Written By Alfredo Esparza
New Japan WPW Classics #2
Antonio Inoki vs. Seiji Sakaguchi
Taped 4/26/1974 at Hiroshima Prefectural Gymnasium in Hiroshima, Japan
Right as Seiji Sakaguchi came out to the ring he was attacked by Killer Karl Krupp. Sakaguchi’s able to fight Krupp off and was okay to wrestle the match. As soon as the bell rings, the action started quickly. Inoki applied a headscissors and sent Sakaguchi to the outside. The majority of the match had Inoki working on Sakaguchi’s legs with a variety of leglocks and even had him in a bow & arrow submission hold. Sakaguchi went with going after Inoki’s neck and shoulders with headlocks and putting Inoki in the full nelson a few times. Much of the match was kept on the ground with both focusing on wearing down their opponent. Inoki’s leg locks submission holds at times including him standing and dropping back down to apply more pressure on Sakaguchi’s legs. Inoki had Sakaguchi in a figure-four leglock for several minutes with Sakaguchi writhing and trying to reach the ropes several times. The few times he’d reach the ropes, the referee would kick his hands away. Sakaguchi’s painful facial expression can be seen as he’s trying to get out of that figure four leglock. We hear the ring announcer mention that the time is running out. Sakaguchi is able to reverse the figure-four leglock right as the bell rings The match ends in a 30-minute time limit draw. Good technical match.
WINNER: 30-minute time limit DRAW
Antonio Inoki vs. Tiger Jeet Singh for the vacant NWF Title
Taped 3/13/1975 at Hiroshima Prefectural Gymnasium in Hiroshima, Japan
Match is joined in progress with Tiger Jeet Singh and Antonio Inoki brawling outside the ring. Singh tosses Inoki around and throws a row of chairs at him. Inoki is bleeding from his forehead. He makes a comeback on Singh in the ring and catches him in an abdominal stretch. Singh breaks out and tosses Inoki head-first into the turnbuckles. He tossed him out of the ring again. Inoki backdrops Singh onto the floor but that doesn’t stop Singh for too long. Singh suplexes Inoki back into the ring and gets a near fall on him. He throws Inoki into the ropes and hits him with a forearm and goes for the pin. Singh wins. Good five minute clip of the match.
WINNER: Tiger Jeet Singh wins the vacant NWF Title
Antonio Inoki vs. Tiger Jeet Singh © for the NWF Title
Taped 3/20/1975 at Kuramae Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan
Another match that’s joined in progress. This time it starts off with Inoki holding Singh in an abdominal stretch with Singh reaching for the ropes. Singh elbows Inoki out of the ring and attacks him ringside. Singh grabs an umbrella to beat Inoki with. Singh brings Inoki back into the ring with a suplex and tries for another pin but Inoki kicks out. Singh brings out a foreign object to use on Inoki, but the referee stops him. The foreign object flies out of Singh’s hand and Inoki grabs it and uses it on Singh. Inoki attacks Singh outside with the foreign object. Referee calls for the bell and counts both men out. Inoki brings Singh back in and pins him, but he gets told the match was already over.
WINNER: Double Count Out
Antonio Inoki vs. Tiger Jeet Singh © in a 2/3 Falls match for the NWF Title
Taped 5/19/75 at Paul Sauve Arena in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
FIRST FALL: Tiger Jeet Singh gets the early advantage on Inoki by choking him. Referee tries to get him to stop but he refuses. Inoki rolled to the outside. Singh wouldn’t let Inoki get back in the ring and kept attacking him whenever he got near the ropes. Inoki got back in the ring and threw a few punches and kicks at Singh. Inoki asked the referee to check Singh for weapons, but he shows the referee that he has none. Singh tried to toss Inoki, but Inoki pulled off a reversal and got the pin on Singh to win the first fall.
SECOND FALL: Fall starts with Singh working on Inoki’s left arm and taking him down to the mat. He quickly goes for a chokehold on Inoki again. Singh controls the match by keeping Inoki down on the ground and can be seen at times pulling something out of his trunks that he uses to hit Inoki. Inoki makes a small comeback before Singh brings out the weapon again and hits Inoki’s head and knocks him down. Singh goes for the pin and wins the 2nd fall. Short fall. Crowd boos Singh as his arm is raised in the air by the referee. Referee checks Inoki’s forehead as he appears to be bleeding.
THIRD FALL: Inoki points at Singh’s midsection warning the referee that he has a foreign object hidden in his trunks. Singh points at Inoki’s closed fist and as the referee warns Inoki, Singh kicks Inoki and takes him down. Camera shows Inoki is bleeding from his forehead. Inoki takes down Singh and puts him in a toehold and then goes for a deathlock. Singh escapes and starts biting on Inoki’s wound and then starts to throw punches at Inoki’s chest. Referee calls for the bell, disqualifies Singh and gives the win to Inoki. The referee at first hands Inoki the NWF Title but then there is a discussion between the referee, Singh and the referee ends up handing the title back to Singh.
WINNER: Antonio Inoki
Antonio Inoki vs. Tiger Jeet Singh © in a 2/3 Falls match for for the NWF Title
Taped 6/26/1975 at Kuramae Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan
FIRST FALL: Singh scares one of the girls carrying flowers in the ring. LOL! During a rope break where Singh breaks away cleanly from Inoki the crowd cheers. Singh acts like he’s going to wrestle the match cleanly throughout. He breaks away cleanly again when both are near the ropes and the crowd applauds. They keep the match on the mat with both putting each other in headlocks and Singh also uses the headscissors on Inoki. Singh has enough of this and tosses Inoki to the outside. Inoki climbs back into the ring and then dropkicks Singh off the ring apron as he tries to enter the ring. Inoki grabs Singh and knocks him down when he returns and then bridges over him for a pin.
SECOND FALL: Singh grabs Inoki in a headlock but is clearly choking him near the ropes. Referee tries to pull him off Inoki by grabbing at his hair, but that doesn’t stop him. Inoki’s bleeding and tries fighting back with some punches but Singh kicks him back down and goes for Inoki’s throat. Singh slingshots Inoki onto the top rope. Singh puts Inoki in a backbreaker and gets Inoki to submit very quickly.
THIRD FALL: Singh and Inoki exchange punches near the ropes before Singh gets in a punch that knocks down Inoki. He stomps on him for a bit. Singh keeps going after Inoki’s throat. Inoki slams Singh to the mat, but that doesn’t stop Singh. Inoki gets knocked down to the outside and Singh uses this for his advantage by getting Inoki when he tries to get back in the ring. Singh goes for a suplex and gets a 2-count on Inoki. Singh goes for another suplex and a pin but again Inoki kicks out. Crowd starts to cheer on Inoki. Inoki backdrops Singh! Both go down but as they get back up, Inoki dropkicks Singh. He dropkicks Singh a 2nd time and then follows it up with another backdrop. Inoki covers Singh for the pin and gets the win! Good match.
WINNER: Antonio Inoki wins the NWF Title
SHOW THOUGHTS: I thought the matches were good, not great. Singh was a really good foreign heel rival for Inoki. Really liked the Inoki vs. Sakaguchi singles match. That might be a match that fans that are into the more mat-based, technical style of wrestling would enjoy more than those who prefer a faster pace in their wrestling matches. I enjoyed the Inoki – Singh match from Montreal more than the 6/29 Japan one. I liked that they included highlights of some of their earlier encounters and you were able follow their feud over the NWF Title.