Quebrada Pro Wrestling, Puroresu, & Mixed Martial Arts Reviews by Mike Lorefice

FMW Official Video 6th FMW 7th Anniversary KAWASAKI LEGEND
Commercial Tape 5/5/96 Kawasaki Kyujo

Atsushi Onita’s retirement predictably caused a large drop-off at the box office, but also ushered in the greatest in-ring period for FMW, allowing several newly featured wrestlers including Hayabusa, Masato Tanaka, Hisakatsu Oya, W*ING Kanemura, & The Gladiator to come into their own. Without Onita to command the spotlight, it became apparent that FMW actually had a core of pretty good wrestlers. To an extent, they were able to get over a less blood oriented style through the Grand Slam singles tournament, and even an occasional purolucha match such as the Great Sasuke & Hayabusa & Koji Nakagawa vs. Super Delfin & TAKA Michinoku & Ricky Fuji main event of the 12/21/95 YEAR-END SENSATION in YOKOHAMA. Granted their fan base wasn’t there to see nothing but hold and counterhold, but even if the primary qualification for a death matches is disregard for your body, wrestlers who can actually wrestle are capable of sacrificing themselves in far more creative manners. More importantly, they can find ways to entertain that extend beyond the martyrdom of Onita’s death match style.

The worst gimmick matches are the ones where the gimmicks just suck the wrestling out of the match, your run of the mill lucha en jaula where instead of some athletic sequences and hot dives you get 75 pulls off the cage. Onita wasn’t simply a pioneer, he was certainly a good death match wrestler because the gimmicks greatly added to his matches. He simply wasn’t a good wrestler, so especially against a stiff such as Mr. Pogo, really the only way he could maximize their ability was to steep the match in drama and increase the sadism to keep it from getting too stale. This first Kawasaki Stadium show without Onita was the best FMW ever produced because, while focusing on FMW’s bread and butter - the death match - they were able to present two major matches – Kanemura vs. Cactus Jack and Megumi Kudo vs. Combat Toyoda - where the wrestlers were good enough to have a wrestling match that was greatly enhanced by the inclusion of numerous gimmicks. Kudo vs. Combat is the smart match, crafting the action around the ever-present threat of the gimmick spots, while Kanemura vs. Cactus is the macho “Not only can I take every one of your spots, I can take them in barbed wire” spotfest.

Hayato Nanjyo vs. Jason The Terrible 2:25 of 8:20. Pointless junior vs. heavy match, although surprisingly well worked. Hayato hit two choice dives, but leaped his way into getting crushed with a turning powerslam he never recovered from.

Chaparrita ASARI & Yumi Fukawa vs. Kaori Nakayama & Aki Kanbayashi 2:54 of 12:08. Nakayama would soon get a lot of unsuitable matchups going against Mad Dog Military, who were lucky not to botch her athletic spots and sequences. Today, she had apt adversary, and while no woman is going to outshine ASARI’s flying, Nakayama was able to hold her own with her in a fun athletic contest. I doubt this was a good match, as Kanbayashi wasn’t much and ASARI & Nakayama’s matches were always far more impressive in highlight form, but it certainly had its moments.

Daisuke Ikeda & Shoichi Funaki & Tetsuhiro Kuroda vs. Kamikaze & Katsutoshi Niiyama & Wild Shooter 2:40 of 14:39. Kamikaze was a Great Muta wannabe in this junior style match that seemed passable if unexceptional.

Crypt Keeper & Freddy Krueger & Boogie Man vs. Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson & Ricky Fuji 1:22 of 9:04. The only point of this match is Fuji thought it was cool to hang out with R & R Express. Even playing Guitar Hero acoustically, it’s hard to look lamer than Fuji playing air guitar to some wimpy entrance music before the match. Monster World look much cooler... until they actually try to wrestle. Morton & Gibson’s skills never really translated to Japan because, even in their heyday, their offense was woefully wimpy for Japan, but they were clearly the class of this thankfully clipped match.

Ryuma Go & Samurai Max vs. I.Majin & Uchu Majin Silver X 1:45 of 15:33. Go was a cult favorite because he was so incredibly pathetic the fans loved to laugh at him, and his quest to rid the world of the world’s cheesiest, least imposing monsters. He’d get huge pops even when he wasn’t asking for them with the Jumbo Tsuruta raise arm in the air, “Woo!”, but in his case the fans just egged him on because he was so lame.

Independent World World Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Koji Nakagawa vs. TAKA Michinoku 6:10 of 15:39. Exciting and dramatic contest mixing a solid story with high caliber work en route to what that appeared to be one of FMW’s greatest junior matches. TAKA, who was one of the best juniors in the world at this point, was in top form, working a very smart match that perfectly set up Nakagawa for his Bret Hart, Jr. gimmick. The little Hit Man, in probably his best performance, was uncharacteristically effective at working the knee over to set up the sharpshooter after TAKA hurt his knee missing his springboard plancha. TAKA, who while lacking the subtlety of the greatest heavyweight Toshiaki Kawada, was certainly one of the couple best sellers in the more exaggerated junior style, did a typically fantastic job of putting over the injury, milking the finisher for all it was worth only to have Nakagawa drag him back to the center and reapply the sharpshooter once he’d finally make it to the ropes. TAKA began countering, but due to his gimpy leg, Nakagawa would recover before he could mount a sustained offensive. TAKA finally managed his swandive missile kick, only to come crashing down on the knee when Nakagawa avoided. ***1/2

Women’s Street Fight: Chigusa Nagayo vs. Shark Tsuchiya 6:25 of 13:02. Chigusa made something of effort, doing little things to make it passable, but at this point it too a great such as Mayumi Ozaki to carry her. Shark burnt Nagayo’s back before the bell, and targeted this weak point for the duration with her various cutting utensils. Chigusa’s lower back would never allow her to chain two moves together, as Shark would regain control when Chigusa was selling her back after the first. Finally, Shark blocked a uranage (just the move to try when your back is killing you!), but Chigusa was able to transition into a step-over wakigatame for the ref stop. Poor match.

W*ING vs. IWA Puerto Rico 6 Man Tag Match: Matsunaga & Hido & Hosaka vs. Nakamaki & Perez & Toryu 2:39 of 13:18. I always enjoyed Perez, a graceful and agile big man. He delivers a space flying Tiger drop in this otherwise dull brawl featuring dueling no sell chair shots by Nakamaki, sporting an ECF’NW T-shirt, and Matsunaga.

World Street Fight 6 Man Tag Title Decision Match: The Gladiator & Hisakatsu Oya & Horace Boulder vs. Super Leather & Headhunters 8:50 of 19:59. Shaky brawl with a couple of good spots. Gladiator is the only entertaining wrestler here, flying around more than most juniors. Considering he also had a killer power offense, he should have been a far bigger star than he was. All the Headhunters delivered was a botched attempt to moonsault Boulder through a table, which Leather tried to save by following up with a diving body press to break the board. Poor match.

Japan/America King of the Death Match Decision Match, Barbed Wire Barricade Spider Net Glass Crush Death Match: Cactus Jack vs. W*ING Kanemura 16:49. What generally sets the best Japanese death matches apart from the American ones is the Japanese figure a way to make the gimmicks add to the wrestler match they’d have without them. Cactus Jack certainly had good brawls in the US, but even with Vader, who arguably delivered the US gimmick match of the 90’s with Sting on 2/21/93 by refusing to let the stupid strap narrow their boundaries, Cactus’ US brawls rarely had all that much in the way of actual wrestling. This may be a one-dimensional top this wrestling match, but it was certainly an exciting one with high quality offense. In that regard, much credit goes to Kanemura, who was one of the most thrilling and bump crazy brawlers before his body gave way. Though not as good a wrestler, he’s certainly the precursor to Tomoaki Honma, using junior heavyweight offense spiked by the available weapons as the backbone of his death match. There’s little in the way of build or psychology, but both men are more than happy to give or take until they drop. They deliver several excellent gimmick spots, with everything they did looking great, not to mention painful as hell! Highlights include Kanemura’s diving body press through a table to the floor, Jack’s suplex into the barricade to set up his hipbuster with a chair off the apron into the barricade, Kanemura’s overhead belly to belly into the glass crush, and Jack’s underhook DDT onto the barricade. If you are into death matches, this is one you definitely need to see. ****

~Combat Toyoda Retirement Match~ WWA World Women’s & Independent World World Women’s Title Match, 1st Women’s No Rope Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match: Combat vs. Megumi Kudo 21:26. It’s hard to think of any wrestler other than Combat Toyoda who delivered their best match in their swan song, certainly she’s without peer when you consider neither her nor her opponent had ever done this style match before. It’s not only the first, but probably the best women's death match of all-time, and unquestionable the most dramatic.

Despite being a death match, this is a complete stylistic departure from Cactus vs. W*ING, a smart match not only building to the gimmick spots but using the threat posed by the barbed wire and exploding ropes to emphasize the danger of ordinary wrestling maneuvers. They began teasing the barbed wire right away, but rather than making the match about the explosions they instead instilled the threat of any blow or hold knocking someone back into the ropes, thus allowing them to get away with quite a bit of actually pedestrian offense. The match was a battle to hold the center of the ring, so whether it was a stiff kick or a dropkick, the key was maintaining your footing and balance to keep from finding yourself in a prone position.

The early explosions were built around Toyoda’s lariat, with Kudo forward rolling her way clear of Combat’s powerful blow but getting knocked back into the ropes with a dropkick. Toyoda worked over Kudo’s wounded back until Kudo matadored a lariat to even the explosion count at 1. The lariat had run it’s course after Combat used it to knock Kudo into the barbed wire, so they shifted to suplexes and bombs in the center of the ring, looking for the finish. Though their offense is certainly good, they don’t have the timing or execution to pull off a great match together without any assistance. However, beyond the added threat, the fact that the gimmicks confine them to the center of the ring actually helped them, forcing them to rely on putting over a single hold, which they do very well, rather than sequences, which they can impress with but not without being somewhat erratic.

Since this was a death match even their signature holds weren’t going to be enough for an unassisted pin, or were they? Both were on the verge of collapse, and having exhausted their best moves they tried to raise the stakes with a suplex into the barbed wire. When this failed, Kudo hit her hip attack, but though Combat was falling backwards she managed to hang onto Megumi and drag her down with her for the double explosion. They were selling not only the explosions, but also the moves for all they were worth, getting ¼ or ½ of the way up then stumbling or collapsing. Finally, with the explosions helping to suck they life out of them, Kudo did win with a wrestling move, her reverse Gori special bomb finisher.

The post match is the stuff of legend with Combat not moving for several minutes and Kudo crawling a little then collapsing. Onita might not be the greatest wrestler, but he’s awesomely dramatic as the desperate and distraught father figure frantically trying to revolve his pupils with water, slaps, anything he can think of. Finally, Kudo is stretchered off and Onita carries Combat on his back, stopping just before the entrance to allow her to stand for a moment and raise her arm long enough to spur “TOYO-DA!” chants before collapsing. ****1/2

2000000-en No Rope Electrified Barbed Wire Explosive Barbed Wire Barricade Exploding Ring Double Hell Tornado Tag Death Match: Hayabusa & Masato Tanaka vs. Terry Funk & Mr. Pogo 19:01. Certainly a crazy match with blood and gimmicks galore that resulted in a huge stitch count for Hayabusa & Tanaka. Some people say this is the second best match on the show, but I wouldn’t rate it better than fourth, which in part shows what a great show this is by FMW standards, as usually you’re lucky if there’s two matches worth mentioning. That said, the match was rather disappointing because Kudo & Combat had just demonstrated how to use the essential lack of ropes to your benefit. Since these guys didn’t put much time or effort into selling their moves, the lack of them very noticeably hurt the match by removing most of the flow and possibility for sequences. They did a good job of teasing the explosive barbed wire “ropes” (on two sides) and explosive barbed wire barricades (on the floor on the other two sides), but this wasn’t so much a match as a collection of gimmick spots. That being said, everyone did as good a job as you could ask. Hayabusa’s strengths are negated because you need something to fly off, but he made the best of it hitting a rolling senton, standing moonsault, and diving over the barbed wire barricade with a kind of lariat/body attack combo. Tanaka’s style holds up pretty well because he can do his DDT’s and elbows, and he was more than willing to sacrifice his body. One of my favorite spots was the first explosion where Tanaka came ever so close to dropkicking Pogo into the electrified barbed wire, trying to seal the deal with his jumping elbow, which Pogo of course avoided. Funk may be old enough to be Hayabusa & Tanaka’s father, but he did almost all the selling for his team, including getting double front suplexed onto the exploding wire. He’s smart enough to mix his brawling with actual wrestling, including repeatedly bashing Hayabusa’s leg with a chair to set up his spinning toe hold. Pogo was Pogo. He’s incapable of wrestling, so it’s just going through is bag of weapons. It was quite disgusting the way Pogo sliced and diced Tanaka with his assortment of sharp objects. The fact all four were always fighting helped given you couldn’t do too much traditional wrestling, and they spaced the various gimmick spots out well enough to always hold your interest. Pogo cut Hayabusa’s mask off after the match and they called out Atsushi Onita, who could do little more than dip his head in shame as his protege was stretchered off. ***

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* Puroresu Review Copyright 2008 Quebrada *