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.
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.
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!
For those not aware, 25 years ago today a very notorious bout took place in All Japan Pro Wrestling between Mitusharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada. In case you don’t recognise the names, both Misawa and Kawada were the top two stars of All Japan at the time and this was a much anticipated collision between the two.
Both men had actually been tag team partners and allies in the not too distant past prior to this contest, but by the time 1994 rolled around both men had become heated rivals, both on and off screen. Thankfully it led to magic between the two and they often produced an epic chemistry together, one that helped make All Japan incredibly successful during the 90’s.
The two hadn’t met in a match for the famed All Japan Triple Crown of Titles for nearly two years, so this match had a lot of hype going into it and was the talk of the internet wrestling world following its conclusion due to how great a match it ended up being.
Seeing as today is the anniversary of the match, I thought I’d review it seeing as I haven’t watched it in a while and the milestone deserved some recognition. So without further ado, let’s say the way back machine to Budokan Hall for some Retro Wrestle action!
I’ve been a bit bogged down with covering G1 Climax over at Gaming Respawn for the past few weeks, which has limited the time I could spend watching classic All Japan.
However, I’ve got a free evening so I decided to fill it with some hard hitting AJPW action!