Mike Reviews – All Japan Pro Wrestling TV (12/01/1985)

Hello You!

Back with some more All Japan TV from 1985, once again courtesy of Roy Lucier over on YouTube.

Last week, we had some heated conflict between Riki Choshu and Genichiro Tenryu, and wouldn’t you know it they’re butting heads again this week in 6 man tag team action!

I certainly know I’m pumped for that, so let’s quit this jibber-jabbering and watch some chuffing wrestling!!

If you feel like watching along with me then you can do so by clicking right HERE

This week’s matches were taped from Osaka, Japan on the 6th of January 1985 and then aired on the 12th of January 1985. Interestingly, this show supposedly had a match between Killer Khan and Giant Haystacks on the undercard. I can only imagine what sort of battle that would have been!

Opening Match
The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid) Vs Tiger Mask II and Mighty Inoue

I expect most of you will know The Bulldogs, and we were about 15 months out from them winning the WWF Tag Titles at WrestleMania 2, so I’m not sure how much longer they’ll be around. Tiger Mask II would be better known as Mistuharu Misawa, a man who would go on to great fame for both All Japan and Pro Wrestling NOAH before sadly passing away in 2009 after taking a back drop in the ring. Satoru Sayama had enjoyed success with the Tiger Mask gimmick in New Japan, so All Japan decided to buy the rights and give the gimmick to Misawa, who had comeback from excursion in Mexico. Inoue was a judo practitioner who competed in the Junior Heavyweight division until retiring in 1998 to become a referee.

This one is joined in progress, with The Bulldogs taking it to Tiger. He manages to survive that and tags out to Inoue, who is the one wrestler of the four I know the least about. He’s good, and reminds me a bit of Gran Hamada as far as his look and physique go. It’s when you watch this younger version of The Bulldogs that it rams home just how much acts like The American Wolves cribbed from them. They truly were a very influential act, and their work here looks really good, especially when Davey power slams Tiger off the top rope at one stage, which leads to Inoue having to break up the count to save the match for his team.

As usual in Japan, the Tombstone isn’t much of an effective move, as Kid drops Tiger with one for two and he promptly pops right back up with a German Suplex for a two of his own. Of course if this were Mexico in 1985 the match would have already ended in a DQ and they would have been taking Tiger out of the arena in an ambulance. Sadly the match ends up having an unsatisfying double count out ending, as everyone ends up brawling outside and the ref counts them out.

DOUBLE COUNT OUT
RATING: **

The actual wrestling was good, but the ending was horrid. Sadly these sorts of finishes were the norm in All Japan until 1989, when they decided to go down the clean finish route as a result of the UWF having success with that formula

The fans accept that finish, although I could imagine them booing it out of the building just a few years later.

Match Two
Giant Baba, Great Kabuki and Masanobu Fuchi Vs Tiger Jeet Singh, Gypsy Joe and Goro Tsurumi

This would be a continuation of what we saw last week, where a match featuring Kabuki, Singh and Joe ended in a mass brawl all over the building. This is our first time seeing Fuchi, who was a graduate of the All Japan Dojo and regular tag partner of Atsushi Onita, including a notable run they had together in Memphis. His entrance music was “Highway To The Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins and he was a fixture of the All Japan roster for many years, even refusing to jump over to Pro Wrestling NOAH when that company was formed.

It’s also our first time seeing Tsurumi, who is a big bearded lad who also sports an afro. He was mostly a brawler and ended up jumping to SWS at one stage. Joe actually tries wrestling with the opposing team, doing some nice stuff with Fuchi actually, who was always known for his technical wrestling acumen. Singh of course has no interest in that, and just wants to do his crazy man act of brawling and choking.

Fuchi ends up getting worked over by the heels for a bit, and does well in that role, but eventually manages to tag in Baba and the crowd reacts like Dad has come home early and is very into the idea of seeing him stick it to Singh somehow. Singh of course uses his team as human shields to avoid that and is able to cut Baba off as a result, working him over with punches, stomps and a nerve pinch. You know, Singh did some passable technical stuff with Jumbo Tsuruta last week that made me hopeful that he wasn’t as bad a wrestler as I remembered, but this week we’re seeing the Singh I know and loathe in full form.

Goro works over Baba with an international object of some kind, but Baba fights back with his usual array of chops and kicks, with plenty of air on all of it as normal. Strangely I don’t dislike Baba anywhere near as much as I would someone like Sid, mainly because I can accept that a lot of Baba’s issues were down to his failing health as opposed to him just being a naturally abysmal wrestler like Sid was. I’ve also seen some stuff from a younger Baba where he looked decent, so I’m willing to be more forgiving of his stuff from later life.

Fuchi is the star of this match for me, as his stuff looks good and he shows good fire by taking it to the heels, including even dragging Joe outside for a chair shot at one stage. We finally get Singh and Baba going at it on even footing, but Baba pretty much tags out immediately to Kabuki and the faces then give Singh a taste of his medicine by tripling up on him in their corner. He sells it all for about 5 seconds before tagging out of course, but at least he got some comeuppance before just shrugging it off.

Baba and Singh brawl outside at one stage, which leads to Kabuki and Joe doing the finishing sequence in the ring, with Kabuki firing up and dropping a fist for the clean win. That’s the second time in two weeks that Kabuki has beaten Joe with a fist drop

WINNERS: BABA, KABUKI & FUCHI
RATING: *

Fuchi and Joe were the two guys in the match that I’d say looked good, with Kabuki and Goro being so-so, Baba being Baba and Singh being absolutely arse awful

We get a replay of the finishing sequence, which admittedly had some nice fire from Kabuki, although the fist drop looked pretty lame as a finish.

Main Event
Jumbo Tsuruta, Genichiro Tenryu and Takeshi Ishikawa Vs Riki Choshu, Yoshiaki Yatsu and Isamu Teranishi

This would be a continuation of the Tenryu and Choshu rivalry that we saw last week. Basically, Choshu and his Revolutionary Army group left New Japan and invaded All Japan, which naturally led to Choshu and Tenryu butting heads seeing as Tenryu was a home grown All Japan guy who didn’t like these pesky invaders coming into his house and causing bother.

This is our first look at Ishikawa, Yatsu and Teranishi, so I’ll try and give you some background on them all. Ishikawa was a sumo wrestler who had to retire young due to complication with diabetes, which led him to joining All Japan in 1977. He was trained by Pat O’Connor and had spells in IWE and Puerto Rico before becoming a regular on the AJPW roster in 1980. He would eventually leave All Japan to join SWS in 1990.

Yatsu was an amateur wrestler who competed in the 76 Olympics and joined the world of pro wrestling in 1980. He was originally part of the New Japan roster, but left with Choshu in 1984. He would decide to stay in All Japan after Choshu headed back to New Japan and would end up teaming with fellow amateur wrestler Tsuruta.

I can’t find much on Teranishi, but it appears that he had a background in sumo like Ishikawa and debuted in the world of professional wrestling in 1966. He had worked in IWE and had joined New Japan in 1981. When Choshu decided to leave New Japan, Teranishi went with him and followed him into All Japan. He would stay in All Japan until 1993 and became a mainstay of the mid card scene, mostly working tag matches.

Choshu is super over with the crowd, despite his group supposedly being invaders. The All Japan team has a mash up theme. So they’re the ones to blame for some of the horrors WWE have inflicted on us over the years?! Jumbo and Choshu start us off, and the crowd is INTO that idea. They do some nice stuff which leads into Tenryu and Yatsu doing a bit afterwards, which ends with Tenryu slamming Yatsu into his own corner and shooting Choshu this great sneering look. Man, I’m all in for a big singles match between those two, even though I can smell the DQ/Count Out finish a mile off if we do.

Both teams take turns trading the momentum for a bit, with the work being decent from everyone, and we finally get Tenryu and Choshu going at it, with Choshu trying for The Scorpion Deathlock and Tenryu fighting it with everything he has due to how painful a hold it is. Yatsu even adds some stomps for good measure until the hold his applied, which leads to Jumbo sprinting in to break it up because otherwise Tenryu is done, which is similar to a spot they did last week and really puts the hold over as something that’s super dangerous and devastating. You don’t really see protection of holds and big moves like that anymore, and that’s a shame.

Jumbo actually gets worked over for a bit in the Revolutionary Army’s corner for a bit, but he survives that and brings in Ishikawa for the sumo wrestler top rope cross body, which is pretty darn impressive I must say. He tries going to The Scorpion Deathlock on Teranishi following that, but he can’t get it applied and he decides to tag out instead. Tenryu comes in following that, but gets hit with a spike piledriver for two, which leads to him getting worked over for a bit as well. Choshu’s team has had the better of things for the most part thus far, which works well as a way of getting them over as a threat to the All Japan roster.

There is a tad bit of sloppiness at one stage between Tenryu and Yatsu, as Yatsu comes across as a bit over eager and almost drops Tenryu on his face with a power slam attempt. Tenryu seems okay though and it leads into a wild finishing sequence, with everyone fighting outside for what would appear to be a No Contest. To be honest, the invaders going to a wild no contest with the All Japan guys works in a vacuum, so I’ll be a tad lenient, but that was building to an Ishikawa getting pinned by Choshu finish to put further heat on the invaders and they suddenly took a left turn with it.

NO CONTEST
RATING: ***

Good match with the rubbish finish actually making sense at least, even though I didn’t like it

There’s a mass pull-apart brawl following that, with someone cutting a promo on Choshu at ringside. I’m not sure who it was, but Goro was with him. The fans are totally into the idea of the warring factions going at it, but eventually the Revolutionary Army leaves, so we’ll have to wait for another day to see it. Hey, they’re booking long term here, I get it.

In Conclusion

This Choshu/Tenryu angle is HOT and I genuinely can’t wait to see them get into some of the big singles matches, which shows the booking is doing its job. The rest of the show was just “there”, but when you’ve got something that great on top then you can get away with that.