FMW Story of the F Stage 1
review by Stuart
The first of FMW's F Stage synopsis tapes covers the post-Onita era. On 5/5/95, after a one year countdown, the main pioneer of "hardcore"/"garbage"/ Death Match wrestling, Atsushi Onita, defeated Hayabusa and retired for the first time. This left FMW in a tough situation as Onita was their big (BIG) draw. They had to try and establish new draws in the form of younger wrestlers like Eiji "Hayabusa" Ezaki, W*ING (Yukihiro) Kanemura and Masato Tanaka. They still had Mr. Pogo, one of Onita's biggest rivals, along with Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, the former W*ING icon. Going into this tape, which begins right after the 5/5/95 Kawasaki Stadium show, there were several groups alongside the FMW army. The W*ING Alliance, babyfaces going into the show, were led by Matsunaga and backed by W*ING Kanemura, Hido, Hideki Hosaka and Super Leather (an FMW version of the W*ING/IWA Leatherface gimmick). The new heel group was Lethal Weapon with Mr. Pogo, Ricky Fuji, Hisakatsu Oya, The Gladiator (Mike Awesome) and Horace Boulder (Hogan). The FMW defense army was led by Hayabusa now, with fellow young wrestlers like Masato Tanaka, Katsutoshi Niiyama (who isn't on this tape much, but was getting really good before he got fired and faded into obscurity), Tetsuhiro Kuroda and Koji Nakagawa with him. There were a lot of young and inexperienced wrestlers on the roster, now being given a big chance. FMW also had a joshi division with Megumi Kudo (the company's top draw in Onita's absence), Combat Toyoda and friends going against Shark Tsuchiya, Crusher Maedomari and friends (and the joshi division has it's own F Stage 1 tape).
We see stills of Onita and his retirement match, then an image of Hayabusa, who must now fill big shoes and lead FMW. Firstly, to 5/17/95 and a shot at the "new" FMW roster. The main event of the show has Hayabusa and Katsutoshi Niiyama vs. Mike Awesome and Horace Boulder. This match helps set the tone for the new major feud in the promotion which is Hayabusa vs. Awesome, the classic tale of the brave hero vs. the giant monster. Awesome folds Hayabusa up with a running Awesome bomb and gets the big win for Lethal Weapon. Post-match, Ricky Fuji taunts Hayabusa and officially forms Lethal Weapon. Next up is a six man Street Fight from 5/28/95 with Awesome, Fuji and Oya vs. Hayabusa, Niiyama and Tanaka (still wearing generic rookie tights). Hayabusa hits a big pescado before he even has his jacket off. Hayabusa's loss of form continues when Oya pins him after a stiff backdrop suplex. This sets up a match between the two for the vacated (by Onita) FMW Brass Knuckles Title. This match goes down at FMW's home base, Tokyo Korakuen Hall, on 6/27/95. Oya was playing a really surly heel at this point and was in his prime as an excellent mat worker. This much acclaimed match goes long and sees a ton of matwork. After his firebird splash, Hayabusa debuts his Falcon Arrow and captures the title. The two shake hands post-match, but Oya tells him that the result will be different next time they meet. Anyway, Hayabusa's win is short-lived, because due to a neck injury, he's forced to vacate the title.
We see the W*ING Alliance for the first time on the tape with Matsunaga and Leather vs. Pogo and Horace from 6/22/95. I think this is Leather's FMW debut or if not, one of his first few appearances. We don't get to see any of the match besides a few barbed wire baseball bat shots and zoom forward to 6/27/95 with Leather chasing Pogo around with his chainsaw. Anyway, the match, which is Matsunaga, Leather and Hido vs. Pogo, Awesome and Horace, sees Matsunaga use an old Pogo method on his old rival, strangling him around the ropes with a chain. Matsunaga bleeds huge in this match, with juice all over his shirt. With Pogo's Lethal Weapon teammates being held back, he passes out and the W*ING Alliance win. The Pogo vs. Matsunaga feud is legendary in the garbage wrestling world because, while there is no workrate, the two are very... eccentric and will try virtually anything. On 7/18/95, the old feud continues, with a Lights Out Barbed Wire Board Death Match between the two. As always, these two try anything to kill each other. The match goes beyond crazy when Pogo blows fire and Matsunaga's back CATCHES FIRE! He rolls to the floor and the seconds have to bat the fire out with towels.
Something called a "Young of Independent League", featuring young FMW wrestlers, takes place with the likes of Kanemura, Tanaka, Hido (sporting a mid-90's Japanese craze mullet of the Gedo kind) and other young wrestlers. Anyway, as expected, the top two are Kanemura (with 8 points) and Tanaka (with 7 points) meaning these two youngsters would meet in the final. The final takes place at an outdoor location and Tanaka wins (though the finish isn't shown). Kanemura raises Tanaka's arm in congratulations after the match. These two would be rivals in the gritty FMW style for many years and this was an important match in their developing rivalry. On 7/30/95, we see the return of Hayabusa from injury, as he takes on Mike Awesome in a big singles match. The finish sees a huge avalanche-style Liger bomb from Awesome for the win. To 8/25/95, back at Korakuen Hall and an 8-man round-robin tournament is announced. The participants are Hayabusa, Awesome, Matsunaga, Kanemura, Tanaka, Oya, Niiyama and Leather. Awesome grabs the microphone and let's everyone know that he'll kick their ass (his words), even his friend Oya's. In one of the first matches, Awesome takes on future rival, Masato Tanaka, beating him with a stiff German suplex hold (at least I think so; the camera cuts to the next match on the 2 count). Next up is Hayabusa vs. Kanemura. Kanemura does a HUGE body press from the top to the outside, putting Hayabusa through a table. Hayabusa is able to fight back though and wins with a Phoenix senton.
Some clips of a gimmick match with Pogo and Horace vs. Matsunaga and Leather are shown. Horace powerbomb's Matsunaga into a casket and the lid is pushed on him for the win. On 8/29/95, a No Rope Barbed Wire Fire Death Match between Matsunaga and Pogo takes place. This is a modified version of their famous Fire Death Match from W*ING. Pogo sets a stick on fire and Matsunaga lies there while Pogo SETS HIS LEG ON FIRE! Matsunaga, being the lunatic that he is, doesn't seem too bothered and just casually stands up with his pants on fire. It gets even crazier in the next clip with Matsunaga's ARM ON FIRE! But this is Mr. Danger and he takes advantage of it with a fire lariat! After the match, Pogo cuts an angry promo with a towel over his face. On 8/31/95, W*ING Alliance friends, Matsunaga and Kanemura, meet in what looks to be a Barbed Wire Board and Barbed Wire Baseball Bat Death Match, as part of the round-robin I think. Kanemura lies Matsunaga on a table, then diving body presses the bat on to Matsunaga. But of course this is FMW and the TABLE DOESN'T BREAK! A barbed wire board is propped up between two chairs and Kanemura is suplexed through it, Matsunaga presumably getting the win from that. Next up is Hayabusa vs. Oya from the tournament, the latest in their string of great matches. Oya was really feeling it at this point and was FMW's best pure worker. After a Hayabusa Fisherman's buster, the bell rings, signaling a 30:00 time limit draw. The fans stand and applaud the two for their effort.
Now to 9/5/95, a big show for FMW at Nakajima Sports Center. W*ING Alliance's Matsunaga and Leather go at it in the tournament in a Spike Nail Death Match (another W*ING repeat, as Matsunaga and Leatherface had such a match on 12/20/92). Leather uses a meat axe on Matsunaga during the match. As expected, Mr. Danger takes the bump on to the spike nails and loses the match. From the same show, Hayabusa takes on Mike Awesome, looking for revenge. Hayabusa manages to kick out of a running Awesome bomb en route to scoring a big win with a springboard hurricanrana. On 9/24/95, an important tournament match sees Awesome vs. Super Leather. Awesome wins this, securing him a spot in the final. Another decision match sees Hayabusa vs. Matsunaga, with the winner advancing to face Awesome in the last match. Matsunaga busts out a la magistral in this match for 2 1/2. Continuing his love of experimenting, Matsunaga tries a moonsault press, but Hayabusa moves out of the way. Hayabusa drops Matsunaga with a Falcon Arrow and gets the big win. Zooming forward to 9/26/95 at Korakuen Hall, it's Hayabusa vs. Awesome in the final for the vacant FMW Brass Knuckles Title. Hayabusa uses smart tactics against the big man, using a missile dropkick to the leg to take Awesome down. The two eventually scuffle up top, leading to another massive avalanche-style Liger (or Awesome) bomb from the top, giving Awesome the win and title. Post-match, the two shake hands and hug out of respect for each other. Hayabusa, always a great sport, raises Awesome's arm.
A month later, on 10/28/95, FMW ran their regular Korakuen Hall show. The main event was a very interesting tag match with Hayabusa and Matsunaga vs. Kanemura and Tanaka. For the first time ever, Hayabusa loses his mask, Tanaka tearing it off during the match. Kanemura then uses a barbed wire baseball bat to slice open Hayabusa's head. Hayabusa juices big-time with blood all over his body and clothing. Matsunaga attacks his underling, Kanemura, with the bat and chokes him with it. Meanwhile, Hayabusa hits a Thunder Fire powerbomb for 2 3/4. After kicking out of many moves from Hayabusa, Tanaka finally succumbs to a big Falcon Arrow. Post-match, all four hug and raise arms, a really simple, yet great old school FMW angle. Blood, sweat, tears, work ethic, respect, a passionate crowd. It was just an amazing atmosphere and feeling that made FMW so special to me and others. This act of union is brought to a screeching halt when Lethal Weapon along with W*ING Alliance's Super Leather and Hido attack. It appears the W*ING Alliance is dead or nearing that stage. A bloody Hayabusa shouts at them as the fans scream their support. He, Matsunaga, Kanemura and Tanaka unite to put an end to Lethal Weapon's treachery. Clips are shown of the bolstered Lethal Weapon attacking Matsunaga. Kanemura tries to save, but has little luck.
To 10/29/95 now and a No Rope Barbed Wire Death Match between Matsunaga and Hido at the Shiodome outdoor location. Hido destroys a chair over Matsunaga's skull with the assistance of Leather, who holds Mr. Danger up. Later on, the two are in a figure-four leglock predicament and both roll out into a barbed wire spider net! Matsunaga then powerbomb's Hido through a barbed wire board, leaning over for the 3 count. Kanemura cuts an emotional promo post-match and hugs Matsunaga, provoking a "W*ING!" chant. Now to 11/11/95, once again at Korakuen Hall. A Street Fight takes place with Horace and Hido vs. Matsunaga and Hosaka. Hido and Horace use ladder lariats on both guys, then set the ladder up. Hido goes up it and hits a big body press on Hosaka for the win. The main event of the show pits Hayabusa, Kanemura and Tanaka vs. Awesome, Oya and Leather. After another wild battle, Tanaka avoids an Oya charge and schoolboy's him for the 3 count. This was a big win for Tanaka and his teammates raise his arms post-match. On 11/20/95, Mr. Pogo returns after an absence and unsurprisingly joins up with Lethal Weapon again. He tears Hayabusa's mask off and tension rises between Hayabusa and Kanemura, since Kanemura didn't help Hayabusa out. On 11/26/95, during a big Street Fight, the inevitable happens, Kanemura and Matsunaga both turn against Hayabusa and Tanaka, while Hido and Leather turn against Horace, leading to the reformation of the W*ING Alliance. Surprisingly, a lot of fans chant "W*ING" after this. W*ING Spirit lives on and the new W*ING Alliance (now a heel group) has Matsunaga, Kanemura, Hido, Leather, Hosaka and Jason The Terrible. Hayabusa swears revenge.
To 12/10/95 and back at Korakuen Hall, a big 10 man Street Fight is booked with Hayabusa, Tanaka, Tetsuhiro Kuroda, Koji Nakagawa and Horace (putting aside his differences with the FMW team to fight against a mutual enemy) vs. Matsunaga, Kanemura, Hido, Leather and Jason. This is a big match and promos from all the guys are shown, Hido holding what is basically a giant spike nail version of a hairbrush. This match is completely out of control with wrestlers all over the place. Kanemura eventually Liger bomb's Kuroda for the 3 count to give W*ING a big victory. W*ING keep attacking after the match as Kanemura taunts. Next up is the last show of 1995, FMW's "Year End Sensation" from 12/21/95 at Yokohama Bunka Gymnasium. Mr. Pogo takes on Tanaka in a big match for young Masato. Pogo carves Tanaka up with his array of kitchen tools as expected. Tanaka uses a diving body press to put Pogo through a table outside the ring. Eventually, Pogo wraps his chain around Tanaka's throat and tosses him over the top rope, hanging him. Tanaka has no escape and this seals the match for Pogo. The next match is a battle of W*ING with Matsunaga, Hosaka and Jason vs. Kanemura, Hido and Leather in a Caribbean Barbed Wire Spider Net Double Hell Glass Death Match. Hosaka bodyslam's Kanemura off the apron into a spider net outside. Leather uses his axe to smash some glass into Matsunaga's stomach. After the match (again, no finish shown), a bloody Kanemura speaks and W*ING are united.
The main event of the show sees Hayabusa, The Great Sasuke (Michinoku Pro) and Nakagawa vs. Fuji, Super Delfin (Michinoku Pro) and TAKA Michinoku (Michinoku Pro). This isn't your regular FMW main event and is more like something from MPro. An awesome spot sees Sasuke on Fuji's shoulders; TAKA springboard's and Delfin jumps off the top, the two clasping hands and lariating Sasuke off Ricky's shoulders. Hayabusa and Sasuke hit spectacular quebradas in stereo to the outside. The finish sees Hayabusa drop a Phoenix splash on Fuji for the win. I guess the point of this was to show Hayabusa could wrestle "normally" as well as do the Street Fight garbagey matches. We zoom back to the 9/5/95 Nakajima Sports Center show (which had Hayabusa vs. Awesome for the vacant Brass Knuckles Title) with Ricky Fuji and Hisakatsu Oya defending their FMW Brass Knuckles Tag Team Title against the PWFG tandem of Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Daisuke Ikeda. The finish, which gets monster heat, sees Fujiwara trap Ricky in his famous wakigatame (Fujiwara armbar) for the win and belts. Now to 12/21/95 one more time with Fujiwara and Ikeda defending against Oya and Horace Boulder. Oya folds Ikeda in half with a backdrop suplex/driver and wins the belts for his team.
To 1/5/96 and Korakuen Hall, a brand new year which promises many things. Oya and Boulder defend their newly won titles against the horror book duo of Leather and Jason. Leather plants Oya with a TFPB (Thunder Fire powerbomb) and brings the belts to W*ING, securing a 3 count. Hayabusa, Tanaka and Nakagawa take on Matsunaga, Kanemura and Hido in another gory Death Match with stiff gimmick shots, big bumps and many near falls. A couple of Liger bombs from Kanemura on Tanaka earn W*ING a victory. Jason drapes a W*ING flag over Tanaka post-match and Kanemura cuts another obnoxious promo to grate on the fans nerves. Tanaka does a pro-FMW interview and W*ING make him pay for it. Hayabusa is stretchered out.
To 1/10/96 and a No Rope Barbed Wire Death Match between the same guys. Quite a bit of this is shown (too chopped up to rate though) and it's an absolutely brutal match with W*ING dominating large portions. Tanaka does a tope suicida over the barbed wire and out to Kanemura! Kanemura climbs the ladder and dives over the barbed wire with a HUGE body press, putting Tanaka through a table! Hayabusa climbs the ladder himself and hits a moonsault press from the very top to Kanemura for 2 3/4, Hido making a last gasp save! Another crazy spot sees Hayabusa do a running plancha from the ring over the high spider net and on to Kanemura. Hido powerbomb's Tanaka off the apron and into the spider net! Nakagawa is wrapped in barbed wire and lariated down by Kanemura for 2 3/4. Hayabusa manages to dropkick the ladder into Matsunaga and Hido, then drops Matsunaga with a Falcon Arrow, Hido again saving at the last second. He tries a second Falcon Arrow, but as he lifts Mr. Danger, Kanemura hits him with the barbed wire bat. The bump to outdo all others is just utterly insane. Matsunaga and Hido grab Hayabusa's arms and legs, swing him like a baby and toss him out of the ring and into the spider net! After another bunch of great near falls, Hayabusa falls to a Matsunaga powerbomb and finally stays down. One of the craziest Street Fights you'll ever see and a really fun match. Post-match, Kanemura rolls Hayabusa back into the spider net. Hayabusa cut himself up badly in this match. He manages a tearful promo, weeping openly as the fans tap the mat and shout in support. His return from this injury, yet another serious one, would be on the 5/5/96 Kawasaki Stadium show in a match so dangerous that it would send him right back to the hospital and out of action for another few months.
To 2/15/96 where Hido and friends are shown dissing Ricky Fuji and Horace Boulder. Both Lethal Weapon guys turn babyface and join the FMW side. Ricky shakes hands with Tanaka and Kuroda to solidify his turn. This was necessary, because with Hayabusa out, the home army was really lacking. A day later, on 2/16/96, Ricky faces former ally, Mr. Pogo. Pogo blows fire at Fuji's back, burning him badly, then cuts him up with a scythe. His ally and the top joshi heel in the company, Shark Tsuchiya, helps him out. Masato Tanaka enters and decks Pogo, while Shark blows fire at a joshi wrestler (probably Megumi Kudo) who has her back turned. Tanaka has to be held back from attacking Pogo some more. From the same show I think, Matsunaga, Kanemura and Leather face Tanaka, Nakagawa and Horace. Kanemura Liger bomb's Tanaka on a barbed wire board (possibly the finish), then we cut to a Tanaka interview. To 2/23/96 at Korakuen Hall and the match you need to get this tape for (shown in near-full)...
Masato Tanaka, Ricky Fuji, and Kuroda vs. Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, W*ING Kanemura, and Hido
This match was also shown on one of FMW's Champs Forum shows. A barbed wire bat is suspended above the cage for obvious purposes. Tanaka and Hido start, Hido winning the chase and grabbing the ladder within the cage. He tosses it at Tanaka, then the two go into a fiery chopfest. Tanaka settles on some elbows, ducks a lariat and hits a Zero-sen kick. He throws Hido into the unforgiving cage, the cocky W*ING punk bouncing back off it. Tanaka continues to bust out the kick variations with a savate kick and standing dropkick. Hido strikes back with a low blow and is showered with jeers. He drops a headbutt downstairs just to piss the fans off some more. The countdown commences with Kanemura and Kuroda next in. Kuroda tries to climb the cage, but Kanemura pulls him down. Kuroda manages to throw Kanemura into the steel and climbs the cage successfully this time. Meanwhile, Tanaka and Hido exchange punches atop the ladder, struggling for possession of the barbed wire bat just above them. Tanaka is knocked down, but before Hido can grab the bat, Kuroda pushes the ladder over and Hido falls into the cage! Kanemura climbs into the ring as Kuroda climbs the ladder, but before he can put an end to that, Tanaka intercepts and knocks him down. Kuroda gets the bat and that spells out t-r-o-u-b-l-e for the W*ING Alliance. Tanaka throws the ladder at Hido and Kanemura manages to pry the baseball bat away from Kuroda, making Kuroda's trek up the ladder pointless.
Kanemura unleashes bat shots to both guys and throws Kuroda into the cage. Hido holds Tanaka as Kanemura climbs the ladder. But as Tanaka reaches the top, Kuroda jumps off the top turnbuckle, lariating Kanemura down in an awesome spot! Tanaka retrieves the bat and it's time for W*ING to pay! He modifies his corner charge elbow smash with a corner charge barbed wire bat smash, sending Hido into la-la land. Right after that, as this match continues to flow like few garbage matches ever have, Kuroda pushes the ladder from the corner and down on to Kanemura! The final countdown commences, Mr. Danger and Fuji making their entrances. Matsunaga immediately begins to kick the hell out of Kuroda. Tanaka goes to the top of the cage and comes down with a missile dropkick to Kanemura for 2 1/2! We clip forward a bit to Hido getting a chain and punching Kuroda with it. Matsunaga goes to the top of the cage and you know that can only mean something dangerous is about to happen. Tanaka discards Kanemura and joins Matsunaga up the cage, the fans *roaring*. This isn't your regular crowd heat, it's a bunch of rabid animals screaming non-stop. Tanaka grabs Matsunaga and throws him down from the top of the cage! Tanaka follows with a diving elbow drop from the top turnbuckle and covers for 2, Kanemura breaking. Tanaka sadistically throws the ladder at Matsunaga's already shot legs. Kanemura messes with Kuroda, giving Tanaka a free chance to throw a super-stiff baseball bat shot to his back. Kanemura climbs the cage and Hideki Hosaka hands him a table from the outside. Kanemura jumps off the top rope, dropping the table right on Tanaka's hard head.
Matsunaga whips Fuji with a chain as Kanemura sets the table up. He climbs the cage while Hido and Matsunaga lay Tanaka on the table. Kanemura stands atop the cage and with his minions screaming their lungs out, preaches W*ING SPIRIT! with a diving body press... AND THE TABLE DOESN'T BREAK! Kanemura sets the unbreakable table up in the corner and sends Tanaka into it... and still it holds up, just a slight bend! Kanemura says "screw it" and tears the wood from the table, breaking it in half himself. He digs the broken point of a piece into Tanaka's forehead. He tries sending Tanaka into the metal frame that held the table together, but Tanaka uses his foot to block impact, turns and throws a stiff elbow smash at Kanemura. He dropkick's Hido, who has been terrorizing Kuroda, then DDT's him. Meanwhile, Kuroda has gotten a piece of the table and is up top. He leaps off with an INSANELY stiff shot to Hido's skull, but the board doesn't break! Hido dies, but Kuroda shows no pity and drags him up, then throws another shot, Hido's head going THROUGH the board! Tanaka tosses Kanemura into the cage, follows with a running elbow, then a running lariat, crushing him against the steel. The babyfaces continue to dominate, Fuji dropping Hido with a Tiger Driver for 2, Kanemura breaking with a board shot! Matsunaga makes his presence felt, saving the day for his team by hitting all those who dare oppose W*ING with his barbed wire baseball bat. Kanemura Liger bomb's Kuroda on to the wooden board for 2 3/4! Matsunaga also Liger bomb's Kuroda on to the very same board for 2, seeming to abandon the cover himself.
W*ING drops Kuroda from the top (turnbuckle) with a union superbomb. Hido scoops Kuroda up and handcuff's him to the cage. He then gets hold of Tanaka and kills him with a piledriver on the ladder for 2 3/4! Kanemura Liger bomb's Tanaka, but rolls away from the cover, hitting a second one for 2 1/2! Kanemura gets a chair and Hido tries to piledrive Tanaka on to it, Fuji rushing into Hido fast enough to stop that. Fuji spikes Kanemura with a brainbuster, then helps Tanaka put the ladder on the adjoining top ropes in the corner. A chair is lay on the ladder and Matsunaga is the unfortunate one who is lay on both the chair AND ladder. The ladder breaks, seemingly screwing up that spot, but that doesn't stop Ricky from going up to the top of the cage, standing high and hitting a diving double footstomp! Another sick bump sees Tanaka and Fuji lift Hido and run him like a battering ram into the cage, Hido landing heavily. They drop Matsunaga with a double Fisherman's suplex, Ricky covering for 2. Kanemura charges Tanaka, but is on the wrong side of Tanaka's scoop-up powerbomb for 2 3/4! Tanaka drags Kanemura to the corner and almost takes him through the damn ring with a brutal tornado DDT, covering for 2 3/4! The crowd heat is through the freaking roof, every fan screaming his or her lungs out. Tanaka tries a Thunder Fire powerbomb and Kanemura slips out, only to be struck with an elbow smash. They exchange elbows before Kanemura ducks one and KILLS TANAKA DEAD with a release German suplex! Kanemura runs the ropes into Tanaka's boot and Tanaka hits his rolling elbow smash for 3 at 16:50! The fans shake the cage, wanting to celebrate with the wrestlers. One fan screams, "Open the door, Ricky!".
The FMW theme plays, but Mr. Pogo arrives with The Headhunters and Victor Quinones! Victor's IWA monsters debut in FMW! They enter the ring and beat the hell out of W*ING and the FMW guys, as Victor clobbers Kuroda with a staff. A really lame, ego-stroking (since Victor is the new FMW booker) spot sees Victor out-tussle Hido briefly and DDT him on a wooden board. This is a sleazy manager type we're talking about, not a wrestler. Hated nemesis', Pogo and Matsunaga, fight into the bleachers. It's chaos, just the way I love my FMW. Victor stands triumphantly and is showered with hate. One of the Headhunters hits a 400lbs+ moonsault press from the top rope. Victor exclaims that he's going to take over. Big "W*ING!" chants break out, but it doesn't help matters as Pogo and Victor's army continue to destroy everyone in sight. Backstage, Victor does one of his hilariously corny interviews and says it's the beginning of the end for FMW and W*ING. MAYHEM. CHAOS. CARNAGE. Those are three words that sum up this match (and the post-match theatrics). From bell to bell this was total action, an incredible, mind-blowing garbage spotfest like I've never seen before. It flowed so smoothly and with several thousand screaming fans, the atmosphere was near-surreal, just amazing. Not much psychology, but it's one of those spotfests that flows so well that it doesn't really matter. Tanaka and Kanemura were absolute phenoms, just dishing out and taking some shots that would have many wrestlers hiding under their bed. Towards the end, it got a little sloppy, but the match never stopped being exciting and was just constant action. The bumps were huge and everything looked stiff and painful. These guys were(/are) absolute machines who somehow took(/take) these bumps and do these intense matches all the time. This is just a match to sit back and watch open-mouthed, the best and most entertaining War Games Cage Match I've personally ever seen and I've seen quite a few.
To 3/15/96 with Victor and Headhunter A walking to the ring, while Tanaka and Nakagawa are already in there. Mr. Pogo leads someone out, who has a black towel over his face. Pogo tears it off. DANGER MAN, SHOJI NAKAMAKI! Victor brought pretty much all of IWA Japan's draws, Nakamaki, The Headhunters and soon, Terry Funk (I'm sure he would have brought Cactus Jack in too if he hadn't signed with the WWF full-time). Nakamaki wouldn't stick around for too long though as he and Matsunaga would go and spend all their time innovating a ton of stuff in the upstart garbage promotion, Big Japan Pro-Wrestling, after 5/5/96. Anyway we have another match shown in extended form.
Masato Tanaka and Koji Nakagawa vs. Shoji Nakamaki and Headhunter A
Nakamaki unleashes some of his headbutts to Nakagawa right away. Tanaka fires at Headhunter with some chops, but one strike from the monster sends Masato down. Tanaka ducks a lariat and tries a jumping crossbody, but is caught and thrown down. Clip. Tanaka fires off a couple of elbows, the final one sending Headhunter down. He hits a rolling elbow, but the big man stays up. With Koji's assistance, Tanaka plants Headhunter on his neck with a really stiff backdrop suplex. They hit dropkicks in stereo, then a double lariat to send him out. Nakagawa follows with a graceful plancha, while in the ring it's the battle of the hard heads. Nakamaki sends Tanaka down with a lariat, covering with one foot for 2 and getting booed big-time for his arrogance and disrespect of the young star. Headhunter chokes Koji against the ring post with a chain. In the ring, Nakamaki busts out a running bulldog for 2. Headhunter sends Tanaka down with a chairshot to the skull and then does likewise to Nakagawa. Headhunter goes up top and drops a huge diving elbow drop for 2 1/2, Koji saving. Headhunters plants Tanaka down with a piledriver for 2 3/4. Headhunter tosses Tanaka out and Nakamaki follows with a tope suicida! Outside the ring, Headhunter powerbomb's Tanaka through a table, putting him out of action for the time being. Koji locks Nakamaki in a Scorpion Deathlock, while Headhunter hits an apron dive body press on Tanaka. Nakagawa ducks a Nakamaki lariat and the Headhunter is struck. Koji follows with a German suplex to Nakamaki, but can't maintain the bridge and shuffles around to cover for 2, Headhunter saving.
A really awkward spot, deliberately or not I don't know, sees Nakagawa duck a lariat and jump at the Headhunter as if for a cross armbreaker takedown. The Headhunter does go down, but lands heavily on one of Koji's legs and the resulting "argh!" from Nakagawa indicates that hurts. Nakamaki throws Koji on a table and Headhunter A puts him through it with a body press, abandoning his cover at 2, because he wants to do something else. Nakamaki delivers a release powerbomb to Nakagawa, dropping him on his neck. Headhunter goes up top and connects with a 400lbs+ moonsault press for the win at 14:21. Post-match, Pogo hangs Tanaka over the ropes with his chain and puts him to sleep. The heels keep attacking, then an explosion from the crowd. IT'S ONITA! Onita rushes in with a chair and beats the hell out of everyone, ruthlessly smacking a wooden board over Pogo's cranium. The W*ING Alliance arrive and Victor's army are outnumbered. Big "Onita" chants from the crowd and he cuts one of his godly interviews that you don't have to understand to love. Onita has words with the W*ING Alliance, who's future alignment is unclear now. Pretty shabby match that was only anything good when Tanaka had the offense. It was used to put the heels over, so Tanaka and Nakagawa spent a lot of time selling. Nakamaki didn't show the fire that made him so appealing in IWA. The post-match angle was great, because Onita had been nowhere to be found since his retirement almost a year before.
Back to 2/23/96 and Oya vs. Leather for the vacant FMW Brass Knuckles Title (still vacated from Hayabusa's injury in '95). Leather actually does a monkey flip. He brings Oya off the top with a suplex and hooks a leg, getting the 3 count. This is the low point of the title as Leather, even though better than W*ING/IWA's Leatherface, was a bad worker. Post-match, Leather shouts, "Gladiator! Where is he!? Not Oya! Not Hayabusa! Gladiator!". Awesome limps out, recovering from a leg injury, and tries to attack. However, Leather kicks the bad leg and that's that. Leather assaults the leg and flees when Horace Boulder arrives. Zooming forward to 3/15/96 now and the predictable pairing of Leather vs. Gladiator for the title. Awesome drops Leather through a table with a release powerbomb. Leather targets Awesome's bad leg, hitting a diving kneedrop to it, then torturing some more with a figure-four leglock. Eventually, Leather gets the surprise win with an Awesome-like powerbomb. To 3/30/96 for the last match on the tape.
Super Leather and Jason The Terrible (c) vs. The Headhunters for the FMW Brass Knuckles Tag Team Title
Leather is a freaking double champion at this point, leading me to believe he has revealing pictures of Victor. I'm not too psyched about this match, but the fans are rabid again. JIP, Headhunters doing their drop toehold/elbow drop combination on Jason. They hit him with a chain and tear his hockey mask off. Some typical past-their-prime Headhunters plodding commences, not very interesting. Jason has a sunset flip blocked, so Leather lariat's the Headhunter to complete it and Jason gets a 2 count. Leather is tagged in and throws some week punches before hitting a DDT. Jason hands him his meat axe and Leather uses it for obvious purposes. Leather tries a suplex, but has it reversed. Headhunter A (I know this because the other shouted, "C'mon A!") is caught up top by Leather and brought down with a suplex, BOUNCING off the canvas. The horror team hit a double backdrop suplex for 2. The Headhunters are sent crashing into each other and then struck down with lariats. Leather and Jason both hit missile dropkicks and Jason gets 2 1/2 from his cover. Jason goes nuts, springboarding from the corner and out with a tope con hilo! Leather hits the world's worst plancha that connects (as opposed to one that doesn't connect) and the other Headhunter hits a friggin' tope con hilo! Back in, Jason hits an avalanche, then a horrible diving "bulldog", that is more like a shove, for 2. The Headhunters drop Jason with a superbomb for 2 3/4, a good near fall. A Headhunter goes up and overshoots a moonsault press on Jason for 2, Leather saving. He's tossed out and the Headhunters do their avalanche-style suplex/diving elbow drop combination for the win and titles at 20:44. This was all kinds of crappy for most of the match, with the Headhunters methodical and Leather as bad as usual. Jason was okay at points, but nothing special, though there wasn't really anyone else involved to make him raise his game. Picked up for the last few minutes, but a shoddy match overall.
Quinones disses Jason and invites Leather to join the dark side. The fans chant "W*ING", not wanting Leather to turn, but he does, assaulting Jason with A and B. Mr. Pogo walks out with Bob Baragail, one of the kings of the House Death Match, following and waving a Puerto Rican flag. Masato Tanaka arrives, getting knocked down and beaten up. Other FMW wrestlers also feel the wrath of Victor's army. Hayabusa returns, getting on the apron, but he too is assaulted mercilessly. Eventually, Kanemura, Hido and Hosaka arrive to help out, Kanemura wearing the W*ING flag as a bandanna. We're left with the W*ING Alliance and FMW team in the ring. Kanemura (who is now the leader of the group as Matsunaga is soon to leave FMW) talks to Hayabusa and the two sides have the same enemy now. Not a real babyface turn from Kanemura's group, more of a "common cause" thing. Hayabusa cries some more and leaves, so the fans turn their attention to Tanaka and chant his name instead. The tape concludes with a long Hayabusa interview, his return in sight.
An awesome look at one of my favorite eras of FMW. I'm an Onita fan, but his absence really allowed the young guys, Hayabusa, Kanemura and Tanaka especially, the chance to step up and shine. They really did, as all three were featured on this tape and ran with the opportunity. I really loved the FMW vs. W*ING Alliance stuff, just a great time to be a fan of the company with incredible fighting spirit shown by all the wrestlers and incredible fan response to many matches, even stuff that might not deserve it. The W*ING Alliance was a great group, even if all the workers weren't great, because they *were* W*ING. It didn't feel like a regular gimmick faction, but more like a group who preached their way, the W*ING way, the W*ING spirit, proudly carrying what was left of W*ING in their hearts. So even when they became the top heel group, you had to respect them as they were doing what they thought was best. Kanemura loved and continues to love W*ING so much and will never give up the way of wrestling, even though FMW has now moved away from it (so he goes to Big Japan for his garbage wrestling injection). The War Games Cage Match is reason enough to get this tape alone, though the other matches shown in extended fashion at the end are pretty bad. After Victor and The Headhunters arrived, the workrate seemed to slip a bit as the main heel team was Pogo, Headhunters and as the tape ended, Leather, anything but the epitome of great workrate. This old FMW stuff inspires me and I can't praise the effort and determination of guys like Hayabusa, Tanaka and Kanemura enough. A great era for FMW with more to come.