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 28
Place: (All Matches From AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 1/29/1989 & AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 3/4/1989)
Yumiko Hotta vs. Meo Tai (AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 1/29/1989)
Much like NJPW and Inoki loving the mixture of ‘real’ fighting into wrestling, this was the start of a small period where AJW tried it as well. Here we have a small Indonesian (or another Country origin) kickboxer against the up and comer Hotta (still wrestling today… sort of). Hotta at this point is getting known for her strong stiff style, specifically her kicks.
As for the match aka rounds… this was not good. It was Tai trying to kick the much bigger opponent but clearly knew she wasn’t really allowed to actually fight to her skill. Instead, Hotta would just catch a kick and wrestler her down to the mat. Rinse and repeat really until the rounds came to an end.
WWWA World Championship – Championship Vacant: Lioness Asuka vs. Chigusa Nagayo (AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 1/29/1989)
This is the epic highly anticipated and notably last encounter in a singles match between Nagayo and Asuka (in AJW). The match comes after their 3WA title match back in August of 1988. That means the title has been vacant for 5 months after Asuka refused the title due to Nagayo “injuring” her shoulder during the bout.
Lioness Asuka comes out in a more serious toned gear of black and blue singlet-pants combo. She did not have her samurai persona-type going for this match. Meanwhile, Nagayo comes out channeling a more Great Muta entrance gear look donning white with red trim. Nagayo’s introduction receives a shower of red streamers that totally and completely covers the ring and everyone in it. It’s quite the site to behold every time.
Now, the match was very pedestrian considering the two involved and the build up to it. It is a lot of mat wrestling. They exchange between the basics, a few suplexes, sleeper holds, and the occasional transitional big moves like a piledriver or dive from the top. The end is quite good at least as both wrestlers sold their exhaustion at a top level between exchanging their signature moves; Nagayo with her strong kicks while Asuka with her power moves. In the end, Asuka kicks her hands free of a Nagayo lock up and hits her single leg clutching back suplex with a bridge to win the title. Again, definitely not their best match together, but from a historical stand point, this is a match worth noting in the books for sure.
WWWA World Tag Championship Match: The Crush Gals (c) vs. Calgary Typhoons (Mika Komatsu, Yumi Ogura) (AJW @ Korakuen Hall, 3/4/1989)
The Crush Gals are both retiring later in the year, so them becoming the tag champions and running through the roster is basically their swan-song. Meanwhile, the duo of Mika Komatsu and Yumi Ogura are also nearing the end of their careers due to the AJW age rule. The name of the Calgary Typhoons stems from them frequenting the Canadian promotion Stampede Wrestling as they made frequent tours over there. This is also the last big match for the Calgary Typhoons as Mika Komatsu will be the first of the four here to retire a couple months later.
Yes, the match was basically a showcase match, but in reality it became almost a sort of squash type match as the Crush Gals totally crushed the Calgary Typhoons. The moves came down a lot of quick suplexes and avoiding strikes. Yumi Ogura in particular had a strong resilient showing while Komatsu took quite a lot of the beating. Crush Gals invoked basically an isolation play style and win 2 straight falls to win the match. Not the best tag title match, but was interesting seeing how fast all these retirements are coming for AJW in 1989, so that leaves the promotion in fast-track mode to getting one last big match out of their roster.
The next classic episode continues in order with episode 29 found through the AJW Classic archive.
New Japan through the 90’s (NJPW) – Feb 1993
note: matches covered are what’s available in the archive on njpw world
Other notable matches from the time watched were: Feb 28, 1993 AJPW Excite Series D7 the semi-main and main event.
Feb 28, 1993 AJPW Excite Series D7 Stan Hansen vs. Toshiaki Kawada
If the goal of a match is to come across like a stiff fight, then look no further than the ugly Gaijin Stan Hansen taking on the young up and coming Kawada. Kawada is in chase mode trying to catch up to his stablemate and current champion Misawa. First off, the negative of the match stems from a botched 3 count from the ref that sucks the air out of the arena. However, it’s not a total loss because the match is so good and the work that followed got the crowd back pretty easily.
This encounter was great. Stan Hansen pulling off a suicide dive and the story of Kawada being able to not just take the offense dished out by Hansen, he was able to give his all in return forcing Hansen to dig deeper more likely than he was anticipating. It showed. In the middle of this match, a frustrated Hansen for about three minutes kicks the back and head of Kawada showing no remorse. The crowd awaits in anticipation with every kick and gasps at the hard strikes. Spot of the match was Hansen finally hitting the western lariat and Hansen's momentum causes him to fly out of the ring through the middle rope to the floor. It’s one of the most glorious spots I can remember seeing outside of some crazy thing Liger has done during the 90s puro journey. The match finished around 24 minutes and although Kawada did not win and defeat the old vet on this day, because of how close and dire it was, Kawada’s day will come sooner rather than later.
Triple Crown title Mitsuharu Misawa (c) vs. Akira Taue
Truth be told, besides some various tag matches, this is my first Akira Taue singles match. A simple story here is the fact this was Taue’s first challenge for the Triple Crown. The easiest part to describe Akira Taue is his style. No, he is not the super athletic nor is he flashy. However, as a former sumo, he has the presence and uniqueness that he stands out.
Taue controls a great deal of this match as his offense and power is more than Misawa’s. The pace is relatively slow, and the short bursts from Misawa keep a good deal of interest in the match as we await his eventual comeback. Unfortunately, while good, this bout never truly hits into that final gear. It maintains that slower pace even during the comebacks from Misawa. Taue frequently took the match to the outside to try and hit one massive move on Misawa to take all his endurance out of him. Power move after power move kept Misawa at bay which required Misawa resorting to roll ups and flash pin attempts including quick german suplexes trying to keep the bigger sumo down. Finally, Misawa does finish the match off with his signature tiger driver ’91 ending a slower title match. It is recommended to watch, but on a card with a young Kobashi and that excellent Hansen Kawada match, this was simply over shadowed.
Feb 10, 1993 Gifu industry Hall: Black Cat vs Osamu Kido
A strange addition to the njpw archive considering Kido is an old man while Black Cat is a perennial mid-card guy. The match is a 10 minute slog filled with rest hold and no crowd reaction. Hard pass and is the prime example of why going forward, and with more matches within the archive to go through, a more interest driving decision making will be done going forward.
Feb 16, 1993 Ryogoku Kokugikan: Keiji Mutoh & Masahiro Chono & Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kengo Kimura & Shiro Koshinaka & Great Kabuki
Koshinaka’s group with a surprise teammate in the old wily veteran of the Great Kabuki vs the Three Muskateers all together. Certainly this was an interesting matchup and clearly built towards a future bout between Mutoh and Kabuki.
The match starts slow highlighting a 1v1 with each person of interest, but the real heat comes when it’s Mutoh and Kabuki. Mutoh slips outside to grab a water bottle and spits it like mist into the air to mock Kabuki and flips him the f-u arm signal all to the audience’s glee.
These three heels were not about to be shown up by njpw’s big 3, so they tried every trick in the trio-tag book to get one over. Mostly this was Kabuki cheating to get one over on Mutoh. It indeed works as the heels win building up to future encounters. A side note is the more I watch Koshinaka, the more I realize how fun he is and how important as an upper mid-card guy he was going up against WAR and the 3 Musketeers in his various bouts.
Feb 16, 1993 Ryogoku Kokugikan: Tatsumi Fujinami & Riki Choshu & Osamu Kido & Hiroshi Hase & Takayuki Iizuka vs. Genichiro Tenryu and Ashura Hara & Takashishi Ishikawa & Hiromichi Fuyuki & Koki Kitahara
Our main event and the highlight of how njpw would utilize big muli-man tags. This was about team njpw vs WAR. The inter promotional feud was not over at the Dome as Inoki inserted himself into it, so this was basically a way to extend the feud until Inoki could make one of his three to four appearances a year (at this point in time). This was a 2 out of 3 falls match.
As a match that was very hot at the time, unfortunately in modern eyes, it comes off as pretty underwhelming. What this is was a slow highlight of exchanging between key match ups of njpw vs WAR, but the issue was nobody could truly stand out from another other than 3 people. Tenryu being basically a legend at this point and Fujinami with his heavy armbar spots taking out WAR guy’s arms. The third highlight was for Chosu to hit a big lariat for each pinfall, and seemingly out of nowhere at that. It was fun seeing a super young and handsome type stud in Iizuka donning pink tights and gear compared to what he went on to become within the Suzui-Gun stable a couple decades later.
Next up are the matches in the njpw archive are the spring 1993 matches until May.
WCW Starrcade 1998
from Washington DC
Schiovane and Mike Tenay bring us in and tell us the WCW title since 1905 is on the line! GTFO! 173-0 Goldberg streak and title on the line, and Tenay tells us the Horsmen are banned from ringside and the building but not the nWo. Basically, expect a screwjob in all sense of the words. DDP Giant is the other big match they hype up.
Then we get the heel Bret Hart, heel Scott Steiner, and heel Jericho giving us a QVC video run down and Mean Gene plugs the hotline and introduces David Penzer as they bring us to our first match of the night.
First match triangle match for the cruiserweight title (1-0 in ‘this is on the card predictions)
Juventud Guerrera vs Rey Mysterio Jr and his 2 eyeballs vs Kid-man
Quick fashion talk as Kid-man really showed up for this epic ppv with his slick gear....jean shorts and a white tank top
This was an awesome train wreck of a 3 way. The match is utter nonsense and a sprint featuring countless dives, trio maneuvers using each other, and utilizing each and every part of the ring and ring-side area they could. Meanwhile heel Eddie Guerrero interferes for the finish and cuts a ‘Scott Steiner like promo’ saying phrases like “you even more moron than he is” and “you lost to a sissy. He's pretty, combining his hair, probably going out on a date later” as he yells at both Juvi and Rey.
Post-match Kid-man vs Eddie is made on the spot despite Eddie not being prepared.
Eddie Guerrero vs Kid-man (c) Cruiserweight title match
Bobby Heenan says this looks like a couple of construction workers on their lunch break. Important note: Kidman hasn't wrestled in the past week due to both a torn rotator cuff and pulled groin muscle. This is quite remarkable considering they still put this man through 2 grueling title matches while Bret Hart with a pulled groin is off the card.
Despite Eddie wrestling in street clothes and Kid-man just having gone through an exhausting 3-way, this turned into a good old wrestling match featuring cocky Eddie lucha moves in combat boots and even losing a boot along the way. Eventually, Eddie’s still unnamed bodyguard lWO friend tries to interfere yet Rey helps yet again foil the utterly worthless lWo as Kid-man hits another shooting star to retain. 2 really fun matches to start off the ppv despite the crowd not really having much reaction throughout most of the two bouts.
Norman Smiley vs Prince Iaukea (1-1)
Have to note the video screen for Smiley is just a white sign of his name across a static CRT while Iakuea just gets Starrcade. HA!
This match suuuuuccckked! Sooooo boring. It was just holds and more holds, and Norman dancing sometimes. 11 min match. No way. It was at least 35 min of main event Evil (NJPW wrestler). He finally just gets the crossface chicken wing to end our pain followed by Tenay saying this was Smiley's biggest win of his WCW career. What a peak moment.
Scott Hall hey yo out for a promo.
People paid money for this.
“It’s not the best year for Scott Hall. I’m not the smartest guy in the world...” no truer words could be spoken sir. He's going to kiss 1998 goodbye, and 1999 is going to be his year. Woo boy...not too sure about that one Mr Hall.
The Cat w/ Sonny Ohno vs Saturn in his bdsm best (1-2)
This ppv mid card unannounced matches is killing me and the crowd. These Nitro rematches are such a slog. It’s the same match as the one before where the heel controls most of the match and dances. After 7 minutes, Cat holds Saturn and calls for Ohno to kick him. Ohno comes in and hits Cat from Saturn dodging. Then Cat kicks Ohno and Saturn then dvd's him to win. Crowd pops simply because the match is over.
Mean Gene out to interview Ric Flair
Why can't we go to the matches!? I say that, but hey, we got a great per usual Ric Flair by God promo. He's going to strangle Bischoff's neck, gouge the eyes, put on the figure four until I hear the bones go "grick!" Good stuff.
Steiner and Bagwell randomly find Konnan on a couch in the back and say they're going to kick his ass but not Luger. Konnan exclaims to Luger “they are going to beat me up but not you, what's up with that? (I don't watch Nitro, I watch Raw. McMahon Stone Cold, that shits hot!) I added that part :P
Then we get the most random tag match on a WCW ppv of the year:
Scott Norton and Brian Adams w/ Vincent vs Jerry Flynn and Fit Finlay (1-3)
A real nothing of a tag match. After 9 minutes, Norton hits the powerbomb and we can move on with our lives. Again, these mid-card unannounced matches are killing me.
Mean Gene out again as Bischoff's music plays....
Bischoff’s music plays and it plays.... then Gene does an intro and then finally Bischoff appears after his music restarts. He demotes Flair to being a broke bitch and he saves his money by wasting Ted Turner's money. Promo was alright I suppose.
Konnan vs Chris Jericho tv title (2-3)
Great Jericho promo pre-match in the ring daddy-o.
Konnan was real good at grabbing his nuts being both bowdy and rowdy in this match. Meanwhile Jericho does a turnbuckle leap over the top to the floor ribs first into the steps. Looked brutal and great. After kicking out of a belt shot, Konnan turned the tides, hits a facecrusher, and locks in the tequila sunrise submission to win. Not great, but acceptable. Also helps these two guys are actually over, and the prior mid-card match were so awful and boring.
Finally, Bischoff vs Flair (3-3)
Flair finally gets his hands on Bischoff and beats the hell out of him. The beating continues until the very expected ref bump. Hennig returns from injury to give Bischoff a pair of knucks to knock out Flair as he was in a figure four to steal the win. About what we expected, and the crowd is deathly silent.
Giant vs DDP (4-3)
For the record, I f-ing loved this match. Bret hart and his pulled groin thwarted. The Giant kicked ass and the people's champ persevered. There was a chair shot duck from Page where Hart hits Giant. Giant kicks out and maintains a choke though after the pin, and takes Page all the way to the top rope in which DDP reversed a choke slam into a diamond cutter. This was a fantastic finish. One of the best builds and finishes of WCW 1998.
Unfortunately, matches aren’t in a vacuum as this was one of many instances on the show of low blows, ref bumps, and interference so the live audience and even my old child-self watching on ppv back in 1998 had little to zero reaction for the match.
Nash vs 173-0 Goldberg as Buffer does the introductions (5-3)
This and the Bischoff Flair match was the reason why so many people bought this ppv. How was the highly anticipated title bout with the undefeated champion? Well, it was kind of meh. Both guy basically just traded moves with seemingly no rhyme or reason until 8 or so minutes past until the finish.
The finish is actually something of legend and something that many forget, including myself. First off, the build to this match and the frequent interference of Bam Bam Bigelow was predicted. However, there was a small side story of one Disco Inferno wanting to be a member of the Wolfpac with Kevin Nash. If you forgot about that throw away angle, you were not alone. In fact, Disco Inferno was the first one to hit the ring and quickly gets tossed out by Goldberg with zero effort. The run-in from Disco was so forgettable, but hot damn was it funny. Bigelow hits the ring second just as quick and gets clotheslined out of the ring by Nash (I believe). During the confusion, a cosplaying Scott Hall as security hit the apron off camera as we the audience only hear a weird *click click click* sound. A stick (taser) connects with the upper right pec of Goldberg drops him to the mat. Goldberg proceeds to twitch and sell this in fantastic fashion as this was supposedly a real f-ing taser not properly protected. Yes indeed, supposedly Goldberg actually took a live taser in the ring. Nash, supposedly not in on all this, sees a downed twitchy champion, and gives him the jackknife powerbomb to win the title and ending the streak.
A memorable main event, absolutely. A boring and seemingly stupid ppv, correct.
Next show is WCW Nitro Dec 28, 1998