WAR 3rd Anniversary Memorial on 7/7/95
review by Ryan Mancuso
After doing some reviews from Lucha Libre, I have returned to reviewing Puroresu for now. This time I have returned to doing WAR reviews with this show being from July 7, 1995 at the Sumo Hall in Tokyo. The main event is a big showdown between Genichiro Tenryu and Koji Kitao. Also, Ultimo Dragon challenges Chris Jericho for the WAR International Jr. Heavyweight Title. Just like many WAR shows in the past, this one has its share of outsiders. Heisei Ishingun leader Shiro Koshinaka battles Hiromichi Fuyuki. New Japan legend Riki Choshu reunites with Animal Hamaguchi to battle Heisei Ishingun’s Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara. Former FMW stars Tarzan Goto & Mr. Gannosuke battle Gedo & Jado. Plus, there is the bonus of a legend dream team of Bob Backlund, Mil Mascaras & Jimmy Snuka battling The Eliminators & Hector Garza. With that kind of lineup, the preview ends and the review starts… now:
Before matches from this show would air, there was a highlight package of matches from the June 4 Korakuen Hall show. First was an interpromotional battle between Hiromichi Fuyuki & Nobutaka Araya battled Heisei Ishingun’s (representing New Japan) Shiro Koshinaka & Akitoshi Saito. The WAR fans were clearly behind their guys. Fuyuki scored the win when he used a powerbomb on Saito. After the match, Fuyuki told Koshinaka that he was going down on July 7.
Next was Chris Jericho challenging Gedo for the WAR International Jr. Heavyweight Title. This is a match that I am curious in seeing at full length, but not so much with the highlights they chose to air. Gedo had some difficultly with a tornado DDT and the finish felt abrupt. Jericho won the title after pinning Gedo with a Dragon Suplex Hold. After the match, Gedo told Jericho that he was the better man and shook his hand. He & Jado would cut a promo on their opponents for the July 7 show in Tarzan Goto & Mr. Gannosuke.
Finally, the main event of the show was Genichiro Tenryu & Arashi facing Koji Kitao & Big Titan (best known as Fake Razor Ramon in WWE 1996). The first part of the highlights was Tenryu and Kitao having contact with each other. Later in the match, Titan busted open Tenryu with a broken bottle. Kitao was angry with Titan and refused to tag in. Titan went to the floor to get a weapon and Kitao attacked his own partner. With no one to help Titan, Tenryu finished him off with a diving reverse elbowdrop for the victory.
Onto the matches for this show:
Osamu Tachikiari, Hiroshi Itakura & Yuji Yasuraoka vs. Motegi, Kamikaze & Fukumentaro
This was an interpromotional match between WAR and the small indy of Wrestle Dream Factory, represented by Motegi's team. This match was clipped. It looked very indy with blown moves by the Dream Factory team and Itakura. It was so bad that I swear the fans must have thought this was a comedy match. Of course the best wrestler out of the six, the very underrated Yasuraoka only did one move which was a nice running double jump springboard plancha. Tachikiari mercifully put an end to this match by using a chokeslam onto Fukumentaro for the team WAR victory.
Nobutaka Araya vs. Nobukazu Hirai
Another clipped match, but it was pretty decent from what was shown. Araya went to the top for a moonsault, but Hirai moved out of the way. Hirai quickly capitalized by connecting with a moonsault of his own. Hirai covered, but Araya kicked out at 2. Araya was whipped off the ropes, but caught Hirai out of nowhere with an Octopus Hold. It was a success because Hirai submitted.
Koki Kitahara vs. Arashi
More clipped matches, and it looked much better than what I had expected from these two. A solid heavyweight match with some nicely built near falls. Kitahara gets the win when he takes the bigger Arashi down and holds on for the pin.
WAR International Jr. Heavyweight Title: Chris Jericho © vs. Ultimo Dragon
Before I share my thoughts, I have to share a little backstory from this match because it was this match that helped Jericho get his big break in the United States. Mick Foley, who was working for IWA Japan at the time, had attended this show because his hero Jimmy Snuka was wrestling on the card. However, he was impressed with Jericho's ability in this match. He saw that Jericho was going to be a superstar and lobbied to Paul Heyman to bring him into ECW. Heyman finally did bring him in a few months later, and Jericho’s rise to stardom in the United States just continued from there. Mick Foley was not the only one who saw the potential in Jericho because this match was very popular with tape traders and they would agree with Foley's assessment.
Unfortunately, the clippage continued because they cut a little bit of it out but not enough to where I can't make an opinion on it. From what was shown, I would agree that was a match worthy of the hype. While Jericho did look great here, but I thought Ultimo was better. Ultimo was really starting to reach his peak as a top-level wrestler because everything he did looked so crisp and smooth. Jericho wasn’t at the level yet, but he would get there a few years later. It was a spot fest, but one that I like. The moves being done just flowed nicely, and there was no feeling of overkill that some of these matches have. The crowd was more getting into the match with each big move being done. After watching this match, it is easy to be impressed with the athleticism of both men.
Some of the cool moves included Ultimo running off the ropes, jumping to the second rope and diving out to Jericho on the floor. Ultimo went for a top rope hurricanrana, but Jericho pushed him off. Ultimo backflipped in the air and landed on his feet. Jericho was quick to respond when he used a missile dropkick off the second turnbuckle. Jericho went for a Lionsault, but Ultimo tripped him up and quickly used a La Magistral for a near fall. Jericho tried a tiger driver, but Ultimo scored a near fall with a hurricanrana counter from it.
I have to say that it is weird seeing Ultimo Dragon wearing a different outfit in which he was wearing short trunks and no shoulder gear. He was also wearing a different mask in which the back was mostly cut off and his hair was exposed. Unfortunately for Ultimo, the different gear did not bring him luck because his challenge for the title was unsuccessful after Jericho used a double underhook superplex off the top turnbuckle for the win.
Mil Mascaras, Bob Backlund & Jimmy Snuka vs. Perry Saturn, John Kronos & Hector Garza
One of the charms that WAR had as a promotion was creating these random six man teams in which there was little in common with the members of a team. Mascaras, Backlund & Snuka has some qualifications towards that. The team of the Eliminators and Hector Garza had some randomness too. Since they do have a common bond of being wrestling legends, it is not as high on the WAR randomness scale as Chris Jericho, The Warlord & Vampiro. Clipped match with the legends doing their big moves which got very big reactions from the crowd. Backlund was especially fired up when he was in the ring. Garza tried a very nice looking tornillo to Backlund on the floor, but Backlund moved out of the way and Garza nailed Kronos with it instead. The legends won when Snuka used the Superfly Splash on Kronos and Mascaras with his Diving Cross Body Press onto Garza for the double pin.
Gedo & Jado vs. Tarzan Goto & Mr. Gannosuke
This was an interpromotional battle between WAR's Gedo & Jado against two men who left FMW for IWA Japan a few months earlier in Tarzan Goto & Mr. Gannosuke. It was another clipped match with Gedo & Jado isolating Gannosuke so that he wouldn’t make the tag to the stronger Goto. It worked for a bit until Gannosuke finally made the tag. Goto attacked the injured shoulder of Jado. Another clip saw Goto beat the hell out of Gedo with many chair shots. Gedo’s forehead was busted open as a result. It turned out to be a good match with everyone working hard and bringing a sense that anyone could win this match at a moment’s notice. The crowd was really into the match and hoping that Gedo & Jado would score the victory after being weakened by Goto & Gannosuke. Unfortunately for the fans, Goto scored the win when he used a facebuster, from a piledriver position, onto Gedo for the 3 count.
Riki Choshu & Animal Hamaguchi vs. Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara
This was a battle between Ishinguns with Choshu’s & Hamaguchi having a reunion from their stable that included Masa Saito in the 1980’s against Heisei Ishingun’s Tatsutoshi Goto & Michiyoshi Ohara. The action was not very good, but the crowd was into it when things picked up. Choshu took out Goto so that Hamaguchi could finish Ohara off with a Samoan drop and running neckbreaker drop for the pin.
A video packaged aired that showed Shiro Koshinaka & Hiromichi Fuyuki trade pinfalls at WAR shows in Korakuen Hall. Fuyuki struck first in February 1995 when he pinned Koshinaka after 3 consecutive lariats. Koshinaka got some payback when he planted Fuyuki with a powerbomb in March.
Shiro Koshinaka vs. Hiromichi Fuyuki
This was a pretty solid match with some nicely built near falls and a sense that both men wanted to win by any means necessary. In this battle of heels, it was Fuyuki's group who first broke the rules. Araya distracted the referee that allowed Gedo & Jado to sneak in and attack Koshinaka. They nailed Koshinaka with lariat in the corner and tried a superbomb. Before Gedo & Jado could lift Koshinaka up, Heisei Ishingun ran in the ring to attack Gedo & Jado and force them out of the ring. Since the referee did not see any of this, there was no need to call for a DQ. Koshinaka got busted open during the match. Fuyuki would attack the wound with weapons and strikes. Fuyuki came into this match with an injury to his midsection. Koshinaka would attack it many times in the match. It even played into the finish as Fuyuki was forced to submit due to a Cobra Twist, which puts a lot of pressure on the mid-section, that Koshinaka had put him in.
Genichiro Tenryu vs. Koji Kitao
The rules were similar to Takada vs. Kitao in October 1992 in that this match would be held under 10 rounds with 3 minutes in each round. The match was not good quality wise due to Kitao’s limitations, but it was very heated. The purpose of the match seemed to continue the theme of Tenryu being the company hero who fights through great odds with Kitao’s strength and Fuyuki’s run-in attack with a bottle, but manages to pull off the victory at the end.
The first round was both men being very tentative to touch each other, but Kitao would gain an advantage with some strikes. Tenryu was knocked to the floor and Kitao went out to attack him there. Tenryu was not happy about it and threw a chair at Kitao during the intermission. In the second round, Kitao was in control first with strikes that kept knocking Tenryu down. Tenryu fired back with chops, sumo slaps and an enzuigiri that knocked Kitao down. Tenryu locked Kitao in the WAR Special. Kitao threw a strike to escape and locked Tenryu in an STF. After a very lengthy struggle, Tenryu reached the ropes to force a rope break. As soon as Tenryu did, the bell rings to end the second round.
The third round started with Kitao throwing knees and kicks at Tenryu. Tenryu was knocked to the floor, and Fuyuki managed to sneak his way to ringside to attack him with a bottle. Tenryu was busted open as a result. Tenryu rolled back into the ring, but he could not get up. Kitao refused to attack him. The third round ends and there was loud boos from the fans due to a lack of action. Despite Tenryu’s injury, the match will continue and the fourth round begins. Kitao takes Tenryu down with an uranage. Tenryu gets up, but Kitao continues to throw knees. Tenryu recovers enough to knock the bigger Kitao down with a koppou kick. Both men get up and Tenryu knocks him down with an enzuigiri. Tenryu connects with a lariat and manages to powerbomb Kitao. Tenryu covers and gets the 3 to the shock of everyone. The WAR roster celebrates Tenryu's victory, but the effect of Fuyuki's bottle attack was still there. Tenryu and Kitao shake hands after the match.
After backstage interviews from both men, WAR held a show at Korakuen Hall on July 28. It was significant because that was when WAR changed its name from Wrestling And Romance to Wrestling Association R.
Final Score: 7.0 [Good]