Written By Alfredo Esparza
NJPW WPW Classics #12
Antonio Inoki © vs. Wilhelm Ruska for the Real World Martial Arts Title
Taped 12/9/1976 at Kurame Kokugikan in Tokoyo, Japan
They play the national anthem for both countries prior to the match. Wilhelm Ruska starts going after Antonio Inoki as soon as that is over but he’s held back by the referee.
Wilhelm Ruska quickly takes down Antonio Inoki and gets him in a cross armbreaker to start the match! He moves around the ring while keeping Inoki in the hold. The referee and others try to break it up and get Ruska off Inoki. Ruska starts to fight with Frank Gotch and everyone gets in the ring to separate them. Ruska threatens to attack Inoki again but he’s kept away by everyone. Inoki is shown grabbing his right arm.
Everyone heads to the outside of the ring. Ruska threatens to follow them but the referee keeps him away until he finally charges in and goes after Inoki. Pat Patterson is accompanying Ruska. Ruska wants them to get Inoki back in the ring.
Inoki finally gets in the ring. He slaps Ruska and tries to take him down. Ruska grabs Inoki and they get tangled in the ropes. He uses the ropes to choke Inoki and starts to hit him with forearms across the back. Ruska gets in a kick at Inoki. Hiptoss and again Ruska goes for a armbreaker but Inoki blocks it. They struggle in the hold with Ruska trying to apply any pressure possible on Inoki’s right arm. Inoki reaches the ropes and Ruska is forced to break. Inoki rolls to the outside.
Ruska takes Inoki down but Inoki kicks him off to the delight of the fans. Inoki follows with a leg takedown and into a leglock on Ruska. Ruska goes for a chinlock on Inoki and the referee warns him about it being a choke. He reverses Inoki’s hold into a headscissors. He applies more pressure on Inoki’s head and punches at his shoulder. Referee forces Ruska to break the hold again.
Armdrag takedown by Inoki and he goes for Ruska’s left arm with an armbreaker of his own. Ruska reaches the ropes and forces the break. Inoki gets Ruska again in the same hold after Ruska is unable to take him down and slips on the mat. Ruska fights out of it and goes for a pin attempt on Inoki but Inoki kicks out. Inoki knocks Ruska back down to the mat and grabs him in a chinlock. He switches over to putting an elbow across Ruska’s face. Inoki then goes for a choke which the referee tells him to break.
Crowd cheers loudly for Inoki. Inoki goes for a double under-hook suplex on Ruska and gets a two count. Ruska elbows Inoki’s back and tries to get him in a pin but is unable to do so. They struggle against each other on the mat. Inoki drags Ruska to the outside of the ring and attacks his leg.
Ruska gets back in the ring and Inoki quickly takes him down and gets him in a leglock. He starts to stomp on Ruska instead before going for another facelock on him. Ruska reaches the ropes to force the break. Inoki takes Ruska down again but Ruska reverses and gets Inoki on the mat. Inoki is able to grab hold of Ruska’s left arm. Armbar reversals eventually lead to Ruska gaining control and going with some elbowdrops on Inoki.
Inoki fires up and gets Ruska in a Boston Crab. Ruska knocks him off and sends Inoki into the ropes. Inoki goes for an octopus but slides down to the mat and keeps hold of Ruska’s legs. Ruska reaches the ropes but instead reveres it into an armbar while still holding onto Inoki’s leg. Inoki gets back on top but Ruska reaches the ropes.
Wilhelm Ruska gets Inoki in a side headlock and then drops down to the mat and keeps him locked in the hold. He tries for an armdrag but slips off and falls to the outside. Ruska gets back in and gets Inoki with a backdrop. Inoki follows with a backdrop of his own and Ruska heads to the outside. Inoki attacks Ruska as he tries to get back in the ring and tosses him into the ring post. Inoki follows outside and starts to stomp on Pat Patterson. Inoki slams Ruska’s head into the ring post and Ruska’s now bleeding from his forehead.
Referee warns Inoki about attacking Ruska again outside the ring and keeps him in. Ruska heads back in but Inoki meets him with a few punches. Inoki continues to punch Ruska in the ring and then starts to chop him across the bloody forehead. Ruska is out cold and the referee checks on him. Referee calls for the bell and declares Inoki the winner.
WINNER: Antonio Inoki
After match, Pat Patterson helps Ruska back up. He threatens to hit Inoki with a crutch before he and Ruska finally leave the ring. Inoki is awarded trophies and the championship and does an in-ring post-match interview.
Riki Choshu & Hiroshi Hase vs. Tatsutoshi Gotoh & Hiro Saito
Taped 1/25/1990 at Nakajima Sports Center in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
Animal Hamaguchi is shown slapping Super Strong Machine and yelling at him to get back with the group that he’s with. Choshu kicks at him as he and everyone not in the match leaves. Referee takes away a chair that Choshu’s carrying in the ring.
Gotoh and Saito attack Hase and Choshu but they got tossed out of the ring instead. Hase and Saito start the match off. Saito with a kick and forearms on Hase. He gets him in his corner and chokes him a bit. Saito stomps on him. Hase and Saito exchange chops before Saito tags in Gotoh who continues the attack on Hase. Hase drives Gotoh into his corner and tags in Choshu.
Choshu slams Gotoh’s head into the corner turnbuckle. Suplex by Choshu. He stomps on Gotoh and then gets him in a headlock. Hase removes the corner turnbuckle so that Gotoh gets slammed into the corner without any padding. Hase tags in and slams Gotoh. He stomps on Gotoh and then whips him into the ropes and catches him with a dropkick. Gotoh counters with a backdrop suplex!
Gotoh tags Saito back into the match. Saito with a senton on Hase gets a two-count. He whips Hase into the ropes and picks him up and slingshots him across the top rope. More forearms from Saito at Hase. Hase trips up Saito and tags in Choshu. Saito kicks Choshu but Choshu knocks him down off the ropes. Choshu whips Saito into the ropes and catches him with a knee to the mid-section. Suplex by Choshu drops Saito.
Riki Choshu goes for a Scorpion Deathlock on Saito. Saito is near the ropes but Choshu tags in Hase. Hase with some hard chops across Saito’s chest. Saito chops him back. Hase picks Saito up with a belly-to-belly suplex! Gotoh makes the save for Saito during a pin attempt. Saito tags in Gotoh.
Gotoh stomps on Hase. He delivers a couple of headbutts that knock Hase down to the mat. Gotoh whips Hase into the corner and then Saito comes in and gets thrown at Hase. Gotoh continues his attack on Hase. Saito back in and he kicks at Hase. Waistlock gets reversed by Hase and turned into a German suplex for a near fall. Saito reverses a whip into the ropes and slams Hase. Follows that up with a senton. Choshu makes the save for Hase.
Gotoh comes back in and Saito whips Gotoh into the corner at Hase but Hase moves out of the way and ends up clotheslining Saito. Hase reverses a suplex attempt by Gotoh. Hase picks up Gotoh and he and Choshu get him with a double-team piledriver. Choshu catches Saito with a lariat. He gets Saito with a second lariat and covers him for the pin.
WINNERS: Riki Choshu & Hiroshi Hase
Saito and Gotoh attack Choshu after the match but leave when Choshu grabs a chair to get even with them.
Big Van Vader vs. Masahiro Chono
Taped 1/25/1990 at Nakajima Sports Center in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
Hashimoto is seated ringside for this match. Vader enters with the cool head gear.
Vader knocks Chono down after the lock-up. He gets Chono in the corner and lays in some hard forearms across his chest. Vader gets Chono in an armbar. He grabs Chono’s hair and then swings him into a lariat. Back in the corner and Vader with a series of strikes at Chono. He then tosses Chono to the outside.
Vader with a body attack knocks down Chono upon returning to the ring. He then lifts Chono up in a gorilla press and tosses him to the outside. Chono gets back in the ring and Vader whips him into the corner and splashes him. He follows that up with a clothesline. Vader gets Chono in an armbar but switches over to a crossface. Referee tells him to break it up because he’s pulling Chono’s hair. Vader picks Chono up and whips him into the corner only this time Chono moves out of the way of a charging Vader who hits the corner. Chono slams Vader! He kicks at Vader. Vader headbutts him but Chono surprises him with a hiptoss and gets him with an armlock.
Vader picks up Chono while Chono’s holding onto his arm and slams him down. Chono back up and he kicks at Vader’s left arm and shoulder. He grabs hold of him with an armbar. Vader reaches the ropes with his foot. Chono stomps on his left arm. Vader punches Chono and follows with an elbow drop for a two-count. Chono surprises Vader with a suplex. Vader recovers and grabs Chono by the hair and headbutts him. He strikes him in the corner.
Vader delivers a lariat at Chono. He whips Chono into the ropes and catches him with another lariat. Referee starts counting Chono. Vader picks him up and whips him into the ropes and misses a clothesline. Chono with a body press but Vader slams him to the mat and gets another two-count. Vader tosses Chono over the top rope again.
Chono gets up but Vader heads to the outside and attacks Chono. He tosses Chono into the guardrail. Vader picks up Chono and drops him on the guardrail. He then tosses him into the seats. Vader tries to suplex Chono back into the ring but Chono loosens out of Vader’s grasp and charges at him and knocks Vader down. Chono goes for the STF on Vader! Vader reaches the ropes to break the hold.
Chono kicks at Vader’s right leg. He catches Vader with an enziguiri and then gets Vader with a backdrop driver! Chono climbs to the top rope and knocks Vader down with a diving shoulder block. Chono gets Vader in the octopus submission hold. Vader knocks him off. Chono punches at Vader. He knocks Vader back down with an elbow. Chono with a body press but Vader catches him and power slams him. Vader goes for the pin but Chono reverses the pin attempt. Vader kicks out.
Chono climbs to the top rope and goes for a sunset flip! He can’t take Vader over and Vader ends up doing a seated senton on Chono. Vader covers Chono for the pin and gets the win!
WINNER: Big Van Vader
After the match, Shinya Hashimoto goes in to check on Masahiro Chono. Chono slaps Hashimoto and they shake hands. Hashimoto raises Chono’s arm up in the air.
Naoki Sano © vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title
Taped 1/31/1990 at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka, Japan
Naoki Sano extends his hand out to Liger for a handshake but Liger instead slaps him across the face! Referee keeps Sano from attacking Liger before the bell rings to start the match. Liger quickly attacks Sano with a series of shotei that knock him down. Crowd cheers loudly. Liger whips Sano into the ropes and catches him with a leg whip. Sano heads to the outside but Liger goes for la silla off the ring apron.
They both get back in the ring. Sano gets slapped a few times by Liger until he shoves him down to the mat. He punches Liger a few times and then tosses him to the outside. Sano sends Liger into the guardrail as the fans can be heard screaming Piledriver on the floor by Sano. He sends Liger back into the ring. Sano with another piledriver on Liger and he follows by ripping away at Liger’s mask. He stomps on Liger and then tosses him out of the ring again.
Sano sends Liger head-first into the ring post. He slams him into it a second time. Sano continues to rip away at Liger’s mask. Liger gets thrown into the guardrail again. Sano gets Liger back into the ring. Fans start to chant for Liger. Sano tosses him again into the corner padding and we see a lot of blood on it as Liger is now bleeding. Another piledriver by Sano. He follows with a legdrop. Fans start another loud Liger chant.
Sano goes for the pin but Liger kicks out. Sano continues his attack on Liger with some kicks. He starts to remove the corner padding and tosses Liger into it. Sano punches Liger’s forehead and more blood starts to appear. Liger kicks out of a pin attempt. Slap across Liger’s face followed by Sano placing him on the top rope and going for a superplex. Liger kicks out at TWO!
Fans start to cheer on Liger again. Sano catches him with a spin kick. He whips him into the ropes and kicks Liger down to the mat. Boston Crab by Sano as we hear Liger screaming loudly. Liger tries to power out of the hold and reaches the ropes for the break. Sano kicks at Liger. Suplex by Sano and he goes for a pin but Liger quickly kicks out. Sano face plants Liger to the mat and again only gets a two count on him.
Kneedrops by Sano across Liger’s back. Liger reverses a whip into the corner and catches Sano with a headscissors. He dropkicks Sano to the outside and follows with a top con giro to the outside! Liger crawls back into the ring as the fans cheer him on. Sano returns as well. Liger whips Sano into the ropes and gets him with a quebradora. Liger goes for La Tapatia on Sano! Sano reaches over and rakes Liger’s eyes to escape the hold.
Sano gets Liger in a submission hold but Liger slips out. Sano keeps stomping on Liger’s forehead. Referee starts a count on Liger but Liger gets back up. Reverse spin kick by Sano. He gets Liger with a Fisherman’s suplex for a two-count. German suplex by Sano gets him another two-count. Sano goes for another Boston Crab on Liger. He moves further to the middle of the ring to keep Liger from reaching the ropes but Liger is still able to do so.
Sano goes for a Dragon Suplex and gets another two-count on Liger. Another pin attempt by Sano but Liger kicks out again. Sano gets reversed into the ropes and Liger sends him over the top rope with a clothesline. Liger whips Sano again into the ropes as he returns but Sano reverses that and catches him with a clothesline. He only gets a two-count on Liger. Sano whips Liger across the corner and catches him with a dropkick.
Liger reverses a whip into the corner and catches Sano with a koppo kick! Sano back up and gets Liger with a reverse spin kick. Sano whip him into the ropes and misses a kick but Liger catches him with a headscissors that sends Sano to the outside. Liger prepares to fly but Sano gets back in and backdrops Liger over the top rope. Sano dives off the top rope at Liger on the floor!
Both get back in the ring before the count. Fans cheer Liger on. Sano with a double-armed suplex for a near fall. He goes for another superplex but Liger lands on top of him and quickly tries to go for a pin but Sano kicks out. Liger goes for a powerbomb but that gets reversed by Sano with a rana and he gets a near fall on Liger. Tiger suplex by Sano but Liger reaches the ropes to break the count.
Naoki Sano with a backdrop on Liger but Liger lands on top of him again and goes for the pin. Liger gets back up and gets Sano with a German suplex for a two-count. Liger whips Sano into the ropes and catches him with a Liger bomb. Sano kicks out at two. Liger goes for a piledriver and goes up to the top rope and hits a shooting star press for the pin and he gets the win. Jushin “Thunder” Liger wins the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title!
WINNER: Jushin “Thunder” Liger
Liger is given the title and he tosses it at Sano’s direction. He then tosses a few people out of the ring. He’s upset and leaves the ring. Sano tells him something on the mic before leaving.
SHOW THOUGHTS: Fun episode. Enjoyed all the matches on this show including the Inoki vs. Ruska match which isn’t really my cup of tea. The Vader vs. Chono match was good. The best match though was the Liger vs. Sano match. That was excellent. Very heated match with Liger bleeding and getting his mask ripped. Him winning the title seemed secondary to him as he came off more upset about Sano ripping his mask apart and he wanted revenge.