A history of NJPW with New Japan World

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Tigerkinney
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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:16 pm

Here we go, with the first offerings from 1994, with the first half of that year's Tokyo Dome card.

4th January 1994 - NJPW Battlefield in Tokyo Dome - Part 1

Heisei Ishingun (Kengo Kimura, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Michiyoshi Ohara, Shiro Koshinaka & The Great Kabuki) vs. El Samurai, Manabu Nakanishi, Osamu Kido, Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata

Manabu Nakanishi: Prior to turning to pro-wrestling, Nakanishi had a 7 year amateur wrestling career, competing at the 220 Ib Freestyle class. The peak of that career came at the 1992 Asian Championships in Tehran where he won a Bronze Medal, before going on to represent Japan at the 1992 summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Nakanishi would turn pro after that, debuting in October 1992 as the Tag partner of Tatsumi Fujinami in that year's Super Grade Tag League (though the team would finish near the bottom of the standings). Over the next year Nakanishi would then mostly work in undercard tags or be matched up against fellow Young Lions.

Satoshi Kojima: Kojima would make his debut for New Japan in the summer of 1991, against Hiroyoshi Yamamoto a man who become eternally intertwined with Kojima over the years both as a tag partner and a rival.

The next two years would see Kojima establish himself on the undercard of New Japan shows, amongst the class of Young Lions referred to as 'The Third Generation'.

Yuji Nagata: Nagata would make his debut in the autumn of 1992. As with his other fellow 'Third Generation' Young Lions, he was primarily matched up against peers during his first year of pro wrestling experience.

The Match: Heisei Ishingun were really looking like a fully fledged unit by this stage with their matching purple karategi's. On the other side of the ring it's really weird seeing the current 'New Japan Dads' as black trunks Young Lions, though in the case of Kojima he had actually moved past the black trunks stage. Though still clearly a young lion, you could see that Kojima was made to look as though he could hold his own more than Nagata or Nakanishi at this stage.

Anyway this ended up being a pretty run of the mill, get people on the show 10 Man Tag, that was greeted with next to no reaction by the Tokyo Dome crowd. The match had a definite emphasis on highlighting the Young Lion's struggle to prove their worth, as both Kido and Samurai spent most of the match collecting their paycheck, standing on the ring-apron but other than the curiosity of seeing the current crop of senior veterans as fresh faced young lions there wasn't a lot to this match.

Heisei Ishingun (Akitoshi Saito & Masashi Aoyagi) vs. J J JACKS (Akira Nogami & Takayuki Iizuka)

J J JACKS: Directionless midcarders Akira Nogami and Takayuki Iizuka, began to regularly tag together in the spring of 1993, but it wasn't until around six months later, that they would really solidify the pairing, when they began to wear matching ring attire. They would compete in the 1993 Super Grade Tag League, but could only finish in 7th place (out of 10 teams) with 6 points.

The Match: As a refresher Saito and Aoyagi were part of the Karate stable that Koshinaka and Kobayashi feuded with prior to the formation of Heisei Ishingun, as with the rest of the unit they are also sporting the purple karategi's.

The Japanese Jolly Jacks (that's what the J J stands for) are sporting military style jackets with tassles...who knows what the hell their gimmick was supposed to be but they were obviously super-keen to leave a flamboyant impression.

There's this slightly incorrect notion that Japanese crowds are quiet compared to Western crowds, the truth is Japanese crowds can be just as loud if not more so, if they are really into the match they are seeing, they're just super quiet when they don't give a shit about what's being presented in front of them.....

Sadly for Team Mister Miyagi and the Jumping Jack Flashers this match fell into the latter category. But who could really blame the crowd for their dead reaction when the match basically consisted of 15 minutes of one team do nothing else but do lots of kicks. Naturally the Jolly Rangers strategy is to work over their legs, which actually makes sense, it's just that the Tokyo Dome crowd...do not care.... at all.

Black Cat vs. Brutus Beefcake

Brutus Beefcake: Beginning in 1977, the early portion of Ed Leslie's wrestling career was spent on the American territorial circuit, often teaming with Terry Bollea (who would go on to be better known as Hulk Hogan) under the ring names of Ed Boulder and Dizzy Hogan. Leslie would become a three time NWA Southeastern Tag champion between 1980 and 1983, and would also work a few tours for New Japan under his own name.

Leslie worked a few dates for the WWF in 1980, but he made a more significant impact when he re-debut there in 1984, under his new heel gimmick of Brutus Beefcake. Though Leslie probably found his way in to the WWF on the recommendation of his friend Terry Bollea, who had now become the biggest star in wrestling, he managed to establish himself as a solid midcard heel act.

In 1985 Beefcake would begin teaming with Greg Valentine, as The Dream Team. The pair would go on to become WWF Tag Team Champions, and have a solid 8 month run with the belts.

Beefcake would turn face after The Dream Team broke up at Wrestlemania III, with the angle of that break-up leading into Beefcake, evolving into the Barber gimmick. Despite not having any title success under the Barber gimmick, Beefcake would continue to have some fairly high profile feuds with the likes of Honky Tonk Man and Randy Savage.

However in July 1990 Ed Leslie's wrestling career would be brought to a crashing halt, when his face was crushed in a parasailing accident, causing him to put his wrestling career on hold for almost two years. During this time period Beefcake would make sporadic non wrestling appearances, including his interview segment known as The Barber Shop- the most famous of which saw The Rockers split up and ignite Shawn Michaels run to singles stardom.

Beefcake would return to the ring in early 1993, but when Hulk Hogan did not resign with the WWF, Leslie would soon follow his friend to pastures new, which included working a few dates for NJPW.

The Match: Oh just what I want to see, another Black Cat singles match! Even more impressive that it's against someone who basically got on the card, because his best mate probably strong armed the booking team into doing so.

Beefcack is accompanied to the ring by irritating loud mouth manager Jimmy Hart, who is there to state the obvious to him via megaphone. Anyway I'm going to waste too much time on this one as one would be able to gather before seeing this ended up being like a 1980's WWF midcard match (which as you will gather isn't a compliment). Once again the crowd could care less, neither could I- but that didn't stop me doing a profile for Hogan's lame friend for this dire match!

Super Strong Machine vs. Tatsutoshi Goto

Raging Staff Defections: In 1992 The Blond Outlaws evolved into Raging Staff with the addition of Super Strong Machine. However the summer of 1993 would see Goto defect to rival faction Heisei Ishingun. By the end of that Super Strong Machine also ended up leaving the unit and switching to fighting alongside the WAR invaders, reducing Raging Staff to a tag team consisting of Norio Honaga and Hiro Saito.

The Match: Former Raging Staff members collide! Four matches in to this show, will the crowd finally care about something?!

Though you could hardly say that the crowd were about to blow the roof of after this match, Super Strong Machine and Goto worked hard enough down the closing stretch to finally get wake the Tokyo Dome crowd up and get them engaged with the event.

Whilst you couldn't call the first two thirds of the match rough, they were pretty bland with generic brawling and thinly veiled rest hold submission work, but that's probably to be expected between two wrestlers who weren't exactly work-rate machines. But to their credit they did pick it up for the last few minutes, though they did mess up the finish...It was never a three count, but referee Red Shoes could have been at fault there.

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tiger Mask III

Jushin Thunder Liger: At begining of the previous year Liger would defeat Ultimo Dragon to begin his sixth reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, but would not defend the title until August of that year, partly due to suffering an injury in that years Top of the Super Juniors tournament (the final Juniors tournament to be held under that name, rather than Best of the Super Juniors). With his first successful defence coming against the tournament winner Pegasus Kid (He Who Cannot Be Named). Still the champion coming into the next year, Liger notched up 2 more successful defences against WAR representative Masao Orihara, and against the latest incarnation of Black Tiger (Eddie Guerrero).

Tiger Mask III: Koji Kanemoto would make his debut in November 1990, after three years of working as a young lion under his own name, in early 1993 Kanemoto would be sent out on excursion to Mexico, working under the ring name of King Lee. After spending half a year in Mexico, Kanemoto would return to New Japan as the latest incarnation of the famous Tiger Mask gimmick.

The Match: Liger's IWGP belt isn't on the line here, but I can only guess that the match has some other meaning of importance attached to it, like their masks being on the line.

This was a real mixed bag of a match, with the work generally being pretty good but with some notable low points. To be more accurate Tiger Mask/Kanemoto is more of a mixed bag here....Liger is Liger.

They begin with a pretty standard opening portion of mat based holds and striking exchanges- which unsurprisingly gets next to zero reaction from the crowd and though the crowd do get into it more down the stretch, they're never quite on the edge of blowing the roof of with excitement.

They really do try to pull out all the stops though during the closing stretch, with both guys running through their killer offence to the point that Liger is forced to dust off the Shooting Star Press, though at one point Tiger Mask could have had the match won a lot earlier but got greedy in wanting to beat Liger in more convicing fashion, that or he just wasn't confident that he had done enough to keep Liger down for the three count.

Unfortunately the match is marred by a horrible botch, that see's Tiger Mask completely screw up on a Diving Headbutt to the entrance ramp, that is supposed to see him come crashing down upon a prone Liger and instead sees him stumble off the ring post and flop onto the entrance ramp, somewhere in a different postal district to where Liger happens to be. That being said even with the horrible botch and a half engaged crowd, there's still enough good stuff about this match to make it somewhat worth seeking out.

However things get really interesting post match, as Tiger Mask unmasks to reveal that he's Koji Kanemoto. I get the impression that Kanemoto was never quite comfortable working with the Tiger Mask gimmick and having to incorporate flashy high flying moves into his more natural 'shooter' style offence. Kanemoto would go on to have a very strong career but his run as the third incarnation of Tiger Mask has to be seen as something of a failure, with the attempted Tiger Mask revival with Kanemoto under the famous hood, lasting less than a year.

Mildly Recommended.

IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Jurassic Powers (Hercules Hernandez & Scott Norton) vs. The Hell Raisers (Hawk Warrior & Power Warrior)

Hercules Hernandez: Raymond Fernandez would debut as a pro wrestler in 1981, firstly under the ring name of Ray Hernandez and then under his more well known ring name of Hercules Hernandez. The early part of his career was spent working the territorial circuit for the NWA affiliates such as Jim Crockett Promotions and Championship Wrestling from Florida.

Hernandez would sign with the WWF in late 1985, in a seven year run with the WWF Hernandez would not actually achieve any championship success. For the first few years of his run , Hernandez would play the role of midcard 'monster' heel as part of a stable for a heel manager such as Bobby Heenan. He did get a World title shot against Hulk Hogan in 1986, but was just one of many 'monster of the month' challengers for Hogan to run through and would prove to be the pinnacle of Hernandez time in the WWF.

He would then turn face in 1988, after he took umbridge to Ted DiBiase referring to him as his own personal slave, after Heenan sold Hernandez to DiBiase. However after Hernandez feud with the Million Dollar Corporation ended he found himself floundering even more as a face.

In 1990 Hernandez turned heel again, after forming The Power and Glory tag team with Paul Roma. Initially the team looked as though they would get a solid push, when they defeated The Rockers at that years Summerslam and went on to challenge The Hart Foundation for the WWF World Tag Team Championship, but any semblance of a push for Power and Glory was brought to a crashing halt, when they were squashed by The Legion of Doom in under a minute.

Hernandez would leave the WWF in early 1992, and would move on to WCW under the masked gimmick Super Invader. However his time with WCW was short lived, lasting less than half a year. Hernandez would then move on to Japan, debuting for NJPW in March 1993, where he would go on to form The Jurassic Powers team with fellow gaijin powerhous Scott Norton, with the pairing leading Hernandez to his first taste of championship success since his pre WWF days.

The Match: Were Norton and Hernandez already making assumptions that their wrestling style is a relic of the past, even in the mid 90's with their team name of Jurassic Powers?

If you took a guess that this match consisted of big bulls trying to knock each other over with manly shoulder barges, engaging in each other in test of strengths, no selling moves and grunting- you will not be surprised to know that you would be entirely correct.

This wasn't a bad example of the hoss fight formula, and did actually have some cool spots here and there, such as Hawk doing a pretty nuts diving shoulder block over the top-rope into the ring from the entrance ramp. However a solidly OK match was somewhat undercut by a finish that felt too sudden and underwhelming.

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Tigerkinney
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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:07 am

4th January 1994 - NJPW Battlefield in Tokyo Dome - Part 2

Hiroshi Hase & Keiji Mutoh vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)

The Match: The Steiners were WWF wrestlers at this point in their careers but had managed to carve themselves out a unique deal where they were allowed to work some dates for New Japan. No chance of that kind of co-operation now between the two companies, given the current simmering tension between the two promotions at the moment.

Because there isn't much on the line, other than pride, this feels like little more than a showcase for the first two thirds of the contest. Despite the Steiners showcasing their usual hard hitting suplex based offence, there just seems to be a lack of intensity during a slow build that at times often feels disjointed.

Thankfully everyone kicks it up a notch, after Scott drills Hase with the freaking Steiner Screwdriver.....Realistically that should have ended things right there and then, but Scott got cocky and decided to pose and jack his jaw at the crowd instead of going for the cover, allowing a groggy Hase to make a miraculous fighting spirit comeback.

It leads into a breathless back and forth closing stretch, with Mutoh and Hase's fighting spirit being put to the test by the Steiner's punishing offence and efficient team work.

After a slow and disjointed start, this ended up being really damn good but nothing less is to be expected from a Steiner's match during their glorious pomp, as one of the greatest tag teams of all time.

Recommended

Hulk Hogan vs. Tatsumi Fujinami

Tatsumi Fujinami: Despite turning 40, The Dragon proved to everyone that his time as a main event player was not yet over, after winning the third edition of the G-1 Climax in August. Despite his victory though, Fujinami had yet to receive a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

The Match: I've already mentioned enough times, how Japan Hogan is an entirely different animal to the Hogan most people are accustomed to seeing. This ends up being a mostly mat based wrestling contest, which still seems a bit surreal with the Hulkster being one half of the competitors in the match.

Though the mat drags a little at times, with perhaps an over-reliance on 'Hogan does wrestling' they actually end up telling a pretty solid story here with Fujinami looking to use his superior quickness to avoid Hogan's Axe Bomber lariat. It's not a great match by any means but it's just about worth a watch to once again see Hogan actually put in some real effort inside of the wrestling ring.

Mildly Recommended

Riki Choshu vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Riki Choshu: The first half of 1993 for Choshu were highlighted by a pair of singles bouts against Genichiro Tenryu. After July however Choshu would miss the rest of the year (injury?), including that years G-1 climax.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara: With his heart still in the shoot-style of wrestling, Fujiwara took the decision to leave New Japan and join Akira Maeda's revival of his UWF promotion. However the UWF revival did not last long, with the promotion collapsing by the end of 1990.

The following year Fujiwara would start up his own shoot style promotion Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi, whilst also working freelance dates for other promotions, such as with Genichiro Tenryu's Super World of Sports.

After 4 years away Fujiwara would return to a New Japan ring in the spring of 1993, where he would be victorious over Hiroshi Hase in his return match at Wrestling Dontaku event that took place in the Fukuoka Dome. Fujiwara would then go on to compete in that year's G-1 Climax but would be eliminated in the first round by fellow NJPW legend and eventual winner Tatsumi Fujinami.

The Match: The battle of the grumpy veterans between a 42 year old Choshu and a 44 year old Fujiwara.

This old timers match ended up being, not very good. It was like they were trying to pack a 30 minute epic into a third of the time, because these two simply didn't have the legs to go long but were too stubborn not to work some old school formula.

Most of the match is taken up with pointless mat work, that is occasionally interrupted by some tetchy brawling and old man grunting. The limb work from Fujiwara is especially pointless, primarily focusing on Choshu's legs- forgetting the fact that Choshu's chief weapon of choice is his lariat. Fujiwara remembers that though when all of a sudden they just went to the closing stretch, with Choshu looking to hit his lariat and Fujiwara looking to sink in his patented arm bar.

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masahiro Chono

Shinya Hashimoto: Following Chono's G-1 Climax successes and NWA World Heavyweight title reign and Keiji Mutoh's reign as IWGP Heavyweight champion (albeit under his Great Muta gimmick), for much of 1993 Hashimoto was still waiting for his breakout success.

That all changed in September when Hashimoto would defeat his Three Musketeer peer Keiji Mutoh for the IWGP belt. Hashimoto would then make two further title defences against Mutoh and Power Warrior (Kensuke Sasaki) before the end of the year.

Masahiro Chono: 1993 would ultimately end up being a year of disappointment for Chono, having lost the NWA World Heavyweight title to The Great Muta at that year's Tokyo Dome show and being unable to make it three G-1 Climax tournament victories in the row, being knocked out by Hiroshi Hase in the semi finals.

The Match: Before I delve into this match, there's been something thats been bugging me for a while with Chono matches and that is Chono's odd breathing pattern during his matches. I know it's Chono because I only hear it during his matches...It's hard to put into words on a screen, but I can only describe it as 'Mutter Breathing', as though he's muttering random gibberish. It get's drowned out when the crowd gets louder as his matches build in excitement but it's going to bug me forever during his matches, now that I've picked up on this strange habit of his.

The first half of this match can be seen as nothing more than an extended squash in the favour of the champion with Chono hanging on by a thread. But hang on he does, as no matter what Hashimoto trys to wear Chono down with be it ground based submission holds, strikes or suplexes.. Chono's inner fortitude manages to keep him going and believing that eventually the tide will turn....

That opening finally comes when Chono slips put out of Brainbuster attempt and counters with a backdrop suplex- that looked to be false hope, when Hashimoto was able to cut Chono off on the top turnbuckle, but the then two time G-1 Climax winner was able to cut off Hashimoto's avalanche brainbuster attempt and follow up with the Diving Shoulder Block.

The momentum continues to swing in Chono's favour, as he looks to wear Hashimoto (who ends up suffering with one of is really bad nosebleeds yet again) with the STF. But the champion manages to dig deep and survive. The Closing stretch see's both men fighting with sheer desperation to try and end the match, having both survived extended periods of pressure from their opponent.

The first five minutes of the match was a little slow, but then they drew you in by not going down the normal road of having a back and forth slow build and instead tell a story of one man having to survive relentless pressure from their opponent. They then had you believing that Hashimoto had 'punched himself out' and that Chono would be able to complete the comeback with ease, but that wasn't to be the case, as both champion and challenger ended up displaying a tremendous amount of desire to emerge with the victory.

This wasn't one of those 'epics' packed full of killer moves, counters and nearfalls down the home -stretch and though I'm not the type to complain about that sort of formula - sometimes it is nice to see a match where the wrestler's desperation and fortitude is able to come through without them resorting to throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at one another.

Recommended

Antonio Inoki vs. Genichiro Tenryu

The Match: The NJPW vs WAR feud was always going to end up heading towards this point, with the founder of the up-start WAR promotion taking on NJPW's owner and one of the biggest legends in Japanese wrestling history, Antonio Inoki.

This ended up being a weirdly executed but strangely compelling match, with Inoki being made to look like a near invicible final level boss for most of the match. Inoki who was obviously desperate for the win was resorting to anyway he could, be it through legal or more nefarious means to try and put away Tenryu.

This comes to a head when Inoki causes Tenryu to pass out with an illegal choke- but instead of the referee throwing the match out on the DQ, everyone was made to wait in suspense whilst Tenryu took a nap on the mat for four minutes- which was probably just an innovative way to try and stretch the match out a bit longer, in spite of the ageing Inoki's diminishing stamina reserves.

Despite of the odd pacing here, they ended up telling a solid story with Inoki's desperation in obtaining the victory by any means coming through. The finish itself is rather abrupt but highly significant and an appropriate end for the story of the match.

Mildly Recommended

Overall Show Verdict: The 1994 Tokyo Dome show ratcheted up the star power, in comparison to the previous years show but in terms of match quality, there is very little to chose between the two. The early portion of the card dominated by Heisei Ishingun matches suffers from a disinterested crowd and unfortunately there is that Beefcack stinker to sit-through (or not save yourself 10 minutes of your life and don't suffer through it like I did!) . But is picks up significantly after the Liger/Tiger Mask match without quite having that true classic to send it over the top.

The Steiners vs Mutoh/Hase and the IWGP title match between Hashimoto and Chono are both excellent matches but both fall slightly short of being all time great matches and whilst the main event provided historical significance and an intriguing spectacle, you couldn't really call it one of the all time great Tokyo Dome main events either.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:21 am

Shinya Hashimoto is the star of this latest update of matches from 1994, that concludes with a surprise return.

17th February 1994 - NJPW Fighting Spirit 1994 (Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo)

Shinya Hashimoto vs Genichiro Tenryu

The Match: Hashimoto was still the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion but this is a non title match and it's merely about Hashimoto defending the pride of the Lion Mark against the invading founder of the up-start WAR promotion.

This ended up being an action packed match, worked more in the vein of a G-1 style sprint than the typically stretched out, slow build main event but one that was still able to tell a coherent and engrossing story.

The structure of the match had Hashimoto barrage Tenryru with his arsenal, only for the WAR leader to show his usual stubborn resilience and come back with powerful bursts of offence that would have Hashimoto in trouble. Also Tiger Hattori does a great job of selling that the intensity of the match is about to spiral out of control, regularly admonishing the competitors for stomping away too liberally on their opponent.

One moment that truly defines the intensity of this match was when Tenryu managed to drop Hashimoto with a powerbomb, but being unable to follow, having been peppered with so many headshots from Hashimoto's barrage of kicks.

In the end perhaps more than his first IWGP title run, this match and defiant stand against Tenryu helped to define Hashimoto as the next true ace of New Japan going forward from here.

Highly Recommended. _______________________________________________________________________________________________ 24th February 1994- NJPW Thanks Wrestling Day Brush Up (Nippon Budokan, Tokyo)

Hiroshi Hase vs Tadao Yasuda

Tadao Yasuda: Competing under the Shikona of Takanofuji Tadao Yasuda had a lengthy but mediocre sumo wrestling career that lasted between 1979 and 1992.

Like a number of Sumo wrestlers before him, Yasuda (now competing under his real name) would make the switch to pro wrestling.

The Match: This is Yasuda's debut, they've at least given him the chance of being nursed through to having a competent debut performance by putting him with one of the strongest in-ring workers of the era in Hiroshi Hase. Former NJPW wrestler Kotetsu Yamamoto is the special guest referee for this match, and with his all white outfit, he looks like an employee from a mental hospital.

Colour me surprised but this actually ended up being better than just not bad. Yasuda looked lumbering and awkward at times, which is what you would expect from a former sumo making his in-ring debut, but he at least showed a willingness (apart from one sequence of running sumo slaps) to display what he had learned in the NJPW dojo.

It's Hase though who expectedly holds the match together, putting over the rookie as a powerful beast (at 6ft 4 and nearly 300 Ibs Yasuda was especially big for Japanese wrestler), whilst never looking weak himself in the process. In doing so Hase was able to display his own fighting spirit as he waited for Yasuda to run out of steam, before sending the rookie back to wrestling school.

Mildly Recommended.

Shinya Hashimoto vs Jushin Thunder Liger

The Match: A rare 'openweight' singles contest as the IWGP Heavyweight champ at the time, battled the IWGP Junior champion at the time. Liger had long established himself as the ace of the Junior Division and was in the midst of a lengthy run with the belt, albeit a run with a shockingly low amount of title defences, given how long he had been holding the belt for.

Hashimoto in his first Heavyweight title reign was in the midst of being established as the new Heavyweight ace of NJPW. So this was a chance for Hashimoto to test himself against a man who was already starting to establish himself as a New Japan legend, whilst Liger was testing himself to see if he could make the step-up to the Heavyweight class.

For reasons I can never quite fathom, Liger would always forgo the body suit and wear a less flamboyant mask for his matches against Heavyweight wrestlers. We also have wrestler Kotetsu Yamamoto as the special guest ref for this match, he's still rocking the psychiatric nurse look.

The more experienced Liger would display a clear game plan to try and take down the bigger Hashimoto, by targetting the big mans legs- with dropkicks delivered with pin point accuracy and by regularly going to the figure four, with Liger regularly asking Yamamoto to ask 'him'....I can only assume that him refers to Hashimoto and not Jeeves. Does anyone actually use that search engine these days, or is Google just universally accepted as the only search engine worth bothering with?

With Liger wearing Hashimoto down but unable to put the IWGP Heavyweight champ away, he started ratcheting up the pressure down the home stretch with a series of eye-catching big moves that included a tremendous powerbomb from Liger on Hashimoto. But Hashimoto was not the IWGP Heavyweight champ for nothing, as he was able to withstand Liger's relentless pressure and force his way back into the contest.

The opening portion of the match was actually pretty slow going, but they ended up assembling a compelling story here that got over Liger's ring smarts and experience and Hashimoto's strength and resillience.

Recommended.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________ 16th March 1994- NJPW Hyper Battle 1994 (Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium)

Antonio Inoki & Tadao Yasuda vs. Masahiro Chono & Osamu Kido

The Match: The bulk of this tag match was the epitome of a two star special or a JAT (Just A Match). Sure the crowd were into it at times, but that's because Inoki was in the ring and he could do a live performance of Stephanie McMahon's current entrance theme and they would still be excited about what was unfolding before their eyes.

The only things of note are the finish which involved another choking controversy from Inoki, that lead to a post match confrontation with Chono and then for some reason a suited up Satoru Sayama (the original Tiger Mask) came to the ring. I'm pretty sure this match was only posted up to the NJPW World archive for this 'moment' which had to be the first time the original Tiger Mask had stepped back into an New Japan ring since his shock departure, almost 11 years earlier.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sun Jan 29, 2017 11:18 pm

In this update from the spring of 1994- Hashimoto's IWGP Heavyweight title reign continues and we get a match that pits two of today's elder statesmen against each other as Young Lions.


21st March 1994- NJPW Hyper Battle 1994 (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Nagoya)

IWGP Heavyweight Championship- Shinya Hashimoto vs Scott Norton

The Match: This is Hashimoto's fourth title defence, following successful defences against Mutoh, Chono and Power Warrior (Kensuke Sasaki). This isn't Norton's first title challenge, but after four years of being built up as the premier gaijin powerhouse in NJPW and a couple of tag title runs under his belt, he surely went into this match as a more convincing challenger than on his previous shots at winning the big one.

Norton was presented as a tough to beat 'monster' as he dominated the early going with Hashimoto barely able to register a scratch. The champ would gradually get back into it, by getting some joy on working over Norton's right arm, but even then Norton would prove hard to wear down and things continued with Hashimoto unable to build up enough momentum to completely take control of the match- however his own fighting spirit meant that Norton was never quite able to completely overwhelm Hashimoto either.

The positive take on this match was that they managed to project the story of Norton being a tough as nails, hard to wear down, proverbial immovable object. The negative take is that Norton's simplistic brawling and basic power moves style delivered at a plodding pace was not all that exciting to watch. In the end the story told managed to be engrossing enough to largely overcome Norton's weaknesses as an in-ring performer.

Mildly Recommended. _________________________________________________________________________________________ 24th March 1994- NJPW Hyper Battle 1994 (Kyoto Prefectural Gymnasium)

Young Lion Cup Final- Satoshi Kojima vs Manabu Nakanishi

The Match: Here we get to see today's respected elder statesmen as wet behind the ears young whipper snappers. Though the fact that Kojima is the one out of Black Trunks, it's actually Nakanishi who seems to be developing more of a distinct style of his own away from the basic Young Lion style, with his now trademark Argentine Backbreaker rack being used as an effective weapon during the closing stretch.

It's Nakanishi who actually has the bulk of the match from the basic early matwork exchanges to a closing stretch that gradually manages to gather intensity and a sense that both young lions want to prove themselves to be the top prospect emerging out of the New Japan dojo in recent years.

As expected with a Young Lion match the work for the most part was pretty basic but where these matches succeed or fail is whether or not they can deliver a spirited performance and project that they really, really want to win. Kojima and Nakanishi were able to do just that and in the end were able to deliver a solid match.

Mildly Recommended. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ 4th April 1994- NJPW Battle Line Kyushu 1994 (Grand Cross in Hiroshima)

Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Riki Choshu

The Match: This ended up being a strange choice to be digged up out of the New Japan archives but one that would probably would have made more sense if you were closely following the New Japan product at the time. The fact that we don't get full shows for the most part from the archives, will always hurt 'storyline' content such as this, when being watched historically.

Anyway only a few minutes into the match, Mutoh decides he's had enough and buggers off backstage, leaving Chono in a handicap match against the pair of grumpy veterans, then in a twist that came as no surprise to me Mutoh returned as his Great Muta persona.

The match itself ended up being rather inconsequential, the post match angle with Muta going on a mist spewing rampage and dishing out punishment with a rolled up stretcher was by and large more noteworthy.

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs Tatsumi Fujinami

The Match: Hashimoto was looking to make his fifth successful title defence, after winning the IWGP Heavyweight belt for the first time in September. Fujinami the 1993 G-1 Climax winner had not held the belt in over 2 years, but was looking to become the champion for a 5th time.
In a complete role reversal to his match with Scott Norton, Hashimoto found himself in the role of being the bigger, stronger aggressor for most of the match. He also ends up being the de-facto heel here against the beloved veteran Fujinami, playing up to that by being overtly aggressive and even shoving referee Tiger Hattori away a few times, when he's the midst of stomping a mudhole in 'the Dragon'.

Fujinami ends up taking a right old shit kicking from Hashimoto for most of the match, and all he can really do is use his veteran smarts to keep himself in the match and hope that Hashimoto makes a mistake. Fujinami constantly staggering to the safety of the ring-apron is a constant source of frustration for the champion and Hashimoto's impatience to put his clearly weaker (in terms of strength and firing power) opponent away eventually does lead to some mistakes being made.

In the end this wasn't a great match by any means, given that it was pretty much a one-sided squash but it ended up being an interesting one with a surprising ending.

Mildly Recommended. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7th April 1994- NJPW Battle Line Kyushu 1994 (Kumamoto City Gymnasium)

Great Muta & Hiroshi Hase vs. Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Fujiwara

The Match: I think Vince Russo might have got some inspiration with this match as it features tag partners who don't get along in the form of Muta and Hase.

Anyway unless you really desire to watch Muta go on another mist-spewing rampage, this is completely skippable.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:51 pm

It's been covered to death and would have been seen by just about every wrestling fan with a passing interest in Puroresu beyond modern day New Japan, but we have finally made it to the now legendary first edition of the Super J-Cup tournament, that saw NJPW collaborate with a number of smaller promotions and put together a one night tournament that would showcase a mixture of New Japan's Junior Division alongside a selection of up and coming talents from around Japan's independent scene.

In this up date, I will cover the six first round match-ups. For some reason, Wild Pegasus and The Great Sasuke were given byes into the second round.


16th April 1994- Super J Cup 1st Stage (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)- Part 1

Super J Cup 1st Round: Dean Malenko vs Gedo

Dean Malenko: Dean Simon, the son of Larry J.Simon (who competed as Boris Malenko) started out as a referee working the Florida regional circuit, before switching to an in-ring competed, where like his father he would compete under the Malenko ring name.

Malenko would then compete all over the world over the next decade, including regular tours of All Japan alongside his brother Joe Malenko. In autumn of 1992, Dean would move on to New Japan to become part of their Junior Division, where the following year he would take part in the Top of the Super Juniors tournament, nearly reaching the final.

Gedo: A graduate of the NJPW Dojo Keiji Takayama would make his in-ring debut in the spring of 1989. One of several dojo graduates to be involved with the controversial TPG angle, he ended up being released following it's massive failure.

Working under the ring name Gedo, he would form a tag team alongside fellow TPG alumni Jado (Shoji Akiyoshi) with the pair working in Mexico for the likes of UWA and CMLL and on the blossoming Japanese independent circuit for W*ING and WAR.

The Match: Gedo who is representing the WAR promotion was quite chubby in his younger days, so much so that I'm wondering how he managed to make weight- he's also sporting a terrible mullet with shaved sides monstrosity of a haircut.

The match itself saw Malenko dominate 99% of the contest and taking Gedo to school with his superior wrestling skill, which of course this being Malenko involved lots of ground based submission holds. Malenko to his credit realising that this is a one night tournament and that he will need to work the match a bit more urgency to save some energy for later does begin to mix it up a bit down the stretch, throwing in a flying cross body but then out of nowhere he gets caught with a Powerslam from Gedo that manages to keep him down for the three count.

They were obviously going for Gedo being booked as the sneaky heel who is out of depth wrestling skill wise but somehow manages to find a way to win. If that's the case I feel they made Malenko look a bit of a chump by losing to a basic powerslam and that they should have gone all the way with Gedo heeling it up and have him win with some sort of nefarious roll-up.

Super J Cup 1st Round: Shinjiro Otani vs Super Delfin

Shinjiro Otani: Part of the 'Third Generation' dojo class, Otani would make his NJPW debut in the summer of 1992, before going on to mainly compete against his fellow Young Lions over the next year. The following year Otani would take part in the Top of the Super Juniors tournament, but would finish joint bottom of the standings with Masao Orihara.

Super Delfin: Hiroto Wakita, joined the New Japan Dojo in 1987 but his association with the failed Takeshi Puroresu Gundan angle involving comedian Takeshi 'Beat' Kitano, lead to him being released.

Over the next 5 years Wakita would work as a struggling freelance independent talent, working for various promotions around the world, where he would work under ring-names such as Momotaro and Monkey Magic Wakita before settling on Super Delfin.

In 1993 Delfin would finally find a more permanent home in Michinoku Pro Wrestling, the Lucha Libre influenced independent founded by The Great Sasuke. Over the next year Delfin would then engage in a rivalry with Sasuke over the UWA World Welterweight title.

The Match: This ended up being a nice little sprint. Otani came out super aggressive going right after Delfin's legs. The M-Pro representative would come back into it and looked to have won the match with a nasty looking brainbuster, but Otani somehow managed to survive that. The momentum then swung back in Otani's favour, after a couple of beautifully executed springboard moves a dive to the outside and then a missile drop-kick. Delfin then managed to survive more leg work, before drilling Otani with a Tornado DDT and then following up with the Delfin Clutch to secure the victory.

Otani already looked like a polished performer here as a Young Lion and overall Delfin did a decent job of having his leg worked over by the naturally ruthless Otani. For the relatively short amount of time they were given, they managed to tell a compact story, whilst not holding back on delivering great action.

Mildly Recommended.

Super J Cup 1st Round: Black Tiger II vs TAKA Michinoku

Black Tiger II: The son of Gory Guerrero, Eduardo Gory Guerrero made his pro wrestling debut in 1986 for the CMLL promotion- he would then continue to primarily work for CMLL over the next 5 years, working as Eddy Guerrero and under a mask as Mascara Magica.

In 1992 Guerrero would jump ship to Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) the breakaway promotion founded by Antonio Pena. The same year Guerrero would also take his first trip to Japan to compete for NJPW, where he would take part in the Top of the Super Juniors tournament.
Guerrero would return to NJPW in 1993 and compete in his second Top of the Super Juniors tournament, before becoming the second man to work under the Black Tiger gimmick, when NJPW revived the Tiger Mask character the same year.

Taka Michinoku: Making his debut in the autumn of 1992 Takao Yoshida, took on the ring name of Taka Michinoku out of respect for his mentor and Michinoku Pro Wrestling founder The Great Sasuke.

The Match: This ended up being another action packed sprint. Black Tiger (Guerrero) the comparative veteran here played the role of aggressor for much of the match, but a plucky young Taka was able to keep himself in the contest with his innovative offence. These days Taka works a lot more conversatively, but here he was snapping off flippy dives and eye-catching rana's.

The finish saw Taka get a two count with a moonsault, but then made a mistake by going back to that well, when 'not Eddie Guerrero' got the knees up. In the end the resurrected Black Tiger was able to overpower the plucky M-Pro youngster and put Taka away with a combination of a brainbuster and a Tornado DDT.

Mildly Recommended.

Super J Cup 1st Round: El Samurai vs Masayoshi Motegi

Masayoshi Motegi: Motegi would make his pro wrestling debut in the summer of 1991, for W*ING (World International New Generations) promotion- one of several indy promotions to emerge in the early 90's during a boom period for the wrestling in Japan. Less than two years in his career Motegi would defeat Ray Gonzalez for the WWC Junior Heavyweight Championship. Motegi would then go on to have a further three more reigns with the belt over the next three years, during a period where the title which was actually the property of the Puerto Rican based World Wrestling Council, was mainly being fought over in W*ING.

The Match: This was yet another first round match worked as a sprint, which by this point was starting to become a bit formulaic, but understandable since this was a one night tournament. Anyway this one had a bit of a rough start, with Motegi botching a springboard plancha to the outside before they transitioned into some completely pointless mat work.

Samurai then dominated for a bit, and you wondered if the small time indy worker Motegi was going to be made to look like a jobber by being squashed in short order. Thankfully for Motegi he did manage a flurry of offence that included a fun (well not fun for Samurai) rolling surfboard transtioned into a Dragon Sleeper sequence, before ultimately falling to a High Angle Powerbomb from Samurai.

In the end this one turned into a serviceable sprint, after a rough and nervy start from Motegi.

Super J Cup 1st Round: Negro Casas vs Ricky Fuji

Negro Casas: The son of wrestler turned referee Pepe Casas, under the ring name of Negro Casas, Jose Casas Ruiz made his pro wrestling debut in the autumn of 1979.

Over the next decade Negro Casas would then primarily split his time with runs in the UWA and EMLL promotions. He would win his first title the UWA World Lightweight Championship in 1984, but it would not be until 1991 when he would win another title, this time winning the UWA World Middleweight Championship. Casas reign with that title would be ended by future legend Ultimo Dragon but only after a lengthy run with the belt that would last over 2 years.

In 1990, Casas would start to make regular trips to Japan- firstly working tours for NJPW but then also adding some dates with the likes of FMW and WAR to his schedule.

Ricky Fuji: Masanori Morimura started training in the NJPW dojo as part of the famous class of 84, alongside the likes of Keiichi Yamada and Shinya Hashimoto but left the dojo before debuting for NJPW, as he desired to join the UWF instead. When that didn't work out as planned for Morimura, he decided to go to Canada and train under Stu Hart in the infamous 'Dungeon'.

Morimura would make his debut for Stampede Wrestling in 1988, under the masked gimmick of Tiger Mask- though that soon evolved into Black Tomcat, seeing as AJPW had acquired the rights to the Tiger Mask gimmick at the time. Morimura was cut from the Stampede roster after only two months with the promotion but would continue to work in Canada as Black Tomcat for the likes of the NWWF and CIWF.

In 1989 Morimura would un-mask and evolve into Ricky Fuji, the ring name and Shawn Michaels influenced Rock Star persona he would become synomynous with for the rest of his career. In 1990 the now Ricky Fuji would return to Japan, and join the FMW promotion. A year later Fuji would win his first Championship in FMW, the AWA World Light Heavyweight Championship.

The Match: Another short match, but one that teased going a bit longer than it eventually did with some early match work exchanges. Things notch up a gear though, when Casas does a crazy plancha to the outside, that just barely makes it target. Casas then got some near counts off a La Magistral Cradle and a top-rope senton before Fuji rallied with a couple of lariats and a Tiger Driver to pick up the victory.

This was another OK match, that might have been better if they were actually given a bit more time. Lucha veteran Casas was clearly the better worker but the intricate politics that went on in putting together this tournament meant that the smaller promotions needed a few representatives in the next round and NJPW part timer Casas was an easy sacrifice. Fuji with his 100 Yen shop Shawn Michaels vibe did manage to come across a charismatic but you could also see that he was a mediocre in-ring talent at best.

Super J Cup 1st Round: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Hayabusa

Hayabusa: A then teenage Eiji Ezaki made his pro wrestling debut in November 1987 and then proceeded to struggle on the small time indy circuit for the next few years, before being given something of a break by the dojo of Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling.

Ezaki would make his FMW debut in May of 1991 and though he would spend the next few years being pushed as an inexperienced low card performer he was at least now found steady employment with one of the most note-worthy indies outside of the traditional big two of New Japan and All Japan.

In September 1993 Ezaki was sent on excursion to Mexico, where whilst working for CMLL he adopted the Hayabusa gimmick he became famous for and under the tutelage of Rey Misterio Sr became versed in the Lucha Libre style.

The Match: Hayabusa wasted no time in taking the fight right to the New Japan ace, by drop-kicking Liger out of the ring before the bell has even rung. Liger then had to endure a barrage of fast paced high octane offence from Hayabusa, before being able to get a foothold in the match and slowing the pace down.

The match then settled into a rhythm of Liger trying to keep Hayabusa grounded with a combination of technique and power, and Hayabusa constantly catching Liger by surprise with his innovative offence.

A great finishing stretch saw Hayabusa fight off a Frankensteiner attempt from Liger, before over-shooting a Shooting Star Press. Liger then immediately took advantage by planting Hayabusa with a Powerbomb for a two count, before sealing the victory with a Fisherman Buster.
This would actually be the first time that Ezaki would use the Hayabusa gimmick in Japan, and whilst he was clearly still a bit rough around the edges (the overshot SSP being a case in point) you could see that he was someone who was trying to take aerial artistry in wrestling to a level beyond the likes of Liger had taken it to around 5 years earlier.

In the end they packed a lot of action into a 10 minute match and also told a really well defined story of Liger's veteran smarts and more well rounded wrestling game getting the better of Hayabusa's high octane approach.

It's a real shame that either one of these had to exit after the first round, but I suppose they wanted a memorable match to cap off the first round of action.

Recommended.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:53 am

This is where the legend of the first Super J-Cup really begins to unfold.....

16th April 1994- Super J Cup 1st Stage (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)- Part 2

Super J Cup 2nd Round: Super Delfin vs Gedo

The Match: Pretty much a repeat of the first round for Gedo, in the fact that he looked like a chump for most of the match but somehow sneaked into the next round. The finish here saw Delfin go for his Delfin Clutch after a Tornado DDT only for Gedo to reverse it into a schoolboy.
If this was modern day Gedo I would have no qualms with him advancing to the semi-finals but mid 90's Gedo really sucked, in the same way that Taichi sucks in modern New Japan.

Super J Cup 2nd Round: Wild Pegasus vs Black Tiger II

Wild Pegasus: Under the ring name of Pegasus Kid, 'He Who Must Be Named' would continue to regularly work for New Japan- competing in both the 1992 and 1993 editions of the Top of the Super Juniors tournament and winning the latter when he defeated El Samurai in the finals, the same year he would also begin to regularly work for WCW under his own name.

The Match: Wild Pegasus looks familiar to me, but the name of whom he looks familiar to escapes me....

These two would go on to have many matches against each other over the years in North America, and probably better matches than this one. That's not to say that this match was bad by any means, far from it but those expecting this to be a classic Eddie vs Chris Whats His Name match, will be disappointed.

What we got was a solid 10 minute match, that showcased the technical acumen of the two wrestlers, with a mix of mat based submission work, hard hitting suplexes and a sprinkling of lucha flavor from Guerrero.

The finishing stretch was decent but the finish itself with Pegasus reversing a top rope dive from Black Tiger into a sort of powerslam, arm drag- fuck knows what it was....was pretty weak.

Mildly Recommended.

Super J Cup 2nd Round: El Samurai vs The Great Sasuke

The Great Saskuke : Masanori Murakawa would make his in-ring debut in March 1990, and would initially work under the ring-name of Masa Michinoku. Whilst on tour in Mexico, Murakawa would go under a mask and become Ninja Sasuke. On his return to Japan, the gimmick in 1993 the gimmick had evolved into The Great Sasuke.

Upon his return to Japan, he also founded Michinoku-Pro, the first Japanese promotion not be based in the Greater Tokyo area- instead basing the Lucha Libre influenced promotion in the Tohoku region, where he was born and raised. In addition to putting MPW on the map, Sasuke also worked a number of other independents, most notably for FMW where he would become the inaugural FMW Independent Junior Heavyweight Champion.

The Match: Samurai vs Ninja! Mind you I never thought El Samurai's gimmick was particularly evocative of a Samurai.

This match had two distinct parts, the first half saw some early mat based exchanges that Samurai got the better off for the most part but once Sasuke broke free and pulled off a cartwheel somersault plancha- the match then broke loose into a showcase of highspots and breathless nearfalls.
Even by todays standards, some of the stuff- Sasuke in particular pulled off here was jaw dropping and it came as no surprise that the crowd were losing their minds for this one down the stretch. That closing stretch saw Sasuke hit an awesome looking sunset flip powerbomb for a two count, but then miss with a spin kick. Samurai then went close himself with the High Angle Powerbomb- before Sasuke was able to just about sneak into the next round when he reversed a rana attempt from Samurai into a roll-up.

Sasuke looked like an instant star here, with Samurai providing an able dance partner.

Recommended.

Super J Cup 2nd Round: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Ricky Fuji

The Match: It's kind of a shame that Fuji was Liger's second round dance partner and not Hayabusa- but that being said this wasn't bad and Fuji actually did OK here. Liger gave Fuji plenty of offence, whilst always looking the superior wrestler and more in control of the match. Unsurprisingly Liger eased into the semi-finals after catching Fuji with a diving hurricanrana for the three count.

Super J Cup Semi Final: Wild Pegasus vs Gedo

The Match: Fat Gedo making the finals of this tournament would have been a real travesty, that being said he probably put in his best effort here (even busting out a nice looking moonsault to the outside at one point) in what ended up being another solid sprint.

Pegasus picked up the win here with the swandive headbutt and with Liger and Sasuke likely to give each other a stronger test than Gedo gave him, 'He Who Must Not Be Named' would surely have seen to be the favourite to pick up the trophy.

Mildly Recommended.

Super J Cup Semi Final: Jushin Thunder Liger vs The Great Sasuke

The Match: Sasuke was taken to the school of hard knocks during the opening portion of this match, as Liger delivered a deluge of punishment like a final level boss. Working over Saskuke's back and then his arm. Throughout this extended beating, the crowd are constantly encouraging Sasuke to keep fighting...It kind of sounds like they are chanting 'Ask Him' which is Liger's favourite two words when he's stretching an opponent, but I'm sure they must have been chanting 'Sasuke'.

Eventually Sasuke's unbeliveable resillience to being turned into a pretzel, leads to Liger becoming frustrating, as the New Japan Junior ace makes a mistake by going to missile drop-kick. Sasuke counters by drop-kicking Liger out of mid air and then following that up with an Asai Moonsault the outside.

Sasuke then continued to seize control with another crazy dive to the floor followed up by a Tombstone Piledriver and a nasty looking Razor's edge style Powerbomb that leaves Liger barely moving on the mat. Liger however manages to move out of the way of a Swanton Bomb and then seizes back momentum with a shotei. Liger has his second wind, but somehow Sasuke manages to survive through a Liger Bomb, frankensteiner and a Fisherman Buster.

Sasuke is then sent to the floor with a suplex over the top-rope, before Liger wipes him out with the dive. Liger looks wiped out though from unloading his entire arsenal on Sasuke and still not being able to put the indie outsider away. Sasuke managed to make it back onto the apron and then goes for a springboard move, but he slips badly on the ropes and falls flat on his face. Liger thinks Sasuke is done and sarcastically applauds Sasuke's fuck-up, but he gets caught off guard with a pop-up rana out of nowhere, leading to the M-Pro leader founder picking up the huge up-set.

If it wasn't for the unfortunate botch at the end, this might well have been one of the greatest matches ever.....I think they did their best to work out an on the fly finish that worked the botch into the story of the match, but surely Sasuke and Liger couldn't have planned that. Despite the shaky ending, this match was just un-real with nuclear levels of heat from the crowd. Liger was made to look like the big league ace that he certainly was, whilst Sasuke won over the crowd with astonishing levels of resillience and an exciting arsenal of offence, that still looks fresh and innovative even by today's standards.

Highly Recommended.

Super J Cup Final: The Great Sasuke vs Wild Pegasus

The Match: Pegasus was surely going to be at a major advantage coming into this match, not only was his semi final the first one, his two matches against Black Tiger and Gedo were considerably less demanding than the punishing matches Sasuke had to endure against El Samurai and Jushin Liger to make it this far.

Despite having already been through two other gruelling matches prior to this, Sasuke and Pegasus put in a performance for the ages and capped off what has gone down as one of the greatest tournaments in wrestling history with a fitting finale.

With Pegasus links to Stampede and Dynamite Kid influences in his work and Sasuke's blend of martial arts kicks and spectacular high flying moves- the match played out like a homage to the Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid matches that laid the foundations in influencing the style of so many Junior Heavyweight wrestlers that had come since. But in tipping it's hat to what had come before, it managed to do so without coming across as a cheap parody and instead was able to feel like an evolution of those matches whilst also telling the story that had unfolded during the tournament.

The closing stretch in particular beautifully projects the story being told in the ring- such as an increasingly desperate Sasuke going for a crazy missile drop-kick to the floor- which whilst he manages to nail Pegasus, he also ends up landing awkwardly and doing damage to himself. Despite still being in control as they get back into the ring, Sasuke continues to sell the wear and tear of the match and the tournament as a whole.

When the finish itself comes a gutwrench superplex into the ring- it feels fitting that a move that probably would have seen the loser kick out of earlier in the match, is able to finish them off here- the punishing and exhausting nature of the tournament, not just the match they are in, finally catching up to them.

If you were to force me to choose between the two, I would honestly say that despite the botch at the end, that I slightly prefer the Sasuke-Liger match myself, but both are fantastic matches that provided a fitting end to a memorable tournament. How Sasuke managed to deliver two great peformances, one after the other is simply astonishing, and that is on top of having another excellent match with El Samurai earlier in the night. At the time Dave Meltzer said that Sasuke's performance was the single greatest one night performance in wrestling- it's hard to disagree with that sentiment.

Highly Recommended

Overall Show Verdict: If you go in to Super J-Cup expecting everything to be amazing then you're going to be disappointed- with the one night only format, that was never going to happen. The first and even the second round matches are worked as quick sprints for the most part, but there's actually nothing out-right bad on the show. The likes of El Samurai vs Masayoshi Motegi and Negro Casas vs Ricky Fuji aren't great matches but they are far from being bad.

Liger vs Hayabusa was the pick of the first round, whilst the second round provided a mixed bag with two average sprints, a pretty good match between Wild Pegasus (Unknown Wrestler) and Black Tiger (Guerrero) and the first of three standout performances from The Great Sasuke with an excellent bout against El Samurai.

The first semi final between Pegasus and Gedo was a decent sprint, while the other semi and finals match are all time legendary matches that earned the first Super J-Cup it's deserved reputation as one of the greatest nights in the history of professional wrestling.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:56 pm

In this update from the summer months of 1994, we have a title re-match and couple of tournament finals and Big Tony's lengthy retirement tour kicks off.

1st May 1994- NJPW Wrestling Dontaku In Fukuoka Dome

IWGP Heavyweight Title: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Shinya Hashimoto

The Match: Despite being completely dominated by Hashimoto in his previous title challenge, Fujinami managed to pull off a shock victory. Here Hashimoto was looking to regain the title, he probably felt he shouldn't have lost to Fujinami a month earlier.

This ended up being incredibly short for a title match, but I wouldn't really call it a squash and despite being under 10 minutes long they managed to neatly pack a concise well told story into the action.

Hashimoto still reeling from the shock of losing to Fujinami last time out, came out ultra aggressive. Fujinami initially tried to throwdown with Hashimoto but wasn't having much luck there, however Fujinami was able to counter one of Hashimoto's kicks into a Dragon screw. Fujinami then wasted no time in trying to put Hashimoto away by getting him to tap out firstly to an STF and then a choke sleeper. However Hashimoto managed to escape Fujinami's clutches, which ended up being bad news for 'the Dragon'....

Pissed off Hashimoto kicking the crap out of people and dropping on them on their heads with DDT's is always a glorious sight.

Mildly Recommended.

INOKI FINAL COUNTDOWN 1ST: Antonio Inoki vs The Great Muta

The Match: This is the first match in what ended up being a lengthy 4 year retirement tour for the NJPW founder and icon.
This match encapsulated everything that irritates me about Inoki and his oversized ego- instead of putting people over on his way out, this retirement tour of of course had to be one long ego-stroke and it started with this match.

Inoki it has to be said was completely dominated by Muta, but there lies the problem- if Inoki looked as though he was on an even footing for much of the match, the weak-ass finish wouldn't have stunk so much.

Due to Inoki's diminishing skills and stamina, the match had plenty of smoke and mirrors to stretch it out, so we got Muta being Muta and doing his stalling schtik, Inoki having green mist blown into his face multiple times, so that he ended up looking like the Incredible Hulk and Inoki being busted open- just so that he could look even more like some unstoppable god of the ring. In the end Big Tony ends up surviving multiple moonsaults and suplexes, but all he needs to put away Muta is a half assed choke sleeper and a lazy pin. Fucking weak.
__________________________________________________________________________________ 13th June 1994- NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors I (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium)

Best of the Super Juniors Finals: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Super Delfin

1994 Best of the Super Juniors: The 1994 edition of New Japan's annual round robin Juniors tournament would be the first under the Best of the Super Juniors name, that has endured to this day. Who knows why the changed it from Top of to Best of, but they did and this is officially on record as being the first edition of the tournament, even though they had been doing the same thing under a different name for the previous three years.

The 1994 edition was an 11 man single Block tournament, that featured many of the particpants that took part in April's Super J-Cup: Liger, Wild Pegasus, El Samurai, Black Tiger II, Dean Malenko, and Shinjiro Otani from the NJPW roster, Super Delfin and Taka Michinoku from Michinoku-Pro and independent talent Masayoshi Motegi. Young Lion Tokimitsu Ishizawa and European wrestling import David Finlay rounded out the field. Liger still the current IWGP Junior champion at the time and Super Delfin finished joint top of the standings with 14 points a piece.

The Match: Instead of coming as himself, Delfin decided to dress up as a cheap parody of the man standing opposite him- perhaps he thought it would mess with Liger's head and throw the IWGP Junior champ off his game?

Whilst this wasn't anywhere near on the same level as the finals of the Super J-Cup that took place a few months earlier, this still managed to be a fine match. The story of the match saw Delfin try to effectively out-do the man that was clearly an influence on him, by mixing technical submission work with high flying- only problem for him is that Liger is just that little bit better at it.

That being said despite teasing a few times that Liger is about to dominate and take Delfin to wrestling school, he never takes complete control of the match and in fact the M-Pro outsider manages a series of flurries that have Liger scrambling to stay alive and the crowd believing that the upset could happen. This of course leads to Liger stepping it up a gear himself, pulling out stuff like the top-rope hurricanrana and an avalanche fisherman buster in order to put the plucky knock-off away.

Recommended. ______________________________________________________________________________________ 7th August 1994- NJPW G1 Climax 1994 (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)

G1 Climax Finals: Masashiro Chono vs Power Warrior

1994 G1 Climax : The 1994 G1 Climax returned to the Block based format of the first edition. 12 competitors took part that year, and were divided into two Blocks.

Block A featured two time winner Masahiro Chono, former IWGP Heavyweight Champions Riki Choshu and Keiji Mutoh, plus veterans Osamu Kido, Yoshiaki Fujiwara (representing Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi) and Yoshiaki Yatsu (representing SPWF).

Block B featured the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Shinya Hashimoto, multi time IWGP champion Tatsumi Fujinami, a trio of former tag champions in Power Warrior, Hiroshi Hase and Shiro Koshinaka plus midcarder Takayuki Iizuka.

Chono would reach his third final in four years by coming out on top of Block A, whilst victories over Koshinaka, Iizuka and Hase plus a 30 minute time limit draw with Hashimoto saw Power Warrior edge his way into coming out on top of Block B.

The Match: This ended up being a very disappointing match, especially considering that this was a G-1 Finals. Kensuke Sasaki/Power Warrior was perfectly serviceable as part of a tag team at this stage of his career but he probably wasn't ready for a major singles push. Of the heralded Three Musketeers, Chono was probably always the weakest in terms of in-ring talent, being someone who could raise his game when in the ring with strong talent but unable to raise his game when he would have to actually 'carry' someone.

The story here was that Chono came into the match with a taped up shoulder, which did at least play into the closing stretch but for around 15 minutes this match was a meandering bore-fest of aimless mat work and bland brawling.

To their credit they did manage to step it up a bit down the closing stretch, with Chono looking to tap Sasaki out with the STF and Sasaki looking to make Chono submit to his Strangle Hold Armbar that put pressure on Chono's injured shoulder. It's a closing stretch that's good enough to save the match from being a total dud but it still doesn't do enough not to make this one of the most skippable G-1 Finals.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sat Feb 04, 2017 9:00 pm

A mix of cheesy nostalgia and tag team tournament finals make up the selection of matches that close out the year for the archive from 1994.

23rd September 1994- NJPW G1 Climax Special 1994 (Yokohama Arena)

INOKI FINAL COUNTDOWN 2ND: Antonio Inoki vs Willem Ruska

Willem Ruska: Ruska was a Judoka who had a couple of faux MMA (called Different Style Fights) with Inoki in 1976 and then stunk around on the NJPW roster until 1980. As part of Inoki's retirement tour/ego massage here he is coming out of retirment to go at it with Big Tony one more time.

The Match: I was ready to write this one off as a faux MMA snoozefest, but the final few minutes of this were absurdly entertaining, in a hokey kind of way.

The crazy shenanigans all start when Inoki pulls Ruska's Judoki over his head. Ruska then tried to choke Inoki out with his belt, but then had more success choking Big Tony out when the match spilled to the outside. Inoki looked to be out of it for good, with Ruska celebrating to a chorus of boos as Big Tony is put on a stretcher....

But we all know where this is heading, Inoki recovers like he's the second resurrection of christ and puts away Ruska with a sleeper hold and a diving knee-drop following his miraculous comeback.

I know it seems kind of hypocritical, that whilst I hated the Inoki 'Miraculous comeback' bullshit in the Muta match but didn't mind it here, but on this occasion the cheesy Inoki formula saved the match and he did at least get the job done here by putting away Ruska with a kneedrop as opposed to simply falling on top of his opponent. _______________________________________________________________________________ 18th October 1994- NJPW Super Grade Tag League IV (Okayama Prefectural Gymnasium) Super Grade Jr. Heavyweight Tag League Final Match: Black Tiger II & The Great Sasuke vs Wild Pegasus & Shinjiro Otani

1994 Super Junior Tag League: With an ultra hot Junior Division in 1994, NJPW put on a tag league for the Juniors that took place prior to the Heavyweight Tag League. Black Tiger & Sasuke defeated the team of Gran Hamada & Norio Honaga in the semi-finals, whilst Pegasus & Otani bested Dean Malenko & Tokimitsu Ishizawa (who would go on to become Kendo Kashin).

Other teams that competed in the round robin part of the tournament were the M-Pro pair of Super Delfin and Taka Michinoku, El Samurai & Too Cold Scorpio, Masayoshi Motegi & Kamikaze and Shoichi Funaki (the future Funaki of WWE comedy jobber fame) & Yuki Ishizawa.

The Match: This match started out super-heated with the teams attacking each other before the bell was even rung, right from the start this match which refreshingly had no long drawn out 'heat' segment, had no down time what so ever and was non stop action all the way.


To suggest that his ended being nothing more than a spot-fest would do disservice to the match, as we got some great dick heel character work from Black Tiger II (Guerrero) amongst the frantic action. Some early near-falls, conditioned the crowd into thinking that the match could be over at any time and we even got a nice little call-back to the finish of the Super J-Cup Finals when Pegasus tried to send Sasuke crashing into the ring with a superplex.

Considering this is the mid 90's the teamwork from both teams would have felt fresh and innovative- so it's a real shame that the showstopper move down the finale- a doomsday frankensteiner ended up being botched to the point that it ended up hurting the finish, especially as it looked like the one who ended up taking the fall here had countered the attempt into a powerbomb. It doesn't ruin what came before, but the botched finish or more to the point the poor follow up to the botch notches the match down from being an unquestionable classic to merely excellent.

Surprisingly it would be another 4 years until we got actual Junior Tag belts- given how good this match was and how stacked the Junior Division was in general at this time (even if many were part timers) I'm shocked it took that long to make the idea of a Junior Tag division a more
permanent concept.

Recommended. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30th October 1994- NJPW Super Grade Tag League IV (Ryogoku Kokukigan, Tokyo)

Super Grade Tag League IV Final Match: Keiji Mutoh & Hiroshi Hase vs Masahiro Chono & Super Strong Machine

1994 Super Grade Tag League: The 1994 edition of the Tag League featured 10 teams competing in a single block round robin, with the top 2 making it to a Final Playoff. Even though the third place team of The Hellraisers (Hawk Warrior & Power Warrior) finished tied on 14 points with the top 2 teams, they would be edged out of the finals on the head to head record.

Other pairings to take part that year were Tatsumi Fujinami & Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Osamu Kido & Scott Norton, Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi, JJ Jacks (Takayuki Iizuka & Akira Nogami), Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu plus the all gaijin pairings of Mike Enos & Steven Regal plus Ron Simmons & Nailz that were guesting due to NJPW's working agreement at the time with WCW.

The Match: Brought on being overlooked for the first shot at the IWGP Heavyweight title, following his third G-1 victory Masahiro Chono's character had begun to turn in a more heelish direction. Despite the fact that he and his partner for the tournament Super Strong Machine, clearly didn't get along, they had somehow made it into the top two and would be competing against the experienced pairing of Mutoh and Hase. Had this been Muta & Hase then we would have had a 'Vince Russo' wet-dream match.

Lets not beat around the push here, this was over long and meandered along at a snails pace at times, in a lot of ways suffering from the same problems that beset Chono's G-1 Final against Power Warrior a few months earlier.

However the interactions between Chono and Super Strong Machine as partners that dislike each other, were admittedly very amusing and end up becoming a solid storyline foundation for the match to be built upon. The tension between the pair gradually built up over the match, with Chono acting increasingly more dickish to his partner. Despite this you could see that Machine, who had not much in the way of any sort of title success in years was desperate to get the victory and was prepared to put up with Chono's BS.

Of course there was only so much crap Machine could take, and when he applied Chono's own patented STF on Hase, it was obvious he was doing so to get under his own tag partners skin. Anyway the awkward pairing ends up exploding apart, leading to Chono taking a powder and leaving Strong Machine in a handicap match, and who really knows why he did it, but Machine also decided to unmask before the match is done and reveal that he was Junji Hirata!

A strange experience in the end, as this match was simultaneously both a lot of fun (the story) but also a little bit boring (the plodding action- especially for the first 10 minutes).

Mildly Recommended. _____________________________________________________________________________________________ 13th November 1994- NJPW Heisei Ishingun (Tokyo Bay NK Hall- Urayasu, Chiba) No Rope Match: Shiro Koshinaka vs Tiger Jeet Singh

The Match: This was the main event of a special Heisei Ishingun produced show. Tiger Jeet Singh was of course a major part of New Japan during the 70's as one of Inoki's main rivals. After spending most of the 80's with rivals All Japan, he returned to New Japan in 1990 and had been making fleeting appearances since as a 'nostalgia' act.

Who knows why Koshinaka has been lummoxed with having to main event against a 20 years past his prime Tiger Jeet Singh (not that he was ever any good in his prime) in 1994? It would be like someone being forced to have a high profile singles match with Takashi Crapizuka in present day New Japan.

Antonio Inoki is the special guest here and unsurprisingly things are tetchy between himself and his old rival, what else is unsurprising is that ended up being a garbage brawl with Koshinaka sporting a crimson mask by the time the bell has rung to put the match a that was more worthy of headlining some 1990's backyard fed than an New Japan show.

TJS sucked in 1974, he probably also sucked in 1984 when he was in All Japan and he still sucked in 1994.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:47 pm

The 1995 Tokyo Dome show would have a staggering 14 matches, which suggests there will be a lot of filler but lets hope amongst those matches we can at least get a 50% hit-rate of killer matches and the other 50% to be inoffensive filler but looking at what's coming up I don't feel confident that will be the case.....

4th January 1995- NJPW Battle 7 (Tokyo Dome)- Part 1

UWA World Welterweight Title: Shinjiro Otani vs El Samurai

Shinjiro Otani: 1994 proved to be a breakthrough year for Otani, as he made the transition from Young Lion to being a strong component of New Japan's impressive Junior division. Otani's push began with participation in the Super J-Cup, before taking part in the Best of the Super Juniors where he finished with a respectable 10 points.

Otani then got his first taste of success when he won the Super Grade Junior Tag League alongside Wild Pegasus, before finishing the year with his first singles title success when he dethroned Norio Honaga for the UWA World Welterweight title.

El Samurai: Samurai continued to be a solid part of New Japan's Junior Division, reaching the second round of the Super J-Cup and finishing 3rd in that years Best of the Super Juniors with 12 points.

The Match: Both Otani and Samurai were more what you would call technical Juniors- both weren't afraid of taking to the air but neither excelled in the sort of innovative daredevil aerial acrobatics the likes of The Great Sasuke or Hayabusa were capable of, so it is of course more natural for them to work a more technical mat based contest....

Problem with that though, is that firstly the mat-work is of the bland and aimless kind and secondly that the Tokyo Dome crowd probably want to see their Juniors doing flippy-do moves and unfortunately for Otani and Samurai the crowd are deader than the residents of a mortuary for about two thirds of the match, it's only when Samurai goes for suicide dive to the outside that some of the crowd starts to come alive.

The closing stretch, which see's the combatants wisely cycle through their more eye-catching stuff (both go for top-rope Frankensteiners) ends up saving the match from being a total dud but it still doesn't forgive a dull opening and middle portion of the match- where the crowd are unable to feed off the milquetoast technical exchanges whilst Otani and Samurai are in turn unable to feed off a crowd that has been put into a coma.
They should have realised a lot sooner that they needed to display a little more urgency , to get the Tokyo Dome crowd to become invested in their match.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Norio Honaga vs The Great Sasuke

Norio Honaga: Honaga was looking like something of the forgotten man of New Japan's Junior Division, as he found himself stuck in a feud with Heisei Ishingun and missing both the Super J-Cup and more surprisingly the Best of the Super Juniors.

However Jushin Thunder Liger was forced to vacate the IWGP Junior belt through injury, and in something of a shock Honaga won a one night tournament to win the vacant title, defeating Gran Hamada, Shinjiro Otani and Wild Pegasus along the way to claiming the title for the third time. Honaga then won the UWA Welterweight title two months later but lost that belt in only his first defence to rising star Shinjiro Otani.

The Great Sasuke: The Michinoku Pro founder would only be a special guest attraction in New Japan's deep Junior Division during the previous year, but in his limited appearances he was able to make an impact, particularly with his impressive showing in the Super J-Cup where he reached the finals.

The Match: As with the previous Junior title match, they go for the methodical slow build approach, which I really don't think is ideal in front of this crowd but at least the slow build had a bit more purpose in this one with Honaga being in control and working over Sasuke with his low-risk, boring offence. He does a lot of targetting Sasuke's arm, which I really don't get, because with Sasuke's kicks and high flying surely trying to take his legs out would have made more sense.

At least one good thing that came out of Honaga targetting the wrong body part, is that it did enable Sasuke to rally a comeback and start popping the crowd with his crowd pleasing array of flips and dives.

I get that Honaga with his old school heel gimmick was something different to the technicians and high flyers but given the talent around at the time, was he really a wise choice to have as the Junior Champion on the biggest show of the year? Given how deep the Junior Division was at the time, these sure were a pair of disappointingly average Junior title matches that opened up the show.

Heisei Ishingun: Akitoshi Saito, Kuniaki Kobayashi & The Great Kabuki vs Osamu Kido & JJ Jacks (Takayuki Iizuka & Akira Nogami)

JJ Jacks: Nogami and Iizuka would continue to team together over the year, but they were very much pushed as an undercard pairing, as evidenced by their disappointing 6 point return in the Super Grade Tag League that saw them finish near the bottom of the standings. Prior to that Iizuka would take part in the G-1 Climax but ended up as the Block whipping boy, finishing the tournament with zero points.

The Match: Things to note about this match- Kabuki is now bald and sports a painted head, Saito has cultivated terrible haircut, disappointingly the Heisei Ishingun B-Team weren't wearing matching Purple Gi this year and that the crowd popped the most for old man Kido applying arm-bars. This was what it was, a largely inoffensive but forgettable opening level 'get these men a Tokyo Dome payday' opening level six man tag.

Koji Kanemoto vs Yuji Nagata

Koji Kanemoto: At the previous years Tokyo Dome show, Koji Kanemoto would un-mask as Tiger Mask following a loss to Jushin Thunder Liger but would then spend most of the year out on excursion in Mexico where he would continue to compete as Tiger Mask.

The Match: Though Nagata would go on to be pushed as Heavyweight, whilst Kanemoto would spend the majority of his NJPW tenure in the Junior Division, at this stage Kanemoto who was returning from excursion had to be seen as the favourite to go over here at this point in time.
Nagata tried to engage in a kicking battle with Kanemoto but was out-gunned in the early going to the point that Kanemoto went to finish Nagata off with the Moonsault early on.... Though he connected he underestimated the fighting spirit of the young lion.

Nagata rallied from there, changing his game plan to a more mat-based strategy, which proved successful, controlling most of the exchanges and placing Kanemoto in trouble several times with the crossface. However Nagata being the naive young lion he was failed to stick to the strategy, allowing Kanemoto to get back to a vertical base and once again out-gin Nagata with his superior kicking ability.

The closing stretch would see Kanemoto overshoot a Shooting Star Press but despite that this ended up being a solid match with a nice little story that told you that Nagata was getting there and that he was starting to find his style of wrestling but that he was still tactically naive.

Mildly Recommended.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Manabu Nakanishi

Hiroyoshi Tenzan: In the summer of 1993 the then Hiroyoshi Yamamoto would leave to go on excursion to wrestle in Europe. Yamamoto would then spend the next 18 months competing for the German based Catch Wrestling Association and All Star Wrestling in England.

The Match: This wasn't a great match by any means but what it did too was establish Hiroyoshi Tenzan the brute heel on his return in contrast to Hiroyoshi Yamamoto Young Lion to the crowd in attendance and the viewers at home.

Fellow powerhouse Nakanishi was able to live with Tenzan for most of the match, but ultimately Tenzan was able to overpower the Young Lion and could have put the match away with a Moonsault. Tenzan returning as a bully though decided not to end it there, as he decided to throw in a few Mongolian chops and a Mountain Bomb, just because he felt like it.

Heisei Ishingun: Michiyoshi Ohara & Shiro Koshinaka vs Tiger Jeet Singh & Tiger Jeet Singh Jr.

Tiger Jeet Singh Jr: The son of the original Tiger Jeet Singh, Junior would make his pro-wrestling debut in the autumn of 1992, teaming with his father in the FMW promotion, following 6 months of training the New Japan dojo. Junior would then continue to compete in the FMW promotion over the next few years, mostly alongside his dad in tag team matches.

The Match: By the looks of things Singh Jr has managed to inherhit his father's wrestling ability- the ability to suck really bad at it, that is.
I'm not going to beat around the bush, this match was the drizzling shits, they did some crappy garbage brawling at ringside for a bit, and then proceeded to have a really dull and boring match, that quite honestly should be given out as a prescription as a cure for insomnia.

BVD Martial Arts Tournament Semi Final: Sting vs Tony Palmore

The Match: I can't find anything of note about Palmore on the internet, but he looked like to be some over the hill, out of shape kickboxer.
I think this might have been Palmore's one and only appearance in the world of pro-wrestling and on this pathetic showing I'm not surprised. He throws piss weak kicks and punches, throughout the match, that puts over the fact that his heart is clearly not in putting on a worked match. Unless you're some little kid, all wrestling fans know that pro-wrestling is not a real fight, but we also don't want to be insulted by having someone come in and not take it seriously and that's the impression Palmore gave off.

When Sting applied the Scorpion Deathlock it didn't just end the match it put everyone out of their misery of having to suffer through this travesty of a match. Between this faux MMA garbage and the Singh shitfest that came before, that might just be the worst two match stretch in pro-wrestling history.

BVD Martial Arts Tournament Semi Final: Antonio Inoki vs Gerard Gordeau

Gerard Gordeau: Hailing from Holland, Gordeau originally trained in Karate, but expanded his martial art repetoire to Kickboxing and Savate. A World Savate champion in 1992 he made the transition into MMA, featuring on the first UFC show in 1993. Prior to that he also had some pro wrestling experience under his belt when he featured on a UWF show in 1988, where he was defeated by Akira Maeda in a singles match.

The Match: Turns out I was a bit premature, this might be the worst three match stretch in pro-wrestling history!, as Inoki basically gets to put on one of his boring as hell faux- MMA ego stroke contests. To the matches credit it wasn't as bad as Sting vs Palmore (few things can be as bad as that) as at least Gordeau appeared to put in some effort, even if it was to deliver crappy shooter offence. It was still bad though, really bad but Inoki would insist on showcasing this festering bollocks to the point that his obsession with it almost sank his own creation.

Lets hope things pick up in the second half, as this has not been a good show so far....

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Wed Feb 08, 2017 5:22 pm

4th January 1995- NJPW Battle 7 (Tokyo Dome)- Part 2

Heisei Ishingun (Kengo Kimura & Tatsutoshi Goto) vs. Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu

The Match: Was there ever a more firmly midcard faction than Heisei Ishingun in the history of wrestling? Their leader Koshinaka was the only one who really flirted with anything resembling a strong push during his career and even then he was never anything more than an Upper Mid at best and in other stable would have been no higher than a distant second in command.

As for this 'old farts' tag match , this wasn't terrible but it was one of those matches that was just 'there'. A two-star special of a contest, which is probably why my thoughts were wondering to Heisei Ishingun and how this stable of career midcarders managed to last so bloody long.

Masahiro Chono & Sabu vs. Junji Hirata & Tatsumi Fujinami

Sabu: Trained by his uncle Ed Farhat (the original Sheik) Terry Brunk made his pro wrestling debut in 1985 and then proceeded to wrestle for a number of various independent promotions across North America over the next 5 years under ring names such as Terry S.R and Sabu-The Elephant Boy.

Sabu's wrestling career really began to take off when he joined Japanese Garbage promotion FMW in 1991, where he would take part in numerous death-mathes that would build his reputation as a hardcore daredevil.

With his reputation growing from his work in Japan, Sabu got his break back in America, when he joined the roster of ECW (who were positioning themselves as a counter-culture alternative to WWF and WCW) in 1993. In October of that year Sabu would defeat Shane Douglas for the ECW Heavyweight belt and then would win the ECW Television title off Terry Funk just a month later. Sabu would only hold the Heavyweight belt for another month after that, losing that title to Funk but was able to hold onto the TV belt until March of the following year.

Despite Sabu becoming a key part of the ECW roster, his star also continued to rise in Japan with his work for FMW- eventually catching the attention of NJPW.

The Match: Chono and Hirata teamed up in the Super Grade Tag League, when Hirata was still Super Strong Machine. The team reached the finals (despite Chono being an awkward partner as he was going through a heel-turn) but eventually imploded- so they have beef with one another. I have no idea why Chono is tagging with Sabu for this match though but I believe this is his New Japan debut and I guess Fujinami had nothing better to do than to be in yet another filler tag team match on this card.

Sabu at-least brought something different to this match, with his off the cuff wrestling style and crazy idea's for spots, involving tables and chairs. There are people who rag on Sabu for botching a lot of stuff during his career but in all honesty that sloppiness only helped to enhance his character of being a nutcase that is a danger not only to his opponent but to himself.

The parts of the match where Sabu were on offence were fun in a trashy spot-fest guilty pleasure kind of way but unfortunately the match had way too much Junji Hirata plodding around the ring. Chono predictably tried to apply the STF a few times and Fujinami might as well not even bothered turning up for this match. Still for all it's faults this was by no means bad, certainly in comparison to the run of rubbish matches that preceded it.

Hawk Warrior: vs. Scott Norton

The Match: Hawk was accompanied to the ring by his old tag partner Animal, who was on the road to recovery following two years out with injury, but it was still be another year until he would step back into the ring and the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom would be reformed.
With a match that had the tag line 'The Strongest' if you weren't already prepared for this match to be a hoss fight of plodding brawling, power moves and men too proud to sell anything, you certainly had to be now.

As the match wore on though, Norton began to simply overpower Hawk to the point that he started talking trash to Animal- who was there to encourage his partner to keep bringing the fight to Norton. Eventually Norton's constant goading, lead to Animal getting involved (which did not go down well with the crowd) and giving Hawk the opening to turn the match in his favour.

This wasn't great, as you might expect from a plodding hoss fight but they kept it fairly short so it didn't outstay it's welcome, but it's a sad indictment of how poor this show has been that this isn't anywhere near to being the worst match to happen on it.

BVD Martial Arts Tournament Final: Antonio Inoki vs Sting

The Match: If you guessed that this match featured the same tired old Inoki B.S formula....

You'd be correct!

Old man Inoki gets to take a nice pre dinner nap for most of the match, by being put into a series of rest holds by the Stinger and then makes a miraculous one move comeback!

This whole dire mini tournament was just one big ego massage for Big Tony.

IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Hiroshi Hase & Keiji Mutoh vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)

Steiner Brothers: The Steiners had a strong first year in WWF, winning the Tag Team titles twice in 1993 but following the end of their second title run in the autumn of 1993, they began to get lost in the shuffle and by April of next year they made the decision to leave and return to Japan and wrestle for NJPW.

The Match: Here comes Hase, Mutoh and the Steiners to save this show from being the drizzling shits......

Or maybe not, because even this ended up being disappointing in it's own way. Though this ended up being pretty good by the end, I was expecting to be blown away by this and in the end it didn't get anywhere near to doing so.

The formula for the match is pretty solid, they would consistently tease Mutoh and Hase being able to seize control of the match, but just as it looked as though they would build some momentum, the Steiners would be able to seize it back through their superior strength and power. Mutoh and Hase had to somehow find a way to try and outmanoeuvre and out-smart opponents who were going to out-muscle them.

The problem with the match is that it just took a really long time to get going- to the point that they even do some work the crowd comedy stuff at the start of the match, because though the Steiners were technically the heels here, they had earned enough respect from the fans through consistently touring over the past 5 years, that they weren't going to be booed out of the building- which actually ended up hurting the contest in terms of having a heated edge to it.

Once it does move towards and into the closing stretch, we do get to see some pretty neat stuff, such as Mutoh's ridiculous ultra-long running clothesline spot back-firing, Mutoh and Scott delivering stereo pop up Frankensteiners to each other's partners and Mutoh reversing a Steiner Screwdriver attempt into a Tombstone. It's all enough to make the match easily one of the more enjoyable contests to sit through on this poor excuse for a Tokyo Dome show but it's nowhere near the match it could have been.

Mildly Recommended.

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kensuke Sasaki

Kensuke Sasaki: Wrestling most of the year as 'Power Warrior', 1994 would be something of a break out year as Kensuke Sasaki, as he reached the finals of the G-1 Climax and held onto the IWGP Tag Team Championship alongside Hawk Warrior for almost the entire year.
Following the Hell Raisers title loss to Keiji Mutoh and Hrioshi Hase in November, Sasaki would revert back to wrestling under his own name and without the face paint.

The Match: If ever a show needed saving by it's main event it's this one. I'm confident that Hashimoto will be able to do his part to at least make this a passable match, but can Sasaki step up enough to turn this into a good one?

This didn't end up being a blow-away show saving main event, but I can at least say that it did end up on something of a positive note, with Hashimoto able to carry Sasaki to a decent crowd-pleaser of a main event.

It started a little slow, like pretty much everything else on this show, as they mixed basic brawling with some run of the mill mat-work- as things moved along though it gradually got more and more interesting, with Hashimoto doing another tremendous selling job as he put over being put into increasing trouble by Sasaki who was started to gain some joy with his 'Strangle Hold' submission.

Yet again Hashimoto somehow ends up with bloody nose from somewhere, but the sight of a bloodied but determined Hashimoto fighting through the pain, never gets old. Hashimoto's well paced comebacks are always great too, and this was no exception as his gradual build up of momentum, as the Tokyo Dome crowd finally begin to really go wild for something at this event.

In the end this was a tremendous carry job by Hashimoto, as Sasaki was merely just OK here, he did enough not to sink the match but he's far from the reason as to why we finally able to get a match that managed to deliver to it's potential on this show. What it really highlights in comparison to Sasaki's G-1 Finals match, is the difference between Hashimoto as someone who could carry just about anyone to a decent match and Chono needing to have a good worker opposite him to deliver a decent match.

Mildly Recommended

Overall Show Verdict: Lets be honest, these January 4th Tokyo Dome shows weren't always the fantastic showcases of wrestling they are now. Thus far we've had two poor cards in this one and 1992, and a pair of OK shows in 1993 and 1994.

A combination of things really sink this card, the worst stuff on the card flat out stinks (Inoki ego stroke tournament, Tiger Ali Stink father and son match) whilst the best stuff (the two title matches, Kanemoto vs Nagata) isn't strong enough to make up for the rest of the card either being crap or just 'there' (the rest of the matches that made up this over-long card).

The only thing this show got right was having the IWGP Heavyweight match main event the show, something that felt like that the then current generation lead by Hashimoto, Mutoh and Chono were finally being recognised as the top stars of the promotion.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:45 pm

In something of a rarity, we are treated to what is almost a full card for a non Wrestle-Kingdom show from the NJPW World archives. We then also get the majority of the matches from the next nights show from a double header in Sapporo.

3rd February 1995- NJPW Fighting Spirit 1995 (Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo)

El Samurai & Shinjiro Otani vs. Gran Hamada & Koji Kanemoto

Gran Hamada: Hamada returned to working for New Japan in the summer of 1994, after an 11 year absence. Splitting is time between Japan and Mexico, Hamada was in the middle of a long reign as the UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Champion, that began in November 1993.
His return to New Japan also saw him reach the semi-finals of the Super Grade Junior Tag League, where he partnered the current IWGP Junior champion Norio Honaga.

The Match: Otani, Kanemoto and Samurai are hardly what you call giants, but old man Hamada looks like a midget compared to everyone else.
This one started slow with lots of mat grappling, with Otani spending much of the match being isolated by Kanemoto and Hamada, as Samurai looked on in frustration or got berated by the American referee that this match was weirdly assigned for breaking up a pin. The American ref seemed somewhat keen to get himself over, with his consistently histrionic remonstrating at stuff like pins being broken up- hardly the most heelish of stuff!

Once Samurai got tagged in this one really picked up with a frantic closing stretch that saw a few crazy dives and multiple pin attempts. It's hardly some lost classic but by the end this turned into a fun Junior tag that saw Otani and Kanemoto (who are almost mirror images of one another) carry much of the action with Hamada keeping up pretty well, despite his advancing years.

Mildly Recommended.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Norio Honaga vs Dean Malenko

Dean Malenko: Malenko competed in all of the Junior Heavyweight tournaments that took place in a New Japan ring the previous year and in the summer of that year he finally began to find some recognition in his native America, when he was signed up to be part of the ECW roster. Malenko who's technical approach provided a nice contrast to much of the ECW roster, was rewarded with near enough instant success when he defeated Too Cold Scorpio of the ECW World Television title in November.

The Match: With these two in the ring I'm not exactly expecting this to be your stereotypical cruiserweight spot-fest.....
As expected this featured very little in the way of high-flying. Honaga crashed and burned on a slingshot plancha to the floor and went for a top-rope elbow drop but that was about it.

The match had three distinct parts, the first act saw Malenko take control and work over Honaga's legs, before Honaga seized the momentum in the middle portion and took over with his bland heel offence. The closing stretch saw Honaga desperately trying to hang on, as Malenko racked up the pressure with a Tiger Driver, a series of suplex variations and the Cloverleaf.

Despite Honaga being the mid 90's Junior Division equivalent of Taichi, they managed to work a hot closing stretch that got over Malenko's frustration at being able to put away the sneaky champion. This match probably wouldn't have worked in front of a Tokyo Dome crowd, but the Sapporo fans were receptive enough down the closing stretch to ensure that it didn't across as flat.

Mildly Recommended.

Kensuke Sasaki & Manabu Nakanishi vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)

The Match: Nakanishi who was starting to develop the powerhouse style he is now known for, managed to stand up to the Steiner's in the early going, but as he was still a young lion he was predictably the one to eventually get overwhelmed.

Nakanishi then played face in peril for a long stretch, with Scott almost obsessively determined to make him tap out to the STF. But the ex Olympian managed to rally and get Sasaki in for the hot tag- which actually was a hot tag, as the crowd responded in kind to Sasaki's proverbial household inferno offence. Despite that the Steiners were never out of the match, with Nakanishi the weak link for his team throughout.

Solid tag match that saw the native team, show plenty of pluck and courage but ultimately being over-matched by the Steiner's superior teamwork and ruthless execution.

Mildly Recommended.

Shinya Hashimoto vs Mike Enos

Mike Enos: Enos made his pro wrestling debut in 1988 for AWA, where he would quickly form a tag team with fellow rookie Wayne Bloom as 'The Destruction Crew' that would go on to win the AWA World Tag Team titles the following year.

When AWA were struggling to stay in business, the Destruction Crew moved onto WCW where they wrestled under masks as 'The Minnesota Wrecking Crew II' and in the summer of 1990 completed a tour of NJPW where they unsuccesfully challenged for the IWGP World Tag Team titles.

Following another short of NJPW in 1991 Enos and Bloom moved on again to the WWF, where they were repackaged yet again as The Beverly Brothers. They would last there for another two years, enjoying an initially strong push that culminated in them unsuccessfully challenging for the WWF Tag team titles before gradually being moved into the role to put other teams over, once their own push has died.

Enos and Bloom's team broke up in 1993, where following Enos departure from the WWF he returned to New Japan but this time as a singles performer. The following year he would team up with Lord Steven Regal in the Super Grade Tag League- though the British/American pairing would finish near the bottom of the standings with just six points.

The Match: Hashimoto was still the IWGP Heavyweight champion but he wasn't putting the belt on the line here. Enos looks like a generic hoss from the 90's, he also wrestles like a generic hoss from the 90's.

They do some brawling on the floor at the start of the match, where the Generic Create-A-Wrestler takes control of the match. Hashimoto then spends most of the match selling for his opponents generic hoss offence, before making a rather swift comeback. Hashimoto might just be my favourite pre modern era New Japan wrestler but this match is completely skippable.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Junji Hirata vs Hiro Saito & Masahiro Chono

Hiro Saito: Following the defections of Super Strong Machine and Tatsushi Goto from Raging Staff, Honaga and Saito would continue to carry the name on as a Tag Team. However with Honaga once again focusing on singles success in the Junior Division, the team quietly went their separate ways in the autumn of 1994. At the start of 1995 Saito began teaming with the recently heel turned Masahiro Chono.

The Match: The match begins with Chono berating either his opponents, the crowd or possibly both on the mic....Tenzan has heard enough though and attacks Chono before the bell has even run. The match then spills out into the crowd, leading to Hirata and Chono go at it amongst the fans.

Once the action gets back inside, what we get is a passable but forgettable run of the mill tag match. The closing stretch centred around miscommunication spots between Saito and Chono, whilst Tenzan who would be challenging Hashimoto for the IWGP Heavyweight belt the next night was made to look strong.

IWGP Heavyweight Title #1 Contendership Match: Keiji Mutoh vs Scott Norton

The Match: A clash of styles as Mutoh tries to see if speed and technique can trump Norton's sheer brute force. They told a good story here, as Mutoh looked for ways to wear Norton down, with a constant focus on trying to take out Nortons' arm with a cross armbreaker but Norton consistently being too strong and powerful to stay down for long.

Mutoh then gradually switched tactics to trying to keep Norton off balance by using his superior athleticism. The match really begins to kick up a gear following Mutoh pulling off his trademark handspring elbow out on the floor. The closing stretch then features several spots centred around Mutoh trying to catch Norton off guard with the Frankensteiner- we get a top-rope version, a counter-version that the crowd bites on as the finish and Norton eventually countering another attempt into spinebuster.

Mutoh actually controls much of the closing stretch but he's never quite able to wear the tree trunk like Norton down enough, with the big man even managing to pull off a pretty impressive top-rope manoeuvre of his own with a diving shoulder block.

Whilst Mutoh provided most of the eye-catching offence in this match, he also did a fine job here of pulling a really good match out of Norton and putting the gaijin powerhouse over.

Recommended.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:50 pm

Just a note about my rating system:

I guess it's just me being non committal to giving the matches star ratings, but as a rough guide...

Mildly Recommended: 3 to 3 and 1/2 stars.

Recommended: Around 4 Stars give or take a 1/4 star either way.

Highly Recommended: 4 and a 1/2 stars plus.

You should be able to tell from the tone of my reviews of the non recommended matches, what I though was just OK and what I thought was garbage.

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:23 am

Here's the 'best' of the second show of the February 1995 Sapporo Double Shot....

4th February 1995- NJPW Fighting Spirit 1995 (Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo)

2 on 1 Handicap Match: Tadao Yasuda & Yuji Nagata vs El Gigante

The Match: This 'wrestling' match was about five minutes long, it felt like five hours. I'm not condoning recent crap ideas like the Maria Kanellis centred Bullet Club vs The Kingdom feud, but New Japan dabbling with lame sports entertainment ideas is nothing new, as this horror show just goes to show.

Keiji Mutoh vs Ron Simmons

Ron Simmons: Following Simmons one and only World Title reign in WCW, he found himself being de-pushed down the card over the next few years, something that lead to Simmons turning into a bitter heel. Unsuccessful challenges for WCW's midcard belts (US/Television) followed but with his momentum all but vanished he departed for new pastures in the autumn of 1994.

Simmons new home in North America would be ECW, where he would make an unsuccesful challenge for their World Title against Shane Douglas, whilst he also made a return to New Japan, where he would team up with Nailz to take part in the Super Grade Tag League.

The Match: Simmons does that generic foreign heel thing of aggressively telling the crowd to 'SHUD UP!' - It's that thing unimaginative heel wrestlers do to try and get some cheap heat.

This was not a good match, as it mostly involved Mutoh having to sell for Simmons generic American hoss offense for most of it.
Hiroshi Hase & Shinjiro Otani vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Koji Kanemoto

The Match: We have three good wrestlers and one who was adequate in short bursts (Kensuke Sasaki) so on paper this should be much better than the previous two matches selected from this show...

After the usual feeling out process, this became built around the hot-tag. On this occasion Otani eventually found himself overwhelmed by Sasaki's power and found himself trapped on the 'wrong side of town'. They did a really good job here of teasing the hot-tag as Otani tried to battle his way back to Hase. When Otani was finally get Hase into the match we then got a bit of fun where the crowd counted along to the revolutions to Hase's giant swing before the match transitioned into a nice little back and forth closing stretch.

Not essential viewing but this achieved it's aim of being a solid midcard tag built around simple but effective in-ring storytelling.

Mildly Recommended.

Hiro Saito & Masahiro Chono vs. Junji Hirata & Riki Choshu

The Match: If you like leaden paced brawling you'll love this match! If you've got sane taste's then the less said about this snoozefest the better.

Mike Enos & Scott Norton vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)

The Match: Everyone is wearing singlets! Because nothing says manly musclebound wrestler more than wearing a singlet.

Norton's right arm took some damage (legitimately so by the looks of things and it has a massive bruise) in his match the night before with Keiji Mutoh-so when he tags in the Steiners set their sights on leaving him a one armed match. It's something that give the match something to focus on, instead of it just being big angry dudes in singlets doing suplexes and lariats whilst grunting.

The Steiners are relentlessly vicious in their assault on Norton's right arm that he's eventually forced to get medical attention, leaving Enos to fight off the Steiners by himself. Enos bravely rallies with a flurry of offense but eventually the Steiners overwhelm him and he gets killed with a series of suplexes and then the Steinerizer, but some lucky rope breaks and then the eventual return of Norton keeps him alive.....

Norton and Enos then push for one last rally against the Steiners, but they're still fighting an uphill battle with Norton effectively still a one-arm man.

Despite this being a Steiners match, my expectations were quite low for this, as I was expecting Norton and Enos to bring this down with their generic hoss ways but this turned out to be a fun match with Norton doing a great job of selling his arm injury (but on the other hand his arm looked to be properly fucked, so he had no choice but to 'sell' it!) , whilst even Enos was pretty good here fighting from underneath with his bursts of offence.

Mildly Recommended

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan

The Match: Tenzan had only been back a month from excursion but here he was already getting a title shot. Surely no one would have been expecting him to win here and that this would be a routine challenge for Hashimoto but if Tenzan wasn't going to win here, would he at least be able to make the fans believe that he could compete at the very top of New Japan and establish himself as a legitimate contender for their top prize?

The match saw a pattern of Tenzan dominating the early going, Hashimoto rallying back to take control only for Tenzan to put Hashimoto in trouble with a flurry of big moves, question is would Hashimoto be able to survive Tenzan's best stuff or would the champion be able to come back with one last rally of offense himself?

This one began a bit leaden paced, as at this stage of his career Tenzan had begun to put together a nice moveset together for the home-stretch but his stuff building up to that consisted of little more than aimless kick and punch stuff. It's only when Hashimoto seizes control with his vicious kicks that he match begins to pick up some steam, leading into a pretty good closing stretch.

In the closing stretch Tenzan pulled off an insane diving headbutt that saw him launch himself almost across the entire ring, whilst Hashimoto received a nasty looking powerbomb from Tenzan that was probably a botch as it ended up looking more like a piledriver, whilst in return Tenzan found himself on the end of one of the nastiest looking sheer-drop brainbusters, I've seen Hashimoto deliver to anyone.

You will also be unsurprised that Hashimoto ended up with a bloody nose yet again in a big match- but this might be a continued mistake on the part of his opponents as I'm sure now the bloody nose ended up giving Hashimoto special powers!

Mildly Recommended

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Sun Feb 19, 2017 10:51 pm

We're now into the spring of 1995, and this update includes a rare women's match on New Japan World!

19th March 1995- NJPW Muscle Storm 1995 (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Nagoya)

INOKI FINAL COUNTDOWN 4th- Antonio Inoki vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara

The Match: Though this wasn't as downright awful or cheesy as some of Inoki's other counters during the twilight years of his career, it was still as ever with Big Tony fairly self indulgent.

If you like watching two old dudes in Black Trunks rolling around on the mat exchanging leg-locks, as though it's the 1970's all over again, this might just be the match for you! They switch gears down the closing stretch as Fujiwara goes for his headbutting strategy, before they exhange sleepers and then Inoki lays Fujiwara out with a flurry of punches....INOKI WINS LOL!! _________________________________________________________________________________________________ 16th April 1995- NJPW Battle Rush 1995 (Hiroshima Sun Plaza)

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Keiji Mutoh

Hiroyoshi Tenzan: After coming up short in his IWGP Heavyweight title challenge against Shinya Hashimoto in February, Tenzan turned heel about a week later and joined Masahiro Chono and Hiro Saito, turning Ookami Gundan (Team Wolf) into a trio.

The Match: Mutoh who was returning from injury here following a two month injury layoff, started the match full of fire, catching Tenzan off guard with a flurry of quick-fire offence, that eventually leads to the 'Fighting Bull' throwing a tantrum on the outside by throwing chairs around.
Just as it looks like this is going to be a squash in Mutoh's favour that position's Tenzan as not quite being in his league just yet, he gets overconfident and makes a mistake that allows Tenzan to take control.

Tenzan working heel here slows the pace down and nuances his peformance as a rulebreaker by raking Mutoh's eyes. Mutoh rallies again, but unfortunately they botch a big top rope hurracanrana spot, to their credit though they manage to work Mutoh's failure into the finish of the match.
This match was a little sloppy at times, but in some ways that managed to work fine in the context of the story being told with Mutoh being all fired up but still carrying a bit of ring-rust on his return to the ring.

Mildly Recommended. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ 29th April 1995- NJPW/WCW Collision in Korea (May Day Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea)

The next two matches are from the second day of a two day event co-promoted between NJPW and WCW that took place in North Korea, that reportedly has the largest crowd in pro-wrestling history.

Akira Hokuto vs Bull Nakano

The Match: As New Japan have rarely held women's matches during their promotional history, I've decided not to go into great detail about Hokuto and Nakano's careers up to this point but it is worth recognizing they were two of the leading lights during a boon period for Joshi wrestling throughout the 1980's and into the 1990's.

The first four minutes or so of the video here consists of pomp and ceremony for the whole event, before we even get onto the match itself, and when we do get to the action it's hard-cam only and there's no commentary....

However the amateurish presentation does not take away from the fact that Hokuto and Nakano put together a great little sprint here that managed to enscapulate their rivalry, getting across Nakano as a downright scary bully heel and Hokuto as a never say die babyface.

The pattern of the match saw Nakano dominate Hokuto with her power game, but the 'Dangerous Queen' would absorb Nakano's punishing moves and keep firing back with steely determination, only to consistently have her flurries cut off by the bigger/stronger opponent set before her.

There are admittedly much better matches that these two would have had against one another inside of an All Japan's Women's Pro-Wrestling ring but if you've never seen these two wrestle each other before or are curious to check out more Joshi (classic or new), then this might not be a bad place to start.

Mildly Recommended.


Antonio Inoki vs Ric Flair

Ric Flair: Since Flair's last appearance in an NJPW ring in 1991, he defected from WCW whilst still simultaneously the WCW and NWA World Heavyweight Champion, taking the Big Gold Belt with him to the WWF and declaring himself to be the 'Real World Champion'.

In 1992 Flair would win the Royal Rumble which for that year was also for the vacant WWF Championship. Flair would hold the title until May, before adding a short second reign with the title later that year. However despite achieving two title reigns in his first year with the WWF, Flair decided to return to WCW the following year, but due to a no compete clause was unable to return to in-ring action until June.

In July Flair would become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion for the 9th time, but just two month's later WCW would withdraw from the NWA, who would then stop recognizing Flair as their Champion. However Flair/WCW were still in possession of the actual title belt which they rebranded as the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship.

Flair would lose the newly created title to Rick Rude in September, but would win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in December. The following year the two title's would be unified when Flair defeated Sting in a Unification match. Flair's third reign as the WCW World Heavyweight Champion would then come to an end in July of 1994, as the hands of the debuting Hulk Hogan.

The Match: Inoki with his connections to Rikidozan, who originally came from North Korea pretty much put these North Korea shows together, so it's understandable that he's in the main event. It's also understandable where all the main matches pitted the 'best' of Japanese wrestling against the 'best' of American wrestling, that opposite Inoki in the main event would be WCW's most iconic performer in the shape of Ric Flair.

With Inoki at 53 and Flair at 46 when this match took place, it was pretty safe to say that both of them were past their prime at this stage of their career but despite that they did manage to put on a passable if rather formulaic match that saw Flair control much of the match, whilst shoe-horning in his Flair Flop selling schtik whenever Inoki would manage to fire up a flurry of offence.

Of course this being an Inoki match, we got the predictable superman comeback. I suppose given that he had to do pretty much the same job for Hulk Hogan the year before, Flair would have been used to the formula of this match!

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Re: A history of NJPW with New Japan World

Post by Tigerkinney » Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:46 am

In this mid year 1995 update we have two IWGP Heavyweight title matches and a BOSJ Semi Final- yeah that's right a semi final and not the final!

3rd May 1995- NJPW Dontaku in Fukuoka Dome

Antonio Inoki & Koji Kitao vs Genichiro Tenryu & Riki Choshu

Koji Kitao: After an ill-fated stay in NJPW that saw him fired for disrespectful conduct towards Riki Chosu, former sumo wrestler Kitao continued to try and make it in pro wrestling, when he joined Genichiro Tenryu's Super World of Sports the following year. SWS working agreement with WWF, saw Kitao make a Wrestlemania apperarance alongside Tenryu in a tag match against Demolition.

When SWS folded, Kitao took time off from wrestling- obtaining a Black Belt in Karate. Kitao returned to the puoresu world in 1992, when he agreed to a worked shoot match with Nobuhiko Takada in UWF-i. The match was planned to be a draw, but in the end Kitao was legitimately knocked out by Takada, who saw it as an opportunity to knock some respect into Kitao, who had showed a less than respectful attitude during his stint in pro-wrestling prior to that match. In 1994 Kitao was once again hired by Tenryu,when he signed with the WAR promotion.

The Match: The Mid 90's was an exciting time for New Japan's Junior Division, but hey lets ignore that for more self congratulatory Inoki matches and one featuring that god of pro wrestling Koji Kitao no less! Anyway somehow Kitao has managed to find his way back into an NJPW ring 4 years after his firing, because for some reason Tenryu who has continued to be booked as an occasional special attraction long since the WAR invasion angle was over, has a soft spot for Kitao and must have insisted he be in this 'special' tag match.

As for the match itself, it pretty much met my low expectations for it, with the bulk of the match consisting of Kitao lumbering around the ring engaging in basic kick/punch battles with Choshu and Tenryu. We get a laughably bad hot-tag to Inoki, that saw Inoki fire up his partner by stepping into the ring and chopping Kitao, before the former Sumo man literally jogged back to the corner.

The closing stretch was as you might expect for an Inoki match, which is if you've seen at least one Inoki match you'll know where this is going to go. The crowd lapped it up, but the NJPW crowds at that time were pretty much programmed to be excited for well past his prime Inoki's tired schtik and matches of decreasing quality.

IWGP Heavyweight Title: Shinya Hashimoto vs Keiji Mutoh

Shinya Hashimoto: Apart from a one month spell where he lost the title to Tatsumi Fujinami and then won the belt back in a re-match, Hashimoto had now reigned as the IWGP Heavyweight champion for around 20 months over two reigns, with Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Scott Norton and Lord Steven Regal all failing in title challenges since the turn of the year.

Keiji Mutoh: Coming into the match Mutoh was still one half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions with Hiroshi Hase but his ultimate goal was to still win back the IWGP Heavyweight title he had lost to Shinya Hashimoto around 20 months ago.

The Match: This one started out very tentatively, as they played out the story of these two knowing each other insight out and each being afraid to push too hard in case they gave the other an opening to capitalise on a mistake. So we get lots of jockeying for position on the mat, and attempts to sink in a submission during a slow burning opening portion of the match.

With nothing sticking for either man submission hold wise, eventually Hashimoto has enough of playing the human game of chess and just peppers Mutoh with his trademark kicks. It proves to be simple but effective giving Hash the first decent amount of momentum in the match, but he gets carried away with being in control and crashes and burns on a top-rope elbow drop.

Mutoh manages to seize the momentum and pulls out the top-rope Frankensteiner only to then whiff on a Moonsault. In the best spot of the match Mutoh then countered a Fisherman Buster attempt into a cross armbreaker but was unable to follow up on that, as Hashimoto looked to be wearing down Mutoh, but despite a DDT and high kick to the head, the challenger much to Hashimoto's frustration, was determined not to give in despite looking to be dead on his feet. Eventually that fighting spirit saw Mutoh rally once again down the stretch, answering what Hashimoto threw at him with a series of suplexes and another moonsault, that on a second time of asking was able to connect.

Lets be honest the first half of this match, is really slow going, so slow going that it's almost like be transported back to 1976, not 1996. I can see what they were trying for, but it just doesn't quite come off and is quite honestly a bit of a drag to get through. Once Hashimoto threw a few kicks in anger though, as one should expect this did manage to really pick up down the stretch but apart from Mutoh's cool cross armbreaker counter to the Fisherman Buster, it still probably lacked those edge of the seat spots down the closing stretch to help move this one into 'excellent' match territory.

Mildly Recommended. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ 13th July 1995- Best of the Super Juniors II (Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo)

Best of the Super Juniors II- Semi Final Match: Wild Pegasus vs Black Tiger II

1995 Best of the Super Juniors: Coming into the tournament Koji Kanemoto had become a two time IWGP Junior Champion, having won the title from Norio Honaga in February, Kanemoto was then defeated for the title by Sabu at the Dontaku event in May but then won the title back the following month. The previous year's defending champion Jushin Thunder Liger was still out with the injury (a fractured ankle) that also forced him to vacate the IWGP Junior Championship in September.

The 1995 tournament would see a 10 Man single block format with the Top 4 advancing to the knockout semi final stage. Wild Pegasus, Shinjiro Otani, Black Tiger II and Koji Kanemoto all finished on 10 points to advance. Other participants that year included NJPW natives El Samurai, Gran Hamada and Norio Honaga plus gaijin imports Dean Malenko, Brian Pillman and Alex Wright.

The Match: Strange as it is, we have one of the semi final matches from the 1995 edition of the Best of the Super Juniors from the NJPW archives on New Japan world, but not the final itself. Anyway the winner of this match would go on to win the tournament against Shinjiro Otani, who emerged as the winner of the other semi final against Koji Kanemoto.

My favourite referee is back! The skinny looking but really loud American- can anyone put a name to him please? As he's unintentionally hilarious. From now on he will rather sarcastically be referred to as 'Best Ref Ever'.

They do the usual slow build, but Black Tiger's Lucha based skill-set manages to give him the edge in the early going, that includes Pegasus being stretched with the gory special, so much so that 'Best Ref Ever' is pretty much screaming at Pegasus to give up.

The match begins to gather pace after that, with some scary looking suplex spots to the floor and some crazy dives from each man. A perfectly executed Frog Splash from Black Tiger looked to have the match won but that only proved to be the start of a brutal closing stretch that had 'Best Ref Ever' literally wincing at one point at a vicious looking Backdrop suplex to Pegasus, mind you Black Tiger got a pretty nasty receipt for that when he took one of the nastiest looking powerbomb's I have ever witnessed from Pegasus.

An avalanche Black Tiger Bomb (Crucifix Powerbomb) is teased as the finish but that gets thwarted, still though this match ends up esculating to such a level of brutality that it does ultimately end with someone taking a Tombstone Piledriver from the top-rope and then being stretchered out after the match!

This was a tremendous match, that was perfectly paced with a slow build that didn't out-stay it's welcome and culminated in a closing stretch that is so brutal, it will make you wince at times but I'm never one to say that's a bad thing!

Highly Recommended.

IWGP Heavyweight Title Keiji Mutoh vs Hawk Warrior

The Match: After winning the IWGP Heavyweight title from Shinya Hashimoto to begin his second reign with the belt (albeit the first as himself and not as his alter-ego), Mutoh would make a succesful title defence against Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Here in his second title defence Mutoh would put the belt on the line against multi time tag team champion Hawk Warrior. Could Hawk add a first major singles title to the many tag team reigns he had alongside Animal and Kensuke Sasaki in the NWA, WWF and NJPW?

The early going saw Mutoh try to wear Hawk down with a hit and run strategy, but the Road Warrior would first of all 'no-sell' Mutoh's strikes before surprising the champion and perhaps a number of other people with a technical mat game, as he looked to wear Mutoh down with a variety of submissions.

Perhaps due to being the superior technician, Mutoh was able to turn the tide on the mat by getting Hawk into the Figure Four. Just as the tide looked to had turned in Mutoh's favour, he whiffs on a Space Rolling Elbow on the floor, before Hawk turns the tide back in his favour with a diving clothesline to the outside.

Mutoh then had to endure a flurry of offence from Hawk that included a series of Powerbombs and another top-rope diving clothesline but a pair of Moonsaults and a springboard missile drop-kick from Mutoh were able to do significant damage to Hawk down the crucial closing stretch.
For what was probably seen as a filler title defence this wasn't bad, you could even say pretty good in parts but it always felt a little hamstrung by the fact that the crowd never seem to fully buy into Hawk's near-falls. I can see what they were trying with Hawk taking it to the mat, by showing that he's not some one trick pony that relies on Power moves and being tough, but the match worked much better when Hawk was up-right rather than trying to channel his inner Ric Flair.

Mildly Recommended.

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