NJPW NEW JAPAN PRO-WRESTLING 1996
Shin Nihon Puroresu Tapes DVD VHS Videos

NJ '96 Wrestling World in Tokyo Dome Commercial Tape Part 1 1/4/96 Tokyo Dome
-1hr 40min. Q=Master

Yuji Nagata & Shinjiro Otani & Tokimitsu Ishizawa vs. Hiromitsu Kanehara & Kazushi Sakuraba & Kenichi Yamamoto (UWF-I) 10:15. Worked almost completely like a UWF-I match. Not really that exciting, but had heat and Nagata looked good. *3/4

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Koji Kanemoto vs. Jushin Thunder Liger 18:59. Underrated match that's one of the better bouts the juniors have done at the Tokyo Dome even if, as usual, there's little heat before the final minutes. Though their 1997 matches were better largely because Kanemoto reached his peak, this was a solid patient match, building slowly in the junior manner of always remembering to do enough to keep it interesting. The two aspects that separate the match are the stiffness and execution; everything was so crisply and explosively performed. Kanemoto was at his most confident, punking Liger early. Although Kanemoto was acting out in storyline, Liger typically managed to harness him, which meant we saw Koji's great ability without the superman tactics that typically stain his great ring work. The plot was a bit thin with Kanemoto dominating early to prove he was a worthy champion before Liger made a big comeback, winning a battle of hot moves and finishers to regain his title. ****1/4

Yoji Anjo (UWF-I) vs. Hiromichi Fuyuki (Fuyuki-gun) 6:42. Horrible "comedy" match that killed any credibility that UWF-I had left. Aside from Gedo taping Anjo's mouth shut with duct tape, there wasn't even anything that was remotely funny. If Gedo would have done this taping a few years sooner, maybe UWF-I would still be around. *

Riki Choshu vs. Masahito Kakihara (UWF-I) 5:46. Matches such as this make it impossible for me to ever like Choshu too much. Kakihara was the only UWF-I guy that had been protected in NJ, so Choshu no sold all his offense and squashed him in 5:46, killing UWF-I dead. The worst incarnation of crap. -*

IWGP Title: Keiji Muto vs. Nobuhiko Takada 17:51. The tale of two matches. The first half was a boring DUD with Muto being a total disgrace. Muto was lazier than ever. Takada gave him all kinds of openings, but Muto wanted to waste time laying around on the mat instead of actually working. The second half was good and very heated with Muto now excited because he could do his high spots. They played off their first match well, and did some great counters. Still a huge disappointment and another stain on Muto, once again sabatoging a match that had every right to be memorable. Though the two Muto/Takada shows did tremendous business, they were ultimately among the bigger long term failures for the top stars because Takada never had near the aura or credibility after submitting to the phony figure 4 and Muto had finally taken over for Hashimoto as the man with back to back wins (IWGP title on 5/3/95 & G1 on 8/15/95), but once it was Hashimoto who avenged NJ's defeat to Takada the classic order was restored. **1/4

NJ '96 Wrestling World in Tokyo Dome Commercial Tape Part 2 1/4/96 Tokyo Dome
-1hr 45min. Q=Master

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Satoshi Kojima 9:24. Kojima returned from his tour of CWA, where they taught him to wrestle just like Tenzan, who had worked there the year before. Thus, you had two guys using the same spots on each other. Pretty good match, but Kojima didn't get over. **1/4

Masahiro Chono vs. Shiro Koshinaka 9:49. Good sprint. Chono did a lot of spots here, not just relying on timing to get him by. Koshinaka looked good, but the match didn't have the drama or excitement of the typical Shiro match. Koshinaka went over, setting him up to challenge Takada, who he had a great feud with over the IWGP Jr. title in the mid 1980's. **3/4

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kazuo Yamazaki 9:18. Yamazaki's arms were stung blocking Hashimoto's initial onslaught of kicks, so Yamazaki decided this was a successful tactic, firing back with his legs then working the arm to set up the armbar or wakigatame. A nice, solid and stiff match with good believability. The main problem was it was way too short. The result is logical as Hashimoto going over Takada's old top UWF/UWF-I rival sets him up for the title shot on 4/29/96. However, there's no real transition from the body to the finish. Hashimoto just gets pissed off, and once he Hulks up, Yamazaki doesn't have a prayer. ***

Hiroshi Hase vs. Kensuke Sasaki 16:36. This was supposed to be Hase's retirement match, taking on his old partner. Luckily it didn't turn out to be because I'd hate to see him go out with a match this sub par. Sasaki sucked and Hase was in the worst condition of his life after a long layoff, so he couldn't carry him. *1/2

Inoki Final Countdown 5: Antonio Inoki vs. Vader 14:16. Perhaps the most shocking top notch match ever. Vader was wrestling with a shoulder so damaged it required surgery, and the fans would have marked out for Inoki if he simply showed up and exchanged a few headlocks, so you can imagine the kind of pops he got for somehow delivering one of the greatest New Japan heavyweight matches of the decade. The nearly 53-year-old legend hadn't had a memorable match in so long I can't remember (8/8/88 vs. Tatsumi Fujinami?). Though Vader was certainly capable of carrying Inoki to a watchable match, no one expected the old man to allow Vader to do whatever it took to have a classic. Vader just brutalized the codger the entire fight, giving him one of the great beatings in history. The highlight of this carnage was a truly devastating released German suplex the old man sold as if it had killed him. Not simply a tremendous performance by Vader, but the one to remember wrestling greatest big man by. Of course, Inoki deserves a ton of credit for agreeing to sustain this kind of punishment when there's no need or reason to. I mean, we might expect Cactus Jack to take this sort of punishment from Vader, but Vader probably put a bigger beating on Inoki than he ever did on Cactus, or perhaps anyone else. ****1/4

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #795 7/30/02
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #796 8/6/02
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #795 taped 1/12/96 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Yutaka Yoshie

Osamu Nishimura & Satoshi Kojima vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito

Keiji Muto & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Koji Kanemoto 18:09. Fun novelty match with the top heavyweights and juniors getting a then rare opportunity to go at it. Muto seemed to enjoy the opportunity to put his athleticism against Kanemoto early, but didn't develop this aspect, never going further than the basic junior opening stuff. Although Hashimoto threw in a diving footstomp, he didn't really make any concessions to the junior involvement. He saw Liger as someone even easier to bully than the usual chumps, and didn't go out of his way to make his offense any easier. Liger really struggled to powerbomb Hashimoto, and Hashimoto wouldn't go with his Frankensteiner off the top, leading to the finish. The match started promising, but Muto soon insisted on his usual time killing. Ultimately, no one gave a great effort, and it was somewhat lacking in rhythm and flow, though it was entertaining enough throughout. ***

Wonderland #796

1/21/96 Tokyo Korakuen Hall, UWA World Light Heavyweight Title Match: El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani 22:17. Full Match Review ****3/4

2/3/96 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Black Tiger 12:26. I'm pretty much at a loss as to what they were thinking with this one. I normally watch the best matches again, but I had to immediately rewatch this one because I was dumfounded. I hoped there was something I missed, or rather, there was something there at all. Unfortunately, despite the venue and stakes, they did the laziest sort of undeveloped small show match. Start with some simplistic mat wrestling, have the underdog (Tiger) get the majority of the offense, then have the favorite (Liger) suddenly beat him with one big move (nadare shiki brainbuster). The match was in Guerrero's athletic, more lucha oriented style, and seemed to have little to no input from Liger, especially in terms of build, structuring, and drama. If they were wrestling near the expected level, the offense might have saved it, but for them it was sloppy. I guess they just didn't find their rhythm and timing, or simply lacked their usual chemistry on this particular night. In any case, this was about as bad a match as they could possibly have. **1/4

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #797 8/13/02
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #798 8/20/02
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #797 taped 2/3/96 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center

Hair Match: Kuniaki Kobayashi vs. Akira Nogami 11:22. A good spot for Kobayashi, give him a grudge, a rivalry, something on the line, and give him a junior style match that calls for some brawling, and you should be golden. Sometimes though it's as simple as do you have the fire, & Kobayashi absolutely did not. They did Kobayashi's match, but Kobayashi just kind of went through the slow motions of the sequences that worked against the 1st two Tiger Masks in the previous decade, and without generating any type of emotion, any hatred or urgency or desperation to maintain the mane, it fell very flat, and the crowd rightfully just sat on their hands. Kobayashi didn't look healthy. I suspect his back was bothering him from the way he wasn't flowing & was imprecise on many of his spots that required bending & twisting at the waste, and maybe that was the answer. It wasn't a bad match by any means, but good Kobayashi generates heat with his tactics, while this mostly just sat there until the final minutes when Akira was allowed some offense. Especially in later year 90's & early 00's, the energy, drama, anything related to acting, which Nogami began doing professionally, was the biggest strength of Nogami's game, but he wasn't quite to that point yet & today the script was him getting beat on the majority of the match then coming back to win, so while he got to fire up at times, mostly it was Kobayashi's offense & thus Kobayashi's (lack of) energy that was on display. **

IWGP Tag Championship Next Challenger Decision League Match: Gedo & Hiromichi Fuyuki vs. Osamu Nishimura & Satoshi Kojima

IWGP Tag Championship Next Challenger Decision League Match: Yoshihiro Takayama & Yoji Anjo vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

#798 taped 2/3/96 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center

Kensuke Sasaki & Keiji Muto vs. Akitoshi Saito & Kengo Kimura

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Michiyoshi Ohara

2/4/96 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center: Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata & Akira Nogami vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Akitoshi Saito

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #799 8/27/02
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #800 9/3/02
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

#799

2/3/96 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center, 2/3 Falls: Yuji Nagata & Shinjiro Otani & Tokimitsu Ishizawa & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Masahito Kakihara & Hiromitsu Kanehara & Kazushi Sakuraba & Kenichi Yamamoto

2/4/96 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center, UWA World Light Heavyweight Title Match: El Samurai vs. Dean Malenko. Samurai was the chameleon of the division, the guy who could & would, for better and worse, do anyone's match and be whatever you wanted or needed him to be. Malenko, for better and worse, always looked to impose his style, and with Samurai that should mostly have been for the better, but if we compare this to what Samurai just did two weeks earlier with Shinjiro Otani, it just totally falls flat because it's really just the match we expect from Malenko rather than a progressive melding of the UWF style (back) into the NJ junior blender, and thus the crowd is amazingly dead for such a high quality match because it's not the high quality they want to see, they are there to see a more legitimate style of matwork even though most of the guys performing it don't half 1/3 of the technical skill of these two. Very few matches are going to compare favorably to Samurai vs. Otani 1/21/96 though because of the focus and psychology, because for once they actually return to the body parts then spend the bulk of the match injuring, so if we don't lament how awesome this could have been if Malenko would have been willing to incorporate more shoot style matwork into his game rather than sticking with the more traditional 70's European style, we can very strongly praise this as among the very best examples of what Dean was capable of doing in a New Japan ring. The crispness of the execution definitely stands out. Malenko does a nice job of working his high spots in as a way to set up his submission game, and there's just a very high skill level throughout with some nice transitioning and countering, though overall it's rather too one-sided with Samurai in the position of doing too many high spots to stay in the match because he isn't otherwise all that competitive. Samurai tried to maintain some of the armwork he displayed in the 1/21/96 match to keep the armbar a finishing factor, but instead he just randomly won with an odd roll to the mat and ankle lock counter to the manjigatame right after Malenko had hit his biggest move of the match, the avalanche style gutbuster. Overall, the parts were all very well executed, but the sum came up much shorter because most of what Samurai did just seemed thrown in between Malenko's more cohesive runs of offense. ***1/2

#800

Gedo & Kodo Fuyuki vs. Yoji Anjoh & Yoshihiro Takayama

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito vs. Satoshi Kojima & Osamu Nishimura

Kensuke Sasaki & Keiji Muto vs. Osamu Kido & Kazuo Yamazaki

 

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #801 9/10/02
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #802 9/19/02
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #801

2/4/96 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center, 2/3 Falls: Takashi Iizuka & Koji Kanemoto & Black Cat & Yuji Nagata vs. Masahito Kakihara & Hiromitsu Kanehara & Kazushi Sakuraba & Kenichi Yamamoto

2/9/96 Sendai Shi Taiikukan, IWGP Tag Championship Challenger Decision League Match: Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito vs. Kodo Fuyuki & Gedo

Wonderland #802 taped 2/15/96

2/9/96 Sendai Shi Taiikukan, IWGP Tag Championship Challenger Decision League Match: Osamu Nishimura & Satoshi Kojima vs. Yoji Anjo & Yoshihiro Takayama

Jushin Thunder Liger & Black Tiger vs. Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #803
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #804
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #803 taped 2/15/96

Shiro Koshinaka & Michiyoshi Ohara vs. Satoshi Kojima & Riki Choshu

Kensuke Sasaki & Keiji Muto vs. Takashi Iizuka & Kazuo Yamazaki

2/25/96: Michiyoshi Ohara & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Kengo Kimura vs. Tadao Yasuda & Takashi Iizuka & Osamu Kido

#804 taped 2/25/96 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

Yuji Nagata vs. Akitoshi Saito

Shinjiro Ohtani & Koji Kanemoto & Dean Malenko vs. El Samurai & Black Tiger (Eddy Guerrero) & Gran Hamada

IWGP Tag Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs. Yoji Anjoh & Yoshihiro Takayama

NJPW vs. UWF-I Great Tag War '96
Commercial Tape 2/3-4/96 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center & 2/25/96 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
-1hr 50min. Q=Master

2/3/96

2/3 Falls: Yuji Nagata & Shinjiro Otani & Tokimitsu Ishizawa & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Masahito Kakihara & Hiromitsu Kanehara & Kazushi Sakuraba & Kenichi Yamamoto. UWF-I style match with nasty kicks and slick matwork. Kakihara & Kanehara really made the match. Nagata, Otani, & Sakuraba also looked quite good when they were in. Match meandered along in points and none of the falls were all that long. Nagata vs. Kakihara was really the only heated pairing. ***1/2

IWGP Tag Oza Chosensha Kettei Leaguesen: Yoji Anjo & Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito. Match was dull and uneventful. Takayama was terrible. Lots of double teaming, which isn't something you'd see in UWF-I. 3/4*

Hair vs. Hair: Akira Nogami vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi. Nogami got a rare big singles match, so you knew he was going to bring his A game. Kobayashi never modernized his style, and was not his old self by this point though. Probably one of his best singles matches in recent times due to Akira's work though. 5:53 shown

2/4/96

IWGP Tag Oza Chosensha Kettei Leaguesen: Yoji Anjo & Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Hiromichi Fuyuki & Gedo. Fuyuki dumped a pail of garbage on Anjo when they were outside on the runway. It's kind of fitting, but the sad thing is he's easily the best of these four. It was pretty good when he was in with Gedo, but it sucked when Fuyuki & Takayama were in. *1/2

2/25/96 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

IWGP Tag Senshukenjiai: Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs. Yoji Anjo & Yoshihiro Takayama. Stiff, intense fight. Fans were into it. More like the typical Hashimoto tag match than anything from UWF-I. Anjo gave one of his better performances in recent times here. Takayama did nothing but strike. Some of them were weak, but overall he wasn't really annoying, although that's partially since Anjo was in most of the time and also because Hashimoto put a beating on Takayama when he was in. Anjo & Hashimoto were the whole match. ***

Keiji Muto & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Nobuhiko Takada & Naoki Sano. In a sense it was more technical than I expected, but it was only vaguely reminiscent of UWF-I style. It was a well worked and fairly exciting match though. They did build the match, but since Sano worked almost the whole second half when all the heat was on Takada, it didn't generate the excitement you'd think even though Sano and Liger looked real good. Takada tried to avoid saving Sano because there's no saving in UWF-I, but eventually he made the concession, which was a double blow to UWF-I because Muto quickly "beat" Takada with the figure 4 (Sano was legal, but Takada was trapped in the hold nonetheless). ***

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #805 10/3/02
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #806 10/10/02
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #805 taped 2/25/96 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Hiro Saito

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Shiro Koshinaka

Jushin Thunder Liger & Keiji Muto vs. Nobuhiko Takada & Naoki Sano

#806 taped 3/9/96

2/25/96 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan: Satoshi Kojima & Osamu Nishimura vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Riki Choshu

7th Young Lion Cup League Match: Shinjiro Ohtani vs. Tatsushito Takaiwa

Hugh Morrus & Scott Norton vs. Keiji Muto & Kensuke Sasaki

Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #807 10/23/02
-55min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #807 taped 3/9/96

Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai vs. Wild Pegasus & Tokimitsu Ishizawa

Shinya Hashimoto & Satoshi Kojima vs. Booker T & Stevie Ray

Riki Choshu & Junji Hirata & Takashi Iizuka vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Akira Nogami

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #808
& NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #809 11/6/02
-1hr 50min. Q=Near Perfect

Wonderland #808 taped 3/13/96 Kanazawa Ishikawa-ken Sangyo Tenjikan

Kensuke Sasaki & Takashi Iizuka vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi & Akira Nogami

Riki Choshu & Satoshi Kojima vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Michiyoshi Ohara

Booker T & Stevie Ray (Harlem Heat) vs. Keiji Muto & Tadao Yasuda

Wonderland #809 taped 3/13/96 Kanazawa Ishikawa-ken Sangyo Tenjikan & 3/17/96 Hyogo Amagasaki Sogo Koen Taiikukan

7th Young Lion Cup League Match: Tokimitsu Ishizawa vs. Yutaka Yoshie

Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido & Yuji Nagata vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Shinjiro Otani 20:27. The first half followed the same logic as the great Otani vs. Samurai match from 1/21/96, except it was a little more pro style oriented and the focal point of the attack was reversed with Liger attacking Otani's knee and Otani attacking Liger's arm. This built to a tremendous spot where Liger tried to pull himself up by the ropes, but Otani hit his swandive missile kick to the arm then went into the armbar. The problem is the rest of the 2nd half had little to nothing to do with the first half. Though the wrestling was superb, and the heat was some of the best of the year, the match was ultimately an exceptional, lengthy finishing sequence tacked onto a good technical match. Some awesome junior fireworks here though, and one of the best near falls of the year, with Otani letting Liger go after his Dragon suplex to do a second one, figuring there's no chance Liger can kick out of two Dragon suplexes. Indeed, Liger doesn't kick out, and the look on Otani's face when he realizes that's because his foot is on the rope is priceless. Though Liger blocking the Dragon suplex and taking a charging Otani out with a shotei was a great finish, I thought it was a terrible idea to have Liger finish Otani off right after the great near fall. The match really needed to go another minute or two for Otani's sake, but it was still one of the best of the year. ****1/2

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #810 11/13/02
-55min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #810

3/13/96 Kanezawa Ishikawa: Shinya Hashimoto & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Scott Norton & Wild Pegasus

3/17/96 Hyogo Amagasaki Kinen Koen Sogo Taiikukan

Kazuo Yamazaki & Yuji Nagata vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

IWA World Light Heavyweight Title Match: El Samurai vs. Koji Kanemoto

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #811 11/20/02
& NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #812 11/27/02
-55min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #811 taped 3/17/96 Hyogo Amagasaki Kinen Koen Sogo Taiikukan

Satoshi Kojima & Kensuke Sasaki & Takashi Iizuka vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Michiyoshi Ohara

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata & Osamu Nishimura vs. Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit) & Booker T & Stevie Ray

Keiji Muto & Riki Choshu vs. Scott Norton & Hugh Morrus

#812 taped 3/20/96 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan

Masahiro Chono vs. Kazuo Yamazaki

Keiji Muto & Tadao Yasuda vs. Scott Norton & Hugh Morrus

Satoshi Kojima & Kensuke Sasaki & Riki Choshu & Takashi Iizuka vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Akira Nogami & Michiyoshi Ohara & Kuniaki Kobayashi

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #813 12/4/02
& NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #814 12/11/02
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #813 taped 3/20/96 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan

WCW Cruiserweight Title Decision Match: Shinjiro Otani vs. Wild Pegasus 18:09

IWGP Tag Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs. Booker T & Stevie Ray 14:41

#814

3/20/96 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Osamu Nishimura 9:45

3/26/96 Tokyo Taiikukan One Night Tag Tournament 1st Round

Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Satoshi Kojima & Riki Choshu 12:21

Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Nobutaku Araya 14:04

 

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #819 1/15/03
& NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #820 1/22/03
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #819

4/5/96 Tokyo Korakuen Hall: Keiji Muto & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

4/29/96 Tokyo Dome:

Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani vs. Yuji Nagata & Tokimitsu Ishizawa

Riki Choshu & Takashi Iizuka & Osamu Nishimura & Satoshi Kojima vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Akira Nogami & Michiyoshi Ohara & Masashi Aoyagi

Wonderland #820 taped 4/29/96 Tokyo Dome

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. The Great Sasuke 19:27. Two great wrestlers at the top of their game, doing what they do well. Liger carried the match, totally dominating the body. Sasuke hit a no touch tope con hilo at the outset and a quebrada 13 minutes in, with Liger spending the majority of the interim debilitating his knee. Sasuke sold well and flew upon making his comeback, though one of the faults of the match was they simply transitioned to the big moves at this point, knee work and knee selling all but forgotten. Ultimately, it was a match of Liger's brutality vs. Sasuke's flying, transitioning when one counteracted the other. For instance, Liger turned Sasuke's diving Frankensteiner into a powerbomb, but later Sasuke stopped Liger's running shotei with a Frankensteiner. The match was executed to perfection, but was somewhat lacking in drama, at least in part due to the polite Dome crowd. ****

Masahiro Chono vs. Lex Luger

NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #821 1/29/03
& NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #822 2/5/03
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #821 taped 4/29/96 Tokyo Dome

Hawk Warrior & Animal Warior & Power Warrior vs. Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner & Scott Norton

Great Muta vs. Hakushi

Wonderland #822 taped 4/29/96 Tokyo Dome

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Genichiro Tenryu

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Nobuhiko Takada vs. Shinya Hashimoto

5/12/96 Tokyo Korakuen Hall: Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Tokimitsu Ishizawa

NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #823 2/12/03
& NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #824 2/19/03
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #823 taped 5/12/96 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

4/29/96 Tokyo Dome: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Randy Savage

Keiji Muto & Yutaka Yoshie vs. Junji Hirata & Tatsuhito Takaiwa

Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsutoshi Goto vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Wonderland #824

5/12/96 Tokyo Korakuen Hall: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Yuji Nagata

5/28/96 Nagano Big Hut

BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. III B Block Championship League Match: Black Tiger vs. Villano IV

BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. III A Block Championship League Match: El Samurai vs. Wild Pegasus

AJPW & NJPW Genichiro Tenryu Retirement Commemoration Path of Violence Box Set
-20hr 20min. Q=Perfect. 12 DVDs

Discs 1 & 2

Intro from Genichiro Tenryu

10/15/76: Press conference with Genichiro Tenryu and Giant Baba

12/9/76: Knot cutting ceremony

3/20/77: Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta vs. The Mafia. 4:11 shown

6/11/77: Genichiro Tenryu & Giant Baba vs. Mario Milano & Mexico Grande 12:04

12/2/77: Genichiro Tenryu & Rocky Hata vs. Dory Funk & Terry Funk 4:59 shown

7/30/81: Genichiro Tenryu & Billy Robinson vs. Giant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta 7:43 shown

10/6/81: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Ric Flair 2:40 1st fall, 1:32 2nd fall, 2:00 3rd fall

2/4/82: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Mil Mascaras 3:00 shown

4/16/82: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Jumbo Tsuruta 5:53 shown

3/1/83: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Umanosuke Ueda 5:01 shown

2/23/84: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Ricky Steamboat 5:12 shown

2/5/85: Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Riki Choshu & Masa Saito 5:13 shown

3/9/85: Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Road Warriors 11:29 shown

6/21/85: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Riki Choshu 19:01 shown

4/26/86: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Ted Dibiase 15:21 shown

6/12/86: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Super Strong Machine 4:10

9/3/86: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Riki Choshu 19:59 shown

Discs 3 & 4

2/5/87: Genichiro Tenryu & Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Yoshiaki Yatsu 17:02 shown

6/8/87: Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs. Hiroshi Wajima & Takashi Ishikawa 12:16 shown

6/11/87: Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Tiger Mask 7:02 shown

8/21/87: Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & The Great Kabuki 7:40 shown

4/15/88: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Bruiser Brody 30:00 shown

6/4/88: Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu 5:47 shown

7/27/88: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Stan Stan Hansen 14:34 shown

6/5/89: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Jumbo Tsuruta 24:04 shown

7/11/89: Genichiro Tenryu & Stan Hansen vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu 21:28 shown

8/19/89: Genichiro Tenryu & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Kenta Kobashi 3:36 shown

Disc 5 & 6

11/29/89: Genichiro Tenryu & Stan Hansen vs. Giant Baba & Rusher Kimura 20:22 shown

12/6/89: Genichiro Tenryu & Stan Hansen vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu 28:56

1/26/90: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Isao Takagi 5:40 shown

4/19/90: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Jumbo Tsuruta 12:34

1/28/01: Genichiro Tenryu & Hiroshi Hase vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Toshiaki Kawada 23:48

1/8/05: Genichiro Tenryu & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Takeshi Rikio 6:24 shown

4/24/05: Genichiro Tenryu & Jun Akiyama vs. Kenta Kobashi & Go Shiozaki 5:30 shown

7/18/05: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Yoshinari Ogawa 10:24 shown

10/8/05: Genichiro Tenryu vs. KENTA 11:37 shown

11/5/05: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Mitsuharu Misawa 14:25 shown

Discs 7 & 8

2/10/90: Genichiro Tenryu & Tiger Mask vs. Riki Choshu & George Takano 19:00 shown

10/23/92: Genichiro Tenryu & Koki Kitahara vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura 8:51 shown

11/23/92: Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa & Koki Kitahara vs. Shiro Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura & Aoyagi 4:46 shown

12/14/94: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shiro Koshinaka 20:43 shown

1/4/93: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Riki Choshu 18:15 shown

2/5/93: Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara & Takashi Ishikawa vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Keiji Muto & Akira Nogami 6:56 shown

3/23/93: Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Riki Choshu 4:26

4/6/93: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Riki Choshu 14:51 shown

5/3/93: Genichiro Tenryu & Riki Choshu vs. Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami 19:23 shown

7/14/93: Genichiro Tenryu & Ashura Hara vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Masa Chono 10:44 shown

8/3/93: Genichiro Tenryu & Koki Kitahara vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Tatsumi Fujinami 5:37 shown

Discs 9 & 10

8/8/93: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shinya Hashimoto 21:25 shown

9/23/93: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Hiroshi Hase 8:54

12/10/93: Genichiro Tenryu & Super Strong Machine vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsutoshi Goto 5:27 shown

1/4/94: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Antonio Inoki 13:56

4/29/96: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Tatsumi Fujinami 9:16 shown

7/15/98: Genichiro Tenryu & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan 15:01 shown

8/1/98: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shinya Hashimoto 13:12 shown

5/3/99: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Keiji Muto 25:36 shown

6/8/99: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Shinya Hashimoto 14:10 shown

10/11/99: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Kensuke Sasaki 13:36 shown

11/1/99: Genichiro Tenryu & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuhiko Fujita 9:08 shown

Discs 11 & 12

12/5/99: Genichiro Tenryu & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Takashi Iizuka 7:15 shown

12/10/99: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Keiji Muto 26:31

1/4/04: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Manabu Nakanishi 7:14 shown

2/15/04, IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament 1st Round: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Masahiro Chono 6:25

2/15/04, IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Semifinal: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi 10:32

2/15/04, IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Final: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan 13:01

3/21/04: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Tadao Yasuda 6:56 shown

3/28/04: Genichiro Tenryu & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Minoru Suzuki & Yoshihiro Takayama 6:43 shown

5/3/04: Genichiro Tenryu & Meng vs. Dolgorsuren Sumiyabazar & Dolgorsuren Serjbudee (Blue Wolf) 4:14 shown

6/5/04: Genichiro Tenryu & Tadao Yasuda vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Osamu Nishimura 10:26 shown

8/8/04: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Yuji Nagata 11:28 shown

8/15/04: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Kensuke Sasaki 8:10 shown

8/15/04: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi 6:34 shown

10/9/04: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Katsuyori Shibata 4:45 shown

11/13/04: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Katsuyori Shibata 9:09 shown

NJ Tokon V Special VOL. 32 Holy Land Earthquake BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. III Commercial Tape 5/24/96 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-1hr. Q=Master

Keiji Muto & Yuji Nagata vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Everyone worked hard with Nagata being particularly fiery and impressive. Kind of short with a one move finish. **3/4

Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Osamu Kido. Good, stiff, believable strong style match. Would have benefitted from another 5 minutes though. ***

BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. III Koshikleaguesen: Tokimitsu Ishizawa vs. Dean Malenko. Malenko was really on top of his game here. Ishizawa was suddenly doing all these smooth sequences and counters that you never saw him do against anyone else. It didn't have a lot of big spots and had too much down time considering how short it was, but it was good, especially for a Kashin match at that time. **3/4

BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. III Koshikleaguesen: Wild Pegasus vs. J.L. (Jerry Lynn). Benoit looked great, but J.L. was badly outclassed. The way Benoit was shredding J.L. with his stiff and intense offense there was just no way anyone could believe J.L. was winning. J.L. did some nice spots, but Benoit was beating him raw and tossing him around like a pillow. J.L. eventually made an attempt to take it to Benoit, but he didn't have the offense to compete with Benoit physically so he went back to his Lucha. The finish was really anticlimatic because there wasn't really a finishing sequence and it was too soon for J.L. to be losing simply because he was doing fairly well in the second half after getting his ass handed to him in the first half. A very good match in a lot of ways, but J.L. wasn't taken seriously and the finish left you with an empty feeling.

BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. III Koshikleaguesen: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Black Tiger (Guerrero). Both men looked sharp, but neither went all out to have a great match. It was more like it was a small crowd so they did what it took to have a very good match, but no more. It was strong technically and perfectly executed, but it was kind of a "dull" match for these two. ***1/2

NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #825 2/26/03
& NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #826 3/5/03
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

#825 taped 5/28/96 Nagano Big Hat

BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. III B Block Championship League Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Norio Honaga

Shinya Hashimoto & Shinjiro Otani vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Yuji Nagata

Kensuke Sasaki & Junji Hirata vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

#826 taped 5/28/96 Nagano Big Hat

IWGP Heavyweight Title Next Challenger Decision League: Satoshi Kojima vs. Osamu Nishimura

Riki Choshu & Takashi Iizuka & Tadao Yasuda & Keiji Muto vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Gotoh & Akira Nogami

6/5/96 Ota Beppu B-Con Plaza, BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. III B Block Championship League Match: Shinjiro Otani vs. Black Tiger (Eddy Guerrero)

NJ Antonio Inoki Official Video Tokan Road 2 WORLD WRESTLING PEACE FESTIVAL IN L.A. 6/1/96 LA Sports Arena
-1hr 30min. Q=Master

Inoki training

Inoki dining with Rickson Gracie

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. The Great Sasuke

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Black Cat

Antonio Inoki & Dan Severn vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Oleg Taktaraov

NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #827 3/12/03
& NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Chosenshi Gekiko Hen~ #828 3/19/03
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

taped 6/5/96 Ota Beppu B-Con Plaza

BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. III A Block Championship League Match: El Samurai vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa

IWGP Heavyweight Challenger Decision League Match: Satoshi Kojima vs. Michiyoshi Ohara

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata & Osamu Nishimura vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka & Yuji Nagata

#828 taped 6/5/96 Ota Beppu B-Con Plaza

Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsutoshi Goto & Akira Nogami vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Keiji Muto & Kensuke Sasaki

Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kengo Kimura & Akitoshi Saito

6/11/96 Hiroshima Sun Plaza: Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Osamu Kido

AJ Chogei Selection #225 3/24/01
& NJ Tadakai no Wonderland Heisei Hen #829 3/26/03
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

AJ #225

6/8/90 Tokyo Nippon Budokan: Abdullah The Butcher vs. Tiger Jeet Singh

5/14/90 Tokyo Taiikukan

Yoshiaki Yatsu & Samson Fuyuki vs. Tiger Mask & Toshiaki Kawada. Kawada unmasks Tiger.

Jumbo Tsuruta & Giant Baba vs. Terry Gordy & Steve Williams

NJ #829 taped 6/11/96 Hiroshima Sun Plaza

Keiji Muto vs. Tatsutoshi Goto

Tatsumi Fujinami & Shiro Koshinaka & Akira Nogami vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito

Best of the Super Jr. III Champion Decision Tournament Semifinal: Wild Pegasus vs. Black Tiger

NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #2 4/9/03
& NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #3
-1hr 45min. Q=Near Perfect

taped 6/12/96 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan

Osamu Kido & Tadao Yasuda & Yutaka Yoshie vs. Kengo Kimura & Tatsutoshi Goto & Akira Nogami

Wild Pegasus & El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa

Keiji Muto & Osamu Nishimura vs. Masa Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Satoshi Kojima & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Shiro Koshinaka

IWGP Tag Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs. Takashi Iizuka & Kazuo Yamazaki

NJ THE SKY DIVING-J Junior 8 Big Title Match Commercial Tape 6/17/96 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-2hr 25min. Q=Near Perfect 1st Gen. 2 DVDs
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

International Junior Heavyweight Tag Title Match: Yuji Yasuraoka & Lance Storm (WAR team) vs. Norio Honaga & El Samurai 13:28. NJPW worked a program with WAR around Storm & Yasuraoka’s junior tag titles in 1996-1997, but they always seemed a bit overwhelmed in New Japan rings. This was one of the earliest matches, and it was quite obvious these guys weren't familiar with each other. It was good in spots, but sloppy in others, though my problem is mostly how undeveloped the bout was. Storm is on one hand a great athlete, but as the typical overmuscled American he’s a bit too rigid and mechanical to utilize his natural ability to pull off the high level sequences. Thus, while he undoubtedly would have seemed really good even in the late 1980’s when you could still get away with only having a high altitude dropkick and body attack, in the mid 1990’s he winds up coming off as a guy who is a decade behind the times. Yasuraoka might have less ability, but he moves far more fluidly and controls his body so much better he is capable of a wide variety of sequences and bumps. The downfall of this match is Yasaraoka was actually the star. I don’t know what happened to Samurai, but while he’s often had trouble stepping up and carrying a match when he was the only one capable, he’s rarely given such a nondescript performance. Honaga was simply a bad fit, as you knew he’d take the contest in the most basic direction, and even if you replaced him with a showoff you figured they’d have a hard time matching the speed and complexity of the rest of the show. **3/4

NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Masayoshi Motegi (Wrestle Yume Factory) vs. Shiryu (Michinoku Pro) 11:51. The once illustrious NWA – the league of Thesz, Race, Funk, Flair, & Steamboat – is now represented by Armory all-star Motegi whose contribution was, well, nothing. He came close to a good minute when he finally took over to finish Shiryu off, but couldn’t get his footing on the second rope, and thus badly botched his gutwrench suplex finisher. Shiryu carried the match, doing all his hot moves, and it would have been good if Motegi wasn’t two steps slow. Shiryu is a really exciting athlete who knows how to flaunt that strength, but he quickly realized he had to tone his act down because Motegi was screwing everything up. It wasn’t a boring match to watch, but thanks to Motegi it didn’t look very professional. *3/4

WWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Title Match: Gran Hamada (Michinoku Pro) vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa 12:05. Takaiwa was in the midst of his first push, a near playoff finish in his first Best of the Super Juniors league earlier in the month propelling him to his first junior title shot. Hamada was a good opponent for the upstart because he keeps it simple, carrying the young punk to his breakout match, although Takaiwa wasn’t really a great opponent for Hamada because his lack of offense forces Hamada to provide almost all the flying and hot moves. While an excellent tag wrestler, Hamada is merely a professional singles wrestler. When he’s not doing a lucha sequence, he keeps his opponent close so there’s not a lot of room to commit errors. He crafted a very solid match, taking it to his overmatched foe, but allowing him enough power moves and counters to hang in. Takaiwa had one big run after countering a huracanrana with a Ligerbomb to allow the audience to believe in him, but they made two costly errors on crucial highspots right before Hamada finished him with the swinging DDT. ***

UWA World Light Heavyweight Championship Decision Match: Shinjiro Otani vs. Kazushi Sakuraba (UWF-I) 8:13. After so many NJPW matches designed to destroy every shred of UWF-I’s credibility, it was refreshing to see one that did it’s best to honor their “legitimacy”. Almost everything that wasn’t a submission was designed to prove the match wasn’t worked, from Sakuraba coming out with a dangerous headdrop to him refusing to run the ropes and nearly defeating Otani when he tried to pull out a missile kick. The rest of the match consisted of some of the best transitions into submissions you’ll see, the ease and fluidity making it a breathtaking ground display. Both wrestlers played their parts to perfection with Sakuraba as the fiery and aggressive real deal here to put the faker in his place, while Otani was the competent but a bit overwhelmed pro wrestler trying to beat his opponent at their own game. Otani’s acting can be a bit overdone at times, but today it added tremendously to the legitimacy and danger of the submissions. Maybe his spitting and frothing at the mouth while in Sakuraba’s rear naked choke was a bit much, but that was the sort of intense and dramatic contest they were able to pull off. Sakuraba was a good worker to be certain, but Otani gave a great performance, proving himself the master of the pro wrestler vs. shooter match in spite of his few attempts. Despite being nearly bereft of highspots in the usual junior sense – Otani did hit his swandive missile kick to lead to the finish – the super movement and intense drama made it the most exciting match thusfar by a wide margin ****

CMLL World Welterweight Title Match: Super Delfin (Michinoku Pro) vs. TAKA Michinoku (Michinoku Pro) 16:09. In a sense, every big match should be similar to this one. It may not have been the most solid, diverse, or best thought out match, but they held nothing in reserve. All anyone can ask for is the effort, and there’s no denying these two tried for their best match, emptying the arsenal for near falls. It certainly didn’t hurt that in the process, they delivered the sort of spectacle the audience paid to see. There’s always something to be said for guys who “get it” and even if Liger stole the show as usual, that cliche applies to this match more than any other. TAKA was pretty close to the fastest and most athletic wrestler in the world at this point. It often wasn’t so much what he did, but that when he did it you were blown away by his athleticism. His double springboard plancha, switching from one side of the corner to the other to still catch his hopefully evading opponent, was the crown jewel of many things of beauty in this great high flying Puro-Lucha match. While TAKA & Delfin aren’t the greatest singles wrestlers, they know each other like the back of their hand, so the timing and chemistry made up for some of the missing direction and focus. Delfin was very unselfish here, as though he’s the technico, he knows he can’t match Michinoku’s spectacle and is willing to take a back seat for the good of the match. Maybe I overrate this match, but it was tremendously exciting and it’s hard to argue against it being the best that they were capable of. ****1/2

International Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Ultimo Dragon (WAR) vs. Gran Naniwa (Michinoku Pro) 13:58. Naniwa have the stature to didn’t present enough of a challenge to force Dragon to dig deep, but Dragon still gave an inspired performance, putting his best foot forward in an effort to claim the crown for cream of the junior crop. I seemed to only remember the blown spots - the match nearly fell apart at the end with Naniwa sitting on the top turnbuckle - but overall this was far better than I recalled. Naniwa might not have been on the level of garnering such a big singles match, but the slick counters and quick transitions seemed to show someone forgot to tell him that. They came out like a house on fire trading the advantage through fast lucha sequences, and if Naniwa wasn’t on Dragon’s level throughout, it was more due to Dragon being able to chain holds together on a level few others can approach. Naniwa still looks better with an opponent he’s used to, but while no one will attach the poetry in motion label they’d give Dragon, I felt he at least held up his end. ***3/4

British Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Dick Togo vs. Jushin Thunder Liger 15:56. Liger didn’t book himself into the main event, but flipped the bird to anyone stupid enough to believe he didn’t deserve it, ascending Dick Mania to the match quality heavens. Though Togo became a great singles wrestler later on, he’s rarely if ever approached this level of brilliance. What’s more surprising is this may actually be Liger’s most underrated match. He has better ones that are more obscure, but to have one that’s so clearly the standard bearer on a great junior card everyone has seen not be suitably worshipped to even the extent of his arguably lesser and certainly more overshadowed SUPER J-CUP matches against The Great Sasuke on 4/16/94 and Ultimo Dragon on 12/13/95 is more than a bit puzzling. They shot out of the block with several big spots before settling into the body of the match with Liger attacking Togo’s left arm unmercifully. Liger was as proficient with his arm attack as he is with his usual knee attack, mixing nasty spots such as running a chickenwinged Togo into the turnbuckle with surprising ones such as allowing a nearly defeated Togo to slowly crawl to the ropes and begin to pull himself up only to take a diving footstomp to the arm holding the rope then slap on the armbar. I’m not sure what’s more impressive, the sheer diversity of a match where Liger is able to leave his arm attack whenever it’s to his advantage while actually gaining momentum for it due to finding such clever and effective ways to always bring it back in or the fact that the super over king of the juniors is so malevolent he actually babyfaces king Dick! The best way to describe the offense is probably surgical, but I never want to give doctors too much credit. Liger’s offense was mostly of the precision high impact variety, but since Togo wasn’t playing heel he was able to revert back to the flying he used to display when he was Sasuke’s Sekigun buddy SATO. There were certainly enough aerial moves interspersed, highlighted by a sequence where Togo did a senton atomico to the floor then bounded off the apron for a huracanrana only to get splatted with a powerbomb. Togo probably needed to push Liger a little more than he was able/allowed to, but he sold really well, and Liger did a great job of carrying him to a match of the year candidate. ****3/4

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: The Great Sasuke (Michinoku Pro) vs. Black Tiger 16:54. New Japan has been known to deliver some inexplicable nothing big show main events where you have to wonder if the performers were on drugs, or simply drugged to offer so little after so many high level matches. The Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masahiro Chono headliner to the amazing 4/2/95 Shukan Puroresu multipromotional show is an example, but this poorly constructed headscratcher may take the cake. Here you have two hall of fame wrestlers in arguably the biggest match of their great careers acting as if it were the 3rd match on some obscure Okinawa house show rather than delivering the needed showstopping main event to justify the rare juniors only show. I’m hardly Mr. Highspot, but even I was falling asleep during their undistilled opening that consisted of 11 straight minutes of largely pointless matwork. Tiger attacked arm and leg to little effect, trying to bring the arm back a few times in the final minutes to just as immeasurably small reaction. The beginning was so slow and uninspiring that even when they went to 6 minutes of mostly great spots, the match never seemed to fire or inspire. Sure, it’s impressive to see Sasuke’s rider kick, but this was almost as bad a match as they were capable of having. They not only worked poorly together, bringing surprising sloppiness, but what was so disturbing is they mainly just stalled. **

NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #8
& NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #9
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

#8 taped 6/24/96

Takashi Iizuka & Osamu Nishimura vs. Akira Nogami & Akitoshi Saito

Animal Warrior & Hawk Warrior (The Road Warriors) & Power Warrior (Kensuke Sasaki) vs. Keiji Muto & Riki Choshu & Satoshi Kojima

Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata & Jushin Thunder Liger

#9 taped 7/16/96 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center

Tokimitsu Ishizawa & Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai & Norio Honaga

Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage

Sting & Keiji Muto vs. Animal Warrior & Hawk Warrior (The Road Warriors)

NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #10 6/5/03
& NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #11
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

taped 7/16/96 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center

Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Riki Choshu

WCW World Heavyweight Title: The Giant vs. Power Warrior

IWGP Tag Titles: Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka vs. Masa Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

#11 7/17/96 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center

Takashi Iizuka & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto

Randy Savage vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

The Giant vs. Sting

NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #12 7/2/03
& MPW on Samurai 5/27/03 taped 5/18/03 Tokyo Club Heights
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

taped 7/17/96 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center

Riki Choshu & Keiji Muto & Satoshi Kojima vs. Animal Warrior & Hawk Warrior & Power Warrior

Masa Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Shiro Koshinaka & Akira Nogami

IWGP Heavyweight Title: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Ric Flair

MPW 5/18/03

Anthony W. Mori vs. Takamichi Iwasa

Apex of Triangle Title Match: Dick Togo & Kintaro Kanemaru vs. Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Gosaku Goshogawara

Sasuke The Great & Masked Tiger the Third & NANIWA vs. Jinsei Shinzaki & TAKA Michinoku & Gran Naniwa

NJ '96 G1 Climax STRONG STYLE TRADITION Part 1 & 2 Commercial Tape 8/2/96-8/6/96 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
-5hr 5min. Q=Master. 3 DVDs

8/2

B Block: Masa Chono vs. Satoshi Kojima. The fans were into this because Chono let Kojima compete. Good work with both men impressing. Unfortunately, after each got some near finishes it reverted back to the expected Kojima isn't close, which kept it from being the damn good match it looked like it was going to be halfway through. Match had no long term effect for Kojima, but Kojima being in it for quite a while allowed the match to be good. 13:46. ***

A Block: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan. In more recent times this might have been a brutal match, but here Sasaki spent too much time in a lame attempt to be technical. Supposedly the match was altered because Tenzan was dazed by a hard shot to the ear early on. Perhaps out of necessity, Sasaki dominated in dull fashion for too long, and it wasn't until he did get stiff that the match picked up. Overall though, Sasaki's basic and boring match barely utilized his opponents willingness to take punishment. The big problem though was that Tenzan was out of the match by the time he got started offensively, and even then his offense didn't last long. 15:03. **1/4

B Block: Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Keiji Muto. Muto wasn't as irritating as he is against Takada & Kawada but it was generally the same old song with him against an opponent whose wrestling is based on credibility. He wrestled on the mat, but of course only using fake moves. Even though Yamazaki had a broken finger that was an obvious target, it would have actually required some thought and differentiation for Muto to build a match around this, so he mainly did his couple of knee moves. Yamazaki thought up some good counters to Muto's offense though, turning the space rolling elbow into a wakigatame and scoring the well deserved upset by taking Muto over into an udehishigigyakujujigatame when Muto tried to go back after the knee. In spite of Muto, the match was going along pretty well before just ending when Muto got his near submission and Yamazaki made his counter. The finish itself was good, but they could have done a lot more before that point. 13:39. **3/4

A Block: Riki Choshu vs. Shinya Hashimoto. Hashimoto is the one guy in NJ that can succeed in making a match look real, but this was good even by his standards. They were cautious and it was about getting a big blow in without getting something done back to you, whether that took a while or not. They looked like they hated each other and were actually hurting each other. The early portion was acceptional for the afformentioned reasons, but too quickly they reverted to just exchanging. They were good rough exchanges, but suddenly it was just a stiff pro wrestling match. Choshu was actually selling a lot here because now that he was seemingly at the end of the line he was finally slightly overmatched against the top guy. Of course, he was taking Hashimoto's best shots and asking for more. The key point in the league is that Choshu came back attacking the knee after he blocked a spin kick and Hashimoto supposedly injured it hitting the floor. In kind of a wrestling version of Jackie Chan putting powder on objects that are going to get broken for visual effect, Hashimoto made Choshu's vaunted Riki lariates look better by spitting in the air on impact. Still the end was kind of weak, but the match had major heat throughout and a huge Choshu chant erupted when he scored the upset. 17:14. ***1/2

Dan Severn vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Believable enough, actually more believable than UWF or PWFG. Unfortunately, Severn, who got little reaction despite being NWA and UFC champ, is one of the all-time bores. Fujiwara isn't exactly excitement personified either, but he at least knows how to pull a few finishers out of nowhere to give you something to react to. Match lasted much too long, with less and less believable moves (though all UWF credible) as time went on to make it more "exciting". 5-6 minutes would have been plenty, but even though this didn't turn out well Fujiwara is still deserving of praise given what he had to work with. 10:30. *1/2

8/3

A Block: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Junji Hirata. Hirata didn't get Sasaki turned all the way around on a powerslam, injuring his knee in the process. Sasaki tried to Irish whip him, but he collapsed as soon as he put weight on the knee. Sasaki won by ref stop and Hirata was out of the tournament, so everyone else got a default win over him. Beyond losing a solid wrestler, this royally screwed up the block because Hirata was supposed to upset Sasaki here and even in rebooking the whole thing they were unable to come up with anything they thought doable that would leave the block undecided going into the final day. If this wasn't the best G1 (it certainly was overall because of the J Crown, but I'd rate '98 higher just for G1 matches), Hirata's injury is the biggest reason. 5:08

B Block: Keiji Muto vs. Satoshi Kojima. Better than Kojima vs. Chono largely because Muto's offense is far superior; good athleticism for a heavyweight match. Kojima also had more of a chance of winning and they worked with each other better despite doing a more difficult and spectacular match. Kojima was all fired up, hitting some of his lariats then his moonsault for an early near fall. 15:21. ***1/4

A Block: Riki Choshu vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Choshu's left knee was all bandaged up. He just ran over Tenzan to allow himself to recouperate from the Hashimoto match, and save himself for later matches against higher ranked opponents. 5:12. *1/4

B Block: Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Shiro Koshinaka. This wasn't quite the best match of the league, but these were the two top performers night in and night out and they certainly delivered here. They took the time to develop the match rather than forcing their hand, which led to believable near finishes. It started in Yamazaki's style, but at 7:00 Koshinaka threw Yamazaki to the floor and posted him. He tried to follow by ramming Yamazaki into the post, but Yamazaki slipped out and pushed Koshinaka in. Yamazaki's arm bars are always over in Ryogoku where they love the UWF stuff, but this spot lended more credibility to them and was a nice touch since the injury came during a style Koshinaka should have his way in. Koshinaka stomped and knee dropped Yamazaki's broken finger for revenge. 13:50. ***1/2

8/4

A Block: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Hashimoto's knee was "greatly hampering" him as a result of the Choshu match, but Hashimoto makes that an asset rather than a liability. It wasn't going to have the heat of the Choshu match, but the injury allowed Tenzan to have about as good a chance of winning and that resulted in a great deal of heat. Of course, with Tenzan instead of Choshu you get so much better and more convincing offense and a guy that will sell as much as he needs to. The key to the quality of this match is it the brutality that was lacking in the Sasaki vs. Tenzan match was here in spades. Tenzan was at the knee from the beginning, but they played up Hashimoto still being too powerful for Tenzan, taking a while to drop a hint that the knee work would pay off in the end. What you could see is that Hashimoto wasn't doing as much damage as he otherwise would have because he was down himself or laboring instead of being right on Tenzan and ready to knock him back down. When it looked like Hashimoto was ready to take over they did the key spot, which saw Hashimoto's knee give out when he was going for the suichoku rakka shiki no brainbuster. Tenzan took some punishment in the process of Hashimoto collapsing, but he recovered real quick when he saw Hashimoto was in trouble and did two of his diving headbutts in a row, both directed at the injured knee, for a near fall. Hashimoto was putting the injury over great, acting like he couldn't get up, although after just seeing the way the ref checks the injured guy and his opponent lays off the injury in Sasaki vs. Hirata no one should have been fooled. Tenzan was all over the knee, with Hashimoto never being given a chance to give up so we could only wonder whether he still could. Finally, Tenzan scored the biggest upset of his career with a third diving headbutt to the knee. Though Tenzan didn't get the highest marks for sportsmanship, there was a huge reaction to his victory, largely because no one expected it on the heels of Hashimoto's loss to Choshu. 11:27. ***3/4

8/4

B Block: Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Satoshi Kojima. Kojima working on Yamazaki's hand was a major theme, but they found clever ways to get back to it rather than doing 6 minutes of it and moving on to finishers that have nothing to do with it. For instance, Yamazaki ducked Kojima's elbow in the corner and tried to German suplex him out, but Kojima hit Yamazaki's clenched hands to force him to break the lock. Later, Kojima was getting kicked in ther corner, but he ducked a high kick and backdropped Yamazaki out since he had no injury for Yamazaki to exploit. Though never excellent this was consistently good and looked to be one of the best matches, but it occurred during the time period where they were wisely showing a Yamazaki submission could end it at any time. The other thing that hurt the match is the fans booed Kojima for going after the bad hand, which was more than a big hypocritical since he needed all the help he could get and they cheered Tenzan's all out knee attack the same night. 9:56. ***

B Block: Shiro Koshinaka vs. Masa Chono. Battle of the heel group leaders. It started slow and probably wasn't one of their better matches given it was the only match they edited. Chono undid the turnbuckle pad and rammed Koshinaka into the steel. He used an inverted atomic drop, so Koshinaka returned the favor when he had the chance. Lots of cheap shots along these lines. I understand why they wrestled this way, but it made for a huge disappointment of a main event. 11:32 of 22:10.

8/5

B Block: Masa Chono vs. Kazuo Yamazaki. One of the best examples of Yamazaki's smarts and craftiness. Surprising hot start with Yamazaki taking Chono and the ref out with a kneel kick during the pre match inspection. This led to a big flurry including a couple of credible credible submissions. What made this match so enjoyable is Yamazaki had an answer for everything Chono tried, and just looked really slick staying one step ahead of this guy that's supposedly better than him. Finally Chono landed on Yamazaki when he tried to backdrop his way out of a headlock then went to work on the fingers. Still, when Chono threw Yamazaki to the floor Yamazaki slipped right back in and knocked Chono off the apron with a high kick. Chono used the wakigatame with finger bend among various arm moves where he just wanted the fingers prone. This led to an STF Yamazaki wouldn't submit to until Chono combined it with working the fingers. 12:25. ***1/2

A Block: Riki Choshu vs. Kensuke Sasaki. This was for a slot in the finals, but it was a simplistic bore. Either one of these guys can have a good match against the right opponent, but not against himself. That's essentially what you have here given Sasaki is Choshu's clone. Slow plodding unskilled match. It could have been the WWE except the strikes were actually credible. They aren't capable of anything smooth or slick, but at least they could have tried to work together instead of just grabbing a hold. Lots of submissions, but from the tape it didn't appear the fans were taking them too seriously despite their efforts and reports of great heat. Once Sasaki finally submitted, he got up and grabbed ref Hattori complaining it never happened, so Choshu lariated him and Hattori counted 3. As bad as it was before, this totally killed the whole submission style they'd been doing. The fans were so disgusted by this finish that Sasaki got no reaction the next day. 15:13. *

B Block: Keiji Muto vs. Shiro Koshinaka. Muto needed this win to stay alive. Even though it started slow on the mat, Muto looked focused and intense. Koshinaka worked to avoid the scorpion rather than just let Muto have it, which led to a restart. When it was going to pick up, Koshinaka's knee gave out landing on a leap frog, setting the match back a few minutes. It picked up at 8 with Koshinaka going nuts after turning Muto's Frankensteiner off the top into a powerbomb. This burst of energy got major heat, which pretty much sustained when the match slowed some because they were "hurting" from the big moves. The key spot was Koshinaka fighting off the Frankensteiner off the top again, but this time Muto Dragon screwing him off the 2nd. Muto tried his moonsault into the figure 4, but Koshinaka turned it into a small package. Hyper desperate action at the end, but it was basically 4 great minutes making up for 8 average ones. Maybe it would have been great if not for Koshinaka's accident because even though they eventually delivered the best four minutes of NJ heavy action in a long time, that wound up essentially being the whole match. 11:59. ***3/4

8/6

B Block: Shiro Koshinaka vs. Satoshi Kojima. Koshinaka was in a 3 way tie with Muto & Chono, but they had each other while Koshinaka only had young Kojima. Again Koshinaka's energy had fans into it, this time from the get go as he was looking to get it over with so he could be fresh for the Muto/Chono winner. Between the stakes and two fiery psyched up wrestlers providing excellent action by taking it to each other from start to finish, this had great heat. Koshinaka was pretty dominant early, but Kojima hung in there and soon made a huge comeback. Lots of big moves and several dramatic near finishes. Though Kojima was far more limited offensively than even Koshinaka, this was non stop action and too short for that weakness to become apparent. The work was excellent and the emotion carried it, so the moves themselves were an afterthought. Koshinaka certainly secured best worker of the league with this stellar performance, carrying Kojima to his best match up to that point in time in what was also the biggest win of his career. 10:33. ***3/4

A Block: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kensuke Sasaki. Uninspired dead match. There was nothing at stake, and Sasaki just worked the knee. Sasaki was over much less than usual, and the crowd was just looking to see what would happen between Muto & Chono anyway. 9:13. *3/4

B Block: Masa Chono vs. Keiji Muto. Unlike Koshinaka who understood the crowd was looking to go nuts, these two preferred lollygagging around and putting them to sleep. More than half the match was an out and out bore, with Muto back to his usual stalling ways. The fans were cheering in between what they were doing hoping to fire them up. When they finally did the big moves the crowd went crazy. Too bad these moves had almost nothing to do with the rest of the match. Among some good out of the ring stuff was a particularly good spot where Chono avoided the space rolling elbow against the guard rail and applying his STF on the floor. Back in the ring, the opportunistic Chono avoided the moonsault and went right to his STF for an excellent near finish. As always, Muto was impressive when he wanted to be. The crowd carried the match more than the wrestlers though. If this wasn't two big names for a spot in the final people would have been hitting the concession stands before they got around to doing anything, but Muto & Chono knew the score and took advantage of the fans. 24:43. **1/4

G1 Climax Final: Riki Choshu vs. Masa Chono. Chono came out like a wild man, ignoring the ref and just stomping Choshu repeatedly. Unskilled wrestling, but at least it was intense. Chono worked Choshu's bad knee, mainly using the spinning toe rather than the full STF so all the pressure was on the weak spot. The big spot was Chono doing the STF on the floor, with Choshu passing out and having to be revived by old rival Fujinami. Choshu finally came back with the expected two moves to a huge reaction. The match ended so quickly though. In typical selfish fashion, Choshu took just about all of Chono's offense - no selling like crazy - and then quickly overwhelmed the opponent once he went on offense. Unfortunately, with overrated finalists, no J Crown matches, and only one quality G1 match, the final day was easily the worst of the five. 13:45. **1/2

NJPW '96 G-1 Climax Part 3 ~All or Nothing~ J-Crown Junior 8 Title Tournament 8/2-8/5/96 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan Commercial Tape
-2hr. Q=Master
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

*Note the winner of each match unifies every title that the two wrestlers possess, so the winner of the tournament winds up with all 8 titles*

8/2/96 Quarterfinals

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title vs. NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title: The Great Sasuke (Michinoku Pro) vs. Masayoshi Motegi (Wrestle Yume Factory) 11:50. Great performance by Sasuke. Solid match with Motegi attacking Sasuke's bad knee, and Sasuke putting it over well. Motegi's execution wasn't perfect, as always. ***1/2

International Jr. Heavyweight Title vs. British Jr. Heavyweight Title: Ultimo Dragon (WAR) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger (NJ) 2:38. Excellent while it lasted, but it was only 2:38. It was a big disappointment considering who was involved, but Liger had a brain tumor so it was kept short. Ultimo got an incredible sustained pop for the shocking early finish, and going home so soon got over the idea that these matches could end quickly, thus the fans would pop for near falls even if it was "too soon" for the finish.

8/3/96 Quarterfinals

NWA World Light Heavyweight Title vs. NWA World Welterweight Title: Shinjiro Otani (NJ) vs. Negro Casas (EMLL) 11:34. Casas carried as they were working his style. It was a very good match, but it lacked heat early because it was so Lucha oriented. Otani once again shows his versatility. ***3/4

WWF World Light Heavyweight Title vs. NWA World Jr. Lightheavyweight Title: El Samurai (NJ) vs. Gran Hamada (Michinoku Pro) 12:38. Just as the match was getting hot Hamada blew out his knee on a plancha. Later on, he blew out his shoulder taking Samurai's nadare shiki no backdrop. In spite of this, they did all the planned spots and there were some really nice moves. **3/4

8/4/96 Semifinals

Ultimo Dragon vs. Shinjiro Otani 16:04. Incredible match. Both men were really at the top of their games here. Super work and tremendous crowd response. Everything was so smooth and well executed. Exciting and dramatic. Some awesome sequences. ****3/4

The Great Sasuke vs. El Samurai 16:25. Spectacular match with great work and awesome high spots. ****1/4

8/5/96 Final

The Great Sasuke vs. Ultimo Dragon 13:56. This had all the makings of a great match. It built really well, and the timing was perfect. Both men displayed great skill and athleticism. Unfortunately, in the biggest match of his life, Sasuke came up short on his tope con hilo and cracked his skull. Sasuke told the ref he had to go home as soon as possible, but Ultimo wasn't clued in, so he actually kicks out of the finish. Sasuke captures J Crown. ****1/4

NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Jushin Thunder Liger Hen~ #17 7/30/00
& NJ Tadakai no Wonderland ~Jushin Thunder Liger Hen~ #18 8/6/00
-1hr 50min. Q=TV Master

6/12/96 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan, Best of the Super Junior III Final: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Black Tiger 18:44. The best of the Liger vs. Guerrero matches, but as much as I like these two guys individually, they just don't seem to click in singles. Tiger always has moments of brilliance, but he tends to meander, and they just have a hard time finding a rhythm and taking advantage of their individual skills. What irks me about their matches is I can never seem to shake the feeling that they are teasing me with flashes of greatness while untimately holding back. The first twelve minutes of this match show several reasons why the Liger vs. Tiger should be great, but ultimately isn't, though two stand out in particular. First, they do a good job of showing the athletic moves are hard to get off, but they don't do much of interest in the meantime and then suddenly they flip a switch and it's fireworks, so really there's two matches here, one contradicting the other. Second, they wisely use the body work to set up a key spots down the stretch for each, but they don't actually focus on said body work enough during the overextended portion they are devoting to it, thus making it too obvious they are really killing time to truly pull it off as anything late beyond a cute ode to the opening minutes. Tiger's kneework is the more developed body attack, but since he's doing a chinlock when he could be doing a 1/2 crab or even just stomping the knee, I don't feel any particular threat when he does an innovative counter where he stops Liger's swinging DDT by slamming him on his knees. And Liger's armwork is so underdeveloped that the spot where he hits a diving footstomp when Tiger is using the ropes to pull himself back to his feet is more a reminder that Liger weakened it early than a threat that his followup armbar is going to finish. In general, the last six minutes were top drawer stuff. We know what these guys are capable of individually, and for the most part this was finally it, together. It was the kind of spectacular wrestling you see from Liger vs. Kanemoto, except those two do way more before that, and keep it up for a lot longer. Just highlight reel offense back and forth between two of the best pure workers in the sport. But then it ended, and you had that same feeling old feeling, even if less so than in the past, particularly their ludicrously short 2/3/96 title match, that so much heavy artillery went undetinated for no particular reason. I often have issues with Dean Malenko for forcing the same style of slow matwork on everyone, but I greatly prefer his American matches against Guerrero because the matwork seemed to have more craft and purpose, and frankly was just far more entertaining than what these guys were doing for the first 2/3 of the match. But most importantly, those two had a lot better chemistry and far more interplay, it felt like two guys who were always on the same page working together to make a greater match rather than the Liger/Guerrero matches where you feel Liger keeps waiting on Guerrero to really go for it, and since that never really happens they simply wind up with a match where they trading the advantage but Guerrero ultimately controls 2/3. ***3/4

6/17/96 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, British Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Dick Togo vs. Jushin Thunder Liger 15:56. Liger didn’t book himself into the main event, but flipped the bird to anyone stupid enough to believe he didn’t deserve it, ascending Dick Mania to the match quality heavens. Though Togo became a great singles wrestler later on, he’s rarely if ever approached this level of brilliance. What’s more surprising is this may actually be Liger’s most underrated match. Considering this is one of the most famous junior shows in history, he certainly has better ones that are more obscure, but to have one that’s so clearly the standard bearer on a great junior card everyone has seen not be suitably worshipped to even the extent of his arguably lesser and certainly more overshadowed SUPER J-CUP matches against The Great Sasuke on 4/16/94 and Ultimo Dragon on 12/13/95 is more than a bit puzzling. They shot out of the block with several big spots before settling into the body of the match with Liger attacking Togo’s left arm unmercifully. Liger was as proficient with his arm attack as he is with his usual knee attack, mixing nasty spots such as running a chickenwinged Togo into the turnbuckle with surprising ones such as allowing a nearly defeated Togo to slowly crawl to the ropes and begin to pull himself up only to take a diving footstomp to the arm holding the rope then slap on the armbar. I’m not sure what’s more impressive, the sheer diversity of a match where Liger is able to leave his arm attack whenever it’s to his advantage while actually gaining momentum for it due to finding such clever and effective ways to always bring it back in or the fact that the super over king of the juniors is so malevolent he actually babyfaces king Dick! The best way to describe the offense is probably surgical, but I never want to give doctors too much credit. Liger’s offense was mostly of the precision high impact variety, but since Togo wasn’t playing heel he was able to revert back to the flying he used to display when he was Sasuke’s Sekigun buddy SATO. There were certainly enough aerial moves interspersed, highlighted by a sequence where Togo did a senton atomico to the floor then bounded off the apron for a huracanrana only to get splatted with a powerbomb. Togo probably needed to push Liger a little more than he was able/allowed to, but he sold really well, and Liger did a great job of carrying him to a match of the year candidate. ****3/4

1/4/97 Tokyo Dome, J-CROWN: Ultimo Dragon vs. Jushin Thunder Liger. Digest

Wonderland Liger #18

1/4/97 Tokyo Dome, J-CROWN: Ultimo Dragon vs. Jushin Thunder Liger 18:21. This Dragon was 1000 times more confident than the guy who choked against Liger 4 years ago to the day. These two had each other scouted, and played off their brief 8/2/96 encounter, not only countering each other back and forth but looking to catch each other in a possible finisher even when it should have been too early for it to work. They walked a fine line between trying not to make everything look too easy in an overly choreographed manner and not pulling the counters off smoothly. Although it may be as close as we ever got to both being on in their singles encounters, you still felt like they weren't clicking to near the extent they should be. It was an excellent match to be certain, but it wasn't the amazing match it should have been on paper given both were at the height of their powers, predominantly because it didn't have the natural and effortless look of most of their other higher end matches. As far as Liger's reign went, it was certainly closest to his 4/12/97 match against Sasuke, as both were primarily showcases for his opponents spectacular moves, though this was the more even and better developed of the two. ****

3/20/97 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan, J-CROWN: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Masayoshi Motegi 16:05. It's hard to get too excited about anything with Motegi, especially since everyone knows there are many better wrestlers who could have been here or in all the junior tournaments instead, but this match was no joke because Motegi finally didn't choke, which gave Liger the opportunity to step up and carry him to the match of his career. Motegi is far from the most skilled or athletically gifted performer, but though hardly breathtaking, his offense was credible and diverse enough to maintain interest throughout a bout he largely controlled. As Motegi isn't a slightly credible challenger, they had to follow the underdog pushes then goes down easily storyline, which didn't make for the most dramatic contest, especially since Motegi didn't even get near finishes that made anyone believe, but the match told a good story and was solid and worthwhile throughout. It's a far better match to watch in unedited form than it appeared on NTV, as it's certainly stronger in layout and psychology than in flash and excitement. Motegi worked over Liger's arm, mixing technical wrestling and brawling, for instance going right from an armbreaker to wrapping Liger's arm in the rope. Motegi used a chair to the arm then posted Liger and hit an armbar on the apron until the ref made him break. Liger had brief fiery runs where he slapped and tossed Motegi around before getting cut off. I was afraid this was setting Motegi up to fail, but really Motegi held his own here. His ground punches were beyond pathetic, but everything else was done well enough, and he even impressed on occasion, for instance his avalanche style uranage. Sure it's far from Liger's best title match, or even what you'd think of as title match level, but it's a real nice match from a far from elite challenger. ***1/2

NJ Tadakai no Wonderland G1 Retsuden #33 6/20/00
-55min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland G1 #33

8/3/96, B Block: Keiji Muto vs. Satoshi Kojima. Better than Kojima vs. Chono largely because Muto's offense is far superior; good athleticism for a heavyweight match. Kojima also had more of a chance of winning and they worked with each other better despite doing a more difficult and spectacular match. Kojima was all fired up, hitting some of his lariats then his moonsault for an early near fall. 15:21. ***1/4

8/4/96, A Block: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Hashimoto's knee was "greatly hampering" him as a result of the Choshu match, but Hashimoto makes that an asset rather than a liability. It wasn't going to have the heat of the Choshu match, but the injury allowed Tenzan to have about as good a chance of winning and that resulted in a great deal of heat. Of course, with Tenzan instead of Choshu you get so much better and more convincing offense and a guy that will sell as much as he needs to. The key to the quality of this match is it the brutality that was lacking in the Sasaki vs. Tenzan match was here in spades. Tenzan was at the knee from the beginning, but they played up Hashimoto still being too powerful for Tenzan, taking a while to drop a hint that the knee work would pay off in the end. What you could see is that Hashimoto wasn't doing as much damage as he otherwise would have because he was down himself or laboring instead of being right on Tenzan and ready to knock him back down. When it looked like Hashimoto was ready to take over they did the key spot, which saw Hashimoto's knee give out when he was going for the suichoku rakka shiki no brainbuster. Tenzan took some punishment in the process of Hashimoto collapsing, but he recovered real quick when he saw Hashimoto was in trouble and did two of his diving headbutts in a row, both directed at the injured knee, for a near fall. Hashimoto was putting the injury over great, acting like he couldn't get up, although after just seeing the way the ref checks the injured guy and his opponent lays off the injury in Sasaki vs. Hirata no one should have been fooled. Tenzan was all over the knee, with Hashimoto never being given a chance to give up so we could only wonder whether he still could. Finally, Tenzan scored the biggest upset of his career with a third diving headbutt to the knee. Though Tenzan didn't get the highest marks for sportsmanship, there was a huge reaction to his victory, largely because no one expected it on the heels of Hashimoto's loss to Choshu. 11:27. ***3/4

8/4/96, B Block: Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Satoshi Kojima. Kojima working on Yamazaki's hand was a major theme, but they found clever ways to get back to it rather than doing 6 minutes of it and moving on to finishers that have nothing to do with it. For instance, Yamazaki ducked Kojima's elbow in the corner and tried to German suplex him out, but Kojima hit Yamazaki's clenched hands to force him to break the lock. Later, Kojima was getting kicked in ther corner, but he ducked a high kick and backdropped Yamazaki out since he had no injury for Yamazaki to exploit. Though never excellent this was consistently good and looked to be one of the best matches, but it occurred during the time period where they were wisely showing a Yamazaki submission could end it at any time. The other thing that hurt the match is the fans booed Kojima for going after the bad hand, which was more than a big hypocritical since he needed all the help he could get and they cheered Tenzan's all out knee attack the same night. 9:56. ***

NJ 1996 GI CLIMAX SPECIAL Shinya Hashimoto Commercial Tape
-1hr. Q=Master
NJPW 1996 G1 CLIMAX SPECIAL Shinya Hashimoto

9/12/96 Sendai Miyagi-ken Sports Center: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kazuo Yamazaki. Both men were at their ass kicking best. Stiff, intense,.realistic match. Yamazaki held on to Hashimoto's arm on a DDT and went into an udehishigigyakujujigatame, which really got the crowd into it. Yamazaki's kicks were much better than usual, and to the arm he just injured. A war, but it didn't live up to it's potential greatness because it never fully developed any story and was just too short. ***1/2

9/13/96 Nagano Shi Kosei Kaikan: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan. A good match, that could have been a lot better with more back and forth and superior execution. Tenzan was on offense most of the 1st 8 minutes. He was still, but his moves left something to be desired. Hashimoto made a great comeback and started pounding him. He looked so good once he went on offense that Tenzan probably wasn't hurt from being overwhelmed by it. **1/2

9/14/96: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Shiro Koshinaka. They worked the crowd well. Koshinaka was stiff as every here, although strikes were still only a small portion of his offense. You could hear the impact of Hashimoto's kicks, and pretty much everything was nicely executed. The thing with this match is that although the segments were good on their own, they didn't really add up. ***1/4

9/17/96: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Satoshi Kojima. Kojima was more limited here. He definitely did a better job than Tenzan did, but wasn't taken too seriously. It was pretty standard with Kojima making a good run before running into a Hashimoto chop then getting put away with a series of chops and a few big moves after missing his moonsault. You never felt like Kojima would win, but he did enough to keep it interesting. **3/4

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #21
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #22
-1hr 50min. Q=Near Perfect

#21 9/16/96 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan:

Shinjiro Otani vs. Black Tiger (Eddy Guerrero)

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Animal Warrior (Road Warrior Animal)

Satoshi Kojima vs. Michiyoshi Ohara

Takashi Iizuka & Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido vs. Akira Nogami & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Akitoshi Saito

Kurosawa 9 Match Series #4: Power Warrior (Kensuke Sasaki) vs. Kurosawa (Manabu Nakanishi)

#22 9/20/96 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan

Kurosawa 9 Match Series #7: Kurosawa (Manabu Nakanishi) vs. Hugh Morrus

Sting & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiro Saito

Chris Benoit & Animal Warrior vs. Rick Steiner & Keiji Muto

Shinya Hashimoto & Black Tiger (Eddy Guerrero) vs. Marcus Bagwell & Lord Steven Regal

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #23
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland Masahiro Chono Hen WHITE BUTTERFLY #20 1/13/02
-1hr 50min. Q=Near Perfect

#23 New Japan vs. WCW Superstars Tournament 1st Round 9/20/96 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan

Arn Anderson vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Ric Flair vs. Tatsumi Fujinami

Riki Choshu vs. Scott Norton

Lex Luger vs. Kensuke Sasaki

Chono #20

8/15/92 Kobe World Kinen Hall: Masahiro Chono & Keiji Muto vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Takashi Ishikawa

9/23/92 Yokohama Arena, NWA World Title Match: Masahiro Chono vs. Steve Austin

New Japan '96 G-1 CLIMAX SPECIAL-THE BEST BOUTS-Commercial Tape 9/96
-2hr 20min. Q=Ex

9/16/96 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan: Power Warrior vs. Kurosawa. Highlights

9/20/96 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan: Kurosawa vs. Hugh Morrus (WCW). Highlights

9/21/96 Tokyo Korakuen Hall: Kurosawa vs. Animal Warrior. Highlights

9/23/96 Yokohama Arena: Kurosawa vs. Rick Steiner (WCW). Highlights

9/16/96 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan: Keiji Muto & Rick Steiner vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Shiro Koshinaka

9/23/96 Yokohama Arena: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Wild Pegasus. Liger's return from brain surgery

9/16/96 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masa Chono

9/23/96 Yokohama Arena IWGP Tag Titles: Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka vs. Masa Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

New Japan vs. WCW Superstars Tournament 1st Round 9/20/96 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Arn Anderson (WCW)

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Ric Flair (WCW)

Riki Choshu vs. Scott Norton (WCW)

Kensuke Sasaki vs. Lex Luger (WCW)

New Japan vs. WCW Superstars Tournament 2nd Round 9/21/96 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Scott Norton (WCW)

Shiro Koshinaka vs. Sting (WCW)

Kensuke Sasaki vs. Ric Flair (WCW)

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Lord Steven Regal (WCW)

New Japan vs. WCW Superstars Tournament Semifinal 9/23/96 Yokohama Arena

Shiro Koshinaka vs. Shinya Hashimoto

note: Sasaki got a bye to the final due to Norton suffering a shoulder injury in the 2nd round against Tenzan

New Japan vs. WCW Superstars Tournament Final 9/23/96 Yokohama Arena

Shiro Koshinaka vs. Kensuke Sasaki

9/23/96

Vale Tudo rules: Keiji Muto vs. Pedro Otarvio

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #27 1/27/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #28 2/11/04
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Wonderland #27 9/23/96 Kanagawa Yokohama Arena

Kurosawa vs. Rick Steiner

IWGP Tag Title Match: Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka

Puroresu vs. Luta Livre: Keiji Muto vs. Pedro Otarvio

Wonderland #28

9/23/96 Kanagawa Yokohama Arena: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Wild Pegasus

10/14/96

Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi & Akira Nogami

Keiji Muto & Rick Steiner & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #29 2/25/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Showa Hen~ #124 3/3/04
-1hr 50min. Q=Perfect

Heisei #29 taped 10/14/96

Osamu Kido & Junji Hirata vs. Lord Steven Regal & David Taylor

SG Tag League Match: Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima

SG Tag League Match: Shinya Hashimoto & Scott Norton vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Shiro Koshinaka

NJPW Wonderland #124 taped 1/6/83 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Tiger Mask vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi. This wasn't quite as good as their previous matches because Kobayashi was more successful in grounding Tiger. It was probably the closest pre-UWF Tiger Mask match to what he'd go on to do as Super Tiger in the UWF, but it wasn't as intense as their last couple of matches. In between Kobayashi's judo and Tiger's kicks and submissions they'd still do the Lucha segments, with Kobayashi being the workman who set Tiger up for several explosive comebacks. The fighting out of the ring was articularly notable. Tiger jumped so far on his dive over the top that he cleared Kobayashi's head and landed on the guard rail. There was a great segment where Kobayashi hit a pescado, but Tiger reversed his whip into the bars. Kobayashi stopped Tiger from reentering though and suplexed him, but Tiger just slid back in at 19. Another cool sequence on the outside saw Tiger run Kobayashi into the ring post then German suplex him when he bounced off. Match wasn't as consistently good as some of their others since it went so long, but Kobayashi had a better chance of winning since it was more his style and thus he was in control more. 23:09. ****1/4

Tatsumi Fujinami & Antonio Inoki vs. Animal Hamaguchi & Rusher Kimura

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #30 3/10/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Showa Hen~ #125 3/17/04
-1hr 50min. Q=Perfect

Heisei #30

10/14/96: Tadao Yasuda & Osamu Nishimura & Yuji Nagata vs. Kengo Kimura & Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara

10/25/96 Takasaki-shi Sogo Taiikukan: Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki & Junji Hirata vs. Kengo Kimura & Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara

10/16/96, SG Tag League Match: Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka

#125 taped 2/3/83 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center

NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Tiger Mask vs. Gran Hamada. Tiger's best matches come when the opponent is calling and setting him up, but Hamada is also a technico and not one to carry a match. Hamada still dictated more than Tiger, but he was going in dull direction rather than making it a battle of perhaps the two best athletes in the division. Poor development, a surprising amount of wear down locks, and Hamada not being that sharp resulted in one of Tiger's least memorable title matches. 17:19. **3/4

Riki Choshu & Masa Saito vs. Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami. Choshu was really intense. He & Saito pretty much stomped and used dull lengthy submissions for the entire match. Inoki, who was actually the one beaten on here, finally came back without Fujinami's help and pinned Saito. 15:06. **1/4

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #31 3/24/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Showa Hen~ #126 3/31/04
-1hr 50min. Q=Perfect

Heisei #30

10/14/96: Norio Honaga & El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani & Yutaka Yoshie

10/16/96

Tatsumi Fujinami & Osamu Nishimura vs. Osamu Kido & Tadao Yasuda

Yuji Nagata & Junji Hirata vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima

Keiji Muto & Rick Steiner vs. Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki

Wonderland #126

1/6/83 Tokyo Korakuen Hall: Kengo Kimura vs. Jessie Ventura

2/3/83 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center: Hulk Hogan & Seiji Sakaguchi vs. Killer Khan & Blackjack Mulligan

4/21/83 Tokyo Kuramae Kokugikan: Akira Maeda vs. Paul Orndorff

4/21/83 Tokyo Kuramae Kokugikan, WWF International Heavyweight Title: Riki Choshu vs. Tatsumi Fujinami

NJ Tokon V Special VOL. 22 Muta vs. Liger Commercial Tape 10/20/96 Kobe World Kinen Hall
-1hr. Q=Near Perfect

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Satoshi Kojima 11:06

Super Grade Tag League VI Match: Kensuke Sasaki & Riki Choshu [2] vs. Scott Norton & Shinya Hashimoto [2] 9:40

Great Muta vs. Jushin Thunder Liger 17:35

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #32 4/3/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Showa Hen~ #127 4/10/04
-1hr 50min. Q=Perfect

Wonderland #32 taped 10/25/96 Takasaki-shi Sogo Taiikukan

Yugi Nagata & Shinjiro Otani vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai

Tatsumi Fujinami & Osamu Nishimura vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka

SG Tag League Match: Keiji Muto & Rick Steiner vs. Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi

NJPW Wonderland #127 taped 4/21/83 Tokyo Kuramae Kokugikan

NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title Decision Match: Dynamite Kid vs. Tiger Mask

Antonio Inoki vs. Masa Saito

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #33 4/17/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Showa Hen~ #128 4/24/04
-1hr 50min. Q=Perfect

Wonderland #33 taped 10/28/96 Kagoshima Kenritsu Gym

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Norio Honaga

Yuji Nagata & Osamu Nishimura & Tadao Yasuda vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido & Takashi Iizuka

10/25/96 Takasaki-shi Sogo Taiikukan, SG Tag League Match: Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Scott Norton

Wonderland #128 taped 5/6/83 Fukuoka-shi Sports Center

Big John Studd & Enrique Vera vs. Akira Maeda & Seiji Sakaguchi

IWGP Kessho League: Hulk Hogan vs. Killer Khan. Khan was not able to get anything out of Hogan, who was his typical deliberate and phony self. Aside from a few of Hogan's patented punchs of his own hand there was nothing embarrassing, but it was unskilled and dull. Hogan didn't Hulk up in these days, so he just stopped selling when he was finally successful in reentering the ring and put Khan away. 10:57. *1/2

IWGP Kessho League: Antonio Inoki vs. Andre The Giant. Inoki knocked Andre down withing 30 seconds with a missed enzuigiri. Inoki went full force when he had Andre down, but it quickly got slow and grew progressively slower. The coolest thing about Andre was how he'd kick out by heaving his opponent off him. I felt this really added to his aura as an unstoppable mass. Inoki did an enzuigiri style kick to Andre's arm and tried to start attacking that appendage, but Andre dumped him over the top for the typical screw job. Neither really got anywhere with one another. 11:54. 1/2*

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #34 5/1/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Showa Hen~ #129 5/8/04
-1hr 50min. Q=Perfect

Wonderland Heisei #34 taped 10/28/96 Kagoshima Kenritsu Gym

Hiro Saito vs. Tatsutoshi Goto

SG Tag League Match: Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Keiji Muto & Rick Steiner

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata & Scott Norton vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi

#129 taped 5/19/83 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan

Akira Maeda vs. Killer Khan

IWGP Decision League Match: Andre The Giant vs. Big John Studd

IWGP Decision League Match: Antonio Inoki vs. Hulk Hogan

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #35 5/15/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Showa Hen~ #130 5/22/04
-1hr 50min. Q=Perfect

Wonderland Heisei #35

10/28/96 Kagoshima Kenritsu Gym: Tatsumi Fujinami & Riki Choshu vs. Akira Maeda & Kengo Kimura

11/1/96 Hiroshima Green Arena

Kazuyuki Fujita Debut Match: Yuji Nagata vs. Kazuyuki Fujita

SG Tag League Match: Shinya Hashimoto & Scott Norton vs. Keiji Muto & Rick Steiner

#130 taped 5/27/83 Takamatsu Shimin Bunka Center

Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant

Antonio Inoki vs. Akira Maeda

6/1/83: Seiji Sakaguchi vs. Rusher Kimura

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #36 5/29/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Showa Hen~ #131 6/5/04
-1hr 50min. Q=Perfect

Wonderland Heisei #36 taped 11/1/96 Hiroshima Green Arena

Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani & Norio Honaga

Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Junji Hirata

Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito vs. Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami & Satoshi Kojima

NJPW Wonderland #131 taped 6/2/83 Tokyo Kuramae Kokugikan

Andre The Giant vs. Killer Khan

1st IWGP Final: Antonio Inoki vs. Hulk Hogan

 

NJ TV 11/23/96 & 11/30/96
-1hr 50min. Q=VG

NJ World Pro Wrestling 11/23/96 SUPER GRADE TAG LEAGUE VI taped 11/1 Hiroshima Green Arena

Yuji Nagata vs. Kazuyuki Fujita

Tatsumi Fujinami & Riki Choshu & Satoshi Kojima vs. Masa Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito

SUPER GRADE TAG LEAGUE VI Final: Keiji Muto & Rick Steiner vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Scott Norton. Hashimoto & Norton win tag league.

NJ World Pro Wrestling 11/30/96 BATTLE FINAL '96 taped 11/26 Hirosaki

Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Satoshi Kojima

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

Keiji Muto & Junji Hirata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Hawk Warrior & Animal Warrior & Power Warrior

Masa Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido & Takashi Iizuka

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #37 6/12/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Showa Hen~ #132 6/19/04
-1hr 50min. Q=Perfect

NJPW Wonderland Heisei #37 BATTLE FINAL '96 taped 11/26/96 Hirosaki Shimin Taiikukan

Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Yutaka Yoshie 7:50. *

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Chavo Guerrero, Jr. 9:30. **1/4

Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara & Akitoshi Saito vs. Tadao Yasuda & Osamu Nishimura & Yuji Nagata 12:51. ***

Keiji Muto & Junji Hirata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Power Warrior & Animal Warrior & Hawk Warrior 6:50 *

#132

6/2/83 Tokyo Kuramae Kokugikan WWF Junior Heavyweight Crown Decision Match: Tiger Mask vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi. Kobayashi believed in a big start before getting into the body of the match. I agree with this mentality when there actually is a body because it grabs the crowds attention and buys you some time to develop the match without them getting impatient. Kobayashi made it work for him the way few have though because having already done some damage made his submissions more credible. Though the match started as a sprint, the way they came out fired up and intense and kept the success rate low showed the urgency and importance. I mean, these guys were just dead set on not letting the other get the advantage. At the same time, the match was extremely well choreographed. There were new sequences like Tiger landing on his feet for a back body drop, avoiding a 360 kick, then hitting a rounding high kick. They knew when to use the moves and how to incorporate them. Kobayashi stopped Tiger's reverse diving body attack by sticking his knee out for a stomach breaker then followed with a traditional stomachbreaker and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. This was one of the few matches where you believed Tiger could lose. The fans were going nuts toward the end, especially when it appeared Kobayashi was 1 move away from victory. Unfortunately, after so much brilliance the finisher was real lame and slow, not to mention probably a bad call by the ref. 18:03. ****3/4

5/30/83 Chiba Koen Taiikukan

Akira Maeda vs. Hulk Hogan

Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi & Kengo Kimura vs. Andre The Giant & El Canek & Big John Studd

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #38 6/26/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Showa Hen~ #133 7/2/04
-1hr 50min. Q=Perfect

NJPW Wonderland Heisei #38 BATTLE FINAL '96 taped 11/26/96 Hirosaki Shimin Taiikukan

12/1/96 Nagoya Rainbow Hall: Akitoshi Saito & Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara vs. Yuji Nagata & Osamu Kido & Yutaka Yoshie

Shinya Hashimoto & Satoshi Kojima vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura

Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka & Osamu Kido

#132

6/1/83 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan: Antonio Inoki & Akira Maeda vs. Hulk Hogan & Big John Studd

6/12/83 Mexico El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos 2/3 Falls WWF Junior Heavyweight Crown Decision Match: Tiger Mask vs. Fishman. The match was good when Fishman utilized Tiger's ability to roll out of moves to their advantage. It's always good when Tiger is on offense, but Fishman doesn't do much so it's hard for Tiger to have much of a match with him. Fishman did do one interesting move where he set Tiger on the second and threw him past the center of the ring, kind of like a press slam. The big mistake of the match was the fall Fishman won was the shortest. I'll write this (and it being much more contrived) off to it being Mexico, but Tiger always withstands tons more and never loses, so it was very hard to take. The pacing was very awkward with the match basically stopping then starting again, and Fishman stalled too much. Tiger sometimes found interesting ways out of Fishman's submissions, but as a whole they did more harm than good. Had it's moments though not as many as usual and wasn't as good in any other area to make up for that, but barring a series of miscues Tiger is entertaining enough that his presence guarantees a good match. 11:03, 4:37, & 6:53. ***

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #39 7/10/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Showa Hen~ #134 7/17/04
-1hr 50min. Q=Perfect

NJPW Wonderland Heisei #39 BATTLE FINAL '96 taped 12/7/96 Okayama-ken Taiikukan

Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto vs. Osamu Kido & Black Cat

Kengo Kimura vs. Hiro Saito

12/1/96 Nagoya Rainbow Hall

Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto

The Road Warriors vs. Satoshi Kojima & Tadao Yasuda

#132

5/30/83 Chiba Koen Taiikukan: Killer Kahn & Kuniaki Kobayashi vs. Rusher Kimura & Isamu Teranishi

6/12/83 Mexico El Torneo De Cuatro Caminos UWA Heavyweight Title Match: Tatsumi Fujinami vs. El Canek

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Heisei Hen~ #40 7/24/04
NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Showa Hen~ #135 7/17/04
-1hr 50min. Q=Perfect

NJPW Wonderland Heisei #40 BATTLE FINAL '96 taped 12/1/96 Nagoya Rainbow Hall

Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs. Keiji Muto & Osamu Nishimura

Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata

Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka

#135

6/1/83 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan: Andre The Giant vs. Killer Kahn

7/7/83 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan: Dick Murdock vs. Abdullah The Butcher

8/4/83 Tokyo Kuramae Kokugikan: Rusher Kimura vs. Animal Hamaguchi

NJ TV 12/8/96 & 12/14/96
-1hr 50min. Q=1st Gen

NJ World Pro Wrestling 12/8/96 BATTLE FINAL '96 taped 12/1/96 Nagoya Rainbow Hall

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs. Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki

Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai vs. Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani

Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs. Keiji Muto & Osamu Nishimura

IWGP Tag Titles: Masa Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka

NJ World Pro Wrestling 12/14/96 BATTLE FINAL '96 taped 12/5 Matsuyama Shi Sogo Community Center

Takashi Iizuka & Yuji Nagata & Shinjiro Otani vs. Kengo Kimura & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Michiyoshi Ohara

Keiji Muto & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Brad Armstrong & Koji Kanemoto

Hawk Warrior & Animal Warrior & Power Warrior vs. Masa Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima

NJ TV 12/21/96 & 12/28/96
-1hr 50min. Q=1st Gen

NJ World Pro Wrestling 12/21/96 BATTLE FINAL '96 taped 12/7 Okayama-ken Taiikukan

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata & Tadao Yasuda vs. Hawk Warrior & Animal Warrior & Power Warrior

Jushin Thunder Liger & Norio Honaga vs. Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani

Keiji Muto & Osamu Nishimura vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka

Masa Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima

NJ World Pro Wrestling 12/28/96 BATTLE FINAL '96 taped 12/10 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan

Hawk Warrior & Animal Warrior vs. Masa Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka vs. Riki Choshu & Keiji Muto

Kensuke Sasaki vs. Satoshi Kojima

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Manabu Nakanishi

NJPW BEST BOUTS OF 1996 Commercial Tape
-2hr 20min. Q=Master. 2 DVDs

Highlights from 1/4, 2/3, 2/4, 4/29, 6/17, 8/2-8/6 G1 CLIMAX, 9/16-23 GI CLIMAX SPECIAL

9/16/96 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan: Riki Choshu & Osamu Nishimura vs. Kengo Kimura & Tatsutoshi Goto

11/1/96 Hiroshima Green Arena, SG Tag League V Final: Shinya Hashimoto & Scott Norton vs. Keiji Muto & Rick Steiner

12/1/96 Nagoya Rainbow Hall

Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai

Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata

12/5/96 Matsuyama Shi Sogo Community Center: Power Warrior & Hawk Warrior & Animal Warrior vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito

12/7/96 Okayama Taiikukan: Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

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