Random Inoki Era 2
Sting/Keiji Mutoh vs Road Warriors 7/16/1996
It's not Muta, although he is wearing Sting face paint. Animal and Muta start. Animal is all over him until Muta start throwing out a ton of dropkicks, including a springboard one. Tags are made. I initially thought Sting wasn't wearing paint, but it is orange and his tan skin makes it look like nothing is there except on close ups. He also has a goatee, which I don't remember Sting having as Surfer Sting. Scorpion Death Lock! Animal breaks it with a big boot. It would have been really cool if Sting was wearing Muta's face paint while Muta wears his. Or a half and half thing. Or if Muta wore Sting paint and Sting wore none. Hawk no sells a piledriver and hits a lariato. Big powerslam from Sting. It heads to the floor. Sting actually breaks the guard rail getting thrown into it. On the other side, he misses a Stinger Splash. I think he connected with maybe 2 on the guard rail his entire career. Slam on the floor. Animal is tagged in back in the ring. Sting is getting REKT. He rolls out of the way of a Hawk splash. Animal was right on him anyway. Stinger Splash! Tag to Muta. Handspring elbow/bulldog combo. Spinebuster from Animal. I don't know what happened. It looked awkward. Dragon screw! Figure four. Hawk breaks it immediately. He and Sting brawl on the floor as the match continues. Powerslam from Animal. 2 count. Doomsday Device on Muta. I don't think it connected at all. If it did, Hawk barely grazed Muta's shoulder. They try again. Muta ducked. Victory roll. 2 count. Muta pins Hawk with a school boy to win the match. Pretty sure Hawk wasn't the legal man but whatever. Just over 7 minutes, but no down time, which is really how all LOD matches should be.
Shinyna Hashimoto vs Naoya Ogawa NWA Championship 10/11/1999
Ogawa made his pro wrestling debut against Hashimoto in 1997 and this was billed as THE REVENGE. It was a heated affair that saw Ogawa win via rear naked choke. This is I believe the third match between the two. Antonio Inoki himself did ring introductions. Ogawa was NWA Champion heading into this match. This has that big fight feel. Ogawa gets the first volleys in with a series of strikes. They back into the ropes and a break is forced. Ogawa scores a take down and gets the mount. Hashimoto rolls over and takes some punches to the head. The ref (Tatsumi Fujinami) makes them stand up. I'm not sure why. However, Ogawa and the crowd are hyyyyyyyyyyyped, while Hashimoto stands in the corner unimpressed. So Ogawa slaps him and Hash just stands there. Then gets a cheap head butt and starts beating the shit out of Ogawa. Crowd going nuts. Heel hold. Ogawa breaks it with a knee strike. Full mount. Hashimoto gets to the ropes with few strikes being thrown. Ogawa throws a cheap shot to the gut while the hold was being broken. Another break in the corner. Ogawa tries another cheap shot and gets SHOOT back suplexed. Then another. Rolling key lock doesn't work at all for Hashi as Ogawa immediately gets full mount again. Ogawa is fighting for an Americana. Rope break. STO! In the one fight I was in, I used that at least 5 times. Another one. Some kicks while Hashi is down. Hashi gets some kicks to the legs that hurt Ogawa. But another STO stops the flurry. Back suplex from Ogawa. He's having a lot of trouble with that leg, though. ANOTHER STO. This is like Cena/Brock 2. Judo throw. Another. Hashi won't stop getting up. He won't give up. He has hustle, loyalty, and respect. He rolls to the floor and takes his gloves off. Double kicks. Another judo throw. Another STO attempt that was kind of blocked. ANOTHER one. Ogawa throws two punches that might have Hashimoto out of it. And again. Anytime Hashi gets to his feet, he's quickly thrown or knocked down, but he keeps getting up. Head kick. What the fuck, Inoki attacks Ogawa and orders the match to be stopped. Title retained. I'm not sure what was going on here, but it was very much like Brock/Cena from Summerslams, but with STOs instead of German suplexes. And if Vince jumped in the ring to attack Brock and stop the match. After the match, Hashimoto said something into the mic to Inoki and collapsed in his arms. Hashimoto is helped be trainers and other wrestlers to the back. Post match featured comments from Inoki and Fujinami at the after show press conference.
Nobuhiko Takada vs Shiro Koshinaka
The early days of Inoki's MMA love bleeding into his promotion. Oh shit, head kick very early on. Koshinka throws a hard chop in response. He absorbs a series of stiff kicks before getting a single leg take down. Arm bar. Rope break. Shiro is able to avoid another arm bar take down. Did he have his ass based offense yet? Chop battle. That all ends when Takada drops into a heel hook. Rope break. Standing key lock. Down into a kimura. That broke HHH's arm! Rope break. Another heel hook. More of a knee bar I guess. From both guys. Rope break. You can't get any take downs on Takada. He just side steps shit. Shiro shoves off a snap mare, which got a big reaction. Arm drag take down into side control. Stalemate on the mat. Arm bar. Rope break. Koshinaka uses it to drop some knees on Takada's knee. Rolling knee bar from Takada. Shit looks like it hurts. Shiro stands up with it. Hip shots. Body slam. Leg drop. Figure four. Almost. Takada is able to do a heel hold to prevent it from being fully applied. He gets a rope break once it is fully in anyway. Big slap. A kick rush sends Koshinaka into the corner, where it looks like he gets kicked in the eye. Takada hits more head kicks. Arm bar. More slaps and kicks. Koshinaka throws some slaps of his own, which puts Takada down. Shoulder block. Lariatoooooo. 2 count. Two big spin kicks from Takada. He then misses an enzuigiri. Koshi tries a superplex, is thrown off, and then hit in the face with another spin kick. He tries to kick Takada out of the air on the next spin kick. Both miss and end up on the floor. Takada goes back to the heel hook and both roll under the bottom rope to the floor. Takada went up top for something. He got caught in a superplex. 2 count. FLYING ASSHOLE!!! I guess he did have his ass based offense in 1986. Another one. German suplex. 2 count. Rolling prawn hold from Takada gets a near fall. Backslide from Koshinaka. Both guys are looking spent. German suplex is countered into a Fujiwara armbar. Rope break. Right back to the arm bar anyway. Then back to the heel hook. It devolves into a slap fight. Another rope break, but Takada pulls away from the ropes and reapplies the heel hook. Koshi rolls around and stomps the back of Takada's knee. Jumping tombstone. 2 count. Vertical suplex. A diving headbutt misses. Takada throws a series of kicks to the head and face. Dragon suplex. 2 count. Takada locks in a cross face chicken wing. The ref calls for the bell, although Koshinaka seemed like he was upset the match was called.
Dean Malenko vs El Samurai 6/14/1993
This was part of the Super Juniors tournament I believe. That Motherfucker looks like he is all business. Code of Honor is followed. Dean hits a low drop kick from the opening lock up. Samurai fights off any leg locks and knocks Dean to the floor. Back in the ring, Samurai dicks up victory roll that sends Dean back to the floor. Dean dodges a baseball slide and slams Samurai on the floor. He then misses a pescado and is dropkicked over the guardrail. Samurai has a half crab locked in back in the ring. Now a camel clutch. Dean rolls through into his own and then applies a Crippler Crossface. Rope break. He then does some weird bridging leg lock thingy. Northern lights suplex. Samurai fires back with a forearm and snap suplex. Dude's gear looks so low rent. So does his body. Did he ever go to the gym? Diving headbutt connects. Rude Awakening! Dean back drops out of a powerbomb attempt. That Motherfucker with that motherfucking belly to belly. A second diving headbutt misses. Texas Cloverleaf! Almost. The second try works. Rope break. Forearm to the back of the neck to Dean. Samurai wins after a second victory roll attempt.
Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid 8/5/1982 WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship
Boy does Kid look like a real cunt. Code of honor is followed. They go right away into fast and furious action, flying around each other, hitting spinning kicks, and going to the floor. These two had a LOT of matches over a few years and really set the template for indie style in the late 90s/early 2000s. Tiger Mask is SO FUCKING FAST. I mean, he's a tiger so I guess it makes sense. But shit. Dynamite hits a big headbutt and chop. It's actually creepy how Benoit patterned himself so exactly to Dynamite. If you're watching a low quality video, you'd think it was Benoit 9 times out of 10. Tiger lands on his feet on a monkey flip. Both men reverse German suplexes until they are in the ropes. Indian death lock from Dynamite. Inoki is hanging out on commentary for this. Just enjoying himself, looking pimp in his suit. It heads to the floor. Big suplex from Dynamite. And a leg drop, which seems pretty stupid to do on the floor. Gut wrench suplex back in the ring. Dynamite works a head scissors, which Tiger Mask flips out of and hits two big kicks. Then he straight dumps Kid out over the top with a suplex. On the floor, Kid is sent hard into the guard rail. Hatch suplex/DDT. Gut wrench suplex. Tiger Mask applies his own head scissors. Dynamite tries to flip out and gets his head driven into the mat. Rope break. Jumping piledriver. Huge hip toss from Dynamite. Then he gets monkey flipped over the top rope. Tiger tries a dive and hits nothing but ropes. Tiger Mask tries to roll out of a powerbomb and just ends up falling. Back to the head scissors. Tiger Mask is able to escape and applies a weird Muta lock, but using both of his legs. Bow and arrow rolls into the ropes. Kid avoids a big leg kick that would have really hurt. Half crab. Then some leg kicks and various leg holds. Dynamite's headbutts are no joke. Tiger Mask back drops out of a piledriver. Flipping senton. Dynamite just side steps the flying chop and it is as hilarious as when someone side steps Cena's shoulder block. Tombstone. Diving headbutt. 2 count. Kid seems legit shook at the 2 count. No matter, as he's quickly tossed over the top rope and Tiger Mask follows with a huge dive over the top that goes all the way to the guard rail. YO WHAT THE FUCK Tiger Mask brings Dynamite in with a sick gut wrench tombstone. A moonsault gives Tiger Mask the win. This was fun shit. I've definitely seen TM/DK matches that were MUCH more spot spot spot spot indie style. This was much more restrained. Title retained.
Vader/Tom Prichard/Tony St. Clair vs Riki Choshu/Masahiro Chono/Jushin Liger 11/1/1989
What a truly random group of guys here. I've never even heard of Tony St. Clair and had no idea that Dr. Tom toured Japan. As this is very early into Liger's run, his costume is weird as fuck. Vader was also early into his run, so he still had the full mask. LOL Liger kicks Vader's helmet and runs away. What a little shit. Vader chases him. Liger ends up back in the ring and gives him a baseball slide. Chono is tagged in. St. Clair looks like young Alex Jones with a mullet. Vader is double suplexed back into the ring. Then he punches Chono right in the face. Headbutt. Press slam. Chono fires back with a spinning back fist and spinning heel kick. Vader backs him into the corner and unloads. Yakuza kick puts Vader on the apron. And now Liger vs Vader!!! Vader of course squashes him and tags into Dr. Tom. Big back body drop. Elbow drop. Man, Liger's first outfit looked so bad and weird. He and Dr. Tom have an exchange of a lot of reversals that has Dr. Tom begging off in his corner. A spinning heel kick sends Dr. Tom to the floor. Dr. Tom is back in with a low blow. Cunt. St. Clair has his first action of the match. Lariatooooo. Choshu gets in. And so does Vader. Suplex to Vader! Vader just knocks the shit out of Choshu for it. Choshu lariatoooo. Body slam! In comes Chono. Big dropkick. Another Choshu lariato sends Vader over the top rope. Weird seeing Chono with normal arms. Vader tags out to St. Clair. In comes Liger. Liger/Chono dropkick. Spinning heel kick. Pescado. Chono is back in. St. Clair gets a couple of roll ups. Snap suplex from Chono. Choshu is back in. Scorpion Death Lock. Before he can get it fully applied, Vader wallops him. Liger is back in and gets kicked in the face. Dr. Tom is tagged in. Knee drop. That hair is so ridiculous. Like, imagine if Slash bleached his hair and didn't wear a top hat. Vader and Liger are in and Vader squashes the shit out of that dude. Shouldn't have kicked his helmet. A shirtless Hashimoto is watching from the balcony. St. Clair is back in. Running tombstone. 2 count. Running powerslam. Dr. Tom is back in. Southern Wrasslin guys seem like the least likely dudes to fit in in Japan, but it seems like a good number of them ended up touring Japan anyway. Vader kills Liger with a snake eyes to the guard rail, then punches the shit out of him. He's really hot over the helmet thing. Liger makes a desperate tag to Choshu, who knocks Dr. Tom all around. He and Chono double team him until he gets a tag to St. Clair. He gives Chono a lot of trouble. Liger is back in and hits a series of kicks ending in a dope koppo kick. Oh shit, Vader is back. God damn do I want to see a Vader vs Liger singles match. I bet that would be fun as FUCK. Chono is able to save Liger from getting suplexed to the floor. Too bad Liger isn't big enough for a dive to do anything to Vader. Vader catches him and press slams him back into the ring and squashes him a few times. Vader and Dr. Tom try the Rocket Launcher, which doesn't work. Chono knocks Vader off his feet with a top rope shoulder block and gets Dr. Tom to tap out with the STF. This was fun in a completely random ass match kind of way that only Japan can do. I REALLY want to see a Vader vs Liger match. That had to have happened, right? Please tell me it happened and I can watch it. From what I can find, there were a couple of other 6 man tags with Vader and Liger on opposite sides, but I haven't found a singles match between the two.
Another interesting set of matches given to me at random. Hashimoto/Ogawa was so weird. It was almost exactly like Brock/Cena at Summerslam, but with Hashimoto getting a bit more offense. Inoki jumping in the ring to attack Ogawa was so strange. And then Hashimoto says something to him and collapses in Inoki's arms while Inoki is crying and hugging him. Everything about it was weird. It was like Cena/Brock but if you didn't actually want to see Cena get dumped on his head 16 times. Dynamite/Tiger Mask was super fun. Pretty restrained by the standards of matches I've seen from them. Takada/Koshinaka was interesting. I like the early version of shoot style from the UWF/NJPW feud period. It was still pretty much pro wrestling, but with a lot more real submissions thrown in.