review by Jason Manning
Date: March 1st, 2003
Location: Yokohama Arena
After Riki Choshu left New Japan in early 2002, rumors immediately started of him beginning his own promotion. Well, after months of speculation, he finally did, and this is their first show. Choshu managed to get a lot of names for his new promotion, including Shiro Koshinaka and Kenzo Suzuki (who jumped from New Japan), Genichiro Tenryu and Tomoaki Honma (on loan from All Japan), Kensuke Sasaki (who recently left New Japan due to other issues), Hiroshi Hase and Yoji Anjo (both freelancers, but closely associated with All Japan), Don Frye, Dan Bobish (MMA star and Mike Tyson’s former bodyguard), Takao Omori (who had recently quit NOAH), hardcore legend Atsushi Onita, the Road Warriors, and Yoshiaki Yatsu. Not the greatest cast, but a cast of “names” indeed. Lots of notable* matches here, including Todd and Mike Shane from IPW in America defending their IPW Hardcore Tag Team Title against the Road Warriors, Koshinaka facing Onita in what Onita’s best at, a barbed wire death match, Sasaki and Hase teaming up to face the gaijin team of Frye and Bobish, and Choshu and Tenryu facing off in singles competition in the main event. (*Notable may not mean good.) WJ drew a horrible number for the Yokohama Arena for this show, only 13,200 fans showing up to an arena that recently sat just over 19,000 fans for a PRIDE event.
The World Japan production is pretty nice overall, and they have a nice long stage for the wrestlers to come out on. Masanobu Fuchi’s doing commentary.
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Takashi Uwano
Most may know Ishii from Michinoku Pro, where he was a part of the Far East Connection and never really wrestled a junior style, so I guess he fits here more. Uwano’s from IWA Japan, and treated as a rookie here. This was fine as a typical rookie discipline match for the opener, even if Uwano did get in a fair amount of offense and did win some strike exchanges. Ishii was never in any real trouble, though. The only real problem is that in ran a little long and tended to drag. Ishii isn’t exactly the greatest wrestler alive, and he can’t keep things interesting for 12 1/2 minutes in this environment, while Uwano didn’t really show much beyond the basics. Both seemed to be stiffing each other a bit, especially Uwano, as he looked a bit careless at times and really laid some of his kicks and elbows into Ishii’s head. They put together a pretty decent closing sequence with Uwano actually controlling, but Ishii just started punching Uwano in the face after a slap exchange. He then mounted on him and absolutely punched the CRAP out of him, drawing a lot blood, which caused the referee to stop the match (12:37). The whole match both guys seemed to have legitimate heat between each other, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that finish wasn’t worked. Really, is Choshu going to just tell Ishii to punch Uwano in the face until he bleeds for the finish?
Masamitsu Kochi vs. Tomoaki Honma
Kochi’s from Yoshiaki Yatsu’s SPWF and while treated as a rookie here, actually debuted in 1994. You should know Honma. This, like the last match, was a pretty simple rookie match (from two non-rookies, go figure). However, Honma did a little bit more to take it above that, and carried Kochi through a few good sequences. They seemed to really be fighting over their holds and moves at times, which is good. Kochi controlled the offense a bit later on, but Honma came back when he planted him with a backdrop suplex. He soon applied a crab hold, and after a good struggle from Kochi (he even reached the ropes once, but Honma pulled him away), he tapped (9:12).
Yoshiaki Yatsu vs. Yoji Anjo
This was really shitty. Just a boring match between two washed up guys that “featured” a lot of inconclusive scuffling, strike exchanges and a couple decent suplexes. Anjo’s striking was just awful, everything looking pulled. There was just nothing too this at all. Anjo constantly went for the cross armbreaker at times, which just got annoying and didn’t make much sense. Yatsu applied a Prison Lock with a front sleeper for the win (11:24). Just really, really boring and nothing really redeeming about it.
Katsuhiko Nakajima, who’s a teenager that’s great at martial arts (and was scouted by Choshu), came out to Choshu’s theme and put on a martial arts exhibition. Pretty impressive, but what something like this is doing on a wrestling show is beyond me.
IPW Hardcore Tag Team Title
Todd Shane & Mike Shane [c] vs. Animal Warrior & Hawk Warrior
This was pretty horrible, as expected. Just a slow-moving match with a lot of sloppy moves and no structure or flow at all. Hawk and one of the twins tried to get a build going at the start, but gave up about 10 seconds in and just started hitting random moves. At one point they’d be exchanging moves or brawling, and the next they’d just be slapping on some restholds and trying some matwork. That’s basically how things were worked throughout, and it sucked. One of the twins seemed to have a bit of potential, but the other looked pretty sloppy at times, blowing a couple things. You can’t really tell when they’re in against the Road Warriors though, who looked really bad. I’m not sure which Warrior was worse, but they were both just bores to watch and were also keen on doing the usual no-selling crap, not giving the twins much. The Warriors hit a crappy Doomsday Device on one of the twins and Animal pinned him for the win (11:04). Hey, a crappy finish too. This was terrible.
They did a tribute to Curt Hennig post-match, complete with a 10-bell salute. An intermission followed as they set up the ring for the next match. They aired a LONG interview with Choshu sitting in the ring with the interviewer. I don’t understand a word of Japanese and fast forwarded through it, but even that took a few minutes.
No Rope Barbed Wire Explosive Death Match
Atsushi Onita vs. Shiro Koshinaka
Koshinaka left a solid midcard role as a respected veteran in New Japan for... a barbed wire explosive death match with Onita. Eh, I’m not one to judge, but it sounds like a pretty shitty deal to me. Onita throws a chair at the barbed wire before the match to “test” the explosion, and he succeeds as a load of sparks ring out. Anyways, this was just AWFUL and almost embarrassing to watch. It started off slow with some weak brawling and then Koshinaka working a side headlock forever, trying to avoid the barbed wire. Koshinaka on offense was pretty bad as all he really did was throw some punches, headbutts and hip attacks, all of which looked worse than ever. They blew (no pun intended) the first explosion spot as Koshinaka went for a jumping hip attack, but missed and went into the wire, but it didn’t explode. Koshinaka tried to back into it harder, but failed again, so Onita just had to Irish whip him into it. Ugh. This was just really crappy and boring, with two old men just standing around and relying on the occasional explosions, which weren’t even that impressive. The moves they did were really sloppy, too. And the crowd was dead as well. OI, JUST HORRIBLE. The only “fun” spot they did was Onita grabbing the ropes to get out of a crab hold, only to find them explode. Right after that Onita blew the mist into Koshinaka’s face, and when Koshinaka charged at him, Onita blew fire into Koshinaka’s face, which caused the shitty DQ (8:05). A horrible finish, too. This SUCKED.
Onita cuts a promo post-match and the crowd still doesn’t care too much. I think Ichiro Yaguchi is the guy following him. Onita then goes crazy backstage.
As the barbed wire was taken down from the ring, they aired some interviews with Kenzo, Omori, Sasaki and Tenryu.
Kenzo Suzuki vs. Takao Omori
Kenzo left New Japan to join his mentor Choshu, and was promised a spot as the “young ace” in WJ. Omori recently left NOAH after being buried repeatedly and having a disagreement with management after his excursion to America. Kenzo’s new theme is a remix of Choshu’s. Omori also has a new theme and just doesn’t seem the same without the No Fear music. This was another really dry match that got so boring at times. Both guy’s best matches have been carry jobs, and they were pretty exposed here, especially Kenzo, who’s offense was pretty weak. Omori seems to have lost a lot of his charisma, which was one of the only good things about him. Kenzo worked Omori’s Axe Bomber arm a bit and while he remembered it and reverted back to it at times, Omori didn’t sell it much when it wasn’t getting worked on. However, Kenzo’s arm work wasn’t all that great either, and got pretty old after a little while. After Kenzo controlled things a bit, Omori’s transition back to offense was just avoiding a jumping knee (Kenzo hit about a thousand of these) in the corner, hitting a thrust kick, and then hitting the Axe Bomber (with yes, the hurting arm) for the win (12:53). Just a really boring match that was “eh” the whole way through. Beyond some boring matwork, it was mostly Kenzo on offense, but all he did jumping knees and arm work, and the arm work didn’t even pay off in the end.
Kensuke Sasaki & Hiroshi Hase vs. Don Frye & Dan Bobish
WJ put all the “Sasaki and Hase hate each other” rumors to rest with this tag match. This is also Sasaki & Hase’s reunion as a tag team (they were a top team for NJ in the early 90s). Hase actually messed up his usual pre-match climbing up to the top spot, which sucks. This was decent, and better than anything else on the show (heh). Bobish’s guys boasted on his website that this was the best match on the show, and I’d have to agree, but that’s nothing to brag about. This had pretty good heat and they managed to keep things interesting all the way through, so it was the best by default. It still wasn’t close to anything special, though. It was a bit of a style clash since Frye and Bobish had the shooter offense and Hase and Sasaki were doing pro wrestling stuff, but they meshed things as well as they could (including a cool spot where Hase and Frye had a chop exchange going, but Frye just punched Hase in the face to win it). Everyone also sold well for each other, except for Bobish (the natives didn’t get that much offense on him in the first place), but a side-point of the match was to get him over (they did a pretty fine job of it too), so it’s acceptable. Bobish wasn’t too impressive, but could’ve been much worse and I’d say he has some potential. Sasaki eventually made the comeback for the natives and spiked Bobish with a Northern Lights bomb before nailing him with a lariat for the win (12:59). Hase and Sasaki talk down to Onita post-match.
Riki Choshu vs. Genichiro Tenryu
Ugh, this was horrible and seemed like it lasted 20 minutes. Tenryu looked OK, but even he couldn’t save this. Choshu was slow-moving and blew up within almost the first minute. The match didn’t even have that much heat. Although it was “worked” like a sprint, I can’t call it one because Choshu was so slow and it wasn’t like Tenryu was fired up or anything. They quickly ran through their big moves, with Tenryu delivering three Northern Lights bomb (Choshu even kicked out before a *ONE COUNT* on the third). Choshu hit around three lariats during the match, with the last one gaining him the weak win (7:53). What a bad main event.
Final Analysis: This was fucking horrible. Just nothing redeeming about it. It started off decent enough with a couple basic matches, and then degenerated into crap with the shitty Yatsu vs. Anjo match, the shitty tag title match, and the SHITTY barbed wire match. Kenzo vs. Omori was boring as hell, the semi-main tag was just average, and the main event was horrible. God, this sucked. Not Recommended.
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