NJPW Battle 7 1995

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Shinjiro Otani vs El Samurai UWA World Welterweight Championship

Always weird seeing Otani lean and mean after years of being used to him as a tubby dude. There was a light story here of Otani doing leg work, while Samurai focused on the back of Otani. It never really seemed to get out of second gear, and the crowd was silent outside of the dives and high spots. Dead silent. Awkwardly silent even for a Japanese crowd. Otani got the win with a fucking gnarly dragon suplex. Title retained. This was the first time an outside title was defended at the dome show.

Norio Honaga vs The Greak Sasuke IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship

I'm sure Sasuke will do something batshit crazy in this. I don't know who Honaga is. He seems to have been lost in the sands of the 90s NJPW junior ranks. He works Sasauke's arm for most of the match. Why would you work the arm of a dude known for kicks and jumping? It's pretty good work, though. Very dogged, rough work. Sasuke's dives and flippy flops were not enough to get the job done. Honaga gets the win after getting his knees up on a moonsault and locking on a la magistral cradle. Title retained. Kind of weird that these two junior matches in a row to start the show are pretty slow, mat based affairs. The heavyweight matches have more speed to them.

Akitoshi Saito/Great Kabuki/Nuniaki Kobayashi vs Akira Nogami/Osamu Kido/Takayuki Iizuka


I guess the Ishigun thing continues. They're no longer wearing matching purple gis, though. This is the "get dudes on the card" match, I believe. Kabuki's head paint is pretty interesting. The ramp gets a lot of play for some reason. Saito and Iizuka slap the piss out of each other. It wasn't even a strike battle, they were just slapping the fuck out of each other. Kabuki got the win for his team with a lariat. A nothing match outside of Iizuka and Saito randomly knocking the shit out of each other. 

Koji Kanemoto vs Yuji Nagata

Koji has put on quite a bit of muscle since losing his mask at last year's show. Yuji also has put on some mass and toned up in general. Lots and lots of kicks in this. Lots. Headhunting stuff. This is very shoot style. It actually reminds me very much of Maeda/Tiger Mask matches. Stiff kicks, stiff submissions, stiff suplexes. Koji wins with a SSP, but he Lesnar'd himself on the landing. Scary. Good match, though. A lot of "GOD DAMN" strikes and suplexes, tight and mean submissions. Good shit.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Manabu Nakanishi

Nakanishi is not far away from doing his excursion to WCW as Kurasawa. Tenzan already has his ugly gear and mullet. Tenzan controls most of the match, including hitting a scary Thesz style powerbomb. It's a little weird because Nakanishi is bigger and stronger, yet Tenzan is just wrecking him. Oh shit, Owendriver! Tenzan out for blood. Tenzan wins with the mountain bomb in what was almost a squash. Tenzan beat the shit out of Nakanishi. Just beat his dick into the dirt. And this was weirdly short as well, not even being 8 minutes long. I wonder what the reasoning was to just smash Nakanishi like this.

Tiger Jeet Singh/Tiger Jeet Singh Jr. vs Michiyoshi Ohara/Shiro Koshinaka

Great, Tiger Ali. And his shitty dad. These fuck heads with their swords they never use properly. This was, of course, terrible. The Singh's win. Garbage.

Sting vs Tony Palmore Final Countdown BVD Semi-Finals

This is apparently some kind of MMA tournament, which Sting is in. Bizarre. Tony Palmore is wearing boxing gloves and gi pants. He was a successful kickboxer ones upon a time. Now he's having a worked match against a pro wrestler in Japan. Hard times. If this was a real fight, Stang would have been murdered in the first 30 seconds. Terrible strike defense. Lol, Sting doing hip tosses in a "shoot". This is so dumb. The majority of the "fight" is Sting standing around absorbing garbage looking strikes, then getting hit with an ax kick, then winning with the scorpion deathlock. So odd. Sting advances to the finals. 

Antonio Inoki vs Gerard Gordeau Final Countdown BVD Semi-Finals

Gordeau was another legit fighter, having been the 1991 savate world champion and Dutch champion for 8 years. He wrestled at the first UFC. In the first fight. In UFC history. Then he became known as a dirty fighting, doing eye rakes and low blows in fights. What a heel. This is some classic Inoki shit right here. He's been doing worked matches against shoot fighters since the 70s. This at least looks kind of like a shoot. Ish. Inoki wins via choke hold after holding on to a judo throw.

Riki Choshu/Yoshiaki Yatsu vs Kengo Kimura/Tatsutoshi Goto

I don't understand what Choshu's role was in the 90s. Some years he's the main event, some years he's in a meaningless tag match. It's weird. This was also not good at all. Choshu won with a lariat, but man did it suck. Goto in particular is just dog shit.

Masahiro Chono/Sabu vs Tatsumi Fujinami/Junji Hirata

I would love to know how Sabu ended up teaming with Chono. And how he ended up getting into a match with Fujinami at a dome show. Chono has clearly turned heel since last year, now in his more familiar all black gear, being a dick head. Chono spends most of the match in the ring for his team, with 90% of his moves being Mafia kicks. Sabua gets to do a table spot, which of course does not go as planned. Chono pins Hirata with a mafia kick after a chair shot from Sabu.

Hawk vs Scott Norton

HOSSES. I suppose this is playing on last year's tag match with the two, which had both guys no sell each other every chance they got. This year, Norton MAKES Hawk sell. By fucking smashing him every chance he gets. When Norton squashes you in a corner or throws his full weight into a powerslam, good luck trying to no sell. I've never seen a Hawk match where he gets dominated. It's kind of weird. To be fair, he also is significantly softer than last year, isn't used to doing singles matches, and looks off his game in general. This is the Scott Norton show. "Whadya think of your fucking partner now?" Norton shit talking Animal like he's a bitch. "Come on, motherfucker!" Hawk is only able to win after Animal cheated for him. Norton wanted to fight LOD by himself after the match, but other wrestlers pulled them apart, presumably to protect old and saggy LOD from Scott Norton.

Sting vs Antonio Inoki Final Countdown BVD Finals

This is probably going to be a weird match. Are they going to do the shoot stuff or work it like a regular match? Sting actually controls much of this match, focusing on Inoki's leg, but also controlling the mat game as well. Inoki's only offense comes with the finish, which had him lock on a choke to counter a powerslam. So strange to bring Sting in to do...a martial arts tournament. Just book Sting vs Inoki outright. Sting was huge in Japan, Inoki is a god. Just have them wrassle.

Hiroshi Hase/Keiji Mutoh vs Steiner Brothers IWGP Tag Team Championships

Hase is no doubt looking for revenge after last year's massacre against the Steiners. Hase goes into the crowd and gets a woman to kiss him. When Rick tries the same thing, he has to pull a woman up and force himself on her. It was awkward. Hase and Mutoh have way more offense this time around, with spots going back to the Steiners vs Sting/Muta match being referenced and countered. It's neat. Scott is starting to get gigantic at this point. Doing dope ass Jumbo style belly to bellies. Dueling frankensteiners! Super frankensteiner to Scott! Disgusting German suplexes! Hase pinned Rick with the Northern lights suplex. Titles retained. This was dope. Not only did it play on last year's match, but also the past 4 years of Steiners vs NJ guys in both NJPW and WCW. Just on its own, I can see people preferring last year's version of this match, due to the crazy suplexes and head drops. But this, this was a culmination of 4 years of story in 2 promotions in 2 continents.  It was a huge thing for Hase to finally be the one to beat the Steiners, having lost to them every time with multiple partners since 1991. It's cool shit if you've seen the rest of the matches and could recognize the call backs and counters from matches Hase wasn't even involved in.

Shinya Hashimoto vs Kensuke Sasaki IWGP Heavyweight Championship

What a big leap for Kensuke. From replacement Animal to headlining the dome show for the title. Lots of heavy, heavy strikes, as you'd expect. What you might not expect is Hashimoto doing a missile dropkick. Or taking an avalanche powerslam. Or getting powerbombed. How fucking strong is Kensuke Sasaki? He deadlifts Hashimoto a few times in this match. Just chucks him around. At last year's show, he was easily throwing Scott Norton and Hercules around. AJPW heavyweights get all the praise, but top level NJPW heavyweight stuff in the 90s is nothing to fuck with. It isn't as flashy, and there aren't as many crazy suplexes or giant bumps. Instead, the matches are usually built around one or two big strikes, with each guy trying to avoid them by working that body part. Then the end usually ends up being throwing bombs until one guy can't keep going. This is a quality match. I don't know how Sasaki went from tag match to main event in one year, but he certainly held up his end of the match. Actually, he might have been more impressive than Hashimoto, in the sense that I expected less out of him and he fucking brought it. Hashimoto wins with a fisherman's buster. Title retained.

I enjoyed the Maeda/Sayama reprise of Nagata/Kanemoto, Tenzan squashing Kurasawa for some reason, Norton beating the shit out of Hawk while shit talking Animal the whole time, the NJ guys finally beating the Steiners, and the main event.  The match quality was higher than last year's, for sure. That being said, it did have some garbage matches in the middle of the show, but that seems to be the norm for all super shows in any country.