review by Jason Manning

Date: January 11th, 2003
Location: Tokyo Dome

WRESTLE-1. Keiji Muto’s big concept in conjunction with Hiroshi Hase, PRIDE, K-1, and a bunch of other people. I think it’s dumb, but it could make for some fun as Muto further drives his career down the shitter. This show drew a horrible number to the Tokyo Dome, with a lot of tickets being given out for free. 45,371 fans showed up, but the number was reportedly even lower than that. It doesn’t help that this concept doesn’t draw much interest, but it really doesn’t help that they announced the lineup like a week before the show. This number still didn’t get through to Muto and he decided to continue the concept after this. There’s a few “feature” matches. Some good-looking junior stuff on the undercard, Muto & Goldberg teaming up against Kronik, and Bob Sapp facing a “mystery opponent.” I’m going into this show with a really positive outlook just because it seems like dumb fun. It’s going to hurt All Japan and Muto big time, but I’m going to try to have fun watching this.

Great Muta vs. Bob Sapp
Nope, this isn’t the opening match, but they decide to replay almost the whole thing so I’ll review it. It was really the main event of the first WRESTLE-1. Sapp comes out to “Holiday” by Madonna and does a fucking dance with a bunch of girls. This rules. Sure, Sapp’s a horrible wrestler, but he’s so much fun to watch. Muta just appears in the ring and the crowd goes wild. Chono’s on commentary, but he’s pretty silent. Muta tried to work Sapp’s leg early on, but Sapp just killed him with a powerbomb and beat the crap out of him. The referee soon tried to stop Sapp’s onslaught of Muta in the corner, but Sapp knocked the ref down and Muta hit a Shining Wizard off of him. Fun. SAPP SOON BUSTS OUT A MOTHERFUCKING PESCADO. Sapp throws some weak lariats. He tried to powerbomb Muta later on, but Muta countered with the MIST~! And then a SHINING WIZARD~! AND ANOTHER~! For... one. SAPP IS UNSTOPPABLE. Muta dropped a moonsault, but only for 2. Muta tried another SW, but Sapp just caught him and threw him down. He then hit THE DROPKICK, and headed up top. A diving headbutt got the 3 count (6:33). Good to know Sapp can beat the Triple Crown champion. Sapp, green face and all, dances post-match. This was kind of slow at points, but had its moments. The crowd heat really made it.

Now, onto the show. They have a pretty neat opening video package that highlights everyone competing on the show. Good music, and fun effects. And then the production is revealed. It’s really quite good. The entrance set is HUGE and rivals WWE. Actually, it may beat it. There’s a big black cloth covering the ring, and when it’s removed... SAPP IS IN THE RING~! And he’s dancing. YES. Then he sees Hoost in the crowd, and begins ripping the turnbuckles apart. What happens next, I really don’t want to describe. Sapp and Hoost proceed to cut THE WORST MOTHERFUCKING PROMO EVER. EVER. Seriously, Mae Young giving birth to a hand can’t beat this. I choppy choppy your pee pee is nothing compared to this. Sapp talks all menacing, they mock each other, Hoost’s pal talks, and they totally expose the business and reveal themselves to be the worst actors in history. THIS IS EMBARRASSING TO WATCH. But it’s fun just because it’s SO BAD. I don’t want to recap this. But I’ll recap the whole goddamn thing.

(Sapp dances. He sees Hoost, and rips a turnbuckle off, but can’t rip it off all the way so he screams and jumps around. He bites a turnbuckle off, and throws it at Hoost. Hoost throws it back at him and the crowd reacts, noticing who it is.)

Sapp: “Hahaha, who do we have here? Mr. Perfect? LOSER!”
Hoost: “Mr. Perfect?”
(Hoost stumbles around like he’s hurt.)
Hoost’s Friend (in annoying Russian accent): “Mr. Monkey...! MR. MONKEY!”
Sapp: “Hahaha, how is your eye? Hahaha!”
(Sapp punches the air and holds his eye, mocking Hoost.)
Hoost: “My eye is very good. You remember, you remember, the way you went out of the ring?
(Hoost becomes the worst actor ever and screams and stumbles. Sapp gets mad.)
Hoost’s Friends: “Monkey! Bobby feel that good?”
Sapp: “Why don’t you get in the ring and fight me? Because you’re too CHICKEN?”
(Sapp does the “chicken bawking.” A referee fixes the turnbuckle.)
Hoost: “Why don’t you fight yourself?” (!!!!)
Sapp: “I am the greatest!”
(Sapp comes towards the ring and Sapp grabs at him while screaming. He can’t get to him because the ring is blocking him... or something.)
Hoost’s Friend: (Random blabber...) “Mr. BOBBY BOY! BOBBY BOY!”
(Hoost’s friend mocks Sapp some more.)
Sapp: “NO! NO! NO!”
(Sapp rips the turnbuckle that the referee fixed.)
Hoost: “You know what? I do.”
(Sapp seems happy.)
(They can get to each other but the ring seems to block them or something. Hoost’s friend mocks Sapp some more and Hoost says some random stuff.)
Hoost: “MAIN MATCH!”
Hoost’s Friend: “Mr. BOBBY.”
(Sapp jumps around as Hoost walks off. Smoke comes up and Sapp disappears.)

I’m done. This is a Must Have video. Seriously, this was THE worst thing I’ve ever seen.

Abdullah The Butcher vs. SATA...yarn
SATA... yarn is Masaaki Satake. These guys wrestled at the first WRESTLE-1 and Abby won in about 5 minutes. This was really good with the story being that SATA... yarn was pushing Abby farther, trying to show his new strength. OK, I kid. This was horrible. Abby literally just stood or laid around for the WHOLE match as SATA... yarn threw everything he had at him. Unfortunately, all SATA... yarn had was weak chops, kicks, and later on, butt drops. Seriously, that’s ALL this was. Abby bled, but that’s nothing new. And then, after all of that, Abby blocked a trash can lid shot, chopped SATA... yarn down, and dropped the elbow for the 3 count (7:35). Post-match, SATA... yarn’s friends try to attack Abby, but he fends them off and hits himself with a trash can lid. Abby then announces to the crowd that the Sheik, one of his good friends, died last night, and this fight was for him. He says that Funk, Sabu and himself are the only ones left. And... his son, Bob... something? He quiets down and laughs. I don’t know. Happy new year, says the Butcher. Boy oh boy this match was bad. Abby’s got nothing left.

Milano Collection AT, YOSSINO & Condotti Shuji vs. Anthony W. Mori, Sugawara & Ishimori
TORYUMON~! OR, T2P~! This is Ishimori’s debut in Japan after he wrestled in Mexico for a while. The Royal Brothers come out to some Randy Savage-esque music and Ishimori pops up in a SAILOR SUIT. And then... “Sometimes” by Britney Spears kicks in. BRITNEY IN THE TOKYO DOME~! The Italian Connection making their entrance (girls, Italian flags and an invisible dog) at the Tokyo Dome rocks. Ishimori’s in one-strap yellow overalls now. The NEW fashion leader has arrived. This was pretty great but junior matches never come off too good at the Tokyo Dome. The crowd seemed impressed with a lot of what they were seeing, though, and there was a lot of applause and a decent pop for the finish. Everyone brought some good sequences to the table and the pace was quick throughout, with a lot of good action. And of course, the whacky, innovative moves and submissions. AT and YOSSINO looked great as they busted out their great submissions and Shuji didn’t show much until the end, where he looked pretty good. Mori and Sugawara looked really good, but the focus was of course on Ishimori. This guy is going to be GREAT someday. He’s obviously pretty green and had to be helped through some of his spots, but he’s STILL one of the best flyers around. He’s really athletic and just needs some time. Things started off with a lot of good sequences, particularly the first one between YOSSINO and Mori. Ishimori then got to showcase off his GR-REAT moves, with everyone selling for him. The Italians soon isolated him and he was pretty great on defense, too. The Italians were of course pretty great on offense. This had a really good finish too, but nobody in the crowd really cared. Ishimori eventually made the comeback, and things came down to him and Shuji. He busted out this FUCKING GREAT move near the end where he handsprings off the ropes, and then does a BACKFLIP into an elbow drop. He then hit his FUCKING INCREDIBLE hurricanrana where he somersaults and then leaps onto the guy (Shuji), and brings him down into a cradle WITHOUT TOUCHING THE GROUND. One, two, three (13:18). There was no heat but everyone did what they could and produced a pretty rocking match, showing the Tokyo crowd just who they were.

Kendo Kashin vs. Sabu
There was a lot of mystery surrounding Kashin’s opponent since it was TBA and all. Hey, it’s Sabu. Whopee. Uh, this was passable. Sure, it sucked, but it was good for a match featuring these two. They hinted at some psych a bunch of times but never took it all the way. Kashin worked over Sabu’s leg, then his arm, and then his hand. Just pick a body part and work over it, dude. It’s not that hard. After that, this turned into your basic spotfest, with Sabu doing some of his usual stuff. He tried to leap into a ‘rana from the top but totally missed and just fell flat on his face. Kashin just stood there, making it seem like a comedy spot, which kind of saves things. Whoa, Kendo Kashin just saved a blown spot. They actually managed to break one of those hard Japanese tables when Sabu sunset flip powerbombed Kashin off the apron. Sabu managed to hit that leaping ‘rana spot he blew when he went for it a second time later in the match. He headed up top again, but Kashin brought him down with a cross armbreaker for the win (12:28). Sabu gets frustrated after the match so he throws a chair around and springboards off the ropes and leg drops himself through a table. And then he throws the table around. Oh, he was aiming at the ref. And then he attacks the refs and threatens to climb the big pillars around ringside. JEEZ DUDE. YOU LOST. GODDAMN. Oh, the match. Eh, it was OK. Basically a spotfest with some Kashin comedy in between. There could’ve been some decent body part work, but they forgot about that about 3 seconds after starting it.

Ultimo Dragon & Kaz Hayashi vs. Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero
FUCK YES. Ultimo’s on his big comeback and Guerrero and Bucanero are the great Guerreros del Infernales from Mexico. This is my first look at both the returned Ultimo and the GdI. Kaz is Kaz, of course. Well, this was fucking great. First, let’s talk about the participants. The Gurerreros del Infernales are the GREATEST TAG TEAM IN THE WORLD. They RULE. They’re RUDO KINGS as they try to break Ultimo’s formerly injured arm, sandwiching it between chairs. They also have some of the GREATEST TAG MOVES EVER. Just wonderful stuff, and so much to mention. The greatest move they did here was when Guerrero setup a catapult, but Rey hit Kaz with a lariat as Guerrero held his knees up, causing Kaz to fall back and stretch over Guerrero’s knees. Rey then dropped a twisting senton from the top on that setup. OUCH. They were also always together or there for the save until the end. AWESOME chemistry. Guerrero’s so great as has a bunch of great sequences with Ultimo and Rey’s so good too. Plus, he LOVES TO DIE FOR YOU as he takes a bunch of neat over-the-top bumps. As a team, they’re untouchable. Then, there’s Kaz. Get the fuck out of All Japan dude, YOU RULE. He busts out a bunch of stuff you’ll never see him do in All Japan like his tope suicida with a flip, a tope con hilo and an almost springboard avalanche-style ‘rana that was countered by Guerrero with a POWERBOMB. Then of course, there’s Ultimo. Well, he’s obviously not anywhere near what he was years ago, but even a quarter of what he was years ago is still damn good. I’d say he was the weakest of the four here, but he still rocked. He tried to do some comedy early on which looked out of place, but when he was serious, he was really quite good. He has a bunch of nice Lucha exchanges with Guerrero and even manages a ‘rana from the top to the ramp and a tope suicida. The only disappointment? NO ASAI MOONSAULT. He went for it early on, but Rey prevented him. It doesn’t even seem like his arm is bothering him anymore. Guerrero got him in a wakigatame early on that made me cringe, but Ultimo was fine afterwards. This started off kind of slow but everything still managed to rule as they always kept it interesting with some fun, FUN sequences (the first Ultimo vs. Ultimo one RULES) or awesome tag work by the GdI. I rarely say “oh shit” during matches but I said it A LOT here as I MARKED for the great Luchaness and all the other neat stuff everyone did, like Rey’s neat bumps (he just flies over the top at times when you’re not expecting it) and what not. This would’ve come off even better in another setting but hey, fuck the crowd, this ROCKED. Hell, they did manage to pop the crowd once or twice. And then things all logically built to the finish, where things really picked up with loads of awesome stuff going on. Vintage tag work from GdI, nice spots being hit, some good near falls and all that other stuff that makes you go “Whoa... this RULES.” Ultimo eventually caught Rey in the Dragon sleeper for the submission win (17:40). Guerrero cracks Rey’s neck for him after the match. Aw. THIS TEAM RULES. I need some Lucha. Awesome match. Check this out if you can.

Satoshi Kojima & Hiroshi Hase vs. Terry Funk & Heath Herring
Jeez, I hear Koji and Hase carried Coleman & Randleman at the last show, but Terry Funk 20,000 years past his prime and a guy with no pro wrestling experience? Herring IS a guy who competes for PRIDE with a pretty impressive record of 18-7, but that of course doesn’t make him a good wrestler. Funk and Herring have got some kind of Cowboy gimmick going. And then Cowboy Heath Herring takes off his Cowboy gear to reveal SHOOTA~! pants. Yeah, this was pretty bad, but I had some fun watching it. Sue me. Herring just applied a bunch of submissions and Funk did nothing much. Kojima and Hase had no chance of carrying them. However, there were some fun parts. The screen got all interactive and Kojima’s “ICCHAKUZO BAKAYARO” saying popped up on the screen as he said it, and then a big sound effect let out as he dropped the elbow. Herring had an elbow exchange with Kojima in the middle that he actually won. Kojima and Hase generously sold for Funk and Herring here, and the match was actually pretty even. Hase’s GIANT SWING~! on Herring got a cool countdown on the screen. It stopped after 20 because it couldn’t keep up (funny stuff, it started getting faster and skipping numbers and all) and Hase got mad. Ha. AND THEN HASE SWIVELS. Funk and Herring brought out STEREO SPINNING TOEHOLDS~! later on, which rules. But right after, Kojima hit Herring with a lariat and Hase followed with a Northern lights suplex hold for the win (10:58). Pretty bad wrestling-wise, but some lighthearted fun at times.

Mark Coleman & Kevin Randleman vs. Jan The Giant Convict & Singh The Giant Convict
Coleman and Randleman apparently impressed at the last show (thanks to Koji and Hase), and the convicts are big MMA guy Jan Nortje and... Giant Singh. Makes sense that Muto would use GIANT SINGH. The convicts use this Halloween-like music and... WHAT THE FUCK. Hey, it IS Halloween as they wear the WORST COSTUMES EVER and are accompanied by some guy who holds them by cuffs as they come to the ring. This is horrible. However, nothing will EVER beat that Sapp-Hoost promo. Well, I don’t know. Maybe this could. This was really bad. Coleman & Randleman seemed to try to make this watchable, but all they could do was make a few comebacks and pop the crowd by lifting the giants. The giants had the majority of the offense and sucked doing it. Singh took off his mask and shirt pretty early on, maybe because it got hot or something. The only good I can say about this is that Nortje actually tried to sell for Coleman & Randleman. Funny how Singh has the most pro experience here, yet all the other three were better than him (Nortje was just because he sold). Nortje eventually took his mask off, too. After 12 minutes of suck, Singh powerbombed Coleman two times, but when he went for a third, Coleman managed a hurricanrana for the 3 count (11:48). Three non-wrestlers and one of the worst wrestlers to ever live wrestling a tag match? Yep, this is WRESTLE-1

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Joe Son
Why is JOE SON BOOKED? WHY!? He’s this embarrassing guy who has an incredible 0-4 record in the shoot world. And he wears a THONG. Nothing else. Just a THONG. AND HIS OPPONENT IS SHINYA HASHIMOTO. Keiji Muto has Shinya Hashimoto on this card and books him against Joe Son. OK, anyways, FUCKING GOD DAMNIT, JOE SON RAPS TO THE RING. HE FUCKING RAPS TO THE RING AND DANCES AND OHMYFUCKINGGOD. No one knows how to react. Seeing Joe Son tackle Hashimoto (complete with Hashimoto rolling outside) is embarrassing, but then Hash starts bleeding all over. Hash is bleeding for JOE SON. Joe Son also tackles the ref which is kind of funny. No, it’s not funny. It sucks. This match sucks. Thankfully, Hashimoto didn’t sell for Son anymore and just played around with him for a little bit. Hashimoto eventually went for a figure four, but decided to just slap on a crab hold for the win (5:34). This was so boring despite being so short.

Keiji Muto & Bill Goldberg vs. Brian Adams & Bryan Clark
Ahhhh, here we go. MUTO & GOLDBERG~! Joy. Kronik left All Japan (vacating their tag belts in the process) when Adams tried to become a boxer, but he got injured so that failed. And now he’s back here. See, the wonderful story here is that Muto is mad because Kronik left All Japan and screwed up Muto’s booking, so he wants revenge. And he also wants revenge over his tag belt loss. And Goldberg’s all “HEY! MUTO THINKS I DRAW AND UR NEXT~!” Goldberg gets this huge entrance where he arrives in the parking lot (flanked by an ARMY), goes to his locker room, gets dressed, and then comes out as everyone waits. Muto’s waiting face is priceless. Oh, by the way, I was kidding about the story. Muto, Goldberg and Kronik put on a horrible, horrible match, possibly the worst of the night (and that’s saying something) just because it went SO LONG. I’m sure Muto had a joygasm wrestling with three former WCW guys, but I nearly fell asleep watching this. It was SO boring, and no one looked good, especially Goldberg. They tried to get all technical early on but it was just a bunch of crappy rest holds. The only part I enjoyed was during their brawl in the crowd, as a few fans called out “Honma,” who had ring duties for this show. I enjoyed this until I realized they were screaming “Goldberg.” Shitty. Goldberg kicked out of the High Times midway through the match to NO HEAT AT ALL. The crowd was willing to pop for Goldberg at the start, but fell asleep 5 minutes after the start. Hey, the ref even took a bump near the end. Kronik brought a table in, but Goldberg ended up spearing Clark through it. He then hit the Jackhammer for the win (17:57). It’s really sad how much Muto worships these gaijin. Adams can just simply take off and leave and ruin potential booking plans, and then he’s brought back in a feature match at the Tokyo Dome. This was a really, really bad match. SO boring.

Bob Sapp vs. Ernesto Hoost
HEEEEEREEEE’S SAPP. These two had a big feud in the shoot fighting world that I don’t know anything about. A little video package kind of recaps it for me. They show a HILARIOUS promo where Sapp’s with a kitty, and then he gets mad, so the kitty runs away. He talks about Hoost in his menacing voice, and then gets nice and searches for his kitty. Hoost comes down with Sapp’s ladies and intro, mocking his opponent, but Sapp CANNOT be mocked. HE MOTHERFUCKING FLIES DOWN TO THE RING. AND HE’S WEARING AN ANGEL COSTUME. BOB “ANGEL” SAPP~! The ladies all run to Sapp because he is the ultimate pimp. This blew. Hoost gets all pro wrestling early on and applies an STF, but he isn’t a pro wrestler and looked horrible otherwise. Sapp’s entertaining, but he sucks in the ring too. Thus, this of course SUCKED. Horrible match. Hoost gets a pop for applying an abdominal stretch. JEEZ. The finish came when Hoost’s pal got involved and hit Sapp in the head. Sapp got pissed and attacked him, enabling Hoost to hit Sapp with a chair while the ref checked on Hoost’s pal. Hoost then brought Sapp down with a horizontal cradle for the win (5:15). Horrible match, horrible finish.

Hoost dances like an idiot to end the show. The smoke from earlier in the show comes up and Sapp disappears. Everyone who competed earlier on the show comes out to end things. Sapp also comes out, selling a head injury.

Final Analysis: Uh, yeah. Some really good junior stuff on the undercard and that’s it. However, there’s a lot of lighthearted fun to be found and some stuff that’s so bad it’s funny. Sure... I’ll Recommend this.