Mike Reviews – All Japan Pro Wrestling TV (23/02/1985)

Hello You!

More from the All Japan vaults, courtesy of Roy Lucier over on a little place called YouTube.

Last week we had a great tag match featuring Riki Choshu and Genichiro Tenryu that had an atrocious non-finish but was hot sauce up to that point, followed by a less than stellar Main Event that featured a rare clean finish when Giant Baba submitted Tiger Jeet Singh. However, both feuds are continuing and there’s also the small factor of BRUISER BRODY being on the show this week.

So yeah, that’s going to happen. How’s about we watch some chuffing wrestling?

This week’s matches were taped for Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan on the 22nd of February 1985 and then aired on the 23rd of February 1985. If you’d like to watch along with me then you can do so by clicking right HERE.

Opening Match
Tiger Mask II and Mighty Inoue Vs Kuniaki Kobayashi and Shinichi Nakano

Tiger and Kobayashi have the issue here; following some tag battles and a singles match that went to a crappy non-finish. This one is joined in progress with Inoue and Nakano trading holds. Kobayashi and Tiger are soon tagged in and do a bit together, with the crowd being into the idea and the work being decent. There’s some good intensity to it but they are still wrestling and Kobayashi hasn’t been trying to unmask Tiger yet like he has in previous outings.

Like is normally the case in tag matches that we’ve seen from these reviews, the action is pretty back and forth, with both teams trading the momentum and not really working the traditional western tag formula of shine->heat->hot tag that most fans would be familiar with. If you’re willing to put up with the unfamiliar match structure though then the wrestling is good and the crowd heat is decent, with the Tiger and Kobayashi moments being the times the crowd reacts the most.

It feels like this Tiger/Kobayashi angle was a reasonably hot issue based on the crowd here, and they’ve certainly been delivering on the in-ring front for the most part. Kobayashi does eventually go for the mask again, which has been his MO since this feud started gaining some momentum. Eventually Tiger and Kobayashi take a tumble to the outside and start brawling out there, which leaves Inoue and Nakano in the ring, with Inoue getting the quick pin.

WINNERS: TIGER & INOUE
RATING: **1/2

Good solid outing there, where they gave us a finish but also kept Tiger and Kobayashi from actually losing the match. That’ll do me

Tiger and Kobayashi keep brawling after that, so we’re sure to see more of this issue going forwards.

Match Two
Riki Choshu, Yoshiaki Yatsu and Animal Hamaguchi Vs Genichiro Tenryu, Akio Sato and Takashi Ishikawa

This is more of the Choshu/Revolutionary Army Vs Tenryu/All Japan feud. I’d like it if we can actually get one of the fodder guys to eat a pin or submission here so that we actually get a finish and don’t have to bother with yet another non-finish in this feud. As the previous match showed, you can get away with giving us a pin provided that one of the supporting players ends up looking at the lights whilst the main stars are elsewhere preoccupied.

Ishikawa is quickly becoming my pick for “Denis Irwin of the company” from this period of All Japan, in that he’s regularly a 7/8 out of 10 performer who can be relied upon to do his bit without being overly flashy. You need guys like that, especially when you have all these tag matches and someone has to be the glue holding it all together. Hamaguchi is popular with the crowd and gets good reactions for what he does, and the heat in general is very good.

The work is good too, with it being the usual All Japan tag outing, just as we saw in the previous match. There isn’t a heat segment as such, but Sato is clearly the weakest member of the All Japan side and he spends some time getting clobbered by all of the Revolutionary Army before making his own comeback and tagging in Tenryu. Ishikawa gets a lovely guillotine leg drop from the top rope on Yatsu at one stage and then locks in The Scorpion Deathlock, which brings in a grumpy Choshu to break it up before going for it himself as the crowd has kittens.

Choshu and his guys are so over here, it’s really fantastic. It’s not like they’re doing loads of hot moves in these matches either, but what they are doing is solid work and the crowd is into it, so the matches themselves are good and the crowd heat only enhances them. You can overcomplicate this stuff sometimes. We don’t really get a full on finishing stretch either, as the Revolutionary Army hits a couple of moves on Sato and Choshu finishes him with a lariat for the clean pin.

WINNERS: REVOLUTIONARY ARMY
RATING: ***1/4

I love this feud anyway and they even gave me an actual finish this week too. I’m like a pig in chardonnay!

Choshu and Tenryu fight some more after that, so we’ll reconvene again for more, next week most likely. I’ll be there!

Main Event
Giant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta and Masanobu Fuchi Vs Bruiser Brody, Killer Brooks and Klaus Wallas

We’ve seen the Japanese guys before but this is our first time seeing the foreign contingent, so I’ll give some background. Brody is the crazed Alan Moore lookalike who would batter all in his way and would even bring a chain down to the ring with him sometimes. He wrestled all over the world, enjoying stints in both World Class and the AWA most notably, but he also wrestled for both major Japanese outfits and also toured in Puerto Rico, where he was horribly murdered by another wrestler, who then got away with it because Puerto Rico is a bit of a lawless jungle where it’s more about who you know rather than what you did.

Brooks started in the 60’s and was a cousin of Dick Murdoch. He wrestled in the NWA and had a gimmick where he would hit people with a hockey elbow pad. He opened a wrestling school in the 90’s and then retired from the ring at the end of the decade. He’s credited with training Keith Lee. He died last year at the age of 72. Wallas had a background in Judo and competed in the 1976 Olympics for Austria before moving into pro wrestling in 1978. He apparently retired in 1986, so we aren’t far away from him hanging his boots up here.

We get to see Brody’s entrance here, as he storms down to the ring with a chain to an instrumental of The Immigrant Song. Fuchi might be another candidate for the Denis Irwin Award, as he always looks good on these shows and works well with pretty much everyone. It really feels like you could plug him in to any type of match and he’d be able to make it work. Brody had a bit of a reputation for being difficult sometimes, but he seems to mostly be playing ball here, selling for Baba’s chops and then going up for a Jumbo gut wrench. He pops up almost right away of course, but he went up for it at least.

Wallas looks a bit like Takeshi Morishima crossed with WALTER, and he shows some good strength by doing the Bob Backlund arm bar counter on Fuchi at one stage, standing up whilst Fuchi holds onto the arm and then carrying him back to the foreign corner. Brooks looks like he could be a villain in a Far Cry game, but his work his decent. He definitely looks like he belongs in a team with Brody anyway due to his big bushy beard. He actually kind of looks like a variant of Trevor from GTA V if you decide to go nuts with the hair options.

Brody shows some impressive athleticism for a guy his size, including a leapfrog and a dropkick, which those spots getting strong reactions from the crowd. Jumbo and Fuchi were regular allies as time wore on and they show some good chemistry when they come in to double team now and then. Fuchi actually does a really good bit with Brody, where he shows good fire but Brody is not prepared to sanction his buffoonery and drops a knee for the clean three count.

WINNERS: BRODY, BROOKS & WALLAS
RATING: **

That was fine and achieved the job of making Brody look like a big scary due who is not to be trifled with. Fuchi ate the pin, but he was the least accomplished guy on his side and he at least got a bit of a flurry before getting splatted

The Road Warriors are coming over to Japan in March and we get a video package to hype it up, followed by a promo on Tenryu and Jumbo who they face on the 9th in Tokyo. Animal rips up a picture of the Japanese lads to get across what The Road Warriors plan to do to them.

In Conclusion

Another good episode of the show, with three clean finishes, which makes a very pleasant change. I say it every week, but this is a hot company and it makes the show a lot of fun every week because you never know what big star is going to show up or what wacky combination of guys they’ll put together in a six man. It’s just good fun and they’ve done a masterful job hyping up The Road Warriors too.