FMW on Samurai! TV, taped 5/22/01
review by Stuart
With the big 5/5 Kawasaki show over with, FMW had to keep it's wings up and continue moving. With Hayabusa back, having returned on 5/5, along with the recently returned Mr. Gannosuke, things looked up, as the roster had just been ravaged since the departures of Tanaka, Jado, Gedo and Hosaka, along with injuries to Hayabusa and Gannosuke. Despite pushing himself as a god, Fuyuki is not the draw he thinks he is, and it was Hayabusa, Tanaka, Gannosuke, Kanemura, Jado and Gedo who carried FMW, with the former three (or four, as Kanemura can be argued) the top draws. Even with 5/5 gone, 5/22 was another big show, hosted at Sapporo's Tsukisame Green Dome. 4,750 fans looked on, which is a good number for a company of FMW's size (New Japan drew 6,500 on 2/4/00 and 6,800 on 2/5/00 in the same building). Footage from the 5/11 Samurai! TV taping (which I don't have at press time) is shown. The main event saw Hayabusa, Oya & Fuji beat Kuroda, Gannosuke & Mammoth when Hayabusa surprisingly pinned Kuroda with his firebird splash (21:31). A singles match is set up between them, with another explosion concept added. FMW returning to it's roots!
Tomokazu Morita vs. Satoru Makita
JIP. Makita does a cartwheel over Morita, then drops an elbow to the back. Clip. Makita lands a pescado. Clip. A diving sunset flip gets 2 for Morita. He goes up and connects with a diving crossbody for a near fall. A missile dropkick makes firm contact, and a crab hold follows. Makita taps out (8:50).
Chocoball Mukai vs. Yoshito Sasaki
There's some serious heat for this show, because even Chocoball gets a pop when introduced. JIP. Sasaki hits a German suplex hold for 2 1/2. He runs the ropes, straight into a jumping savate kick. Clip. Mukai lands a corner charge leg lariat, following up with a DDT for a near fall. Mukai misses his rolling senton, Yoshito capitalizing with a snap suplex for 2. More clipping. Mukai hits a Samoan drop, then throws a right high kick. Sasaki ducks a second, but gets dropped with a German suplex hold, which gets Mukai the win (6:47). Not much shown, but it didn't look bad at all. Chocoball has improved quite a lot, so while he's still kind of there, he's not bad like he used to be. Sasaki, at this stage, is ahead of his fellow rookies, looking less like a rookie now and progressing well.
Emi Motokawa vs. Chaparrita ASARI
JIP. ASARI hits a nice Frankensteiner, then a plancha to Emi. A missile dropkick gets 2 1/2. They reverse cradles for more 2 counts. ASARI misses a top rope lunge, Emi capitalizing with a la magistral for 2 1/2. She drops ASARI with a Tiger suplex hold for a very close count. ASARI catches Emi up top and Frankensteiner's her down for 2 1/2. ASARI goes back up and connects with her Skytwister Press for the win (6:34). Fast, frantic and exciting action. Too bad this was clipped down a lot as well. But it looked good.
Hisakatsu Oya, Ricky Fuji & Flying Kid Ichihara vs. Azusa Kudo, Shinjuku Shark & Naohiro Yamazaki for the WEW 6 Man Tag Team Title
This is a decision match to determine new champions. Masato Tanaka, Jado & Gedo won the belts on 2/11, but of course, would leave FMW soon after, thus vacating their belts. JIP. Kudo gets 2 from a slingshot sunset flip on Ichihara. Oya and Yamazaki take over, Yamazaki using some Mascaras flying double chops, then connects with a missile dropkick. He grabs a leg, but Oya enzuigiri's him. Flying Kid returns, dropping a running somersault senton for 2. Yamazaki puts the brakes on a dropkick and tags Kudo. He decks Ichihara with a short-arm side kick, then rests with a chinlock. Moving on, Ricky makes his presence felt, taking out the Team Kuroda punks. He fires up the boot and lands a thrust kick to the chest for 2 1/2. He drops Yamazaki with his Kamikaze, before bringing back Oya. Yamazaki makes a blind tag to Kudo, who catches Oya on the run with a slingshot shoulderblock. A high kick sends Oya out, Kudo following with a somersault senton attack, which almost misses it's target. Kudo re-enters with a slingshot body press for 2 1/2. Oya blocks an Ace Crusher and slaps on an Octopus hold, but the transvestite throws out of it quickly. Oya persists, bringing down a diving kneedrop, then tagging Ichihara. He hits an awkward second rope moonsault press for 2, but runs into a shoulder charge. Shark is unfortunately tagged, but he runs into a Flying Kid drop toehold, Ichihara following up with a la magistral for 2. Shark throws a boxing punch, but gets dragged off the turnbuckles and backdrop suplexed. Ichihara lands a full moonsault press for 2. He dives off the top again, this time into a boxing punch. Shark also goes up, hitting a diving... punch for 2. An uppercut gets 2, Ricky saving. Yamazaki makes an impactful return, hitting a crisp Blockbuster for 2. Ichihara tags out to Oya, but he gets tripped running the ropes. Kudo uses a Doctor bomb, Yamazaki following with a diving headbutt for 2 3/4. Yamazaki tries a backslide, but Oya smoothly counters with a wakigatame, almost getting the submission. Instead, Ricky dropkick's Yamazaki into Oya's deadly backdrop suplex. Ichihara quebrada's out, while in the ring Oya hits another backdrop suplex for the win and belts (10:37). Way better than you'd expect. Everyone not named Shark (and even he wasn't as bad as usual) was on, looking better than recently. The only real negative was some dodgy move execution, but the action was continuous and enjoyable enough. Ichihara looked really good for once, placing his spots well, so that even though he worked most for his team, he never came across as vanilla (like he usually does).
Kintaro Kanemura (c) vs. Jun Kasai for the WEW Hardcore Title
Kanemura's 1st defense. These two aren't strangers to each other, having met in Big Japan. Kanemura enters first, despite being both the local wrestler and champion. Kasai dropkick's Kanemura out quickly, but Kanemura catches his legs on a baseball slide and hits a sit-out face crusher on the floor! He lies Kasai on a table and goes up for his diving body press, only for the Crazy Monkey to catch and throw him down through the table! They have a weird fight over a table, Kasai wanting it underneath the high balcony and Kanemura wanting it near the ring. Kasai gets his way and tapes Kanemura to the table, before ascending the balcony (climbing up the wall!). He stands HIGH above Kanemura and does a HUUUGE balcony dive, putting Kanemura through the table! Crazy, crazy monkey! "MY NAME IS JUN KASAI. I HAD NO FRIENDS IN SCHOOL, EVERYONE PICKED ON ME. I'LL KILL MYSELF TO MAKE YOU PEOPLE NOTICE ME!". It's true! Back in, Kasai hits a corner charge lariat, prances around, then gets lariated by Kanemura for his time-wasting. Kanemura gets a wooden board and smashes it over Kasai's head once... twice... thrice! Kanemura breaks a fragment off it and digs the sharp edge into Kasai's head. Kasai bleeds. Kanemura sets a table up in the corner and repeatedly sends Kasai's head into it, leaving a sick blood stain. He wedges a chair in a corner and throws the monkey head-first into it. He puts Kasai's head in between the ladder, then throws a table at it! DOUBLE ouch! He puts the ladder over Kasai's head next, pushes the end into the ring post, then WHAM, chairshot mania! Kasai takes a full bodyslam bump on the ladder, but Kanemura isn't done, and ties him to a tree of woe. He pushes a table edge into Kasai's face, then RUSHES THE LADDER INTO IT! Kanemura runs Kasai into the propped up (in the corner) table, but another Irish whip attempt, after several reversals, sees Kanemura meet the same fate. Kasai hits a German suplex hold for 2 1/2. He goes up the ladder, which is one of those huge things. Here we go again...
Kasai stands at the top of this unstable ladder, puts on his goggles, and salutes. He just doesn't care. He just doesn't care about himself, that is. He hits one of the HUGEST diving headbutts in recorded history. Massive! They say regular unprotected diving headbutts helped cripple Dynamite Kid. This was unprotected, but more than twice the height of the top turnbuckle! Someone ready the wheelchair. He covers for 2... pulling Kanemura up by the hair. He drops Kanemura with an implant DDT, then piles some chairs up on him. He sets up a table OVER Kanemura and does his anti-logic spot, where he diving body presses an UNBREAKABLE table, but it never actually breaks. This is no exception, as Kasai probably breaks a rib or ten upon impact. Kanemura sets a table up on the top turnbuckle, presumably for a top rope move. He powerbomb's Kasai on some chairs, then seems to be going for another, but SWERVEZ (© Russo) us all, reverse powerbombing Kasai on the table. Two fresh tables are positioned at ringside, side by side. Kanemura tries to powerbomb Kasai off the apron, but Kasai counters with a big DDT on the edge of the apron. Kasai puts ANOTHER table over Kanemura, only this time he climbs the ladder, not the turnbuckle. Kanemura pushes the table away. Kanemura looks up. Kasai looks down. No, no... NOOOOOOOOOO! KANEMURA PUSHES THE LADDER AND KASAI TAKES A HELLISH RIDE DOWN TO THE CONCRETE, HITTING THE EDGE OF A TABLE ON THE WAY DOWN! This was no regular ladder, as I've already said. Kasai was in the air for about three seconds before landing. HUGE fall. Just insane. Kanemura sets a table up and props a ladder between it and the top turnbuckle. He puts Kasai on the ladder, then goes up top. Kasai throws a chair at him though, then face crusher's Kanemura down on to the ladder. He also goes up, but Kanemura catches and joins him there. The madness continues, Kanemura SUPLEXING KASAI THROUGH BOTH THE LADDER AND TABLE! Sweet Jesus, he's dead! Kanemura covers... for 2! For 2!
Kanemura uses rolling German suplexes, three of them. Kasai reverse low blow's to try and escape a fourth, but grins and points at his head, allowing Kanemura to grab him and dump him on his neck with a release German suplex! Kasai stands right back up, ducks a strike, then hits his own German suplex hold for a near fall. Kasai gets crotched on the top and flips down to the canvas. Kanemura hits a powerbomb, then drops his diving senton for 2 3/4! Having had his finisher kicked out of, Kanemura decides to punish Kasai. Wait, he's been doing that the entire match. He sits Kasai up top and brings him down with a DDT, covering for the win (16:40). If this match had taken place outside of FMW, people would be talking about it for ages. It was virtually 16+ minutes of death bump after death bump, with a few wrestling sequences thrown in for good measure. Each bump was visually awesome, especially the balcony dive and ladder bump to the outside spots. They had a match in January (in Big Japan), which wasn't as good, even though that too was crazy. Kasai just took an ungodly beating, almost every fall he took dangerous enough to break his back or neck. Kanemura took a few falls, but was mainly the deliverer of death, Kasai's personal nightmare, his own Grim Reaper. Once upon a time, Kanemura was in Kasai's position and died like crazy, but although he still does hurt himself a lot (as he did for Zandick earlier in May), his body is too broken down to bump as regularly as in 1996. If you like hardcore wrestling, get this match yesterday. It was better than most Big Japan garbage matches in 2001, because it didn't have a CZW schmuck to pull it down (WX vs. Hido and WX vs. Winger are two matches that are only a step or two behind this, but fall short), just two guys who know how to use the props well. Crazy, crazy monkey...
After the match, Kanemura decides to retire the WEW Hardcore Title, which he was rewarded on 9/24/99 and lost only twice (to Yamakawa and Mammoth), winning it back both times. "Shoot It" hits and Kodo Fuyuki walks to the ring. Fuyuki, the man who gave Kanemura the title, doesn't seem too keen on his idea, but agrees to take the belt back and put it to rest. Fuyuki and Kanemura dance the TNR way, the fans joining in. More extended highlights of the 5/11 main event are shown, which I talked about earlier. After being pinned, Kuroda shouts at Gannosuke, angry because Gannosuke accidentally lariated him during the match.
GOEMON & Onryo (c) vs. Mr. Gannosuke & Mammoth Sasaki for the WEW Tag Team Title
GOEMON & Onryo's 1st defense. Gannosuke & Mammoth are very tough opponents, since they're bigger and pushed more as singles wrestlers than the ghosts. Regular stuff to start, Gannosuke looking especially sharp with his reversals and takedowns. Onryo falls a little short with a pescado to Mammoth, only really hitting his legs. GOEMON goes back to his days of Bret Hart worshipping, trapping Gannosuke in a Scorpion Deathlock. Gannosuke retaliates with a backdrop suplex, then brings out the Choshu worship, hitting a Riki lariat, followed by his own Scorpion Deathlock. Onryo does another dive, this one better than the first, a springboard tope con hilo to Mammoth. Back in, the vengeful ghost lands a spinning elbow smash for 2. He does a CIMA-style forward flying headscissors turnbuckle smash, followed by a diving Frankensteiner. GOEMON returns, entering with a diving shoulderblock. This just sends Mammoth crashing into his own corner though, allowing him to tag Gannosuke. GOEMON ducks a Gannosuke lariat, then reverse low blow's out of a waistlock. GOEMON catches a lariat and lives up to his billing, using a Gannosuke clutch on Gannosuke for 2. Gannosuke hooks on his own for 2, Onryo making the save. GOEMON hits his modified Exploder, then a senton atomico for 2, Mammoth lunging for the save. Onryo returns, but runs into Gannosuke's grip, Gannosuke hitting his Fire Thunder, then making the tag. Mammoth hits a nice Rydeen bomb for 2, Onryo catching the referee's arm to cease the count. His aeroplane spin sit-out slam gets another near fall. Mammoth is tripped by GOEMON as he runs the ropes, Onryo capitalizing with the Onryo clutch for 2, Gannosuke saving. Gannosuke tries a powerbomb, Onryo countering with a Frankensteiner. He dropkick's a knee from under Mammoth, then hooks on the Onryo clutch for the big win (13:06). A solid, but kind of "there" match, just through the motions signature moves, with nothing that makes you think this is a title match and not a regular tag match. Still, it was alright, a regular wrestling match to separate two hardcore-style bouts.
Tetsuhiro Kuroda (c) vs. Hayabusa in a Barbed Wire Double Hell Death Match for the WEW World Title
Kuroda's 1st defense. This is the meal ticket and the reason the show drew so well. Not only is Hayabusa's first singles match since returning a draw, but also the concept of the match, because it's a rare (despite two in one month) explosion match these days in FMW. This is also a long time in the making, going back to the big 11/12/00 Yokohama Bunka Gymnasium show, where Kuroda betrayed Hayabusa and declared himself the ace of FMW. Hayabusa's return from injury on 5/5 saw he and Sasuke down Kuroda & Gannosuke in an Exploding 15,000 Volt Thunderbolt Octagon Cage Bomb Tag Death Match, Hayabusa pinning Gannosuke for the win. Of course, as I mentioned above, Hayabusa pinned Kuroda in a six man tag on 5/11, so had downed both men on consecutive shows coming into this match. The fact that traditional booking has the eventual loser going into the match a winner made it seem plausible that Kuroda might win this, continuing his strong push. Fuyuki is the special referee, which isn't needed, but he hasn't dragged matches down as referee in the past, despite his usually stupid booking making one think he might. The concept is just that exploding barricades are outside the ring, on each side, covered with barbed wire. Hayabusa asks for a handshake, but Kuroda refuses. It doesn't take them long to go into the teases, pushing each other near the barricades. Fuyuki's counts are very loud and irritating. Kuroda tells him to shut up and I couldn't agree more. Hayabusa connects cleanly with a springboard dropkick, then flips to his feet for an applause. He hits a Lionsault into a senton, followed by a regular Lionsault for 2. Kuroda catches him up top and tries for a suplex. After some resistance, he throttle drop's Hayabusa on the ropes, Hayabusa bouncing off and down into a barricade. BANG! Great explosion, with fire shooting up. I don't know how much these bumps hurt the wrestlers, but I mean, there is fire shooting from the barricades, so what if they land directly beneath the place it originates from? I guess the trick is to land as far away from the source as possible. But even if they land that way, flames shooting past them can still skim and burn.
We see replays from different angles, making the explosion look even cooler. Hayabusa sells it like death, big "Hayabusa" calls ringing out. Fuyuki lays the count on him, Hayabusa rolling in at 17. Kuroda logically covers for 2 1/2. He connects with two corner charges lariats, then drops Hayabusa with a Northern Lights suplex hold for a near fall. He goes after a leg, slapping on a figure-four. Hayabusa finds the ropes after a struggle, but Kuroda takes him time releasing the hold. They do a great and difficult tease, with Kuroda charging Hayabusa, who is against the ropes, but being backdropped. Despite how fast he was moving, Kuroda manages to cling on to the ropes and avoids a nasty spill. Hayabusa rocks him with elbows, then springboard's off the nearest turnbuckle with a dropkick, sending Kuroda dooooooooown. BANG! Another cool explosion. Kuroda (who has this huge, thick scar on his back, which is ugly as anything) also sells the explosion big, but manages to roll off the barricade. He stands and HEEEEEEEEERE comes the falcon, Hayabusa diving diagonally out the ring with a sweet tope con hilo! Both slide in and struggle to stand. Elbows are exchanged, before they level each other and go down. Gannosuke gets in the ring, wanting to help out Kuroda presumably. Fuyuki denies him, so gets decked. Hayabusa and Kuroda double dropkick Gannosuke, who collides with Fuyuki, who falls off the apron, and BANG!, the Goofster is exploded! Kanemura runs in and clears out his former Heel God friend (Gannosuke), dragging him off to the back. Kuroda yells "THIS IS TECHNAN!" and plants Hayabusa with the Technan buster, but there's no referee to count. Kuroda tries a lariat, but Hayabusa counters by armdragging him to the apron. Hayabusa also goes over and both lurk on the edge of the apron, Hell's Kitchen awaiting them below. Both stand and duck each others strikes, before Kuroda hits Hayabusa. Hayabusa falls, but Kuroda stumbles off with him. BANG! Since both had hit barricades individually and Fuyuki as well, that left only one, so this made sense. However, Kuroda's stumble was a bit contrived and it would have looked better if both fell after hitting each other (rather than after Kuroda had an unchallenged strike right after the double strike). Smoke ascends to the top of the Dome, as both men lie next to each other, out for the count.
Fuyuki has recovered now, but seems groggy. Kuroda starts screaming again and floors Hayabusa with a running lariat (which looks way better than Fuyuki's running lariat), covering for 2 1/2! A short lariat follows, a leg hooked for 2 1/2! Hayabusa digs down deep, refusing to say die. He escapes a waistlock and connects with an overhead kick. Hayabusa goes up top and lands a picture perfect firebird splash for 2 1/2! Since Kuroda has kicked out of such a big move, Hayabusa uses one of his limit breaks, the H Thunder (Emerald Frosion)! He hooks a leg and... Kuroda kicks out! Just in time. Hayabusa goes for another high risk move, but Kuroda scoops him off the top. He tries a powerbomb, but Hayabusa counters with a Frankensteiner. Kuroda stands quickly and charges into a shotei, but persists with a rolling lariat for 2 3/4! Kuroda yells some more, but has a lariat caught and is spiked by a SICK release Dragon suplex! Kuroda gets up again (...) and has ANOTHER lariat caught, Hayabusa hitting ANOTHER release Dragon suplex! Kuroda gets up AGAIN (...!) and catches Hayabusa's arms, hitting a Tiger suplex hold for 2 1/2! Both stay down now, making a slow crawl to their feet. They lariat each other, but Hayabusa ducks a rolling lariat and throws a shotei. Kuroda is stunned and Hayabusa hits a second H Thunder, covering for the win and title (19:31)! Really good match. This resembled a Big Japan Death Match in that the gimmicks were secondary to the wrestling, with a lot of teases during regular sequences. They drew the four explosions out well, so as to not overkill the concept. I pretty much liked everything until right near the end, as they worked the match intelligently and it had the usual fast-paced action you expect from Hayabusa especially. It fell apart a little near the end, mainly because of Kuroda's goofiness, which was evident throughout the match, but wasn't intrusive until the closing stretch, when he decided to no-sell repeated release Dragon suplexes. Also, after taking those bumps, his screaming and stomping a boot was irritating and detracted from the drama they had built. Hayabusa knows how to build drama in these matches, because he's been in so many memorable situations, but Kuroda lets the worst aspects of his game interfere. Those are my gripes with the match, but overall it was the Death Match of the year by some distance, with Hayabusa performing very well so soon after returning from a bad injury. Unlike the 5/5 explosion match, this had a lot of heat, so the near falls were a lot better and got nice reactions.
The fans are allowed to ringside, because the barricades have been detonated. They tap the mat in love for their hero. Kuroda leaves without a handshake, while Hayabusa, who has now re-taken his throne as FMW ace, gives his traditional speech. Fuyuki hands him the belt and raises his arm, so we don't have any stupid ending, just things they were they used to be, the way they should always be.
Well, everyone pretty much casted FMW in 2001 off as hopeless. Yes, it was often like finding diamonds in the rough, at least up until this point, and yes, the booking was often awful, but literally every PPV show (I don't have all the Samurai! TV stuff, but I imagine it's similar) from January to this point had a match either *** or higher. However, this wasn't so much a diamond in the rough show. This was the first FMW broadcast of the year that I'd call a completely good show, which didn't rely on just one very good match and one decent range match. Excusing the opening rookies match, which you can't expect to be an exhibition of great workrate, literally every match was solid at worse, even Chocoball vs. rookie Yoshito Sasaki. Not only was it consistent, but had two matches I'll watch again, those being Kanemura vs. Kasai and Hayabusa vs. Kuroda. I'd rank Hayabusa vs. Kuroda with Tanaka, Jado & Gedo vs. Kanemura, Yamakawa & Teioh from 1/16 (***1/2) and Tanaka & Gedo vs. Kanemura & Yamakawa from 2/6 (also ***1/2) as my FMW matches of the year up to this point, all very good and exciting. Also, this show was almost devoid of Fuyuki's nonsense, with no circus-like skits and little screwiness (the main event interference was just used to put Fuyuki out of action for a while). I haven't watched everything from June (this show was aired in June, but taped in May) onward yet, but this probably ended up as one of, if not the best FMW show of 2001, so if you're going to get one, this is worth considering.
For more of Stuart's thoughts and opinions on puroresu, visit www.puroresufan.com