New Japan Tokyo Dome Show 1996
review by Kevin Wilson

The Date: January 4th, 1996
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Attendance: 64,000

Each year in early January, New Japan puts on a "super show" at the Tokyo Dome.  Considered the WrestleMania of Puroresu, New Japan puts forth it's best effort to have a great show.  This year's theme was New Japan vs. UWF-I.  The UWF-I was a smaller promotion in Japan that New Japan was helping get noticed (and for the most part destroy).  The UWF-I was a promotion based around "shoot style" wrestling, so some of the matches on this tape follow along that style.  Shoot-style, in essence, means the wrestlers fight the same style one would see in Pride or K-1, except they aren't actually trying to break each other's arms. The entire card was as follows:

Part 1
Yuji Nagata, Shinjiro Otani, and Tokimitsu Ishizawa vs. Kanehara, Sakuraba, and Kenichi Yamamoto
Koji Kanemoto vs. Jushin Thunder Liger
Hiromichi Fuyuki vs. Yoji Anjo
Riki Choshu vs. Masahito Kakihara
Keiji Mutoh vs. Nobuhiko Takada

Part 2
Satoshi Kojima vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Masahiro Chono vs. Shiro Koshinaka
Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kazuo Yamazaki
Hiroshi Hase vs. Kensuke Sasaki
Antonio Inoki vs. Big Van Vader

The event begins showing the wrestlers arriving to the stadium and giving brief interviews.  Liger in particular seems confident.

Yuji Nagata, Shinjiro Otani, & Tokimitsu Ishizawa vs. Kanehara, Sakuraba, & Kenichi Yamamoto
This is a New Japan vs. UWF-I match (when this is the case I will always list the New Japan wrestlers first).  Nagata and Sakuraba start things off.  They trade kicks to start as they feel each other out.  Sakuraba goes for a flying kick, but Nagata side steps it.  Sakuraba gets down Nagata with a single leg and slides into the mounted position, but Nagata manages to reverse it into a side chinlock.  Nagata applies a waistlock, Sakuraba tries to get on an armbar, but Nagata muscles out of it.  Kick by Sakuraba, and the two are back on their feet.  Nagata walks up and slaps Sakuraba, so Sakuraba fires back with a slap of his own.  Nagata retorts with a flurry of strikes to the head, Sakuraba goes for the single leg takedown, but Nagata grabs the ropes.  Nagata backs into his corner and tags in Otani.  Sakuraba goes for a kick, but Otani side steps it.  Otani gets Sakuraba down in the corner and gives him a stiff kick to the head before backing off of him.  More kick attempts by Sakuraba as he feels Otani out, but then he decides to tag in Yamamoto.  Yamamoto gets Otani back into the corner, and the two trade strikes to the face.  Reverse kick by Otani misses, and Otani tags in Ishizawa.  Single leg takedown by Ishizawa into a chinlock, but Yamamoto gets to the corner.  Nagata is tagged back in and he takes Yamamoto down.  Yamamoto gets back to his feet however and tags in Kanehara.  Nagata goes for a waistlock, but can't get Kanehara down.  Finally he does, but Kanehara is up against the ropes and Nagata must break the hold.  Kanehara gains control and pushes Nagata back into the corner, which allows Nagata to tag in Ishizawa.  Single leg takedown by Ishizawa, but when he has trouble getting him down Otani tags himself in.  Kicks to the legs by Kanehara, but Otani takes him down to the mat.  Kanehara gets to the ropes, but instead of doing a clean break he drags Kanehara back to his corner and tags in Nagata.  While Otani and Ishizawa hold him down, Nagata comes off the top rope with a double stomp.  Otani thinks that it looked like too much fun, so he then goes off the top rope with a double stomp as well.  Kick by Otani, who decides to stay in.  Knee to the head by Kanehara, and he goes over to tag in Sakuraba.  Sakuraba attacks Otani with kicks, but Otani comes back with stiff kicks of his own.  Sakuraba goes for the reverse grapevine, but instead sinks in the cross armbreaker.  Otani reverses it into his own cross armbreaker, but Sakuraba quickly gets out of it.  Sakuraba goes for it again, but Otani reaches the ropes.  Slaps by Sakuraba and a series of knee lifts, but Otani pushes Sakuraba back into his own corner and tags in Nagata.  Once Otani releases Sakuraba, he is met by Nagata with a series of punches and a front neck lock suplex.  Nagata mounts Sakuraba and hits him with a series of punches.  Sakuraba rolls out of it though, and Nagata tags in Ishizawa.  Front face lock by Ishizawa, but Sakuraba rolls through it.  Sakuraba goes for an ankle lock, but Ishizawa tags in Otani.  Tired, Sakuraba tags in Kanehara.  Otani gets Kanehara down, but Kanehara assaults him with kicks and slaps in the corner.  Kanehara tags in Yamamoto while Otani tags in Nagata.  Kicks by Yamamoto and a hard knee to the head.  Nagata is down, but the referee administers a 10 count instead of allowing Yamamoto to attack.  Nagata finally gets up and snaps off a well done overhead belly to belly suplex, slaps on the cross armbreaker, and Yamamoto quickly taps out even though he probably could have reaches the ropes from where he was.  Your winners:  Nagata, Otani, and Ishizawa

Match Thoughts:  If you actually read that and are under the impression nothing much happened, then you are right.  To try to explain, this match had actual shoot fighters in it.   Ishizawa, who now wrestles as Kendo Ka Shin, is an accomplished shoot fighter in Pride.  Sakuraba has defeated Royce Gracie and is a respected shoot fighter as well.  Otani of course wrestled in the first Super J Cup and later wrestled in Zero One.  As to the match, well, it was boring.  I respect "shoot style" wrestling, I really do, but here it did not work.  I kept thinking that it was leading to something, but the entire match was the six men tagging in and out and trading kicks with each other.  The ending came out of nowhere, and was made worse by the fact that Yamamoto could reach the ropes with his feet if he had bothered try.  A poor opener.  Score:  3.0

The wrestlers are interviewed briefly in the back.

(c) Koji Kanemoto vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger
This match is for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship.  Just watching Liger come down the ramp is a spectacle in itself, his entrance attire is the best in the business.  Handshake to begin, they circle each other, tie-up, Kanemoto pushes Liger into the ropes, and a clean break.  Another tie-up, side headlock by Liger, Kanemoto Irish whips out of it, and the two collide in the middle of the ring with neither budging.  Kick by Liger, side headlock, Kanemoto Irish whips out of it again, leapfrog, but Kanemoto nails the spinning heel kick.  Kanemoto picks up Liger, Irish whip, and an over the head belly to belly suplex sends Liger rolling out of the ring.  Kanemoto quickly follows him out with a pescado.  Kanemoto gets back in the ring quickly, goes to the top turnbuckle, and hits a plancha.  Kanemoto brings Liger back in the ring, goes to the top again and hits a missile drop kick.  Kanemoto places Liger in the Tree of Woe, gets a running start, and dropkicks him in the stomach.  Stomps by Kanemoto on the downed Liger, snapmare, and a reverse chinlock.  He releases the hold and gives Liger a stiff kick and an elbow to the throat.  Another kick, followed by mounted slaps and a kick to the head.  Kanemoto picks Liger up and delivers a European uppercut, but Liger comes back with a dropkick to the knee of Kanemoto.  Kick to the stomach by Liger, Irish whip, and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker.  Kanemoto fires back with a kick to the head though and begins to work on the left knee of Liger.  Leg lock applied by Kanemoto, but Liger rolls it into a modified bow and arrow.  Liger then applies the Romero Special before finally releasing the hold.  Kanemoto catches Liger with a quick spinning kick however and re-applies a leg lock.  Kick to the leg by Kanemoto and a slap to the face of Liger.  A spinning toe hold is applied by Kanemoto, reverted into a leg lock.  Figure Four by Kanemoto, as he drags them towards the middle of the ring.  After several painful minutes for Liger, he finally rolls his way to the ropes.  Kanemoto kicks on Liger's leg some more, picks him up, and kicks him in the face.  Chops by Kanemoto in the corner, but Liger catches him with a quick shotei.  Snapmare by Liger, followed by a stomp to the face and an elbow to the head.  Headscissors by Liger, but Kanemoto gets out of it and applies a side headlock reverted into a cross armbreaker.  Liger quickly makes it to the ropes, Irish whip by Kanemoto, reversed, and Liger nails a beautiful Liger Kick. 

Liger sets Kanemoto up in the corner, gets a running start, and hits another Liger Kick.  Shotei by Liger, he places Kanemoto on the top rope, and nails the Frankensteiner.  Cover, but a two count.  Fisherman brain buster by Liger, then another one, then another one, and another one!  Damn.  Cover, but Kanemoto somehow kicks out.  Brainbuster by Liger, cover, but another two count.  Chops by Liger, he goes for a suplex, Kanemoto flips behind him, waistlock by Kanemoto, reversed by Liger, and Liger hits a release German suplex.  Kanemoto rolls out of the ring to think things over, and Liger baseball slide's him in the back.  Liger then goes to the top rope and hits the plancha.  Kanemoto barely makes it back into the ring in time, but does manage to do so.  Liger sets Kanemoto up on the turnbuckle again, goes for another Frankensteiner, but this time Kanemoto blocks it and Liger goes down to the mat.  Kanemoto jumps down and hits a spinning heel kick.  Scoop slam by Kanemoto and he delivers with the twisting senton off the second rope.  Kanemoto goes to the top rope again, but Liger rolls out of the way of the moonsault.  Dropkick to the knee by Liger, he puts Kanemoto on the top rope and hits the super brainbuster.  Cover, but Kanemoto kicks out at two.  Scoop slam by Liger, he goes to the top turnbuckle, but Kanemoto is up quickly to join him up there.  He goes for a superplex, but Liger blocks it and slaps him down to the mat.  Liger goes for a splash, but Kanemoto gets his boot up.  Kanemoto places Liger on the top rope and hits the Frankensteiner.  Dropkick to the head by Kanemoto, cocky cover, and it only gets two.  Sit down powerbomb by Kanemoto, and he hits the moonsault.  Cover, but Liger manages to kick out.  Kanemoto picks Liger up and hits a release dragon suplex.  Kanemoto goes to the top again and nails another moonsault.  Cover, but another two count.  Scoop slam by Kanemoto, he goes for a twisting senton, but Liger rolls out of the way.  La magistral by Liger, but it only gets two.  Kanemoto is up first and hits the suplex.  He goes to the top again, but when he goes for the bodypress Liger gives him a shotei to the face.  Liger picks up Kanemoto quickly and gives him a Ligerbomb.  Cover, but a two count.  Another Ligerbomb, but another two count.  A third Ligerbomb, but again somehow Kanemoto kicks out.  Frustrated, Liger scoops slams Kanemoto, goes to the top rope, and hits a perfect Stardust Press for the three count.  Your winner and new champion:  Jushin "Thunder" Liger

Match Thoughts:  Needless to say this match was incredible.  Kanemoto wrestled previously as Tiger Mask III and was still developing his skills.  I was glad the match got so much time (almost 20 minutes), and I am always more impressed by a 20 minute match that holds my attention then an eight minute match that does the same.  While the match was great as far as action and entertainment, I wouldn't have minded if Liger had sold the leg injury a little longer.  Hard to nitpick on a match of this caliber though, as Liger and Kanemoto put on a great display of Light Heavyweight goodness.  Score:  8.2

The usual interviews backstage, Kanemoto seems unhappy.  Liger sits and has an unofficial looking press conference, with reporters and cameramen.  He gives a brief speech.

Hiromichi Fuyuki vs. Yoji Anjo
This match is actually WAR vs. UWF-I.  Anjo comes down with a few of his men, and Fuyuki comes down with Jado and Gedo.  Fuyuki attacks quickly with a kick and sends Anjo into the corner.  Jado hits a running clothesline, then Gedo, and finally Fuyuki does as well.  Super powerbomb by all three men in the corner, as Fuyuki poses for the crowd.  Anjo trips Fuyuki and kicks him in the back of the head.  Fuyuki rolls out of the ring, where Anjo continues to punch him.  Anjo re-enters the ring and Fuyuki eventually follows.  Fuyuki asks for a handshake, but Anjo headbutts him, tries to slam him into the turnbuckle, but Fuyuki reverses it.  Headbutt by Fuyuki, but Anjo fires back with kicks to the legs and the head.  Knee to the face by Anjo while Fuyuki is slumped in the corner, and Anjo mockingly asks for a handshake.  Tie-up, Fuyuki pushes Anjo down, but Anjo fires back with a single leg takedown.  Knees to the head by Anjo, he goes for the cross armbreaker, but Fuyuki blocks it.  Punches by Anjo and chops, but Fuyuki doesn't sell it and headbutts Anjo down.  Anjo kicks Fuyuki in the head, but again Fuyuki doesn't sell it and he pushes him into the corner.  Knees to the gut by Fuyuki, waistlock, but Anjo reverses it with a stiff kick to the head.  Gedo comes up on the apron as does Jado, but Anjo knocks him off.  This gives Fuyuki enough time to get back up and kick Anjo out of the ring.  Fuyuki follows him out and the two trade punches.  Gedo gets some tape however and proceeds to tape up Anjo's head.  Fuyuki tosses Anjo back in the ring, lariat, but Anjo kicks out.  Fuyuki goes for another lariat, but Anjo reverses it into an armbar.  Gedo and Jado re-enter the ring, and they give Anjo another super powerbomb.  Fuyuki finishes Anjo with a lariat.  Your winner:  Fuyuki and company

Post match:  The UWF-I guys finally get involved, as the two groups brawl in the ring.  Yoshihiro Takayama gets on the mic and yells at Fuyuki, which seems a little pointless now.

Match Thoughts:  What a poorly laid out match.  Anjo was the UWF-I booker, while Fuyuki was WAR's top heel.  The fact that Gedo and Jado interfered constantly without the referee or the UWF-I guys doing anything really brought the match down.  From what I could see from the actual wrestling, I don't think this match would have been all that great anyway, but the constant cheating did not help matters any.  UWF-I deserved to die if this guy was the booker, what was he thinking?  No redeeming traits, except maybe that it was short.  Score:  2.5

Backstage, Anjo seems unhappy. 

Riki Choshu vs. Masahito Kakihara
This is a New Japan vs. UWF-I match.  Flurry of kicks and punches by Kakihara to start the match, as Choshu retreats to the corner.  A few of the kicks look pretty good, as Kakihara just tees off on him.  Finally Kakihara backs off and Choshu comes out of the corner seemingly unharmed.  Kakihara goes for another kick, Choshu catches his leg, but Kakihara nails him with a stiff enzigieri.  Choshu doesn't sell it though and stares down on Kakihara as Kakihara lays on the mat.  Finally Kakihara gets back to his feet, and Choshu headbutts him in the corner.  Kakihara tries to get out, but Choshu gets him in a front facelock and delivers knees to the stomach and head.  Kick by Choshu and another front facelock, then he takes Kakihara down to the mat.  Choshu stomps Kakihara while he is down, but Kakihara manages to get back to his feet.  Kakihara catches Choshu with a series of kicks, but Choshu doesn't go down.  Side headlock by Kakihara, but Choshu punches him hard in the face, sending Kakihara to the mat.  Kakihara attempts a single leg, but Choshu blocks it and applies a submission.  Choshu lets Kakihara up, Kakihara goes for a kick, but Choshu catches it and takes him down.  Choshu goes as if he is applying the Scorpion Deathlock, but instead steps back.  Back on their feet, Choshu catches another kick and takes Kakihara down to the mat.  Choshu lifts Kakihara up for a suplex, but instead just tosses him down to the mat.  Choshu goes for the lariat, but Kakihara ducks it and kicks Choshu out of the ring.  Back in the ring, Kakihara goes for a kick, but Choshu catches him and gives him a back suplex.  Lariat by Choshu, he applies the Scorpion Deathlock, and it's over.  Your winner:  Riki Choshu

Match Thoughts:  In order to understand this match, you have to know the back story.  Choshu was the NJPW booker, and had put together the matches for their "feud" with UWF-I.  Now I had no problem with Choshu destroying Kakihara.  Kakihara seemed way out of his league, since he looked about 20 and Choshu has an aura of greatness that really can't be explained.  I do, however, disagree with the pairing.  For such a major show, why wasn't Kakihara paired up against a Light Heavyweight?  Why is he against someone like Choshu, who didn't give Kakihara much of anything to work with?  I understand that Choshu was trying to dominate their feud by putting away UWF-I's best young wrestler, but why he would waste a match at the Tokyo Dome is beyond me.  Choshu seems concentrated more on devaluing UWF-I then putting on an all-around solid show.  What a strange deal.  Score:  3.0

The usual interviews are shown backstage.

The contract signing is shown for the next match.  It should be noted that the order of matches on the tape is different then it was for the live show.  This was the main event of the show as it was presented.

Main event of Part One:  (c) Keiji Mutoh vs. Nobuhiko Takada
This match is for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.  This is a New Japan vs. UWF-I match.  Handshake to start, Takada goes for a series of kicks, but none hit the mark.  The two trade attempted strikes but neither can get a good hit on their opponent.  Takada lands a few kicks, but Mutoh catches his leg and pushes him into the ropes.  Instead of a clean break, Mutoh gives Takada a little slap as he backs off.  Mutoh catches Takada's leg again and takes him down with a waistlock.  Takada rolls through it, Mutoh goes for the cross armbreaker, but he can't lock it on.  Takada slides to the mounted position, but Mutoh stays in the guard.  Short strikes to Mutoh's side by Takada, but Mutoh rolls him over.  The two struggle for position, with Mutoh getting the better of it.  Takada manages to apply a front face lock, but Mutoh gets back to his feet.  Takada goes for the cross armbreaker, but Mutoh blocks it.  Mutoh goes for the figure four, but Takada kicks him off.  Mutoh goes for a double leg takedown, but Takada blocks it and gets to the ropes.  Kicks by Takada (neither really landing), Mutoh tries a kick, but he misses as well.  Takada finally gets Mutoh down and applies a side headlock.  After trying for several minutes, Takada finally gets on Mutoh an arm submission, but he can't fully lock it on to get Mutoh to submit.  Mutoh manages to get to the top position and hits Takada with a flurry of headbutts and kicks.  Elbow drop by Mutoh and a series of knee lifts.  Rolling koppou kick by Mutoh, then a back bodydrop.  Mutoh quickly goes to the top rope for the moonsault and then applies an arm submission.  He goes for the cross armbreaker, but Takada makes it to the ropes.  The two trade punches on their feet, but Takada manages to suplex Mutoh down.  Leg lock by Takada, but Mutoh manages to get to the ropes.  Kicks by Takada meet Mutoh as he tries to get up, and the referee administers a ten count for Mutoh.  Once he is up, Takada greets him with more kicks, but this time Mutoh catches his leg and gives him a dragon screw leg whip.  Mutoh quickly applies the figure four, but Takada makes it to the ropes.  Again Mutoh goes for the leg and dragon screw leg whips him again.  Another figure four by Mutoh, but Takada takes his leg out of the hold and applies an ankle lock, and the two roll to the ropes.  Takada gets in a series of knee lifts, tosses Mutoh to the mat, and applies a cross armbreaker.  Mutoh rolls through it though and gets his foot on the ropes.  Both men back up, Takada connects with a series of kicks, sending Mutoh down to the mat.  Cross armbreaker applied again by Takada, Mutoh struggles, but he can't take the pain and taps out.  Your winner and new champion:  Nobuhiko Takada

Post match:  Takada is presented with the IWGP Championship.  Takada calls out Hashimoto, and they have words.  Backstage, the celebration for Takada continues.

Match Thoughts:  This was a shoot-style match done much better then the first match on the tape.  For the first 10 minutes they struggled on the mat, then Mutoh manages to get in a handful of pro wrestling moves, but Takada's submissions and kicks are too much.  While I can't say that I am the biggest fan of shoot-style wrestling, I am still able to tell when it is done well.  While Mutoh did look a little out of place at times, he adapted well to the new style.  Score:  7.5

End of Part One

Part Two begins showing the wrestlers arrive to the arena, similar to Part One.  All give interviews, but the only one I can understand is Vader.  He says nothing of real importance though.

Satoshi Kojima vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
This was billed as Kojima's "return" match, for he had been gone for the year previous in order to help build his skills.  Kojima attacks Tenzan before the bell even rings with a Mongolian chop.  Stunned, Tenzan doesn't see Kojima bounce off the ropes and gets hit with a vicious lariat.  Tenzan rolls out of the ring to regain his composure, but Kojima will have none of that and follows him out with a tope suicida.  The crowd is going nutzo.  Kojima climbs back into the ring, with Tenzan eventually coming back in as well.  Tie-up, side headlock by Kojima, Irish whip by Tenzan, and the two collide in the middle of the ring with neither budging.  Tenzan tells Kojima to bounce off the ropes, and again neither man budges.  A third time Kojima bounces off the ropes, but this time Tenzan greets him with a boot to the head.  Kojima is unphased though and wallops Tenzan in the head.  Vertical suplex by Kojima and he applies a reverse chinlock.  After a minute Kojima released the hold, Irish whip, but Tenzan gets his boot up when Kojima charges.  A series of Mongolian chops by Tenzan follows, then a pair of headbutts, Irish whip, Tenzan goes for the spinning heel kick, but Kojima ducks.  Kojima then hits Tenzan with a spinning heel kick of his own and blatantly chokes Tenzan. Single leg Boston crab applied by Kojima, but Tenzan makes it to the ropes.  Elbow drop by Kojima and another reverse chinlock.  Tenzan manages to get to his feet and gives Kojima a jawbreaker.  Kick to the head by Tenzan as he clubs Kojima to the mat.  Kojima fires back though with punches and chops, but Tenzan is up for the challenge and gives Kojima a rough Mongolian chop, sending him to the mat.  Tenzan gives Kojima a headbutt while he is down, cover, but a two count.  Eye rake by Tenzan and more chops, but Kojima slaps Tenzan to the mat.  Kojima kicks Tenzan in the stomach and applies the reverse chinlock.  Tenzan twists out of it and throws Kojima into the turnbuckle.  Irish whip by Tenzan and a clothesline in the opposite corner.  Another Irish whip, but this time Kojima avoids the splash and gives Tenzan a rough release German suplex.  Waistlock by Kojima, Tenzan reverses it, but Kojima gives him the 'ol Flair low blow.  Another kick to the midsection by Kojima, he picks Tenzan up, Irish whip, and a Rydeen Bomb.  Kojima then goes to the top rope and drops the elbow.  Cover, but only a two count.  Kojima goes to the top rope again and hits a moonsault.  Another cover, but again Tenzan kicks out.  Kojima goes to the top rope a third time, but this time Tenzan catches him up there.  Super Samoan drop by Tenzan from the top rope, cover, but a two count.  Tenzan then goes to the top rope to hit a moonsault of his own, cover, but a kick out at two.  Mongolian chops by Tenzan, Irish whip, and he nails a mountain bomb.  Tenzan then goes to the top rope again, diving headbutt, cover, and a three count.  Your winner:  Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Post match:  Kojima attacks Tenzan, obviously upset that he lost his return match.

Match Thoughts:  A very solid match between these two future stars.  During the live showing this match was second, which goes to show where these two were in their careers at this point.  Both wrestlers were very fired up and intense throughout.  I would have liked if the match could have been a little longer (it was less then 10 minutes), and I feel that Kojima went to the chinlock too often as a transition.  Tenzan was the better man here, and the right wrestler won the match.  Score:  6.0

The usual interviews.  Kojima is actually yelling, so I imagine he wasn't happy. 

Masahiro Chono vs. Shiro Koshinaka
Koshinaka attacks Chono before the bell rings, Irish whip, and his hip attack.  Chono, upset, rolls to the outside and walks around until he feels ready to actually fight.  Tie-up, but they do a clean break.  Clubs and punches by Koshinaka, Chono fires back with a snapmare and punches to the head.  Tie-up, Chono pushes Koshinaka into the corner and gives a clean break.  Tie-up, arm wrench by Chono, but Koshinaka makes it to the ropes and Chono has to break the hold.  Single leg takedown by Koshinaka and he begins to work on Chono's left knee.  Chono rakes Koshinaka's eyes to get out of it, bounces off the ropes, and gives Koshinaka a kick to the head.  Koshinaka doesn't sell it though, bounces off the ropes himself, and delivers a hip attack.  Chono seems unaffected, bounces off the ropes, gives Koshinaka another kick, but it has no affect.  Another hip attack sends Chono reeling, waistlock by Koshinaka, but Chono low blows Koshinaka to get out of it.  Chono bounces off the ropes and gives Koshinaka a Yakuza kick, knocking him down.  Up to the top rope goes Chono, and once Koshinaka stands Chono jumps off with a flying shoulder tackle.  Cover, but a two count.  Irish whip by Chono, but Koshinaka hits him with another hip attack.  Chono slips on the sleeper and then nails the reverse DDT.  STF applied by Chono, but Koshinaka makes it to the ropes.  Chono tosses Koshinaka to the outside, and removes the blue mats by ringside.  Chono goes for the piledriver, but Koshinaka reverses it with a back bodydrop, sending Chono to the cement.  Koshinaka then goes for a powerbomb on the concrete, but Chono slides down Koshinaka's back to get out of it.  Back in the ring, Chono goes to the top rope, but Koshinaka joins him and delivers a superplex from the second rope.  Irish whip by Koshinaka and a hip attack.  Koshinaka bounces off the ropes, but Chono gets the atomic drop.  Koshinaka bounces off the ropes and manages to get a German suplex for a two count.  Irish whip by Koshinaka, reversed, and Koshinaka delivers a hip attack (if I see that move one more time I am going to scream).  Koshinaka ascends the top rope and nails the flying hip attack.   AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!  Powerbomb by Koshinaka, cover, but Chono kicks out at two.  Inside cradle by Koshinaka, and that gets the three count.  Your winner:  Shiro Koshinaka

Match Thoughts:  Is it me, or is seven hip attacks a bit excessive?  And by hip attack, I mean Koshinaka jumping up and hitting Chono with his ass, so it is not like it is an impressive move that needs repeating in the first place.  This was the first time I had seen Koshinaka, and I hope that in other matches he has exhibited a more varied moveset.  To make matters worse, these two lacked the intensity that we saw in the previous match.  During one of the leg submissions both wrestlers had a bored look on their faces, not seeming to remember that they were in the middle of a wrestling match in front of 64,000 people.  The action wasn't bad, it just seemed in general uninspired, which made the match come off flat.  I don't know about Koshinaka, but I know that Chono is capable of more then this.  Score:  3.5

Chono is yelling backstage, something about too many hip attacks.  Koshinaka also speaks, and seems to be arguing with the reporter.  He was probably asked, "Why so many hip attacks?"  That is just a guess though.

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kazuo Yamazaki
The two trade kicks to start, but neither man is able to land anything hard enough to down their opponent.  Kicks by Yamazaki, and a stiff one to the head sends Hashimoto against the ropes.  More kicks in the corner by Yamazaki, headbutt, and he locks on an armbar.  After pausing to get in more kicks, Yamazaki applies the hold again, but Hashimoto manages to toss him down.   Hashimoto leaves the ring in order to regain his composure before re-entering.  Yamazaki greets him with kicks when he comes back in though and puts the armbar back on.  Arm breaker by Yamazaki, and a headbutt to Hashimoto's arm.  Hashimoto fights back with a series of punches to the face and a chop to the throat.  Elbow drop by Hashimoto, cover, but a two count.  Hashimoto applies a wristlock, kicks Yamazaki in the back, and releases him.  The two trade kicks, Yamazaki goes for the armbar again, Hashimoto blocks it, but Yamazaki knees him in the gut and locks it on.  Armbreaker by Yamazaki, but Hashimoto gives him an armbreaker of his own.  Hashimoto delivers a few stiff kicks to Yamazaki, goes for a DDT, but Yamazaki blocks it.  Hashimoto then goes for a suplex, but Yamazaki reverses it into a sleeperhold/bodyscissors combination.  Hashimoto slowly inches towards the ropes until he can reach it with his feet.  Another sleeper is applied by Yamazaki, and he goes for the cross armbreaker.  Before he can get it locked in though, Hashimoto gets to his feet and tosses Yamazaki to the mat.  A kick by Yamazaki sends Hashimoto to his knees, as Yamazaki lays in more stiff kicks.  Hashimoto responds with a stiff punch of his own and a kick to Yamazaki's side.  Killer brainbuster by Hashimoto, cover, and he gets the three count.  Your winner:  Hashimoto

Match Thoughts:  Just as I thought the match was starting to get exciting, it ended.  It seems like after being dominated most the match, Hashimoto shouldn't have gotten the victory that quickly.  True, his kicks and punches were stiff, but since he had been taking such hits the entire match and was not too effected I do not see why Yamazaki would be knocked loopy so easily.  Other then that, it was a pretty good match.  The kicks and punches were very stiff, adding to the intensity of the match.  Hashimoto sold his arm well the entire match, which is always appreciated.  No complaints about the wrestlers, I just wish they had five more minutes so they could finish their story.  Score:  6.0

Hiroshi Hase vs. Kensuke Sasaki
This was billed as Hase's retirement match, since he had recently been voted into the Japanese Parliament.  Tie-up, and Sasaki pushes Hase into the corner.  Single leg takedown by Hase, but Sasaki is quickly back up.  Test of Strength, bridge by Hase, and Hase nails Sasaki with a back kick.  Sasaki gets a bloody nose from the kick, and looks quite angry.  Side headlock by Sasaki, Irish whip by Hase, and Sasaki shoulders him down.  Sasaki kicks Hase while he is down, Hase roars back with chops to the chest, but Sasaki doesn't sell them.  Waistlock by Sasaki, he gets him down to the ground, and eventually gets on a wristlock.  Hase struggles to his feet and applies the Indian Deathlock (complete with bridge).  Elbow drop on the leg by Hase and he continues to work on Sasaki's left leg.  Sasaki reverses the leg lock with a wristlock, but Hase gets to the ropes.  Knees to the guy by Hase and chops in the corner, but this simply makes Sasaki mad.  The two trade slaps, which Sasaki gets the better of.  Kick to the chest by Sasaki and then one right to the head.  Sasaki applies an armbar, but Hase gets to the ropes.  Kick to the back by Sasaki, Irish whip, reversed, and Hase lands the Russian leg sweep and then a quick uranage.  Hase climbs to the top rope and hits a missile dropkick.  Kip-up by Hase and he gives Sasaki the 'ol Giant Swing.  15 rotations or so, I wasn't counting, but it lasts a good while.  Hase picks up Sasaki, but Sasaki is ready and hip tosses him to the ground with authority.  Dropkick by Sasaki, cover, but Hase has his foot on the ropes.  Irish whip by Sasaki and he nails the running bulldog.  Scorpion Deathlock by Sasaki, but Hase manages to get to the ropes.  Sasaki goes to work on Hase's leg, but Hase somehow reverses it into a leg lock of his own.  Sasaki regains the advantage, tries to give Hase a powerbomb, but Hase falls on top of him for a two count.  German suplex by Hase, but it only gets a two count.  Hase snaps off a quick Northern Lights suplex, but he again only gets a two count.  Hase picks up Sasaki, goes for another Northern Lights suplex, but Sasaki elbows out of it and gets Hase in the uranage.  Cover, but a two count.  Sasaki goes for a submission hold, but Hase wiggles out of it and applies an inverted STF.  Kicks to the knee by Hase, but Sasaki kicks him off as he goes for the his leg for a submission hold.  Sasaki slowly gets to his feet as Hase waits, and Hase dropkicks him in the knee.  Elbow drop by Hase, he gets a running start, but Sasaki powerslams him.  Lariat by Sasaki, but Hase doesn't go down.  Sasaki goes for another one, and this time Hase falls to the mat.  Northern Lights Bomb by Sasaki, cover, and he gets the three count.  Your winner:  Kensuke Sasaki

Post match:  Sasaki puts a special New Japan wrestling robe around Hase, out of respect for Hase's retirement.  Hase talks on the mic for a few minutes, thanking the fans for their support over the years and other such tender things.  Hase and Sasaki hug afterwards.  It should be noted that these two were tag team partners on occasion in the early 90s, so them being nice together is not as random as it might seem.

Match Thoughts:  Sasaki wrestled as "Power Warrior" in New Japan for years teaming with Road Warrior Hawk, and Hase is best known for this feud with the Great Muta in the early 90s.  This was a very solid match, but not earth shattering in any regard.  Sasaki, even though he had been wrestling for years at this point, still didn't seem to be completely in sync with Hase.  The match looked best with Hase in control, for even though he is older, he knows how to work a match.  Even though this was his retirement match, he would come back and wrestler in New Japan in the years to come, but he never was again an official member of the roster.  I liked the match, I just think it could have been better if Sasaki had performed at a higher level.  Score:  6.5

Hase and Sasaki do the press conference together (even though usually only the winner gets the "official" press conference). 

The contract signing for the next match is shown, and the wrestlers shake hands.  Vader reminds Inoki of the time they wrestled in 1987 when Vader destroyed him in less then three minutes.  That seemed mean, but it wasn't as mean as what Vader had planned for Inoki tonight.....

Antonio Inoki vs. Big Van Vader
Vader is all decked out for the occasion, smoke-shooting mask and all.  Crowd goes nuts for Inoki's entrance.  Stiff slap by Vader to start the match, and Inoki rolls to the outside.  After re-entering the ring, they tie-up, and Vader scoop slams him down.  Vader tosses Inoki in the corner and delivers a series of headbutts and very stiff punches.  Back on his feet, Inoki attacks Vader with a series of punches.  Vader doesn't seem to mind though and sends Inoki to his knees with one punch.  Vader lifts Inoki up and carefully tosses him over the top rope.  Inoki gets tossed into the guardrail and then scoop slammed onto a table.  Leaving Inoki laying on the other side of the rail, Vader re-enters the ring and waits for him.  As Inoki gets on the apron, Vader clotheslines him back down to the mat.  When Inoki goes up to the apron a second time, Vader goes for another clothesline, but Inoki ducks it and applies a choke sleeper.  Vader gets out of the hold with a punch to the face, and Inoki rolls back into the ring.  A jab by Vader, waistlock, Inoki tries to get out of it, but Vader delivers honestly one of the most brutal release German suplexes I have ever seen, dropping Inoki with force right on his neck and head!  And on a 53 year old man no less.  Inoki looks absolutely dead, Vader goes over to pick him up and punches him back down.  Another stiff punch by Vader and he tosses Inoki out onto the ramp.  On the ramp now, Vader slaps and punches Inoki.  Vader places Inoki against the ropes, goes for a clothesline, but Inoki ducks it and Vader goes flying back into the ring.  Inoki then climbs the top rope and nails the flying knee drop.  Kicks to the leg by Inoki and a enzigieri takes Vader off his feet and out of the ring.  Inoki kicks Vader down from the apron and nails him with a steel chair.  Once Vader gets back up he can see he is busted open.  Inoki greets Vader with punches as he gets back in the ring and another enzigieri.  Stepover armbar applied by Inoki, but Vader reaches the ropes.  Inoki punches on Vader some more, but Vader punches back and applies the sleeper/bodyscissors combination.  Vader kindly releases the hold, stands Inoki up, and punches him back down to the mat.  Scoop slam with authority from Vader, cover, but Inoki kicks out at two.  Vader picks Inoki back up and gives him a vicious Nodowa Otoshi.  Cover, but Inoki barely kicks out.  Inoki is also now bleeding from being punched around so much.  Powerbomb attempt by Vader, but Inoki slides down his back.  He goes for another enzigieri, but Vader sees it coming and ducks.  Elbow drop by Vader, cover, but a two count.  Scoop slam by Vader, he goes to the top, and hits his reverse splash from the second rope.  Cover, but a two count.  Vader goes back up to the top rope, nails the moonsault, cover, but somehow Inoki barely kicks out.  Irish whip by Vader, and he hits the splash in the corner.  Another Irish whip, but Inoki avoids the clothesline and powerslams Vader down.  Inoki quickly applies the cross armbreaker, and Vader taps out.  Your winner:  Antonio Inoki

Post match:  Vader goes over and shakes Inoki's hand, and then raises it.

Match Thoughts:  How does one grade an utter annihilation?  Easy - by how convincing the annihilation was and how the crowd reacted to it.  For the first part, Vader did a very convincing job at looking like he was destroying Inoki, because, well, he was destroying Inoki.  And the crowd was eating up every bit of Inoki's offense and every single near fall towards the end of the match.  The intensity in this match was incredible, and the moves that Inoki went through were unreal.  This match was almost like a train-wreck.... you don't want to watch, but you do.  Personally I loved every minute of it, I think it was the most well done complete ass kicking I have ever seen, and the ending was exactly what the crowd had been waiting and praying for.  It is no wonder they made this the last match on the tape even though it was not the last match at the live show.  Score:  8.5

During Inoki's press conference he looks completely out of it, and the cut by his right eye is very clear.  And quite a nasty gash it is.  He leaves with assistance from other workers.

Final Thoughts:

This was a mixed bag for me, but I still highly recommend it.  The Vader/Inoki match is fantastic, and the Liger/Kanemoto was excellent as well.  Add in Mutoh/Takada, Hase/Sasaki, and Kojima/Tenzan and you have a very solid event.  Personally, I was not a fan of the UWF-I matches, and thought that most were poorly laid out and did not deserve to have a place at such a major event.  If you wanted to see the UWF-I style (the Mutoh match and the Hashimoto match are the best examples) without buying one of their entire cards, then I would recommend this tape as a good way to get introduced to the style.  Even if you don't like it, you still have some great New Japan matches to justify the purchase.


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