Mike Reviews – All Japan Pro Wrestling TV (02/02/1985)

Hello You!

Time for some more All Japan from 1985!

Last week, Genichiro Tenryu had to sit out a six man tag involving Riki Choshu due to an injury, which led to Choshu heading out of the ring following his victory in a quest to cause some bother. Tenryu is back for this week’s Main Event though, so I’m sure we’re going to enjoy ourselves one heck of a fight as a result!

As usual, thanks to Roy Lucier over on YouTube for uploading this great stuff.

Let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!

This week’s matches were taped from Toyohashi, Aichi on the 24th of January 1985 and then aired on the 2nd of February 1985. If you want to watch along with me, then you can do by clicking right HERE.

Opening Match
The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid) Vs Masanoubu Fuchi and Akio Saito

The Bulldogs got a lame count out victory over Teranishi and Kobayashi last week, but this week they are up against the regularly appearing Fuchi and Akio Saito, who would be in the first incarnation of WWF’s Orient Express team with Pat Tanaka.

We open up with Saito getting clobbered by The Bulldog’s. The commentary team are mentioning the WWF, so I’m not sure if that means The Bulldog’s were working there yet or if they were due to once this particular tour was over. Fuchi tends to fare better in there with the two Brits, as the match shifts into the usual pattern we’ve seen with these Bulldog matches every week, where the momentum shifts pretty regularly and we don’t really get a proper heat segment to build to a hot tag.

The Bulldog’s and Fuchi are all really good in the ring, and whenever The Bulldogs get a chance to show off some of their trademark tandem offence it’s a lot of fun. Fuchi gets a chance to show some good fire by trading strikes with Dynamite and actually coming out the victor. Saito’s work is fine, but he’s a bit dull compared to his partner, though his bumping and selling is on point. Things break down with all four guys going at it in the ring and that leads to Dynamite coming off the top rope with a knee drop to Saito for the win.

WINNERS: THE BRITISH BULLDOGS
RATING: **1/2

Solid action there, with Fuchi in particular looking really good

And because The Bulldog’s won, we get my personal highlight of the week because we get to listen to “Car Wars”

Match Two
Tiger Mask II and Magic Dragon Vs Kuniaki Kobayashi and Isao Takagi

This is the first time we’ve seen both Magic Dragon and Takagi, so I’ll give you some background on them. Dragon (Real name Kazuharu Sonoda) came through the All Japan Dojo and was in the midst of training Kenta Kobashi when he tragically passed away in a plane crash in 1987 whilst on his honeymoon. Giant Baba apparently was the one who arranged the flight for him and was reportedly eternally regretful for doing so. Sonoda would sometimes work under the Great Kabuki gimmick if the actual Kabuki was double booked.

Takagi started out in the world of sumo and would eventually go on to take the name Arashi (Which I believe translates to “Storm”) and would actually tag up with Keiji Mutoh in the 00’s before having to spend a stint in prison on drug charges. We’ve seen Tiger a few times now (It’s Mistuharu Misawa in case you’re not aware) and Kobayashi showed up last week to take part in the aforementioned lame count out finish with The Bulldog’s.

Looking at Dragon I can see how you’d probably get away with saying he was Kabuki, as he has a similar physique and you could probably cake him in enough make up to convince the crowd it was actually Kabuki. Takagi is very slender compared to the size he’d have at the peak of his Mutoh push, and he moves quite well, although his execution is a step below Kobayashi. Kobayashi is one of those guys where I feel I know more about him from reading about his career rather than actually watching him wrestle, but I think he’s good based off the relatively small amount I’ve seen.

Tiger is the best worker in the match by a mile really, although none of the guys are anything I’d class as bad. To be honest, the chances of finding really sucky workers in Japan is usually pretty rare because of the intense quality control in most of the dojo’s, where they will very rarely let you get in there unless you can handle the basics at the very least. There is sadly a botch at one stage where Tiger tries a tilt-a-whirl back breaker on Kobayashi, but it goes awry and he loses his grip, leading to titters from the crowd. I don’t know what’s worse, that or the “You F’ed Up” chant from the ECW audience.

This match is similar to the opener, in that it’s mostly back and forth and neither side really dominates. Kobayashi takes out Dragon with a TOPE SUICIDA at one stage, which leads to Takagi getting a good near fall on Tiger with a German Suplex. Tiger rebounds though and gets a really nice flipping body attack from the top rope (Which you can do on the THQ/AKI N64 wrestling games actually) and that’s enough for the pin on Takagi.

WINNERS: TIGER & DRAGON
RATING: **1/4

Just kind of a match really, but it was fun enough for what it was and Tiger looked good

Tiger and Kobayashi have a pull-apart following that, and I’m up for a singles match between them if we ever get to see it.

Main Event
Riki Choshu, Masa Saito and Killer Khan Vs Jumbo Tsuruta, Genichiro Tenryu and Takashi Ishikawa

This would be a continuation of the feud between Choshu’s Revolutionary Army faction and the All Japan guys, with Tenryu and Jumbo being the main guys spearheading that side. This is the first time we’ve seen Saito, and he’s quite a famous wrestler who worked in all of the major companies in both the East and West. He is normally associated as a New Japan guy, but he worked a couple of tours for All Japan in the 80’s, hence why we get to see him strut his stuff today.

Choshu is so over that he basically gets mobbed on his way to the ring, it’s pretty incredible to see. What an acquisition he was for All Japan during this period. They waste no time giving us Choshu Vs Tenryu to start, and they do a really good sequence that continues to get me excited at the prospect of them actually getting to do a singles match at some point. Seriously, if I was watching this TV every week back in the day and lived in Japan, I would 100% be looking for tickets for my nearest All Japan spot show.

Ishikawa continues to be a guy that I like, with his work being solid and him himself being a strong mid-level guy who can hold his own in this sort of top of the card setting just fine. As usual, Khan is probably the weakest worker in the match, but he just has a charisma to him that kind of makes up for it. His Mongolian Chops are so cartoony, but the crowd loves them and his goofy selling is kind of endearing the more I see it.

The match is mostly back and forth, with Choshu’s exchanges with both Tenryu and Jumbo being the ones the crowd are most invested in. In fact, it kind of feels like this particular crowd is more into Choshu/Jumbo than it is Choshu/Tenryu, and hey, it’s not like either match wouldn’t be fun, so fair enough as far as I’m concerned. Saito is one of those guys where I have a healthy respect for him due to his reputation for being a long-term stop star, but I’m hardly a huge fan or someone who goes out of his way to hoover up all the Masa Saito I can find. He’s good here, but that’s all he is.

Jumbo actually gets beaten up for quite a bit in the oppositions corner at one stage, with Tenryu coming over illegally more than once in an attempt to rescue him, with it eventually working when he breaks up a Saito submission hold, which allows Jumbo to grab him in a headlock and drag him into the All Japan corner for a tag. It’s Ishikawa’s turn to take a battering after that, and he does an excellent job in that role, selling everything really well and bumping nice and crisply.

Ishikawa manages to survive that though and tags out to Tenryu, who works over Khan for a bit. Can I just pat myself on the back for not going for the low hanging fruit with a bunch of Star Trek II jokes by the way? It’s normally right down my alley, but I’ve shown impressive restraint by my own meagre standards! I do love the pace of these matches, as these hefty blokes are working at a close to Junior Heavyweight clip sometimes and it’s super impressive. Lots of quick tags, rope running and turnbuckle attacks going on, and it’s all kinds of fun.

Saito of course gets to deliver his trademark back suplex to Ishikawa at one stage, which is followed by a spike piledriver with the assistance of Choshu and then a Khan knee drop. Wow, bury Ishikawa at Make Out Creek, it’s over. And indeed, Choshu gives him a lariat to send him tumbling to the floor and that’s our contractually mandated rubbish finish for the week.

WINNERS BY COUNT OUT: REVOLUTIONARY ARMY
RATING: ***1/4

I really don’t know why Ishikawa couldn’t have eaten a pin there, as that’s why I thought he was there in the first place. The match itself was a lot of fun, as they continue to make Choshu look like a mega-star and he continues to deliver the goods in the ring to back it up

Rusher Kimura wants some of Jumbo following that, which leads to a pull-apart as this company continues to be HOT!

OH HECK, it’s the freaking ROAD WARRIORS destroying some enhancement talent from (I’m guessing) the AWA, and they’ll be coming in soon, so strap yourselves in lads and ladies!

In Conclusion

The finish in the Main Event left a bit of a sour taste, but the match itself was good fun and the main storyline surrounding it continues to be gripping viewing, so the show is an easy thumbs up as a result. It’s amazing what you’ll be willing to accept or put up with sometimes if a company has a hot hand for its Main Event scene.

Oh and yeah, THE ROAD WARRIORS are on the horizon and we should all be afraid, VERY afraid! (Kidding, I cannot wait for them to show up and start wrecking everyone’s excrement)