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 27

Place: (All Matches from AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 10/10/1988 & AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 12/11/1988)

Rookie of the Year 1988 Tournament Final: Sachiko Nakamura vs. Kyoko Inoue (AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 12/11/1988)

This was a quick match. Sachiko wins with that shoot pin style. Not much here to say other than basic hit moves and Sachiko hit a few bad looking STOs.

AJW Junior Championship – Championship Vacant: Reibun Amada vs. Manami Toyota (AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 12/11/1988)

I shall dub this style of match, the high-speedo-match. It's a mixture of running basics and many shoot pins. They go back and forth and then the match takes a turn to the outside. Manami (yes that legend) misses a running cross body and falls to the outside. Reibun (a 2 yr exp wrestler originally from China) cracks Manami on the ring bell and busts her open hard way. Manami leaps into the ring and misses Reibun. From there Reibun just kills Manami. She hits multiple flap jacks, back body drops, and more! Manami is trying to bridge out (very elevated beautiful bridges) but Reibun rubs her face on the mat during a bridge, and after a few more shoot pins gets her to win the Junior title. A very fun match. I really can't wait to see more of this Chinese killer!

Chigusa Nagayo vs. Toshiyo Yamada (AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 10/10/1988)

Nagayo is freshly back from her "shoulder" injury and her tour of the USA. She is quite tan. Yamada is a super rookie on the rise here and you can tell by the fact she gets some good licks in on Nagayo before getting shot-on, and tapping to a wrenching arrow lock. Yamada does go on to have a storied career in AJW, so it will be super fun to see all these rookies and sophomores here become legends going forward.

Tag League The Best ’88 Semi Final: Hisako Uno & Mika Suzuki vs. Bull Nakano & Dynamite Jack (AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 10/10/1988)

Note: Uno isn't Hokuto yet, and Mika does become Suzuka Minami and has a 9 year career in AJW. Uno does have “Akira” written on her trunks.

Unfortunately, they have the honor of facing the next evolution of Bull Nakano as we dub thee, Violence Nakano form. She has full humidity hair with a mix of her silver/blue face paint. Both Uno and Mika are in school gym outfits of the 80s, and these two poor women just get the living hell beaten out of them for a spectacle definitely worth checking out. Even the referee got his ass beat in order to call for the bell.

Dynamite Jack’s role here was simply to keep someone out of the ring as Nakano stabbed, paraded, and bloodies the opposing duo. Mika especially got a gruesome crimson mask. At one point Nakano, while holding Mika by the hair, then drops her and licks the blood presenting a sick smile to the crowd. Bull Nakano took joy in the beating and potential murder of these two clearly doing just that over winning the match.

Tag League The Best ’88 Final: Fire Jets vs. Hisako Uno & Mika Suzuki (AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 10/10/1988)

Poor Mika had to go out again on the same show after getting almost murdered by Bull Nakano. Both Uno and Mika's gear are completely stained red. Even the red parts are redder.

As for the match itself, the story was all about the beaten down duo fighting from underneath over the up and coming Fire Jets. At this point, it seemed primed and easy for the Fire Jets to win and cement themselves as the next big tag team took replace and take on those at the top. However, the story of Uno and Mika getting to the next level themselves along with sustaining and overcoming their beating earlier was their shining moment. As the match goes through its simple mat wrestling to fighting back story, yes indeed Uno and Mika win the tag league and prove how tough they are. If we know our joshi-wrestling history Uno is the next big thing for AJW, and this was her next major step into becoming just that.

The next classic episode continues in order with episode 28 found through the AJW Classic archive.

New Japan through the 90’s (NJPW) – Jan 4, 1993 Fantastic Story In Tokyo Dome
note: matches covered are what’s available in the archive on njpw world

No other notable matches watched this time. There was a decision to focus on the more important Dome matches, so some were skipped over for this card.

Six Man Tag Team Match

Akira Nogami, El Samurai & Takayuki Iizuka defeat Koki Kitahara, Masao Orihara & Nobukazu Hirai (15:11)

Eight Man Tag Team Match

Heisei Ishingun (Akitoshi Saito, Masashi Aoyagi, Shiro Koshinaka & The Great Kabuki) defeat

Raging Staff (Hiro Saito, Norio Honaga, Super Strong Machine & Tatsutoshi Goto) (14:20)

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match

Jushin Thunder Liger defeats Ultimo Dragon (c) (20:09)

The big question coming into this match was, could Liger defeat the man (Ultimo Dragon) that beat El Samurai for the title. El Samurai was the guy that Liger had failed twice over in beating him. As was a theme ongoing in NJPW at the time, this was another case of an outsider holding one of their belts. Ultimo Dragon holding the IWGP Jr title was also his first title he held outside of Japan, so you bet he did not want to lose this one. The match indeed went the first 10 minutes of Dragon out maneuvering Liger on fronts of grappling, but more importantly stopping any explosion of offense from Liger.

Things took a turn after Dragon slipped on a dropkick off the top rope, but ended up working into the narrative of the match where Dragon kept upping the ante, and seemingly one thing after another costing him the match as time went on. Very shortly after Dragon leaps from the top over the guard railing basically colliding side first into a table trying to take out Liger. He succeeded, but at what cost? On a third attempt from Dragon, was indeed making that rule of 3 where Liger took advantage and went into the finish of hitting his top rope hurricanrana to become a 6x Junior champion. A match that had its share of faults, but when worked into the story, the match is good and worth checking out.

Singles Match

Ron Simmons defeats Tony Halme (6:10)

Singles Match

Sting defeats Hiroshi Hase (15:31)

Nothing really of note here. Sting wins in a very average match that probably went too long. We have definitely seen better from both guys before. Kind of a shame considering this took place in the Dome without much on the line here.

Tag Team Match

Masa Saito & Shinya Hashimoto defeat Dustin Rhodes & Scott Norton (13:57)

IWGP Heavyweight Title / NWA World Heavyweight Title Match

Great Muta (c) [IWGP] defeats Masahiro Chono (c) [NWA] (19:48)

I’ve mentioned this before, but Muta is super unique watching in the ring. This match did not disappoint. 63k people in attendance came and witnessed a double title match and saw 2 out of the 3 musketeers do battle.

There is a lot of mat work to start off the match as is almost expected from Chono really. Especially with him coming off a broken neck only a few months prior, him even walking letting alone wrestling a 20 minute match is a miracle. When Muta takes control, we see him provide his unique movement all leading to brief yet explosive sets. For example, Chono gets thrown onto the even ramp way in which we see Muta walk a ways up the ramp to turn around and war-scream unleashing built up kinetic energy into a single lariat and then tumbling into the bottom ropes unable to stop his own momentum.

The next stage of the match reaches a climax when Muta misses his moonsault and this proceeds events of Muta escaping the dreaded STF. Both exchange brutal kicks with Chono hitting multiple Yakuza kicks while Muta answers with explosive momentum off the ropes with dropkicks of his own until succumbing to damage and falling outside to the ramp.

From there Chono tries to win with a series of his bigger moves including another STF lock, but with Muta escaping yet again, the two go on exchanging flows of the match until finally Muta is able to transition into his moonsault and finally hitting it. Chono does kick out once, but not after getting hit a second time. This is the first Great Muta my I can recall where Muta didn’t use mist nor cheat with plunder.

All and all, a very different flow of match from Muta and even without a more mobile Chono, this was well worth watching and a good match at the Dome.

IWGP Tag Team Title Match

The Hell Raisers (Hawk Warrior & Power Warrior aka Kensuke Sasaki) (c) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner) - Double Count Out (14:38)

In a brief yet mostly singles match power exchanges in ring, this was a bit of a spectacle. Hawk seemed out of his mind here while Sasaki seemed a bit out of his element. The Steiners, of course, stuck to power and suplexes. In the final minutes when the match broke down, we see Sasaki holding up Rick Steiner setting up for the doomsday device. Insanely, Hawk leaps off the apron, connects with Rick, and both fly over the guard railing. The ref almost as if he counted to 5 instead of 20 calls the match off for a double countout/no contest. Simply fun.

Singles Match

Tatsumi Fujinami defeats Takashi Ishikawa (11:41)

Coming into this match, and the main event being the focus of the NJPW vs WAR interpromotional storyline, this was expected to be a bloodbath over pride of their promotion. Unfortunately, all we got here was a ground game match with Fujinami playing an underdog.

At first, the match seemingly starts off hot. With Fujinami hitting a tope suicida and Ishikawa hitting a pescado in turn, it had all the potential to be just that. It really is too bad from there the match delved into this early 80s style of headlocks and slow submissions. Eventually, after a few failed attempts at a comeback, Fujinami pulls it off with three enzuigiris and locks in a final dragon sleeper to win. Pretty disappointing in all honesty.

Singles Match

Genichiro Tenryu defeats Riki Choshu (18:14)

This is the main event and the final of the NJPW vs WAR story line. Both guys leading the charge for their home promotions. These two “old guards” so to say beat the hell out of each other. Sweat flew and meat was tenderized as for 17 straight minutes Chosu and Tenryu pulled out a banger. This was all about the grudge and winning once for the team. After the grueling battle and both men were simply exhausted from this war, Tenryu initially fails to lift up Chosu for the final folding powerbomb. Huge bummer. They immediately try again, and this time it connects. If the final move was hit, this could have been a classic for the ages. Very much still worth checking out and enjoying two meat men put each other through hell.

Next up are the matches in the njpw archive are the Feb 1993 matches.

Also, Feb 28, 1993 AJPW Excite Series D7 the semi-main and main event.

Watch along!

WCW Nitro Dec 21, 1998
From Tampa, Florida
Meanwhile on WWF Raw: dusty finishes galore and Shane O’Mac in charge. Yeesh.

This is the go-home show for Starrcade which means at the end we get guess what's on the Starrcade card.

We start the show off with a long and I'll admit cool video package of the nWo, Bishoffs role, and slow decent control freak madness. Unfortunately, this also puts into perspective the nWo has been ongoing for 2.5 years! There are kind of a jumbling of timeframes, but overall good. Now, there was a jumbled recap of Thunder from last week where Bischoff apologizes for Flair's weak heart while the Flair family was in the ring. He beats of David Flair and forcibly makes out with I assume Flair's wife. Bischoff has gone full Vince McMahon at this point I say.

Onto the Nitro girls dancing in weird silver outfits with capes.

I honestly think we started this episode well. Good video package that was interesting. Nitro set is still awesome. I actually enjoy the Nitro girls dancing to kick us off, and even hyping up the Bischoff vs Flair feud. The commentary really putting over Starrcade and the epic Nash vs Goldberg title match. This crowd is really hot as well.

Fit Finlay vs Scott Putski

Maybe this is making it up to Putski since he started off last week's show, but not wrestling because of Raven. Commentary saying despite the heart attack from Flair last week, the match at Starrcade is still on, and how heartless Bischoff was to Flair and his family from Thunder in, of course, Charlotte. Always embarrassing Flair in Charlotte. Dare I say this match was very okay? Get this... the match went long enough to go through a commercial. I am shocked Nitro has gone over 15 minutes without me falling into a mad rage at this point. I watch on with interest for this go-home PPV show. Holy crap we got a good 13 minute wrestling match with a finish! Finlay wins with a tombstone. WOW!

Now, in a vacuum all of that was fun, but in the middle of this wrestling war, what in the hell are they doing putting this nothing match on first?

We get a full recap of Thunder from Charlotte.

This is good for us and those that didn't watch. Unfortunately, this also requires seeing the heart attack angle from last week. Now, the angle from Thunder I can't say it was bad. It definitely garnered heat and makes Bischoff come off as the ultimate sleaze bag. That said, because of the fake heart attack, yet another Flair embarrassment in Charlotte, the package of it all comes off as low-rent and uncomfortable. I can't overall call this a win.

The Cat out for a promo.

‘He's the baddest acolete in the world.’ "I'll whoop all ya that come in the ring with me." The Cat is an amazing heel. We love him. He is indeed The Greatest! BOOOOOO! Santa Claus walks out randomly and throws candy to the crowd. The Cat beacons Santa into the ring with a smile on his face. The Cat calls him an ugly Santa Claus and "somebody call my mamma cause I'm about to whoop up Santa Claus." To nobody's surprise, Cat gets suplexed for his trouble as Santa is actually Saturn. Funny and simple segment. Enjoyable. 27 minutes into the show and we finally get the Nitro intro.

Chavo w/ Pepe the stick horse (yes he still has it) vs Kaz Hayashi

Just want to note we still don't know the main event tonight nor any other matches on the show. Short and simple cruiserweight type match. Chavo wins with a tornado ddt in 3 minutes. Am I actually watching a wrestling show right now?

We recap Bam Bam Bigelow and his fights through Nitro.

Basically, they recap the 3 way brawl and match from last week. Despite saying no run-ins would happen, and of course a run-in happened. Cue Kevin Nash to the ring for a promo. Mixed reaction to Nash saying he gets his WCW title shot. Talks up Goldberg and his streak at 173-0. Nash then mentions his other World title (in WWF) and says he was 197-0 in title defenses and never lost either. I find that difficult to believe as accurate. A thought crossed my mind during this promo. It's kind of crazy to think that Nash hasn't been champion yet in WCW. Nash says he's going to beat Goldberg and the crowd cheered. He was indeed over.

Mean Gene (not in the ring) on the ramp to interview Raven.

....oh no....

Raven is accompanied by Kanyon. Gene asks if Raven is still in therapy since he was in and out of the years. Raven says it’s none of his business.

He then makes fun of his mom wanting to be like Judy Bagwell, and then as soon as Kanyon mocks him, Raven beats him up. Raven's mom comes out and begs him to come home and get help. He responds essentially being a misguided 13 year old throwing a tantrum. Sure enough, he leaves with his mom. I had to take a step back and pause because this has jumped the shark from being bad to being horribly funny-bad. Grown ass man Raven is now, spoiled child. Oh nooo. haha.

Bischoff promo

He begins to mock Flair and then the camera cuts to the Horsemen all arriving and running amok in the back beating up the nWo. Scott Norton got taken out literally getting his ass kicked by Flair. Funny moment of Flair breaking a rotary phone. This is all going down as Bischoff cuts his promo in the ring unaware of the current events. Flair emerges from the back. As soon as Bischoff sees Flair he runs for his life. The crowd pops hard for Flair chasing Bischoff out of the arena as the crowd chants "we want Flair." This is an awesome angle and scene. WOOOOOO!

"I swear on the graves of Bruiser Brody and Dick the Bruiser you will die in this arena if I get my hands on you! WOOOOO!" Awesome!

We recap DDP vs Bret Hart and The Giant heading into Starrcade.

This has been, in my opinion, the best build to a WCW ppv match in quite some time. Being that Hart is legit injured currently, I think WCW has done a decent job focusing on The Giant being someone DDP needs to first go through to get to Hart. Not great, but acceptable.

Wrath vs Lizmark Jr

There was actually more than 3 moves in a Wrath match this time. Simple enough and meltdown wins it. Perfectly acceptable. A lot of silver on this show as the Nitro girls dance again back from commercial along with a real goofy Nitro party clip at a bowling alley. I laughed hard.

Eddie Guerrero (lWo) vs Rey Mysterio Jr

This is the first non-filler type match on the show to this point. Probably not a good idea in a wrestling war. Eddie is losing his patience with Rey esse.' He's going to make sure Rey isn't 100% come Starrcade. Commentary says there will be a triangle match at Starrcade for the cruiserweight title. So our purpose here is settling scores to an extent and Eddie softening up Rey to help fellow lWo member Juventude win the triangle match on Sunday. Great! Makes sense and the crowd is responding as such. Another match that goes long enough to go through commercial. We got a real good match with a continuing story finish. This had a good ref bump that lead to Rey avoiding the double team, Kidman comes out to help in his own double team with Rey. That backfires as well and leads to Eddie rolling up Rey to win. This was another thumbs up, and increases my interest to the triangle match at Starrcade.

Scott Steiner promo time.

"I just want all you women to know that this body isn't just for show. It can go." Love this.

He then introduces Mark McGuire to the ring. WTF!? AHHHHH! It's Buff Bagwell dressed as him on a bicycle. Too funny! Steiner calls him a huge redneck and Buff McGuire says "of course! I live in St Louis after all!" BOOOOOOO!

Mid-mock-interview Bagwell drinks a plastic bottle of "androstine" aka steroids popular of the era. Amazing segment in hindsight. "You can't go a minute without drinking that?" Buff McGuire "You think I can hit 70 HRs without the stuff?" They break the charade and attempt to burn the Cardinals gear they have and initially Steiner fails to. Eventually, Steiner does light the hat on fire and this crowd HATED this! So much heat and super ironic coming from Scott Steiner of all people.

There is just under an hour left into this Nitro, and I must say.... I am enjoying this.

Norman Smiley vs Prince Iaukea

Sure why not? This show has been so successful to this point that even Norman Smiley doing the big wiggle is getting a reaction. Crazy! Fast squash type match. Smiley wins with the cross-face chicken wing in 2 min.

Hippie Van Hammer vs Barry Windham

This goes 30 seconds before Flair hits the ring to beat the hell out of the betrayer Windham. What a beat down this was! Ric Flair just kills Windham 6 ways over including crushing his testicles. Multitude of awesome chops and direct punches to his nuts. Each time an nWo member tries to come down, another Horsemen would even the odds. This beat down of the nWo by the Horsemen was great and the crowd explodes for all of this.

Randomly, as the brawl heads to the back, the police arrest everyone in the Horsemen (not the now) including macing Benoit. Dude! haha. Flair with the mic again says no matter what Bischoff tried to do to ruin the man, he couldn't do it! What a promo basically making that low-rent Thunder angle into a thing of beauty. Flair going nuts, and beating ass with this promo makes it gold. Bischoff comes out and mocks Flair and gets the police and security to arrest Flair. "I'll kill you!" shouts Flair as Bischoff mocks him. Gold material here.

Booker T vs Jerry Flynn

This Nitro consists of plugging the big PPV matches with angles and promos while the wrestling is handled with the under/mid-card guys. This is being executed about as well as one could, but due to their booking, nobody cares about these matches nor the men in the ring. Nice little squash match for Booker T and no Stevie Ray to ruin it.

Kenny Khaos (back from injury) vs Lex Luger (mr 50-50 3rd hour)

This match indeed was our usual (now) Luger enhancement match. At some point randomly Khaos' tag partner distracts him (sort of). Luger takes advantage of his comeback and finishes with the 'rack.' Post-match, Robbie Rage and Khaos cut promos on each other in the ring with the camera on them with no mic. Kind of weird and it gets cut off to go to commericial.

Konnan (rowdy boudy) vs Alex Wright for the TV title

Strangely we continue this Disco in the Wolfpac story. No idea.

This match was straight bad, but the story came after the match as the ref called for the bell on Wright as Konnan had a single leg crabon him. Well, Wright throws a fit of rage by the ref because visually, he never tapped out. Commentary tells us Konnan is now ready for Jericho in a tv title match come Starrcade. Sure enough, Jericho jumps Konnan post-match during Wright's fit and beats him down. Good little post-match angles going on here.

Disco Inferno open nWo challenge (to prove he can wear the Wolfpac colors)

He gets The Giant. lolz. He's dead. Giant disco dances on the stage as we await the death of Disco. We still don't know the main event at this point which is very strange, yet normal by Nitro standards. Giant chokeslams Disco off the top rope. Goodbye Disco.

Plug that Giant vs DDP match along. Totally fine. Post-match promo from the Giant to say he's going to beat Page. Keep in mind that Giant is only a few weeks/month or so from leaving WCW for WWF.

DDP from the crowd "Hey Fat Head!... I won't be hard to find come Starrcade. etc."

Goldberg and Scott Hall are next says Schiovane before commercial...wait what!? haha

Buffer for the intros of Goldberg vs Hall "Are You Ready.....St Louis. Are you ready!?"

Intros over and only 3 minutes left in the show. We get a fast paced fight and Hall getting his ass kicked a bit. Crowd pops as Nash saunters his way to the ring. Some brief distraction occurs. Goldberg spears Hall. Then, Bigelow hits the ring for the DQ as Hall and Nash walk out.

"We'll see ya at Starrcade." Bit of a lame ending to a very okay show (only in a vacuum though).

Predicting the WCW PPV card! Starrcade 98

Nash vs Goldberg (story tells Bigelow to interfere in this match)

Bischoff vs Flair

Triangle cruiserweight match Kidman v Juvi v Mysterio Jr (K fellow podcast host thinks its Eddie not Juvi)

TV title Konnan vs Jericho

DDP vs Giant

Guessing:

Luger vs Disco Inferno

Scott Steiner squash match on a ppv with promo

Raven vs Kanyon (loser gets Raven's mom as a manager?)

Meltzer says Bigelow vs Scott Hall from the Observer :P

Next show is WCW Starrcade 98.

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