FMW DirecTV PPV on 4/11/00
review by Stuart
The intention of April's PPV was to build up to the big 5/5/00 PPV at Komazawa Olympic Gym. The show starts with clips of the feuds going on etc., but all that is covered in more detail later on. The faces of the Big 4 (Kuroda, H, Tanaka and Fuyuki) are shown before the BRAINBUSTAH intro. We are at the beautiful and historically rich Tokyo Korakuen Hall and Chocoball Mukai is in the ring. He introduces Kodo Fuyuki, who comes out with his girl, Kyoko Inoue. Fuyuki talks into a dead mic and gets laughed at... you f'd up! He finally finds a working one, but before he can say anything, the WEW World Champion, Tetsuhiro Kuroda, makes his way out and screams, "CUT THE MUSIC!". He jokes and Fuyuki just leaves, looking like Tenryu's grumpy younger brother.
Flying Kid Ichihara vs. Yoshinori Sasaki
The match starts slowly with mat-based offense and nothing much happening. Sasaki teases a legdrop (wow!), but Ichihara jumps up and hits a rolling koppou kick, sending Sasaki out. Flying Kid follows with a baseball slide dropkick, then a quebrada. Back in the ring, he lands a second rope moonsault press for 2. After some quick Sasaki offense, Ichihara comes back with a missile dropkick for 2 1/2. He misses a regular moonsault press from the top, but trips Sasaki and hooks on a la magistral cradle for a close count. Flying Kid runs into a lariat and Sasaki hits an aeroplane spin into some sort of slam, but I'm guessing it was botched, because Ichihara lands on his side. Sasaki gets the win with that move (7:47 - insert aeroplane joke here). Not horrible, but not good, just underwhelming and basic.
Azusa Kudo & Emi Motokawa vs. Kaori Nakayama & Yuka Nakamura
Emi and Kaori start and just punch each other in the chest over and over and over. Yuka enters and connects with three consecutive dropkicks. She drives Emi down with a face crusher from the top for 2. Yuka herself gets caught on the top and brought down by Motokawa with a Frankensteiner, after which they go into a nice pinning sequence with several 2's. Emi catches Yuka in mid-air and powerbomb's her for 2 1/2. Kaori enters, but is tripped by Emi and the focus switches to Kaori's leg, which is hurt. Emi pulls out some nice submissions, such as a surfboard and knee scissors, to work over the leg. Kaori also gets dropped on her head nastily at one point. Eventually, Kaori gets the tag to Yuka, only to be backstabbed when Nakamura German suplexes her. We get a 3-on-1 and Kaori tries, but a Tiger suplex hold by Emi earns the win for her team (9:01). This match was quite solid, especially since the useless Azusa Kudo got no major ring time at all. The FMW women's division lacks life nowadays and Kaori is no Megumi Kudo, that's for sure, having not reached the level FMW had hoped she would. Recently she has been put in the men's mix, winning the WEW 6 Man Tag Team Title with Jado & Gedo. Maybe this is a good idea, since the men don't have to go easy on the women, as they are well trained and disciplined. I would love to see Megumi Kudo and Combat Toyota come out of retirement and breathe some life into the FMW joshi scene.
Kodo Fuyuki, Kyoko Inoue & Chocoball Mukai vs. Tetsuhiro Kuroda, Ricky Fuji & Willie Takayama
Fuyuki's team is shown in the back preparing for the match. Fuyuki is clad in leather... ARGH! Tomomi Tanimoto leads out the faces with her sweet, sweet voice singing them to the ring. Chocoball leads out members of ECW Fuyuki-gun (for lack of a better name). Early on, Fuji manages to mess up an Octopus on Chocoball by falling back, which is really funny. I'm baffled at why he hasn't improved as a wrestler over the years to the point that he can do basics like this perfectly every time. He makes up for it with a standing dropkick though, before Willie and Kyoko are tagged in. They exchange shoulderblocks, with neither going down. Kyoko kills Willie dead with a lariat and soon after pulls out one of Willie's old Bad Boy Hido tricks, the reverse low blow. Willie gets control and the faces work over one of Kyoko's leg, slamming it around a ring post several times. Kuroda sure does shout a lot. Quite a change from the guy that used to shine Onita's shoes in ZEN and keep his mouth shut, while Onita cut his 360 minute promos. They fight into the crowd, with Fuyuki on the wrong end of a triple through-the-crowd running lariat sequence from his opponents. Back in the ring, Willie puts a single-leg crab hold on Kyoko, but a returning Fuyuki breaks it up. Kuroda comes in and hits a big corner charge lariat to Kyoko. He goes up, but Kyoko locks on the testicular claw, then throws him to the mat. Fuyuki gets tagged in and all hell breaks loose when he hits several A-A-A-A-AYAYAYAYAYAYA lariats to Kuroda. He gets near falls with a facebuster and a powerbomb hold. Chocoball comes in and immediately strikes at the prone Kuroda with kicks. Kuroda blocks one of them and lariat's Chocoball down.
Willie enters and messes up a kneel kick by not making contact with the porn guru. A backdrop suplex gets 2, then we get the KICKING! My opinion of Chocoball quickly changes as he AWESOMELY counters Willie's kicks with a legsweep, which just comes off looking so great and even has the fans gasping. I finally see that he might have some potential. Fuji comes back in and hits a nice corkscrew tombstone with an actual corkscrew (now that's... just incredible!). Kuroda enters, but someone off camera, probably Fuyuki, hits him as he bounces off the ropes. Chocoball connects with a roundhouse kick and in comes Kyoko. She SLAUGHTERS Kuroda with two huge lariats and even drops him on his head with a release German suplex for 2 3/4! Fuji and Fuyuki are next to go at it. Fuji puts on a waistlock and Fuyuki drops down, using his Samson Clutch for the 3 count (12:38). It seemed more like 20 minutes, as there was so much action crammed into that time. This match was better than I expected, because there were a range of average wrestlers involved, such as Fuyuki, Chocoball, Willie and Fuji. Fuyuki worked hard and Kyoko looked good. Kyoko's push is obviously based after Chyna's in the WWF, but the difference is Kyoko is a good wrestler and is convincing with her offense. She also has a reputation of being one of the top joshi stars of the 1990's, so I'm all for the push. Chyna on the other hand, is a persona based on a lie and her wrestling is beyond terrible.
Kintaro Kanemura & Hideki Hosaka vs. Tracey Smothers & Crazy Boy
Kanemura is shown standing up in the crowd and on the announcer table, where he proceeds to DANCE as only he can. In the ring, he asks Hosaka (W*ING Alliance members reunited!) to do the dance, but the ever-serious Hosaka shakes his head. Kanemura dances and Hosaka starts to get involved. Crazy Boy walks out and then comes the #2 mark out moment of the evening, when Smothers walks out to N-Trance's "Stayin' Alive", doing the F.B.I. dance. It's like 1997/98 all over again! Except this time, once he reaches the ring, he goes bye-bye and starts doing hilarious dances, the fans going CRAZY. The announcers are also in fits of laughter and a big "Tracey Smothers" chant breaks out. Kanemura kisses Hosaka, who says something like, "No, that's not my way. Try Gannosuke!". A belly to belly suplex by Hosaka on Smothers gets an early 1 count. Smothers fires back with jabs and elbows, then hits his Southern kick, followed by a short-arm thrust kick. Lot's of ducking and dodging concludes when Hosaka sends Smothers over the top with a lariat. He quickly follows with the unathletic-yet-cool tope suicida. In the ring, Crazy Boy sloppily Frankensteiner's Kanemura, but then hits a nice springboard twisting senton. Kanemura is sent out and Crazy follows with a baseball slide, but Kanemura actually ducks and Crazy goes OVER him. However, this assists Crazy in hitting a quebrada. "ECW" shout the fans. I wonder if they realize that neither of these ECW Japan guys are employed by ECW. After some brawling outside, they return to the ring, where Crazy Boy decides it's time for the triple moonsault. Uh oh. The first one is fine, but the second one isn't and the fans murmur. The third one is also questionable and gets only a 2 count. The fans seem amused. Crazy jumps off the top, but is caught with a Liger bomb by Kanemura. Hosaka enters, then goes back out, putting Crazy Boy through a table (it breaks!) with the Fire Thunder. Kanemura and Hosaka hit Total Elimination on Crazy Boy, but it's badly timed. Hosaka then Frankensteiner's Kanemura on to Crazy Boy! Crazy Boy is put out of his misery after being crushed by the chubby Kanemura and the 3 count is registered (7:59). After the match, Kanemura and Hosaka do the TNR dance together, with Hosaka conforming to the comical ways of Kanemura. This was passable, but nothing special. Hosaka worked hard, but Kanemura seemed lazy today, while Smothers was decent and Crazy Boy was, well... green.
Willie Takayama and his goofy students come to the ring and cut a short promo, basically saying that Willie Williams will be back for the 5/5 show, as they gun for the WEW 6 Man Tag Team Title. Intermission time, so also time for the announcers to run over the recent happenings. First to 4/3, with a weird style clash pitting Willie Takayama vs. Crazy Boy. Willie counters a Frankensteiner with a crab hold and gets the win. Tanaka vs. Gedo is next and this looks pretty good, with Gedo stepping out of his hibernation and moving fast, pulling out some cool moves. However, ECW Japan's overlord wins with the Diamond Dust. Koji Nakagawa beats Chocoball Mukai next with a low blow headbutt, followed by a cradle. Balls Mahoney vs. Kintaro Kanemura follows, with Balls throwing Kanemura outside off the top and through a table. Mahoney wins with the Nutcracker Suite. Horrible booking. Tracey Smothers vs. Hisakatsu Oya follows, Tracey winning with a backslide. Kuroda beats Kyoko Inoue next with a lariat and the last match of 4/3 pits H against Kodo Fuyuki, with a lot of nice moves from H. Eventually, after H is distracted, Fuyuki wins with a running lariat, going over Ezaki yet again. Sigh.
Next up are the 4/4 clips and FMW's excellent "Come Out and Play" concept. Tanaka beats Gedo with a rolling elbow smash, bringing out Koji Nakagawa. Tanaka beats him with Diamond Dust, then Jado comes out. Jado beats the tired Tanaka with a big avalanche-style backdrop suplex. Balls Mahoney downs Jado with the Nutcracker Suite, but then falls victim to a Kuroda lariat. Smothers beats Kuroda with a lariat, but Oya enters next and gains some revenge on Tracey, pinning him with a schoolboy. Crazy Boy beats Oya with a la magistral, but is then beaten by Willie Takayama. Takayama loses to Chocoball Mukai after a high kick/roll-up combo. We get down to the nitty gritty with an EXTREMELY ANNOYED H walking out and beating Chocoball with the Falcon Arrow. H then beats Kyoko Inoue with his firebird splash. Kodo Fuyuki comes out to "This Is Extreme" and carries a trash can, which means we have our final match. H wins with the Gannosuke clutch, getting a deserved win over fat Fuyuki. Tanaka, Crazy Boy, Balls and Smothers then return and oust Fuyuki from ECW Japan by giving him a beatdown, splitting the ECW faction. The announcers talk about "The Gladiator... Mike Awesome", who was supposed to be working FMW dates, but of course took the high road to WCW and eventually became the EXCELLENT That 70's Guy.
Koji Nakagawa, Jado & Gedo (c) vs. Ryuji Yamakawa, Tomoaki Honma & The Winger for the WEW 6 Man Tag Team Title
FMW vs. Big Japan! Our Gracious Death Match Kings #1, #2 and #4 (put Kanemura in the match and we'd have the top 4!) come out first to Honma's music ("Heading For Tomorrow" by Gamma Ray) and get some serious heel heat from the loyal FMW fans. We get none of the comedy stuff today from Yamakawa, who actually doesn't look happy to be there. Kanemura follows his TNR friends out and Team Dai Nihon attacks, clearing the ring. In what would have been really, really great, they go for triple tope con hilos, but only Honma and Winger do them. Yamakawa has to stop, because the washed up Koji Nakagawa isn't in a position to take the move. Yamakawa ends up somersaulting out anyway, but the spot looks poor. Honma press slam's Gedo out of the ring and the fans get on his case again. Kanemura whacks his rival Yamakawa with a chair and the match falls into a generic concession stand brawl, with the HAIR PULL DANCE not uncommon. Yamakawa slams Kanemura's head into a door, but the camera leaves those two. Gedo throws Honma into a table set up against the ring. Back in the ring, Yamakawa spikes Koji with a piledriver, but Gedo appears and the match degenerates into quite a long time of boring offense from TNR, including lots of gouging on Yamakawa's bladed forehead. Nakagawa is easily the worst of the three and the match becomes sleep-inducing whenever he's in there. Gedo is the only one of the three that looks passable, hitting a thrust kick to Yamakawa, followed by a second rope moonsault for 2. Yamakawa finally comes back and tags in Winger, the match finally picking up when he connects with dropkicks to both Koji and Gedo. He then takes Jado over with flying headscissors. He hits a kneel kick to Jado and in comes THE ALMIGHTY Honma!
Honma strikes at Gedo with Misawa-esque elbows and a corner charge elbow, followed by a face crusher. He throws a lariat (with a somersault to make it look THAT much better). After a highly delayed vertical suplex, Honma tags in Yamakawa, who decks all TNR members. He lands three quick fire legdrops to Gedo, followed by a Liger bomb for 2 3/4. He goes for his reverse Tiger Driver, but Koji stops it. Team Dai Nihon hit a triple running attack in the corner, with Yamakawa and Winger using lariats and Honma a back elbow. They then do their cool double team stacked suplex move, with Yamakawa on Honma's shoulders, from where he suplexes Jado off the top turnbuckle. Winger comes off another turnbuckle with his diving senton for a near fall. TNR do the exact same triple team combo as their opposition. They superbomb Yamakawa, but Honma saves before the 3 count. Winger nearly pins Jado with a la magistral, but Jado escapes at the last split second. Jado puts Winger up top and gives him a big backdrop suplex from there. He covers for the win and a successful title defense (18:15). Winger seems badly hurt and is carried out by Honma. This match disappointed me. The booking from FMW was both smart and silly. Smart because three of their midcarders beat Big Japan's #1, #2 and #4 ranked guys. Silly because it was so extremely obvious what superior wrestlers the Big Japan three were and it showed. The match was disappointing, because TNR had so much offense and aren't good at all, except an unlazy Gedo (and maybe Jado but who knows, since he's always lazy it seems). When the Big Japan team were on offense it got good, because of their interesting combined movesets. The ultimate match would have been Honma, Yamakawa & Winger vs. Hayabusa, Tanaka & Kanemura, but storylines made that impossible.
H & Mr. Gannosuke vs. Masato Tanaka & Balls Mahoney
ECW Japan come out first to Balls' music. H and Gannosuke follow with their mixed entrance themes (which doesn't sound good at all). The heels attack and instantly Balls gives H the Nutcracker Suite from the top rope. He jumps up and holds his head as if to say, "What did I do!?". H doesn't move and has to be carried out by Yoshinori Sasaki. Tanaka manhandles the returning (from injury) Gannosuke with a chair dash. He tries a tornado DDT, but Gannosuke pushes him off and clips him with an enzuigiri. Balls Mahoney brings the fork out, because he's a forking idiot but here's FUYUKI, back for double duty and out to get revenge! He gives both Balls and Tanaka lariats, but gets cut off by Mahoney when trying a second lariat to Tanaka. Tanaka mugs Gannosuke and throws him out, as Balls forks Fuyuki's head. Fuyuki slices. Gannosuke returns from his slumber, but is taken out by Tracey Smothers. Fuyuki sells a whole lot for Mahoney, which is surprising. Balls goes for the cover, but the referee won't/can't count, as Fuyuki isn't part of the match. Tanaka throws Gannosuke off the apron and on to a table, but THIS IS FMW, so you know what that means! With Fuyuki slumped against the ropes, Tanaka lands an elbow right in the face, snapping his head back. He follows with a stiff lariat, putting the world of hurt on Fuyuki-san. Tanaka does the Justin Credible pose on the ropes, then covers Fuyuki for 2 1/2, the referee deciding to let Fuyuki replace H. They continue the onslaught against Fuyuki and Gannosuke is continuously forced to stare at the lights. Tanaka powerbomb's Fuyuki and Balls drops an elbow from the second rope for 2.
Tanaka goes and chokes Gannosuke with a TV cable outside. Mahoney tries to fork Fuyuki's forehead, but Fuyuki blocks and kicks Balls in the... you know. He tags Gannosuke and the fans go crazy. He enters with a missile dropkick to Balls and lariat's Tanaka. Smothers jumps him, but here's... HAYABUSA?! Yes, Eiji Ezaki returns to the gimmick that made him famous! Mark out moment #1 of the night. Balls Mahoney turns and gawks, but isn't quick enough to avoid Hayabusa's springboard kneel kick. Hayabusa hits a baseball slide rocks Tanaka, then a HUGE quebrada. Back in, Hayabusa uses a springboard somersault senton, followed by a Lionsault to Tanaka for 2 1/2. Gannosuke almost gets the win over Tanaka by using his Gannosuke clutch TWICE, but Tanaka kicks out both times. He goes for the Fire Thunder, but Tanaka hops over and kicks him. Tanaka tries the Diamond Dust, but Gannosuke counters with back elbows and scoops him up off the top rope. He lands the Fire Thunder, but Balls breaks up the pin. Tanaka ducks a double lariat and tackles both H and Gannosuke down. Both heels connect with body presses to Gannosuke for 2 3/4. Hayabusa springboard lariat's Balls, then busts out some of his coolest moves to Tanaka; Dragon suplex, Tiger Driver, then a Falcon Arrow for 2 1/2. He goes up and hits his firebird splash for a near fall. Another Falcon Arrow follows, but Balls again makes the save. The PBP guy is gasping for breath by this point and the crowd heat is excellent. Hayabusa shotei's Tanaka and tries a bodyslam, but Tanaka hops over and hits the rolling elbow for... 2 999/1000's (is that possible?). The announcer is SQUEALING now. Balls thrust kick's (misses) Hayabusa into Tanaka, who is waiting and hits Diamond Dust. Cover... 3 count (21:29). Tanaka pins Hayabusa! Tanaka holds up an ECW sign while Hayabusa tears his mask off and it's... H! President Arai comes in and H has some words for him. H shoves him down! Gannosuke tries to explain to Arai, but Arai is angry. End of show.
The first half of the match was slow and almost completely story-driven. There was also too much stabbing and such for my liking. The second half or so was really good and was fantastic after Hayabusa's return, with lots of energy, intensity and heat. Tanaka is a good heel. Mahoney, while a good U.S. garbage wrestler (where the standard is extremely low), isn't *close* to the same level that Tanaka, Gannosuke and H are at, but didn't mess up this match too much, because it wasn't booked in the usual FMW way, with 20+ minutes of complete action. In such a situation Mahoney would be outclassed and lost. If I booked FMW (IF, IF, IF), I would have held off Tanaka turning against Fuyuki and teamed them up in this match against H and Gannosuke, which would have surely been real good. After the match, whatever the result, Tanaka and ECW Japan could have taken out Fuyuki, Kyoko and Chocoball. It was a good effort though and the best match of the night. Below the standards set by past tag matches such as H & Gannosuke vs. Tanaka & Kuroda, but still exciting and dramatic.
You could tell this was a build up show to 5/5/00, because most of the matches set up bigger showdowns at that show. There was some decent wrestling, although only the last match was any good. Only worth getting for diehards really.
For more of Stuart's thoughts and opinions on puroresu, visit www.puroresufan.com