Written By Alfredo Esparza
NJPW WPW Classics #3
Antonio Inoki © vs. Andre the Giant for the NWF Title (clipped)
Taped 10/7/1976 at Kuramae Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan
They show a clip of this match starting with Andre The Giant applying a front facelock on Inoki. Inoki tries to use the ropes to break out of the hold, but Andre pulls him back into the ring and keeps the front facelock clamped on. Inoki reaches the ropes again and he and Andre go thru the ropes to the outside. They brawl on the outside. Andre goes for a headbutt at Inoki and instead hits the ringpost. Andre’s forehead is bleeding from hitting the post. Inoki brings Andre back into the ring and throws a few punches at his forehead, but Andre puts him in a backbreaker. Inoki flips out of the hold. Referee and Andre’s second go in to check on his cut but Inoki and Andre keep fighting. Referee calls for the bell to end the match due to Andre bleeding heavily. Inoki and Andre keep fighting until Inoki leaves the ring.
WINNER: Antonio Inoki via referee’s decision.
Antonio Inoki © vs. Andre the Giant for the NWF Title (6/1/77)
Taped 6/1/1977 at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
They show Andre The Giant backstage in his locker room talking some strategy before the match. Andre The Giant throws the announcer out of the locker room. They follow that showing Antonio Inoki preparing for the match backstage.
Inoki starts match by running around the ropes and then sliding to the outside but it didn’t really do much. As soon as they locked up, Andre put Inoki in a headlock. Andre used his size early on to gain control of the match and wear down Inoki. Andre used a front facelock on Inoki and again wouldn’t let him escape his grasp even when he’d reach the ropes. Inoki climbs up the corner turnbuckles to take down Andre The Giant and then hit him with a pair of dropkicks to send him to the outside. Andre’s arm got tied up in the ropes, but he got out of that quickly. Andre took down Inoki again using his knees on him and then applying pressure on Inoki’s arms and back. Andre took down Inoki dropping him head-first to the mat. Inoki broke away and started kicking at Andre’s legs. Inoki put Andre in a facelock of his own. Inoki decides to go back to working on Andre’s legs and takes him down and puts him in a deathlock submission hold. Andre breaks out of the hold, but Inoki kicks his left leg and keeps Andre from getting up. Andre rolls out of the ring. Andre climbs up the ropes and tries for a plancha but Inoki moves out of the way. Inoki kicks at Andre’s back and Andre again goes to the outside. Andre got back in the ring and went for a backbreacker, but Inoki slipped out and ended up on the ring apron. Inoki jumps back in and onto Andre’s back, but Andre shoved him into the corner. Andre whips Inoki from one corner to the other and charges at him. He followed that up by taking down Inoki and working on his leg on the mat. Inoki pulled at Andre’s hair but can’t break free. Andre headbutts Inoki’s left leg and continues to apply pressure on his leg. Andre goes for a bow & arrow submission hold on Inoki! Referee starts counting on Andre since his shoulders are on the mat, so he quickly lets Inoki out and yells at the referee. Andre throws a forearm at Inoki and Inoki slips out of the ring. Inoki gets back in the ring and Andre puts him in a bearhug. Inoki struggles to break free but he’s finally able to move around and take’s Andre into the corner where he escapes. Inoki climbs up on Andre’s shoulders and uses his forearm on Andre’s face. Andre shoves Inoki off his shoulders and then slams him into the corner. Inoki’s placed in a tree of woe in the corner and Andre tries to tackle Inoki, but Inoki moves, climbs to the top rope and drops a couple of elbows onto Andre. Inoki goes for a pin, but Andre throws him off. Inoki uses a pair of headscissors on Andre with the second sending both to the outside. Inoki uses a chair on Andre, but doesn’t do any damage. Andre chases after him and carries and slams Inoki into a table. Andre The Giant climbs back into the ring. Both men end up being counted out.
WINNER: No Winner, both counted out.
Tiger Jeet Singh & Umanosuke Ueda © vs. Seiji Sakaguchi & Shozo Kobayashi in a 2 Out of 3 Falls match for the NWA North American Tag Team Titles (6/10/77, clip)
Taped 6/10/1977 at Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia
This was film footage that appeared to be clipped since the match was 2 out of 3 falls. It’s also rather dark film too. Singh & Ueda double-teamed both their opponents thru most of the clip. Match ends when one of the heels shoves the ref as he’s brawling so the ref disqualifies Singh & Ueda. I didn’t like this and I’m glad it was short.
They air a post-match interview with Kobayashi & Sakaguchi.
WINNERS: Seiji Sakaguchi & Shozo Kobayashi.
Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi vs. Black Gordman & Great Goliath (7/21/77)
Taped 7/21/1977 at Miyagi Prefectural Sports Center in Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
Gordman took a crazy bump from Sakaguchi just as they were locking up which looked pretty great. Sakaguchi’s and Inoki control the match early. Sakaguchi had Gordman in a headscissors submision hold that Gordman struggled to break out of, but he was able to reach his corner and tag in Goliath who kicked and punched Sakaguchi. Gordman and Goliath took turns beating on Sakaguchi in the corner. Gordman leap-frogged onto Sakaguchi’s shoulders. Sakaguchi slapped him down and then slammed him to the mat. Sakaguchi and Inoki do some double-team work on Gordman. Inoki started kicking at Gordman’s legs. Gordman figured this out and on the 4th kick, he grabbed the ropes and hung from them (great spot!) then went to the outside. Gordman said something in the crowd that made them laugh. Gordman had Inoki in a full nelson, but Inoki broke out by doing a reverse kick at him. Inoki kicked at Goliath who knocked the referee down when he fell. Sakaguchi slammed Goliath and then hiptossed him. Goliath rolled to the outside. Gordman tagged in and bit at Sakaguchi’s hand, but he was taken down. Sakaguchi tagged in Inoki, who dropped a knee on Gordman’s back. Inoki back dropped Goliath and then tagged in Sakaguchi who went for a leg sweep and a two count. Sakaguchi then used an atomic drop on Goliath and got the pin. Gordman tried to make the save, but Inoki stopped him. This was pretty good.
WINNERS: Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi
Tiger Jeet Singh © vs. Shozo “Strong” Kobayashi in a 2/3 falls match for the NWF Asia Heavyweight Title(7/21/77)
Taped 7/21/1977 at Miyagi Sports Center in Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
FIRST FALL: Kobayashi chopped Singh when they were being broken up near the ropes and when Singh did the same he broke away cleanly which got a good reaction from the fans. Singh went for Kobayashi’s legs early on and kept wrestling “cleanly”. Kobayashi brought Singh down to his knees with the test of strength spot. Singh was able to trip Kobayashi up and went after his left arm. Kobayashi elbowed Singh while he was on the ropes and dropped a knee on him. Kobayashi worked the fall a little more aggressively than Singh, who kept playing up that he wasn’t going to break the rules. Singh at one point had Kobayashi on the ropes and clenched his fist as if he was finally going to break the rules, but he resisted and continued to wrestle “clean”. Kobayashi put Singh in a bearhug and again Singh resisted the urge to punch him to break out of the hold. He did slip out and put Kobayashi in a headlock. Kobayashi caught Singh in another bearhug, followed that up with a backdrop to his knee. Then went with an atomic drop that got him a 2-count. Kobayashi then put Singh up in a backbreaker, but Singh slipped out which led to both of them falling to the outside. Kobayashi slammed Singh’s head into the timekeeper’s table. Strong Kobayashi went for a chair, but the referee was holding him back which gave Singh time to hit him with a chair. They both continued to fight outside while the referee counted them out. Kobayashi slammed Singh into the ringpost and then hit with a chair a few times. Singh was left bleeding.
SECOND FALL: Somehow this fall ended up also being a draw so they went straight to the third fall as you see Singh bleeding as he gets back into the ring as the bell rings for the start of the third fall.
THIRD FALL: Strong Kobayashi continues his attack on Singh as he stomps, punches, bites on Singh’s bloody forehead. Singh puts a thumb on Kobayashi’s neck as his blood is not only covering his face up but starting to show up all over Kobayashi. Kobayashi hits a forearm at Singh and then sends him out of the ring with an atomic drop. Kobayashi brings Singh back in with a suplex, but the referee doesn’t count. Kobayashi removes the turnbuckle off the corner and smashes Singh’s head into it. Referee tries to stop Kobayashi, but he picks the referee up and hangs him in the other corner. Singh attacks Kobayashi. The bell rings stopping the match. Sakaguchi gets in the match to stop Singh from his attack on Strong Kobayashi. Singh calls Ueda to join him ringside. Ueda carried a sword with him.
WINNER: Tiger Jeet Singh wins via DQ
SHOW THOUGHTS: Really enjoyed the Inoki vs. Andre The Giant match. A lot of fans haven’t really seen the younger version of Andre The Giant instead remembering him about 8-10 years older from this point in his career when he was a bit more agile in the ring. It was a fun Inoki vs. foreign monster match. The tag match clips that followed that were a little rough to get thru since I’m not a big fan of that style, but fortunately it was a clip and not a complete match, otherwise, I probably would have debated why I started this website while watching. There isn’t a lot of Black Gordman & Great Goliath footage from that era so that brought me back into enjoying this show. Gordman was great at bumping and selling for Inoki & Sakaguchi. I was dreading the final match, but it turned out to be a pretty good match with a wild final minutes to it. Really liked how Singh worked it as if he didn’t want to break any rules and he really wasn’t the one who was aggressive in turning this match into a bloodbath as Kobayashi was the one instigating by not breaking away cleanly near the ropes, using chairs before Singh did, and being aggressive with the referee. Singh got going as a heel late in the match as he too started using chairs and choking Strong Kobayashi, but Kobayashi was the one who was going that extra mile trying to destroy Singh. Surprisingly fun match.