Last week we had a really fun Main Event with a lousy finish (Yup, sounds like All Japan from the mid-80’s alright) and ended the show with a tease for The Road Warriors, so we can look forward to seeing them sometime, likely in March.
This week we’ve got a rare singles match between Tiger Mask II and Kuniaki Kobayashi, as well as more of the Choshu Vs Tenryu feud, so let’s waste no further time and watch some chuffing wrestling!
As always, I need to send a big shout out over to Roy Lucier on YouTube for uploading this stuff. Give him and one of his many channels some likes!
This week’s matches were taped from Sapporo, Hokkaido on the 1st of February 1985 and then aired on the 9th of February 1985. If you want to watch along with me, then you can do by clicking right HERE.
Tiger Mask II Vs Kuniaki Kobayashi
These two had a pull-apart scuffle following a tag match on last week’s show, so we’ve got a rare singles match this week as a follow up. For anyone new to these reviews, Tiger is Mitsuharu Misawa and Kobayashi was a fixture of Junior Heavyweight wrestling in Japan during the 80’s.
Tiger wastes no time taking it right to Kobayashi by dropkicking him to the floor and then following with a TOPE SUICIDA. His music hadn’t even stopped playing yet! Strangely he then patiently waits for Kobayashi to get back into in the ring and the match just starts. That was an unexpectedly polite thing to happen after a jump start. Kobayashi recovers from that anyway and spikes Tiger with a release German Suplex before locking in a sleeper.
Sadly the match is chopped up a bit, as they cut from that to Kobayashi trying to unmask Tiger, which actually draws some good heat from the crowd. Shame we’re not getting the full match, but hopefully we didn’t miss much. Kobayashi continues to work the match on the mat, with a head scissors and an arm-bar, but Tiger manages to both survive those holds and also keep his mask on before replying with some offence of his own.
The action is good for the most part, with some fun strike exchanges and the execution of all the holds being what it should be. There’s some good intensity at certain points, with both men getting across that they don’t like one another very much, which adds a nice story element to the wrestling. The crowd is with it for the most part as well, with there always being a handful shouting for Tiger and the big moves getting the expected pops.
They tease doing a count out finish at one side by having Tiger dive out onto Kobayashi, but he manages to drag himself back in and then gives Tiger a taste of his own medicine with a dive of his own. It looks like that might be the finish, but Tiger manages to get back inside, where he finds a Fisherman Suplex waiting for him, which gets two for Kobayashi when Tiger gets a foot on the ropes. The finishing stretch in general is done really well, with some nicely executed near falls for both guys, leading into both of them tumbling over the top to the floor, where Kobayashi rips at Tiger’s mask and both men appear to be counted out.
DOUBLE COUNT OUT
Usual lousy finish that you’d expect in a big match from this time period, but it was a good match up to that point and I don’t think the section they cut out would have changed the rating much. There was a good sense of dislike between the two wrestlers and that made the match as a whole and enjoyable scuffle
Neither man is satisfied with that of course, so this feud will be required to continue. And indeed, they’ll rematch in Tokyo on the 9th of March, which I’m sure we’ll get footage of when it happens.
Riki Choshu and Yoshiaki Yatsu Vs Genichiro Tenryu and Jumbo Tsuruta
This is more Ishin Gundan/Revolutionary Army Vs All Japan, with Choshu and Yatsu becoming a regular tandem during this period. Choshu, as always, is super over and gets plenty of streamers chucked at him by the crowd, as do the two All Japan guys. Choshu shows plenty of attitude in the early going, bulling Tenryu into his own corner and then slapping Jumbo for good measure, which leads to Jumbo coming in and slapping him back with a cold expression on his face. Oh ho, it’s on now!
The action in this one is great, with Choshu and Jumbo doing a really fun back and forth segment with one another, where both man gets to look good without making the other look bad, which isn’t an easy thing to get right. Yatsu doesn’t look out of place in this company and all four guys wrestle the sort of hard-hitting technically sound match that the All Japan crowds always appreciated. The strikes are snug, the holds are applied properly and the execution of the moves is what it needs to be in order to look good.
The crowd is into it and seems to be especially into the parts where Choshu and Jumbo threaten to throw down with one another. Like with most of the tag matches we’ve seen since I started reviewing these, there isn’t really a proper tag formula being worked with a shine-heat-comeback progression like you’d normally expect. Instead the momentum ebbs back and forth, with both teams having a period where they will control the bout for a little bit before the other team regains their footing. Those used to regular tag formula might find it a bit jarring, but the action itself is fun.
Eventually Choshu and Yatsu get Jumbo with a spike piledriver, but he quite literally shrugs it off, so Choshu tries a Scorpion Deathlock instead, but Tenryu comes in to break it up before Jumbo can submit. The action keeps upping in speed and intensity as it wears on, with Yatsu and Jumbo brawling outside the ring at one stage, with Choshu and Tenryu also looking to get at one another. Jumbo wins the battle with Yatsu and sends him into the ring post, which leads to him coming up bleeding.
In a great spot, Choshu tries to tag himself in now that his partner is bleeding, but Yatsu shoves him away and demands to keep fighting, which is just fantastic storytelling and gets him instantly over with the crowd. It’s brilliant really as the other three guys are clearly a level above him star power wise, so this gives him a way of standing up to them and looking like he belongs through his fighting spirit and bravery. Choshu practically begs to be tagged in and the two partners continue to argue, which sadly leads to the referee doing the 5 count and calling for a No Contest.
The match itself was really good and felt like it had another gear to kick into, at which point they did the lame non-finish. That looked to me like the referee DQ’ed the Revolutionary Army there for arguing with one another, but according to Cage Match it was a No Contest, so we’ll go with that. What I will say about the finish was that it made Yatsu look tough by refusing to tag out even though he was bleeding and it gave them a way for Choshu to be on the losing side without actually losing. I think had the same match happened ten years later then the finish would have been Yatsu eating a pin after a valiant effort, but this was a different time and All Japan hadn’t swapped to clean finishes in big matches yet
The brawl starts up again following that, as no one is satisfied by that finish and rightly so. Yatsu in particular is full of fire, and Masa Saito has to come down and slap him in order to calm him down.
We get another tease for The Road Warriors, as they will be taking on Jumbo and Tenryu at the big event in Tokyo on the 9th of March. That one should be interesting; I hope we get to see it on the TV show. The music video focuses mostly on The Road Warriors throwing guys around and delivering big clotheslines. I can only imagine being 12 year old Japanese lad and seeing footage of these two face painted foreigners flinging guys around for the first time and getting utterly jazzed at the thought of seeing them in person.
Two good matches with two rubbish finishes this week, although I’ll give the finish in the Main Event a bit of leeway as it was actually pretty clever to a certain degree and did a good job of making Yatsu look tough, so it achieved its purpose.
I am genuinely quite excited to see The Road Warriors in all their crazed Japanese fury, so I’ll be anxiously looking out for them in the coming weeks!