review by Reed Benson

Time for part two of my series of reviews on alternative puroresu shows. Last time was Hustle. This time, it’s WRESTLE LAND! Now, for my Hustle review, I got a lot of background info from Stevie’s http://hustle.puroresufan.com site. For this review, since I’ve never seen a WRESTLE LAND show before, I’m going to need some assistance from Stuart's’s http://www.puroresufan.com mothership. Just giving credit where credit is due.

So, what is WRESTLE LAND? It’s an attempt by New Japan to do a brand extension. LOCK UP was booked by Riki Chosyu and was based totally on the in-ring work. WRESTLE LAND was driven by storylines and characters, much like rival promotion Hustle. So, let’s have some fun with Professional Wrestling Happy Land!

- Tsubo Genjin vs. Asosan
- Ryusuke Taguchi & El Samurai vs. Makai Masked Canadian & Milanito Collection AT
- Jinsei Shinzaki & Daigoro Kashiwa vs. Toru Yano & Makai #21
- Tanaka Character Deprivation Match (if he loses): Tanaka vs. BENTEN
- DEAD OR ALIVE: Jado & Gedo vs. Shuji Kondo & "brother" YASSHI
- Return vs. Rebirth: Super Strong Machine, Pegasus Kid & Taichi Ishikari vs. President Hoshino, Makai #2 & Makai X
- Soudatsu 3-WAY Ladder Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Manabu Nakanishi vs. TARU

Tsubo Genjin vs. Asosan

Both wrestlers are masked, and I’m not familiar enough with New Japan to know if they’re regulars in different outfits or not. Genjin is some sort of primitive tribal character with dreadlocks. Asosan wears red camo and looks to have a lamp shade on his head.

After praying to his skull and leopard skin in the corner, Genjin starts with some chops that hurt his hand. A clothesline is also ineffective, and Asosan headbutts him a couple times and throws him out of the ring. Asosan teases a dive but rolls into a wacky pose instead, as some sort of rocket or truck sound effect plays. Genjin walks around the ring like a Memphis heel, then gets in. Asosan gets on all fours and dares Genjin to attack. Genjin circles him, confused, and ends up just smacking him in the head to knock him down. He stomps Asosan and stands on his groin. He gets full mount and goes for some sort of two-finger strike, but the ref won’t let him. Asosan cradles him a couple times for a couple two counts, then gets a headscissors. Genjin does a headstand and makes funny poses with his legs before getting free. Back on their feet, and Genjin offers a handshake. Asosan refuses, so Genjin shakes the referee’s hand to prove he’s honest. Asosan still won’t do it, so Genjin offers his hand to a ringside fan. She’s timid, but she shakes it and Genjin tumbles out of the ring. He complains that she pulled him. Genjin gets back into the ring, and Asosan finally shakes his hand, but gets kicked. Genjin beats on him in the corner. Asosan tries to bulldog Genjin, but ends up just bulldog-ing his wig. They take the fight outside the ring. Genjin gets whipped towards some chairs, but both wrestlers freeze so some fans can get out of the way. They chop each other, and Genjin swings a chair, but only hits the ring post. They take the chair in the ring and fight over it, but the ref intervenes and Asosan accidentally hits himself in the head. Genjin gets a two count. Asosan ducks a clothesline and hits a flying spinning headbutt and a splash for two. He misses a top rope splash, and Genjin gets a two count. Genjin looks to be going for a People’s Elbow, but he pulls his tights down and attempts to sit on Asosan’s face. Asosan holds him off and shoots some little streamers out of his helmet at Genjin’s rear, then rolls him up for the pin! Winner: Asosan!

Funny comedy opener, pretty simple. The ending was weird, because I really couldn’t tell where the streamers had shot from. I had to rewind a couple times.

Ryusuke Taguchi & El Samurai vs. Makai Masked Canadian & Milanito Collection AT

Before the match, there’s a lot of talking. Milano Collection AT, wearing a cast on his arm, introduces Milanito as his replacement. Taguchi comes out in a feather boa and brings out El Samurai, wearing his mask and an afro, as his partner. Taguchi and Milanito start with some mat scrambling, then some rope running action. Samurai and the Masked Canadian tag in. They do some arm twists and stuff. Canadian slams Samurai. They punch and kick and headbutt each other, and Canadian throws Samurai outside. They all start brawling outside, Milanito with Samurai and Canadian with Taguchi. Samurai gets whipped into some chairs, while Taguchi gets hit with a chair. Milano teases getting involved. Back in the ring, Milanito and Canadian try a Manhattan drop/face buster double team, but their timing is a little off. They drop a series of elbows as Taguchi complains to the ref. The heels do the bit where the goad Taguchi into distracting the ref, but they’ve already finished their double teaming. Milanito hits Samurai with a bunch of forearms, but he just roars at him and hits a bionic elbow and some overhand rights (once while holding Milanito’s nose). Milanito drop toeholds Samurai into the ropes, and Milano dropkicks his head on the apron. Milanito puts Samurai in the Paradise lock in the bottom rope and dropkicks him. They go through a few reversals before Samurai hits a DDT and tags Taguchi. Taguchi hits a dropkick for two, then a trifecta of vertical suplexes for two. Milanito slides to the apron on an Irish whip and hits a springboard spinning elbow for two, then a quebrada for two. Taguchi rolls through a sunset flip and dropkicks Milanito, then tags in Samurai. Samurai misses a clothesline and takes an enzigieri. Milanito whips him to the corner, but then gets clotheslined running at him and tags Canadian. Canadian hits a forearm in the corner and a butterfly suplex for two. Samurai reverses a go behind, but Canadian distracts the referee so he can low blow Samurai. Canadian hits a top rope front dropkick for two. Another series of reversals ends with a Samurai inverted DDT. Samurai and Taguchi double team Canadian in the corner with a Poetry in Motion-style dropkick. Samurai hits a top rope Frankensteiner, but Milanito breaks up the two count. Taguchi throws him out, then he hits a top rope front dropkick on Canadian, followed by Samurai hitting a diving headbutt. Samurai puts Canadian in a kimura while Taguchi holds off Milanito. Canadian taps! Winners: Ryusuke Taguchi and El Samurai!

Decent tag match, but nothing special. Samurai didn’t do anything funny with his afro wig. Afterwards, Milano, Taguchi and Samurai talk on the microphone. Then Taguchi does a disco dance.

Jinsei Shinzaki & Daigoro Kashiwa vs. Toru Yano & Makai #21

A year prior, Yano turned on Kashiwa and joined the Makai Club, so Kashiwa wants revenge. Talking before the match. Shinzaki is not painted up like Hakushi this time around. Yano and Kashiwa yell smack at each other. Kashiwa hits a series of forearms that don’t know Yano down. Yano drops him with one. Yano beats on Kashiwa and sends him off the ropes, but Kashiwa comes back with a couple flying forearms. Yano dodges a headbutt. Both guys tag. Shinzaki and Makai circle each other, then Shinzaki dodges some attacks and does a cartwheel followed by a superkick. Shinzaki hits his praying rope walk flying head chop and tags. Kashiwa beats on Makai, but gets a spinning backbreaker and is thrown outside. Yano beats him on the floor and pours a bottle of champagne or something on him. He’s rolled back into the ring, and Makai slams him for two. Makai applies some sort of face lock and tags Yano. Yano goads Shinzaki into distracting the referee and chokes Kashiwa with his wrist tape. Yano whips Kashiwa off the ropes and hits a back elbow for two. Kashiwa starts firing up and hits some forearms, but gets dropped by a Yano forearm. Makai tags in and whips Kashiwa from corner to corner, hitting a clothesline or forearm each time. He gets a two count after the last and hardest one when Shinzaki breaks it up. Makai hits a Davey Boy Smith-style running powerslam for two. Yano tags in and slams Kashiwa. He tricks the ref into looking away so he can headbutt Kashiwa’s groin, then gets a two count. Yano applies a half crab. Shinzaki breaks it up. Makai tags in and hits a snapmare into a neck crank. Yano throws the ref out of the ring and brings his umbrella in. He misses Kashiwa and hits Makai with it. Kashiwa takes it and hits Yano, finally knocking him down. Shinzaki makes a hot tag and hits a springboard head chop on Yano, the catches Makai with a back kick. Makai starts fighting back but gets caught with a chokeslam for two. Shinzaki applies the Gaku-raku Gatame stretch, but Yano comes in and stomps him a bunch of times. Yano tags in and stomps some more, and Shinzaki catches his foot and gives him the Mandra Hindrei. Shinzaki hits a top rope flying shoulder block for two. He sets up for a praying powerbomb, but Kashiwa begs to be tagged in. Shinzaki tags, and Kashiwa hits a flying hook lariat on Yano. He climbs up top, jumps over Yano to dodge his charge, and hits the Jeff Jarrett Stroke. He goes for a suplex but is easily reversed. Yano runs the ropes and avoids a dropkick. Kashiwa ducks a clothesline and gets a school boy for two. Yano spears Kashiwa for two and Makai and Shinzaki engage off-screen. Yano muscles Kashiwa into the Oni Koroshi for the pin! Winners: Toru Yano and Makai #21!

That match had much better tag team psychology than the previous one, and Yano and Kashiwa played out their hatred for one another well, shouting taunts throughout. Afterwards, Shinzaki and Kashiwa both have words for Yano that make the crowd laugh.

Tanaka Character Deprivation Match (if he loses): Tanaka vs. BENTEN

“Orange Prince” Tanaka (aka Minoru Tanaka) was apparently feuding with “Black Prince” Minoru (also Minoru Tanaka), I guess teasing that he would have a match with himself. But here, he puts his “Orange Prince” gimmick on the line against BENTEN, who appears to wrestle in a samurai kimono thing. Tanaka circles BENTEN, hesitant to lock up, I guess because BENTEN is creepy. Tanaka teases a knuckle lock, then kicks BENTEN, but BENTEN dropkicks his legs and cradles him for a very close two count right off the bat. Tanaka rolls onto the rampway to collect himself. He comes back in, teases a knuckle lock and kicks BENTEN again, then dropkicks his legs and starts working over his left leg. Tanaka puts BENTEN in a half crab, then into an STF. BENTEN escapes by pulling the hair. Tanaka goes back after BENTEN’s leg and applies a leg lock. BENTEN fights his way to the ropes. BENTEN reverses a whip into the corner and tries to charge, but falls over due to his hurt leg. Tanaka charges but gets dumped outside. BENTEN hits an Asai moonsault, landing on his feet and not selling the leg outside of slapping it a couple of times. Unacceptable. He gets a chair and tries to hit Tanaka, but Tanaka ducks and kicks it into BENTEN’s gut. Tanaka tries to get into the ring to break the count, but BENTEN chokes him with the chair. Both wrestlers barely make it into the ring before the count ends. BENTEN stomps and punches Tanaka. BENTEN hits a flying shoulder tackle. He sets up for a tiger driver or Pedigree, but Tanaka fights it. BENTEN hits a blockbuster for a two count. He applies a crossface of sorts, but Tanaka gets a foot on the ropes. BENTEN comes off the ropes and gets caught with another dropkick to the leg. Tanaka goes for some type of rolling cradle, but BENTEN counters for two. Tanaka applies a modified Minoru Special, but BENTEN manages to roll over into a pin attempt for two. BENTEN hits a Pedigree for two, then tries a second rope twisting senton, but misses. Tanaka whips BENTEN, misses a high kick, hits a back kick, goes for something and gets reversed into a backslide for two. Tanaka hits a German suplex, then comes off the ropes right into a superkick for two. BENTEN signals for the end and hits a Pedigree, then misses a top rope somersault senton. He runs off the ropes and gets met with a back kick, then gets caught in the Minoru Special and taps! Winner: Tanaka!

This was a solid match that told its story well. Most of the near-falls on Tanaka were very close, doing a good job of teasing him losing his gimmick. I liked it. Tanaka says some stuff afterwards.

Jado & Gedo vs. Shuji Kondo & "brother" YASSHI

The Voodoo Murderers invade WRESTLE LAND again for what is apparently a rematch. Jado and Gedo both wear orange shirts and karate pants. Gedo and Kondo start, and Kondo shows off his power with shoulder blocks and a big chop. Jado tags in and stands up to Kondo’s shoulder block. They have a shoulder block challenge until Jado lariats Kondo. YASSHI runs in and gets superkicked by Gedo, then the Voodoo Murderers get thrown outside. YASSHI gets whipped into some chairs while Jado chokes Kondo with a chord at the sound table. Gedo bashes YASSHI’s head into the WEST sign at Korakuen Hall, while Jado bashes Kondo’s into the EAST. Jado chops YASSHI and rolls him into the ring. Gedo tags in and hits a sunset flip for two. YASSHI applies a prolonged testicular claw. YASSHI and Kondo choke Gedo in their corner. Kondo takes him outside to bash him into a table and a barrier, then rolls him back in. YASSHI gets a one count with his foot. Kondo tags and presses his foot into Gedo’s midsection until the ref makes him break. Gedo curses. Kondo applies a chinlock and uses the ropes for leverage. YASSHI tags ands hits some European uppercuts, taunting Jado in between. YASSHI covers for two. YASSHI applies a nerve hold, and Kondo comes in to taunt Jado some more, kneeing him and throwing him out when he tries to come in. Kondo tags in and YASSHI knocks Jado off the apron so they can whip Gedo into the ropes, kick him and hit a double sandwich dropkick to Gedo’s head. Good psychology, keeping Jado from tagging in, and Kondo gets a two count. Just as I say that, Gedo fights back with eye rakes and runs off the ropes near his own corner without tagging. He gets caught in a flapjack powerslam for two. YASSHI tags in and whips Gedo hard into the corner. YASSHI gouges Gedo’s eyes and whips him in again. Gedo catches YASSHI with a boot, but Kondo holds him to keep him from following up. Gedo catches YASSHI again, and this time he elbows Kondo and gives YASSHI a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle. Gedo finally makes the tag. Jado cleans house with lariats and German suplexes. YASSHI catches Jado with a back elbow, then they have a miscommunication on a running move, so Jado hits two rolling German suplexes. YASSHI blocks a third and tries to reverse, but Jado applies the Crossface of JADO. Kondo breaks it up, and Jado gets him in the Crossface of JADO. The ref makes him break it because Kondo isn’t the legal man. Jado hits YASSHI with some short arm chops and tags Gedo. YASSHI reverses a whip into a Russian leg sweep, then hits the Bad Boy flip neckbreaker and tags. Kondo knocks Jado down, then hits a huge running lifting tackle slam on Gedo for two. Gedo frees himself from a suplex, ends up with a go behind, but Kondo just grabs his head and yanks him over into a slam. Kondo clotheslines Gedo in the corner, followed by YASSHI’s running crotch attack. Double suplex, and the Voodoo Murderers go for Babylon, but Gedo rolls out of the way. Gedo fights back and hits a Manhattan drop, jawbreaker and Flatliner on Kondo for two. YASSHI and Jado fight on the floor. Gedo gets whipped into the corner and pulls the ref in the way so Kondo avalanches him. Gedo low blows Kondo and tells him to get up. Kondo lariats Gedo, but there’s no ref to count the cover. Jado hits Kondo with a chair and lariats him, then goes back to fighting YASSHI outside. Still no ref to count the cover. Gedo takes the chair and sees the ref getting up. He taps the ref in the back with the chair, then throws it to Kondo and falls down. The ref turns and sees Kondo holding the chair, so he disqualifies the Voodoo Murderers! Winners: Jado & Gedo!

Best match so far. Great tag team psychology; it’s not so hard when you follow the formula. Even though the finish was a DQ, it was still great, because the veteran heels outsmarted the younger heels to get the dupe. Jado and Gedo say some stuff and leave. Then a pirate in a hockey mask comes out and attacks the Voodoo Murderers with a sword. They try to fight back, but he hits Kondo with an enzigieri and low blows and DDTs YASSHI, then does a top rope splash on YASSHI. He unmasks to reveal AKIRA, and the crowd goes wild.

Super Strong Machine, Pegasus Kid II & Taichi Ishikari vs. President Hoshino, Makai #2 & Makai X

Stuart’s site says that Makai X was “familiar to many.” I am not many, so I had to read his report to find that it was Hiroshi Nagao. I actually don’t recognize any of the masked men in this match. I know Machine normally wrestles under his gimmick, though. Hoshino is the boss of the Makai Club, hence his presidential status.

Machine and Makai X (I think) start with a chop fight. Headlock, off the ropes, shoulder tackle by Machine. X does a spinning heel kick on Machine in the corner. Machine avoids a dropkick and hits a lariat. He calls out old man Hoshino, but gets low blowed by X from behind. Hoshino tags in to hit some punches on Machine, snapmare him, and tag out to Makai #2. Makai hits a dropkick. Ishikari tags in. Makai clubs him hard on the back, then hits a couple sharp chops and applies a chinlock. Ishikari escapes with a jawbreaker, then tries to remove Makai’s mask until X makes the save. Ishikari is pushed into the Makai Club corner and X tags in to hit some knees and chops. Ishikari gouges his eyes and tries to remove his mask as the ref protests. Face rake with the foot, head into the buckle and Ishikari tags Pegasus Kid. Kid hits a chop and goes after the mask as the ref protests some more. Snap suplex for two, then PK goes for another, but it’s blocked. PK escapes a reversal and ends up getting a body scissors roll up for two. X catches PK off the ropes with a side slam into the Makai corner and tags Makai #2. Makai chokes PK with his boot. Makai slams PK for two. Back elbow by Makai. X tags in and goes after PK’s mask. Chinlock by X, PK gets a foot on the rope. X slams PK and starts stomping his foot to get the crowd to clap. X with a one-armed spear, then he calls in his teammates to knock the other team down. PK is taken outside and Hoshino stays in the ring. PK is thrown into the ring post. Hoshino hits a good top rope plancha for an old man, then rallies the crowd. Not a good heel. PK is rolled into the ring so X can cover him for a two. Makai #2 tags in. PK does a nip up out of the corner that leads to a top rope front dropkick, and he tags Machine. Machine clotheslines Makai in the corner, then in the opposite corner, then hits a DDT. Machine applies a hammerlock, and X comes in, so Machine DDTs him. Machine slams Makai #2 and tags Ishikari, who hits a dropkick. Ishikari gets dumped to the apron, but hits Makai with a stunner on the top rope. He calls out to the crowd, but gets yanked back onto the apron by his hair and brought back into the ring. Ishikari catches Makai with a superkick out of the corner, then a tornado DDT for two. Ishikari runs the ropes, but gets a knee to the back from X, then a knee to the gut by Makai #2. Belly to back suplex by Makai for two, and the crowd is suddenly getting riled up. Huge chokeslam by Makai, and now we see that everyone else besides Hoshino is fighting outside. Hoshino comes in and lands a running elbow, then mounts Ishikari and punches him a few times before making the ref count to three! Winners: President Hoshino, Makai #2 and Makai X!

That match wasn’t bad. I was hoping to see more of the new Pegasus Kid, as he apparently only uses that gimmick in WRESTLE LAND. I think he might be Prince Devitt, but I don’t know. I was annoyed at how these members Makai Club, especially their boss, didn’t do much to prove their heel status. Hoshino kept looking for fan approval the few times he was involved, and when he got the cheap pin at the end, everyone cheered like it was a great victory for a legend. Maybe I just don’t get it.

Soudatsu 3-WAY Ladder Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Manabu Nakanishi vs. TARU

Okay, these guys I recognize. First we have a backstage shot of Tanahashi lacing his boots, when TARU hits him with a chair and attacks his right leg. TARU’s shirt says, “HEEL,” in case you couldn’t tell otherwise. Tanahashi limps to the ring carrying a ladder. With him are Ryusuke Taguchi and Tanaka. The Makai Masked Canadian runs out and attacks them, then TARU appears with another ladder and goes after Tanahashi’s leg some more. Nakanishi comes out with a third ladder (and Tsubo Genjin) and attacks TARU. He beats on him over by the timekeeper tables and slams him into the ring post. YASSHI, Shuji Kondo and a masked Makai member attack Nakanishi. Tanahashi sets a ladder up in the ring, but TARU kicks him and throws him out. TARU prepares to climb the ladder, but gets caught by a Nakanishi headbutt to the back. All three participants pick up a ladder and circle each other. Kondo grabs Tanahashi’s leg and TARU hits him with the top of the ladder, then Nakanishi. TARU sets up his ladder and takes his time climbing it. Nakanishi and Tanahashi hit his with their ladders (though Nakanishi mostly hits the standing ladder). Tanahashi goes down, still selling his leg. Nakanishi helps him up, then gives him a throat thrust. Nakanishi sets up a ladder, but it’s too far away from the white band he needs to grab. He repositions it and starts climbing, but TARU throws another ladder at him to knock him off. TARU starts climbing that ladder, but Nakanishi grabs it and shakes it vigorously until he falls. Now Nakanishi tries climbing again, but he’s hit from behind by the masked Makai guy, who throws him outside to be beat on by YASSHI and the Canadian. Tanahashi goes after Makai, but he gets hit with one of his own moves, the Sling Blade. TARU ascends the ladder, then Nakanishi climbs the other side and hits him with an overhand chop to the head, followed by a double chop to the chest to knock him down. The Canadian pushes the ladder over. Tanahashi attacks the Canadian. TARU attacks Tanahashi, then holds him for the Canadian to hit with a chair. Tanahashi ducks and TARU is hit. Tanahashi beats the Canadian down. Tanahashi starts climbing the ladder. Kondo and YASSHI run in and knock him down. Tanaka goes after YASSHI. A bunch of dudes fight on the floor. Taichi Ishikari starts climbing the ladder, but he gets spanked by Tsubo Genjin. Genjin tries to climb, and Tanaka yanks the back of his tights down, spanks him, and drops him rear-first onto Ishikari. Nakanishi pushes the ladder over and walks around yelling at the people outside of the ring. Genjin gets a set of ring step from under the ring and offers them Nakanishi, but he chops him on the head. Nakanishi picks up the ladder and carries it over his head, stomping around like an angry man and scaring wrestlers away. He hits Tanahashi with it and puts it over his head like Terry Funk used to do. TARU hits the ladder with a chair. TARU sets the ladder up in a corner and whips Nakanishi into it. TARU charges and gets double chopped, then Nakanishi sells his back. Both of them stay down for a while, with Tanahashi down on the outside. Nakanishi finally sets the ladder up and climbs. TARU climbs the other side and they fight at the top. Tanahashi sets up a smaller ladder and climbs, then slaps Nakanishi and chops TARU a bunch of times to knock them down. He switches to the bigger ladder, and Nakanishi pulls Tanahashi’s tights down (too many buts on this show) and puts him in an Argentine backbreaker, then hits the Hercules Cutter. TARU sets a ladder in the corner again, but gets whipped into it by Nakanishi. Nakanishi hits a slow spinning lariat, then the ladder falls on him. TARU grabs the ladder and swings at Nakanishi, but Nakanishi ducks and hits a German suplex. This sends the ladder flying from the ring, but it appears no fans were hurt. Nakanishi staggers up and sets up the ladder and climbs. TARU meets him at the top again and gouges his eyes to knock him off. TARU touches the white band, but Tanahashi grabs his legs and pulls on him. Nakanishi climbs back up and assertively pulls the band down and puts it on his head! Winner: Manabu Nakanishi!

That was a weird ladder match. It had a good moment or two, but it was mostly disjointed. I guess I should expect that from non-WWE multi-man ladder matches. There are a number of ladder matches that I like to see numerous times; I’ve no desire to see this one again. After the match, Nakanishi gives a big speech and NAKANISHI LAND. Tanaka talks, too. Then Nakanishi celebrates.

Final Thoughts: Overall, WRESTLE LAND was kind of dull. They tried to give some of their regular wrestlers new characters, but none of them stood out. They tried to stay true to their regular puroresu style, as opposed to presenting a total spectacle like Hustle, but few matches had any meaning. The Jado and Gedo vs. Voodoo Murderers match could have easily been done on a regular New Japan show, except for the finish. The match would have easily fit on an All Japan show. The arena being small and void of special lighting hurt the presentation, too. DDT can pull this sort of show off much better, in my opinion. I like simple match formula and storytelling, but I also like variety, and I didn’t really get that. I can’t say the show was bad, it was just there.

Mildly Recommended

You can email me at Dedwyre@msn.com

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