Mike Reviews – All Japan Pro Wrestling TV (23/03/1985)

Hello You!

More All Japan goodness courtesy of that fine uploader Roy Lucier over on that there YouTube!

I also recently reviewed WrestleMania III and you can read my thoughts on that historic event by clicking HERE (Spoiler, I liked it)

Roy has neglected to mention where these matches took place from, but you can watch the show by clicking HERE.

Opening Match
Tiger Mask II and Masanobu Fuchi Vs Kuniaki Kobayashi and Norio Honaga

Tiger and Kobayashi are the two lads with the issue here, as they’ve had a number of matches with one another both in the singles and tag team realm recently. Fuchi almost always performs well, and this match is no exception, as his selling is on point and his offence looks good. He even brawls outside the ring with Kobayashi at one stage and gives him a chair shot! Psycho brawling Fuchi is the sort of Fuchi I can get on board with!

Tiger and Kobayashi of course get to have their segment together, and it’s good action as they are starting to get into a decent groove as opponents now. Tiger even tries a twisting body press to the floor at one stage, only for Kobayashi to use the innovative counter of moving the heck out of the way. Ah yes, I believe Pastor Jim Hilliard used such a technique in his 7 out of 9 falls classic with Greg “The Atheist” Standstill in Antigua back in 1927.

Things breakdown with everyone going at it, leading to a series of dives, and that of course leads to everyone fighting to a double count out because this is an All Japan show from 1985 and horrible finishes are MANDATORY!!!

DOUBLE COUNT OUT
RATING: **1/2

Fun stuff before the usual awful finish

We have a pull-apart brawl following that, with Kobayashi going to his usual MO of trying to remove Tiger Mask’s, err, mask. You monster, that’s practically his face you’re trying to rip off!

Match Two
Klaus Wallas and T.G. Stone Vs Animal Hamaguchi and Yoshiaki Yatsu

Stone mostly had a career as enhancement talent in the WWF and also had a run in the AWA as part of the failed Team Challenge Series angle. He looks like a thrift store version of Jimmy Valiant, with about a hundredth of the charisma. His wrestling isn’t too bad though, as his offence is executed well enough and his bumping and selling looks how it is supposed to. He’s a bit boring, but in this sort of role he’s serviceable (Although he wusses out on a bulldog at one stage and goes to his knees first like he’s Kane taking a Pedigree).

Yatsu is no doubt the star of the contest, due to his wrestling being of the best quality of the four, but Hamaguchi is fine too. It’s a pretty heatless under card tag match really, as it wasn’t like there was much of a storyline going on and the foreign contingent are hardly the sort of wrestlers to energise the crowd with their charisma or wrestling abilities. Eventually things breakdown and Yatsu gets a nice power slam on Stone for the three count.

WINNERS: HAMAGUCHI & YATSU
RATING: *1/2

Just a match, but it was fine for what it was

Wallas points at the winners menacingly following that, but I don’t think they’re going to try and make this into a proper feud or anything. Wallas does tag with Brody sometimes, so I suppose their paths could cross again in that form.

Match Three
Bruiser Brody, Rusher Kimura and Goro Tsurumi Vs Giant Baba, Genichiro Tenryu and Jumbo Tsuruta

Brody and Baba have been crossing swords with one another recently, so this would be a continuation of that, with Kimura and Tenryu also having an issue on the side in recent months. Apparently it’s not long before Brody skips town for New Japan and a feud with Inoki, so we best enjoy him whilst we can I guess. Kimura has that traditional old school heel look with the long black tights and majestic facial hair. He looks like he just ripped up a young fan’s autograph book before coming down to the ring for the match.

Brody is of course super over with the crowd, and actually comes in to do some decent hold for hold wrestling with Jumbo at one stage, showing he was more than just a wild brawler when he wanted to be. As is usually the case with these sorts of tag matches in All Japan, there isn’t really much in the way of a traditional tag formula being worked. Instead everyone just does “stuff” and everyone else kind of just reacts to it. There’s no real shine, cut off, hot tag, finish sequence going on.

Brody and Baba fight outside the ring at one stage, with Brody even threatening the boss with a chair at one stage (although he doesn’t go through with actually hitting him with it). Jumbo and Tenryu of course wrestle very well as you’d expect, with Tsurumi doing his usual solid brawling and Kimura focusing on being dislikeable. Baba may as well be tickling everyone with a  feather duster at certain points, but his overness with the crowd helps him get away with it, and I’ve watched enough Baba now that I’m almost starting to find his low-impact attacks kind of charming.

Brody does the big no sell of Baba’s chops at one stage, but Baba replies with a Russian Leg Sweep and Brody actually waits for his partners to break up the resulting pin attempt rather than kicking out himself, which was essentially a show of respect on his part as normally he’d have no qualms with popping up from a big move. Team Baba keeps coming though and Baba eventually boots Tsurumi in the face for three.

WINNERS: TEAM BABA
RATING: **

This was alright for the most part, with the crowd digging it and Jumbo in particular doing some good wrestling. I’m always happy to get a clean finish too. It’s funny because I recently got that All Japan Vs Virtua Fighter game for the SEGA Saturn and the big boot is pretty much the only move I can get Baba to do outside of a back body drop. If anyone knows any good FAQ’s on that game with a breakdown of the buttons then please hook me up in the comments section

Kimura grabs a mic and talks some smack following the bout, which is fair enough because he didn’t get pinned. See, we CAN have finishes whilst also protecting the stars and keeping feuds ticking along.

Main Event
AWA Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Road Warriors w/ Paul Ellering Vs Riki Choshu and Killer Khan

The Roadies get the big entrance with the camera following them from the dressing room, and they look like gigantic stars as a result. There are quite a few Stars and Stripes in the crowd actually, which I wasn’t expecting. This one is a wild brawl right from the off, with The Roadies clearing the ring and posing for the crowd, who seem to be into them and throw streamers in support.

Choshu gets clobbered for a bit by the Champs, and the crowd heat is great as Choshu is probably the most over Japanese guy in the company and you could genuinely argue that The Roadies are potentially the most over foreigners now too (although Brody is also still a big star of course). Choshu manages to catch Hawk with a desperation lariat and locks in the Scorpion Deathlock, with Khan even helping out with a knee drop, but Hawk survives long enough for Animal to save.

The crowd was going bonkers when they thought the hometown team might win though. Khan’s offence continues to look awful, but he’s over here so the crowd digs him, and he even bleeds at one point, which was either hard way or a really clever act of blading as I can’t think of a moment where he would have done it. The fight spills outside following that, with Khan getting thrown into the front row for the count out.

WINNERS BY COUNT OUT: THE ROAD WARRIORS
RATING: **1/2

You knew that the finish was either going to be Khan getting beat or some kind of a screwy finish, because there was no way they were changing the belts and Choshu shouldn’t be looking at the lights right now unless it’s to one of Tenryu or Jumbo. After that, fine, but his first meaningful clean job has to be to one of them. Thus we got the wacky non-finish instead, although the match was a fun action packed fight prior to that

The Roadies continue to batter Choshu following that, and Khan takes exception to it and starts firing off shots at Hawk, leading to The Roadies holding the ring whilst the Japanese try to get back in and start the fight up again. I’d definitely watch a rematch if it’s on the docket!

In Conclusion

Not the strongest edition of the show, but I can understand the non-finish in the Main Event a bit more than usual, as they kind of booked themselves into a corner with it, which is when one of those finishes makes the most sense.