FMW Mr. Pogo Retirement Show, 12/11/96
review by Stuart

In 1996, FMW was the most violent league in the world. Crazy gimmick matches with barbed wire, time bombs and more. At the 8/1/96 Shiodome show, Mr. Pogo suffered a temporary paralysis after falling on to an exploding spider net. Terry Funk (his opponent) was cruel that day and blew a fireball at him, while he lay, unable to move. So 12/11 was set as Pogo's retirement day. I have the edited version of the show without several matches, but with the three main ones and a tag match to open. It took place at Komazawa Olympic Gymnasium, a big building.

Dragon Winger & Hideki Hosaka vs. Crypt Keeper & Super Leather

Leather kicks the referee in the groin as he (the ref) checks for illegal objects. The match starts, Hosaka nearly tripping with a leapfrog, but taking Leather over with an armdrag. Leather slides out and Hosaka hits a speedy tope suicida. Dragon Winger (who is not Big Japan's current Winger; this version is now working for Osaka Pro) and Crypt Keeper are both tagged in, Winger hitting a dropkick. He teases a possible plancha, but decides against it and flips back into the ring. Keeper comes back with a release German suplex and the horror book heels go on a beatdown rampage. Winger counters a powerbomb attempt by Leather with a really slow Frankensteiner. He goes out with a quebrada to Leather and seconds later, Hosaka does his own Frankensteiner to Keeper. More action including Keeper DDT'ing Winger, then cradling him with a la magistral for 2 3/4. But the crowd couldn't possible be more dead. Keeper scoops Winger up on his shoulders as Leather climbs to the top, but... drops him. My god, Keeper is AWFUL. Leather covers with a sloppy missile kick, then tombstone's Winger for a near fall. He hits a brainbuster and Hosaka is unable to make the save, the horror duo winning (11:45). An extended squash. Total bush league indy style match with sloppy spots, many of which were blown. The match moved in slow motion and the blown Doomsday Device or whatever the horror team was trying has to be seen to be believed since it was just so bad. The only pro was that they did a lot of different moves, even if many of them were sloppy. Crypt Keeper was the worst of the bunch, but got pushed anyway, because the creator of these horror gimmicks, Victor Quinones, booked it.

W*ING Kanemura vs. The Gladiator in a Double Titles Unification Match

They decided to unify the FMW Brass Knuckles and Independent World belts. The opening sequence just puts over Awesome's superior power, with Kanemura being pushed to the mat twice. Awesome lariat's him out, but botches (deliberately I think) an attempted highspot, getting his leg tangled up in the rope. This sets the psychology and story of the match as Kanemura instantly grabs a chair and starts assaulting Awesome's leg in brutal fashion. He keeps the work up for several minutes, taking the leg apart in any way possible. He ends up throwing about six chairs at the leg, before it is finally freed. More work on the leg including a figure-four that is broken after a while. Kanemura puts Awesome on a table outside and hits the BEAUTIFUL W*ING flag diving body press, taking the W*ING flag down with him for a body press, putting Awesome through the table. W*ING SPIRIT lives on in Yukihiro! Kanemura finds a thick wooden board and pelts the leg with it. As Awesome rolls around in agony, Kanemura lies across the second ropes in the corner, laughing. Awesome is enraged and tries to fight back with punches, but the wily Kanemura dropkick's the lagging leg and grabs the board again. He whacks it across Awesome's head FULL FORCE, but it doesn't break! He covers for 2 1/2, then tries another highspot, but is caught with a stiff lariat. Awesome breaks a chair over Kanemura's head and takes the "HOLY SHIT" factor off the scale by delivering an Awesome bomb over the top rope, Kanemura taking a really nasty ride through a table. Kanemura is cut open by this stage, but manages to beat the 20 count. Awesome grabs the wooden board and whacks Kanemura's skull with it. He comes off the top with a diving body press for 2 3/4. He is caught when going up again and thrown off, W*ING following with a Michinoku Driver II, then a guillotine legdrop for another near fall. Kanemura tries a powerbomb, is lifted, but manages to slide down, surprising Awesome with a sunset flip for 2. He hooks on a la magistral, almost getting the win once more.

Awesome gets 2 1/2 with a Tiger Driver and an even nearer fall with a running Awesome bomb. He tries another, Kanemura slides off, but then nearly loses his head when Awesome connects with a short-arm lariat. Awesome smashes the (still intact) wooden board over Kanemura's head and follows with a Liger bomb, finally putting him away and unifying the titles (17:14). A super match and a fine example of how good FMW garbage wrestling could be when capable workers were involved. Strong psychology, with Kanemura destroying one of Awesome's legs, but Awesome fighting off the pain, then killing the freak Kanemura with all kinds of sick stuff. His powerbombs were so stiff. Kanemura carried this, implementing the focus that made the match so unique. One of the better FMW garbage matches of yesteryear, since the wrestling was so intelligently pieced in.

The Great Sasuke vs. Hayabusa

Sasuke wears a white fur mask on top of his usual one on the way to the ring. Sasuke had challenged Hayabusa for a match after Hayabusa's match with Jinsei Shinzaki on 10/10/96 at Michinoku Pro's ~These Days~ show. Cautious handshake before they lock up. It doesn't take long for the two to go spot crazy. Springboard kneel kick by Hayabusa, then a standing moonsault for 2. Sasuke hits a handspring back elbow and Hayabusa flies out. Sasuke tries a quebrada, but Hayabusa whacks him with a chair as he comes down. Then to rub salt in the wounds, he hits an awesome quebrada, picture perfect. A springboard legdrop gets 2 for Hayabusa, who then goes for the kill with a Falcon Arrow. More highspots from Hayabusa and he gets frustrated when Sasuke kicks out of the firebird splash at 2 1/2. Sasuke comes back with the Sasuke Special #2(!), then a springboard moonsault for 2 3/4. German suplex hold and Tiger suplex holds get too-close-to-call counts. Sasuke hits his Thunder Fire powerbomb, but rather than try the cover, he attempts a missile dropkick, Hayabusa also hitting a dropkick, causing a stalemate as they both go down. Sasuke hits a Frankensteiner, but is caught up top. FALCON ARROW FROM THE TOP by Hayabusa! Hayabusa covers for the win (19:12). My version seemed to be clipped below half. This match was highspot crazy and quite disappointing in that they didn't do anything else except highspots, unless an extended portion of matwork was cut off the tape. Could have been way better than it was, but in the end was a spectacular display of highspots that was fun to watch. Hayabusa still hadn't matured into the wrestler he is today.

Clips are shown of the 11/26 rally, where Pogo fights F.M.W. (Funk Masters of Wrestling) members and post-match is savagely assault by The Headhunters and Hisakatsu Oya, being whipped with a chain. The retired (ha) Atsushi Onita returns and helps Pogo fight them off before doing one his his legendary promos. This sets up Onita coming out of retirement to team with Pogo on HIS retirement show (ha!) for a big Street Fight. Even though Onita remained wildly popular, he never regained the huge following he had, because retirement is taken very seriously in Japan and breaching it causes significant loss of fanfare (as Terry Funk can tell you). Onita cries a lot before the big show.

Atsushi Onita, Masato Tanaka, Mr. Pogo & Tetsuhiro Kuroda vs. Terry Funk, The Headhunters & Hisakatsu Oya in a Texas Street Fight Tornado Death Match

They don't even try to hide the fact that this will be a crazy brawl, a huge fight instantly starting. Really hard to keep up with the action as something is going on everywhere including Tanaka acting like a human bullet, dashing all over the place. Funk is the first to try and break his neck, being piledriven through a table outside! Meanwhile, Pogo owns Oya on the outside with punches and stuff. Onita lands some running headbutts to Funk, then a face crusher. Tanaka lariat's one of the Headhunter brothers down and goes outside with a plancha to the other. One of the Headhunters body presses young Kuroda through a table. Terry chokes Onita with a chain, then gets a sword or scythe or something equally sharp. He slices open Onita's back and Onita's facials are disturbing as he seems to be in legitimate agony (and probably is). Funk cuts Onita apart, FMW's founder bleeding hardway. Funk swings it but Onita blocks with a wooden board, whacks Terry with the board, then a Headhunter. Tanaka hits Oya with a rolling elbow for 2 3/4. A wicked backdrop suplex from Oya follows and Onita makes the save, but himself is dropped on his skull. Oya is totally ruling here, but fades into the background as Funk pours some oil on Onita and puts some in his mouth. Time for a human flame... no! Pogo saves just in time, Funk spitting the liquid out. Onita hits Oya with a big Thunder Fire powerbomb, the pinfall attempt broken. Kuroda is just brutalized with a stereo double team from the Headhunters, one suplexing him from the top and the other landing a diving body press. Onita and Tanaka both desperately make the save. Onita is powerbombed and piledriven on a stack of chairs by Funk for a near fall.

Pogo actually decides to do something and unloads with a barbed wire baseball bat. Tanaka dodges a Headhunter moonsault and hits two rolling elbows. Onita whacks the Headhunter with a chair and Tanaka quickly follows with a sick head-drop, covering for the win (23:04 - this was clipped down too). Totally chaotic brawl and a purists nightmare. But hell, I love almost any style of wrestling and this was no exception. Technically not-that-good, but some strong brawling and wild action. Pogo's involvement was minimum as he stood outside, hurting people much of the time. This was good, since he was a walking abomination by this point, although in fairness, he should have been involved more since it was HIS match and he had the beef with Funk that wasn't played up much. A strong Street Fight, although better were done in FMW. After the match, the fans flock to ringside and Pogo looks dead, laying motionless on the canvas. What did he do? Onita pours some water on him and begins another awesome promo that you don't have to understand to enjoy. Heavy breathing. Soft talking. SHOUTING! The fans are chaotic, the most loyal in the world. A bloody Tanaka can be seen behind Onita, looking to be in agony. "Wild Thing" blurts out of the speakers and Hayabusa gets in the ring, all five men tapping the mat in devotion to their promotion. Blood, sweat and tears. The hard work and effort that I have always loved about FMW even if the wrestling isn't always great. Onita and Pogo spit water at the crowd, then go backstage to talk some more. The show ends with a video montage of Pogo, including the "career-ending bump". As usual, Onita stole the spotlight, but Pogo got his own video. Of course, this retirement would last barely months as Pogo would breach the retirement vow just like Onita and start working full-time for Big Japan Pro-Wrestling.


Three really good matches (well, the third is arguable depending on whether you like Street Fight wrestling) made this show lots of fun. Every match had it's own style and focus. The opener had, uh... blown spots. The unification match had a great wrestling/garbage blend and was really choice. The third was a crazy spotfest with lots of "how did he...?" spots. The main event was just a total, whacked out insane brawl, FMW style. Lots of blood shed on the canvas and a great atmosphere. This is a good introduction to old school FMW, although the 5/5/96 show is probably better, since it had more matches. Good wrestling, good brawling. You can't go wrong with this, but look for a full version of the tape since it has all the excluded matches on. I love FMW.

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