wrestling / Video Reviews

Rolling Germans Review: NJPW Wrestling World 2003

July 8, 2003 | Posted by Justin Baisden


NJPW WRESTLING WORLD 2003

It’s been a while since I last sat down with a Puroresu tape for the purposes of an actual review. I’m one of those guys that has a bad habit of buying shows and then well… never watching them. They sort of sit there in the “I’ll watch it a little later” pile, which of course never happens because there are always more important things to do than watch wrestling (BLASPHEMY! BURN HIM ALIVE!). Anyway, this tape landed in my lap after having a talk with Rob Hunter over at GOLDEN BOY TAPES (THEY’RE CHEAPER THAN CHEAP! BUY NOW OR ROB CRIES!). I had been meaning to get back into Puroresu for some time after all the Ring Of Honor (new reviews coming soon from a NEW SUPPLIER) and “The Wrestlemania of Japanese Wrestling” was a good place to start.

One half of this review is brought to you by Lays P.E.I. Loaded Potato chips. I think that may well be the WORST name for a bag of chips EVER. I’m also pretty sure that every other chip company has done this flavour to death and BETTER (see Ruffles: The Works for a prime example). Anyway, that covered up to the junior six man tag and then I stopped the tape and came back around a week or two later and watched the rest with INCREDIBLE HULK FREEZIES! LIME GREEN FLAVOURED WATER THAT SHIT DOWN!

It should be noted that I am WAAAAAAY out of the loop on Puroresu (I’ve basically only been getting news from DA MAN that is Stuart over at Strong Style Spirit and random stuff on various message boards. Just thought I would give you the heads up in case you’re HARDCORE and were like “Fuck Baisden, you’ve really fallen off the pace lately. Go back to your US Indy watching, YOU’RE NOT ELITE ANYMORE! BITCH!”

WE’RE NOT LIVE (it’s on tape delay) FROM THE TOKYO DOME!

TATSUMI FUJINAMI vs OSAMU NISHMURA
This falls into the teacher vs student story as Fujinami has somewhat mentored Nishmura over the years and Nishmura has yet to score a win over The Dragon. They go through a long feel out process to start. Fujinami opens it up as Nishmura gets THE TASTE SLAPPED OUT OF HIS MOUTH! YIKES! Nishmura brings the pain with some European Uppercuts and looks for The Inoki Kneedrop but no dice. Fujinami fires off his trademark Dragon Screw Leg Whip and looks for his Sleeper – Dragon Sleeper combo but elects to switch up into a cradle for 2 and Ѕ. Nishmura’s kickout leads to a Japanese Leg Roll Cradle for the victory. Uh… OK that was abrupt. This was OK but it felt like they just used the first half of what could have been a far better match. *

SHINYA MAKABE vs YUTAKA YOSHIE (Young Generation Cup Semi Finals)
This is a semi final of the yearly young wrestlers cup. I believe it used to be the Young Lions Cup a few years ago. I’m not really a big fan of either of these guys. Makabe has got the belly fire but can’t quite seem to put his moves together. Yoshie is what I like to call a FAT SACK OF SHIT and has only had one match in his career that I really enjoyed (12/14/2000 vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan). LOOOOONG feel out process to start. Why are heavy hitters using mat work? Yoshie opens it up with STIFFNESS but misses an Avalanche (see Bundy, King Kong for early example of FAT SACK OF SHIT) and Makabe hits a Brainbuster. They plod along for a while (this is killing me) until Yoshie hits an Avalanche and a FAT ASS THESZ PRESS for 2 and ѕ. He looks for the trademark Backforearm but no dice and Makabe hits a BIG TIME LARIAT for 2 and ѕ. GEEEEERMAN SUPLEXAH! 1… 2… 2 AND 9/10 (I thought that was it for sure)! Makabe misses another Lariat but Yoshie meets him with another FAT ASS THESZ PRESS and puts it away with the FAT ASS SPLASH! Well the ending was fun and super heated but the rest of this just dragged on FOOOOOREVER! It doesn’t help I have a slight bias against both guys. Ah well… we’ll go *1/4 and move on.

RYUJI YANAGISAWA vs KENZO SUZUKI (Young Generation Cup Semi Finals)
I’ll level with you in that I’ve either never seen Yanagisawa or I just don’t remember him if I have seen him. Suzuki is a former Rugby star in Japan and I personally would have preferred he stayed there because he’s never been good and has barely shown any improvement since debuting in this very building three years ago. Suzuki hits The GORE! GORE! GORE! He works the arm for a bit but Yanagisawa makes the comeback with a High Kick and an Ankle Lock. Yanagisawa BRINGS DA STIFFNESS but Suzuki sucks it up taking all the kicks LIKE A FUCKING MAN (who’ll need heart massage after the match mind you). Irish whip into the corner but Suzuki rebounds with a High Knee and a Backdrop Suplex. FEAR THE SPEAR gets 2 and Ѕ. He looks for yet another Spear but gets caught in a Guillotine Choke leaving Suzuki groggy for a SICK KNEE TO THE HEAD! GOOOOODNIGHT! Well this was about on the level of the last match and that’s not saying much. At least this was a fair bit shorter and I am a big sucker for stiff kicks. Yanagisawa was solid. Suzuki is useless but at least he’ll take kicks for my pleasure. *1/2

MAKAI MASK I & MAKAI MASK II vs HIRO SAITO & TATSUHITO GOTO
I’m really behind on NJPW storylines but I’m pretty sure that The Makai Club is quite evil (just look at those masks) and they’re out to destroy NJPW. Man, all they need are The Power Rangers to save the day and you’re set (oh man, I just made a Power Rangers joke, just shoot me now). Mask I is Junji Hirata (he’s been around for a while). Mask II is Giant Silva (remember the really tall guy from The Oddities in WWF a few years back? Yeah… him). Saito and Goto FUCKING SUCK! I’m going to hate this. (Justin watches the match). Yep I hated this. Basically a disorganized brawl and these four aren’t the greatest of workers to begin with. The ref gets bumped, Silva hits the WORST POWERBOMB EVER and Hoshino (the EVIL manager) makes the count? WHAT THE FUCK!? I TRULY HATE THIS! -*1/2

MAKAI MASK IV & MAKAI MASK V vs MASAHITO KAKIHARA & TAKASHI IIZUKA
OK this can’t suck anywhere near as bad as the first Makai match right? RIGHT? DEAR GOD TELL ME I’M RIGHT! Mask IV is Katsuyori Shibita and Mask V is Mitsuya Nagai (formerly of AJPW). They both KICK LIKE MOTHERFUCKERS so they get thumbs up in my book. Kakihara is another guy relatively fresh from leaving AJPW (poor AJ, it used to be so great) and then there’s Iizuka who was out for over a year with a mega concussion after getting legit kicked in the head by Nagai back at 6/8/01 (it was an accident mind you). Basic stuff to start from both teams. This match is all about the submissions and they work each other over with various holds. The teams go back and forth pretty much the entire way with neither team getting in enough offense to put heat on anyone. The ending plays off the Iizuka vs Nagai story as Mask V FUCKING PUMMELS Iizuka in the corner with MEGA STIFF SHOTS (playing off the flurry he threw at Iizuka back at 6/8 before the accident) and hits a Running Knee Smash for 2 and ѕ followed up with THE HYYYYYYPER KNEEEEEEEE for the victory. Well if that didn’t “reveal the secret” of who Mask V was, I don’t know what would. The match was OK but hardly as good as I was excepting from guys of this caliber. It just came across disjointed. Lots of nice submissions and stiff shots (which I love) but no real flow to it. *3/4

HEAT & MASAYUKI NARUSE & TIGER MASK IV vs TAKEHIRO MURAHAMA & KOJI KANEMOTO & JUSHIN “THUNDER” LYGER
FUCK YES! NOW WE’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE! This sort of kicked off a new junior feud as Lyger stopped riding the fence between face and heel and took up arms with THE SUPER PUNK Koji Kanemoto. I suppose they also needed a good reason for Lyger to team up with Kanemoto in their attempt to get back the IWGP Jr. Tag Titles from THOSE NOAH BASTARDS Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Tsuyoshi Kikuchi. HEAT is the masked version of Minoru Tanaka in a horrible attempt to capture a new Lygerish style hero. Too bad Tanaka seems to have lost all his motivation under that mask. TMIV is the new good guy leader having jumped from Michinoku Pro a few months back. Naruse is sorta just there. Onto the match as the heels lay the beatdown on everyone to start. Murahama and HEAT BRING DA STIFFNESS! Naruse gets a tag but he’s pretty much useless and the heels FUCK HIM GOOD! He’s got a giant bandage on his arm that may as well have neon lights saying “HEY! HEY YOU! DESTROY THIS ARM!” Naruse comes back after capitalizing on a Murahama mistake and the faces bring PURE GOODNESS OF KICKS! It’s back and forth until TMIV puts Lyger out on the floor and hits a Tope Suicida. Back in the ring where TMIV looks for a stiff shot but no dice and Lyger hits a DRAGON SCREEEEEEW! Kanemoto and Naruse each tag and the neon sign goes off again. NARUSE IS FUCKED! The doctor even has to administer that dry ice stuff they put on all those fucked up AJ workers after working those old Triple Crown Matches. HEAT gets a tag and hits a Tumbling Dropkick (NICE!). Irish Whip is reversed and Lyger CLOCKS HEAT with a Running Shotei. UGH! POWERBOMB! FIIIIIISHERMAN’S BUSTAAAAAAH! 1… 2… 2 AND 9/10! Murahama tags but he’s FUCKING SMOKED with a Roundhouse Kick. TMIV with a Capture Bomb and a Tiger Driver for 2 and ѕ. Moonsault misses and Murahama hits a BRAINBUSTAH for 2 and ѕ. Lyger dicks it up on the floor hitting a BRAINBUSTER ON THE FUCKING RAMP ON HEAT leaving no one to save TMIV as Kanemoto hits THE SLAM – MOONSAULT COMBO! 1… 2… 2 AND 9/10! It’s back and forth until TMIV finally tags to Naruse. He charges but Kanemoto meets him with a Dropkick to the shoulder and THE ANKLE LOCK! COME ON TAP! WHOOO! TAP! WHOOO! No dice as Naruse makes the ropes. Naruse reverses a Brainbuster into a Schoolboy for 2 and 9/10! He looks for The Crazy Cyclone (spinning backfist) but Kanemoto sweeps the leg and it’s THE ANKLE LOCK! COME ON TAP! WHOOO! This time the spirit of Kurt Angle is enough for the victory (he’s so damned inspiring). Well no surprise this was very good. Lyger and Kanemoto really know how to dick it up (and not in that homosexual dick in the ass kind of way) and the faces took their beatings like men with lots of flashy hope spots thrown in for good measure. Good build, nice finish. ***1/4

HOLY FUCK! THE ROYAL RUMBLE IS COMING! 15 RAW SUPERSTARS! 15 SMACKDOWN SUPERSTARS! WHO WILL HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BEAT 29 OTHER MEN! There’s something truly odd about a Royal Rumble advertisement IN ENGLISH during arguably the Wrestlemania of Japanese Wrestling.

RYUJI YANAGISAWA vs YUTAKA YOSHIE (Young Generation Cup Finals)
What? You thought we were all going to escape the relative mediocrity of this tournament? OH HELL NO! IF I SUFFER, YOU SUFFER! They go back and forth with DA SICK SHOTS! Yanagisawa goes on the attack with some arm work but that gets dropped (why?) and of course Yoshie comes back with SPINE ON THE PINE and a Death Valley Driver for 2 and Ѕ. FAT ASS THESZ PRESS gets 2 and Ѕ. He looks for his trademark back forearms but Yanagisawa blocks and hits some super stiff knees and a HOLY FUCKING SHIT LOOK AT THAT KICK TO THE HEAD followed up with a Juji Gatame for the victory. This was perfectly fine wrestling and kept to just the right length. It was kept simple (which is best for these guys in my opinion) and I still got to enjoy all the super fun stiffness (that kick at the end was concussion worthy). Best match of the tournament comes in at *3/4

TADAO YASUDA & KAZUNARI MARAKAMI vs MICHIYOSHI OHARA & SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
I LOVE MURAKAMI. This guy is the biggest FUCKING COCKSUCKER you will ever come across. I mean he’s the kind of guy you’d run over with your car and HE’D say he deserved it because he knows how much of a BITCH he is. Yasuda is old and lazy but he’s A CROTCHETY OLD BITCH too so he has some value. Ohara is a walking sack of shit who I will never forgive for wasting twenty minutes of my life in the most boring shoot fight ever with Ryan Gracie a couple years back. The shining star in all this is Nakamura who will eventually become a mega star. He debuted back in August of 2002 and then went to train in the Inoki Dojo for four months. He entered Inoki’s annual BOM BA YA festival but lost out to Daniel Gracie. You can see the evidence of the fight as we’re five days removed from the festival and Nakamura is FUCKED… UP! Bandaged head, busted lip, swollen eye, the whole nine yards. Nakamura fires out of the gate with a GORE! GORE! GORE! But it fucks up and man o man is Nakamura a FUCKING MESS! The ref tries to stop the match so the doctor can check on Nakamura but Murakami GRINDS HIS FACE INTO THE MAT IN FRONT OF THE DOCTOR! HO…LY… SHIT! Murakami is not afraid to BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF HIM! Ohara finally saves Nakamura after a huge beating and now he tags in and IT’S FUCKING ON! Ohara gets the better end with a Nodowa Otoshi for 2 and ѕ. Yasuda and Nakamura tag and Yasuda gains the advantage after his trick knee acts up and he hits a Tiger Driver for 2 and ѕ. Murakami tries to get in the dirty double team but no dice and Nakamura gets in a Juji Gatame but Yasuda makes the ropes. Ohara gets in and hits a FUCKING SICK BRAINBUSTER followed up with Nakamura’s trademark German Suplex for 2 and 9/10! GUILLOTIIIIINE! TAAAAAAP! Nakamura is like the greatest babyface in the history of young kids who get sympathy. It’s made all the better by THE SUPER COCKS that are Yasuda and Murakami. This was boatloads of fun and you can’t help but get behind Nakamura by the end. **3/4

MANABU NAKANISHI/MASAHIRO CHONO vs HIROYOSHI TENZAN/SATOSHI KOJIMA
This was kind of a dream match for some people. In case you’re unaware, Kojima left New Japan to jump to All Japan in January of 2002. In doing so, he also split up what many considered to be the greatest tag team of the new millennium in “Tenkoji” with partner Hiroyoshi Tenzan. So now one year later, Tenkoji has been reunited against two high profile opponents with heavy back story towards the reformed team. Nakanishi’s role is the counter to Kojima. They used to be partners in the late nineties but then split off with each trying to break through to the top of the card. I’d like to think Nakanishi got the bigger push after the team split up but it’s arguable. Chono has very strong ties to Tenzan as they were tag team champions at the time of this show and Chono’s always been considered the mentor of Tenzan. He also has an issue with Kojima stemming back to when Kojima turned his back on Chono to join Keiji Mutoh’s version of the NWO and then after that when he was butting heads with Chono near the end of his NJPW tenure. With that all said and done, HERE WE GO! We get a feel out process to start and then Kojima and Nakanishi FUCKING GO as they pound the shit out of each other and try to 1 up each other with Kojima’s Flying Forearm into elbow vs Nakanishi’s Lariat. Nakanishi lays in some FUCKING HEAVY shots before Tenkoji come back with their trademark Slingshot – Headbutt combo. Chono and Nakanishi come back with a double submission spot as Nakanishi brings the pain to his former partner with The Argentine Backbreaker and Chono holds his student at bay with an Octopus Hold. Double KO between Chono and Tenzan leads to an awesome spot outside as Kojima slips out of The Argentine Backbreaker and hits THE FUCKING KOJI CUTER ON THE FLOOR! HOLY FUCK! Kojima gets back in the ring and Chono falls victim to 3D! 3D! 3D! Nakanishi is out and CHONO IS FUCKED! TENZAN… TOMBSTONE… DRIVER! OK YEAH BUH BYE! This was all kinds of fun. It was a bit slower than I would have liked but I liked the underlying stories between the various participants, especially the great work between Nakanishi and Kojima. The crowd was into it (no surprise there) and popped huge for all of the Tenkoji double teams. It’s a shame to see such a talented tag team go their separate ways. ***1/4

TSUYOSHI KOSAKA vs YOSHIHIRO TAKAYAMA (NWF Heavyweight Title Tournament Finals)
We finally come to an end to what seems like a tournament that went on forever despite only having four participants. Takayama defeated Kazuyiki Fujita back in FUCKING AUGUST (8/29 to be exact) and then Kosaka went over Tadao Yasuda at the 10/14/2002. So now after four months we have the finals of this tournament. This felt a lot like what you’d see in the old RINGS shows from the mid nineties with lots of ground work and the audience getting this idea of pro wrestler trying to make their work look as realistic as possible. The first few minutes is carried by Kosaka as he works the mat with submissions. Takayama tries to break the submission work with stiff shots but Kosaka is relentless and continues to return to the submission based offense. The strikes get stiffer and the submissions get more and more dangerous looking (making you really believe that Takayama could tap at any moment) until we finally get a big time pro wrestling move with Takayama’s HUGE Released German Suplex. Kosaka tries to come back with a Flying Triangle but no dice as Takayama drops him (probably a mistake as that spot is usually countered with a Powerbomb) and hits two FUCKING SICK KNEES TO THE HEAD for the victory. It’s so odd, a simple knee shot seems anti climactic and to some people it may be just that but within the context of the match, I was able to definitively say “THAT… IS… IT” as soon as that second knee was thrown. Simple but effective match. Both guys worked hard and played to their strong suits of submissions and heavy strikes for Kosaka and Takayama respectively. The hot crowd late in the match was the icing on the cake. ***

JOSH BARNETT vs YUGI NAGATA (IWGP Heavyweight Title)
This was set up a few weeks prior to the show. Barnett (a former Ultimate Fighting Champion in case you didn’t know) had shown up at the final major NJPW show of the year back on 12/15 to make his challenge to Nagata. He offered a handshake but no dice and when Nagata tries to get a little fresh (and not in that guys who like guys kind of way) Barnett smoked him out quick with a Front Guillotine Choke. OOOHHH! DANGER! Barnett looks FANTASTIC here as he’s dropped weight and looks to be in the best shape of his life. He definitely doesn’t look like the “Baby Faced Assassin” he was a couple of years back in UFC. Barnett tries to go for the MURDER DEATH KILL right off the bat with THE CRO COP KICK OF DEATH! In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, Nagata faced Mirko Cro Cop (Now the #1 guy in K-1 and possible all of MMA in Japan) back at Inoki’s BOM BE YA Festival on 12/31/2001. Well Cro Cop threw a MEGA KICK and knocked Nagata out cold in less than thirty seconds. Nagata totally plays it up and stands up after a nine count. They WORK DA MAT and it is BEAUTIFUL as both guys are adept on the ground. Nagata totally carries the work though as he’s practically holding Barnett’s hand through each transition. It’s not a knock on Barnett at all, in fact it’s a testament to how great Nagata has become. They tell a strong story of Barnett using his obviously superior MMA submissions to overcome Nagata but the champion refuses to give it up. It’s never worked in such a fashion to make Nagata look weak though. Barnett’s submission offense climaxes with The Standing Guillotine Choke he used on 12/15. Nagata makes the ropes but Barnett is relentless as he hits a GUILLOTINE SUPLEX! KIIIIIIMURAAAAAA! Again Nagata makes the ropes. RUNNING KNEEEEEE! NAGATA IS OUT… NO! NINE COUNT! Barnett charges again but Nagata moves and hits a BIG TIME KNEE SMASH! EXPLOIDAAAAAAH! 1… 2… 2 AND 9/10! NAGATA LOCK II! ROPES! WRIST… CLUTCH… EXPLOIDAAAAAAH! 1… 2… 2 AND 91/10! EXPLOI… NO! GUILLOTINE! ESCAPE! DOUBLE KO! NAGATA’S UP! HEEL KICK! DONE! Another case where the least flashy of the big moves gets the job done. This was way better than I was expecting considering Barnett had no pro experience coming into a main event match. Nagata is one of the best wrestlers in the world and it’s matches like this that substantiate those kinds of claims. Much props to Barnett for his hard work on limited training as well. Crowd was totally into this for the latter half of the match and I enjoyed it very much as well. ***1/4

Final Analysis: Man, after the first tape I was going to write this one off. It’s one of those shows where you honestly couldn’t give a fuck about the first matches. As a whole, the show builds nicely though. Once you get past the first hour or so, it’s all solid – very good wrestling and that’s all I can ask for. There’s nothing mind blowingly great anywhere on the card but it was a rock solid show and I’d mildly recommend you pick it up from GOLDEN BOY TAPESif you’ve got the spare cash.

Justin Baisden
Rolling Germans Wrestling

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