Written By Alfredo Esparza
NJPW WPW Classics #4
Antonio Inoki vs. Victor Rivera
Taped 5/30/1977 at Okayama Budokan in Okayama, Japan
Rivera pulls Inoki by the hair and rams his head into the top turnbuckle. They break it up and Inoki puts Rivera in a headlock. Rivera reaches the ropes to break the hold. Rivera had Inoki for a bit, but Inoki tripped him up and then went for Rivera’s legs. Rivera rakes Inoki’s eyes with his forearm and then with his boots. He sends Inoki to the outside and then bangs Inoki’s head into the announcer’s table and ring post. Rivera continues to ram Inoki’s head into another table. Inoki slides back into the ring and trips Rivera. He uses the ropes to keep Rivera down. Inoki keeps Rivera on the mat by holding on to his legs. Rivera tries to break out by choking at Inoki. Follows up with some punches. Rivera slams Inoki and then misses a somersault senton. Rivera heads to the outside.
Rivera gets back into the ring but Inoki takes him down again and hits him a few times across the back. Some mat work by both men and a few pin attempts before Rivera gets up and starts to stomp on Inoki’s head. Rivera tosses Inoki face-first into the mat. Rivera keeps attacking Inoki despite Inoki being under the bottom rope. Rivera chops Inoki. Inoki tries for a headscissors and both go tumbling to the outside. Inoki slams Rivera into a table and tosses him into a ring post. Referee tries to keep Inoki from attacking Rivera so Rivera knocks Inoki down. Rivera gets back into the ring. Inoki goes for a bridging pin on Rivera and gets the win. Ok match.
WINNER: Antonio Inoki
Antonio Inoki & Riki Choshu vs. Asian Terror #1 & #2 (Black Gordman & Great Goliath)
Taped 6/29/1977 at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka, Japan
Match is joined in progress. Riki Choshu has control of one of the Asian Terrors. Asian Terror #1 is able to take down Choshu and tag in #2. Choshu gets a wristlock on #2. Asian Terror #2 escapes and takes down Choshu and later gets him in a headlock. Choshu and Asian Terror #2 mess up a hip toss. #2 tags in Asian Terror #1 who starts working on Choshu’s left arm. Asian Terrors double-team Choshu in their corner. Asian Terror #1 uses a DDT on Choshu a few times but Choshu kicks out of his pin attempts. Asian Terror #1 puts him in a submission hold near the ropes, so he tags in #2. Asian Terror #2 continues the attack on Choshu. Kick to Choshu’s chest followed by an abdominal stretch. #2 puts Choshu in a variation of La Campana followed by a camel clutch. Asian Terror #1 back in the ring kicks Choshu again and starts stretching him out. Choshu hot tags Inoki. Inoki goes with a bunch of kicks at Asian Terror #1. He backdrops him and then dropkicks him. Inoki attempts an abdominal stretch, but #2 makes the save. They double-team Inoki for a bit. Inoki stops them from attempting another top rope move. Inoki and Choshu start unmasking the Asian Terrors. They successfully remove their masks to reveal that the Asian Terrors are Black Gordman and the Great Goliath. Referee disqualifies Inoki & Choshu for pulling off their opponents masks.
WINNERS: The Asian Terrors
Umanosuke Ueda vs. Shozo “Strong” Kobayashi (6/29/77)
Taped 6/29/1977 at osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka, Japan
Ueda tosses his bouquet of flowers at the woman who handed them during match introductions. Ueda leaves the ring and they try to get him to return. A few minutes later he returns. Ueda attacks Kobayashi before the bell rings. He sends Kobayashi to the outside and they brawl. Ueda tosses a table at Kobayashi. Ueda tosses another table at Kobayashi. Ueda chases after someone in the crowd. Returns to the ring and keeps Kobayashi from entering the ring. Kobayashi gets back in the ring and tosses Ueda out of the ring and gives Ueda a taste of his own medicine. Kobayashi slams a table onto Ueda and then sends him into it. Kobayashi brings Ueda back into the ring with a suplex. Kobayashi backdrops Ueda and then slams him and gets a 1-count. Kobayashi uses a few big forearms and shoulder tackles in the corner to wear down Ueda. Ueda stops the attack with a kick to the midsection. Ueda starts choking Kobayashi. Ueda hangs Kobayashi in the corner in a tree of woe. Referee tries to stop him but Ueda knocks him down and goes back to attacking Kobayashi. Referee calls for the bell and disqualifies Ueda.
WINNER: Shozo “Strong” Kobayashi via DQ
Riki Choshu vs. Wilhelm Ruska (12/1/77)
Taped 12/1/1977 at osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka, Japan
Seiji Sakaguchi’s still in the ring as Ruska enters for his match. Ruska tells him to leave and they have a confrontation. Ruska attacks Sakaguchi. They get tangled up and Ruska tells the referees to get Sakaguchi out of the ring. Ruska tells the referee to take out Sakaguchi and then he just tosses the referee and attacks Sakaguchi. Sakaguchi chops at Ruska. Choshu then comes in and throws a few blows at Ruska.
Choshu and Ruska start fighting in a corner. Ruska throws a couple of forearms at Choshu, Choshu knees Ruska a few times and then lifts him up with a side suplex. Choshu puts the boots on Ruska and he rolls out of the ring. Ruska gets back in the ring and takes down Choshu with a headlock. Choshu breaks out of the hold. Ruska uses his black belt to choke Choshu. Referee gets him to stop. Ruska grabs Choshu in an armbar. Choshu breaks out of it with a big forearm at Ruska. He bodyslams Ruska a couple of times. Ruska’s able to take down Choshu again with a headlock. Choshu backdrops Ruska! Ruska gets back up and keeps his attack going on Choshu. Ruska slams Choshu and gets a 1-count. Choshu knees Ruska in the corner and then tosses him. Follows that with a pair of dropkicks but Ruska blocks the second one. Ruska goes for an armbar submission. Choshu gives up.
WINNER Wilhelm Ruska
Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Jose Estrada © for the WWWF Junior Heavyweight Title
Taped 1/23/1978 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY.
Fujinami with a quick armdrag on Estrada after they lock-up. Fujinami uses his speed to take down Estrada and wow the fans. Estrada reaches the ropes. He gets Fujinami down with an armdrag and locks in an armbar. Referee tells Estrada to break the hold as he pulled Fujinami’s hair to take him down. Estrada throws a couple of punches at Fujinami’s head. He tosses Fujinami around a few times. Fujinami makes a comeback with a mix of punches, forearms and chops. Fujinami takes down Estrada with a headlock and follows with a front chancery. Estrada punches his way out of the hold, but Fujinami counters with a punch and a couple of dropkicks that send Estrada to the outside. Crowd cheers loudly for Fujinami. Estrada offers to shake hands with Fujinami. The fans warn Fujinami not to do it. They shake hands!
They get back to wrestling and Fujinami tosses Estrada. He goes for a roll-up but Estrada first grabs the referee and then reaches the ropes. Some cool matwork between the two after with Fujinami getting the edge again which upsets Estrada. Estrada uses the ropes to get Fujinami back down and throws a couple of forearms at him. He hiptosses Fujinami and gets a 2-count. Estrada gets control of the match for a few minutes. Fujinami’s able to hiptoss Estrada to break out of an armbar. Fujinami knocks Estrada down and uses his speed to keep Estrada somewhat confused. Both exchange dropkicks and get pin attempts. They deliver a dropkick at the same time. More elbows by Estrada. He slams Fujinami down and climbs up to the top rope and misses a senton! Fujinami goes for a Dragon Suplex and pins Estrada to win the title. Good match.
Fujinami does a post-match interview ringside. Vince McMahon Sr. joins the Japanese announce team and raved about Fujinami’s performance at Madison Square Garden. He mentioned wanting Fujinami to work more frequently in the U.S. and said Japan should be proud. He told the announce crew that he would be heading to Japan for the MSG tour.
WINNER: Tatsumi Fujinami wins the WWWF Junior Heavyweight Title
Tatsumi Fujinami © vs. Carlos Mata for the WWWF Junior Heavyweight Title
Taped 6/9/1978 at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA.
They shake hands before the match. Fujinami takes down Mata and keeps him in a headlock. Mata throws Fujinami into the ropes and Fujinami shoulder blocks him. Fujinami hits the ropes again and Mata backdrops him. Mata goes to work on Fujinami’s left leg. Fujinami reverses and puts Carlos Mata into a deathlock. Mata reaches the ropes. They work in an armbar. Fujinami armdrags Mata to the mat and they speed up the match with some quick work off the ropes. Crowd wakes up. Really good counter-wrestling by both. Fujinami puts Mata in a headscissors. Mata escapes the headscissors and grabs onto Fujinami’s legs. Carlos Mata gets Fujinami in a hammerlock. More fun from these two using the ropes with Mata getting a near fall after a splash on Fujinami. Fujinami gets a near fall on Mata and you hear a fan yell “Arriba Mata!” Fujinami takes Mata down with a hammerlock. Mata tries to use his strength to break out of the hold, which he does. You could hear some of the Mexican fans cheering on Mata.
Fujinami uses his technical ability to go back to taking down Mata. He puts him in a sleeperhold. They battle to get control of the match but Fujinami’s able to keep control and goes back to another headscissors on Mata. Carlos Mata escapes and starts working on Fujinami’s left leg. Fujinami limps as he backs away from Mata. They exchange forearms but agree to keep the match clean and shake hands. Mata starts working on Fujinami’s right arm. Lady ringside yells out “Arriba Jalisco!” Fujinami takes down Mata and puts him in a deathlock but quickly reverses it into a pin attempt. Mata gets Fujinami in “la mecedora” but Fujinami reverses and tries for a bridging pin attempt on Mata. Fujinami gets Mata in a Boston Crab. Mata breaks out but Fujinami gets in another near fall. Carlos Mata tosses Fujinami into a corner and then hits a couple of dropkicks and a senton for a 2-count.
Fujinami takes down Mata by grabbing his left leg. Mata tries to get up but Fujinami won’t let go. Lady continues to yell out “Arriba Mata” and more words of encouragement for Mata. Fujinami backdrops Mata! Fujinami rolls up Mata for a pin. Mata kicks out! Fujinami puts Mata in a Mexican Stretcher. Mata fights him off and breaks free! Fujinami takes Mata back down working on his left leg. Crowd starts a “Fuji” chant. Mata hits a cross body block on Fujinami and gets a 2-count! Fujinami dropkicks Mata, sending him to the outside! Back in the ring, Mata drops a couple of elbows on Fujinami but misses with a third one. Fujinami goes back to work on Mata’s right arm. Mata struggles to break out of Fujinami’s grasp on his right arm. Mata briefly breaks out but Fujinami gets him again. Mata hiptosses Fujinami, but Fujinami keeps the hold on Mata’s arm on. Mata tries to whip Fujinami off the ropes, but that doesn’t work for him. Mata dropkicks his way out of a wristlock. Fujinami backdrops Mata again but Mata reaches the ropes! Fujinami charges at Mata near the ropes. Mata tosses him over the top rope and gets disqualified. Good match with a weak finish. The two want to continue the match.
Fujinami does a post-match interview ringside.
WINNER: Tatsumi Fujinami via DQ
SHOW THOUGHTS: The best matches on this video were the Fujinami matches with the last one against Carlos Mata being good with a very weak finish. I don’t mind watching Inoki matches, but those previous shows had me questioning my choice of starting with this series. Fortunately we made it thru and had some Tatsumi Fujinami matches. His match with Estrada was pretty good too. I also enjoyed the Riki Choshu vs. Wilhelm Ruska match just for how it came off like two guys trying to beat the heck out of each other. The Inoki vs. Rivera match was a bit rough to watch. The Ueda vs. Kobayashi match was more of a brawl than anything else. Black Gordman does some cool spots that I think current guys should look at and try to emulate if they are heels.