An Englishman in IWA and Big Japan – BATH HOUSE PIRANHA DEATH MATCH!

I think I may be winding down a little bit with New Japan after the Aloha Stadium review I have coming up next week, but luckily the likes of FMW and Big Japan and IWA have piqued my interest, so still some stuff to come. This week, some logical followups to the Mall Brawl review.

Tarzan Goto and Mr. Gannosuke vs. The Headhunters (IWA, Japan, August 21st, 1995)

The International Wrestling Association was a rival promotion to FMW, founded by Victor Quinones, who some kinda bullshit rumours will have it that he’s Gorilla Monsoon’s son. Historically, this match takes place the day after Cactus Jack won the King of the Deathmatch tournament. Gannosuke and Goto make their entrance through a sliding door to the mat first, then the Headhunters follow from the same room – kayfabe, guys! Their bellow scares the lightly-dressed girls already assembled. They’ve also eschewed their normal black trousers that are always falling down for blue shorts instead. The ring announcer gives it a good go despite the lack of any crowd.

A bit of badmouthing from Goto to start, getting the girls to clear off. It’s tag team rules, so while the legal man is in the partner has to go and sit in a hot tub. The Headhunter proves Archimedes’ principle more than true while he and Goto splash water at one another – flirts! A locks up with Gannosuke and promptly hammers him down, followed by a choke. Big slam as Goto shows discipline and sits Indian-style in the jacuzzi. Gannosuke ducks a short clothesline and gets his own for two, then tags in Goto and takes a swim. Goto carefully returns to the mat to avoid slipping and gets a clothesline. Gannosuke, on the outside, cheers his partner on, as we move from the mat to – OH LOOK, THERE’S SOME BOOBIES! THERE’S SOME ASS! SCREAM! SCREAM! The girls start covering up (well, some of them do) as the action movie music kicks in. It’s getting hot in here, but not hot enough yet, as the broadcast team send word to the furnace to load up some more wood.

Goto and A battle in the water as a girl with a massive bush runs past. B listens in as a guy scrubs his own back while sitting on what looks like a potty. Goto and A are back in sight on the mat as Goto wears A down with the spinning toehold. Tag to Gannosuke while B shows tremendous discipline by not moving in. Goto tries to pull him down and continues the splashing. A batters Gannosuke until breaks the volley with a yellow bucket before putting it on his head like a nice, little, yellow hat – how kind! B has had “enough of this shit! What the fuck’s going on?!”, then a whistle blows and the partners are allowed into the match for a tornado tag team style encounter. Actually, maybe it’s a whirlpool challenge instead.

Goto tries to drown B in the bath as the makeup runs off his face. B screams like he’s being given an enema. More wood is loaded downstairs. Gannosuke applies an armbreaker to A on the mat. A has a fantastic reversal – bite the calf! Goto looks like he’s juiced as we go into slo-mo, artistic style, as B holds himself barely up in the bath. A gets his own submission move, but it looks like B can take no more and has exited the hot tub. Goto holds his hands up in victory! A, who has wrestled the majority of the match, wanders over to his brother and asks “B! What happened, bro?!”, before berating him and then consoling him. The nearly naked girls watch on, the camera covered in steam, while A leads B back to the shared changing room, and the Japanese men hold their hands up in victory.

The hot take: A bit of daftness that doesn’t stay longer than it should, a shit match with the novelty of titillation to spice it up!

And now…

Mitsuhiro Matsunaga vs. Kendo Nagasaki (BJW, Japan, August 19th, 1996)

Back to Big Japan, as Mr. Sakurada may once again prove he’s the baddest man in all of Japanese wrestling. Joined in progress, as one of the barbed wire boards in the near corner has already been used. Kendo sends Matsunaga into the far one, but gets his face and eyes raked. Some kicks to the chest to soften him up and a trip back to the glass tank in the middle of the ring, about four foot long and a foot and half wide. The water looks rank and Kendo almost gets his forehead bitten by one of the fish bobbing up. Matsunaga is forced into exchanging places with him, blood from his crimson mask dripping into the water. Kendo is basically grabbing him by the balls to haul him in, but he won’t go. The face almost goes in, and Matsunaga’s feet are in the air, but no joy. In a reversal, Kendo’s head momentarily dips in the water, as the surface level becomes uneasy. I’m just shocked the glass didn’t break. Cut to Kendo hitting a powerbomb, then a piledriver. He then just rolls Matsunaga into the tank, puts a balsa wood board on top, then holds it down to win the match. Other wrestlers storm the ring to get him off the top of this would-be coffin, with Matsunaga inside looking like he’s doing a press-up to avoid his face getting bitten by the fish. Terrible for him, although I imagine worse for them, getting squashed and killed by a much bigger wrestler. The wrestlers haul him out and get a ring mat to use as a makeshift gurney, Kojika watching on again. Blood runs down his chest, with the implication being his front has been chewed on. Mr. Danger has danced with danger, while the fish have dined on Mr. Danger.

The last bite: Just a freak show, as you see why matches like that are poor quality as you’re working to the gimmick. The casket matches end up being far superior.