FMW Story of the F Stage 2
review by Stuart

The second of FMW's F Stage synopsis tapes covers well over a year of action. Towards the end of F Stage 1, Victor Quinones invaded FMW with The Headhunters and recruited Mr. Pogo and Super Leather to his army. In what was a bad move (in my opinion), they replaced the W*ING Alliance as the top heel group with W*ING still existing, but not quite as prominently. This was Quinones' booking as he pushed some of his favorites, like Super Leather and The Headhunters, too much. By this point, Hayabusa had become a legitimate draw for the company, having truly won the fans over with his incredible work ethic and natural ability. Also, Masato Tanaka and W*ING Kanemura had both risen in value for similar reasons, all three of these guys having an incredible year of growth prior to where this tape picks up.

The tape begins on 5/5/96, FMW's biggest show of the year at Kawasaki Stadium. This was STACKED with 12 matches, many outside promotions having special attraction matches. 33,231 (not FMW's best attendance here, but still a healthy number, especially with no Onita) watched a a memorable show, jam packed with matches of all styles. A couple of the matches are highlighted here, firstly Koji Nakagawa defending his Independent Jr. Heavyweight Title against Michinoku Pro's brilliant young prospect, TAKA Michinoku. A very good match carried by the MPro youngster sees TAKA win the belt with a Michinoku Driver II. The other match featured is the main event, a No Rope Electrified Barbed Wire Double Hell Tornado Tag Death Match with the returning (from getting his back cut up on 1/10/96) Hayabusa & Masato Tanaka taking on Mr. Pogo and a mystery partner. The partner turns out to be Terry Funk, making his return to FMW. A match that is beyond insane sees numerous explosions, including Funk being front suplexed on the exploding barbed wire. When the 15:00 countdown concludes, the ring explodes, an unbelievable visual. Once the dust has settled (literally - on the ring), Funk and Pogo blow connecting fireballs at Hayabusa's back! Shortly after, Funk powerbomb's Hayabusa for the victory. Backstage, an unmasked Hayabusa weeps and says that he's not worthy of leading FMW. Atsushi Onita tells Hayabusa that if he wants to lead the promotion, he'll have to grow up and be a man. Anyway, Hayabusa's return match turns out to be a transition between injuries as he's cut up badly and misses the next few months. It's during this time that he meets up with old friend, Jushin Thunder Liger, backstage at a WCW show. Hayabusa rejects Liger's offer to join the New Japan junior division and Liger throws a fit, ending their friendship. It's amazing that Hayabusa turned down possibly a bigger wage and definitely a safer style to stay loyal to FMW.

FMW decides to create a second singles title called the FMW Independent Title and runs an 8-man tournament to determine the first champion. The first match, on 5/27/96, has Mr. Pogo vs. Masato Tanaka in a Street Fight before a wild crowd. A brilliant finish sees Tanaka step back and *just* avoid a fireball, instantly capitalizing on Pogo's shock with a rolling elbow smash for the HUGE win at 20:42 (a Mr. Pogo singles match over 20 minutes!?). This is another step up the Tanaka and the crowd response to his win is staggering. They all rush to ringside and chant his name, realizing there's a superstar in the making here. Victor Quinones disses Pogo for losing and has the guts to shove him. An angry Pogo grabs Victor, but is attacked by The Headhunters, who use a barbed wire baseball bat to pummel him. To 6/17/96 and another tournament match between Super Leather and Hido. Hido manages to kick out of a hangman's neckbreaker, but falls to a brainbuster as Leather's undeserved push continues. The tournament continues on 6/27/96 with Hisakatsu Oya vs. Horace Boulder. Oya hits a backdrop suplex, then slaps on a cross armbreaker for the submission win. The final first round/quarter final match has W*ING Kanemura vs. Koji Nakagawa. Kanemura leaps off the top rope with a super-stiff board shot to Koji, then Liger bomb's him for the 3 count. The finish of Leather & The Headhunters vs. Awesome, Oya & Horace from 5/5/96 is shown. This match was to determine the first ever FMW 6 Man Street Fight Tag Team Champions. Leather brainbuster's Horace and wins the gold for Victor's army. To 6/28/96 with Leather & The Headhunters defending against Tanaka, Nakagawa & Tetsuhiro Kuroda. The finish sees Tanaka send one of the big men down with his rolling elbow for 3, crowning new champions. As they celebrate, Hayabusa is shown arriving without his mask on and wearing regular street clothes. Nakagawa spots Hayabusa and attacks his friend, believing Hayabusa abandoned FMW after 5/5/96 by leaving, since a new threat (Victor's army) was in town. Tanaka and Kuroda hold back Nakagawa, but a new feud is born. Hayabusa's return match is set and he'll face Koji in a singles match at the Shiodome.

A segment sees Tanaka, Nakagawa and Kuroda warming up for a match when Mr. Pogo enters the room. Both perk up and ready themselves for combat, looks of concern on their face. Pogo suggests they cooperate to take out Victor's army. During a match, it looks like Pogo will attack Tanaka, but he turns and blows fire at Freddy Krueger (one of Victor's horror gimmicks), allowing Tanaka to hit a rolling elbow for the win. During another match, Victor calls Pogo a "fuckin' Jap" and gets some serious heel heat for it. "Pogo" chants erupt and it's so weird seeing Mr. Pogo as a babyface. Back to the Independent Title tournament now for the semi final round. On 7/12/96, Tanaka faces Oya. What is probably an awesome match sees Tanaka hit his rolling elbow for the win, giving him a place in the final. The second semi final appears to be a Caribbean Barbed Wire match with Kanemura vs. Leather. Thankfully, Leather's push does have it's limits and Kanemura uses a diving barbed wire bat shot on Leather for the win. This sets up a battle of the old rivals, Tanaka and Kanemura, for the belt. And to 8/1/96 we go and the Shiodome, a big show for FMW. The returning (again) Hayabusa vs. Nakagawa is highlighted and this was a mind-bogglingly awful match where they didn't seem to click at all and missed spots. Eventually, both are down and Hayabusa stands just in time to beat the 10 count, but Koji doesn't and Hayabusa gets an anti-climatic win. On 8/23/96, the two would have a much better match with Nakagawa getting an upset win and the two reuniting as friends. The semi final of the Shiodome show has Tanaka vs. Kanemura for the Independent Title. The two go all out and have their best match ever and one of FMW's best matches ever, period, a really tremendous effort. Kanemura eventually wins with a Thunder Fire powerbomb, becoming the first champion. The main event sees Terry Funk vs. Pogo in a No Rope Electrified Barbed Wire Double Hell Glass Crush Spider Net Landmine Death Match. This is another good match, while it lasts, with many effective teases, but it's cut short by an unfortunate incident. Funk blows fire at Pogo, who falls off the apron and into the exploding spider net. Pogo is legitimately paralyzed (temporarily), but this doesn't stop Funk from being an idiot, kneeling next to Pogo and blowing fire at close range. Pogo is stretchered into an ambulance and taken to hospital.

Back at Korakuen Hall next, on 8/23/96, with Tanaka, Kuroda & Nanjyo Hayato (a very promising FMW junior) vs. Kanemura, Hido & Hosaka in a No Rope Barbed Wire Death Match. Another bloody war sees Kanemura pick up the win with a TFPB (Thunder Fire powerbomb). To 9/1/96 and a No Rope Barbed Wire Explosive Barricade Double Hell 6 Man Tag Death Match with Tanaka, Nakagawa & Kuroda vs. Kanemura, Hido & Hosaka. This match takes place outdoors and sees Koji dropkicked into the barbed wire, an explosion erupting. Koji continues to bump huge when Hosaka instantly enzuigiri's him and he FLIPS into the exploding barricade! The barricade explodes and fire shoots up all around and probably into Nakagawa's flesh. I've seen the full version of this and Koji sells it forever, rightfully so. Eventually, he returns and pushes Kanemura out into an exploding barricade for another eruption. Tanaka drops Hosaka with an ultra-stiff TFPB, ending a very strong match. On 9/15/96, Hayabusa, Tanaka, Nakagawa & Kuroda take on Leather, The Headhunters & Oya (who's part of Victor's army now) in a Scramble Bunkhouse Climbing & Snatching Battle Royal. The purpose of this is to grab a stash of yen from a pole. This angle began on 5/5/96, when money was on the line during the main event, Funk and Pogo winning it, so FMW now has a chance to win some back. This is another frantic brawl with Hayabusa eventually getting clear and grabbing the yen for FMW.

The next big show takes place on 9/20/96 at Nakajima Sports Center. W*ING's Hido & Hideki Hosaka challenge The Headhunters for the Brass Knuckles Tag Team Title, but fall short when A drops a big moonsault press on Hido for the win. The 6 Man Street Fight Titles are also on the line with Tanaka, Nakagawa & Kuroda defending against the gaijin team of Funk, Awesome & Horace. A clip is shown first of Awesome seeming to help former friend, Ricky Fuji, then betraying him with a short lariat. Backstage, Fuji cuts a tearful interview. Back to the 6 man Street Fight and Awesome jumps over the top rope with a perfect tope suicida to Tanaka. Tanaka manages to duck a lariat from Horace and strikes with a rolling elbow, picking up a very big win for the champions. Hayabusa and Hisakatsu Oya, who have a history of excellent matches, go at it on the same show. Oya folds Hayabusa up with several of his stiff backdrop suplexes and scores his first ever singles win over Hayabusa. Hayabusa remains in the ring, distraught by his loss, when a figure clad in blue makes his way to the ring. Jinsei Shinzaki makes his first appearance in an FMW ring for a long time and enters the ring. Jinsei had returned to Japan from the World Wrestling Federation earlier in the year. Jinsei just stares at Hayabusa and prays, then leaves. Next up is a very stiff and wild Street Fight with Hayabusa & Tanaka vs. Funk & Awesome from Korakuen Hall on 9/24/96. Awesome drops Tanaka off the top with a super-stiff Awesome bomb, leaning over for the win. Post-match, Victor's army pose with an American flag. Backstage, Funk exclaims that his group is... FMW! That is, Funk Masters of Wrestling (whoo! Funk Masters of Wrestling! Whoo! Funk Masters of Wrestling! Whoo! Etc.). This finally gives "Victor's army" a real name, albeit a pretty goofy one. Funk claims his group has demolished Onita's FMW and says too many companies in Japan have treated American wrestlers like trash. He puts down FMW, naming Hayabusa and Tanaka, saying they have no guts or heart. I don't think anything could be further from the truth in Hayabusa and Tanaka's case.

To 10/10/96 and Michinoku Pro ~These Days~ at Tokyo Sumo Hall, the biggest show in that company's history. The main event sees Hayabusa square off against Shinzaki. A disappointing match, well below what they could do, sees Jinsei win with a high-angle Praying crucifix powerbomb. Post-match, the two form an everlasting friendship, which would result in a brilliant tag team being formed. The Great Sasuke arrives and challenges Hayabusa to a match at FMW's 12/11/96 show, a dream high-flying match. On 10/26/96, back at Korakuen Hall, Kanemura defends his Independent Title against Oya. Kanemura wins the match with a TFPB, but he and the W*ING Alliance are decimated by FMoW members post-match. Awesome exclaims that he will fight Kanemura in a match to unify their titles (Awesome's Brass Knuckles Heavyweight and Kanemura's Independent Title), so this is another match added to the 12/11/96 lineup. An emotional Mr. Pogo is shown in the ring, distraught because he must soon retire due to his injuries. Pogo kneels and kisses the FMW logo in the center of the ring. Pogo meets with his long-time nemesis, Onita, and Pogo asks Onita to come out of his 1 1/2 year retirement to team with him in his retirement match. Onita grabs Pogo by the shirt and shouts at him, but Pogo offers no resistance, wanting friendship. Onita doesn't seem to like the idea, as it's dishonorable to unretire. On 11/26/96, FMoW members assault Pogo and Onita rushes in with a chair, clearing them out. Atsushi Onita becomes "Mr. Liar" as it is announced that he will come out of retirement to destroy FMoW with Pogo and other FMW members.

The day arrives, 12/11/96, the show held at Komazawa Olympic Gymnasium. Awesome and Kanemura meet in a Double Titles match to unify their singles belts. Kanemura is fantastic in this match, carrying Awesome to his best match ever at the time. However, it's Awesome who unifies the titles, dropping Kanemura with a Liger bomb for the win. Kanemura's push seemed to have slowed down a lot after Quinones arrived, as he went from being the top heel, to a tweener-like figure, below Hayabusa, Tanaka (at least now it seems, maybe not at the start of the tape), Funk and Awesome. Kind of disappointing, because he was so awesome as the serious lead heel. The dream match between Hayabusa and Sasuke takes place and is a very good contest. Hayabusa gets the win with an avalanche-style Falcon Arrow. The main event of the show is, of course, Pogo's retirement match. Onita (breaking retirement and his first appearance since 5/5/95), Pogo, Tanaka & Kuroda face Funk, The Headhunters & Oya in a Texas Street Fight Tornado Death Match. This is a crazy, out of control war with lot's of blood, stiff gimmick shots and strong brawling. The finish sees Tanaka drop a Headhunter with a sick backdrop suplex and score the big win for FMW. Post-match, we get classic Onita, with everyone going nuts. Onita stole the spotlight in Pogo's retirement, but Pogo wouldn't stay out of wrestling for long, returning to wrestling just months later and working for Big Japan Pro-Wrestling, which is where former W*ING Alliance leader, Mitsuhiro Matsunaga, as well as Shoji Nakamaki headed after the 5/5/96 Kawasaki Stadium show.

We go to a brand new year, 1/5/97, at Korakuen Hall. After losing a tag match against The Headhunters, Hayabusa is recovering in the ring. Suddenly a disturbance occurs as two figures arrive. Mr. Gannosuke and Flying Kid Ichihara, both former FMW wrestlers, show up. These two left FMW with Tarzan Goto some years before and joined IWA Japan as Shin(New)-FMW. There is a long history between Gannosuke (Masashi Honda) and Hayabusa (Eiji Ezaki). The two were childhood friends and entered the FMW dojo together where they underwent the traditional Japanese training methods, which are very harsh. Anyway, Gannosuke is pissed off at his former friend for not leaving FMW to join IWA with him and is back to make Hayabusa and FMW suffer. Still at Korakuen and Kanemura, Hosaka & Dragon Winger (an FMW undercarder, formerly known as Toryu, more recently known as Z Mandora in Osaka Pro) take on Tanaka, Kuroda & Nanjyo Hayato. Hayato hits an incredibly quick somersault plancha through the middle rope to Kanemura, who is being held by Tanaka. Hosaka powerbomb's Kuroda off the apron and through a table. Back in the ring, Kanemura drops either Kuroda or Hayato (hard to tell) on a chair with a TFPB, picking up the win for W*ING. On 1/19/97, Hayabusa and Tanaka find Mr. Pogo 2 (Azusa Kudo) laid out as a result of a terrorist attack from Gannosuke and Ichihara. Tanaka shouts at Hayabusa and demands he do something about his old friend. On 1/12/97, during a match, Gannosuke and Ichihara show up and mug Hayabusa, beating him down. The two join Funk Masters of Wrestling, making that unit an even stronger threat to FMW.

On 2/9/97, Hayabusa & Hayato take on Oya & Crypt Keeper. Gannosuke and Ichihara accompany the FMoW team out to the ring, meaning trouble. They do indeed involve themselves, leading to a DQ finish. However, Ricky Fuji helps out Hayabusa and Hayato, allowing them to clear the ring. Fuji slaps Hayabusa as a way of telling him to get his act together. Backstage, Oya acts like a surly punk and Gannosuke strikes his Harrison Ford smirk. To 2/18/97 and Korakuen Hall for a match with Hayabusa & Fuji vs. Gannosuke & Oya. This is Hayabusa and Gannosuke's first match of any kind against each other since Gannosuke returned. Hayabusa attacks right away, setting the tone for this match. Hayabusa savate kick's Gannosuke out of the ring and follows with a wonderful tope con hilo. Later on, as Oya has Hayabusa down, Gannosuke drops Ricky with a Northern Lights suplex hold for the win. Hayabusa tries attacking Gannosuke post-match, but is thrown from the ring. A big match takes place with Awesome defending his Double Titles against Tanaka. Tanaka really takes it to the big man, but an Awesome bomb from the ring puts him through a table and dents his chances of victory. Tanaka smashes a wooden board over Awesome's head, but Awesome stays up and lariat's Tanaka down. Awesome eventually wins with two Liger bombs, but Tanaka's performance was strong and this amazing rivalry continues to grow. To 2/19/97, yet again at Korakuen, for a match featuring Hayabusa, Fuji & Pogo 2 vs. Awesome, Gannosuke & Crypt Keeper. A wild brawl eventuates in Gannosuke dropping Pogo 2 with a Northern Lights suplex hold for the win. Next up, we see the first appearance on the tape of Kodo Fuyuki, Jado & Gedo, a freelance trio who achieved big success in Tenryu's WAR promotion. The three decided to enter FMW and find success there just like they did in WAR. They are shown going face to face with Onita and the W*ING Alliance at some sort of press outing where everyone is wearing a suit. Jado & Gedo have history with W*ING and it was Jado who set the ring on fire and powerbombed Kanemura into it in the famous Odawara Blazing Night match on 10/31/93 (which put Kanemura out of action for months with serious burns). Their first match (on this tape at least) sees them take on Kanemura, Hosaka & Dragon Winger. The finish sees Fuyuki hit his running lariat on Dragon Winger for the 3 count.

Next up is a 6 Man Street Fight Tag Team Title match with The Headhunters & Oya defending against the team they won the belts from, Tanaka, Nakagawa & Kuroda. Oya instills psychology into the traditional Street Fight type of match by attacking Koji's right leg. The Headhunters superbomb Kuroda through a table. The finish sees Oya revert to Nakagawa's bad leg with a figure-four leglock and Koji submits. Post-match, Mike Awesome demands Onita, though I don't think those two ever had a singles match, at least not in the 1995+ FMW era. On 3/14/97, Fuyuki, Jado & Gedo take on the W*ING Alliance in it's toughest form, Kanemura, Hido (having just recovered from a bad neck injury) & Hosaka. Hosaka manages to kick out of a union superbomb, but falls to Fuyuki's lariat, as W*ING's de-push continues. Onita, Tanaka, Nakagawa & Kuroda face Awesome, The Headhunters & Oya in a Street Fight, not entirely unlike the match from 12/11/96. Awesome targets Onita, lifting him high by the throat and throwing him down like a rag doll. Onita is lay on a table and squashed with a diving body press from one of the Headhunters, but manages to kick out of the cover! After many heated near falls, Nakagawa drops Oya with a Tiger suplex hold, picking up another hard fought win for FMW. Yet another Street Fight takes place on 3/15/97 with Onita, Tanaka, Kuroda & Nakagawa vs. Awesome, Gannosuke, Oya & Katsutoshi Niiyama (who I guess is a heel now). Gannosuke stabs Onita in this match with his bamboo stick, but Onita retaliates by jabbing it dOWnstairs. Eventually, Oya folds Kuroda up with a backdrop suplex and gets the 3 count for FMoW. On 3/21/97, Fuyuki, Jado & Gedo challenge The Headhunters & Oya for the 6 Man Street Fight Titles. Gedo avoids a Headhunter diving body press through a table, the big man going through it. Fuyuki takes down a Headhunter with three running lariats and ends the FMoW trio's four month reign as champions, establishing Fuyuki-gun as the top six man tag team in FMW.

On 3/28/97, a Street Fight pits Hayabusa, Tanaka & Nakagawa vs. Gannosuke, Oya & Niiyama. Gannosuke slices at Hayabusa's back with his stick. Gannosuke gets a huge psychological boost against his childhood friend, pinning him after a TFPB. Post-match, the babyface team receive word that something is going on backstage. They rush back and find a locked door. They hopelessly smack it, shouting "Onita!". Hayabusa screams "Gannosuke!", having a good idea of what's going on. The door opens, Awesome, Gannosuke and The Headhunters there. They clear off and we see the horribly bruised face of Onita, who's bleeding and has a really swollen face. It's disturbing because you have to ask, how did it get like that? Did he allow himself to have his face beaten so badly that it'd swell up? His left eye is blood red, completely bashed up. A smartly dressed Kodo Fuyuki stands over Onita and taunts him calmly, laying down the groundwork for their feud in the future. Fuyuki grins, while Onita does anything but, then walks off. An intense Onita speaks with Tanaka and Nakagawa, then yells "Kanemura!". Kanemura is quick to arrive and join the discussions as the FMoW threat continues to rise. They decide to start teaming up together to strengthen the FMW/W*ING side. On 4/18/97, Kanemura & Hosaka face Jado & Gedo with the first thing shown being Hosaka bodyslamming Gedo off the apron and through a table. Jado & Gedo use the old Steiner Brothers lift-up/diving bulldog combination on Kanemura. Eventually though, Kanemura drops Jado with a TFPB for the win. I guess this symbolizes how Jado & Gedo "need" Fuyuki to match the W*ING Alliance. On 4/19/97, FMW guys including Onita are being destroyed by FMoW members when suddenly, the W*ING Alliance arrives and evens things up.

To 4/29/97 and a huge show for FMW at the 16,000 seat Yokohama Arena, their 8th anniversary show as well (for the first time in years, not on 5/5). This was Megumi Kudo's retirement show which meant the loss of a major draw in FMW and the death (not literally, but it might as well have been) of the joshi division. Jinsei Shinzaki wrestles the much de-pushed (thankfully) Super Leather, defeating him with his Goku-Raku Gatame. In a 6 Man Street Fight, The Headhunters & Oya defeat Fuyuki, Jado & Gedo. Hayabusa finally takes on Gannosuke, in a Mask vs. Hair Match, meaning much more than pride is on the line. Gannosuke now has dyed blonde hair and dominates Hayabusa for much of the match. Gannosuke is still improving as a wrestler at this point, so it's not the best match these two have had, but still a solid outing. After a tough struggle, Hayabusa drops Gannosuke with a Falcon Arrow for the big win. An emotional Hayabusa says that if Gannosuke will leave FMoW and side with FMW, he won't have to cut his hair off. Gannosuke, sat on a chair, seems distraught. Hayabusa breaks down into tears and Gannosuke is thoughtful. Hayabusa extends his hand. Gannosuke accepts... and betrays! The resulting attack is brutal as he rips off Hayabusa's mask, then goes to blow fire at him, only for Jinsei Shinzaki to save just in time! Gannosuke holds up his new trophy, Hayabusa's mask and leaves with Quinones. The semi final of the show (behind Kudo's retirement match vs. Shark in a No Rope 200 Volt Double Hell Double Barbed Wire Barricade Double Landmine Glass Crush Electrical Barbed Wire Death Match) is something of a dream match for hardcore fans with the allied forces of Onita, Tanaka & Kanemura facing Funk, Cactus Jack (WWF) & Awesome in a Texas Tornado Street Fight Death Match. This is a crazy brawl as you'd expect, with some real lunatics in the ring. Funk sets a branding iron on fire and burns Onita's back with it. Funk blows fire at a helpless Onita, who has his back turned and is leaning over the ropes. The finish sees Kanemura get a big win over Awesome with a diving chair attack, securing a very important win for FMW and the W*ING Alliance.

Onita is shown in America at the World Wrestling Federation's Titan Towers. The WWF had allowed FMW to use Mick Foley for the Yokohama Arena show and it seemed that an agreement was in the works. Onita shakes hands with Vince McMahon before the cameras and does the usual "names" speech, talking about Pedro Morales, Bruno Sammartino, etc. There was talk that Onita would do one of his Death Matches to try and bring something fresh to a struggling WWF, but nothing ever came of it and FMW began working with ECW later in the year. To 5/8/97 next, at Korakuen Hall, and The Great Nita (Onita's Muta spoof), Kanemura & Hido vs. Fuyuki, Jado & Gedo. This is a pretty funny match as Onita always brings the laughs when he wears the paint. A comedic spot sees Jado hits Nita in the chest with a barbed wire bat. Nita just stands there though and blows red mist at Jado. Kanemura is suplexed over the top and out through a table. Fuyuki tries to hit Onita with a scythe, but Nita blocks and spits green mist in his eyes. Jado tastes blue mist as well. The finish sees Kanemura drop a diving senton on Gedo for the win. Nita and Fuyuki brawl into the bleachers after the match. On 5/13/97, Hayabusa, Fuji & Ricky Morton (of Rock N Roll Express fame) face Awesome, Gannosuke & Oya. Morton manages to Frankensteiner Awesome in this match, but is eventually hit with a killer backdrop suplex by Oya and pinned for 3. The same show features Onita, Tanaka & Kuroda vs. Kanemura, Hido & Dragon Winger as the main event. Onita looks like Yoji Anjo in this match, wearing a similar outfit and black gloves. Unlike the last bout, which was more of a standard wrestling match, this is a typical, entertaining FMW brawl. Kanemura hits his W*ING body press, putting Tanaka through a table outside the ring. A VERY heated match concludes when Onita pins the predictable loser, Dragon Winger, after Thunder Fire powerbombing him on a chair. The FMW vs. W*ING rivalry kept going, but seemed more like a respect feud than country vs. country like it used to, since the guys had no real problems with each other at this point.

To 5/25/97 and a very interesting No Rope Barbed Wire Death Match with Onita, Kanemura & Hido vs. Tanaka, Nakagawa & Kuroda. Mentor and disciple, Onita and Tanaka, go at it, Onita Irish whipping Tanaka into the barbed wire. He continues to punish Tanaka when, with Kanemura's assistance, he front suplexes Masato on the barbed wire ropes! While Tanaka is draped over them, Hido lifts Kanemura and drops him on Tanaka with a legdrop to the neck. Tanaka does a tornado DDT off a chair to Kanemura, very stiff as always. A really great sequence sees Kuroda and Nakagawa send Onita to the barbed wire ropes, but Onita slides down. However, the second he stands, Tanaka dropkick's him into the barbed wire, revenge from earlier. Tanaka then goes for a TFPB, wanting to pin his senpai for the first time, but Hido throws a barbed wire bat shot to the chest and Kanemura follows by smashing a chair over his skull. Tanaka eventually gets the TFPB on Onita as a roaring crowd screams it's approval, but Onita manages to kick out. He sends Onita into the barbed wire again, but Onita manages to avoid the charge and Tanaka goes sternum-first into the unforgiving wire. After Kanemura sends Tanaka into the barbed wire one more time, Onita plants him with a TFPB and finally he stays down for the 3 count. Looked like one hell of a match with the fans getting behind Tanaka, since the opposition threw everything at him. Backstage, Kanemura kicks Tanaka and shouts at him, though not really in a hostile way, since Onita throws his boy around too.

We see a clip of Gannosuke blowing fire at Hayabusa again, then he and Awesome arrogantly sitting on chairs in the center of the ring. Next, to 6/13/97, with Hayabusa, Fuji, Hayato & Pogo 2 vs. Gannosuke, The Headhunters & Oya. A Headhunter drops a moonsault press on Pogo 2 and that seals the win for FMoW. On the same show, a Street Fight takes place with Tanaka, Nakagawa & Kuroda vs. Kanemura, Hido & Hosaka. Hosaka runs into an elbow and Tanaka follows with his rolling elbow for the win. Clips from 4/25/97 are shown with Kanemura & Hido winning the Brass Knuckles Tag Team Title from The Headhunters when Kanemura hits ring bell-assisted diving elbow drop for the win and belts. You could tell Victor's influence was dying (thankfully), as his guys were being de-pushed all around. Next up is a title defense from 6/22/97 with Kanemura & Hido against Tanaka & Kuroda. Tanaka targets a leg of Kanemura with a dragon screw leg whip, then a Scorpion Deathlock. Kuroda runs across the facility (a small structure outdoors), lariating Kanemura down on to a stack of chairs. However, Kanemura bounces back by powerbombing Kuroda on the same stack. Back in the ring, he Michinoku Driver II's Kuroda, then drops a diving senton for 2 3/4. A ring bell-assisted elbow drop seals the win and successful defense. We see Shinzaki (now a regular in FMW and representing Michinoku Pro) making his entrance for a match, when from behind, Gannosuke (wearing a Hayabusa mask) attacks with his stick and beats the hell out of the High Priest, cutting his head open. Gannosuke then sets the Hayabusa mask on fire, representing his hatred for the man who was once his best friend.

On 7/19/97, Hayabusa, Shinzaki & Nakagawa take on Awesome, Gannosuke & Oya. The heels mockingly pray outside the ring to try and irritate Jinsei. As Oya holds Jinsei back, Gannosuke drops Nakagawa with a Praying powerbomb, getting the win and insulting Jinsei's pride once more. On 7/27/97, Hayabusa shows off a new costume when he, Shinzaki, Kuroda & Fuji face Gannosuke, The Headhunters & Oya. Hayabusa and Shinzaki show lot's of great teamwork in this match. The match ends when Gannosuke spikes Kuroda with his Fire Thunder driver for the 3 count. The final match of the tape is dripping with W*ING Spirit, Kanemura vs. Hido in a No Rope Barbed Wire Death Match. Kanemura is sent into the barbed wire and Hido makes it even worse by dropkicking him right after. Since one side is free of any ropes, this allows Kanemura to running powerslam Hido off the apron and through a table! Later on, Hido facebuster's Kanemura into a roll of barbed wire twice. Hido shatters a board over Kanemura's head, but the W*ING Alliance leader sucks in the pain and let's out a scream. Hido hits a short lariat though, getting 2 1/2. Kanemura Michinoku Driver II's Hido on to the barbed wire roll twice for 2 1/2. Kanemura busts out a rolling elbow, then a TFPB on the barbed wire for the win.


Another very good synopsis tape by FMW covering another good period of it's history. However, I thought this was significantly inferior to the period before it (covered on F Stage 1) and the period that would come shortly after (covered on F Stage 3). I didn't like Quinones as booker and the changes he made. It decreased both the wrestling and angle quality and he pushed some guys I don't like (The Headhunters were pretty rocking for their size in the 1994-1995 period, but were lazy and boring by this stage). Also, the de-push of Kanemura didn't sit well with me, because he did so much to earn his spot and was over like crazy with the fans. The Funk Masters of Wrestling group was a BIG step down from the heel W*ING Alliance, though Gannosuke was a really good signing and the investment paid off. Still, this period had Hayabusa, Kanemura, Tanaka and a returning Onita. Onita's return was a mixed blessing, as I like him, his style and his charisma, but by returning it meant the young guys (except Hayabusa maybe) would be overshadowed by his presence. The next era of FMW would see the awesome ZEN angle, then the gradual rise of Fuyuki and fall of Onita, meaning the increase of more Americanized sports-entertainment when Fuyuki grasped power.

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