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Masami Katakura is the Chairwoman & CEO of EY ShinNihon, a member firm of EY Japan. She is also a managing partner in the Assurance Service of EY Japan. Joining EY in 1991, she was engaged in the audit of numerous Japanese companies, ranging from IPOs to global companies listed in the USA. Thanks to our partner Basic Fit in the same building as our restaurant we offer a small private gym with showers and modern equipment. During your breaks or before diner you can step in, clear your mind and blow of some steam. The gym is free to use for our colleagues and guest. Be sure to let us know you want to use it in advance. Masami is a strong leader in spite of being rude to his follower. He's a pessimist containing a weak heart, and hides an insecure, anxious, sensitive, overthinking, and short tempered personality behind his calm and contained persona. He trains under Marisa Hyoudou ever since he had his spine injury. Masami's dancing partner is Tamie Idogawa. Masami Yamanouchi specializes in cross-border PMI support for the financial accounting sector particularly for outbound deals from Japan. ... Since 2018, she has also been EY’s Global Client Service Partner for a prominent Japanese trading company and, along with her accomplished accounts team, she has worked on expanding the network of ... Masami Kobayashi partner at dw associates San Francisco Bay Area 0 connections. Join to Connect. dw associates. Report this profile; Experience. partner dw associates. Masami Kugimiya According to the official website, Kugimiya Masami is one of the main characters, Tatara's rival and occasional training partner. His style of dancing can be described as elegant, strict, and traditional or old fashioned. He hides an insecure, sensitive, and overthinking personality behind his calm and contained persona. He trains under Marisa Hyoudou ever since he had his ... Masami was once in love with Kazunari Ninomiya. Kazunari Ninomiya is a Japanese actor. They had romantic love affairs for several years. She is now living a single life. Till date there is no any information about her married life and divorce. A beautiful and lovely lady, Masami has been pursuing her career as an actress since 2000.
Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Mar. 14, 1988
2020.08.20 18:00 SaintRidleyWrestling Observer Rewind ★ Mar. 14, 1988
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. • PREVIOUS • 1987 FUTURE YEARS ARCHIVE: The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
As mentioned last week, WWF has changed up the bracket for the Wrestlemania IV tournament. They showed the updated bracket on tv this past weekend without any announcement or explanation for the change, and the only explanation Dave can find for why they have updated the bracket is so they can get DiBiase vs. Savage in as the final. So, now that we have an updated bracket, Dave goes into speculation mode. There are only three possible winners here in his eyes: Hogan, DiBiase, and Savage. He’s not going to rule out the possibility of a Hogan win, though he puts that as least likely due to the movie being in the works. DiBiase would seem to be the favorite, then. But if that’s the case he doesn’t really need the title any earlier than July in order to set up the august ppv. Hogan winning would probably require Hogan vs. Rude for the final. Savage or DiBiase are best off winning by facing the other in the final. Dave’s already leaning toward a Hogan/Andre double elimination as the most likely possibility there (whether they double eliminate through some kind of draw or through Hogan winning then getting jumped and being ”too injured” to continue by a bunch of guys paid by DiBiase is anybody’s guess). Of course, the real question is why change the bracket so suddenly? Did they just not think through the original one before they put it up that it would probably lead to Don Muraco being the most exciting face they could put against DiBiase in the final (or Savage/Rude)? It beggars belief they wouldn’t think this through hard, so there’s gotta be some reason like the original plan no longer seeming like a good idea. Is it that they’ve got cold feet about DiBiase’s drawing power? Does that put Savage as the likely winner, only to drop it to DiBiase in July for Hogan’s return in August?
Dave’s doing a poll for those who watch both Wrestlemania and Clash of the Champions. Six questions: 1) which show did you enjoy more; 2) which show you thought was better overall; 3) match of the night; 4) your opinion of blood and wrestling; 5) should wrestling be regulated by state athletic commissions; 6) a question for those tape traders who sample widely: what promotion’s style do you enjoy most? You know what? These aren’t bad questions. I think we should answer these in the comments.
Syndicated tv ratings for the week ending February 7 are out and NWA is on the rise. They ranked sixth with an 8.9 national rating on 185 stations, just behind WWF which was fifth with an 11.4 rating on 258 stations. WTBS does not count for viewership on this. Probably too close for Vince’s liking. Of course, these ratings aren’t an accurate measure of how many different people are watching, as many watch more than one program from each of these syndicated packages so some viewers are counted three, four, or more times. But syndication ratings are the numbers advertisers look to, so that makes them meaningful because it determines how much money they can get by selling ads. And ad revenue from tv is a significant part of WWF’s advantage: they’ve been able to get a lot of it and leave every other promotion in the proverbial dust. The three shows at the top (Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and Oprah) are all just one show in each tv market, so those homes are counted just once, which really puts things into perspective when you consider WWF (fifth place) was watched in 10,078,000 homes across four shows (thus a home that watches Wrestling Challenge, Superstars, Spotlight, and All-American would be counted four times) and Crockett got 7,868,000 homes (with three TBS shows and other syndicated shows, Crockett viewers could get counted as much as five to even seven times). Wrestling may be highly viewed, but in terms of absolute number of individual viewers it’s still small potatoes compared to the real juggernauts, and while they may have some of the highest rated syndicated packages, neither Crockett nor McMahon can claim to have one of the top rated syndicated shows. Crockett got a big boost from the inclusion of the TBS shows, which should boost their ad revenue and help them compete. And that’s reason enough for Dave to expect WWF to try and counter this - it’s important to the way WWF presents itself that there not be any other major league company in wrestling.
Sports Illustrated ran a story in this week’s issue on Hiroshi Wajima. Dave hasn’t had the chance to read the story yet, but it’s apparently an old story put together in November 1986, and Dave has no idea why it just came out. Ironically, Tokyo Sports ran a story this week that Wajima was going to retire (though this apparently isn’t true). Anyway, I found the story.
Also in the media this week were the Von Erichs. They were on the 700 Club this week, doing their usual job of mixing truth, minor falsehoods, and major lies. On Monday they took over AWA’s old rerun timeslot on ESPN (4 pm EST) with “Legends of World Class Wrestling” which covers early 80s matches featuring Kevin and Kerry before in the pre-Freebird days of the company. They also curiously seem to have a Ken Mantell match every episode, as well as a trivia contest that’s unintentionally funny. One of the questions asked where and when David Von Erich died, which is almost pushing the exploitation of the family tragedies to the point of parody. Lastly, the latest on the Von Erichs story in Penthouse is that it’s tentatively scheduled for the July issue unless the magazine decides to do a feature on the upcoming Michael Spinks vs. Mike Tyson fight (yeah, they do that feature).
The biggest news in WWF is that Bruno Sammartino has left the company. Bruno got an offer to promote a national wrestling hotline that paid more than WWF pays him as a color commentator, and that’s the issue that seems to have served as reason for him leaving. It’s no secret that Bruno has been unhappy with WWF for some time and doesn’t like the company’s direction. And Vince never gave David the push he promised. When Bruno retired back in 1981, he never planned to make a comeback years later; that only happened to help David get his career launched. But once he did get back in the ring, they pressured for more appearances, slotted him in as their pinch hitter for when guys like Duggan, Patera, or Jake Roberts weren’t available due to injury or suspension to main event a show. And this extra work has caused Bruno’s back injuries to be reaggravated, and yet he still completed all bookings through last August before deciding to call it quits for real in the ring. WWF still wanted him on in the northeast, though. The real core of everything, though, is that McMahona nd Sammartino have vastly different ideas, setting aside the usual friction of the promotewrestler relationship, about the credibility of the business and about promotional ethics. McMahon’s way of promoting completely violates Bruno’s sense of credibility for wrestling and ethics. Bruno ought to know a bit about what works promotion-wise, given he’s got a long record of drawing consistent sellouts in places WWF only draws a few thousand fans today.
Dave saw the March 5 WWF show at the Cow Palace and runs through the card, giving ratings and making observations. Badnews Brown won his match with an enziguiri (that’s the Ghetto Blaster, though it hasn’t quite been named that yet). Steamboat and Rude had a 20 minute draw that was the best match of the show, and Steamboat is still one of the best for high spots in the country. Sherri carried Rockin’ Robin to a watchable match, though Robin is still obviously quite green. She’s a tremendous heel when they give her a chance, though they don’t often give her the chance. In the main event, Hogan and Duggan beat DiBiase and Virgil. Virgil was in the way too much and Hogan seemed like he might have been sick because he mostyl did rest holds and when on the apron he kept his head down. Hogan is absolutely the biggest draw in the industry right now, but there are a lot of folks who get bigger reactions live, including Carlos Colón, Antonio Inoki, and Chigusa Nagayo. Dave thinks it might be that fans look at Hogan as an entertaineperformer, whereas with Nagao or Colón they live and die by the rhythms of their matches. So when Dave talked back in December about how Hogan gets half the reaction live that Nagayo gets, he was being kind to Hogan. This isn’t to knock Hogan, though - he still gets incredible reactions and is an incredible draw, but there are others beyond him.
Dave’s had a chance to watch a lot of tape from Puerto Rico lately, and there’s only one good worker from the area: TNT. That’s the future Savio Vega. The standard match here is slow-paced, though when they bring Abdullah or Brody in you can get some blood to make up for it. The company is very successful, though, so they’re doing what works for their audience, and Dave speculates their audience has the highest percentage of true believers of any in the world. The heat they can generate is ridiculous.
Iron Sheik has been fired, probably setting a new record in WWF.
Adrian Adonis is trying to get back to WWF. No real surprise. Not going to happen before he dies.
NBC and WWF have come to a deal for five Saturday Night’s Main Events and one prime time special for the 1988-89 season. The Main Event proved they can be put in a weak time slot with a lot of hype and deliver a solid rating, but they can’t appeal enough to consistently compete in prime time.
Memphis has brought Sputnik Monroe in to feud with Billy Wicks on March 7. Dave thought Eddie Marlin feuding with Tommy Gilbert was ridiculous, but this takes the cake. Wicks was a big star in Memphis before Jackie Fargo (so we’re talking the 1950s) and Sputnik Monroe was a legendary heel who refused to work shows with segregated crowds. More on Sputnik Monroe by broken_beat. Anyway, Monroe and Wicks were big deals and their feud in the late 50s was legendary, setting an indoor arena attendance record in Memphis in 1959 that stood until the Monday Night Wars (specifically, In Your House: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre broke the record). According to cagematch, this is a one off and Monroe’s last match ever. This show was not for tv and there’s no video of it anywhere I can find online, but I wish I could put it here.
More guys gone from Memphis. Manny Fernandez was fired for missing shows. The Samoans quit right before they were probably due to win the Southern Tag Team Titles. Bill Dundee has left to go be a babyface in Knoxville (they wrote him off with a Gilbert family attack, so that leaves the door open for him to come back as a face and team with Lawler at least). Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson are also out. And Steve Keirn, who headlined February 29, isn’t back this week. This led to the March 7 card having 15 matches with a lot of guys pulling double duty.
Owen Hart injured his back taking a bump on a guard rail during his Japan tour, so he missed two weeks right after getting back to Canada.
Billy Jack Haynes was on a local talk show in Oregon and we get a bit of insight into his thinking about his new promotion. He’s only interested in guys who weigh at least 280 lbs and is promising sizeable guaranteed contracts. No indication when he’s going to start it up yet, but he said something to the effect of it being in arund 6 weeks. He also said they’d hold a wrestling camp.
Continental is continuing the same bait and switch stuff that killed Birmingham in the first place. Their February 29 show was a double taping, and among the promises not kept were Larry Hamilton no-showing his match with Scott Hall and the two other matches he was supposed to have and both Danny Davis vs. Lord Humongous and Frank Lancaster vs. Detroit Demolition didn’t happen despite all four guys being present.
AWA announced on tv this past weekend that Masa Saito would be returning, and he’d be bringing Riki Choshu with him to wrestle the Midnight Rockers. This comes as a surprise to all.
AWA has changed March 19 to have Diamond and Tanaka challenging the Rockers for the tag titles. At least they figured out what to do to make it make sense.
GLOW’s live card in Houston on February 26 drew 3,500 fans. That’s more than Hogan vs. DiBiase drew last time they were there, and more than Flair vs. Sting did this past weekend at the Houston Coliseum. Verne Gagne was there, and it seems GLOW wrestler Olympia is headed to AWA to be an opponent for Madusa. If Verne wanted someone to look better and wrestle worse than Madusa, he found his woman, Dave says.
Adrian Adonis lost his weekly guarantee from AWA back in December. Then he broke his ankle just a week before he was supposed to go to Japan, so he lost out on two weeks of Japan and hasn’t been getting income. He even asked Verne to help while he was injured and Verne told him no. Adonis has had a terrible run of luck lately, and it’s just not going to work out well.
New Japan officially announced that Akira Maeda has been fired. So now the question is what is Maeda’s future in wrestling, if any? Obviously someone will have the idea to start a new promotion and make him the star, but they’re gonna need television to get it going, and that could be a tough proposition. We’re on the cusp of Newborn UWF in the next couple weeks.
Dump Matsumoto’s retirement was such a big deal that Fuji TV ran a half hour retrospective of her career. Her retirement show took place in her home town on February 28, and she beat Bull Nakano and Condor Saito in a handicap match to send her off. The co-main event was Lioness Asuka going to a time limit draw against Yukari Omori in Omori’s final match. The last tv taping Omori and Dump did took place on February 25, where they went to a draw against the Crush Girls via double countout. Then they requested five more minutes, and the match went to a draw after the request was granted. On that show Bull Nakano and Kumiko Iwamoto won two of three falls to take the vacant tag titles against Mitsuko Nishiwaki and Yumiko Hotta. Dave anticipates a ratings drop now that Matsumoto is out, as she brings a lot of drama and heat to the shows.
The big news out of All Japan is that Tokyo Sports ran a front page story on February 23 about Hiroshi Wajima needing to retire due to neck injuries. Wajima insists he’ll be back, and Dave’s not sure the details, but Wajima is 40 years old and Dave’s understanding is he’ll be out for several months at least. At that age “career ending” become very common words with this sort of thing, so…. Yeah. This is pretty much the beginning of the end for Wajima. He’s not going to take time off, and by the end of the year he’ll wrestle his last match.
World Class has a bunch of title changes. Kerry Von Erich beat Al Perez for the WCCW Championship on March 6 in Dallas. Small crowd, and it was originally supposed to be Michael Hayes against Perez, but they had Hayes attacked at the concert on March 4, so he was “injured” and couldn’t wrestle. The concert drew much better than the Dallas show, getting roughly 2,000 fans. Terry Taylor won the Texas Title on February 26 from Matt Borne. The Simpsons won the Wild West Tag Titles from Tatum and Victory on February 29 in Fort Worth, gaining a measure of revenge from the week earlier (maybe it aired on the 22nd but was the Feb. 14 show? Cagematch is sketchy on details and I can’t find a match on February 22nd where the titles changed. Possible Dave has some things mixed up) when they lost the Texas Tag Titles to Tatum and Victory. After losing the Texas Tag titles, they came out later that night with the Wild West tag title match contract. February 29 was set up so that Victory and Tatum were meant to defend both sets of titles, The Wild West titles against the Simpsons and the Texas titles against the Fantastics, and they whined that it was unfair. Anyway, Bobby Fulton didn’t show up, so Rogers wound up teaming with someone else and lost the match.
WCCW is moving their Texas Stadium show to May 8. Looks like some variation on Freebirds vs. Von Erichs plus one for the top of the card. Talks of Kerry vs. Flair have dropped off.
Bill Alfonso, who used to be a referee in Florida and is the brother of David Sierra (who works under a mask as The Assassin in Oregon), will be the man referee in Billy Jack Haynes’ new Oregon promotion. That Oregon civil war in wrestling has brother against brother now.
Peter Maivia Jr. (that’s The Rock’s uncle) won the California Championship Wrestling tag title with partner Toru Tanaka on February 26. Just an interesting note from the indies, because I had no idea The Rock’s mom had a wrestling brother.
Also in the sons(-in-law) of wrestlers from long ago, Karl Gotch’s son-in-law is Masami Soranaka. He wrestles in Global in Florida as a foreign menace heel, V.C. Minh.
Brody’s March 4 show in St. Louis drew 1,200 fans for a gate of $14,000. Brody vs. Jerry Blackwell in the main event had a weird ending, but the match itself was good, if slow-paced. Blackwell threw Brody over the top and the ref missed it due to ref bump, then Brody got back in, took a powerslam, was pinned for a three count, but another referee overruled it citing the initial toss over the top and calling the match a disqualification. Then Brody dropkicked Blackwell and pinned him. When the finish is dusty, everybody wins, right?
World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico has just put out three video tapes. Tape #1 has a bunch of their bloodiest matches. Tape #2 has the September 1986 WWC Universal Title tournament that saw Terry Funk in three matches, including matches against Rick Martel and Barry Windham. Tape #3 is an Invader #1 (fuck Invader #1) highlight tape. One of the matches has the ring surrounded by a cage of fire and now that I know this I wish he had gotten shoved into it.
Letters this week are all over the place. The first one is a big one and about Hogan’s limited appeal. How much can a balding sausage man who looks ten years older than he is really appeal in the true mainstream? Can he really make anyone switch away from Dallas or The Cosby Show? Not unless the hypothetical viewer already likes wrestling. But that’s the thing the writer argues: Hogan might not be able to appeal to the mass market, but nobody else really can either because wrestling just isn’t that big and never will be. Hell, setting aside his skill or lack thereof in acting, his size alone is going to limit his options in Hollywood, and those limitations will not help him appeal more broadly either. He’s got strong appeal to a small audience, and that's okay because wrestling is a niche interest. Anyway, the writer eventually concludes her time in this issue after a long detour onto the subject of long storytelling matches by suggesting John Carpenter could have saved a lot of money on fake blood for They Live by hiring Ric Flair instead of Roddy Piper.
Dusty Rhodes gave a really weird promo hyping up Clash of the Champions. He told viewers that if they don’t watch the Clash, he’ll remember and come down the chimney at Christmas and beat up their kids. Whatever idea of humor he has, it didn’t really land, and a lot of readers called in to ask Dave if he lost his mind.
Hogan and Duggan vs. DiBiase and Virgil on March 6 in LA drew the smallest crowd Hogan has ever drawn in LA. Nothing really good on the show, either, except that main event.
More details for the Hayes concert finish on March 4 for WCCW: Hayes was going to sing a Willie Nelson song and invited the Von Erichs on stage because he dedicated the song to David. King Parsons came out and started arguing with Hayes, and Buddy Roberts came out too and got into it with the Von Erichs. Roberts tried to swing a guitar at Kerry’s head, but Kerry ducked and he hit Hayes instead.
Turns out the Sputnik Monroe vs. Billy Wicks match in Memphis was billed as an “Old Timers Special Attraction” match. That’s fine - they were really hot in the area around 1961, and it’s not like WWF haven’t done similar like their 1985 Fred Blassie vs. Lou Albano match at Nassau Coliseum.
NEXT WEEK:Predictions for Wrestlemania and Clash of the Champions, Crockett Cup seeds to be announced, Owen Hart going to WWF?, and more
2020.06.19 17:57 SaintRidleyWrestling Observer Rewind ★ January 25, 1988
January 25, 1988 Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. • PREVIOUS • 1987 FUTURE YEARS ARCHIVE: The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
February 5 could be the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning of this current wrestling war. No doubt about it that McMahon’s Main Event will be a big success, especially with Andre vs. Hogan headlining and lots of publicity. There’s a good chance it cracks the top 15 weekly ratings, but that’s where things get tricky. If it succeeds, WWF will want to do it again, as will networks. Does this then mean weekly prime time wrestling? Just four years ago it was almost unthinkable that pro wrestling would be on network tv at all, and WWF has had a run of successes all through 1987. They’re firing on all cylinders and drawing big ratings with everything, and that’s the sort of thing networks find appealing. Could this lead to network tv for Crockett? Probably not - no way would Crockett give up the creative control necessary to make their show fit for network tv, and no network would have “you-know-who” (I’m guessing Dusty?) as the showcased star. Dave expects that if this show is a success, we may see WWF getting offered a weekly network deal by fall of 1989 to combat falling ratings (doesn’t that sound like Fox in 2019 making a deal with WWE?). The question is if WWF can put on interesting weekly tv shows long enough to keep interest in the long-term, and Dave’s not sure they can do that. He also isn’t sure Vince will be smart enough to avoid the trap of weekly network tv if the opportunity is there. On the other hand, whatever time they did get would be very lucrative for the duration. So would passing it up even be the smart move? Wrestling as a whole could fall to scandal at any moment, so is the long-term really worth considering too hard?
Focusing on the event itself, Andre and Hogan have big pressure on them. Andre’s condition means they can’t do a good match on their own, so they need a good finish and need to gimmick their way around the limitations. Hogan winning cleanly is the bad option - it would kill interest in Hogan’s match for Wrestlemania because nobody will be able to get over to Andre levels to be believable. Andre winning with Hogan challenging at Wrestlemania is the most discussed scenario, but Dave wonders if they’ll mortalize Hogan. It’s a hell of a needle to thread.
At the time of writing, Rumble vs. Bunkhouse is one week away. Dave fully expects Crockett’s ppv to fail, based on all indications he has. Dave’s pessimistic about their ppv numbers and the number of homes they’ll clear, and they’ve done a terrible job at hyping things up. The fact of the matter is this: every cable company will compare their performance to WWF (an unfair comparison), and that’s just going to not look good for Crockett. Failure here will make it harder to get the Crockett Cup carried, especially if WWF puts the pressure on after Wrestlemania. One of the companies Dave has contacts with has given indication that the Bunkhouse Stampede isn’t selling at all with them, which is not a good sign.
The Midnight Rockers are AWA Tag Team Champions. The December 27 match in Vegas ended with a double pin and the referee awarded the match to the Midnight Express. They’ve since announced that decision was overturned and the Rockers are champions. The real reason is that the Midnight Express have quit the AWA. Randy Rose wasn’t making enough money and wanted a guaranteed contract to keep him coming up from Georgia, and Condrey (who had a guaranteed contract) got his contract cut. So Condrey quit immediately, and Verne apparently didn’t want to keep using them so he didn’t even want to bring them back to do the job. Dave’s not sure where Paul E. Dangerously stands in this, but he’s heard stories indicating he’s still with them and that he’s split from them. Either way, he wasn’t at the most recent AWA taping. The Rockers are still mostly wrestling in Memphis, but expect that to change soon.
Good news for Crockett: their tv ratings seem to have stopped dropping and they might be rebounding. Their syndicated package has returned to the top 15 (coming in at number 14, two spots behind the All-Star Wrestling Network package which has 65 fewer stations it’s available on). So it’s good for Crockett that they’re improving, but that comparison to the ASW network means there’s still lots of room for improvement. WWF came in fourth place with their syndicated package.
All Japan Women has a big challenge ahead of them as both Dump Matsumoto and Yukari Omori arintend to retire in the Spring. AJW has a retirement rule in place where wrestlers are expected/made to retire at 26, and Omori just turned 26 last week. Matsumoto is 27, but they had waived the rule for her due to her drawing power and because they had no one to take her spot as a top heel. So this past year was spent building Bull Nakano and Condor Saito for that role, and the goal is to phase out Dump over the next two months. Dump, like Devil Masami, reportedly wants to continue wrestling and may tour North America. If used correctly, Dave believes she could make women’s wrestling in the U.S. and gain one of the biggest cult followings in all of wrestling. She’d need to be given the push and let completely loose for it to work, but “her gimmickry is such that she would actually get over more in the U.S. than in Japan.” Dave’s seen how Americans react to her in Japan and how they go to AJW shows just to see her (and more Americans go to AJW shows than go to either New Japan or All Japan), and he really thinks Dump has the potential to be among the biggest things going in America if she were to come over, on the same level as the Road Warriors. The Jumping Bomb Angels have been doing fantastically in WWF, so there could be a spot for Dump there. The only problem is it would mean phasing out most every American woman they have, because the only one they really have who can keep up is Leilani Kai. Anyway, Omori and Matsumoto retiring would mean five of the eight biggest draws for AJW would no longer be working there, leaving Bull Nakano, Lioness Asuka, and Chigusa Nagayo to carry things along as they try to develop new draws.
[Memphis] Another week, another week with neither Lawler nor Bill Dundee turning heel. Their January 11 match (ring vs. $5,000) ended in a ref bump and the visual was Dundee pinning Lawler, until Terry Taylor ran in and hit Dundee with a DDT, then beat up Lawler and the match was a no contest.
[Memphis] For January 18 they have Lawler putting up his ring against Curt Hennig’s AWA Title. Lawler’s talking about this as any kind of loss will result in Hennig getting the ring, and Dave wouldn’t be surprised if Hennig drops the belt, probably to drop it back to Hennig in Vegas in February at the next tv tapings.
[AWA] The last show in the Minneapolis Auditorium will be on February 4 and is being billed as Old Timers Night. They’re bringing in Dick the Bruiser, Kenny Jay, Leo Nomellini, Bronko Nagurski, Billy Robinson, Dr. X, Red Bastien, and Butch Levy for guest appearances, and Curt Hennig vs. Greg Gagne will be the AWA Title match. Otherwise the card is a mystery.
Nord the Barbarian’s car commercials have made him the most over wrestler in the Twin Cities after Hogan. AWA is, of course, afraid to push him too much lest he leave and it winds up hurting them. Nord doesn’t work dates outside Minnesota, even.
Due to the Winter Olympics coming to Calgary next month, Stampede’s going to have to move from their usual spot in the Pavilion. The Pavilion seats 2000 people, and their shows in February will be in a 1000 seat building.
Southern Championship Wrestling’s second tv taping drew 400 and had a couple highlights. Dick Slater said in a promo that when he was through with SCW he’d be more hated than Bill Watts. The other highlight was Bruiser BRody accidentally calling Grizzly Boone Grizzly Smith. The promotion’s figurehead president also confiscated Paul E. Dangerously’s mobile phone.
Global in Florida now has Gordon Solie doing tv for them. The Malenko brothers are the best workers, and Solie talks about how much the fans are booing those dastardly Russians even as they get nothing but cheers and are the most over guys in the promotion.
The UWF (Japan version) has folded and is closing up, and that’s the only real news in New Japan. The UWF was Akira Maeda and his friends negotiating as a group with New Japan and they had their own business office. With Maeda gone from New Japan, the group has dissolved and been fully absorbed into NJPW. Kazuo Yamazaki is being kept on, and Maeda will probably return in the future. UWF guys will now stop wrestling a different style and won’t sell UWF merchandise at shows anymore.
[New Japan] Inoki and Fujinami are teaming again. Dave finds this pretty unsatisfactory and indicative of how any success New Japan is having right now is in spite of their booking, not because of it. They teamed, feuded, never had a singles match, and are now teaming again all without the feud ever coming to anything or getting resolved. Irritating.
[World Class] The Freebirds (King Parsons, Terry Gordy, and Buddy Roberts) won the WCCW 6-man tag titles on January 4. The former champs were Kevin Von Erich, Steve Simpson, and Chris Adams. Matt Borne subbed for Kevin in the match as the Birds attacked Von Erich backstage and left him injured, but he came out during the match to interfere and cause a disqualification. And in WCCW titles change on disqualification, so yeah. Anyway, extra funny for Dave is how pointlessly they lied on commentary in the match where Kevin, Steve, and Chris won the titles on Christmas in the first place. They called it the finals of a tournament being held around the country over the past several months, but everyone knows Simpson was out for several months because of a torn retina and only just came back. Not to mention the other guys involved who were either in Japan, not working for World Class, or otherwise occupied. Lying’s baked into the DNA of the business, but that doesn’t mean everything you say has to be a lie.
World Class is pushing Ken Mantell’s wrestling school hard on the air. They’re calling it the World Class Academy of Wrestling. It was formerly known as the UWF training center.
Mantell’s come up with a hell of a gimmick match idea, and it’ll be the feature on the January 22 Dallas show for WCCW: the Thunderdome match. It’s a ten man elimination tornado cage match pitting Kevin & Kerry Von Erich, the Fantastics, and Chris Adams against the Freebirds, Jack Victory, and John Tatum. There are five sets of handcuffs in each corner, and when a man gets pinned he gets handcuffed to the ropes. When all five members of a team are cuffed, the winners get the keys and can uncuff their guys, after which the referee will leave the ring and they get five minutes to beat up the cuffed and defenseless losers. Dave thinks this sounds like a great match concept and expects a sellout on the strength of it (and no, as much as he’s been ragging on WCCW, there’s no sarcasm there at all - he’s genuinely positive on this).
Word this week on WCCW’s ownership is that Mantell owns 30%, but the company’s been restructured and he’s Managing General Partner and calls all the shots. Fritz has called at least one shot, though so…
Steve Corey had been helping revive WCCW’s business with spot shows, but some of his ideas lately have been not great. He recently promoted one in combination with a Martina Navratilova vs. Chris Evert-Lloyd tennis exhibition, and Dave thinks there can’t be anything dumber than trying to put in one show a women’s tennis exhibition with pro wrestling. Fortunately the tennis players balked and the show wound up canceled, but jeez.
**Last note from WCCW: on the January 4 show they had Brian Adias and Frankie Lancaster vs. Missing Link and Bill Irwin in a first blood match between Wild West and WCCW representatives. Link and Irwin won, and Bill Mercer went on and on about how it was a win for Wild West over World Class, which has Dave thinking at least Crockett did one thing right with their UWF vs. NWA angle. There Crockett had NWA win and come out on top and look superior, which was stupid, but smarter than scuttling Wild West, then having Wild West look better than World Class anyway. The galaxy brain move would have been to not mention promotions at all.
WWC from Puerto Rico now airs on channel 41 out of Patterson, New Jersey in the New York area.
Dave got a line-up for a January 9 card in Pasadena, Florida for “Women’s Championship Wrestling.” Wendi Richter was listed as world champion, and Luna (Vachon) and Lock (Wenona Littleheart) are there as The Daughters of Darkness.
Dave’s calling off his hunch about Lawler winning the AWA Title in the short term.
[NWA] Dick Murdoch has a great match with Nikita Koloff. That alone is a big surprise, but he’s also giving hilarious promos and has become the highlight of the promotion. Dave doesn’t think their February 6 barbed wire match will be as good, but he’s pleasantly surprised about Murdoch putting on his working boots.
[NWA] Barry Windham vs. Tully Blanchard for the Western States Title on January 15 (to air January 23) was awful. It went almost half an hour, and 17 minutes in they did a bit where Barry injured his leg and limped for the rest of the match. Near the end, he did a flying clothesline and the referee counted to two before stopping, expecting the bell to ring for a time limit draw. But the bell didn’t ring. So he looked at a replay and called for the match to resume, only for Flair and Arn to run in, with Luger running in to make the save, with the Horsemen beating Luger up and wanting Windham to join them. Several fans jumped the rails and ran into the ring to attack the Horsemen and had to be dragged out, and in the end Luger and Windham shook hands. Dave says scrap any notions of Windham being the fourth horseman (he considers that Steve Williams probably has too many Japan commitments, and that really just leaves Ron Garvin which won’t happen), because it looks like they have no candidates lined up. Au contraire, Dave. They’re just slow-burning Windham’s heel turn. Wait until April.
Once again we have a letter asking for coverage of POWW and GLOW. There’s more space in the issues now that Dave’s gone to two columns, so coverage of them and of more international wrestling from England, South Africa, and Mexico would be welcome. Seems like Dave’s got a small, but vocal subset of subscribers clamoring for more coverage of women’s wrestling at home as well as abroad.
Roddy Piper’s The Highwayman pilot is going to be picked up. Piper is probably not going to be involved in the series going forward, though. In other news, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and Lex Luger were in a pilot for Canadian tv called “Learning the Ropes.” It’s about Lyle Alzado (who was also involved in the pilot for The Highwayman and also won’t be involved in the series going forward) as a single father schoolteacher with two kids who works as a wrestler on the weekends. They made four pilots and it’s set up as a half hour sitcom. Not sure yet if it’ll be picked up, but the letter writer who gives us these bits of info about these projects promises to let us know if she can find out.
Roddy Piper is also going to be the lead in John Carpenter’s next movie, which is a great sign for him having a future in Hollywood. It’s a little movie called They Live.
Iron Sheik appears to be returning to WWF. Dave expects him and Bubba Rogers to debut on the January 26-27 tapings.
Wrestlemania IV won’t be at the Superdome. Dave’s not sure where it will be, but the Superdome, Kingdome, and Silverdome are all booked for the NCAA basketball tournament. Dave’s been told they’ll be at a 20,000 seat arena, but only a few know for sure and they’re keeping their lips sealed.
Joel Watts (son of Bill) quit WWF’s tv crew and is apparently getting out of the wrestling business. I’m gonna blindly blame Kevin Dunn.
THURSDAY:Bunkhouse Finals and Royal Rumble, NWA bleeding talent, Starrcade buyrate revised, and more
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. FUTURE YEARS ARCHIVE: The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
Dave’s been following wrestling for 17 years at this point, and sometimes it’s easy to think you’ve seen it all with that kind of experience. But after seeing All Japan Women live, he realized he’d seen nothing. The shows he saw during his trip to Japan had the best wrestling he’s ever seen, so much so that nothing before comes even close. The atmosphere and the action have Dave struggling to find words, and he’s just as dumbfounded by how good Chigusa Nagayo and Dump Matsumoto are at their jobs. 90% of AJW's audience is teenage girls, a demographic you don’t really see as a focal demographic over here, but to these girls the wrestlers are so over an American fan has to see it live to really get it. Dump’s the best heel in the world by a distance and as for Chigusa Nagayo: “the reaction she gets not only can’t be duplicated by any wrestler in this country (Hulk Hogan certainly comes the closest and at best his isn’t half as good) but you’d probably have to use Madonna or Bruce Springsteen at their peak for comparison. The crowd literally lives and dies with every move she makes.” At one show, the crowd were all crying, and then the main event of the 3-hour show was a fast-paced 50 minute match where every move was a high spot and the crowd never let up for the whole match.
Dave’s therefore changing his vote for Wrestler of the Year to Chigusa Nagayo. He’ll still vote for Hogan for best babyface, since Hogan has broader appeal and is a bigger draw, but Chigusa's sheer level of overness with AJW fans and her skill are huge. Strictly in terms of business and drawing power Hogan should win Wrestler of the Year, and should have won 1985-1986 as well (Ric Flair won those years in landslides). Dave personally figures ring-work for 60% of the equation, with impact at the box office to be 40%. Dave will not be putting Flair in his top three for Wrestler of the Year, even though his promos and ring-work merit it. Allowing his drawing power to be cut so hard and the destruction of his perception among the marks when he has the ability to call the shots about his presentation means he doesn’t deserve to be considered for Wrestler of the year at all this year (Riki Choshu winds up winning for 1987, breaking Ric Flair's 5 year streak).
A lot has changed during the week Dave was in Japan. Fritz Von Erich sold WCCW. Ken Mantell and a group with him have bought the company, and there are conflicting stories about the exact breakdown of the ownership (Dave keeps hearing either 30% or 51% of the stake is owned by Mantell), but Texas newspapers are reporting Fritz is out entirely and Mantell now signs the checks. Kevin and Kerry still own a lot of the company, so they’ll still get big pushes. Mantell still owns Wild West Wrestling, and the plan for now seems to be to run both promotions. That’s not going to be good for them in the long run, since they’re competing in the same area of Texas. Expect a merger when they figure that out. A lot of guys are returning to World Class now that Mantell’s in charge, like Missing Link, Bill Irwin, Terry Gordy, and Buddy Roberts. Looks like Fritz finally wanted out of the business, because everything suggests he contacted Mantell. Mantell was the booker for World Class during their heyday in 1983-84, so there’s obviously the hope he can rescue things, but his time in UWF in 86-87 saw him repeat the World Class booking from in UWF and it didn’t work and killed business enough that Bill Watts had to sell to Crockett. If he tries to relive 1983 in 1988, it’s not going to work. If he can build new stars and remove the focus on the Von Erichs, there’s a chance of World Class becoming a major power again.
The February 1988 issue of Penthouse will do a story on the Von Erichs. Dave doesn’t know what’ll be in the story, but Fritz is apparently worried about it and how it will portray him.
Kazuharu Sonoda, who teamed with Great Kabuki in World Class and would sometimes play the Great Kabuki character when the real Great Kabuki was double booked, died in an airplane crash on November 29. He was 31 years old and had been in the business since just after he turned 18. The airplane had a fire in the cargo hold that caused it to break up in mid air and killed all 159 on board. Sonoda’s trip to South Africa was to be a working honeymoon as a gift from the Great Kabuki - Kabuki was sending him in his stead to do a tour under the Great Kabuki name and gimmick and enjoy a vacation at the same time. Raja Lion, the 7’2” supposed martial arts champion working for Baba, was also supposed to be on the same plane, but canceled at the last minute and avoided disaster himself.
No numbers yet for Starrcade and Survivor Series. Starrcade did sell out in Chicago and drew well on closed-circuit on the East coast, but the Crocketts seem disappointed by the final gate. Dave speculates slightly more than $1 million for the final gate. While he was in Japan, Dave heard Survivor Series did $4 million, which sounds reasonable but he can’t vouch for the accuracy of it. What Dave can say is that Survivor Series was definitely a financial success in addition to being good. In terms of impressions of the shows, Dave’s heard from hundreds about Starrcade and the reaction has been mixed. Many thought it was great. There was near universal dissatisfaction with the UWF Title match. And the TV title unification was largely unpopular, which Dave blames on the build up ruining the match. Dave has heard that the UWF Title match was different from what it was supposed to be, which restores a little of Dave’s faith in Dusty as a booker. The majority was disappointed, and about 20-25% of responses said the show was terrible. Dave falls in the disappointment camp. If it hadn’t been Starrcade, it would have been fine. But Crockett needed a great Starrcade, or at the very least to outperform WWF’s show in quality, and that did not happen.
Business is still not good coming out of Thanksgiving. Ted DiBiase and Hogan’s matches just aren’t drawing as much as they should. The Bunkhouse Stampedes have so far been disappointments at the gate, enough that Crockett needs to reevaluate their entire model or they’ll cease to be a major promotion entirely. The November 28 Saturday Night’s Main Event is the best life sign in these times: an 11.3 rating and a 30 share are what Dave has heard (not official), which would be the second highest rating the show has ever gotten and third highest rating for that time slot in tv history. TV ratings are the biggest indicator of public interest right now, so even if live crowds are down, this shows that WWF is still very interesting. They’re just not turning that into a rabid desire to be at the show. Crockett’s ratings are dropping, though, and they need to get fans watching tv again before they can worry about getting live attendance back up. In syndicated ratings, WWF gained viewers leading toward Survivor Series, while Crockett remains out of the top 15 and has a below 5.0 combined rating, putting them behind the AWA and Pro Wrestling This Week, which combined have a rating in the low 5s.
Dusty is throwing everything he can at the booking to break out of the fall, and that includes turning Lex Luger. Luger turned on December 2 at a Miami Beach Bunkhouse Stampede. The match came down to Luger, Arn, Tully, and J.J. Dillon. Dillon asked the others to let him win so he could go down in the record books as a stampede winner, and Arn and Tully eliminated themselves. Luger then threw Dillon over the top to win. Turning Lex is a good move, but Dave figures it’s the second best move they could have done and that’s the difference between Crockett and WWF - WWF generally goes with the best thing they can do, not the second best. Another year as a heel might have been good for Luger and helped him shore up his skillset, but Crockett is in desperation mode and needed to make a major move. And Luger has the potential to be a great face, and could make a lot of money for Crockett with Flair if they handle things right. But if nobody’s watching tv, it won’t matter how hot he gets as a face. Other major things happening to try and get things righted: Kevin Sullivan’s group with Rick Steiner, Mike Rotunda, and Steve Williams is one; another major turn is coming soon; lots of new angles that aren’t being spelled out yet. They’re going to change up their tv as well, but if the shows all remain basically duplicates that might keep ratings down and make them worse. And the plan is currently for every hour they tape to go to two different shows, with a different commentary team depending on which show. Nikita might do an interview with Gregory for the Florida show and then immediately do a simiar interview with JR for UWF. Dave thinks basically duplicating tv shows with only interviewer and announce team differences is going to tank ratings when fans figure it out. On the pus side, the shows have improved.
Paul Boesch has come out of retirement and is trying to rebuild the Houston market with Crockett.
New Japan and All Japan have concluded their tag tournaments. New Japan’s was in Osaka on December 7 in front of a crowd of 6,120 and shown live on tv. Fijunami & Kimura were tied for second with Masa Saito & Fujiwara and had to face them in a battle to determine who would face Inoki & Dick Murdoch in the final. The final was a bloody and excellent match, and Kimura bled a lot before he and Fujinami won. With Choshu and Maeda not involved, the tournament lacked interest.
The biggest story of the New Japan tournament happened on November 19 during a match between Choshu/Masa Saito/Hiro Saito vs. Maeda/Takada/Kido. Japanese Wrestling Journal reports that Maeda wouldn’t sell for Choshu at all and Maeda shot on Choshu. Choshu eventually figured out what was happening, and at one point Choshu had Kido in the Scorpion Deathlock when Maeda kicked him in the eye legit. Choshu went after Maeda, and the rest of the teams had to break it up. Eventually the match ended with Choshu pinning Takada with a lariat, and nobody knows why Maeda did it. The crowd was mostly UWF Japan fans, and they cheered Maeda on the whole time because they wanted to see a shoot. This took both out of the tournament, and the Journal reports it destroyed the tournament and left Choshu with two broken bones under the eye.
The match was taped, but it’s understood that it will never air on tv and has caused a major PR shitstorm for New Japan. How do you explain suspending someone for a kick to the face to the public when that happens in every match? You can’t do it without going into the distinction between shooting and working and toward no semblance of kayfabe at all. Maeda has only kept his job because New Japan decided to spin an angle out of it. He’ll be punished and knocked down a few pegs and do a lot of jobs to keep his job, no doubt there. Seiki Sakaguchi believes Maeda’s style is hard for fans to understand and may be why ratings are so low, so they’ll be phasing down on Maeda’s shoot style. Dave believes Choshu and Saito was supoosed to be the winning team.
All Japan’s tournament final took place on December 11 before a crowd of 13,200. Jumbo Tsuruta and Yoshiaki Yatsu beat Brody and Snuka in the final, with Yatsu pinning Snuka after pulling a midair reversal of a dragon suplex.
Dusty Rhodes is “thinking” about retiring. For a long time, it’s been said Dusty was going to retire after Starrcade 1988, so this may be legit. Then again, Dusty saw how over Terry Funk got when he announced his retirement, and Dusty never misses a trick.
The winners of all the Bunkhouse Stampedes will participate in the big one on Januay 24 on ppv. Dave wishes them good luck on their first national ppv attempt, because they need it.
JCP ends too many tv shows with main events in progress. Dave’s not opposed to the idea in theory, since leaving your audience wanting is proven to work. But with where they are, they need to satiate their fans’ want for a little while.
Steve Williams hasn’t made his heel turn yet, but expect it before year’s end. Williams does introduce some problems, like contacting New Japan to add four weeks per year to his schedule, which now is up to 16 weeks. He’s been threatening to quit the NWA on and off for the past year but never goes through with it. So until something concrete happens, Dave’s not going to take it too serious. 16 weeks in Japan at the rate Williams gets paid is about $92,000, which isn’t bad for someone with 36 weeks of leisure time outside that.
JCP is full of injuries now. Rick Steiner has a separated shoulder. Barry Windham’s collarbone is broken, and Ricky Morton’s got a bum back.
The UWF Tag Belts have been forgotten. No idea what the status of the Sheepherders is, but they aren’t the champions anymore and the belts (along with the Florida tag belts) will simply no longer be referenced. Steve Keirn also quit the promotion, apparently to go to either Memphis or Global.
[Stampede] Jason the Terrible turned face and things are heating up and they’re selling out more often than not right now. Jason beat Zodiak in a mask match and unmasked Orton, who then left the territory. The Badnews Allen attacked Jason and sprayed paint through his mask into his eyes, before unmasking him.
Stampede are kayfabing Hiroshi Hase’s return to Japan as forced retirement due to injuries inflicted by Jason.
The Iran-Iraq war isn’t enough to stop pro wrestling in the Middle East. Foreign wrestlers are being kept out right now, though.
Curt Hennig had to be hospitalized after AWA’s show on November 28. He was wrestling Wahoo McDaniel in an Indian Strap Match for the title when Adrian Adonis interfered and used a knife to cut the strap, but wound up cutting Curt’s finger. Somehow this wound up with Curt getting disqualified over the interference (I guess since Adonis was attempting to act on his behalf), and it was thought for a bit that he might lose some of the finger.
AWA was supposed to do the tournament for their women’s title on November 28, but have delayed it. Instead, Madusa pinned Bambi in a shitty match and the tournament final is scheduled for December 27 in Vegas. Madusa vs. Candi Divine.
Verne Gagne and Larry Hennig will not be wrestling on the Christmas show for AWA. It’ll be Greg vs. Curt with Verne handcuffed to Larry at ringside.
WCCW’s Christmas card is shaping up. Al Perez vs. Kerry Von Erich for the world title will headline. No second guesses who wins there. The Six-man tag titles will return as well.
The big question for WCCW is how they handle the return of Lance. He’s under contract with David Manning to work independents and eventually Manning’s promotion if he can get it off the ground, but in the meantime he was working for Wild West. No idea what Manning’s relationship with the new WCCW will be like, so who knows what Lance will wind up at.
WCCW’s Thanksgiving show drew 6,000 at Reunion Arena in Dallas. It’s less than Dave had anticipated (ticket prices were way down - general admission was $5 for adults and $3 for kids). Kerry’s comeback match (he’d been back for several weeks, but don’t expect honesty from Von Erich promotion) was 57 seconds against Thing, then Brian Adias, and finally a non-title match against Perez. He won all three matches. Perez then lost another non-title Texas Death Match against Kevin.
Memphis unified all their singles titles in a tournament on December 7. They had Lawler (Southern Champion), Jeff Jarrett (Mid American Champion), and Manny Fernndez (International Champion) in, and the goal was to get rid of all the titles and declare a Continental Wrestling Association Champion. They’re still recognizing Curt Hennig as World champion, so this isn’t a world title. Lawler beat Jarrett then beat Fernandez by DQ to win the tournament.
The Rockers are the Southern tag champs in Memphis and have turned heel. Their reputation for being great workers is clashing with the reports of them in Memphis as basically doing almost nothing in Memphis. After seeing their work in Alabama, Dave thought they just had an ego and thought they were too good for the area. Folks in Memphis are blaming it on their wild partying. Fans weren’t going for them as faces anymore due to their cocky interviews and because they see the Rockers as ripoffs of the Fabulous Ones (a comparison Dave does not get in the slightest), so they needed to be turned.
World Organization Wrestling in Florida are talking about running shows in direct competition with Memphis wrestling. One of the guys they’ve got is a muscular guy managed by Don Fargo by the name of Bob Holly.
Former Kansas State footballer and wrestler Curtis Hughes (the future Mr. Hughes of WCW/WWF) has been refereeing in Alabama and is training to start wrestling.
Shunji Takano (Ninja in Oregon) was on trial in mid November for allegedly hitting a fan with his nunchucks in Eugene, Oregon back in July. He was found guilty and fined $250. His jail sentence was suspended and he has been instead sentenced to community service.
Dave doesn’t know what’s aired and what hasn’t, so here’s what he knows about the DiBiase/Hogan program. DiBiase offers Hogan “7 figures” for the World Title, and Hogan considers it and says he could help his family with the money, but he turns down the offer because he can’t let down the Hulkamaniacs. Then DiBiase makes an agreement with Heenan and Andre that if Andre wins the title, he’ll sell it to DiBiase and get the deal Hogan turned down. Dave thinks the idea of buying/selling the belt is stupid, but it’s less stupid with WWF since they don’t pretend to be a sport. This would be worse in NWA. Anyway, this should all be building toward Wrestlemania and Hogan’s scheduled to leave for a few months to film a movie after Wrestlemania, so rumors will fly that Andre will beat Hogan and sell out to DiBiase. It’d be the first time in WWF history the belt was around the waist of a great wrestler, at least.
WWF taped the Saturday Night’s Main Event for January 2 in front of 11,000 fans. The attendance has to be a disappointment considering the hype. Hogan beat Bundy again, which led to Andre attacking and stealing the belt before beating up several other faces and even no-selling Duggan’s 2x4. Strike Force beat the Bolsheviks in two straight falls to keep the tag titles, Jake Roberts beat Sika (who’s back because Killer Khan disappeared and they needed a foreign guy, and whatever got Sika fired was apparently not major enough to make them forget about him), and Greg Valentine beat Koko B. Ware.
A source at the last MSG show said the Jumping Bomb Angels got twice the reaction for their match as Savage did for his. Dave isn’t sure WWF will ever get a number 2 face over enough he can draw gates on his own. Aside from Rock/Austin falling in their lap and doing just that through sheer force of will, I think this is something they never did figure out.
That’s the length of a regular issue, but this is a double and Dave is going to tell us about his trip to Japan for the next ten pages. It’s a fascinating place. Nobody knows who Joe Montana is, but everyone knows Abdullah the Butcher. Wrestling is big business in Japan, and they tend to set the trends that come to the U.S. several years later. Toys, action figures, records, even Hulkamania were a big deal in Japan well before anyone in the U.S. envisioned it. Vince McMahon gets a lot of credit as a genius in marketing pro wrestling, but he toured Japan several times before 1984 and recreated what they had there. Hogan as an American hero is just the American version of Inoki, with just as big an ego. The albums, t-shirts, action figures, and the rest are all extensions of what Japan had from the 70s on. Vince’s failed attempts to push women’s wrestling came as a result of seeing that they could do big business in Japan. The only thing Vince hasn’t copied from Japan is the work ethic of the wrestlers.
While wrestlers in Japan are on tv commercials and talk shows all the time, that doesn’t make the industry stable. Dave’s first trip to Japan was in December 1984, and a lot has changed since then. All Japan was on top and clearly outclassed everything else, and while New Japan was suffering from its arrangement with WWF it still had a big audience on tv. The Crush Gals were the rock & wrestling idols of Japan for the teen set, and their posters were all over record stores and merch available everywhere. Dave didn’t go to an All Japan Women show in 1984 and regrets that deeply, but in every record or book store he went to, the Crush Gals’ popularity was inescapable.
Compared to UWF and Crockett in 1987, it’s hard to look at Japan as in a bad way, but this year’s trip was different. In Tokyo there were ten stores that catered specifically to wrestling fans back in 1984, compared to five now. Only three weekly magazines are left standing and one monthly, and the monthly is strictly joshi. The Chigusa Nagayo and Riki Choshu calendars are around, but gone are the Crush Gals, Tiger Mask, Stan Hansen, and Choshu records and the posters of the joshi. The most they found was a new 45 by Fujiwara. The lack of the joshi posters is probably due to idol culture in Japan, where they can take a teen, turn her into a rock star, and spit her out in two years. Nearly every teen idol name Dave remembers from his trip three years ago has disappeared from the stores and replaced with new 17-year-olds. The fact that Chigusa Nagayo has managed to increase in popularity and maintain a hold in the mainstream now that she’s 23 has to do with, in Dave’s mind, her improvement of her wrestling to become the best there is in the entire business.
If wrestling has declined over the past few years in Japan, that doesn't mean it’s not still the ultimate experience for a fan. The sheer volume of wrestling coverage is unfathomable to an American. The daily newspaper had a full page devoted to Starrcade and Survivor Series, while American newspapers ignored the results. The death of Kazuhau Sonoda was the lead story in several newspapers, and even though he was just a mid-card guy his death was covered more than American newspapers would cover the hypothetical of Hogan going down in a plane crash. Dave spends a lot of time going over the Japanese wrestling magazine landscape. He managed to work out a deal on getting a lot of magazines to bring back to America for people to be able to buy cheaper than by import subscription.
Dave talks at length about the presentation of wrestling and the fan demographics in Japan. It’s much more sports-like in presentation, and lack the surreal characters, skits, promos, etc. that attract audiences in the U.S. Ticket prices are higher in Japan with the cheap seats as low as $16 (the bigger shows cost $75 for ringside). So the audience is wealthier and more white collar than in the U.S. In the major cities, the fans are almost entirely boys and men between the ages of 15-30. The audience grows older in smaller towns, accounting for the continuing popularity of guys like Baba and Inoki.
He next explains the basics of men’s wrestling in Japan: what New Japan and All Japan are, who their big stars are, etc.. All Japan is more reliant on foreign stars and New Japan relies more heavily on feuds between Japanese wrestlers. He compares Inoki to Dusty, in that he’s popular and pushes himself high on the card, and hardcore fans don’t like him much but unlike Dusty he’s really considered a legend by everyon in Japan. That is one of four reasons people in Japan gave Dave for why New Japan has been suffering in the ratings. The other big reasons are that Japanese culture is still interested in seeing the Japanese prevail over the big, monstrous Americans and New Japan has almost none of those. There’s also a feeling that New Japan’s style is perhaps too esoteric and too heavy on submissions for the casual fan to catch on to. Lastly, they aren’t fans of people changing jobs and bouncing between promotions. Nobody minded when Choshu jumped to All Japan in 1984 because he said a lot of things about Inoki that fans took as true. Jumping back to Inoki purely because he wanted more money and thus breaching contract and making a whole legal thing of it has not been received well in Japan, though, and the jump is popularly felt to have almost killed wrestling in Japan.
The five New Japan shows Dave went to while in Japan made good money at the gate, but the big issue is tv. TV-Asahi has lost interest due to bad ratings and have turned down the request to host the Crockett Cup in April, and New Japan’s tv is in danger of being moved to midnight Mondays or off the air entirely. Landing an afternoon slot on the weekend would be the best goal.
The tv ratings issue is pushing Inoki to try some wild things, the most controversial of which is currently an angle involving a comedian named Mr. Takeshi. Takeshi was once the most famous comedian in the country and is analogous to a Don Rickles or Johnny Carson now, and he’s doing a Cyndi LaupeAndy Kaufman type of angle with Inoki, saying he’s putting together a group to beat Inoki, with a probable end point of a Tokyo Dome show in April. New Japan’s fanbase hate this angle. But New Japan needs to hope the fans stick around and they can get new eyes on the promotion and convert them to fans. It’s the same gamble Vince made with Cyndi Lauper and Mr. T, and it helped cement Hogan. Masa Saito is involved with Takeshi in the storyline and the first involvement of Takeshi will be at the December 27 show, with Takeshi being given the role of bringing over a massive guy named Leon White in as Saito’s partner against Fujinami and Kimura.
All Japan is more stable than New Japan right now. Choshu leaving certainly hurt them, but they’ve recovered and are doing steady business now that Tenryu is hitting his stride as a heel. Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher returning has been a big boon. Tv ratings arent spectacular, but they’re safe and doing better than New Japan (New Japan’s range from 6-9, All Japan sits in a consistent 11-12 range).
The last promotion Dave covers is All Japan Women, and he finds it hard to explain. The best explanation he can give is this description of an event on December 6 at Korauken Hall:
about 2,400 teenage girls log-jammed in an 1,800 seat building breaking every fire law known to mankind. It was the best live card I’ve seen in at least three years and the main event was by far the greatest match I’ve ever seen live. In fact I’d say without question it was better than any match ever held in the United States in the history of this business. It was a 12-girl tag team match with the most falls before curfew deciding the winner, and he rates it 5 stars. The match went 50 minutes of nothing but high spots and the crowd was screaming at about double the level of a Hulk Hogan posing routine for the entire time. When Chigusa Nagayo was squaring off against Lioness Asuka, the roar was louder than you’d here [sic] in the seventh game of an NBA championship series with 18 seconds left and the home team down by one. I’ve never experienced anything like the energy that comes out of the crowd, and the girls in the ring worked every bit as hard as the crowd. The girls are on TV on the Fuji network and while they consistently draw 7s plus on Saturday afternoons, the week we were there they drew an 11.3 rating. To give you an example of the popularity of this group in Japan--that rating for one show is higher than the rating of all McMahon’s syndicated shows in the United States put together. In fact, it’s roughly the same as the rating that McMahon’s best Saturday Night Main Event NBC special drew, so when I compare the importance of Chigusa with Hulk Hogan it is not an outlandish statement at all.
Despite putting on the best wrestling in the world, AJW’s audience is almost 100% teenage girls. They live and breathe Chigusa Nagayo. The fans who go to men’s cards don’t go to women’s cards in Japan, and the fans and reporters Dave met could not understand why he and his group were so interested in an AJW card. There’s a negative stigma about women’s wrestling in Japan among the fans, probably because the show is designed to appeal to a teen girl’s interests. But it wouldn’t surprise Dave if AJW was as profitable as any other major promotion. They have the ratings (Japanese promotions are paid by their networks, rather than the other way around like in the U.S.) and more importantly, they have major merch - about 15 minutes before the show mentioned above, only 150 people were seated. But then one of the guys Dave was with pointed him to the lobby, and about 1,500 girls were buying all of the merch. Videos, cassettes, posters, keychains, purses, wallets, Dump Matsumoto gym shorts, shopping bags, books, programs, streamers - you name it, they were buying it. Given ticket prices, Dave estimates the gate at about $75,000, and they probably more than doubled that with merch and concessions. There were also other Americans at the AJW show, which you don’t see as much at men’s cards. Based on American reactions to Dump Matsumoto, Dave believes if she were given quality opponents and allowed to work without restriction, she’d make women’s wrestling huge in the U.S. She and Chigusa have drawn several times gates of more than $200,000 (Crockett only did that twice this year - the WarGames matches in Atlanta and Miami, and Hogan did it about a dozen times this year).
The main attraction of the show was that it was Devil Masami’s retirement show. AJW has a mandatory retirement age of 26 (only Dump Matsumoto has been granted an exception by the promotion), and Masami turns 26 on January 7. Dave’s not clear on the reasons, but he figures it probably goes back to the idol culture thing - promote them young, wring out every drop of marketability, spit them out and bring the next fresh crop in. It keeps the stars relatable to the audience, Dave supposes. Some argue that they like their female stars young and cute, but Dave doesn’t see that as a major reason if there’s no men in the audience. Masami’s final match was a five minute exhibition with Chigusa, and the crowd went silent for it out of respect. Chigusa bumped for Masami for the most part, and in the final 45 seconds or so of the match, when Dave thought they’d turn on the intensity, both women broke down in tears together, and the crowd broke down with them. Masami is expected not to stay retired, but to leave Japan to continue her career.
Dave does note some positive things that come out of the age rule AJW has. For one thing, pro wrestling is part of pop culture, but pro wrestling promoters have a really bad understanding of pop culture. Some musical groups have long runs, but most groups that get hot don’t last long and the fizzle quick. The average run for any kind of teen heartthrob to last in pop culture is about two years. Hogan cannot simply sell out a building by showing up. The Rock & Roll Express and Road Warriors can’t draw big numbers by themselves anymore. By having the age rule, AJW forces the constant development and pushing of new talent to the top, which keeps things from getting stale. It keeps you from having a Dusty Rhodes who is still popular and somewhat legendary, but turns other people off. Dave isn’t in favor of the rule at all or any kind of mandatory retirement - he’d still love to watch Bockwinkel or Masa Saito five days a week, but it’s undeniable that the business has been hurt by guys staying long past their prime and using what political power they have to stay on top. It’s hurt by promotions who don’t build stars and only think about the upcoming card, never realizing you need to sometimes tear the whole business down and rebuild and freshen things up to keep alive in the long run.
Anyways, Dave runs down some of the key wrestlers in AJW and talks about them. You’ve got Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo, Dump Matsumoto, the Jumping Bomb Angels, Yukari Omori (nearing retirement age), Yumi Ogura and Kazue Nagahori (both very young and coming up as a top babyface team), Bull Nakano (19 years old and already a top tier worker), and Condor Saito.
Dave then gives complete results and ratings for every card he saw during his trip. I’ll stick to negative stars and 4+ star matches for matches of note. December 11 All Japan had Tenryu/Hara vs. Hansen/Gordy go to a double count out in the tag tournament. 4.5 stars. December 6 AJW had Dump Matsumoto vs. Yukari Omori go to a double count out. 4.5 stars of an absolutely bloody match that went all around the arena and included a fork (American fans started cheering Dump after she got out the fork, and she blew them kisses in response, though Dave makes a shitty joke about Americans cheering for a fork after having to use chopsticks). The 12-woman tag match mentioned above gets 5 stars and is the best thing Dave’s ever seen live. December 3 New Japan has Shiro Koshinaka & Kazuo Yamazaki & Keiichi Yamada beat Hiro Saito & Norio Honaga & Kensuke Sasaki in a six man match. 4.5 stars. They had another 6 man the next night where Yamazaki & Nobuhiko Takada & Yamada beat Hiro Saito & Honaga & Dynamite Chris. 4.5 stars. Antonio Inoki & Dick Murdoch vs. Masa Saito & Fujiwara went to a 30 minute draw on the same show. 4 stars. Lastly, New Japan saw Fujinami & Kimura beat Masa Saito & Fujiwara in the tournament semi-final on December 7. 4 stars.
Watch: Hansen/Gordy vs. Tenryu/Hara THURSDAY (last issue of 1987):1987 in review, Observer expanding to two columns of text per page, WWF riding high, projections for 1988, on the importance of PPV, and more.
2020.01.30 18:05 SaintRidleyWrestling Observer Rewind ★ Aug. 10, 1987
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. FUTURE YEARS ARCHIVE: The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
”It’s unusual when the result of a match is the top story of the week, but it isn’t everyday [sic] that Bruiser Brody gets pinned. Brody went down for the three count on July 27 against Abdullah the Butcher in Fort Worth. It’s the first time he’s been pinned in nearly seven years (fans today would be dying if Roman Reigns or Okada, or Becky Lynch or someone went almost seven years between being pinned). Dave figures this streak is probably one of the longest of its kind in wrestling history. The match was a cage match with no disqualifications and Abby’s Brass Knuckles championship at stake. For the finish, Brody had Abby pinned, but Gary Hart got on the apron and Brody fought with him through the cage, which allowed Abby to hit him with a foreign object to the throat to get the pin. Dave figures this must be setting up another cage match in the future at a big show - maybe the Labor Day show in Fort Worth.
Going off that, there are only four wrestlers active today who are in a position where they do no jobs at all: The Road Warriors, Hogan, and Riki Choshu. Hogan’s last job (a submission in the middle of the ring) was 5½ years ago to Antonio Inoki (who had a five year streak of his own until this past June, when he took the fall in a tag match to Masa Saito). Choshu’s last job was three years ago and to Inoki as well. The Road Warriors did their last job just under two years ago, losing the AWA tag belts to Jim Garvin and Steve Regal (to clarify, AWA’s Steve Regal is not a real man’s man). Andre, surprisingly, did his last job before Wrestlemania only ten months earlier, also submitting to Inoki in June 1986. Andre’s last job before that was in February 1984 when El Canek pinned him in Mexico City, and that was the first job Andre did since getting pinned by Inoki about six years previous. For contrast, Ric Flair’s last job was against Dusty Rhodes (pinfall) a few weeks ago in Greensboro, and he’s also lost falls in tag matches but isn’t doing that anymore, it seems.
Corrections - Dave had some errors regarding Houston last week, including some names he erroneously said were coming in to WWF. First, August 28 will indeed be Paul Boesch’s last card at Sam Houston Coliseum, but they aren’t (yet - next week this changes) advertising the show as Boesch’s retirement. You’d think they’d make a big deal of him, since he’s been a fixture of Houston wrestling for almost 40 years, but no. Anyway, several of the wrestlers coming to work that show are being booked as independent workers, not being brought into the WWF as part of the roster, and that means Tom Prichard, Mark Lewin, and Jim Duggan are only scheduled for this show. Tony Atlas is being brought in for this show as well. There are no plans whatsoever, Dave’s told, to bring Duggan back. Notable matches will include Hogan vs. One Man Gang, Sherri vs. Moolah, Duggan vs. DiBiase, Bruno vs. Hercules Hernandez, and Beefcake vs. Johnny V in a hair match. With the update on Duggan, Dave thinks it’s a major mistake if Crockett doesn’t hire him ASAP. Negative press has blown over and he has a huge following in UWF cities and is now known nationally thanks to his short WWF run.
[WWF] Dave really hates Mr. T. “In 1986, when Mr. T nearly single-handedly made a travesty out of Wrestlemania II, there were many of us who thought that pro wrestling would be rid of this egomaniacal idiot. Thankfully, it took 15 months before Titan forgot that in almost every city, the fans cheared its No. 1 heel, Roddy Piper, instead of this supposed media-made face and that the card was hardly a box-office success.” Tell us how you really feel, Dave. Mr. T has been back as a referee for WWF for two weeks, and while Dave can’t say he’s been an anti-draw, it’s clear he’s not putting asses in seats and now even WWF can see it. His return to WWF a couple weeks ago in Toronto drew 6000 fans, which sounds good except it’s the lowest they’ve drawn in Toronto in years (the card was weak, so Dave can’t blame T for that). Dave goes through attendance numbers and every show except the July 24 Baltimore show had him refereeing Savage vs. Honkytonk and the crowd being well below average. So once this tour is done, that should put an end to Mr. T’s time in wrestling. At the same time, it raises big questions on Savage’s ability to draw as a babyface, though that probably shouldn’t be judged until he makes his official return.
WWF’s MSG show on July 25 was a big success, drawing 18,100 paid and $221k at the gate. Ricky Steamboat main evented against Honkytonk, and it’s the biggest crowd and gate for WWF since Wrestlemania. Dave will have a complete report next week.
On wrestlers in Hollywood, Roddy Piper has just started or is about to start filming his third movie in Rome. It's titled Buy and Cell and stars Robert Carradine. Lou Albano is doing a movie with a bunch of no-names called Complex World, and Pat Roach (an English wrestling star from the 70s) is in a movie directed by Ron Howard called Willow. Roach has a regular role in the tv show Robin Hood as well. Dave figures Piper’s continued steady work in Hollywood means time to return to wrestling and do anything meaningful is limited, if he even wants to come back.
[JCP/NWA] July 31 saw the Great American Bash tour end with a bang. An announced crowd of 17,251 (probably around 16,000 in reality) and probably a record gate for wrestling at the Orange Bowl. Barry Windham did an amazing carry job with a guy called Incubus who is absolutely terrible, but with Windham was able to have an almost average match. Kevin Sullivan and Dory Funk had a Texas Death Match that Sullivan won when Funk couldn’t answer the ten count and then they had a post-match brawl that went nearly as long as the match. Both bled buckets and it was good. WarGames 2 gets five stars from Dave. Everybody bled except Ellering and Luger, and Blanchard had the performance of the match. Bubba wound up submitting after six straight clotheslines.
[WCCW] The biggest surprise of the week is that Fritz Von Erich told the truth for once. The first time he ever told the truth was pretty funny - he said that telling the truth makes him look even stupider than if he had lied. Anyway, on the Ask Fritz segment of their tv show this past week, he answered a question about whether Lance Von Erich was really his nephew and said “I believe the boy’s real name is William Vaughn and he is in no way related to us and he can’t use that name anymore because I copyrighted it.” Dave finds it incredibly stupid, but also notes that it’s no coincidence he said this on the same weekend that Lance made his tv debut for Wild West Wrestling. And of course, no Von Erich coverage would be complete without noting how shitty a dad Fritz is, so another letter asked Fritz if his son Chris (currently a senior in high school) will go to college. Fritz’s answer amounted to something along the lines of how that would be “nice, but Chris already knows what he wants to do.”
It looks like WWF is planning a greater emphasis on women’s wrestling in the next few months now that Sherri Martel is in and champion (you might even call it a revolution). After a few (Dave prays for very few) rematches, maybe Moolah will even retire. She did hit Social Security collection age on July 21, after all. Dave’s heard that Devil Masami might be in for a tour soon and the Jumping Bomb Angels will return in the fall after having a very successful tour with WWF. They had the best match of the show on virtually every card they appeared on (not as big a compliment as it sounds, Dave notes). Additionally, Olympia from GLOW is training to wrestle for WWF and Les Thornton in Calgary has several prospective young women in his current class. The Crush Gals will not be brought in, though, as the WWF office thinks they look too boyish. Dave would have something negative to say about that except he’s gotten innumerable comments saying that the JB Angels “are so much better looking than those Crush Girls they had in last year.”
[WWF] Andre the Giant had back surgery more than a week ago. It’s uncertain if he’ll wrestle again, but what does seem certain is that he probably won’t be back any earlier than the winter.
[WWF] Tito Santana will be taking Tom Zenk’s place as Rick Martel’s tag partner. They’ll get a new name, something like Attack Squad or Strike Force (Dave got it right with the second one).
[WWF] Chief Jay Strongbow was hospitalized earlier this week for heart issues.
[Stampede] The Viet Congs have broken up. They lost the International tag titles to Brian Pillman and Bruce Hart on the July 24 show. Hart pinned Cong #2 (Shinji Sasazaki, who had knee surgery after the match). Sasazaki attacked Cong #1 (Hiroshi Hase) after the match, and another guy in a Viet Cong Express outfit attacked Hase as well. They referred to him as Viet Cong #3 and he was unmasked as Gama Singh. They unmasked Hase, who kept his face covered, and Keiichi Yamada ran in to make the save. Yamada teamed with Owen Hart against Gama and Mukham Singh in the main event, which saw Jerry Morrow interfere by low-bridging Yamada and piledriving him on the floor twice before all three heels ganged up on Hart, leading to Hase unmaked making the save. So for the July 31 show we have Hase/Yamada/Hart vs. the Singhs and Morrow.
The North American Wrestling Association out of Edmonton is not out of business, Dave was wrong about that last week. Dave Schults and Johnny Rods walked out on the promotion, but the Western Canadians are still working. They start tv in two weeks, and Dave got a copy of their tape early and he says it is the best wrestling program on the market today.
Making her pro debut for Wild West Wrestling on August 18 will be Robin Smith. She’s Jake Roberts and Sam Houston’s sister.
Kevin Von Erich’s two year old child was run over in an accident last weekend ago and is now out of critical condition. That same weekend, Kerry, his wife, his baby, and brother Chris were in a boat accident. Kerry crashed into a dam and all were thrown into the water. No serious problems, but Chris needed ten stitches for a cut on his head.
Adrian Adonis has arrived in AWA, managed by Paul E. Dangerously (who now uses a mobile phone as a gimmick). Adonis is still doing the gay act. His weight has ballooned and he’s said to weigh over 350 lbs now.
The only other major change in AWA are the return of Jerry Blackwell and that Madusa Maceli has replaced Sherri Martel as Kevin Kelly’s valet. If they can find another woman to work there, they’ll probably give her the AWA Women’s Title too. Dave says if she ever learns she has the potential to be an effective valet, but she’s green and really only has looks and the ability to act arrogant right now. And she’s trying to be Sherri Martel, which is not going to work for someone so green.
[Florida] Terry Funk appeared on the July 29 tv taping in Tampa during a Mike Rotunda Florida Title defense against Dory Funk. He attacked Rotunda with a branding iron and then Dory stole the belt and they did some off the wall promos.
[JCP/NWA] They’ve fired Dark Journey. Part of it was simple business, part of it was personality conflicts. Suffice to say, she never got much of a reaction in Crockett country and the booking idea of pairing Tully with a black valet for heat just didn’t work. Dave’s heard two stories - she’s either going to California and opening a shop of some kind or going to Texas to work with Ken Mantell’s Wild West promotion if she stays in the business. Spoiler alert: this is Dark Journey’s goodbye to wrestling. She’s going to California, where she’ll manage a clothing shop for a while before getting licensed as a massage therapist and also doing “colon hydrotherapy” and working as a naturopath in the L.A. area today.
Letters this week are all over the place. One is fantasy booking an angle where Vince brings in Hector Guerrero (who’s still doing a spaceman gimmick in Crockett) to face Hogan, with a whole elaborate angle (featuring Hogan attacked by aliens, Howard Finkel abducted and held hostage, Hogan refusing to negotiate with terrorists, and a stipulation that if Hogan loses Finkel will be disintegrated live on tv) that leads to proving that even Hector can be dragged down to a lousy match and beat with the leg drop.
The other big letter in this issue takes issue with Inoki’s ego. The writer cannot believe they tossed aside the angles they set up just to keep Inoki in the main event, and calls him a “slimmer version of Virgil Rhodes.
Otherwise the letters mostly focus on awards thoughts, one asking Dave to give up the disparaging nicknames like Junkfood Dog and Outhouse Jack, and one taking exception to Dave not naming names on WWF’s drug testing. That last writer feels that the readers of the Observer “should be entitled to this information” after the first test and that Dave is wrong for not wanting to print the names of drug suspensions. A final writer, who went to the Chicago Bash show, wonders about if all the blood in wrestling might be a vector for AIDS transmission and feels some caution must be taken.
The Midnight Rockers are wrestling at the August 8 WFIA convention against Doug Somers and Ken Timbs. There’s no word yet on where they’ll land, but Crockett already has Morton and Gibson, while WWF doesn’t seem to want them and AWA definitely won’t want them back. Looks like their prospects are pretty dried up.
UWF commissioner John Ayres signed a contract to play this season with the Denver Broncos.
NEXT ISSUE:Paul Boesch retirement show announced, Road Warriors meeting with McMahon, Vladimir Petrov convicted, and more
Stardom uploaded special training videos. One with Konami training Triangle Lancer variations with Wataru Inoue(featuring Saya iida), and one with STARS training with Milano Collection AT. Both are about half an hour. Most of the December 14th show in Yokohama is up. The Tag Team title match of Kyona & Konami Vs Starlight Kid & Riho is excellent. The Saki Kashima Vs Giulia match is very good as well. The December 15th show from Shinkiba 1st ring is still pending uploads. That one will have Hazuki's retirement gaunlet. Upcoming shows:
December 24th – Year End Climax from Korakuen Hall. Mayu Vs Kagetsu for the World title, Arisa Vs Konami for the Wonder title, QQ Vs Stars for the Artists Titles. Hana Vs Giulia. Hazuki’s retirement match Vs Natsuko Tora.
There’s no show this past weekend for TJPW. So no new uploads this week. Upcoming show:
December 22st - From Tokyo Art Center. This card will have special Christmas lottery matches. The main events will be 4 singles matches where the participates will be picked at random from a lot of 8 wrestlers. The eight wrestlers are: Yuka Sakazaki, Maki Itoh, Miyu Yamashita, Hikari Noa, Mizuki, Mina Shirakawa, Mikisei, and Suzume. There will also be a special Christmas lottery tag team match. Partners picked at random between Sakisama, Yuna Manase, Pomu Harajuku, and Miharu Kiryu. There are other matches on the card as well. Shoko Nakajima returns in a triple threat match with Nodoka Tenma and Haruna Neko.
December 27th - From Itabashi Green Hall. Yuka Sakasaki's birthday. Also Sakisama's last apperance for a while. She's returning to France. The only match announced so far is an 8 man tag.
January 3rd - From Basement MON*STAR. On Hyper Misao's birthday. A speaking event hyping up the big January 4th show. Free admission for those with January 4th tickets.
January 4th - From Korakuen Hall. It's the big TJPW card for the season. Princess Of Princess Title match - Yuka Sakazaki vs Miyu Yamashita. Princess Tag Title match - Tatsumi Rika & Miu Watanabe vs Tenma Nokoda & Yuki Aino. International Princess title match - Maki Itoh Vs Hikari Noa. Mizuki vs Thunder Rosa. Shoko Nakajima Vs Hyper Misao. Saki Akai vs Yuki Kamifuku. Six man tag - Aja Kong, Raku & Pom Harajuku vs Yuna Manase, Mina Shirakawa & Mikisei.
January 5th - From Itabashi Green Hall. The fall out of the big January 4th card.
Mio Momono's return show has been uploaded in two parts. Part one is free for everyone, and part two is for subscribers. This show also has Diana's Madeline for most of us that have never had a chance to see her wrestle before.
2019.12.17 18:18 SaintRidleyWrestling Observer Rewind ★ June 8, 1987
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. FUTURE YEARS ARCHIVE: The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
Rewinder note:No rewind posts next week or the week after, as I'll be traveling for the holidays. We'll resume after the new year on January 7.
The biggest story of the week is Jim Duggan and Iron Sheik arrested on drug charges. They were arrested at 2:20 pm on May 26 in Middletown New Jersey on their way to that night’s show. When pulled over they were discovered to have been smoking marijuana, and Duggan had been drinking a bottle of beer while driving. They further found more marijuana on Duggan and three grams of cocaine in Sheik’s shaving kit. They were released later that day and worked the show, but it also hit the news in several major cities. And since the two were in a major feud, this is doubly embarrassing to WWF that they were traveling and doing drugs together. News reports all had it that they’d been suspended, but WWF fired both later that week. Dave’s understanding is that Sheik is highly unlikely to work for WWF ever again (he’ll be back in February). Dave is more optimistic that Duggan will eventually be brought back, though he imagines it will require a character tweak. This is extra embarrassing for Duggan, because his home town of Glens Falls, New York was scheduled to have Jim Duggan Day this week. Also Jim Duggan Sr. is the chief of police in Glens Falls.
How fans will treat this is unknown, but in the long run, this should be pretty meaningless. The kayfabe issues here won’t be a big deal, because the fans who do believe choose to believe and will eventually forget about this. Some fans may lose confidence in wrestling, and this does hurt Duggan’s character, at least in the short-term. Dave doesn’t know if WWF had rules about faces and heels traveling together, but he’s pretty sure that’s not allowed anymore due to the high publicity of WWF’s guys. WWF has also begun fining faces and heels who drink together in public. While this will be forgotten soon (Hi past Dave, it hasn’t), it does serve as a reminder that wrestling is big enough right now that it can’t afford too much of these kinds of incident. Imagine if it were Hogan in Duggan’s place and the effect it would have on WWF.
WWF’s Director of Operations, Jim Barnett, attempted suicide this past week. There was a point where it was uncertain he’d make it following an apparent self-induced pill overdose. Barnett is one of the biggest names in the business. He graduated from Harvard and got in the business with Fred Kohler in Chicago in the early 50s, becoming one of the most powerful promoters in wrestling over the next 30 odd years. His reputation is one of being in the right place at the right time, and he had a knack for building up a promotion big in the short term before bailing out before burning out the territory. He and Kohler attempted a national promotion through their tv exposure on the Dumont Network in the early 50s, but when they lost tv that fell off. From there he went to Detroit and built them up before the bottom fell out in the early 60s, after which he went to Australia and supposedly made millions before leaving due to tax issues. He next went to Atlanta and ran Georgia Championship Wrestling in the 70s, before losing control of the promotion to Ole Anderson in the early 80s, after which he went to WWF right at the cusp of their initial moves toward going national.
New WWF hires this week include Rick Rude and the Midnight Rockers, both of whom were tag team champions with the NWA and AWA, respectively at the time of signing. Rude just up and disappeared this past week with no reason given and missed his NWA dates. Over in Crockett country, they subbed Vlatimir Petrov in for him on May 24, then announced Ivan Koloff was replacing him as Manny Fernandez’s partner on the May 26 taping. At both shows they announced Rude as injured, which will make them look like dopes if he debuts on WWF tv within the next two weeks. As for the Rockers, on May 25 they dropped the belts on their way out to Boris Zhukov and Soldat Ustinov, before debuting five days later by challenging the Hart Foundation to a title match. Rude probably won’t be a huge loss for NWA, but the Rockers were the biggest draw in AWA and WWF probably found them very appealing after Curt Hennig backed out of signing.
Over in Japan, the big story is that Genichiro Tenryu seems to want to leave All Japan. Tokyo Sports reported that Tenryu went to Baba several times wanting singles matches against his usual tag partners Jumbo Tsuruta and Hiroshi Wajima, but was refused, and so he’s looking to get out. Tokyo Sports speculates that if he leaves, many of the younger wrestlers will follow his lead out of loyalty to their friend. At this point more losses could well kill All Japan. Meanwhile, Riki Choshu is rumored to have approached Tatsumi Fujinami about starting a new promotion.
Regarding Piper’s appearance in Portland recently, Dave has seen the tape and thinks most of the rumors are unfounded. Piper wasn’t familiar with the angles or the younger wrestlers and just ranted and raved as usual, which made the show a lot better but makes no implication that he’s joining them regularly. The talk show interview also doesn’t seem to indicate much to Dave. Dave’s sure Piper will eventually return, but not as a promoter in the Portland circuit. Also, he broke his wrist 10 days before Wrestlemania and wrestled the match anyway because too much was on the line. He’s also recently filmed an ABC pilot with Lyle Alzado, a former NFL player. And speaking of wrestlers turned actors, by the time you read this you can see Jesse Ventura in the new movie Predator.
Dave finally got a new typewriter. Reading these issues just got ten times easier.
The tv tapings this week should give a good idea of how some of the new WWF hires will be used. DiBiase and Bigelow will be mostly in Japan until August, but with Duggan out and Jake Roberts undergoing surgery on June 4, there’s a lack of drawing babyfaces, so Savage may make his turn soon to fill that gap. The Rockers coming in is probably the end of any hope for Martel and Zenk as major team (and when Martel and Zenk came in, the Rougeaus were the team with the rocket). They just never got as over as hoped, and it’s obvious that WWF fans don’t really see tag teams as a draw but rather as interchangeable, so if the Rockers want to get over they’ll probably need to have a big breakout win early. Like the tag titles.
JYD and Paul Orndorff will be coming back to WWF in mid-June. Orndorff didn’t get the recommended surgery and just rested up for 11 weeks. To Dave’s surprise, they’re giving JYD another chance.
[UWF] Sting turned face at the May 31 tapings. He had a match with Terry Taylor, then got beat down by Taylor, Eddie Gilbert, and former partner Rick Steiner. Chris Adams made the save for Sting, so it’s looking like we have a new team and some potential feud configurations.
Missy Hyatt is back in UWF as of MAy 30. They’ve given her a Piper’s Pit format show, but this time they’ve put her in her element as “a heel bitch type.”
UWF had a big card on May 27 headlined by Ric Flair vs. Jim Garvin and a bunch of other big names but only drew $23,000. Dave wasn’t impressed until he realized they had 8 inches of rain and a tornado that night. The Tulsa show the next night had even more issues, as the weather kept Luger, Flair, Taylor, and Gilbert from making it, and they offered a $3 discount for seats at the next Tulsa show as a make-good.
WCCW drew a $9000 gate with 1100 fans on May 25, which is their best number in a few months. They had Kevin Von Erich saying he couldn’t believe Brian Adias would try to kill him in the ring a few weeks back, and Dave just can’t believe how low WCCW will go. Also Dingo Warrior is back and getting a push because they’re hurting so bad.
Congratulations to Mike Rotunda and his wife, because they just had a baby boy. This makes Blackjack Mulligan a grandfather. Yowie wowie.
Happenings in Florida: a bounty from Sir Oliver Huperdink on Ed Gantner (they love bounties in Florida), a Rotunda-Dory Funk match for the Florida title that was really good, rookie Johnny Ace getting a push, and lastly Kevin Sullivan’s promos have gone really weird. He’s started calling Dory Funk “Terry” and when asked about his match with Ed Gantner in Lakeland started talking about fighting Badnews Allen in Daytona Beach that night. Only, that match happened in February.
Jerry Jarrett’s CWA is clearly working with AWA, as he did an interview for AWA tv and Jeff Jarrett has been named AWA rookie of the year. Dave says Jeff may be the lightest wrestler anyone is attempting to push on a national level. Meanwhile, Tommy Rich was doing an autograph signing for some girls when one of them attacked him and it was Jerry Lawler in drag.
Not much news in AWA land, but we do get to look forward to Madusa Miceli challenging Sherri Martel for the women’s title on June 28.
Riki Choshu’s latest supposed debut date is June 12 against Tatsumi Fujinami. This match will be under the IWGP tournament final which will probably have Inoki and either Masa Saito or (Dave cannot believe he’s saying this) Konga the Barbarian, but it will have all the interest if it happens. Speaking of guys Dave can’t believe are going to be working New Japan’s July tour, Dingo Warrior is scheduled and is getting a big build up which shows how out of touch with the American scene New Japan is.
The opening night of All Japan’s latest tour did a terrible 4.7 rating on tv. Dave credits the worst lineup of foreigners in recent memory and a bunch of Japanese wrestlers with no charisma.
All Japan Women’s tv is consistently doing better ratings than the men lately. Unlike the men, women pro wrestlers will be eligible for the women’s amateur freestyle wrestling tournament on June 21, so AJW will be sending seven wrestlers for the tournament. Dave’s incredulous that a pro promotion, especially one as popular as AJW, would send their wrestlers to compete legitimately and potentially get beaten. 17-year old rookie Chiaki Ichikawa, who just made it through AJW’s grueling try-outs, is the odds-on favorite to win the whole thing. Get out of the way, Inokiism, Matsunaganity is running wild.
In other joshi news, Devil Masami is in her last year wrestling as she’s now 25 years old. Unless AJW makes an exception, she’ll hit mandatory retirement age when she turns 26. She’s planning to tour Canada in July. AJW has also recently had four injuries, including serious injuries to Bull Nakano and Liones Asuka. On May 22, Chigusa Nagayo and Yumiko Hotta wrestled Yumi Ogura and Kazue Nagahori for the latter’s tag belts in a best of three falls match that Dave is told is one of the best matches of the year. Also Shinobu Kandori has decided to unretire and will be rejoining JWP on May 27.
Owen Hart had a really good match in Stampede recently against Angel of Death. He put his North American Title on the line against Angel’s wager of $10,000 and won, but was then attacked by Jerry Morrow, who stole the money after headbutting Owen in the balls repeatedly. Owen won with a tombstone piledriver.
Observe this, brother: Dave is surprised that Stampede Wrestling acknowledges the Observer on air and in its programs. He never thought he’d see the day when a promotion would acknowledge the Observer.
Wrestling historian Tom Burke writes in about pro wrestling behind the Iron Curtain, as raised in a letter from the April 6 issue. The short answer for Cuba is no, but several Eastern Bloc countries have, including Poland, Hungary (where tournaments were held on Sunday mornings to try and counter the popular appeal of Sunday mass. Ross Hart wrestled in one of these tournaments), and Yugoslavia in the 1960s and 70s. Burke asks Dave if he ever foresees a return of regional promotions as the dominant force, as well as a return to “the art of wrestling” in terms of style. Dave doesn’t see it happening, because technology has come to wrestling and is necessitating the industry adapt or die. On the same token, Dave expects wrestling to evolve at least for the near future toward a faster-paced display with less actual grappling.
Dave is bored of the NWA. The only thing they’ve got going on right now that keeps him awake is Jim Cornette, and even Ric Flair’s promos are getting tiresome.
Scott Steiner, who won the World Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Championship in his first pro match last year, lost the title to Greg Wojokowski. He’s said to be moving in with his brother Rick, so we might expect him to pop up on UWF cards now and again.
NEXT WEEK:Honkytonk Man wins the IC title, more on Duggan/Sheik, more on Lawler suing over the king gimmick
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. FUTURE YEARS ARCHIVE: The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
With Crockett expanding its schedule to compete with most of the remaining old NWA territories, there are talks of a “new” NWA forming. Several promoters are talking about the possibility. At the forefront is Florida’s Duke Keomuka, who is trying to get the Pacific Northwest, Central States (Bob Geigel is bringing it back as an independent entity on March 1, y’all), Continental, and WCCW offices to join up with him. If history teaches us anything, cooperation is not something wrestling promoters are good at, so Dave doesn’t see anything substantial happening. Sure, they could trade talent and recognize a single world champion and assist each other against threatening WWF/JCP/UWF cards, but looking at what Florida/PNW/WCCW/Continental/Central States have, it’s not much. If Florida needs help running a show against Crockett, what in the world can PNW/Central States even offer? And no way will Fritz Von Erich get involved if they don’t recognize Kevin as the world champ, but would he really be willing to send Kevin to Kansas City for a show with only 200 people? Dave’s skeptical about anything real coming out of this, but he does figure we’re likely to see some talent trades between Florida and Alabama and maybe Brody and Kevin Von Erich will work the Florida territory now and again.
Wrestlemania hype is in full gear now that Andre vs. Hogan has officially been announced. Dave should have a complete card in a week, but he knows there will be twelve matches and eleven of them will be announced by February 21st. The last one announced will be a gimmick match of some kind (and before anyone suggests it involves Vince wrestling, he’s got more important things to do on a show of this magnitude). The show should be about 3 hours long and the names of the celebrities involved should start coming in soon. You can bet all but a few of the wrestlers will be paid less than any of the celebrities.
UWF did their tag team tournament and Chris Adams & Terry Taylor won the belts. The show was really good, but the crowds are still suffering in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Adams returned to the ring on this taping just two days since getting out of prison, and somehow managed to look in better shape and hadn’t missed a beat in the ring. So Chris Adams and King Parsons teamed together and after their semi-final victory they did an angle where Adams didn’t want to win by countout and the team split, with Parsons yelling at Adams “What’s the problem with you? Have you been in the slammer too long?” Anyway, in the other semi-final, Sting & Rick Steiner beat Terry Taylor & Sam Houston. Because of the split in the Adams/Parsons team, they did a coin flip where the winner of the flip could choose a new partner. Adams wins the flip and picks Savannah Jack (Dave quips that Adams has definitely been in the slammer too long) and Parsons assaults Jack and slams him into the ring post, so we have to start from scratch. Anyway, Adams picks Terry Taylor now, and this is how we get Taylor & Adams winning a tournament where they were not teaming together. The final was said to be a first rate match.
After the WTBS special Crockett put on for Feb. 7, there can be no doubt why WWF is number 1 over JCP and why Hogan is a bigger draw than Flair. Dave just rips this show to shreds, saying that while he’s a fan, it was a waste of two and a half hours aside from the Magnum T.A. interview. The Crocketts didn’t hype this on their regular WTBS show, so they probably weren’t super high about it. Everything about this was just horrible. “Superstars in Supertowns on the Superstation” is a terrible name and makes you sound low-rent no matter how much it’s wrestling and carnival vernacular to call a city a town. Frankly, it’s insulting to the average viewer living in the cities to hear their city called a town. Just shows how in the bubble of the business the Crocketts really are. Commentary wasn’t good either. Nor were the matches. The best match on the 7 match special was Ric Flair vs. Nikita Koloff in a no DQ match, which Dave rates 3 stars and says he had no problems with...until he got some phone calls from people in Baltimore and Richmond who saw the exact same match with the exact same finish and the exact same moves in all the exact same order the night before the special. You can’t say McMahon is exposing the business and then turn around and do that.
Dave has a correction. Last week he said Dynamite was literally taken from traction straight to Tampa for his tag title loss. Apparently he had been out of traction for a week and was able to take “brief walks” but was still in no condition to wrestle. It’s clear WWF wants the Bulldogs out of the spotlight. If they wanted to keep the Bulldogs in the spotlight they could have done an angle where a doctor refused to clear Dynamite, leading to the titles being stripped. That gets you an emotional scene, a tournament, a lot of heat behind a return push for the Bulldogs when Dynamite can wrestle again, and the sympathy angle with the fans knowing they never lost the titles to begin with. Compare that to what actually happened, Jimmy Hart tapping Dynamite and him falling to the ground for the whole match, and yeah.
Mike Von Erich is on trial on charges of assaulting a doctor in 1985. If convicted he faces a $1,000 fine or a year in jail. The prosecutors claim Mike punched the doctor in the face, breaking his jaw and two of his teeth. The defense claims Mike accidentally hit the doctor when the doctor threatened to kick him out of the hospital and punched Mike in his injured shoulder. This trial is getting daily coverage in all three major Dallas-Fort Worth papers and on tv at a time when the Von Erichs can ill-afford to have their image tarnished further.
JCP and WWF will be running shows against each other in Ontario on February 15. This will be JCP’s big debut in Ontario and they’re set for a big gate. Angelo Mosca managed a $150,000 gate without tv last year, and they’re billing this show as Moscamania II. Only issue is they forgot to run it by the Ontario Boxing and Wrestling Commission. In response, Jack Tunney booked a show for that afternoon for WWF and a Toronto show for that evening, clearing everything with the Commission. The Commission didn’t approve Moscamania II until Mosca went to the media and started making noise, after which the commission backed off and approved the shows JCP will be running from the 15-17th. Very interesting to see how this turns out.
Hulk Hogan has issued a correction on his life story. He currently claims to be a finance graduate from the University of South Florida, and says that he worked at a bank and decided to become a wrestler when he saw how big the checks were the wrestlers had him deposit. USF folks do say a Mr. Terry Bollea attended the university, but he dropped out after his sophomore year. Dave remembers before this most recent revision how Hulk claimed that he graduated from USF and when called out by a reporter on there being no record of him graduating, Hulk claimed he finished three credits shy of graduating. Say your prayers, eat your vitamins, and lie through your teeth, little Hulksters.
With all the focus on Wrestlemania, expect WWF live crowds to be lower leading in and coming out, unless Duggan really takes off. Hogan working fewer shows will be a blow, and Piper looking like he’s at least going to actually take the summer off doesn’t help either. On the plus side, Bruno Sammartino just sold out Boston Gardens for WWF. First time WWF has sold out the Gardens since 1985; the closest since then has been a Hogan vs. Savage headline that came real close but didn’t do it. If they’d put it in the Gardens, the Hogan/Orndorff and Hogan/Kamala programs would surely have sold out.
Crockett is mounting invasions of several territories, including Pacific Northwest and Alabama. Dave wonders if everyone who called Vince a bad guy for running shows in other people’s territories two years ago will say the same about the Crocketts. As far as Dave is concerned, neither of them are bad guys for expanding into areas that want to see what they’re producing. Alabama should be interesting, since fans there have been told for months now that Bob Armstrong is suspended for life (which is why he wrestled under a hood as “The Bullet”) but will now be wrestling without the hood on tv and in Alabama under JCP.
Art Barr, the son of Sandy Barr and little brother of Jimmy Jack Funk, has begun wrestling in the Pacific Northwest territory. This is two months earlier than Wikipedia has his debut as, for the record.
[WCCW] Dave’s been trying not to make fun of Dingo Warrior, but he had to share this. On Pro Wrestling This Week, Dingo showed a new level of skill in a match with Al Madril. Warrior threw the first bolo punch Dave has ever seen that had no shoulder rotation whatsoever.
[Memphis] Jerry Lawler should be back in March. His surgery was minor and unrelated to wrestling. They’re coming up with an angle for him to return with, but all the guys he wants to team with against Tommy Rich and Austin Idol are currently signed to other promotions.
Kevin Sullivan is doing some funny stuff down in Florida. He’s been feuding with Badnews Allen and his interviews have been off the wall. He’s saying promoters are prejudiced against Kareem Muhammad because they’ve discovered he and Muhammad are cousins, that Muhammad has “almost natural” 24 inch arms, and that Badnews Allen is really an American Indian. TV announcer John Heath is unintentionally hilarious in his role as interviewer, making everything that much better. They did a skit where Sullivan wanted to visit where Allen grew up, so he and Muhammad are standing by a highway with a sign reading “Harlem” trying to hitchhike. Nobody was giving them rides, so Sullivan was flipping off and trying to kick the cars as they drove by.
Sumo wrestler John Tenta will debut in All Japan in March or April. He was supposed to debut in December, but broke his leg training. There’s also a complication because he broke up with his girlfriend (who is Japanese). He had been engaged to marry her, and that would have allowed him to work year-round with no problems, but now he needs approval from the government to work and they haven’t given it to him yet.
Bam Bam Bigelow has debuted in New Japan and is drawing well for them. He and Inoki have been mixing it up, and they’ve even been bringing in Iron Mike Sharpe as a manager for Bigelow.
Reader Grant Zwarych, who today is the source for most of the really early Observer back issues like the ones I’m citing here, has a correction for Dave. In the January 12 issue, Dave talked about breaking through the ring as something new. Apparently there was a cage match between Dusty Rhodes and either Kevin Sullivan or Purple Haze a few years ago, and Haze or Sullivan broke through the ring to interfere on the other's behalf. It’s a favorite of Sullivan’s booking style. So now we have the direct ancestor to the finish of the Vince vs. Steve Austin match from St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
Reader Gary Fishman writes in saying there’s no way Vince will “gobble up all of wrestling." He knows Southern fans aren’t going to swallow what Vince is selling, and while he doesn’t expect small promotions to survive, he thinks JCP and UWF will always hold strong in Southern cities. Southern fans are in it for the emotional drama, and that’s just not something WWF will ever provide as long as they cater to children and borderline fans. That doesn’t mean he thinks WWF is in any danger either - the glitz and gimmickry works very well for them. Unfortunately, Fishman doesn't have a letter in any of the 2001 issues reflecting on the buyout of ECW and WCW. Would have been interesting to see what he had to say when Vince actually did gobble up all of wrestling.
In JWP (Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling, the first joshi promotion to challenge the monopoly of AJW), they’re running an angle where Jackie Sato and Nancy Kumi have broken up as a team and started a feud. JWP doesn’t have tv and is struggling. Doesn’t help that they have very few wrestlers of big name value at the moment. (JWP will have a major shoot incident later this year and mostly be a footnote until they close in 1992 and the company splits into JWP Joshi Puroresu and Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling). Side note, Dave is frustrating in these issues when it comes to referring to joshi promotions because he never names them. JWP is only ever the "new group" and otherwise he doesn't even specify he's talking about AJW because they're the default.
Dave ranks his top 25 women wrestlers currently, though he lists 26 because although she’s retired Jaguar Yokota will “forever by No. 1 in my book.” He does this for men’s singles and tag teams sometimes as well, but there’s such a dearth of women’s wrestling coverage in the 80s that I want to pull this whole list out so we can see who all were considered good wrestlers back in the day. I’ll just quote the list: “*1. Jaguar Yokota; 1. Chigusa Nagayo; 2. Lioness Asuka; 3. Devil Masami; 4. Dump Matsumoto; 5. Leilani Kai (she’s tremendous when allowed to be); 6. Bull Nakano; 7. Lola Gonzales; 8. Rhonda Singh; 9. Estelle Molina; 10. Noriyo Tateno; 11. Rumi Kazama; 12. Shinobu Kandori; 13. Jackie Sato; 14. Reyna Gallegos; 15. Sherri Martel; 16. Itzuki Yamazaki; 17. Kazuo Nagahori; 18. Yukari Ohmori; 19. Vicky Caranza; 20. Nancy Kumi; 21. Debbie Combs; 22. Despina Montaguas; 23. Yasuka Ishiguro; 24. Condor Saito; 25. Sochi Hamada.”
NEXT ISSUE:WWF vs. Crockett in Ontario, Wrestlemania updates, and more
2019.08.06 00:38 ConorCultureBooking Every WWE PPV WrestleMania I-WrestleMania 36 - Part 1
Booking Every WWE PPV 1985-2020
Hello everyone. Yes you read the title correctly, I, u/ConorCulture am going to be ripping off u/WittyFunnyUsername-Booking every WWE PPV Ever! After a few friends told me I’d be good at doing this I decided to give it a shot. u/WittyFunnyUsername did this in the past and it was great, u/GavinJ1899 has been doing it recently and it’s been great, so I decided I’ll give this a shot also. I hope you enjoy! WrestleMania 1 New York City, New York Madison Square Garden March 31, 1985 1- ”Playboy” Buddy Rose def. Junkyard Dog - Singles Match ( 8 Minutes ) Buddy Rose if your unaware who he was, was basically the North-West’s Ric Flair. This an easy match of the cocky and arrogant Playboy against the hard hitting Junkyard Dog. Junkyard Dog gets his licks in with some stiff shots to Buddy. Buddy Rose gets the crowd riled up doing his signature one armed push ups in the ring as his entourage of ladies squeal. Buddy Rose wins after a Fireman’s Carry Driver. 2- Ricky Steamboat def. Brutus Beefcake ( with Johnny Valiant ) - Singles Match ( 7 Minutes ) Another match with a clear face and heel. Ricky plays the pure and clean underdog while Brutus is the cocky and arrogant prick. Brutus Beefcake uses the assistance of Johnny Valiant throughout the Match however, to contrast the last match the face picks up the win here when Ricky Steamboat pins Brutus Beefcake after a Flying Crossbody. 3- Greg Valentine ( with King Kong Bundy and Jimmy Hart ) def. Tito Santana ( with Ricky Steamboat ) - Singles Match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship ( 11 Minutes ) Our first championship match of the night is taking place between two bitter rivals. Tito Santana and Greg Valentine had been feuding for months now and this is going to be one of the matches in the series. Ricky Steamboat accompanies Tito Santana to ensure no funny business going on with Jimmy Hart. It’s a back and forth match with a lot of moments of Jimmy Hart looking to give Valentine an edge however Ricky Steamboat prevents it. The two men are Doing some good work together when a ref distraction from Jimmy Hart turns into a kerfuffle with Steamboat allows Greg Valentine to get a eye poke in and a kick to the groin. King Kong Bundy gets Ricky Steamboat up in a Gorilla Press on the outside distracting Santana and allowing Greg Valentine to get a roll up, 1..2..3. Greg Valentine retains his title. 4- The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff ( with Freddie Blassie ) def. The U.S. Express ( Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda ) ( with Lou Albano ) - Tag Team Match for the WWF Tag Team Championships ( 6 Minutes ) Stays the same. 5- David Sammartino def. Bruno Sammartino - Singles Match ( 7 Minutes ) David Sammartino turns on his father Bruno on an episode of Saturday Night Main Event in Madison Square Garden in late 83’ due to jealousy of his fathers success. Bruno was in shock afterwards and challenged his son to put some manners on him at WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden. David Sammartino comes out to a chorus of boos and Bruno gets one fo the pops of the night. Bruno in the end isn’t able to pin his own son which lets David pick up the win. The crowd boo massively as David takes it all in, defeating his father. 6- André The Giant def. Big John Studd ( with Bobby Heenan ) - Body Slam Challenge for $15,000 ( 5 Minutes ) Stays the same. 7- Wendi Richter ( with Cyndi Lauper ) def. Leilani Kai ( with The Fabulous Moolah ) - Singles Match for the WWF Women’s Championship ( 6 Minutes ) Stays the same. 8- Hulk Hogan and Mr. T ( with Jimmy Snuka ) def. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff ( with Bob Orton ) - Tag Team Match with Pat Patterson as special guest referee and Muhammad Ali as special guest enforcer ( 13 Minutes ) Stays the same. The Wrestling Classic Rosemont, Illinois Rosemont Horizon November 7, 1985 1- Adrian Adonis ( with Jimmy Hart ) def. The Iron Sheik - Round 1 Match ( 4 Minutes ) These two are polar opposites and work a heel vs. heel match. Adrain Adonis wins after hitting Sheik with the Iranian Flag while Jimmy Hart distracted the ref. 2- Tito Santana def. The Magnificent Muraco - Round 1 Match ( 5 Minutes ) 3- The Dynamite Kid def. Ivan Putski - Round 1 Match ( 4 Minutes ) 4- Davey Boy Smith Jr. def. Paul Orndorff - Round 1 Match ( 6 Minutes ) 5- Buddy Rose ( with Bobby Heenan ) def. Terry Funk - Round 1 Match ( 3 Minutes ) 6- Randy Savage ( with Miss Elizabeth ) def. Bret Hart - Round 1 Match ( 6 Minutes ) This match doesn’t need much explaining as it’d be an obviously great match. Savage wins after the Flying Elbow. 7- Big John Studd def. Moondog Spot - Round 1 Match ( 2 Minutes ) 8- Junkyard Dog def. Ricky Steamboat - Round 1 Match ( 5 Minutes ) 9- Adrian Adonis ( with Jimmy Hart ) def. Tito Santana - Quarter Final Match ( 6 Minutes ) It’s a contrast of styles match won by Adonis after some back and forth action. 10- The Dynamite Kid def. Davey Boy Smith - Quarter Final Match ( 8 Minutes ) The British Bulldogs have to go off and it’s obviously and great match. A technical marvel as Dynamite Kid uses speed while Davey Boy Smith uses his power and both use the Hart Dungeon technical abilities. Dynamite Kid nails a Moonsault and picks up the win. The two shake hands afterwards. 11- Randy Savage ( with Miss Elizabeth ) def. Buddy Rose ( with Bobby Heenan ) - Quarter Final Match ( 8 Minutes ) Heenan has recently become manager of Buddy Rose and the two have been a great pairing as Buddy has been undefeated since. Heenan has a long history with the Savage family so there is a story there. Savage finds Buddy to be disrespectful and so goes after him. The two go back and forth and Savage wins after hitting a Sunset Flip Powerbomb. 12- Junkyard Dog def. Big John Studd - Quarter Final Match ( 5 Minutes ) Junkyard Dog is tough as nails and uses that against the giant of Big John Studd. In a big shock, Junkyard Dog is able to defeat Big John Studd! 13- Junkyard Dog def. The Dynamite Kid - Semi Final Match ( 5 Minutes ) It’s a big man vs. little man Match won by Junkyard Dog 14- Randy Savage def. Adrian Adonis ( with Jimmy Hart ) - Semi Final Match ( 6 Minutes ) Randy Savage picks up the win after an even contest. 15- Hulk Hogan def. ”Rowdy” Roddy Piper - Singles Match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship ( 10 Minutes ) The two have been feuding for about a year at this point and this will be the big climax of the feud. Piper dominates the early portions of the match, Hot Rod as the total heel. Bob Orton runs down and distracts the ref allowing Piper to hit a Steel Chair to The Hulkster. He throws the chair outside and locks in a Sleeper Hold on Hogan. Hogan hulks up however and starts to comeback. Bob Orton attempts to strike Hogan with his cast but Hogan hits a Big Boot to the Cowboy. Hogan hits the Five Moves of a Doom, then Hogan wins after the Atomic Leg Drop. Hogan retains his World Heavyweight Championship. Paul Orndorff comes out after the match and celebrates with Hogan. 16- Junkyard Dog def. Randy Savage ( with Miss Elizabeth ) - Finals Match Savage and Junkyard Dog exchange strikes early on with Savage coming down with a lot of Axe Handles. Junkyard Dog hits those famous Headbutts. Junkyard Dog is going ground and pound on Savage but is able to make a comeback. Savage goes to the top rope for the Diving Elbow but Junkyard Dog gets out of the way! Junkyard Dog heads to the outside and hits a Backbody Drop onto the apron to Savage! JYD rolls into the ring looking to win via count out but Savage is Able to roll back in at 9! JYD starts coming at Savage with punches, he looks like he has the win but Savage again counters out and goes to the top ropes for the Diving Elbow. JYD climbs up the ropes and hits a Backbody Drop off the top ropes! 1...2..3!! Junkyard Dog wins the match and The Wrestling Classic! WrestleMania 2 New York City, New York Madison Square Garden April 6, 1986 1- Ricky Steamboat def. Bret Hart ( with Jim ”The Anvil” Neidhart ) - Singles Match ( 9 Minutes ) This would be an exciting technical match-up to get the crowd excited going in. Bret comes out with his Hart Foundation partner Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart playing heel for this match. Steamboat has developed a lot since last years WrestleMania and is going to teach Bret a lesson after on an episode of Saturday Night Main Event, The Hart Foundation disrespected Ricky Steamboat in an interview with Mean Gene. The two start off locking up and exchanging rest holds. The match gradually builds up to a climax where both men are hitting big move after big move. Neidhart tries to interfere but he eats shit on the outside after Steamboat hits a big Knee Strike to him. Bret goes to roll up Steamboat but Steamboat kicks out. Steamboat goes to the top rope for a Diving Crossbody but Hart dodges meaning Steamboat lands flat on his stomach. Hart locks in the Sharpshooter and nearly makes Steamboat tap but Steamboat reaches the ropes. Steamboat finally hits the Diving Crossbody and wins the match. 2- Paul Orndorff def. Tito Santana ( with Junkyard Dog ) - Singles Match ( 6 Minutes ) The Hulkster and Paul Orndorff have been friends for a few months now and Orndoff has recently started a program with Tito Santana over who’s the better wrestler. Orndorff and Hogan appeared together on MTV where Hogan was Interviewed about Hogan’s upcoming match with Jimmy Snuka for the World Heavyweight Championship. Orndorff was then Interviewed about his upcoming match with Tito Santana however the crowd are noticeably less interested. Orndorff ends the interview after about 90 seconds and then goes quiet for the rest of the episode. On an Episode Of Saturday Night Main Event, Hogan and Orndoff would defeat Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog via Disqualification. Hogan would head off right after leaving Orndorff in the ring to be beaten up by Junkyard Dog. Orndoff and Santana work a fine match with Orndorff trying as hard as he can to beat Santana. Try as he might he just isn’t good enough and Santana defeats him. 3- King Kong Bundy def. Adrian Adonis ( with Jimmy Hart ) - Singles Match ( 5 Minutes ) The flamboyant Adrian Adonis is disgusted by King Kong Bundy and wants to put some elegance on him. King Kong Bundy destroys Adrian Adonis but Adonis uses his technical ability to Out maneuver the monster. It isn’t enougn however and King Kong Bundy scores the pin on Adonis. 4- Randy Savage ( with Miss Elizabeth ) def. ”Playboy” Buddy Rose ( with Bobby Heenan ) - Singles Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship ( 14 Minutes ) Great technical match up between the two great workers. The Playboy is a technical wizard but Savage is no slouch too. This match also utilizes the larger than life characters of the Macho Madness, Randy Savage and the Playboy Buddy Rose. Buddy Rose and Savage both work a technical masterpiece, but never once fail to tell the story of Playboy Buddy Rose getting too greedy to win the Intercontinental Championship which ultimately costs him the match to Savage. Savage wins after the Elbow Drop and Buddy Rose is furious after the match, refusing to shake Bobby Heenan’s hand. Roddy Piper def. The Magnificent Muraco - Singles Match ( 6 Minutes ) A simple story of Magnificent Muraco trying to show he’s better than Hot Rod Roddy Piper. Muraco calls Hot Rod out on Piper’s Pit which Piper accepts, ending in a brawl. It’s a heel vs. heel match up which can be effective, with each man impressing. Piper wins although Muraco got very close, nearly landing his finisher. The British Bulldogs ( Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith ) ( with Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne ) def. The Dream Team ( Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine ) ( with Johnny Valiant ) - Tag Team Match for the WWF Tag Team Championships ( 13 Minutes ) Stays the same. Jaguar Yokota def. Devil Masami - Singles Match for the vacant WWF Women’s Championship ( 6 Minutes ) If you’re unaware, these two women were the best Joshi Wrestlers in Japan during nearly the whole 80’s and could be easy challengers for best women’s wrestler of the 80’s. This would bring legitimacy to the Women’s Championship and also give a decent match. After some back and forth work, Jaguar Yokota wins the match. André The Giant wins Battle Royale for $15,000 ( 8 Minutes ) This would be a classic multi man Battle Royale to get people on the card. It’s various midcarders who come out first then come the people who actually get entrances. The Animal George Steele comes out first, frighting everyone in sight. Jake “The Snake” Roberts makes his debut, Hillbilly Jim is next followed by Big John Studd. Hercules Hernandez is the next, wowing everyone with his size. Afterwards is Mr. T himself who comes out to a big pop, who has vowed to eliminate André The Giant and win the match. Final man to come out is André The Giant Who gets the biggest pop. Is a basic Battle Royale, everyone gets their stuff in and in the end André The Giant wins the match after eliminating Mr. T. He once again throws the $15,000 into the crowd and leaves a hero. Hulk Hogan ( with Sylvester Stalone ) def. Jimmy Snuka ( with Jimmy Hart ) - Steel Cage Match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship ( 16 Minutes ) Throughout 85’ Jimmy Snuka and Hulk Hogan would be friends, with Snuka in Hogan’s corner at WrestleMania I. However in early 86’ Jimmy Snuka would turn heel on The Hulkster and Attack him. Snuka demands he get the WWF Championship Match and he wants Hulk Hogan in a Steel Cage and promises he’ll do the same thing to Hogan that he did to Don Muraco. Hogan accepts the challenge on MTV and shakes hands with Sylvester Stalone, a reference to Rocky 3. It’s revealed a few weeks before the show that Jimmy Hart will be managing Snuka in the match. The match is back and forth action with a clear face and clear heel. It’s an old school Match with Snuka using dirty tactics and Hogan as the underdog face. Snuka attempts to open the cage door to let Snuka out but Sylvester Stalone smashes Jimmy Hart’s head into the steal cage. Hogan gets thrown around the whole match, and Snuka even recreates the Superfly Splash when he jumps off the side of the cage with a Crossbody! Hogan Hulks up though and uses the Five Moves Of Doom and escapes the cage to regain his WWF Championship. Him and Stalone celebrate to close the show.
2018.12.15 17:14 SaintRidleyAn interesting time capsule - bits of Dave Meltzer's report on his trip to Japan from 1987. New Japan in ratings desperation, wrestling culture in Japan, the amazingness of All Japan Women, more.
The 1987 issues are not up on the Observer site, so I had to acquire these issues through other means. It's a really interesting overall piece that gives us a window into what the Japanese scene looked like on the ground as the world turned the corner into 1988. On All Japan Women, their main audience demographic, and how hot the crowd gets for them:
While admittedly, the live crowd which attends their events is hardly a demographic cross-section, in fact 90 percent of the crowd is teenage girls, but to their audience, these girls are “over” to the point that a U.S. fan would have to see it live to even have a concept of what I’m trying to say. Dump is the best heel in wrestling and whoever is in second place isn’t even close. As for Chigusa, the reaction she gets not only can’t be duplicated by any wrestler in this country (Hulk Hogan certainly comes the closest and at best his isn’t half as good) but you’d probably have to use Madonna or Bruce Springsteen at their peak for comparison. The crowd literally lives and dies with every move she makes. We saw the crowd literally crying at one point in the show, and then in the main event, we saw a 50 minute match of nothing but high spots and a crowd which never let up for a three-hour show.
On how Vince McMahon has modeled his operation off what's worked in Japan:
While many give Vince McMahon credit for incredible genius in marketing pro wrestling, in reality Vince had made several tours of Japan before 1984 and simply tried to re-create what had already been done, and did so successfully. Hulk Hogan as a national hero is simply an American version of Antonio Inoki, with an ego every bit as large resulting. The wrestling albums, dolls, T-shirts and the rest were an outgrowth of things Japan had been doing since the early 1970s. Vince’s big attempts to push women’s wrestling, which ultimately failed every time, were a result of seeing what big business women’s wrestling in Japan had become. Unfortunately, about the only thing Vince didn’t import to his organization was the work ethic of the Japanese wrestlers.
A look back to his previous trip in 1984 and where things stood then:
Since my first trip to Japan in December, 1984, a lot has changed. Giant Baba’s promotion, All Japan Pro Wrestling, was on top of the world and certainly the most stable and best promotion in wrestling at the time. While New Japan was hurting because of its link-up with Titan Sports, it still had a big TV audience and could count on seven figures each year from the network to augment what were generally still good gates even with its loss of popularity when Riki Choshu and company joined Baba. The women, particularly the tag team called The Crush Gals (Chigusa Nagayo & Lioness Asuka) were the teeny-bopper rock & wrestling idols of Japan. Their posters hung in the record stores and their merchandise was readily available and gobbled up by thousands of loyal fans. I didn’t attend any women’s cards in 1984, something I sorely regret now, but in any major record or book store, there was no escaping the popularity of the Crush Gals.
And by the end of 1987, wrestling is practically in a depression since those days:
After following the sad plight of the UWF and Jim Crockett Promotions in 1987, it’s hard to look at Japan and think in bad terms. But there was a difference in my second trip. There were 10 wrestling stores in Tokyo alone in 1984, now there are five. There were tons of weekly and monthly wrestling magazines, now there are three weeklies and I could find only one monthly, and it was devoted strictly to the women. While the Chigusa Nagayo calendar (and Riki Choshu calendar as well) were apparently marketed well to the general public, we didn’t see Crush Girl or Stan Hansen or Tiger Mask or Riki Choshu records in the stores (although one of the wrestling shops did have a new 45 by Yoshiaki Fujiwara) or posters of the girl wrestlers in the same context as the rock stars. Japan is famous for taking teenage girls, turning them into rock idols, and within two years discarding them. For example, virtually every big name teen idol recording star I remembered from three years ago had completely disappeared from the record stores, and were replaced by a whole new crew of 17-year-old Japanese girls. I guess the fact that Chigusa, now 23, has managed to maintain and actually increase in popularity over the past three years with her loyal audience has to do with her improving her in-ring skills from being great to being the best in the business.
Dave marvels at the news coverage wrestling gets and laughs with a reader who hosted him for the trip about some of the differences:
The daily newspaper had devoted a full page to the results and big photos of both Starcade and the Survivors Series. We laughed because the newspapers in our country had totally ignored both events. There are several daily newspapers, most notably Tokyo Sports and Nikkan Sports, which each morning publish the results, news and photos of all the matches held the night before by all four wrestling promotions of Japan. We also arrived the day after the plane carrying Kazaharu Sonoda went down. It was the lead story on the front page, with color photos of Sonoda and his wife at their wedding, in several of the newspapers. Even though Sonoda was merely a middle-of-the-card guy, the news of his death got more publicity that if Hulk Hogan himself were to pass away in a plane crash in this country.
Audience demographics for All Japan and New Japan:
In the major cities, like Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, the fans are almost entirely male between maybe 15 and 30. Wrestling doesn’t draw the wide variety of fans it does here (although in truth, the audience make-up is similar at least here in California at JCP cards, although JCP draws a rougher and by necessity, a lower economic audience but within the same age group and predominately male). In the smaller towns the audience gets older with older men throughout the stands which accounts for why Giant Baba, now 49, and Antonio Inoki, who turns 45 next month, remain with a great deal of popularity.
New Japan's TV ratings have plummetted since 1983 (they were doing 20s and now are in the 6 to 9 range). Dave has been told there are four major reasons:
While Inoki is the most popular wrestler, he "has no stamina, even though he keeps in great shape, due to problems with blood sugar from diabetes and age. His matches are not good, especially compared to what the fans see, but the fans want them to be good. Unlike Hulk Hogan fans in the U.S., the fans realize Inoki’s matches are short, and in tag matches he mainly stands outside the ring and has his partners do the work. However, make no mistake about it, Inoki is over big. I guess the best way to put Inoki into perspective in the United States would be to compare him with what Dusty Rhodes wants to be."
New Japan doesn't have many Americans, and Japanese fans love seeing Japanese wrestlers beat Americans. "The lack of big Americans and the color they provide has hurt. While Steve Williams, who is the No. 1 American star working for Inoki is respected by everyone as a great athlete and as tough as anyone alive, his lack of color hasn’t made him a major draw or a guy who can up the TV ratings."
Too much focus on workrate perhaps turns off the casual fan. "As mentioned here earlier, the style of wrestling is so hardcore that perhaps the casual fan can’t get into it. Akira Maeda has tremendous popularity in Tokyo and a match with him and Inoki last year might have drawn a million dollar gate, but the casual fans don’t understand Maeda’s style and don’t get into submission holds"
Riki Choshu is loved, but the fact that he's jumped ship back to Inoki is really unpopular. "If you were to ask anyone associated with the business in Japan on naming what thing has hurt the business and caused it to go down, everyone will respond that when Riki Choshu jumped back to Inoki, he nearly killed the biz. Nobody minded him jumping to Baba in 1984, because he made remarks about Inoki that most took as true, plus fans were anxious to see him in new matches. While fans were anxious to see Choshu vs. Tatsumi Fujinami this year, the bottom line is fans didn’t like him leaving Baba for what was obviously strictly monetary reasons, breaching a signed contract and bringing the wrestling contracts into the courtrooms since in Japan, unlike the U.S., lawsuits are not a way of life."
New Japan's ratings woes have led their network TV Asahi to lose interest in wrestling and they're considering moving New Japan's time slot, which might just kill them:
Whether or not New Japan can sellout buildings will be a moot point in April if the TV time is moved to Monday at midnight as rumored, or taken off completely. It will surely be moved from prime time but if it can land a weekend afternoon slot, which is still a possibility, then the promotion will at least be saved.
Inoki's running with an angle that clearly a desperate ploy for ratings, copying Vince for once. New Japan fans hate it:
A famous comedian in Japan, who I only know as Mr. Takeshi (I’m told he’s equivalent to a Johnny Carson or a Don Rickles here--at one time a few years back he was the most famou comedian in the country although right now he is just “one of the most famous”) is working a Cyndi LaupeAndy Kaufman type angle with Inoki. Takeshi is claiming to be putting together a stable of wrestlers who will beat Inoki and company and it’ll probably wind sometime next year, probably in April at the Tokyo Dome (65,000 seat domed baseball stadium) with the Inoki-Taeshi confrontation (unless Inoki can sign a famous boxer like Michael Spinks or Larry Holmes to do a job for him). Since New Japan mainly appeals to hardcore fans, its fans hate this angle. When it was first announced in Tokyo on 12/4, the fans were telling Takeshi’s guys to go home and get out of wrestling. However New Japan needs to gamble that they won’t run their fans off and will be able to get non-fans interested in their product because of Takesh. This is the same gamble Vince McMahon made in 1984 with Cyndi Lauper and Mr. T. and the gamble paid off for Vince and really made Hulk Hogan. So ironically, this is a case where Inoki actually copies McMahon instead of the other way around.
All Japan is doing a bit better than New Japan right now, mostly because they've got foreigners and Tenryu's heel turn has kept them interesting:
Things are sailing smoother with Baba’s group. While they were certainly hurt, and in fact at one point devastated, by Choshu’s leaving, they’ve recovered and are doing steady, if not spectacularly. The biggest factor in this is the emergence of Genichiro Tenryu as a heel, and in Japan, Tenryu will surely win wrestler of the year because his turn was so successful it kept the promotion interesting during a down period. This past tour, mainly because of the return of Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher (you just can’t believe how “over” Abby is in Japan and it’s as a babyface), did very well, although it wasn’t like 1984 when the tag tournament was selling out every night. TV rating sin prime time (once baseball season ends, Nippon TV moves wrestling to Saturday from 8-9 p.m.) aren’t spectacular, but in the 10-12 range each week makes them comfortable and “safe” at present. Ratings had dipped to the danger zone a few months back, although not as far down as Inoki’s had, which is why Baba re-signed Brody and Abby.
Dave saw his first live All Japan Women card and it has blown his mind so hard he spells "hear" as "here" in this bit:
Trying to describe the All Japan women’s promotion won’t be easy. We saw a Sunday matinee show on 12/6 at Korauken Hall in Tokyo with about 2,400 teenage girls log-jammed in an 1,800 seat building breaking every fire law known to mankind. It was the best live card I’ve seen in at least three years and the main event was by far the greatest match I’ve ever seen live. In fact I’d say without question it was better than any match ever held in the United States in the history of this business. It was a 12-girl tag team match with the most falls before curfew deciding the winner. The match went 50 minutes of nothing but high spots and the crowd was screaming at about double the level of a Hulk Hogan posing routine for the entire time. When Chigusa Nagayo was squaring off against Lioness Asuka, the roar was louder than you’d here in the seventh game of an NBA championship series with 18 seconds left and the home team down by one. I’ve never experienced anything like the energy that comes out of the crowd, and the girls in the ring worked every bit as hard as the crowd.
All Japan Women's tv ratings are pretty strong and justify the comparison between Chigusa and Hogan:
The girls are on TV on the Fuji network and while they consistently draw 7s plus on Saturday afternoons, the week we were there they drew an 11.3 rating. To give you an example of the popularity of this group in Japan--that rating for one show is higher than the rating of all McMahon’s syndicated shows in the United States put together. In fact, it’s roughly the same as the rating that McMahon’s best Saturday Night Main Event NBC special drew, so when I compare the importance of Chigusa with Hulk Hogan it is not an outlandish statement at all.
Dave finds the culture of joshi fandom really interesting:
The place was packed with members of the many different Chigusa fan clubs, all wearing their fan club jackets and also some members of Lioness Asuka fan clubs. I’m not sure of the customs, but the girls wear the jackets into the buildings, then take them off when the matches start, then whenever Chigusa is about to come out (she came out three times during the show we saw, twice to wrestle and once to do a one-song concert and the musical was damn good as well) the girls all rush and put on their jackets. It’s an amazing sight although the most amazing sight is the heat when Chigusa either sings or wrestles.
On the stigma against joshi wrestling in the broader wrestling fandom:
The people who attend the men’s matches do not attend the women’s matches in Japan. It is a completely different audience and in fact the Japanese fans and reporters that we met couldn’t even understand why we were so interested in the girls card. There is a definite negative stigma about the girls, at least among the wrestling fans probably because the show is so obviously designed at mainly reaching teenage girls.
All Japan Women was a merch machine even Vince would envy:
But the marketing of this group would make even McMahon green with envy. About 15 minutes before the card started, there were maybe 150 fans in the building and since we knew the show would sellout, we were literally shocked. One of the guys I was traveling with (who surely doesn’t want his name mentioned in this publication) told me to look in the lobby. The lobby was jammed with about 1,500 girls buying more souvenirs than you can imagine, from videotapes of matches, videotapes of Chigusa in concert, audio tapes, posters, keychains, purses and wallets, Dump Matsumoto gym shorts, Chigusa shopping bags, books and programs and streamers.
Dave thinks Dump Matsumoto could make women's wrestling in the U.S. if she were brought over (he later says that if Wendi Richter had faced Dump instead of Moolah, Vince's whole experiment with women's wrestling would have exploded in popularity):
There were several American fans at the girls show, which is something you don’t see at the men’s cards. While the U.S. fans seemed to enjoy the entire package, there is no doubt that to Americans, the show would revolve around Dump Matsumoto. If Dump were to tour the U.S. and be let loose and have quality opponents to work with (like the JB Angels, who with no push at all, are getting over phenomenally well in the U.S.), she would make women’s wrestling in this country.
The show Dave saw was Devil Masami's retirement show, and he's not entirely clear on why the promotion has a mandatory retirement age and gives his thoughts:
I’m really not sure of the reasons. Some would say that they want the girls young and cute, but since this promotion doesn’t even try to appeal to a male audience I don’t see that as a reason. As mentioned earlier, the Japanese culture is known for pushing teenage girls as superstars in movies and music and discarding them when they hit 20. And I suppose it is thought that schoolgirls can more easily relate to wrestling idols who are just a few years older than they are.
Dave does think the retirement rule forces AJW to train up and push new stars to the top rather than relying on stale acts, and basically lays out what will become 30 years later the basic form of the argument against too much reliance on part timers from the good old days of the Attitude Era:
Probably the biggest failure with pro wrestling in general, particularly in this country, is they don’t understand pop culture that they are part of. While some musical groups have long runs like the Rolling Stones, the hot groups usually skyrocket to the top and often fizzle down to nothing just as fast. The average run for pop stardom teenage hearthrobs like David Cassidy or a Bobby Sherman (and when was the last time you heard those names) is two years. Let’s face it, Hogan no longer can sellout buildings just by showing up anymore. And the Rock & Roll Express and Road Warriors can’t even draw fans anymore (although in the latters case I think there is tons of unutilized potential butRicky & Robert are dead as draws as much as I respect them for their work). By getting the babyfaces out at 25, you don’t create Dusty Rhodes’ who while still popular and somewhat legendary, in the “real world” turn people off to your product. [...] If I had my way, I’d just as soon watch Nick Bockwinkel five nights a week or Masa Saito, but in many ways, this business has been hurt badly for decades by guys past their prime and not in top shape utilizing their power within a promotion to stay on top and by promotions which never think past Friday’s card and don’t realize you have to take the business down at times to rebuild and push fresh talent in the long run.
All Japan Women isn't 100% sunshine and rainbows. Their injury rate is sky high:
The injury rate in this group is very high--one girl, Kyoko Aso, broke her neck getting a tombstone piledriver off the top ropes--that move is no longer done because of that
And during a Bull Nakano & Condor Saito vs. Yumi Ogura & Reibun Amada match, there's more fun with injury:
Amada hurt her shoulder at one point in the match outside the ring. The girls at ringside started pounding on her shoulder to knock it back in place and she went back to work.
The Chigusa concert has Dave amazed by the crowd reaction:
After the intermission, Chigusa came out and did a musical number. It was tremendous and amazing to see the crowd reaction. The girls in the audience sing all the words to the song with her.
Here's Dave's review of a Dump Matsumoto match. Blood, forks, American fans cheering the heel and the heel playing up to them. Yeah, this seems predictive of the future:
Dump Matsumoto went to a double count out with Yukari Omori in 17:16 of one of the best matches you’ll ever see. Bull & Condor interfered at the start and dragged Omori to the back of the building where they pounded on her with kendo sticks and nunchakus until Omori was juicing. Condor used a chain, Bull the nunchakus and Dump used the kendo stick and the heat was amazing. Dump then opened the cut up more using a fork. At this point the American fans in the audience were going crazy cheering for Dump and she started blowing them kisses. I think they were cheering seeing a fork after having to use chop sticks. Dump choked Omori using the TV mic cable and started pounding on her cut with the ring announcers’ mic. Then came the famous oil can and they pounded on Omori’s head with that. Finally Omori made the comeback and the place popped. Before Omori could get Dump in too much trouble, Bull & Condor interfered and the ref took a bump. Bull gave Omori two piledrivers and the ref got back in the ring but Omori kicked out and the place went crazy. Omori started pounding on Bull with the kendo sticks and finally it wound up outside the ring. Heel ref Shiro Abe was counting to 20 and at about the count of 15, was staring at the timekeeper (this is a great heel ref finish) and not even watching the girls brawl on the floor and kept counting to 20 even though Omori beat the count and was in the ring by 17. Omori then beat up the ref after the match. ****½
It's a really interesting travel journal overall and gives some great insight into the culture of Japanese wrestling at that point in time. I think there are spots where Dave probably doesn't quite understand the bigger picture (his bit where he doesn't see why cuteness would matter to a promotion whose audience has few boys seems to miss the point entirely, for instance), but overall this is pretty cool. TL;DR: read the headings to each quote, they've got you covered.
2018.10.03 20:59 SorcererOfTheLakeWhose God?: The Nature of Divinity in Serial Experiments Lain
Introduction Is there a God of the Internet? It sounds like a silly question, but it’s one worthy of consideration. The Internet might be one of the most secular places in the world. There are joke gods, sure (insert Flying Spaghetti Monster, Filthy Frank, and Nicholas Cage), but we don’t really have any faiths or religions that we all gather around for worship. If I had to hazard a guess, maybe we congregate at the shrine of Jobs, Zuckerberg, and Musk? (Actually, maybe it’s best that we don’t have any Gods.) I bring this up because it’s of the utmost importance to the 1997 anime Serial Experiments Lain. Airing at a time when the Internet was starting to see widespread adoption (1997 represented the first year when the number of people using the Internet went over one percent of the global population), it represents an interesting artifact about how people thought the Internet was going to impact the world. It deals with ideas of connectivity, isolation, and the thin line between reality and the Internet in the modern age, issues that we’re still dealing with today in one degree or another. One of the most notable ways it does this exploration is in its dueling concepts of Godhood between the protagonist, Lain Iwakura, and the eventual antagonist, Masami Eiri, aka Deus. Lain represents a Mother Earth-type figure while Eiri represents the more traditional (and patriarchal) Judeo-Christian god. These characters represent two very different ideas of God, and the conclusion presents a radical way of looking at divinity in the modern age. Masami Eiri Like the kind of god he represents, Masami Eiri first appears only as a voice. Deus speaking to Lain at the crosswalk in Episode 5 recalls God speaking to the prophets of the Old Testament, as noted in the Epistle to the Hebrews: God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds (KJV, Heb 1:1-2) This, however, prevents one from trusting or understanding Deus before Masami makes his presence truly known. After all, if you can’t see what body a voice belongs to, how can you fully judge that voice’s intentions? Lain presents a god without a presence as something frightening and inhuman, which provides foreshadowing for Masami’s ultimate goals and desires. This voice also feels similar to the random voices without bodies that we hear throughout the show on the Wired. These disembodied voices, in comparison to Eiri’s divine nature, are full of petty concerns, showing that the humans that Eiri wishes to rule over are poor subjects, more fitting for Sodom and Gomorrah than the Kingdom of Heaven. Of course, this would imply that Eiri is trying to be some kind of truly divine figure, but something seems off about that statement. Eiri says throughout the series that his goal is to connect the real world and the world of the Wired, to make the online just as real as reality. However, his methods make this goal incredibly suspect. Using the Knights, he constantly assails Lain mentally, making her increasingly dependent on the Wired for any sense of stability and friendship, only to have that taken away from her as well after the scandal involving Arisu. Masami is not like the God of Moses or Noah, testing his people to make them better; he’s like an abusive partner who gaslights the other person to make them feel like that they can’t operate without them. What kind of God is this? Well, as much as Masami wants to present himself a la the Abrahamic God and Jesus (notice the long hair and unwillingness to touch the ground), he’s not a God (Lain points this out herself near the end (we’ll get into specifics later)). Rather, Masami is an egomanic who is trying to play God in order to gain power. The fact that he’s doing this to a 14-year-old girl adds problematic elements to it, but the show is wise in that it is aware of this and doesn’t endorse it in any way. So, our Judeo-Christian God is a creep who just wants to take over the world. Is there another way to have God in this digital world? Lain Iwakura “God being a fourteen-year-old Japanese girl” sounds like the punch line to an above-average stand-up bit, but the show pulls it off with aplomb and creates an alternative version of God for both humanity and the Internet. Throughout the series, Lain, despite being the great connector, is often framed to be isolated, even in a crowd of people. As an artificial container for the unconscious wavelength of humanity, she will always be fundamentally alienated from the people that she is supposed to be helping. The only moments where she isn’t isolated is when she is with Arisu, who loves her and accepts her for who she is, even if she is somewhat frightened of her by the end of the show. In this context, Lain’s divinity is more in the vain of a Mother Earth-type goddess. While she does care about humanity and loves them (as her father reveals in the last episode), Lain, as a being without a true form, is unable to express that love or understand why bad things happen to her and her loved ones. She can be a cruel goddess, yes, like when she reveals the names of the Knights for tormenting her, but the Earth acts the same way. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes: Earth is capable of killing her creations in so many ways. One may argue that Lain didn’t directly kill any of the Knights, but, like the factors of the Earth creating these natural disasters, she created the conditions for it to happen. Lain isn’t all rage, though, just like the Earth provides moments of peace in her world; her relationship with Arisu is the most comforting part of the series, and the lynchpin of why she proves to be the better God. After the scandal about the teacher comes out, Lain tries to help Arisu by erasing everyone’s memories about the incident. Even if this action seems somewhat short-sighted and mundane of her powers, it goes to show that Lain loves Arisu and wants to protect her. At the very least, it’d be hard to imagine Eiri doing something so selfless. During the confrontation with Eiri in Episode 12, her main goals are more about protecting Arisu than herself, especially since Arisu was the one who got her out of her shell. Lain is also seen caring about others in a broader sense, particularly involving children. In Episode 4, where a child is killed during the overlap between the game of tag and the dungeon game, Lain looks distraught upon seeing the dead child’s body on the roof. In episode 6, she is incredibly upset over the KID experiment, even if she is acting as the more aggressive Lain of the Wired at that moment. Part of me sees this as the fact that she is still a child herself and has a child’s frustration towards injustice, but I also see this as the deep empathy that Lain, as a Mother Earth type, has towards her children. In a video called “Explaining Iwakura Lain” (from which some ideas in this essay were inspired from), user skapbadoa theorizes that Lain actually put the idea of Protocol 7 and giving her a corporal body into Eiri’s head, making her the proto-God. One could take this further and hypothesize that this almost seems like a statement towards the idea that masculine singular body gods eventually came to displace nature-based gods with a multiplicity of being. I don’t know enough about theology to know whether this is true or not, but the show indicates that the god of many is a healthier god than the god of one. At the end of the day, Lain’s godhood is viewed in the series as something more moral than Eiri’s version. Whereas he becomes a god to gain power, Lain tries to limit her godhood to become human. She was always human, though; even if she didn’t have a form, she was every human that ever lived and will live. She is the thoughts and dreams that lie inside the back of our heads. If Lain is God, does that mean we could be God? Conclusion I think the time that I first watched Lain is critical to understanding why I feel this way about it. It was this past summer. The CEOs of tech companies are being called forth to answer as to concerns of privacy violations and fake news. #MeToo is exposing the depths of sexual harassment in various industries, including technology and the Internet. Natural disasters and wars are ripping apart the fabric of the Earth. But most of all, we are in an age where the idea of God is something suspicious, as just another part of civic life that is slowly decaying. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine a scenario like Lain occuring in our current time. Lain, as the God of the Wired, is greatly at odds with the technology greats of our time, who pride themselves on being mavericks and aggressive in their goals; this idea of the “tech guru” is more in line with Eiri, but we’ve already covered how flawed his ideology is. In sum, Eiri’s ideology proposes that it is better to act for yourself than focus on improving others (how Randian). Lain is something more idealistic, possibly, but she represents a better ideal than what we have right now. The divine qualities of Lain Iwakura offers another possibility for greatness. Don’t be cruel; be kind. Don’t just think about yourself; think what you could do for others, even at great cost. More than anything else, understand that you did not, and can not, succeed on your own. We are all connected and those connections provide a much more valuable resources than just one man’s power. “I’m here, so I’ll be with you forever.” – Unknown Special thanks is given to u/FetchFrosh for his help. Check out anime Writing Club's wiki page Please PM u/ABoredCompSciStudent or u/kaverik for any concerns.
2018.04.14 20:33 SaintRidley30 Days of Women's Wrestling Trailblazers Bonus! - Day 31 LuFisto, Sara Del Rey, Mercedes Martinez, MsChif, and Cheerleader Melissa
Thank you so much for reading along with the 30-day series. I have one more post for you, and it’s a bonus. Today we look at the careers of five of the most important women in modern American independent wrestling, on whose backs the real Divas/Women’s (R)Evolution began. I would also like to plug the new subreddit /QueensoftheRing for more discussion about women’s wrestling, past and present. Prologue All five of these women got their starts in the late 90s-early 2000s at a time when women’s wrestling in the United States was very much an endangered species. Following the collapse of the territory system, it didn’t exist but for the occasional filler match in WCW and ECW, the AWA was dead, the NWA World Women’s Championship was inactive, few of the remaining holdout territories that hadn’t folded offered anything at all, and Moolah had sold her title to the WWF. You had GLOW, POWW, LMLW, the LPWA, and WOW – all short-lived women’s promotions – holding the torch alive for women’s wrestling at a time when women’s wrestling was a falling star. The Professional Girl Wrestling Association of Penny Banner was the only long-lasting women’s organization, and mostly facilitated booking girls through other promotions. The only major promotion to sustain interest in women’s wrestling for any length of time was the WWF. Despite that, the WWF Women’s Championship had a troubled history. There was the Original Screwjob (which frankly seems far less original when you know about Burke and Byers, but Moolah had done enough to largely erase the contributions of the women who came before her from the business). There was the deactivation of the title during Rockin Robin’s reign. There was the revival with Madusa as Alundra Blayze and the partnership with AJW, only for the division to be shuttered once again. By the close of the century, the WWF revived women’s wrestling within itself once more as little more than a booby prize, an excuse to titillate the audience by giving it to whomever Vince McMahon thought had the nicest breasts that day. This is a time when the championship was won by stripping the opponent, or wrestling in gravy, or losing a match by being stripped to your underwear (as Debra did), or by a man in drag as a joke, where at no point did the concept of wrestling seem to even factor into the picture. The Divas division of the post-Lita and Trish era is derided as being the nadir of women’s wrestling in WWE but compared to the Attitude Era prior to the folding of WCW it would have seemed a golden age. That is what women’s wrestling was as the five women profiled today were first breaking into the business, and each of them balked and said that wasn’t for them. Each took their own path to improving the situation on the independent scene, and all five would come together at the Berwyn Eagles Club in Berwyn, Illinois, where Dave Prazak and Allison Danger made the daring attempt to start an all-women wrestling promotion in the United States that aimed to be more like AJW, GAEA, Jd’, or JWP than any American women’s promotion had ever tried to be. That promotion, SHIMMER, is still the shining star of the independent scene for women in American wrestling thirteen years later. The following five women could very well be considered the five pillars of women’s independent wrestling in the 21st century. Without their work, as well as that of the others they’ve wrestled and trained, SHIMMER would probably not be the success story it is and women’s wrestling in America would potentially still be endangered. LuFisto Born on February 15, 1980 in Sorel, Quebec, Genevieve Goulet became interested in wrestling when she saw tapes of Manami Toyota, Bull Nakano, and Akira Hokuto. Luna Vachon and her unique look, however, was a much more local inspiration. After being coached through training by Pierre Marchessault and Patrick Lewis, retired wrestler Lise Raymond gave LuFisto the final pep talk that cemented everything together. LuFisto was advised to stand up for herself and never let wrestlers who didn’t want women in wrestling demean her, and that it’s “better to be a bitch and secure one’s spot than to get along with them” (Laprade and Murphy, 358). LuFisto debuted as Lucifer in 1997, wrestling across Canada, the U.S., Europe and Japan. Over the course of these early years she became Luscious Lucy, then Precious Lucy, and finally LuFisto. She made her mark as a hardcore wrestler and was soon known as the First Lady of Hardcore, leading to an invitation to wrestle some extreme shows for Lucha Libre Femenil, before taking a two-month tour of Japan where she trained with Sara Del Rey and Kana. Somehow, LuFisto has never been signed to a major promotion. She talked to WCW in 2000, though for obvious reasons (namely, their freefall collapse) nothing came of this. In 2009 she nearly signed with TNA, but the arrival of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff put an end to that. LuFisto heard rumblings that it was due to her looks, as she didn’t look “enough like the Beautiful People” (Laprade and Murphy, 357). She had a tryout with TNA in 2012, and tried to enter both TNA’s Gut Check Challenge and WWE’s Tough Enough, but was passed over. LuFisto has reason to claim responsibility for the legalization of intergender wrestling in Ontario. That began in April 2003, when a hardcore intergender tag team match she was scheduled for was cancelled due to another promoter filing a complaint with the Ontario Athletic Commission (predictably, these rules only applied to independent wrestling, as WWE had run intergender matches in Ontario without interference from the Commission). LuFisto enlisted the help of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, making the case that “the regulation in question was a violation of [her] human rights, based on [her] gender” (Laprade and Murphy, 362). On May 10, 2006, the Ontario Athletic Commission not only lifted the ban on intergender wrestling, but deregulated professional wrestling completely. OAC commissioner Ken Hayashi said of the decision:
It's been something we've been considering for a while. There's been a lot of requests from promoters for de-regulation. The bottom line is there were no real health and safety regulations (to oversee), that's the main thrust of this office. Wrestling is choreographed, pre-arranged. I think we are the only jurisdiction in Canada that still regulates it. It was just a matter of time and that time has come; we no longer regulate professional wrestling.
Of the five women profiled today, LuFisto has been wrestling the longest. Despite this, she is the only one not to be a SHIMMER original, making her debut in SHIMMER on volume 7. She’s appeared on 65 of SHIMMER’s 100 volumes (and will likely add to that number today and tomorrow as volumes 101-104 tape), and has wrestled numerous times against and alongside women like Cheerleader Melissa, Kana, Mercedes Martinez, Rain, Kellie Skater, the Canadian Ninjas, and Amazing Kong. For the past 20 years, LuFisto has been a constant force on the independent scene, where she’s earned numerous accolades. Among her past championship accomplishments are the CZW Iron Man Championship (the first woman to win it), two reigns with the NCW International Femmes Fatales Championship, the WSU World Championship, and numerous others from smaller promotions. She’s won several tournaments, including the 2007 IWA Mid-South Queen of the Deathmatch tournament, the 2007 Sherri Memorial Cup Tournament (with partner El Generico), and the 2010 NCW Femmes Fatales Championship Tournament. Other honors include being inducted into the Association de Lutte Féminine Quebec Female Wrestling Hall of Fame and winning the 2008 CZW Best of the Best People’s Choice award. LuFisto is, at the time of writing, the current reigning Shine champion. LuFisto suffered a stroke on April 17, 2010, but it only kept her out of the ring for a month and a half. There’s no doubt she’s one of the toughest women in professional wrestling today. She was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer. The easiest way you as a fan can help LuFisto with her medical bills (she’s Canadian, but because she is now an American citizen she has to deal with American healthcare) by visiting her website and buying merch. Matches NGX May 7, 2005, vs. Princesa Sugey, hardcore match CZW November 10, 2007, vs. Sabian ALF October 12, 2007, with El Generico vs. Misty Haven and Alex von Payton (round 1 Sensational Sherri Memorial Cup SMASH August 18, 2013, vs. Vanessa Kraven CZW Prelude to Violence May 31, 2014, with Kimber Lee vs. Jessicka Havok and Nevaeh Beyond #HOGxBEYOND June 17, 2016, vs. Sonya Strong Beyond Over-Nite Sensation December 11, 2016, vs. Kimber Lee Beyond #Caffeine April 2, 2017, vs. Deonna Purrazzo Beyond Feeling Minnesota April 30, 2017, with Jordynne Grace (Team PAWG) vs. Anthony Greene and Brick Mastone (ΑΣΣ) Sara Del Rey The Death Rey, the Queen of Wrestling, The American Angel. Sara Del Rey has gone by many names, but she was born Sara Ann Amato on November 13, 1980 in Martinez, California. She started wrestling in 2001 after being trained by Brian Danielson, and today she’s the assistant head coach in WWE’s Performance Center, being the driving force behind the rise in quality of WWE’s women’s division. A year after her debut in 2001, Del Rey was accepted to a tour with ARSION in Japan, where she sat under the learning tree of Aja Kong and truly began to hone her craft. She wrestled in Japan and Mexico, and wound up back in the United States to take part in the first taping for Dave Prazak’s new all-women’s promotion SHIMMER, where she and Mercedes Martinez fought to a time-limit draw in their first match together. SHIMMER was at that time closely-affiliated with Ring of Honor, and Del Rey was a fixture of the nascent Women of Honor division, as well as in CHIKARA. In SHIMMER, Del Rey was the de facto locker room leader. She was there to wrestle for the first 48 shows without missing a one before she was signed to WWE. She was the ace of the promotion, and in the words of Dave Prazak she was someone “young wrestlers looked up to” as “someone to aspire to be like because she proved that gender doesn’t have to hold one back from being a top-flight pro wrestler.” Del Rey won the 2007 tournament to crown the first SHIMMER Champion, and in 2010 she got to have a dream match, partnering with Claudio Castagnoli against Manami Toyota and Mike Quackenbush. In 2011 she got to wrestle and defeat Aja Kong, Tsubasa Kuragaki, and Ayako Hamada. Del Rey is one of the rare few wrestlers from outside of Japan to have defeated Asuka at any point in her career, and one of only two to do it twice. And in 2012 she got the rare distinction of placing #430 in the PWI 500 after having defeated such male wrestlers as Castagnoli and El Generico (Laprade and Murphy, 408). From March to July 2012, she and Courtney Rush were the SHIMMER Tag Team Champions as the Queens of Winning, making her the first woman to have won both the SHIMMER Tag Team and singles championships. Del Rey signed with WWE in 2012 and retired from active wrestling, taking on her current role of trainer in the Performance Center. It’s her “lifelong passion,” she told Vice. Her enduring legacy is WWE’s revived, revitalized, revolutionized women’s division. Matches ROH , vs. Taeler Hendrix ROH, vs. Amazing Kong AIW, vs. Hailey Hatred SHIMMER June 2, 2007, vs. Lacey to crown the first SHIMMER champion Jersey All Pro Wrestling, December 11, 2010, vs. LuFisto for the JAPW Women’s Championship SHIMMER October 2, 2011, with Madison Eagles vs. Ayumi Kurihara and Ayako Hamada for the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship Bonus promo segments: Sara tries to find a partner on SHIMMER volume 47 Mercedes Martinez Born Jasmine Benitez on November 17, 1980 in Waterbury, Connecticut, Mercedes Martinez grew up as a fan of professional wrestling and was inspired by wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. GLOW gained a fan in her as well. She played basketball in high school and college until she was injured and had to quit. That’s when she learned of a new pro wrestling school opened by Jason Knight (Laprade and Murphy, 244). Like LuFisto, she’s never been signed by a major promotion, though she has worked a few matches for ROH and WWE in her tenure. Within a month of beginning her training, Martinez had her debut match in 2000, and Knight gave her the name Mercedes Martinez. She made the rounds of the New England independent circuit, impressing enough to impress Dave Prazak, who brought her in to main event SHIMMER’s first show in a time-limit draw against Sara Del Rey, the first of 69 volumes she has wrestled on for SHIMMER (possibly as many as 73 after this weekend). In 2005 and 2006 Martinez worked the indies, being a highlight of SHIMMER’s shows and in 2007 she became part of Ring of Honor’s Vulture Squad stable. She won several titles, including the NWA Midwest/IWA Mid-South Women’s Championship, the WXW Cruiserweight Championship, and the WXW Women’s Championship. In 2006 Martinez was given a tryout with WWE in a match against Victoria, but she wasn’t what they were looking for (Laprade and Murphy, 345).
“I was told to revamp myself,” she said, in reference to the feedback the WWE road agents provided following the match. “My style was too aggressive for them – too hardcore, too strong-style. I had to tone it down and we could go from there. I didn’t want to water down myself and be something they wanted me to be when I knew what I was capable of at that time.” So Martinez said thanks but no thanks and went back to the independents. “I don’t regret turning them down because what they wanted wasn’t right for me,” she said. If what’s going on now [a greater emphasis on athleticism and workrate] had happened 10 years ago, I believe I would have been there.”
One of Martinez’s biggest accomplishments came under Sean McCaffrey’s stewardship of Women Superstars Uncensored. She was brought in as a top star and a booker, winning the WSU championship on March 7, 2009. Martinez made many marks in history during her feud with Angel Orsini, including the first women’s bullrope match, and on June 6 in an Iron Man match. Feeling a 30 minute match would be too easy and even ho-hum, they made a 60 minute match that went into sudden death overtime, ending at a final time of ~71 minutes, officially becoming the longest women’s match ever (blowing away every the 60-minute draw in AJW and even the 63 minute no contest claimed on Mildred Burke’s behalf for her shoot with June Byers). Martinez would hold the title for three years before dropping it to Jessicka Havok, but not before breaking her own record in a title defense on August 6, 2011 against Lexxus (Impact’s Alisha Edwards) that went 73 minutes. In 2017 Martinez was part of WWE’s Mae Young Classic, where she advanced to the semi-final before losing to a familiar face from SHIMMER: Shayna Baszler. Baszler, Martinez, and Nicole Savoy were a stable in SHIMMER at the time called Trifecta, with Martinez as the SHIMMER champion and Savoy as the Heart of SHIMMER champion, with Baszler as the extra muscle. Following the tournament, Baszler signed with WWE, and Aja Kong was brought in as a new third member of Trifecta, with Martinez explicitly calling her the new #2 of the group, to the annoyance of Savoy. Savoy would turn on Trifecta and win the SHIMMER Championship from Martinez. Martinez unsuccessfully challenged Savoy for the title at SHIMMER 100. Martinez is a highly decorated champion with nearly thirty championship reigns in her career. She is currently the SHINE Tag Team champion with Ivelisse as well as the WSU Champion (in her third reign). She recently lost the NCW Femmes Fatales International Championship to Vanessa Kraven and the SHIMMER Championship to Nicole Savoy. In 2014 Martinez was inducted into the WXW Hall of Fame, and in 2017 she was inducted into the WSU Hall of Fame. In 2011 she was #2 in the PWI Female 50. She’s still going strong, as well as teaching newer wrestlers through seminars with RISE. Matches WWE Heat June 12, 2006, vs. Victoria (tryout match) SHIMMER October 2, 2011 and March 17, 2012, vs. Athena (highlights from vols. 43 and 44, entirety of the match from vol. 45) AAW November 26, 2016, vs. Kimber Lee for the SHIMMER championship WWE Network July 14, 2017 Mae Young Classic round of 16, vs. Princesa Sugehit July 14, 2017 Mae Young Classic quarterfinal, vs. Abbey Laith July 14, 2017 Mae Young Classic semifinal, vs. Shayna Baszler Nov. 15, 2017 NXT, vs. Ember Moon MsChif Rachel Frobel, née Collins, was born in 1976 in St. Louis, Missouri. A microbiologist by trade, she was profiled on The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers (herearesomeclips), where she revealed that her inspiration to wrestle came when a secretary asked her what she would do if she could pick any thing fun to do in life. She began training in 2000, one of only two women in her class and the only one who stuck with it past two shows. She debuted in July 2001, and wrestled intergender matches until Daizee Haze came into the picture. The two worked each other and as partners across the Midwest independents, and in 2005 the two took part in the first SHIMMER taping. Haze wrestled Lacey in the main event while MsChif wrestled an intense brawl against Cheerleader Melissa. With her banshee scream and imposing look, MsChif by all appearances should have been the heel, but in reality she was the face of the match. In her tenure with SHIMMER, MsChif would wrestle on 52 volumes. MsChif won the NWA World Women’s Championship from Christie Ricci in January 2007. MsChif explains that NWA promoter “Ed Chuman really wanted to kick up the women’s division and get it out into the spotlight,” perhaps an attempt to reverse some of the damage it had done to its own reputation in women’s wrestling during the early TNA years, but “unfortunately, several of the NWA promotions didn’t have a lot of money and weren’t willing to invest in women’s wrestling. It never took off quite the way Ed wanted” (Laprade and Murphy, 368). Around this time, MsChif would say that she had no intention of going to WWE, explaining:
It’s sad to me to see talented women wrestlers go to waste because the WWE won’t really let them wrestle. Instead they use them as nothing more than sex objects. I don’t ever want to leave wrestling the way I wrestle now. I don’t want to be told what I can and can’t do.
She would lose the title to Amazing Kong in April, before winning it back on April 27, 2008, the day after she won the SHIMMER Championship from Sara Del Rey. She would hold the SHIMMER Championship for 715 days before dropping it to Madison Eagles, the longest reign with the title on record, and would hold onto the NWA World Women’s Championship for 818 days before dropping it to Tasha Simone. She was also the NWA Midwest Women’s champion for four years during this period. This time as a triple champion helped her earn her spot at #4 on the PWI Female 50 for 2009. MsChif married Michael Elgin on July 4, 2013, and they had a child in September 2015. MsChif’s last match to date was on May 11, 2014. If she intends to return to the ring in the foreseeable future, she hasn’t said, but she has also not made any official statement of retirement. She’s not ready just yet to close the door on wrestling (Laprade and Murphy, 369). Matches ROH, vs. Daizee Haze, Lacey, and Ashley Lane EWF, with Christina Eerie vs. Candice LeRae and Davina Rose SHIMMER April 7, 2007, vs. Amazing Kong RQW 2007, vs. Eden Black and Cheerleader Melissa for the RQW Women’s Championship D1W June 7, 2013, vs. Crazy Mary Dobson Cheerleader Melissa Born Melissa Anderson on August 17, 1982 in Los Angeles, Cheerleader Melissa is a second generation wrestler. Her father, Doug Anderson, had her attending Cauliflower Alley Club banquets from the time she was a teenager. When his tag team partner opened a wrestling school in San Bernadino, she signed up at the age of 15. She trained under the tutelage of Billy Anderson (no relation, but he was her father's tag team partner) and began touring the All Pro Wrestler circuit as a manager to the Ballard Brothers, a pair of heelish hockey players as their villainous cheerleader. She received additional training from Christopher Daniels and Brian Danielson before having her first match in 1999 on her 17th birthday, where she lost to Lexi Fyfe. She thought “Cheerleader Melissa” would be just a temporary thing, but she “realized very quickly that in the field of sports entertainment, that the name Melissa wasn’t marketable – it wasn’t catch and not getting people’s attention at all” (Laprade and Murphy, 354). In 2002 Melissa was invited to Japan to work with ARSION, wrestling against Lioness Asuka on her 20th birthday. By 2004 her hard work was already paying off, when the Cauliflower Alley Club gave her their Future Legend Award. They weren’t wrong. On the West coast she wrestled for ChickFight, and when SHIMMER opened its doors in 2005, she was right there on the first show, proving her heel credentials against MsChif. The most prolific wrestler for the promotion, she has wrestled on 89 volumes of SHIMMER (and likely more this weekend), most recently defeating Shotzi Blackheart at SHIMMER 100. As far as SHIMMER goes, she wrestled the most consecutive volumes of any SHIMMER wrestler, working the first 60 volumes. She would have wrestled the first 80 straight volumes if not for having to get stitches at the hospital following a match with LuFisto on volume 60, forcing her to only appear in a run-in on 61 after rushing from the hospital to make the show in time. Melissa would become the SHIMMER champion in 2011 by defeating Madison Eagles. She would lose it to Saraya Knight, before regaining it on April 6, 2013 by defeating Knight in SHIMMER’s first ever cage match to become the first two-time SHIMMER champion (an honor only she and Mercedes Martinez share). This helped make her #1 on the PWI Female 50 for 2013. Through her time in SHIMMER, she also became only the second American to have two pinfall victories against Kana (WWE's Asuka). All the while, Melissa tried out for WWE in 2006, though she was passed over. She was at one point considered for a spot in WWE prior to that tryout, but nothing came of it due to a change in direction (namely, the dropping of the Muhammad Hassan character). She was originally to have been part of the Muhammed Hassan and Khosrow Daivari group, and this led to the persona she adopted when she first joined TNA in 2008 as Raisha Saeed. She managed Awesome Kong and occasionally wrestled in this role, but she was criminally underused. At some point someone in TNA realized this, so they asked her to do double duty. She debuted as Alissa Flash in 2009 and wrestled outside the niqab all while also wearing it to wrestle for and/or against Kong as well (October 20 and 21, 2009, for instance saw her wrestle as Saeed one day and Flash the next, losing to Awesome Kong and Tara, respectively). She requested her release from TNA in 2010 due to feeling underused. In 2014 she was made president of Stardom’s American branch, responsible for booking American talent for Stardom shows. In that role she and Madusa have had many conversations relating to the struggles of being a woman in wrestling (Laprade and Murphy, 356-57).
“When I talk to Madusa, I sometimes feel like I’m talking to a version of myself from the future. We’ve had so many of the same experiences. When she worked for some of the bigger companies, she would struggle because she had trained in Japan with that style. She would wrestle and the men would be pissed that they had to follow her. I was like, ‘Oh God, you too?’”
2018.04.08 19:35 SaintRidley30 Days of Women's Wrestling Trailblazers - #25 Dump Matsumoto
This is the twenty-fifth part of a 30-day series looking at the trailblazing women wrestlers of yesteryear. This series is designed to be primarily about women wrestlers from prior to the 1980s, though there will be a handful of women from the 80s in the mix. I will be excerpting, with citations, from Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy’s Sisterhood of the Squared Circle repeatedly, as it’s the most comprehensive single source on women’s wrestling out there. I encourage you to pick it up, as it’s a fantastic read. This will be different from other 30-day series in that these will all be mini-essays. Gifs and video will be provided where possible, but please understand that such is not always available for some of the earlier women I will cover. I would also like to plug the new subreddit /QueensoftheRing for more discussion about women’s wrestling, past and present. Dump Matsumoto Kaoru Matsumoto, better known as Dump Matsumoto, was born on November 11, 1960, and when she burst onto the scene in 1980, she changed wrestling. Dave Meltzer wrote in the Wrestling Observer 1988 Yearbook that
Matsumoto actually pioneered the gimmick that the Road Warriors would later use to great fame in the United States, of being face-painted bikers with bizarre haircuts and monster heels who sold very little, if at all, for the smaller, under matched baby faces. […] Matsumoto’s impact was so great that she often brought crowds literally to tears with her villainous tactics, and when she would merely walk down the street in any major city, people would scatter in fear (Laprade and Murphy, 291).
2018.03.31 18:25 SaintRidley30 Days of Women's Wrestling Trailblazers - #17 Kay Noble
This is the seventeenth part of a 30-day series looking at the trailblazing women wrestlers of yesteryear. This series is designed to be primarily about women wrestlers from prior to the 1980s, though there will be a handful of women from the 80s in the mix. I will be excerpting, with citations, from Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy’s Sisterhood of the Squared Circle repeatedly, as it’s the most comprehensive single source on women’s wrestling out there. I encourage you to pick it up, as it’s a fantastic read. This will be different from other 30-day series in that these will all be mini-essays. Gifs and video will be provided where possible, but please understand that such is not always available for some of the earlier women I will cover. I would also like to plug the new subreddit /QueensoftheRing for more discussion about women's wrestling, past and present. Kay Noble Mary Charlene Noble was known by the name “Kay” from a young age. Born on October 15, 1940 in St. Joseph, Missouri, she got interested in wrestling early, deciding by the age of 15 she wanted to do it. Promoter Gus Karras wanted her to wait until she was 18 before he’d take her on, and when he did she began training with Sonny Myers and Laura Martinez. Every source says she was 18 when she had her first match in 1957, even though mathematically that doesn’t work, so it would seem more likely that she debuted at the age of 17 with Karras relenting on the age issue. Within a year of beginning her career, Noble made the news as she, Penny Banner, Lorraine Johnson, and Laura Martinez were charged with inciting a riot for brawling outside the ring during a tag team match in Amarillo, Texas. Noble toured throughout the Southwest during the early years of her career. She was a frequent competitor in mixed tag team matches, often working with Dory Funk Jr. or his brother Terry. She earned a reputation for toughness, as well as innovation. Dory Funk Jr. told the Miami Herald in 2010 that the Funking Conservatory still teaches techniques innovated by Kay Noble. Tom Andrews cites a time when she saved him from a swarm of angry fans while his leg was broken: “Kay Noble came out and saved me. I’m not kidding you. She came out. I did have a walker on my cast, and I could walk. I was swinging punches just like her. Boy, she led me back to the dressing room, just knocking guys on their butts.” Beginning in the 1960s, Noble started competing primarily for Verne Gagne’s AWA. Again, she commonly worked mixed tag team matches, often partnering with her first husband, Doug Gilbert, whom she married in 1959 (Laprade and Murphy, 124). She won the vacant AWA World Women’s Championship (last held by Penny Banner until she and her family moved to North Carolina) on April 13, 1963. She held the title for over six years, and was named the Girl Wrestler of the Year for 1971 by the Wrestling Fans International Association (Laprade and Murphy, 124). Noble also won the NWA Texas Women’s Championship twice, and the NWA Central States Women’s Championship once under promoter Bob Geigel. Noble was a bartender for Geigel’s bar at the time. Noble garnered a reputation as one of the major figures in independent women’s wrestling, and mentored other independent women. Mentee Donna Lemke credits Noble for steering her in the right direction and clueing her in to who was sleazy and who was worth talking to. She also trained wrestlers including Col. DeBeers, who spoke of how she was big enough that she could call and get booked just about anywhere despite being outside Moolah’s troupe. Noble’s friend Marie Laverne said that she was always a heel in an interview with the *Seattle Times after Kay’s passing, and according to Lemke Kay was quite the ribber too.
We were in Louisiana and the referee wore a toupee. And he always told the guys, leave it alone, nobody touches the toupee. Well, that’s all she had to hear. There were four girls in a tag team match and she told Sandy Parker and the two of them pulled the toupee off the ref’s head. I was laughing so hard, standing like this with my legs crossed, afraid I was going to pee my pants. And they’re kicking this thing across the ring and hitting it and throwing it around, and the poor referee is so red, and he’s lying there on the mat trying to cover up his head. That’s the kind of stuff Kay would do.
2018.03.29 18:44 SaintRidley30 Days of Women's Wrestling Trailblazers - #15 Sandy Parker
This is the fifteenth part of a 30-day series looking at the trailblazing women wrestlers of yesteryear. This series is designed to be primarily about women wrestlers from prior to the 1980s, though there will be a handful of women from the 80s in the mix. I will be excerpting, with citations, from Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy’s Sisterhood of the Squared Circle repeatedly, as it’s the most comprehensive single source on women’s wrestling out there. I encourage you to pick it up, as it’s a fantastic read. This will be different from other 30-day series in that these will all be mini-essays. Gifs and video will be provided where possible, but please understand that such is not always available for some of the earlier women I will cover. Sandy Parker Born in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 2, 1952, Sandy Parker would go on to be the first black woman in wrestling to win a major world title. She was addicted to wrestling from a young age, and recalls a friend telling her she could wrestle while they watched a Judy Grable match. She first trained under Joe Klein, Jane Mull, and Lucille Dupree. Parker debuted in the late 60s or early 70s (a newspaper report claims she started at the age of 23) and used a ring name up until she had trouble cashing a check because it was made out to her wrestling character rather than herself. From then on, she wrestled with her real name. Parker liked to work heel, but often wound up working face due to promoters’ fear that a black heel beating up a white face would cause a riot among fans. She would move to South Carolina to train further with the Fabulous Moolah, on the advice of her trainers that she wouldn’t get ahead if she didn’t go through Moolah. The experience wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. According to Jamie Kreisser’s profile of her, Parker said that “if you didn’t do things [Moolah’s] way, then you didn’t do it at all.” Parker did credit Moolah with being good in the ring, but she also doesn’t hold back in her honest opinion on Moolah:
The experience was a positive one at first. She says Ellison was very attentive and encouraging about her career and the trailers on Ellison's property that provided accommodation for the women were pretty good. But Parker's outlook changed after six or seven months. She felt ripped off by the fact that Ellison, not the women themselves, would receive their wrestling cheques first, she would then take her cut and only then pass the remaining funds on to the women. Opportunities were also granted to those who were on Ellison's good side. "Everybody knew that if you weren't on Lillian's good side, you got crappy bookings," comments Parker. "I wasn't on her good side because I wouldn't do what she wanted me to do. That was one of the reasons I never worked Madison Square Garden because every time the bookings came up, I'd be on her bad side. As far as I am concerned I could wrestle just as good as Toni Rose, Donna Christenello or anyone of those girls (who were on Ellison's good side)." Parker says that Ellison also interfered with her personal life. Despite Ellison's knowledge that Parker was gay she often suggested to her that she should go out with one of her nephews. As part of her number of rules, Ellison also told Parker she was not to go to any gay bars. These tactics enraged Parker. "Lillian was two faced because she had her own little dalliances that we all knew about," alleges Parker.
Parker’s first championship win came with partner Sue Green (profiled earlier) when the pair defeated Donna Christianello and Toni Rose in November of 1971 for the NWA World Women’s Tag Team Championship (In the Kreisser piece there’s a funny anecdote about working a match with Rose after drinking too many Hurricanes and being complimented on having a great match that neither could remember). They lost the belts in February of 1972, and the title change is not recognized by the NWA. On the American scene, it would turn out, Parker was not destined to be recognized as a champion. Fed up with Moolah and the NWA, Parker took up with Mildred Burke and would soon find success in Japan. In 1973 she began to tour with AJW, where she defeated Miyoko Hoshino for the WWWA World Singles Championship and held onto It for 56 days. During this reign Parker and Masked Lee won the WWWA World Tag Team Championship twice, and in the summer of 1974 she would win the title six more times with partners Jeane Antone and Betty Niccoli. In 1975 she and Antone wrestled Oregon’s first women’s match in fifty years, with Parker working heel. Parker retired from wrestling in 1986. Sue Green revealed in an interview with Dale Pierce that Parker had once been rumored to be dead, but Green found out her former partner was alive when she received a phone call from her. Parker was alive and well in Las Vegas. About her time in wrestling, Parker said at the 2004 Cauliflower Alley Club reunion that she only has three regrets: not keeping a diary, not saving her money, and that she was born ten years too soon. Sandy Parker’s WWWA World Singles title win was the first world title win for any black woman in wrestling and would be the only one for nearly twenty years until Aja Kong won the WWWA title for the first time in 1992. Parker broke the color barrier for black women wrestlers, and it is undeniable that a major part of her legacy is opening the door for future black women’s world champions to emerge. Indeed, it’s only a small number of black women who can claim to have won one of the titles directly (WWWA World Singles, AWA World Women’s, WWE Women’s, NWA World Women’s) or spiritually (World of Stardom, WWE Divas, WWE Smackdown/Raw Women’s) descended from the original June Byers/Mildred Burke split: Aja Kong (WWWA 1992), Jacqueline (WWF 1998), Jazz (WWF 2002, NWA 2016), Amazing Kong (WWWA 2004, NWA 2007), Layla (WWE 2010), Alicia Fox (WWE 2010), Sasha Banks (WWE 2016), Naomi (WWE 2017). All of them carry on Parker's legacy of excellence. Match Clip: Sandy Parker vs. Betty Niccoli Sources: Kreisser, Jamie Melissa, “Sandy Parker: Addicted to wrestling” for SLAM! Sports (March 14, 2008) Oliver, Greg, “Heenan given CAC’s top honor”” for SLAM! Sports (April 18, 2004) Pierce, Dale, “Interview with Susan Green” for Wrestling Then and Now (April 5, 2004) Previously: MinervaCora LivingstonClara MortensenIda Mae MartinezCora and Debbie Combs Penny BannerThe Beauty PairBabs Wingo, Marva Scott, Ethel JohnsonJudy GrableJaguar Yokota Susan Tex GreenThe Glamour GirlsDevil MasamiMae Weston
2018.03.27 18:32 SaintRidley30 Days of Women's Wrestling Trailblazers - #13 Devil Masami
This is the thirteenth part of a 30-day series looking at the trailblazing women wrestlers of yesteryear. This series is designed to be primarily about women wrestlers from prior to the 1980s, though there will be a handful of women from the 80s in the mix. I will be excerpting, with citations, from Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy’s Sisterhood of the Squared Circle repeatedly, as it’s the most comprehensive single source on women’s wrestling out there. I encourage you to pick it up, as it’s a fantastic read. This will be different from other 30-day series in that these will all be mini-essays. Gifs and video will be provided where possible, but please understand that such is not always available for some of the earlier women I will cover. Devil Masami Masami Yoshida was born on January 7, 1962, and debuted for AJW in 1978 at the age of 16. This was the tail end of the first joshi boom period heralded by the Beauty Pair, and Masami was poised to make her mark. In 1981 she and Tarantula began teaming together, and in August of 1982 the team won the WWWA World Tag Team Championship. Devil’s size positioned her well: she could be both a bruiser heel who could dominate smaller opponents and use her speed to defeat monster heels who made her look small (Laprade and Murphy, 289). In many ways, Devil was perfectly situated to be number two to Jaguar Yokota’s ace, and more than once seemed to catch accomplishments on the heels on Yokota’s own, in some cases eclipsing Yokota’s accomplishments. She won the AJW Championship in 1981 after it was vacated by Yokota. In 1984 she defeated Judy Martin to claim the AJW All Pacific Championship following the retirement of Mimi Hagiwara. In 1985 she defeated Dump Matsumoto to claim the WWWA World Singles Championship that had been vacated due to Jaguar Yokota’s early retirement following her 5 star classic against Lioness Asuka, becoming the first woman to hold all four titles (and the second to hold the All Pacific, WWWA Tag, and WWWA Singles titles after Maki Ueda), all in the middle of the second joshi boom period. In 1987 she would work a one-month tour of Alberta, Canada for Stampede Wrestling, her only time wrestling outside Japan. Not content to retire at AJW’s mandatory retirement age of 26, Devil jumped ship to Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (the precursor to JWP Joshi Puroresu), the first company founded to compete with AJW. She became their top heel, and helped herald the joshi boom of the early 90s. In 1993 she and Dynamite Kansai became the second JWP Tag Team Champions, and in 1994 Devil defeated her partner to become the second JWP Openweight Champion. She would have two more runs with the JWP Tag Team titles with Hikari Fukuoka and Cutie Suzuki as partners. In 1997 Devil defeated Chigusa Nagayo in the GAEA promotion to win two titles: Nagayo’s AAAW Single Championship and the vacant WCW World Women’s Championship. She was the second holder of each title, and would be the last holder of the WCW Women’s title, as the title went defunct immediately as WCW and GAEA’s working relationship ended. In 2003 she and Aja Kong became the AAAW Tag Team Champions. The main event of AJW’s final event on April 17, 2005 was a tag team match in which Devil Masami teamed with Amazing Kong to defeat Kyoko Inoue and Misae Genki. In 2008 she wrestled her final match, a six woman tag team match where she teamed with Carlos Amano and Dynamite Kansai in a losing effort against Aja Kong, Toshie Uematsu, and Ran Yu-Yu. She was inducted into the inaugural class of the WON Hall of Fame in 1996, and in 1998 she was inducted into the AJW Hall of Fame. Her theme “Black Soldier” is pretty sweet, too. Matches with Jumbo Hori vs. Dump Matsumoto and Desiree Petersen with Italian commentary vs. Jaguar Yokota vs. Lola Gonzalez, partial match 1982, vs. Mimi Hagiwara July 19, 1982, vs. Jaguar Yokota Jan. 4, 1983, with Tarantula vs. Mimi Hagiwara and Jaguar Yokota defending the WWWA World Tag Team Championship 2/3 falls OCt. 20, 1987, vs. Pantera Sureña 1993 interpromotional match, vs. Kyoko Inoue April 18, 1993 JWP, vs. Bull Nakano Sept. 20, 1997 GAEA, vs. Zero (Chigusa Nagayo) for the AAAW Single Championship and WCW World Women’s Championship – clipped Dec. 26, 1997 JWP, with Cuty Suzuki vs. Manami Toyota and Hikari Fukuoka Source Laprade, Pat and Dan Murphy, Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women’s Wrestling (ECW Press, 2017). Previously: MinervaCora LivingstonClara MortensenIda Mae MartinezCora and Debbie Combs Penny BannerThe Beauty PairBabs Wingo, Marva Scott, Ethel JohnsonJudy GrableJaguar Yokota Susan Tex GreenThe Glamour Girls
2018.03.24 17:55 SaintRidley30 Days of Women's Wrestling Trailblazers - #10 Jaguar Yokota (5 star match inside)
This is the tenth part of a 30-day series looking at the trailblazing women wrestlers of yesteryear. This series is designed to be primarily about women wrestlers from prior to the 1980s, though there will be a handful of women from the 80s in the mix. I will be excerpting, with citations, from Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy’s Sisterhood of the Squared Circle repeatedly, as it’s the most comprehensive single source on women’s wrestling out there. I encourage you to pick it up, as it’s a fantastic read. This will be different from other 30-day series in that these will all be mini-essays. Gifs and video will be provided where possible, but please understand that such is not always available for some of the earlier women I will cover. Jaguar Yokota Born Rimi Yokota on July 25, 1961, Jaguar Yokota auditioned for AJW at the age of 16. She was one of over 600 teenage girls to apply for an open audition in 1977, all of whom were inspired by the Beauty Pair. She wasn’t an athlete prior to her audition, but Yokota would go on to put on the first match in AJW to be rated 5 stars by Dave Meltzer. Yokota was trained by her idol Jackie Sato and debuted at the age of 15 on June 28, 1977 against Mayumi Takahashi. She would eventually take the name Jaguar from Jet Jaguar, who teamed up with Godzilla in the movie Godzilla vs. Megalon. On January 4, 1980 (not 1978, as mistakenly noted by Laprade and Murphy), Yokota became the first AJW Junior Champion, defeating Chino Sato. In December 1980 she defeated Nancy Kumi and became the inaugural AJW Japan Singles champion, a belt made to represent a stepping stone to the WWWA World Singles championship. She also teamed with Ayumi Hori to win the WWWA World Tag Team championship in December 1980, which she vacated on January 4, 1981 to begin pursuing the WWWA World Singles title. In February 1981, Yokota defeated Jackie Sato to win the WWWA title. She wasn’t even twenty yet. With this win, a “youth movement” began in AJW as established stars from the 70s began passing the torch. Yokota led the charge, as she worked a wide variety of styles ranging from mat wrestling to lucha (Laprade and Murphy, 287). The Phantom of the Ring, in a column on Online World of Wrestling, explains the shift:
Until this, women’s wrestling had been a paced imitation of the men’s game, which itself was beginning to change in Japan with the debut of Tiger Mask. But now the men’s game would begin to imitate the women. The high flying game featured spectacular moves as well as unbelievable bumps. The down side of this was the injuries suffered by the women; many would have to retire early because of their injuries, including Yakota [sic].
2018.03.21 17:42 SaintRidley30 Days of Women's Wrestling Trailblazers - #7 The Beauty Pair, Jackie Sato and Maki Ueda
This is the seventh part of a 30-day series looking at the trailblazing women wrestlers of yesteryear. This series is designed to be primarily about women wrestlers from prior to the 1980s, though there will be a handful of women from the 80s in the mix. I will be excerpting, with citations, from Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy’s Sisterhood of the Squared Circle repeatedly, as it’s the most comprehensive single source on women’s wrestling out there. I encourage you to pick it up, as it’s a fantastic read. This will be different from other 30-day series in that these will all be mini-essays. Gifs and video will be provided where possible, but please understand that such is not always available for some of the earlier women I will cover. The Beauty Pair Jackie Sato and Maki Ueda, the Beauty Pair, were the premier tag team of the 1970s for All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling. Twice winners of the WWWA World Tag Team Championship, the pair resonated with young girls in Japan. And one reason for that success was that they paired excellent wrestling with a whole entertainment package, becoming one of the early examples of what would become Japanese idol culture. Fuji TV began airing AJW in 1975 on the promise that the wrestlers would also perform songs on the show. The team of Sato and Ueda was put together by taking inspiration from the Takarazuka Theater Group’s Roses of Versailles, with Sato in the role of an “otokoyaku (make role) wrestler [and] Maki Ueda as a musumeyaku (female role) wrestler” (Aiba, 271). The debut of the team saw them win the WWWA World Tag Team championship on February 24, 1976 from Mariko Akagi and Mach Fumiake. Together and separately they performed songs like Mayonaka no Hitorigoto, “Beautiful Determination,” and “Kakemeguru Seishun” and starred in a movie called Beauty Pair Makka Na Seishun. The Beauty Pair were bonafide crossover superstars, bridging the gap between wrestling and pop culture entertainment a decade before Vince McMahon did the same for American wrestling with Wrestlemania. Maki Ueda Makiko Ueda was born on March 8, 1958. After her run as a tag team wrestler with Jackie Sato, she transitioned into a successful singles career, twice winning the WWWA World Singles championship, the title descended from Mildred Burke’s side of the split of the original world championship, in June 1976 and in July 1977. I’ll just quote Laprade and Murphy’s description of perhaps the greatest women’s match of All Japan Women in the 70s: “On November 1, 1977, the Beauty Pair faced off in a singles match for the WWWA title. The match was billed as the greatest women’s match of all time, the equivalent of an Antonio Inoki vs. Giant Baba match. Sato scored the win over Ueda to take the title in front of 13,000 fans in a sold-out Budokan Hall, only the third time in five years that wrestling sold out the building. They wrestled to a 60-minute draw, with Mildred Burke as the lone judge, and she awarded the match and the title to Sato” (Laprade and Murphy, 282). In addition to her WWWA World Singles and Tag title reigns, Maki Ueda won the All-Pacific Women’s Championship on August 9, 1978, becoming the first woman to win all three titles (a feat later achieved by Devil Masami, Momoe Nakanishi, Aja Kong, Chigusa Nagayo, Bull Nakano, Yumiko Hotta, Manami Toyota, Kyoko Inoue, and Lioness Asuka). Ueda would face off one last time against Jackie Sato in a retirement match on February 27, 1979. Jackie Sato Born Naoko Sato on October 30, 1957, Jackie Sato began wrestling for AJW in 1975, debuting against future partner Maki Ueda. After the team split up, Sato began teaming with Nancy Kumi an won the WWWA World Tag Team Championship for a third time on July 29, 1977. She and Kumi would hold the tag team title until vacating it on November 1, 1977, after defeating Ueda for the WWWA World Singles Championship. She would hold the title two more times, defeating Monster Ripper on September 13, 1979, and defeating former partner Nancy Kumi to claim the vacant title on December 16, 1980. Sato would lose the WWWA World Singles title for the final time to Jaguar Yokuta on February 26, 1981, before retiring on May 21, 1981. Sato, along with former partner Nancy Kumi and boxer Rumi Kazama formed the first company to challenge AJW’s monopoly on women’s wrestling in Japan: Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling. JWP, unlike AJW, had no mandatory retirement policy at the age of 26. Sato would come out of retirement for two years to wrestle for JWP, including a match on July 18, 1987 against Shinobu Kandori that turned into a shoot due to tension between the wrestlers and the shoot fighters (the shooters in early JWP felt the wrestlers weren’t as worthy). Kandori later said of the match that she “wasn't thinking about winning but breaking the opponent's heart. Not her bone or muscle, just breaking her heart." Jackie Sato retired 9 months later in 1988. In 1996 she was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame inaugural class (the inaugural class was chosen specifically by Meltzer), one of four women in that class (the others were Mildred Burke, Dump Matsumoto, and Devil Masami). She attended AJW’s thirtieth anniversary show in 1998 and was inducted into the AJW Hall of Fame before dying on August 9, 1999 of stomach cancer at the age of 41. She was posthumously awarded a Tokyo Sports Service Award for her contributions to puroresu. Matches Beauty Pair Beauty Pair vs. Black Pair (Yumi Ikeshita and Shinobu Aso) Jackie Sato Jackie Sato vs. Tomi Ayoama Jackie Sato vs. Devil Masami Jackie Sato vs. Chabela Romero Maki Ueda Maki Ueda vs. Lucy Kayama Jackie Sato vs. Maki Ueda, Ueda’s retirement match) There’s a lot more out there – if you look on youtube for AJW TV late 1970s, you’ll find dozens of episodes complete with matches and music videos. Sources: Aiba, Keiko, “Japanese Women Professional Wrestlers and Body Image” in Transforming Japan: How Feminism and Diversity are Making a Difference, edited by Kumiko Fujimura-Fanselow (The Feminist Press, 2011): 268-84. Laprade, Pat and Dan Murphy, Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women’s Wrestling (ECW Press, 2017). Previously: MinervaCora LivingstonClara MortensenIda Mae MartinezCora and Debbie Combs Penny Banner
2017.08.25 17:20 MatthewMirThe Essential Women's Wrestling Collection: The best and most significant Women's Wrestling matches
Hey wrestling fans, yes I’m back for a special edition of an Essential List. For those who don’t know me or what this is it’s simple - I give Wreddit a retrospective list of matches from a certain superstar. Over the last couple of weeks I made several lists of Essential Career Matches. You can either access them all through this link or here:
This week we’re doing we’re preparing for the upcoming Mae Young Classic Women’s Tournament, by looking at the essential - Women’s Wrestling
These collection of matches comes from Dave Meltzer (his matches feature his ratings for matches rated 3* Stars and matches that I believe that are also good too, I’ll try add the ratings to those matches as well.
I should just be straight up and honest that most of these matches are going to be for the WWE brand purely because I don’t know much women’s wrestling outside of WWE – so If you have any suggestions for matches that could be included simply privately message me or add a comment on this and I will considerate it.Please read the entire list before commenting saying I’ve forgotten a match.. Also since a few people have commented on these posts saying 'stop throwing lists at us with no information' so on a few matches I’ve added a little bit of a backstory for new fans/fans of who haven’t seen the matches, some match details do contain spoilers, so you have been warned, but really if you’re getting up in arms about a match spoiler from several years ago that’s not my problem. I have also tried to add a link to each match as well; videos come from WWE Network, YouTube and Daily Motion. Lastly, and most importantly, I used Meltzer’s ratings as a guide but make sure to make your own opinion (or rating in this case) about the matches. Just cause he gives something a 3, doesn't mean that it isn't a 5 to you! If you do not like this list because I’ve based it off ratings, that is not my problem. Alright, now lets start the list:
Alundra Blayze Vs Bull Nakano - Summerslam 1994 - 3 ¼* - I mean honestly it might seem harsh me not including many WWF Women Matches pre-1994 but nothing really stands out except for The Fabulous Moolah retaining the Womens Championship for “over 10,000” days, the championship was eventually vacated/defunct until late 1993 when Alundra Blayze won against Heidi Lee Morgan in a tournament to win the newly made WWF Championship.
Lita Vs Trish Stratus - Raw 06/12/2004 – Lita became the first women to three times main event a show, this match was really praised when it first happened, and really it still his praised by fans, and WWE. This match can also be remembered by Litas vicious suicide dive outside the ring. I’d like to include WWE make it seem like Lita & Trish were every girls idols growing up, and whether or not that’s true – it’s easy to see that these two had great chemistry together.
Lita Vs Mickie James - Survivor Series 2006 - 1 ½* - This would be Lita’s final match in WWE before retiring, and unlike Trish’s retirement a few months prior – this match seems rushed, and careless and straight up rude. In an interview post Survivor Series, she went on to admit that the crowd reaction to her had taken a toll onto her mentally.
Beth Phoenix Vs Kelly Kelly - Night of Champions 2011 - 2 ¼* - This match took place in Phoenix hometown of Buffalo – and I really wish she had won this match. Yes, she was a heel and heels usually lose, but she is one of the saving graces of female competitors in the dark ages in the ‘Diva’s Era’.
AJ Lee Vs Kaitlyn - Payback 2013 – 3* - It seems for a long time, there was no real characters in the ‘Divas division’ for WWE. That was until AJ Lee became the focal point of the product – her gimmick was that she was a little bit crazy but a very good wrestler, and she would go onto compete day in and day night for the Diva’s Championship. This was a feud between real life friends invested in a long time rivalry, and probably my favourite AJ Lee match in her championship reign. I feel like out of most women in WWE these two will be forgotten as true pioneers of a ‘Diva’s Revolution’.
Paige Vs Emma - NXT 24/07/2013 - This is the final match in a tournament to determine the first ever NXT women’s championship. Which was big at the time because female wrestlers were mainly only called ‘Divas’. However, Triple H wanted to change that and make sure that the females were treated as actual competitors and superstars. I know people will complain and argue that there aren’t many matches pre-2013 but to be brutually honest many female wrestlers weren’t THAT good, and not only that the WWE and multiple other companies didn’t really give attention to the female wrestlers. It took the world to see how big female competition got in everyday sport such as soccer, basketball and especially in the UFC to help people in WWE understand that the fans wanted to see more of the female wrestlers.
Paige Vs Sasha Banks - NXT 11/09/2013 - Sasha Banks, one of the ‘Four Horsewomen’ in NXT would become one of the major players in NXT, but before that she was a preppy, good girl who didn’t make much impact. This match would reveal the birth of ‘The Boss’ gimmick, and would help change the landscape of NXT for years to come.
Charlotte Vs Natalya - NXT Takeover - 4* - I feel like this match is ignored or forgotten for some strange reason, I mean it’s pretty significant. It’s the first ever 4 star rating women’s match under the WWE/NXT banner. These two have great chemistry with each other as well, I know people are down on a possible face-turn for Charlotte on Smackdown, but I hope it happens so we can get another good match with each other. Charlotte was still somewhat green in her wrestling ability, and Natalya really helped train her and carry her throughout this match and her time in NXT.
AJ Lee Vs Paige - Summerslam 2014 - 2 ¼* - I feel as if these two never got the full potential they deserved in WWE, or maybe they just didn’t mesh well together. But people saw ‘dream match’ vibes from these two years ago, I really wish they could’ve feuded after the WWE started promoting the whole ‘Womens Revolution’ – but AJ Lee would retire from wrestling, and Paige would continute to wrestle up until her neck injury which has her currently sidelined.
Sasha Banks Vs Charlotte Vs Bayley Vs Becky Lynch - NXT Takeover: Rival - 4* - The Four Horsewomen of NXT would face off with each other in a really fun fatal four way between each other, these four women helped change and revolutionise the womens division within WWE, and I’m glad they got their moment to show off their talents. I personally can’t wait for the rematch of this match to take place on a main-roster PPV, preferably Wrestlemania. As I said earlier, people in the back started to see that women’s competition in sport was becoming very, very important and getting backed by supporters, and these women exemplified showing how great female wrestlers can be.
Sasha Banks Vs Becky Lynch - NXT Takeover: Unstoppable - 4* - Women’s wrestling became really big in NXT, and this is one of the best examples. Sasha Banks was an already loved wrestler, but Becky Lynch.. Not so much. But after this match she was a made star. I still believe this may be the most underrated big time match for NXT, it’s commonly overshadowed by the Banks/Bayley match at the following Takeover, but I love this match.
Bayley Vs Sasha Banks - NXT Takeover: Brooklyn - 4 ½* - Man, this match right here. It’s hard to not say this wasn’t the best match of 2015 in WWE. I love when there’s a big pay off for a wrestler and Bayley is just such a loveable character, I recommend this match to every wrestling fan. This match truly kickstarted the womens revolution, I don’t care what kind of revisionist history WWE tries and sprouts – this match is hands down is the match that got people to be more engaged in Women’s Wrestling. It’s a shame that here we are two years after this match and we’ve got crowds completely turning on both Sasha and Bayley.
Bayley Vs Sasha Banks - NXT Takeover: Respect - 4 ¼* - The significance of this – simply put; two female wrestlers main evented a WWE/NXT show. They started a revolution in NXT that women are meant to be treated like wrestlers not ‘toilet breaks’. After this match Sasha was fully transitioned onto the main roster and that following year at Wrestlemania she would be involved in the first bout for the WWE Women’s Championship, and Bayley would have a fun reign as champion on NXT.
Asuka Vs Emma - NXT Takeover: London – 4* - This is the first time you’ll see Asuka on this list, but I can’t understate how great she is. She’s fun, she’s booked as strong and it’s just really fun to see how far she’s grown as a competitor. This match is really fun and put a lot of the WWE roster to shame.
Charlotte Vs Becky Lynch Vs Sasha Banks - Wrestlemania 32 - 4* - This is easily the best Womens match in Wrestlemania history, these 3 women really went all out on this match and it is one of the redeeming qualities for a pretty lacking ‘Mania. This match was for the inaugural (new) Women’s Championship and it also meant that WWE would no longer use the term ‘diva’, it would be changed to women’s superstar. The issue people have with this match is that they don’t like the winner of this match, but I think it’s fine and that in the long-run WWE history it’ll be good to see the first champion was the daughter one of the best wrestlers of all time – Ric Flair. The only thing I would’ve loved more is if they had Bayley called up leading into this match and made it a fatal four way match to make it a ‘Four Horsewomen Fatal Four Way’.
Sasha Banks Vs Charlotte - Raw 25/07/2016 - 3 ¾* - This would be the start of their one-on-one rivalry which would go for the whole year – in shockingly fashion this match started the trend of Sasha winning the Women’s Championship on Raw and never a PPV.
Bayley Vs Asuka - NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II – 4* - This would be Bayley’s swan song in NXT before getting called up to the main roster. She gets her rematch against Asuka in a great match between the two and really made you feel like Bayley could retain her title because of all her defiance and determination. Asuka was just continuing to add ‘W’s to her name, and would continue to remind the fans that no one was ready for her, and no one was taking her NXT Women’s Championship from her.
Charlotte Vs Sasha Banks Vs Bayley - Clash of Champions 2016 - 3 ¼* - I feel as if this match is superunderrated, and people have completely forgotten about it. This match was really fun and added 3 out of the 4 horsewomen. Soon enough we will be able to get all four in the squared circle competing for a Women’s championship.
Sasha Banks Vs Charlotte - Raw 28/11/2016 - 4* - It seems that 2016 was the ‘Sasha Banks Vs Charlotte’ year – people seem to either love it or hate it. The reasoning for this was due to a few factors such as trading championship victories on Raw’s and PPV’s, and the second was due to them two being the central focus for the WWE Women’s Championship on Raw for a majority of the year, instead of showcasing other females. I think if you’re looking back at this feud in my opinion if you just want their ‘best’ matches – stick to the Raw matches and the Roadblock Iron Woman Match’.
Becky Lynch Vs Mickie James - Elimination Chamber 2017 - 3 ¼* - Mickie James returned to WWE in NXT in November of 2016 and then in January 2017 it was revealed that James had aligned to herself with Smackdown Women’s Champion – Alexa Bliss. This feud ended abruptly after this match really, and it seems that James has done nothing since, and honestly I wish they would put her in decent feud on Raw or send her to NXT and have her face rising women stars, that way build them up and train them.
Bayley Vs Charlotte – Raw 13/02/2017 – 4 ¼* - I still don’t understand why they didn’t wait for Bayley to win the Women’s Championship at Wrestlemania instead of a random Raw match. Either way, this was actually a really god match, and possibly better than all the Sasha/Charlotte matches from the previous year- I really hope people don’t forget about this match when talking about the best matches of the year.
Asuka Vs Nikki Cross – NXT 28/06/2017 - 4* - It cannot be understated how fun this feud between these two have been throughout 2017. There’s a big part of me (and honestly I think most NXT fans) that wishes this was the match that should take place at NXT Brooklyn III.
Asuka Vs Ember Moon - NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III – 4 ½* - Asuka has broken so many records in WWE/NXT becoming the Longest, Reigning, Defending Champion in the last 30 years, as of NXT TakeOver Brooklyn, she had held the NXT Womens Championship for a record of 504 days. As announced earlier this morning at the recent NXT Tapings Asuka will forfeit the NXT Womens Championship to recover from injuries, she will not be returning to NXT she will be moving to either Raw or Smackdown.
Thanks for taking the time to read this list, I hope you enjoyed it. I’ll be back hopefully in the next couple of weeks/in a month with another list for eras of wrestling. I hope everyone enjoy’s the Mae Young Classic.
2017.07.21 00:30 IamRandom123[THG] The 5th Totally Random Hunger Games + casting for S6
Submit two characters, one male and female, and they will be put into that season. ThePrimalLenny (Jeff Winger (Community) and Oprah Winfrey), mplu22 (Alexander Hamilton and Angelica Scuyler), freis29 (Xbox and Nintendo) and uhhitherem8 (DIO (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure) and Mami Tomoe (Puella Magi Madoka Magica) all already have two characters saved for that season. 6/24 spots left. Anyways, on with season 5! Season: http://brantsteele.net/hungergames/r.php?c=US0kNI58 Poll: http://www.strawpoll.me/13491476 CAST District 1 (mplu22): Ian Gallagher (Shameless US) Mickey Milkovich (Shameless US) District 2 (Anthony400): Number 1 Number 2 District 3 (ExtremoZ): Ñoño (El Chavo del Ocho) Popis (El Chavo del Ocho) District 4 (Nahuelfire39): Ben Tennyson (Ben 10) Gwen Tennyson (Ben 10) District 5 (Youre2490): Anya Oliwa (Wolfenstein) William "B.J." Blazkowicz (Wolfenstein) District 6 (kymadr): Carla (Fairy Tail) Happy (Fairy Tail) District 7 (drydenzachary4): Nutty (Happy Tree Friends) Petunia (Happy Tree Friends) District 8 (NotRoyalFan): Magic Fork Magic Spoon District 9 (Gaz0202): Fat Bird The Masami Takahashi Spork District 10 (MCMoss14): Jessie (Toy Story) Sheriff Woody (Toy Story) District 11 (iloveyousomuchthat): Sacred Fork Sacred Spoon District 12 (SimulationOn): Hifumi Yamada (Danganronpa) Sakura Oogami (Danganronpa) Highlights:
2017.03.19 22:20 babydave371The Great OAV Watch Week 11: Bubblegum Crisis and AD Police
Hey guys, welcome to yet another week of my great OAV watch. This is my little project of watching all the OAVs on my PTW list...all 170+ of them. This week we hit up the original entries into the Bubblegum Crisis franchise!
Bubblegum Crisis is a massive show in the history of western fandom. Sadly it is forgotten about today but in back in the years of tape swapping BGC was the show you absolutely had to get your hands on. For that generation it is a symbol of what anime is and is also the reason why many became fans in the first place. BGC is completely anime original with Toshimistsu Suzuki as its creator, he has done planning for a lot of decent shows. The series had 5 different directors: Kenichi Yatagai, Hiroki Hayashi, Masami Obari, Hiroaki Gouda, and Katsuhito Akiyama. They all have fairly substantial credits so I’m not going to go through them all here, suffice to say they are solid choices. The show follows a team of mercs/vigilantes called the Knight Sabers in a cyberpunk-ish world, the cyberpunk is really only surface level and aesthetics rather than deeper themes. The 8 episodes of the anime are thinly connected stories of the Knight Sabers battling against replican…I mean boomers, robots that look like humans (well they only look like humans sometimes), and the evil Genom corporation that makes boomers. Yes, this show is heavily inspired by Blade Runner in terms of its world and visuals, which they do a good job of mimicking but also making their own. The main character is one of the Knight Saber’s called Priss who is that classic hot-headed hero, she also happens to be an indie rockstar. Now if that looks familiar it should because BGC’s other big influence is Streets of Fire and that scene is a direct reference to this. Alongside the Knight Sabers we also follow Leon of the AD Police and his very gay partner, though he is handled weirdly well for a gay character in 80s Japan. As such, we often get to see events in the episodes happening from two different perspectives, giving greater clarity as to what is happening. The individual plots are all pretty decent with some real stand outs, my favourite is about a murderous driver who is going after biker gangs. It is very obvious that there were a ton of directors because the episodes all feel a bit different, though give them their due as it does feel like a coherent whole. The characters are fun and have a decent level of complexity about them, which I was not expecting. There is also a good amount of emotional depth at various points in the show. My big problem with the show is that each episode tends to tie nicely into the ones surrounding it but there is no overarching narrative, it is a bit weird. I can tell you exactly how we got from each episode to the next and how they are related but I couldn’t really tell you how episode 2 and episode 6 are related for instance. On the visual front all is good. The art direction is a superb display of 80s sci-fi. The character designs are on point, the mechanical designs are really strong, and the use of light and dark works really well. The animation is stunning most of the time and does a good job keeping up with the complex designs. The animation really shines when combined with the fantastic action choreography that keeps every fight thrilling and varied. These are some of the best action scenes in all of anime. Again the different directors mean there is some variation from episode to episode but it isn’t so much that it becomes jarring. In terms of audio this thing is also near the top of the pack. The Japanese voice acting is superb with Kinuko Oomori as Priss stealing the show, shame she never did any other shows. The music is also a big part of BGC’s reputation and boy does it live up to it, it is 80s as fuck but boy is it great. There is no OP but the ED to each episode is different, which is a neat little touch. Just be sure not to watch the English dub as they did covers of the songs and they aren’t great to be honest. Really, I have nothing to complain about in terms of the audio-visual aspect of the show, it is one of the real standouts of the 80s. Overall, BGC is a must see if you are an anime fan. It defined an entire era and perfectly encapsulates all that is great about 80s anime. It has fantastic characters and strong individual plots, even if the overarching one is a bit weak. It features some of the best fights ever, superb animation, and a kickass soundtrack. What more could you want really? 8/10
AD Police is a 3 episode OAV prequel to Bubblegum Crisis and is based on the AD Police manga. The AD Police manga is the only manga of Toshimitsu Suzuki, the original creator of Bubblegum Crisis, who has worked in the planning stages of quite a few shows. The OAV’s director was Akira Nishimori. His directing credits aren’t the best in the world but he has storyboarded for a number of good shows such as Turn A Gundam. So the main staff behind this series aren’t terrible, but they certainly aren’t promising. The series is a set of 3 unconnected cases that a young Leon, a character in the original BGC, and his partner Gina tackle. All three episodes deal with themes relating to what it means to be human in the age of cyborgs and robots. The plots do make sense, which is always nice, but they aren’t anything special. The themes are dealt with pretty heavy handedly to be honest with lines to the effect of ‘shoot me through the breast so I can just feel’ not being uncommon. It is, however, nice that AD Police is actually cyberpunk after BGC’s blue balling, by only really taking on the surface layer of cyberpunk. Now this show is very very late 80s/90s anime and if you can’t deal with that then don’t bother. We have gore, we have dark cityscapes, we got cyborgs, etc. Most importantly is how the show treats women. So all the women in the show are capable, which is nice, however most are there to provide some level of titillation. There is plenty of tits and ass on screen and some rather less savoury character decisions occur, especially towards the end of episode 2. It is exploitive but it admits that and owns it, which I can get on board with a lot more easily than if the show were to try and hide it. Also, being pre-moe, the characters are adults and look like adults, hooray! The characters aren’t especially deep. Our two leads are basically just cool cop number 1 and cool cop number 2, while the antagonists aren’t much better. Some character decisions were a bit weird and over the top though, for example one character had a bit of a painful eye for half a day so her mate old her to go get it replaced with a robotic eye because that totally isn’t an overreaction or anything. As long as you can deal with a bit of exploitative cyberpunk action then you’ll be fine with this. On the visual front, I am a huge fan of the character designs. They are that perfect early 90s attempt at realism but that also has a statuesque quality that I absolutely adore. In terms of animation this thing is also top tier, lots of fluid movement and a lot of those little touches (such as animating bits of the car dashboard) that really bring it to another level. The art direction in general is very good. It picks up on that Blade Runner – Streets of Fire mix that BGC went for and takes it to a darker and more realistic level to mirror the narrative. As for the audio that is pretty good too. All of the Japanese VAs were very solid, I especially liked Gina’s. The music was also really good too, they had a different ED for each episode like BGC did which was a welcome continuation. Overall, AD Police is what it is; a exploitative cyberpunk action show that knows what it is but also thinks it is a bit smarter than it is. This certainly isn’t one to watch with little kids or the parents but it is an entertaining and pretty show. Really, your mileage will vary on how much you can accept how the show treats its female characters. 6/10 For next week I am aiming to complete Area 88 and Record of Lodoss War, so if you want to watch them and join in the next thread feel free! 21 shows down!
2016.04.27 15:19 YotesFan22Antonio Inoki Career Retrospective (April 13, 1998 Wrestling Observer Newsletter)
It's time to do some memory exercises. Over the past 15-20 years, think of all the wrestler who have had elaborate retirement matches and ceremonies. Bruno Sammartino, Verne Gagne, Terry Funk, Chigusa Nagayo, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, Lioness Asuka, Devil Masami, Jaguar Yokota, Dump Matsumoto, Atsushi Onita, Ricky Steamboat, Riki Choshu, Fritz Von Erich, Jacques Rougeau Jr., Bison Kimura, Akira Hokuto, Dynamite Kid, Konnan, Satoru Sayama, Blue Demon, Bill Watts, Rayo de Jalisco, Animal Hamaguchi and Hiroshi Hase all come to mind. Even Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart teased it. I'll bet you know where this is going. How many of these wrestlers actually never wrestled again after having major retirement matches? The answer is two--Dump Matsumoto and Riki Choshu, and being that Choshu just retired in January, it's probably too soon to put the plant the rubber stamp for keeping his word on his forehead. The truth of the matter is, old wrestling superstars have emotional ceremonies to major fanfare for retirements like the superstars in real sports. They may have those farewells, but they always come back, either living off their fading names until they disappear to no fanfare long after all but their most loyal fans wouldn't care any longer. Or many years after their big retirement, they have their final match in an unknown town to little fanfare and just do a slow fade from the scene and are never heard about again. Or they become like Arn Anderson or Paul Orndorff, where they suffer injuries so severe that they simply can't come back. Some of the aforementioned wrestlers were actually sincere in their original retirements, but got talked out of it for business reasons, some probably wishing they hadn't been. Some were retired by their companies for political reasons, and when politics changed, they came back. But for most, the retirements were another wrestling con designed to draw money for their companies, and in some cases, attention to themselves, with plans already on the table for how to bring them back while counting on wrestling fans' short-term memories. Some, like Gagne, came back so many times that it was considered a bad joke. Others, like Dynamite Kid, were so badly banged up from wrestling wars that they retired at a young age, and whatever comebacks there were due to injuries were so sad that most fans have erased them from their memories. Perhaps Roddy Piper really believed he was walking away on top to go into the movies and would never need to return, only to return 1,000 times. Others probably retired specifically to set up eventual coming out of retirement angles. With every name there is probably a different story and a different reason. But it does say something that of out of 26 names listed above, only two, and one is too soon to say anything for any certainty, actually never came back. Which brings us to the biggest retirement party of all-time, on 4/4 at the Tokyo Dome for Antonio Inoki. With the possible exception of Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan, Inoki was arguably the biggest wrestling star of the generation, maybe bigger if only because he spanned many different generations. Without question he was the most influential wrestler of the modem era. His career as an active wrestler theoretically came to an end before a crowd that was announced as an all-time record for any event in the Tokyo Dome of 70,000 fans paying approximately $7 million and approximately $2.6 million in merchandise (including sales of 30,000 programs at $20; which may have also set another all-time pro wrestling record of $37.14 per head in merchandise) and combined with the television rights would put the one day figure well in excess of $10 million. The 70,000 figure has to be taken with a grain of salt because you simply can't put that many people in that building, but it was a legitimate sellout. The show broke the Japanese records set for the Keiji Muto vs. Nobuhiko Takada Tokyo Dome match on October 9, 1995 of 67,000 tickets and all-time pro wrestling records of a $6.1 million live gate and $2 million in merchandise. Or his career may have come to an end. Or just shot its biggest one-day angle in an event that received worldwide publicity enroute to Inoki moving to the United States and coming back as the spiritual leader of a new promotion called UFO (Ultimate Fighting Arts Organization). That was largely due to the presence of one man. Muhammad Ali. The world's most famous athlete during his time and perhaps of all time. The man who 22 years earlier had a horrible, yet legitimate match against Inoki, that as memories have faded, has been romanticized into being legendary and in hindsight was of incredible historical importance. Ali, on the stage at the ring entrance, lit a symbolic torch and handed it to Inoki, as he ran to the ring, symbolizing the Ali Olympic torch ceremony for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, for his "final" match of his 38 year-career against former UFC star Don "The Predator" Frye. Just 4:09 later, in a filling end for Inoki's career, Frye lost to the cobra twist. It was the same move that a generation of Japanese who grew up in the 60s, many of whom returned as pro wrestling fans just for this night and packed the Dome and likely a huge audience on television two nights later, had witnessed Inoki using to beat the baddest pro wrestlers of that era and so many other eras that all put together it seemed like an eternity. In doing so, he achieved a level of popularity that few athletes in the world on any level have ever achieved, and even fewer having never actually legitimately won at a high level of competitive sports. Ali was the biggest name invited to "The Inoki final" and the one that got the event in USA Today and on CNN. Among others introduced at the show, most of whom were involved in the ceremony after the main event which included a ten bell salute to Inoki's career, were Michiaki Yoshimura, Inoki's tag learn partner in the late 60s as All Asian tag team champions; Kokichi Endo, one of the pioneers of Japanese wrestling who was Rikidozan's lag learn partner in 1956 when they won a version of the World tag learn titles from the Sharpe Brothers; Killer Khan, a huge former sumo wrestler named Masashi Ozawa who was billed as a Mongolian giant in pro wrestling and best known for a feud in the early 80s in both the United States and Japan with Andre the Giant; Bob Backlund, the three-time WWF champion who had famous matches bolh learning with and facing Inoki; Jeff Blatnick, the 1984 Olympic gold medal winning super-heavyweight Greco-roman wrestler best known by pro wrestling fans now as the announcer for the UFC; Eric Bischoff; Willem Ruska, the two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo who was the first world champion from another fighting art to put Inoki over; along with Japanese wrestling superstars Animal Hamaguchi, Genichiro Tenryu, Akira Maeda, Tatsumi Fujinami, Riki Choshu and Seiji Sakaguchi. A book can be written about the life and career of Inoki. Many already have. He was born February 20, 1943 in Yokohama as Kanji Inoki, the tenth of 11 children born to Saijiro and Fumiko Inoki. After his father died when he was young, his mother, grandfather and three brothers migrated to Brazil when he was 13 years old where he became a schoolboy track star. After the word got out about a Japanese native who captured the Brazilian national high school championships in both the shol put and discus in 1959, his name came to the attention of Rikidozan (Milsuhiro Momola), who was not only Japan's first but to this day the country's biggest pro wrestling superhero. And behind the scenes, Rikidozan maintained his position because he was also the man running the company's only major wrestling office, the NWA affiliated Japanese Wrestling Association. Rikidozan brought Inoki back to Japan in early 1960, where he was trained, alongside a 6-foot-9 Japanese league baseball pitcher named Shohei Baba, to perhaps a decade down the line be the new wrestling heroes when it was time for him to step down. And as legend has it, Inoki, after leaving Brazil, never saw his mother again. Rikidozan died three years later in a gangland style murder which left the wrestling industry in that country not only shattered by the shocking death of its biggest star, but a fan base shattered even more when the death revealed the strong mob lie-ins to the wrestling industry. Most of the major arenas would no longer even book pro wrestling due to its unsavory image. A few years later, built around Giant Baba, the JWA began its recovery. Inoki, known at the time by his real name of Kanji Inoki, the better athlete and wrestler of the two, became frustrated with his position. Inoki, along with Hisashi Shinma and Toyonobori, the perennial No. 2 Japanese star in IWA backing up first Rikidozan and later Baba, in late 1966 formed the first major rival group to JW A called Tokyo Pro Wrestling. The younger Inoki became its top star after winning a version of the United States heavyweight title from Johnny Valentine at Osaka Baseball Stadium. The group lasted less than one year, and after folding, Inoki went back to JWA, this time as a top star. On his first night back in JWA, on May 26, 1967, he teamed with Yoshimura to win the vacant All-Asian tag team titles in an elimination match from Fritz Von Erich & Ike Eakins. But the All-Asian belts, which he held for most of his JWA stay, were really just small potatoes in comparison to his legendary tag team with Baba. The 1967-71 period was considered one of the all-time peaks of the Japanese wrestling business with almost nightly sellouts and network prime time telecasts every Friday and Monday night, usually with Baba & Inoki working on top as a tag team beating the biggest names from North America such as Gene Kiniski & Valentine, Fritz & Waldo Von Erich, Crusher & Dick the Bruiser, The Funks, Wilbur Snyder & Danny Hodge and Bruno Sammartino & Ray Stevens. While they maintained a lock on the International tag team titles, it was Baba who was the main singles star, holding the International heavyweight title and beating the top foreigners in the big singles match every tour. Inoki's reputation as a wrestler grew with one of the legendary matches in Japan mat history on December 2, 1969 in Osaka as be went to a (J():OO draw in challenging Dory Funk Jr. for the NWA world heavyweight title. A second title match against Funk on August 2, 1970 in Fukuoka also ended in a 60:00 draw. But as always seems to happen in wrestling when business gets too good, things start unravelling. lnoki, unhappy about being second banana to Baba, got himself his own singles championship belt as the JW A created the United National championship title, which, to give it credibility, was actually set up in the Los Angeles promotion in late 1970, and pushed for about five months until Inoki came to the famed Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles on March 26, 1971 and won the title from John Tolos, and then brought it back to Japan so he could defend his own singles title in main events against the top foreigners. At the same time, Inoki wanted to work a singles program against Baba, but the JW A promoters were traditionalists and the main events at that time were always Japanese vs. Foreigner and thus his idea was turned down. At the same time, Inoki & Baba got together to attempt to rally all the wrestlers to take over the promotion from President Junzo Hasegawa (who had taken over the company after the death of Rikidozan). This coup initially failed. At the same time, lnoki had his first of three marriages, to a famous Japanese actress named Mitsuko Baisbo, in an almost lady Di wedding of the sports star and famed actress, which Inoki claimed the company had agreed to pay for. While this was going on, Inoki and Shinma were also secretly talking about starting up their own group. Perhaps as punishment since the promotion knew the situation with Inoki was shaky, Baba & Inoki suddenly dropped their International tag team titles to the Funk Brothers on December 7, 1971, a strange result given that Dory was still world champion. A few days later was the scheduled third Dory vs. Inoki world title match at the old Osaka Prefectural Gym, the same site as their legendary match two years earlier. At 5 p.m. that day, the word reached the dressing room that Inoki wasn't going to be there. Inoki had already picked up a reputation for coming up with reasons to no-show matches that he was scheduled to lose and bad avoided doing jobs to drop titles with a frequency unmatched in pro wrestling until Shawn Michaels. What was exactly the real story, or if it was a combination of stories, Inoki was fired with allusions being made it was for crimes against the promotion, believed to have been the fallout of the coup and the company sending a strong message but at the same time protecting Baba, its top star. This left Inoki with a massive wedding bill, leaving him heavily in debt. Six weeks later, Inoki and Shinma held a press conference to announce the formation of New Japan Pro Wrestling. As it turned out, Baba also quit JWA the next year, forming All Japan Pro Wrestling, and with the help of Dory Funk Sr., got the NWA recognition from JWA which meant connections to almost a monopoly of the top foreign talent and Baba secured a television contract with Nippon TV, a relationship that continues to this day. The WWWF had quietly rejoined the NWA in 1971, while Gagne's AWA, the other major American federation at the time, already bad a business arrangement with a smaller Japanese promotion called the IWE, basically freezing New Japan out of most of the top name American talent. Inoki and Shinma formed New Japan in early 1972, short on both money and talent, but succeeded because they were long on promotional creativity. They brought In Karl Gotch, a renegade pro wrestler who had a reputation as being the legitimately toughest man in the business. Gotch, who was a good enough amateur that be wrestled in the Olympic games, and then learned submissions in England to where he was by reputation perhaps the most feared man In the world, was kicked out of territory after territory in the United States for being uncooperative with promoters, and also because he was never able to translate his shooting ability into being much of a drawing card. He worked Japan a lot in the early (J()s for JWA, and was involved with training the younger wrestlers, including Inoki, but always played second fiddle in fans' eyes to Lou Thesz, similar to Inoki years later to Baba, as the foreign scientific master and as later nicknamed in Japan, status as the "God of pro wrestling." Gotch came in, billed as the Real World heavyweight champion with a belt originally owned by Thesz that supposedly was the actual title held by Frank Gotch (who was no relation as Karl Gotch's real name was Karl Istaz and be took the Gotch name because of Frank Gotch). On the first card of New Japan Pro Wrestling on March 6, 1972, the company went against the established grain by having Gotch pin Inoki, by this time known as Antonio Inoki, clean to retain his title. This set up a rematch on October 4, 1972 with Thesz as referee, where Inoki won the title via count out, which more importantly than the result, drew such a large television rating that it resulted in World Pro Wrestling becoming a weekly network prime time Friday night television show on NET. As it turned out, that title was quickly forgotten. In its place came the title Inoki dominated for most of the rest of the decade--the National Wrestling Federation world heavyweight championship. The NWF was the regional office running in the Cleveland/Buffalo area headed by Pedro Martinez, which was one of the rare offices at the time not affiliated with the NW A and thus had its own world heavyweight champion. New Japan and Inoki bought the company, for dual purposes. The main one was to give Inoki a foreign world heavyweight title belt that the fans wouldn't see as something simply created for him to hold, which be won from the area's local top babyface, Johnny Powers, and that would be defended regularly in the U.S. for credibility purpose of it being more than a Japanese title. It gave New Japan promotional ties to a second American territory (they bad in 1973 established a business relationship with the Mike LeBelle Los Angeles promotion; and began a relationship with Vince McMahon Sr. by 1975 which resulted in Andre the Giant becoming a regular as a top heel and eventually by the late 70s to a full blown talent exchange deal with WWWF). They made their own group of foreign stars from wrestlers from that area, including Powers, Killer Karl Krupp (who had gained some fame years earlier as a tag team partner of Fritz Von Erich for JWA), and the biggest of them all, Tiger Jeet Singh. And it gave Inoki the chance to become a superstar in the United States. The latter didn't work then and never worked later, even in the wake of all the publicity after the Ali match. Shortly after buying the company, Inoki wasn't able to draw as world champion in Cleveland and Buffalo and the NWF itself folded, leaving behind its title belt as the main title in New Japan... As the 70s went on and Inoki and New Japan were established as a major force in the industry because of the Ali signing, New Japan was accepted into the NW A in 1976 with the proviso that the NWF title could no longer be referred to as a world heavyweight title. Over the next 26 years, New Japan bad its peaks and valleys, ranging from being the strongest promotion in the world during a number of different periods, to periods where it nearly folded, and a war with All Japan that was at one time even more bitter than today's WWF vs. WCW politics. But its lasting contributions on a worldwide basis have to be not necessarily the invention, but the establishment of how to do a number of promotional concepts: 1) The interpromotional dream match gimmick. In 1974, New Japan lured Sbozo "Strong" Kobayashi, the International heavyweight champion top star of the IWE promotion to New Japan without dropping his title. After the announcement of the dream match, which was also the first Japanese vs. Japanese championship main event since the early 50s, it became clear that Kobayashi had actually jumped and be was stripped of the title by IWE before the match itself actually took place on March 19th with Inoki winning in another legendary encounter. 2) The shoot angle. On October 5, 1973, Inoki was standing in front of a department store in Tokyo when he was viciously assaulted by Tiger Jeet Singh, at the time an unknown in Japan. While this was an angle, it was so unusual that it was covered as if it were actually a shoot. It wasn't until June 26, 1974 when the two actually had a match, which resulted in Inoki's "breaking" Singh's arm with an armbar, thereby establishing the move as the "real" submission move in Japan. 3) The mixed martial arts match angle. This actually bad a predecessor in Japanese mat history, a famous December 22, 1954 match where Rikidozan beat world judo champion Masahiko Kimura (who held an interesting distinction of being one of only two men ever to beat Helio Gracie, father of Rickson and Royce, in NHB competition in Brazil) in one of the most famous double-crosses in Japan mat history (it was supposed to have been a worked draw, but suddenly, perhaps in response to an errant low blow, Rikidozan began attacking a stunned Kimura furiously with the stiffest chops and kicks you'd ever see and basically beat the hell out of him before he had a chance to recover). But the most famous encounter was actually one of the biggest catastrophes in wrestling history but should have been the shining moment for the business that possibly could have changed the very face of the business world wide. Shinma and Inoki reached a deal to get Ali, the reigning heavyweight boxing champion and biggest sports star in the world, to work a world boxing champion vs. world wrestling champion match for what was billed as the world martial arts championship on June 25, 1976 in Tokyo. They got Ali through a $6 million offer, which at the time was more money than Ali had ever received for any of his previous fights, and because it was supposed to be a worked match, minimizing the chance for serious damage for Ali. As a tune-up for the gimmick and to give Inoki and pro wrestling credibility against what people at the time saw as the most feared man and certainly the most famous athlete on the planet, on February 6, 1976, Inoki "knocked out" Willem Ruska, a two-time Olympic judo gold medalist who was at the time considered the top judo player in the world after three back suplexes in a worked match. Inoki beating the judo champion was supposed to give him athletic credibility in the United States media, but since the American media at the time figured Inoki must have been a sumo wrestler since he was Japanese, and had no understanding of judo or Ruska, while clips aired on news programs and wrestling shows around the country, the Ruska match really didn't mean anything outside of Japan. The subsequent Ali match was closed-circuited around the world, similar to a major heavyweight boxing championship match in those days going on the notion it would draw both the boxing and the wrestling audiences. Ali and Inoki had toured the United States doing press conferences in most major markets, with Ali, always accompanied by Fred Blassie, assuming the heel role to wrestling fans, and nicknaming Inoki "The Pelican" because of his huge jaw (Inoki's business nickname for years was simply "The Chin"). The match was one of the biggest sporting events of the time in Japan, where it drew a Super Bowl like rating--a 46.0 rating for the entire card billed as the Martial Arts Olympics which included matches broadcast from Budokan Hall, Shea Stadium in New York and the Olympic Auditorium; and a 54.6 rating for the actual Ali vs. Inoki match, numbers that are even more impressive than they sound on the surface because the match was broadcast in the early afternoon. Not only that but a replay of the match airing later that same evening drew a 26.3 rating. The sellout crowd of 14,000 fans at Budokan Hall paid what was then an all-time record gate of $2.5 million, an amazing figure when considering up to that point in time, there had never been a live gate for pro wrestling in North America topping $150,000. Without question more people witnessed this match live than any match up to that point in time, quite possibly even to this day, in the history of pro wrestling. Ali was supposed to lose via pinfall to the enzuigiri, but with a finish that would protect him in the U.S. He would bloody up Inoki with punches, and being the sportsman that he is, want the match stopped on blood. This hesitation would allow Inoki the moment to catch his breath and hit the enzuigiri. Without question, Inoki would have been made for life world wide as the biggest star in the history of pro wrestling for beating Ali. But a few days before the event, Ali got cold feet about doing the job. After furious negotiations, which nearly resulted in the match not taking place, the two went into the ring to do a shoot, with rules modified to protect Ali including no kicks above the shoulders, no throat strikes, no suplexes and no submissions. Inoki's lone viable strategy appeared to be to take Ali down, maneuver him into the center of the ring (Ali could get a re-start with a rope break), tum him to his back and attempt to pin him for three seconds. The 15-round draw consisted mainly of Inoki laying on his back, refusing to stand with Ali, and throwing kicks to the back of Ali's legs, hoping to soften him up to where he'd lose his legs and fall to the mat, where Inoki could finish him. Inoki rarely stood up, and Ali ended up throwing only six punches in total. The few times Inoki's sweeping kicks knocked Ali off his feet, before he could even begin to try and control him, turn him and pin him, Ali was always able to scamper to the ropes. Ali took so much punishment from the low leg kicks that he had numerous broken blood vessels in his legs, and many of those close to Ali have credited that punishment to the legs for hastening the end of Ali's career as a lop-flight heavyweight. Nevertheless, virtually all fans saw it as being no action at all, and blamed Inoki for laying on his back and not standing up and fighting "like a man." The biggest match in modem history became the biggest disaster in modem history, with riots not only in Tokyo, but in numerous closed-circuit spots around the United States. It was a financial disaster in many ways as Ali only ended up receiving $1.8 million and ended up suing New Japan (which was settled out of court). New Japan never received the money it expected from the U.S. wrestling promoters who controlled the closed-circuit, which did spotty business (some places, such as the Northeast, did tremendous, but that was largely due to Sammartino vs. Stan Hansen and Andre the Giant vs. heavyweight boxing contender Chuck Wepner (a worked match that Andre won via count out) matches live which drew 32,000 fans to Shea Stadium for the closed circuit; the Omni in Atlanta sold out and other major arenas did well, but most sites didn't do well). This nearly killed both Inoki as a star and took a huge bite out of the entire wrestling business in Japan. A few months later at the annual NWA convention, Oregon promoter Don Owen apparently suggested the Alliance buy Inoki a golden sword so he could commit suicide after what he'd done to the business with his performance in the match. Privately and publicly numerous American wrestlers fumed at Inoki and dreamed what they would have been able to do had they been given such a golden opportunity. As the years went by, Shinma managed to begin to erase the bad memories and cover up the stench left by the rotten match by booking Inoki to win against martial arts superstars like Karate world champion Monster Man Eddy Everett, a rematch with Ruska, Olympic judo bronze medalist Allan Coage (later to become pro wrestler Badnews Allen), Wepner and numerous others. And as time went on, memories faded, and Japanese fans realized that the tactics Inoki used in the fight were actually viable fighting tactics, the Ali match became legendary as well. 3) The promotion vs. promotion angle. With the folding of the IWE in August of 1981, its wrestlers joined New Japan starting on November 5, 1981 with IWE's world champion, Rusher Kimura, facing Inoki along with Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Animal Hamaguchi. This drew such good business that New Japan created another feud which became the forerunner of WCW vs. NWO, with Riki Choshu turning on Fujinami in 1982 and forming Ishingun, billed as a rival promotion working within New Japan against New Japan. New Japan's legendary Ishingun vs. Seikigun feud resulted in another hot period of Japanese wrestling with 90 percent sellouts in 1983, until the promotion imploded from within. As with the JWA in 1971 when it was selling out every show and as a lesson to WCW today, the same thing happened with the undercard wrestlers unhappy about their pay and their position, particularly when Inoki was stricken with diabetes and had to take three months off, but the buildings continued to sell-out with Inoki not being there. In addition, Inoki had squandered much of the New Japan's huge profits on bad business investments. The fallout resulted in Inoki losing control of the company, but also with Shinma taking an even bigger fall and being expelled from the company he was there with from the start. Riki Choshu and Akira Maeda became almost a new generation Baba and Inoki, with Choshu and his guys leaving for All Japan, pulling that company on fire, and Maeda quitting New Japan and setting the stage for worked shootfighting which begin in the old UWF in 1984 evolved into today's actual shooting matches in RINGS and Pancrase. The historical ironies are many when studying the generations. It was Inoki in 1967 and 1971 feeling as if he was being held back from being the top guy and from trying new promotional concepts that the establishment wasn't ready for and leaving. No different from Choshu, Satoru Sayama and Maeda a generation later, only this time it was Inoki who was the establishment. And today, it is Choshu who is the establishment, and Maeda, who made himself a national superstar on October 9, 1986 beating world kickboxing champion Don Nakaya Neilsen in a worked match on the same show where Inoki had a flop of a match against a braindead Leon Spinks, decried a past-his- prime Inoki as a phony shooter, who now today at the tail end of his own career who is in the same position. Sayarna, the man who came forward in 1983 and exposed the Inoki embezzlement scandal and that pro wrestling was worked to the media and after quilling pro wrestling became the founder and creator of the sport of Shooto, the first truly legitimate shooting organization in Japan, is now Inoki's right hand man and training partner in the business of working matches to appear to be shoots. And there they all were, in the same building all tied up together in the same neat little package honoring the man they all rebelled against. 4) The correct way to establish a junior heavyweight division, which numerous companies have attempted but none have really succeeded in doing. 5) The marketing of a wrestler as a national superhero. Both Vince McMahon Jr. and Hulk Hogan spent formative years in wrestling watching how Inoki had succeeded with New Japan. Much of McMahon's ideas as far as going national, merchandising toward young children (which New Japan had done so well with Sayama as the star of its junior heavyweight division) and even ring entrance music (which, while popularized in the United States by Michael Hayes and Leroy Brown, had actually been a staple of Japanese wrestling much earlier) and Hulk Hogan the superhero were all concepts originated in New Japan, just as Eric Bischoff’s biggest angle was. Hogan's ability to play on a bigger stage than just the pro wrestling stage came from watching Inoki. New Japan rebounded from nearly folding in the wake of the 1983-84 embezzlement scandal, caused by Inoki diverting the New Japan profits to subsidize a failing business venture in Brazil, with fans gradually warming back up to the idea of Inoki as being a great fighter, but not necessarily a great business man. By the late 80s, Inoki's body began breaking down even more by the demands of working a full-time wrestling schedule and it was long-time understudy, Tatsumi Fujinamj, who by this time may have been the best worker in the business with the exception of Ric Flair, who felt he had waited in the background long enough. Fujinami demanded the top spot and Inoki, strategically, let him have it and pulled out of wrestling, allowing Fujinami the chance to sink or swim on top on his own. Fujinami wasn't a success as a draw although he had some great matches as world champion. But after doing some of the best work of his career, Fujinami suffered a serious back injury that sidelined him for more than one year and although he returned, he never was the same. This enabled Choshu to slide into power, and Inoki, recognizing his days as a full-time wrestler were over, put Choshu over twice in singles matches and slid into politics. As the iron curtain was breaking down due to the beginnings of the collapse of the Soviet economy, Inoki was the first sports promoter, before the NHL or anyone else, to sign former Russian amateur wrestling greats into pro wrestling for the first ever Tokyo Dome show on April 24, 1989, including losing his World martial arts title after 11 years to a Russian judo champion named Shota Chochyashivili, which drew a thenIapanese record of 53,800 fans and broke the Ali-Inoki gate record with $2,781,000. In establishing a business tie-in with the Soviet Union, Inoki the global statesman was born, an act strong enough that on July 24, 1989, Inoki barely squeaked into the Japanese Diet for a six-year term. On October 24, 1989, while making a political speech, he was the victim of an assassination attempt and was stabbed. Since it was Inoki, nobody ever truly knew whether or not that was his most elaborate publicity angle, although at the time it was covered world wide as a major news story and there has never been any evidence that it was an angle. He became the first elected official from a democratic country to meet with Fidel Castro in Cuba, and later negotiated unsuccessfully to do a World Wrestling Peace Festival show in 1997 from that country. He negotiated a release of several Japanese hostages in Iraq by promising the country a major sports festival which included New Japan Pro Wrestling. Within his senate, he was seen as a glory-hound who created situations to get himself over at the expense of the team, no different than in his days in pro wrestling. At one point he was a serious candidate for Mayor of Tokyo. Realistically be bad no chance to win the election but would have garnered a sizeable enough percentage of the vote to swing it. Once he inserted himself into the race, he had to come up with a way out of it without doing the job. Luckily, an opinion poll came out, sampling only males in their early 20s on who they would vote for in the Mayoral elections, and since that was the perfect demographic for him, as so many grew up with Inoki as their national sports hero every Saturday night beating foreigners from different sports, Inoki won in that small age group. Right after the results of the poll were released, Inoki pulled out of the race as a symbolic winner, claiming that while Mayor of Tokyo would be an important office, that he felt he could serve society much better in a position with more worldwide importance as his senate seat. But his political career was destroyed by yet another scandal. Both Shinma, his long-time business manager, and Inoki's personal secretary, came forward with allegations of all sorts of financial and governmental improprieties, serious enough that they not only nearly wound up in Inoki being impeached, but his image was sullied enough that TV-Asahi for several years thereafter refused to even broadcast Inoki's big wrestling matches on television. He weathered that storm by denying all, but it did result in Inoki being trounced when it came to his 1995 re-election attempt. Eventually the scandal pub wore off and TV-Asahi began broadcasting his matches once again. Just before leaving office, he had completed negotiations with the North Korean government for two New Japan pro wrestling shows as part of another peace festival that wound up drawing a total of 320,000 fans to May Day Stadium in Pyongyang. In recent years, Inoki has tried to re-establish himself as the father of all shooters, as true shooting, from UFC, Vale Tudo, Pancrase and other groups became popularized in the United States and Japan, the Japanese side of which can be traced back to Inoki's worked mixed martial arts matches of the late 70s and early 80s, to Maeda popularizing UWF in the 80s, to Nobuhiko Takada's UWFI selling out in the early. 90s, to Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki in Pancrase bringing pro wrestling even close to reality, to hardcore reality with UFC, Shooto and Vale Tudo. Inoki would get photo ops talking with Marco Ruas, training with Dan Severn, fighting with Oleg Taktarov, beating the likes of Gerard Gordeau, Ruska (in a 1994 match with both men in their 50s) and after 16 years, finally getting his win over an aged Willie Williams. And finally, in supposedly his final match in the ring, beating Ultimate Ultimate champion Frye, all setting up his next move, heading up his own Martial Arts Federation. In reality, Inoki may have had only two or three true shooting matches during his entire career, none of which were supposed to be that way ahead of time. There was the Ali match, a December 12, 1976 match against Akrum Pehelewan of Pakistan, and a situation that got out of control in Europe a few years later against Roland Bock. The Pehelewan match in a large stadium in his home country was likely a work gone awry with the hometown hero going against the script, which ended with Inoki breaking the national hero Pehelewan’s arm with an armbar legtimatelly before 40,000 fans. It was probably the scariest moment of Inoki's life because a riot was about to break out and as legend has it, guns were being cocked and aimed in his direction. But in his traditional post-match wave to the fans in Pakistan, the fans saw it as a symbolic gesture that he was thanking Allah for the win, and thus the fans saw that his win was okay, although Pehelewan, shamed by the showing, actually committed suicide shortly thereafter. Inoki had always claimed he was most proud of the Ali and Pehelewan matches as opposed to some of his most famous classic worked matches against the likes of Fujinami, Funk, Robinson and Brisco. The Bock matchh was probably under similar circumstances, a worked match gone awry, with Bock, a legitimate shooter also wrestling in his home country. not selling for Inoki and basically throwing him around like a rag doll until a disqualification was called. But no mater, reality has absolutely nothing to do with this or most other equations. Inoki manipulated his reputation in Japan to not only be one of the greatest wrestlers who ever wrestled in that country, but one of the all-time legendary shooters as well. And after the show was over, Inoki was talking about his next plans. Moving to the United States to set up his "new" UFO promotion with himself and Ali as the spiritual leaders presiding over a company that will include Naoya Ogawa, Yoji Anjoh and Satoru Sayama. ·····················································································································
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