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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: WWF/AJPW Wrestling Summit

November 7, 2014 | Posted by TJ Hawke
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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: WWF/AJPW Wrestling Summit  

April 13, 1990

Tokyo, Japan


Kenta Kobashi & Masanobu Fuchi vs. Jimmy Snuka & Tito Santana
Santana and Kobashi went at it for a bit. Santana eventually got cut off and worked over by Fuchi and Kobashi. Snuka tried to interfere, but he failed on a massive level. Santana hit Kobashi with a suplex right after that anyway, and Snuka then made a comeback. Fuchi and Snuka looked to have botched a simple spot. It looked awkward whatever it was. Snuka then got worked over. Snuka and Fuchi then botched something else. Santana thankfully reentered the match. Santana made a comeback, and Snuka hit Fuchi with the Superfly Splash: 1…2…3

This was not a good match. There was a ton of sloppiness whenever Snuka was in there, and there was no remotely compelling story told. The crowd being moderately into the action is basically the only compliment I can give it.
Match Rating: *1/2


Bret Hart vs. Tiger Mask
Mitsuharu Misawa was Tiger Mask at this point. This could be quite the match.

Tiger Mask went after Bret’s left arm in the early stages of the match. Bret just could not get anything going. Bret briefly came back for a minute or two, but Tiger Mask cut him off again. Bret eventually reversed a crucific pin attempt into a modified Samoan Slam and then made a comeback that included a scintillating chinlock. That did not last long though, and Tiger Mask hit a plancha. Tiger Mask went back after the left arm. Bret faked a knee injury and then cut off Tiger Mask with a clothesline. He worked Tiger Mask over for a while. Tiger Mask finally came back and hit a diving crossbody for a nearfall. The time limit expired just before Tiger Mask hit a running crossbody.

Well, this was a major disappointment. The pace was definitely worked at a “run out the clock” speed, and they did nothing of value with the extensive time they had. The arm work on Bret that went nowhere felt especially annoying.
Match Rating: *


Greg Valentine vs. The Great Kabuki
Greg Valentine was in a tag team with Honky Tonk at the time and used his look.

Valentine very briefly had control, but Kabuki came firing back. Valentine got control again though. Kabuki got a nearfall with a schoolboy and then made a comeback. He applied a Boston Crab. Valentine came back again though. He hit a shinbreaker on the left shin. Valentine taunted the crowd repeatedly. Kabuki caught him with a pinning combo: 1…2…3

This was no good. Both men looked beyond broken down in there, and they never really grabbed me at all. I just found this to be very boring.
Match Rating: ½*


Jake Roberts vs. The Big Boss Man
Bossman got control and worked Jake over. He primarily targeted the midsection of Jake. Jake avoided a diving splash and then made a comeback. The crowd really rallied behind Jake. Bossman managed to avoid a running knee, and Jake took a ridiculous bump when he crashed into the corner. DDT OUT OF NOWHERE: 1…2…3!

Bossman got the snake put on him afterwards.

This has easily been the best match of the show so far. Jake really got the crowd behind him, and it made this a fun little match.
Match Rating: **3/4


Jumbo Tsuruta & King Haku vs. Mr. Perfect & Rick Martel
Perfect and Martel jumped their opponents before the match, and they briefly had control. Haku and Jumbo came right back though. Perfect and Martel cheated to isolate Jumbo, and they worked him over for a bit. Jumbo managed to tag out, but Haku got cut off and then worked over right after that. Haku eventually blocked a diving splash, and Jumbo then made a hot tag. Haku sent Perfect to the floor, as Jumbo hit Martel with a backdrop driver: 1…2…3!

This match was quite fun. Perfect and Martel bumping around for Jumbo was good stuff, and I could stand to see more of that. They definitely could have tightened up the match, but overall this worked.
Match Rating: ***1/4


Genichiro Tenryu vs. Randy Savage (w/Sensational Sherri)
Savage was running early, but Tenryu cornered with some chops and the crowd came unglued. A Sherri distraction allowed Savage to attack him from behind. Tenryu came back with a lariat and a crossbody off the apron to the floor. Sherri attacked Tenryu from behind. As they got back in the ring, Tenryu fought back but Savaged cut him off with a lariat. The crowd was really getting riled up, as Savage worked him over and Sherri sporadically interfered. Tenryu went for the powerbomb, but Savage avoided it and hit a diving crossbody. Tenryu came back with a gamengiri and a folding powerbomb: 1…2…3

They could have milked the drama a lot more towards the end, but this was dynamite. They had a great dynamic, and the crowd was with them the whole time. The fact that I’ve only seen a handful of Tenryu is a real hole in my wrestling watching.
Match Rating: ***1/4


Warrior got a promo in the back. He just growled a lot.


The Ultimate Warrior© vs. Ted DiBiase [WWF World Heavyweight Championship]
DiBiase attacked Warrior from behind before the bell, but Warrior quickly came back. DiBiase reversed a leaping shoulder tackle and then worked Warrior over. Warrior made his comeback. Shoulder tackle. Running Splash: 1…2…3

This was not much, but it was not bad at all. They kept it short and simple, and DiBiase did his best to make Warrior look good.
Match Rating: **


Demolition (Ax & Smash) vs. Andre The Giant & Giant Baba
Baba and Andre had some early success. Demolition actually managed to cut off Andre though, and they then worked him over briefly. He managed to tag out, and Baba made a comeback. The match broke down. Baba hit the weakest looking boot on Ax, and Andre finished him with a falling elbow: 1…2…3

This had its charms, but it was also pretty sad at points. I don’t know.
Match Rating: **


Hulk Hogan vs. Stan Hansen
They were going back and forth for a while. Hogan got control after sending Hansen into a ringpost on the floor. Hogan worked him over for a while. Hansen was busted open. Hogan gave him a scoop slam onto a table on the floor. Hogan continued to work him over for a while. Hansen finally caught him with a big boot and then did a running shoulder tackle for a nearfall. Hansen made a comeback that included a chairshot to the head. Hogan was now busted open as well, and Hansen worked him over. Hogan then made a comeback. Hansen avoided the Legdrop. Hogan connected with a clothesline: 1…2…3! Hansen kicked out at 3.000001

This was an entertaining brawl and a fine way to close out the show. These guys worked well together here, and I would have liked to seen more matches between them. Hogan smartly adapted to a different audience and didn’t completely fall into the cliches of his typical match here.
Match Rating: ***1/2


Watch some AJPW for free!

Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Satoshi Kojima

Mitsuharu Misawa & Keiji Mutoh vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Hiroshi Hase

Kenta Kobashi, Akihiko Ito, & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. F4 (Hiroshi Yamato, KAI & Satoshi Kojima)

Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Yuji Nagata

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Suwama

Goldberg vs. Satoshi Kojima

Goldberg vs. Taiyo Kea

Road Warrior Animal, Gran Hamada, & Robert Gibson vs. TAKA Michinoku, Jamal, & Bull Buchannon

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Satoshi Kojima

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Keiji Mutoh

The Great Muta & Tajiri vs. Goldust & Hakushi

Kaz Hayashi vs. Minoru

Minoru Suzki vs. Kaz Hayashi

Jun Akiyama & Ricky Marvin vs. Suwama & KAI

The final score: review Good
The 411
Despite the lack of consistent quality on this show, I found this to be really enjoyable. The utter randomness of everything happened made even the bad matches interesting. It's not a great show, but it was really worth the time.

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  • W. Ryne Hall

    How unsurprised I am that Bret Hart is one of the only guys to work a bad match with Misawa when he was in his prime years. And Hawke, you gotta start watching all those Tenryu/Tsuruta matches.

    • TJHawke411

      Neither guy looked good to be fair.

      I know. I want to watch everything ever. I will get there eventually.

      • W. Ryne Hall

        That’s the thing about wrestling. Its best aspect is also its worst aspect-there’s always more out there.

  • Bryan

    Hulk was a different worker in Japan

    • TJHawke411

      I’m a big fan of Hogan. I haven’t watched nearly enough of his Japan stuff though.

  • DowneyDowneyDOWNEY

    IIRC, it wasn’t long after this that Misawa got rid of his mask and started making history.

    • TJHawke411

      I believe that is correct. I double checked that it was Misawa under the mask when I got the show, because I swore he had taken it off by this point.

      • APinOz

        TJ, Misawa unmasked about 6 weeks later and beat Tsuruta in one of the greatest matches of all time. From 1990-97, AJPW put on the best wrestling matches on the planet. Guys like Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, Kenta Kobashi, Akira Taue, Tenyru (before he left to form SWS) and Tsuruta mixed in with great foreign workers like Stan Hansen, Terry Gordy and Doctor Death Steve Williams to have the Budokan Hall crowds going crazy every month. It was the best-booked promotion in the world, Baba was an absolute genius at building rivalries with simple, logical booking. Every match had a clean finish, there were no shenanigans, ref bumps or outside interference, just the best wrestling I’ve ever seen.

  • sdelfin

    A shame this didn’t turn out to be more than what it was. It seems like a great idea on paper, but it was not a great mixture of styles. Plus there’s always the difficulty that comes with co-promotion. From what I’ve seen of AJPW later in the 1990s, it wasn’t unheard of to have slow, sloppy undercard matches for whatever reason.

    -Interesting how Boss Man is already a babyface by this point. I wonder how this match even came together. Oddly, Boss Man turned face during the storyline involving Jake Roberts and Ted Dibiase.

    -People get excited when they find out Bret wrestled Misawa, but they expect too much because they don’t consider the context. Both Bret and Misawa’s careers speak for themselves. What we have here is a dream match that happened five years too soon. It was low on the card and had no meaning other than to fill time, which is what they went out and did. Bret was still primarily a tag wrestler and I think Misawa was still big in the tag scene as well. Misawa was about to move up and become a singles competitor, but both guys were still a ways from the top. Considering its position on the card, they probably did what they could without completely killing the upper-card matches.

    -Nice to see Tsuruta and Martel together again. Having Hennig and Haku in there is a nice bonus.

    -That Demolition/Giants match is sad in a number of ways. What’s also sad is that, not even two weeks removed from Wrestlemania 6, this is the high point of Demolition’s final reign as champions.

    Thanks for the review.

    • TJHawke411

      Thanks for reading, as always.

    • sdelfin

      Thanks for adding that as I never read Bret’s book. I know I’ve seen Bret criticize the Japanese wrestlers for not always working smart or safe, which I can agree with despite enjoying the style. It was a definite style clash. I’ve also heard that some of the Japanese guys phoned in lesser matches as well. I know I’ve seen Kawada looking lethargic in some matches in the 90s. I agree that it’s likely both guys phoned it in.

  • El Atomico

    I remember reading that Sherri did a great job working the crowd here.

    • TJHawke411

      I honestly do not remember.

      • TJHawke411

        Doesn’t mean it’s not the case obviously.

      • El Atomico

        I meant, I read that in a wrestling mag at the time (Eddie Ellner in one of his columns wrote that Sherri woke up “the annoyingly laid back Japanese crowd” sorry if I worded that badly. God bless the Apter mags!

        • TJHawke411

          Sounds like something an out-of-touch American writer would write, re: “annoying laid back.”