for the IWGP Heavyweight title to Takada at the annual Jan 4th Tokyo Dome show, whilst Liger's old nemesis Sano scored a victory over the NJPW Junior ace at the first NJPW vs UWF Tokyo Dome supercard back in October.
This one actually started out with respectful handshakes and some low key mat exchanges, matching up the respectful rivals. However the tone of the match turned when the NJPW team were able to isolate Sano and work him over after giving him a spiked piledrive out on the floor.
Mutoh and Liger, stretch and double team Sano and even act kind of dickish, taunting a frustrated Takada, who can nothing but look on as Sano gets destroyed. Somehow Sano found the will power to kick out after a sequence where Mutoh landed the Moonsault before Liger immediately followed up with a splash but following a Tombstone from Liger, Takada had seen enough an intervened, but despite trying to turn things round with a flurry of stiff kicks- Mutoh was able to regain the advantage for the New Japan team with a Dragon screw before trapping Takada in the Figure Four, leaving a physically spent Sano to try and fend off Liger.
I suppose you could say that making this match, pretty much a squash match in the end was kind of unexpected but that doesn't necessarily make it good and provided further evidence that despite Takada's IWGP title win, this interpromotional feud couldn't be any more one sided in favour of the promotion that had all the booking power.
29th April 1996 Battle Formation in Tokyo Dome
Great Muta vs Jinsei Shinzaki
Jinsei Shinzaki: After training as an amateur wrestler in high school Kensuke Shinzaki went into the acting profession until he met Gran Hamada and made the decision to switch to a pro-wrestling career. Shinzaki would make his debut for Hamada's Univeral Lucha Libre promotion under the masked gimmick of Mongolian Yuga, before moving on to The Great Sasuke's Michinoku Pro the next year.
In June 1993, Shinzaki un-masked and changed his gimmick to that of a Buddhist monk under the ring name of Jinsei Shinzaki. In the summer of 1994, Shinzaki would wrestle for the WWF during one of their tour's of Japan, impressing enough to be offered a permanent contract with the North American based promotion.
During his run with the WWF he would be given a new ring name Hakushi but would maintain the buddhist monk given, only given a further tweak with buddhist sutra's covering his body. Despite impressing during a feud with Bret Hart (he lost all their matches but always looked competitive) the WWF never really got behind 'Hakushi'- and after just over a year of failing to rise out of the midcard, Shinzaki left in February 1996 and returned to Japan.
The Match: Keiji Mutoh had not brought out his Great Muta alter-ego in over a year, whilst this was Shinzaki's first match back in Japan following his departure from the WWF two months earlier.
Here you had two wrestling characters with a mystic supernatural air about them doing battle against one another, with Shinzaki decked out in white representing the 'good' side and the demonic looking Muta (this time sporting gold face paint, instead of his usual red)representing 'evil'.
The match began with Shinzaki getting the slightly better of the early exchanges but that all changed when the match spilled to the floor with Muta drilling Shinzaki through a table with a piledriver and then proceeding to bloody Shinzaki with his own wooden board of buddhist scriptures after snapping it in half.
From then on the match then resembled a shonen anime battle, with the never say die hero trying to overcome the final boss, with Muta sadistically looking to break down a bloodied and worn Shinzaki. The spirited Shinzaki like any good hero does manage to work in a few hope spots and even manages to gather up some momentum down the closing stretch, pulling out a somersault plancha and a huge diving headbutt to put Muta in trouble but Shinzaki would still have to be wary of Muta's nefarious equalizer- the dreaded mist!
Like any Muta match this was worked at a very stop and go pace- purposely sluggish with quick bursts of energy and a more heated closing stretch. Because of that Muta's matches can be very divisive- personally I enjoy them for what they are but I must admit I prefer regular Keiji Mutoh matches but the Muta gimmick was still an entertaining gimmick to bring out every so often and the matches usually had solid storytelling to overcome the shortcomings with pacing.
Genichiro Tenryu vs Tatsumi Fujinami
The Match: Both Tenryu and Fujinami had enough accomplishments behind them at this stage of their 20 year (plus) careers that they could be tagged with the term 'legend' but despite both working a somewhat limit schedule the previous year, neither were at that stage where they could be written off as being completely over the hill, even if Fujinami had admittedly lost a step since the back injury he sustained in 1989.
After the generic locking it up in the centre of the ring routine, Fujinami then proceeds to make my lost a step statement look rather foolish by pulling out two crazy topes in a row. He goes for a third only for Tenryu to cut him off with a punch so god damn hard it end up's breaking Fujinami's face- unfortunately the spot is let down by some pathetic camera work from the New Japan production at the time but once they get things back into the ring the real story of the match is set with Tenryu acting like a jerkass bully by constantly targeting Fujinami's busted up face, while Fujinami stubbornly tries to carry on.
We get the inevitable hope spots down the closing stretch, the most striking of which see's Fujinami dripping with blood lock the Dragon Sleeper on Tenryu but understandably Fujinami's energy meter is so drained that he's unable to maintain the hold and the proceeds to be off target with a diving knee drop.
Though the match did end up running out of steam after the initially hot opening, they told a good story here that accentuated the strengths of these two legends, especially in the case of Fujinami- who got across the never say die attitude of a stubborn old warrior. Considering how badly he was busted open, it's a credit to Fujinami that he was able to last as long as he did.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Nobuhiko Takada vs Shinya Hashimoto
The Match: Takada won the IWGP Heavyweight title from Keiji Mutoh at the January 4th Tokyo Dome show, here Hashimoto was hoping to win the belt back from the UWFI invader and bring it back in the possession of New Japan. Prior to this Takada had managed one successful title defence at at a UWFI show against Heisei Ishingun leader Shiro Koshinaka.
Surprisingly for a big time main event match, it's fairly short and clocks in at under 15 minutes, but it's one of those matches where they make every second of the match count and it actually serves as a prime example, that not every big match needs to have a slow build. Had they gone with the slow build here, it would have been to the detriment to the story of the match, as these two just wanted to kick the shit out of each other right away, as they looked to defend not only their pride but the pride of the wrestling promotions they represent.
The base work of the match was mostly worked around the stiff striking of these two proud warriors interspersed with mat based submission holds. But the holds on display here, were not there to be worked as rest holds to slow the pace down, each hold applied, be it a cross arm breaker or a Boston Crab was applied in such a way that it had a rabid 60,000 plus Tokyo Dome crowd on the edge of their seats, as though it could lead to the finish each time.
Takada would actually control large portions of the exchanges, but with Hashimoto's strikes consistently being presented as stronger- the problem throughout for Hashimoto being that Takada was able to recover in time just enough to prevent Hashimoto from gathering up enough momentum to turn the tide in his favour. When Hashimoto finally does string together a combo with a vicious DDT and then a huge Brainbuster, that's when he finally has Takada in serious trouble.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Tue May 30, 2017 1:55 pm
Project is paused ? If so, that would be too bad, cause it's juste awesome.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Tue May 30, 2017 10:59 pm
Yeah just paused for now, haven't decided to completely abandon it.
When BOSJ concludes, I'll pick this back up again. Then it will probably go back on pause again, during G-1. Hope to get the rest of 1996 and all of 1997 done over the next month.
Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World
Posted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:36 pm
After putting this project on the backburner again for a couple of months, it's time to resurrect my trawl through the NJPW World archives once again.
Here's the remainder of what they have to offer from 1996, which to be disappointingly honest, isn't a great deal.....
12th May 1996- NJPW Thanks Wrestling Day (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo)
Heisei Ishingun (Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsutoshi Goto) vs Ookami Gundan (Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan)
The Match: It has to be said that whoever chooses the matches to be dug out of the NJPW archives doesn't always cherry pick the best matches from the year, as evidenced by this relative stinker of a tag match.
Now imagine what match might be like between two Bullet Club B-Teamers and a Suzukigun pairing with the rest of SZG hanging around at ringside- It would probably go down something like this match, with a shit tonne of outside interference and a good chunk of the match taken up with tedious crowd brawling.
17th June 1996- NJPW Skydiving J (Nippon Budokan, Tokyo)
UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Title: Kazushi Sakuraba vs Shinjiro Otani
Shinjiro Otani: Otani took part in the 1996 edition of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, where he would finish 3rd in is Block.
The Match: This match took place as part of a card featuring entirely of Junior Heavyweight title matches, many of which would end up forming the J-Crown Championship that would be created a little later in the year. Koji Kanemoto was the former champion of the title being fought over here but vacated the title in May due to injury.
For a match where a large chunk of it was spent with Otani fighting through a variety of submission holds on the mat, it was worked with a great deal or urgency. Sakuraba dominated much of the contest, putting Otani on the back foot immediately and continuing to press home the advantage with a combination of stiff striking and a variety of submission holds, that either focused on the legs or looked to choke out Otani.
Otani though would just refuse to give in and perhaps in Sakuraba's hurried fervor to try and put away Otani as soon as possible, rather than looking to methodically break down his opponent, allowed Otani to dig out the fighting spirit that would allow him to finally get a foothold in the match and reel off his own flurry of offense that would quickly put the future MMA star in trouble.
Though I wouldn't call this an out-right classic or anywhere near that by any means, I do think it's worth a watch as it managed to present a pretty interesting dynamic of a shoot style match worked at the sort of frantic pace you might have expected more out of a high flying spot-fest.
5th August 1996- G1 Climax 1996 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)
J-Crown Title Tournament Finals: The Great Sasuke vs Ultimo Dragon
J-Crown Tournament: The J-Crown was the unification of 8 different Junior/Light Heavyweight championship belts, under one undisputed champion. Those that took part in the inaugural tournament to create the 'king of the Juniors' were Jushin Thunder Liger (British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight), The Great Sasuke (IWGP Junior Heavyweight) Masayoshi Motegi (NWA World Junior Heavyweight) Negro Casas (NWA World Welterweight), Shinjiro Otani (UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight), Ultimo Dragon (WAR International Junior Heavyweight), Gran Hamada (WWA World Junior Light Heavyweight) and El Samurai (WWF Light Heavyweight).
The Great Sasuke reached the finals by besting Motegi in the first round and then defeating El Samurai in the semi finals. Ultimo Dragon path to the finals saw him defeat Jushin Thunder Liger in the first round before getting past Shinjiro Otani in the semi finals.
The Great Sasuke: Following his star making turn at the first Super J-Cup, Sasuke would continue to be the main attraction in his home promotion of Michinoku-Pro, whilst also making guest appearances across many other different promotions, including New Japan. In Michinoku Pro who would have runs as both the British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Champion and as the WWF Light Heavyweight Champion.
In April he would win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship at the Battle Formation show that took place at the Tokyo Dome before making successful title defences against Black Tiger II (that years Best of the Super Juniors tournament winner) and against Shiryu (Kaz Hayashi) in Michi-Pro.
Ultimo Dragon: Freelancer Ultimo Dragon would continue to wrestle for various promotions in Japan and Mexico but would primarily make Genichiro Tenryu's WAR promotion his primary home from the winter of 1995 onwards. In July 1995 Dragon would win the WAR International Junior Heavyweight Championship from Lionheart (Chris Jericho) but would lose it only a month later to Gedo. He would regain the title from Gedo however just two months later, and would remain the champion going into the J-Crown tournament.
The Match: I'll be honest, whilst this Finals match to crown the first J-Crown champion was pretty good and still worth your time checking out, I would temper your expectations as it didn't end up being quite as good as it could have been, mostly due to an abrupt finish that may have been due to a botched three count from the referee.
There's a few minor niggles before that though to contend with, such as an early grappling portion that goes absolutely nowhere and doesn't play any significance into the match what so ever- eventually we do transition to the innovative (for the time) flips and dives from these two future Junior Heavyweight legends that would have the crowd on the edge of their seats via a transitional portion of 'standoffs' that saw both competitors struggle to land their moves on the other- something that has become a somewhat tired cliche these days but probably would have looked pretty cool at the time.
It's the sort of match that unfortunately ends up suffering a little in comparison to the work of today's innovative high-flyers, who have raised the bar further in terms of the insanity of their aerial acrobatics.
6th August 1996- G1 Climax 1996 (Ryogoku Kokukigan , Tokyo)
G-1 Climax Finals: Mashiro Chono vs Riki Choshu
1996 G-1 Climax: The 1996 G-1 Climax was divided into two Blocks of 5, with the two Block Winners meeting in the Finals. The A-Block topped by Riki Choshu, also featured Kensuke Sasaki, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Shinya Hashimoto and Junji Hirata. Whilst the B-Block topped by Masahiro Chono also featured Shiro Koshinaka, Keiji Mutoh, Kazuo Yamazaki and Satoshi Kojima.
The Match: My expectations for this Final's match were actually quite tempered, due to the fact that Chono was clearly not the same worker he was a few years prior and for me Choshu has always been something of a two move wonder in my eyes- which he still pretty much is in this match- has there ever been a wrestler that has gotten so much out of two moves (the Lariat and the Scorpion Death Lock).
So perhaps not expecting a 'great' match, helped to immensely enjoy this hard fought contest that was helped along immeasurably by a molten hot Sumo Hall crowd, that got fully behind Choshu in his efforts to return to the elite tier of New Japan and show that his days as a main eventer were not yet over.
The structure of the match saw Choshu overwhelm Chono in the early going like a whirlwind, before Chono took control and Choshu was hanging on desperately but despite having to endure several STF's and Yakuza Kicks (Perhaps I should apply the same limited move set criticism to Chono!) the stubborn Choshu refused to give up and eventually made the spirited come back. If there is one considerable criticism to level at the match, is that Choshu's 'superman' comeback progresses a little too rapidly, especially as the bulk of the match saw Chono destroying Choshu to near submission.
1st November 1996- NJPW Super Grade Tag League VI (Hiroshima Green Arena)
Yuji Nagata vs Kazuyuki Fujita
Kazuyuki Fujita: Fujita had signed on with New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1993 but continued to wrestle as an amateur over the next few years. He would become a National champion in the Greco-Roman style during that period but would miss out on representing Japan at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
The Match: This is Fujita's debut match, he would go on to become something of a poster-boy for Inokiism with his forays into the world of MMA but here he's just a young lion with a bit of a leg up with his legit wrestling background.
As debut mathes go this was pretty decent, with Fujita holding his own against the slightly more experienced Nagata and getting a chance to showcase his amateur wrestling skills. It was a little dry and the crowd didn't really care all that much but as this was a young lion match, those things can be forgiven a little more. Not a must see by any means but if you're curious to see Fujita's debut or Nagata as a young lion then there are worst ways you will spend about 10 minutes of your time.