Mike Reviews – All Japan Pro Wrestling TV (16/02/1985)

Hello You!

Back again with some All Japan TV, courtesy of Roy Lucier over on the Tube of You.

Last week was the usual All Japan show from 1985, in that we got some good wrestling and some strong storyline advancement, but we also got some terrible finishes to go along with them.

This week we have a singles match between Giant Baba and Tiger Jeet Singh as the Main Event, which has potential to be absolutely horrible. Who knows though, maybe we’ll get lucky and the match might be watchable?

Let’s watch on and find out!

This week’s matches were taped from Tokyo on the 5th of February 1985 and then aired on the 16th of February 1985. If you want to watch along with me, then you can do by clicking right HERE.

Opening Match
Jumbo Tsuruta and Genichiro Tenryu Vs Riki Choshu and Masa Saito

This is more of Choshu and his Revolutionary Army going at it with Tenryu and the rest of the All Japan roster. I think you could genuinely make an argument for this being one of the best feuds in all of wrestling for 1985, as the crowd reactions are always great, everyone in it just gets continually more over and the matches have been really good. The only downside is that the finishes have been utter junk, but it’s not like that is killing the crowd interest in the feud itself, so it doesn’t count as much against it as something like that would normally.

Tenryu and Choshu get to do an extended bit at the start and end up wrestling to a stalemate, which leads into Jumbo and Saito doing a segment of their own which ends in similar fashion. The wrestling itself is just standard chain stuff, but it’s executed well and the crowd is super into it, so it’s engrossing action. The match soon settles into the usual All Japan formula of both teams having a period of control, with the momentum regularly switching. If you’re someone who likes the western tag formula and doesn’t like it when tag matches deviate too much from it, then this might not be your jam, but if you’re okay with the deviation then you’re likely to dig this due to the work being so good.

Eventually the Revolutionary Army manage to catch Jumbo with a Spike Piledriver, which leads to Choshu going for The Scorpion Deathlock, finally managing to lock it in whilst giving Tenryu the old stink eye. That was fantastic and the crowd is going nuts for the potential submission finish. Jumbo eventually makes the ropes, but he’s been in the hold for a while and he sells it big by rolling outside of the ring and limping, even going so far as to slap himself in the face to try and fire himself up to get back in there. He actually chooses not to tag out when given the chance and ends up locked in a Saito sleeper hold for another submission tease. That’s also why you can’t really call it a heat segment though, as he could have easily tagged out but chose to stay in of his own accord, which is something you’d never see in a normal tag formula match.

Jumbo does manage to survive the sleeper and tags out to Tenryu, but he doesn’t really do a hot tag, even though he does hit some moves on Saito, including his trademark elbow drop from the top rope. That leads to Tenryu and Choshu doing another bit together, with Tenryu firing up from some Choshu strikes and getting an enziguri for two. Choshu fires back with a back suplex for a two of his own and the crowd is having absolute kittens over all of it. We hit the finishing stretch following that, with Jumbo getting some nears on Saito with high knees until Saito gets one of his own with a Saito Suplex. They both tumble outside following that though, which gets me ready to sound the cheap finish claxon, which indeed happens as the referee counts them both out.

DOUBLE COUNT OUT
RATING: ***1/2

With a finish that’s pushing ****+, as the work itself was really good, but the lousy count out drags it down

None of the four guys are happy with that finish and the fight picks up once more, meaning we’ll just have to do this again sometime. Oh well, if you insist.

Main Event
PWF Heavyweight Title
Champ: Giant Baba Vs Tiger Jeet Singh

PWF stands for Pacific Wrestling Federation and was the default top Title in All Japan until 1983 when it was replaced in importance by the NWA International Title. It was created in 1973 by Baba himself after he won a series of ten matches against some of the top talent in the world. It got downgraded to being a regional Title when All Japan joined the NWA but it was still the top belt in All Japan until 1983, when the International Title usurped it. Eventually the PWF, NWA International and NWA United National belts were all combined into one Title known as the Triple Crown in 1989.

I’ve seen Baba have good matches before (Although that was usually in tags) but Singh is usually awful, so this one might be a bit of a slog. Singh’s main issue is that he hardly ever sells for his opponent and usually tries to take all of the offence for himself. However, whereas a heel like Vader can do that and make it work because his stuff looks really good and he’s actually prepared to sell when the time calls for it, Singh’s stuff usually always looks bad and he’s hardly that impressive from a visual perspective either, so his matches are normally always cack as a result. If he’s actually willing to play ball with Baba then this might have the slim chance of not being a disaster, but that’s unlikely I fear.

We do the ring intro’s and then join the match in progress with Singh working Baba over in a succession of holds, although Baba manages to find a way out of each them after selling for a bit. Baba keeps it simple for the most part and he’s hugely over with the crowd, so that works well enough and Singh does at least sell for him when the time calls, especially when he starts working over his arm after surviving Singh’s opening period of control. Singh cheats to regain control though, and gets Baba with a fireman’s carry before going to an arm bar. Baba survives that though and makes the ropes to break the hold.

Singh tries an international object next, but Baba keeps coming and gets a big boot to send Singh slumped in the corner, but the ref stops him before he can add some stomps and Singh gets another shot with the object, which the referee misses of course. The story they are telling here is pretty standard stuff, with the babyface Baba out wrestling the heel so that the heel has to cheat to gain an advantage, and the crowd is following it and reacting how you’d want them to, so it’s been a successful outing so far on that front. Baba hasn’t tried anything he can’t do and what he has done has looked okay, but most of Singh’s stuff has looked pretty rubbish.

Singh takes a phantom bump from something at one point, which the crowd picks up on, but they quickly go to him choking Baba in order to take the crowds mind off it. Baba actually sells the choke really well and fights out with a head butt, which gets the crowd behind him. It’s amazing how sub-par basic wrestling can be improved when you have a hot crowd. To be fair to Baba, I actually think he’s looked good here for the most part, and he even busts out a piledriver at one stage before locking in an abdominal stretch for the submission victory. Wow, we actually got a clean finish and a clean submission finish at that!

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: GIANT BABA
RATING: **

This was probably longer than they were capable of going, and Singh’s usual crappy arsenal of attacks dragged it down, but Baba looked good, the crowd was into it and we got a clean finish, so I’ll be generous

Rusher Kimura runs down and helps Singh attack Baba following that, with Singh hitting Baba with the handle of his sabre for good measure. Kimura does some mic work to rile up the crowd and it looks like this issue is going to continue.

A quick visit to Cagematch reveals that it’s going to be Baba and some pals against Kimura and some pals at a big event in Tokyo on the 9th of March.

Paul Ellering cuts a promo with The Road Warriors. Ellering puts over how big and scary his clients are. They are coming to Japan to beat everyone down and demoralise them in the process. All the Japanese wrestlers are very good, but The Warriors are the best and they’ll prove it. This was fantastic and I honestly can’t wait to see them show up and start wrecking people’s business!

We get a Road Warriors video package following the promo, which for 1985 is put together really well. All Japan have done a few good videos for these guys actually. I never appreciated that as a good aspect of the product before but it really is.

In Conclusion

This company continues to be a really hot ticket, with the great Choshu/Tenryu feud delivering every week and cool stuff on the horizon like The Road Warriors to look forward to. Yeah, we have to slog through the stuff with Singh and the finishes continue to be abysmal for the most part, but when everything else is so good you can overlook that to some degree.