April 1, 1991
From the Ariake Coliseum in Kobe, Japan
Kunichi Oya vs. Masao Orihara
Orihara is much skinnier than his opponent but despite that manages to take control early. Oya avoids a senton then stomps away. He grounds Orihara with an armbar then takes him back down and locks on the STF. Orihara breaks free then starts working the leg but Oya uses his strength to break that up and go back to the arm. These two continue to go back-and-forth on the mat in a strength vs. agility battle. Orihara gets up and hits a jumping senton for two but soon after that runs into a dropkick. Oya charges and gets caught with a monkey flip and it appeared he was supposed to go over the top rope but they messed it up real bad. Orihara sends Oya outside with a baseball slide then flies out with a moonsault block from the top rope. That looked great. Back inside, Orihara hits a missile dropkick and kips up before getting a nearfall with a bridging German suplex. Saito suplex gets two. Oya comes back with a backbreaker submission then tries a Gory Special but Orihara turns that into a sunset flip for two. Oya almost gets the win with an European clutch then yanks Orihara off the top rope and hits a back suplex for two. The crowd is starting to get into this match then Oya runs into a mule kick in the corner. However, Oya comes back and puts Orihara away with a short arm clothesline (11:41) ***.
Thoughts: Good match. I am not familiar with these guys but it was all action for the most part. The finish was anticlimactic, however.
Samson Fuyuki vs. Tatsumi Kitahara
Fuyuki is the stockier of the two. Kitahara works an armbar on the mat to start. Fuyuki comes back to run over Kitahara then uses a figure four neck lock. He then catches Kitahara with a slam and hits a leg drop for two before using a chinlock. They slug it out then Kitahara drops Fuyuki with a roundhouse kick. Fuyuki gets up at four but Kitahara starts brutalizing him with all sorts of kicks. They head outside where Kitahara is whipped into the guardrail. Back inside, Kitahara hits a superplex for two. He tries for a suplex but its blocked then he floats over and hits Fuyuki with a DDT that gets two. Kitahara hits another DDT but still only gets two then misses a senton from the top rope. Fuyuki gets up first and lands a few kicks. Kitahara then falls on top of Fuyuki to counter a back suplex but Fuyuki rolls through and gets the win (10:58) **.
Thoughts: Disappointing match with a terrible finish that the crowd even booed. Fuyuki found greater success in the WAR promotion and later in FMW before passing away in 2003 of intestinal cancer. Kitahara also went to WAR after SWS folded.
Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Fumihiro Niikura
Fujiwara drops Niikura after a pair of headbutts. Niikura gets up at eight then manages to crawl over to the ropes after being put in the Fujiwara armbar. Niikura returns after a breather but is tripped up. Fujiwara grapevines the leg and Niikura tries for the same until they end up in the ropes. Fujiwara maintains control then Niikura lands a few cheap shots in the corner so Fujiwara responds by beating the piss out of him. Niikura ends up dropping Fujiwara in the corner then Fujiwara gets up and fires back. Fujiwara then blocks a suplex and applies the armbar but Niikura is able to make it to the ropes. Fujiwara drives Niikura into the mat and puts on a headlock but gets tripped up as Niikura now works the leg. Fujiwara counters then works the arm and eventually makes Niikura submit with the armbar (10:30) **.
Thoughts: Mostly a showcase for Fujiwara, who is still a joy to watch. This was entertaining for what was basically a long squash match.
Masakatsu Funaki vs. Naoki Sano
We start off as both guys attempt to gain an advantage. Funaki lands a few kicks then paintbrushes Sano a few times. Sano gets dropped with a kick and beats the ten count but Funaki hits him with a German suplex. Funaki grounds Sano for a bit but Sano is finally able to gain an advantage with as he works the arm. Funaki drops Sano with a knee smash to the face as Sano barely beats the ten count. Funaki lands more strikes but Sano kicks him in the midsection as Funaki drops to one knee. Funaki paintbrushes Sano a bunch of times then slows things down while mounting Sano on the mat. Funaki lands more paintbrush strikes then puts Sano out of his misery with a cross armbreaker (10:58) *1/2.
Thoughts: There was just no heat at all to this match. It was technically fine but offered nothing to get behind as a fan. I saw in the “Wrestling Observer Newsletter” that this match listed at going over 24 minutes long so I assume this was clipped.
The Great Kabuki & Takashi Ishikawa vs. Kendo Nagasaki & Ishinriki
Ishinriki and Ishikawa start off in a fast-paced sequence ending in a stalemate. Ishikawa then mixes it up with Kabuki and clotheslines him before tagging out. Nagasaki slams Kabuki a few times then works the arm on the mat. Kabuki ends up neutralized in the corner as Ishinriki starts stretching him out. Kabuki fights back and drills Ishinriki with a thrust kick before tagging out. Ishikawa gets a nearfall with a clothesline then stops a comeback and hits a piledriver for two. Ishinriki ends up knocking Ishikawa outside and wipes him out with a pescado before getting a nearfall with a crossbody. Ishikawa then ducks underneath Ishinriki and puts him away with a backslide (8:34) **1/2.
Thoughts: Solid match with a damn good performance by Ishinriki. The other three men were decent enough.
Earthquake vs. Koji Kitao
Earthquake grabs a front facelock but Kitao grabs the ropes. They fight over a test-of-strength after that and Earthquake breaks that up with a headbutt to the chest. Kitao tries to break out of a waistlock but Earthquake takes him down. Kitao bails then clears off the table and tosses it before heading back inside. They battle over another test-of-strength then Kitao uses an armbar that Earthquake breaks up with a slap. Things get odd now as Kitao just stands there and looks at Earthquake, who seems legit pissed. Kitao tries a kick after a test of strength and Earthquake catches it and they fight in the corner with the ref frantically breaking things up. Kitao stands and stares again as Earthquake is at a loss. Earthquake then throws a kick and swears at Kitao, who is clearly not interested in whatever match they had planned. Kitao now puts his hands on his hips as Earthquake screams at him and says this is pro wrestling. Kitao then kicks the ref down hard (which was legit) and gets disqualified (7:16). Earthquake then raises his arm in and laughs in Kitao’s face as he is still not going to back down.
Thoughts: I’m not rating this match. As an actual match, it was terrible, but it was entertaining for all of the wrong reasons. Kitao also yelled how wrestling was fake (not shown on this tape) and was immediately fired after the match. Kitao had reportedly been pissed due to the fact he had to job to Earthquake twice despite the fact he was an established sumo star when both guys were in sumo. Kitao was also disliked by many in Japan and had a history of attacking people. Kitao also claimed that The Great Kabuki told Earthquake to stiff Kitao in their match from “WrestleFest” and there must have been some truth to that since Kabuki was sent down to the bottom of the card on following shows. Earthquake also deserves credit for holding his own and not letting things get out of hand. It also doesnt hurt that he was regarded as one of the toughest guys on the WWF roster along with Haku.
Bret Hart vs. George Takano
Bret tosses Takano outside and rams him into the guardrail. He continues to rough up Takano on the outside before taking it back in the ring. Bret works a chinlock bit Takano fights back. Takano hits a leg drop then gets two with a tombstone. Takano puts Bret in an STF then works an armbar after Bret tried to escape. Takano gets two with a crossbody then cranks the neck. He continues to ground Bret, who yells at the ref that he’s not giving up. Bret escapes then catches Takano with an inverted atomic drop after an Irish whip sequence. He follows with a backbreaker then runs Takano’s face along the ropes. Bret roughs up Takano once again on the outside before bringing him in for a Boston Crab. Takano starts doing pushups then breaks out as both men are down. Bret elbows Takano before hitting a suplex that gets two. Bret misses an elbow drop from the middle rope then Takano covers for two. Butterfly suplex gets two. Small package gets two. Takano tries a suplex but cannot put Bret away then Bret fights back. Bret gets kicked in the face attempting a back drop then Takano uses a dropkick for two. Takano comes back with a leg lariat then heads up top with a splash for the win (11:44) ***1/2.
Thoughts: Everything here looked good. Takano did much better in this match than he did with Savage and the two had the match of the night. Unsurprisingly, Bret looked excellent on both nights. This was the match of the night.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Genichiro Tenryu
Savage tosses his jacket at Tenryu then bails. He grabs the mic and tells Tenryu he’ll get him and will not be stopped. Savage does some stalling outside as he threatens to toss a chair into the ring. He finally enters the ring and cheap shots Tenryu after using the ref as a shield. Tenryu outsmarts Savage by ducking outside then back in and hits a clothesline. Savage bails, pissed off that Tenryu just beat him at his own game. Savage returns and tosses Tenryu then flies out with a double axe handle. Savage beats the crap out of Tenryu on the outside before bringing him back in for some more punishment. He hits a flying elbow drop but taunts the crowd before covering and only gets two. Savage uses a sleeper but Tenryu escapes and fights back until he runs into a knee smash in the corner. Savage ducks his head and ends up getting powerbombed as Tenryu covers for two. Tenryu hits an enziguiri then a slam before a pair of flying back elbow smashes get him a two count. Savage is able to counter a back suplex by pushing his feet off of the turnbuckles and lands on top of Tenryu. Savage then sets up for the flying elbow and hits that but goes up one more time then covers but that only gets two. Savage tosses Tenryu outside and hits another flying double axe handle. Savage drops Tenryu across the top rope and covers for two. He charges but Tenryu catches him with an enziguiri. Savage counters a powerbomb attempt but Tenryu picks him up and hits a really dangerous powerbomb for the win (10:55) ***. Savage attacks Tenryu after the match but ends up getting backdropped to the floor.
Thoughts: Savage’s heel work was awesome and it made for a fun match. I couldn’t tell if the finish was sloppy on Tenryu’s part or if Savage was hesitant/sandbagging the move. These two worked well together.
Yoshiaki Yatsu vs. Hulk Hogan
They trade holds on the mat to start with Hogan busting out stuff he never did on WWF TV. Hogan turns Yatsu over with a Boston Crab then soon after that brushes off a dropkick and grounds Yatsu with a half nelson. Hogan’s forehead is nicked then Yatsu lands a few headbutts. Hogan hits a back suplex for two. Small package gets two for Hogan as he now locks on a front facelock. Yatsu cheap shots Hogan in the corner and lands a flying headbutt to further bust open Hogan. Yatsu lands some chops against the ropesbut eats boot on a charge. Yatsu ducks an axe bomber and gets a nearfall with a powerslam. Yatsu now heads up top but Hogan moves away from a dropkick then hits the Axe Bomber for the win (7:55) **1/2.
Thoughts: This started off really damn good with Hogan working in a style completely different than he did in the WWF but they ran out of steam at the end. I really do want to seek out more Hogan stuff in Japan from the 80’s.
Final Thoughts: The show is memorable for the Kitao/Earthquake match. Besides that, the other stuff with the WWF talent was good but the rest of the show was subpar. They also omitted the Minoru Suzuki vs. Apollo Sugawara match with had another incident where Suzuki wanted to work shoot-style, something Sugawara wanted no part of as he ended up quitting the match so from the SWS side they were a mess. And the SWS promotion never took off and folded in June of ’92.
Here is my schedule for the next several days:
Wednesday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 4/6/91
Thursday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 4/7/91
Friday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 4/13/91
Saturday: Mid-South Wrestling 7/7/83
Sunday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 4/14/91
Monday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 4/20/91
Tuesday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 4/21/91