The Great Muta in New Japan Vol. 1
review by Ryan Mancuso
Hello again, I am back with a review from the first part of the Muta Anthology that New Japan Pro Wrestling released. This features matches with Muta facing opponents like Hiroshi Hase, Ricky Steamboat, Sting, The Steiner Brothers and Tatsumi Fujinami. For now, the review starts:
First, the scene takes place in a cave where Muta is hatched from a cocoon. Weird things start to happen to where his face paint changes color. Finally, he gets into a confrontation with a Lord Zedd look-a-like from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Before the fighting could begin, a music video plays with highlights from Muta in action.
The Great Muta vs. Hiroshi Hase
This is from September 14, 1990 at the Hiroshima Sun Plaza. This was a great match that established the Muta character as a heel by using all means to make Hiroshi Hase bleed. Hase was bleeding a gusher in this match, and the fans definitely got behind him for a comeback. Hase’s selling of the damaged done really help this match become memorable. Normally, I would be very upset with the DQ finish to a match like this. However, they would have a match a few years later that played off the actions from this match. As a result, it made the DQ finish more tolerable. Here is my play-by-play:
As soon as the bell rings, Muta climbs the second turnbuckle and blows the red mist into the air. The match started out with some mat wrestling with Muta using a hammerlock and side headlock to control Hase. Hase countered out of the holds with his speed and technique. When Hase had Muta in a hammerlock, Muta backed him into a corner and nailed him in the midsection with a double mule kick. Hase came back from a Muta side headlock when he would whip Muta off the ropes with a rolling back heel kick to Muta’s face for a near fall. Hase would bodyslam Muta down, and score another near fall with a running somersault senton.
Hase puts Muta in a front facelock, but Muta backs him into the corner. Muta nails Hase in the midsection with some shoulder attacks. He whips Hase into the corner and charges in with the handspring elbow smash. Muta takes Hase down and locks him in a reverse Indian Deathlock. From there, he does his famous bridging chinlock. After keeping the hold on for a little bit, Muta gives up on the bridge and maintains the reverse Indian Deathlock on. Muta drops to the canvas a few times to add more pain to Hase. Hase escapes by reaching the ropes.
Both men are trading chops, and Hase wins the strike exchange with many slaps to Muta’s face. Hase whips Muta into the corner and charges in. However, Muta counters with a rope assisted spin kick. Muta throws Hase to the floor. Muta exits the ring to attack Hase, and throws him into the ring post. Hase is busted open really badly as blood has already reached his chest. Muta jumps off the apron with a chop and whips him headfirst into another ring post. Muta picks Hase up, and drops him stomach first onto the guardrail. In the ring, Muta poses and all of his face paint is no longer there.
Hase climbs on the apron, and Muta bites at Hase's wound. He slams Hase’s head into the top turnbuckle. The referee asks if Hase can continue, and Hase says yes by reentering the ring. Muta snapmares him down, runs off the ropes and connects with the flash elbowdrop. Muta covers, but Hase is out at 2 to the approval of the crowd. Muta spikes Hase with a cradle piledriver and covers again. Hase kicks out at 2.75. Muta chops at Hase, but Hase is mustering up the strength to get up. There is a loud “Hase” chant, but Muta quiets the crowd with a kick to knock down Hase. Muta locks Hase in a sleeper hold and adds a bodyscissors. Consider the blood loss he had already had in this match, this is not good for Hase. Hase is fighting hard to get to the ropes, and the fans support him with a loud "Hase" chant. After a struggle, he manages to reach the ropes so that Muta has to break the hold.
Muta slaps the downed Hase in the face. It seems to get Hase up, but Muta knocks him back down with spin kick. Muta locks in another sleeperhold. This time the camera gives a great visual as to how much blood Hase has lost. Hase fights out of the hold with elbow smashes. Hase throws Muta off the ropes and tries a dropkick. However, Muta holds onto the ropes and Hase crashes his back hard onto the mat. Muta punches at Hase’s wound and Hase staggers back into the ropes. The referee asks if he should stop the match, but Hase puts his fists up and asks for more. Muta whips Hase off the ropes and goes for another sleeper. However, Hase reverses that into a backdrop suplex hold. Hase gets his second wind when he picks up Muta for a bodyslam, climbs the top turnbuckles and connects with a diving kneedrop. Hase covers, but Muta kicks out at 2.5.
Hase catches Muta with his trademark Northern Lights Suplex Hold, but Muta quickly kicks out at 2. Hase nails Muta with a lariat, and Muta rolls to the apron. Muta stands up and Hase runs off the ropes. He catches Muta with a shoulderblock that knocks him off the apron and onto the guardrail. Blood loss forces Hase to collapse for a few seconds, but he gets himself back together so that he could fight Muta on the floor. With the photographers standing in front of the camera man, they were barely able to catch a shot of Hase using a vertical suplex on the floor. Hase rolls back into the ring and Muta follows a few seconds later.
Hase has Muta in the corner. He climbs up the second turnbuckle and nails him with punches to the head. He stops at five punches to recover a bit from the blood loss. Hase whips Muta into the opposite corner and charges in with a lariat. Hase spikes Muta on his head with an uranage, and climbs the top turnbuckle. Hase goes for a diving lariat, but Muta counters with a green mist attack into Hase’s bloody face. Muta gets some jeers from the crowd as a result. Muta picks up Hase and drops him with a backdrop suplex. The referee is reprimanding Muta for his actions, but Muta does not care when he shoves him.
Muta climbs out of the ring and gets a stretcher from under there. Muta nails the referee with the stretcher. As a result, the referee calls for the bell and Muta is disqualified to the booing of the crowd. Muta is not done yet. He nails other wrestlers with the stretcher. He uses a backbreaker on Hase and puts him on the stretcher. Muta climbs the top turnbuckle and connects with a moonsault. He slaps Hase in the face, and flips off the jeering crowd a few times before leaving the ring.
The Great Muta vs. Ricky Steamboat
This is from September 30, 1994 at the Yokohama Arena. Muta does elaborate entrance with ninjas doing flips in the ring and him coming down from the ceiling. Although, it was a bit uneasy seeing that entrance and knowing the tragedy that happened to Owen Hart. Thankfully, everything was okay with this one. This match was somewhat of a dream match of mine. When I first became a wrestling fan, the promotion I watched was NWA during 1989. Two of the top stars were Muta and Steamboat. Since their paths never crossed during that period, I thought these two never had a match together. I was wrong and they did have one in New Japan.
Unfortunately, this was like a lot of dream matches in that you felt disappointment after watching it. However, that disappointment did not come from me setting my expectations too high. They had a solid match, but they just did not have the chemistry together to put on a great match. While Muta was working over Steamboat, they showed Muta’s U.S. trainer Hiro Matsuda in the crowd. Steamboat's selling was the highlight of the match because he really put over the damage Muta was doing to his knee. The most impressive move of the match came when Muta used a running crossbody press and both men went over the top rope. The finish looked messed up because Muta fired the mist too early and Steamboat basically dove into the remnants of the mist to try to get some of it too connect. A backbreaker and moonsault by Muta wins him the match.
The Great Muta vs. Sting
This is from March 21, 1991 at the Tokyo Dome. WCW aired some of this event as the first of three Japan Supershows for US PPV. Muta gets to face his number top rival during his extended stay in the United States in Sting. Muta’s entrance was awesome because it started out with a medieval knight and samurai having a sword fight while someone was beating a huge drum. They stopped when Muta’s entrance played. Sting showed up in the colors of Red, White and Blue.
This was a good match with both men showing a lot of motivation. Muta attacked early and tried for the moonsault, but Sting got out of the way. However, Muta landed on his feet, sent Sting to the floor and used a plancha onto him on the floor. Sting gorilla pressed Muta over the top rope and onto the floor. Sting dove onto Muta on the floor with a running plancha over the top rope. The match slowed down a bit, but it did not last too long. Lots of teases from both men towards the big moves like the Stinger Splash, Scorpion Deathlock, handspring elbow and moonsault. Sting looked like he had the match won and went for the Stinger Splash. However, Muta countered by spaying the green mist in the eyes. Muta jumped to the top turnbuckle and used a moonsault bodyblock to get the pin on Sting. After the match, Sting attacked Muta. He connects with the Stinger Splash and Scorpion Deathlock.
The Great Muta & TNT vs. Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki
This is from July 19, 1991 at the Nakajima Sports Center in Sapporo. The rivalry between Muta & Hase continues here. TNT was Savio Vega, and he had spent most of his career under that name. Basically, it was the Puerto Rican version of Muta. Savio would do a gimmick similar to TNT when he first entered the WWE in the 1990’s as Kwang. This was a good tag match, but the story was Muta making Hase bleed another gusher. He used a piledriver on a table, rammed him head first into the ring post and jabbed him with the hammer to the ring bell. Despite the blood loss from Hase, it was Kensuke who won the match for his team with a powerslam onto TNT. After the match, Muta attacks both of his opponents with mist attack.
The Great Muta vs. Super Strong Machine
This is from August 25, 1991. Not sure of the venue, but it is an outdoor place. This was my least favorite match on this volume of the Muta series. It was just a dull brawl with weapon use that was not too interesting and Muta going after Machine’s mask. Machine won the match by DQ when Muta ripped off his mask. Considering that both men are good wrestlers, it was very disappointing that they went this route for a match.
The Great Muta vs. Tatsumi Fujinami
This is from September 23, 1991 at the Yokohama Arena. This was a solid match. Muta slowed down the pace with his heel tactics, a little too much for my liking, and Fujinami was the one with the fast paced offense. Fujinami attacked Muta quick and dove out of the ring with a tope suicida. Muta busted Fujinami open, but Fujinami was not bleeding as crazy as Hase did. Muta used various weapons on Fujinami the wooden hammer that rings the bell, a stretcher and a steel box. Muta got plenty of boos for his actions. They had a screwy finish when Muta accidentally spray the referee in the eyes in the green mist and could not make the count when Fujinami used the German Suplex Hold. Muta low blowed Fujinami, nailed him with a bottle, revived the ref a bit and used the moonsault for the victory.
The Great Muta & Sting vs. The Steiner Brothers
This is from January 4, 1992 at the Tokyo Dome. This was the second Japan Supershow that WCW aired on US PPV. Muta had another cool entrance with a band playing a hard rock version of Keiji Muto’s theme "Hold Out." As a fan growing up, this was one match I was very curious in seeing. The idea of rivals like Muta and Sting teaming up was enough to get me to want to check the match out. Muta and Sting facing The Steiner Brothers was an extra bonus. Any doubts about them not cooperating were put to rest early when Muta immediately shook hands with his long time rival Sting. Interesting note, Bill Alfonso is the referee for this match.
This was very different from other Muta matches because there were no mist attacks or weapon use. If anything, it didn’t feel like Great Muta in the match. It was just Keiji Muto wrestling with face paint on. This was a great fast paced match. Muta was the one selling a lot here. The Steiners threw him around with suplexes. Rick used a vicious release German Suplex in the ring and a belly-to-belly on the floor. Scott used a Samoan Drop off the second turnbuckle. Muta and Sting came back with a double facebuster that the crowd and I popped for. They even used dives onto the Steiners on the floor. The Steiners came back with a double diving lariat off the top turnbuckle. Scott whipped Sting off the ropes and tried a tilt-a-whirl suplex, but Sting reversed it into a cradle. Rick used a belly-to-belly suplex on Muta. Sting and Rick covered with Bill Alfonso counting to 3. Alfonso raises Sting’s hand because it was Sting's pin that he was counting. Despite the Steiners feeling like they won, they were able to shake Sting and Muta’s hand after the match.
Final Score: 7.0 [Good]
Ryan Mancuso can be reached at email@example.com