New Japan World Pro Wrestling, 3/5/94
Review by Ryan Mancuso
Hello again, I am back with a review of a New Japan World Pro Wrestling TV show that aired on March 5, 1994. This was taped in front of a sold out crowd at the famous Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on February 24, 1994. There were three matches that were highlighted on this taping. First was the debut of Tadao Yasuda from the New Japan dojo. New Japan had high aspirations for Yasuda because his debut was against one of New Japan's top stars at the time in Hiroshi Hase. Very few of New Japan's young lions get to debut on a major stage against a well established opponent. The two most recent examples of getting that kind of debut were Kenzo Suzuki and Shinsuke Nakamura. Also on this card was former All Japan star and SPWF boss, Yoshiaki Yatsu, teaming up with Blond Outlaw members Hiro Saito and Norio Honaga to face the Heisei Ishingun trio of Shiro Koshinaka, Kuniaki Kobayashi and Michiyoshi Ohara. The main event was a special attraction between Shinya Hashimoto, who was holding the IWGP Heavyweight Title, and Jushin Thunder Liger, who was holding the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title. Despite giving up a good amount of size, could Liger hold his own against the heavyweight champion. We'll find out when the review begins…..now:
Hiroshi Hase vs. Tadao Yasuda
This was a pretty fun match with the fiery young lion who won't stay down against the experienced veteran story work real well. I was surprised that Yasuda got as much offense as he did, but it showed that he was a big prospect and worthy of having a singles debut match with Hase at the Budokan. Shinjiro Otani, Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi and the rest of the New Japan young lions at the time were shouting words of encouragement to Yasuda in hopes for the major upset. Yasuda even managed to fight to make it to the ropes when Hase put him in a Boston Crab, a move that has made young lions submit many times. In the end, experience took over with Hase gaining the advantage. Hase got the win by taking Yasuda down with the uranage and making him tap to the cross armbreaker. After the match, Hase shook Yasuda's hand out of respect and the New Japan young lions gave Yasuda their applause for his effort.
Yoshiaki Yatsu, Hiro Saito & Norio Honaga vs. Koshinaka, Kuniaki Kobayashi & Michiyoshi Ohara
This match was between Yatsu, a former All Japan star of the 1980's and runs the very small SPWF, and the Blond Outlaws against Heisei Ishingun. This was clipped to pieces so I could not if this was a good match or not. It looked like the end was pretty good because there was a lot of action and the crowd got into the match. Yatsu scores the win for his team by using a powerbomb and elbowdrop onto Ohara.
The show takes a little wrestling break to showcase an out of the ring project that Hiroshi Hase was doing. This project was Hase doing voice over work for the career of an Olympic speed skater.
Shinya Hashimoto vs. Jushin Thunder Liger
Although, the beginning of the match was cut from the broadcast but what they showed was excellent. Liger was playing the small man who is trying to find ways to take down the bigger Hashimoto and keep him down. After trying a Liger Bomb early in the match, he realizes that Hashimoto is too strong to pick up. He would work on the leg to weaken the big man then try his bigger moves. It was awesome visual to see Liger using moves like the Liger Bomb and German suplex hold for near falls. Liger's bodysuit does not do justice to his physique. He was in heavyweight fighter outfit, it might have been the first time he ever wore it, which is a less extravagant version of his mask and no upper part of his bodysuit. Liger is pretty well built for a small man and it helped the idea that he could pick up Hashimoto. The fans were getting really into the near falls, and the fact that Liger could pull off the impossible by defeating the nearly unbeatable Shinya Hashimoto. Hashimoto was great in giving Liger so much offense to let the fans believe the huge upset could occur. Hashimoto was a master at making his aura seemed unbeatable, but remained vulnerable enough to where it was possible for him to lose. Here is the play-by-play:
This match was joined in progress with Liger down and clutching at his arm. Hashimoto stomps and chops at the arm. He picks up Liger just to knock him down with a stiff kick the midsection. Hashimoto continues to pick apart the arm by using two consecutive armbreakers and another kick to the chest to knock Liger down again. Hashimoto stomps Liger some more and picks up Liger to chop him a few times. Hashimoto whips Liger off the ropes, and Liger baseball slides in between Hashimoto's legs. Liger uses a dropkick to the knee. Liger runs off the ropes and connects with another dropkick to the knee that sends the big man down. Liger puts Hashimoto in an Achilles tendon hold, but Hashimoto is very quick to reach the ropes.
In what would have been an awesome visual, Liger goes for a surfboard hold. However, Hashimoto is just too big and defensive to let it happen to him. Liger manages to put Hashimoto in an Indian Deathlock. Hashimoto tries to knock Liger off with slaps and headbutts, but it was Liger who knocked Hashimoto on his back with a slap. Liger puts more pressure by adding a facelock to the Indian Deathlock. Hashimoto managed to position out of the hold by using a facelock of his own. That escape almost set up a cross armbreaker from Hashimoto, but Liger was able to fight out of that attempt and continue to work on the leg.
Liger drops a few short-ranged kneedrops, but nearly got caught again with a cross armbreaker by Hashimoto. Both men get up and Hashimoto takes him down with a snap belly-to-belly suplex. Hashimoto picks up Liger and uses a backbreaker. He keeps Liger in that position for extra pressure before letting go. Liger gets back up and fires off two shotei's, but Hashimoto won't go down. It did stun Hashimoto to where was going to try for a Liger Bomb, but Hashimoto might just be too much to pick up. Liger runs off the ropes and Hashimoto catches him with a superkick. Hashimoto picks up Liger in a vertical suplex position and then just slams him down on the mat. Hashimoto runs off the ropes and goes for a spin kick. However, Liger is able to duck the big man. Liger's quick momentum was halted when Hashimoto caught him with a kick to the midsection.
Hashimoto runs off the ropes again. This time he connects with the spin kick. Hashimoto covers, but Liger is out at 2. Hashimoto goes for a DDT, but Liger counters it with a takedown into a cross kneescissors hold. After a length struggle, Hashimoto gets to the ropes. Liger releases the hold, quickly climbs the top turnbuckle and connects with a missile dropkick to Hashimoto's knee. Liger puts Hashimoto in the figure-four leglock. Hashimoto is taking some punishment to the knee, but refuses to submit. Hashimoto finally reaches the ropes after being in that hold for about 90 seconds. Liger is feeling that Hashimoto has been weaken, picks up Hashimoto and connects with the Liger Bomb. Hashimoto kicks out at 2.5.
Liger puts Hashimoto on the turnbuckles, climbs up to the top and takes him down with vicious DDT. Liger covers, but Hashimoto barely kicks out. Liger sends Hashimoto to the corner and charges in with a rolling koppou kick. He puts Hashimoto back on the turnbuckles and takes him down with a top-rope hurricanrana. Liger covers, but Hashimoto is out again at 2.5 Liger manages to use a German suplex hold for another 2 count. Liger climbs the top turnbuckle again and connects with a missile dropkick to the back of Hashimoto's head. Hashimoto does not go down. Liger runs off the ropes, but Hashimoto manages to catch him with an ipponzei.
Hashimoto is just punishing Liger with many kicks to the midsection. Liger fights back with a shotei, but Hashimoto shrugs it off and takes Liger down with a legsweep. Hashimoto picks up Liger and pretty much KO's him with a brutal high kick. Feeling that the match is his, Hashimoto picks up Liger and drops him hard with his Vertical Drop Brainbuster. Hashimoto covers! 1, 2, 3! The IWGP Heavyweight Champion defeated the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion in a grueling 23 minute battle. No shame for Liger in defeat because he exceeded many expectations of the match when he pushed Hashimoto to his limits.
Final Thoughts: This was a very good hour of TV. Hashimoto vs. Liger was excellent from what was shown. Too bad there is not a full version of the match available, at least to my knowledge. Yasuda's debut match against Hase was a lot of fun. It wouldn't be considered a classic, but it was a textbook performance on how to debut a new wrestler with high expectations. In my opinion, Hase does not get enough credit for the hard work he put into New Japan, both inside and outside of the ring, during the early-to-mid 1990's. Overally, this is an episode worth checking out.
Final Score: 7.5 [Good]
Ryan Mancuso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org