As noted in prior columns, this show was a joint effort by the WWF, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and All Japan Pro Wrestling. The WWF was looking to expand its global presence while New Japan and All Japan felt threatened by Akira Maeda’s shoot-like Universal Wrestling Federation, which drew a 50,000 person crowd to the Tokyo Dome for a big show in November 1989. To counter them, New Japan and All Japan worked together on a supershow at the Tokyo Dome on February 10. Then, they built on that effort by partnering with the WWF for another big card in Tokyo on April 13 that was named The Wrestling Summit. According tothehistoryofwwe.com, the show drew a crowd of 53,742.
Hogan & Hansen: Main Event in the making!
WWF/AJPW/NJPW WRESTLING SUMMIT:
(Tokyo Dome, April 13th, 1990)
* This is a pretty wild and wacky card, full of the kind of “Dream Matches” you’ll never see again- I’m really shocked it’s not more famous. I mean, it’s a triple-show with All Japan, New Japan, AND the WWF all at once! In the Tokyo Dome! Apparently highlights were aired on Japanese TV, but complexities with the rights led to the full event never being shown in its entirety (which might be why it’s so obscure). The biggest matches are Hulk Hogan vs. Stan Hansen, Macho Man vs. Genichiro Tenryu, and the Ultimate Warrior vs. Ted DiBiase. The WON awards declared this the “Best Major Wrestling Show” of 1990!
“TL;DR” Version: So come see Bret Hart vs. Mitsuharu Misawa in the most disappointing Dream Match of all time! Hogan with his “Japan working boots” (where he’s more “Unstoppable Monster” than the Technically-Gifted Powerhouse I was led to believe he was) on against Stan Hansen in one of his greatest matches ever! Macho King & Queen Sherri doing their schtick against a stoic top-tier Japanese legend in a befuddled Tenryu! Grumpy ol’ Jumbo Tsuruta dealing with hard-working heels in Martel & Perfect!
The show had two dark matches- Dan Kroffat, Doug Furnas & Joe Malenko beat Samson Fuyuki, Tatsumi Kitahara & Toshiaki Kawada in (11:56), and Jushin Liger beat Akira Nogami in (8:37). An extremely shaky fancam of the latter exists- it’s mostly hold-trading. They trade corner moves and Liger hits a surfboard and a rock-the-cradle. They trade flash-pins and Nogami hits a very good plancha and German Suplex for two, but Liger dropkicks him coming off the top and hits a Tope Con Hilo to the floor! He misses a roundhouse kick but gets a powerslam and finishes with a Moonsault Press. Looks **1/2-ish but holy god am I not gonna go move-for-move with such a shaky vid.
And we’re back with more of wrestling’s oddest Dream Matches! Two in one week, no less! Tonight we’ll see a “WTF?” Old-Timers vs. Rookies match as two of the Four Pillars face some washed-up megastars, and some WWF hossery from various giant dudes based off of historical & mythological figures! More Berzerker- challenging his counterpart, the Barbarian! Also the Warlord versus Hercules!
Once again, WWF-owned YouTube clips get the Blog into trouble, but they’re not hard to find with a simple search.
ANDRE THE GIANT, GIANT BABA & DORY FUNK, JR. vs. TOSHIYAKI KAWADA, KENTA KOBASHI & TSUYOSHI KIKUCHI:
* Okay, now this is just strange. I figured Baba was only in the “comedy matches” at this point, as he looks about as unintimidating as you can possibly look while being nearly as tall as Andre is, but there you go. He’s got his standard “broad and wide torso that nonetheless has all the ribs exposed like he’s a starvation victim” physique, with the lil’ tiny bird arms, and red trunks. Andre’s in a blue version of his regular gear, while Dory’s in blue- he’s a HUGE legend in Japan and deeply respected for his work with Baba and others. Kawada’s the Grumpy Kicking Asshole (ignoring Dory’s handshake attempt), Kobashi’s a young up & comer not quite into his big push, and Kikuchi’s his tag partner- a guy with a GREAT wrestling physique (Dynamite/Savage-style size & body), but who never got a serious push after that tag team. He’s instantly recognized as the “polite Young Boy wrestler” by him gleefully shaking Dory’s hand.
WEEKLY PRO WRESTLING “BRIDGE OF DREAMS”:
* Welcome to Part Two! This is the part of the massive interpromotional show that sees Michinoku-Pro and All Japan put on their best stuff in 6-Man Tags, and then New Japan putting on… that match. The story goes that they were gonna put on a throwaway bout until everyone else brought their A-game matches, so they had to scramble and put their top stars in a bout to be a proper “Main Event”. But… oof. They also hit the YouTube video with an immediate copywrite claim over the Main Event, so it’s missing from the show above, but I managed to finagle an MP4.
“TL;DR- What’s the Deal?”: 4-5 all-time classic matches, the women showing up nearly everybody, worked shoots, bloodbaths, spotfests, comedy- something for everybody. Two more ****+ matches to go!
Welcome back to the second part of this retrospective where we look back at Kenta Kobashi’s epic reign as the GHC Heavyweight Champion from Pro Wrestling NOAH in the early-mid 00’s.
Last time out we saw Kobashi defeat Mitsuharu Misawa to win the GHC Title in a classic match before defending it in a barn burner against fellow BURNING stablemate Tamon Honda. We closed out last time with Kobash having a decent but not thrilling bout with Masahiro Chono on a New Japan Pro Wrestling event at the Tokyo Dome.
This time we’ll see Kobashi go back to defending the belt against people from his home promotion, but don’t be too surprised if those pesky invaders from New Japan show themselves once again…
I thought I’d try something a bit different and actually cover some classic Pro Wrestling NOAH for a change. In the early to mid-00’s, NOAH was probably the most consistently great wrestling company in the world. It had a great Junior Heavyweight division anchored by the likes of KENTA, Naomichi Marufuji, Ricky Marvin and Yoshinobu Kanemaru, talented youngsters coming through the ranks such as Takeshi Morishima, Takeshi Rkioh, Mohamed Yone and Go Shiozaki, dependable veterans in the mid-card who could be relied upon such as Tamon Honda, Takuma Sano, Daisuke Ikeda and Akitoshi Saito, and most importantly a really good main event scene featuring the likes of Mitsuharu Misawa, Jun Akiyama, Yoshihiro Takayama and Minoru Suzuki.
However, the biggest star of them all was the man who held the GHC (The equivalent to New Japan’s IWGP) Heavyweight Title for two years from 2003 to 2005, having great matches with basically everyone along the way. That man was none other than Kenta Kobashi, the inventor of The Burning Hammer, an all-round elite level worker and a guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famer. Not only was Kobashi superb in the ring, but he was also a hit at the box office and NOAH enjoyed a lot of success during his reign.
The zenith of Kobashi’s reign was likely headlining NOAH’s first ever Tokyo Dome show in 2004, but he also enjoyed a spate of sell outs at Budokan Hall and defended the belt in a number of classic bouts, dragging top level matches out of basically everyone he faced ala Ric Flair during his Title reigns during the 80’s.
Personally I’d say Kenta Kobashi is probably my favourite wrestler of all-time. Whether it was coming up with inventive suplexes, flying through the air with a moonsault or just destroying his opponent with hard knife edge chops, Kobashi could seemingly have an epic and enjoyable match with practically anyone and he almost always elevated the people he wrestled. Losing to Kenta Kobashi in an epic bout would almost always raise the defeated opponents stock, not lower it.
What I like most about Kobashi though is his selling, his facial expressions specifically. Kobashi’s facials are possibly some of the greatest of all-time, as he could convey a mixture of pain, desperation, anger and defiance like almost no one else. It’s one of the reasons why I think Kota Ibushi is so good as well actually, as he can do similar with his own expert facial expressions.
So with intro’s out of the way, I suppose I best explain what this is going to be all about. During the late 00’s G+ in Japan put together a compilation of all of the matches from Kobashi’s GHC Heavyweight Title reign. I eventually picked this up on DVD, but some kind uploaders on YouTube have uploaded the whole thing for public consumption. I won’t post the link here in case I accidentally drop them in hot water, but a quick search should be able to bring it up rather easily.
Obviously the full video is close to 9 hours long, so I won’t be doing it all in one sitting. Basically, whenever I get the time I’ll upload 2 or 3 matches when the opportunity arises. I’m not expecting this to be a particularly regular thing due to all the other commitments I have, but it will be a nice side project that I can bust out now and then when I can.
So, with the longest intro in Blog history completed, why don’t we watch some chuffing wrestling?