By JD Woolley
Learn, remember, and re-live the past.
Audio version of the retro review is available through the Red Leaf Retrocast podcast.
All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling (AJW) Classic Eps 24
Place: Korakuen Hall, 1/5/1988 & War Dream 2 at Kawasaki City Gymnasium, 2/25/1988
WWWA World Championship: Chigusa Nagayo (c) vs. Yukari Ohmori (AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 1/5/1988)
Ohmori has a pompadore donning full on an American football jersey and shoulder pads. The epic rematch for the 3WA title. Horrible Yukari offense occurs we have grown to cringe at. Of course Chigusa must bleed from that devastating Yukari tomahawk chop. Yukari is busted open via a big high kick from Nagayo. The match was built off being a pseudo shoot fight where each person would hit a big clubbing shot or move and then go down. Blood loss played a big role in this match. They beat the hell out of each other, and I was not a fan of this style coming off watching so much mma shoot style stuff from the njpw 90s watch. Double KO finish after at the 13 min mark, a test of strength is met with a Nagayo shoot head-butt followed by an Irish whip and double clothesline unable to make the standing 10 count. Really sold how beat up the two were by both being carried out of the ring unable to walk out on their own power. At least that part was real cool.
WWA Tag Team Championship: Bull Nakano & Kumiko Yamamoto (c) vs. Fire Jets (AJW War Dream 2 @ Kawasaki City Gymnasium, 2/25/1988)
First time seeing the fire jets team here of Yumiko Hotta and Mitsuko Nishiwaki. What a nonsense match this was. First fall was quick coming off the electric chair cross body combo the Fire Jets getting the first fall. That triggers pandemonium among Gokuaku Domei (Dump Matsumoto's faction) with Nakano bringing part of a guardrail into the ring to choke out Hotta. Then, the rest of Domei put the boots to the ref, cause you know, no ref is ever safe in an AJW ring. Kumiko chokes out Nishiwaki with a towel, and finally Bull gets a hold of those nunchakus to beat some ass. Needless to say, the Fire Jets definitely had a bad time. The second fall looks brutal as Nishiwaki throws Kumiko to the ropes and looks to go down perhaps for a roll up pin or trip, but instead meets a wicked stomping boot to her face from Kumiko and gets pinned herself.
Side note, Nakano has changed her hair in between since we last saw her. She's no longer sporting the half shaven head with coloured hair. She and Kumiko sport a sort of permed blond with black mixture really graduating from the mad max fist of the north star look to this new 80s delinquent style.
The third fall is rather pedestrian as it resets and goes 50-50. It finished via Bull Nakano hitting a German suplex pinning Hotta. A good match and can't wait to see more of this Fire Jets team going forward.
Dump Matsumoto & Yukari Ohmori Double Retirement Match: Dump Matsumoto & Yukari Ohmori vs. The Crush Gals (AJW War Dream 2 @ Kawasaki City Gymnasium, 2/25/1988)
In short.... greatest retirement match ever!
First off, Chigusa naturally comes out to her screaming female fans chanting all together. Meanwhile, in the other corner, Yukari appears first wearing what can only be described as low-rent Oakland Raiders shoulder pads and jersey, and sporting a freaking pompadour! Her partner.... out comes Dump Matsumoto gearing up in full demon samurai armor accompanied by her faction waves the flags of war. When they stood next to each other as partners in the ring to take on the beloved Crush Gals in their last match; to say the visual was strikingly unique would be an understatement.
Both Yukari and Dump have their own histories with the Crush Gals. Yukari winning the title and defending against Asuka, while losing to Nagayo was easily her greatest feat along with her crushing and most devastating move of the 80s.... her tomahawk chop (I jest). Dump, of course, her epic feud culminating in the hair matches against Nagayo and in general the feud her faction faced against the Crush Gals. The reason for the two teaming makes some sense due to Dump losing to Yukari in the 1986 Grand Prix (annual knockout tournament) which saw Yukari get stabbed in the arm from a fork thanks to Dump. Key word there is fork for future reference. Okay to the match!
The match stats harmless enough. Dump occasionally gets her cracks in, kendo stick included. The rest of the wrestlers do their thing. Yukari shows us her incredible tomahawk chop with pin point accuracy hitting Nagayo in the right shoulder instead of her skull. She puts Nagayo in a Mexican surfboard of all things, and in that moment Dump waltzes into the ring to waffle Nagayo in the ribs with a few kendo stick shots. The match was never the same from this point forward. It is the kill or be killed match with Dump Matsumoto playing the part of the executioner. Her weapon of choice, the mighty fork! Nagayo's face stands no chance to the steel stabbing utensil. Dump parades around the ring making sure to show the fans how much fun she is having torturing another human. Nagayo is bleeding, women are screaming, we can see teenage girls hugging each other in fear on video in the stands as Dump does what she loves.... pure violence. Dump points to Asuka. Time for her stabbing. Both Crush Gals are bleeding. Good time to grab the metal trash can thinks Dump. She proceeds to beat both of them with the can until the Crush Gals hit her back with it 2 on 1. If you forgot about Yukari, yeah we all did. She's just standing and chilling in her corner. Brawling moves outside, chair shots to Dump from the Crush Gals, blood flowing, this match is reaching a fever pitch of awesome. The ref then waves off the match to Yukari's disbelief like there hasn't been attempted murder going around out of style like her pompadour. Well, Dump decides, Yukari deserves a good stabbing too. Asuka leaps in to save Yukari, and this now sets up a match restart. However, there's a catch.
Dump, now bleeding from the chair shot earlier demands if Asuka wants to save Yukari so bad, then she calls for Nagayo to step up and team with her. Nagayo shockingly obliges her great rival in her retirement match. The match continues with now rivals as partners for a tag team match of 4 women going all out in a wrestling bout each one can be proud of. Everyone is giving their literal blood, sweat, and tears in the ring. The bell rings for the time limit draw as both Dump and Yukari are now retired tagging with each other, and then their greatest rivals. To say this match wasn't steeped in history, fun, and meaning would be crazy. This was simply the greatest. The music ceremony plays the two out, Yukari in soft tears, and Dump naturally with a smile on her face seemingly with no regrets. Everybody takes moving on differently, and Dump wouldn't step back into wrestling full time again until the early 2000s. A glorious AJW end to one of the greatest women wrestlers of all time.
The next classic episode continues in order with episode 25 found through the AJW Classic archive.
New Japan through the 90’s (NJPW) – May 17, 1992 show from Osaka Castle Hall - CRUSH THE SUPER HEAVY III – OVER HEAT NIGHT
note: matches covered are what’s available in the archive on njpw world
April 30, 1992 Best of the Super Jr Finals III Liger vs El Samurai
(not sure if it was just uploaded or I simply missed it...probably the latter) and wouldnt you know it...it's a 5 star caliber match.
The story here is El Samurai lead the table, while Liger came in second and was the current Jr champion. Liger was looking to become the first to win while also champion.
This immediately gets started hot. Before the bell rings, El Samurai spits into the face of Liger instead of shaking Liger's hand. Samurai immediately follows up at the bell by going straight to rip Liger's mask to the immense disdain of the crowd. Liger rolls outside to breath but Samurai follows to hit him with a stick (or something). Samurai tombstone piledrives Liger on the floor and rolls back in to check with the crowd. They naturally respond with more intense boos. Once Liger re-enters the ring, he is met with another tombstone piledriver. How will the Jr champion fight back from here? Well, Samurai beats down and abuses the ref counts, and continues to go after the mask of Liger. Once in the corner, Liger fires back and this is where we see the anger and fire of a pissed off Liger going after the dick Samurai. Liger starts to obliterate El Samurai even going as far as taking the outside padding away, and proceeds to powerbomb Samurai on the exposed concrete. This match is absolutely nuts, and we are just getting going here. Liger rolling kicks the shit out of Samurai before ripping Samurai's own mask, all that's left of it is dangling around Samurai's own neck. Back to outside as Liger leaps like a madman and hits a flipping senton onto samurai from the top corner to the floor. Samurai is in pure desperation to catch a breath, but Liger keeps up the high flying connecting with one move after another. Samurai finally hits a reverse ddt and locks in a submission move to ice the match and for Samurai to gain back some composure. Samurai wants to end the match now and heads to the corner for a superplex. Liger will have none of this. The most Samurai does from this point forward is try to counter Liger's onslaught. Samurai almost catches Liger with a phenomenal near fall off a snap German with a bridging pin. Liger avoids the last desperation move from Samurai. Liger finishes the very game opponent off with his second rope ddt, sets up the super frankensteiner, and hits it to end the epic.
I have seen some phenomenal matches on this journey through the 90s to date, and I can honestly say this was not only the best match, while also my favourite. I implore everybody to seek this one out and put 21:15 aside to watch this.
May 17, 1992 show from Osaka Castle Hall - CRUSH THE SUPER HEAVY III – OVER HEAT NIGHT
Also on this card Super Strong Machine defeats Masahiro Chono, but it's not in the archives. This upsets me.
IWGP Jr. HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH Jushin Thunder Liger vs. El Samurai
Interestingly enough, Samurai gets his match for the title despite losing at super juniors and this time shakes the hand of Liger before the match starts. We go to grapples and Samurai works the wheels of Liger sporting a very epic slick white suite. Now normally I would be loving a match like this, but the limb work does not pay off. It’s simply a means to kill time. Liger comes back gets downed and then escapes a choke. Liger goes nuts and pulls off a top rope moonsault to the outside and immediately follows up with a flipping senton to the floor. Surely Samurai is done. Match goes 50-50 for bigger move exchanges and continues to the finish. Samurai attempts his own dive and is met with a shotei. Liger finishes this off with a shooting star. Good night. First half, I liked, but found myself annoyed it meant very little. However, the finish was adrenaline filled and even the audience found a way into the end here, as did I.
Great OZ vs. Hashimoto Shinya
Well this was a shock to the eyes. Seeing a mobile Great Oz aka Kevin Nash is certainly bizarre. He’s doing things like a leap frog, running face buster and being actually remotely interesting. Although his gear is very appalling. He's got silver sprayed hair with a slight perm along with hideous green lightning bolts with green boots. Basically this is an enhancement match for Hashimoto against a man twice his size. Wins via the jumping ddt after coming back via his running wheel kick.
Antonio Inoki Hiroshi Hase vs. Brad Rheingans Monsieur Rimbaud
Here we have yet another Inoki Hase tag. As was the previous show, it's all about Inoki's schtick and the big uncoordinated gaijuns just being big muscle bounds doofs going through the motions. Inoki wins.
Pegasus Kid def Tiger Mask
Benoit is still Pegasus Kid here in NJPW but without a mask now, and its real weird seeing him in sky blue pants with white boots. Tiger Mask here is young, but steps behind Liger on the top junior chart currently. Benoit here is a running madman here, but things go up 10 fold when Tiger Mask backflips off Benoits chest out of the corner. The following sequence was mesmerizing at the 5min mark:
backdrop, dropkick, Benoit outside, Tiger feint kick fake, over the top rope onto the apron, back kicks Benoit whom flies over the gaurdrailing, Tiger cross bodies from the top turnbuckle over the gaurdrailing onto Benoit. Crazy!
They take a breather for a few minutes from submission hold to Benoit getting some offense until another Tiger comeback of fury involving a cartwheel splash counter off an Irish whip. Then, it goes 50-50 in submissions and moves exchanges until Tiger Mask reverses a super backdrop into a cover, Benoit kicks out. They go to the Dynamite Kid-Tiger German suplex switches, and Benoits counters into a rolling clutch to win it. Match certainly had a lot of mat down time, but when the action was dialed up, hot damn it was exciting.
Tony Halme def Big Van Vader
Vader strong. Vader big. Vader clotheslines. Vader hit with big body. Crowd like Vader. Halme kidney shots booo. More Vader big.
Crowd still like Vader. Crowd want Vader splashes. Vader miss butt drop. Halme steals pin. Match fun.
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH Riki Choshu def Keiji Mutoh (15:55)
For the hype and feel of this one going in, this was a major let down. The first 6 min was Chosu mat work on Mutoh and then the next 6 was simply Mutoh getting his set of moves in. Finally, a sense of action and tension happens with Mutoh just getting bodied by Choshu. The champion tears Mutoh's head off with a couple clotheslines to follow and simply pins the man clean. Outside of a few key moves, this match lacked seemingly any large effort, and received no energy from the crowd either. The story furthers now as Mutoh can't beat Choshu and will need to dig a little deeper if it is to happen aka Great Muta is coming.
Next up is June-Aug 1992 including the Great Muta vs Choshu iwgp title match at the G1 which is not in the archives. I am for sure also covering that match.
WCW Nitro Nov 30, 1998
from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Meanwhile in WWF: a cluster of 30 plus segments on a 2 hr show with Rock vs Al Snow for the world title in the main event.
nWo arrive in 1000x limos without Hogan cause of his Presidential totally for sure retiring.
According to commentary, Hogan can't run for President and run the nWo at the same time. Meanwhile, Steiner is without a shirt and sunglasses at night cause that is normal Steiner attire. It is announced, Hogan invented having the largest arms in the world, so now Steiner is the leader cause his arms are now larger. I died laughing at how dumb this all was. It is announced that Scott Hall and a partner will face Steiner and.... wait for it... Horace. Hoorah. Hall is out, but we must continue this for seemingly no reason.
Konnan vs Chris Jericho
Story was Konnan beat Jericho on Saturday night. Jericho tries so hard to get something out of Konnan and then Konnan reverses Jericho trying to hit him with the title, Konnan face plants Jericho straight on the title in front of the ref, but hey ref don't care. Konnan pins Jericho to win the tv title.
Hey, Kevin Nash's friend got a title and Jericho hasn't resigned his WCW contract at this time either for the record. This crowd exploded for this title change. Nash of course has to come out and celebrate and then Nitro replays Konnan's rap video and it's super glorious.
Ric Flair promo on Barry Windham and Bischoff.
Abuse of power, bleep me (they don't bleep him) you're an asshole. Ric Flair called you out and Ric is an old man. Flair goes absolutely nuts, turning purple, and talks up this match vs Bischoff so hard and so well, how is it possible that I want to see this "old man beat Bischoff." amazing.
Scott Hall now out for a promo and says he has no friends, he's all alone now.
Of course Nash out yet again to think he's so cool. Nash says he'll be his huckleberry because again forget about the feud and betrayals. I'm so annoyed watching this unfold. Nash got thrown through a wall by Hall no more than 3 weeks ago! Nobody can possibly buy this.
Raven and Kanyon vs the Armstrong Brothers
Sadly, we are continuing the Raven has mom problems and leaves mid match. Kanyon hits his schtick and the flatliner but is distracted by Raven leaving. He gets rolled up by an Armstrong. woohoo. Must be nice to be Raven getting paid all this money to do nothing.
Mean Gene out to interview Bret Hart and here comes the pulled groin.
It's still glorious.
Bret says "Malenko tried to fracture his groin. You fans don't understand cause none of you have groins." He's got his doctors note saying he can't fight. DDP gets to the ring from the crowd and calls Hart a liar. DDP says he's been excellently executed. Hart annoyed says okay, if you want a match and to fight a cripple, then make the match a no DQ match. Each guy played their role amazingly. I loved this.
Eddie Guerrero vs Kidman for I think the cruiserweight title.
lWo of course, it's a lame rest hold style match, lWo interference and falls off a cliff with Kidman getting Eddie, ref counts 2, bell rings, and counts 3. What an utter mess this was.
Bischoff w/ Windham wearing a denim vest unbuttoned and a leather jacket.
This was a real funny sight. Promo about his usual nonsense and calls out Malenko to fight Windham. The stipulation is if Malenko wins, then Bischoff will wrestle Ric Flair. Announced is Dusty Rhodes also in a black leather jacket is the special guest ref. May the best (looks at Windham) man win, in his Dusty best. I think we can sense something.
Wrath vs some doof.
Fan sign says "you will feel wrath's wrath." Meltdown. It’s over as well as Wrath after losing to Nash last week. I am sad.
Onoo and 3x World Karate champion Cat says to Saturn in the ring,
"As a good black belt, I will not wrestle you. Onoo beat you. But, if you beat him this time, I will fight you." Cat whispers something to Onoo.
Saturn hits a move and knocks Cat off the apron immediatlely and randomly Glacier chronic kicks Saturn but Saturn kicks out. Cat throws a chain to Onoo but misses. Saturn hits his dvd but Onoo places the chain in his pants before being killed. Cat and Onoo are clearly geniuses as the ref DQ's Saturn after seeing the chain. Currently, I still love the combo of Onoo and Cat. They are the Greatest!
Goldberg arrives in a limo and does the same 5 plus minute walk through the garage, back, and to the ring.
Here we get a stupid contract signing with one Kevin Nash. Of course Nash can't not be a douchebag with his goofy mannerisms. Contract says Goldberg will not defend the title before Starrcade, but then it's time for crazy Bam Bam Bigelow brawl but he's thrown out of the building.
I must note Goldberg came out in 90s baggy clothes with a fanny pack instead of the big gold belt. A bold choice for the champion we never see.
Booker T vs Mike 50-50 with Luger last week Enis - not a good match and Enis loses.
Bigelow demands Goldberg fight him outside on the grassy knoll.
Lex Luger vs Crush...I mean Brian Adams.
God help me. Terrible match, ref goes down, Vincent interferes, and Brian hits a shitty piledriver on a chair. Luger kicks out late and the match continues despite the ref counting 3 and puts him in the rack to a crazy crowd reaction. A reaction I will never understand.
Barry Windham vs Dean Malenko w/ Dusty Rhodes as special ref.
Short point, the wrestling in the match was amazing. Watching Barry Windham on the NWA US title journey was awesome. You can hear this journey on the backlog of the Red Leaf Retrocast (time stamps in the description of shows).
Windham here was wrestling for that paycheck. Amazing chemistry between these two all while Dusty is broken, fat, and old meaning the poor man has to be a heel ref while also not being able to move. After all this beating, Dusty calls for the bell as Windham is kicking Malenko's leg in the corner signaling a DQ assumingly. A real rigmarole for Dusty to betray the nWo out of nowhere. This made zero sense. Dusty dances, grabs his nuts and exits out all to Bischoff bolting into the ring, grabs a mic, and yells at him. He says Dusty is fired, and as Dusty goes "meh whatever" I do as well. It's announced later via commentary that the WCW board has signed Bischoff vs Flair at Starrcade. We cut to all the Horsemen in the ring prancing including Flair back on the mic in glee. This was such a weird way to get to the starting line for their Starrcade match.
Steiner and Horace vs The Outsiders (Nash and Hall)
Commentary keep emphasizing it's been over a year, ages, who-knows-how-long since Nash and Hall last teamed together.
For the record, it's only been 6 months since the Slamboree ppv back in May. Also note, no WCW ref will be in a Steiner match because they fear him, so nWo has their own ref. Yes, two heel nWo refs in back to back matches.
Hall spends 6 min in ring between Horace and Steiner, and this heel ref is all over the place with his counts. A bad heel ref one might say. Nash finally gets a tag, and the nWo ref says nope. Nash shoves him away and gets his 30 sec of work in for the night. Hall hits an outsider’s edge on Horace and Nash takes care of Steiner to the outside, but the ref won't count the pin. We see this as Hall isn't the legal man, but WCW was going for the ref refuses to count. Nash powerbombs the ref for his trouble. A WCW ref hits the ring to make the 3 count. Hall is happy and Nash walks to the back without celebration. I continue to groan further at everything Kevin Nash does.
Back to Bigelow on the grassy knoll in not Dallas.
Goldberg fights with Bigelow as security weirdly lets them fight for a bit and then remembers to do their job. This is kind of weird now because the match at Starrcade is vs Nash while Goldberg and Bigelow seems to be the thing we should really be paying attention to. Very strange. I know I would rather see Bigelow vs Goldberg for the title instead. This begs further why this match didn't take place at the ppv.
Bret Hart with his injured groin vs DDP for the US title in a no DQ match.
They go to blows for a small bit, but then The Giant saunters down to chokeslam DDP. Giant gives DDP a super-chokeslam from the top rope from Bret's request and Bret simply puts DDP in the sharpshooter for a ref stoppage win. New US champion Bret Hart and he gets minutes to celebrate this. A very nothing and dumb nWo type main event.
Further perspective, Bret Hart has an actual injured groin, and now he's the new US champion.
What a weird show.
Next show is WCW Nitro Dec 7, 1998.