New Japan “Fantastic Story in Tokyo Dome”
review by Jason Manning

Date: January 4th, 1993
Location: Tokyo Dome

“FANTASTIC STORY IN TOKYO DOME!” I was all ready to move on with New Japan 1998 but I got in some stuff from 1993 so I will go back to that. This has got Muta/Chono in a double title match, Dragon/Liger for the IWGP Jr. Title, the Road Warriors vs. the Steiners for the IWGP Tag Team Title, and Choshu vs. Tenryu in the main event. And lots more! Shu’s already checked out a TV block with the Muta/Chono and Ultimo/Liger matches, but I will bring you the FULL. SHOW. REVIEW. Yes.

Akira Nogami, Takayuki Iizuka & El Samurai vs. Koki Kitahara, Orihara & Nobukazu Hirai
HIRAI!! One of my favorite All Japan undercarders right now in New Japan!... and in 1993! At the TOKYO DOME! This is quite exciting although he’s the most vanilla guy in the match. Kitahara is insanely over as a heel and I’d like to question why as I’m not too familiar with everything that was going on in 1993. This is actually pretty good for a 15 minute undercard tag as everybody seems to not like each other very much (interpromotional HATRED!) and the New Japan guys know it’s going 15 minutes so they work over Orihara’s leg for a little while and Orihara sells it really well. Despite being the most over guy in the match Kitahara mostly stays out of the way and lets his partners (well, mostly Orihara) work the bulk of the match, which is mostly selling for the opposition, who are fine on offense, although pretty identical. The WAR guys make a lot of saves which the crowd doesn’t like, and Kitahara eventually comes in and begins to beat the crap out of people. Kitahara helps his partners drop a pair of stiff somersault sentons on poor Iizuka but he makes the mistake of letting his partners in again and the New Japan guys take control some more. Iizuka delivers a powerbomb to Orihara that seems to KO him and covers, and Hirai comes in to make the save. Orihara’s still down so Kitahara comes in to slap some sense into his partner, and Orihara doesn’t respond. I’m not sure if something went wrong here, but everybody comes in and starts brawling before Iizuka pins Orihara after he’s been down and not moving for a minute (15:11). Weird finish, fun match.

Masa Saito & Shinya Hashimoto vs. Scott Norton & Dustin Rhodes
This is the most unspectacular 14 minutes of my day thus far. And that includes the 6 hours of sleep. Norton no-sells, Dustin brings some tame offense, Hash doesn’t kick the shit out of Dustin near enough, and Saito doesn’t really do much - but at least he gets some heat. *Everything* comes across as killing time. GOD! this seems like it goes on for 20 minutes. Dustin bumps well for some of Hash’s later offense and an enzuigiri mercifully ends this (13:57). Hey I didn’t like that.

Hiroshi Hase vs. Sting
I love Hase. I don’t have a problem with Sting. This doesn’t manage to be very good though. A bunch of unspectacular action with Hase controlling the first half. He does a good job of keeping it watchable but not much else, and the crowd seizes to care. Then the match kinda’ goes back-and-forth and there’s really not much of note, but they manage to keep it solid enough. It’s at least technically sound and such. They pick things up a little for the finish but it ends with a freaking diving body press by Sting (15:31). Eh. This was a perfectly acceptable match, kinda’ through the motions but still pretty solid, although Sting looked a little off in places. Wasn’t great, wasn’t bad, was just sorta’ OK. At least it wasn’t the last match.

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Takashi Ishikawa
This is a really, really simple match but you MUST watch it and enjoy the goodness. Fujinami is A MAN at getting the crowd going as he takes it right to Ishikawa at the start and then brings out an AWESOME tope suicida. Ishikawa, who I have not seen prior to this match, surprises me as he hits a pescado. Then he gets in a bunch of reaaaallyyyy low grade heel offense that the crowd is thankfully into. Fujinami hints at a comeback a few times and all Ishikawa really has to do is catch him or put him in another rear chinlock. And it works ever-so-well as an underdog-ish match. Rear chinlocks get heat! In the Tokyo Dome! Fujinami eventually manages a Dragon sleeper but Ishikawa kicks away and gets in some more non-resthold offense (lariat, a couple powerbombs) before Fujinami catches him up top with a superplex. Ishikawa manages a Scorpion Deathlock but Fujinami soon hits him with three enzuigiris and then puts on the Dragon sleeper for the win (11:41). Well, this would’ve probably been not too great in any other context, but we can all thank the heated NJ vs. WAR feud for making the Tokyo Dome crowd really into this and thus making it quite the fun watch. It was actually a decent enough match on its own though with Fujinami doing just about everything night to make it work. It told a nice underdog story for a while before some fine back-and-forth action to end it. I liked it.

IWGP Heavyweight Title & NWA Heavyweight Title
Great Muta [c] vs. Masahiro Chono [c]

I won’t go into any big details on this as Shuriken already reviewed this better than I ever could and you can see that here. I mostly agree with what he says and don’t have much to add, but I did enjoy the hell out of this match. Didn’t do much for me starting off, but after a while it began truly ruling with both guy’s picking things up, especially Chono - although Muta was not afraid to bump huge. Plus there’s that whole psychology aspect that Shuriken masterfully explained. The playing off of the G1 Final with the powerbomb was reaaaalllyyy neat too. And they built up their finishers really well, with Muta’s moonsault constantly being avoided until the end and Chono’s STF being put over as deadly based on Muta’s selling alone. Muta finishes it off with two moonsaults (19:48). This was some really great professional wrestling, and truly felt like a contest between two men who wanted both belts. Real good psych, some nice bumping, Chono being great, and Muta working hard for once. YOU WANT THIS.

Super Strong Machine, Hiro Saito, Tatsutoshi Goto & Norio Honaga vs. Shiro Koshinaka, Great Kabuki, Masashi Aoyagi & Akitoshi Saito
This has got suck written alllllllllllllllll over it. Koshinaka’s group comes out with quite the contrasting styles, as Koshinaka’s wearing a stylish gold robe, Kabuki’s working a headdress, and Aoyagi and Saito have got karate gear on. The other guys come out with... MATCHING PANTS! So I’m fully behind the good guys now. This would’ve actually been sorta’ OK with about 5 minutes chopped off. It’s a whole lot of striking, and by a whole lot I mean a WHOLE LOT. They do a lot of quick tags in an attempt to keep it interesting but they don’t do anything beyond that so it doesn’t end up exactly interesting. Plus there’s the whole fact that it goes 14 minutes so it’s not a very enjoyable watch. Nope. But I wasn’t exactly expecting anything more from it anyways. A Kabuki backdrop puts Honaga out for 3 (14:20). MOVING ON!....

Ron Simmons vs. Tony Halme
Well. What the hell is this doing here? Why are these guys wrestling against each other? What is the purpose of this? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE!? Fawk, I don’t know. At least it’s just 6 minutes. And uh... it has the worst inside cradles you’ll ever see. There ya’ go! I’ll give you a reason to see ANY match! I WILL! Simmons wins with a crappy spinebuster (6:10). Onto Liger and Ultimo!...

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title
Ultimo Dragon [c] vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

Shuriken already reviewed this too but only saw the end meaning he missed THE STORY. THE STORY! Liger’s wearing the insanely awesome blue suit for this one. The first 10 minutes or so of this are absolutely great, as it’s all about them showing everybody just who the better man is. First they tear it up with a beautiful batch of armdrags and have a stand-off to look completely even, Ultimo’s face even saying “Alright, so you’re good.” Then the match becomes all about who can rip the other guy’s leg apart better, but both can never get the upperhand due to the other guy constantly going for the leg when they try to get their own leg work going. Then the match becomes all about who can stretch each other in the worst way, and that of course is absolutely fabulous. I’d say Liger wins for the coolest move with a freaking bow-and-arrow Dragon sleeper, but the whole contest is still close. Liger nails Ultimo with a rolling koppou kick to the side of the face followed by a shotei flurry, showing that he’s got the hard-hitting aspect down, but Ultimo outpaces him with a headscissors takeover. Liger then shows Ultimo that his speed always can’t work as when Ultimo goes for a cartwheel (attempted handspring elbow I’m guessing), Liger simply pushes him out of the way. Absolutely grrrreaaatt! Ultimo goes back to the stretching aspect and eventually Liger attempts to catch him up top. Ultimo throws him down aaaand... slips on a missile dropkick attempt. OUCH! Ultimo makes up for this by busting out a FAAAANTABULOUS plancha OVER the guardrail, causing Liger to go through a couple of tables at ringside. Well, if you’re gonna mess-up, at least make up for it, I always say. Well, I don’t always say that. But you know the deal. Ultimo brings Liger back inside with a brainbuster but messes up some dueling tombstones, and then totally blows a diving headbutt by landing on his FEET. Dayum, Asai! DAYUM! I at this point pray that he won’t blow the Asai moonsault in the Tokyo Dome. Ultimo manages a neat suplex before Liger goes for a rollup but can’t grab the win. Ultimo goes for a rollup too but gets no three, and then busts out a cross-arm German suplex hold for 2 and Liger sells the damage like Liger. Liger manages a rolling koppou kick that knocks Ultimo outside and he immediately takes advantage of a potential comeback by powerbombing Ultimo on the floor! Liger then busts out a BEAUTIFUL senton atomico from the TOP ROPE to the OUTSIDE and it’s BEAUTIFUL. YES! Back inside, Liger lets you know that it’s his time with a release German suplex. He nails Ultimo with a shotei, heads back to the leg with a single-leg crab hold, and delivers a powerbomb. Liger goes for a diving lariat but Ultimo counters it with a lariat of his own and Liger lands on his neck. He rolls outside and Ultimo follows him with a springboard corkscrew senton! and a beautiful shot of the huge Tokyo Dome is shown. Back inside Ultimo goes for a victory roll but Liger counters by simply dropping him on his face and goes for the Liger bomb, but Ultimo counters with a hurricanrana for a near fall! It’s still about one-upping, baaaaby! He goes for the Asai moonsault and HITS IT and follows it up with HIS version of the Liger bomb for another near fall. The speedy Ultimo does a la magistral for just another near fall and then bravely heads up top. Liger thankfully stops him with a shotei and then KILLLLSSS him with an avalanche-style DDT! It gets a near fall and then Liger shows Ultimo a real Liger bomb. It ain’t over though as Ultimo HAS been a tough challenge and all and Liger delivers an avalanche-style Frankensteiner, holding Ultimo down for the 3 count (20:09). Beyond Ultimo blowing a handful of spots, this was some GREAT professional wrestling with a really neat story, with both guy’s trying to one-up each other and then bringing out a bunch of spots and near falls and whatnot in an attempt to grasp the win, reverting back to the original story at times too. YOU WANT IT!

IWGP Tag Team Title
Hawk Warrior & Power Warrior [c] vs. Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner

Hey now, this is a batch of fun. You can’t really expect any great story in these matches, and the best you can hope for is a bunch of fun action and everyone beating the hell out of each other. This has got that and then some. They actually do work a pretty simple story in as Power Warrior gets beat on for a while. Kensuke was never afraid to make the Steiners look great, so it’s a lot of fun. Hawk and the Steiners really hate each other too, and Hawk’s always bothering them with a save for his partner. The Steiners and Kensuke are not afraid to bump huge for each other either. Scotty manages to take the biggest bump of the match with a press slam to the outside early on, although Rick and Kensuke take a bunch of suplexes on their head too. The action and heat picks up for the finish and the Hellraisers bust out a freaking Doomsday Device ON THE OUTSIDE, causing Hawk to fly over the guardrail. Scott also hits the guardrail hard taking the move. Rick and Kensuke go at it on the inside but forget that their partners are legal and down on the outside, and the match ends in a double countout (14:38). The crowd is aaaaangry! Crappy finish, but a lot of fun up until then.

Riki Choshu vs. Genichiro Tenryu
This match is fucking great. Two aging guy’s get in the ring and just pound the shit out of each other for eighteen minutes and fourteen seconds until one finally falls. This is one of those matches that really comes off as a spectacle in the Dome, as the crowd is completely into every move they make. Choshu even does a German suplex hold. It ain’t a pretty match, but hot damn is it a freaking great watch. Tenryu wins it with a powerbomb (18:14). Goddamn does this rule.

Final Analysis: This was a reaaallyyy good show, with four really great matches in Muta/Chono, Liger/Ultimo, Tenryu/Choshu, and the tag titles match, and then a few other fine matches underneath. There’s a little crap to be found, but not near enough to drag the show down. Check this out.

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