NJPW NEW JAPAN PRO-WRESTLING 1997
Shin Nihon Puroresu Tapes DVD VHS Videos


NJPW '97 WRESTLING WORLD IN TOKYO DOME Commercial Tapes 1/4/97 Tokyo Dome
-3hr 25min. Q=Master. 2 DVDs

Yuji Nagata Farewell Match: Junji Hirata & Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima & Osamu Nishimura vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido & Takashi Iizuka & Yuji Nagata 11:21

NJPW vs. BJPW:

Shinjiro Otani vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri 8:30. Otani once again proved how great he is at carrying an outsider he's unfamiliar with. It may have been too short, but they made the most of the time they had, pulling everything off with the timing, fluidity, and chemistry we've come to expect from the matches between the regulars in the New Japan junior division. Tajiri's Big Japan compatriots may have come off as garbage wrestling clowns, but Tajiri proved he was no joke from the outset. Otani set Tajiri up to be the babyface rather than simply the underdog, being the one who did the hot athletic moves such as the quebrada and avalanche style Frankensteiner while Otani looked to rough him up and disrespect him. A really fun, high level match with Tajiri giving a performance that demanded he be invited back. ***1/2

Tatsutoshi Goto vs. Kendo Nagasaki 9:23

Masahiro Chono vs. Shoji Nakamaki 1:07

Masa Saito vs. Great Kojika 4:25

IWGP Tag Title Match: Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan 16:10. These guys actually had time, and just didn't want it. They wasted 2/3 of the match with the most uninspired brawling and technical rest holding. The crowd was suitably comatosed. Tenzan was slightly worthwhile early, but ultimately Fujinami & Kimura were the ones that finally started to try. Their offense may have been 15 years out of date, but the fans were into their signature moves, and at least they were finally doing something. Chono was completely worthless, even looking lame taking the Dragon screws and Inazuma leg lariats. The final 5 minutes was good enough for the match to look like something with the right TV edit, but as a whole, yawn. **

Inoki FINAL COUNTDOWN 6th: Antonio Inoki vs. Willie Williams 4:13

"GOLD RUSH" RETURN: Super Liger (Chris Jericho) vs. Koji Kanemoto 11:11. Wasn't a trainwreck, but they were trying for a high end match and failing pretty miserably at pulling it off the way they hoped. Jericho was just plain bad here. He never looked comfortable, and was wrestling nervous. Both, though mostly Jericho, were executing with less speed and precision than usual, and looked amazingly ordinary. Kanemoto surprisingly just let Jericho do his thing early, hoping he'd establish himself in his new gimmick, even though it was quickly pretty clear Jericho was sinking. The match picked up after Jericho slipped off the ropes trying a boomerang dropkick, and was an entertaining if shockingly indy level spotfest from here highlighted by Kanemoto turning an avalanche style Frankensteiner into a powerbomb. Kanemoto was above average, but ultimately this was easily his worst performance of an otherwise stellar year, and Jericho just plain choked, sending the Super Liger gimmick to it's grave immediately. **

Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Michiyoshi Ohara 9:17

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. ****

BATTLE OF THE DOUBLE DEALER: Power Warrior vs. Great Muta 16:09. They looked awesome, but then the match started. Muta had much more ability to wrestle, looking explosive as ever when he actually bothered to do something, but was thwarted by Power's clumsiness and no selling. Power had much more desire to wrestle, but was thwarted by Muta's constant stalling. I had a lot more patience for Power trying to focus on power moves and not always pulling them off the way he envisioned than for Muta rolling to the floor after each and every move to pick the paint off his face. The match had negative rhythm because Muta refused to ever cease the character antics and actually wrestle. Really, the only time anything happened consecutively was when Muta took it to the floor, seemingly only because he couldn't leave the ring when he was already on the outside! They both did a power move on the table out there. Later on, they brought the table in the ring for the finish where Muta hit his avalanche style Frankensteiner onto it but landed on it missing the moonsault then Power KO'd him with his Northern Lights bomb onto the table. *

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu 18:04. Choshu really shouldn't still be getting title shots and headlining Dome shows in 1997, but Hashimoto is the one opponent he's guaranteed to still be able to have a compelling match with. This was shockingly one of their best matches, as they did a better job of sticking to what can set their match apart, the stiffness and intensity. It was simple and even repetitive but effective stuff because the impact of the blows was so ridiculous and the intensity was so high due to that. They started out with some tame grappling, but Choshu took offense to Hashimoto's hamstring crippling low kicks and started decking him with closed fist punches. Hashimoto answered with some savage chops, and they were just exchanging potato shots from here when they weren't doing their signature moves. Segments such as Hashimoto refusing to stop kicking Choshu in the corner, forcing Tiger Hattori to get in between them and muscle a break kept the hatred high and the match feeling electric. It degenerated into an endless Riki lariatfest, but this also functioned as the story for the final portion of the match with Choshu going all out to win with his favorite move causing Hashimoto to react by focusing all his chops and kicks on debilitating the lariat arm. Choshu's favorite moves don't do a lot for me, especially when Hattori has to play grab ass to keep him from falling off the top rope on his avalanche style brainbuster, but there was enough vicious striking to make the 20 Riki lariats tolerable. The bout had big match atmosphere throughout, and in the end, you really felt like you not only saw something, but had an experience beyond the anticipated. ***1/2

NJPW 1997 TV #1 1/5/97 '97 WRESTLING WORLD IN TOKYO DOME taped 1/4/97 Tokyo Dome
-1hr 55min. Q=VG

Yuji Nagata Farewell Match: Junji Hirata & Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima & Osamu Nishimura vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido & Takashi Iizuka & Yuji Nagata. Clip

GOLD RUSH RETURN: Super Liger (Chris Jericho) vs. Koji Kanemoto. Clip

Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Michiyoshi Ohara. Clip

NJPW vs. BJPW:

Shinjiro Otani vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri. Clip

Tatsutoshi Goto vs. Kendo Nagasaki. Clip

Masahiro Chono vs. Shoji Nakamaki. Clip

Masa Saito vs. Great Kojika. Clip

Inoki FINAL COUNTDOWN 6th: Antonio Inoki vs. Willie Williams

J-Crown: Ultimo Dragon vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

IWGP Tag Title Match: Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

BATTLE OF THE DOUBLE DEALER: Power Warrior vs. Great Muta

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu

NJPW 1997 TV #2
1/11/97 & 1/18/97 '97 WRESTLING WORLD IN TOKYO DOME taped 1/4/97 Tokyo Dome
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 1/11/97

Junji Hirata & Osamu Nishimura & Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kida & Takayuki Iizuka & Yuji Nagata

Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Michiyoshi Ohara

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu

NJ TV 1/18/97

Masa Saito vs. Great Kojika

Kendo Nagasaki vs. Tatsutoshi Goto

Shinjiro Otani vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri

Masahiro Chono vs. Shoji Nakamaki

Kensuke Sasaki vs. Great Muta

NJPW 1997 TV #3
1/25/97 Ryuku Asahi Broadcasting Corporation Cup taped 1/20/97 Naha Shimin Taiikukan
& 2/1/97 FIGHTING SPIRIT '97 taped 1/29/97 Fukushima National Athletic Meet Gymnasium
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 1/25/97

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito vs. Keiji Muto & Osamu Nishimura

Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi

Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai 7:59 of 15:17. A bit disappointing given the talent involved. Samurai was taking a beating when they joined the match then they worked Koji's knee. The match picked up with Koji's comeback and they traded their hot moves and near falls for a spectacular final 3 1/2 minutes. Liger tried to finish with his running Liger bomb, but Otani turned it into a corbata and hit a Frankensteiner for the win to set up his title challenge on 2/9/97. ***1/4 range

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata & Kensuke Sasaki & Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Kengo Kimura & Tatsutoshi Goto & Akira Nogami & Michiyoshi Ohara & Akitoshi Saito

NJ TV 2/1/97

Scott Norton & Marcus Bagwell vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Satoshi Kojima

Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai vs. Chris Jericho & Koji Kanemoto 6:34 of 13:07. Kanemoto really put on a show here. The others were good and did their job, but Koji was just more motivated and certainly in the mood to show off. Jericho had a little run at the end before jobbing to Liger. I felt this was better than last weeks jr tag because they were bringing their best stuff, going hard from where we started to the finish. ***1/2 range

Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Takayuki Iizuka

Keiji Muto & Junji Hirata vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi

NJPW 1997 TV #4
2/8/97 FIGHTING SPIRIT '97 taped 2/2/97 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
& 2/15/97 FIGHTING SPIRIT '97 taped 2/8/97 Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 2/8/97

Kazuo Yamazaki & Takayuki Iizuka vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Osamu Nishimura

Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Norio Honaga & El Samurai 10:10 of 15:48. Honaga's presence and the mood of Koji's team led to more roughhousing than usual. Takaiwa isn't nearly as strong a wrestler as the main 4, but Liger & Samurai really know how to make him look good. Honaga, on the other hand, can't really bring anything to the jr tags anymore and no one can change that. Match had it's moments, but wasn't nearly as ambitious with Honaga around, and was more inconsistent. Kanemoto hit a sky high moonsault attack, though it was a bit rough looking since the opponent is higher than the top rope so there really isn't enough time to pull off the backflip. ***1/4 range

Masahiro Chono & Scott Norton & Marcus Bagwell vs. Keiji Muto & Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi

NJ TV 2/15/97

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito & Marcus Bagwell vs. Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki & Satoshi Kojima

Masahiro Chono & Scott Norton vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi

Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai 7:22 of 18:51. Slightly better than their 1/20/97 match. It was pretty even as you'd expect from a match with the big 4 juniors. Samurai was taking a beating because Kanemoto & Otani kept double teaming him. He was able to hit just enough big moves to stand up to their punking until Liger could finally make the hot tag. Liger couldn't sustain an offensive without Samurai's help either, and they went back and forth with great work and neat spots in the final few minutes. There was some nice teamwork, but as usual with these guys it's more that the timing is universally excellent so they can do whatever they want with as many guys involved as they need. ***1/2 range

IWGP Tag Title Match: Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs. Keiji Muto & Junji Hirata

NJPW Classics FIGHTING SPIRIT '97 taped 2/8/97 Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center
-1hr 20min. Q=Perfect

Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka vs. Heisei Ishingun (Kengo Kimura & Tatsutoshi Goto) 7:44

Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani vs. El Samurai & Jushin Thunder Liger 18:51

Kensuke Sasaki & Riki Choshu & Satoshi Kojima vs. nWo Japan (Hiro Saito & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Marcus Bagwell) 12:16

nWo Japan (Masahiro Chono & Scott Norton) vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Shinya Hashimoto 12:12

IWGP Tag Title Match: Kengo Kimura & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Junji Hirata & Keiji Muto 19:30

NJPW Classics FIGHTING SPIRIT '97 taped 2/9/97 Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center
-1hr 35min. Q=Perfect

nWo Japan (Hiro Saito & Marcus Bagwell) vs. El Samurai & Scotty Riggs 10:22

Heisei Ishingun (Kuniaki Kobayashi & Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto) vs. Junji Hirata & Osamu Nishimura & Yutaka Yoshie 11:17

Manabu Nakanishi & Riki Choshu vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Takashi Iizuka 8:08

Heisei Ishingun (Akira Nogami & Kengo Kimura) & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Osamu Kido & Shinya Hashimoto & Tadao Yasuda 12:05

nWo Japan (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Masahiro Chono & Scott Norton) vs. Keiji Muto & Kensuke Sasaki & Satoshi Kojima 12:02

J-Crown Title #1 Contendership Match: Koji Kanemoto vs. TAKA Michinoku 14:41

J-Crown Junior Heavyweight 8 Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Shinjiro Otani 27:14

NJPW 1997 TV #5
2/22/97 FIGHTING SPIRIT '97 taped 2/9/97 Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center
& 3/1/97 FIGHTING SPIRIT '97 taped 2/13/97 Gifu Industrial Hall & 2/16/97 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 2/22/97

Masahiro Chono & Scott Norton & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Keiji Muto & Satoshi Kojima & Kensuke Sasaki

J-Crown Next Challenger Decision Match: Koji Kanemoto vs. TAKA Michinoku 6:23 of 14:41. A really great first effort from these two that unfortunately didn't lead to followups that would likely have been even better. These two didn't show up Liger vs. Otani - in the end how could they? - but they certainly tried. It was arguably TAKA's highest profile singles match to date, and he went all out to impress. He's not so dissimilar from Kanemoto, and not that Kanemoto needed any impetus to give a major effort, but TAKA aiming to outpunk him and using some of "his" kneework made Koji come back at him harder. The difference here is TAKA was such a fantastic athlete, and being faster and quicker allowed him to dominate the match and beat Kanemoto at his own game. TAKA's flying was breathtaking, but he couldn't sustain such a high risk game forever, and Kanemoto got cocky quickly. He even covered by standing on TAKA's face after an avalanche style brainbuster with both standing on the top rope then stepped off before two to let him up so he could finish with his Tiger suplex. This was really high level junior action. They didn't sell that much as they were more plowing through to get everything into 15 minutes, but it was awesome spectacle. **** range

J-Crown Junior 8 Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Shinjiro Otani. Liger & Otani pay tribute to one of the best heavyweight matches of all-time, the 1/20/97 Misawa vs. Kobashi, in this fantastic junior style adaptation. It's a very patient and well contructed match focusing on Liger's knee attack and Otani's arm attack, countering back and forth on the mat between these two points of focus for the majority of the first half. The match picks up tremendously in the second half, but it's not so much the highspots, but the fact they make everything so dramatic that makes the match stand apart. I felt they could have done more to play off the first half down the stretch, but it's a minor quibble. ****3/4

NJ TV 3/1/97

Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Keiji Muto & Junji Hirata

Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Scott Norton vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Kensuke Sasaki & Tadao Yasuda

2/16/97 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

Keiji Muto vs. Shiro Koshinaka

J-Crown Junior 8 Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Koji Kanemoto

NJPW Shinya Hashimoto The Complete Works DVD Box Set
-21hr 25min. Q=Perfect. 15 DVDs

#1 & 2 Three Musketeers Masahiro Chono

3/20/87 '87 Young Lion Cup Final: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masahiro Chono

7/29/88 Shinya Hasimoto & Masahiro Chono & Keiji Muto vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura & Shiro Koshinaka

12/5/88: Shinya Hasimoto & Masahiro Chono vs. Kerry Von Erich & Kevin Von Erich

8/9/91 '91 G1 Climax League Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masahiro Chono

3/1/92: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masahiro Chono

1/4/94 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masahiro Chono

8/28/99: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masahiro Chono

#3 & 4 3 Musketeers Keiji Muto

4/27/90 IWGP Tag Title Match: Shinya Hasimoto & Masa Saito vs. Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono

6/12/90: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Keiji Muto

7/13/93 IWGP Tag Title Match: Shinya Hasimoto & Keiji Muto vs. Hellraisers

12/10/93 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs Keiji Muto

5/3/95 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Keiji Muto

6/5/97 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Keiji Muto

9/23/98: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Keiji Muto

#5 & 6 IWGP Title Part 1

4/24/89 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Vader

11/1/90 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu

9/23/92 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Great Muta

12/13/93 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Power Warrior

3/21/94 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Scott Norton

9/23/94 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Power Warrior

12/13/94 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hiroshi Hase

#7 & 8 IWGP Title Part 1

1/4/95 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kensuke Sasaki

2/19/95 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Scott Norton

4/16/95 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Lord Steven Regal

4/29/96 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Nobuhiko Takada

6/11/96 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Satoshi Kojima

2/16/97 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kazuo Yamazaki

8/10/97 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan

#9 & 10 Fujinami, Choshu, Tenryu

4/24/89 IWPG Champion Decision Tournament Round 1: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu

5/28/90: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu

8/8/93: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Genichiro Tenryu

2/17/94: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Genichiro Tenryu

4/4/94 Hiroshima Green Arena, IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Tatsumi Fujinami 14:55. Simple, entertaining, and effective match where the more physically imposing Hashimoto dominates, but winds up losing nonetheless via flash pin. There's not a lot to it, but Hashimoto is so nasty with his kicks, and Fujinami should be commended for agreeing to take such a brutal beating. Fujinami starts off playing ball control, but gets sucked into a slugfest, exploding with slaps after Hashimoto double crosses his offer to lock up, instead blasting him with a series of leg kicks. Hashimoto avoids a dropkick though, and pretty much has his way with Fujinami the rest of the match after repeatedly punting Fujinami when he's down & throwing Tiger Hattori down twice so he could continue to put the boots to Fujinami when he's in the ropes. Hashimoto was just mauling poor Fujinami, but Fujinami hung on through countering & evading, taking over momentarily with his Dragon sleeper when Hashimoto missed a wheel kick in the corner. Hashimoto wasn't slowed & just continued to blast Fujinami with kicks whether or not they were legal until Hattori reestablished order after being tossed aside again, leaping on Hashimoto's back & pushing him away then kicking Hiroshi Hase off the apron. Hattori assured Fujinami had waaaaay too much time to recover from each knocked down for the rest of the match. It wasn't a particularly competitive or dramatic. It all seemed academic & just a matter of time until a contrived finish where Fujinami somehow turned a wheel kick into a ground cobra twist for the upset win. ***1/4

5/1/94 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Tatsumi Fujinami 6:04. Hashimoto just runs through Fujinami this time to regain his title. It's long enough for Hashimoto to get his nose bleed despite Fujinami not really doing anything, but that's about it. Fujinami may still be recovering from their last match, as Hashimoto is noticably avoiding delivering the same level of impact to the neck.

6/15/94 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu

8/1/98 G1 Climax Tournament: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Genichiro Tenryu

10/9/00 Tokyo Dome: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Tatsumi Fujinami 14:18. They again updated the fued to make it more shoot oriented. This was about far as they could take it in that direction given Fujinami's technical wrestling is so based in pro style, but both men had more credible entries here. One of the problems was Fujinami was getting too old to want to take the requisite brutal beating from Hashimoto, so they had to pick their spots for the brutal kicks, & adjust the match to make it more mat based. Neither are very active on the mat though, and especially at a dome show where hardcore technical fans aren't the norm, things were kind of dead compared to their previous encounters. The win helped reestablish Hashimoto some from his senseless losses to Naoya Ogawa, but probably wasn't exciting too many people about Hashimoto or Fujinami. **

#11 & 12 G1 CLIMAX

8/11/91 G1 CLIMAX Final: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masahiro Chono

8/3/93 G1 CLIMAX: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hiroshi Hase

8/7/94 G1 CLIMAX: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Shiro Koshinaka

8/15/95 G1 CLIMAX: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Keiji Muto

8/2/96 G1 CLIMAX: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu

8/3/97 G1 CLIMAX: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan

8/2/98 G1 CLIMAX: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kazuo Yamazaki

#13 Ishu Kakutogisen

7/22/90: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Alexis Chulin

12/26/90: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Tony Halme

5/31/91: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Randy Thornton

6/12/91: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Ramzin Shibiev

9/23/91: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Tony Halme

9/23/97: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Zane Frazier

11/2/97: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hubert Numrich

1/4/98: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Dennis Lane

#14 & 15 Strongest Foreigners

4/24/89 IWGP Champion Decision Tournament: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Victor Zangiev

11/3/89: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Vader

12/5/89 World Cup League: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Salman Hashimikov

12/6/89 World Cup League: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Steve Williams

3/19/90 IWGP Tag Title Match Shinya Hasimoto & Masa Saito vs. Scott Hall & Punisher Dice Morgan

8/7/91 G1 CLIMAX: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Bam Bam Bigelow

5/17/92: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Great OZ

9/23/93: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Jake Roberts

7/17/96 IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Ric Flair

NJPW Koji Kanemoto ANKLE HOLD DVD Box Set
-4hr 45min. Q=Perfect. 3 DVDs

VOL. 1 SINGLE MATCH SELECTION

2/16/97 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan, J-CROWN Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Koji Kanemoto 19:26. A week after Liger's best singles with Otani, he serves up his best with Kanemoto. The match comes off as a spotfest on TV because the second half is so overloaded with spectacular moves back and forth, but it's really quite well built before they go off on one another. Kanemoto comes out fired up, and really takes it to Liger during the first half. He throws a lot of hard kicks early, targeting the knee to set up his body work. Liger is really looking overmatched here, and Kanemoto is at his cocky best, enjoying every opportunity to take liberties with Liger and put the boots to him. Liger finally avoids a moonsault and comes back with a series of shoteis. The match kicks into high gear from here, with essentially an elongated finishing sequence that's probably the most exciting junior wrestling of the year. ****3/4

6/3/98 Osaka Shi Nakajima Taiikukan BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. Final: Koji Kanemoto vs. Dr. Wagner Jr.

5/3/99 IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Koji Kanemoto vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa

6/11/03: Koji Kanemoto vs. Masahito Kakihara

VOL. 2 TAG MATCH SELECTION

8/8/98 Osaka Dome, IWGP Junior Tag Title Match: Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Koji Kanemoto & Dr. Wagner Jr.

10/11/99 Tokyo Dome IWGP Junior Tag Title Match: Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka

6/25/00 Tokyo Korakuen Hall, IWGP Junior Tag Title Match: Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka

10/9/04 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan, IWGP Junior Tag Title Match: Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs. Gedo & Jado

VOL. 3 RADICAL FIGHTS SELECTION

10/29/95 Marine Messe Fukuoka: Koji Kanemoto & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Naoki Sano & Kennichi Yamamoto

2/20/00 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan: Koji Kanemoto vs. AKIRA

8/29/02 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Koji Kanemoto vs. Makoto Hashi

10/26/02 Fukuoka Kokusai Center, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Koji Kanemoto vs. Bas Rutten

6/10/03 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Koji Kanemoto & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Kotaro Suzuki

NJPW 1997 TV #6
3/8/97 FIGHTING SPIRIT '97 taped 2/16/97 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
& 3/15/97 HYPER BATTLE '97 taped 3/5/97 Niigata
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 3/8/97

Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki & Tadao Yasuda vs. Scott Norton & Masahiro Chono & Marcus Bagwell

IWGP Tag Title Match: Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Satoshi Kojima

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kazuo Yamazaki

NJ TV 3/15/97

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata & Tadao Yasuda vs. Lord Steven Regal & Meng & Barbarian

Jushin Thunder Liger & Wild Pegasus & El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa 7:59 of 19:26. An all too rare appearance from Benoit bolsters Liger's side, though it's mainly Samurai & Liger vs. Kanemoto that's delivering the best stuff. The action is hot from where TV picks up, and this is certainly a stronger match than the usual really good stuff we've been getting. Pegasus gets the finish, with the fans giving Takaiwa heavy support for his near falls before Pegasus takes him out. ***3/4 range

Riki Choshu & Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara

Keiji Muto & Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito

NJPW 1997 TV #7
3/22/97 HYPER BATTLE '97 taped 3/20/97 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan
& 3/29/97 HYPER BATTLE '97 taped 3/8/97 Tokuyama City Gymnasium
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 3/22/97

J-Crown Junior Heavyweight 8 Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Masayoshi Motegi

IWGP Tag Title Match: Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsutoshi Goto

Masahiro Chono & Scott Norton & Marcus Bagwell & NWO Sting & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Keiji Muto & Kensuke Sasaki & Steve Regal & Manabu Nakanishi

NJ TV 3/29/97

Riki Choshu & Kazuo Yamazaki & Takayuki Iizuka vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito

Jushin Thunder Liger & Wild Pegasus vs. Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa 9:51 of 15:30. A lot more Pegasus here than in the 3/5/97 tag, continuing to pit him against Takaiwa. Benoit is in good form, though not as impressive, and certainly not as diverse as Otani or Liger. Pegasus is mainly relying on stiffness, but there's not a lot of mat work here, and the others provide more than enough highspots that he makes a nice change of pace. Otani is really having fun here, regularly taunting the opposition. Takaiwa hits enough power moves to make himself a force, but once again does the job. ***1/2 range

Shinya Hashimoto & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Meng & Barbarian

3/16/97 Numazu: Riki Choshu & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Keiji Muto & Steve Regal

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 Tokon V Special Vol. 35 Shin Nihon vs. nWo Commercial Tape 3/22/97 Amagasaki-shi Kinen Koen Sogo Taiikukan
-1hr. Q=Master

Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai Norio Honaga vs. Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa 16:59. A really odd and abnormal match that was unlike any other junior tag of the year. Samurai was in the mood to choke, cheat, and brawl, and everyone was getting fiesty, particularly Kanemoto. The match threatened to totally break down when Samurai, who wasn't legal, choked Otani from the apron. Everyone had it in for Samurai after that, and were roughing him up and punking him. Samurai gave it back and then some every opportunity he had. Eventually Samurai & Kanemoto were pulled apart and back to their own corners by their teammates, and Liger & Otani attempted to have a wrestling match. Samurai & Kanemoto went at it on the outside though, and Otani eventually joined them, leaving no one to save Takaiwa from Liger's Ligerbomb. The match was good for heating up the rivalries in the junior division, but they completely sacrificed the actual wrestling in the process. Sure, it had no rhythm by design, but it would have been nice if they could have added the hatred without sabotaging the match in the process. **

Satoshi Kojima vs. nWo Sting

Shinya Hashimoto & Keiji Muto & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Masahiro Chono & Scott Norton & Marcus Bagwell

NJPW 1997 TV #8
4/5/97 HYPER BATTLE '97 taped 3/25/97 Tokyo Taiikukan
& 4/13/97 '97 BATTLE FORMATION taped 4/12/97 Tokyo Dome
-2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 4/5/97

NJPW & WCW vs. nWo 6 vs. 6 Single All-out Confrontation

Satoshi Kojima vs. Hiro Saito

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Manabu Nakanishi

Marcus Bagwell vs. Steve Regal

Kensuke Sasaki vs. NWO Sting

Masahiro Chono vs. Keiji Muto

Scott Norton vs. Shinya Hashimoto

NJ TV Special 4/13/97

INOKI FINAL COUNTDOWN 7th: Antonio Inoki vs. Tiger King

J-Crown Junior 8 Title Match: The Great Sasuke vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

THE WORLD OF DARKMEN: The Great Muta vs. Masahiro Chono

Ishu Kakutogisen: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Naoya Ogawa

NJPW 1997 TV #9
4/19/97 '97 BATTLE FORMATION taped 4/12/97 Tokyo Dome
& 4/26/97 '97 BATTLE FORMATION taped 4/12/97 Tokyo Dome
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 4/19/97

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Manabu Nakanishi

El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani

Satoshi Kojima & Junji Hirata vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Osamu Kido

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Naoya Ogawa

NJ TV 4/26/97

J-Crown Junior 8 Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. The Great Sasuke

Shiro Koshinaka vs. Tahashi Ishikawa

Antonio Inoki vs. Tiger King

Great Muta vs. Masahiro Chono

NJPW '97 BATTLE FORMATION Commercial Tapes 4/12/97 Tokyo Dome
-3hr 10min. Q=Master. 2 DVDs

BATTLE OF BEAST: Manabu Nakanishi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan 14:29. Stationary fight. They hit pretty hard, but there were no dynamics. Nakanishi had no personality at this point and was typically unimpressive. This was also before Tenzan learned to work with stiffs like this, so unfortunately he did little to raise the level of the opposition. *1/2

WCW Special Match: Chris Benoit vs. Kevin Sullivan 1:30 of 9:17. Every match was complete except this one, which was edited down to about 1:30. It was sad seeing Jaqueline interfere in NJ rings.

Shiro Koshinaka vs. Takashi Ishikawa 11:16. Ishikawa has been bad and boring for years, but somehow the perpetually underrated Koshinaka managed to have the 2nd best match on the show with him. Wrestling very smartly Koshinaka hid Ishikawa's weaknesses, bringing all the energy and keeping it short so his ancient foe wouldn't tire. What he asked of Ishikawa was to do some different, exciting things. Ishikawa had a few surprises up his sleeve like an early pescado and a nodowa otoshi off the apron. There were more rest holds than I would have liked, but otherwise it was well built with Koshinaka getting the crowd into it as usual and both men pulling out all the stops. ***

IWGP Tag Senshukenjiai: Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs. Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki 15:31. The first 9:45 was about as dull as it gets, just a bunch of restholds and restmissions. After that the pace was about 25 times as fast and they did 6 pretty good minutes. *1/2

Ishu Kakutogisen: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Naoya Ogawa 9:25. Ogawa had little idea what he was doing or how to work. He did a poor job of putting over Hashimoto's strikes until Hashimoto hit him so hard that he was really hurting. Hashimoto, of course, brings all his intensity, believability, and brutality to the mix, but he needs something to work with. They were only able to make it look real in the UWF-I kind of stiff strikes, no fake moves, and unclean throws kind of way. Hashimoto got his usual bloody nose and some of the throws were impressive, but Ogawa was so mechanical, robotic, and uncharismatic. What a disgrace that Hashimoto lost to this bum here, and basically his career was ruined by all his subsequent losses to this cancer.**

El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani 13:51. They were more than a bit too enamored with tying each other in the corner and putting the boots to one another. This dull meandering start where they insisted on trying to be dickish marred the match, which never found its rhythm or moved beyond trading. It was more of a heavyweight match than I expected, but had the usual lack of crowd reaction for the juniors at the Dome. The execution was top notch, but the bout didn't build well and the finish was flat. There were moments of excellence, but because neither stepped up and gave the match some direction and they were into facescrapes they didn't deliver enough of those sequences that few other performers can match. Any match with Samurai & Otani is going to have more than its share of redeeming qualities, but there was nothing here above and beyond what they deliver night in and night out. I'm so down on the match not because it wasn't worthwhile, but because not that far removed from their superb everything done for a purpose UWF-I influenced 1/21/96 match they delivered as uninspiring a match as they could have had with one another. ***

Power & Submission: Junji Hirata & Satoshi Kojima vs. Osamu Kido & Kazuo Yamazaki 10:18. Some of the spots were really well done, but it didn't come together as a whole, probably due to the varying styles that were pretty much thrown together. The last few minutes were quite good though, and Yamazaki & Kojima had their moments. Kido gave his typical solid but extremely simplistic performance while Hirata added little and didn't seem to fit in. **

J Crown Junor Heavyweight 8 Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. The Great Sasuke 20:08. Flashy Sasuke style aerial spectacle. They mixed Sasuke's flying into a mat based opening that focused on leg work. This wasn't the most focused or exciting segment, but it flowed really well due to the movement and counters on the mat. Sasuke, being a proud warrior, tried largely unsuccessfully to match Liger on the ground. After the 12 minute mark the match picked up tremendously with some killer sequences, lethal power moves, and breathtaking flying. Sasuke did his Sasuke special and rider kick, while Liger used a wicked released German suplex and brainbuster off the top. There was one humorous section where Sasuke's shoe came half off when he landed following his rolling savate then he lost it completely on the floor when Liger hit a diving body attack. It certainly wasn't their best or most dramatic match together, but it was a really smooth match that had enough big moments to keep the Dome crowd interested. ****

THE WORLD OF DARKMEN: The Great Muta vs. Masahiro Chono 14:09. Surprisingly, this was a pretty well worked match with good action throughout that didn't have the typical laziness or stalling by Muta. Muta spray painted NWO on Chono's back early on, but it wasn't one of those matches where he did a bunch of stomps and sleeper holds then lost it and got DQ'd when it started getting good. The use of the table, especially Chono's phony struggle with the ref while he waited for Muto to missile kick him in the back to set up the finish, was very contrived and unsatisfactory. There was some clever stuff though. For instance, Chono tried for his yakuza kick on the ramp, but Muto turned it into a Frankensteiner. This set up a later sequence where Muto tried for his windsprint lariat on the ramp, but Chono stopped it with his yakuza kick. **3/4

INOKI FINAL COUNTDOWN 7th: Antonio Inoki vs. Tiger King 6:46. Brief but surprisingly decent match harkening back to Tiger's days in U.W.F. with quick moves in standup to get a knockdown or a takedown. Once they locked up it was nothing special and the match was almost ridiculously short given the way it went down. *3/4

NJPW 1997 TV #10
5/3/97 BATTLE LINE Kyushu taped 4/23/97 Kumamoto Shi Taiikukan
& 5/10/97 STRONG STYLE EVOLUTION taped 5/3/97 Osaka Dome
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 5/3/97

Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Keiji Muto & Osamu Nishimura

Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai & Norio Honaga vs. Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa 7:03 of 16:40. They picked this up a little later than usual, but none of the earlier jr. tags from 1997 were wrestled with this much urgency. Everyone was going all out to impress. They didn't do the usual quick tags, and overall it wasn't as dramatic as some of the other matches. However, they made up for it with effort. Everyone took their turn trying to put their best foot forward, and when they'd cycled through everyone they went home. Some great stuff from Liger vs. Otani at the outset, and a nice closing from Samurai & Kanemoto. ***3/4 range

Tadao Yasuda vs. Michiyoshi Ohara

Riki Choshu & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito

Shito Koshinaka & Tatsutoshi Goto & Akitoshi Saito vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Junji Hirata & Kensuke Sasaki

NJ TV 5/10/97

Antonio Inoki & Tiger Mask vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Yoshiaki Fujiwara

IWGP Tag Title Match: Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Naoya Ogawa

AJ TV 4/27 & 5/4 & 5/11//97 taped 4/19 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
& AJ TV 5/18/97 taped 5/18 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
& AJW TV 5/25/97 taped 5/11 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan
& NJ TV 5/24 taped 5/3 Osaka Dome
-4hr 15min. Q=1st Gen

Kobashi vs. Kawada-Kawada wins Champion Carnival ****1/2, Ogawa & Shiga vs. Hayabusa & Kanemaru, Williams & Lacrosse vs. Misawa & Akiyama, Jungle Jack vs. Takako & Hotta, Toyota & Yamada vs. Watanabe & Maekawa, Kyoko vs. Ito-60:00 draw ****1/4 range, Kanemoto & Otani & Togo & Teioh & Hanzo vs. Sasuke & Delfin & Samurai & Honaga & Hamada ****, more!

NJPW 1997 TV #11
5/17/97 STRONG STYLE EVOLUTION taped 5/3/97 Osaka Dome
& 5/24/97 STRONG STYLE EVOLUTION taped 5/3/97 Osaka Dome
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 5/17/97

Scott Norton & Marcus Bagwell vs. The Giant & Lex Luger

Syxx & NWO Sting vs. Takayuki Iizuka & Tadao Yasuda

Masahiro Chono & Scott Hall & Kevin Nash vs. Keiji Muto & Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner

NJ TV 5/24/97

Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Kendo Kashin

Shiro Koshinaka vs. Kengo Kimura

2/3 Falls: Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto & MEN'S Teio & Dick Togo & Hanzo Nakajima vs. The Great Sasuke & Super Delfin & El Samurai & Norio Honaga & Gran Hamada

NJ STRONG STYLE EVOLUTION IN OSAKA DOME Commercial Tapes 5/3/97 Osaka Dome
-3hr 35min. Q=Master 2 DVDs

Shiro Koshinaka vs. Kengo Kimura. Again Koshinaka has the 2nd best match on the show with a guy that barely had any good singles matches in the entire decade. Heated start. Although it died down quickly and for several minutes, their strikes were thrown with the intensity of something very damaging. In actuality they weren't that stiff, but the wrestlers look created the illusion. The lead into the dramatic final segment was kind of weak, but these last few minutes were excellent. Each had a counter for the other's favorite move, leading to a mid air hip attack/leg lariat collision. ***1/4

Shin Nihon vs. NWO: Takashi Iizuka & Tadao Yasuda vs. NWO Sting & Syxx. Basic match. The execution was fine, but it just wasn't very good wrestling. Iizuka was typically good, but the others were mediocre at best. Syxx did less than that many good moves and certainly didn't bring his A game. *1/2

WCW vs. NWO: The Giant & Lex Luger vs. Scott Norton & Marcus Bagwell. What planet was this from? There's not adapting, and then there's this stallfest. Buff was constantly posing. Luger beat him up a little and started flexing, which made Buff whine. They stalled some more. The execution was shaky. The fans took most of it as comedy. I don't blame them. It was funny seeing guys so out of touch, but at the same time it was sad because all they did is what passed for American wrestling at the time. The fans were impressed when Giant did something athletic. 1/4*

Shin Nihon & WCW vs. NWO: Keiji Muto & Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner vs. Masahiro Chono & Scott Hall & Kevin Nash. This was better than the previous match, but more of the same. The execution was fine, but it was largely a dull American match. Steiners could still do something at this point, and were the most interesting in the largely dull match. As you'd expect, there wasn't much selling. *1/4

MASTERS OF WRESTLING: Antonio Inoki & Tiger King vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Jushin Thunder Liger. Liger helped get some of the best Tiger has left out of him, but they didn't follow up on their interesting start. These guys dragged Liger down more than he pulled them up. Inoki vs. Fujiwara was as dull and dated as you'd expect. Never built any momentum. *1/2

Junior Heavy Special 2/3 Falls: Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani & Dick Togo & MEN'S Teio & Hanzo Nakajima vs. El Samurai & Norio Honaga & The Great Sasuke & Super Delfin & Gran Hamada. Excellently worked match that lacked the drama of the classic 10 man tags. The 2/3 falls stip actually hurt the match because it couldn't follow the ark the Michinoku guys perfected with the build up to a remarkable segment of near falls. On one hand I was glad to see something very different for Japan, but on the other hand it was an inferior different that was more reminiscent of the bad aspects of 2/3 lucha matches. Plenty of good teamwork and nice moves, but most of it didn't add up. The rudos were extremely dominant at the expense of the match quality. Otani & Kanemoto were particularly good, but Sasuke was the only guy on his team that made an impression and the only reason he's able to do that is he has a couple of spots so spectacular that you remember him even if he doesn't do anything else. ***1/2

Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Kendo Kashin. Yamazaki, as always, does an admirable job of holding together a match against a green or inept shooter. Yamazaki led him well, but Kashin's inexperience still showed in his selling and mounting. Kashin's takedowns were also lacking in believability, but he went into and from hold to hold well. Still, compared to the tight transitions and execution of Yamazaki, his stuff looks weak. Yamazaki was very generous as always, to the detriment of the match but the betterment of the league and his opponent. Yamazaki looked fantastic at times, but Kashin's in between style doesn't really work. I mean, it's hard to take a match seriously as a shoot when Kashin is taking the fight to the floor and whipping Yamazaki into the security rail. Yamazaki did a verticle suplex though, so it wasn't all on Kashin, although I doubt we'd see him use this move against a more serious "shooter." The stiffness was good with Yamazaki's left eye being shut from about 50 mount punches in a row that apparently didn't warrant a stoppage. **

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Tenzan isn't supposed to supply almost all the good offense. Started off in typically boring Fujinami style, got good for the last few minutes, then ended suddenly. **

IWGP Tag Senshukenjiai: Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki. A lot of roughhousing, but no sequences. I appreciate the stiffness, but this was more of the stomping variety than what I'd call the good stuff. Solid. It's hard to believe Kojima would beat Choshu with a Dragon sleeper then quickly stop using the hold. **

IWGP Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Naoya Ogawa. Ogawa was much better here, fighting more fiercely and loosely. A much more realistic looking worked shoot than their previous encounter. Very intense, particularly when they redid the finish of their previous match but this time Hashimoto made the ropes and Ogawa to break. Hashimoto focused on chops, setting up the rolling chop he'd learned in the interim. He was near his best and most brutal. Both men's faces were a mess by the end of the and the finishing kick was about as nasty as anything you'll see. ***

AJ TV 5/25/97 taped 5/18 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
& AJ TV 6/1/97 taped 5/27 Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center
& AJ TV 6/8 & 6/15/97 taped 6/6 Tokyo Budokan Hall
& NJ TV 6/7 taped 5/25 Tattori
& NJ TV 6/21/97 taped 6/5 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-4hr. Q=1st Gen

Shiga & Ogawa vs. Sabu & Van Dam, Kobashi & Ace vs. Kawada & Taue-Kobashi & Ace win Double tag titles ****1/2, Misawa vs. Kawada *****, Samurai vs. Jericho, Kanemoto vs. Naniwa ****1/4, Muto vs. Hashimoto

Champ Forum Battlarts 5/31/97
& NJ TV 5/31/97 taped 5/17 Ueda
-1hr 50min. Q=1st Gen

Battlarts 5/31/97

Otsuka vs. ?

Tanaka vs. ?

Usuda vs. Rambo

Otsuka & Ishikawa & Hoshikawa vs. Funaki & Ono & Krueger

NJ TV 5/31/97

Best of the Super Jr. League Bout: Takaiwa vs. Wagner Jr.

Best of the Super Jr. League Bout: Otani vs. Nakajima

Best of the Super Jr. League Bout: Samurai vs. Tajiri. Very good

Kojima & Nakanishi vs. Goto & Nogami

Koshinaka & Ohara vs. Muto & Choshu

Hashimoto & Sasaki & Iizuka vs. Tenzan & NWO Sting & Hiro Saito

NJ Tokon V Special Vol. 36 '97 BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. IV Best Bout
-1 1/2hr. Q=Master
RECOMMENDED!
NJPW BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. IV BEST BOUT

*Reviewed in Quebrada #44*

5/16/97 Kiryu: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. ** range

5/20/97 Tokyo Korakuen Hall: Shinjiro Otani vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri 9:40 of 11:44. Tajiri gets the chance to wrestle the best juniors in the world after passing the test with flying colors at the Tokyo Dome. This fun rematch from 1/4/97 sees the two further developing their timing and chemistry. Otani is clearly the driving force, but Tajiri obviously has a lot to offer as a worker. Otani dominates the match, and it seems like Tajiri is just going to have to be content that he kept kicking out, hung in and fought the good fight. However, in the midst of a brutal slap exchange, Tajiri manages to duck and hit his Dragon suplex for the upset revenge win. Obviously on the short side once again, but the quality and motivation were just as high as at the Tokyo Dome. ***1/2

5/20/97 Tokyo Korakuen Hall: Koji Kanemoto vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa. **1/2

5/24/97 Okayama: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Gran Naniwa 5:23 of 16:32. Junior style, as any other, is about doing a match that allows both wrestlers to look good. Naniwa isn't the most athletic or graceful opponent, but Liger constructed a solid match that never put Naniwa in a position to look less than competent. You felt it was a match that anyone could do, but it had an effective knee storyline that incorporated some quality highspots and thus was able to pose as a relatively high level match. The biggest flaw was following the tired formula of underdog controls most of the way then goes down really easily, but obviously Naniwa is in no way in Liger's league/class so it was essentially Liger being generous. *** range

5/26/97 Takamatsushi Sogo Taiikukan: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa 10:59 of 15:53. Liger & Samurai were really beginning to figure out how to make Takaiwa look good, and you felt like with this match Takaiwa was finally establishing himself, if not coming into his own. In a sense, it was Liger's match vs. Naniwa, a somewhat simple match where the opponent worked Liger's knee, but Liger showed a lot more confidence in Takaiwa, and Takaiwa brought more personality and intensity. In the end, it was more heated, a greater struggle, and also more spot oriented. Takaiwa flipped Liger off before the bell, so Liger returned the favor. Takaiwa controlled, incorporating moves such as the diving headbutt into his knee attack, but Liger had several comebacks, and they made each other work. It was an excellent match that seemed to have a good five minutes left, but then they just pulled a cheesy flash pin out of their asses. Still, a great example of Takaiwa's growth and potential. ***3/4 range

5/26/97 Takamatsu Sogo Taiikukan: Koji Kanemoto vs. Ian Doc Dean.

6/1/97 Odawara Arena: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Koji Kanemoto. They didn't tone this match down at all. In fact, it's actually a more exciting and wild match than the 2/16/97 title match. It's possibly not be quite as good, but certainly not for lack of trying. Kanemoto is a man possessed here. He's putting every bit of speed and athleticism he can muster into everything, taking all sorts of wild bumps. He does a great job of making Liger's offense look brutal, with flip bumps on a released German suplex and seemingly every shotei. It starts off as another match where Liger's knee is getting worked, but Kanemoto shows a lot more skill and spark in working it, and focuses more on doing an exciting match around that point of focus. Both men are really jacked up, and it becomes more of a spotfest with Kanemoto in particular using all his best stuff while Liger finds adrenaline bursts to fight through the knee pain and make brief fiery comebacks with series of shoteis and some killer power moves. Kanemoto is really in the mood to show off, but today he generally does so in the best possible ways with Liger reigning him in only enough to keep him on point. Their work is just amazing, and seems entirely effortless. This is just two all-time greats delivering their best stuff because it's fun. ****3/4 range

6/3/97 Yamagata: El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani 9:24 of 18:35. State of the art junior action. These two have great chemistry and they worked very hard, starting well before the opening bell and packing a lot into the 20 or so minutes they were out there. They didn't necessarily structure the match, but they did do a good job of putting over the plethora of highspots so you felt as though they were adding up and the near falls were dramatic. Just an excellent back and forth match with top notch performances from both competitors. **** range

NJ Tokon V Special Jushin Thunder Liger Premium Issue
-1 1/2hr. Q=Master

*Reviewed in Quebrada #44*

12/11/91 Nagoya Rainbow Hall: Liger vs. Fujinami. ***

9/24/93 Miyagi-ken Sports Center: Liger vs. Tiger Mask (Kanemoto). ***3/4

10/25/93 Tokyo Korakuen Hall Super Grade Tag League IV: Liger & Wild Pegasus vs. Hashimoto & Chono. ****

6/13/94 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukan Best of the Super Jr.'94 Final: Liger vs. Delfin. ****

10/9/95 Tokyo Dome: Liger vs. Sano. ***3/4

10/20/96 Kobe World Kinen Hall: Liger vs. Muta. *1/2

4/12/97 Tokyo Retsuden V Special: Liger vs. Choshu. their characters wrestle in the video game

5/26/97 Takamatsushi Sogo Taiikukan Best of the Super Jr. IV League Bout: Liger vs. Takaiwa. ***3/4

NJPW 1997 TV #13
6/21/97 BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. VI taped 6/5/97 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
& 6/28/97 BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. VI taped 6/5/97 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-1hr 40min. Q=VG

NJ TV 6/21/97

IWGP Tag Title Match: Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Masahiro Chono & NWO Sting

Kengo Kimura & Takashi Ishikawa vs. Riki Choshu & Osamu Kido

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Keiji Muto

NJ TV 6/28/97

Tiger King vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi

Jushin Thunder Liger & Chris Jericho & Gran Naniwa & Dr Wagner Jr. vs. Shinjiro Otani & Hanzo Nakajima & Yoshihiro Tajiri & Tatsuhito Takaiwa 8:15 of 13:45. The 3rd through 10th place finishers in the BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. league are showcased in this hot undercard tag match. Obviously the timing and chemistry aren't up to the usual standards of the guys who fight night in and night out, but most of these guys don't get too many opportunities to showcase their skills before 14,000 Japanese fans. Tajiri is the most dynamic of the outsiders, and the one who looks like he really belongs. Wagner has some moments, but doesn't truly make his presence felt. Nakajima puts forth a super effort, and is surprisingly confident and competent. He mainly works with Naniwa, which doesn't sound like a recipe for success, but their familiarity makes up for their being the two least skilled wrestlers in the match. Naniwa is more effective here since he can use his charisma and comedy to entertain the crowd a few times, and let the others worry about supplying the quality of wrestling we expect. With this many guys, it's mainly about giving everyone a few brief opportunities to shine. The highlight is a 5 dive sequence that Takaiwa plays spoiler on, cutting off Liger by catching him in a big powerslam. ***1/2 range

BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. VI Final: El Samurai vs. Koji Kanemoto 23:51. The showiest junior match of 1997. Everything was done to impress, to stand out from everything that came before. It wasn't one of the most solid or best thought out matches, but everything was wickedly impressive. The match got off to an exceptional start, even if it generally began like most other junior matches. Kanemoto worked the knee for the majority of the match, but what Kanemoto can do is get over one point while focusing on another. What we really learned from the early portion is they weren't going to hold anything back. The impact, intensity, and ferocity of the strikes was something else. I mean, these strikes were better than what you see in Pancrase. Samurai kept kicking Kanemoto in the face, and even if they were short little kicks to try to break a leg submission, you were waiting for teeth to fly out. It was obviously important that Samurai was going to be hobbling around all night, putting the babyface in the underdog role against the prickish heel, but what the opening truly showed us is these two didn't like one another and wanted this match like no other, so this was going to be a fight where they pulled no punches. Samurai made brief comebacks that largely surved to add to his mounting urgency and desperation as he continually grew more gimpy while constantly failing to mount a sustained offensive. It was actually a really smart story match until the final few minutes. Then they pretty much threw everything out the window to get effect. They felt like they had to do more and more in order to make it truly memorable, so they took it from a match where Koji wins by debilitating Samurai's knee into a spectacle where within about a 2 minute span Koji had ripped Samurai's mask, invented what might have been the move of the year - an avalanche style reverse Frankensteiner - except he didn't even care to try to win with, seen Samurai immediately make his most lively comeback of the match right after this, exchanged more ridiculous avalanche style moves, and finally gone home with Samurai pulling off the amazing comeback win with his reverse DDT. If they stretched this out over 10 or 15 minutes, making these various aspects key dramatic points that had legs, it might have been the greatest junior match ever. Instead, it was a bunch of awesome stuff that really kind of hurt the match because they threw any sense of believability and selling out the window in favor of rapidfire shock tactics. Great, great stuff individually, but after getting so much more out of routine matwork for so long it's sad that they ultimately got so much less out of the really great should be dramatic stuff they saved for the end. It's not the best match of the year, but probably the most memorable if only because it's a head on collision between the great and the goofy, and such brilliance combined with such absurdity makes it one of those matches you can't help but have passionate feelings about. ****3/4

NJ Tokon V Special Masahiro Chono Premium Issue
-2 hr. Q=Ex

Masahiro Chono & Keiji Muto & Kengo Kimura vs. Riki Choshu & Hiroshi Hase & Takayuki Iizuka

Chono & Keiji Muto & Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kensuke Sasaki & El Samurai & Takayuki Iizuka

NWA Title: Masahiro Chono vs. Kensuke Sasaki

Chono & Keiji Muto & Shinya Hashimoto vs. Shiro Koshinaka & Kengo Kimura & Masashi Aoyagi

Masahiro Chono vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Masahiro Chono & Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu & Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Masahiro Chono & Chris Benoit vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Gran Hamada

Masahiro Chono vs. Scott Norton

IWGP World Heavyweight Title: Masahiro Chono vs. Shinya Hashimoto

Masahiro Chono & Hiro Saito vs. El Samurai & Tadao Yasuda

IWGP Tag Titles: Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki

Chono & Great Muta & NWO Sting vs. Satoshi Kojima & Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi

IWGP Tag Titles: Masahiro Chono & Great Muta vs. High Voltage

NJPW 1997 TV #14
7/5/97 SUMMER STRUGGLE '97 taped 6/23 Kuki City Gym
& 7/12/97 SUMMER STRUGGLE '97 taped 7/2/97 Aomori Shimin Taiikukan
-1hr 40min. Q=Gd

7/5/97 SUMMER STRUGGLE '97 taped 6/23 Kuki

Jushin Thunder Liger & Norio Honaga vs. Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani 8:08 of 13:56. Koji & Otani put on a great show. They were so pumped up, pushing the pace, keeping the energy high, taking sweet bumps or landing on their feet to avoid. They had the fans into it throughout. Liger was good, but Honaga was trying to be the bump boy, and just doesn't have much left. Honaga probably contributed as many flubbed spots as good ones, but the others made up for him. ***1/2 range

Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Akitoshi Saito 3:32 of 10:29. Takaiwa was left to his devices here. He rolled out his power moves. It was fine when Saito was taking, but then he won with this lame jumping kick out of nowhere. Passable.

Tatsumi Fujinami & Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi & Michiyoshi Ohara & Tatsutoshi Goto. Fast paced with big spots back and forth. Average.

NWO Sting & Hiro Saito vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Takashi Iizuka. Iizuka looked good, but had nothing to work with. *1/4

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata & Tadao Yasuda vs. Masahiro Chono & Great Muta & Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Only Hashimoto looked good. Bad and boring turd. 1/2*

7/12/97 SUMMER STRUGGLE '97 taped 7/1 Hachinohe (1st match) & 7/2 Aomori (rest)

Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Akira Nogami & Tatsutoshi Goto. This was part of Choshu's final countdown, so the fans marked out for him big time. The match sucked though. 1/4*

Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai vs. Akira Nogami & Kuniaki Kobayashi 5:30 of 10:58. Former juniors Nogami & Kobayashi return to the division, but Kobayashi doesn't have it anymore and Nogami is so miscast as a fellow member of Heisei Ishingun it doesn't matter. Liger had some hot moments and Samurai did some solid work, but the match was never truly clicking. **1/4 range

Koji Kanemoto vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa 4:53 of 18:55. These two guys don't need much persuading to just roll out the spots. The crowd was into it, at least. Kanemoto tried all his flying moves. Big spot saw Takaiwa try a powerbomb off the 2nd, but Kanemoto turn it into a Frankensteiner. Koji gots his revenge from the Super Jr. bout. Entertaining, but you couldn't really get a feel for the match as a whole, assuming there was something more.

Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuyuki Fujita. Fujita's highest profile match at that point. He wrestled like what he was, a rookie. Everyone else was good though. **

Great Muta & NWO Sting & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima. Boring match with a lot of punching and kicking. *1/4

NJPW 1997 TV #15
7/26/97 SUMMER STRUGGLE '97 taped 7/4/97 Hakodate Shimin Taiikukan & 7/6/97 Sapporo Makomania Ice Arena
& 8/2/97 SUMMER STRUGGLE '97 taped 7/6/97 Sapporo Makomania Ice Arena
-1hr 40min. Q=VG

NJ TV 7/26/97 taped 7/4/97 Hakodate

Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Akitoshi Saito

Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Shinjiro Otani 6:42 of 16:11. Another clear step forward for Takaiwa. Sure, it was Otani carrying him, and doing his best job thusfar in 1997 for that matter, but he absolutely looked like he belonged and you weren't annoyed when he scored the upset with his avalanche style Death Valley bomb. They worked the highspots in between their knee attacks then shifted inperceptively to the finishing sequence. Otani was doing a great job of making it desperate and dramatic, and it really came off as a high end match. ***1/2 range

Great Muta & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Masahiro Chono & NWA Sting & Michael Wallstreet vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Kensuke Sasaki & Satoshi Kojima & Tadao Yasuda & Manabu Nakanishi

taped 7/6/97 Sapporo

Antonio Inoki & Tiger King vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuyuki Fujita

Naoya Ogawa vs. Kazuo Yamazaki

NJ TV 8/2/97

J-Crown Junior 8 Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. El Samurai 9:29 of 19:40. Bombs from start to finish. I'm not sure if it was a fantastic match or something of a disappointment, but it was a great watch, even if there may have been surprisingly little context. Liger brought a lot more offensively than he did in his similarly spot oriented match against The Great Sasuke at the Tokyo Dome, even hitting a tope atomico to the floor. I don't know if you would say it was well balanced, but both men were working at the top level and making equal contributions toward the high quality. This seemed to be the third best of Liger's 1997 Jr. Title matches, though not remotely close to brilliance of the two February ones. ****1/4 range

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito & NWO Sting & Michael Wallstreet vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi & Tadao Yasuda

Riki Choshu & Shinya Hashimoto vs. Great Muta & Masahiro Chono

NJPW 1997 TV #16
8/9/97 WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 taped 7/13/97 Daytona Beach, FL
& 8/16/97 THE FOUR HEAVEN IN NAGOYA DOME taped 8/10/97 Nagoya Dome
-1hr 40min. Q=VG

NJ TV 8/9/97

Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner vs. Great Muta & Masahiro Chono

Lex Luger & The Giant vs. Hulk Hogan & Dennis Rodman

7/14/97 WCW Nitro: Great Muta & Masahiro Chono vs. Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge

NJ TV 8/16/97

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Riki Choshu

Great Muta vs. Naoya Ogawa

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan

NJPW 1997 TV #17
8/23/97 G1 CLIMAX 1997 taped 8/3/97 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
& 8/30/97 G1 CLIMAX 1997 taped 8/1/97-8/3/97 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
-1hr 40min. Q=VG

NJ TV 8/23/97

8/2/97 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan: Don Frye vs. Kazuyuki Fujita

Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. El Samurai 6:43 of 16:42. Samurai is normally the one who takes Takaiwa's offense the best, but here we got something different as new champion Samurai went to town on him all night. Though Samurai was the face, the fans got behind the youngster as he did his best to hang in with the new top dog. Takaiwa made just enough hot comebacks with his deadly power moves to give them hope, and had some big highlights such as turning an avalanche style Frankensteiner into a powerbomb off the 2nd and hitting an avalanche style Death Valley bomb. It was a big time spotfest, but both men were really on, and the crowd was getting more and more into it, erupting when Takaiwa took yet another big step forward with the upset win. ***3/4 range

Great Muta vs. Steve Regal

Tatsumi Fujinami & Osamu Kido vs. Riki Choshu & Kengo Kimura

NJ TV 8/30/97

Satoshi Kojima vs. Steve Regal

Scott Norton vs. Junji Hirata

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tadao Yasuda

Masahiro Chono vs. Michiyoshi Ohara

Great Muta vs. Manabu Nakanishi

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kazuo Yamazaki

Kensuke Sasaki vs. Marcus Bagwell

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Satoshi Kojima

Scott Norton vs. Great Muta

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Masahiro Chono

NJPW 1997 TV #18
9/6/97 G1 CLIMAX 1997 taped 8/3/97 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
& 9/13/97 THE FOUR HEAVEN IN NAGOYA DOME taped 8/10/97 Nagoya Dome
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 9/6/97

G1 CLIMAX Semifinal: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan

G1 CLIMAX Semifinal: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Scott Norton

G1 CLIMAX Final: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kensuke Sasaki

NJ TV 9/13/97

J-Crown Junior 7 Title Match: El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani

Don Frye vs. Brian Johnston

IWGP Tag Title Match: Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki

NJ '97 G1 CLIMAX PART 1 FIGHT AND GLORY Commercial Tape 8/1-8/2/97 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
-2hr. Q=Master

8/1/97 G1 Climax Round 1

Satoshi Kojima vs. Lord Steven Regal 9:45. Regal style match. No heat. Not very interesting until the last few minutes. **

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tadao Yasuda 10:39. American heavyweight style. The match worked well for the hot pro-Yasuda crowd, but technically it was poor due to sloppiness (and the awkwardness of Yasuda never helps make things look good). *1/2

Junji Hirata vs. Scott Norton 6:31. Very short, but surprisingly good considering Norton was involved. Good job by Hirata who supplied the psychology and also took stiff blows from Norton. **1/2

Masahiro Chono vs. Michiyoshi Ohara 18:39. This was a good match, but at this length it should have been better. Ohara attacked Chono's bad ankle some, but not to that great an extent, which resulted in him only being fairly competitive. **1/2

Manabu Nakanishi vs. The Great Muta 10:25. This was worked at a snail pace and, as usual, Muta did nothing but stall. Nakanishi did look good though. 1/2*

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kazuo Yamazaki 11:35. Good, solid UWF style bout that was strong in technique, realism, and selling. ***

8/2/97

Don Frye vs. Kazuyuki Fujita 6:40. Match was nothing special, but it had a ton of heat and was mainly a backdrop for the post-match angle where Frye turned heel by refusing to break his submission after he won the match. This resulted in Ogawa hitting the ring, and Frye even got in an argument w/ Inoki. *1/2

8/2/97 G1 Climax Round 2

Kensuke Sasaki vs. Buff Bagwell 8:04. Dull American style match w/ the typical posing by Buff. Buff really got over, but only the finishing segment was good. *1/2

NJ '97 G1 CLIMAX PART 2 FIGHT AND GLORY Commercial Tape 8-2-8/3/97 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
-2hr. Q=VG

8/2/97 G1 Climax Round 2

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Satoshi Kojima 11:43. Kojima was really fired up here and he was the better of the two, although they were too much the same and neither were firing on all cylinders. They didn't really develop the match, one guy just kind of stood there and took a move/strike or two and then it was his turn. There was some good and stiff offense, but they really didn't figure out how to make it help the match as much as it should have. Tenzan killed Kojima with one of his errant moonsault, and Kojima was stretchered off, having suffered a concussion during the match. **1/4

The Great Muta vs. Scott Norton 6:31. Some big spots, but it was, not surprisingly, slow and deliberate. Selling was weak and the finish came out of nowhere. The "highlight" was Muta double-crossing his NWO mate by spewing mist in his face when they shook hands. *1/4

Masahiro Chono vs. Shinya Hashimoto 5:45. Chono asked Hashimoto not to attack the bad ankle so it would be a fair fight. He attacked Hashimoto before the bell and got Hashimoto in trouble, so Hashimoto "had to" attack the bad ankle, which drew boos, and the match was soon stopped because Chono could withstand no more punishment to it. Good storyline, but uneventful short match. 3/4*

8/3 G1 Climax Semifinal

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Shinya Hashimoto 14:01. A super intense and "realistic" match where Tenzan had to withstand the full force of Hashimoto not holding back on any of his blows to earn the upset and his path to his first final. The impact in this match was just amazing. I mean, these were jarring blows, and you almost felt sorry for the poor brute Tenzan. Tenzan sold almost the whole way, and when he finally made his big comeback, he fell prey to one of the most hilarious blunders in the history of wrestling. Tenzan was poised to finish Hashimoto with his diving headbutt, but got his foot stuck in the turnbuckle, which resulted in him going face first into the canvas, injuring his knee and being stuck hanging until he was untangled by Chono & Hiro. They soon redid the finish, which everyone could see considering Tenzan was already to his 3rd diving headbutt when he screwed up and now he was going back to more, and this time Tenzan scored the win that gave him credibility to replace Chono as the challenger for the IWGP Heavyweight title a week later at the Nagoya Dome. ***3/4

Kensuke Sasaki vs. Scott Norton 5:16. A sprint with a lot of big spots, but below average work. Very little ability possessed or displayed. *

8/3 G1 Climax Final

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kensuke Sasaki 8:09. Much too short for a final, but given Tenzan's injury, which was definitely hampering him, it was understandable. Crowd was really into it and Sasaki was actually pretty decent here. Second half was near falls back and forth. Tenzan had his lip busted open. Sasaki wins G1. **1/4

New Japan TV 8/2/97 & 8/23/97+Samurai vs. Otani
-1hr 55min. Q=Ex

World Pro Wrestling 8/2/97 Summer Struggle '97 taped 7/6 Sapporo Makomania Ice Arena

J Crown: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. El Samurai. Read Review ****1/4 range

Tatsumi Fujinami & Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima & Tadao Yasuda vs. NWO Sting & Michael Wallstreet & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito. Surprisingly good heated sprint. **1/2

Feature on Yuji Nagata in the USA

Riki Choshu & Shinya Hashimoto vs. Great Muta & Masahiro Chono. Heated, but it sucked in just about every other regard. Choshu was bad, and Muta & Chono aren't good enough to carry him. *1/2

World Pro Wrestling 8/23/97 G1 Climax taped 8/2 & 8/3 Ryogoku Kokugikan

8/2

Don Frye vs. Kazuyuki Fujita. Frye's first major league match. Match wasn't good, but it worked as far as getting Frye over as a heel and the post match bit with Ogawa set up a big match program for him.

8/3

Samurai vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa. Great work and tons of spots, but selling was nothing special. Basically big spots back and forth. Less than half aired, but it looked like ***3/4 although I'd guess lower if it was unedited.

Lord Steven Regal vs. Great Muta. Muta didn't do anything. I would say as usual, but it was worse than usual. 1/2*

Riki Choshu & Kengo Kimura vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Osamu Kido. These guys were trying, but they are old enough to be in the AJ comedy match. Technically sound, but boring. *1/4

from World Pro Wrestling 9/13/97 THE FOUR HEAVEN In Nagoya Dome taped 8/10

J Crown: El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani. Read Review ***1/4

AJ TV 7/6/97 '97 Summer Action Series taped 6/29 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
& AJ TV 7/13/97 & 7/20/97 '97 Summer Action Series taped 7/5 Nanao
& AJ TV 7/27/97 '97 Summer Action Series taped 7/25 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
& AJW TV 8/10/97 taped 8/9 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
& NJ TV 8/9/97 Bash at the Beach Special taped 7/13 Daytona Beach Ocean Center & 7/14 Orlando
& NJ TV 8/16/97 The Four Heaven In Nagoya Dame taped 8/10 Nagoya Dome
-5hr 35min. Q=1st Gen

AJ TV 7/6/97

Kawada & Omori vs. Hansen & Smith. Slow paced and boring with few sequences and no interesting spots. *

Kobashi & Ace & Mossman vs. Williams & Albright & Lacrosse. Good heated sprint. Kobashi does a great job here, especially in carrying Gary. ***

AJ TV 7/13/97

Hase & Ikeda vs. Kikuchi & Shiga. Match was decent, but it looks better on paper than it really was. Slow paced with no heat. **

Kawada & Taue & Ogawa vs. Kobashi & Ace & Mossman. Solid and stiff work, but nothing out of the ordinary. **3/4

AJ TV 7/20/97

Misawa & Asako vs. Akiyama & Honda. Honda was really out of his league. No heat and it seemed like the workers were going through the motions. **1/4

Hansen & Smith & Omori vs. Williams & Albright & Lacrosse. Smith was the only good thing about the match. *3/4

AJ TV 7/27/97

Triple Crown: Misawa vs. Taue. *Reviewed in Quebrada #36* Great 20 minute sprint. Strong heat and great work. Misawa does the counter of the year, backflipping in midair to escape Taue's dreaded nodowa otoshi off the apron! ****1/2

AJW TV 8/10/97

7/13/97 Korakuen Hall: Toyota vs. Yamada. Highlights of Yamada's last bout as a member of AJW.

ASARI vs. Shiina. ASARI's first match back from her broken hip. Started out slow, but turned into a good match. **3/4

Japan Grand Prix '97 League Bout: Watanabe vs. Maekawa. Much better than I expected, as this is the first time I'm impressed by Maekawa. Watanabe does a good job of carrying Maekawa and Maekawa doesn't screw up her spots today. ***1/4

Japan Grand Prix '97 League Bout: Toyota vs. Ito. This was a great match that may have been the best women's match of 1997. Fast-paced with lots of creative spots. A ton of high spots and near falls. ****1/2

Las Cachorras Orientales (Shimoda & Mita) vs. Aja & Kyoko. Tremendous brawl. Maybe the best garbage style match I have ever seen because there was really good wrestling to go along with all the gimmick spots and there weren't all the typical flaws of garbage matches. It's incredible that Shimoda & Mita could be this good at this style so soon after they turned heel. ****1/2

NJ TV 8/10/97

7/13: Muta & Chono vs. Steiner Brothers. About a very good match worth of stars below what these guys did in the early 1990's together with Hase in Chono's place. *

7/13: Giant & Luger vs. Hogan & Rodman. Yawn.

7/14: Muta & Chono vs. Public Enemy. Faster paced than the Steiners match, but just as bad. *

NJ TV 8/16/97

Fujinami vs. Choshu. Nostalgia match that didn't bring back any good memories. Dull match that lacked action and, not surprisingly, didn't break any new ground. *

Muta vs. Ogawa. Pointless booking and a bad and boring match. 1/2*

IWGP Title: Hashimoto vs. Tenzan. Really stiff, but slow-paced and not that exciting. It lacked heat because no one would give a healthy Tenzan a chance of winning the title, much less an injured one. ***

NJ NJPW 25th ANNIVERSARY THE FOUR HEAVEN in NAGOYA DOME Commercial Tapes 8/10/97 Nagoya Dome
-3hr. Q=Master

Nagoya Dome Opening Match: Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Kendo Kashin. Kashin is certainly not the guy to carry a green wrestler. The chain wrestling was actually pretty good though. Surprisingly, the match wasn't very believable. It was more a Fujinami style technical match. There wasn't much to the match though except Kashin trying a few arm bars and setting Fujita up to slam him into the mat. What they did looked fine, but was just time passing stuff for most matches that go aways. This match didn't go a ways though, so it was more like a match with no middle that suddenly ended. *1/4

Super Jr. Special Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Koji Kanemoto. Slower, more disciplined match for these two. The early portion was all kicks, submissions, and body work. Liger was struggling like crazy, but Koji's effort here as well as his selling, well better because more focus was put on these aspects, was still somewhat questionable. Very stiff match. The most brutal move was Liger, who was on the apron, brainbustering Kanemoto over the top onto the apron. This was really dangerous because the apron is obviously very small, small enough that Koji had to take all the impact on his head and neck before crashing to the floor because there's no room for his back to land. Good drama toward the end although I expected more near falls. Not as exciting as their typical match, but the execution and impact were great and Koji's selling was better. ****

J Crown: El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani 18:15. I remembered this being a lot better than it was. It meandered a lot early, and never really found its stride. It was as though they were building it up by holding less and less back rather than by actually setting anything up. The intensity and emotion just weren't there, though Otani had a huge outpouring after the match to celebrate finally capturing the coveted IWGP Jr. Otani showed some passion during the match, but just never had that adrenaline, that jump in his step that he and Kanemoto had throughout the year. The work was high quality and there were ultimately a lot of good moves in the 2nd half, but it didn't really pull me in. I mean, it was all very admirable, but cold and distant. I enjoyed it, but it never felt like a big title match. Read Review. ***1/4

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Riki Choshu. This was Choshu's "final" match in Nagoya. They looked old and worn down, particularly Choshu. Even though they were doing some of the spots they've been doing against one another for two decades, and even a few we hadn't seen in a while, for the "last" time against one another there simply wasn't any spark. The lack of action would have been acceptable if the match was going 15 minutes like it appeared, but it wasn't acceptable for a big sendoff match that was going less than 7. Choshu hugged his old rival Fujinami after the match. *

Great Muta vs. Nagoya Ogawa. When I first viewed this match in 1997, I complained that Muto was destroying their investment, but in retrospect I think he had the right idea. Nonetheless, his actions which included choking Ogawa with his own gi, giving him a low blow, and spewing mist in his face shouldn't have been allowed by NJ because they made their supposed deadly shooter look like an inept fool. Ogawa did himself no favors by showing no fire or charisma. Even with Muto spewing Inoki before the match to babyface Ogawa, Ogawa was unable to get the fans behind him. They even cheered when Ogawa was choked with his gi. The "great" one did his usual routine of stalling and not putting his opponent over, and Ogawa showed that without Hashimoto he was nothing. 1/2*

Junji Hirata & Osamu Kido & Takashi Iizuka & Tadao Yasuda & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Kengo Kimura & Tatsutoshi Goto & Akira Nogami & Michiyoshi Ohara & Akitoshi Saito. With all these guys we should have seen more fire and a faster pace. Instead, the first 12 minutes were too subdued. At least there were so many tags that the slugs weren't exposed. There was even some good striking rather than the expected stomping. The main point was dissention in the ranks of HI. **

Special Single Match: Don Frye vs. Cal Worsham. Both of these guys were very green and badly needed to be carried. Frye took Worsham so seriously that he was chewing gum. Frye gave Worsham more offense then I expected to try to make him somewhat credible, but no one bought it and the crowd was dead. Worsham was not good at faking his strikes, while Frye was only good at punching on the ground. Each looked ridiculous flopping for a strike that didn't connect. Otherwise they didn't embarrass themselves, but it was kind of chopy because they weren't that good at getting to the position they wanted. 3/4*

IWGP Tag Senshukenjiai: Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki. Yamazaki was very good followed by Kojima. Sasaki had one of his better matches, but Nakanishi was in a different world. Basic high impact match. None of these guys are big on the mat, so Yamazaki was predominantly laying in the kicks. Yamazaki & Kojima worked very well together. Sasaki was at his best here because he stuck to the simply stuff. He's not what I'd call a good striker, but like Choshu his less than spectacular looking punches and stomps can be impressive when he's into it enough. Nakanishi was typically bad. He couldn't even follow Yamazaki, so Yamazaki would have to improvise midway through what he was trying. Nakanishi was actually better working with Sasaki because they did the most basic spots. **1/2

IWGP Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Tenzan was a last week replacement for injured Chono. He was not out of his depth as a performer, but he had not been booked in a manner that would lead anyone to believe he could beat Hashimoto in a dome main event. These two always have good matches because neither minds taking a beating. This was a very simple match, they just pulverized each other for 17+ minutes. The problem is it was mainly Tenzan on the recieving end. While Tenzan takes a punting as good as anyone, the match was severly lacking in drama because it only further established that he had no chance. As a non-title Ryogoku Kokugikan main event it would have been acceptable, if done a little better even a step forward for Tenzan, but working the match this way basically showed that everything we knew before it started was true; that Tenzan is a very good up and comer but not yet a big time player. ***

NJPW 1997 TV #19
9/20/97 FINAL POWER HALL IN YOKOHAMA taped 8/31/97 Yokohama Arena
& 9/27/97 FINAL POWER HALL IN YOKOHAMA taped 8/31/97 Yokohama Arena
-1 1/2hr. Q=Gd

NJ TV 9/20/97

Riki Choshu & Tenyru & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Great Muta & Hiro Saito & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kensuke Sasaki

NJ TV 9/27/97

J-Crown Junior Heavyweight 7 Title Match: Shinjiro Otani vs. El Samurai

Naoya Ogawa vs. Scott Norton

taped 9/13/97 Maebashi Gunma Arena

Junji Hirata & Osamu Kido vs. Takayuki Iizuka & Kazuyuki Fujita

Kensuke Saski & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Masahiro Chono & NWO Sting

NJ TV 9/27/97 & 11/1/97 Junior Matches from October & November
-2hr. Q=Ex

World Pro Wrestling 9/27 G1 Climax Special taped 8/31 Yokohama Arena & 9/13 Maebashi Arena

8/31

J Crown: Shinjiro Otani vs. Koji Kanemoto. **

Naoya Ogawa vs. Scott Norton. DUD

9/13

Tag Tournament Round 2: Junji Hirata & Osamu Kido vs. Takashi Iizuka & Kazuyuki Fujita. Clip

Tag Tournament Round 1(?): Kensuke Sasake & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. NWO Sting & Masahiro Chono. Yamazaki blades. Solid match with Yamazaki looking good. **1/2

from World Pro Wrestling 10/25/97 taped 10/19 Kobe World Kinen Hall

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Shinjiro Otani. ****1/4

World Pro Wrestling 11/1/97 NWO Typhoon taped 10/22 Kitakyushin

Koji Kanemoto vs. El Samurai. ****

Liger & Kendo Ka Shin & Norio Honaga vs. Otani & Negro Casas & Tatsuhito Takaiwa. Casas and Honaga didn't really fit in and the others didn't go all out, but it was still damn good. ***1/4

Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Akira Nogami vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiro Saito & Tatsu Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara. Boring brawl. Mainly a backdrop for the angle where Goto & Ohara try to get into the NWO. *

Kensuke Sasaki & Shinya Hashimoto & Kazuo Yamazaki & Tadao Yasuda vs. Muta & NWO Sting & Wallstreet & Tenzan. Basically a Tenzan show. **1/4

from World Pro Wrestling 11/15/97 taped 10/31/97 Hiroshima Sun Plaza

Airforce Wars J 3 vs. 3 Elimination: Ka Shin & Liger & Samurai vs. Kanemoto & Takaiwa & Otani. ****1/2

NJPW 1997 TV #20
10/4/97 G1 CLIMAX SPECIAL 1997 taped 9/11/97 Maishima Atsugi City Hagino Movement Park Gymnasium
& 10/11/97 G1 CLIMAX SPECIAL 1997 taped 9/18/97 Tokuyama Sports Center
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 10/4/97

Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. El Samurai 6:18 of 11:38. Not remotely in the class with their 8/3/97 match. It followed the same script of being an all action match where Samurai takes it to Takaiwa then gets upset by the new star, but they were off and the crowd wasn't that into it. There were some rough spots, with Samurai trying to turn Takaiwa's super powerbomb into a Frankensteiner being particularly butchered. Still a worthwhile watch, but the first one lately that showed how far Takaiwa has to go. **3/4 range

Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Kendo Kashin

Masahiro Chono & NWO Sting & Marcus Bagwell vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Junji Hirata & Kazuo Yamazaki

Great Muta & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Akira Nogami

Shinya Hashimoto & Tadao Yasuda vs. Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi

NJ TV 10/11/97

Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Akira Nogami & Michiyoshi Ohara

Great Muta & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Junji Hirata & Osamu Kido

9/20/97 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan, G1 CLIMAX SPECIAL Tag Tournament Final: Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Great Muta & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

9/23/97 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, J-Crown Junior 7 Title Match: Shinjiro Otani vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa

NJPW 1997 TV #20
10/18/97 GRAPPLE CLIMAX taped 9/23/97 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
& 10/25/97 nWo TYPHOON 1997 taped 10/19/97 Kobe World Kinen Hall
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 10/18/97

Don Frye vs. Kazuyuki Fujita

Naoya Ogawa vs. Brian Johnston

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Gene Frazier

Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki

NJ TV 10/25/97

Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura & Akira Nogami vs. Hiro Saito & Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara

Shinya Hashimoto & Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nahanishi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & NWO Sting & Michael Wallstreet

Shinjiro Otani vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

IWGP Tag Title Match: Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Masahiro Chono & Keiji Muto

NJ TV 10/4 & 10/11/97 & AJ TV 9/28 & 10/5 & 10/12 & 10/19/97
-3hr 10min. Q=1st Gen

World Pro Wrestling 10/4 G1 Climax Special taped 9/17 Osaka Maishima Arena

El Samurai vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa. Work was good, but neither could carry. ***1/4

Jushin Thunder Liger & Kendo Ka Shin vs. Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto. Excellent work. ****

Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki & Junji Hirata vs. Masahiro Chono & Buff Bagwell & NWO Sting. Sprint. **1/4

Tag Tournament Round 2: The Great Muta & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Akira Nogami. Nogami looked good. Fine technically, but no heat and rather dull. *3/4

Tag Tournament Round 2: Shinya Hashimoto & Tadao Yasuda vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima. Stiff, but kind of dull. **1/4

World Pro Wrestling 10/11 G1 Climax Special

9/18 Tokuyama

Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Nogami & Michiyoshi Ohara. Choshu was incredibly over, but the match was bad and boring. 1/4*

G1 Climax Special Tag Tournament Semifinal: Junji Hirata & Osamu Kido vs. Muta & Tenzan. 1/4*

9/20 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan

G1 Climax Special Tag Tournament Final: Muta & Tenzan vs. Sasaki & Yamazaki. After Tenzan accidentally hit Muta, Muta blew mist in Tenzan's face and walked out on him. Chono ran in and hit Muta to tease a split. **1/2

AJ Pro Wrestling 30 9/28 '97 Giant Series taped 9/27 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

Kenta Kobashi vs. Takao Omori. Omori hung in pretty well, but still no heat. **1/4

Mitsuharu Misawa & Jun Akiyama & Maunakea Mossman vs. Steve Williams & Gary Albright & The Lacrosse. Williams worked on Misawa's knee, which he would pick up on in their title match later in the tour. **

AJ Pro Wrestling 30 10/5 '97 Giant Series taped 9/27 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

Akira Taue & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Johnny Ace & Johnny Smith. Average match with no heat. *1/2

Toshiaki Kawada & Masao Inoue vs. Stan Hansen & Bobby Duncum Jr. Duncum was awful and Hansen can barely move. Kawada was good, but he barely worked. *

9/15 Korakuen: Mitsuharu Misawa & Toshiaki Kawada & Hiroshi Hase vs. Akira Taue & Kenta Kobashi & Jun Akiyama. Clip of their 60:00 draw from fan night.

AJ Pro Wrestling 30 10/12 '97 Giant Series taped 10/11 Fukuoka Kokusai Center

Triple Crown: Misawa vs. Williams. Reviewed in Quebrada #40. ***

AJ Pro Wrestling 30 10/19 '97 Giant Series taped 10/11 Fukuoka Kokusai Center

Akiyama & Shiga vs. Hayabusa & Jinsei Shinzaki. Good work. Everyone looked good, but no heat and pacing was too even. ***

World Tag Titles: Kobashi & Ace vs. Kawada & Taue. Closing minutes were hot, but overall it should have been better. ***

NJPW 1997 TV #21
11/1/97 nWo TYPHOON 1997 taped 10/22/97 Fukuoka West Japan Exhibition Hall
& 11/8/97 FINAL POWER HALL IN FUKUOKA DOME taped 11/2/97 Fukuoka Dome
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 11/1/97

Koji Kanemoto vs. El Samurai

Jushin Thunder Liger & Norio Honaga & Kendo Kashin vs. Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Negro Casas

Masahiro Chono & Hiro Saito & Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura & Akira Nogami & Kuniaki Kobayashi

Keiji Muto & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & NWO Sting & Michael Wallstreet vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki & Tadao Yasuda

NJ TV 11/8/97

Masahiro Chono & Keiji Muto vs. Genichiro Tenyru & Tatsumi Fujinami

Naoyo Ogawa vs. Erwin Vreeker

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Hubert Numrich

Kensuke Sasaki vs. Riki Choshu

NJ TV 10/18/97 & AJ TV 10/19/97
-1hr 10min. Q=1st Gen

World Pro Wrestling 10/18 G1 Climax Special taped 9/23 Tokyo Nippon Budokan

Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Don Frye. Surprisingly good. Intense and credible enough. Fujita eventually got fed up with Frye's heel tactics and resorted to them himself. Not a great technical match, but it worked because the fans were really into it. **1/2

Naoya Ogawa vs. Brian Johnston. Johnston made his pro debut, and Ogawa can't even work himself much less carry anyone else. This went twice as long as it should have. Finish looked incredible and Frye and Ogawa had a pull apart to build to their matchup, but other than that...1/4*

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Zane Frazier. Bad wannabe RINGS match. Frazier was horrible. 1/4*

AJ Pro Wrestling 30 10/19 '97 Giant Series taped 10/11 Fukuoka Kokusai Center

Akiyama & Shiga vs. Hayabusa & Jinsei Shinzaki. Good work. Everyone looked good, but no heat and pacing was too even. ***

World Tag Titles: Kobashi & Ace vs. Kawada & Taue. Closing minutes were hot, but overall it should have been better. ***

NJ G1 Climax Special Commercial Tape 9/23/97 Tokyo Nippon Budokan
-1hr 45min. Q=Near Perfect 1st Gen

J Crown: Shinjiro Otani vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa

Great Muta & Masahiro Chono vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki

Don Frye vs. Kazuyuki Fujita

Naoya Ogawa vs. Brian Johnston

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Zane Frazier

NJ TV 11/3/97 & Champ Forum GAEA Collection #1 11/4/97
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

NJ TV 11/3 Final Power Hall in Fukuoka Dome taped 11/2 Fukuoka Dome

Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Genichiro Tenryu. Slow paced with no heat. Boring. *

Naoya Ogawa vs. Erwin Vreeker. Two incredibly green guys doing nothing for 3 minutes. -*1/2

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Humbert Numrick. Rounds style mixed match. Hashimoto tried, but he was only able to make it watchable. 3/4*

Kensuke Sasaki vs. Riki Choshu. Slow paced match with little heat and no sequences. Pretty boring. Match just ends, and there's no pop for the finish. Riki looks like the tank is on E, if not below. *1/4

GAEA Champ Forum #1 11/4/97 originally aired 5/6/95Gaea First Card taped 4/15/95 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

*This was GAEA's first TV show. Notice that they aired all the matches with the new girls and saved the main events for the 2nd show.

GAEA NEO SOUL BATTLE: Chikayo Nagashima vs. Toshie Uematsu. Both women made their debut here. They went to a 15:00 draw plus two 3:00 overtimes. Thus, they were out there an eternity considering their experience level, but they stayed within themselves. They did as good as they possibly could, but it was mainly a bunch of rookie spots. Decent.

GAEA NEO SOUL BATTLE: Meiko Satomura vs. Sonoko Kato. Again both made their debut. Much more action than the previous match, but they blew more spots. Not too good.

GAEA NEO SOUL BATTLE: Sugar Sato vs. Narita. Both debuted here. They pretty much did the typical rookie spots. While it was far from a good match, like Chikayo vs. Uematsu, it was good for a rookie style match, which was impressive because sometimes women are wrestling for a year before they do a good for a rookie style match.

AJPW Giant Baba Debut 35th Anniversary Commemorative Match Commercial Tape
& NJPW Strong Style 11/9/97 GI Climax Special '97 taped 9/13/97 Maebashi Gunma Arena
-1hr 55. Q=VG

9/30/95 Tokyo Korakuen Hall Part 1: Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta & Dory Funk Jr. vs. Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori & Tamon Honda

10/25/95 Tokyo Nippon Budokan Part 2: Baba & Stan Hansen & Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Akira Taue & Takao Omori & Tamon Honda

Black Cat vs. Yutaka Yoshie. This was like taking a time machine back to 1950. We could find better things to do with our 1.21 gigawatts. A bunch of rest holds and a few basic spots. Execution of the high spots wasn't good. -1/2*

Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Kendo Ka Shin. This showed just how badly these two need Liger to carry them (well, in Ka Shin's case his singles with Otani and Koji have actually been better). Match had little direction or focus. They took it easy to some extent, but still worked stiff. A bit sloppy. **

Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai vs. Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani. Solid match, but not as spectacular as normal because it wasn't a big show. ***1/4

NJPW 1997 TV #22
Strong Style 11/8/97 FINAL POWER HALL IN YOKOHAMA taped 8/31/97 Kanagawa Yokohama Arena
& Strong Style 11/9/97 GI Climax Special '97 taped 9/13/97 Maebashi Gunma Arena
-2hr 15min. Q=VG. 1 DVD

Strong Style 11/8/97

Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Yutaka Yoshie 7:14

Osamu Kido & Takashi Iizuka vs. Junji Hirata & Tadao Yasuda 10:59

Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima vs. Kengo Kimura & Akira Nogami 11:04

Tiger King & Kuniaki Kobayashi vs. Kazuo Yamazaki & Kendo Kashin 8:52

Strong Style 11/9/97

Black Cat vs. Yutaka Yoshie. This was like taking a time machine back to 1950. We could find better things to do with our 1.21 gigawatts. A bunch of rest holds and a few basic spots. Execution of the high spots wasn't good. -1/2*

Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Kendo Ka Shin. This showed just how badly these two need Liger to carry them (well, in Ka Shin's case his singles with Otani and Koji have actually been better). Match had little direction or focus. They took it easy to some extent, but still worked stiff. A bit sloppy. **

Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai vs. Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Otani. Solid match, but not as spectacular as normal because it wasn't a big show. ***1/4

NJPW 1997 TV #24
Strong Style 11/22/97 GI CLIMAX SPECIAL '97 taped 9/13/97 Maebashi Gunma Arena
& Strong Style 11/29/97 GI CLIMAX SPECIAL '97 taped 9/17/97 Osaka Maishima Arena
-2hr 5min. Q=VG. 1 DVD

Strong Style 11/22/97

Dr. Wagner Jr vs. Norio Honaga

The Great Muta vs. Tadao Yasuda

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Akira Nogami

Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima vs. Osamu Kido & Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara

Strong Style 11/29/97

Chris Jericho vs. Yutaka Yoshie

Takayuki Iizuka & Osamu Kido vs. Kengo Kimura & Akitoshi Saito

Hiro Saito vs. Michiyoshi Ohara

Wild Pegasus vs. Dr. Wagner, Jr.

NJ Tokon V Special Vol. 41 nWo Typhoon
-1hr. Q=Master

10/10/97 Koriyama Central Hall: Keiji Muto & NWO Sting & Michael Wallstreet & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki & Junji Hirata & Takashi Iizuka

10/15/97 Fujizawa: Masahiro Chono & NWO Sting & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima & Tadao Yasuda

10/16/97 Yokkaichi Shi Taiikukan: Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono & NWO Sting vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki & Satoshi Kojima

10/26/97 Beppu Peekon Plaza: Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Saito vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Shinya Hashimoto & Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto

10/29/97: Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono & Michiyoshi Ohara vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura & Akira Nogami

NJPW Tokon V Special Series Vol. 42 AIRFORCE WARS J
-1 1/2hr. Q=Master
NJPW AIRFORCE WARS J

10/10/97 Koriyama Central Hall: Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai & Kendo Ka Shin vs. Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa. ***1/2

10/13/97 Shizuoka: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa. ****

10/16/97 Yokkaichi Shi Taiikukan: Koji Kanemoto vs. Kendo Ka Shin. *3/4

10/16/97 Yokkaichi Shi Taiikukan: Shinjiro Otani vs. El Samurai. ***

10/23/97 Kumamoto Shi Taiikukan: Shinjiro Otani vs. Kendo Ka Shin. ***

10/25/97 Kagoshima Arena: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Koji Kanemoto. ***3/4

10/27/97 Nagasaki-ken Furitsu Taiikukan: El Samurai vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa

NJ TV 11/15/97
-1hr. Q=1st Gen

World Pro Wrestling 11/15 NWO Typhoon taped 10/31 Hiroshima Sun Plaza

Junior 3 vs. 3 Elimination: Ka Shin & Liger & Samurai vs. Kanemoto & Takaiwa & Otani. ****1/2

Shinya Hashimoto & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Keiji Muto & NWO Sting. Muto, Yamazaki, & Hashimoto all looked very good here. Only 1/3 aired, but it looked good to very good.

IWGP World Heavyweight Title: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Masahiro Chono. Very heated. Chono instilled the psychology and both sold long to put the moves over. These guys just aren't very good workers though. Great heat. Somewhat boring though. ***

NJ TV 11/22/97
-1hr. Q=1st Gen

World Pro Wrestling 11/22 FINAL POWER HALL in Fukuoka Dome taped 11/1 Fukuoka Dome

Don Frye vs. Kazuo Yamazaki. Good back and forth match. **1/2

Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima & Tadao Yasuda vs. Scott Norton & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Michiyoshi Ohara. Norton's knee went out so they went home early, which just put us out of our misery. 3/4*

Tiger King (Sayama) & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa. Tiger King was way out classed to the point he was hurting the match and embarrassing himself. Everyone else was very good though. Lots of great spots with execution below normal due to Tiger. ***1/2

J Crown: Shinjiro Otani vs. Wild Pegasus (Benoit). ****

NJPW 1997 TV #25
11/29/97 SG Tag League VII taped 11/22/97 Nagaoka Welfare Hall
& 12/6/97 SG Tag League VII taped 11/30/97 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 11/29/97

League Bout: Satoshi Kojima & Tadao Yasuda vs. NWO Sting & Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Too much Sting & Yasuda. Those two didn't look good and Tenzan & Kojima didn't work enough to save it. *1/4

Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai & Kendo Kashin vs. Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa. Typical match with great work and great spots back and forth. Focus was Ka Shin pushing Kanemoto. ****

Kensuke Sasaki & Shinya Hashimoto & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Hiro Saito & Tatsu Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara. Snooze. *

NJ TV 12/6/97

League Bout: Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura. Very average. Goto & Ohara laid Muto & Chono out after the match. **SG Tag League Bout: Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono vs. NWO Sting & Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Really long and boring match with no one looking good. More of the Goto & Ohara angle including them kidnapping Hiro Saito. 1/2*

El Samurai vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa. All the big spots back and forth. Looked great in this edited down form, but we know better. ***1/2 range

Jushin Thunder Liger & Kendo Ka Shin vs. Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto. Another great match that built Ka Shin up for this title shot. ****

SG Tag League Bout: Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi. Solid match with good action. ***

NJ Tokon V Special Vol. 48 SG Tag League VII Commercial Tape
& Tokon V Special Vol. 41 NWO TYPHOON Commercial Tape
-2hr. Q=Ex

SG Tag League VII

note: all matches are league bouts

11/18/97

Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono vs. High Voltage

Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Satoshi Kojima & Tadao Yasuda

11/23/97

Muto & Chono vs. Tatsu Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara

11/24/97 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Kojima & Yasuda

11/29/97

Sasaki & Yamazaki vs. Muto & Chono

12/3/97

Hashimoto & Nakanishi vs. Muto & Chono

NWO TYPHOON

10/10/97

Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki & Junji Hirata & Takashi Iizuka vs. Keiji Muto & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & NWO Sting & Michael Wallstreet

Masahiro Chono & Hiro Saito vs. Tatsu Goto & Akira Nogami

10/15/97

Chono & Tenzan & NWO Sting & Hiro vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima & Tadao Yasuda

10/16/97

Goto & Ohara vs. Kengo Kimura & Nogami

Muto & Chono & NWO Sting vs. Sasaki & Yamazaki & Kojima

10/25/97

Chono & Hiro & NWO Sting vs. Sasaki & Hashimoto & Yamazaki

10/26/97

Muto & Chono & Tenzan & Hiro vs. Sasaki & Hashimoto & Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto

10/29/97

Muto & Chono & Ohara vs. Fujinami & Kimura & Nogami

NJPW 1997 TV #27
Strong Style 12/20/97 nWo TYPOON taped 10/22/97 Fukuoka West Japan Exhibition Hall
& NJPW Samurai 12/27/97 Riki Choshu Retirement Special
-2hr 25min. Q=VG/Gd. 1 DVD

Strong Style 12/20/97

Yutaka Yoshie vs. Shinya Makabe 7:49

Black Cat vs. Prince Iaukea 9:19

Takashi Iizuka vs. Akitoshi Saito 10:27

Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima vs. Junji Hirata & Kazuyuki Fujita 11:35

NJPW 1997 TV #28
12/13/97 SG Tag League VII taped 12/5/97 Kochi Resident Gymnasium
& 12/20/97 SG Tag League VII taped 12/8/97 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan
-1 1/2hr. Q=VG

NJ TV 12/13/97

Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono vs. Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara

Jushin Thunder Liger & Kendo Kashin & El Samurai vs. Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto & Tatsuhito Takaiwa

Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & NWO Sting

Tatsumi Fujinami & Kengo Kimura vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki

NJ TV 12/20/97

SG Tag League Decision Match for slot in final: Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi. Nakanishi showed a lot of fire for the first time in ages. Stiff match with great heat. I was actually disappointed that only ½ the match aired. ***1/2

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Shinjiro Otani vs. Kendo Ka Shin. This had a lot of well-executed shoot style spots. They clearly traded realism in that genre for excitement, and they achieved their goal. Match was very good, but Otani was dominated so much that he barely did anything offensively beyond his signature spots. ***3/4

Super Grade Tag League VII Final: Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono. Match comes off much better in unedited form on the BEST BOUTS of 1997 tape. ***1/4 unedited. Looks about 3/4* lower here.

NJ NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING BEST BOUT OF 1997 Commercial Tape
-2 1/2hr. Q=Near Perfect 1st Gen

Highlights of matches from the following shows; 1/4 Tokyo Dome, 2/9 Sapporo Nakajima Sports Center, 4/12 Tokyo Dome, 5/3 Osaka Dome, 7/6 Makomania Ice Arena, G1 Climax Ryogoku Kokugikan, 8/10 Nagoya Dome, 8/31 Yokohama Arena, 9/23 Nippon Budokan, 10/19 Kobe World Memorial Hall, 11/2 Fukuoka Dome

Complete Matches

6/5 Nippon Budokan Best of the Super Junior Final: El Samurai vs. Koji Kanemoto. This match is even further exposed as not being what it's made out to be in this form because it got off to a slow start with meaningless chinlocks and whatnot before picking up for what aired on TV. There was one main point in the first 10 minutes, Kanemoto "injuring" Samurai's knee. From 10 minutes on it was the great, but highly flawed match that people have come to love and highly overrate. ****1/2

8/31 Yokohama Arena: Naoya Ogawa vs. Scott Norton. Hey, I thought this was a best of? This was just horrible. Norton tried to carry this, with tried being the key word. His "selling" of Ogawa's submissions was pathetic if not disgraceful. -*

10/31 Hiroshima Sun Plaza IWGP World Heavyweight Title: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Masahiro Chono. Chono tries to take away the lariat arm. The psychology was good, but it had no heat and the moves used to take away the arm as well as Kensuke's selling to put it over weren't too good. Chono is a very smart wrestler and that he was even able to have a good match with Sasaki was an accomplishment, but this really didn't work as well as it should have. ***

12/8/97 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan SG Tag League Final: Keiji Muto & Chono vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Manabu Nakanishi. Heels took out Nakanishi's knee. Hashimoto finally made a hot tag and dominated. Nakanishi eventually gets his Argentine backbreaker, but his knee "gives out." Last 5 minutes were really good. Strong match from a booking standpoint, as it was smartly laid out and worked, but it didn't come off as anything great, mainly because it wasn't all that exciting and Nakanishi was poor. ***1/4

NJPW Shin Nihon Puroresu SELECTION '97 PART 1 Commercial Tape
-2hr. Q=Near Perfect

2/9/97 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center, J Crown Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Shinjiro Otani 27:14. Liger & Otani pay tribute to one of the best heavyweight matches of all-time, the 1/20/97 Misawa vs. Kobashi, in this fantastic junior style adaptation. It's a very patient and well contructed match focusing on Liger's knee attack and Otani's arm attack, countering back and forth on the mat between these two points of focus for the majority of the first half. The match picks up tremendously in the second half, but it's not so much the highspots, but the fact they make everything so dramatic that makes the match stand apart. I felt they could have done more to play off the first half down the stretch, but it's a minor quibble. ****3/4

8/31/97 Kanagawa Yokohama Arena, J Crown Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Shinjiro Otani vs. Koji Kanemoto

7/1/97 Hachinohe: Riki Choshu & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Tatsutoshi Goto & Akira Nogami

7/6/97 Sapporo Makomania Ice Arena: Riki Choshu & Shinya Hashimoto vs. Great Muta & Masahiro Chono

8/1/97 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan: Tatsumi Fujinami & Osamu Kido vs. Riki Choshu & Kengo Kimura

9/18/97 Toyama Shi Sogo Sports Center: Riki Choshu & Kensuke Sasaki vs. Akira Nogami & Michiyoshi Ohara

NJ Shin Nihon Puroresu SELECTION '97 PART 2 Commercial Tape
-2hr 5min. Q=Master

9/20 Nagoya Aichi-ken Taiikukan, G1 CLIMAX SPECIAL Tag Tournament Ketteisen: Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Great Muta & Hiroyoshi Tenzan. 15:24. Sasaki vs. Tenzan was pretty good because their styles meshed, but Muta destroyed Yamazaki's credible style by using objects. Didn't much matter though, as it was about stupid angles rather than a coveted tag crown. Muta got angry when Tenzan's mongolian chop off the top backfired, so he walked off. Tenzan was fairing pretty well on his own though, so Muta got back in the match, only to spew Tenzan when Tenzan was ready to deliver his patented diving headbutt. Chono attacked Muto, but Sasaki took him out and his team put Tenzan away with two moves. Though the wrestling wasn't great, it's not so much that it was bad, simply that it was an afterthought. *1/2

10/19 Kobe World Kinen Hall, IWGP Tag Senshukenjiai: Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono. 24:24. Even though Sasaki & Yamazaki were getting the best of him, they still had to conform too closely to Muto's weak style. Most of the match centered around a knee attack that started out well with Muto grabbing Sasaki's leg to stop him from lariating Chono, but quickly reverted to cliche, and the submissions weren't rendered dangerous or meaningful. Chono wasn't in that much, and Yamazaki isn't that effective in situations like this where an opponent is working against him. **

7/6, Ishu Kakutogisen: Naoya Ogawa vs. Kazuo Yamazaki. 8:30. Yamazaki us effective against a bad opponent that works his style. Yamazaki was allowed to do his thing, which is build the match around his opponent's strengths. Both looked good and got over more because Ogawa did what little was required of him well, and Yamazaki did the rest with typical excellence. Yamazaki isn't used to fighting opponents who wear a gi, but he figured several ways to use it to his advantage. Ogawa was good at one thing, catching a kick and going right into a judo throw, so Yamazaki tried to neutralize the judo with striking but Ogawa would sporadically get his takedowns through explosive counters. A better match, and one that did a lot  more for the promotion (business), than the typical Ogawa vs. Hashimoto. **3/4

6/5 Tokyo Nippon Budokan, IWGP Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Keiji Muto. 26:00. NJ entered AJ's building one day before what turned out to be one of the greatest of the great Misawa vs. Kawada matches and laid this egg. But the quality is not so important, it's more the effort that shows the stark difference in the promotions. Hashimoto vs. Muto wasn't bad, but you were counting the ways it should have been better, and first and foremost was effort. Misawa vs. Kawada could have been smarter, but they went beyond the call of duty to deliver a match of the year and the best match they could in the style they chose. Meanwhile, the musketeers wasted the first 15 minutes, and Muto tried to make himself come off as Hashimoto's equal in submission. Eventually, after Muto's requisite time biding, Hashimoto got grumpy and punted him a few times, but Muto quickly put an end to that and went back to laying on the mat. Even though the majority of the match was contested on the ground, Muto really puts little effort into this portion, figuring a few minutes of exciting action at the end is all people will remember anyway. Finally Muto injured Hashimoto's knee in standup and the fans soon got all excited because he went through his requisite high spots. The last 10 minutes had good offense, but didn't quite save the match since it wasn't thought out or solid. **1/2

8/31 Kanagawa Yokohama Arena, IWGP Heavykyu Senshukenjiai: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kensuke Sasaki. 16:55. Like much late Kawada, it was somewhat disappointed due to not living up to psychologic and dramatic potential, but it was vicious. A battle of toughness where they simply laid into each other the whole match, and whoever could withstand the biggest beating won. Sasaki's left arm/shoulder was weakened early during a wicked exchange of chops. Hashimoto tried to capitalize and take out the lariat arm, but Sasaki just sucked it up and delivered his hardest, sending sweat flying off Hashimoto's body. In general they should have capitalized on the openings more and it was simple to a fault, but the consistency was more of a positive since that allowed it (pummel your opponent) to be the story of the match. ***1/4

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