WAR - April 2nd, 1993
review by Ryan Mancuso

In this review, I will be reviewing a show from the WAR promotion. Just like a lot of promotions I first review, I will give a brief history behind it. After SWS shut down in June 1992, Genichiro Tenryu tried his hand at running a pro wrestling promotion by creating the WAR promotion. While SWS was trying to compete on a major league status like New Japan and All Japan, WAR was more downscaled. This is because they did not have the big time financing of SWS and had only one draw on their roster with Genichiro Tenryu. For those wondering the letters behind WAR stood for, it was first Wrestling And Romance but changed their name a few years later to Wrestling Association "R". WAR ran as a full-time promotion from 1992 until 1996 then ran on a part time basis from 1997 until 1999. WAR had its last official show in 2000 when Tenryu was brought back into All Japan after the NOAH split. There will be a special reunion show for WAR on July 27, 2006, but no expectations for them to run full time again.

There are 4 things that I will remember WAR for. First, there were the interpromotional rivalries they had with New Japan, UWF-I and others. This was due to WAR only having one major name, and needed big names from other companies to draw a good attendance for major shows. Second, WAR was able to provide a showcase for some future stars in the United States such as Chris Jericho, Ultimo Dragon, Gedo and Lance Storm. It was a great Chris Jericho vs. Ultimo Dragon from a major WAR show in the summer of 1995 that got Jericho noticed by ECW. Third, WAR fans responded to pretty much everything. WAR had some bad matches, but I think the crowd response helped motivate the wrestlers into putting more effort into the match. As a viewer, that effort made some of those bad matches a little more enjoyable to watch. Even though I enjoy good quality matches, but I am much nicer to bad matches if the effort was definitely there. Finally, I will remember WAR for putting together some of the most random 6 man tag teams ever. I don't think anyone could ever top the trio of Chris Jericho, Vampiro and The Warlord.

This show took place on April 2, 1993 in front of a hot crowd at the Sendai City Gym. There were plenty of inter-promotional matches between New Japan and WAR. First, there was a battle of the Jr. Heavyweights with Ultimo Dragon & Masao Orihara facing Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai. Then there is Heisei Ishingun, a New Japan heel stable, facing off against defector Super Strong Machine and his new WAR buddies of Hiromichi Fuyuki, Koki Kitahara and Ashura Hara. The semi-main event has Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Great Kabuki. Finally, the main event will feature Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa vs. Riki Choshu & Shinya Hashimoto. Let's get this review started:

Ultimo Dragon & Masao Orihara vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & El Samurai

This match was a great way to open up this show. It was weird seeing Orihara without dreadlocks and tattoos. However, it was refreshing to see him not use middle fingers and low blows every 30 seconds. In this match, I thought he was the standout performer. He was the one getting in the faces of the New Japan guys, and trying to show them that he was on their level. Everyone else performed great, but I thought they took a backseat so that they could let the young Orihara shine on this night. Too bad Orihara blew a couple of moves such as overshooting a moonsault. He might have done it again had Liger not gotten his knees up. The highlight of the match, in my opinion, was the three dive sequence towards the end. All of them executed perfectly, and really won over the crowd with that. Here is the play-by-play for the match:

Ultimo and Samurai start the match for their teams. They tie up, and Ultimo backs Samurai into a corner. Ultimo slaps Samurai in the face. They tie up again with Samurai backing up Ultimo into a corner. Samurai slaps him as retaliation from earlier. Ultimo with a drop toehold then both men trade wristlocks. Ultimo escapes from Samurai's wristlock with a handspring then works on the arm. Ultimo abandons the arm work so that he could snap mare Samurai down and put him in a headlock. Ultimo brings Samurai to his corner, and tags in Orihara. Orihara hits Samurai from behind. The crowd is not happy with that tactic.

Samurai takes Orihara down with a headlock. Orihara quickly escapes that, and puts Samurai in a headscissors hold. Samurai escapes, and Orihara gets up to nail Liger in his corner. Liger is furious over that, and shoves the referee down while wanting to get a piece of Orihara. Liger gets back to his corner, and argues with the referee. Samurai attacks Orihara, slams his head on the turnbuckle and tags in Liger. Liger whips Orihara off the ropes and catches him with a dropkick. Liger slaps at Orihara, and Orihara attacks with a dropkick. He tags in Ultimo Dragon. Liger attacks with a koppou kick, slams his head onto Samurai's knee and tags out.

Samurai whips Dragon off the ropes and catches him with a dropkick. Samurai picks up Ultimo and bodyslams him on the mat. Samurai uses a legdrop, goes for a cover and Ultimo kicks out at 2. Samurai uses a snap mare and transitions into a chinlock. Samurai lets go to try a suplex, but Ultimo counters with a small package. Samurai kicks out at one, and works on Ultimo's leg. He drags Ultimo to his corner. Liger holds Ultimo's leg on the bottom rope. Samurai runs and drops his weight onto Ultimo's leg. A tag is made, and Liger throws Ultimo out of the ring. Samurai is holding Ultimo, and Liger connects with a baseball slide. Liger celebrates his actions by taunting Ultimo Dragon when he swivels his hips.

Ultimo enters the ring. Liger whips him off the ropes and catches him with a dropkick to the knee. Liger puts him in a knee bar, and Orihara quickly breaks up the hold to the jeers of the home crowd. Samurai is tagged in and puts Ultimo in a single-leg Boston crab. Samurai abandons the hold. He picks Ultimo up for a tombstone piledriver. He plants Ultimo down, makes the cover and Ultimo is out at 2. Samurai tries a bow-and-arrow Dragon sleeper, but Ultimo quickly escapes. Ultimo recovers and whips Samurai into a corner. He successfully charges in with a splash. Ultimo slams Samurai to the mat and tags out to Orihara.

Orihara is on the top rope. Ultimo grabs his arms and slams him down onto a prone Samurai. Orihara is wearing Samurai down with a chinlock. Orihara lets go and transitions into a Boston crab. While applying the Boston crab, Orihara spits at Liger. Samurai escapes by reaching the ropes. Orihara whips Samurai to the ropes, and catches him with a lariat. Orihara goes for a bodyslam, but Samurai counters with a small package. Orihara quickly kicks out, but Samurai is able to tag in Liger. Liger makes Orihara pay for his disrespect by putting him in a surfboard. Samurai gets in a few shots to Orihara's exposed midsection. Samurai is tagged in. Liger picks Orihara up on his shoulders. Samurai is on the top turnbuckle and jumps off with a diving crossbody. Samurai covers, but Orihara kicks out at 2.

Samurai drills Orihara with a piledriver and lazily makes a cover. Orihara escapes at 2. Samurai uses a swinging neckbreaker and tags in Liger. Samurai picks up Orihara on his shoulders now. Liger is climbing the top turnbuckles and jumps off with a dropkick. Liger covers by just laying one hand onto top of Orihara. Orihara kicks out at 2. Liger puts Orihara in a sleeper with a bodyscissors. After wearing down Orihara for a bit, he lets go to nail Ultimo in the corner and tags in Samurai. Samurai whips Orihara off the ropes and goes for a dropkick. Orihara holds onto the ropes. Samurai lands hard onto the mat. Orihara tags in Ultimo.

Ultimo throws Samurai off the ropes and connects with a spinning heel kick. Ultimo picks up Samurai and plants him with a backdrop suplex. Ultimo slows things down with a single-leg Boston crab. After doing some damage, Ultimo lets go of the hold and tags in Orihara. Orihara whips Samurai into the corner. He charges in a lariat. He gives Ultimo a boost with his dropkick to the prone Samurai on the corner. Orihara slams Samurai onto the mat. Orihara climbs the top turnbuckles and goes for a moonsault. Unfortunately, Orihara overshoots his moonsault because Samurai was not moving out of the way. Orihara tried to save his miscue by connecting with a senton. Orihara goes for a piledriver, but Samurai was able to backdrop out of it and tag in Liger. Liger throws Orihara into his corner. He demands that Orihara tags in Ultimo. Orihara obliges and Ultimo is in the ring.

Liger kicks at Ultimo, calls for Samurai to enter the ring and whips Ultimo to the opposite turnbuckles. Samurai charges in with a back elbow and Liger with a koppou kick. Liger connects with a handspring attack and charges at Ultimo. Ultimo backdrops him over the top rope, but Liger lands on the apron. Ultimo dropkicks Liger off the apron, and tries a plancha onto the floor. Liger evacuates by entering the ring and Ultimo lands on his feet. Orihara quickly dropkicks Liger out of the ring. Ultimo climbs up the apron, jumps off the second rope and connects with his famous Asai Moonsault. Samurai is quick to respond by running off the ropes and diving out with a tope con hilo. Orihara wants to join in the action as well because he climbs the top turnbuckle to connect with a moonsault to Samurai on the floor. The crowd is just going nuts for this action.

Orihara powerbombs Samurai on the floor and rolls Liger back into the ring. Ultimo is already in the ring waiting for him. Ultimo and Orihara double team Liger with a backdrop suplex/diving lariat combination. Ultimo covers, but Liger kicks out at 2. Ultimo tags in his partner. Orihara uses a German suplex hold for another 2 count. Orihara sets Liger up for a Dragon suplex hold and folds Liger up. Orihara keeps the bridge for the cover. Out of nowhere, El Samurai is able to recover and make the save at the last second. Orihara goes for a moonsault off the top turnbuckle, but Liger was able to get his knees up. Liger runs off the ropes and slams Orihara down with a face crusher. Liger rolls into his corner and tags in Samurai. Ultimo is also tagged in and knocks Samurai down with a spin kick.

After a quick cradle exchange, Samurai uses a German suplex hold for a 2 count. Samurai uses a powerbomb and gets another near fall. Samurai goes for a backdrop suplex, but Ultimo flips out of it. Ultimo connects with a release German suplex and tags in Orihara. Orihara uses a fisherman suplex hold for a 2 count. Orihara runs off the ropes and goes for a lariat. Samurai ducks, catches Orihara's arm and uses an inverted suplex. Liger is tagged in, and he is really feeling good about himself. Liger uses a vicious Liger bomb on Orihara and covers. However, Orihara was barely able to escape the pin. Liger slams Orihara down, climbs the top turnbuckle and connects with a diving splash. Ultimo breaks up the pinfall. Samurai enters the ring to throw Ultimo out of the floor. Liger climbs to the top again. He goes for a diving elbow smash, but Orihara gets out of the way. Orihara is still too stunned to make a comeback, and Liger uses a backdrop suplex for a near fall once again broken up by Ultimo.

Samurai throws Ultimo out to the floor again, and connects with a plancha. Sensing that Liger has things in control, Samurai is now keeping Ultimo away from the action. Liger climbs the top and goes for a diving headbutt. However, Liger gets both of Orihara's feet to his face. Orihara tries to get Ultimo to help him out, but with no luck. Orihara uses a German suplex hold for another 2 count. Orihara runs off the ropes, and Liger connects with a Frankensteiner. Liger holds onto the pinfall, and the referee makes the 3 count to end the first New Japan vs. WAR interpromotional match of the night.

Dick Slater vs. King Haku

This was joined-in-progress. It did not look bad, but there was nothing to really remember about the match either. Slater got a good reaction when he used some of the Funk's famous moves like the spinning toe hold and the punches. Haku gets the win with a belly-to-belly suplex.

John Tenta vs. Rio Lord of the Jungle

Rio is the wrestler once known as Renegade in mid-1990's WCW. He was supposed to be WCW's answer to the Ultimate Warrior because WCW could not get a deal with Warrior at the time. He got a big push early when he was aligned with Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. He even won the WCW World TV Title from Arn Anderson. However, WCW fans did not take a liking to him at all. The push ended a few months later when he dropped the TV Title to DDP and became a jobber. Sadly, he committed suicide in early 1999.

The match was not good. Tenta worked hard, but he just did not have much to work with. I think the WAR fans must have thought that Renegade was a comedy wrestler because a good amount of his offense got some laughs. Tenta got the win with his trademark running sitdown Earthquake splash.

Super Strong Machine, Ashura Hara, Hiromichi Fuyuki & Koki Kitahara vs. Shiro Koshinaka, Kengo Kimura, Akitoshi Saito & Michiyoshi Ohara

When the WAR vs. New Japan rivalry started, long time New Japan wrestler Super Strong Machine and the rest of the Blond Outlaws favored WAR in this rivalry. This resulted in Super Strong Machine defecting from New Japan to WAR for a little bit. In this match, Machine teams up with WAR wrestlers Hara, Fuyuki and Kitahara against Heisei Ishingun. Heisei Ishingun was formed by Shiro Koshinaka as an anti-New Japan army. Despite their anti-New Japan stance, they were offended that Super Strong Machine and the Blond Outlaws would defect to WAR rather than defeat New Japan from within.

If there was a major strength of Heisei Ishinigun matches, then it would be their ability to put on fast paced, heated multi-man tag matches. Outside of Koshinaka, none of the members of Heisei Ishingun were anything special as singles wrestlers. The same could be said for the WAR team. This was a very heated brawl with both sides tagging out to keep the match moving at a fast pace. It showcased the strengths and hid the weaknesses. Heisei were trying to humiliate Machine by trying to take his mask off, but they were unsuccessful. The crowd was rabid throughout the match. Just like the Jr. Heavyweight match, I was surprised to see them more pro-Heisei Ishingun and booing the WAR wrestlers and Machine. As I learn, WAR crowds are much different from other wrestling crowds. Koshinaka used a powerbomb on Kitahara to get the win for Heisei Ishingun.

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. The Great Kabuki

This was a battle between two wrestling legends. Fujinami was a pioneer in Jr. Heavyweight wrestling in the late 1970's then made a very successful transition to heavyweight in the early 1980's. Kabuki was the precursor to the Great Muta and had a very successful run in various territories of the United States during in the 1980's. Outside of a few moments, I thought most of the mach was dull with a lot of holds. However, the crowd was very responsive to those faster paced moments. The finish was pretty cool as Fujinami caught Kabuki in a sleeper. Kabuki tried to counter out of it by spraying his mist. Since Fujinami was behind Kabuki, the mist did not connect at all. Fujinami transitioned from the sleeper to the Dragon Sleeper, and Kabuki called it quits.

Genichiro Tenryu & Takashi Ishikawa vs. Riki Choshu & Shinya Hashimoto

This was a great way to end the show because there was plenty of hate shown from the two teams. As a result, the crowd responded like crazy throughout the match. If I thought they were hot throughout the show, then this match raises the crowd heat to another level. Tenryu and Hashimoto showed that they had some awesome chemistry with some great looking exchanges. Choshu is a master at getting the most crowd response within his ability to take a beating and limitations for offense. Ishikawa was the weak link in the match, but got a lot of heel heat every time he was doing a double-team move or saving Tenryu. It was like the crowd was saying, "We want Tenryu vs. Hashimoto or Tenryu vs. Choshu. Don't ruin the party for us Ishikawa." There was plenty of intense striking by Tenryu with Hashimoto bleeding from the nose and Choshu getting busted open near his eye. Hashimoto got the win for New Japan when he used a DDT on Ishikawa. After the match, Tenryu attacks Hashimoto and chaos breaks out with wrestlers from both promotions trying to break up the fight.

Final Thoughts: This was a very fun show that WAR put on. Ultimo & Orihara vs. Liger & Samurai is worth getting the show itself. It was an amazing Jr. Heavyweight match that really made you feel the bitterness between the two promotions. The 8-man tag was a great fast-paced brawl that emphasized the strengths of the limited individual wrestlers involved. The atmosphere of the main event was amazing. They were going nuts for Tenryu, Hashimoto and Choshu. It really helped elevate everyone's game because they were definitely on fire. With 3 great matches from a 6 match card, I am definitely recommending this show.

Final Score: 7.5 [Good]

Ryan Mancuso can be reached at ryanm2k4@gmail.com

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