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Showing posts with label Genichiro Tenryu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Genichiro Tenryu. Show all posts

Thursday, 12 December 2019

EVENT REVIEW - SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991

December 12th, 1991
Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan

While WWE have shown more willingness to let their NXT and NXT UK stars work for other promotions in recent years, there was a long time when the sports entertainment empire weren't exactly known for getting along with other pro wrestling organisations.

So, when the company joined forces with Japanese outfit Super World of Sports (SWS) in 1991, it wasn't exactly the norm.

Not that it should have come as much of a surprise.

As proven with the recent Saudi Arabia deal, Vince McMahon will do business with just about anybody if the price is right, and the price was certainly right for this partnership.

SWS was backed by Megane Super, a company who had earned millions selling -of all things- eyeglasses. Using Megane Super's millions, SWS had built up a decent roster and had booked several cross-promotional cards with the World Wrestling Federation.






One of those shows featured the infamous John Tenta vs. Koji Kitao match in which Kitao refused to work with the man better known back then as Earthquake.


It says something about just how controversial Kitao's performance was that this was the only match anyone remembered from a card which also featured Randy Savage vs. Genichiro Tenryu, and  Hulk Hogan vs. Yoshiaki Yatsu. 

But we're not here to talk about that show today, no sir. We're here to talk about SuperWrestle 1991, the show which took place six months after the infamous Kitao/Quake shoot.

Here's what went down when that particular event came to us live from the Tokyo Dome.

Masakatsu Funaki vs. Jerry Flynn


SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Masaharu Funaki bea Jerry FlynnThe last time Jerry Flynn made an appearance here on Retro Pro Wrestling, he was taking part in that terrible Junkyard Battle Royal at WCW Bash at the Beach 1999.

Eight years before that, however, ol' Lightning Foot look to have all the makings of a solid grappler as he locked up with a man long considered to one of Japan's greatest mixed martial artists, Masaharu Funaki.

Not surprisingly, Funaki's shoot-style came into play here, with the two combatants trading swift martial arts kicks in between periods spent trying to out-wrestle each other on the mat.

If you're the sort of fan who likes fast-paced offense, lots of drama and high spots aplenty, you might hate this opening contest.

If, however, you enjoy any bout that makes pro wrestling look like something vaguely resembling a legitimate sporting contest, you might enjoy this short-but-sweet contest very much.

After only five minutes -most of which Flynn and Funaki spent on the ground- Funaki made his opponent tap.
Your Winner: Masaharu Funaki

Post-match, the two hugged it out in a sign of sportsmanship.

Ultimo Dragon vs. Jerry Estrada

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Ultimo Dragon and Jerry Estrada celebrate after their match
Apparently, the booking committee looked at this card and said "you know what? This needs more Jerry!"

Enter legendary luchador Jerry Estrada, who went at it with Ultimo Dragon in what proved to be a very enjoyable contest indeed.

Much faster and much more athletic than our opener, this was everything you'd want from a Lucha-resu bout in the early 1990s.

Both men flew around the ring at breakneck speeds, flipping and twisting and tossing each other around -and out of- the ring, with the Tokyo Dome crowd hanging on their every move.

At one point, they hit a suplex spot off the apron which saw them crashing straight into the front row. It was a genuinely exciting moment that popped the crowd -and this writer- huge.

After an incredibly fun seesaw battle, Dragon reversed a pin attempt and scored the three count in what would be his first match in Japan in the Ultimo Dragon gimmick.
Your Winner: Ultimo Dragon

The sportsmanship continued as the two men celebrated together after the bell.

Inter-Promotional Tag Team Match
King Haku & Yoshiaki Yatsu vs.  Ashura Hara & Davey Boy Smith

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - King Haku teamed with Yoshiaki Yatsu to face British Bulldog and Ashura Hara
So far, this show couldn't have been booked any more perfectly.

We started with a shoot-style matched, moved into a fast-paced, high-flying bout, and now had ourselves a tag team match with four burly bruisers knocking the hell out of each other.

At first, this didn't seem like it was going to be all that interesting, but it soon heated up into another enjoyable performance, with all four men putting in a strong effort in every sense of the word.

Though not the best bout on the card, it was still a fun watch right up to the point that the British Bulldog rolled up Haku for the pin.
Your Winners: Ashura Hara & Davey Boy Smith

Alas, there was to be no display of sportsmanship here. Haku and Yoshiaki Yatsu beat up on the Bulldog after the match and dropped him with a wicked tiger-bomb/elbow-drop combo.

After a cut-away, Davey Boy and Ashura Hara were shown standing tall once again, this time sporting some kind of mysterious trophy.

I've scoured the web but I've still no idea what that trophy was actually for. What I do know, is that it certainly wasn't the infamous Royal Samovar Trophy the Bulldog had won two months earlier at the Royal Albert Hall.

We're Gonna Need a Montage

Apparently, there was no room on the broadcast/recorded version of this show to include the first three matches so, instead, we got a musical highlight montage.

The three matches included:

Great Kabuki, Takashi Ishikawa, Samson Fuyuki vs. Kendo Nagasaki, Shinichi Nakano, Tatsumi Kitihara in a six-man tag
Minoru Suzuki taking on Wellington Wilkins Jr in another UWF-rules shoot fight
Goro Tsurumi, Apollo Sugawara, Fumihiro Niikura vs. Kenichi Oya, Don Arakawa, Akira Katayama.

Disappointingly, the Kendo Nagasaki mentioned above wasn't the British star fans might remember from World of Sport, but rather the version of the character played by Kazuo Sakurada.

The Rockers (Marty Jannetty & Shawn Michaels) vs. George  & Shunji Takano

We joined this match in progress with Marty Jannetty and George Takano trying to take each other apart in the middle of the ring.

Jannetty worked the majority of the contest, with Shawn Michaels tagging in whenever he could and throwing superkicks around like confetti.

I'll rarely have less than glowing praise for anything involving The Rockers, but this just sadly wasn't half as good as you might have hoped it would be.

OK, so it was far from terrible, but having already been spoiled by a couple of very good undercard matches, this one somehow just fell short.

In the end, Jannetty scaled the top rope but was taking his time at diving off, so Michaels gave him a push.

The move backfired. Jannetty was caught with a big boot by Takano and quickly ate the pin.
Your Winners: George & Shunji Takano

Afterward, an irate Michaels berated his partner, urging him to 'use [his] head.'

Fair play to The Rockers, they were committed to their break-up storyline even in what was essentially a non-cannon show.

The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase (w/ Sensational Sherri) vs. The Texas Tornado Kerry Von Erich

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Texas Tornado Kerry Von Eric squared off with Ted DibiaseThis was a World Wrestling Federation exhibition bout, with Earl Hebner taking the place of the Japanese referees who had officiated most of the proceeding bouts.

Though not a technical masterpiece, the two told a very good story in which Kerry Von Erich kept trying to lock Ted Dibiase in the Iron Claw, only for Dibiase to continually escape.

It was a simple story perfectly told, especially as the Japanese faithful went crazy every time the Tornado even gestured that he might apply the claw.

The highlight of the match came when the two brawled to the outside, where the Million Dollar Man blasted the Texas Tornado with a couple of wicked chair shots.

Clearly preparing himself for the Attitude Era, Hebner turned a blind-eye to such blatant cheating and allowed the match to continue. That gave Von Eric the perfect opportunity to mount a comeback and finally put the diabolical Dibiase in the claw.

Sensational Sherri came to her man's rescue, so Kerry slapped the claw on her instead. The distraction allowed Dibiase to level his opponent from behind, hit a DDT that would make Jake Roberts proud, and scored the three count.
Your Winner: Ted Dibiase

Super World Sports Light Heavyweight Championship

(Match to determine the inaugural champion)

Rick 'The Model' Martel vs. Naoki Sano

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Naoki Sano faced Rick Martel to determine the first SWS Light Heavyweight Champion
Yes, he was a model, and yes, Rick Martel was excellent in this short, compelling match with Naoki Sano.

Given less than eight minutes to do their thing, neither man held anything back, going toe-to-toe in what proved to be a thoroughly explosive contest.

Leaving it all on the line, Martel and Sano went at it hard and fast until the latter hit the former with a beautiful German suplex to become the first -and only- SWS Light Heavyweight Champion.

The company would fold just six months later.

Sano would hold onto the title the entire time.
Your Winner and NEW SWS Light Heavyweight Champion: Naoki Sano

Post-match, Sano was presented with the title belt and a special trophy.

Koji Ishinriki vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Koji Ishinriki vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara
Up next, it was the turn of SWS to have their exhibition match.

For some bizarre reason, former sumo star Koji Ishinriki entered the ring to The Beatle's Eleanor Rigby, while Yoshiaki Fujiwara beat Daniel Bryan to the punch by a good twenty years in opting for Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries.

Like the earlier Dibiase/Tornado bout, this was more about the story than anything else, with the plucky, inexperienced Ishinriki looking to get the upper hand against the grizzled old veteran, Fujiwara and getting increasingly more frustrated when he couldn't do so.

The two kept to a simple pattern here. They'd lock up, wrestle a bit, Ishinriki would get the better of Fujiwara, Fujiwara would no-sell the offense and hit a big move of his own. The crowd would go absolutely crazy for Fujiwara, and the whole thing would start again.

As things progressed, the Ishinriki's frustration became all the more evident as he switched from trying to out-wrestle his opponent to simple kicking and chopping the raging bejeezus out of him.

Alas, it didn't work. Fujiwara sold practically nothing and eventually locked his foe in a submission hold for the win.
Your Winner: Yoshiaki Fujiwara

It was a strong showing, though I understand why it might not have been everyone's cup of tea.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Legion of Doom (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal) vs. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon w/ Jimmy Hart)

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Legion of Doom faced The Natural Disasters
Playing off their existing popularity in Japan, Earthquake was billed as 'Earthquake John Tenta' while Hawk and Animal were introduced as 'Legion of Doom, The Road Warriors' and entered the ring to their iconic Black Sabbath Iron Man theme music.

The match was everything you'd expect a Legion of doom/Natural Disaster match to be.

It was far from terrible, but apart from one small spot where everybody went outside and began blasting each other with chair shots (again, with no repercussions from referee Earl Hebner), nothing much happened.

Still, at least everyone cooperated and actually worked.

After a passable tag team title match, the champions hit Typhoon with the Doomsday Device to retain their gold.
Your Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: The Legion of Doom

More trophies were handed out to the Road Warriors after the match.

Seriously, I don't know much about Japanese pro wrestling, so if somebody reading this does, and could enlighten me as to the significance of the trophies, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Hulk Hogan

SWS/WWF SuperWrestle 1991 - Hulk Hogan wrestled Genichiro Tenryu in the main event
If your only experience of The Immortal Hulk Hogan is from his time at the top of the WWF and WCW, then you might be surprised to see him bust out a few actual wrestling holds rather than just relying on the whole kick-punch routine.

In fact, though this might not have been the best match on this particular card, it was probably one of the best Hulk Hogan matches you're ever going to see in terms of actual, honest-to-goodness wrestling.

He and Genichiro Tenryu started off trading holds and submissions before eventually getting p'd off with one another and resorting to chops and punches.

From there, it was more of the kind of Hogan match most of us are probably used to, albeit without all the Hulking Up and usual shenanigans.

A good main event to end a good show, this one came to the end after Hogan busted out his trademark Ax Bomber (his go-to finisher in Japan) and won the match.
Your Winner: Hulk Hogan

Post-match, Hogan helped Tenryu to his feet and the two embraced before Hogan did his usual crowd-pleasing routine to end the show.






Though it lagged a bit in the middle, SWS/WWF SuperWrestle '91 was mostly a really good show.

That Ultimo Dragon/Jerry Estrada match served as the standout match of the show evening but had some stiff competition from the Light Heavyweight title match.

Though not every match could reach those lofty standards (looking at you, tag team title match), there was nary a dud insight here and, on the whole, this made for a very enjoyable two hours.

If you want to see Ultimo Dragon early in his career, or need an example of what Hulk Hogan was capable of when he actually bothered to wrestle, go hunt down this show.


Other 1991 pro wrestling reviews:
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Retro Pro Wrestling

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