Mike Reviews – All Japan Pro Wrestling TV (02/03/1985)

Hello You!

More from All Japan courtesy of Roy Lucier over on YouTube.

Next week is due to be an extended special episode of the show due to the company having a big show in Tokyo that day, so this week would kind of be the go-home show in that case.

The Main Event this week is more of the Riki Choshu and his pals Vs All Japan storyline, with a certain chap known as Bruiser Brody returning for the second match.

So yeah, lots of interesting stuff this week, so let’s get our collective teeth into it!

This week’s matches were taped from Katsuta, Ibaraki on the 28th of February 1985 and aired on the 2nd of March 1985. If you want to watch along with me then you can do so by clicking HERE.

Opening Match
Giant Baba, Great Kojika and Motoshi Okuma Vs Goro Tsurumi, Rusher Kimura and Ryuma Go

This is the first time we’ve seen Kojika and Go, so we’ll give a little background. Kojika started his career way back in 1963 and worked both in Japan Wrestling Association and in North America for the first section of his career before settling in All Japan for a 13 year stint before retiring in 1986. However, he decided to come back to wrestling in 1995 and formed Big Japan Pro Wrestling, a notable Japanese garbage wrestling promotion that featured the usual sorts of deathmatches you’d expect along with some good wrestling too from the likes of Yoshihiro Tajiri.

Go wrestled in IWE during the 70’s and ended up getting a gig in New Japan at the end of the decade, where he actually defeated Tatsumi Fujinami for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title. He jumped to the original UWF following that but shoot-style wasn’t really to his skillset, so he came to All Japan for a bit and would eventually become a notable name on the independent scene following that. He ended up becoming a cult figure thanks to his willingness to take part in wacky comedy matches, which led to him featuring on the Weekly Pro Wrestling Tokyo Dome show in 1995 and having the building in fits of laughter.

Baba and Kimura have been jawing with one another over the previous weeks and Kimura once distracted Baba so that Tiger Jeet Singh could lay a whupping on him, so it’s safe to say that they aren’t especially enjoying one another’s company during this period. We barely get to see any of this one as it’s joined in progress with Okuma getting worked over. He tags in Baba who runs wild on the heels with his usual array of chops and kicks, which don’t look like they especially hurt but the crowd doesn’t mind, and Tsurumi hits him with a chair for the DQ.

WINNERS BY DISQUALIFICATION: BABA, KOJIKA & OKUMA
RATING: N/A

Too short to rate, and they showed it more for angle advancement

Kimura works Baba over following that to keep that issue cooking until Kojika is finally able to fend the heels off for a bit. Kojika and Okuma get beaten up following that and Baba eventually gets in to chase the heels off.

Match Two
Haruka Eigen and Killer Khan Vs Bruiser Bordy and Killer Brooks

It’s always interesting to see Eigen when he was still getting presented as a serious wrestler.  I was introduced to him during his NOAH days, and he was a pure comedy worker in the twilight of his career by that stage. I used to love the spit spot though and I was quite upset when I heard that he’d passed away. His fun opening matches with Mitsuo Momota were genuinely a contributing factor in getting me to enjoy the NOAH product because they were proper matches but also had a lot of comedy elements to them that made them very accessible to a westerner who wasn’t quite up to speed on the Japanese wrestling style yet.

Everyone bar Eigen is a brawler in this one, so they don’t even bother doing wristlocks and headlocks in the early going and go straight to punching and kicking, with Eigen throwing in some chops at one stage. Brooks is a guy whose work I haven’t seen a lot of, but he just looks like a dangerous bloke. That guy at the bar who is liable to lose his mind at any stage and try to bite someone’s nose off. Brody doesn’t seem especially interested in selling anything in this one, from Eigen in particular, but Brooks is willing to work with the Japanese guys a bit and does sell for them, although he always gives it back in kind.

If you’ve come for technical scientific wrestling then this isn’t the one for you, but if you want to see wild men throw down then you’ll have fun with it. Eventually Brody decides he’s had enough of the match and stomps in to put Eigen down with the always impressive dropkick before following up with the King Kong Knee Drop for the three count.

WINNERS: BRODY & BROOKS
RATING: *1/2

Showed up, achieved what it needed to and didn’t outstay its welcome

Brody runs into the crowd with a chair to scare the heck out of the Japanese fans following that, doing a thoroughly convincing job of playing an absolute nutter.

The Road Warriors are on the show next week when they take on Genichiro Tenryu and Jumbo Tsuruta. Consider me hyped! We get a promo where they play Godzilla styled noises over The Warriors roaring and then we get a music video showing them battering people whilst the fans cheer for them. This is one of the most effective ways of hyping a team that I’ve ever seen. WWE wishes it could get newcomers over like this these days. They’ve made The Warriors look like all conquering Gods who are going to destroy everything in their wake. It’s incredible work on All Japan’s part. We aren’t done with that either, as we get clips of The Warriors clobbering Nick Bockwinkel and Masa Saito from a match in the AWA. The match ends in a wild non-finish, but it achieves the goal of giving The Warriors credibility by looking dominant against two guys who have credibility in Japan.

Main Event
Jumbo Tsuruta, Genichiro Tenryu and Takashi Ishikawa Vs Riki Choshu, Masanobu Kurisu and Yoshiaki Yatsu

This is the first time we’ve seen Kurisu, so let’s give some background info. Debuting in 1972, Kurisu was known for his hardcore antics and regularly swung chairs at his opponents’ noggins. He originally trained in Los Angeles but relocated to the New Japan Dojo when it opened. It looks like he left New Japan in 84 as part of Choshu jumping ship and worked in All Japan until the end of the 80’s, where he went to FMW and then eventually ended up back in New Japan.

Those of you who have been following these week to week will know the story here, but for those that haven’t, Choshu jumped to All Japan from New Japan and brought his pals with him to form the Revolutionary Army. Tenryu and his fellow All Japan colleagues aren’t too pleased about this though, so they’ve been feuding solidly for months now. There’s been many dodgy finishes along the way, but the key detail is that neither Choshu or Tenryu has scored a pin or submission over the other yet, with the finishes being a mix of one of their subordinates taking a fall or the matches just ending in a cheap DQ or count out finish so that no one has to look at the lights. Despite so many crappy finishes the feud has remained hot though and it’s regularly the highlight of the show.

I regularly gush over Ishikawa for being the Denis Irwin of the All Japan roster, and he enters his usual solid performance here, selling for the opposing team in the early stages before tagging in Jumbo. As is normally the case with these matches, there isn’t really a designated cut off, heat and hot tag formula that you’d normally see in tag matches here in the west, with both teams instead trading the momentum throughout the match and taking it in turns to work over a member of the opposing team for a bit. Sometimes guys will just stumble over and tag out without any real build or fanfare whilst the opposition just lets them, which is something you’d rarely see in a six man in WWE or AEW these days.

The wrestling itself is very good, with everyone involved in the match being solid at the very least and great in the case of Tenryu, Jumbo and Choshu. This is my first time seeing Kurisu and he seems like a decent worker, with his offence having a nice snap and his bumping/selling being on point. Considering he came out of the New Japan Dojo you’d expect him to be competent at the very least, especially considering the torturous high standards that the students must meet if they are to graduate (Although someone might have been looking the other way when it came to Kenzo Suzuki).

Ishikawa and Yatsu have some fun exchanges actually, enough to make me interested in seeing a singles match between them at some stage if the opportunity ever arises. Whenever Tenryu and Choshu get in there and go heck for leather it really is great and they always manage to ride the fine margin between not giving us too much that they overdo it but always giving just enough that you don’t feel ripped off. There genuinely is an art to that. We actually get a finish this week too, as Kurisu fills the role of cannon fodder and gets pinned off a Tenryu powerbomb.

WINNERS: TENRYU, JUMBO & ISHIKAWA
RATING: ***3/4

This was all kinds of fun, with good work, good crowd heat and a clean finish in a feud where that isn’t always guaranteed

Tenryu and Choshu still can’t abide one another following that, so we’ll get to do it all again at some stage. I think I can fit that in. The replay makes sure to highlight that Tenryu threw a lariat before getting the winning move, which no doubt cheesed off Choshu as the lariat is usually HIS move. I just love how this feud has different layers to it like that.

In Conclusion

The first two matches were just kind of “there”, but The Road Warriors hype was top notch and the Main Event was all kinds of fun, so the show was an easy thumbs up as a result.

Next week we finally get to see The Road Warriors, along with a singles match between Tiger Mask II and Kuniaki Kobayashi that Big Dave Meltzer apparently gave the full Five Star treatment to back in the day. Hopefully you’ll all join me for it!