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The Furious Flashbacks – Hustle-1

April 19, 2007 | Posted by Arnold Furious
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The Furious Flashbacks – Hustle-1  

The Furious Flashbacks – Hustle-1

Sylvester Terkay has match of the night. It’s like an alternate universe or something

A few years ago the owners (Dream Stage Entertainment) of Pride and Zero-One decided to create a promotion called Hustle. The idea was to create a promotion that would provide Japanese fans with something more in line with the WWE’s product. Sportz Entertainment for the Japanese if you will. They signed a bunch of guys that either had big name value (Goldberg, Vader, Hashimoto, Kawada) or had daft gimmicks (Joe Son, Zebra Man, Jun Kasai, King Adamo) to create a supercard of sorts. No one involved really had any idea what they were doing hence the card looking a little peculiar. I’ve already seen Hustle 3 specifically to see the Toshiaki Kawada-Mick Foley match. How often do you get the chance to see that? The first Hustle show took place in early 2004. After its silly start Hustle became a more serious affair with two major factions developing. One headed by Nobuhiko Takada and called the Monster Army. He donned military garb and changed his name to Generalissimo Takada. The other headed up by “Captain Hustle” Naoya Ogawa. The latter faction battles to defend puroresu while Takada’s Monster Army is aiming to destroy it. Often Takada’s group is responsible for bringing in the big name gaijins to try and take out guys who defend puro. The first show is more set up as Hashimoto/Ogawa v Takada although Goldberg v Ogawa is the main event.

We’re in Saitama, Japan. 23,000 fans in attendance. Three hosts for this one. A straight guy, a girl and a bloke with John Lennon sunglasses and long hair. And people think modern Britain is too PC. The opening chatter is long even for a Japanese show. “Do The Hustle” on a Hammond organ plays over the PA. I nearly wet myself. The ring announcer encourages the fans to “do the hustle” and we get a video package of the press conference. This includes a huge intense brawl between Goldberg and Ogawa where a tonne of tiny little Japanese guys jump in there to try and break it up.

MIKAMI v Jun Kasai v King Adamo v Low Ki

MIKAMI has the Beverly Hills Cop theme for his entrance music, which is really typically weird of Japan. He carries a ladder out here because that’s his gimmick. Kasai is a wrestling monkey. Speaking of wrestling monkeys. No, I can’t do that segueway or Low Ki will kill me. Adamo is Umaga before the WWE thought of it. MIKAMI breaks out an insane dive onto Adamo before the cameras are even set and they all miss it. Ki backdrops Kasai out there too. MIKAMI-Ki actually has the makings of a good match. MIKAMI is like Rey Mysterio so they work well with Ki stiffing the fuck out of him and MIKAMI bouncing around him. Adamo is more of a mismatch as he just crushes MIKAMI in the corner and Stinger splashes him. Farewell into a powerslam gets 2 and a nice pop. Crowd doesn’t care about the rest of this though. Not even the entertaining Kasai can get them fired up. They run a tower suplex spot out of the corner for 2. Adamo’s kickout sends MIKAMI out of the ring. Ki misses a Phoenix splash. Adamo happens to be lying around so Ki gives him the Muta Elbow. MIKAMI 619’s him in the face while he’s sat there afterwards. His ladder is in. Damn, this is spotty. MIKAMI goes up but Kasai throws him off and uses the ladder himself. Flying goggles. MONKEY SALUTE! And MIKAMI shakes him off the ladder causing MONKEY CROTCHING. Awesome. Adamo goes up but Ki pulls him off. MIKAMI finally gets up his own ladder and sentons Adamo for 2. Kasai had to make the save. MIKAMI runs his ladder into a moonsault press on Kasai and Ki has to save. TIDAL KRUSH into Adamo. Kasai missile dropkicks Adamo but Ki throws kicks at everyone. Kasai with a fluke backslide for 2. Ki rewards him with a Koppou Kick and the Ki Krusher finishes at 7.03. **1/4. Fun but ridiculously spotty.

Ikuto Hidaka v Zebraman

Zebraman has the worst entrance music ever. Well, actually it’s not as bad as most of the WCW music. It’s just that if you have a daft name it shouldn’t feature in every single lyric of your song. Hidaka is mostly a spot guy too so that doesn’t bode well with Zebraman being largely a comedy guy. They run some reversals at high speed, which used to impress me when it was new in 1999. Hidaka is very smooth and Zebraman looks like he can hang so that’s cool. Zebraman with a whirl backbreaker. Hidaka bails and Zebraman follows to slam him on the floor. Hidaka pushes the referee so he can low blow Zebraman and go after his mask. The referee is too dumb to stop the cheating. Zebraman drop toe holds him into the buckles and follows with a running knee. I can hear English commentary coming from somewhere but it’s really faint. Must be on the next table over. I wonder if they ever marketed an English language version. Hidaka does more rope related work at speed into a spinning heel kick for 2. Zebraman plants him on his face for that. He goes up top but Hidaka catches him with a flip version of the sunset flip bomb. He tries a springboard elbow but Zebraman sees it coming and throws him outside where he hits a diving lariat on the ramp. Hidaka gets pressed back into the ring and Zebraman hits a high crossbody. ZEBRABOMB~! You know that’ll do it and the pin goes down at 6.54. *1/2. Just spots. No story or psychology or anything.

BACKSTAGE Boss Takada tucks into some chicken but says its bad chicken. Goldberg comes in and Takada tells him the good chicken is in the ring. “I guess it’s time to eat Ogawa. Do the hustle” – Goldberg. Oh good God. Someone needs to put that shit on You Tube. A reporter goes to talk with Ogawa who’s busy reading a book. Hashimoto comes in and doesn’t kick anyone. BOO! As far as I can tell Ogawa is reading Takada’s book, which badmouthed wrestling so he’s not very happy. The announcer tries to get them to do the hustle so Ogawa slaps him…hard. JOHN STOSSEL THAT SHIT DOWN! They do it anyway, which is quite funny.

El Solar/Dos Caras Jr v Satoshi Kojima/Kaz Hayashi

Flippy masked luchadores always seem to get reactions in Japan. Dos Caras Jr is second generation, the son of Dos Caras naturally. Dos Caras still has his mask and has been a masked wrestler since his debut in 1970. You know he has to be good. El Solar, I’m not sure about. Is he the veteran Solar from Mexico? Or just some guy under a hood? Hard to tell. Based on the other names they have on this card you’d think he’d be the legit guy. Caras and Kojima are the more popular duo and both get popped for tagging in. Kojima requests a shoulderblocking contest, which he promptly loses. Caras with one of those lucha flying forearms. I hate those. Koji misses in the corner and Caras goes up for a tame missile dropkick. Solar in but Kojima picks his leg off a few times and tags Kaz in. Kaz with a jumping leg kick. Solar gives him a backbreaker and takes it outside. Solar with a pescado. Kojima hits one too so Dos Caras goes up for a plancha. Kaz, not to be outdone, hits a suicide dive. Solar puts him in the rolling Mexican surfboard. Solar ties him up again in a weird looking submission hold that’s like a half surfboard with the head tucked in. Don’t know what to call that. Caras comes in to hit a few spots on Kaz and kick Kojima in the head. Haha. That’ll teach him for not doing anything. German suplex gets 2. Kojima dives in to save this time because he doesn’t want to get kicked in the head for just standing there again. Koji in to chop away at Caras and hit the elbow in the corner. Up he goes for the elbow drop, which gets 2. Brainbuster gets 2. Caras counters a waistlock to hit a German suplex. The Mexicans both get in there for double teaming and hit a double suplex. Elbows follow. Kaz breaks up a Boston crab with the Maeda Kick. Only about a thousand times softer. Solar legsweeps Koji for 2. He goes to another unorthodox submission attempt. Meanwhile Kaz charges in so Caras attacks him but they run the Kidman powerbomb reversal spot. Kaz is able to save Kojima and it’s their turn to double team. Koji Cutter for Solar. He struggles to get back up so Kojima goes for the lariat only for Solar to duck into a roll up for 2. Solar doesn’t see the follow up lariat coming and that’s enough for the pin at 13.53. **. There was nothing wrong with this but it was just so bland I had trouble getting into it. But then I don’t really like straight up lucha libre so that hurt it. Plus they didn’t gel anyway.

BACKSTAGE Shinjiro Ohtani and Masato Tanaka cut a promo. They don’t do the hustle.

Shinjiro Ohtani/Masato Tanaka v Kevin Randleman/Predator

The Predator is WWE cast off Sylvester Terkay. He used to be a shootfighter so he’s teaming with one. Randleman is the more successful guy though having held the UFC title. Terkay runs a Bruiser Brody style gimmick here by running around the crowd and scattering Japanese people. Randleman is freaky athletic and jumps over the ropes into the ring without touching them. Randleman & Shelton Benjamin tag team = $$$. Terkay ploughs through the crowd in a different direction and starts throwing chairs around. Randleman is still over despite losing his last two Pride outings against Kazu Sakuraba and Rampage Jackson. He’s about to get a huge win over Mirko Filipovich that would give his career a boost but he’s not fared well since. He’s picked off as the weak link and dismantled by Team Emblem. That is until Terkay tags in and it’s clear who Takada wants to push. Terkay looked like a monster before he got in the ring but his approach once he’s in there merely confirms this. Despite his dominance superior teaming from Emblem leaves him down in their corner. It seems that a straight up tag match is much to their advantage. Ohtani makes the mistake of making it a fight though and Terkay lays him out. Randleman holds Ohtani in place for a big boot. Randleman tags in but Ohtani suckers him in and beats him down into a neck crank. Tanaka comes in but Randleman feels desperate and bites his leg. Tanaka bites back and Team Emblem get some double biting on the go. Well, he started it! Randleman gets picked off with more double teaming and much like before when it comes to a straight up tag match Team Emblem are superior because of their experience edge. Ohtani with the BOOOOT SCRAAAAAPES. Randleman starts leapfrogging and hits a double crossbody before tagging Terkay in. They hadn’t expected that freaky athletic ability to pay off so big after a beatdown. Terkay is actually “HUSS” ing out there. Soft Kryptonite Krunch on Ohtani gets 2. “1-2-3 motherfucker” – Randleman. Ohtani tries for a slam. Yeah he’s having trouble there. He manages a back suplex instead. Tanaka goes up for the missile dropkick. Running elbow smash. He tries for a clothesline but Terkay doesn’t move. He gets up a head of steam and hits it off the ropes. Ohtani wants in but Tanaka says he has it handled now. In comes Randleman and Tanaka hits a DDT/Stunner combo. Tanaka up top for the frogsplash. That gets 2. Terkay is a beast. He doesn’t look affected at all. Tanaka gets cut down with a clothesline. Sideslam/elbow drop combo from the gaijins. Randleman with a Frankensteiner. Terkay then slams him on Tanaka for 2. Team Emblem comes back with stereo back suplexes although Tanaka can’t get Terkay up so Ohtani has to help out with a dropkick. Tanaka goes to the elbows but runs into a spinning heel kick (?) from Terkay. Randleman adds in a Savage Elbow. Terkay goes up top for a huge knee drop. He’s really impressing with his effort here. Spinning neckbreaker gets 2. Terkay decides that’ll be enough and hits the Muscle Buster for the pin at 14.41. ***. That was really solid. Especially for Terkay. He showed me a lot there. Both the shooters were surprisingly effective. A little green around the edges but considering they were playing the heels they did a good job.

CLIPS – more pre-show stuff with Takada introducing Giant Silva to the locker room in a press conference. Looks like they’re trying to make a big deal of him. He just got beat by Heath Herring in his Pride debut though. Naoya Ogawa gets all up in Silva’s face, as does Hashimoto.

Giant Silva v Kohei Sato/Katsuhisa Fuji

Silva is still borderline impressive because of his size. He used to be in the WWF back in 1998. He was in the Oddities but got released because he sucked. DSE kept thinking that by sticking the big man into shoot fights that he’d pay off eventually. He actually faced Ogawa in a shoot during 2004, which he lost. In general he tends to lose but recently toppled Akebono so maybe he’s working out now. This match is a total squash. Both the jobbers can’t get Silva off his feet at all. After a couple of minutes Sato, the one with the most potential of the two jobbers, eats a chokeslam for the pin. DUD.

Vader v Shinya Hashimoto

These two have a history dating back to their clashes in New Japan. Hash also has history with Takada who he beat for the IWGP title back in 1996. Vader has been sent to stop Hash being a threat in Hustle. I was always very fond of Hash. It’s very sad that he passed away aged just 40 of a brain haemorrhage. Vader is one of, if not my favourite, big man ever. Both are known for working stiff as fuck. I like that. Vader loses the mask pre-match suggesting he means business. I’ve seen these guys wrestle before but that was about 14 years earlier. They stiffed the shit out of each other. Hash, wise in his experience and knowledge, grounds Vader to take his strikes out of this. Then decides he can take Vader anyway and lets him back up to make it all about striking. Vader promptly pummels him in the corner and splashes Hash for what could have been the pin had the ropes not saved. Vader stands over the fallen Hash badmouthing his decision to use the ropes. Vader Attack leaves Hash on his ass again. The crowd is somewhat stunned by all this. They expected more fighting spirit from a man who embodies that sentiment. Vader continues the beating with jabs and a short arm clothesline. Hash gets pummelled into the ropes again and you’d think he’d probably be regretting his decision early on to let Vader get back up out of an armbar. Vader knows this so he takes Hashimoto’s arm and takes it to the mat. Hash finally gets going and starts throwing leg kicks. Vader doesn’t have the leg strength he used to and goes down. Hash takes him over again with a headlock and then an armbar. It seems like he’s not going to repeat his early mistake. Cross armbreaker but he can’t get it straightened out. “You cocksucker” – Vader. He gets out and starts wailing on Hash with short strikes. Hash grabs a headlock to stop himself being punched. Once clear of the ropes Hash hits the DDT. Vader comes right back up but Hash dropkicks him. Vader is bleeding from the head. Not sure what from. They brawl around ringside where Vader takes over with kidney punches. Vader gets a chair and the count is getting up there. He goes to chair shot Hash against the ring post but misses. Hash DDT’s him on the floor and beats the count. Vader doesn’t and gets counted out at 9.59. **1/4. Crowd does NOT like that finish.

Miss Hustle (Diva Invitational)

I can only presume that’s what this is. Seeing as we’re ribbing the WWE it makes sense to have a few ladies come out here and pose in evening gowns. They come out a Geri fucking Halliwell song of all things. Much to my irritation they’re sticking to Western women. They then dance to Chyna’s music. I’m sure there’s some kind of lawsuit to be had there. They strip into bikinis and they’re not half bad girls but I just don’t see the point in doing this.

BACKSTAGE Goldberg gets asked how he’ll defeat Ogawa and he nearly breaks Takada’s arm. The interviewer goes for a second attempt at talking to Naoya Ogawa and decides against it. Haha. He’s warming up on top of Takada’s book.

ELSEWHERE Steve Corino cuts a promo in Japanese putting over Tom Howard and Dusty Rhodes. ICHIBAN!

Dusty Rhodes/Steve Corino/Tom Howard v Mil Mascaras/Dos Caras/Sicodelico Jr

Howard seems the odd one out. He’s nowhere near as famous. His reputation as a trainer precedes him though. Among his students were John Cena and Victoria. He’s had a host of others signed by the WWE although mostly for their looks (Nathan Jones, Chris Masters, Jon Heidenreich). He used to be under WWE contract as a developmental talent in the late 90’s. He has far more experience in Japan and Mexico. The luchadores are up there in years. Mascaras is the big star. Dos Caras is his brother and Sicodelico Jr is his nephew. Because I generally dislike luchadores it has to be noted that I specifically don’t like Mil Mascaras. Dusty aims to start with Mascaras but Corino jumps in there to “protect” the Dream. Crowd boos. “Shut up. Corino…ICHIBAN!” Corino plays heel as per usual. Mascaras overpowers him repeatedly and uses the kind of lucha that looks good in clip form. You know the kind. Those tights on Mil Mascaras really are. Either that or he’s doing a powerful job of sucking that gut in. Mascaras ties Corino up and surfboards him. In comes Dos Caras for some lucha double teaming. Now Corino is happy for Rhodes to tag in. Sicodelico Jr (SJ from now on) tries chopping at him. Nothing. Not even a reaction from Da Dweem. Corino comes back in. Yeah, I see the arrangement they have cooking there. SJ with a spinning heel kick. Corino is shouting stuff in Japanese. I’ve not picked up anything he’s said yet. Caras comes flipping in and Howard comes in for the first time. He’s unimpressed and just hooks a headlock. Jumping jacks! Howard tries crawling away from a leglock but that means he falls out of the ring. Caras dives out onto him. Not bad for an old timer. Mascaras comes in and what do you know here’s Dusty too. “It’s been a long time baby”. Corino tags himself in. Everyone, including Rhodes, hates that. Howard charges in too and Mascaras headlocks them both. Headlock/headscissors takeover. Dusty gets a tag but so does SJ. Dusty chops away before hitting some elbows. SJ finds himself isolated but Howard lets him tag. The referee misses it. Corino in and he and Howard run a Poetry in Motion. “Hashimoto DDT”. DDT from Corino. He calls for the STO and hits that too. He poses like a goofball so SJ hits him with a flying forearm. Aw crap I got the luchadores mixed up. Well, it’s easily done. Mascaras comes in to school Corino. Howard makes the save. Crowd isn’t too interested anymore. At least it sounds that way. SJ gets a roll up that looks suspiciously like Howard doesn’t kick out. SJ with a corkscrew pescado. I can hear someone calling it that too. Where’s that English commentary booth? Mascaras hits Corino with a high crossbody and that gets the pin at 13.10. Sheesh. *3/4. Another passable tag match. The finish was lame though and they never did Mascaras-Rhodes, which I thought was the whole point of this.

POST MATCH Dusty complains about Corino being such a loser. Corino lays him out and beats him down setting up a match at Hustle-3, which I’ve seen and is terrible. I don’t see the point of the angle seeing as they’d already done it in ECW where it wasn’t particularly good. Both guys blade, big whoop.

Mark Coleman v Toshiaki Kawada

Coleman had just come back to MMA and beat Don Frye just before this. He was previously the first ever UFC heavyweight champion. Kawada meanwhile is a 5-time Triple Crown winner, holds 9 tag title runs as well as two Champions Carnivals. The idea is to legitimise his position by having him beat an accomplished shooter like Coleman. Like when Taz made Paul Varlens tap out. Kawada rattles Coleman with both kicks and slaps. Coleman can’t get a takedown either making Kawada look totally badass. When Coleman gets a spinebuster he can’t follow up with strikes because he leaves his arm in Kawada’s neck and gets caught in a triangle. Yeah, this match is totally for one reason and that’s all we get. Kawada controls with an armbar but can’t get the cross armbreaker he wants because Coleman is at least capable of defending that. When Kawada does get it Coleman gets in the ropes. He’s being made to look a total bitch here. Kawada gets tagged with a punch but catches Coleman following in with a big kick. Coleman with a belly to belly that Kawada no sells. Fucking hell, this is a burial. Coleman decides to hang on after another belly to belly and gets side control where he lays in strikes. He gets a headlock out of side control but Kawada gets his foot on the ropes. Coleman holds on like a jerk further turning the crowd against him. Kawada leg kicks him a lot. Coleman trades with punches but Kawada just elbows him instead. Kneebar from Kawada and Coleman can’t turn out of that. He sure is a rubbish shootfighter. Coleman eventually gets his own leg but Kawada kicks him off. The referee decides he’s seen enough and calls the match for Kawada at 6.07. Bullshit finish. *1/4. Another one of those shoot style matches that you either love or hate. They didn’t really have long enough to tell an interesting story though.

CLIPS – Ogawa-Goldberg build up. I like Ogawa stealing Goldberg’s catchphrase to trigger a pull apart brawl. Looked like a crazy brawl.

Bill Goldberg v Naoya Ogawa

Looks like Hustle had a deal with the WWE because Goldberg has his own music from WCW. That would also explain why he’s wrestling for Hustle when he was under contract to the WWE. Ogawa starts fast with kicking. The referee tries to get him to back up and stop that. Goldberg presses him into a sloppy spinebuster. Crowd seem to dig Goldberg in general. He overpowers Ogawa and goes for a kneebar. It looks like shit, especially compared to the one Kawada just did like five minutes ago. Ogawa reverses it and Goldberg gets into the ropes like the coward heel he’s playing over here. Ogawa takes Goldberg over a few times probably just to stress that he can. He can’t get any dangerous submission moves on though so that results in some pretty dull mat work. Goldberg attempts to get his own in with a half crab. It’s a different style for Bill than the US fan is used to. Ogawa gets out and lays in some more kicks. He’s had most success with those. Goldberg goes to sheer power and shoves him over though. Goldberg actually takes a monkey flip. That’s different. I guess he figures no one will ever see this Stateside. Ogawa with a back suplex and Goldberg is blown up here. Ogawa goes to a sleeper hold to give Bill a break. Ref gets shoved over a few times and actually stays down the second time. A fucked up ref bump? What is this, WCW? SPEAR! Of course the referee is down so that’s not the finish. Goldberg decides to just do it again until the ref gets up but Ogawa dodges a second one into the STO! Ref is still down. Oh, I got asked what STO stands for the other day. It stands for Space Tornado Ogawa, which is pretty weird. Seeing as the referee is down here comes the interference. Giant Silva is out here to attack Ogawa. Oh, it’s Sportz Entertainment alright. SPEAR! That referee has been down FOR EVER. Jackhammer, albeit a completely fucked up one, gets the pin at 12.49. ½*. It was bad before the finish but the finish with the ridiculous referee bump killed it dead.

POST MATCH Takada and Ogawa have a pull apart brawl that’s more entertaining than anything else on the show and then Goldberg grabs the mic and tells Hashimoto he’s next. Well, it makes me want to see those two matches but neither one happened so there you go.

The 411: Pretty much all bad. Hustle-3 at least had the freak attraction of Kawada-Foley but there’s no such match here. Even when they did have something worthwhile it seems they couldn’t book a finish. Like Vader-Hashimoto or Kawada-Coleman. The matches at the top that were entertaining were just to get the crowd into the show so they achieved that. It was after that where I was concerned. Despite the high talent levels the booking and the match making seemed to be hindering the show’s success. I said Hustle-3 was entertaining crap. Hustle-1 is more just crap. Thumbs down. Hustle-3 is worth picking up for Kawada-Foley though. You’ll never see that again.
Final Score:  4.5   [ Poor ]  legend

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