FMW at Kawasaki Stadium, 5/5/96
review by Stuart
FMW's 5/5/96 show is one of the biggest ever staged by the promotion. Interestingly, it drew only 33,231 to the famous Kawasaki Baseball Stadium, while 5/5/94 drew 52,000, 5/5/95 drew 58,200 and 9/28/97 drew 50,012. This was the only of those shows without Onita though, so there you go. Many outsiders were booked for this show, giving it a real "mega event" aura to it. I have the Champ Forum TV version, which is actually two separate blocks (and no clipping like the commercial tape has), so the matches are switched around, meaning it goes from day to night and vice versa frequently. I've organized this review in the order of when the matches happened.
Nanjyo Hayato vs. Jason the Terrible
Hayato is the young upstart here and underdog. He attacks and reverses a tilt-a-whirl into a flying headscissors takeover. He follows with a kneel kick that sends Jason out and then, after some teasing, hits a big tope con hilo! A nice quebrada follows, before Jason regains control. He throws Hayato out but, the youngster quickly hops up top and lands a missile dropkick, then a split-legged moonsault press for 2. A regular moonsault press gets another 2 count, before Hayato misses an attempted Skytwister Press. Jason hits a Liger bomb for a near fall, then tries a powerbomb, but that is countered with a nice Frankensteiner from Hayato. Jason hits a massive powerbomb, but pulls Hayato up at 2. After a killer lariat, he drills Hayato down with a Northern Lights bomb for the win (8:20). This was way better than I expected. I've always said that Jason is the only guy from Victor's Book of Horrors that could work. Lots of good spots and a fine opener.
Chaparrita ASARI & Yumi Fukawa vs. Kaori Nakayama & Aki Kanbayashi
This is AJW vs. FMW and it's almost embarrassing how much better the AJW girls are. Fukawa hits a nice missile dropkick early on for 2. She tries another moments later, but falls short. Aki does her ODE TO FUYUKI with a growling lariat to Fukawa in the corner. Aki lifts Fukawa in an Argentine backbreaker position, then throws her forward. ASARI comes in and hits two of her beautiful handspring double mule kicks. She is caught up top and thrown down. The FMW girls mess up when going for a double dropkick, Nakayama hitting and ASARI going down, leaving Aki to dropkick thin air. Nakayama hits a moonsault press for 2, then goes out with a plancha. ASARI follows with her own. She then hits the AWE-INSPIRING Skytwister Press for the win (12:08). This was just decent, since Aki (now Miss Mongol) isn't good, nor is Nakayama. The AJW duo made it okay though.
Katsutoshi Niiyama, Wild Shooter & Kamikaze vs. Tetsuhiro Kuroda, Shoichi Funaki & Daisuke Ikeda
I'm a little confused about Shooter and Kamikaze. Shooter is apparently Minoru Tanaka, which wouldn't be out of the question I guess. But Kamikaze is supposedly Yuki Ishikawa. There are a million Kamikazes though. It's not overly surprising that this one is Ishikawa though, since he's a kicker. Kamikaze almost breaks his neck early on when botching a Jericho-like moonsault on Ikeda, landing head-first on Ikeda. Ikeda plays TAKA and puts Kamikaze in a camel clutch, allowing Funaki to hit a dropkick to the face. Kamikaze and Funaki do some kicking, before Ikeda and Shooter are brought in. Ikeda hits a gutwrench suplex, then a tombstone piledriver. Funaki is brought in, but caught with a nice delayed brainbuster by Shooter. Kuroda finally gets tagged in and comes off the top rope with an elbow drop. He dropkick's Shooter in the corner, but is on the wrong end of a low blow soon after. Niiyama hits Kuroda with a lariat for 2 3/4. He then finishes Kuroda off with a uranage for the win (14:39). More or less all of these guys except maybe Niiyama and Funaki are twice as good now as they were back then.
Ricky Fuji & Rock N Roll Express vs. Freddy Krueger, Crypt Keeper & Boogie Man
This match isn't good. Like, zero wrestlers who can carry the thing. The horror guys are a treat to look and laugh at though. Crypt Keeper looks like Hulk Hogan, a walking corpse with the exact same hairstyle. Boogie Man is just plain frightening, while Freddy is dripping with indy sleaze. They do some bad wrestling, with nothing at all seeming to happen during the match. The poor RNR Express were revolutionary high flyers in America, yet by this stage, everything they do looks old and boring. Just like they are as wrestlers. After some stuff, RNR do the Rocket Launcher, Morton throwing Gibson off the top for the win (9:09). I want to see all of the horror guys in the ring at the same time, maybe in a battle royal. It'd be so bad, yet so good at the same time.
Ryuma Go & Samurai MAX vs. I Majin & Uchu Majin Silver X
Ryuma Go is a pioneer of sleazy indy scum. From being a New Japan junior long ago to being a man who devoted his life to destroying aliens. There are quite a few aliens around and these two opponents are a couple of them. Samurai MAX could well be Masaaki Mochizuki as he wears a similar outfit (and a mask) and throws lots of kicks. This is the Ryuma show, as he squashes the aliens for a while, before the baddies from Outer Space do a beatdown on MAX. I'm not actually sure which is which, although the fatter one is indy drifter Ichiro Yaguchi. They do some poor wrestling, but not as bad as you might expect. Go is eventually tagged in and lariat's everyone to Mars and back. He hits I Majin with three lariats, then a backdrop suplex. A Japanese leg roll clutch hold finishes him... er, it, off (15:33). Survival Tobita has kind of outdone Ryuma now, by testing the limits of a human being against a broader range of supernatural monstrosities. Ryuma returns to the Samurai Project to destroy more enemies from Outer Space and make the world a better place!
Koji Nakagawa (c) vs. TAKA Michinoku for the Independent World Jr. Heavyweight Title
Nakagawa literally worships Bret Hart at this stage of his career, wearing pink and black, and using similar techniques in the ring. It sure beats "low blow" Nakagawa. They start with matwork, Koji using a bow-and-arrow hold, before TAKA drops down on him for a 1 count. TAKA dropkick's Nakagawa out and does his springboard plancha tease with the backflip. TAKA takes a crazy bump to the outside when Koji throws him over with a big backdrop. He follows with a pescado, then they have a tussle, trying to stop each other from re-entering the ring, which eventuates with them both rushing in at the 19 count. Another dropkick sends Koji out and TAKA misses his springboard plancha, hurting a leg. Nakagawa works over said leg and TAKA does a top notch job of selling the injury and making it seem legitimate. Koji's appreciation of Bret continues when he applies the Scorpion Deathlock (Sharpshooter), which TAKA struggles to get out of for a while. Nakagawa tries to re-apply it, but is rolled up for a good 2 1/2 count. TAKA cradle's Nakagawa with a la magistral for another 2. He hits a hurricanrana, but Nakagawa rolls through for 2 1/2. Nakagawa jumps off the top, but is caught with a dropkick, switching the momentum. This is short-lived though, as they have a see-saw sequence, TAKA missing the springboard dropkick. Nakagawa runs straight into an overhead belly to belly, but escapes TAKA's Michinoku Driver II and hits a Dragon suplex hold for 2 1/2! He gets the same result from a Liger bomb. He goes for the finish with a Tiger suplex hold, TAKA kicking out at the exact right time to put over the closest count of the match. TAKA catches Koji up top, then hits the Michinoku Driver II for 2 3/4! He charges and falls out, but instantly returns with a springboard dropkick. Another Michinoku Driver II wins TAKA the title (15:39)! Partner in crime, Shoichi Funaki, joins him in celebrating. TAKA carried Nakagawa to one of his (Nakagawa) best singles matches ever. Strong matwork, clear focus and great execution. TAKA was awesome.
Chigusa Nagayo vs. Shark Tsuchiya in a Street Fight
Shark attacks with a long flaming pole of some kind that looks like a sword set on fire. Shark proves why she's called the female Pogo by carving up Nagayo's back and staining her shirt red. Shark goes for the fireball, but Nagayo kicks her just in time. They fight outside where Shark actually bumps, being piledriven through a table. Shark does more carving and Nagayo comes back by using her bull rope. She uses a choke sleeper, then a stepover armbar. Either the referee stops the match or Shark taps out (13:02), since the referee calls for the bell. A rare job for Shark. Not good. Shark is pretty hopeless.
Miguel Perez Jr., Shoji Nakamaki & Toryu vs. Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, Hido & Hideki Hosaka
This is an IWA Puerto Rico/Quinones Army vs. W*ING Alliance match. Nakamaki wears his cherished ECW shirt. It's basically one big brawl with something always going on. Unfortunately those involved aren't very good so there isn't much else. Perez is easily the best, doing a lot of cool spots. Hido tries to tear off Toryu's mask, but has no luck. Toryu does some cool moves, almost ending the life of Hideki Hosaka with a killer Dragon suplex hold in the latter stages. Matsunaga and Nakamaki no-sell each others chairshots in an act of bravado and general stupidity. Hosaka hits Toryu with an avalanche-style Frankensteiner and the W*ING Alliance then hit a superbomb. More brawling ensues, before Matsunaga lands a sloppy Liger bomb for the win (13:18). This was Matsunaga's last appearance in FMW, as he labeled it not hardcore enough for him and would show up in Big Japan a couple of months later, where he continued innovating with crazy Death Matches.
The Headhunters & Super Leather vs. The Gladiator, Horace Boulder & Hisakatsu Oya for the FMW World Street Fight 6 Man Tag Team Title
This is for the vacant belts. Leather holds the FMW World Brass Knuckles Title here, which is shocking and easily the lowest point in the belt's illustrious history. The Headhunters hold the FMW World Brass Knuckles Tag Team Title, so all three guys on that team are carrying gold, because they're friends of bookerman Quinones. This match is separated into three phases, the first being an all out brawl. Leather and Awesome climb high scaffolding and both tease falling from there (yeah, right). Awesome hits his over-the-top tope suicida, which is always great. The match eventually moves into the next phase, which is a more traditional tag team match in the ring with Oya being assaulted. After hitting a Headhunter with a super-stiff backdrop suplex, Horace is tagged in and throws lariats. After a DDT, he hits a legdrop (brutha!) for 2. They move into the final phase, an FMW-style sprint with plenty of saves. Horace is put on a table and a Headhunter overshoots a moonsault press! Leather tries to cover by body pressing Horace through the table. He hits a Thunder Fire powerbomb for 2 1/2, before finishing Horace off with a brainbuster (19:19). Way too long, but it was pretty wild and entertaining.
W*ING Kanemura vs. Cactus Jack in a Barbed Wire Barricade Spider Net Glass Crush Death Match
Cactus is already a WWF wrestler at this point, so must have gained clearance to work this show. They tease the big bumps early on, the first big spot being Kanemura body pressing Cactus through a table outside. Kanemura tries to suplex Cactus into one of the spider nets at ringside, but ends up being suplexed in there himself! Those things are really nasty and look like a pain to get out of, because there is nothing to hold on to. Cactus then goes NUTTY and drops a chair-assisted elbow drop to Kanemura! Kanemura tries to untangle himself as Cactus gives the BANG! BANG! salute. Kanemura escapes, but is kicked back into the barricade shortly after and looks around, as if to say, "How the HELL am I supposed to get out?". Cactus hits a swinging neckbreaker for 2 3/4, then a piledriver for 2. He goes up top with a board and has it dropkicked in his face. Kanemura repeatedly smacks Cactus with it, then connects with a jumping elbow for 2. Kanemura throws some elbow smashes, but is backdropped on to the apron when he charges and almost takes another fall. They do some dramatic teases, before Kanemura baseball slide dropkick's Cactus into the other net! Cactus quickly gets out but is pushed back in HEAD-FIRST, HEAD-FIRST, HEAD-FIRST! Kanemura pescado's Cactus well and truly into the depths of Hell. Kanemura goes up, but is thrown into one of the barricade structures in the ring. Cactus connects with a diving elbow drop for 2 3/4. Kanemura fires back and northern light suplexes Cactus on to a barricade! He goes to the second turnbuckle and sort of hits a moonsault press. He gets a couple of near falls, before being STUNGUNNED on the wire ropes! Cactus DDT's him on the mess in the ring for another near fall, then grabs some glass from the broken structures outside. He throws it in the ring, then double-arm DDT's Kanemura on to it for the win (16:49). If you want to rate it within the standard of the time period, it's probably great. But it's been surpassed since so isn't quite as good. It looked painful as hell for both guys though and they got cut up badly. I guess Cactus didn't care too much this time, since he had a big money contract back home. Kanemura should have won, but WWF probably vetoed that possibility.
Combat Toyoda (c) vs. Megumi Kudo in a No Rope Electrified Explosive Barbed Wire Death Match for the WWA Women's Title & Independent Women's Title
This is Toyoda's retirement match and against her tag team partner. The barbed wire ropes are laced with big explosives. The match starts slowly, with wary exchanges. They try to rush each other into the wire several times, but to no avail. Toyoda dazes Kudo with headbutts, which almost causes her to dizzily walk into the wire. Kudo ducks a lariat, but isn't up quick enough as Toyoda dropkick's her into the wire. BANG! First explosion and Kudo flops to the mat. Referee Go Ito and Toyoda herself also sell the strength of the explosion. Toyoda then hits the Combat Driver for 2 3/4! She wears Kudo down with a surfboard hold, before going for the Combat Driver again, but Kudo counters with an armdrag takeover. Toyoda reverses an Irish whip and sends Kudo towards the wire, but Kudo hits the deck. Kudo is up and Toyoda charges, misses a lariat... BANG! (Retired) Atsushi Onita looks on at ringside, with a pained look on his face. He knows how it feels. Kudo locks on a choke sleeper and breaks it after a while. She hits an enzuigiri, then locks on a Stretch Plum. Toyoda isn't tapping today though. Kudo whips Toyoda towards the wire but Combat just collapses in pain and exhaustion (a Kawada sell). Combat comes back with a lariat, sending Kudo into the wire... but no explosion! Toyoda hits a high-angle German suplex hold for 2 3/4! Kuroda escapes a powerbomb and lands a DDT for 2. She ducks a lariat, then gets 2 from a Northern Lights suplex hold. Kudo is frustrated. IT'S MURDER TIME. Toyoda just DESTROYS! Kudo with an awe-inspiring set of moves, getting near falls each time. Firstly, a deadly backdrop DRIVER pretty much. Then a Liger bomb. Then a HELL SMASHER! And then a Thunder Fire powerbomb for the closest count yet. But Kudo won't stay down! Kudo catches a boot and tries to German suplex Toyoda into the wire! After a struggle, Kudo charges with a jumping hip attack, but Combat catches her and they both fall back into the wire. DOUBLE BANG! They sell it like they're dead and are down for over a minute.
Once up, Toyoda hits a double-arm powerbomb for 2 1/2. Kudo KILLS Toyoda with a spike powerbomb, dropping her directly on her neck. Of course, that's not enough. It's time to really end it. SPINNING KUDO DRIVER! HOW DOES TOYODA'S NECK NOT BREAK? Kudo covers for the win (21:26)! Toyoda plays dead and "Wild Thing" hits, Onita entering the ring. He revives her less-than-gently by splashing a bucket of water on her. He does his usual act, crying and such. It's clear here that he won't stay retired. He just loves the spotlight too much. He carries Toyoda out, where she and Kudo have a female bonding session backstage, crying on their stretchers. This was the best Death Match ever until the two Honma vs. Yamakawa matches (though it's close between this and the first match between those two). Unlike the last match where the gimmicks were primary and there was little wrestling, the wrestling was primary here and the explosions were made to look as deadly as possible, with both selling them to perfection. It was a brutal, great match with tons of drama and a great storyline. A superb retirement match for Toyoda. So what does she do? Breaches it. She appeared on an Onita Pro (the hotbed of retirement liars) show in on 6/27/99. I guess it can be forgiven if it was a one time appearance, since I haven't heard of her being on any other show since. This was really great. Both should rightfully have had broken necks and/or backs after this match, but they're tough cookies. A classic.
Terry Funk & Mr. Pogo vs. Hayabusa & Masato Tanaka in a No Rope Electrified Barbed Wire Double Hell Tornado Tag Death Match
The craziest has been saved until last. The match has a 15:00 timer, after which the ring explodes. Both teams are hopeful they can end it before then. Two sides of the ring have exploding barbed wire ropes. The other two have no ropes but exploding barricades on the outside, which also house the explosives that will detonate at 15 minutes (so the worst thing possible would be to be on them when the clock hits ZERO). Like the last two matches, they start with a scrap, teasing bumps. Tanaka tries to suplex Pogo out, but Pogo counters by taking him down into a wakigatame. Tanaka gets an early near fall, DDT'ing Funk for 2 1/2. Pogo tries to break Hayabusa's arm, while Funk tries to apply his spinning toehold, but is kicked off. Pogo goes for the tap out with a cross armbreaker to Hayabusa. Pogo is sent towards the wire and does the FAT MAN WADDLE to avoid contact. Tanaka dropkick's him and charges, but Pogo moves and Tanaka goes into the wire. BANG! Pogo gets his sickle and the match gets really crazy as he slices Tanaka's back open hardway. This is pretty sick and kind of depressing to see someone as good as Masato doing this, but he actually likes it. Tanaka tries to come back with elbows, but runs into the blade. Pogo exchanges his sickle for a long knife. Pogo just ruthlessly slices up his back as if it was a loaf of bread. Hayabusa and Tanaka fight back with DDTs in stereo, then front suplex Funk on to the wire, which explodes with Terry on top of it! Tanaka elevates Hayabusa, who dropkick's Pogo for 2. The sirens begin, along with the 5 minute countdown. A sense of desperation sets in. Pogo pours lighting liquid on Tanaka and prepares to roast him! Hayabusa makes the save, but in doing so sacrifices himself as he and Pogo roll out on to an exploding barricade. AN INSANELY HUGE FIREBALL SHOOTS UP FROM IT! That has to freaking hurt more than words can describe, because fire is fire. A thick fog engulfs the ring and Tanaka puts the spinning toehold on Funk! Hayabusa jumps over a barricade with a plancha to Pogo! It's madness!
They return to the ring and Hayabusa struggles, but finally hits a Falcon Arrow for 2. Tanaka tornado DDT's Funk off a chair for 2 1/2! Hayabusa lets out a scream of desperation and drills Funk down with a powerbomb, himself collapsing. The sirens get louder and then stop as the final countdown begins. Tanaka and Funk fall out and are exploded! Pogo rushes Hayabusa into the exploding barbed wire. 3... 2... 1. GOOD LORD, it's Hiroshima all over again! That's how you do an explosion. I love the mushroom cloud effect. The thick smoke clears and four men are lay, motionless and out of it. Funk piledrive's Hayabusa twice for very close counts. A chair is set on fire and Hayabusa is thrown face-first into it! Pogo blows a fireball at Tanaka, who falls back out. Then in an insanity-driven display of destruction, Funk and Pogo blow fireballs in stereo, which "join up" and burn Hayabusa's back! Funk hits a powerbomb for the win (19:01). Pogo cuts most of Hayabusa's mask off post-match. Onita stands and walks around ringside as Pogo taunts. Funk starts clucking and calls Onita a chicken. Onita is outraged, but doesn't want to test his retirement, so leaves. Pogo even handcuff's Funk to irritate Onita some more. When the dust settled, Hayabusa was taken to hospital with serious injuries. He missed months of action. These matches are huge and memorable, but the physical cost is always large and damaging in some way. Pogo's paralysis, three months later, for instance. This was also a little different, giving the last three Death Matches their own distinct differences. There wasn't much wrestling at all, but the drama was immense and made the match enjoyable if you like this kind of thing. This was one of the craziest matches ever and Hayabusa's stitch count proved that.
This was a massive show. Twelve long matches, with even the shortest passing 8 minutes. It was a definite variety-fest with a little something for everyone. It was a mixed bag, but there were a few really good matches that make the tape worth obtaining. Outside involvement helped the show become a memorable and historic one, giving it a grand aura. A lot of people frown at garbage wrestling, which is cool (it's better to approach each style with an open mind), but I think a lot of non-garbage fans would enjoy Kudo vs. Toyoda, because it was very wrestling-driven like Honma vs. Yamakawa from 1/2/00. This is recommended and don't get those Tokyo Pop versions either, because they are embarrassing. Get one tape with the whole show in it's original form or the commercial release, although that has major undercard clipping.
For more of Stuart's thoughts and opinions on puroresu, visit www.puroresufan.com