review by Kevin Wilson
Date: August 25th, 1996
Location: Yokohama, Japan
I am bringing the obscure today. In 1994, Takashi Ishikawa started Tokyo Pro Wrestling, which lasted until early 1997. In 1996 they somehow managed to get a major sponsor, which allowed them to book more well-known (and expensive) wrestlers. Shown on this commercial release are two title matches, a Sabu vs. Scorpio match, and a young Takayama before he started in All Japan. We also get two matches with the original Tiger Mask, after he had made his return to wrestling. Here is the full match listing for the DVD:
- Takashi Ishikawa and Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Yoji Anjo and Tiger Mask
- Black Wozma vs. Sabu
- NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship: El Dandy vs. Gekko
- TWA World Tag Team Championship: Abdullah the Butcher and Benkei vs. Yoji Anjo and Tiger Mask
This should be... something. Let's get things started.
Takashi Ishikawa and Yoshihiro Takayama vs. Yoji Anjo and Tiger Mask
Takayama and Anjo start things off. They struggle for position, Takayama gets Anjo against the ropes and elbows him repeatedly. Takayama tags in Ishikawa, Irish whip by Ishikawa and he connects with a running elbow smash. Dragon Sleeper by Ishikawa but Anjo quickly gets a foot on the ropes. Back up, Anjo and Ishikawa struggle in the corner, knee by Anjo and he connects with a series of kicks. Ishikawa pushes his way out of the corner, side headlock by Anjo and he applies a keylock with a headscissors. Knees to the head by Anjo, he picks up Ishikawa and tags in Tiger Mask. Tie-up, they go into a Test of Strength, but Tiger Mask dropkicks out of it. Tie-up against, side headlock by Tiger Mask and he hits the Tiger Spin. Knees to the back by Tiger Mask and he hits a DDT. Cover, but it gets a two count. Ishikawa gets back to his feet, tie-up, he gets Tiger Mask onto his shoulders and puts him onto the top turnbuckle before backing off. Ishikawa tags in Takayama while Tiger Mask tags in Anjo. Anjo pushes Takayama into the corner and hits a series of elbows, but Takayama fights back with elbows of his own. Knees by Takayama and he drops an elbow onto Anjo before applying the ankle lock. Anjo is too close to the ropes and quickly gets the hold released, they continue struggling on the mat until Anjo applies a leg lock. Takayama makes it to the ropes and goes after Anjo's arm, cross armbreaker by Takayama but Anjo again is by the ropes and gets the break. Punch by Takayama and he makes the tag to Ishikawa. Ishikawa kicks Anjo in the corner, he picks him up and chops him against the ropes. Ishikawa tags in Takayama, who comes in the ring with a top rope club to the arm. Kick attempt by Takayama but Anjo catches his leg and elbows him in the knee. Knee drops to the leg by Anjo and he tags in Tiger Mask. Spinning leg lock by Tiger Mask but Takayama reverses it into an ankle lock. Tiger Mask quickly gets out of it with an attempted kip-up but Takayama blocks it and applies a cross armbreaker. Tiger Mask gets out of it and drops an elbow onto Takayama, Anjo runs in and gets in his licks as well. Tiger Mask knees Takayama against the ropes but Takayama picks him up and suplexes him to the mat. Takayama tags in Ishikawa, Irish whip by Ishikawa and he delivers a lariat to Tiger Mask. Sumopian Deathlock by Ishikawa but Anjo breaks it up. Tiger Mask tags in Anjo as Ishikawa tags in Takayama, armdrag by Anjo and he hits a backdrop suplex. Ground Cross 200% by Anjo and Takayama has no choice but to submit! Your winners: Yoji Anjo and Tiger Mask
Match Thoughts: You know, this was really not bad. Probably my favorite part of the match was Takayama vs. Tiger Mask, as they really seemed to be wrestling out there and not just going through choreographed spots. Since at this point in their careers both had shoot-style experience, that probably helped. When Tiger Mask went for his little kip-up and Takayama grabbed him in a choke before he could even make it to his feet was a really nice set-up and one that I don't think I have seen from Tiger Mask before. With their title match later I knew who would win, but that didn't take away from the action. Even at this point in his career Takayama was spot-on with he knees and elbows, and generally the action was crisp. I have no idea why Ishikawa didn't save Takayama at the end though since he was standing right there, but while there wasn't a lot of structure to the match overall I found the match enjoyable. Score: 5.5
Black Wozma vs. Sabu
They circle each other to start, tie-up, waistlock by Sabu, reversed by Black Wozma but Sabu gets to the ropes. Tie-up, Sabu gets Black Wozma into the corner but he gives a clean break. Single leg takedown by Sabu and he applies a leg lock on the mat, but Black Wozma reverses it into an armbar. Back up, arm wringer by Sabu but Black Wozma suplexes him back down. Arm wringer by Black Wozma and he applies a standing armbreaker over his shoulder. Sabu quickly gets to the ropes to break the hold, tie-up, double leg takedown by Black Wozma and he applies a leg lock. Sabu reverses it into a cross breaker but Black Wozma quickly gets to the ropes to break the hold. Tie-up, and Black Wozma applies an abdominal stretch into a roll-up for a two count. He keeps the hold applied on the mat but Sabu gets out of it and hits a series of stomps. Side headlock by Sabu and he goes for the arm, but Black Wozma reverses it into a headscissors. Back up, tie-up, side headlock by Black Wozma, Sabu Irish whips out of it but Black Wozma shoulderblocks him down. Armdrag by Black Wozma and he applies an armbar, Irish whip by Black Wozma, Sabu slides through his legs and delivers a back kick. Black Wozma rolls out of the ring and Sabu hits a baseball slide followed by an Asai Moonsault. Sabu sets a chair up in the ring, goes off the far ropes and springboards out of the ring, but Black Wozma throws a chair at him as he is falling and Sabu crashes into the floor. Back in the ring, scoop slam by Black Wozma, he goes to the top turnbuckle but Sabu rolls out of the way of the splash. Black Wozma goes for the Triple Jump Moonsault, but Sabu rolls out of the way. Superkick by Black Wozma, he picks up Sabu and delivers a powerbomb. Somersault leg drop by Black Wozma, cover, but it gets a two count. Black Wozma goes for a backdrop suplex, but Sabu lands on his feet and crotches Black Wozma onto the top turnbuckle. With Black Wozma still there, Sabu goes to the second turnbuckle and hits a hurricanrana. Slingshot leg drop by Sabu, cover, but it gets a two count. Sabu goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Black Wozma recovers in time and joins him. Rolling headscissors by Black Wozma, cover, but it gets a two count. Armbar by Black Wozma and he applies a stretch hold into a roll-up, but it gets a two count.
Hammerlock by Sabu and he hits a scoop slam followed by a rebound elbow smash for a two count cover. Back to the arm by Sabu but Black Wozma kicks him back. Superkick by Black Wozma and he sets the chair leaning in the corner. Black Wozma picks up Sabu and hits a lariat, cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by Black Wozma from the corner and he hits a chop. Another Irish whip to the corner but this time it is reversed. Sabu goes for a rebound elbow strike but Black Wozma catches him and hits a backdrop suplex. Black Wozma goes out to the apron and hits a slingshot 450 Splash, cover, but it gets a two count. Black Wozma picks up Sabu and hits another backdrop suplex, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers the diving body press. Cover, but Sabu kicks out at two. Black Wozma gets another chair but Sabu kicks it back into his face. Sabu puts Black Wozma up on the top turnbuckle, sets up the chair, and jumps off the chair to hit Air Sabu. Black Wozma falls out of the ring, and Sabu goes out after him with a somersault pescado. Sabu grabs a table and puts Black Wozma onto it. He then goes back in the ring and bounces off the far ropes before diving out, but Black Wozma moves and Sabu crashes through the table. Black Wozma slides Sabu back into the ring, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits hits a diving body press for a two count. Black Wozma goes up top again and this time hits a twisting body press, cover, but again it gets two. Black Wozma puts the chair onto Sabu and goes to the top turnbuckle, but this time Sabu moves and all Black Wozma hits is the chair. Sabu sets up the chair and hits a Triple Jump DDT, cover, but Black Wozma apparently barely gets a shoulder up. Sabu sets up the chair again and hits a Triple Jump Moonsault, cover, and this time he picks up the pinfall! Your winner: Sabu
Post match: Black Wozma is mad, so he powerbombs Sabu through a table at ringside. After Black Wozma leaves, Sabu throws a table in the ring and tries to break it. He can't, since it is a Japanese table, so he eventually leaves.
Match Thoughts: Black Wozma is Scorpio, in case you didn't know. Now before I go to the review, I am first going to record the dialogue between Scorpio and Sabu from the first splash by Scorpio up until the end of the match. The arena was so quiet and the camera so close that you could hear everything they were saying. Note that I am not doing this to seem INSIDER~!~ but rather because I think what they said was pretty damn funny. The same way that movie fans talk about bloopers in movies, sometimes you can't help but notice stuff like this, and it didn't effect my opinion of the match. Starting right after Scorpio hits the first splash towards the end of the match...
Sabu: Ohhhh.... you killed me. Ahhh... cocksucker....
Scorpio: One more?
Sabu: Yea. Don't kill me. Don't kill me baby.
Sabu: You're breaking my ribs! You're breaking my ribs!
*Scorpio misses his third splash*
*Sabu hits his springboard DDT*
Sabu: You ok?
Sabu: Had enough?
Scorpio: (Inaudible, but clearly a confirmation)
Sabu: (as he is covering) Kick your legs, kick your legs!
*referee stops at two even though Scorpio didn't kick out*
Scorpio: Count! Count! Count! Count! Mother Fucker!
Scorpio (to the referee, while on his back): That was the finish you son of a bitch! Fuck you!
*Sabu hits the triple jump moonsault and gets the pin*
Sabu (while the referee is "checking" on him): You fucked up our finish, man.
Now I have no idea why Sabu and Scorpio were so upset that the DDT wasn't the finish, maybe they thought it looked so nice they wanted that to be the highlight. Maybe they were just tired. Either way, I was cracking up the first time I listened to it. Anyway, onto the match itself. Scorpio and Sabu have a lot of great high flying moves, but match structure is not really their strength, and to be honest I'd much rather just see a "spotfest" between these two then a match where they work meaningless armbars and leg locks. Now if they tried to make the armbars and leg locks mean something, then I'd be in full support, but they meant nothing, were never sold in any way, and there was no real transition between the submission holds to the aerial moves. They did hit all their spots well though and the dialogue at the end only made the match even more amusing for me. If this had been condensed to 10 minutes I probably would have loved it, but even though it was fun in parts it was simply too long for the type of match it was aiming to be. Score: 6.0
(c) El Dandy vs. Gekko
This is for the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship. Gekko attacks El Dandy before the match starts, side headlock by El Dandy but Gekko hits a belly to belly suplex. El Dandy charges Gekko but Gekko hiptosses him over the top rope, with both wrestlers landing on their feet on the floor. Both wrestlers get back in the ring, wristlock by Gekko but El Dandy gets out of it. Wristlock again by Gekko and he delivers a headbutt. El Dandy hits a takedown and applies a leg lock on the mat, but Gekko pushes him back into the corner. Dropkick by El Dandy and he hits a backdrop suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip by El Dandy, and he delivers a lariat. El Dandy picks up Gekko but Gekko pushes him against the ropes and hits a series of knees. Irish whip by Gekko but El Dandy ducks the lariat attempt and hits one of his own for a two count cover. El Dandy applies a neck crank, he picks him up but Gekko hits a low blow followed by a German suplex hold for a two count. Gekko goes off the ropes but El Dandy knocks him down with a lariat. Irish whip to the corner by El Dandy, reversed, but El Dandy rolls up Gekko for a two count. El Dandy picks up Gekko and goes to the second turnbuckle with him, but Gekko blocks whatever El Dandy was trying to do and dropkicks him out of the ring. Asai Moonsault by Gekko, he gets back in the ring with El Dandy slowly following, Gekko puts him onto the top turnbuckle but El Dandy knocks him back and hits a flying crossbody. El Dandy rolls through the crossbody though and gets a two count cover. Back up, Butterfly Suplex Hold by El Dandy but it gets a two count. Gekko gets up and tries to dropkick El Dandy, but El Dandy moves and the referee is dropkicked instead. Powerbomb by Gekko, but there is no referee to make the count. Just then the bell rings, and we find out that Gekko has been disqualified for dropkicking the referee. Gekko is naturally mad about this and argues his case. After two minutes and much discussion that I don't understand since it is in Japanese, the match is re-started. Back kick by Gekko and he nails a piledriver onto El Dandy. Cover, but it gets a two count. Gekko hits a scoop slam followed by a reverse splash off the second turnbuckle, but again the cover only gets two. Gekko throws El Dandy into the corner, he puts him onto the top turnbuckle and delivers the Frankensteiner. Gekko then goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving headbutt, cover, but El Dandy kicks out. German suplex attempt by Gekko but El Dandy reverses it into one of his own for a two count. El Dandy picks up Gekko and hits a DDT, cover, but Gekko kicks out. Figure four by El Dandy but Gekko eventually gets to the ropes and the referee breaks the hold. El Dandy picks up Gekko and hits a Northern Lights Suplex, but it barely gets a two count. He goes for the figure four leglock again, but Gekko reverses it into an Inside Cradle for a two count. Gekko goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a quick moonsault, but it only gets a two count. Powerbomb by Gekko, but El Dandy barely gets a shoulder up. Back up, punch by El Dandy and he applies the Gory Special. Gekko gets out of it with a roll-up for a two count, El Dandy then covers Gekko but he gets a two count as well. La Magistral by El Dandy but it only gets a two count. Leg lock by El Dandy but Gekko gets a hand on the ropes. Quick kick by Gekko and he hits a somersault senton, cover, but time expires before the referee can even get to three. The result is a Draw, El Dandy remains the champion.
Match Thoughts: Gekko is better known today as Masao Orihara. I really don't understand the structure of this one. First of all, Gekko did legitimately dropkick the referee on accident, so there was no reason for the DQ. Second, I have no idea why in a match with already a short time limit you would opt to have a break of almost two minutes in the middle of it while you discuss what to do. Beyond structural issues, the action itself was fine but they had trouble getting into a groove. By the time they came back from break the match was almost over, so after a minute of hitting power moves both were just going for the quick pinfall before time expired. Gekko's piledriver was sick and he has a nice powerbomb as well, and honestly he deserved to win the match (which just makes the bogus referee call even worse). I think these two could have had a very entertaining normal 15 minute match, but as it was presented they fell short. Score: 4.5
(c) Abdullah the Butcher and Benkei vs. Yoji Anjo and Tiger Mask
This match is for the TWA World Tag Team Championship. Benkei and Tiger Mask start things off. Kick to the side by Tiger Mask and he delivers a second one. Punches to the midsection by Tiger Mask and he hits a back kick. He goes for a snapmare but Benkei blocks it, Anjo helps from the apron though and they drop Benkei to one knee. Anjo is tagged in and he connects with a series of kicks before kneeing Benkei low. Neck crank by Anjo, but Abdullah comes in the ring and breaks it up. Irish whip by Benkei on Anjo and he delivers a lariat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Benkei picks up Anjo, Irish whip again but Anjo slides out of the ring. Back in the ring, wristlock by Benkei and he tags in Abdullah. Abdullah punches Anjo in the corner, he picks him up off the mat and throws him out of the ring. Abdullah goes out after him and stabs him in the head with a fork. Another fork attack by Abdullah, he picks up Anjo and stabs him in the head again. Abdullah picks up the now bleeding Anjo and carries him towards the crowd before sticking him again with the fork. Abdullah gets a chair and hits Anjo in the head with it. Abdullah gets back in the ring and Anjo slowly follows, but Abdullah continues his fork attacks. Double headbutt by Abdullah and Benkei, and both men attack Anjo. Anjo falls out of the ring after Abdullah stabs him again, but Benkei goes out after him and slides him back into the ring. Abdullah tags in Benkei, club to the back by Benkei and he punches Anjo in the head. Benkei bites Anjo in the head before picking him up and delivering a lariat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip again by Benkei and he applies a bearhug. Anjo bites his way out of it however and kicks Benkei repeatedly in the chest. Benkei knocks him back however and makes the tag to Abdullah. Anjo fights off Abdullah with a series of kicks but Abdullah trips him back to the mat. Tongan Death Grip by Abdullah and he tags Benkei back into the ring. Benkei comes off the top turnbuckle with a double ax handle, scoop slam by Benkei and he applies a crab hold. Tiger Mask breaks it up with a kick to the head, but Benkei tags in Abdullah before Anjo can make it back to his corner. Knees by Anjo while he has Abdullah against the ropes and he kicks him out of the ring. Knee by Anjo from the apron and he hits Abdullah repeatedly with a chair. Now Anjo gets the fork and he stabs Abdullah in the head with it repeatedly. Benkei comes to break it up but Tiger Mask comes over as well and hits a series of kicks on him. Anjo gets back in the ring and Abdullah slowly follows, kicks by Anjo and he drops the knee onto Abdullah's head. Anjo tags in Tiger Mask (finally!), and Tiger Mask drops a knee onto Abdullah's head. Kicks to the head by Tiger Mask and he connects with a variety of punches and kicks. Abdullah finally gets to his feet and delivers a throat thrust to knock Tiger Mask off his feet. Monkey flip by Tiger Mask onto Abdullah and he applies an armbar, but Benkei breaks it up. Tiger Mask tags in Anjo, and Anjo applies a cross armbreaker to Abdullah. Benkei again breaks it up as Anjo continues working over the arm. Benkei reaches in and tags himself in, and he hits a body press onto Anjo. A second body press by Benkei and he delivers a third. Back up, kicks to the leg by Anjo and he knocks Benkei to the mat. Ground Cross 200% by Anjo but Abdullah quickly breaks it up. Irish whip by Benkei and he delivers a body slam, cover, but it gets a two count. Irish whip again by Benkei and he hits a powerslam, cover, but again it gets two. Benkei picks up Anjo and goes for a third slam, but Anjo reverses it into the Fujiwara Armbar and Benkei submits! Your winners and new champions: Yoji Anjo and Tiger Mask
Match Thoughts: Seeing Sayama in these types of matches is so bizarre for me. He went from making tons of money and wrestling in front of thousands of people in 1983, to making his grand return in 1995... and now he is wrestling Abdullah the Butcher in front of 200 people for a fake title. You'd think he would have had more stroke due to his past popularity, maybe he shouldn't have pissed everyone off in the mid-80s. Anyway, I really only wanted Abdullah vs. Tiger Mask interaction and unfortunately I got very little. Abdullah loves people monkey flipping him, which is hard due to his size, but Tiger Mask pulled it off better then Zeus did. Other then that it was slow and plodding offense on Anjo, and then we had Anjo win with an arm submission hold after literally no arm work had been done to Benkei in a 15 minute match. Fantastic. I enjoy Abdullah stabbing people with forks, but I do like a little more then that if the match is in the main event. I wish Tiger Mask had been more involved as in 1996 he was still awesome, but maybe by this point he realized that he wished he was somewhere else so he stayed out of the action as much as possible. Overall it was pretty disappointing, Anjo and Benkei dominated the match with plodding offense, and there wasn't enough of Abdullah vs. Tiger Mask to excite me. Score: 3.5
This event I can recommend for one reason only: It is different. Where else can you see Abdullah the Butcher facing off against the Original Tiger Mask or Sabu and Scorpio curse out a referee? No where. Sure, the matches weren't very good and there were only four on the release, but sometimes you just need to mix things up and watch something different. This won't go down in history as a must-see event, but any event with two Tiger Mask matches can't be but too bad. If you want quality wrestling and the most bang for your buck, then I'd avoid this, but if you want a unique experience then I say go for it.
Back to Tokyo Pro Event Reviews
review completed on 12/30/07