Megumi Kudo Retirement Show, 4/29/97
review by Stuart
After Atsushi Onita retired on 5/5/95, FMW was left without any major male draws. However, there was a woman by the name of Megumi Kudo, who captured the imagination of many with her pretty looks, but courageous and bold approach to wrestling. She started in AJW (All Japan Women's/Zenjo), but was rejected by them and joined FMW in 1991. She began to work "hardcore" matches with barbed wire and so forth and it was by doing that she became so popular. However, she was also a great PURE wrestler and certainly didn't need the props to have a great match. She tackled the evil Shark Tsuchiya and her underlings for so long, bleeding buckets of blood and becoming somewhat of a female Onita to FMW fans. On 5/5/96 at the Kawasaki Stadium, she wrestled her friend, Combat Toyoda, in Combat's retirement match. Unless I've missed something, this was the greatest Death Match ever at that time as the two went all out in a stiff and crazy Death Match. Almost a year later on this, FMW's 8th anniversary show (not on May 5th for the first time in years), Kudo decided it was time for her to go out. By this point, she had become one of the most popular joshi wrestlers ever. This show took place at the Yokohama Arena, before a 16,000 sell out. Normally, they would have booked the Kawasaki Stadium (which would have done a real good number with Kudo retiring, a dream Death Match as the semi final and the first Hayabusa vs. Gannosuke match), but it was being restored, because there was danger that is might actually collapse due to it's age.
Ricky Fuji & Ricky Morton vs. Hido & Dragon Winger
JIP. Hido accidentally knocks Winger off the apron and is dropkicked out. Fuji and Morton hit cool stereo tope suicidas. Clip. Fuji jumping DDT's Winger, then spikes him with a brainbuster for the win (11:03). Looked pretty uneventful and the crowd was typical Yokohama, responding to nothing.
Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Nanjyo Hayato vs. Flying Kid Ichihara & Crypt Keeper
JIP, Hayato going kick crazy on Ichihara, then using a face crusher. He tosses Ichihara out and follows with a somersault plancha! Except he takes out Kuroda, since Ichihara steps aside. Keeper hits a disgustingly bad Tiger Driver on Hayato and Ichihara follows with a moonsault press for the win (11:11), giving the Funk Masters of Wrestling team the win. Even from the very little shown, Keeper looked to single-handedly bring this match down a lot.
Koji Nakagawa vs. Katsutoshi Niiyama
Niiyama is fresh off a heel turn (after being a loyal part of the FMW army for so long), having joined Funk Masters of Wrestling. JIP. Niiyama goes up and connects with a diving headbutt to Koji's apparently injured ribs. He goes up again and lands a diving kneel kick for 2. He sits Nakagawa up top and tries an avalanche-style uranage, which is blocked. Koji knocks him down and hits a diving shoulderblock. He charges, straight into a powerslam, Niiyama getting a 2 1/2 count. A really nice, stiff lariat rocks Koji and a second sends him down for another near fall. Nakagawa blocks a uranage, so Niiyama throws a knee to the bad ribs, allowing him to hit the uranage (smart psychology). Nakagawa fights another, then ducks a short lariat and uses his own uranage. Koji ducks another lariat and drops Niiyama with a German suplex, rolling around and bridging with the second for 2 1/2. An Exploder, nicely done, follows, then an instant second, Nakagawa getting the win (10:54). This looked like a good match. Everything was deliberate, but the action was solid and the sequences quite smooth. It was a very good performance by Niiyama, but it would be his last for FMW. He starts crying and shakes hands with Nakagawa. Since he had just turned heel, this didn't go down well with the powers that be and he was fired from the company. This is the rumored and likely reason anyway. I don't get why he was fired if it was for that, especially after such a performance, because they could have just edited it out on tape. Niiyama would pretty much fade into obscurity, appearing every now and again for smaller indies, but he seems to have retired now. He was a good veteran figure in FMW, a solid worker.
Kaori Nakayama, Michiko Omukai, Chikako Shiratori, Mizuki Endo & Yoko Ikeda vs. Lioness Asuka, Eagle Sawai, Crusher Maedomari, Michiko Nagashima & Miss Mongol
Clip a frantic 10 woman tag match down to 1 1/2 minutes. Good idea. JIP. Mongol throws some weak Mongolian chops at Kaori, then legsweep's her down, following with a running senton for 2 1/2. Clip. They brawl all over the place. Crusher tries a Tiger Driver on Endo, but Omukai breaks that up with a diving knee attack to her back. Clip. Kaori Frankensteiner's Mongol off the top and picks up the win (13:03). The clipping made this look like an absolute mess. Several of the wrestlers (including Asuka) weren't seen at all.
Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Super Leather
JIP. Shinzaki catches Leather's arm and performs the Praying ropewalk. Clip. Leather plods his way around, throwing strikes at Jinsei. He DDT's Shinzaki for 2. He goes up and misses a diving kneedrop. Jinsei uses a savate kick, but Leather throws out of the Praying powerbomb. Leather suplexes Shinzaki, but misses another dive from the top rope. Shinzaki connects with a diving shoulderblock, then hits the Praying powerbomb, leaning over for 2. He goes up and hits a missile dropkick for 2. He quickly applies the Goku-Raku Gatame and Leather gives up (10:29). Talk about methodical. YAWN. This was a sleeper of a match and I mean that literally. Leather was horrible as usual and Shinzaki was bad, in lazy dog mode, content to plod along. It's frustrating how such an excellent worker can be so bad when he isn't motivated. They took forever doing each move and I'm really glad it was edited down or I would have been asleep by the end. Shinzaki's primary involvement on the show was yet to come.
The Headhunters & Hisakatsu Oya vs. Hiromichi Fuyuki, Jado & Gedo in a 6 Man Street Fight
JIP with Fuyuki-gun hitting a triple corner charge on Oya. Fuyuki sits up top and the trio hit a union superbomb for 2, a Headhunter saving. Fuyuki raises the arm, screeches and here comes the Banana Panic... running lariat, then a Stretch Plum. The Headhunters return in time to break it up. Jado is lifted on to a Hunter's shoulders and the other hits a diving lariat (AKA Double Impact) for 2, Gedo breaking. A Headhunter performs a missile dropkick(!), but Gedo steps aside and the other monster is taken out. Gedo goes up and uses a missile dropkick of his own. Fuyuki returns and revs up as Gedo plancha's out. Fuyuki running lariat's a Headhunter thrice for 2. Oya catches Gedo up top and brings him down with a suplex, a Headhunter following with a diving headbutt for 2. Gedo is SQUASHED with a diving body press by a Headhunter for 2, Jado saving. Headhunter A (I think) release powerbomb's Gedo for 2 1/2! Wow, the crowd is actually responding a bit, so you know something is going right here. That same Headhunter Tiger Driver's Gedo for 2 1/2! He goes up top, having some problems getting there because of his obesity. When he does, it's goodnight Gedo, a moonsault press sealing the win (12:30). Looked tons better than I expected. The Headhunters were lazy by this point, but tried hard here, doing some very difficult top rope moves (considering their bulk). Gedo, who like Fuyuki and Jado, was notoriously lazy and had been since joining up with Fuyuki in WAR, looked good when he was in. Fuyuki and Oya weren't seen too much, but this looked like probably the best match on the show so far.
The history of Eiji Ezaki (Hayabusa) and Masashi Honda (Mr. Gannosuke) is documented. A classic feud between legitimate childhood friends who were trained to wrestle together. One of the most compelling storylines in wrestling history, but this was the early stages of what would become a tremendous war in FMW. Clips of the feud are aired including photographs of the two as kids. Gannosuke left FMW for IWA Japan and returned in 1997, along with Flying Kid Ichihara, immediately confronting Hayabusa and joining up with Terry Funk's Funk Masters of Wrestling heel group. He felt that Hayabusa made the wrong decision not leaving FMW with him, so it's time for revenge.
Hayabusa vs. Mr. Gannosuke in a Mask vs. Hair Match
Gannosuke doesn't give Hayabusa a second to blink and lariat's him down right away. They go outside and a cool spot sees Gannosuke try to throw Hayabusa against the apron, but Hayabusa hops on it and crossbody's off, hitting Gannosuke. Hayabusa steps back in the ring and FLIES back out with a tope con hilo! They scuffle on the apron, Gannosuke dropping Hayabusa throat-first on the top rope. Gannosuke forward rolls under a kneel kick and lariat's Hayabusa down. They slow it down, doing stuff on the mat. The zombie-like crowd bursts into jeers when Gannosuke punches Hayabusa downstairs. Hayabusa hops to the apron and high kick's Gannosuke. He charges across the apron, but Gannosuke strikes him down with a lariat. Another struggle on the apron leads to Gannosuke being suplexed off it, but not before he hits his head on the apron. Hayabusa piles up some chairs at ringside and stacks them on Gannosuke. In a repeat of the killer spot he used against TAKA Michinoku, Hayabusa moonsault's off the apron and on to Gannosuke/the chairs. He throws Gannosuke back in and returns himself with a springboard somersault senton. He runs the ropes and bookerman Victor Quinones trips him, the fans giving not happy. Gannosuke sneaks up behind Hayabusa with a stiff neck lariat. Quinones gets in the ring and holds Hayabusa up. Gannosuke hits a running lariat, but Hayabusa ducks and down goes Victor! Hayabusa busts out a Devil Windmill suplex hold for 2. He tries a quebrada press, but Gannosuke gets his knees up. Gannosuke retrieves his bamboo stick thing, snaps it (to create a sharp point) and stabs it into Hayabusa's gut. Hayabusa tries a comeback, but when he charges, Gannosuke simply stabs him again. Gannosuke continues to assault his nemesis until Hayabusa ducks a stab and hits his twisting high kick.
Gannosuke is planted with a Fisherman's buster, then Hayabusa hits a wonderful firebird splash for 2 1/2! With that finisher not working, Hayabusa drops Gannosuke with another, the Falcon Arrow, for just 2. He goes up again, but Gannosuke catches him and brings him down with a suplex. Gannosuke release powerbomb's Hayabusa, but also drops down, the accumulated damage of Hayabusa's big moves getting to him. Gannosuke hits a Falcon Arrow of his own for 2 1/2! Hayabusa slips out of a powerbomb, then Gannosuke ducks a lariat, but is taken down on the charge with a Frankensteiner for 2. Hayabusa powerbomb's Gannosuke, then goes up again for the kill. His Phoenix splash finds nothing, Gannosuke moving and Hayabusa's knees crashing into the mat. Gannosuke picks Hayabusa up and kills him with a release German suplex for 2 1/2! Gannosuke uses his Northern Lights suplex hold finisher for 2 1/2! Hayabusa lands on his feet out of a suplex attempt and throws a neck lariat, followed quickly by a second stiff Falcon Arrow for the win (13:32)! Real good match. This was smartly worked and not a spotfest at all. Hayabusa really stepped up to carry Gannosuke to more than just a spot-to-spot match. Gannosuke wasn't that great here, after wallowing as Tarzan Goto's underling for so long. He always showed potential, but never really had the chance to build on it until arriving in FMW. It's funny because when they met a year later, in a much better match on FMW's first PPV, it was Gannosuke who was superior to Hayabusa, showing how far he advanced as a worker in that year, from an okay worker, but only just, to a world class heavyweight. The match was close and the finish was quick and somewhat sudden (Gannosuke had just finished his big offensive flurry), but it looked quite good, telling the tale of how evenly matched they were. There was even some heat, a "Hayabusa" chant at one point. Not great, but a good start to their excellent feud.
Gannosuke must cut off his hair... maybe. An emotional Hayabusa says that if Gannosuke will leave Funk Masters of Wrestling and side with FMW, he won't have to cut his hair off. This is basically Hayabusa pleading with Gannosuke to end the bitterness. Gannosuke, sat on a chair, seems distraught. Hayabusa breaks down into tears and Gannosuke is thoughtful. Hayabusa extends his hand. Gannosuke accepts... and betrays! The resulting attack is brutal as he rips off Hayabusa's mask, then goes to blow fire at him, only for Jinsei Shinzaki to save just in time! Gannosuke holds up his new trophy, Hayabusa's mask, and leaves with Quinones. Backstage, Onita shouts at Hayabusa again. So in the end, Gannosuke kept his hair, yet Hayabusa lost his mask, the opposite of what was supposed to happen after Hayabusa won.
Atsushi Onita, Masato Tanaka & W*ING Kanemura vs. Terry Funk, The Gladiator & Cactus Jack in a Texas Tornado Street Fight Death Match
This is quite a dream match on paper, pitting some of the top hardcore wrestlers in the world. Cactus had a contract with the WWF, but was loaned to FMW for this match (this was during the time that there was talk of Onita doing an explosion match in the WWF). On the other team, FMW and the W*ING Alliance unite to try and take out the Funk Masters of Wrestling threat. The allied forces enter second to the familiar theme of "Wild Thing", Kanemura draped in a W*ING flag. Cactus wears his Mankind pants. Both teams charge and away they go! First big spot sees Onita piledrive Funk on an unbreakable Japanese table at ringside. Right after, Tanaka dives out with an elbow suicida to Awesome. Cactus uses some really plodding offense on Kanemura in the ring. Awesome just about outdoes Tanaka's elbow suicida, lariating him out and following with the over-the-top tope suicida from hell! Onita DDT's Terry, sending him out. Tanaka bleeds heavily (there's a surprise). He is suplexed on the cold, hard floor by Awesome. Funk brings out the flaming branding iron, burning Onita's back with it! He totally digs it into Onita's back, Mr. Liar's shirt lucky to not catch fire. Awesome completely breaks a chair over Tanaka's skull with a brutal diving chairshot, then lariat's him for 2, Kanemura saving with a barbed wire bat. Cactus also tastes the barbed wire, but then manages to pry it away from the W*ING leader and strike him with it, sending him out. Funk continues to terrorize old rival Onita, digging the barbed wire bat into his back. Kanemura just DIES, Awesome hitting a running Thunder Fire powerbomb off the apron, putting him through a table! Really brutal bump.
Awesome Liger bomb's Kanemura for 2, Onita saving. Funk continues to use the barbed wire bat on Onita's back, which is real old by this point (since he's been doing it for 3 minutes or so). Awesome breaks a piece of wood from the table remnants and goes up top with it. He dives off the top, but Tanaka dropkick's him. A cool counter sees Onita block a bat shot from Terry by using the wooden board as a shield. He whacks the board over Funk's skull, then Cactus'. Onita ducks a Cactus lariat and with Tanaka, drops him with a (double) backdrop suplex, assisted by a Kanemura dropkick. Awesome puts an end to Onita's Thunder Fire powerbomb attempt on Cactus with a lariat. Funk brings out the fire again, blowing a fireball at Onita's back, which is engulfed, and covering for 2 1/2! Cactus piledrive's Onita on a chair, covering for another near fall, the fans responding to these. Funk and Cactus use a spike piledriver on chairs to the same man for 2 1/2! Cactus holds Onita up for another Terry fireball, but Tanaka saves his mentor with a dropkick to Funk. Onita pounces with a DDT to Cactus for 2 1/2! Tanaka uses his elbow dash on Awesome, but has a running elbow ducked and is dropped near-vertically with a release German suplex! Tanaka pretty much rolls through and falls back against the ropes. A hilarious spot sees Awesome think Tanaka is about to bounce off the ropes, so he lifts his leg for a high kick, except Tanaka is still at the ropes. Ooops! Tanaka then high kick's Awesome and hits his deadly rolling elbow smash for 2 3/4! Tanaka quickly scoops him up and hits FMW's very own Thunder Fire powerbomb for 2, Cactus making a quick save.
Tanaka spikes Cactus with his super-stiff tornado DDT for 2. Kanemura makes an appearance, he and Tanaka hitting dueling rolling elbows on Cactus! They follow with a double backdrop suplex throw, then Kanemura hits a guillotine legdrop for 2 (this would have been a good near fall, but Cactus wasn't in a giving mood and kicked out at barely 2). Kanemura tries to powerbomb Cactus, but like earlier, Awesome is in position to break it up with a lariat. He drops Tanaka with a Liger bomb for 2, Onita saving! Cactus uses his patented double-arm DDT on Tanaka for 2, Kanemura making the save this time. Awesome connects with a diving body press for 2 1/2! A table is brought in, which can't be a good thing for Masato. Awesome takes him up top (after a slow setup) and OUCH, drops him with a killer Awesome bomb through it for 2, Onita saving with a desperate chair lunge! Another slow spot sees Awesome and Cactus hold Onita up outside as Funk goes up top for something nutty. Terry Funk... TERRY FUNK moonsault's from the top and out of the ring! Unfortunately, this goes wrong and Funk totally undershoots it, landing on his face/head and sending himself into la-la land, getting a legitimate concussion. Tanaka elbow's Awesome down for 2. Kanemura goes up, chairshot's the incoming Cactus and uses a diving chair attack on Awesome, getting the big win for team FMW/W*ING (20:20)! They finished the match quickly after Funk's injury.
This was a pretty fun brawl, but not the dream Death Match it was on paper. Firstly, it was too long and became quite boring at times. Fortunately, when that did happen, Masato Tanaka would quickly save the day. He was by far the best in this match. Awesome also looked pretty good, especially when working with Tanaka. He was a bit clumsy at times though, as he seemed to often get confused in these car crash matches. Kanemura didn't really make his tremendous Death Match presence felt and almost always seemed to be out of the picture. I love seeing Kanemura preach the W*ING Spirit in this environment, but that didn't happen here. Funk showed why he was washed up, even in Death Matches, by this point. Onita did nothing but sell and throw a few DDTs. The focus wasn't really on him like it was in the old days when he owned the company. Cactus was the worst of the six. I guess having a big money deal with the WWF made him feel that he didn't have to try hard in this match, because even a guy inferior to him like Horace Boulder would have made as much/as little impact on the match. The crowd really came alive for the first time in the evening, popping for near falls and saves. The teams didn't click like I hoped they would and while it was pretty fun, I was disappointed. I much preferred the Pogo retirement/Onita return Street Fight on 12/11/96. That was actually longer, but the version I saw and reviewed was edited, so I guess that helps (and editing would have most likely made this match look better too).
Post-match angle sees Kanemura challenge Onita for a big Death Match at the Kawasaki Stadium show in September. Tanaka also wants a shot at his mentor, but Kanemura would get it and that would actually spell the end of the great W*ING Alliance and the formation of ZEN, which also marked Onita's first heel turn and FMW's next golden era (after the pretty average Funk Masters of Wrestling era, which followed the really great FMW vs. W*ING Alliance era).
Shark Tsuchiya (c) vs. Megumi Kudo in a No Rope 200 Volt Double Hell Double Barbed Wire Barricade Double Landmine Glass Crush Electrical Barbed Wire Death Match for the WWA Women's Title & Independent Women's Title
Clips are shown of several of Kudo's famous Death Matches, including the now-legendary match with Combat Toyoda (Combat's retirement match) on 5/5/96 at the Kawasaki Stadium. I could think of perhaps 3.5 billion better ways for Kudo to retire than bleeding for Mrs. Pogo, but I understand why this might be booked. Kudo (and friends) vs. Shark (and friends) was FMW's big joshi feud for years and they wanted to end that chapter here. Kudo enters first, despite it being her retirement, since she's the challenger. She looks on the verge of tears as she walks to the ring and is tentative. Shark enters second. The match starts with some teases, a lot of pushing and shoving going on. They almost roll into one of the deadly barricades at ringside. Shark tries to send Kudo into the barbed wire ropes, but Kudo puts the brakes on and slides down. Kudo blocks a lariat and they tussle precariously close to the ropes. Kudo pushes Shark off and dropkick's a knee, then tries pushing Shark into the exploding barricades with her feet. She uses a sliding dropkick, but Shark holds on. Shark kicks Kudo very, very close to the wire. Kudo tries to throw Shark into the wire, but Shark reverses (naturally) and Kudo is exploded big-time, going down in a heap. The barbed wire is rigged heavily with explosives (200 volts, supposedly) and this was loud, especially with the crowd so quiet. Shark attacks Kudo's ribs, which were hurt in the blast, dropping her with a side suplex for 2 1/2. Kudo catches a kick and dragon screw's Shark down. Shark ducks a tries to rush Kudo back into the wire, Kudo blocking furiously. Kudo lands on her feet out of a backdrop suplex, ducks a short lariat and applies a waistlock. Shark goes around and pushes Kudo FACE-FIRST into the barbed wire! Utterly sick. She covered her face, but there's no way to avoid burns from such a bump.
Shark brings out the scythe and cuts up Kudo's head with it. Kudo bleeds heavily, not surprisingly. The fans boo Shark a lot. Shark tries to bring it down into Kudo, but Kudo moves and the blade digs into the mat. Kudo manages to get the scythe, garnering a huge response, but Shark kicks her and gets it back. Back to the cutting up of Megumi Kudo we go. Shark modifies her "technique", using the chain on the scythe to choke Kudo. Kudo is gushing blood by this point. Shark tries to throw Kudo out by the chain, but... NO WAY! It's reversed and Shark is exploded! Shark Tsuchiya takes a bump, nay, a HUGE bump! Hell has frozen over, pigs have flied and Shark has bumped! Shark claws her way out of the barbed wire and back into the ring. Kudo uses a big DDT for 2. Shark blocks a Tiger Driver, but Kudo blocks a rolling lariat counter and uses a Northern Lights suplex hold for 2. Shark transitions back to offense just like that, but Kudo goes over Shark's powerbomb and rolls her up for 2. They do some teases and Kudo smartly turns that into a sick Tiger Driver (almost a Tiger Driver '91, but more of an upper back fall than a neck fall, since Shark won't take dangerous bumps) for 2. Shark ducks a lariat, but gets decked with an elbow on the turn, Kudo covering for 2. Kudo attempts her Kudo Driver, but Shark pushes off, Kudo almost going out into the barricade. She turns and tries a Frankensteiner, but Shark catches her AND POWERBOMB'S HER NECK-FIRST OUT INTO THE EXPLODING BARRICADES! This was BEYOND brutal and one of the most terrifying bumps I've ever seen. Kudo's feet touched the mat, but there was no cushion, because her feet pretty much skimmed the apron and she landed neck-first in the mines (the way her feet hit the apron sent her down at this awkward angle). Just horrific, racking and amazing. Kudo has barbed wire stuck in her leg and is legitimately shaken up, having problems even standing.
Back in, Kudo is dropped heavily again, this time by Shark's backdrop suplex. Two more follow, Kudo landing on her neck both times, but kicking out at 2 1/2! Such fighting spirit! A piledriver spikes Kudo. Kudo looks out of it, unresponsive, but manages to just kick out again. Shark gets a chair and piledrive's Kudo on it again for 2 1/2. Shark gets the lighter liquid. No, no, no... Kudo is engulfed by flames! Kudo burns badly and jumps at referee Go Ito, knocking him down. Go has to put the fire out with his bare hands. This was just sick and unnecessary given Kudo's condition. Kudo's hair is singed as a result of the flames. Shark covers for... 2 1/2! Shark uses her high-angle powerbomb finisher on Kudo for 2 3/4! Kudo blocks a lariat, but both go into the barbed wire, though Shark AGAIN escapes, since Kudo acts as a cushion and takes the explosion. However, Kudo collapses on top of Shark and gets the win (21:47)! Kudo retires with the belts! That was a pretty lame finish though and made Kudo's win look like a total fluke. Words just cannot do the brutality of this justice. This match didn't have a lot, but *anything* positive it did have was 100% due to Megumi Kudo. Shark showed what a worthless bitch she is again, totally selfish, taking ONE bump and cutting Kudo to shreds, not to mention giving her burns. I was mortified by the punishment Kudo took. The powerbomb to the outside isn't the sort of bump I can mark out for. It's so unbelievable, brutal on a whole new level. I'm thinking more "is she dead!?" than "what a bump!". This was not a good match at all, but told quite an epic story of Kudo's inner spirit, her fighting spirit, her refusal to stay down and give the evil Shark any pleasure. What a way to retire and I honestly don't know whether I mean that in a good or bad way.
Water is poured over Kudo's burns. She staggers to her feet and Go Ito raises her arm to an applause. She cries and is in a bad way, but says a few words to the crowd. She falls down and is stretchered to the back. Once there, she is put on the floor where the press is gathered. A sad, slow piano version of her entrance theme hits, Onita and Hayabusa taking off their own shirts and using them as towels to ease Kudo's burns. Kudo cries quietly as water is poured on her arm. Kudo shakes hands with Onita and Hayabusa, weeping. Onita breaks down into tears too. Kudo hands her new title belts to underlings, Kaori Nakayama, RIE and Yoko Ikeda. They hug and she gives them the responsibility of looking after the belts and continuing her legacy in FMW's joshi division against Shark, Crusher and company. She is taken to hospital in an ambulance. The three young girls are left crying their eyes out. This was so emotional and sad. I've rarely seen an angle so effective and it made you want to see how Kaori, RIE and Yoko would do. Unfortunately, their attempts to keep the joshi division healthy would fail. With Combat and moreso Kudo gone, the division would pretty much die and eventually become random undercard matches.
This was a very disappointing major show. Almost all FMW shows in this era delivered quite a lot of good action. Besides Hayabusa vs. Gannosuke, there were no good matches (a couple of those clipped matches looked promising, but were cut to shreds). The dream Death Match was perhaps the biggest letdown of the show and wasn't as good as people hoped it would be. Kudo vs. Shark is the tale of opposites, not just in attitude, but in ability. Kudo had an epic performance and took uncanny punishment. The post-match stuff was also very effective, a vintage FMW moment with raw emotion, not just a storyline. She went out with the belts, but it would have been nice if she retired having a match worthy of her talent, against someone like Aja Kong or Lioness Asuka. The other annoying thing was the crowd. Yokohama has the most uptight fans. They respond to hardly anything and Kudo didn't get a fraction of the response she deserved for her memorable performance and spirit shown. The lack of crowd heat also made parts of the show gloomy. It's a real shame Kawasaki Stadium wasn't an option, because the heat for Kudo's retirement stuff would have been off the charts.
For more of Stuart's thoughts and opinions on puroresu, visit www.puroresufan.com