An Englishman in Big Japan – MALL BRAWL!

A little break from New Japan this week, as I happened across a video I’ve not seen in about twenty-three years, BJW Mall Brawl! Growing up in the UK, the only access I had to Japanese wrestling was through Fin Martin’s Power Slam magazine, and while tape trading was offered in the back pages I didn’t have the income or catalogue to enter this, but a friend of mine did and he ordered the King of the Deathmatch tournament tape, which was a terrible disappointment to me when I saw that Leatherface was using a chainsaw without a chain (!), and another tape featuring this match, which entered into our comedy lore as one of the wildest and weirdest things we’d ever seen. Let’s see if it holds up.

We begin with establishing footage of the mall, in case anyone is unfamiliar with the concept of a mall setting up and operating, then a mat is thrown down in a caged off area under a roof, with the female ring announcer taking her bow and bringing in the participants. First of all, a guy in green trunks, then one in yellow, followed by a chubby guy in red shorts, a tough-looking guy in black trunks, then finally the legendary Kazuo Sakurada, better known as Kendo Nagasaki. He’s played to the ring by guys in suits performing the William Tell Overture with cheerleaders waving pompoms. Yes, he’s the booker.

The bell is rung, with red and black starting first on the map, red taking an armbar. Strangely patriotic American music is played in the background by the trumpeters while Kendo shouts instructions from outside the cage. The cameraman goes for a wander through the crowd while the perfectly fine but boring action continues. However, it’s not enough for Kendo, who breaks in with a barbed wire baseball bat like Vince McMahon interrupting a Rhyno/Tajiri match, destroying yellow and green immediately and pulling them over the fencing. Yellow takes a bump onto an old man’s lap and gets worn out with a chair. Red tumbles out too as if pushed by a faint breeze, then takes a ride of pain on the bikes thanks to black. It’s duelling bicycles, maybe inspiring Big Bubba Rogers somewhere.

Kendo turns a board into splinters over green and yellow while a slightly disinterested grandmother walks off and kids yell. Two slams onto produce for the rookies while the trumpets take on a spaghetti Western theme. Black tries some arm submissions on red while Kendo throws melons over the other pair’s melons. One actually slips out of his hands, but luckily lands right on one’s head. Red gets run into cardboard boxes while looking like he’s being humbled by black. This only angers him, so he swings a Weeble back at him.

Kendo bumps the other boys into a Pepsi machine and then opens up a can of… Pepsi to spray in their eyes. I hope that’s diet. Red is ready for a drink too and steals two minis to drink at one time, no doubt explaining his stocky physique. It’s the shaving cream of death for him in return. Kendo is the truly unstoppable machine, though, as he throws a till at yellow, which opens up a nasty gash on his arm in a shot punctuated by photo negative film. The medics are seen attending to it, taping him up, while seemingly the other promoter looks on, cigarette on the go. A trip to the hospital for that young man, he’s out of the competition for now!

Red and black continue their fight, with black landing some pretty stiff kicks, even stiffer with the sound effects put over them. Kendo now only has green to beat on, so they head into a tavern and a metal flag pole becomes his weapon of choice. Red goes even deadlier, with the cream pie to the face of black, who audibly wretches. The sound effects are ridiculously over the top. Even the ring announcer is affected by this hard action, being sat down inside a pharmacy and given a wet towel to place over her forehead. Kendo takes green into a kitchen and forces raw meat in his mouth, salmonella be damned!

We pick up with yellow at the hospital, being stitched up. Some music kicks in that’s part the walking away theme from The Incredible Hulk and part Dire Straits. It’s mixed with a montage of the violent action back at the mall and the graphic surgery footage, as if to present a juxtaposition between violence and damage. That they continue to overdub the sound effects only further emphasises their obsequiousness. This concludes, shades of The Blob, with a question mark. Yellow speaks to the camera while being stitched off, generally calm about the situation, but desperately in need of a shave to get rid of his pubescent bum fluff.

Back at the mall, Kendo wears out green with crates, sometimes containing beer bottles. Green hasn’t gotten a single shot in this whole match. Red has black in a figure four in a butcher shop. Black makes his own escape and whips red with a raw fish. Red tries to defend himself with anchovies, but it’s no use. Kendo uses a fridge to beat up green more, which looks legitimately painful. Back to black and red, black, his face a creamy mask, makes a comeback and applies the sleeperhold to red, then pins him once he’s out. He looks like Sid did that one time he trashed the Barber Shop and the talcom powder exploded in his face.

At just that moment, Kendo and green emerge from a shop, and Kendo turns his attention to red first, then black. Double bags of flour for black, who has the makings of a cake about to grow on his face. Kendo throws a unit about to show his aggressiveness. Children run, even the Pepsi fridge isn’t immune from his wrath! The trumpet players aren’t too worried. Promoter wanders back in, the cigarette now reduced to ash. He’s pissed off about something, and it’s back to where it all started.

Inside the cage, red and black are run into the mesh, and a piledriver finishes off green. A Boston crab makes black give. Finally, a slam and armbreaker for red, who screams like the pig he is. Kendo Nagasaki, the Dragon Master, is the winner, with victorious music playing like in a video game. The hostilities over, he sits down with the young men, possibly to explain the journey of pain they have been on together. Well, they have, he’s been more about dishing it out than taking it, but that’s the booker’s privilege. He’s more tough but fair, whereas the promoter has a strictness about him, the true authority figure.

As a reward, everyone gets a haircut. Well, Kendo already has a shaved head, so green is going to get the same whether he wants it or not, with the clippers beginning a journey by making the young boy resemble Keith Flint from the Prodigy. Their vanity is not spared, as the eyebrows are also removed, with the promoter pissing himself laughing outside as jazz music plays. He gives green a playful slap on his slap head and they all walk home together through the park, in their pants. Children on their bikes watch on, then ride off, their minds doubtless already moving onto the idea of Kimala II and some failed sumo wrestlers possibly performing random acts of violence in a garden centre.

Melting it down: A hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable piece of hokum, played for laughs and meant to be enjoyed for the shock value rather than as an athletic contest. Good or bad, this is the sort of thing you have to watch to take in and doubtless had some impact on the Steve Austin/Booker T supermarket brawl years later.