What I hope to accomplish with this column is to encourage us gaijins (that’s foreigners in Japanese!) that mainstream/independent American wrestling isn’t only where its at and that if you’re bored with all the so-called superstars or those little guys with kick pads and you’ve yet to find another source of wrestling media, then look no further than Japan.

  • Ultimo Dragon vs. Jushin Liger (WAR Super J Cup Semifinals 12.13.95)

WAR hosts the second-ever Super J Cup with some of the best junior heavyweight wrestlers from all over the world like Chris Jericho, Shinjiro Ohtani, Chris Benoit and Dos Caras. Definitely not as well known edition of the Super J tournament as compared to the previous year, but still a decent day of wrestling. Chris Benoit and Gedo battled in the other semifinal match with Gedo coming out on top, so he faces the winner of this match for the Super J Cup. Lots of mat work to start climaxing with Liger clamping on the Surfboard, making it seem as though he can lock it in from virtually any position. They trade tilt-a-whirl backbreakers and then go back to the mat where Liger controls the head. An exchange of armdrags leads to a stalemate and the crowd applauds. Liger gets in a low dropkick on the knee to set up a figure-four. Dragon makes the ropes, but gets stuck in a modified Indian deathlock. Dragon turns it over into a half crab and steps it up a notch with a Muta lock. He follows up with a handspring elbow too! Now Dragon hooks on the figure-four, but Liger quickly turns the hold over and makes the ropes. Liger heads out to the floor as Dragon fakes dives and then hits Liger for real with a suicide dive! Once Liger’s back to his feet, Dragon is coming off the top with a somersault plancha! Back in, Dragon delivers a powerbomb for two. Tiger Suplex gets another two. Dragon whiffs a dropkick and gets catapulted out to the floor. Liger comes off the apron with the cannonball senton! Back in, Liger hits a powerbomb for two. He nails a Brainbuster for another nearfall. Tombstone piledriver sets up the Swandive Headbutt for 1-2-NO! Liger ducks low off a whip, but rolls through Dragon’s victory roll for 1-2-NO! Dragon remains in control with a Northern Lights suplex for 1-2-NO! Liger reverses a whip in the corner and connects with his Rolling Kick. Could it be time for the SUPER FISHERMANS BUSTER?! No! Dragon suplexes him off and hooks on the La Majistral cradle for 1-2-NO! Almost shocked the world there. Asai Moonsault body block knocks Liger down, but the Flying Moonsault does not connect. LIGERBOMB! 1-2-NO! Liger runs into a drop toehold. Dragon looks for the La Majistral cradle again, but Liger blocks with Dragon’s shoulders to the mat for 1-2-3! (17:19) Liger went on to defeat Gedo in the finals. Has Ultimo Dragon ever beaten Jushin Liger? This was 17 minutes of pure fun with a great finish that made sense. ****¼

  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Naoki Sano vs. Jushin Liger (NJPW TV 01.31.90)

This was the Wrestling Observer’s 1990 MOTY possibly because this was the final chapter from their feud in 1989, which I have sadly not watched any of their matches from that year. Sano wants a handshake before the bell, so Liger gives him a smack across the face. That’s how you get this party started. Sano is HEATED! After the bell sounds, Liger palm strikes Sano a bunch and leaves him laying. Sano goes to the floor and Liger comes off the apron with a seated senton! Back in, they rough it up like middle schoolers down to the mat. Sano brings Liger to the floor and whips him hard into the guardrail before giving Liger a piledriver. Back in again, Sano delivers a tombstone piledriver and starts ripping off the mask! They go back out to the floor where Sano uses Liger’s head as a battering ram and takes him head-first into the ringpost. He gets posted again for more mask ripping. Sano brings Liger back in the ring for ANOTHER piledriver! He’s pretty confident that Liger is done, so he has the ref check on him. Now we see Liger’s mask is indeed ripped and his face shows that he is busted open as well. Sano covers for two and continues to kick and punch at Liger’s head. Sano even goes as far to expose the turnbuckle and smashes Liger’s face into the steel connector. Superplex by Sano gets 1-2-NO! Liger looks down and out, but he gets to his feet at the nine-count. Close! As soon as Liger makes it safely over to the ropes, Sano spin kicks him back down. Sano works a Boston crab and a suplex for two. Now Sano whips Liger into the corner, but he catches himself and headscissors Sano away. Liger dropkicks Sano out and gets ready to fly and wipes out Sano with a running somersault plancha! Freakin’ awesome. Back in, Liger delivers a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and applies the Surfboard! Sano gouges the eyes to escape and applies a butterfly stretch! Sano gets vicious with it and makes it so Liger can’t even move anymore. You’d think this was a last man standing match, because Sano wants to win by making sure Liger can’t continue by standing back and letting the ref count. He’s up at nine once again. Fisherman’s suplex by Sano gets 1-2-NO! German suplex by Sano gets 1-2-NO! Sano reapplies the Boston crab, but Liger makes the ropes. Dragon Suplex by Sano gets 1-2-NO! Awesome! Liger reverses a whip and clotheslines Sano out to the floor so he can regroup for a second. Sano’s back in and floors Liger with a clothesline for 1-2-NO! Sano hits a running dropkick in the corner. Liger reverses a cross-corner whip, so Sano flips over Liger, but eats a Rolling Kick! He didn’t hit it solid enough to stay in control until he avoids a spin kick and snaps off a headscissors! Just when Liger gets going, Sano backdrops him out to the floor and nails him with a plancha. They make it back in the ring where Sano delivers a trapped suplex for 1-2-NO! You don’t see that much anymore. Sano looks to be going for another superplex, but Liger lands on top for 1-2-NO! Sano counters the LIGERBOMB with a rana rollup for 1-2-NO! Sano delivers the Tiger Suplex, but Liger gets his foot on the middle rope at the count of two. Liger falls on top of Sano during a backdrop suplex for 1-2-NO! German suplex by Liger gets 1-2-NO! Sano flips out of a backdrop, but runs into the LIGERBOMB for 1-2-NO! When that doesn’t put your opponent away, the SHOOTING STAR PRESS will. Liger gets the three-count and regains the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title. (20:00) I can’t imagine their earlier matches being better than this one, but it’s hard to say since I haven’t viewed them. This was really great with Liger fighting through the embarrassment of having his mask ripped basically off during the first half of the match and then he made the comeback to win. Sano did an awesome job too as the heel who was trying to rid the world of his biggest rival at the time. ****½

  • AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Kenta Kobashi (AJPW Super Power Series 06.11.99)

Ooo, this is the first Misawa/Kobashi match I’ve ever recapped! A little late in their series, but hey it’s all good to me. Both guys are sporting splotchy facial hair during this time. Not sure what that has to do with this match, but it’s there so I figured I might as well mention it. Since I’m not an avid All-Japan watcher, I’m assuming Misawa’s arm is or just was injured because Kobashi goes right after the arm with a flying cross-armbreaker. Misawa makes the ropes and heads to the floor. Back in, Kobashi lays off the arm for a while and stays adamant with a headlock. After a certain headlock takedown, Misawa headscissors out and we have a stalemate. Kobashi goes back after the arm with a hammerlock. Misawa escapes and connects with an elbow. Kobashi NO-SELLS. Misawa ducks a discus chop and misses a spin kick, but snapmares out of a German suplex attempt into a surfboard on Kobashi. They have a REAL test of strength battle over that one. Misawa flips out of a back suplex and elbows Kobashi down for another elbow drop. Running dropkick gets two. Misawa is backed into the corner off a chinlock, but comes out fighting with an elbow strike. Gutwrench suplex by Misawa gets two. They kill each other with a series of chops and elbows. I’m sure you know who is throwing what sort of blow here. Kobashi wins that with a discus chop. Gutbuster by Kobashi gets two. Kobashi delivers several punches to Misawa’s gut and then gives him a front suplex for 1-2-NO! Kobashi delivers the kitchen sink, but Misawa fires back with elbows and a jumping lariat. Misawa follows up with a senton and a baseball slide into Kobashi puts him on the floor. Misawa does a fake dive out to the apron and then launches himself into Kobashi only to be caught for a powerslam! Holy crap. Kobashi sends Misawa into the guardrail and then tries to powerbomb him off the apron, but Misawa stands strong. Misawa hits him an elbow, so Kobashi slams Misawa’s arm over his shoulder and leaps off the apron to drop his arm across the guardrail! Back in the ring, Kobashi gets DANGEROUS by trying to break Misawa’s arm over his shoulder a bunch more and then giving him a couple short armbreakers. Misawa tries to fight back with an elbow strike with the very arm Kobashi has been working over for the last several minutes, but that’s stupid and has no effect on Kobashi. Misawa blocks a Half-Nelson Suplex, but not a roll into a cross-armbreaker! Misawa is DYING to reach the ropes and finally does. Misawa starts a comeback with some running kicks, but as soon as Kobashi catches him, he takes a German suplex. Misawa pops back up, but then takes a Half-Nelson Suplex for real! From there, Kobashi applies a seated armbar! Lucky for Misawa, he made the ropes. Kobashi is bleeding from the nose or his mouth now. I can’t tell. Misawa hits a desperation DDT. Kobashi catches one of Misawa’s spin kicks, but he nails Kobashi with an enziguri to put him down. Kobashi rolls out to the floor and then tries to suplex Misawa from the apron, but Misawa lands on his feet and gives Kobashi a back suplex off the apron to the floor! Misawa heads back in and nails Kobashi with a ELBOW SUICIDA! Back in, Misawa hits a front missile dropkick to set up the Frog Splash for 1-2-NO! Kobashi backdrops out of a Tiger Driver, but not on the second attempt! Misawa sells the arm and looks to give Kobashi a Tiger Driver off the apron, but Kobashi says no and backdrops him over. He whips Misawa into the guardrail, but he blocks the blow with his foot and turns around into a Half-Nelson Suplex on the floor! Back in again, Misawa slips out a suplex, but Kobashi does a standing switch and delivers a bridging German suplex for 1-2-NO! Great exchange there. Much like Bret/Owen at WM10. Kobashi delivers a Jackknife Powerbomb and goes for another one, but instead drops Misawa back throat-first on the top rope. Orange Crush by Kobashi! Cover, 1-2-NO! Kobashi follows up with the Flying Moonsault for 1-2-NO! He sets up for the BURNING LARIAT, but Misawa ducks and takes it in the back of the head instead. Kobashi can’t get Misawa on his shoulders for the BURNING HAMMER and gives him the BURNING SWORD instead. Cover, 1-2-NO! Misawa has his foot on the rope. They go to the floor where Kobashi wants another Jackknife Powerbomb, but Misawa counters by giving Kobashi a headscissors into the guardrail. They make it back into the ring on opposite sides. Kobashi charges at him with a high knee and goes for another BURNING LARIAT, but Misawa ducks and hits a release German suplex! Kobashi’s back up and knocks Misawa into the corner with the BURNING LARIAT! Somehow he’s hurt his arm. Misawa elbows away at the arm, but can’t get the Tiger Driver. He settles for the Tiger Suplex for 1-2-NO! Kobashi fights over the Tiger Driver some more until Misawa finally delivers TIGER DRIVER ’91! Cover, 1-2-NO! Kobashi ducks the Rolling Elbow and delivers a Sleeper Suplex! Both men are slow to get to their feet, but it’s Kobashi who charges at Misawa with the BURNING LARIAT for 1-2-NO! WHAT! Kobashi goes for another couple tries with BURNING LARIAT, but Misawa stops him every time with an elbow strike. Rolling Elbow connects! TIGER SUPLEX ’85? Yes! 1-2-NO! Kobashi starts chopping back, but Misawa catches him with a couple good elbows and delivers EMERALD FLOWSION for the win. (43:40) This was par for the course as far as Misawa/Kobashi matches go. They always managed to do a stellar job building to a climatic finish where you really had no idea who was going over. Nothing really new or different about this match compared to their others, but you can’t go wrong with their proven formula. *****

  • AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Keiji Mutoh vs. Toshiaki Kawada (AJPW Excite Series 02.24.02)

Four-time Triple Crown champion Stan Hansen is *your* guest ring announcer for this match. So when Mutoh started going bald in 2000, he decided it was time to reinvent himself and man did he ever. He shaved his head, gained easily 20 pounds and a goatee, innovated the Shining Wizard, and switched over to All-Japan since wrestling for New Japan when he debuted in ’84. On the surface, he was the opposite of everything that he had not been his entire career. Kawada spends alot of time grounding Mutoh to start. When Kawada tries a bow and arrow, Mutoh slips out and takes a breather. Back in, Kawada grabs a legbar to try and take away the Shining Wizard. Mutoh NO-SELLS a Gamengiri, but Kawada blocks a quick attempt at the SHINING WIZARD. Mutoh delivers a low dropkick to the knee and hits the Handspring Back Elbow in the corner. Running Face Slam sets up the Power Drive Elbow. Kawada counters a suplex into one of his own, but Mutoh NO-SELLS and hits the SHINING WIZARD. Kawada tries to fight through the pain, but stumbles out to the floor. Mutoh whips Kawada into the guardrail and fights over the use of a chair with the ref. Back in, Mutoh missile dropkicks Kawada in the knee. He snaps off a few dragon screw leg whips until Kawada NO-SELLS one and comes off the ropes for another Gamengiri kick. Dangerous Backdrop follows. Kawada whips Mutoh in the corner for a Running Yakuza Kick! Another Dangerous Backdrop gets 1-2-NO! Mutoh stands strong and avoids a powerbomb, but catches Kawada with a Frankensteiner for 1-2-NO! Kawada wins a chop battle with a Rolling Kick. Mutoh stops Kawada with a knee to the face and several dropkicks to the knee. Kawada tries to stop the Figure-Four leglock with his hand, but legs are stronger than hands, my friend. Kawada finally rolls the hold over into the ropes for the break. Kawada kicks back at Mutoh and puts him down with a Booker T arm wrench/hook kick. Mutoh lands on top out of a Dangerous Backdrop and connects with another SHINING WIZARD. Mutoh continues with the low dropkicks to the knee until Kawada winds up just collapsing. Another SHINING WIZARD by Mutoh! If JR were calling this match, he’d say Kawada’s eyes looked glazed over. BAH GAWD! Cover, 1-2-NO! Kawada starts up again with Mutoh, so he dropkicks the knee again and plants another SHINING WIZARD on the side of Kawada’s head. Kawada tries to get up, but he just can’t do it. Mutoh delivers the MOONSAULT and covers again for another nearfall. Mutoh gives him another SHINING WIZARD and I gotta say, I’m getting tired of typing the words Shining Wizard. Kawada is up first and unloads with a pair of Gamengiri kicks. Dangerous DDT gets 1-2-NO! Mutoh manages to backdrop out of a Powerbomb and blocks a Yakuza Kick for a dragon screw leg whip. Kawada hops up anyway and another Gamengiri kick sets up a Lariat. That weakens Mutoh enough now for the Powerbomb for 1-2-NO! He wants another one, but Mutoh blocks. Kawada goes for the setup sequence again, but Mutoh NO-SELLS a Dangerous Backdrop and hits another SHINING WIZARD! Both men are down. Kawada stops Mutoh with another pair of Gamengiri kicks. They foul up one Powerbomb, so Kawada delivers another Gamengiri kick and a final Powerbomb gets the 1-2-3! (27:37) So Kawada wins his fourth of five Triple Crown championships as of the summer of 2008. The crowd was WAY into everything, but this became a contest of the Shining Wizard vs. the Powerbomb during the last fifteen minutes. Mutoh may have made a big comeback in 2002, but he just wasn’t the same wrestler he was say 5-10 years before. But then again, maybe it was just this match that wasn’t a good representation of Mutoh’s AJPW run. It’s hard for me to say. He stayed adamant with the knee, which was fine, but he did it only to set up for the Shining Wizard and it became an exaggerated series of the same move over and over again. ***

  • AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada (AJPW TV 06.06.97)

Now let’s go over to a better Kawada match. Definitely not the best of their series of matches, but still very good. Immediately, Kawada gets the upperhand with a Gamengiri kick and a Big Boot to put Misawa down in the corner. Misawa avoids a Big Boot in the corner and unloads with elbows. Kawada rolls out to the floor and takes a highly unexpected Tiger Driver! Back in, Kawada gets pissy and trips Misawa up before delivering an Everest German Suplex. Misawa pops up and goes down to a Gamengiri kick. Misawa blocks another Gamengiri kick with his elbow striking arm, which was a bad idea. Kawada takes Misawa down and works the good arm with a cross armbreaker. To the floor they go, Kawada slams Misawa’s arm into the guardrail and then Big Boots him into the front row! Kawada continues to work the arm by smashing and kicking it against the guardrail. Back in, Kawada breaks the arm over his shoulder, but Misawa avoids another cross armbreaker and drops a knee on Kawada’s face. Elbow strike by Misawa was a bad choice, but it gets him a nearfall. Misawa cranks on Kawada’s neck and when a Tiger Driver doesn’t work, a head-dropping German suplex will. Kawada NO-SELLS that and some elbows and then puts Misawa down with an elbow of his own. Kawada hits a Lariat for 1-2-NO! He connects with a Rolling Kick and tries a Powerbomb, but Misawa counters into a rana. Kawada gets right back up and knees Misawa down. On the second attempt, Kawada gets the Powerbomb for 1-2-NO! Misawa ducks a Gamengiri kick, but takes a Dangerous Backdrop instead and rolls out to the floor for some temporary safety. I mean temporary safety in the most extreme sense, because Kawada heads out and Powerbombs Misawa on the floor! Back in, Misawa NO-SELLS some Kawada Kicks. Kawada gets in a slap across the face, so Misawa returns the favor. Misawa delivers the modified enziguri, levels Kawada with an elbow strike, and then delivers a Tiger Driver for 1-2-NO! Misawa comes off the top, but Kawada catches him on the way down with a Gamengiri kick! As soon as both men return to their feet, Kawada catches Misawa running with another Gamengiri kick. Now Kawada delivers not one, but TWO Dangerous Backdrops and then applies an Eastern Stretch! After a while in that hold, Kawada rolls him over and covers for 1-2-NO! He wants another Powerbomb, but almost passes out from trying. Kawada tries again, but Misawa backdrops him over. With Misawa still dazed, Kawada runs up behind him with a Lariat! Dangerous Backdrop! Brainbuster! Kawada applies a Triangle Choke! Misawa makes the ropes. Kawada delivers another Dangerous Backdrop, but Misawa uses his last bit of energy to pop up and nail Kawada with an elbow strike! They get up fighting. Kawada blocks elbow strikes, Misawa blocks a Gamengiri. Misawa catches Kawada with a dropkick to set up a Tiger Suplex for 1-2-NO! Kawada pops up and charges at Misawa with a Lariat after a release German suplex, but he ducks levels Kawada again with a release German suplex. Misawa charges into another Gamengiri kick, but nails Kawada with a Rolling Elbow to set up another Tiger Suplex. Kawada blocks a third Tiger Suplex, but can’t avoid a bridging German for 1-2-NO! Misawa beats Kawada down to set up a Running Elbow Strike, but Kawada just winds up collapsing before any more impact can be made. Misawa can’t get another Tiger Driver, but he can deck Kawada with a Rolling Elbow. Another Strong Forearm Strike gets 1-2-NO! Oops. Looks like we’ve have an Earl Hebner No Way Out 2001 moment. That looked to be the finish. With Kawada looking completely out of it, Misawa easily delivers a bridging German suplex for the 1-2-3. (31:22) Too much head dropping for my tastes. Still an amazing match and not even their best. ****¾

  • NWA International Tag Team Champions Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu vs. Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu (AJPW TV 01.28.86)

So apparently Tsuruta attacked Choshu and his ribs prior to the match, hence the taped ribs. How American of Jumbo to do such a thing. This looks to be a BEAST of a tag team feud considering the crowd is red hot the entire time. If you’ve never seen Choshu, he looks like “Bizarro World” Greg Valentine. He’s got dark, long hair for starters. He’s of a different race. He wears short, white boots with no knee pads. To top it off, he has a leg submission as a finisher that various other people have used over the years. They’re both similar, yet so different at the time. Weird. Not to mention they’re both really ugly dudes. By the way, Tsuruta & Tenryu had been All Japan’s tag team champions since September 1984! That’s right. Demolition’s not the only team who can hold a promotion’s tag titles for a substantial amount of time! Right off the bat, we get Tsuruta vs. Choshu. Jumbo goes after the ribs, but Choshu is having none of that. They trade headlocks and then Yatsu tags. He gets cute with Tsuruta by slapping him around, so Jumbo slaps him back and orders Yatsu to tag Choshu back in the ring. You ask and you will receive. After Tsuruta buries some knees in Choshu’s taped ribs, Tenryu tags in as well. He gets brought over to Yatsu for a back suplex/elbow drop combo. The challengers follow that up with a SPIKE PILEDRIVER. Tenryu grabs a leg on Choshu and grounds him for a Figure-Four. Choshu rolls him over in position for a flying elbow drop to break it up. Whoops, forgot to tag. Now Yatsu tags for real as Tsuruta runs in to stomp Choshu while Yatsu is dropping elbows on Tenryu. Awesome. Tenryu rocks Yatsu with a clothesline to slow him down as he tags Tsuruta. He delivers a pair of kitchen sinks to put Yatsu on the floor. He regroups and comes back in to dropkick Tsuruta down before a tag to Choshu. Double Suplex to Tsuruta! After Jumbo pounds away on the ribs, Choshu hits a desperation back suplex. Tsuruta stays on top with stomps and tags in Tenryu for a double punch. With Choshu capacitated, Tsuruta & Tenryu take turns stomping the ribs. Finally the rib tape comes off, which I’m not sure how much good that would even do to begin with besides point out an injury, and Tsuruta applies an ab stretch. Yatsu has enough and breaks up the hold with a flying double-ax handle. Hot tag to Yatsu, he gives Tsuruta a dropkick and a back suplex. Meanwhile on the floor, Tenryu is tossing Choshu into the guardrail and beating him with a steel chair. Yatsu applies the Spinning Toe Hold, but Tenryu saves Tsuruta with a back suplex. Tsuruta dishes out a pair of Stan Hansen Lariats before grabbing a Boston crab, while some folks in All Japan jackets at ringside are re-wrapping Choshu’s ribs. Whether they are medically-trained or not, it’s really up in the air. I assume they are since they have medical supplies. The champs continue play around with Yatsu until Choshu is back on the apron and ready to go. Tsuruta ducks low off a whip and Yatsu makes the tag to Choshu. Dropkick to Tsuruta! Choshu grabs a kick and applies the SASORI-GATAME! Yes, the Scorpion Deathlock/Sharpshooter! The crowd is REALLY anticipating a submission here, but Tsuruta powers out. Tag to Yatsu, he almost immediately gets stuck on the wrong side of town. Tenryu delivers a botchy slingshot suplex for two. Yatsu comes back on Tsuruta with a wrap-around lariat and a Running Bulldog. Choshu takes Tsuruta to the outside to slam his face into the ringpost. Make that three times! That’ll bust Jumbo open. Tenryu saves and whips Choshu ribs-first into the guardrail. Back in the ring, Yatsu gives Tsuruta a suplex back in from the apron and then punches the crap out of him. Choshu and Tenryu continue to brawl onto a table in the front row! Yatsu delivers a piledriver and a back suplex on Tsuruta for 1-2-NO! Yatsu applies the SASORI-GATAME to Jumbo! Will this be all? No! Tenryu runs in and off the ropes with a freaking STIFF lariat to break up the hold. Choshu comes into the ring illegally and interjects some stomping on Jumbo. Tenryu tags and hits an enziguri for 1-2-NO! Meanwhile, Tsuruta and Choshu go to fight on the floor. Meanwhile, Yatsu delivers a German suplex on Tenryu for 1-2-NO! They run the ropes until Yatsu counters a body slam into a small package for 1-2-NO! He charges at Tenryu, but gets caught with a Stungun. Another enziguri to Yatsu gets 1-2-NO! Tenryu delivers the POWERBOMB for 1-2-3. Champs retain. (22:21) I’m only guessing by the response of this match or by the pro-longed feud that should lead to new champions anyway, but Choshu and Yatsu would defeat Tsuruta & Tenryu the following week in a rematch. This match was very well done with lots of drama with Choshu’s “rib injury”. And like I said before, the people in attendance were digging this match from start to finish, which made it all the more fun. ****

  • WWWA World Tag Team Champions Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki vs. Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada (AJW St. Battle Final 12.06.93)

From what I understand, this is the famous rubber match. I’m really excited about this one. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a Joshi expert, but I will still recap this to the best of my ability. In my opinion though, Joshi had a solid five-year run and really never recovered for reasons I don’t understand. Yet the stuff they were doing in the early ’90s is still somewhat ahead of what womens’ wrestling is doing in the US even in lead promotions like SHIMMER and the “Knockouts” womens division in TNA. I’m not even going to get into WWE. This starts off with an amazing sequence as they split up and go nuts on each other. Toyota dropkicks Dynamite off Yamada as she goes for a SPLASH MOUNTAIN. Right then, Ozaki runs up behind Toyota for a release German suplex. Doomsday device to Toyota! That gets two. A pair of DDTs from Ozaki to Toyota gain another nearfall. Kansai works Toyota over with some kicks. Ozaki tags back in, but gets caught with a springboard crossbody. Tag to Yamada for a double side slam to Ozaki, followed by a double butt drop. Yamada gives Ozaki a Big Swing while she’s in a Stretch Muffler! We’re talking like twenty rotations here. Toyota tags in and misses a running dropkick, allowing Dynamite to get a tag so she can kick Toyota around. She delivers a piledriver to Toyota for two. The champs take turns working Toyota over on the mat with various holds. Ozaki applies what appears to be an inverted surfboard. I’m only guessing here. Nevertheless, it looks pretty painful. Ozaki powerbombs Toyota to set up a SICK Liontamer. She literally looks like she plans on completely ripping her leg off. No femur bone or anything. Kansai continues with the kicks until Toyota answers back with a dropkick of her own. Kansai sidesteps a second missile dropkick and reverts to her stiff kicks again. A cannonball splash from Ozaki hits Dynamite by mistake as Yamada gets a tag. Ozaki fights out of a sleeper hold and cuts off Yamada with a clothesline. Tag to Kansai for more stiff Samoa Joe-like kicks. Yamada will not stand for that and kicks Dynamite out to the floor. Back in, Dynamite delivers a piledriver to Yamada. Ozaki grabs a camel clutch, which encourages Dynamite to deliver a wide open kick to Yamada’s throat. That’s just not right, but it gets a nearfall. We get more insane kicks from Dynamite, which fuels an ANGRY Toshiyo Yamada who starts kicking back harder, stronger and in the FACE. Toyota tags in and applies a camel clutch on Dynamite so Yamada can one-up her with MULTIPLE WIDE OPEN KICKS to the throat! Awesome! Dynamite stops Toyota by catching her in mid-air and switching over from a bearhug into a Northern Lights suplex for two. Toyota elbows Dynamite from a back superplex position and delivers a Moonsault Press for two. That jerk Ozaki randomly missile dropkicks Toyota so Dynamite can regain control. It doesn’t work too good though. Yamada breaks up a double-team, allowing Toyota to give her a rolling cradle pin. I mean, this goes on and on and on for THIRTY seconds. This is unbelievably great. That gets two. Dynamite saves Ozaki with a double-clothesline and starts kicking Toyota around. Toyota slips out of SPLASH MOUNTAIN, but takes a backdrop suplex instead for 1-2-NO! Ozaki tries to keep Yamada from saving her partner while Dynamite hoists her up for SPLASH MOUNTAIN again, but Yamada gets away from her and boots Dynamite in the stomach to prevent any splashing. Dynamite still delivers a NASTY Flying Double Stomp to Toyota. This time, SPLASH MOUNTAIN is delivered. Cover, 1-2-NO! Yamada makes the save. From a Doomsday device position, Ozaki clotheslines Toyota over into a victory roll on Dynamite for 1-2-NO! Ozaki spills out onto the apron and kicks Yamada down to the floor for a springboard flip dive. That takes care of Yamada for a while. OR DOES IT? The champs look to put Toyota away, but she kicks Ozaki off the top rope and gets away from Dynamite long enough to tag Yamada! Dynamite kicks the crap out of her and tries for a back suplex, but Yamada falls on top for 1-2-NO! Roundhouse Kick by Yamada! She follows up with SEVEN back suplexes in succession. Amazing. Yamada delivers a Springboard Roundhouse Kick on Dynamite for 1-2-NO! Now the challenger look to finish with a SPRINGBOARD ROUNDHOUSE KICK DOOMSDAY DEVICE to Dynamite! That gets 1-2-NO! Ozaki saves her partner, but winds up taking STEREO SWANDIVE HEADBUTTS! Yamada covers for 1-2-NO! Moonsault by Toyota hits the mat, but a follow-up flying splash by Ozaki hits feet! OWW! Ozaki counters the OCEAN CYCLONE SUPLEX into a victory roll for 1-2-NO! Toyota dropkicks Dynamite off the top to put her on the floor for a nasty Moonsault Press. DOUBLE BACK SUPERPLEX on Ozaki gets 1-2-NO! Toyota delivers the OCEAN CYCLONE SUPLEX on Ozaki on the second try for 1-2-NO! Dynamite breaks up the pin. A front missile dropkick from the top to the floor takes care of Dynamite. OCEAN BOMB to Ozaki! That gets the 1-2-3! Toyota and Yamada regain the belts! (25:33) One of the little things that I love in this match is when Yamada gets all set up to be kicked in the chest by Dynamite, Dynamite receives the same treatment with four or five extra kicks thrown in just because she deserved it. Incredible workrate and the emotion was off the charts with a Japanese crowd that was 100% entirely behind the challengers. When and if you hear certain fans say that Manami Toyota is the greatest worker of all time, its matches like this that holds a strong argument and this is a tag team match. Everything doesn’t even depend on her. Not to say the other three women aren’t excellent, but Toyota was busting her rear end to make this match as incredible as possible. *****

  • AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Stan Hansen vs. Toshiaki Kawada (AJPW TV 06.05.92)

Who better to close out a first edition of a Japanese wrestling recap than Stan Hansen? If you’re not sure who he is, just imagine a JBL without the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase personality. Oh yeah, add in a mustache while you’re at it. Kawada is still part of Misawa & Co. and just starting to really be taken seriously as a top contender, as this is only his second Triple Crown championship shot. In the early going, Kawada refuses to be denied and goes blow for blow with Hansen. A back kick to the knee from Hansen causes Kawada to roll out and take five. Of course, Hansen doesn’t let him and kicks the knee just for fun. Back in, Hansen works a half crab and a legbar before taking Kawada back out for a shin breaker on the freakin’ guardrail! Crowd chants for Kawada as he gets a Gamengiri kick from the apron. Kawada continues to kick Hansen around until he gets run down with a back elbow. Gutwrench suplex gets two. Kawada punches out of a modified STF and kicks Hansen in the face! They go back to the floor where Hansen reverses a whip into the guardrail and comes off the apron with a flying shoulderblock! Kawada catches Hansen in the face with a boot before heading back in the ring. Hansen tries to get back in without being nailed by Kawada by circling the ring, but it does no good. Kawada unloads on Hansen with elbows and charges at him with a Yakuza Kick for two. Flying splash by Kawada gets another two. Hansen kicks back and delivers a Snap Suplex for two. Kawada avoids a big boot out of the corner and blasts Hansen with a Lariat. After some Kawada kicks, a knee drop from the second rope gets two. Back on the floor, Kawada drops an elbow off the apron. Hansen wins a slugfest on the apron and when he goes to whip Kawada off the ropes, Kawada’s knee gives out. He stomps away on Kawada and shuts him down whenever he tries to pop up and fire off an elbow strike. Kawada finally stops a charging Hansen with a Gamengiri kick and a Lariat for 1-2-NO! Hansen takes some running stomps to the head, but blocks an enziguri. Kawada kicks Hansen in the back of the knee and drops him with a Lariat to the back of the head for 1-2-NO! Kawada gets the Eastern Stretch and the crowd thinks the end could be near. That is until Hansen slips out of the hold and makes the ropes. Hansen comes back with a Big Boot and a Running Elbow for 1-2-NO! What the crap? Hansen follows up with a pair of dropkicks! That gets two. DDT gets another two for Hansen before he grabs a Brazos Valley Backbreaker (or the Boston crab, whichever you prefer in your Hansen matches). Kawada makes the ropes. He falls on top of Hansen out of a back suplex for 1-2-NO! Stan Hansen stops a series of headbutts with a standing powerslam for two. Kawada ducks the LARIAT, but not a blow from to the back of the head for 1-2-NO! Hansen lifts Kawada up off the mat! Hansen delivers a Powerbomb and then finishes Kawada off with a SHORT-ARM LARIAT. (21:18) Wow, Kawada got BURIED! Good match, but nobody seemed to think Kawada was really walking out of the Budokan Hall with the Triple Crown championship and the match did nothing to make you think he would. Hansen would lose the Triple Crown championship in late August to kickstart Misawa’s near two-year long run. ***¼

Final Thoughts: People will have their opinions and that’s fine with me, but I would say this was an awesome start for a new column. I mean, LOOK! Nothing here is under *** and we’ve got TWO ***** matches. You can’t go wrong here.

Coming Soon on Vol. II: Tsuruta & Baba vs. The Funks, Marufuji/KENTA, Rikio & Morishima/Marufuji & KENTA, Nakano/Kong, Tsuruta/Tenryu, another Misawa/Kobashi match, another Misawa/Kawada match, and Misawa & Kobashi/Steve Williams & Johnny Ace!

Posted on August 11, 2008, in AJPW, AJW, NJPW, WAR and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: