All Japan TV (1.28.86) review
January 28, 1986 (Air date: February 1, 1986)
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at the Metropolitan Gymnasium. Attendance for this was 8,700. Sadly, AJPW TV only airs the final two matches from this card, which also included US Express vs. Fuchi & Ishikawa, which I’d love to see and Mil Mascaras vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi. Regardless, we’re in for a lovely time at the wrestles. Massive shout out to Roy Lucier for uploading all these onto YouTube btw, what a gent.
The Great Kabuki vs. Tiger Mask II
We’re still in very early era of Misawa. He’s entering his sixth year as a pro wrestler and would develop considerably in the coming years.
Kabuki is a big test because he’s the kind of wrestler who leans on a gimmick and doesn’t do much. It’s left to Misawa to force the pace where he needs to. This match is clipped, and they still leave in minutes, plural, of armbars. All of which leads nowhere at all. Then it just breaks down out of nowhere and Kabuki blades off a chair shot. Misawa is working so soft that most of his strikes are offensive. A huge contrast to the stiff fucker he’d become.
Kabuki’s blood is everywhere. Misawa is covered in it. Just when I thought the match couldn’t get any worse, they do a ref bump, with Misawa looking around for the ref before he ran into him. They have an even worse finish where Fuyuki jumps in to break up a Misawa pin to complain that Kabuki used a fist, and the match is thrown out. That’s a lot of bullshit to deal with.
NWA International Tag Team Championship
Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta (c) vs. Ishin Gundan (Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yatsu)
Choshu grabs the mic to rile the crowd up before we start, and the crowd is already riled up as it is. Yatsu feels like the least important guy in this, so the first time he’s in the ring he just fucking belts Jumbo across the chops. Jumbo ignores him, throws him into his corner, and asks Choshu to get his ass back in here. Tenryu comes in, walks across the ring, and slaps Yatsu!
Jumbo’s habit of treating Yatsu like something he stepped in walking in Shinjuku, leads to a feisty performance from Yatsu. Jumbo’s main target remains Choshu, who Tsuruta seems keen to put in his place. Choshu comes in with taped ribs, which haven’t gone unnoticed by the crowd or by Tenryu. The latter targets those ribs relentlessly, and Choshu tries desperately to keep him away. Tenryu seems more threatened by Choshu. Like he’s come in for his ‘spot’ as the #2 guy behind Tsuruta.
Jumbo hooks an abdominal stretch on those ribs and that just pisses Yatsu off. The anger and heat just goes up a notch from there. Choshu, run into the rail by Tenryu, has his ribs re-taped while Yatsu is getting beaten up. The crowd noise goes up another level when Choshu is back in there. He gets the Sharpshooter on Jumbo but can’t hold it because of his bad ribs. I love that Yatsu has to keep tagging back in, even though he’s clearly outclassed in there.
Yatsu finally gets the upper hand on Tsuruta, only for Tenryu to run Choshu into the rail again, ruining those ribs some more. With Jumbo bloodied, he becomes the weak link. Yatsu gets the Sharpshooter only for Tenryu to come flying in with a lariat, which is so OUTTA CONTROL, he flies into the ropes afterwards. Yatsu gets picked off by Tenryu and he finishes with the powerbomb to retain. This was a bloody, heated brawl.
I love that the winners look like they’ve been through the meat grinder. Tsuruta bloodied, Tenryu exhausted. An all-round great example of that early AJPW main event. The kind of contest where everything slowly grew around the existing rivalry, adding layer upon layer of hate and contempt until one guy was beaten. Usually the same guy! Until he eventually won one. ****
Jumbo Tsuruta and Genichiro Tenryu was the root for all that AJPW would go on to become in the 1990s. The style of match they developed in the late 80s would become the norm. Polished and perfected by the likes of Misawa, Kobashi and Kawada.