WAR Super Summer Wars on 7/21/96
review by Ryan Mancuso

We are now at the 4th Anniversary show on July 21, 1996 at the Sumo Hall in Tokyo. This year WAR held two shows on back-to-back nights at the Sumo Hall with this one being the second night. Just like a lot of WAR’s big shows, this had New Japan participation. Also, this show had heavy UWF-I participation. UWF-I's popularity had dropped from 1995 to 1996 due to losing a lot of their big names like Tamura, Yamazaki, Vader and Albright. While Nobuhiko Takada got an IWGP Heavyweight Title reign during the UWF-I vs. NJPW rivalry, but UWF-I was on the losing side for a lot of battles and some of those losses looked bad for a company trying to promote on legitimacy. As a result, they had to work with the smaller WAR promotion to get their next big drawing match with Takada vs. Tenryu. Before Tenryu could get at Takada, he has to face Yoji Anjo. Other WAR vs. UWF-I matches include the semi main event of Koki Kitahara vs. Masahito Kakihara, Jado vs. Yoshihiro Takayama and the opening tag of Sano & Sakuraba facing Hirai & Tachihikari.

New Japan sent representatives as well with Michiyoshi Ohara, Riki Choshu & Satoshi Kojima. The NJPW vs. UWF-I rivalry was still alive with Fujinami & Koshinaka facing Takada & Kanehara. There is also an all star 8-man Jr. Heavyweight tag team match with Jushin Thunder Liger, Chris Jericho, Gedo & Juventud Guerrera facing Ultimo Dragon, Rey Misterio Jr., Lance Storm & Yuji Yasuraoka. Enough of the preview and onto the show:

Naoki Sano & Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Nobukazu Hirai & Osamu Tachihikari

This was a clipped match with the UWF-I wrestlers using mat wrestling to keep the WAR wrestlers for gaining any momentum. As the match went on, Sano was throwing some brutal kicks on Hirai. Hirai surprised Sano with a hurricanrana for a near fall. In the end, Sano used a release German suplex and locked Hirai in a cross armbreaker for the submission victory.

Nobutaka Araya vs. Michiyoshi Ohara

This was joined in progress, but it did not look too good thanks to Araya. He almost dropped Ohara on his head after not being able to lift him up all the way for a powerbomb. When Araya went for his moonsault, he nearly nailed Ohara with a knee to the head as he was coming down. That move was enough for WAR's young star to defeat the Heisei Ishingun member.

John Tenta vs. Arashi

Tenta gave a promo in which he said he didn’t want to face his tag partner and fellow ex-sumo star, but he does and hopes to win. This was also joined in progress and clipped. Tenta has the half shaved head and half bald head going for him. That would be around the time when he had just left Dungeon of Doom at the time and started going under his real name. If I recall, he was feuding with Big Bubba/Bossman. I imagine having that hairstyle got Tenta some funny looks by people on the street. It was standard big man wrestling with Arashi using an impressive looking vertical suplex on Tenta. Arashi climbs the top turnbuckles and connects with the frog splash to score what has to be an upset.

After the match, Koji Kitao walks to ringside and I could sense trouble brewing already. He shakes and raises Arashi’s hand in victory. Tenta is not happy with Kitao’s presence. Those two have a history from a shoot going back to 1991. Tenta goes after Kitao and they start brawling on the floor. Wrestlers have to hold both men back. Not sure what Arashi’s role in this was. While Kitao embraced Arashi, but he didn’t pick a side when they started to fight. My guess was that Kitao just wanted to taunt Tenta for losing the match more than form an alliance with Arashi. Tenta cut an angry promo after the match saying he doesn’t know why Kitao was out there, but if he got him one-on-one then he’ll squash Kitao like a bug.

Ultimo Dragon, Rey Misterio Jr., Lance Storm & Yuji Yasuraoka vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, Chris Jericho, Gedo & Juventud Guerrera

Both teams cut promos before the match. Misterio said that he beat Guerrera for his title and continue to prove that he is better. Storm said his team will not be beat. Ultimo had jumped from CMLL to AAA because he had the AAA logo on his mask. Also, Misterio and Guerrera were AAA regulars during the time. To show that Liger’s partners were heels, they were in a darkened room. Jericho says that his team can’t be beat with him, Gedo, Guerrera and Liger. Another clipped match, but plenty of great looking moves in this one. In the early part of the match, Liger and Ultimo had an exchange in which neither side was able to gain an advantage. Then, Liger and Misterio had a brief exchange with Liger winning it via powerbomb. Jericho and Misterio are on the top turnbuckle. Jericho takes Misterio down with a Gorilla Press. Misterio gets some retribution when Lance Storm lifts Jericho on his shoulders and Misterio takes Jericho down with a springboard crossbody. Guerrera also looked really good with his impressive looking diving somersault legdrop off the top turnbuckle. The finish came when Yasuraoka used a German Suplex Hold on Guerrera to get the three count. After the match, the winners were interviewed. They said they won with great teamwork and would like a rematch. I would agree with that, but no clipping next time.

Jado vs. Yoshihiro Takayama

This was a battle between members of each promotion’s heel stable with WAR Fuyuki-Gun’s Jado and UWF-I Golden Cup’s Takayama. It was joined in progress with both men brawling on the floor. Takayama tried an aisle spring running knee, but Jado moved out the way. Takayama hits his knee on the ring post. Gedo attacks the knee on the floor, and Jado does the same once Takayama is back in the ring. Takayama fights back and nearly KO’s Jado with a sleeper hold. After more Gedo interference, Jado takes Takayama down with a release German suplex and lariat. That is enough for him to upset the future IWGP and GHC Heavyweight Champion.

Riki Choshu & Satoshi Kojima vs. Hiromichi Fuyuki & Big Titan

Big Titan cuts a promo saying that he is a part of Fuyuki’s selfish army. He is feeling very selfish today because he going to take what he wants and kick some ass. This was a decent heavyweight match that moved at a fast pace and never felt like it dragged. After seeing a younger Kojima and Choshu teaming together, I could definitely see how Kojima was influenced by Choshu with his high spurt, heavy hitting style including the lariats. Choshu wins the match for the New Japan team by using two Riki Lariats on Titan for the pin.

Tatsumi Fujinami & Shiro Koshinaka vs. Nobuhiko Takada & Hiromitsu Kanehara

Even though Fujinami & Koshinaka are on different sides in New Japan rings, but they decided to put aside any differences to face the UWF-I guys. Koshinaka gets a shot at former rival from the late 1980’s, back when both were Jr. Heavyweights, Takada. Fujinami vs. Takada is another dream combination. This was a fun match with everyone looking good. The Fujinami vs. UWF-I combinations looked good because it was a battle of old school mat wrestling with Fujinami and shoot style mat wrestling with UWF-I. With Koshinaka, there was more striking mixed with the mat wrestling. Things got heated when Takada started kicking at Fujinami, and Fujinami countered with a dragon screw. Fujinami and Takada went at it a little bit on the floor. In the end, it was Kanehara's being the weak link for the UWF-I team that made the difference because Koshinaka picked him up and powerbombed him for the victory for Team New Japan/Heisei Ishingun.

Masahito Kakihara vs. Koki Kitahara

This was another UWF-I vs. WAR match. A fun match with Kakihara looking like he was just on another level than Kitahara. He was quicker and more accurate with his striking. He controlled the mat game by locking on submissions. All Kitahara could do was weather the storm by reaching the ropes and hope Kakihara made a mistake. That mistake happened as Kakihara was going for a striking combo in the corner. Kakihara went for a spin kick, but Kitahara moved out the way. Kitahara ran off the ropes and connected with a vicious running slap to the face. Kakihara got up and tried a kick. However, Kitahara caught it and took Kakihara down with a heel hook. Kakihara seemed to hurt his ankle from that missed spin kick and the UWF-I rising star taps out in what has to be a surprise.

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Yoji Anjo

This was the main event with UWF-I Golden Cup’s leader "Mr. 200%" Yoji Anjo facing WAR’s top star "Mr. Puroresu" Genichiro Tenryu. This was a great match with the crafty Anjo trying to find anyway to beat the stronger Tenryu. The smarmy Anjo started out with a few kicks that knocked Tenryu out of the ring. He posed after doing so. When Tenryu got back in the ring, he went after Anjo. However, Anjo walked out of the ring and made sure the referee backed Tenryu up so that he could enter back in safely. Anjo takes Tenryu down and stands on his throat while continuing to taunt. Anjo lets go of the choke. Tenryu get up, but Anjo once again walks on the apron with a cheesy grin on his face. He finally gets back in and Tenryu backs him up to the ropes. Tenryu chops Anjo a few times and whips him off the ropes. However, Anjo slides out of the ring before he could bounce back into Tenryu. He continues to antagonize Tenryu out there.

Anjo continues his trickery by catching a charging Tenryu with a Fujiwara armbar. Tenryu reaches the ropes. Anjo decided to stand on Tenryu’s wrist while he gets in a few free stomps. Anjo lets go of the wrist and Tenryu stands back up. Anjo goes for a dropkick, but it barely affects the bigger Tenryu. Tenryu is able to lariat a kneeling Anjo down. Tenryu’s surliness starts coming out with some hard kicks to Anjo’s face and even eye rakes him. Tenryu lands a few of his Guh Punches. Anjo fights back with punches, but they had no affect. Tenryu uses sumo slaps to send Anjo to the corner and fires off more Guh Punches. The referee gets pushed out of the way and Anjo knocked Tenryu down with a kick. Anjo goes for a cross armbreaker, but the move was never applied fully and Tenryu was too close to the ropes.

Both men are back up and exchange strikes with Tenryu easily winning. Tenryu went for a powerbomb, but Anjo manages to shift his weight into sitting on Tenryu’s chest. Anjo goes for a sleeper, but Tenryu reaches the ropes. Anjo scores a near fall after a high kick. He takes Tenryu down again with a backdrop suplex and locks him in a double kneelock. Tenryu reaches the ropes after being put in the hold. Tenryu gets up and catches Anjo with a Guh Punch. He enzuigiri’s Anjo down and connects with his powerbomb. Despite taking the damage from the move, the crafty Anjo manages to catch Tenryu with a reverse cross armbreaker. Tenryu was desperate to reach the ropes and barely manages to do so. After getting up, Tenryu levels Anjo with another lariat and spikes him with another powerbomb for the victory.

After the match, Anjo wants to shake Tenryu’s hand. Tenryu does, but Anjo throws a few high kicks. Those kicks didn’t connect too much and only made Tenryu angrier. Anjo said "Forget this" and left the ring before Tenryu could respond. Tenryu grabbed the microphone and challenged Nobuhiko Takada to a singles match in the future. Takada agreed by raising his index finger with each hand to signify "one-on-one match, you got it". To close this tape, the WAR roster toasted with Tenryu in victory. Tenryu also toasted with AAA founder and promoter Antonio Pena in hopes of a good working relationship in the future with WAR and AAA.

Final Thoughts: This was a really good show by WAR. Although clipped, the Jr. Heavyweight 8 man tag looked really great from what was shown. The wrestlers looked to be on the top of their game, and Liger looked like a maestro in getting the crowd into the match at appropriate times. Tenryu vs. Anjo was in great because of the grumpy old man vs. cunning, sleazy heel dynamic they had. Everything else was either good or very entertaining to watch. The only match that didn't look good on here was Araya vs. Ohara and that was just from clips. I would definitely recommend checking out this show.

Final Score: 8.0 [Very Good]

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