Happy Wednesday Everyone!
I’ve got this issue of New Japan TV on a compilation DVD I got years ago (It also features some All Japan, including Misawa Vs Hansen from 1992). Seeing as it’s a nice breezy watch I decided to review it this week. We’ll either have some more classic New Japan or some NOAH next week I think depending on what strikes my fancy.
This episode of the show has three matches from Wrestling Dontaku at the Fukuoka Dome from 1993, which was the first time New Japan had run there. The show in question featured a big match between Hulk Hogan and The Great Muta, which I think is available on New Japan World.
Taped from the Fukuoka Dome (with about 55,000 people in attendance) on the 3rd of May 1993 (Episode aired on the 29th of May 1993)
Wrestle Association R (Ashura Hara and Takashi Ishikawa) and Raging Staff (Hiro Saito, Super Strong Machine and Tatsutoshi Goto) Vs Heisei Ishingun (Kengo Kimura, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Masashi Aoyagi, Shiro Koshinaka and The Great Kabuki)
At the time WAR and New Japan were working together, to the point that Dave Meltzer would actually combine the companies into one section in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter at the time. HI, or The Skinheads as they were also known, was a faction led by Koshinaka who were treated as an outside force who weren’t affiliated to New Japan, and they pushed this in storyline hard to the point that they would actually hold their own shows under the HI name. Raging Staff didn’t like The Skinheads and vice versa, so they’re battling here with Hara and Ishikawa helping out due to their mutual dislike of HI also.
This one starts out as a wild brawl at the beginning with everyone going at it until it settles into a heat segment on Strong Machine when the Skinheads give him a spiked piledriver on the floor, leading to them trying to unmask him. It doesn’t have amazing crowd reactions or anything but it’s an enjoyable enough match to watch. I’ve always got time for Ishikawa in particular as he seemingly always enters a solid performance whenever I watch him. He’s very much the Dennis Irwin of the 80’s and 90’s puro scene as you can usually expect at least a 7 out of 10 performance from him regardless of who he is wrestling.
The WAR and Staff team eventually manage to fight back and do the DragonGate “stick someone in the corner and all attack him one after the other” spot on Aoyahi at one stage. Koshinaka is probably the best wrestler in the match, as all his stuff looks good and generally gets the best reactions due to him being an established star by the time 1993 rolled around. Things eventually breakdown, with everyone going at it, as the match continues to be fun to watch, even if the work is hardly amazing. Koshinaka eventually gets the pin on Goto with a powerbomb.
WINNERS: HEISEI ISHINGUN
This was fun, if a little bit sloppy at points. From reading WON’s from this period I believe they did quite a few more tags with the inter-stable feuding and even some 7 match series on certain shows. Things really picked up when they added the likes of Tatsumi Fujinami and Riki Choshu into the feud as they were big stars and it really gave the feud with The Skinheads a shot in the arm now that they had some proper names to feud with
The losers point fingers at whose fault it was whilst the winners bail happy with the victory.
Scott Norton Vs Sting
For a long time Norton was one of the top foreigners in New Japan, to the point that he even won the IWGP Heavyweight Title in the second half of the 90’s. Sting had come into New Japan at the turn of the decade and had quickly got himself over with the Japanese audience thanks to his colourful character and high impact wrestling style. Matching him up against Norton in the battle of star foreigners seemed like a good idea for a big event like this.
Quite a bit of this match is cut out, but we see enough to get the general story of the bout. Norton goes into the ring post outside the ring at one stage and starts bleeding an absolute gusher. This is done so that he can lose without having to get pinned or made to submit thanks to a blood stoppage. It’s generally a bit disconcerting how much plasma Norton loses here, although he at least loses enough to make the finish believable. This isn’t Lex Luger having a little trickle at Bash 88.
The action itself isn’t amazing, but it has some good energy to it and Norton actually sells a bit more than usual due to the blood loss meaning he can do it without looking too weak. Sting mostly does things like punches in order to open up the cut some more, with Norton eventually staggering around and swinging wildly because the blood in his eyes means he can’t see. This causes the referee to bring the doctor into the ring and they stop the match.
Yes for some reason they ruled that a no contest instead of a blood stoppage win for Sting. I’m guessing because Sting caused the blood by sending Norton into the ring post they treated it like an illegal elbow in an MMA fight and went for the no contest finish as a result? If you were ever going to give Sting a forfeit victory then this would be the way to do it, as Norton wouldn’t have been hurt from it at all and it would leave the door open for a rematch as Norton could rightly claim that Sting never pinned him or made him submit. The match itself was cut up a bit too much for me to rate it, but I didn’t hate it or anything
Norton is not happy following that decision. We don’t get to see it here but they apparently had Norton beat up some of the Young Lions when they tried to help him once the match was over, so he could get his head back I guess. Again, it seemed very weird that they didn’t just have Sting win there if they were going to go to such lengths to protect Norton.
The Hell Raisers (Hawk Warrior and Power Warrior) Vs Shinya Hashimoto and Masahiro Chono
The Hell Raisers were New Japan trying to create their own version of The Road Warriors because they couldn’t have the real ones at the time due to Road Warrior Animal being out of wrestling with a back issue. Hawk and Animal I think actually fell out over this in real life for a bit as Animal didn’t like that they essentially replaced him, although I think they replaced Hawk with Crush in the WWF at one stage when Hawk flamed out following SummerSlam 92, so what was good for the goose was good for the gander I suppose.
The Hell Raisers have a cool entrance where they come out on motorbikes and they were the current IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champs at the time, although the belts don’t appear to be on the line here. Power Warrior is Kensuke Sasaki doing a Road Warrior cosplay. Chono was still a babyface here and hadn’t gone to his black charisma Heel gimmick. Hashimoto would get a run with the IWGP Heavyweight Title later on in the year, but right now he didn’t really have a program going on.
Hashimoto’s whole gimmick was that he was a burly bloke who battered folk, so he doesn’t look especially thrilled to be in there with a face painted Road Warrior style team, as that’s basically their gimmick too and that means Hashimoto will have to take a bit of a back seat. Chono though is pretty much the perfect opponent for a team like this, as he’s happy to bump around and he’s one of those wrestlers you can clobber because he’s the sort of wrestler who gets over from getting back up and trying again.
This has some good hard hitting action and the crowd is mostly invested in it, so it’s fun to watch. Chono is really the only one of the three who consistently sells throughout the bout, with Hashimoto taking his licks but usually getting up as quickly as possible so that he can dish out some punishment of his own. Chono and Muto would have probably been a better team to work with The Hell Raisers because they could both bump around and sell for them, but Muta has a match with Hogan so Hashimoto it is.
Hawk does actually start selling for a bit when Hashimoto and Chono start working over his leg, with Hashimoto doing a very nice Perry Saturn styled spinning leg sweep at one stage (that move is a godsend in No Mercy when you’re playing survival mode). However, Hashimoto makes the mistake of deviating from the game plan at one stage by delivering a DDT, which causes Hawk to no sell and pop right back up until Chono comes back in to cut him off and apply the step-over toe-hold face-lock.
Hashimoto and Power fight up on the ramp whilst Chono cinches in the hold, with Hashimoto seemingly winning that battle, but Hawk is able to make the ropes anyway to break the hold. That was a decent submission tease but I’m not sure the fans actually truly thought that Hawk might lose. Eventually it’s hot tag Power, and he runs wild on Chono, with Chono selling, bumping and feeding for it great. They take it come pretty quickly following that, with The Hell Raisers getting The Doomsday Device for the three count on Chono
WINNERS: THE HELL RAISERS
This was good, as Hawk actually sold a bit after the early exchanges made it look like neither of The Hell Raisers were really going to sell anything, and the finishing stretch was exciting. It had the best heat of the three matches and that added to it. Not a classic by any means but it was a fun match when all was said and done
The Hell Raisers celebrate and the DVD cuts to the All Japan section.
This was an easy watch, with some decent wrestling for the most part and The Dome setting being impressive. It was definitely a more casual crowd, with it happening during a festival where a lot of tourists came to Fukuoka, meaning everyone had to work that little bit harder to garner a reaction from a crowd of mostly non-wrestling fans.