Retro Wrasslin'

A look back at pro wrestling history.

NJPW WPW Classics #9

Written By Alfredo Esparza

NJPW WPW Classics #9

Tiger Jeet Singh & Umanosuke Ueda © vs. Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi – Best 2-out-of-3 falls match with Lou Thesz as the guest referee for the NWA North American Tag Team Titles

Taped 4/1/1977 at the Kuramae Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan.

They show Singh and Ueda backstage looking at their tag team titles followed by Inoki, Sakaguchi & Strong Kobayashi backstage talking. Announcers talk about the match while another match is going on.

Singh & Ueda make their way to the ring and the ring crew tries to keep them from attacking the fans. Singh jumps onto someone nearby and is finally pulled away. Lou Thesz tries to restore order ad both Singh and Ueda keep trying to fight everyone including the other referee. Inoki and Sakaguchi head to the outside while Singh is still holding his sword and tries to chase after them. Some order is restored and all men are in the ring.

Tiger Jeet Singh and Ueda attack Sakaguchi and Inoki before the bell rings. Some order is restored again. They start to brawl again but this time the bell rings for the start of the first fall. Inoki sends Singh to the outside. Sakaguchi and Inoki double-team Ueda. Sakaguchi continues the attack on his own as Inoki heads to his corner. Ueda grabs hold of Sakaguchi and chokes him near the ropes. Thesz pulls him away but Singh continues to choke Sakaguchi. Ueda continues the attack and keeps him near their corner.

Sakaguchi kicks away Ueda and gets in a few punches on him. Sakaguchi tags in Inoki and Ueda leaves the ring. Ueda gets back in the ring and Inoki slaps and kicks him. Inoki grabs hold of Ueda but Ueda reaches his corner and tags in Singh. Singh gets Inoki in a side headlock that ends up turning into a choke hold. Referee Lou Thesz checks on the choke. Inoki reaches the ropes but Ueda and Singh continue to attack him until Thesz and Sakaguchi try to break it up.

Singh continues to choke Inoki. Ueda screams at Inoki who’s lying on the mat while being choked by Singh. Ueda tags in and continues to keep choking Inoki. Singh and Ueda take turns beating on Inoki. They use the ropes to choke Inoki even more. Thesz tries to keep them under control. Singh and Inoki exchange punches. Quick tags from Singh and Ueda keeps a fresh man in on Inoki.

Antonio Inoki tries for a suplex on Ueda but he blocks it. Ueda is able to reach out and tag Singh back in and he attacks Inoki. Inoki is able to shove Singh into his corner and tags in Sakaguchi. Sakaguchi takes on both Ueda and Singh! He sends both to the outside and continues to beat on Ueda.

Strong Kobayashi is interviewed ringside as he watches the match. Sakaguchi gets in a few knees into Singh’s mid-section but Singh recovers and tosses Sakaguchi to the outside. Singh attacks Sakaguchi on the floor. Inoki and Ueda get involved. Ueda and Sakaguchi go at it in the ring. Ueda again tosses Sakaguchi to the outside. He sends him into the ring post. Inoki and Singh get involved and everyone brawls outside the ring until Ueda and Sakaguchi get back in the ring. Inoki tries to help Sakaguchi but Thesz gets him out of the ring.

Tiger Jeet Singh chokes Sakaguchi and we see that Sakaguchi is bleeding from his forehead. Referee Lout Thesz stops the first fall with Singh and Ueda winning it.

Second fall starts with Sakaguchi and Singh continuing and Singh keeps attacking Sakaguchi by biting his forehead. Ueda comes in and kicks and bites Sakaguchi’s bloody forehead. Thesz warns them both. Ueda gets Sakaguchi in a nerve hold. Singh tags back in and punches and bites at Sakaguchi. Quick tags from Singh and Ueda. Sakaguchi trips up Ueda and slams him. He tags in Inoki. Inoki lands a top rope knee drop on Ueda!

Inoki dropkicks Ueda out of the ring! Sakaguchi rolls Ueda back into the ring. Inoki with a suplex on Ueda and he goes for the pin but Singh makes the save. Inoki slams Ueda. He climbs to the top rope and lands a knee drop on Ueda! Inoki tosses Ueda to the outside. Sakaguchi sends him back into the ring. Inoki whips Ueda into the ropes and goes for the octopus but Singh makes the save.

Ueda slams Inoki head first into Singh’s knee. He goes for a second attempt but Inoki reverses and instead Ueda hits Singh’s knee and Singh gets tossed to the outside. Inoki tosses Ueda to the outside as well. Sakaguchi slams Ueda head-first into the ring post. All four men brawl outside the ring. Inoki removes the corner turnbuckle to slam Ueda head first into the metal parts of the ring ropes. Sakaguchi whips Ueda into the ropes and catches him with a jumping knee to get the pin. Singh tries to make the save but Inoki stops him. Inoki and Sakaguchi win the second fall.

Singh and Ueda return to the ring with Ueda having a bandage on his forehead. Singh pulls out a foreign object from the bandage. Third fall starts with Sakaguchi and Ueda and Sakaguchi removes the bandages and chokes Ueda with them. Inoki tags in and he slams Ueda head first into the corner with the loose turnbuckle. Inoki punches away at Ueda.

Fans cheer on Inoki as he continues to attack Ueda. Inoki goes for the pin on Ueda but Singh makes the save. Hard chop across the chest of Ueda followed by a body slam. Singh again makes the save. Thesz shoves him out of the ring. Double-team suplex by Inoki and Sakaguchi on Ueda. Inoki slams Ueda again. Inoki goes for the octopus but Singh attacks referee Lou Thesz, Antonio Inoki and Seiji Sakaguchi with the foreign object. Lou Thesz calls for the bell to end the match. He tosses Singh out of the ring again. Inoki and Sakaguchi win via disqualification.

WINNERS: Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi

Tatsumi Fujinami © vs. Great Goliath for the WWF Jr. Heavyweight Title

Taped 4/8/1978 at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California

The Great Goliath offers to shake hands with Fujinami but the fans tell Fujinami not to do it. They shake hands with no issues. Fujinami gets Goliath in the ropes and is forced to break. Waistlock reversals by both with Fujinami getting taken down by The Great Goliath with a leglock. Fujinami escapes and gets Goliath in a leglock of his own. He drops his knee across Goliath’s legs. Goliath escapes the hold.

The Great Goliath complains to the referee Red Shoes Dugan about Fujinami’s hold being illegal. Fans yell at him. Goliath takes down Fujinami with a leglock. Fujinami reverses it into a hammerlock. They struggle on the mat with Goliath trying to break the hold while Fujinami tries to keep him in it. Goliath briefly gets up but Fujinami takes him down again. Goliath rolls over and gets Fujinami in a pinning predicament with his back on the mat. He also pulls on Fujinami’s trunks which gets the crowd yelling at the referee.

Fujinami reverses it back to Goliath being on the mat. Goliath and Fujinami do some reversals but Fujinami keeps the upper hand on Goliath and keeps him in an armlock. Inoki is shown ringside as he’s part of the commentary team. Goliath reverses again and places Fujinami’s shoulders on the mat for some near pin falls. Fans continue to complain that Goliath is grabbing Fujinami’s trunk for added leverage. Fujinami keeps the hammerlock on Great Goliath. He switches over to a wristlock but Goliath with a hiptoss takes Fujinami off him.

Leg takedown by The Great Goliath. Fujinami quickly escapes and goes to work on Goliath’s left arm. Goliath reaches the ropes and tries to use it to his advantage but the referee has him break the hold. Fujinami gets Goliath again with a hammerlock and knocks him down and stomps on him. He goes back to the hammerlock on the mat. Fujinami keeps a wristlock on The Great Goliath who armdrags Fujinami off him but Fujinami quickly gets him in another hammerlock.

The Great Goliath tries to take Fujinami down on the mat but Fujinami uses his speed to keep getting him in a hammerlock. Goliath gets up and shoves him into the corner to escape the hold. The Great Goliath knocks down Fujinami and goes to work on his left arm. Fujinami powers out of the grasp of Goliath but Goliath pulls his hair to knock him back down. The referee gives him a warning.

Fujinami again takes down Goliath and locks him in a hammerlock. He stomps away at Goliath’s arm. Goliath rolls to the outside to the delight of the fans who are rooting for Fujinami. The Great Goliath returns to the ring but keeps reaching into his trunks which the fans react to. He doesn’t pull anything out…yet! Goliath with a few punches at Fujinami. Referee checks in on him but Great Goliath claims that he slapped Fujinami.

The Great Goliath with a kick at Fujinami followed by more punches. He chokes Fujinami on the middle rope. He tosses Fujinami to the outside. Fujinami returns to the ring but Goliath tosses him into the corner. He continues his attack on Fujinami. Spinning toe hold by Goliath and he uses the middle rope for added leverage. Referee catches him and tells him to stop. More punches thrown at Fujinami. He picks Fujinami up over his shoulders and slams him into the top turnbuckle. Goliath gets in a few shots at Fujinami while he’s on the top turnbuckle.

The Great Goliath with a leg submission on Fujinami. He pulls on Fujinami’s trunks. Fujinami fights back with some elbows and dropkicks. Chops and another dropkick sends The Great Goliath to the outside. The Great Goliath returns to the ring and gets in a few more punches on Fujinami. He gets Fujinami in a Boston Crab. He switches it over to a leglock. Fujinami escapes and gets Goliath in a leglock.

Fujinami whips Goliath into the ropes and backdrops him. He goes for a pin but Goliath breaks out at two. Fujinami gets Goliath with a suplex and gets another near fall. The Great Goliath backs away and tries to trip up Fujinami but he stops him and knocks him down with a dragon screw legwhip. Fujinami goes for a Boston Crab but Goliath crawls to the ropes! Goliath with more punches thrown at Fujinami.

The Great Goliath backdrops Fujinami and gets him in a camel clutch. Fujinami fights his way out of it and gets Goliath in a camel clutch of his own. He goes for a pin and bridge attempt on Goliath but Goliath blocks him. Goliath gets Fujinami in a chinlock and quickly reverses it to get Fujinami’s shoulders. Fujinami fights out of it and tries to pin Goliath. Goliath keeps hold of Fujinami’s left arm. Fujinami escapes and goes for a pin attempt but Goliath shoves him off.

The Great Goliath goes for a variation of La Campana on Fujinami. He then picks him up and tosses him into the corner and follows that up by tossing him to the outside. Goliath with some punches and kicks at Fujinami trying to keep him outside of the ring. The Great Goliath continues his attack. Fujinami fights back and knocks Goliath down. He slams Goliath and goes for a pin but Goliath kicks out. Fujinami rolls up Goliath for another pin attempt.

Fujinami with another leglock on The Great Goliath. Goliath reverses and he gets Fujinami in a leglock. Back and forth with each getting the other in a leglock trying to wear each other down. Fujinami fires up and attacks Goliath with a dropkick. He goes for a double-armed suplex for a submission and Goliath is forced to give up!

WINNER: Tatsumi Fujinami

Fujinami brawls with Goliath’s second after the match. He follows that up with an interview.

Antonio Inoki © vs. Chris Markoff for the NWF Heavyweight Title

Taped 11/1/1978 at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan

Chris Markoff shoves Antonio Inoki into the ropes after locking up. They lock-up again and this time Markoff pulls Inoki’s hair. He follows that up with a slam and gets Inoki in a side headlock. Inoki whips him into the ropes but Markoff knocks him down a couple of times and gets Inoki again in a side headlock.

Antonio Inoki shoves him into the ropes again and backdrops Markoff. He follows that up by grabbing Markoff’s shoulders in an attempt to pin him. Markoff breaks out of the hold and gets Inoki in a leglock. He lifts Inoki up and grabs hold of the ropes. Referee warns him and tells him to break. Markoff goes back to a side headlock on Inoki who quickly escapes. Umanosuke Ueda is shown seated ringside.

Inoki knocks down Markoff off the ropes but goes for a second attempt and Markoff is ready and knees him in the mid-section. Markoff gets a nerve hold on Inoki. Inoki tries to escape and Markoff gets him in a side headlock. Inoki trips up Markoff and knocks him down to the mat and gets him in a side headlock but Markoff quickly breaks out of the hold.

Inoki with a series of armdrags on Markoff! He gets Markoff in an armbar. Fans seem distracted with something going on ringside. Markoff escapes and starts to bite Inoki’s forehead. He whips Inoki into the ropes and knees him and follows with a body slam. Markoff gets Inoki in a chinlock. Markoff sends Inoki to the outside. Big boot across Inoki’s head sends him to the floor. Markoff goes after Inoki and slams him into a chair.

Inoki starts to climb back in the ring but Markoff lands a forearm across his back and Inoki is back on the floor. Inoki comes back again and again Markoff with a forearm and kick to send him back to the floor. Markoff removes the corner padding. Inoki comes back in and Markoff beats on him a little more. He slams him head first into the exposed corner. Markoff slams Inoki on the mat and climbs up to the top rope. Inoki gets back up and slams Markoff off the ropes.

Inoki dropkicks Markoff and gets him in a figure-four leglock. Markoff reaches for the ropes and they both roll below the bottom rope. They slip to the floor were Inoki beats on Markoff. He sends Markoff into the ring post. Inoki continues his attack on Markoff up on the ring as he sends Markoff into the corner again. Markoff is bleeding from his forehead. Inoki with a snapmare to get Markoff back into the ring. Inoki follows with a pair of enziguiris and gets Markoff in the octopus to submit Markoff and win the match!

WINNER: Antonio Inoki

Antonio Inoki gets interviewed after his match. There is also a Umanosuke Ueda interview that follows.

SHOW THOUGHTS: Show was okay. I think the style used during this era especially within these matches might not be something that everyone would enjoy. The two matches featuring Inoki had a slower pace to them and his opponents were considered more of the brawling type. It was smart to keep the Inoki vs. Markoff match short and they did a good job of building to the finish. The tag match was wild at times and there was some added excitement to it because Lou Thesz was an enforcer-type of referee that was there to keep some order and he tried at times. Fujinami vs. Great Goliath was very different to what one is accustomed to seeing from any junior heavyweight matches since it was worked much slower and on the mat.

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