Before we get into it, I’d like to inform everyone that I have opened up a new puroresu website at www.puroresucentral.com. Besides all my puroresu reviews, you can also find profiles for over 200 wrestlers and recent puroresu matches ready for download. Clips from this event (15 total) can be found as well within the review itself. So check it out, its crazy sexy.
The Event: New Japan Wrestling Dontaku 1993
The Date: May 3rd, 1993
The Location: Fukuoka Dome
Attendance: 55,000 Fans
Finally I have finished the trilogy of shows that I had planned to do a few months ago. New Japan was still really hot in 1993, and besides having a slew of their own stars (Inoki, Mutoh, Hashimoto, Liger, etc.) they also had a deal with WCW to bring in their wrestlers in for the big shows (only Sting here though). We also get a rare appearance by Hulk Hogan here, which unfortunately also means we have an appearance by Brutus Beefcake. The wrestling Gods can be so cruel. Here is the full card:
– Iizuka, Akira Nogami, and El Samurai vs. Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Yamamoto, and Nishimura
– Akitoshi Saito vs. Michiyoshi Ohara
– Brutus Beefcake vs. Masa Saito
– Shiro Koshinaka, Kengo Kimura, Great Kabuki, Kuniaki Kobayashi, and Masashi Aoyagi vs. Super Strong Machine, Ashura Hara, Takashi Ishikawa, Hiro Saito, and Tatsutoshi Goto
– Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tiger Mask
– Scott Norton vs. Sting
– Hiroshi Hase vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara
– Hawk Warrior and Power Warrior vs. Shinya Hashimoto and Masahiro Chono
– Great Muta vs. Hulk Hogan
– Antonio Inoki and Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Riki Choshu and Genichiro Tenryu
As New Japan normally does, the matches are not in the right order on the disks (with each disk having their own “main event”). To make things easier I am just going to put them in the order that the crowd saw the card.
Iizuka, Akira Nogami, and El Samurai vs. Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Yamamoto, and Nishimura
Iizuka and Kojima start things off. Tie-up, Kojima gets Iizuka into the ropes and slaps him before backing off. Tie-up, Iizuka pushes Kojima into the ropes and he shoves Kojima in the chest as he backs up. Forearms to the head by Kojima, snapmare, and he applies a reverse chinlock. Iizuka struggles to his feet, Irish whip by Iizuka, but Kojima shoulderblocks him down. Kojima tags in Yamamoto, tie-up, side headlock by Iizuka, snapmare, but Yamamoto rolls out of it and applies an wristlock. Iizuka gets out of it with a keylock and he tags in El Samurai. Arm wringer by El Samurai and he yanks down on Yamamoto’s arm. Yamamoto reverses the hold, but El Samurai gets him to the mat with a drop toehold. A stretch hold is applied by El Samurai and he stomps Yamamoto in the back. Scoop slam by El Samurai, cover, but Yamamoto easily kicks out. Reverse chinlock by El Samurai, but Yamamoto punches out of it and gives him a headbutt. Irish whip by Yamamoto and he nails a dropkick. Cover, but El Samurai kicks out. Yamamoto picks up El Samurai, snapmare, and he tags in Nishimura. Chops by Nishimura, but El Samurai punches him back. Snapmare by Nishimura and he applies a reverse chinlock. Headscissors by Nishimura, but El Samurai rolls out of it and applies a modified stretch hold. He then tags in Nogami, double Irish whip, and they hit a double elbow. Scoop slam by Nogami and he clubs Nishimura in the back. Nishimura fires back, but Nogami slaps him to the mat. Scoop slam by Nogami and he connects on a leg drop before applies the Camel Clutch. Kojima runs in to break it up though and all six men brawl before El Samurai takes control on Kojima. Irish whip by Kojima, and he knocks down El Samurai with a running elbow. Stomps to the back by Kojima, he picks up El Samurai and forearms him repeatedly in the head. Sidewalk slam by Kojima, cover, but it gets a two count. Kojima tags in Nishimura, who hits a running bulldog followed by a leg drop. Nishimura goes for the cross armbreaker, but El Samurai gets a foot on the bottom rope. Nishimura pulls El Samurai back to his corner and tags in Yamamoto. Clubs to the back by Yamamoto and he gives El Samurai a headbutt. El Samurai fires back though and knocks down Yamamoto with a forearm. Piledriver by El Samurai and he tags in Iizuka. Dropkick by Iizuka, cover, but it gets a two count. Vertical suplex by Iizuka, cover, but it gets broken up. Iizuka applies a half crab hold to Yamamoto, but Yamamoto rolls out of it. Iizuka picks up Yamamoto and tags in Nogami. Double Irish whip, and they connect on a double dropkick. Irish whip by Nogami, and he nails Yamamoto right in the head with a dropkick. Cover, but it is broken up. Iizuka goes after Kojima, but order is eventually restored.
Enzigieri by Nogami on Yamamoto, scoop slam, he goes to the top turnbuckle and hits the diving body press. Cover, but it gets a two count. Nogami tags in Iizuka, who suplexes Yamamoto to the mat. He goes for another one, but Yamamoto sneaks in an inside cradle for a one count. Iizuka picks up Yamamoto, snapmare, and he applies the Dragon Sleeper. Yamamoto eventually kicks out of it, but Iizuka picks him up and hits a backdrop suplex. Iizuka tags in El Samurai, El Samurai picks up Yamamoto, Irish whip, and he knocks him to the mat with a dropkick. Romero Special stretch hold by El Samurai, he picks Yamamoto back up, scoop slam, he goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick. Cover, but Yamamoto kicks out. El Samurai gets Yamamoto to his feet and applies a waistlock, but Yamamoto gets out of it as Kojima runs in to help. Headbutt by Yamamoto, cover, but El Samurai kicks out at two. Irish whip to the corner by Yamamoto, and all three men hit running strikes to El Samurai. Cover by Yamamoto, but again it gets two. Stomps by Yamamoto and he hits a series of Mongolian Chops. El Samurai comes back with a German suplex hold, but it gets a two count and he tags in Nogami. Clubs to the back by Nogami, but Yamamoto headbutts him back. Scoop slam by Yamamoto, he goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a jumping leg drop. El Samurai then comes down with a forearm drop, and Nishimura finishes him off with a missile dropkick. Snapmare by Yamamoto and he applies the elevated crab hold, which is broken up by El Samurai. Club to the back by Yamamoto on Nogami, he picks him up and knocks him down with his Mongolian Chops. Scoop slam by Yamamoto, he goes to the top turnbuckle and dives off, but Nogami kicks him in the head while he is on the way down. Nogami picks up Yamamoto and goes for a dragon suplex, but Yamamoto rolls him up for a two count. Back up, Yamamoto goes off the ropes, but Nogami catches him with a dragon suplex hold and picks up the three count pinfall! Your winners: Iizuka, Akira Nogami, and El Samurai
Match Thoughts: It is fun to watch Kojima and Tenzan here… they look like little kids, especially Tenzan. Akira Nogami is better known today as simply AKIRA, and all six of these men are still active today to at least some degree. The match was pretty simple, as you would assume, with Nogami showing the most as he was flying all over the place. A straight-forward opening match, but Kojima and Tenzan showed a lot of fire and it is not hard to believe from watching this that the two would become such big stars. Score: 5.0
Akitoshi Saito vs. Michiyoshi Ohara
Saito kicks Ohara into the corner to start the match and repeatedly kicks him in the head. Mounted punches by Saito and he pushes back the referee. Ohara catches him with a punch, however, and applies an arm submission hold on the mat. He goes for the cross armbreaker, but Saito gets a foot to the ropes before he can have the move fully applied. Slaps by Ohara, but Saito fires back and knocks him off his feet. Stomps by Saito and he kicks Ohara hard in the chest. Another kick by Saito and he knees Ohara, but Ohara catches one of his knee strikes and suplexes him over his head. Choke by Ohara in the corner with his boot, snapmare, and he applies a reverse chinlock. Headbutt by Ohara, but Saito fires back with kicks and knocks Ohara to the mat. Side headlock by Saito, but Ohara gets to his feet and hits a backdrop suplex. Saito goes for a kick to the chest, but Ohara catches his leg and suplexes him to the mat. Single leg crab hold by Ohara, but Saito reaches the ropes. Ankle lock by Ohara, but Saito eventually reverses it into a leg submission of his own until Ohara makes it to the ropes. Repeated knee strikes by Saito and a kick to the chest knocks Ohara down. More kicks by Saito, but Ohara fires back with a forearm shot. Ohara kicks Saito while he is on one knee and applies a modified keylock, but Saito makes it to the ropes. Kicks by Saito, but Ohara catches one and applies an ankle lock. Again Saito makes it to the ropes, Ohara goes for the takedown, but Saito elbows him in the back of the head. Spinning heel kick by Saito, and another one sends Ohara to the mat. Cover, but Ohara already has a foot under the ropes. Kick to the chest by Saito and he goes for another spinning heel kick, but Ohara rolls out of the way. Both men get back up, Saito charges Ohara, but Ohara catches him with a suplex. Quasi-powerbomb (seemed botched) by Ohara, cover, but he picks him up before the three count. Ohara drags Saito to his feet, hits another powerbomb, and this time gets the three count! Your winner: Michiyoshi Ohara
Match Thoughts: Apparently these two don’t have the deepest movesets. I don’t mind a kick-based offense, but I do prefer that the kicks actually led to something. Every time Saito was on offense, all he did was kick Ohara until Ohara managed to get control back. Then they messed up the ending, with the powerbomb looking so bad that Ohara picked up Saito to give him another one. Besides being able to say that Saito’s kicks looked good, there really isn’t much else here that is worth watching. Score: 3.4
Brutus Beefcake vs. Masa Saito
New Japan undercards are normally much better then this. Beefcake ducks a tie-up to start the match and struts around the ring. Again Beefcake struts out of a lock up, but Saito punches him from behind. Irish whip by Saito and he knocks him down with a lariat. Beefcake rolls out of the ring to talk to Jimmy Hart, but eventually gets back in. Tie-up, side headlock by Beefcake, Saito tries to Irish whip out of it, but Beefcake hangs on. Finally he does manage to throw Beefcake into the corner and rams his head into the turnbuckle. Side headlock by Beefcake and he headbutts Saito in the head. Beefcake picks up Saito, side headlock takedown and he applies a side headlock on the mat until Saito gets a foot on the ropes. Headbutt by Beefcake and he stomps Saito in the chest. Cover, but it gets a two count. Beefcake applies a reverse chinlock, Saito struggles to his feet, but Beefcake headbutts him in the back of the head. A sleeperhold is applied by Beefcake, but Saito rams him back into the corner to break the hold. Elbow to the chest by Saito, snapmare, he tries to take off Beefcake’s mask, but Beefcake stops him and elbows him low. Chops to the chest by Saito and he clubs Beefcake in the back. Beefcake fights back though and chokes Saito against the mat. Mongolian chops by Beefcake and he headbutts Saito in the head. Beefcake chops Saito in the head, but Saito fires up and absorbs the blows. Kicks to the stomach by Saito, Irish whip, and he hits a lariat. Backdrop suplex by Saito, he picks him up again, and gives him another one. Hart gets on the apron, Saito grabs him, and this gives Beefcake time to get the megaphone and hit Saito with it while the referee is tending to Hart. After two weak headbutts by Beefcake, he covers Saito and picks up the three count! Your winner: Brutus Beefcake
Match Thoughts: Ugh. Besides the fact it was a terrible match where the only two notable moves were weak headbutts and side headlocks, they even had to put Beefcake over. The crowds in Japan rarely boo, but they really let Beefcake have it here. After the pin was mostly silence, as it was a silly ending to have Saito lose after a SE megaphone shot and two weak headbutts. Dreadful stuff. Score: 2.5
Shiro Koshinaka, Kengo Kimura, Great Kabuki, Kuniaki Kobayashi, and Masashi Aoyagi vs. Super Strong Machine, Ashura Hara, Takashi Ishikawa, Hiro Saito, and Tatsutoshi Goto
Do all Dontaku shows have to have a match like this? I don’t even know who half these guys are. They brawl on the ramp to start the match, and eventually they spill into the ring. Once the dust clears (yes, that is lazy PBPing, but I seriously don’t know the difference between Hara and Ishikawa and the less I say the better) we have Aoyogi kicking around Saito. Ishikawa comes in the ring, but he absorbs the kicks and tags in Machine. Running splash by Machine in the corner, but Aoyogi fights back and tags in Koshinaka. Baseball slide by Koshinaka outside the ring onto Saito, and he gives him a spike piledriver on the outside with the help of a teammate. Back in the ring, Kobayashi is tagged in, but Saito runs over to help. It doesn’t work though, and Kabuki enters the ring and thrusts Machine in the throat. Machine fights back with headbutts though and tags in Hara. Plancha by Hara outside the ring and he slides Kabuki back in. Hara charges Kabuki, but Kabuki catches him with a kick. Goto is tagged in as is Koshinaka, and Goto knocks him down with a lariat. Scoop slam by Goto and he tags in Ishikawa. They trade headbutts, Ishikawa goes off the ropes but he is knocked down with a hip attack. Kobayashi comes in and gives Goto a leg lariat, but he regains control and throws him to the ramp. Machine is out there waiting, and he delivers a suplex. Machine drags Kobayashi back to the ring and slides him in. Double Irish whip on Kobayashi, and all of his opponents hit running strikes on him. Cover by Machine, but Kobayashi gets his foot on the ropes. Saito gets Kobayashi to his feet and gives him a headbutt.
Machine tags in Saito, who drops a leg on Kobayashi’s leg. Piledriver by Saito, cover, but it is broken up. Kobayashi manages to tag in Kimura, and Saito is beat down by all five men. Irish whip by Kimura and he hits a Fishermans Suplex for a two count. Irish whip by Kimura, and Koshinaka runs in to give him a hip attack. Kimura goes for a dropkick, but Saito grabs the ropes to avoid it and tags in Hara. Lariat by Hara and he applies the Scorpion Deathlock, but Kabuki breaks it up. Irish whip by Ishikawa, and he hits a lariat for another two count. Kimura hits a backdrop suplex, but Ishikawa makes the tag to Goto. Goto goes for his backdrop suplex, but Kimura blocks it and makes it to the ropes. Hara is tagged back in, and he kicks Kimura in the corner. Irish whip, but Kimura avoids the charges until he is taken down by a chokeslam. Koshinaka flies in with a hip attack though and he makes the tag to Aogoyi. Kicks by Aogoyi, and he tags in Kobayashi. Running leg lariat by Kobayashi, he picks up Ishikawa, but Ishikawa blocks the move and tags in Machine. All hell breaks lose, but Goto hits a backdrop suplex on Kobayashi. Cover, but it gets broken up. Another backdrop suplex attempt but Goto, but it is reversed. Cover by Kobayashi, but Machine breaks it up with a headbutt off the top turnbuckle. Goto gets laid out by a double powerbomb, but the pin attempt is broken up. Another powerbomb by Koshinaka, cover, and this time he picks up the three count pinfall! Your winners: Shiro Koshinaka, Kengo Kimura, Great Kabuki, Kuniaki Kobayashi, and Masashi Aoyagi
Match Thoughts: Sorry for not being able to identify all the wrestlers… I looked around for pictures but it is hard to find information on some of the older wrestlers. Anyway, the match was a giant cluster as you can imagine. Although it did have a few fun spots, such as the spike piledriver to the outside. But overall there wasn’t much to it, I guess there was a point if I looked deep enough, but really it just came across as a big random mess until it finally came to a sudden end. Score: 3.1
Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tiger Mask
Tie-up to start, wristlock by Liger, but Tiger Mask flips out of it and applies one of his own. Liger flips out of it as well, and both men are back on their feet again. Tie-up, side headlock by Tiger Mask, and he does the Tiger Mask spin to drop Liger to the mat. Tiger Mask then jumps up to the second turnbuckle and hits a twisting splash and follows that with a cartwheel body press. Tiger Mask then connects on a back kick, which sends Liger out of the ring. He eventually gets back in, takedown by Liger and he applies a leg submission hold. Romero Special by Liger, but Tiger Mask gets out of it and peppers him with kicks. Liger falls out of the ring, and Tiger Mask delivers (mostly) a cartwheel backflip plancha over the top rope down onto Liger. Tiger Mask gets back in the ring and Liger eventually follows. Kick to the head by Tiger Mask, but Liger responds with a Liger Kick. Liger then slaps Tiger Mask against the ropes until he falls to the mat. He comes back quickly though and Tiger Mask knocks down Liger with a dropkick. Tiger Mask applies a leg submission hold, then picks up Liger and plants him with a scoop slam. Irish whip by Liger, and he dropkicks Tiger Mask in the knee. Back to the leg submission hold by Liger and he reverts it into an Indian Deathlock. Tiger Mask tries to punch out of it, but Liger slaps him back to the mat. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker by Liger and he applies the camel clutch. Another backbreaker by Liger, cover, but it gets a two count. Liger applies a reverse chinlock and then puts Tiger Mask in a headscissors. Tiger Mask manages to get out of the hold however and applies a stretch hold to Liger. After kicking Liger out of the ring, Tiger Mask goes to take a dive, but thinks better of it and Liger rolls back in. Snapmare by Tiger Mask and he elbows Liger in the head. More kicks by Tiger Mask, he picks up Liger and connects on a jumping heel kick. Single leg crab hold by Tiger Mask, but Liger stands up and connects with an enzigieri.
Liger picks up Tiger Mask, Irish whip, and he nails the Liger Kick in the corner. Liger puts Tiger Mask on the top turnbuckle, goes up with him, and delivers the superplex. Cover, but Tiger Mask kicks out at two. Liger Kick by Liger, Tiger Mask goes out to the floor, and Liger hits a corkscrew Asai moonsault from the second rope. Liger gets back in the ring, Tiger Mask follows, Irish whip by Liger, but Tiger Mask avoids the back bodydrop and whips off a hurricanrana for a two count. Dropkick by Tiger Mask, Liger falls out of the ring, and Tiger Mask comes out with a somersault pescado. Tiger Mask slides back into the ring and after a moment Liger gets on the apron. Tiger Mask charges him, but Liger connects with a slingshot headbutt. Hurricanrana by Liger, he picks up Tiger Mask and hits a tombstone piledriver. Cover, but it gets a two count. Liger goes to the top turnbuckle, but Tiger Mask dropkicks him in the back as he goes for the cannonball. Tiger Mask picks up Liger, scoop slam, but Liger rolls out of the way of the twisting splash from the top turnbuckle. Liger then puts Tiger Mask on the top turnbuckle and hits a Frankensteiner, cover, but it only gets a two count! Liger grabs Tiger Mask and goes for a suplex, Tiger Mask lands on his feet on the other side of the ropes, and he hits a missile dropkick from the top turnbuckle. Dragon suplex hold by Tiger Mask, but Liger is too close to the ropes. Tiger Mask picks up Liger, delivers the tiger suplex hold, and he picks up the three count! Your winner: Tiger Mask
Match Thoughts: This match was simply good. Not very good, not great like it should have been…. just good. I like Kanemoto much better as himself then as Tiger Mask, the Tiger Mask spots just seemed so forced. There were absolutely no transitions in the match at all, they just took turns until Tiger Mask suddenly won the match. Liger worked on both Tiger Mask’s leg and back early in the match, but didn’t later in the match at all. The only thing that saved the match and made it at least entertaining is that Liger and Kanemoto are such great wrestlers that they made the spots they did look good and they kept the crowd into it the entire match. But this is probably the worst pre-injury big match I have ever seen Liger in. Score: 6.1
Scott Norton vs. Sting
Tie-up to start, side headlock by Sting, Norton Irish whips out of it and goes for a hiptoss, Sting blocks it, but Norton picks him up in a military press and slams him to the mat. Back up, Norton charges Sting but Sting back bodydrops him and dropkicks him out of the ring. Sting then goes to the ropes and flies out with a pescado. Norton sells his leg as he rolls back into the ring, and Sting kicks him repeatedly in it. More kicks by Sting, Irish whip, but Norton reverses it and lariats Sting hard to the mat. Irish whip by Norton, and he hits a Samoan drop. Norton then delivers a backdrop suplex, he picks Sting back up and hits a vertical suplex, but his leg gives out on him while he is hitting the move. He still gets up first, Irish whip by Norton, and he throws Sting over the top rope down to the floor. Lariat by Norton on the outside, he charges Sting, but Sting moves and Norton goes head-first into the ring post. Sting gets back in the ring, and when we get a look at Norton we see that his head is gushing blood.
Norton slowly gets back into the ring and Sting immediately kicks him. Scoop slam by Sting and he hits a jumping elbow drop. Norton’s head is pouring blood, Muta style. Sting picks up Norton, but Norton catches him with a chokeslam. Norton goes for a lariat, but Sting ducks it and kicks Norton in the leg. Punches by Sting, he charges Norton, but Norton catches him with a powerslam. Norton is having trouble walking around, but he pulls Sting back into the ring (he had rolled to the outside) and hits a backdrop suplex. Sting pops up however and hits a dropkick on Norton followed by a punch to the head that knocks Norton down. Cover, but it gets a two count. Fist drop by Sting, cover, but again Norton kicks out. Running standing senton by Sting, cover, but Norton is in the ropes. Sting punches Norton in the corner, Norton briefly reverses it, but Sting delivers the face crusher. Cover, but Norton barely kicks out in time. Norton swings wildly at Sting, but he is having trouble seeing and misses his mark. The referee calls for Sting to stop so he can check the cut, and then gets the doctor. The doctor checks on it in the corner as Norton says he is ok, but the bell rings and Norton gets upset (as does the crowd). Norton punches the referee in the corner, and he knocks around the dojo boys while Sting goes to the back. Your winner: Sting
Match Thoughts: Obviously a bit of a “way out” since neither WCW nor New Japan wanted their man pinned, but I have to give Norton credit for going that extra mile and getting a gusher going, not to mention he sold his leg injury very well. Course, wrestling matches are not stopped for cuts which we all know, but at least he really was bleeding pretty bad. The crowd didn’t appreciate it though, and I think my favorite part of the match was Norton flinging around the dojo boys like they were toys. Sting and Norton both looked really good here, but it was in such a limited role and I think if the two had a real match in Japan it would be a really fun match. Score: 5.8
Hiroshi Hase vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Tie-up to start, fireman’s carry takedown by Hase and he applies a keylock on the mat. Fujiwara struggles to his feet and goes for the Fujiwara armbar, but Hase blocks it and takes down Fujiwara again. Armbar by Hase, Fujiwara gets to his feet, but Hase takes him back down. Fujiwara is too close to the ropes though and both men get back up. Tie-up, Fujiwara gets Hase into the corner and slaps him in the face before backing up. Knee to the stomach by Hase and he slaps Fujiwara against the ropes. Irish whip attempt by Hase, but Fujiwara hangs onto the top rope and Hase lets go. Fujiwara goes for a vertical suplex, Hase blocks it, but Fujiwara again goes for the Fujiwara armbar. Hase rolls out of it though and applies the Indian Deathlock submission.
Fujiwara eventually gets out of it and applies his own submission hold, but Hase wiggles his way free and goes for a keylock. Side headlock by Hase, but Fujiwara hits a backdrop suplex to get out of it. Fujiwara charges Hase, but Hase side steps him and gets to his feet. Kick to the stomach by Hase and he chops Fujiwara against the ropes. Hase then throws Fujiwara out of the ring and goes outside, but Fujiwara quickly rolls back in. Hase tries to get back in, but Fujiwara grabs him while he is on the apron. Hase pulls Fujiwara out onto the apron with him though, chops him, and then suplexes him back into the ring. Back up, Fujiwara connects with two headbutts, and a third one sends Hase squirming to the mat. Another headbutt by Fujiwara, and he knocks Hase to the mat with another series of them. Fujiwara goes for a kick, but Hase side steps it and gets Fujiwara to the mat. Giant Swing by Hase, and he finally flings Fujiwara to the mat. Irish whip by Hase and he connects on a lariat. Uranage by Hase, and then he nails another one, dropping Fujiwara on his head. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Hase kicks Fujiwara to the mat and goes off the ropes, but Fujiwara catches him on his way by and slaps on the wakigatame. After struggling for a moment, Hase has no choice but to submit! Your winner: Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Match Thoughts: Seeing an old as dirt Fujiwara (well, 44) survive two vicious uranages and then quickly thereafter score a submission victory saddened me. Fujiwara had done almost no work on the arm, Hase was about 10 inches from the ropes, and yet it still was enough to win. At this stage Hase wasn’t a rookie or a new wrestler, and Fujiwara wasn’t even a New Japan regular. Normally I don’t second guess the results, but just from watching the match it seemed terribly unrealistic that Hase would drop the fall. The match was pretty slow and plodding even before that, and overall the match was a disappointment. Score: 4.0
Hawk Warrior and Power Warrior vs. Shinya Hashimoto and Masahiro Chono
Sasaki and Hashimoto start things off. Kick to the stomach by Sasaki, and he clubs Hashimoto in the back. Hashimoto comes back with slaps, and the two exchange blows. Hashimoto gets Sasaki against the ropes, Chono comes in to help, but Sasaki ducks the double clothesline attempt and Hawk comes off the top turnbuckle with a clothesline on both Hashimoto and Chono. Lariat by Sasaki on Hashimoto and he gives Chono a powerslam. Chono rolls out of the ring with Hashimoto, but eventually Hashimoto gets back in. Hawk gets tagged in and Hashimoto tags in Chono. Tie-up, and Hawk clubs Chono repeatedly in the chest. Running boot by Hawk, Irish whip, and he connects on a lariat. Another lariat by Hawk, and a third knocks down Chono again. Military press slam by Hawk, but Chono comes back with a Yakuza Kick. Another one by Chono, but Hawk stays on his feet. A third does the trick, but Hawk is quickly back on his feet again. Both men tag out, and we are back to Sasaki and Hashimoto. Tie-up, Sasaki gets Hashimoto into the corner and he slaps Hashimoto before backing off. Sasaki absorbs a series of kicks by Hashimoto, but an enzigieri knocks him loopy. Sasaki goes for a lariat, but Hashimoto catches him and hits a backdrop suplex before tagging in Chono. Snapmare by Chono and he applies a reverse chinlock. Sasaki gets out of it with a backdrop suplex though and he tags in Hawk. Chono goes for a front facelock, but Hawk picks him up and flings him to the mat.
After bringing Chono back into the ring, Hawk gets Chono into the corner. Irish whip, and he hits a running lariat. Chop by Hawk, Irish whip again, but Chono slams on the breaks and the two jockey for position until Chono tags in Hashimoto. Arm wringer by Hashimoto on Hawk, but Hawk reverses it and clotheslines him to the mat. Jumping fist drop by Hawk, cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Hawk, but Hashimoto moves when he charges towards him. Leg sweep by Hashimoto and he applies a single leg crab hold. Sasaki eventually breaks it up with a dropkick, and Hashimoto tags in Chono. Kicks to the leg by Chono and he applies a Scorpion Deathlock. Hashimoto comes in to drop an elbow on Hawk’s back, and Chono breaks the hold. Chono tags in Hashimoto, double Irish whip, but Hawk collapses clutching his knee. DDT by Hashimoto, but Hawk sits back up. Kicks to the leg by Hashimoto and he tags in Chono. Yakuza Kick by Chono and he applies another single leg crab hold into the STF. Again Sasaki breaks it up, and Hashimoto takes him out to the apron and gives him a DDT. Meanwhile Hawk is back in the STF, but he manages to reach the ropes. Chono tags in Hashimoto, and Hashimoto nails the spinning heel kick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Hashimoto, but they both clothesline each other to the mat. Hawk is up first, and both men make the tag. Sasaki catches Chono with a powerslam, Irish whip from the corner, and he hits his running bulldog. Lariat by Sasaki, he puts Chono on his shoulders for the Double Impact, but Hashimoto comes up from behind and kicks Sasaki in the back. Chono rolls up Sasaki for a two count, while Hawk dropkicks Hashimoto out of the ring. Scoop slam by Hawk onto Chono, and he tosses Sasaki off the top turnbuckle onto Chono. They then nail the Double Impact, cover by Sasaki, and they pick up the three count pinfall! Your winners: Power Warrior and Hawk Warrior
Match Thoughts: Certainly a fun match, even if it did seem to end suddenly. I don’t think I have ever seen a team finished off so fast after the hot tag before. For those that complain about Hawk, I should note that even when he no-sold the DDT, he was still limping on his bad leg while he got to his feet. And after the match, yea, he was still limping. So he did actually sell the leg correctly for the most part. They really put over Hawk and Kensuke Sasaki (Power Warrior, in case you didn’t figure that out from my play by play) here, as they were the champions at the time. The layout was pretty simple, but it was well executed. I was hoping for more intrigue (at no point did I feel like Hawk and Sasaki were in any danger of losing), but other then a few little problems the match in general was enjoyable. Score: 6.8
Great Muta vs. Hulk Hogan
This is a non-title match, and is IWGP Heavyweight Champion versus WWF Heavyweight Champion. Muta spits green mist into the air to start the match and signals that he is going to kill Hogan. Yay! Tie-up, and Hogan does a nifty takedown to apply an armbar to Muta. Muta gets to the ropes however and Hogan breaks the hold. Muta goes out to the ramp to think things over but after a moment he gets back into the ring. Tie-up again, side headlock by Hogan and he gives Muta a drop toehold followed by a headlock. Muta struggles to his feet and pushes Hogan in the corner before giving a clean break. Tie-up, and again Hogan takes Muta to the mat before applying an arm submission hold. Muta rolls out of it, wristlock by Hogan, but Muta pushes Hogan into the corner and gives him a shoulder tackle. Another shoulder tackle by Muta, but he then lets Hogan out of the corner. Tie-up, Hogan pushes Muta into the corner and knees him in the stomach. Irish whip by Hogan and he connects on a running lariat. Irish whip by Hogan, but Muta rolls out of the way of the clothesline and dropkicks Hogan. Another dropkick by Muta, and Hogan rolls out of the ring. After a moment Hogan gets back into the ring, tie-up, and Muta rakes Hogan in the eyes. Snapmare by Muta and he delivers the Flash Elbow. Cover, but it gets another two count. Muta applies an armbar to Hogan, Hogan struggles to his feet, but Muta applies a wristlock. Hogan reverses it though and gives Muta another drop toehold followed by an arm submission hold. With Muta’s arm in a hammerlock, Hogan releases it and rolls Muta up, but Muta gets a foot on the bottom rope.
Muta gets out of the ring and rolls underneath it, before appearing on the other side. He then gets back in with Hogan, kick to the stomach by Muta and he chops Hogan in the chest. Another chop by Muta, and Hogan falls out of the ring. The two trade punches outside the ring, but Hogan gains the advantage with a vertical suplex. Hogan throws Muta over the railing into the crowd before slamming his head into a row of chairs. Backdrop suplex by Hogan back at ringside and he gets back inside the ring. Muta gets back in at around 15, but immediately rolls back out. Hogan goes out after him and tries to throw him into the ring post, but Muta reverses it and Hogan eats steel. Muta throws Hogan into another ring post before grabbing the (wooden) ring bell from ringside and tucking it into his pants. Back in the ring he takes it out and clocks Hogan with it before putting it in his mouth to hide it from the referee. He hits Hogan with it again, but this time the referee grabs it and throws the object out of the ring. Snapmare by Muta, and he applies a reverse chinlock. Muta then throws Hogan out to the ramp, hits a suplex, runs ALL the way up the ramp, and then runs ALL the way back to lariat Hogan back into the ring (their arms get stuck in the ropes, but the referee frees them). Hogan fights back with a series of punches, the referee gets in his way, so he shoves him down. More punches by Hogan and he rakes Muta in the eyes. He then goes for a kick, Muta catches his leg, but Hogan hits the enzigieri. Cover by Hogan, but Muta immediately kicks out. Hogan punches Muta into the corner, Irish whip, reversed, and Muta nails his cartwheel elbow strike. Scoop slam by Muta, he goes to the top turnbuckle and delivers the moonsault. Cover, but Hogan barely kicks out. Angry, Muta dropkicks Hogan out of the ring and takes him back down the aisle into the railing. Muta then grabs a ladder that hangs from the ceiling, gets on the ramp with it, and swings down onto Hogan (craziness). Hogan makes his way back towards the ring and Muta follows him with a chair. Chair shot by Muta, and he slides back in the ring with it. The referee tries to get the chair from him, allowing Hogan to hit an Axe Bomber. Hogan then gets the chair from the referee, but Muta blows mist in his face as he goes to use it! Snapmare by Muta, he goes to the top turnbuckle, but Hogan is up and he side steps the attack. Leg Drop by Hogan, cover, but Muta kicks out at two! Hogan picks up Muta, Irish whip, he hits the big boot, and follows with another Axe Bomber! Cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winner: Hulk Hogan
Post match: Hogan gives his famous speech where he says that the WWF Heavyweight Championship is just a toy, and that the belt that he wants is the IWGP Heavyweight Championship because it is the real belt. He says that he doesn’t want to “bullshit” anymore and actually wrestle in Japan. Ouch! (this full interview will be posted over at puroresucentral.com on Friday)
Match Thoughts: If anyone reading this has never seen Hogan wrestle in Japan, then you are really missing out on seeing the “real” Hogan. Enzigieris, drop toeholds, real submission holds, real takedowns, a real finisher… its unreal the difference between his wrestling style in the States and his wrestling style in Japan. This is a great example of Hogan knowing what he has to do to stay popular. In America, nothing was required of him in-ring wise, so that is what he gave. But people see that and make the mistake of assuming he didn’t know how to wrestle. Hogan is no Ultimate Warrior. Hogan knows how to wrestle, unfortunately he only showed that skill in Japan since in Japan they expect more then just theatrics. I also loved Hogan’s post-match interview where he basically says that all he does in the WWF is “bullshit” and that the IWGP Heavyweight Championship is the real belt.
As for the match itself, I was not upset that Hogan came in and beat the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. I mean he was the WWF Heavyweight Champion at the time, and there was no way in hell that McMahon would allow his champion to lose to an outside wrestler. He also gave Muta a whole lot of offense, so it wasn’t a squash in any way. The fact he kicked out of the moonsault isn’t that big of a deal either, since a lot of big name wrestlers have done that (and besides, Muta kicked out of the leg drop). While the match had its slow points as all Muta matches tend to, and there wasn’t really much psychology, it was still really fun to watch. I admit to being a big Muta fan, but I enjoyed this match more then I have enjoyed a few of his past matches I have recently reviewed (Muta/Inoki and Muta/Sapp come to mind). It was fun, it was intense, and the crowd loved it. With these two you don’t expect a technical masterpiece, but what they gave was more then enough to put on an entertaining brawl. To date this is one of my favorite Hogan matches ever. Score: 7.6
Antonio Inoki and Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Riki Choshu and Genichiro Tenryu
Inoki and Tenryu start things off. They circle around each other to start, tie-up, Tenryu pushes Inoki into the ropes and he gives a clean break. Tie-up again, Inoki gets Tenryu into the ropes and peppers him with slaps. Enzigieri by Inoki, cover, but it gets a two count. Back up, Tenryu takes Inoki to the mat and he applies a headscissors. Inoki gets out of it though and tags in Fujinami, but Tenryu makes the tag to Choshu. Tie-up, side headlock by Fujinami, but he is pushed into the ropes and Choshu gives a clean break. Another side headlock by Fujinami and he takes Choshu to the mat. Choshu struggles to his feet, Irish whip, but Fujinami shoulderblocks him down. Side headlock takedown by Fujinami, but Choshu quickly reverses it with a headscissors. Choshu gets up to tag in Tenryu, who twists on Fujinami’s foot. Elbow drop to the leg by Tenryu, but Fujinami kicks him off. Punches by Fujinami in the corner, snapmare, and he applies a reverse chinlock. Irish whip by Fujinami, drop toehold, and he tags in Inoki. Inoki twists on Tenryu’s ankle, but after a few minutes Tenryu manages to tag in Choshu. Inoki rolls out to the apron to avoid Choshu, but after a moment gets back into the ring.
Tie-up, and Inoki kicks Choshu in the legs before taking him down to the mat. Inoki tags in Fujinami, wristlock by Fujinami and he stomps Choshu in the chest. Scoop slam by Fujinami and he applies an arm submission hold. Choshu picks up Fujinami to get out of the hold and drops him over his back. Lariat by Choshu, and he tags in Tenryu. Chop by Tenryu, Irish whip, and he connects on a lariat. Kicks to the head by Tenryu, but Fujinami catches one and hits a dragon screw leg whip, allowing him to tag in Inoki. Tenryu quickly takes control however, Irish whip to the corner and he hits a running lariat. Tenryu tags in Choshu, who kicks Inoki repeatedly in the chest. Irish whip by Choshu, and he hits a lariat in the corner. Inoki rolls out of the ring to re-group, but after a moment he gets back in. Headscissors takedown by Choshu and he keeps it applied on the mat. Choshu then applies an armbar, but Inoki struggles to his feet and applies a sleeperhold. The referee deems it a choke, but he has trouble getting Inoki off of Choshu. Inoki tags in Fujinami, and he clubs Choshu in the back. Irish whip, he goes for a drop toehold, but Choshu kicks him in the chest and tags in Tenryu. Tenryu chops Fujinami down in the corner and applies a leg submission hold back in the middle of the ring. Fujinami punches out of it however, but Tenryu clips him and tags in Choshu. Kicks to the leg by Choshu and he applies the Scorpion Deathlock before tagging in Tenryu. Tenryu kicks Fujinami in the head before applying a single leg crab hold. Tenryu tags Choshu back in, and Choshu kicks Fujinami in the leg. Fujinami fights back, but Choshu hits a backdrop suplex and tags in Tenryu. DDT by Tenryu, cover, but it only gets a two count. Tenryu kicks and chops Fujinami, but Fujinami ducks a chop and applies a sleeperhold for a two count cover. Tenryu tags in Choshu, who kicks Fujinami in the leg before taking him down and twisting his ankle. Choshu tags in Tenryu, who drops an elbow on Fujinami’s leg. Tenryu applies a leg submission hold, but the referee makes him stop since he is grinding his fist into Fujinami’s leg.
Tenryu tags in Choshu, but Fujinami fights back and tags in Inoki. Inoki punches Choshu when he gets in the ring, he tags in Tenryu, but Tenryu eats punches as well. Scoop slam by Inoki, cover, but Tenryu easily kicks out. Butterfly hold by Inoki, but Tenryu pushes him back into his corner and tags in Choshu. Punches by Choshu in the corner, but Inoki punches back and the two trade blows. Enzigieri by Inoki, and he follows with a butterfly suplex. Choshu tags in Tenryu, but Inoki gives him an overhead kick and an enzigieri. Octopus hold by Inoki on Tenryu, but Tenryu muscles out of it. Enzigieri by Tenryu and he applies an octopus hold of his own. After a moment he releases it, but Inoki punches him down and he tags in Choshu. Inoki greets Choshu with an overhead kick, but Choshu goes off the ropes and hits a lariat. Scorpion Deathlock by Choshu, but Fujinami breaks it up with a kneedrop off the top turnbuckle. Inoki tags in Fujinami, but Choshu greets him with a lariat. Fujinami applies the Cobra Twist, but Choshu makes it to the ropes and Fujinami has to break the hold. Side headlock by Fujinami, but Choshu hits a backdrop suplex. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Choshu goes off the ropes, but Fujinami catches him with a dropkick. Dragon sleeper by Fujinami, but Choshu kicks his way out of it. He reapplies it, but Tenryu runs in to break it up. Inoki comes in and gives Tenryu an enzigieri and then applies the octopus hold while Fujinami applies the Cobra Twist to Choshu. Fujinami then takes Choshu to the ground while he is still in the hold with a roll-up and scores the three count victory! Your winners: Antonio Inoki and Tatsumi Fujinami
Match Thoughts: A classic old school battle, consisting of submission holds (many meaningless) and a slow pace that builds up to a hot ending. There was nothing really wrong with this match, but it was pretty slow and the crowd only got really into it when Inoki was involved. 26 minutes was a bit much, I think they could have gotten the same point across in 15 to 20. I don’t mind a ground-based match, and these four clearly know what they are doing, but so many of the submission holds were simply forgotten about moments later and it seemed like they were just filling time. A decent match, Inoki sure does have his fans, but it wasn’t great by any means. Score: 6.4
I never thought the day would come that I would not recommend a New Japan event I hand-picked, but I can’t recommend this event. Yes, Muta vs. Hogan was a spectacle worth watching but nothing else on this tape is worth going out of your way to see. The main event was old school, but nothing great. The Liger match was disappointing, the Sting match was short and inconclusive, the Warriors match was fun but pretty normal for them and the rest ranged from bad to decent. If you love Muta or Hogan, then go ahead and pick this up, but otherwise there is really no need to.
Selected clips from the event can be seen at www.puroresucentral.com within the review of the event itself. Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have any questions, comments, or snide remarks.