July 28, 2023

AJPW TV (3.15.86) review 

AJPW TV (3.15.86) review 


March 15, 1986 (Taped: March 13, 1986) 


Hell yeah, it’s time for All Japan Pro Wrestling. We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Budokan Hall. This is a huge card and the coverage starts on match #6. Some stuff doesn’t even make tape including Terry Gordy, Giant Baba, Harley Race and One Man Gang.  


Samon Fuyuki vs. Masanobu Kurisu 

Kurisu jumped from NJPW at the end of 1984. Fuyuki I know from FMW and my extensive viewing of their product in the 1990s. This is his first full year after coming back from an excursion in the USA. Fuyuki is hilariously bad here. All his high spots look like ribs on his opponent. Apart from his finish, an awesome high angle German suplex. Aside from the finish this match was quite bad. 


Kuniaki Kobayashi vs. Takashi Ishikawa 

I’ve only seen Ishikawa when he was old and broken down, but here he’s relatively young and wrestles the same way! Kobayashi is a stud and wrestles that way. The crowd eat it all up. Ishikawa attempts murder by suplexing Kobayashi out of the ring. It all collapses on the apron and they both eat shit on the bump. It’s the finish, which is awesome, and they both get counted out. Cool match, good finish.  


Mighty Inoue vs. Killer Khan 

Khan is a big sluggish guy, and I don’t enjoy him. Inoue is perfectly fine, but they don’t have a lot of time and I’m glad of it. Inoue has some difficulty trying to land a dropkick and Khan takes advantage and beats him with a knee drop. Urgh, moving on.  


In 15 minutes of the TV time, they’ve managed to blow through all this horseshit so we can get into the good stuff.  


Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Animal Hamaguchi 

Jumbo is third from top, which is like any company’s ace being demoted to let the secondary guy shine.  

Hamaguchi is a smaller dude, so he needs to be sneaky to out-wrestle Tsuruta. Using a combination of holds, and the area outside the ring. Animal feels he’s better equipped to win out there. When they go toe to toe, Jumbo has a clear advantage. Hamaguchi got shuffled out of the main event mix to be replaced by Yoshiaki Yatsu, preferred by Giant Baba as he was larger. So, this is a trial of Hamaguchi as a guy who could have gone up against the big boys. Jumbo dominates most of the match, given his size advantage, and Hamaguchi, when he does get a chance, unloads big bombs as often as he can. The trouble he has is Jumbo won’t stay down. He hits a piledriver, and Jumbo is up before he can cover and then he hurls Hamaguchi clean out of the ring. Hamaguchi gets battered out there this time, followed by a lariat, diving knee and the Thesz Press finishes. Hey, this was great. Hamaguchi tried everything and couldn’t get anywhere near Tsuruta, who creamed him. ***½  


Riki Choshu vs. Tiger Mask II 

This is a similar set up with the smaller Misawa against the heavyweight Choshu. However, Misawa has started to work more like a heavyweight. So, Baba sees this is as an ideal way to challenge the youngster. Choshu is a top five worker in the world at this point*.  

*Flair, Savage, Steamboat, Choshu…Fujinami?  


Choshu is in no mood to step aside for Misawa and after some opening exchanges on the mat he fucking lawn darts the poor bastard across the ring and it turns into a powerslam in mid-air. God, I love Choshu. Misawa tries to grab a hold of Choshu to stay with him and gets hurled again, this time in a backdrop driver. This just fires him up and he gets a couple of near falls off suplexes.  

Misawa decides the next most logical step is dropkicks but Choshu just shrugs him off and gets the Sharpshooter. Misawa refuses to give up so Choshu lets him go and while he’s stumbling to his feet it gives Choshu time to batter him with a lariat for the win. ***. I’m begging Misawa to take the mask off at this point. It feels like it’s holding him back.  


Right, so the final match from this show rolls over into the next week’s TV so I’m watching that too.  

Where can I get one of these SWANK AJPW jackets?


Genichiro Tenryu vs. Yoshiaki Yatsu 

The whole theme here, if you’ve not spotted it, is AJPW vs. Ishin Gundan. With honours about even, neither guy wants to lose this. Yatsu has been the fall guy when Ishin Gundan have clashed with Tsuruta & Tenryu, so there’s a lot on the line for him. Tenryu meanwhile can’t win. He’s expected to win but if he loses, he brings shame upon his house. The opening scuffles are looking for an opening, but they swiftly degenerate into pure violence. The hate and inter-promotional rivalry is palpable. 


Yatsu frequently straps on holds that scream “oh hey, they taught us this on day one over in the NJPW dojo”. Yatsu is doing pretty well until Tenryu gets a bit miffed and piledrives him on a table. However, instead of protecting Yatsu, he just drops him on his head and walks off. Now, Yatsu gets a little hot about it and starts hitting Tenryu with Enzuigiris, which is taking the piss. Not content with that he slaps Tenryu in Inoki’s trademark Octopus hold. There are mind games at play here!  


Tenryu’s fiery “I ain’t tapping to that shit” escape is tremendous. Yatsu comes firing back with a HARDWAY POWERSLAM. I love it and a dropkick that nearly takes Tenryu out of his boots. Tenryu gets back into it with Enzuigiris and hits the powerbomb but it’s right into the ropes. The way the ropes get in the way, not just here but several times, make the match feel more realistic. There’s a coming sense of desperation and both guys try for flash pins. It’s really good wrestling and the way the match builds is great.  


They’ve beaten each other up so the fatigue selling works. We get tired pins, tired kick outs. More flash pins as one guy looks to try and catch the other out. Yatsu gets a German suplex but he’s too tired to get the bridge. The suplex wore him out. It gets a bit untidy as the tired selling is reflected in tired looking spots. It’s all part of the work. Tenryu digs deep and gets the powerbomb off and it’s bang on 30:00. The time limit expires, and we have a draw. ****¼. This is probably the most I’ve ever liked a Tenryu match. I still think his Enzuigiri looks bad but the effort and build in this was awesome.  


The 411: 

All Japan is starting to get good, people. The pieces that made their late 80s shows so good are coming together. Tsuruta, Tenryu and Misawa are all working together against Choshu, Yatsu et all but once Ishingun have gone back to NJPW, they’ll all be turning their attentions to each other. I can’t wait for 1989 when Tsuruta and Tenryu are out for each other’s blood.  

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