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Furious Flashbacks: New Japan Starrcade ’92 in Tokyo Dome

February 1, 2015 | Posted by Arnold Furious
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Furious Flashbacks: New Japan Starrcade ’92 in Tokyo Dome  

NJPW Starrcade ’92 in Tokyo Dome

 

4th January 1992.

 

Having spent three years building up the idea of the Dome Show, Inoki finally opted for a specific time of the year to do it; 4th January. The rest is history. As with the 1991 version the Dome Show was co-promoted with WCW. The difference here being New Japan’s insistence at the final match being Fujinami vs. Choshu. So it’s very clearly set up in a way they can control. In exchange for this Chono is jobbing to Luger to get the WCW champ over. I’m a bit disappointed about the lack of secondary title defences though. Austin was TV champion. That’s not on this show. Rick Rude was US champion and he’s not booked either. Likewise the Young Pistols. Likewise Liger, the WCW cruiserweight champion who’s in a six man tag on the undercard. The first 5-6 matches on the card come across as filler, which is an unfortunate habit of Japanese booking. Especially when the matches booked higher up don’t look that great.

 

We’re in Tokyo, Japan. Obviously. Announced attendance for this was 60,000.

 

Black Cat vs. Hiroyoshi Yamamoto

 

Black Cat is an 11 year NJPW veteran. Yamamoto is a rookie. In 1993 he was went overseas to learn his trade in other countries and came back in 1995 as….Tenzan. He’s really skinny and bland here. Looking back on guys like Tenzan starting out makes me wonder what today’s rookies will look like in five years time. Black Cat bosses young Tenzan like the skinny rookie he is and throws him around with consummate ease. Tenzan gets to look plucky by dodging stuff, getting the ropes and generally surviving for the duration. Considering his lack of experience, it’s a super Young Lion performance and the crowd get into all his kickouts. Black Cat is forced into greater degrees of violence and finishes with a senton and a superplex. Good showing from gutsy youngster Yamamoto though. He might amount to something!

 

Final Rating: **1/2

 

Kantaro Hoshino & Kengo Kimura vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi & Osamu Kido

 

The old guys tag match makes a return. Again running 12 minutes, thankfully clipped to half that. Kobayashi is the only guy who isn’t a relic out there. Not that it effects the effort levels. Everyone seems game for putting on a show. Like I said at the top, it really feels like filler though. Even the hot stretch doesn’t draw much interest until Kido tries to armbar Hoshino into submission. Kido ends up pinning him with a roll up anyway. Filler.

 

Final Rating: *1/4

 

Blond Outlaws (Hiro Saito & Norio Honaga) & Super Strong Machine vs. Jushin Liger, AKIRA & Masashi Aoyagi

 

This feels like a bit of a waste as Liger and AKIRA tore the house down the previous year and end up in this meaningless six man tag. Liger is sporting a purple outfit for the big Dome show. Aoyagi is the weak link in his team as he’s a karate guy with only two years as a pro under his (black) belt. He still wears his karate gear to the ring. Liger gets picked off and it’s mainly to show that Honaga, the current IWGP Junior champion, is on his level. They’re setting up a title vs. title match in February with this booking. Although you’d think such a big match would take place here and cause one of them to come looking for revenge. To be fair their singles match headlined a show in Sapporo and drew over 6,000 fans. AKIRA ends up taking the win by picking off Saito with a dragon suplex. The match clipped along at a fair rate but you want more Liger at the biggest show of the year.

 

Final Rating: **1/2

 

The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko) vs. Michiyoshi Ohara & Shiro Koshinaka

 

All of the first three matches got clipped but this one is shown in full. Ohara is a judo guy with a couple of years experience. It’s like Akira Taue if he shrank in the wash. He even does a lot of the same moves but he’s 6-7 inches shorter. Koshinaka is pretty underrated. Mainly because of his size, he drops in between the cruisers and the big heavy hitters. His style reflects that. As for the match; if you like watching Arn work someone’s arm over, this is your match. Or at least it would be if Larry Zbyszko wasn’t in it. I’ve always disliked Larry for his grinding offence and weak bumps but being in a tag team should cover for that. After all Arn Anderson is the Tag Guy. He makes everything work. Ohara’s lack of wrestling experience actually makes the match more interesting. In particular his Savage Elbow, which has the most vertical drop I’ve ever seen. Larry was virtually under the turnbuckle. Arn plants him with the Spinebuster though and the American team wins. This match just coasted along, merely existing in a space until something better came along.

 

Final Rating: **

 

Dusty & Dustin Rhodes vs. Masa Saito & Kim Duk

 

Kim Duk you might know as WWF jobber Tiger Chung Lee. He also used to be called Tiger Toguchi during his early 80s NJPW run. Dustin is about 4 years into his career and is full of determination to be a star. He had a little known run in AJPW prior to this as Dusty Rhodes Jr., which is what the commentator calls him. Dusty was actually booking in WCW at the time so this was his first match since the 1991 Royal Rumble. I would say he’d kept in shape but his shape looks the same as it always has. It becomes swiftly apparent that Dustin is the only guy who actually cares about having a good match. Kim Duk goes for the shoulder massage on Dusty and has a chat with him in the middle of the fucking ring. What a load of shit. Poor Dustin tries to carry the entire match on his back with dynamic moves and bumping all over the place. It’s a ballsy performance from the youngster but the others aren’t having it. If only Dustin kept this level of fire for his entire career. He wrestles circles around Kim Duk and finishes with a bulldog. Top showing from Dusty Jr. Everyone else was taking it easy.

 

Final Rating: *3/4

 

Scott Norton vs. Tony Halme

 

Before he was Ludvig Borga the big Finn worked for New Japan. Halme has only lost to Hashimoto and Vader so far. He’s being positioned as a top guy. The same could be said of ‘Flash’ and he’s certainly the babyface here. If the talking in the last match was a bit obvious it’s nothing compared to Norton who doesn’t seem to care who hears him say “hit me” while he’s got Halme in a headlock. “Punch me” he says on the next headlock. Isn’t he a creative fucking idiot. The match is 8 minutes or so and it’s just them punching each other and despite it all being horrible gimmicked striking Halme still gets busted open hardway. Every time I see Norton in New Japan, I wonder what it is that I’m missing. Why does he keep getting booked? Why do they push him? Halme is getting pushed even more so, despite being as big a stiff, and wins with something or other. My brain stopped caring long before the match was over. This is as bad and anti-wrestling as you can get without resorting to gimmicks (blood, garbage, etc).

 

Final Rating: -**1/2

 

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Bill Kazmaier

 

Oh good lord, why would you book Hash against Kazmaier? Keep in mind Bill is still a virtual rookie in pro-wrestling terms and this is his last match, ever. He’s a big muscular guy who sucks at everything. The match is a torturous 8 minutes of Bill Kazmaier attempting to kill 60,000 people one sloppy move at a time. Hash can’t do anything with him although I’m shocked he doesn’t just resort to kicking as Kaz is basically inert and would make an easy target. Instead he opts for LEGSWEEPS, which Kazmaier has no idea what to do with. So Hash hits a spin kick, which Kazmaier has no idea what to do with. So Hash hits another spin kick, well misses, and Kaz finally discovers how to take a bump. A predictably awful time to discover this. Then Kazmaier stands there LIKE A FUCKING GOON with his head dipped waiting for the DDT to finish. The crowd HATE this and just generally boo because of what an absolute shambles this match was. At least Hash went over but the match was an abortion.

 

Final Rating: -**

 

Big Van Vader vs. El Gigante

 

And speaking of terrible ideas, who thought THIS would work? Vader, the best heavyweight in the world, against El Gigante, the worst heavyweight in the world. Vader, bless him, tries to have an actual wrestling match instead of just beating the shit out of the gigantic adversary. They must have been pals outside the ring. El Gigante’s response? THE BRAIN CLAW! Vader falls out of the ring to sell that and they brawl to a double count out on the ramp. Yet another booking decision that draws the ire of the crowd (although this was one was surely enforced by WCW who didn’t want either to job). The match sucked but Vader wailing on El Gigante for a while could have made this. Didn’t happen.

 

Final Rating: DUD

 

Antonio Inoki vs. Hiroshi Hase

 

Now this should surely stem the tide of bad matches because Inoki wouldn’t book himself in something stupid (well, ok, maybe) and Hase is too good to let that happen. Inoki started to wind down towards the end of the 80s and in 1992 he only wrestled three times. This is the only singles match. Inoki’s aim seemed to be to put Hase over for his wrestling acumen…then knock him out about a third of the way through the match and stroll around demonstrating he could pin Hase 20 times and still have time to get a cup of coffee. At the end of the day, no matter what, only one person gets over around Antonio Inoki and that’s Antonio Inoki. They kill the whole middle of the match with nothing before Hase starts to throw Inoki around, hitting Uranages like they’re going out of fashion. Inoki won’t stay down and comes firing back with Enzuigiris. Hase ends up quitting to the Octopus Hold. This started well, with Hase looking strong, and finished well, with Inoki looking strong but the middle of the match is a wasteland of bad ideas. At least the match was a significant improvement over the previous three.

 

Final Rating: **1/4

 

The Steiner Brothers vs. Sting & Great Muta

 

There’s only one thing better than the Steiners mangling jobbers and that’s the Steiners mangling main eventers. At this point it’s getting ridiculous that WCW won’t promote Scotty up the card, which is the kind of thing that defined the company. By the time Scott Steiner got to main event his body was broken. He demonstrates his main event value here, by throwing Sting around. Scotty the 1992 main eventer would have been a thing of beauty. Although I don’t care for Muta, by 1992 he had gotten a lot crisper in the ring. His bumps look cleaner, his spots look defined. If his whole career was getting beaten up by the Steiners I’d probably like him a lot more than I do. And the Steiners do beat him up. Muta’s selling rather let’s the performance down as he takes his beating then hits a suplex and casually strolls across to tag Sting in. Not really what you’d call a ‘hot tag’. Sting & Muta make a decent team though with Sting bringing a bit of power and throwing Muta onto Rick to crossbody him to the floor before following with his own PLANCHAAAAAA. It’s good stuff. The whole match is bordering on great with the Steiners hitting their spots and the babyface duo being super-energised. It feels really short at 11 minutes and the finish is a hodgepodge with Rick getting a powerslam pin on Muta while Sting gets Scott down for the real pin behind his back. It puts over the frenetic nature of the match though, so that’s cool. I can’t believe I like a Muta match as much as this one. I put the blame on the Steiners and their awesomeness.

 

Final Rating: ****

 

WCW World Heavyweight Championship:

Lex Luger (c) vs. Masahiro Chono

 

Luger has a bit of a reputation for being a lazy son of a bitch. It’s a reputation he gained through his actions over the years. There were times when Flexy Lexi would do the bare minimum. I would say 1991 was probably the last year he actually gave a damn and was rewarded with the WCW title. No sooner did that occur he started being the Lex Luger we all know and don’t care for. New Japan figure an American wrestling champion should be able to work a 15 minute match with no issues so they clearly don’t know Lex Luger very well. For example; his WCW contract stipulated a certain number of dates and those had expired, what with him working a busier schedule (as he was the champion). Instead of being the champion and carrying on he just opted to stop appearing. This Japan show was Lex’s last WCW outing until his departure after Superbrawl where he jobbed the title to Sting. And you think Brock Lesnar’s lack of title defences and appearances in 2014 was bad! Luger is awful in this match too, giving up enormous chunks to Chono because he can’t be bothered and running into botches due to poor communication. It’s a real dog of a match. It only doesn’t stand out because of all the terrible matches earlier in the night. Luger’s performance is so lazy that when he signals for the Rack the crowd aimlessly jeer in the hopes he’ll just fuck off. Chono’s comeback from that is greeted with thunderous applause, making me think Lex should have just worked heel for the entire match. Luger survives the Yakuza Kick and the STF. A load of roll ups follow, which pop the hell out of the crowd and we finally have a match! Luger tries to get the cheap win by Racking Chono on the floor and leaving him there. That doesn’t work so Luger goes low and finishes with an axe handle off the ropes. An axe handle? A fucking axe handle? This one tried to come crawling back from the precipice only to fall on it’s face in the last minute or so.

 

Final Rating: *1/2

 

IWGP Heavyweight Championship:

Greatest 18 Club Championship:

Tatsumi Fujinami (c) vs. Riki Choshu (c)

 

Fujinami has the good title but Choshu, like Sabu, basically tried to get his own title over so this is now a title vs. title main event. Considering this is 12 minutes long it really, really, really drags. Choshu hooks holds and sits in them and Fujinami has never been one to force the pace. There’s no urgency, no desire to entertain the crowd. It becomes a more traditional struggle with both men looking to control the pace but they both want a slow pace so that doesn’t work. It’s one rest hold after another and it’s frankly a hard watch. You think the pacing will pick up only for them to go to another rest hold. A Fujinami dropkick almost gets the fans excited only for them to botch a roll up after it and then Choshu hits three lariats for the title. Good grief this sucked. The titles were combined but Muta threw the Greatest 18 strap away when he won the belts, seeing as it as pointless.

 

Final Rating: ½*

 

 

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You can also follow me on Twitter @ArnoldFurious

 

3.5
The final score: review Bad
The 411
This is the worst New Japan show I’ve ever seen. The one redeeming match is the Steiners vs. Sting & Muta match. The rest of the card is a miserable mystery. Hell, the best performance by a Japanese wrestler on this show was Hiroyoshi Yamamoto! The actual selection of matches didn’t help and that streak of crap in the middle of the card is just completely unacceptable. Halme-Norton, Hash-Kaz and Vader-Gigante is probably the worst three possible back to back matches. Do yourself a favour and skip this. It’s a one match show.
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