July 9, 2023

AJPW TV (9.2.85) review 

AJPW TV (9.2.85) review 


Hello, you may have noticed a lack of All Japan in these reviews so far. That’s because they didn’t release entire shows (to my knowledge) and all the tapes you got were always comps of their TV shows. The TV’s had hour blocks of matches but never amounted to entire shows. There was probably a bunch of shit undercard stuff they didn’t want people to see so they never showed it. To work around this, I’m going to watch some of their TV shows from 1985 to get up to speed and, while I’m here, I might as well review it. To get up to speed properly though, I wanted to watch a few matches from 1985 first. Starting with this one: 


March 9, 1985. Gekitoh! Exciting Wars, day 14. We’re in the Ryogoku with 11,000 fans on hand. I wish I could watch whole shows because Toshiaki Kawada, young boy version, is in match two here. This is a show that the Road Warriors headlined against Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta for the NWA International tag straps. The natives surviving in a two out of three falls contest.  


Kuniaki Kobayashi vs. Tiger Mask II 

Kobayashi is a New Japan guy, who’s on loan here for a few years as part of the whole Choshu Army angle.  

Tiger Mask II would go on to fame and fortune as Mitsuharu Misawa. Kobayashi has about 10 years experience on TM2. The pacing here is lightning fast compared to the last show I watched (Flair vs Wahoo). That quick junior heavyweight style just didn’t seem to exist in North America in the mid 80s. There’s not much selling going on but the idea that moves are less effective due to the weight involved makes sense. The match isn’t just spots though as the mat work in between is nicely paced and fluid. TM2’s best work comes from flying. His backdrop, where he lands on his feet, looks effortless. They fuck something up and are clearly talking about it, which is unfortunate. I do like how they create space for a dive. Kobayashi kicking TM out of the ring but taking too long to follow up, therefore generating the time for the actual dive, from TM. There is a lot of common sense about their high spots. Like Kobayashi going up top but taking too long and getting superplexed for his troubles. Tiger Mask gets back suplexed on the floor and that’s a double count out. Crowd were molten for this but, and I’m sure I’ve said this before, it’s not the all-time classic that it’s billed as. ***¾.  


Meltzer gave that one the full boat. Maybe in 1985. It’s hard to say, but I know he saw the great AJW matches I saw from 1985 too and they’re a cut above this.  


April 12, 1985. Violence! Super Power Wars, day 13. We’re in Tosu, Japan at the City Gymnasium. Today we have ourselves a main event!  


NWA United National Championship 

Genichiro Tenryu (c) vs. Killer Khan  

This is one of the three titles, which would end becoming the Triple Crown. Tenryu was champion for ages and won it back in 1984. He basically held it for four years, the same four years Hogan was WWF champion.  

Tenryu is someone I’ve never gotten as into as other people. I don’t like Killer Khan either, so this is a match I’m watching to see if either of them can turn me around. Let’s go to the Magic 8-Ball to see what their chances are?  

There’s a lot of rest holds in this. It’s made up almost exclusively of chinlocks. Khan does at least work the back and ribs. Tenryu seems to have no interest in selling it though. He goes out of his way to do stuff with his injured body part. Like taking a turnbuckle and then dodging the follow up or hitting a suplex or a diving backwards elbow drop. Everything you shouldn’t be able to do with bad ribs. He’s a grumpy old superhuman man stuck in a normal man’s body.  


At least the match finds another gear after Tenryu makes a mess of a dive off the apron. It seems to light a fire under Khan and beats the piss out of Tenryu. Khan shoves the referee over though and it’s a DQ finish. Yeah, this was a bad match. It’s a shame Tenryu didn’t wake Khan up quicker because once Khan got fired up, it was actually ok. Beforehand it was just badly put together.  


June 21, 1985. Special Wars in Budokan. We’re in Tokyo at Budokan Hall. 12,000 in attendance. This was the big summer show from AJPW this year so we’re looking at two matches here.  


NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship 

Kuniaki Kobayashi (c) vs. Tiger Mask II 

This is a rematch from the big March match. Kobayashi just beat Dynamite Kid for the title. While Dave didn’t go full boat on this (at least, I don’t think he did), it did win the Observer’s MOTY.  

I’m not 100% sure, but I think this is Misawa’s first title shot. While TM retains a lot of the flying of the last match it’s interesting to note the uptake in elbow strikes from the youngster. He’s clearly rounding out his game. There’s still some cool use of the ropes in this. It has more rest holds than the first match with mat work that doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Misawa has noticeably improved in just three months. There are also call backs to the March match. Like TM backflipping to land on his feet but this time Kobayashi just lariats him. While at times this makes more sense than March, the dives sometimes don’t. The set ups don’t make as much sense. They do a few near falls and then Kobayashi just picks TM off with the Fisherman Suplex. Like with March, this was a briskly paced match with some selling issues. Again, while it’s a good match it doesn’t really deserve the reputation it has. ***¾.  


Riki Choshu vs. Genichiro Tenryu  

Tenryu still has his belt but it’s not on the line here. Choshu is here ‘invading’ from New Japan. It’s an angle that got so hot that WCW stole it, turned it into the New World Order and then that stable and angle bled back into Japanese wrestling.  

This is a better use of Tenryu than the earlier match. Here it’s just two lads in black trunks who hate each other. Tenryu works the arm to try and remove the lariat from play while Choshu seems to be trying for a Sharpshooter the long way around. Like, he gets the leg in there, thus allowing Tenryu to work it, but slowly tries to reposition the rest of Tenryu to get the Sharpshooter. This legitimately goes on for five minutes.  


Once they get back upright, you can start to feel the hatred again. It’s weird they stalled out so much. Tenryu then powerbombs Choshu right on his head. Was that intentional? Absolutely not. Choshu, who looks a bit ticked off about that, promptly hits a lariat and gets the Sharpshooter.  

I’m not a fan of the ‘guy stays in submission hold for ages’ business. It just seems disrespectful to the hold. Tenryu spends ages in there and Choshu just gives up on it because he’s sick of waiting for the submission. The match has another wrinkle with Tenryu blading and bleeding everywhere, while Choshu yells at him to get back in the ring. Choshu stomps the hell out of him and the ref gets knocked over for the DQ. Damn, they loved that stupid ‘shove the ref over’ DQ finish. ***½. This was ok. It had some decent storytelling but Tenryu continues to annoy me. At least Choshu was an asshole here.  


September 7, 1985 (taped August 31, 1985) 


Ok, here we go. We’re in Tokyo at the Ryogoku.  

Wait, does this have all the commercials left in? Because that would be fantastic. This is an advert for farming vehicles, obviously!  


Killer Khan vs. Ashura Hara 

Hara, I think I’ve seen before in WAR but that’s probably about it. He’s an undercard guy who seems happy to barrel into Khan and make big meat slapping noises. He chokes Khan in the corner and gets disqualified. Ok, next!  


NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship 

Kuniaki Kobayashi (c) vs. Tiger Mask II 

Having caught up on the previous two Kobayashi-TM matches, here’s #3. Kobayashi has spent a few months defending the belt and Misawa gets himself a second shot. Kobayashi starts even faster than usual here and the last time he ran TM into the rail as the first spot. His first spot here is a Fisherman Suplex! Misawa is quick to kick out and he runs Kobayashi into the ring post, as if to say he’s not a pushover this time. The match is far more mat driven than the two previous matches, with Tiger Mask II eschewing the high flying to work towards being a heavyweight.  


TM seems to have learned from his previous Kobayashi matches and Kuniaki goes to the well with repeated moves, which are countered. It forces Kobayashi to up his game and he throws in a DDT as a transition. I’m somewhat surprised by the choices here though, as they increase the amount of mat wrestling by a lot. Misawa’s high spots have switched from flying to suplexes too. As I type that he literally hits a crossbody from the top to the floor. While he’s reduced his flying, he’s not eradicated it. Misawa can’t get the pin with German suplexes, despite trying twice, and finishes with the Tiger Suplex ‘85, which he just made up.  

This is Misawa’s first title and while it’s a slower paced match than their previous two, it has a tremendous hot stretch down towards the finish. ***½ 



Giant Baba & Takashi Ishikawa vs. Tiger Jeet Singh & Killer Brooks 

This is your standard Baba vs. Evil Foreigners gig, which is about as bad as the WWF’s superhero vs. Evil Foreigners angle. Baba is an experience. He doesn’t look right. I’ve seen him in loads of later 80s tags where he’s just a heat machine who doesn’t do much. He’s barely in this and Singh chokes Ishikawa into a pin. Not sure that’s legal ref. This was, mercifully, short.  


The Great Kabuki vs. Haru Sonoda 

Sonoda is a weird looking guy with an eye patch. He was also known as Magic Dragon. He died in a plane crash in 1987 when on his honeymoon in South Africa. He’d gone there to work a show for Tiger Jeet Singh. He was only 31. Kabuki looks almost ok here and wins with a Figure Four with Sonoda screaming in pain while it happens. Better than expected and also mercifully short. 


The adverts continue to amaze me here. They have one where a guy jumps out of a helicopter into a swimming pool before a half naked woman winks at him. That’s an advert for a vitamin drink.  

Then there’s this, the most clear and obvious advert for farming equipment you’ll ever see. Iseki adverts are wild.  


Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu vs. Dory Funk Jr & Terry Funk 

It’s about fucking time I got some Terry Funk in!  

He’s screaming for Choshu before he’s even out here. The Funker is 39 years old here. It’s astonishing to think how long he kept going after this. Dory is 44 and looks older. They’re put the time in and are Japanese legends. Terry is his typical self, getting thrown out of the ring a lot and selling like a motherfucker. They have Terry try and help block a sunset flip but Choshu punts him into the ring. There are two types of wrestling fan. You either love Terry Funk or you just don’t get it. He’s superb here. Bumping around, acting like a nutcase and going after Choshu, despite Choshu beating him at every turn. Yatsu is an important cog here. I love that he steals the Funk Spinning Toehold, presumably after seeing it up close and personal. Terry takes offence, slaps it on Yatsu and Choshu batters him with a lariat. That whole sequence was great. The match is building nicely when they brawl outside and only Choshu beats the count. It felt weird they did this finish but it is footage they can go back to when they do Choshu vs. Terry for the PWF belt over a year from now. *** 


Another round of; what is this advert for? Why, Asahi of course! Why else would a woman be riding around on an elephant. You’ve got to taste it, to understand it.  

One final one. Going on a space shuttle mission? You need Calorie Mate! Available in blocks and drinks.  


PWF World Tag Team Championship 

Stan Hansen & Ted DiBiase (c) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu  

Finally, we have some Jumbo! And Stan in Japan! DiBiase is a super worker and booked as a big rangy hard-hitter in the mid 80s.  

If Tenryu can keep his shit together, this could be great. I’ve just realised Hansen worked that match in Florida, the hurricane one, 3 days after this. No wonder he looked lethargic. Hansen works stiff here, as always, and doesn’t seem to want Tenryu to get anything. Jumbo seems more game for a war and forces his strikes in there. Tenryu just gets beaten up and tags out. DiBiase is the glue that holds everything together. Jumbo nails DiBiase with a lariat but can’t get the pin so the gaijin work over the lariat arm. They absolutely crush the arm and Jumbo has to submit. This was a cracking main event. Everyone turned up here and while Tenryu did some dodgy Enziguiri’s, he was mostly fine and just ate up the heat segments. ***½.  


The 411: 

I don’t know if I lucked out here, but this show was fantastic. I’ll be back for more! I watched a load of All Japan when I was in my tape trading days, and I’ve seen the Kobayashi-Misawa matches before. However, I tended to concentrate on later shows so my 1985-1988 knowledge is bleak outside of whatever Misawa was doing.  

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