The first part of the tale of SWS inspired enough Joy for the higher ups to try some more, so let’s carry on with their first commercial video release covering two nights at the Yokohama Arena.
In relevant news, Akira Maeda’s UWF failed to sell out a show on 09/13. I don’t know if they were worried at the time, given the enormous success they’d had recently, but it wouldn’t matter as the fate of the company would be decided quicker than the Lusitania’s.
The tape opens with a brief STRAIGHT AND STRONG hype video with whatever footage they could film at the SWS gym (featuring none of the ex-AJPW & NJPW guys because they were too busy dodging lawsuits). In the arena, we’ve got a laser show and a tent surrounding the ring to prove SWS can spend their money on something other than other company’s wrestlers. But never mind all that, we’ve finally got a face to the English-expression loving commentator and I fully agree with his official job title:
We get a lengthy introduction of the roster and the four SWS stables: Tenryu’s Revolution, Yatsu’s Dojo Geki, Takano’s Palaestra, and then everybody else. Also, new signee Koji Kitao is commentating and giving his thoughts through the night (probably with a note in front of him that says “don’t call it fake.”)
Genichiro Tenryu & Great Kabuki (Revolution) vs. Bob Orton Jr. & Jeff Jarrett
Day one starts with a four team mini-tournament. Orton and Tenryu cancel each other out with shoulder tackles so Jarrett takes down Kabuki with armbars and FLYING HEADSCISSORS. I’m unfamiliar with pre-WWF Jarrett, so I didn’t know what to expect, but it wasn’t that. Jarrett looks as nervous as you’d expect a four-year pro in his debut in Japan to be. He has a rough sequence with Tenryu where Jarrett looks like he’s expecting Tenryu to be leading the match – but he doesn’t – so he plays it safe with headlocks before both men tag out.
Orton pounds away on Kabuki (“Alright alright alright!!”) and lets Double J back in. Sadly Jarrett/Kabuki is just as awkward as Jarrett/Tenryu so Orton takes Tenryu off the apron and then presses Kabuki over his head with one hand to save things. Orton’s punches are the highlight but they’re not enough to stop Kabuki from tagging out to an angry Tenryu, who chops Orton’s chest in before delivering a Lariat and the Backwards Elbow for two. Orton tags in Jarrett who manages to dropkick Tenryu right in the throat (!) before a flying headscissors gets converted into a backbreaker and a Tenryu Powerbomb ends the match.
Winners: Revolution (NJPW & IWE veteran Orton knew what to do in there to keep it interesting but poor Jarrett looked like a lost kid searching for his Mum in the supermarket.)
Yoshiaki Yatsu & Isao Takagi (Dojo Geki) vs. Takano Brothers (Palaestra)
I really appreciate George Takano’s Roman galea and upswing Jazz music for his entrance. We skip ahead five minutes to Yatsu belly-to-belly suplexing George and then letting Takagi in. The crowd either remembers Takagi’s brush with death at the last show or he’s just a bit crap so they laugh whenever he does anything. Shunji tags in and Takagi takes a look at the size of his mullet and decides he doesn’t want any of that, so here comes Yatsu.
Both Takanos have their way with him before an Enziguri turns the tide and Dojo Geki lands a Spike Piledriver despite the boos. Takagi takes out Shunji with a “Dynamite Kick!!” and a belly-to-belly as the laughter has subsided – now he’s winning. Yatsu gets a variant on a Spinning Toe Hold and enjoys it so much he applies it again as the crowd throw boos at him like they’re streamers. Shunji is able to strike his way out and George is FIRED UP for ten seconds before Takagi stops him. Shunji aids his brother by dropping a big knee on the back of Takagi’s head, and as we know from last time, his gimmick is “not enjoying getting punched in the head”.
After a pounding in the corner, the referee is forced to give him a ten count to see if he can still blink. He recovers, but The Takanos realize he’s knackered and take out Yatsu on the outside to finish with a Rocket Launcher assisted splash to end it.
Winners: Palaestra (A bit all over the place but it was solid with the Dojo lads doing a great job of revving up the boo engine. Takagi might as well be wearing a shirt saying PLEASE DON’T KICK ME IN THE HEAD.)
Genichiro Tenryu & Great Kabuki (Revolution) vs. Takano Brothers (Palaestra)
The Takanos are still sweating from the last match. Kabuki & Tenryu take turns firing away on George and they’re already twatting him hard from the get-go. George gets a leglock on Kabuki so Tenryu punts him and then tags himself in to apply his own, halted by Shunji’s “Bazooka Kneedrop!!” Then Kabuki gets an anklelock of his own, with George managing to escape… only for Tenryu to tag in and take his skin off his chest.
George gets a quick Fujiwara Armbar to stop the pain but he’s still in the wrong corner so Kabuki simply tags in and puts him in a Figure Four Leg Lock. It’s been solid double-teaming so far. Tenryu tries the Backwards Elbow but Shunji runs in and knocks him off before connecting with two dropkicks off the top. Sadly, this sends Tenryu right into Kabuki’s tag and they resume their battle plan on Shunji by applying leg submissions and tagging in regularly. Eventually, Shunji busts Kabuki’s mouth open to get him the hell away from him and HERE COMES GEORGE with the sumo chops on both men. George stops a double-team by dropkicking Kabuki in the back of the frigging head and Shunji Lariats Tenryu out of nowhere to get a close two-count as the crowd is officially into this.
Shunji connects with a top-rope “Bazooka Knee-Drop!!” but it gets instantly broken up by a paggered Kabuki (to boos from the crowd). George gets a top rope splash and Kabuki barely has the energy to break that up. Tenryu is forced to make his own comeback due to his partner being bereft of oxygen, but Shunji cuts it off with another Lariat and Tenryu walks right into a huge Bridging German Suplex for the shock win to blow the roof off of Yokohama.
Winners: The Takano Brothers (The finishing sequence made the match with the Takanos. They simply were a better team and were able to tire out Kabuki’s old arse to enable them to get the win by double-teaming Mr. Pro Wrestling.)
The cameras show the hundreds of people jumping up and down in the crowd and throwing streamers at George’s clean pinfall victory over the biggest star of the company.
The Samoans vs. Samson Fuyuki & Tatsumi Kitahara (Revolution)
Well, it’s Samu and The Samoan Savage teaming up which makes them the Samoan Headshrinker Team, I guess. We cut to Savage missing a Pump Splash on Kitahara (colliding anyway but let’s pretend he didn’t) who makes the hot tag to Fuyuki, who cleans house with offense he’d get better at. He tries to bang the Samoans’ heads together but that fails and they headbutt him. Kitahara then tags in and rolls Samu into a small package for the pin out of nowhere to the crowd’s displeasure. Was that supposed to be a good guy finish?
Naoki Sano vs. Jeff Jarrett
We start seven minutes in with Jarrett applying an ankle lock – knowing that in his previous match, that hold may have lasted the whole seven minutes. Sano escapes and kicks Double J around the place before sending him outside and following with a wild swanton.
Sadly, a follow-up splash meets knees but he’s able to turn a Jarrett crossbody into a pin attempt for two. That spot always looks naff but who cares, as Sano follows by jumping up to the top rope to backflip over Jarrett. He then charges right into a crucifix pin to lose. Sano must be getting one of those “Tough Love” pushes but it was still surprising to see him lose after he was flying around like he was playing the game with all the cheats on.
Great Kabuki & Takashi Ishikawa (Revolution) vs. Kendo Nagasaki & Goro Tsurumi (Dojo Geki)
We cut sixteen minutes into the match because even the act of watching Kabuki has tired out the editors. Nagasaki and Kabuki tease going after each other but when they finally get in the ring at the same time, they do nothing. Huh? Goro gets his ankle worked over and then Ishikawa submits him while Kabuki & Nagasaki continue to give each other evil eyes. Whatever this was, I’m glad they reduced it to two minutes.
Yoshiaki Yatsu & Isao Takagi (Dojo Geki) vs. Bob Orton Jr. & Gerry Morrow
I don’t know much about Gerry other than he’s from the same generation as Orton. We jump thirteen minutes in to see Orton taking an enziguri but coming back with his sweet punching as our favorite EXCITING ANNOUNCER yells “power vs. power!!”
Orton decides to let Gerry shine by running right into a bodyslam and getting pinned with a backdrop. Thanks Gerry.
Genichiro Tenryu (Revolution) vs. George Takano (Palaestra)
There’s about as much chance of Tenryu losing twice to Takano in two days as there is of Buddy Landel showing up to a booking, but there’s enough GEOR-GIE chants to make you think “…maybe?” Takano utilizes a sleeper hold so good that Tenryu has to roll out of the ring to escape from it (“No compromise!!”), only to return to the ring to be taken down and dunked again.
Tenryu gets angry and chops Georgie repeatedly in the throat, which annoys the ref into giving him some time to recover. When he does, Takano sumo chops Tenryu to the other side of the ring, causing Tenyru to do the same (because of Sumo Pride). George sees it coming and gets a Fujiwara Armbar as soon as he throws a strike. That was sweet! I always appreciate when wrestlers out-smart one another.
We get shots of the rest of Revolution at ringside, looking concerned at their boss getting wrecked. Tenryu tries a test of strength but Takano dropkicks him while he handcuffs him, sending Tenryu out of the ring. Takano tries a dive over the ropes but Tenryu side-steps and lets him splat on the floor in a brutal moment. Back in the ring, Tenryu brutalises Takano with double-stomps and takes his time on top of poor Georgie’s guts. Once the breath returns to his lungs, he’s able to come back with a Bridging German Suplex, but without his brother it only gets two.
A quick Tombstone Piledriver and a top-rope splash still can’t put him away, so Takano tries a Frankensteiner but it gets converted into a Powerbomb instead. The crowd is really loud for GEOR-GIE now, who responds by taking a Lariat but escapes out the ring…but Tenryu follows with a tope through the ropes. However, Takano recovers before him, but can’t quite land a Victory Roll. He instead kicks Tenryu out the ring again so he can dive off the top rope and nail him for real-real this time.
Tenryu manages to make it back into the ring before the count but walks right into a barrage of kicks from Takano. George gets cocky and runs right into a head-kick from Tenryu, but after both men take a breather, George gets his own spinning heel kick to send his opponent down. The crowd’s going BANANAS as George is going move-for-move now. They’re deflated when Tenryu blocks a German Suplex, but they come alive once Tenryu lands an Enziguri. Tenryu tries for a Powerbomb, but Takano rolls it into a pin for two! Tenryu holds on and rolls him back into position to execute it. Ahhhh I loved that! Tenryu hurt his foot and can barely stand, so the obvious thing to do is to nail another Enziguri with the bad foot and land another Powerbomb to finish the match.
Winner: Genichiro Tenryu (Great match with Takano throwing everything he had in his biggest opportunity to date with Tenryu, catching it all to make it look like he could win before throwing it right back at him. These matches – where you know going in to it “he ain’t winning”, but the moves and the crowd all coming together to make you think it COULD happen – are those moments when I can forget everything and just sink into a vat of wrestling.)
Overall: This tape proved SWS have money and some good talent up top. Tenryu’s going to lose to some of them sometimes. Whether or not this is the long-term plan going forward or was just a make-do for the last show’s night of terrible finishes remains to be seen. But until then, here’s The Living Legend pressing R1 at the right time.
I’ve been Maffew and if you’re reading this, check your posture.