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.
This week I’ve decided to look at a company from Japan that I haven’t done a review for before in the form of HUSTLE. For those not au fait, HUSTLE was a company ran by Dream Stage Entertainment and was a Japanese attempt at recreating a more WWE like product for the Japanese market. Rather than being Pro Wrestling, HUSTLE decided to market itself as “Fighting Opera” and it featured a lot of silly storylines and characters that the more serious promotions like Pro Wrestling NOAH or New Japan wouldn’t have included on their shows.
At first HUSTLE ran some pretty big venues and shelled out for some big name foreign wrestlers like Goldberg, Mick Foley, The Outsiders and Dusty Rhodes. However, the ticket sales were disappointing and they eventually decided to downsize a bit and run these smaller “HUSTLE House” events, where they featured fewer big names and filled the roster out with people from Shinya Hashimoto’s Zero-1 promotion. This was the first show of that type.
The big storyline centres around Nobuhiko Takada’s “Monster Army” heel group taking on the HUSTLE guys led by the likes of Hashimoto, Toshiaki Kawada and Naoya Ogawa. For some reason they decided to change Takada from being a serious shoot style worker in UWFi to a wacky general who spends the majority of his time dressed as M-Bison and taking part in odd backstage vignettes.
HUSTLE did eventually manage to cultivate somewhat of a fan base and this show apparently drew 2,200 people to Korakuen Hall, so as weird as this all was there was definitely an audience for it who dug seeing a strange WWE styled group, just not a big enough one to justify all the wild spending.
If you fancy watching this yourself then you can do so on YouTube by clicking HERE!
Let’s see how HUSTLE handles their first show in the smaller venue as we watch some chuffing wrestling!
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!
–Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan are in the studio for today’s telecast. Okerlund does his best to describe how the monster truck battle between Hulk Hogan and the Giant will play out at Halloween Havoc.
–As part of the Halloween Havoc Control Center WCW Champion Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart do a taped promo where they promise to do whatever it takes to defeat the Giant at Halloween Havoc.
(Check back tomorrow night for Doomie Award results!)
–Eric Bischoff and Bobby Heenan are doing studio duties for today’s broadcast. They briefly discuss Ric Flair’s reinstatement.
–Bischoff hypes WCW’s rubber action figures. Heenan uses the Vader figure to knock the Hulk Hogan figure off his desk.
Note: Since some of these broadcasts, such as Main Event, provide a lot of replays of past action, I will avoid recapping those segments and just provide a description of the new content that aired as part of the telecast.
–Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan are handling studio duties for today’s broadcast. They quickly recap the existing storylines surrounding Ric Flair and the Nasty Boys-Harlem Heat feud.