review by Kevin Wilson
Date: January 1st, 2004
Some puroresu fans always talk about how awesome Hustle is and I get emails asking why the promotion doesn't have a section on this website, but to be honest I have just never been able to get into it. Hustle throws in a lot of "sports entertainment" and comedy bits, meaning that there is more talking and a necessity to actually understand what the wrestlers/announcers are saying to follow along. Since I don't understand Japanese and WWE pretty much fulfills my need for sports entertainment, I never bothered to put in the necessary effort to read recaps and translations to understand what the hell is going on. Now, just to make it clear I am not saying that the current Hustle product isn't entertaining, it just isn't something that I actively watch.
So to help solve the problem of not knowing the storylines, I am going to review the very first Hustle. Way back in 2004, Hustle was more wrestling-oriented then it is today. There were still "entertainment" aspects, but there was no Yinling or HG and a lot of the sillier storylines (Abdullah coming out of a magic lamp, Nobuhiko Takada popping out of an egg, etc.) wouldn't start until a little bit later. That is not to say the show was "traditional" puroresu, for it was not at all... in a lot of ways it reminds me of the Wrestle-1 shows as the matches just seem incredibly random in an awesome way. Goldberg vs. Ogawa? Giant Silva? Mil Mascaras? Dusty Rhodes? Should be interesting if nothing else. Here is the full card:
- Jun Kasai vs. King Adamo vs. Low Ki vs. MIKAMI
As you can see, we have a full card so lets get right to it.
Jun Kasai vs. King Adamo vs. Low Ki vs. MIKAMI
Snapmare by Low Ki on Kasai and he goes up to the top turnbuckle to go for a Phoenix Splash, but Kasai moves out of the way. Low Ki rolls as he lands to keep his momentum however and drops the flash elbow onto Adamo. Snapmare on MIKAMI to Low Ki, MIKAMI goes off the ropes and he hits the Tiger Feint Kick. MIKAMI brings in his ladder, slams Low Ki in front of it and goes up top, but Kasai knocks him off and he falls to the floor. Now Kasai goes to the top of the ladder, but Adamo shakes it and he falls off, straddling the top rope before rolling out of the ring. Next Adamo climbs the ladder, but Low Ki catches him from behind and throws him to the mat. MIKAMI has recovered, he goes to the top of the ladder and nails the Volcanic Bomb onto Adamo! Cover, but Kasai breaks it up. Scoop slam by Kasai on MIKAMI, he puts the ladder in the corner and throws MIKAMI into it, but MIKAMI rebounds off the ladder with a quebrada. Roll-up by MIKAMI onto Kasai but Low Ki breaks it up. Low Ki picks up MIKAMI in the Ki Krusher position, but instead of hitting the move he rams MIKAMI into Adamo. Kasai goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick onto Adamo, but Low Ki hits the Black Magic onto Kasai for a two count cover. Backslide by Kasai, but it gets a two count. Kasai goes off the ropes but Low Ki nails him with a Rolling Koppou Kick. MIKAMI goes to the top turnbuckle, but Low Ki sees him and knocks him off with the Tidal Krush, sending him out of the ring and onto Adamo. Ki Krusher by Low Ki on Kasai and he picks up the three count! Your winner: Low Ki
Match Thoughts: King Adamo is better known in the States as Skulu, which is the name he used in UPW. This was a fun little spotty match and you could tell that for some of the spots they actually took the time to plan them in advance, which tends to make matches like this go smoother. I had forgotten how Low Ki's offense used to be more high-flying then it is now, I can't remember the last time he did a Space Flying Tiger Drop or a Phoenix Splash. But centering his offense on stiff kicks rather then crazy dives will probably make his career longer, which I am sure he has considered. The wrestlers performed in their rolls well (Adamo as the big lug, MIKAMI has only wanting to do crazy moves, and Kasai trying to sneak in a win whenever he got the chance via backslides and sunset flips), and while it won't go down as a classic it was a perfectly fine opening match to get the crowd excited for the show. Score: 6.0
Ikuto Hidaka vs. Zebra Man
Match Thoughts: Impressive finisher. I have no idea who Zebra Man is, as originally I thought it was Kazuhiko Ogasawara, but they don't really look the same and then I read that Ogasawara took over the gimmick in February of 2004. So if you know, feel free to shoot me a line. This was a perfectly acceptable match which in theory introduced a new wrestler by making him look good against a competent foe. There really wasn't anything resembling a structure to this match but there weren't any obvious miscues and it was smooth from start to finish. A solid debut for Zebra Man, even though it seems that it wasn't followed up on. Score: 5.5
El Solar goes over the ropes and shoulder blocks Hayashi, Irish whip by El Solar but Hayashi hits a heel kick. Irish whip by Hayashi, reversed, and El Solar hits a backbreaker. Dropkick by El Solar, Hayashi falls out of the ring, and El Solar follows him out with a pescado. Kojima then hits a pescado of his own onto El Solar, and then Caras Jr. goes onto the top turnbuckle and hits a plancha on Kojima. Hayashi has recovered by now and he sails out onto everyone with a tope suicida. Hayashi slides El Solar into the ring, Irish whip by Hayashi, reversed, and El Solar kicks Hayashi to the mat. Mexican Surfboard by El Solar into a pin, but it gets a two count. El Solar wraps up Hayashi into a submission hold before tagging in Caras Jr.. Double Irish whip to Hayashi and El Solar hits a backbreaker followed by a Caras Jr. dropkick. Stomps by Caras Jr., Irish whip, and he delivers a superkick. Roll-up by Caras Jr. but it gets a two count. Caras Jr. hits a powerbomb, another cover, but again it gets two. Caras Jr. kicks Kojima off the apron before picking up Hayashi into a press slam and dropping him in front so he could hit a German suplex hold for a two count. Irish whip by Caras Jr. on Hayashi but Hayashi rebounds off the ropes with a handstand and kicks Caras Jr. in the stomach. Hayashi tags in Kojima, Kojima picks up Caras Jr. and throws him into the corner.
Chops by Kojima, Irish whip, and he hits the jumping elbow/snapmare/top rope elbow drop for a two count cover. Kojima picks up Caras Jr. and hits a brainbuster, cover, but again it gets a two count. He goes for another brainbuster, but Caras Jr. slides down his back and hits a German suplex. Caras Jr. tags in El Solar, double Irish whip to Kojima and both men hit strikes in the corner. They then give Kojima a double vertical suplex before dropping elbows onto his chest. Cover by El Solar but it gets a two count. Irish whip by El Solar and he delivers a spinebuster. El Solar applies a crab hold but Hayashi breaks it up with a kick to the head. Chops by El Solar to Kojima in the corner, Irish whip, reversed, El Solar flips himself out to the apron before getting back in the ring and hitting a leg sweep onto Kojima for a two count. El Solar applies a submission hold to Kojima, Hayashi tries to break it up but Caras Jr. slaps a cross armbreaker on him. Caras Jr. tries to powerbomb Hayashi but Hayashi gets out of it and breaks up El Solar's hold. Kojima rolls out of the ring as Hayashi slams El Solar. Double elbow drop to El Solar and Kojima hits him with the Koji Cutter. Kojima goes for the lariat but El Solar reverses it with a drop toehold and rolls him up for a two count cover. Kojima takes off the elbow pad and nails a lariat onto El Solar for the three count pinfall! Your winners: Satoshi Kojima and Kaz Hayashi
Match Thoughts: A pretty average match all the way around, as there was nothing noticeably bad about it but there was also nothing that really pulled you into the match. In general the action was crisp, but the hot tags weren't really hot and both teams were wrestling like faces (which they were, I guess, but it made the match somewhat bland). The ending came rather suddenly, as El Solar was not really weakened much when he was taken down by the lariat. Nothing offensive, but I was expecting better. Score: 5.5
Shinjiro Otani and Masato Tanaka vs. The Predator and Kevin Randleman
Otani stays in the ring as the legal man and throws Randleman into the corner before kicking him to a seated position. Boot scrapes by Otani, Tanaka comes in the ring, double Irish whip to the opposite corner, but Randleman avoids Otani's charge and leap frogs over Tanaka when he charges in as well. Randleman then ducks the double clothesline attempt and rebounds out of the corner with a cross body on both men. Randleman tags in Predator, who boots down Tanaka and dropkicks Otani. Scoop slams for both wrestlers, Predator goes off the ropes and drops the leg onto Otani. Cover, but it gets a two count. Schwein by Predator, cover, but again it gets a two count. Predator goes up to the second turnbuckle but Otani rolls out of the way of the knee drop. Otani goes for a scoop slam but Predator blocks it. Backdrop suplex by Otani onto Predator and he tags in Tanaka. Tanaka goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick. Tanaka sets up Predator against the ropes and hits a jumping elbow strike followed by a trio of lariats which finally knocks Predator off his feet. Tanaka picks up Predator, Irish whip, reversed, Tanaka applies a front chancery and when Randleman runs in he gives them a DDT/Stunner combination.
Tanaka goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a body press on Predator, cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Tanaka, reversed, and Predator levels him with a lariat. Predator tags in Randleman and they hit the Decapitation off the second turnbuckle. Tanaka recovers but Randleman catches him with a hurricanrana. Randleman tags in Predator and Predator throws Randleman down onto Tanaka. Cover by Randleman but it gets a two count. Randleman tags in Predator and they both take their opponents to opposite corners. They try to Irish whip them into each other but it is reversed, causing Randleman and Predator to collide. Tanaka hits a backdrop suplex onto Randleman and then dropkicks Predator to help Otani hit a backdrop suplex of his own. Otani kicks Randleman out of the ring while in the ring Tanaka gets a crucifix pin for a two count. Elbow smash by Tanaka, cover, but it gets a two count. Tanaka goes off the ropes but Predator catches him with a heel kick. Predator picks up Tanaka, slams him to the mat, and Randleman comes off the top turnbuckle with an elbow drop. Predator then hits a top turnbuckle knee drop, cover, but Otani barely breaks it up in time. Hercules Cutter by Predator on Tanaka but it only gets a two count. Predator drives Tanaka into the corner, puts him up on top and delivers the Muscle Buster. Cover, and he picks up the three count! Your winners: The Predator and Kevin Randleman
Match Thoughts: The Predator was formally known in WWE as Sylvester Terkay. Better then the last match as The Predator was fun to watch, but I didn't really like the ending.... I might be partly biased since I love Tanaka, but The Predator just kinda squashed him at the end without even giving a hint of a Tanaka comeback. Randleman was still a little rough around the edges as far as professional wrestling goes though and there were a few noticeable miscommunications and even some really loudly yelled spots during the match. It wasn't great, but it was better then anything else on the card so far as Tanaka and Otani are generally game and The Predator held his own while keeping the crowd into it most of the time. Score: 6.5
Giant Silva vs. Kohei Sato and Katsuhisa Fujii
Match Thoughts: I generally rate squash matches by how the crowd reacts, and since the crowd really didn't care about this then I see no reason why I should. It's just a freak manhandling two much smaller wrestlers, and while I understand that they were trying to get Silva over as a monster (which was probably accomplished) it doesn't make it an entertaining match. If the crowd was going nuts then I'd excuse it, but since they apparently cared about as much as I did I can't say this match was particularly good. At least Silva would become a Hustle mainstay, making the squash match at least slightly meaningful if nothing else. Score: 3.0
Shinya Hashimoto vs. Vader
Match Thoughts: I wanted to like this match since I like both of these guys, but really the match was below average at best. The one minute arm submission by Vader was lame since the move clearly didn't hurt and Vader isn't really known for going for the arm... I know he was probably winded but I think they could have done better then waste so much time with one move. Same thing happened with the cross armbreaker, as those two moves along were 20% of the match, and neither had any impact on the end of the match whatsoever. The crowd also hated the ending, as they wanted to get into the match but booed it pretty heavily for a Japanese crowd. The ending did make sense, but if the crowd hates it then it didn't really work. Both wrestlers' striking looked great and the emotion was there, but unfortunately by this point Vader wasn't in the condition to have a long singles match and the structure didn't really help matters any. Score: 4.0
Mil Mascaras, Dos Caras, and Sicodelico Jr. vs. Tom Howard, Steve Corino, and Dusty Rhodes
Howard teases tagging in Dusty and does so, but Corino tags himself in to massive boos. Tie-up, side headlock by Mascaras, Corino Irish whips out of it but Mascaras shoulderblocks him down. Mascaras goes off the ropes and hits a hiptoss, side headlock by Mascaras, Howard comes in the ring to try to help but Mascaras flips them both to the mat. He then hits a side headlock takeover/headscissors combination on both men before delivering a flying double chest chop to Corino for a two count cover. Stretch hold by Mascaras but Howard breaks it up, sending Mascaras out of the ring. Dos Caras comes in to replace him as Dusty is tagged in, and Dusty chops him into the corner. Elbows by Dusty and he tags in Howard. Dos Caras tries to tag in Sicodelico Jr. but Howard pulls him back and tags in Corino. Double Irish whip to Dos Caras from the corner, lariat by Corino and Howard follows with a Poetry in Motion. DDT by Corino followed by an STO. Irish whip by Corino, reversed and Dos Caras hits a flying chop to the chest. Dos Caras applies a stretch hold that I really can't even describe before releasing it and tagging in Sicodelico Jr.. DDT by Sicodelico Jr., he picks up Corino, Irish whip, and he delivers a dropkick. Sicodelico Jr. tags in Mascaras, Irish whip by Mascaras and he hits a flying double chest chop. Double underhook lock by Mascaras but Howard breaks it up. Sicodelico Jr. comes in to replace Mascaras as Howard comes in as well, Irish whip by Howard and he hits a jumping heel kick in the corner. Howard picks up Sicodelico Jr., Irish whip from the corner but Sicodelico Jr. avoids his charge and rolls him up for a two count. Sicodelico Jr. dropkicks Howard out of the ring and then sails out onto him with a corkscrew pescado. Dos Caras and Dusty come in as the legal men and Dusty elbows Dos Caras into the corner. Dos Caras tags in Mascaras and holds Dusty for him as Mascaras goes to the top turnbuckle, but Corino pushes them out of the way and Mascaras hits him with a flying crossbody. Cover by Mascaras and he picks up the three count! Your winners: Mil Mascaras, Dos Caras, and Sicodelico Jr.
Match Thoughts: Steve Corino said it best himself in his commentary right after the show: "Without getting into the inner workings of the match I was pretty much in the ring for about 95% of the 14 minute match getting my ass handed to me by a 68 year old man. The quality of the match was what you would expect out of it but for the nostalgia of it, it was fun." That pretty much sums it up, but the only other thing I'd add is it was disappointing that after teasing Dusty/Mascaras that they never actually did it... I know they wanted Corino to get heel heat, which worked very well, but they should have given the crowd a little taste so that they would be satisfied. About what you'd expect from a legends match, Mick Foley didn't like wrestling Mascaras back in the early 90s because he wouldn't bump, you can imagine how it was in 2004. Corino did a good job at making his offense look good however and both Caras and Sicodelico Jr. were very solid. Score: 4.5
Mark Coleman vs. Toshiaki Kawada
Match Thoughts: I am not a huge fan of MMA vs. professional wrestling matches as MMA fighters generally take awhile to adjust, but really this match wasn't bad until the bizarre ending. The strikes looked pretty good, all things considered, and the crowd popped at the right times (such as Coleman's first belly to belly suplex). But for the referee to call for the bell even though Coleman never submitted is just political BS as in neither MMA nor professional wrestling is the bell supposed to be rung when a conscious wrestler isn't submitting. So that put a damper on things, but really the rest of it was very watchable. Score: 5.0
Bill Goldberg vs. Naoya Ogawa
Match Thoughts: Again we have a match that would have been pretty entertaining if not for the questionable ending. The referee being out for two minutes isn't a new concept in wrestling, but really it should be more then a one armed push from Goldberg to do it. No man, woman, or child should be knocked out by being gently pushed to the mat. Even though there were a few disjointed parts the match was generally entertaining... Goldberg might not have the passion for the business that some do but he doesn't show it in the ring at all. His selling in this match was exceptional, perhaps better then anyone else on this card. The minute-long ankle locks were meaningless, but other then that I have no complaints aside from the ridiculous referee bump. The crowd was pretty into it as well, so bonus points for that. Score: 5.5
Well what an odd little show. Not good, really, but debut shows are hard to pull off as most of the matches have storylines that are just starting which can have an adverse effect on crowd reaction and emotion. The main event was very watchable but there weren't any matches that came close to "must see" unless you like bizarre pairings or are on a nostalgia kick. When Shinjiro Otani and Masato Tanaka vs. The Predator and Kevin Randleman is the best match on the card you know you have a problem, and while I enjoyed seeing some of the legends that really isn't a good enough reason to purchase this. It wasn't utter trash as some of the matches were entertaining and others were so bizarre that they were fun to watch, but overall I wouldn't recommend it.
review completed 5/24/07