FMW DirecTV PPV on 5/5/00
review by Stuart
This PPV was labeled "Backdraft" and was FMW's 11th anniversary show. 5/5 has always been a special time for FMW with huge shows every year on this date, except 1997 (they moved the show to 4/29) and 1998 (they had a ZEN show on 5/5, but nothing major, because they had their first PPV on 4/30). Going into this show, the big angle was still FMW vs. ECW Japan. So naturally, the main event was Hayabusa vs. Tanaka, old friends with high standards.
Ricky Fuji vs. Crazy Boy
Crazy Boy is the younger cousin of Super Crazy, with a similar moveset and a mask. Fuji sings to the ring with three women following him. Since Crazy is part of ECW Japan, Fuji gets the fans to shout "FMW". Nothing happens until Crazy breaks into full lucha mode with a (sloppy) Frankensteiner, then a tope con hilo to the outside. Fuji rests and attacks Crazy with his vanilla offense. Crazy hits a twisting senton, then sets Fuji up for his triple moonsault (one off each turnbuckle) spot that his cousin has mastered. He COMPLETELY blows the first two, overshooting them. Some fans can't help but chuckle. He manages the third one, but it's still not that great. He makes up for it with a nice quebrada to the outside, then a perfect moonsault press (finally), getting 2 3/4. Fuji takes control with his Kamikaze roll and hits one of the most business-exposing Van Daminators I've ever seen. Crazy apparently falls asleep for a few seconds, while Fuji takes his time dropkicking the chair. Fuji wins the match with a rotating brainbuster (8:35). This wasn't good at all. The effort was there from Crazy Boy, but he's so green and constantly screwing up spots. Fuji did his job of trying to warm up the crowd, but when Ricky is put in the position of carrying a match, there will be problems.
President Arai walks out next and announces that FMW is switching from DirecTV Japan to SKY PerfecTV! PPV in the near future.
Hideki Hosaka & Yoshinori Sasaki (c) vs. The Samoans for the WEW Hardcore Tag Team Title
The Samoans worked for ECW in 1996 as The Samoan Gangsta Party. Eddy Fatu wears a Rikishi t-shirt to the ring. Clips are shown of Hosaka & Sasaki winning the vacant titles by beating Kintaro Kanemura & Willie Takayama. I can't stand the concept of specialized "hardcore" titles anymore. They start with an ECW-style brawl into the crowd, with chairs and stuff being thrown about. The Samoans take control and Sasaki gets DDT'd on some chairs. Fatu nodowa's Hosaka on more chairs and Hosaka does a HUUUGE bladejob that sees blood gush out of his head in a Keiji Muto-like manner. W*ING SPIRIT! remains in Hosaka too. The fans really get behind Hosaka and Sasaki, who are the most unlikely candidates to be over in this, the era of apathetic FMW fans. Smalls is put on a table and Hosaka comes off some scaffolding, putting him through it. Back in the ring, Hosaka Frankensteiner's Fatu, then double teams him with Sasaki. Smalls returns to the ring, but one of the champions hits something resembling a FREAKING Tiger Driver '91! That HAS to be a blown spot. Sensing they have the match wrapped up, Sasaki and Hosaka double nodowa one of the Samoans on some chairs for the win (13:44). After the match, Hosaka is too bloody to even celebrate, but Sasaki (who's cut open himself) does the celebrating of two men. Better than I expected, but featured plenty of boring, nonsensical brawling. At least they kept it interesting by doing big spots, even when in the crowd. Speaking of the crowd, they came alive for this match and really dug the team of Hosaka and Sasaki. Therefore, Fuyuki turned them heel in the near future. I'm surprised it was even watchable considering I'd only rank Hosaka at a level of decency when wrestling.
Kodo Fuyuki, Kyoko Inoue and Chocoball Mukai talk backstage, and seem to have a slight disagreement, as Fuyuki walks off. A Celine Dion song hits and we go to a video package of the whole saga between Flying Kid Ichihara and his women, Kaoruko Arai (niece of President Arai) and Jun Kasanagi. The winner of their catfight gets to valet Flying Kid. Kodo McMahon-Russo loves booking this stuff.
Kaoruko Arai vs. Jun Kasanagi
Ichihara is the referee. Kaoruko wears a school uniform. Flying Kid cuts a promo, gets booed, and the women exchange bitchy looks. Then we get the usual catright... screeching, hair pulling, rolling. Arai hits the worst lariat ever, then halts the match to do an erotic dance. Jun manages a figure-four and eventually, Flying Kid counts a quick 3 for Arai. The fans boo and Ichihara offers both girls the chance to be his valet. They accept. This had no place on the PPV and stuff like this doesn't belong in Japanese wrestling.
As the three celebrate, "Shoot It" hits and Kodo Fuyuki makes his way out. He tells the three to clear off, then cuts one of his big promos, directing people to the FMW-tron. Fuyuki announced he would retire before this show. So on the screen now is a sheet of paper from April 1st, when he said he would retire. April Fools, says he. Har-har. No one cares. The new Mr. Liar is born.
Kyoko Inoue, Chocoball Mukai & Kaori Nakayama vs. Azusa Kudo, Emi Motokawa & Yuka Nakamura
Kudo is the worst wrestler to have remained in FMW through the years. From being Gosaku Goshogowara to Mr. Pogo 2 and now this transvestite gimmick, it doesn't matter, he's still unbelievably hopeless. He is basically a rip-off of Goldust, but has had a sex change and dresses like a woman. He is very convincing and not afraid to do more than just mind games, as is revealed a little later. Kyoko is now very fat and bigger than most of the men in FMW. Kudo and Chocoball start and it's obvious that things will get interesting, since Chocoball is a porn star. Chocoball throws some kicks, but the she-male plants a kiss on Mukai to catch him off guard. In a hilarious spot, Mukai low blow's Kudo and receives no reaction except a blank star. Kudo kicks Chocoball low and then tries to low blow him... LITERALLY, by going down there. Down where? WHOA. The women actually start wrestling now, exchanging matwork and stuff. Kyoko gives Yuka a long giant swing at a disturbing pace. Kaori hits Yuka with an sick release German suplex from the SECOND turnbuckle and follows with a double footstomp for 2. Kaori stays in control with a double Stunner to Yuka and Emi, then a DDT to Kudo. Not much else happens, until Kyoko loses her temper and sends Emi and Yuka down. Chocoball comes in and hits Emi with a stiff kick to the back. Emi gets up and slaps him, before more comedy stuff breaks out. Emi hits a German suplex and then a firebird splash for 2. The predictable cluster breaks out, with all six fighting, Kudo tearing the shirt off of Chocoball's valet. However, Kudo soon gets hit with a stiff lariat by Kyoko. Inoue pins and gets the win for her team (12:28). Lame match, with stupid WWF-like garbage.
Ryuji Yamakawa (c) vs. Kintaro Kanemura for the WEW Hardcore Title
Yamakawa won the title from Kanemura at Big Japan's 2/22 show, and after some other FMW vs. BJW matches, this was the blowoff to the feud. Yamakawa throws a chair to Kanemura, who throws it straight back and kicks it into him. Kanemura is sent out and Yamakawa follows with a big tope con hilo. They fight into the crowd, where Kanemura hits a Death Valley bomb! Yamakawa puts Kanemura on a table and body presses him from the balcony! They go backstage, where Yamakawa hiptosses Kanemura on to the cold, hard floor. He asks the camera man to follow him and grabs two light bulbs (switched on) off the ceiling. He misses Kanemura and breaks the first one. They struggle, but Yamakawa wins and smashes it over Kanemura's head. AND KANEMURA BLEEDS HARDWAY! DISGUSTING, because the blood just squirts out. Yamakawa takes a walk back to the arena. Backstage, Ricky Fuji hands Kanemura (WHO'S A BIG MESS) some water and he does a Hulk up, then goes after Yamakawa. Yamakawa sets the table up somewhere and piledrive's Kanemura on the concrete. He sets a second table up next to the other one, before the announce position and beneath a balcony. Kanemura is put on the table and Yamakawa hits a senton from the balcony! DAI NIHON! They go back to the ring, where Yamakawa hits his rolling German suplex sequence, Benoit-style, then connects with a superkick. Two tables are put on the top turnbuckle and both guys fight up there. As they fight, the tables fall and Yamakawa takes a MANIACAL head-first bump to the concrete outside! He comes back and suplexes Kanemura from the top and through two tough tables (t-t-t-t) for 2 3/4. Kanemura hits a double-arm tornado DDT from the second rope, then uses a (nise) Thunder Fire powerbomb for just 1! He hits a stiffer one and wins the title back, getting the 3 count (16:26). They shake hands after the match, become friends, and do some comedy stuff. I think this was slightly better than their 2/22 match, because while it also had a fair share of dead time, it didn't have nearly as much as the other and didn't drag on. They went a bit overboard with the finish, going through some big moves. I haven't seen the match they had in between 2/22 and 5/5 yet, as it's on the first of those pathetic Big Japan World Extreme Cup tapes (the second was depressing enough) and heavily clipped anyway. I still think this series was majorly disappointing, even though the matches were good. I just expected more.
Koji Nakagawa, Jado & Gedo (c) vs. Willie Williams, Willie Takayama, Megane & Bouzu for the WEW 6 Man Tag Team Title
Kanemura's remaining TNR buddies hold the straps and are going up against one has-been martial artist (Williams), one wanabee (Takayama) and two of his goofy, but comical students. So it's technically a handicap match. Gedo has gotten himself into great shape and looks like a different man compared to that chubby guy who worked the J Cups. The students challenge TNR, but fall back behind Williams immediately, which causes TNR to clear out. Former TNR buddy, Takayama (Hido), goes to work on his opponents with kneel kicks. Jado hits a lariat and TNR then go on a lazy beatdown romp, with nothing at all of note. Jado hits Takayama with a chair and Gedo throws a superkick. The crowd is dead. TNR continue the beatdown, which improves a little. Gedo hits a nice Superfly splash for 2 1/2. TNR hit the assisted superbomb and Koji then smartly chokes out Takayama with his own karate jacket, winning the match (8:27). God, this was awful. TNR were typically lazy, with only Gedo showing anything good, but not a fraction of what he's capable of. Takayama was average and his gimmick is so bad. The others did nothing at all. Williams probably got a big pay day for standing on the apron. What a joke.
Hisakatsu Oya and Naohiro Yamazaki come out and give a quick speech, telling fans they are returning from injuries. Two of the young dojo wrestlers cut promos and say they'll be debuting later in the year I guess. Since it's time for the mid-PPV break, we get clips of the 4/25 spot show, starting with H being kissed by Azusa Kudo in their match. Fuyuki, Kyoko & Chocoball win the WEW 6 Man Tag Team Title from TNR, though they would drop the belts back to them days later. Fuyuki has even taken the concept of hotshotting titles from America. Finally, we see extended clips of Masato Tanaka vs. Mr. Gannosuke in what looks to be an awesome match. The sort of match that keeps me watching FMW while Fuyuki books it into the ground. Tanaka wins with Diamond Dust and after the match, Gannosuke and H have a tiff, before hugging and putting aside their differences for now.
Sabu vs. Mr. Gannosuke
Sabu gets no heat AT ALL. He doesn't carry any of those titles he won at small indies in America. Gannosuke walks out, but the fans still don't care. What's up with them? Sabu pounces with his usual disjointed attack and he looks worse than ever. The years have really taken their toll, because he moves like a snail now. Sabu manages to hit his triple jump moonsault the first time. More "blah" action, until Gannosuke whips out his Gannosuke clutch for just 2. Sabu burns through some of his worn out highspots, until Gannosuke catches him on the apron and hits his Fire Thunder through TWO TABLES outside! Great spot and Sabu lands directly on his head. Gannosuke hits a Falcon Arrow, then the Fire Thunder again for 2 1/2. Sabu throws a fireball at Gannosuke, who rolls out. Sabu climbs the ropes in search of Gannosuke and gets a HUGE fireball in his face. He is legitimately burnt and the referee stops the match (10:55). One of the worst Gannosuke matches I have seen, along with his IWA KOTDM "classic" against Tiger Jeet Singh (although this wasn't nearly as bad as this). Just retire already Sabu.
Tetsuhiro Kuroda (c) vs. Kodo Fuyuki for the WEW World Title
Kuroda wasn't a very good champion and Tanaka should have kept the belt until 5/5. Kuroda is a good worker, but just wasn't ready for the title at this stage. The two go into the crowd early and Kuroda hits a running lariat. They brawl and Kuroda uses a fork to slice open Fuyuki. They exchange lots of lariats, until Fuyuki tries a vertical suplex, but falters, thanks to a bad leg. Kuroda pounces with a dropkick to the leg and works over it for a while. Fuyuki uses some UNDERWEAR to fight back, by putting it over Kuroda's head, then hits a Fisherman's buster, followed by a running lariat for 2. Fuyuki hits a release German suplex, but Kuroda no-sells and bounces back with a... lariat. Kuroda pulls the briefs off his head and lands a Northern Lights suplex hold for 2. He then puts the briefs over Fuyuki's head and throws some more lariats. He hits the "Sweet Chin" lariat (for some reason, taps the mat with his foot). They fight backstage, where the challenger throws a trash can at Kuroda and sprays him with a fire extinguisher. Urgh, how... you know. Back at ringside, Fuyuki hits a huge muscle buster. Back in the ring, he powers up and hits two running lariats, getting 2 3/4 each time. The fans are actually responding now. Kuroda ducks a third lariat, but gets cradled for 2 1/2. More lariats follow, then Fuyuki hits a real stiff one, covering for the win and title (18:09). Fuyuki challenges Tenryu after the match, although sent Hayabusa to wrestle him instead. This match was FAR too lariat-intensive. I don't understand why Kuroda dropped half of his moveset and adopted Fuyuki's own main offense. Kuroda is still a solid worker, but lacks variety with his moves. Fuyuki has always had that problem and makes the lariats seem meaningless by the end of the match. This was certainly bad Fuyuki. I enjoyed it the first time I saw it for some reason, but the second time I was falling asleep. It was just too long for two guys who use the lariat over and over again.
We go to clips of H cutting a promo. Tanaka rushes through the crowd, making his return to FMW. H looks at him and offers a handshake. Tanaka brushes the hand away and attacks H, leaving with ECW Japan's gaijin. Tanaka also takes out previous ECW Japan leader, Kodo Fuyuki, who breaks away with the Japanese members (Chocoball and Kyoko). H, under his Hayabusa mask, attacks and then cuts an interview without it, screaming in fury. Tanaka attacks and chokes him with a rope to finish off the montage, setting up the main event.
Hayabusa vs. Masato Tanaka
I love the Hayabusa gimmick so much and Ezaki should never have left it, even he did for only about a year. As the two face off, the lights dim and a bell tolls. Jinsei Shinzaki, Hayabusa's long-time tag team partner, returns to FMW to sit at ringside and observe. Tanaka and Hayabusa start with a great mat sequence, before Tanaka targets a leg. Hayabusa hits his tope con hilo (isn't his leg supposed to be sore?), but Tanaka uses a chair to his advantage, then powerbomb's Hayabusa through a table that is propped in the corner. Hayabusa botches a Frankensteiner and Tanaka expertly covers up the mistake by countering it into a pinning position for 2. Hayabusa misses a quebrada, but lands on his feet and hits a superkick. He moonsault's Tanaka outside and returns to the ring with a springboard somersault senton, then a Lionsault for 2. He burns through some more spots, then drops his firebird splash for 2 1/2. A Falcon Arrow gets 2 3/4, as the match heats up. Tanaka comes back and powerbomb's Hayabusa through a table outside, getting an "ECW" chant. A Liger bomb from Tanaka gets 2 3/4. He tries a rolling elbow, but Hayabusa counters and hits a release Dragon suplex. Tanaka hits a reverse suplex and drops Hayabusa DIRECTLY on his head. The fans buzz and one of the announcers just says, "Eh?!". Incredible spot, which looked so dangerous. Tanaka connects with a rolling elbow for 2 3/4 and tries again, but is hit with an elbow shot and covered for 2 3/4.
Hayabusa hits the H Edge, then a Tiger Driver, and finally a Falcon Arrow for another close count. He goes up top and screws up the hard-to-hit Phoenix splash, Tanaka getting up first to somewhat cover Hayabusa's mistake again. Hayabusa escapes the Diamond Dust and hits Tanaka with a shotei. He tries an avalanche-style Frankensteiner, but Tanaka counters with a superbomb and then the Diamond Dust for 2 3/4! A running elbow smash by Tanaka gets another near fall. Hayabusa hits a really weird Tiger Driver, then H Thunder for the win (18:43). Amidst the chaos of fans rushing to ringside to celebrate with Hayabusa, Shinzaki quietly leaves. Hayabusa tears his mask off and does a semi-heel promo. That planned heel turn ended before it began, thankfully. He parties with the fans to end the show. A very good match as you would expect from these two, but they've done much, MUCH better. The match had no direction for a while and it took them time to decide what to do. When they did, it became a cool spotfest, just sloppy in parts. I don't understand why they did a total spotfest, when they've had matches in the past with awesome build and more intelligently placed spots. I guess it's all part of the more gimmicky FMW era. But despite a shaky start, this was a really good match. Tanaka was super as usual. Hayabusa sometimes goes from being a good all-rounder back to where he was in 1996 and before, where he'd just hit highspots and rely on others to hold the match together. This was such a case.
"Backdraft" didn't live up to the hype and anticipation it had. A couple of very good matches and a perfectly watchable one didn't make it too bad but much of the undercard stuff was dreadful. Fuyuki's booking has dragged the FMW product down so far. However, I can't NOT recommend a show with good Hayabusa vs. Tanaka and Yamakawa vs. Kanemura matches, but this was their 5/5 show and it wasn't nearly as good as 5/5/96 and 5/5/99.
For more of Stuart's thoughts and opinions on puroresu, visit www.puroresufan.com