Section 1- Results
All Japan: Suwama dowened Suzuki to win the Triple Crown. Hayashi retained over Yang. Sanada & Soya took the All Asia tag titles from TARU & Daddy V. Kenzo Suzuki beat Muta.
Dragon Gate: PAC won the lightweight title. Oops, I mean he won the Open the Brave Gate Tournament. Itâ€™s just not the same without all those extra words! Warriors retained the trios titles against World-1.
New Japan: Devitt retained the junior title against Kenny Omega.
NOAH: Kanemoto & Tiger Mask were able to hold off Kanemaru & Hirayanagi.
Section 2- News
All Japan: Hayashiâ€™s next defense will be against Kikuchi on the 20th. Also on that show will be Akebono & Kea defending the tag titles against Kenzo Suzuki & Dupree. Set for the 10th is Masa Funaki vs Mutoh. Funaki is currently set to be Suwamaâ€™s first title defense.
Dragon Gate: Yoshinoâ€™s long-awaited first title defense will be againstâ€¦ Ryo Saito, on 10/10. Canâ€™t say anyone saw that coming.
New Japan: Set for the 26th is Devitt & Taguchi defending against Jado & Gedo, and Bernard & Anderson defending against Nagata & Inoue. Set for 10/11 are the junior tag champs defending against Ibushi & Omega, and Nakamura vs Goto.
NOAH: Kanemaru will defend against KENTA on the 26th. Smith & Walker defend against Takayama & Sano on the 18th.
Section 2a- Meltzer News
All Japan: Kojima left in part because Mutoh had decided to de-emphasize him in favor of Suwama and Kono (and Hama, at least for a couple crucial weeks). Mutoh came back â€˜very earlyâ€™ after his latest knee surgery. Dupree now lives in Japan and married a Japanese woman.
New Japan: The final night for G-1 came very close to selling out, with a reasonably fully venue but tickets still available at bell time. However the next-to-last show drew around 4000, which is about the floor for the company at Sumo Hall.
NOAH: Ishimori is out after bad MRI results following a concussion. They only drew 1500 at Korakuen on 8/28 despite having KENTA vs Kotaro Suzuki in Suzuki’s return match, and Kanemoto & Tiger Mask defending the junior tag titles. I will say that last year they did well with KENTA defending the junior title against Suzuki, but in that case fans were expecting a main event level match, while a return match doesn’t have those expectations, and Suzuki doesn’t have many fans. As for the junior tag, the result was obvious, and made worse because Hirayanagi doesn’t do the type of highspot-filled style that is the only way juniors draw anymore.
WWE: On August 21st they had a tryout for Japanese wrestlers. Invited were Doi & Hulk (recommended by Bourne), Sai & Sato of Zero-One, Mashimo of K-Dojo, and some others, most of whom were vouched for by Funaki. They had Funaki there to be the ref for tryout matches, which further shows what good terms he left WWE on. I’ll note that Sai lived for many years in the UK and as a result can speak English. Their back-to-back shows at Sumo Hall did better than New Japan’s two G-1 shows.
Section 3- Try to remember the things you passed, but when you go back make the first shill the last
Some guys talkinâ€™ about stuff. I am among said guys.
Section 4- Media Corner
I Love the â€˜90s Part 7: I Love UWF 2.0 and Hashimoto
Minoru Suzuki vs Nakano, UWF February 27th 1990.
Suzuki has a lot of talent and is supposedly a beast in sparring sessions, but these days he bores me more than anything. This match is a good example of what he *could* bring to the table if he was more motivated. He and Nakano deliver hard shots and hard feelings.
Takada vs Fujiwara, UWF February 27th 1990.
Four months ago, I linked their â€™89 match. In it, Fujiwara ruled. Itâ€™s only fitting that this match takes place four months later and also features Fujiwara ruling it.
Yamazaki vs Nakano, UWF May 4th 1990.
Yamazaki isnâ€™t someone who carries a match by taking a ton of bumps, but rather by making the transitions look smooth and thus allowing for the suspension of disbelief. By the end, you WILL believe that lowly Nakano has what it takes to knock off the much higher-ranked Yamazaki. Later in the month Nakano faced an unmotivated Takada, and the difference was night-and-day. Worth noting: Yamazaki has worked as an announcer for New Japan since his retirement.
Choshu vs Hashimoto, New Japan May 28th 1990.
Hashimoto got a fluke-ish win in April â€™89. Choshu came back with a decisive win that December. Now comes round 3, a battle that further hints at the wars these two would have later in the decade. If weâ€™re lucky, Iâ€™ll get to the epic climax in less than three years. The â€˜90s are just that densely packed with goodness!
Section 5- Grab Bag: The Departed & The Deposed
WON interview with Rick “Big Titan” Bogner (better known as Fake Razor Ramon)
-Started in Calgary. He got his first Japan tour thanks to FMW wrestler Ricky Fuji, who got him booked there after Fuji had worked in Calgary.
-Onita was a tireless worker/promoter, just walking around in public for hours to talk to people and convince them to buy tickets.
-In FMW, he often had to deal with wrestlers who were overly stiff and had to get taken down a peg, or forgot what to do next. New Japan was the opposite: very professional, executed well, guys who understood ring psychology.
-Retired because of a neck injury. His contract was ending soon, and he wasn’t feeling it anymore. Says it happened vs Hashimoto, where he jumped into a DDT too much and spiked his head on the mat. He claims it was an IWGP title match in Osaka, but he never got a title shot and his only high-profile match with Hashimoto was in Tokyo. Also that match was a year before his last tour with the company. So Iâ€™m guessing it really happened in an un-important tag match.
Meltzer notes from his biography of Gene Kiniski
Gene was considered Baba’s greatest opponent. His match with Baba in August 1967 drew 25,000 fans, which was one of the few attendances of that size in Japan before 1989. Though he was NWA champion, it was only Baba’s “International” title on the line, since JWA pushed the belt as the top title in the world. This despite the fact that the NWA title hadn’t been defended in Japan since 1957. (My note: even though Gene did very little in Japan after beating Baba in a 1970 rematch, he was still invited to be part of Babaâ€™s memorial ceremony at All Japanâ€™s 1999 Tokyo Dome show, along with Sammartino and Destroyer).
Download link for Baba vs Kiniski, JWA August 1967.
Meltzer notes from his biography of Kotesu Yamamoto
-Started in 1963 as Rikidozan’s final trainee.
-In addition to Japan, he was also a success in the US. Fritz Von Erich liked him so much that he let Yamamoto live in the family home. He was best known as part of the high-flying ‘Yamaha Brothers’ team alongside Kantaro Hoshino.
-Was the only person to stay in New Japan from its opening in 1972 through 2010. He was one of Inoki’s best friends in JWA and this was one of the founding wrestlers.
-He did many things for the company after he stopped wrestling in 1980. He was maybe the most important trainer in the famed New Japan dojo over the years. He was also an announcer, a ref, and even worked on the business and marketing side of things.
-He was a ruthless trainer, but got guys in tremendous shape so they were good soon after debuting. Inoki asked him to retire because he was so good as a part-time coach in the ’70s.
Meltzer notes from his biography of Anton Geesink
-Became the first non-Japanese person to win a judo world championship in 1961. Because of his huge stature, he changed the mindset of Japanese judokas such that they started to favor weight divisions in judo competitions (which was already standard practice in Europe). Judo was first in the Olympics in 1964, and he won gold there. This would have made him known in Japan to begin with, but the ’64 Olympics were in Tokyo. He beat Japan’s best, Akio Kaminaga, in a final that was one of the most watched TV events in the history of the country. The next year he beat future New Japan legend Sakaguchi in the finals of the world championship. Geesink retired from Judo in 1967, because judo was not accepted in the ’68 Olympics and he had nothing to prove otherwise.
-When All Japan started, NTV reached out to him so the new promotion would have more star power. He agreed in September 1973, and went to Texas to train under the Funks. The deal was for over $100,000 a year, which put him among the tops in wrestling. He agreed because his wife was sick and they had medical bills to pay. He struggled in training because he was 39 and it’s harder to learn a brand new thing at that age. They rushed him into debuting two months later, and thus he was very limited.
-His most famous match was against Gorilla Monsoon in a judo jacket match.
-In order to protect him, he worked more tags than other main eventers and was never put in the Champions Carnival.
-Because he never got good in-ring and the novelty started to wear off, he wasn’t re-signed when his contract ran out in 1976.
WON Notes from 1988, via. Loss of ProWrestlingOnly
-Dave references Nippon Budokan as being “almost impossible to sell out”, which was the case before the ’90s boom.
-Inoki demanded to be the top star and president of the company in order to return in the fall. After getting these concessions, he told the locker room that anyone who disagreed with him would be fired. Fujinami, champion at the time, stormed out and took US bookings in order to miss the next tour. Later, Fujinami was able to get the teams in the year-end tag tournament to be changed. Fujinami was also trying to get young Masa Funaki, who was seen as a budding superstar, on his side.
-The deal with the Russian wrestlers in New Japan at the first Tokyo Dome event was agreed to by the USSR in order to get much-needed foreign currency.
-In November, it was already assumed that Fujiwara would jump from New Japan to UWF when his contract ended in April (which is what happened).
Next Time: 1990 All Japan gets in gear! And, since this month marks my 6th anniversary with the site, why not get back-to-basics?
Tags: Dave Meltzer, Puroresu