FMW SKY PerfecTV! PPV on 2/23/01
review by Stuart
There was big news coming into this show, disastrous even, for FMW at least. Between the last PPV and this one, on 2/11, Masato Tanaka, Jado & Gedo downed Kodo Fuyuki, GOEMON & Onryo to become the new WEW 6 Man Tag Team Champions. This meant that the Complete Players had those belts, along with the WEW Tag Team Title (Tanaka & Gedo). It was well documented that FMW was struggling to draw new fans, it's attendances down, especially with Hayabusa and Mr. Gannosuke out of action. Then came the boiling point, when President Shoichi Arai offered wrestlers free releases, as FMW was struggling to pay it's roster. Masato Tanaka, who it was said was discontent with Arai and probably FMW's direction (given that he's an Onita disciple), took the offer, quitting FMW. However, two of FMW's better workers, two guys who had really stepped up after years of underachieving, Jado and Gedo, also followed, along with Complete Players valet, Kaori Nakayama. Furthermore, long-time FMW midcarder. Hideki Hosaka, another guy, who like Jado and Gedo, improved his workrate in 2000, followed. Altogether, the accumulated losses tore a huge piece out of FMW. The breakaway group would go on to freelance for Big Japan, BattlARTS, Michinoku Pro and later, bigger promotions like All Japan (Tanaka and Hosaka) and New Japan (Jado and Gedo). FMW was left with a big problem. Tanaka had been involved in the best match of virtually EVERY show for months and in terms of workrate, he, Jado and Gedo had really been carrying things. Losing Tanaka was the biggest blow, as he has the credibility and is a total franchise player if pushed right. He was one of the upstarts, along with Hayabusa and Kanemura, who made FMW so great in the mid-1990's, with immense work ethic and an uncanny pain threshold. This PPV relied a lot on outside involvement, with BattlARTS, Michinoku Pro, Big Japan and freelance joshi wrestlers all booked. After many troubles for FMW, a bigger struggle was ahead, with the company having to survive until Gannosuke and especially Hayabusa got back.
Team Kuroda goof around to start the show, which is quickly becoming a tradition. They talk to their newest member, BattlARTS' Alvin Ken. 2/6 highlights are shown, with matches involving the Complete Players left out of the package. The focus is on Sasuke's arrival, as he made his first FMW appearance since 12/11/96, walking to the ring when Team Kuroda were up to their dastardly tricks, attacking Hayabusa's repaired elbows. He united with Hayabusa and will "represent" him on these upcoming shows. Into Tokyo Korakuen Hall and Shoichi Arai walks to the ring, announcing the departure of Tanaka, Jado, Gedo, Hosaka and Kaori. He looks very stressed, like a man who has just had the worst week of his life. The crowd are dead silent for this, total apathy to everything. The main PBP guy is nowhere to be seen, so the very annoying J Taro is left to call the matches. Footage from 2/21 shows Sasuke talking to the press at a wrestling mask shop. A guy walks in wearing a mask, taking the hood off to reveal Kuroda. I may be wrong, but the mask didn't look unlike Super Delfin's, which would be a stinging shot at Sasuke. They go out to the street, where Kuroda and his lackies attack. They perform the deplorable act of stripping Sasuke TOTALLY naked (not even any underwear) in daylight, in the public street. Scramblevision comes to the rescue, but the next Fuyuki brainstorm is set up. After Team Kuroda drive off, Sasuke covers himself with a Michinoku Pro poster. Good lord.
Ricky Fuji vs. Chocoball Mukai
They wrestle their usual match, slow for a while, but relatively quick to the spots, as these matches rarely go over 10 minutes. Fuji instills a little psychology, working over Mukai's injured (bandaged) ribs with a Cobra Twist, then a kneedrop. He hits his Kamikaze for 2 1/2. Chocoball resists a brainbuster and throws a high kick. After a corner charge leg lariat, he DDT's Ricky for 2. Like on the last PPV, he overshoots a second rope moonsault press somewhat, so that it ends up looking like a backflip headbutt. A German suplex hold gets the porn star a 2 count. Ricky comes back out of nowhere, hitting his modified DDT, where he crosses the arms. This gets him the 3 count (7:00). A usual, non-descript FMW undercard match, but not hard to sit through, as it was short and mostly action. Chocoball has improved a lot since his debut, when he was literally a non-wrestler, and is now just an every day basic wrestler.
Mr. Gannosuke arrives!
Flying Kid Ichihara vs. Masked Sumo
This is Sumo's wrestling debut. He's actually the fat, former WAR ring announcer (yes, even their ring announcer couldn't escape the GENERIC WAR LUMPINESS) under the mask, so BAHU tells me. Since Arai's niece wants nothing to do with Flying Kid, he introduces his new valet, Kurumi Shirohara, who looks about 60 (I'm serious). The blob attacks with sumo-style palm strikes. He misses an avalanche, then a sit-down counter out of a sunset flip. After a missed Banzai drop, Ichihara hooks on a la magistral for the 3 count (1:05). This was AWFUL. Sumo was so bad. If I rated matches so short, this would surely enter the drop zone. The sumo disses Shirohara post-match and she does some fake crying.
The HEEL GODS, Kanemura and Gannosuke, joke around backstage.
Azusa Kudo, Shinjuku Shark & Naohiro Yamazaki vs. Tomokazu Morita, Yoshito Sasaki & Satoru Makita
This is the usual established vs. rookie match, basic and in this case, dull. Most of the match is comprised of drawn out beatdowns by the Team Kuroda punks. Yamazaki does a really weak turnbuckle smash to Sasaki, followed by a fine German suplex hold for 2. Shark actually does a pescado out to Makita. Yamazaki hits Sasaki with a nice, well done Blockbuster for the win (13:09). Yamazaki beats up Sasaki some more after the bell.
Hisakatsu Oya vs. Alvin Ken
Ken is the young BattlARTS trainee, who made an appearance during the intermission at an FMW PPV a while back. He's representing Team Kuroda. Tomomi Tanimoto, with Oya as always (on PPVs at least), debuts a new, really awesome song. These two (Oya and Ken, not Tomomi) do a MUGA-esque match, with basic technical work. Besides a few arm and leg submissions here and there, neither really gets a breakthrough. Ken lands on his feet out of a suplex, but runs into a jumping neckbreaker drop. Oya follows up with a patented lethal backdrop suplex for the 3 count (7:11). Very basic, kind of like a rookie match (Ken isn't that far past being a rookie though), but the matwork was solid.
Kyoko Inoue & Emi Motokawa vs. Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda
After being discarded by Kuroda, Kyoko has sort of been phased out of that angle, and is now starting to bring in outside joshi stars more. This is a good plan, because lord knows, FMW needs any undercard depth it can get. LCO attack, taking the match to the outside right away. Emi takes out both thugs with a plancha. LCO neutralize Emi and start beating her up in fairly uninteresting manner. Emi retaliates with multiple missile dropkicks, but quickly finds herself back on the defense, Mima acting punkish, with almost idle kicks to the face. Mima nicely drops down out of a waistlock and catches Emi right between the eyes with an overhead kick. An ax kick follows, getting a 2 count. Emi counters a running strike, planting Mima with a stiff backdrop suplex. She hits two more, getting a near fall. Kyoko gets involved, lariating Mima. Emi catches Mima up top and nicely Frankensteiner's her down for 2. LCO use chairs against Kyoko, sitting her on one, before Mima missile dropkick's her off it. Kyoko resists a Tiger suplex from Mima, then catches her on the charge with a lariat. Mima escapes the Niagara Driver and high kick's Kyoko for 2. Mita is finally tagged and tries to lift Kyoko for her Death Valley bomb. Kyoko blocks and brushes back her hair as she does so, which looks really stupid and disrespectful to the opposition. Kyoko double DDT's both members of LCO, then squashes both against the ropes with lariats. Kyoko takes a big bump from the top, being sat on Mita's shoulders, then dropped down to the mat (which I'm surprised doesn't collapse under the weight). Kyoko escapes another DVB lift and drops Mita with a German suplex hold for 2 1/2. Emi and Mita do some pretty nice, but awkward reversals, before Mima lightly throws a chair at Emi, who sells it big. However, Emi dodges a second chair throw and Mita is struck. Kyoko holds back Mima, as Emi uses a German suplex hold on Mita for 2 1/2.
Emi returns to the top, only to lunge into Mita's boots. A struggle up top leads to Emi taking Mita down with a sunset flip powerbomb, leaning over for 2. She drop toehold's Mita and hooks on a la magistral for 2. Kyoko tries to save Emi from a DVB lift, but Mita shoves her into the path of Kyoko's lariat. Mima pushes Kyoko away and Mita spikes Emi with a Death Valley bomb, picking up the win (16:15). I was left disappointed by this. It was better than most FMW undercard matches, but was sloppy and disjointed. Kyoko looked really bloated again and did nothing. Thankfully, Emi worked double for her half and was the best in the match, showing lots of fire and courage against the more established punks. Mita was second best, but wasn't in much. Her partner, Mima, spent a lot of time beating up Emi and wasn't impressive at all, very loose with her strikes and not even trying to wrestle a serious match. It was pretty solid though, and fine for the undercard.
Intermission time. Yet another terrorist attack from Team Kuroda is shown, this one from 2/11. Kodo Fuyuki is the victim, being dragged out of a bar and on to the street, where he gets a thrashing. Kuroda pours food over his head and splats some in his face. Pretty funny. Although this group has only one really good wrestler (Kuroda), they have a weird chemistry, even with the cartoony gimmicks like Kudo and Shark involved.
GOEMON & Onryo (c) vs. Kintaro Kanemura & Ryuji Yamakawa for the WEW Tag Team Title
Korakuen Hall dances with the super-stylish Death Match gods, and so do I! You just... have to. The match starts fast, Onryo hooking the Onryo clutch on Yamakawa within seconds for a 2 1/2 count! Yamakawa thrust kick's him, then sweeps his legs, before hitting two rapid fire legdrops for 2. Onryo ducks a lariat and connects with his corkscrew elbow smash. Yamakawa rolls out and Onryo follows with a BEAUTIFUL springboard tope con hilo! GOEMON ducks two chairshots from Kanemura, but has the seat jabbed into his midsection. Kanemura sits him on it and runs the ropes, but GOEMON quickly stands and drop toehold's Kanemura into the chair. The zombies double dropkick Kanemura out of the ring and Onryo follows with ANOTHER springboard tope con hilo, hitting Kanemura and landing in a heap of chairs! Kanemura takes a flip bump into some seats at ringside. Two tables are set up beneath each turnbuckle, Kanemura and Yamakawa being placed on them. Onryo tries to kill himself again (wait...), putting Kanemura through one with a diving body press from the top! GOEMON also does some kind of dive on Yamakawa, but the camera doesn't catch it, which is really unfortunate. At least a dozen, if not more, chairs are thrown in the ring and piled up. Kanemura is sat on one and Onryo missile dropkick's him off it. Kanemura ducks an Onryo corner charge and lariat's GOEMON. Onryo charges, but finds himself powerslammed. Yamakawa throws an UNBREAKABLE board to Kanemura, who clobbers the ghosts with it. Yamakawa holds Onryo upright and Kanemura dives off the top with a super-stiff 1996 FMW-esque board shot to the head! Kanemura and Yamakawa use a Total Elimination on Onryo, Kanemura covering for 2 1/2! Yamakawa hits Onryo with a Kanemura-assisted reverse Tiger Driver, covering for 2 1/2! GOEMON bleeds. Kanemura drops Onryo on the chairs with a BRUTAL high-angle release Thunder Fire powerbomb, covering for 2, GOEMON making the quick save.
Kanemura crotches GOEMON on the top ring rope, sitting him there and holding a chair against his chest, Yamakawa missile dropkicking the chair into him. Yamakawa lifts Onryo up to Kanemura for a superbomb, but Onryo has other ideas, countering with a Frankensteiner and sending Kanemura down on to the chair pile! GOEMON counters a lariat, dropping Kanemura with a uranage, then doing likewise to Yamakawa. He bodyslam's Yamakawa near the corner and brings down a beautiful senton atomico for 2, Kanemura using a chair to save. Kanemura uses rolling German suplexes, stopping when it's time for the third. That's because he'd be dropping Onryo on "just" the mat. He turns and KILLS THE UNKILLABLE Onryo with a RELEASE German suplex on chairs! Kanemura covers for... 2 1/2! Kanemura splats Onryo with his diving senton for 2 1/2... Onryo catching the referee's arm! GOEMON reverse low blow's out of a Yamakawa waistlock and schoolboy's him for a near fall. GOEMON avoids a Kanemura charge and the W*ING original tumbles to the outside. GOEMON dropkick's through the ropes at Kanemura, while in the ring, Onryo connects with a missile dropkick to Yamakawa. GOEMON gives Yamakawa a high-angle double-arm facebuster for 2, Kanemura returning to save. Onryo dropkick's a knee from under Yamakawa and applies the Onryo clutch for 2 1/2! He runs the ropes, but the fun ends there for Onryo, Yamakawa catching and spiking him with a stiff Michinoku Driver II. Yamakawa follows quickly with another reverse Tiger Driver, getting the 3 count and winning the belts for the Death Match legends (11:45)! This RULED. If you've seen the TLC matches from the WWF, think of this as similar, except the props were used to further wrestling moves, rather than being primary. Although the match length indicates that it was too short, that didn't really matter. The match was made by the spots, which they went to almost right away, each one hit nicely, with some huge bumps. Onryo was the star, in what was probably his best FMW performance to date. I have this craving to see him in a mid-1990's-style FMW Death Match, flying over barbed wire ropes and being a general lunatic (ala Sasuke). The other three were also really good, with Kanemura and Yamakawa excelling in this sort of match, as you'd expect. GOEMON is also going through this big comeback, morphing from the consistently boring Mr. Double Cross to the much more interesting GOEMON.
Mr. Gannosuke's music hits and he makes his way to ringside. Gannosuke says he's here as Masashi Honda, rather than the Gannosuke character. He joins the commentary team.
Kodo Fuyuki & The Great Sasuke vs. Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Mammoth Sasaki
Fuyuki is back in yellow today, not the black leather. Sasuke goes straight for Kuroda, wanting to avenge the humiliation placed upon him. Sasuke dies with a tope con hilo to Kuroda and Mammoth! Sasuke goes for another insane dive, possible his crazy Rider kick, but is pushed while up top (by Shinjuku Shark), so slips. The heels slow it down with a basic attack to Sasuke. They target his left leg, working over it. Mammoth uses a cool stretch muffler, where he totally lifts Sasuke off the canvas. Sasuke fights back, kneel kicking Kuroda, then tagging fuyuki. He lariat's Kuroda and plants Mammoth with a release German suplex. He and Kuroda go lariat crazy again, hitting each other repeatedly with them. Sasuke lifts Kuroda up top to Fuyuki, who superbomb's the punk for 2. Fuyuki revs up and hits his running lariat, then traps Kuroda in a Stretch Plum. They go outside the ring, where a coffin has appeared. Kuroda sprints across Korakuen with a lariat to Sasuke. Fuyuki is put in the coffin, Team Kuroda members sitting on top of it. This allows Kuroda and Mammoth to methodically pick apart Sasuke, which they do, just dominating for ages. As if that wasn't bad enough for Sasuke, the moment he starts getting offense, other Kuroda allies intrude. This provokes a surprise appearance... HAYABUSA! Hayabusa kills the crowd though, kind of messing up his big entrance by slipping off the top rope. He beats up Team Kuroda and quebrada's out to Mammoth! He high kick's Kuroda, who then turns and has the coffin lid rushed into him by Fuyuki. Sasuke follows with an inside cradle for the big win (18:35)! Hayabusa and Fuyuki shake hands. Hayabusa gives his motivational speech, before he and Sasuke tap hands with the crowd to end the show. An "eh" main event. Like the 2/6 finale, it was fair, but just not that exciting. It did a fine job of building heat to the upcoming Kuroda vs. Sasuke match though. With Fuyuki locked away for most of the match, I thought it could have gotten good. But Sasuke was the only one who performed really well, while the heels just took their time and did a sluggish, drawn out beatdown on him.
FMW put forth an admirable effort to keep going, even without Tanaka, Jado and Gedo, three guys who were crucial to match quality. The problem was, despite having one excellent match and two pretty good matches, none of the "pretty good" matches were really that exciting, getting by more on solid work than thoroughly entertaining work. The hardcore tag is one of those matches, like the sprints on the past two PPVs (involving Tanaka, Kanemura, Yamakawa, Jado and Gedo), that I could watch again, but nothing else really warrants repeated viewing.
For more of Stuart's thoughts and opinions on puroresu, visit www.puroresufan.com