FMW White Love
review by Stuart
This tape picks up where the ECW vs. FMW vs. ZEN Commercial Tape left off. That tape concluded on 12/22/97 with an awesome War Games match, where Hayabusa, Jinsei Shinzaki & Masato Tanaka beat ZEN's Atsushi Onita, Mr. Gannosuke & Yukihiro Kanemura, Hayabusa moonsaulting off the cage to get a huge win over the legendary Onita. Tension had been rising in ZEN for a long time and came to an expected climax when Gannosuke, Kanemura and Hido attacked Onita after the match. Koji Nakagawa, who had quit FMW, made the save. So when that tape concluded, Team ZEN was comprised of Onita, The Gladiator, Tetsuhiro Kuroda, Koji Nakagawa and Hideki Hosaka. Hayabusa continued to bravely lead FMW, with strong support from Masato Tanaka, but with Gannosuke, Kanemura and Hido separated from ZEN, it looked like a three way feud was about to start.
Masato Tanaka (c) vs. Mr. Gannosuke for the FMW Double Titles
This is from 1/6 at Korakuen Hall. JIP. Gannosuke lays Tanaka over the ropes and performs a SICK neckbreaker off it for 2, Tanaka able to grab the ropes to force a break. "Tanaka!" roar the fans. A beautiful Fire Thunder spikes Tanaka for 2 3/4 again! Gannosuke is caught up top and after a scuffle, brought down with a big suplex. A Death Valley bomb gets 2 1/2 for Tanaka as the near falls keep rolling out. Tanaka's elbow bandage is dyed completely red from the blood. A second Thunder Fire powerbomb to Gannosuke gets 2. A frog splash finds only Gannosuke's knees and the challenger quickly applies a bridging cradle for 2! Gannosuke screams and hits his own TFPB (welcome to FMW!) for 2 1/2! Tanaka escapes another attempt, throws an elbow, ducks a lariat, then hits his rolling elbow for 2 1/2! Tanaka clutches his bad arm and dulls out the pain. He throws a hard elbow, then tries the rolling elbow, but in one fluid motion, Gannosuke counters it with the Gannosuke clutch for the win and titles (17:12)! Awesome finish! Not a lot shown here, but a ***1/2 match in full (I saw it on Best Bouts), a very heated and dramatic sprint.
A graphic appears, telling us that Gannosuke and his crew joined up with Kodo Fuyuki and Jado (Gedo was away at the time, but would soon join up) to form Team No Respect. This was a big turning point for FMW and began to shape the direction of the company for years to come. Prior to this, Fuyuki and his boys had been pretty successful midcarders in FMW, but never in focus as real top guys. That was about to change.
Hayabusa, Masato Tanaka & Hisakatsu Oya (c) vs. Mr. Gannosuke, Yukihiro Kanemura & Jado for the FMW World Street Fight 6 Man Tag Team Title
From 1/16. As President Arai is reading something, Jado grabs the sheet of paper and TNR tear it apart. This would become a regular trait and a major heat-getter. Kanemura then debuts his pseudo-masturbation hand gesture as he continues to morph into comedic wrestler. They brawl all over the place, Gannosuke throwing Hayabusa into empty chairs. Gannosuke and Kanemura either pay homage to or mock Terry Funk, using a double spinning toehold on Tanaka. Clip. The TNR trio do a nice triple team, Jado hitting Tanaka with a lariat in the corner, then whipping him into a missile dropkick from Gannosuke and finally Kanemura comes off the top with a diving lariat for 2 1/2. Tanaka kicks a wooden board into Kanemura's head, then smashes it over his skull THREE times and it doesn't break! Jado takes a big bump, being dropped on his head by a release Dragon suplex from Hayabusa. A Falcon Arrow gets 2 1/2 or so, the referee seeming to stall a bit (maybe Jado was waiting for someone to save him). Hayabusa goes up and connects with a Phoenix senton for 2, Kanemura saving! Oya enters with a jumping neckbreaker drop to Jado for 2 1/2. More subtle clipping ensues and Kanemura chairshot's Oya. Oya ducks a running lariat from Gannosuke and folds him up with a patented backdrop suplex from the underworld. Kanemura also takes one, joyfully landing on his neck. Oya traps Gannosuke in an Octopus hold, Kanemura recovering in time to break that up. Tanaka gets dumped on his head, Kanemura German suplexing him.
Kanemura runs into a boot though and Tanaka delivers his rolling elbow for 2, Gannosuke making a desperate save! Kanemura catches his old rival on the charge with an overhead belly to belly throw and tags Jado. The two go all New Japan, lariating each other and staying up. Oya is tagged and makes it a trio, backdrop suplexing Jado for 2, a double save breaking the count! Out of nowhere, Jado busts out a Gedo clutch on Oya for the win and new champions (20:01)! Looked good, but not great. It was heated and had good near falls, but quite disjointed and had some flow problems. After the match, TNR take another sheet from Arai and pull their pants down, revealing white briefs. This would become a trademark for TNR, to display their lack of respect for authority. Poor Arai gets taunted even more but doesn't snap... yet. Backstage, TNR show off their accumulated gold, while standing in their white briefs (except Fuyuki, who wears his traditional yellow). FMW was beginning to get very risque with stuff like this.
Atsushi Onita, The Gladiator, Koji Nakagawa & Hideki Hosaka vs. Mr. Gannosuke, Yukihiro Kanemura, Jado & Gedo
From 2/4. This is JIP with everyone brawling to little heat. Koji ducks a lariat and plants Gannosuke with a nice uranage. Awesome goes up and back down with a diving lariat to the TNR leader. He takes out the others too, looking really sharp and using a Hawaiian Crusher/Smasher on Gedo. Gannosuke is dropped with a Liger bomb for 2 1/2. Clip. Kanemura uses a slingshot body press on Nakagawa for 2. Koji is sent into a Gedo missile dropkick. Clip. Kanemura tries to powerbomb Koji, but Hosaka throws a chair at him from behind. Nakagawa quickly dropkick's a leg and hooks on a Gedo clutch for the upset pin (13:46)! Onita does one of his post-match interviews, the previously dead crowd responding a lot. Onita taps the mat, which is coated by an FMW logo. ZEN were more or less forced tweener-towards-babyface when TNR formed, so the group lost it's purpose and wasn't half as cool anymore.
Jinsei Shinzaki & Hisakatsu Oya vs. Mr. Gannosuke & Yukihiro Kanemura
From 2/6. The heels gods use their union Fire Thunder (well, Gannosuke shouts "Fire Thunder!" at least), which looks nothing like the solo version of the move, on Shinzaki. Gannosuke traps Jinsei in a crab hold, the High Priest crawling on his hands to the ropes. Gannosuke brings out the stinging mockery, using a Praying powerbomb on Jinsei for 2 1/2. He goes a step further, slapping on Shinzaki's Goku-Raku Gatame. Oya, who has had the broken ring used against him, is nowhere in sight and Go stops the match (15:52)! How embarrassing! Jinsei jobs to his own finisher. After the match, Gannosuke demands a challenger worthy of taking him on and an eight man tournament is set up.
Hayabusa & Masato Tanaka vs. Koji Nakagawa & Tetsuhiro Kuroda
This is also from 2/6, the main event of that show. JIP. Kuroda drop toehold's Hayabusa, lifts him up, then uses rolling German suplexes, the third with a bridge for 2 1/2. Kuroda charges, but Hayabusa catches him with a Frankensteiner. In turn, Hayabusa charges, but gets knocked down by a lariat, which gets 2 1/2, Tanaka saving. Nakagawa is up top and catches the unsuspecting Hayabusa with a diving shoulderblock to the back. Hayabusa is sent sternum-first into a corner and Koji follows quickly with a snap German suplex hold for 2 1/2! Nakagawa elbow's Hayabusa, then uses his own Falcon Arrow for 2 3/4! He charges into a Hayabusa high kick, Tanaka follows with a rolling elbow smash, then Hayabusa Falcon Arrow's him for 2, Kuroda diving back in the ring to save! Nakagawa is slammed down and Hayabusa connects with a great Phoenix senton for the win (15:37). Really solid work. I'd like to have seen the entire match.
Mr. Gannosuke, Yukihiro Kanemura & Jado (c) vs. Atsushi Onita, Koji Nakagawa & Tetsuhiro Kuroda for the FMW World Street Fight 6 Man Tag Team Title
From the 2/13 ZEN-promoted show, which was such a cool idea; having the invaders (though they weren't much like that by this point) run their own shows. Fuyuki also did that, so there were ZEN and Fuyuki-gun shows that were like extensions of FMW, often utilizing outside workers too. JIP. Gannosuke and Jado bring out the all new TNR homoerotic spot, where they join hands and kiss, then drop a union elbow on Onita. Onita busts out a surprisingly fluid sunset flip on Gannosuke for 2. He then uses an inside cradle for 2, Jado saving. Gannosuke prays and prepares to powerbomb Onita, but Kuroda re-appears with a lariat. Jado eats one too and stays down for a near fall. In turn, Gannosuke tears Kuroda's head off with a short, stiff lariat. He smashes a chair over Kuroda's head and follows with a powerbomb, covering for another good near fall. Jado running lariat's Kuroda, then spikes him with a nasty brainbuster for 2 1/2, Koji saving! Jado sits up top and Gannosuke lifts Kuroda, Jado dropping him with a superbomb for 2, Mr. Liar back with board shots for all! He totally smashes it over Gannosuke's cranium (Gannosuke holds his eye, so I think a piece of shattered wood hit it or something), then Tiger Driver's him for 2 3/4! He Thunder Fire powerbomb's Gannosuke and covers, Kanemura (who hasn't been seen a lot) saving! Kanemura corner charges, but Kuroda drop toehold's him down into the middle turnbuckle. Nakagawa and Kanemura exchange waistlocks, then Koji slaps on a sleeper hold. Gannosuke breaks that up with a sadistic chair jab to the ribs. He holds Koji, but Kanemura's running elbow finds the wrong target. Nakagawa quickly re-applies the sleeper hold and having lost much blood, Kanemura passes out (10:26)! This was okay, but a surprising lack of heat. Seeing Onita work these semi-normal matches was weird, but he really wasn't bad at them.
After the match, Kodo Fuyuki, the newly returned Gedo and Hido arrive and beat up ZEN. Jado then "breaks" (or something) referee Go Ito's leg with an avalanche-style chairshot to it. Fuyuki screeches at Onita. Backstage, ZEN use some healing spray on Go's injured leg. This seemed like just a regular angle to put TNR over as heels some more, but there was more to it, as would soon be revealed. Onita has words with President Arai, their differences starting to be put aside.
Mr. Gannosuke & Yukihiro Kanemura (c) vs. Koji Nakagawa & Tetsuhiro Kuroda for the FMW Brass Knuckles Tag Team Title
From the 2/16 Fuyuki-gun show. Kanemura and Gannosuke stare at each other and do the classic crucifix dance, then kiss! Go Ito, on crutches, reads the formal title scroll. Kanemura grabs the sheet and tears it up. He turns, walks away and Ito goes to leave. Kanemura races across the ring and dropkick's his injured leg! BOOO! The challengers attack. Clip. Referee Ted Tanabe (of Michinoku Pro fame) is hurt when Nakagawa is sent crashing into him. Gannosuke charges, Koji ducks and Tanabe takes the impact, slumping in the corner. Nakagawa Ace Crusher's Gannosuke for 3, but there's no referee. Koji goes up top and Go Ito gets on the apron. BETRAYAL! Ito breaks the crutch over Nakagawa's back and jumps up and down on the apron! Gannosuke gets a title belt and hits Koji with it, covering for the win (11:21). This was maybe the real turning point for FMW's direction. The finish was totally American, from the referee bump to the heel turn to the belt shot. However, the heel turn was done real well and no one at all expected it. Things like this weren't too common in FMW, so it worked. Unfortunately, it was the start of what would eventually be a bad trend. Ito, a long time referee (you can see him in many classic Onita matches, selling the explosions as big as the wrestlers) and booker of FMW, decided to make himself the sleazy heel manager. He, Gannosuke and Kanemura sit backstage and smoke cigarettes, a way of showing their lack of respect.
Hayabusa vs. Kodo Fuyuki
The main event of Fuyuki's 2/16 show, so he gets to have this big match. JIP with Hayabusa already unmasked and bleeding. Fuyuki connects with a running lariat for 2. Fuyuki tries another, but Hayabusa counters by Dragon suplexing the fat man, bridging for 2! Wow. Hayabusa jumps on Fuyuki's shoulders to try a Frankensteiner, but Fuyuki pretty much blocks it and lets Hayabusa go down face-first. Fuyuki revs up again and throws another weak running lariat, then a pretty brutal backfist for the win (16:17). I found it disgusting that Fuyuki pinned Hayabusa at this point. I understand wanting to build him up for the Onita match, but Hayabusa had a big match with Gannosuke forthcoming. Fuyuki was still consistently bad and lazy here and looked that way, very slow, plodding and with weak strikes. Didn't look in the same galaxy as the match they'd have in November that year (when Fuyuki started stepping up as a worker) and ones after that. Fuyuki's rise in FMW continued.
Hayabusa & Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Mr. Gannosuke & Yukihiro Kanemura
From 2/28. Ah, what a rivalry this was. Good vs. evil defined so clearly. JIP with Go Ito choking Shinzaki, who's lay on a table, with a cane of some sort. Kanemura summons his W*ING Spirit and goes out with a diving body press, putting Shinzaki half through the unbreakable table! Clip. Shinzaki Praying powerbomb's Kanemura, then Hayabusa drops his Phoenix senton, winning this non-title match (19:10). Shinzaki is shown, bleeding very heavily.
Gannosuke's demand for a Double Titles challenger is discussed again. An 8-man tournament is set up, featuring wrestlers from the FMW army, TNR and ZEN.
Koji Nakagawa vs. Yukihiro Kanemura
From 3/7. Go Ito is on the ring apron when it's JIP. Nakagawa has Kanemura in something like a cobra clutch. Kanemura reaches the ropes and Koji grabs Go by the shirt. This allows Kanemura to strike with a low blow. Clip. Nakagawa is choking Kanemura out again, prompting Go to make his presence felt once more. Nakagawa hits him, but Kanemura again pounces from behind, using a schoolboy for the flash 3 count and revenge from the 2/13 match (8:17). Way too much screwiness, but a sign of the times. Kanemura was morphing into a new personality here. He went from being the serious, proud W*ING Alliance honcho to this semi-comedy guy. Fortunately, both were capable of good matches.
Tetsuhiro Kuroda v Jado
Still on 3/7. JIP of course. Kuroda slaps on a full nelson, trying a Dragon suplex, but Jado reverse low blow's out of that predicament, then spikes Kuroda with a brainbuster for the win (13:27), giving TNR two wins in the tournament.
Hisakatsu Oya vs. The Gladiator
Now to 3/8. JIP, Oya landing a diving kneedrop for 2. Clip. Oya slides out of a running Awesome bomb attempt, but runs into a boot. The close range camera catches Awesome's running Awesome bomb and shows how brutal it really is, Oya landing so heavily on the back of his head. This wins the match, ZEN's Gladiator advancing to the next round (16:30). This could have been good in full. Oya wasn't as great as he was in '95 and '96 by this point and also wasn't pushed much, but was still very good.
Hayabusa vs. Masato Tanaka
From 3/13, another ZEN show. The final match of round 1 and the first match on the tape to be shown in (near) complete form. Hayabusa dropkick's Tanaka out right away, slides out and gets caught with a lariat. A cool spot sees Tanaka try a springboard (from the second turnbuckle) lariat or elbow to Hayabusa, who is on the apron, but lunge into a kick. Tanaka charges, but Hayabusa moves and Masato takes a big fall to the outside. Hayabusa follows with a baseball slide dropkick, then a quebrada! Back in, it slows down and they go to the mat. Tanaka misses a corner charge elbow smash and Hayabusa goes to work on the attacking arm with some creative throws and a wakigatame. He connects with a springboard dropkick to the arm, showing diversity in his attacks. Tanaka catches a kick and uses a dragon screw leg whip. He locks on a surfboard hold, but quickly abandons it, his arm still hurting. Tanaka continues to work the leg, using a figure-four leglock to add damage. Hayabusa's muffled screams of anguish are very effective, as he puts over the damage. Tanaka connects with the elusive corner charge elbow, but a second charge finds a boot. However, when Hayabusa charges out of the corner to capitalize, Tanaka powerslam's him. Masato uses a super-stiff tornado DDT for 2 1/2. He throws more elbows and his rope dash elbow. He charges again, but once more Hayabusa gets a boot up. He ducks a swing and drops Tanaka damn near vertically with a release German suplex, then thrust kick's him to the outside. Hayabusa flaps his wings and flies with a tope con hilo, wonderfully done!
Hayabusa re-enters the ring with a springboard somersault senton, followed by a Lionsault for 2. A Fisherman's buster gets 2. Tanaka is dropped with a Tiger Driver, kicking out again, but only just this time. Hayabusa bodyslam's him near the corner, goes up and lands a beautiful Phoenix senton for 2 3/4! He lifts Tanaka, seemingly for a Falcon Arrow, but Masato is able to slip out and apply a waistlock. Hayabusa breaks out of the waistlock and Falcon Arrow's Tanaka for 2. He goes up again, but dives into an elbow shot. Both are slow to their feet, Tanaka standing first at 7. He connects with another rope dash elbow, but a second charge sees him Frankensteiner'd down. Hayabusa then charges also, but Tanaka decks him with a stiff lariat for 2 1/2! Tanaka connects with a super-stiff corner charge elbow, Hayabusa's head snapping back. He uses a springboard (like the sort Spike Dudley does) Stunner for 2 1/2 again. Hayabusa is sat up top and brought down with a big suplex. Tanaka goes up himself, using a nice frog splash for 2 1/2! Tanaka calls for it and we get our first Thunder Fire powerbomb, Hayabusa drilled down for 2 1/2! Tanaka rips his elbow pad off, but a smash is blocked and Hayabusa KILLS TANAKA DEAD with an absolutely BRUTAL release Tiger suplex! Tanaka plays dead and Hayabusa lifts him up, applying a full nelson. Tanaka resists, but is spiked with a Dragon suplex hold for 2 3/4! Hayabusa goes up once more, coming down with a picture perfect firebird splash for... 2 3/4! Another Falcon Arrow for 2 3/4! Hayabusa goes up once more, but Tanaka is able to catch him and bring him down with a stiff Thunder Fire powerbomb for 2! Tanaka drops Hayabusa with a running Death Valley bomb, lifting him right back up and using another TFPB for 2 1/2!
Some fans chant "Tanaka", sensing his first victory over Hayabusa is near. Hayabusa slips out of another TFPB and catches Tanaka on the charge with a thrust kick, but Tanaka keeps going, striking Hayabusa down with a stiff elbow for 2 3/4! Hayabusa is dropped with a second Death Valley bomb, but summons everything within to kick out at 2 3/4! Tanaka throws an elbow, but another charge finds Hayabusa's foot, via a twisting high kick. Hayabusa climbs to his feet and Tanaka has enough energy to throw a fierce running elbow smash, covering for... 2 3/4! Hayabusa slips out of a third Death Valley bomb attempt and KILLS Tanaka again, this time with a release German suplex (so now he's used a Tiger, Dragon and German suplex)! Tanaka does the delayed selling thing, throwing an elbow in retaliation, then hitting the deck. Both struggle to their feet, just avoiding a double KO. They groggily exchange elbows and a high kick from Hayabusa ends that sequence. He continues to murder Tanaka, this time with a release Dragon suplex! Tanaka looks done this time, so Hayabusa drops him with another Falcon Arrow, FINALLY getting the win (27:17)! They shake hands after the match, only the upmost respect between them. An absolutely awesome match. They built it well with a lot of matwork, Hayabusa doing a great job of working the arm. Then came a LONG sprint section that seemed to go at least 10 minutes with no break. The only real problem I have with this match is that they went overboard with near falls, constantly kicking out after going through many big moves. I guess this could be considered good, because the two are such equals, elite members of the company, that they refuse to stay down until the last ounce of strength is gone. The near falls were done very well to make the closing sprint heated. Overall, a great FMW match, with aspects of All Japan's heavyweight style and FMW's own. They would meet again in May in a similar match, with the same (only real) problem, but it would be even better than this excellent effort.
Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Super Leather
Still on 3/13 and this match. These two had a total snoozer at the Yokohama Arena show on 4/29/97, almost putting me to sleep with total methodical, boring "action" (even in clipped form). JIP. Leather nodowa's the referee. Kanemura quickly arrives with a chair (more Americanized run-ins), teases hitting Leather (his former W*ING Alliance pal, who turned against W*ING in favor of Quinones' army), but smacks Jinsei with the chair. Another referee (Ted Tanabe) arrives and Leather bodyslam's him. Kanemura announces the new referee... Go Ito, who's accompanied by Gannosuke. Clip. Jinsei has Leather in the Goku-Raku Gatame, but Ito deems it an illegal hold and orders the break. He pulls Shinzaki off and the fans get on his case. Shinzaki goes up and connects with a Praying diving shoulderblock for 0, Kanemura "distracting" Go. Clip. Gannosuke fails to trip Jinsei, who's running the ropes, and after ducking a lariat, Shinzaki tope suicida's out to his hated rival! Clip. Shinzaki brawls out into the snow with Gannosuke, throwing him into a snow heap. Meanwhile, Go is counting and Jinsei is counted out (7:19).
We see highlights of TNR dancing in their white briefs, which is one of the funniest visuals EVER in wrestling. They do a promo at a small show. Jado seems to have issues with Hido and I think he wants Hido to prove himself. Moving on, Fuyuki (teaming with Jado) pins Hido (teaming with Leather) with a running lariat in a tag match. They all shake hands. Now to another show and another TNR promo. The lights go off and when they come back on, Jado has a brown female wig on. He kisses Kanemura and Hido just gawks as TNR tries to piss off every living male who's insecure about sexuality. Kanemura, Jado and Gannosuke start dancing like women, because THEY CAN. Jado hip/butt "attacks" Hido, another subtle gesture. Jado is shown pinning Hido in another tag. Then to another show with all of TNR, sans Jado, in the ring. The wedding song hits and Jado prances out, dressed like a woman again, blowing kisses to Hido. Just when you thought it couldn't get wackier, Jado and Hido get married! Love in the family! Gannosuke announces them man and wife. "You may kiss the bride!". They turn and Jado brushes back his... her (kayfabe!) hair, then... slaps Hido and bodyslam's him lightly. TNR idly kick Hido. Onward to another show and this is just freaky. Some old guy is there in a black outfit and TNR are trying to charge at him. He's able to control them with his hand movements though. He twirls his hand at Kanemura and Kanemura flips over. OKAY. On to a ZEN show. Even Onita's dark, serious, no frills group aren't safe for the CENSOR-HATING Team No Respect-oh! They push Hido (who is wearing pajamas) around some more and joke around. This sure isn't bloody, gritty Street Fight FMW anymore.
Atsushi Onita, Koji Nakagawa, Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Hideki Hosaka vs. Mr. Gannosuke, Yukihiro Kanemura, Hido & Horace Boulder
Back to 3/13 and Horace is back! And a TNR member! And the crowd goes... mild! This was during Horace's brief return to FMW, before he headed off to WCW as part of Raven's Flock and later, the legendary nWo B team. JIP. Gannosuke uses a Praying powerbomb on Onita for 2. The others brawl around ringside, ganging up on ZEN. A table is brought into the ring and a bloody Hosaka is powerbombed through it by Horace for 2. Horace brings Hosaka off the top with an avalanche-style neckbreaker. Kanemura and Go Ito tie Hosaka to the ropes in the corner with a chain. Onita gets a wooden board and brings out the fun, smashing it over both Kanemura and Gannosuke's skulls. He Tiger Driver's Gannosuke for 2, Kanemura saving. Kuroda takes everyone out with lariats, only to get struck down with the same move by Horace. TNR use an assisted powerbomb on Onita for 2. They do the same thing again, all covering and Onita once more kicking out. Fuyuki arrives and gives Onita a running lariat and a backfist. Go Ito follows instantly by smashing a crutch over Mr. Liar's back. Kanemura and Gannosuke cover with a foot each for 2. The heel gods hit their union Fire Thunder for 2 1/2. They pour water over Onita and stand on his throat, disrespecting the legend. A third union powerbomb follows and they all cover with a foot for the win (11:38). Urgh. This was to "build heat" to Fuyuki vs. Onita on the upcoming PPV debut. Okay, Onita is buried and destroyed, but makes a big comeback by pinning Fuyuki on the PPV. WRONG. He jobbed there too, which makes this treatment so bad. This was really boring. There was no transitioning, which is normal, but there was also no excitement, little heat (except for Onita kicking out) and it was totally one sided, Onita being squashed.
TNR, including Go Ito, dance over Onita. Fuyuki taunts, screeching a lot. They celebrate and Onita gets up, turning Ito inside out with a lariat and brawling out with Fuyuki. Next up, we return to the tournament to find a challenger for Gannosuke. Semi final time.
The Gladiator vs. Yukihiro Kanemura
From 3/16. JIP. Kanemura lands a diving elbow drop for 2. Clip. Awesome blocks a chairshot, grabs the chair and smashes it over Kanemura's head. He plants Kanemura with a powerbomb, then lifts him back up after some trouble. Kanemura is dropped with a running Awesome bomb, doing the quick job (3:12). Not only was the booking of Onita bad, but this new era saw Kanemura downsized even more than he had been before it (after W*ING Alliance lost the top heel spot). He was funny in the comedy role, but a lot harder to take serious than when he was the proud W*ING leader.
Hayabusa vs. Jado
Still on 3/16. JIP. Gannosuke trips Hayabusa while he's running the ropes. He holds Hayabusa up and Jado charges, Hayabusa predictably moving and the TNR leader going down. Hayabusa drops Jado with a release German suplex and follows with a stiff Falcon Arrow for the win (17:15), setting up a final of Hayabusa vs. Gladiator.
Now to 3/17 at Korakuen Hall to finish the tape. The lights go out and some cheesy song hits. The spotlight focuses on the balcony and there they are, the Brief Brothers, dancing the night away! Then comes the regular crucifix dance. Grown men in white briefs and pajamas dancing! It never gets old! They dance some more in the ring, then talk. They introduce... HAYABUSA! Damn that falcon to helllll! Hayabusa enters and... has been spending too much time at the buffet table. "Hayabusa" points at the ring and hops on to the apron. He does his traditional slingshot into the ring... AND LANDS ON HIS BACK! Because it's the big buffoon himself, Kanemura! Kanemura (who looks SO funny with the mask on) mimics Hayabusa and pulls back his cape, revealing... briefs! He shakes hands with Gannosuke, who tilts his head to "try" and find out who's under the mask. Hayamura takes off his pants and shows his underwear pride. They then fire off Inoki's catchphrase and that's all. Really damn funny.
Koji Nakagawa & Tetsuhiro Kuroda vs. Kodo Fuyuki & Gedo
Kuroda and Nakagawa come to the ring and Go Ito appears, bringing out "Onita". He just happens to be Fuyuki mocking Onita with fake scars and similar clothing as well as a water bottle. This is SOOOOO not Kanemura-level funny though, because Fuyuki always seems forced when he does comedy. JIP with Fuyuki and Kuroda exchanging headbutts (the standing Onita type). Clip. Fuyuki uses Onita's running face crusher on a chair. Clip. Fuyuki uses Onita's finisher, Thunder Fire powerbombing Koji on a chair for the win (9:52). Fuyuki's push baffled the mind. FMW had developed an athletic generation of younger stars, then bring in this fat, mediocre, lazy guy and push the hell out of him. He would step up eventually, but he didn't at the time. He'd also destroy the booking consistency when he got the power.
Jinsei Shinzaki, Masato Tanaka, Hisakatsu Oya & Ricky Fuji vs. Mr. Gannosuke, Yukihiro Kanemura, Jado & Horace Boulder
Still at Korakuen and it's all business now. JIP with Gannosuke and Jinsei glaring at each other. Shinzaki cartwheel's away from a lariat and both superkick's and savate kick's Gannosuke. When Gannosuke avoids the Praying powerbomb, they do a cool thing where Shinzaki, almost by reflex, jumps *over* a low kick, then dropkick's Gannosuke out. Clip. Gannosuke and Jado pray on the apron, then powerbomb Jinsei out through a table! Clip. The same two use a double drop toehold on Shinzaki and Kanemura lunges in with a diving elbow drop to his neck for 2. Kanemura connects with a slingshot body press for 2. Clip. Shinzaki locks Kanemura in the Goku-Raku Gatame and it takes around six kicks from Gannosuke to make him break it. The hated rivals, Gannosuke and Shinzaki, square off and Fuji delivers a kick to Gannosuke's head. Shinzaki drop toehold's him and locks on the Goku-Raku Gatame once more, but Horace breaks up the hold. As Shinzaki and Gannosuke go face to face again, Horace pins Ricky after a full nelson slam (17:13). Shinzaki snaps after the match and attacks Gannosuke, with both sides separating them after a very heated brawl. This was one of the most intense feuds ever. Yes, EVER. Looked like a fun brawl, more of the FMW Street Fight I love than the Americanized stuff I don't.
Hayabusa vs. The Gladiator
The winner of this meets Gannosuke on FMW's very first DirecTV PPV in April. This is an old rivalry going back some years to where they feuded over the Brass Knuckles Heavyweight Title (now half of the Double Titles with the FMW Independent Title). Awesome's strength overwhelms Hayabusa early on. He short-arm lariat's Hayabusa, then diving lariat's him. A regular lariat sends Hayabusa out and Awesome follows with a springboard plancha! So very impressive. Awesome re-enters with a diving chairshot, Hayabusa's head just popping THROUGH it, destroying the body of the chair. Insane! Awesome covers for 2. Hayabusa is lifted high and dropped sternum-first on the mat. A big body press gets another 2 count. Hayabusa is raised into an Argentine backbreaker, Awesome really bending him, then just dumping him over the top rope and out. Outside, Hayabusa is sent flying into some empty chairs. They scuffle around the apron and Hayabusa counters Awesome's slingshot shoulderblock with a kick. He goes to the apron and connects with a big springboard somersault senton, followed by a Lionsault for 2. He manages to lift Awesome's bulk and drops him with a Tiger Driver for 2. Hayabusa goes up and hits a perfect Phoenix senton, then an instant firebird splash for 2 1/2! A Michinoku Driver II gets another 2 count. Hayabusa returns to the skies, but is caught up top. Awesome brings him down with a powerbomb (except Awesome jumps backwards off the top, so it's done in the opposite direction), covering after selling his own back, for 2 1/2.
Awesome drops Hayabusa with a release powerbomb and follows with a diving body press for 2. He slows it down with a camel clutch, stretching Hayabusa again. A corner charge finds nothing and Hayabusa plants the big man on his neck with a release German suplex! Awesome rolls out and the falcon flies with a tope con hilo! Hayabusa springboard's back in, but is caught with a lariat. Awesome scoops him up and uses a Pedigree, then sets up a table at ringside, meaning someone is about to die. He tries to Awesome bomb Hayabusa over the top, but Hayabusa slips out of it and kicks Awesome to the apron. Hayabusa sprints off the ropes and elbow's Awesome off the apron and through the table. Hayabusa loses his mind, following instantly (with Awesome still laying in the table remnants) with a slingshot tope atomico! Really great spot and it hit cleanly. He rolls Awesome in and once there, drops him with a Falcon Arrow for 2. Hayabusa goes up top, only to be caught and hit with a low blow. Awesome joins him up there and here it comes, avalanche-style Awesome bomb... countered with a Frankensteiner! Not very well executed, but still a cool counter. Awesome climbs to his feet and turns a springboard something into a powerbomb for 2. He sits Hayabusa on the top ring rope and GOOD LORD, kills him dead with a freaking BRUTAL German suplex, Hayabusa landing at a scarily vertical angle! Awesome covers for 2 1/2! Hayabusa is dropped with a running Awesome bomb, but kicks out of the cover! Awesome tries another powerbomb, but Hayabusa slips out and rolls him up for 2. He counters a lariat with a Dragon suplex hold, getting the big win (14:09)! Really good garbage spotfest. It was just a spotfest, but almost everything was well done and it was 14 minutes of continuous action, right from the start. There were one or two badly executed moves, but everything else was hit cleanly and well. This was a good powerhouse vs. speedy flyer match and set up an FMW classic for the PPV.
This tape was an important part of FMW history, because it covered the start of the Team No Respect era, which signified a huge increase in smut, sleaze and more Americanized angles. FMW vs. ZEN was an American-like angle, resembling the nWo invasion of WCW, but it was more controlled and serious, tremendously booked. The TNR stuff was funny, but unfortunately marked the increased of this kind of stuff from this point onward, as the company's former direction was gone for good and the product would become more risque and angle-driven over the next year and beyond. Go Ito's heel turn really triggered an increase in WWF-style angles (run-ins, referee bumps, etc.). This was mainly a synopsis of January to March, 1998, and did a good job of showing how things changed. Onita was being phased out more and more and fat Fuyuki's stock was rising, because he must have befriended Arai or Ito to get such a push. The wrestling wasn't always great and some of the brawls weren't near the level of older stuff, but the tape had plenty of good stuff, including two of the three matches shown in full being very worthwhile, particularly the awesome Hayabusa vs. Tanaka match. This and their 5/19/98 match are ones you should go out of your way to see. Shortly after this, FMW had it's debut PPV, which was a very good show. The May PPV had that classic Hayabusa vs. Tanaka match, but after that, while there was always still some good, it was mostly downhill. But that's another chapter to cover from FMW's storied history.
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