The Netcop Retro Rant for Top of the Super J IV (1993)
– Bit of a change tonight as my boredom with Warrior discussion on #RSPW
led me to go running back to one of my favorite Japanese tapes. The
concept is that there’s a big-ass tournament of junior heavyweights
every year, with the winner getting a “~!” added to their name on RSPWM.
– A note on ratings: Most of the matches here are basically a technical
exhibition, without much in the way of buildup or feuds or anything like
that, so I tend to be a bit harder in the star ratings as a result. So
** here is not equal to ** in the States, where other factors can change
a rating greatly. When I rate matches for this show, I’m rating them
against other matches on the show, for the sake of fairness.
– Taped from various places in Japan in May of 1993.
– We get opening comments from Shinjiro Ohtani, I guess wishing everyone
– Opening match: Dean Malenko v. Jushin Liger. This is the match that
establishes Liger as “they guy who isn’t going to win this year” because
Deano ends up messing up Justin’s knee pretty good during the course of
this one, with the DROPKICK OF DOOM! Dean is definitely not the Iceman
here, showing a lot of emotion and enthusiasm, even if he is being a
total asshole by working on the knee nonstop with just about every
knee-breaking move in his arsenal. Jushin makes a heroic comeback with
a couple of palm strikes and a couple of rollups, but it’s Malenko’s
match to lose. Ligerbomb gets two, but a kneedrop from the top misses
and Dean slaps on the Texas Cloverleaf until Jushin quits. Dean
literally jumps for joy at the submission. Weird seeing that. I wasn’t
really digging this match, it was all psychology and stuff. **1/2
– Shinjiro Ohtani v. El Samurai. Ohtani is a f*cking god. He slaps
Samurai around like his bitch, something we just don’t see enough of
these days. Samurai ends up getting pissed off and controlling most of
the match, although Ohtani reverses two or three suplex attempts into
rollups. Most of the match is clipped, as Samurai hits the GERMAN
SUPLEX OF DEATH for the pin about 12 minutes in. We only get to see
about 3. I love Ohtani and hate Samurai so that’s okay.
– Wild Pegasus v. Dean Malenko. Pegasus is the Japanese name for Chris
Benoit. Good hot sequence to start out as they counter and
counter-counter each other’s stuff. How come Dean doesn’t do the
enzuigiri oversell anymore? Benoit proceeds to ass-kicking, while Dean
decides to go after the arm. Chris’ method yields better results,
although neither guy is showing much in the way of intensity here. They
exchange rollups a few times before Benoit is able to block a Malenko
pin attempt and get the win. Good but dull. ***
– El Samurai v. Masao Orihara. Rather odd little match as they just go
flying into piledrivers right away, with both guys no-selling and then
jumping up to deliver a piledriver of their own. Bizarre. We cut to
the end, as Samurai has managed to take control and shows off the
inverted suplex, which Orihara no-sells. Either the guy has got a
*really* hard head or lots of energy. Samurai responds with a
somersault plancha and tries for the GERMAN SUPLEX OF DEATH, but it only
gets two. Orihara gets two off a rana, but then blows a running
moonsault. Back to the piledriver duel as Orihara hits one, but misses
the moonsault, and Samurai tries one, but gets rolled up for the pin.
That was just…weird. **1/4
– Shinjiro Ohtani v. Jushin Liger. Ohtani is right in the bookerman’s
face before the bell, bitch-slapping him and then pounding him out of
the ring. Jushin takes it like a man, of course. Ohtani goes right
after the knee, which normally I don’t like but Ohtani always has this
look of disdain on his face, much like Steven Regal over here, which
makes it fun. Liger is seriously taking a shitkicking here. Liger
fights back but Ohtani kicks the hell out of his knee and then puts him
in an even MORE devious submission hold. Liger manages an enzuigiri and
a palm strike, but it’s just pissing Ohtani off more. Ohtani pulls out
a Flair flip on a cross-corner whip, however, and nails the SWANK~!
triple springboard dropkick, the third one to the knee. Liger’s in
trouble now. Liger retaliates with a vicious arm-breaker and armbar,
but Ohtani makes the ropes. Cross-face chicken-wing (done properly I
might add) but Ohtani makes the ropes. Liger gives him too much time to
recoup and Ohtani goes nuts on him, but misses a dropkick, allowing the
Ligerbomb for the (mildly) surprising pin. Excellent match. ****
– Eddy Guerrero v. Shinjiro Ohtani. Eddy wasn’t my hero and savior at
this point. Ohtani pretty much destroys him, prompting Eddy to give the
crowd the finger now and then. Ohtani works in the springboard plancha.
Eddy comes back with a springboard dropkick for a two count. A really
nice powerbomb for two follows. Eddy goes for the figure-four but gets
rolled up for two. Eddy with a german suplex for two as the pace
increases greatly. Ohtani reverses a bodyslam into a rollup for the
pin. Eh, their match at Starrcade 95 was oodles better. **3/4
– Jushin Liger v. Noriyo Honaga. This is one of those matches with a
history, as these two traded the IWGP Junior title back and forth
leading up to this tournament. Most of it is clipped, unfortunately. I
like seeing these two. They trade stuff for a while and then Honaga
dropkicks Liger in the knee out of nowhere and scores a quick pin.
– Jushin Liger v. El Samurai. I reiterate: I really didn’t like El
Samurai until his 1997 stuff. Maybe it was the costume change, who
knows. Thankfully he gets the snot beaten out of him by Liger, bad knee
and all. He manages to fight back with a wicked forearm shot, but gets
dumped over the top by Liger, who then whips out the old somersault off
the apron spot. Back in the ring and Samurai with the inverted suplex
and the GERMAN SUPLEX OF DEATH, but it only gets two. Samurai to the
top for a dropkick to the back of the head, but Liger reverses a dragon
suplex attempt into a rollup for two. Liger with a powerbomb, and a big
splash for two. They do that series of rollups and reversals that they
love to do over there, and the end result is Liger hitting a rana for
the final three. Not bad. ***
– Jushin Liger v. 2 Cold Scorpio. Scorpio was a joke at this point, in
the grand scheme of things. Which makes this match all the odder:
Liger chooses to culminate his “bad knee” storyline here, with Liger
collapsing in pain about a minute into the match and Scorpio getting an
easy submission by working the knees. 1/2*
(Thus marks the end of “version one” and the beginning of “version two”,
which recaps the first part in clips and then has the final bits)
– Clips of Masao Orihara v. Chris Benoit. Orihara looks terrible but
Benoit sells anyway, en route to hitting a german suplex for the pin.
– Clips of El Samurai v. Shinjiro Ohtani, which we already covered
– Clips of Jushin Liger v. Dean Malenko, which we already covered above.
– Noriyo Honaga v. Dave Finlay. This would be Fit Finlay, of course.
Finlay goes ultra-stiff on Honaga, brawling outside the ring to great
effect. Honaga usually plays the bad boy in Japan so he goes all
Memphis on Finlay, rubbing his face on the ropes, giving him the thumb
to the throat, etc. Finlay tosses him outside and just tosses him to
the railing throat-first. Honaga puts some powder in his mouth under
the ring and spits it in Finlay’s face, then gives him a wicked posting.
Jerry Lawler would love this guy. Finlay pokes him in the eye and
dropkicks him for two. Whoa, a wrestling move. Nasty clothesline for
two. Rollup for two. Knee right to the face…that’s gonna leave a
bruise. Back out for more brawling and chairshots, then back in as
Finlay shows off his wretling acumen with a release powerbomb. Cool.
Honaga fights back but gets caught with the rolling fireman’s carry for
the pin. What a brutal match! ****1/4
– Clips of Malenko v. Benoit, as detailed above.
– Clips of Samurai v. Orihara, as detailed above.
– Clips of Liger v. Ohtani, as detailed above.
– Clips of Ohtani v. Guerrero, as detailed above.
– Clips of LIGHTNING KID V. CHRIS BENOIT! Shit, why couldn’t we see
that one? Benoit takes it with a dragon suplex. I’d kill to see this
– Clips of Liger v. Honaga, including some wild brawling that was cut
out of the version shown above.
– The Lightning Kid v. Shinjiro Ohtani. Finally, we’re back to full
matches again. If you don’t know, the Kid = Sean Waltman = Syxx = X-Pac
or whatever you wanna call him. He has a distinct lack of beard,
experience or respect from his peers at this point, possessing basically
just the sheer willpower to kill himself for our enjoyment. By way of
perspective, this was just before the Razor Ramon thing on Monday Night
RAW that kicked off his career proper. Sean has spent most of his
career fighting Sabu and Jerry Lynn on the indy circuit, so getting in
there with a *real* pro like Ohtani is a bit of a shock for him, I’d
imagine. He holds up fairly well, trying to play a heel but then
failing dismally as Ohtani whips him like a dog to much better reaction.
His Japanese stuff is notable mostly for the number of times he says
“f*ck” in the ring and in interviews. It gets kinda nasty as they end
up outside the ring and the Kid kicks Ohtani dead solid in the chest a
couple of times against the railing. Back in and Ohtani with a GORGEOUS
flying bodypress (with like 3 seconds of hangtime) and a springboard
dropkick for two. They f*ck around on the top rope and Ohtani shoves
him off and dropkicks him again for two. German suplex for two and the
Kid’s in trouble. He comes back with a so-so leg lariat for one.
Tornado DDT for three! How come he never does *that* anymore? Good
ending, but the rest didn’t click. **
– Clips of Norio Honaga getting rolled up and pinned by Dean Malenko, as
we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty.
– Clips of Samurai getting rolled up and pinned by Jushin Liger.
– Clips of Samurai taking out Deano (with a rollup, surprise).
– Clips of Benoit going medieval on Eddy Guerrero’s ass (another one I
wanted to see in full) and (say it with me) rolling him up for the pin.
– Clips of Scorpio taking out Liger’s knee, eliminating Liger from the
tournament, as detailed above.
– Eddy Guerrero v. Dean Malenko. Both guys have six points (or wins,
or whatever) at this point, so this is nearing the end of the
tournament. Another nifty match between these two (predating their ECW
stuff by two years) as neither guy is able to keep any sort of advantage
due to a reversal by the other. Several two-counts result as Eddy
finally manages to gain the control with a series of forearms, a
baseball slide and a quebrada. Those crazy Mexicans. Rollover
powerbomb gets two. Now’s there a move that doesn’t get used enough.
Malenko hits a jumping sitdown powerbomb (not quite a Ligerbomb) for
two, but on a second try Eddy reverses to a rollup for two. This is
becoming a trend. Eddy goes for the rana but gets dropped into a
powerbomb and one Texas Cloverleaf later it’s over. Good match. ***1/2
– El Samurai v. 2 Cold Scorpio. Scorpio puts on a dancing exhibition
before the introductions. I have no idea how Scorpio made it this far
in the tournament. This is basically the quarterfinals and one can only
assume that it should have been Liger in Scorpio’s slot. Feeling out
process to start and Scorpio takes control with some very American
offense. Their timing seems to be off. Scorpio with an Avalanche and a
twisting legdrop thing for two, then he hits the twisting splash for
two. Samurai with the german suplex (not OF DEATH) for two and a
forearm. Rana for two. Diving headbutt for two. Scorpio fights back
with a superkick. This match isn’t flowing very well. Samurai with a
rollup out of nowhere for the pin. I’m seriously getting sick of seeing
that ending. *1/2 That probably seems harsh, but consider what it’s
being compared against. Samurai advances to the semi-final against Dean
– El Samurai v. Dean Malenko. El Samurai has done nothing to impress me
over the course of this show. They blow a Mexican armdrag spot to
start. Not a good sign. For those wondering, Chris Benoit ended up
with the most points in the round robin and thus got into the finals
without having to go through all this. Basically the whole match is
submissions. Samurai inserts a diving headbutt and neckbreaker, then
Malenko fights out of a piledriver. Charge to the corner and Deano eats
boot. Belly to belly for two. Samurai comes back and tries another
diving headbutt but Malenko moves and goes for the Cloverleaf, but
Samurai makes it to the ropes. He hangs on and gets it in the center of
the ring, but Samurai’s a manly man so he hangs on and makes it to the
ropes. Another attempt and Samurai fights him off, and yet again they
do the rollup-reversal series with Samurai ending up on top for the pin.
I AM SO FUCKING SICK OF THAT ENDING! Building parity is one thing, but
a decisive winner would be nice. * Really bad match for both guys.
– Tournament final: Chris Benoit v. El Samurai. Everyone else from the
tournament is surrounding the ring. Good start as Chris carries Samurai
through a test-of-strength-into-rollup series. Reverse chinlock by
Samurai. Move #495 (arm-BAR) and arm-wringer. Why did Liger push this
guy back then? Crossface on Benoit, ironically enough. More working on
the arm, then back to the crossface. This would get heckled mercilessly
over here. Back to move #193 (ARM-bar), but Benoit goes apeshit on him
to fight free. That’s my boy. Belly to back for two. Vicious slam and
Scorpion deathlock, with Benoit holding the arm to prevent him from
reaching the ropes. Snap suplex (with the announcers bringing up
Dynamite Kid) for two, and then we head out for a beating on the floor.
Whip to the STEEL railing. Back in for a german suplex for two. SWANK
powerbomb for two. Keep up the beating, Chris! Another disdainful slam
and a snap legdrop off the second rope for two. Samurai with a
tombstone for two. Russian legsweep into a cross-armbreaker thingie.
Chris elbows free. Again with the same move, and the crowd starts
clapping for Benoit. Samurai with the slam and the DIVING HEADBUTT OF
DEATH, which misses. Don’t try to lay no boogie woogie on the king of
rock n roll, Samurai. Damn, Benoit’s misses too. Nice overhead belly
to belly by Samurai sends Benoit to the floor, and Samurai follows with
the somersault plancha. Benoit comes in over the top with a flying
headscissors and suplexes him on the top rope. Samurai bails and Benoit
follows with a tope. Back in for the dragon suplex, which gets two.
Northern lights suplex for two. Now the crowd is chanting for Samurai.
Surprise rollup for two by Samurai. Another rollup sequence which gives
Samurai a two count. Off the ropes and lariat by Benoit for two.
Benoit to the top but Samurai catches him and hits the rana off the top
for two. Crowd was up for that one. Powerbomb and he puts Benoit on
the top rope, then superplexes him for two. Back to the top but Benoit
turns it into a SUPERBOMB! Forget it, Samurai, you ain’t getting up.
Benoit wins the tournament and celebrates with the other gaijin as
Samurai does the stretcher job to totally sell the finisher. Awesome
match, easily the best of the show. *****
The Bottom Line: Not exactly essential viewing if you’re a Japan-fan
(the 94 and 95 versions provide a better look at the Japanese talent at
the time) but it’s certainly an interesting slice of life for the
American guys currently around. I think it’s fascinating that the
Lightning Kid went on to be the biggest star of the bunch. The action
is still much better than almost any US show today, if you’re the “all
wrestling, no talk” type, but you’ll want to look elsewhere for a