New Japan Wrestling Dontaku 1995
review by Kevin Wilson

Date: May 3rd, 1995
Location: Fukuoka Dome
Attendance: 48,000

Believe it or not, I did not intentionally order two shows that were exactly a year apart... I was just looking for good shows from 1994 and 1995 from New Japan and for some reason the May shows appealed to me. This one mostly caught my eye because Mutoh is in the main event and I have a deep love for him that only a true wrestling fan can understand. Also, the Steiners really are on this one, as well as Flair, Funk, and even Sabu! Here is the full card:

- Manabu Nakanishi vs. Yuji Nagata
- Akira Nogami and Norio Honaga vs. Takayuki Iizuka and El Samurai
- Flyin' Scorpio vs. Wild Pegasus

- IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Koji Kanemoto vs. Sabu
- Hiro Saito vs. Junji Hirata
- Scott Norton and Hawk Warrior vs. The Steiner Brothers
- Masahiro Chono and Hiromichi Fuyuki vs. Shiro Koshinaka and Terry Funk
- Hiroshi Hase vs. Ric Flair
- Antonio Inoki and Koji Kitao vs. Riki Choshu and Genichiro Tenryu
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kensuke Sasaki
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Shinya Hashimoto vs. Keiji Mutoh

See, this is why I love puroresu. I am stoked to watch this show, which is a feeling I haven't had about American wrestling in a good while. I encourage anyone that thinks that the current scene is stale to flip through some old puroresu events and find one that peaks your interest like I did here. Even if you aren't a fan of puroresu, this show has nine Americans on it as well as Mutoh, Sasaki, and Chono who have wrestled in America. It is a fun change of pace.

Manabu Nakanishi vs. Yuji Nagata
They jockey for position to start the match and Nakanishi takes Nagata to the mat. Nagata gets back to his feet and gets Nakanishi in an armbar, but Nakanishi reverses it with an arm wringer. An ankle lock is applied by Nagata, but Nakanishi reverses that with a reverse chinlock. Nakanishi gets Nagata to his feet, snapmare, and he applies a reverse chinlock in the middle of the ring. Nagata reverses it with a leg lock, Nakanishi goes for the cross armbreaker, but Nagata blocks it and goes back to the leg. Nakanishi manages to get back on top and he stomps Nagata repeatedly in the chest before applying a leg lock of his own. Nagata quickly reverses it into an attempted cross armbreaker, but Nakanishi gets out of it and stomps Nagata. Nagata gets back up to his feet and slaps Nakanishi and the two trade blows. Nakanishi punches Nagata into the corner and stomps him while he is down. Nakanishi picks up Nagata and throws him to the mat with a scoop slam. Elbow drop by Nakanishi and he swings him around before flinging Nagata to the mat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Nakanishi cranks on Nagata's neck, picks him up, and gives him a headbutt. Another headbutt by Nakanishi and he kicks Nagata in the chest. Nakanishi applies a single-leg crab hold, but Nagata reverses it with an ankle lock, but Nakanishi makes it to the ropes. Nagata starts laying in the kick and hits an armbreaker on Nakanishi. Armbar by Nagata but Nakanishi gets to his feet and tosses Nagata off of him. Nakanishi stomps on Nagata while he is on the mat, picks him up, and gives Nagata a headbutt. Another headbutt by Nakanishi and he kicks Nagata hard in the chest. Nagata begins to fight back and hits an spinning kick to the head, sending Nakanishi to the mat. Nagata goes for the cross armbreaker, but Nakanishi blocks it and gets to the ropes. Nakanishi stomps Nagata again and drops an elbow. Cover, but it gets a one count. Back up, the two trade strikes, with Nagata getting the better of it as a kick to the chest sends Nakanishi down. Nagata picks up Nakanishi and throws him back into the mat. An armbar is applied by Nagata and he reverts it into a cross armbreaker, but Nakanishi quickly gets to the ropes. Nagata brings Nakanishi back to the middle of the ring and hits a series of kicks, he goes for a suplex, but Nakanishi punches him off and delivers a butterfly suplex. Irish whip by Nakanishi and he hits an overhead slam. Cover, but Nagata gets a shoulder up. Nakanishi picks up Nagata and delivers a Samoan drop. Cover, but again it gets a two count. Nakanishi applies a crab hold to Nagata, but Nagata gets a foot on the ropes. Back up, Irish whip by Nakanishi, reversed, and Nagata hits an overhead belly to belly suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Kicks by Nagata to the chest of Nakanishi, and Nagata puts on the cross armbreaker. Nakanishi quickly gets to the ropes, so Nagata picks him up and hits an armbreaker over his shoulder. He goes for another one, but Nakanishi gets out of it and hits a backbreaker. Nakanishi puts Nagata up in the Argentine Backbreaker, but Nagata punches his way out of it. Lariat by Nakanishi, he goes off the ropes, but Nagata ducks a clothesline and nails a release German suplex. Nagata re-applies the cross armbreaker, and now that they are in the middle of the ring Nakanishi has no choice but to submit! Your winner: Yuji Nagata

Match Thoughts: A simple opener that was long enough to allow the wrestlers time to get something going. The good news is they stuck to a solid storyline with Nagata weakening Nakanishi's arm until he put him away with the cross armbreaker. The bad news is that Nakanishi did nothing to sell the arm when he wasn't in a submission hold. Nakanishi in general looked pretty bland here, using mostly simple strikes, but Nagata helped things along and overall it was a good although simple match. Score: 5.5

Akira Nogami and Norio Honaga vs. Takayuki Iizuka and El Samurai
Nogami and El Samurai start things off. They jockey for position, snapmare by El Samurai, but Nogami bridges up and does his own snapmare. El Samurai does the same to him and the two roll together into the ropes. Hammerlock by Nogami, reversed, El Samurai armdrags Nogami to the mat but Nogami kip-ups. El Samurai keeps hold of the arm, but Nogami rolls out of it and both men are back on their feet. El Samurai tags in Iizuka, and Iizuka slaps Nogami in the face. Irish whip by Nogami but Iizuka shoulderblocks him down. Iizuka charges Nogami, but Nogami moves and Iizuka goes out of the ring. Nogami then hits a baseball slide and follows with a pescado. Honaga is tagged in, tie-up, and Iizuka takes down Honaga with a side headlock. Honaga struggles to his feet and gets out of the hold, throwing Iizuka out of the ring. Iizuka quickly rolls back in, ties up Honaga and tags in El Samurai. El Samurai kicks Honaga against the ropes, hits a scoop slam and drops a knee on Honaga's head. Cover, but it gets a two count. El Samurai applies a reverse chinlock, but Honaga makes it to the ropes. Neckbreaker by El Samurai, cover, but again it gets a two count. El Samurai picks up Honaga, but Honaga rakes his eyes and tags in Nogami. Double Irish whip on El Samurai and they hit a double chop to the chest. Nogami drops a leg on El Samurai and applies a single-leg crab hold before changing the hold to the Indian Deathlock. Nogami releases the hold and pounds on El Samurai's back. El Samurai fights back and pushes Nogami into the corner, tagging in his partner Iizuka in the process. Nogami and Iizuka trade shots, with Nogami knocking down Iizuka with a dropkick. Honaga is tagged in, Irish whip by Iizuka and he hits a high back bodydrop. Cover, but it gets two. Iizuka applies a single-leg crab hold to Honaga, but he releases the hold and stomps on Honaga in the chest. Scoop slam by Iizuka, cover, but it only gets a two count. El Samurai is tagged in, double Irish whip, and they connect with a double elbow. Powerbomb by El Samurai, cover, but Honaga kicks out. El Samurai hits a scoop slam, goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving headbutt. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Backbreaker by El Samurai and he applies a reverse chinlock. El Samurai tags in Iizuka, who slams Honaga's knee into the mat. Iizuka applies the crab hold, but Nogami breaks it up with a dropkick. Iizuka tags in El Samurai, scoop slam by El Samurai and he goes back to the reverse chinlock. Honaga bites his finger though and throws El Samurai into the corner. Scoop slam by Honaga and with Nogami's help he slams El Samurai's leg into the ring apron. Again they slam his legs into the apron, Honaga gets back in the ring, but El Samurai snaps off a release German suplex. El Samurai puts Honaga up in the tree of woe and kicks him back down before tagging in Iizuka. Double Irish whip, and they connect on a double dropkick. Iizuka picks up Honaga, but Honaga kicks him low and tags in Nogami. Nogami comes off the top with a missile dropkick, he hits a scoop slam and then connects on a flying body press from the top turnbuckle. Cover, but it gets a two count. German suplex by Nogami on Iizuka, but again it only gets two. Nogami puts Iizuka in a full nelson, but El Samurai comes off the top turnbuckle with a missile dropkick to break it up. Iizuka hits a running bulldog on Nogami, Iizuka goes for a suplex, but Nogami blocks it and Honaga runs in to clothesline Iizuka. Nogami picks up Iizuka, Irish whip, but Iizuka reverses it and hits the uranage. Cover, but Honaga breaks it up. El Samurai runs in to take care of Honaga, while Iizuka picks up Nogami and nails the Blizzard Suplex for the three count pinfall! Your winners: Takayuki Iizuka and El Samurai

Match Thoughts: Not a bad match, I have been enjoying what I have been seeing from J-J-Jacks the last few days. I could say that the match lacked a whole lot of substance or meaning, but it was towards the beginning of the card and the main intent was to put on an entertaining simple match which I think it accomplished. Similar to how the last match was a basic one on one match, this was a simple Jr. Heavyweight match to help prepare you for the two spottier ones coming up next. Score: 5.5

Flyin' Scorpio vs. Wild Pegasus
Tie-up to start, Scorpio gets Wild Pegasus down, but Wild Pegasus bridges back up. Now Wild Pegasus gets Scorpio to the mat, but Scorpio kicks Wild Pegasus off. Back up, Scorpio connects with a savate kick, Irish whip, reversed, but Scorpio flips over Wild Pegasus and rolls him up for a one count. Tie-up, side headlock by Wild Pegasus and he takes Scorpio to the mat. Scorpio hits a back suplex, but Wild Pegasus keeps the hold locked on. Back up, Scorpio Irish whips out of the hold but Wild Pegasus shoulderblocks him down. Wild Pegasus goes off the ropes, leapfrog by Scorpio and he performs a double-legged takedown, but Wild Pegasus flips him off. Waistlock by Wild Pegasus, reversed, Wild Pegasus shakes off Scorpio, but Scorpio does a flip and lands on his feet. Scorpio charges Wild Pegasus, but Wild Pegasus bodydrops him over the top rope onto the apron. Forearm shot by Wild Pegasus, he picks up Scorpio and tries to slam him into the turnbuckle, but Scorpio reverses it and hits a missile dropkick from the top turnbuckle. Wild Pegasus rolls out of the ring and Scorpio follows him out with a tope suicida. Scorpio gets back in the ring and Wild Pegasus slowly follows him. Headbutts by Scorpio, scoop slam, and he hits a somersault legdrop. Cover, but it gets a two count. Scorpio goes up to the top turnbuckle and goes for a body press, but Wild Pegasus gets his knees up. Kicks to the back by Wild Pegasus, Irish whip, and he knees Scorpio hard in the stomach. Wild Pegasus picks up Scorpio and suplexes him onto the top rope so that he falls back into the ring. Wild Pegasus kicks Scorpio out of the ring, but Scorpio rolls back in under his own power. Wild Pegasus picks up Scorpio and chops him hard in the chest. Irish whip by Wild Pegasus and he knocks down Scorpio with a clothesline. Cover, but Scorpio kicks out. Wild Pegasus delivers a backdrop suplex on Scorpio, cover, but again it only gets a two count. Scoop slam by Wild Pegasus and he applies an elevated crab hold. Wild Pegasus releases the crab hold and applies the Muta Lock, but Scorpio elbows out of it. Scorpio tries to fight back but Wild Pegasus punches him back down. Northern Lights Suplex by Pegasus, but again it gets two. Wild Pegasus picks up Scorpio and hits a German suplex but Scorpio manages to kick out in time. Irish whip by Wild Pegasus, but Scorpio knees him in the stomach and rolls him up for a quick two count. Back up, Scorpio quickly kicks Wild Pegasus in the head, goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a Scorpio Splash for a two count. Scorpio picks up Wild Pegasus, puts him up on the top turnbuckle and climbs up before dropkicking Wild Pegasus out of the ring. Scorpio then gets back up to the top turnbuckle and performs a moonsault down to the floor onto Wild Pegasus (mostly). Back in the ring, Scorpio hits another moonsault, cover, but Wild Pegasus kicks out at two. Scorpio picks up Wild Pegasus, Irish whip to the corner, but Wild Pegasus moves when he goes for the splash and hits a release German suplex. Both wrestlers slowly get up, but Scorpio gets in the first strike. Scorpio puts Wild Pegasus up on the top turnbuckle again and goes for a hurricanrana, but Wild Pegasus flings him off. Wild Pegasus gets up first, drags Scorpio to his feet and nails the tombstone piledriver. Wild Pegasus goes up to the top turnbuckle, hits the diving headbutt, cover, and he picks up the three count pinfall. Your winner: Wild Pegasus

Match Thoughts: A little spottier then I would have liked.... it seemed at times as if they were taking turns on offense, hitting their moves, and then switching roles. They hit their spots well, but unfortunately this match was sandwiched between a normal Jr. Heavyweight match and a match that was far spottier and more entertaining. I suppose this was a good transition, but it didn't seem to have a lot of purpose. It was still fun to watch and I like Benoit, but if they had put a little effort into making the spots mean something it would have been more enjoyable. Score: 6.0

(c) Koji Kanemoto vs. Sabu
This match is for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Kanemoto kicks Sabu in the chest when he goes for his leg, but waits for him to get back up. Single-leg takedown by Sabu but Kanemoto kicks him off. Reverse chinlock by Sabu, but Kanemoto reaches the bottom rope. Sabu hits a slingshot guillotine legdrop over the top rope while Kanemoto's head is dangling over the other side and then comes back in the ring with a slingshot headbutt. As Kanemoto sits up, Sabu hits a springboard leg lariat off the second rope, cover, but it only gets two. Side headlock by Sabu, but Kanemoto muscles out of it and applies an armbar. Sabu reverses the hold with a leg lock, Kanemoto reverses it back, but Sabu reaches the ropes. Sabu points to the sky, but Kanemoto slaps him in the face. Sabu comes back with his own slaps and hits a slingshot leg drop from the apron. Cover, but it gets a two count. Kanemoto quickly applies an armbar on the mat and then applies a leg submission, but Sabu gets out of it. Sabu throws Kanemoto into the top rope and goes out of the ring to get a chair. Sabu suplexes Kanemoto onto the top rope, Kanemoto goes out to the apron, Sabu sets up the chair, and he catapults off of it to kick Kanemoto off the apron. Sabu then sets up the chair in the ring and sails out onto Kanemoto with a catapulted somersault tope suicida. Sabu gets back in the ring first, but Kanemoto soon follows. Punch by Sabu, he gets a takedown, cover, but it gets a two count. Sabu applies a headlock, but Kanemoto reverses it into a hammerlock. Armbar by Kanemoto, but he eventually releases the hold and kicks Sabu to the mat. Kanemoto goes up top, but Sabu gets up in time and joins him. Sabu goes for a superplex, but Kanemoto reverses it and suplexes Sabu to the outside onto the ramp. Kanemoto then comes off the top turnbuckle with a missile dropkick, which knocks Sabu clear off the ramp down to the floor. Kanemoto goes to get Sabu and throws him into the guardrail. He then goes to the apron and connects with a springboard somersault backflip. Kanemoto gets back in the ring and Sabu eventually joins him. Slaps by Kanemoto and he knocks down Sabu with a back kick. Kanemoto chops Sabu into the corner, but Sabu returns with punches. Facecrusher by Sabu, scoop slam, he goes out to the apron and hits a somersault leg drop. Cover, but Kanemoto kicks out. Sabu kicks Kanemoto in the midsection and applies a reverse chinlock. He then applies a stretch submission hold before releasing it and hitting a leg drop. Cover, but it only gets two. Back up, Kanemoto hits a quick dropkick on Sabu and goes for a single-leg crab, but Sabu grabs the bottom rope. Kanemoto drags Sabu back to the middle of the ring and now is able to apply the hold. Kanemoto slaps on the Indian Deathlock, but Sabu makes it to the ropes. Stomps by Kanemoto, he picks up Sabu, scoop slam, and he goes back to the leg lock. Kanemoto slaps Sabu repeatedly in the face, but Sabu tackles him and peppers him with punches. Stomp to the back by Sabu, he picks up Kanemoto and throws him out of the ring. Sabu stomps Kanemoto as he gets back on the apron and delivers a slingshot powerbomb down to the floor. Sabu then gets a table and sets it up at ringside. Sabu puts Kanemoto on the table, goes to the top turnbuckle, but he (finally!) misses the moonsault off the top rope and only hits Kanemoto with his leg. Took 14 minutes for him to mess up a spot, color me impressed. Sabu still gets up first but when Kanemoto gets up he angrily kicks the table and throws it at the ropes. Sabu rolls back outside when Kanemoto gets in and he brings in another chair. Sabu hits Kanemoto in the stomach with the chair and then piledrives him onto it. Arabian Facebuster by Sabu, he pulls Kanemoto closer to the corner and goes for the flying Arabian Facebuster, but Kanemoto cleverly moves. Dropkick by Kanemoto, Sabu climbs up the turnbuckle, but Kanemoto comes up from behind and throws him off. Slap by Kanemoto, he goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a moonsault. Cover, but it only gets a two count. While Kanemoto argues with the referee, Sabu gets a chair and cracks Kanemoto over the head with it. Sabu then hits an Arabian press (double-legged moonsault off the top rope), cover, and he gets the three count! Your winner and new champion: Sabu

Match Thoughts: This must be one of the most surreal matches I have ever seen in a New Japan ring. Sabu (obviously much younger here) wrestled his normal style, which is not the style you usually see in New Japan, especially for championships. It wasn't bad, it was just very Sabuesque. As I joked, he only messed up one move, which isn't bad considering all the high risk moves he does. I felt a little sorry for Kanemoto, who seemed out of his element and instead of fighting fire with fire he tended to attack with leg locks. Although I must admit it was fun watching two wrestlers with totally different offensive moves. Definitely entertaining, although I can't really explain why. In case you were curious, Sabu did quite a few matches in New Japan during 1995, he was one of the hottest independent wrestlers in America during that time period. Score: 6.0

Hiro Saito vs. Junji Hirata
Saito pushes Hirata into the ropes when the bell rings, but gives Hirata a clean break. Tie-up, and Saito clubs Hirata in the back of the head. Hirata fires back with headbutts and the two exchange blows. Saito hits a pair of jawbreakers, Hirata rolls out of the ring, but Saito follows him out with a pescado. Back in the ring, Hirata sneaks in a roll-up, but Saito kicks out at two. Saito hits a low blow when the referee isn't looking, goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Hirata rolls out of the way of the senton. Hirata grabs Saito's legs and kicks him low as payback for Saito doing it to him earlier. Senton by Hirata, he picks up Saito and hits a scoop slam. Hirata goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving headbutt. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Powerbomb by Hirata, another cover, but again Saito kicks out. Hirata gets Saito up again and nails a Liger Bomb, cover, and this time he picks up the three count pinfall! Your winner: Junji Hirata

Match Thoughts: Less then half the match was shown (the match was around 6 minutes), so I really can't rate it. What they showed looked ok, but there wasn't a lot of crowd heat, which is unusual. Saito seems to be pretty good at having passable matches but I have yet to see him in a blow-away match. Score: N/A

Scott Norton and Hawk Warrior vs. The Steiner Brothers
(I hate to be confusing, but here I am going to refer to Scott Norton as Norton and Scott Steiner as Scott.) Hawk and Scott Steiner start things off. Hiptoss by Scott, but Hawk pops back up to his feet and stares at Scott. Tie-up, Scott hits a quick leg capture belly to belly suplex, but again Hawk pops back up to his feet and stares Scott down. Tie-up, Scott goes for a takedown, but Hawk kicks him in the face and throws him out of the ring. Hawk then hits a diving clothesline from the apron down onto Scott. After picking up Scott, Hawk Irish whips him into the guardrail and hits a clothesline, but Scott fires back with a clothesline of his own. Scott throws Hawk back in the ring, but Hawk is up first and hits a chop followed by a dropkick. Hawk tags in Norton as Scott tags in Rick. Norton goes for a clothesline, Rick ducks it and hits an overhead belly to belly suplex, but Norton gets right back to his feet. They trade punches, Irish whip by Rick, reversed, and Norton levels him with a shoulderblock. Chop by Norton, Irish whip from the corner and he hits a big splash. Norton goes for a belly to belly suplex, Rick tries to reverse it, and they end up in the ropes. Irish whip by Rick and he hits a powerslam, cover, but it barely gets a one count. Norton drives Rick back into his corner and tags in Hawk. Rick punches Hawk and nails a piledriver, but Hawk is up first and clotheslines Rick to the mat. Scoop slam by Hawk and he hits a jumping fist drop. Hawk goes out to the ramp, gets a running start, and connects with a slingshot shoulderblock. Cover, but it gets a two count. Hawk tags in Norton and Rick tags in Scott. Kick to the stomach by Norton and he kicks Scott to the mat. Backbreaker by Norton and he nails a powerbomb. Forearm to the back by Norton and he kicks Scott while he lays against the ropes. Norton tags in Hawk, and Hawk hits a shoulder breaker. STF by Hawk into a key lock, but Rick comes in to break it up. Hawk applies a reverse chinlock to Scott, but again Rick comes in to break it up. Hawk never releases the hold though and punches Scott in the face before tagging in Norton. Chop by Norton into the corner, Irish whip, but Scott avoids the splash and hits a modified belly to belly suplex. Scott tags in Rick, who pounds on Norton on the mat. Kick to the head by Rick, but Norton fires up and clotheslines him down. Rick tags in Scott, who picks up Norton and throws him out to the ramp. Scott goes out after him and scoop slams him onto the rampway. Rick then comes over and hits a clothesline before Norton can get back in the ring. Norton eventually gets close to the ropes, but Scott kicks him before he can get in the ring and pulls him through. Cover by Scott but it only gets a two count. Scott picks up Norton and delivers a trapped belly to belly suplex for another two count. Scott tags in Rick, who puts Norton up on the top turnbuckle and hits a belly to belly suplex down to the mat. Cover by Rick, but Norton barely kicks out. Rick picks up Norton, puts him up on the top turnbuckle again, but this time Hawk comes in and attacks Rick. This gives Norton time to recover and he hits a diving lariat from the second turnbuckle. Rick tags in Scott, who hits an overhead belly to belly suplex on Norton. Cover, but it gets a two. Irish whip by Scott, but Norton ducks the clothesline and hits one of his own. Another clothesline by Norton, but when he goes for a third Scott catches him with a hiptoss and clotheslines him down to the mat. Scott applies the STF to Norton and tags in Rick. Rick hits a release German suplex on Norton, cover, but Norton kicks out.

Rick applies an armbar to Norton and tags in his partner Scott. Scott stomps on Norton while he is down and throws him out of the ring. Rick then kicks Norton from the apron and then rams his head into the guardrail outside the ring. Norton slowly crawls back to the ring, but Rick comes out and throws him into the railing again. Hawk finally comes around and he helps Norton back up so he can get on the apron. Scott tries to suplex Norton from the apron back into the ring, but Norton reverses it and he suplexes Scott out of the ring. Rick then gets in the ring and unlike his brother he succeeds in suplexing Norton back in. Scott gets back in and tries to stop Norton from tagging, but Norton makes the hot tag as Scott tags in Rick. Hawk goes nuts on both the Steiners, hitting a double clothesline on both of them followed by a flying shoulderblock for Scott. Fist drop on Rick, cover, but it gets two and Hawk tags in Norton. Irish whip by Norton and he hits the splash in the corner. Another Irish whip, but Rick ducks clothesline and hits a spinning elbow. Norton stays standing, Scott comes flying off the top turnbuckle, but Norton catches him and flings him to the mat. Norton then gives Rick a belly to belly slam before tagging Hawk back in the ring. Hawk picks up Rick, Rick punches him back, but Hawk tags in Norton. Clubbing blows by Norton and he puts Rick up on his shoulders for the Doomsday Device, but Scott runs in and clips Norton from behind. Hawk clotheslines Rick and then punches Scott to the mat. Rake to the eyes by Hawk on Rick, Irish whip, but Scott grabs him from behind and they hit a combination clothesline/German suplex on Hawk. Scott puts Hawk up on his shoulders as Rick goes to the top turnbuckle for the bulldog, but Hawk slides off and hits a back suplex on Scott. Rick jumps off and clotheslines Hawk, but Norton comes off the top turnbuckle with a flying shoulderblock on Rick. All four men are down, but Norton gets up first. Scott gets Norton down with a drop toehold, Irish whip, and he hits the Frankensteiner. Rick puts Hawk up on his shoulders as Scott goes to the top turnbuckle and Scott hits a DDT down to the mat. Both men cover Hawk, but Hawk somehow gets a shoulder up. Scott puts Hawk up on his shoulders as Rick goes to the top turnbuckle and Rick connects on the top rope bulldog. Cover, and Scott picks up the three count pinfall! Your winners: The Steiner Brothers

Match Thoughts: Hard hitting, brutal, and awesome... what else would you expect from these four? Well, they were all "on" tonight, almost as if they were trying to prove to each other who the baddest man in the ring really was. At times it seemed like they no-sold anything that didn't hurt them too much for them to pop back up. Hawk kicking out of the top rope DDT shocked both me and the crowd, and even though he was pinned I assure you the Japanese crowd thought no less of him. In terms of stiffness there isn't much that competes with this match and it was entertaining from bell to bell. Great stuff. Score: 8.5

Masahiro Chono and Hiromichi Fuyuki vs. Shiro Koshinaka and Terry Funk
Fuyuki and Koshinaka start things off. Fuyuki asks for a handshake, but Koshinaka slaps him and we are under way. Irish whip by Fuyuki, and when Koshinaka runs into him he doesn't budge. Koshinaka goes off the ropes again, but Fuyuki clotheslines him to the mat. Fuyuki goes off the ropes and hits a lariat, then Chono comes in the ring so they can double team Koshinaka. Fuyuki hits a clothesline on Koshinaka in the corner and Chono follows with a Yakuza Kick. Chono knocks Funk off the apron and then gives Koshinaka an assisted powerbomb. Funk comes in the ring and clears it, and then chases Chono around at ringside. Chono grabs a chair, and Funk climbs onto the ramp with Chono in pursuit. Chono chucks the chair into the crowd, and then Funk throws a chair from ringside into the ring. Meanwhile, Fuyuki is handling Koshinaka in the ring. Fuyuki applies a stretch hold, but Koshinaka makes it to the ropes so Fuyuki tags in Chono. Yazuka Kick by Chono, but Koshinaka catches him with a hip attack and tags in Funk. Funk peppers Chono with punches, double Irish whip, and they hit Chono with a double punch to the face. Fuyuki then gets the same treatment, as Funk goes for the spinning toe hold on Chono. Fuyuki quickly breaks it up, and Chono tags him in. Fuyuki goes for a clothesline, but Funk ducks it and slaps him to the mat. Funk goes for the spinning toe hold on Fuyuki, but Chono breaks it up. Chono holds Funk for Fuyuki, but Funk ducks and Fuyuki hits Chono. Fuyuki then holds Funk for Chono, but Funk ducks again and Chono accidentally kicks Fuyuki. Fuyuki and Chono talk at ringside, Fuyuki feigns leaving, but he comes back down and enters the ring with Koshinaka. Test of Strength, and Fuyuki kicks Koshinaka hard in the chest. Koshinaka fights back, but Fuyuki hits a headbutt. Koshinaka absorbs a few of the blows, but Fuyuki knocks him back and tags in Chono. Headbutts by Chono and he rakes Koshinaka in the eyes. Koshinaka gets back to his feet though and goes for a German suplex, but Chono kicks him low and tags in Fuyuki. Fuyuki kicks Koshinaka while he is on the mat. Fuyuki picks up Koshinaka and goes for a powerbomb, but Koshinaka reverses it with a back bodydrop. Fuyuki tags in Chono, who throws Koshinaka out of the ring. They get back in after a moment with Chono still on the apron, he goes for a suplex, but Koshinaka reverses it and suplexes Chono into the ring. Koshinaka makes the tag, but Chono rakes Funk in the eyes and tags in Fuyuki. Fuyuki slaps Funk out of the ring, and outside Chono throws Funk into the ring post. Chono gets Funk up on the rampway and kicks him in the arm until he falls off the other side. Funk stumbles back onto the ramp, but Fuyuki greets him with a kick before throwing him back into the ring. Headbutt by Fuyuki and he peppers Funk with punches. Fuyuki tags in Chono, who stomps on Funk some more. Fuyuki had walked up the ramp, so Chono throws Funk out of the ring so that Fuyuki could hit a running lariat. Fuyuki throws Funk back in the ring, Chono goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Funk catches him up there and hits a superplex. Funk makes the tag to Koshinaka, who hits Chono with two hip attacks. Powerbomb but Koshinaka, cover, but Chono kicks out. Koshinaka goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving hip attack. Cover, but Fuyuki breaks it up. Chono tags in Fuyuki, Irish whip by Fuyuki, but Koshinaka hits a hip attack and tags in Funk. Headbutts by Funk and he Irish whips Fuyuki into Koshinaka who hits a hip attack. Funk applies the spinning toe hold to Fuyuki, but Fuyuki rolls him up for a two count. Clothesline by Fuyuki, and both men make the tag to their partners. Koshinaka kicks Chono, Irish whip, but Chono blocks the hip attack and hits an enzigieri. Chono goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a flying shoulderblock. STF by Chono, but Funk comes in to break it up. Fuyuki headbutts Funk out of the ring while Chono re-apples the STF to Koshinaka. Koshinaka slowly crawls to the ropes and makes it, so Chono has to break the hold. Chono holds Koshinaka so that Gado can hit a missile dropkick, but Koshinaka moves and Gado accidentally kicks Chono. Koshinaka hits a jumping hip attack, cover, and he gets the three count! Your winners: Shiro Koshinaka and Terry Funk

Match Thoughts: In case you don't know who he is, Fuyuki wrestled in WAR (he would later go to FMW) but the crowd was really into him so obviously they knew who he was. Unfortunately he died a few years ago of cancer. This wasn't a pretty match, as Funk of course was past his prime (which he admitted in the post-match interview) and Fuyuki is more about character then wrestling. The story here seemed to be that Chono wasn't exactly pro-WAR by the end of the match, as they seemed to do more harm then good. The wrestling itself was sub-par, but the crowd was into it since all four of the wrestlers were people they cared about and they kept the crowd into the match as veterans tend to know how to do. Not terrible, but on a card like this one it stuck out since the other matches have been really solid in-ring. Score: 5.0

Hiroshi Hase vs. Ric Flair
Tie-up to start the match and Flair quickly gets Hase down with an armbar. He switches it to a leg submission but Hase reverses it into a hammerlock. Arm wringer by Hase but Flair reverses it with a hiptoss. Back on their feet, tie-up, side headlock by Flair into a hammerlock and he takes Hase to the mat. Flair stretches Hase against the mat, but Hase gets a foot on the bottom rope and Flair releases the hold. Hase goes for a kick, but Flair catches his foot and throws him into the corner. Chop by Flair and he punches Hase down. He picks up Hase, throws him into the corner, and punches him in the face again. Flair puts Hase back in the corner and hits a chop, but Hase punches him back and the two trade blows. Hase gets the better of it and Flair rolls out of the ring. Back in the ring Flair applies an arm wringer into a hammerlock, but Hase reverses it into his own arm wringer and takes Flair to the mat in a cross armbreaker. Hase knees Flair in the arm and stretches it back before picking him up and chopping him back down. Hase chops Flair in the corner, Flair fires back, but Hase knocks him down with a punch. Back on their feet they go into a Test of Strength, but Hase hits a monkey flip. Backbreaker by Hase and he keeps Flair on his knee to stretch out his back. Cover by Hase but it gets a two count. Hase shoulders Flair in the back and chops him into the corner. Hiptoss by Hase and Flair rolls out of the ring again. Flair slowly gets back in the ring and he kicks Hase in the leg before tossing him out of the ring. Flair goes out after him and the two trade chops and punches on the floor. Hase gets back in the ring with Flair right behind him and Flair hits a backdrop suplex. Cover by Flair but it only gets a two count. Abdominal stretch by Flair but Hase hiptosses his way out of it and knocks Flair out of the ring. Flair climbs back in the ring and gets Hase into the corner before hitting a series of shoulder tackles. Flair throws Hase out of the ring and goes out after him. Flair goes for a vertical suplex on the stage, but Hase reverses it. Hase slides Flair back in the ring, goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick. Figure four by Hase, but Flair eventually makes it to the ropes. Hase continues working over Flair's leg, he picks him up, but Flair knees him in the stomach. Irish whip by Flair to the corner and he hits a lariat. Vertical suplex by Flair, cover, but Hase easily kicks out. Another cover, but again it gets a two count. Flair goes off the ropes and kicks Hase in the leg. More kicks by Flair and he hits a kneebreaker on Hase. Flair drags Hase over to the ropes and sits down on Hase's leg while it is draped across the bottom rope. Chop block by Flair and he knees Hase repeatedly in the thigh. Flair applies a quick submission hold and reverts it into a single-leg crab hold, but Hase makes it to the ropes. Flair picks up Hase and delivers another kneebreaker, but Hase comes back with an enzigieri. Hase clubs Flair in the back, picks him up and goes for a powerbomb, but Flair reverses it with a back bodydrop. Hase keeps his hold on however with Flair landing on top of him, but he bridges up to prevent from being pinned. Butterfly suplex by Hase, he picks up Flair and nails the uranage. Cover, but it gets a two count. He goes for another one, Flair blocks it, so Hase puts him on the top turnbuckle and hits a superplex. Giant swing by Hase, and he does 21 full rotations by my count before dropping Flair to the mat. Chop by Hase followed by the Northern Lights Suplex, but his leg is too hard to keep the hold applied. Kicks by Hase in the corner, but Flair switches positions with him and hits a chop. They trade blows, with Hase getting the better of it as Flair flops to the mat. Hase goes for another uranage, but again Flair blocks it. Kicks to the knee by Flair, Irish whip, but Hase reverses it and hits a side Russian leg sweep. Hase goes to the top turnbuckle, but Flair rolls out of the way of the knee drop. Flair yanks on Hase's leg and applies the figure four leg lock. Hase holds on for over a minute, but unable to reach the ropes he has no choice but to submit! Your winner: Ric Flair

Match Thoughts: A pretty slow match that the crowd had trouble getting behind except for a few of Hase's flurries. With Flair in the match a technical mat-based encounter is expected, but until the last few minutes or so the match didn't really seem to form together. That is not to say it was a bad match, it was very methodical in its process, but maybe since the Japanese crowd wasn't getting into Flair's offense it just seemed to fall flat. Also it didn't look great when after holding his leg, Hase ran over to Flair in the corner and started kicking him with the very leg he was just holding. While something like that wouldn't really matter in most matches, when the match is built around weakening a body part leading up to the ending that sort of thing is pretty noticeable. Overall certainly not a bad match but not up to the standard that Flair has set in the past. Score: 6.0

Antonio Inoki and Koji Kitao vs. Riki Choshu and Genichiro Tenryu
Kitao and Choshu start things off. Choshu pushes Kitao against the ropes to start the match but he gives a clean break. Choshu gives Kitao a slap, tie-up, and Kitao hits a series of kicks and knees to Choshu. Tie-up again, Kitao pushes Choshu back into his corner and tags in Tenryu. Tenryu and Kitao circle each other and Kitao kicks Tenryu repeatedly in the legs until Tenryu rolls out of the ring. Kitao chases after him and punches him at ringside, but he gets back in as Tenryu throws a chair in his direction. Back in the ring they exchange strikes, with Kitao hitting a series of knees before tagging in Inoki. Inoki connects with an overhead kick as he gets in the ring and Tenryu stumbles back in his corner to tag in Choshu. Tie-up, Choshu gets Inoki to the mat with a single-leg takedown but he backs off once Inoki gets a foot free. Back up, Choshu gets Inoki into the ropes and Inoki tags in Kitao. Kitao punches wildly at Choshu, but Choshu gets him against the ropes and knees him in the stomach. Snapmare, and he punches Kitao in the face before tagging in Tenryu. Kick to the back by Tenryu and he lets Kitao to his feet. Kitao kicks Tenryu in the legs and knees him into the corner. Kitao tags in Inoki, who punches Tenryu in the corner. Tenryu switches positions with him, Irish whip, but Inoki gets his foot up when Tenryu charges in. Scoop slam by Inoki and he applies a reverse chinlock, but Tenryu gets to his corner and tags in Choshu. Choshu kicks Inoki in the stomach, but Inoki punches him back and the two trade blows. Inoki makes the tag to Kitao, who kicks Choshu in the legs before applying the sleeperhold with a body scissors. Choshu struggles to his feet and hits a backdrop suplex. Choshu tags in Tenryu, but Kitao connects with a series of kicks and slams Tenryu to the mat. Mounted choke by Kitao, he picks up Tenryu, but Tenryu fights back and punches Kitao into the corner. High kick by Tenryu and he knees Kitao repeatedly in the head. Tenryu picks up Kitao, but Kitao knees him to the mat and hits a few mounted punches. Choshu runs in to kick him off though and stomps Kitao down in the corner. Kitao is stomped by both men before the referee gets them back, allowing Inoki to slap a little Fighting Spirit into Kitao. It works, as Kitao knocks down both Choshu and Tenryu and tags in Inoki. Enzigieri by Inoki to Tenryu, Kitao is tagged in and knees Tenryu in the head. Tenryu manages to get off a backdrop suplex on Kitao and makes the tag to Choshu. Choshu hits a Riki Lariat, but it takes a second one to get Kitao off his feet. Choshu applies a sleeperhold, but Kitao rolls to his corner and Inoki comes off the top rope with a knee drop to Choshu. Kitao tags him in, and Inoki hits another knee drop off the top. Cover, but it gets a two count. Choshu goes off the ropes and hits a shoulderblock, but Inoki connects on a pair of enzigieris. Inoki applies the Octopus Hold, but Tenryu quickly breaks it up. Kitao comes in the ring to get Tenryu's attention, and Inoki ducks a Riki Lariat and applies the sleeperhold. After a few seconds he releases the hold, covers Choshu, and he picks up the three count! Your winners: Antonio Inoki and Koji Kitao

Match Thoughts: This match was more of a special attraction then an actual match. Tenryu and Kitao wrestled for WAR, and I really don't know the back story on why this match took place. Kitao is a former sumo wrestler who at this point was not very good in the ring at all, and he really brought the in-ring quality down. Like last year, the ending seemed lame, since I don't think a three second sleeperhold should really knock out a guy like Choshu long enough to be pinned. I was hoping for more Inoki/Tenryu interaction, but sadly Inoki was not involved in much of the action. The fans were really into it since Inoki and Tenryu were involved, but it was not a very good match. Score: 4.0

Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Kensuke Sasaki
They circle each other to start, tie-up, but they break cleanly. Tie-up again, Tenzan gets Sasaki against the ropes and slaps him in the face before backing up. Sasaki fires back with punches, sending Tenzan reeling into the corner. They trade blows in the middle of the ring, with Sasaki daring Tenzan to hit him harder. Chops by Sasaki and Tenzan falls down to the mat. Tie-up, side headlock by Sasaki, Tenzan Irish whips out of it and the two collide with neither man budging. Side headlock by Sasaki, again Tenzan Irish whips out of it, but they collide with the same results. Punches by Tenzan, Irish whip, but Sasaki hits a hard slap which sends Tenzan to the mat. Mounted slaps by Sasaki, he picks up Tenzan, Irish whip, and he delivers a dropkick. Snapmare by Sasaki and he stomps Tenzan in the head. Sasaki applies a reverse chinlock, but Tenzan gets to the ropes and knees Sasaki in the stomach. Chops by Tenzan to the back of Sasaki and he hits a series of headbutts. Sasaki headbutts him back though, Irish whip, and he delivers the powerslam. Sasaki applies the Strangle Hold Gamma, but Tenzan gets a foot on the ropes. Vertical suplex by Sasaki, cover, but Tenzan again gets a foot on the bottom rope. Irish whip by Sasaki, but Tenzan catches him when he goes for a back bodydrop and drives him to the mat. Tenzan chops Sasaki in the neck, goes off the ropes, and hits a spinning heel kick. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Stomp by Tenzan, he picks up Sasaki and rakes him in the eyes. DDT by Tenzan, cover, but Sasaki kicks out at two. Tenzan hits a powerbomb on Sasaki, drops an elbow, cover, but it isn't enough to keep Sasaki down. Back up, headbutt by Tenzan, but Sasaki fires back with slaps. Tenzan manages to punch Sasaki to the mat, Irish whip, and he hits the Mountain Bomb. Cover, but Sasaki gets a shoulder up. Tenzan goes to the top turnbuckle and hits the diving headbutt, cover, but again it only gets two. Scoop slam by Tenzan, he goes to the top turnbuckle and delivers the moonsault. Cover, but once again Sasaki kicks out. Tenzan headbutts Sasaki, puts him up on the top turnbuckle, climbs up as well, and nails a Samoan drop all the way from the top. Another moonsault by Tenzan, cover, but Sasaki somehow kicks out. Tenzan goes off the ropes and hits a lariat, he goes towards the ropes again, but Sasaki charges him and nails him with a lariat. Tenzan goes out to the rampway, but Sasaki follows him out and lariats him in the back of the head. Still on the ramp, Sasaki Irish whips Tenzan into the ropes and hits a powerslam. Sasaki charges Tenzan, but Tenzan catches him with a savate kick. Mongolian chop by Tenzan, but Sasaki fires back with a lariat. Sasaki throws Tenzan back into the ring and hits a series of clubbing blows. Kicks to the chest by Sasaki, cover, but Sasaki picks him up at two. More kicks by Sasaki, he picks up Tenzan and delivers a brainbuster. Sasaki waits for Tenzan to get up, goes off the ropes, and takes off his head with a lariat. Cover, and Sasaki picks up the three count! Your winner: Kensuke Sasaki

Match Thoughts: A fun sprint with a similar theme as what we saw at Wrestling Dontaku 1994 with Hase and Choshu. This match was about establishing rank, and Sasaki showed that Tenzan had not passed him yet in the pecking order. Tenzan threw out everything he had, but Sasaki just took it and finished Tenzan off with a series of power moves ending with the killer lariat. Matches don't have to have a five minute mat-based section or long-term limb selling to be good... here we see two power wrestlers trying to kill each other for 10 minutes and the crowd was eating it up. I read a lot of criticism about Sasaki around this time period but here he looked pretty convincing to me. A very entertaining encounter. Score: 7.5

A long build-up (over 15 minutes) is shown for the next match.

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Keiji Mutoh
This match is for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Mutoh connects with a series of dropkicks to start the match, Irish whip, but Hashimoto moves out of the way of the handstand elbow strike and kicks Mutoh back. Mutoh goes for Hashimoto's legs, but Hashimoto sidesteps out of the way. Waistlock by Mutoh, he gets Hashimoto to the mat and applies an armlock. Hashimoto struggles back to his feet, but Mutoh rolls him up for a one count. Hashimoto goes for Mutoh's arm but Mutoh gets free and pulls back on Hashimoto's leg. Mutoh applies the Indian Deathlock and then applies a modified STF, but Hashimoto gets a hand on the ropes and Mutoh releases the hold. Hashimoto gets back to his feet, side headlock by Hashimoto and he knees Mutoh in the stomach before applying a keylock on the mat. After a moment Mutoh rolls out of the hold and gives Hashimoto a hard punch to the face. Drop toehold by Mutoh and he applies a grounded ankle lock on Hashimoto. After a minute Hashimoto gets a hand on the ropes and again Mutoh releases the hold. Mutoh goes for Hashimoto's leg, but Hashimoto moves and kicks Mutoh in the face. Mutoh manages to grab Hashimoto's leg and gets him to the mat with a dragon screw leg whip. Mutoh goes back to the leg submission but Hashimoto reverses it with a reverse chinlock until Mutoh gets a hand on the bottom rope. Back on their feet, Mutoh goes for Hashimoto's leg but Hashimoto jumps down on top of him and applies a reverse chinlock. Mutoh reverses it back with an armbar but releases the hold after a moment and back men are back on their feet again. Hashimoto headbutts Mutoh repeatedly in the head and kicks him in the chest. Elbow to the back of the head by Hashimoto and he kicks Mutoh to the mat. Neckbreaker by Hashimoto, cover, but it gets a two count. Hashimoto applies a really weak looking cobra clutch but reverts it to a cross armbreaker. After struggling Mutoh gets a foot on the ropes, but Hashimoto goes right back after him and throw Mutoh into the corner. Backbreaker by Hashimoto and he delivers the piledriver. Hashimoto goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Mutoh rolls out of the way of the elbow drop. Flash elbow drop by Mutoh, Irish whip from the corner and he hits the handstand springboard elbow strike followed by the bulldog. Missile dropkick by Mutoh from the top turnbuckle, cover, but it only gets a two count. Mutoh goes for a punch, but Hashimoto sweeps his legs out from under him. Hashimoto goes for the DDT, but Mutoh drives him back into the corner and hits a shoulder tackle. Mutoh puts Hashimoto up on the top turnbuckle, joins him, and nails the Frankensteiner. Cover by Mutoh, but Hashimoto kicks out. Mutoh picks up Hashimoto and delivers the German suplex, but again he can only gets two. Mutoh goes to the top turnbuckle, but Hashimoto rolls out of the way of the moonsault. Elbow drop to the back of Mutoh by Hashimoto and he hits a jumping back kick. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Hashimoto picks up Mutoh, goes off the ropes and hits a spinning heel kick, cover, but it gets another two count. Hashimoto gets Mutoh up again, but Mutoh quickly applies the cross armbreaker. Hashimoto is too close to the ropes though and Mutoh breaks the hold. They trade blows with Mutoh trying to use the back kick, but Hashimoto fights him off and kicks Mutoh hard in the chest. Hashimoto goes for the DDT, but Mutoh drops down to the mat to block it. Hashimoto goes off the ropes and dropkicks Mutoh while he is still kneeling. Again Hashimoto goes for the DDT, but Mutoh drops down to his knees to stop Hashimoto from hitting the move. Knees to the stomach by Hashimoto and he manages to deliver the DDT to Mutoh. Cover, but Mutoh barely kicks out. Hashimoto waits for Mutoh to get up and levels him with a high kick. Cover, but it only gets a two count. Hashimoto drags Mutoh to his feet and goes for the brainbuster, but Mutoh reverses it and flips Hashimoto to the mat. Both men slowly get up, but Mutoh puts Hashimoto in a full nelson and nails a release dragon suplex. Mutoh goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a moonsault, then quickly runs back to the corner and hits a moonsault from the second turnbuckle. Cover, and Mutoh barely gets the three count pinfall victory! Your winner and new champion: Keiji Mutoh

Match Thoughts: First, it should be noted that Hashimoto had held the belt for a full year since he had defeated Fujinami at Wrestling Dontaku 1994. I think the end of the match was very well done, but it started really slow. The middle chunk of the match had a lot of submissions, which is fine, but it was mostly moves that are not considered dangerous that were kept on for long periods and the wrestlers looked like they were taking a break. Once they got through that phase of the match (to be more exact, when Hashimoto took back over) business picked up and Mutoh also started wrestling with more meaning. This match was Hashimoto's to win, but Mutoh got out of the brainbuster (which no one kicks out of) and had to use two rapid-fire moonsaults to barely keep Hashimoto's shoulders down. If the middle portion had been better this would have been a classic, but as it is I still think its a damn good match. Score: 7.0

Final Thoughts:

From top to bottom this was a great show. While there really wasn't one "blow away" match, there was a wide spectrum of entertaining matches. The tag match was my personal favorite, but that is probably because I liked all the guys involved and love a bunch of big brutes knocking the stuffing out of each other. The Sabu match was a fun change of pace for New Japan, and the other Jr. Heavyweight matches were fun as well. The main event could have been better I think, but it ended hot and the crowd was extremely into most of the matches. Even the bad matches were still worth watching since the crowd was really into them. A really fun show that demonstrated how strong New Japan was during the mid-90s.

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