Archive for category Japan

Best of Japan 1989 — April

Match No. 1 (4/4/89, All Japan): Stan Hansen & Genichiro Tenryu vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu for PWF tag team titles. Lord James Blears is reading the proclamation. (Great story about Blears’ escape from the Japanese in World War II and check out his monocle and ring attire in a match from the ’50s.) Hansen and Yatsu start things. Hanson hits huge forearm. Double shoulderblock by Hansen and Tenryu. Yatsu hits nice gutwrench suplex on Tenryu. Big knee by Tsuruta on Tenryu. Tsuruta hits big knee on Hansen. Tenryu uses abdominal stretch on Yatsu. Tenryu working on Yatsu’s legs. Tsuruta and Yatsu with a nice double high knee on Tenryu. Tsuruta hits a huge lariat on Tenryu but Hansen makes the save. Very physical match. Hansen tags in and hits dropkick on Tsuruta. He then follows with a boston crab. Yatsu hits several headbutts on Hansen. Followed by a piledriver. Hansen makes the tag and Tenryu is on fire. Huge lariat on Tsuruta followed by enzuigiri. And clothesline in the corner. Tenryu hits several chops on Tsuruta, who replies with big boot to the head. Double team suplex on Tenryu. Yatsu nails Tenryu with a bulldog. Hansen and Tenryu hit double suplex on Yatsu. Fans booing the hell out of Tsuruta. Tsuruta goes to piledrive Hansen and Yatsu comes off top rope to make it a nasty spike piledriver. Hansen somehow kicks out. Tsuruta puts Hansen down with high knee and enzuigiri. Yatsu also gives him an enzuigiri. Tenryu tags in and sweat flies as Yatsu gives him a nasty lariat. All four men in the ring as things break down. Tenryu hits huge lariat on Yatsu. Hanson goes for big lariat on Yatsu, who ducks. Hansen kicks him in the back of the head. Yatsu really getting worked over. Tenryu hits a powerbomb but Tsuruta barely makes the save. Hansen puts Tsuruta into the guardrail and they fight in the crowd. Tenryu hits big lariat on Yatsu who is in bad shape. Clothesline by Tenryu puts yatsu down in the corner. Outside the ring, Tsuruta gives Tenryu a side suplex on the announcers table. Ref is counting and Hansen rolls Tenryu back into the ring. Tsuruta pulls him back to floor and holds him back as the ref rings the bell. I have no idea why. The ref saw Tenryu make it back into the ring but maybe he wasn’t supposed to and it was a count out. Hansen drops several elbows on Yatsu after the bell. Hansen chokes Tsuruta with his rope. Tsuruta and Tenryu than exchange blows. Damn good match and post-match brawl, but uncharacteristic weak finish knocks down rating. Rating: ***1/2

Match No. 2 (4/13/89, New Japan): Southern Boys (Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong) vs. George Takano & Super Strong Machine. Smothers opens with Takano. Southern Boys have the curly mullets going along with the confederate tights. Both teams work over the arm early. Nice drop kick by Takano. He finally tags in the Machine. They go to work on his arm. Not much early. Takano now stomping the hell out of Smothers. Nice double dropkick by the good ole boys. Back to Takano’s arm. Nice snap suplex by Machine. Weak looking spinning leg kick by Takano off the top. Flying headbutt by Machine on Armstrong followed by a nice back suplex. Double flying shoulder block misses by Smothers and Armstrong. Huge lariat by Machine on Smothers. Machine with a diving head butt for the pin. Pretty sloppy match. These guys must have been working together for one of the first times. Hard to see how this was one of the best matches of 1989. Rating: ***

Match No. 3 (4/14/89, UWF): Akira Maeda vs. Kazuo Yamazaki. It’s always interesting to watch the evolution of mixed martial arts from pro wrestling. Both guys trade kicks early. Now they are working arm and leg submissions. Not much action just back-and-forth grapping. Yamazaki with several kicks to the head but Maeda responds with kicks of his own and knocks down Yamazaki. 1-0 Maeda. Maeda with a german suplex into a bridge. Yamazki goes for an armbar but the referee breaks it up as Yamazaki is bleeding like crazy. He tried to headbutt Maeda earlier, but it looks like he busted himself open. The referee has stopped the match, but Yamazaki still wants to fight. Not much to this one, not sure how this was a top match either. Rating: ***

Bonus match (11/17/88, All Japan): Jumbu Tsurutu vs. Stan Hansen for unified Triple Crown. They pound on each other early. Tsuruta with a big boot. Now they are outside. Tsuruta beats on Hansen with a chair. He uses a knee to the head from the top rope. Hansen goes for a piledriver but Tsuruta reverses it. He pounds on Hansen who counters with a huge head butt. Tsurutu just pounding on Hansen, who recovers and beats on Tsuruta. Intense, physical match. Huge clubbing blows by Hansen. They are back on the floor. Hansen with a chair shot. Now he drops the big elbow. Hansen hits a lariat but it doesn’t land with all the force. Another big elbow by Hansen. And a second. John Tenta is on the outside of the ring. Tsuruta gets the chair and beats on Hansen. They fight outside the ring. Tsuruta goes for a huge lariat but Hansen ducks and Jumbo goes into the front row. Hansen with several chair shots. Ref calls for the bell. It looks like a double count out. RIP Jumbo and Tenta. Rating: ***1/2

Match No. 4 (4/18/89, All Japan): Jumbu Tsurutu vs. Stan Hansen for unified Triple Crown. Previous match was the last meeting between the two. They trade loud, hard chops. Tsuruta hits a big elbow. He locks his legs around Hansen’s head and works him over. Hansen escapes and drops an elbow. Tsuruta catches him again in a leg scissors. Hansen makes the ropes. Hansen posts Tsuruta outside the ring. Tsuruta pounding on Hansen in the corner, first with fists then with boots. Tsuruta hits the big boot. He runs Hansen into the ring post. Hansen misses a running elbow in the corner and goes to the floor. Tsuruta catches Hansen in the abdominal stretch. He makes it to the ropes. Hansen walks to the dressing room but Tsuruta catches him and brings him back to the ring. Tsuruta chopping the hell out of Hansen in the corner. Now he drops the boots on him. Tsuruta misses a big knee and Hanson suplexes him. Hanson with a huge knee drop. Tsuruta rolls to the floor. Hansen works over Tsuruta with a chair. Tsuruta is busted open from the last chair shot. Hanson suplexes him back into the ring. Tsuruta barely kicks out. Hansen hits a piledriver and a big elbow for a near fall. Hansen with an elbow and a fist drop from the second rope. Hansen goes for the lariet and misses. He slingshots into the ropes and Tsuruta pins him. Pretty good match, both guys took a ton of abuse. Finish came out of nowhere. Rating: ****

Match No. 5 (4/20/89, All Japan): Jumbu Tsurutu vs. Genichiro Tenryu. Tenryu opens quickly, hitting a lariat for a near fall. Tsuruta follows with a nice dropkick. Tenryu hits a knee and then puts Tsuruta in a head scissors. Jumbo with two elbows to the back of the head followed by a bulldog. Flying knee by Jumbo gets a two count. Sleeper hold by Tsuruta. Big boot by Tsuruta and a chop puts Jumbo on the floor. Tenryu hits a tope and then a huge clothesline and Tsuruta tries to get back into the ring. Tenryu suplexes Tsuruta into the ring but he recovers and gives him several big boots. He goes to the top rope and gets caught by Tenryu who slams him but Jumbo rolls through for a very near fall. Tenryu goes for a piledriver, but Tsuruta counters with a backdrop, but Tenryu holds on for a near fall. Running knee by Jumbo but Tenryu puts his foot on the ropes. Tsuruta drips Tenryu on his head with a nasty sheerdrop powerbomb for the pin. Damn good physical match. Rating: ****1/2

Match No. 6 (4/24/89, New Japan): Big Van Vader vs. Shinya Hashimoto for IWGP title.  Vader does his gimmick with the steam coming out the shoulder pads/headgear. This never gets old. Hashimoto has a terrible beard and is in decent shape, unlike in later years when he was a clean-shaven, lard ass. Vader with a reverse palm strike that knocks Shinya to the mat. Vader knocks down Shinya with a clubbing blow. Shinya with a nasty kick and then he tries for a hammerlock. The referee looks American. Is turns out it is Lou Thesz. Shinya with several hard kicks before Vader clubs him to the ground again. Vader hits the bell clap (Vader Attack) in the corner but misses a second attempt. Shinya working on the arm again. Vader hits a dropkick and gets a hand from the crowd. Vader to the top but Shinya hits a spinning heel kick. Shinya slams him and then applies an arm bar. Hashimoto with a bunch of kicks before Vader knocks him down with a punch. Huge clothesline by Vader. For an all-time great, Thesz counts like a pussy, shades of Branko Lubich. Huge lariat by Vader. Thesz counts two, hesitates and then counts to three. He sure sucks as a ref. Vader acts like he is going to attack him but unfortunately does not. Decent match, but nothing spectacular. Rating: ***

Match No. 7 (4/26/89, All Japan Women): Cutie Suzuki vs. Mayumi Ozaki. Ozaki attacks Suzuki at the bell. A lot of grappling early. Ozaki with some forearm blows. A lot of screaming from the wrestlers which is getting old. Huge knee lift by Ozaki. Ozaki kicking her ass so far. Anoying chant from the females in the crowd. Thankfully, it stops. Finally, some offense by Suzuki. A clothesline followed by a suplex. She then hooks a single leg boston crab. This a boring as hell match so far. I’m ready to hit the fast forward button. Several rest holds and this thing just started. Suzuki with a double-underhook suplex. She goes for a clothesline but Ozaki drop kicks her leg and she then uses a leg lock. Haven’t seen that move before, I’ll have to admit. Ozaki working over the leg. Ozaki hits a nice fisherman’s suplex but Suzuki barely kicks out. Suzki hits what looks like a blockbuster suplex with a bridge. She then hits a weak side suplex for a two count. Next is a nice double underhook suplex with a bridge. Suzuki with a very weak piledriver. Ozaki hits a bulldog. Ozaki with another decent suplex. They are trading suplexes until Ozaki catches Suzuki in midair and suplexes her for the pin. Nice finisher after starting slow. Rating: ***1/2

Match No. 8 (4/30/89, Pioneer Senshi): Atsushi Onita vs. Ryuma Go. Onita throws Go outside the ring and when he tries to get back in, he kicks him hard to the head. He then hits a crazy tope. There is only one hard camera and we can’t see the action on the floor. Go is slow getting back in the ring. Several headbutts by Onita as he is on the ring apron. Onita finally suplexes him back into the ring. He goes to the top and hits a flying headbutt to the arm. Onita goes for a suplex but Go blocks it and applies an arm bar submission. Go is busted open. It must have happened on the floor out of the view of the camera. Or maybe from the head butts. Either way, he’s a mess. Onita reaches the ropes. They are back on the floor. Onita nails go with a chair shot. They are in the crowd and it looks like they went back to the locker room. They come back into the ring from the other side of the crowd. Onita gives Go several more headbutts. He goes back to the top rope and hits a missile dropkick. Huge lariat by Onita. He’s beating the shit out of Go. He’s now working on Go’s leg. Go makes the ropes but Onita uses a figure four. Go reverses it, but Onita makes it to the ropes. Go now working on Onita’s leg. Onita able to grab the ropes. Huge headbutt by Go. Onita goes for a clothesline but Go ducks and hits a side suplex. Go back to working on Onita’s leg. Onita with an enzuigiri. He tries a second but Go ducks and then works on the leg. The bell rings. I guess Onita submitted, couldn’t tell. Fans seem pissed. Onita still wants to fight. Pretty physical match, finish came out of nowhere. Rating: ***1/2

Best of Japan 1989 — March

Match No. 1 (3/8/89, All Japan): Mighty Inoue vs. Masa Fuchi for PWF junior heavyweight title. Match joined in progress. Inoue working on Fuchi’s leg early. Fuchi tossed into the ring barricade. Inoue hits flying forearm. He tries a second, but Fuchi moves and Inoue goes over the top rope. Fuchi throws Inoue into the barricade. Inoue does springboard sunset flip. Fuchi uses Boston crab but Inoue reverses it and Fuchi rolls over for a one count. Fuchi uses victory roll for a two count. He hits enzuigiri and side suplex for a two count. Inoue replies with a slingshot on Fuchi. Inoue gives Fuchi a standing senton. He misses a second. Fuchi hits a backslide for a two count. Inoue does nice rolling head scissors for a two count. Inoue does inside cradle for a two count before Fuchi rolls him over for the pin. Pretty good match but I didn’t like the finish. Rating: ***

Match No. 2 (3/8/89, All Japan): Tiger Mask II (Mitsuhara Misawa) vs. Ricky Steamboat for NWA world title. Match joined in progress. Misawa hits a flying knee. Tiger Mask gets a two count with a dropkick. Steamboat with some hard chops. He hits reverse atomic drop. Tiger Mask with a baseball slide. He pile drives Steamboat on the floor. Steamboat with huge chop from the top rope. Tiger Mask with nice side suplex. He goes to the top rope. And hits a frog splash for a near fall. Tiger Mask follows with a german suplex for a near fall. Steamboat goes for a piledriver but Tiger Mask blocks it and falls onto Steamboat. Steamboat rolls him over for the pin. Another real good match, but again, I wasn’t too keen on the finish. Rating: ***1/2
Match No. 3 (3/16/89, New Japan): Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Antonio Inoki. Inoki gets Fujiwara in leg scissors. He finally escapes. They trade holds on the mat. Fujiwara headbutts Inoki to the floor. Inoki kicking the shit out of Fujiwara’s leg. He then puts on the manji-gatame (octupus hold) for the submission. Average match. Rating: ***
Match No. 4 (3/16/89, New Japan): Shiro Koshinaka vs. Hiroshi Hase for IWGP junior heavyweight title. Koshinaka goes right to the eyes. Hase working on the legs. Hase now working on the arm. They trade headbutts. And slaps. Koshinaka now working on the legs. Koshinaka hits a side slam and then applies a camel clutch. Koshinka hit the sleeper but Hase breaks it up. Hase hits powerslam. Koshinaka hits a huge clothesline and applies a leg lock. Hase hits nice Northern Lights suplex. Koshinaka hits powerbomb but Hase kicks out. Nice clothesline by Hase. Hase hits sambo suplex (Golden Arm Bomber) and goes to the top rope. He misses a flying elbow. Koshinaka hits flying hip attack. He tries a second one but Hase catches him. Hase hits nice german suplex followed by another overhead suplex where he bridges. Koshinaka kicks out. He hits the suplex again for the pin. Damn good match with some great moves. Rating: ****

Match No. 5 (3/16/89, New Japan): Riki Choshu & Masa Saito vs. Super Strong Machine (Junri Hirata) & George Takano for IWGP tag team titles. Saito puts Takano in the sleeper hold. Choshu then applies the sleeper. Saito drops Takano over the top rope on his throat twice. Saito working on Machine’s arm. Machine reverses it. Takano does spin kick from top rope on Choshu. Takano hits spin kick followed by a splash from the top rope. Big clothesline by Machine on Saito. Machine with diving headbutt. Takano hits side suplex. Choshu hits knee drop from top rope on Machine. Choshu hits a vertical suplex. Saito & Choshu hit double suplex. Saito holds Takano and Choshu hits him with huge lariat. Saito pounding on Takano’s head and he’s busted open. Choshu gives him a hard boot to the head. Saito smacks Takano hard to the chest. Heels hit a double headbutt. Saito stomping on Takano’s head. Choshu kicks him in the ribs. Takano is a fucking bloody mess. Choshu applies Sasori-Gatami (Scorpion Deathlock/Sharpshooter) on Takano. Machine breaks things up. Takano makes the hot tag to Machine. Machine hits huge lariat on Saito. And then big dropkick. Machine hits flying clothesline on Choshu followed by an underhook suplex (Devil Windmil Suplex). Saito breaks it up. Choshu ducks a clothesline and gives matchine a huge clothesline. Choshu hits huge clothesline but Takano breaks it up. Saito hits a side suplex on Machine for a near fall. Machine makes the tag. Takano does spin kick on Saito. Takano knocks Saito out of the ring and goes for springboard cross body block. Saito moves and Takano hits the floor. Machine dives onto Saito on the floor. Choshu throws Machine into the guardrail. Machine then goes to top rope and dives onto Saito on the floor. Takano makes it back into the ring to beat the countdown. Choshu and Saito put the belts on Takano and Machine. Great fucking match. I didn’t expect much but these guys were awesome. Rating: ****1/2

Match No. 6 (3/16/89, New Japan): Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Tatsumi Fujinami for IWGP Heavyweight title. Match joined in progress. Fujinami kicking the shit out of Lawler’s legs and knees. Fujinami uses spinning toe hold and a leg lock as he continues working on Lawler’s leg. Lawler finally mounts some offense as he hits a headbutt and weak looking clothesline. Fujinami back to working on his leg. He hits a dropkick then misses a second attempt. Lawler with a diving fist for a near fall. Lawler with a suplex and then he drops Fujinami throat first over the top rope. He goes to the top rope and hits another diving fist. Lawler tries to suplex Fujinami from the apron but he reverses in mid-air and catches him in a sleeper. Lawler with a heel kick in the balls to break it up. Lawler hits a pile driver and goes to the top rope. He tries another diving fist but Fujinami catches his fist and then kicks his hand. He has trouble applying the figure four but finally gets it on Lawler. Lawler makes it to the ropes. Fujinami with a weak powerslam followed by a flying forearm. Lawler tries a suplex but Fujinami reverses it and falls on top of him for the pin. Decent match but you would have thought two champions of the time would have done better. Rating: ***

Best of Japan 1989 — February

Match No. 1 (2/3/89, New Japan): Naoki Sano & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Hiroshi Hase & Hiro Saito. Saito hasn’t missed too many meals. He’s got a larger gut than most American couch potatoes. Hase with a nice drop kick on Sano. He looks to be the jobber of the three. Hase hits an elbow from the top rope. Sano taking a ton of abuse so far. Sano finally makes the tag. Koshinaka uses the dreaded hip strike. Twice. Hase bails. Hase goes to work on Koshinaka’s knees. Saito does the same, using a splash and leg drop on the leg. Sano goes for boston crab but Hase gets to the ropes. Sano hits nice monkey flip on Hase. Hase hit by double dropkick. Koshinakak hits bulldog on Saito. Sano with a huge dropkick on Saito. He’s got some ups. He hits a suicide cross body block on Saito outside the ring. Hase hits a nice move that is a suplex like a samoan drop except that he bridges. Sano nearly pins Hase with a victory roll. Hase hits nice northern lights suplex. Koshinka goes to drop kick Saito from the top rope but Saito moves and he hits Sano. Koshinaka recovers and uses backslide for the pin on Saito. Started a bit slow, but they really picked it up at the end. Enjoyable match. Rating: ****

Match No. 2 (2/9/89, New Japan): Vader vs. Tatsumi Fujinami. This was back when Vader was wearing the mask. Fujinami was 36, in his prime and in great shape. In fact, he was named both outstanding and best technical wrestler by the Wrestling Observer the year before in 1988, which is damn impressive. Fujinami takes the big guy over with a hip toss. Vader has a second in his corner. Not sure who he is but he looks like Dick Slater. Vader drops Fujinami on the top rope on his throat. He then gives Fujinami a lariat. Now he drops him over the railing outside the ring. Fujinami hits a flying forearm followed by a slam. He goes to the top. Vader catches him and drops him again on the top rope. Huge bump by Vader as he catches Fujinami and they tumble over the top rope. Fujinami hits, big surprise, dragon sleeper. Vader goes to the top. He hits a bell clap from the top rope and then a huge lariat for the pin. Wow, Fujinami does the job to Vader. He got a good match out of the big bastard. Rating: ***1/2

Match No. 3 (2/12/89, All Japan): The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. The British Bulldogs. The mat says AWA and it turns out this was the only match ever between the two teams in Kansas City of all places. Verne Gagne is a moron. I’ve seen a lot of bad AWA TV. Yet two of the best tag teams in the world once wrestled each other in your promotion and you never show it? Dynamite and then Davey Boy working on Ricky’s arm. They are keeping him from making the hot tag. He finally makes it. Robert hits two nice dropkicks and two back body drops. Ricky hits a piledriver on Davey Boy but he is in the ropes. Double drop kick but Davey Boy kicks out. They trade pinning attempt in the final minute but time expires. The ring announcer looks to be Eric Bischoff. Only last 5 minutes or so of the match aired. But what aired was pretty good. RIP Davey Boy. Rating: ***1/2

Match No. 4 (2/12/89, All Japan): Stan Hansen & Terry Gordy vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu. This match is also in Kansas City. And for the PWF tag team titles, no less. It looks like Bob Geigel read the match proclamation. And it appears Bischoff is again in the ring, although it is a bit tough to tell with the beard. Gordy opens with Yatsu. Hansen and Yatsu trade kicks and blows. Tsuruta hits high knee on Gordy. Damn, Hansen and Gordy are a tough tag team. They are beating Yatsu’s ass right now. Hansen grabs a chair and clocks Yatsu with it. Gordy goes for a piledriver but Yatsu blocks it, and hits a backdrop. Gordy rolls him over for a pin attempt. Hansen misses a shoulder block in the corner. Tsuruta posts Hansen. Now Yatsu is working on his arm. Hansen takes a header into the camera. It’s hard to believe a match this good is taking place in an AWA ring. They are still working on Hansen’s arm, trying to neutralize the dreaded lariat. Gordy with a nice dropkick on Yatsu followed by a samoan drop. He goes for an abdominal stretch. All four men in the ring. Gordy hits a power bomb on Yatsu but Tsuruta breaks it up. Tsuruta goes for a lariat but Hansen trips Gordy and he misses. Tsurata hits a nice german suplex on Gordy. Hansen makes the save. No he doesn’t. Ref counted to three and we have new tag team champs. Hansen beat the shit out of someone with a suit. Hopefully it was Bischoff. Damn good strong style match. Idiot fans in Kansas City sat on their hands. RIP Gordy and Tsuruta. Rating: ****

Match No. 5 (2/22/89, New Japan): Antonio Inoki vs. Riki Choshu. Choshu sporting a nice mullet. Inoki in pretty good shape for 46. Choshu uses some kind of jumping head scissors move to take Inoki to the mat. Choshu escapes from a headlock by taking Inoki down. Choshu hits two belly to back suplexes on Inoki. He goes for a lariat, but Inoki grabs his arm and puts him in an arm bar. Inoki nails him with enzuigiri followed by a hard punch to the head. And another enzuigiri. Inoki uses what looks like a single chicken wing suplex. Inoki has Choshu in a key lock, long before Pride or UFC. Well, he did spend some time in Brazil as a kid. Choshu kicking and punching Inoki to the mat. Ionoki with suplex. Choshu responds with a belly to back suplex followed by a huge lariat. Inoki kicks out and Choshu looks surprised. He hits another lariat. And another huge one. Inoki kicks out again. Another lariat. And another kick out. A lariat from behind and one from the front finally finishes him. Damn good old school physical match. Rating: ****1/2

Match No. 6 (2/23/89, All Japan): Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada. Damn, Kawada looks young. Kawada starts with kicks on Yatsu. Yatsu answers with some knees. Kawada missing spinning kick. Tsuruta working over Kawada’s arm. Then he chips the shit out of him. Crowd goes crazy as Tenryu and Tsuruta go at it. Tsuruta hits a huge knee. Yatsu hits spike piledriver on Tenryu. Tenryu responds with huge clothesline. Yatsu hits nice belly to back suplex on Kawada. Tsuruta does samoan drop on Kawada. Kawada hits clothesline on Tsuruta. Tenry whips Kawada into Tsuruta. Tenryu follows with huge suplex. Tsuruta and Yatsu drop Kawada with double clothesline and Yatsu hits two bulldogs on him. Kawada blocks the third and uses high-angle belly to back suplex. Tenry drops Yatsu with heavy dropkick. Tsuruta gives Kawada huge knee to the face. He uses abdominal stretch but Tenryu breaks it up. Tsuruta holds Kawada’s leg and Yatsu drops the elbow. Tenryu stomps on Yatsu’s head. Yatsu does nice side suplex on Kawada and then puts him in a leglock in which he is sitting top of his legs. Kawada makes the ropes. He’s holding his knee. Poor bastard is taking a beating. And will likely have to do the job. Tsuruta stalking him. Kawada makes the tag. Tenryu hits a enzuigiri followed by a bridging german suplex for a two count. Tsuruta responds with lariat. Kawada tags in. Tsuruta drops him with a knee. And a second. All four brawling outside the ring. Kawada kicking the hell out of Tsuruta, who is busted open. Tenryu tags in. Now Kawada taking a beating again. Tenryu power bombs Jumbo for a two count. Tenryu takes a knee from the front and back. Tsuruta power bombs Tenryu but Kawada makes the save. Damn, these guys are going at it. Kawada drops Yatsu with back suplex but Jumbo makes the save. Yatsu replies with a german suplex on Kawada. Jumbo drops Tenryu on the top rope on his throat. They trade small packages for a two count. Tenryu with another small package and an enzuigiri. Kawada and Yatsu trade kicks. Yatsu hits german suplex on Kawada but Tenryu saves. Jumbo destroys Kawada with a boot to the face. And then pins him with a belly to back suplex. Excellent tag team match. It doesn’t get better than this. Rating: *****

Match No. 7 (2/27/89, UWF): Nobuhiko Takada vs. Kazuo Yamazaki. They trade kicks early. Yamazaki tries for an ankle lock. Not much happening so far. Takada does some kind of suplex/throw and follows with an arm bar attempt. Yamazaki counters. They trade hard kicks. Takada gets a half boston crab. Yamazaki escapes. Takada goes for an arm bar. Takada hits a choke. Yamazaki reaches the ropes. More kick trading. Yamazaki gets an ankle lock, which he turns into a half boston crab. Takada escapes but takes four kicks and hits the mat. Yamazaki 1-0. Takada takes another high kick and hits the mat. Yamazaki 2-0. Takada responds with three kicks that knocks down Yamazaki. Yamazaki 2-1. Takada gets knee bar. Yamazaki taps. This was decent, but don’t see how it was one of the best matches of the year. Rating: ***1/2

Best of Japan 1989 — January

Match No. 1 (1/4/89, All Japan Women): Chigusa Nagayo vs. Madusa Micelli for Nagayo’s IWA Championship. Chigusa looks like a dude. Madusa looks punk rock hot. Tons of young girls screaming. They actually have a ton of young cheerleaders in the crowd. Wow, Chigusa is busted open right away. Women showing color? Only in Japan. Madusa pulls a Jake Roberts and brings a snake into the ring. Now they have the snaked wrapped around her outside the ring. Fans are going ape shit. Madusa wins via count out. Rating: **** Heat was off the charts, match was damn good. Madusa wins title I guess.

Match No. 2 (1/4/89, All Japan Women): Chigusa Nagayo vs. Madusa Micelli for Madusa’s IWA Championship. I guess this is a same-day rematch. Chigusa is bloody for the first match. She has a chain and is wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. Maybe this is a bunkhouse match. Ref finally takes away the chain. Madusa takes nasty bump outside of ring. And nasty pile driver. Chigusa wins after putting Madusa out with sleeper hold. Little girls go crazy. Rating: ***1/2 Another very good match between these two.

Match No. 3 (1/7/89, All Japan): Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada. Jumbo forearming the shit out of Kawada. Kawada kicks out of spike pile driver. Yatsu really working over Kawada. Jumbo tries to piledrive Kawada on the floor, but Kawada reverses it. Kawada finally makes the hot tag to Tenryu. Kawada hits huge lariat on Yatsu. Tenryu hits Jumbo with big lariat. Tenryu misses elbow from the top rope. Jumbo suplexes Kawata on his head and gets the pin. Rating: **** Hard-hitting match with tons of near falls. Not surprised Kawada did the job with the three vets in the ring. RIP Jumbo.

Match No. 4 (1/8/89, New Japan): Antonio Inoki & Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Vader & Bam Bam Bigelow. Vader comes out with classic smoke-spewing shoulder pads/helmet. Vader and Bigelow use smoke screen to attack Fujinami and Inoki at bell. Fujinami actually slams Bigelow. Inoki clotheslines Bigelow over the top rope. Bigelow hits Inoki with headbutt. Bigelow and Vader splash Inoki, then Bigelow shoves the ref for the DQ. After the match, Vader goes crazy and throws chairs and tables. Rating: *** Match was a bit sloppy, but brawl at the end was at least entertaining.

Match No. 5 (1/10/89, UWF): Akira Maeda vs. Nobuhiko Takada. These guys look nearly identical. These guys trade nasty kicks early. Maeda gets nasty keylock on Takada but he gets to the ropes. They put a one on the screen. Not the score, but maybe counting the number of breaks. Takada gets armbar on Maeda, but he gets to the ropes for a break. I guess the one means it is his first break. Maeda gets leglock on Takada but he grabs ropes to escape. Maeda kicks Takada to head and gets pont. Maeda 1-0. Maeda has headlock on Takada and gets a point. Maeda 2-0. Maeda hits fisherman’s suplex and then keylock but Takada gets to the ropes. Takada hits back suplex. Takada puts single boston crab on Takada but he gets to the ropes for a break. Takada hits several kicks to the face on Maeda. Takada hits chinlock but Maeda gets to the ropes. Takada goes back to the boston crab but Maeda makes the ropes. Takada gets a point. 2-1 Maeda. Maeda hits arm bar, Takada makes ropes but Maeda gets point. 3-1 Maeda. Maeda gets ankle lock on Takada. He gets free with kicks to the head. Takada does side suplex on Maeda and gets point. Maeda 3-2. Takada does overhead suplex on Maeda and gets two count. I guess you also get a point for a pin. Maeda hits boston crab and sinks it in. Takada taps. Rating: **** For a worked shoot, this match was great and the crowd was totally into it. Nice historical look at the precursor to MMA.

Match No. 6 (1/16/89, New Japan): Hiroshi Hase vs. Shiro Koshinaka for IWGP junior heavyweight title. These two trade blows like an MMA fight. Hase uses keylock. Koshinaka suplexs Hase onto the floor then drops knee on him from top rope. Hase hits figure four. Koshinaka gets to the ropes. Hase drops Koshinka hard onto guard rail. Koshinaka hits suplex into a bridge but Hase grabs rope. Koshinaka wins with small package. Rating: ***1/2 Match was a bit short, but heated up toward the end. Solid yet unspectacular.

Match No. 7 (1/26/89, New Japan): Riki Choshu vs. Vader. Vader wearing classic getup shooting steam. Choshu sporting nice mullet. Vader does side suplex. Choshu holds the back of his head. Choshu sends Vader hard into rail. Vader with a big clothesline to Choshu’s head. Choshu drop kicks Vader over top rope. Vader suplexes Choshu over top rope into ring. Choshu wins by countout. Rating: ***1/2 Choshu got decent match out of Vader. Bam Bam Bigelow attacks Choshu after ther match. RIP Bam Bam.

Match No. 8 (1/28/89, All Japan): Genichiro Tenryu & Toshiaki Kawada & Hiromichi “Samson” Fuyuki vs. Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu & Masa Fuchi. Fuchi looks about 50. Tsuruta with high knee on Kawada. Yatsu with a ton of headbutts on Kawada. Kawada with nasty clothesline on old man Fuchi. Tenryu with enziguri on Fuchi and then elbow drop off top rope. All six fighting outside the ring. Tsuruta and Tenryu go at it. Kawada kicking the shit out of Yatsu. Many near falls with saves. Yatsu pins Fuyuki with power slam. Rating: ****1/2 These guys put on a great show. Even the old farts picked it up a notch. RIP Jumbo and Samson.

Match No. 9 (1/28/89, All Japan): Joe & Dean Malenko vs. British Bulldogs (Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith). Dynamite is juiced so much it is coming out of his ears. Dean Malenko’s robotic facials are perfect for Japan. Davey Boy is same height, but twice the size of Dean. Dynamite with great shoulder block and signature snap suplex on Dean. Davey Boy does bow and arrow on Dean. Dynamite tackles Joe and they fall outside the ring. Davey Boy presses Dynamite and Dean dropkicks them over the top rope. Joe tries victory roll but Dynamite falls on him and gets the pin. Rating: **** Long match with a lot of matwork. Not the most creative finish and it came out of nowhere, but maybe that was done purposely by the meticulous Japanese. RIP Davey Boy, good health Dynamite.