Retro Wrasslin'

A look back at pro wrestling history.

NJPW WPW Classics #10

Written By Alfredo Esparza

NJPW WPW Classics #10

Antonio Inoki © vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Frank Valois) for the Real World Martial Arts Title

Taped 10/7/1976 at Kuramae Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan

Bell rings and Antonio Inoki starts things off quickly delivering a dropkick at Andre The Giant but it does very little against Andre! Andre smiles as he tries to corner Inoki. They finally lock-up but Inoki reaches the ropes. They tussle on the ropes before Inoki rolls to the outside.

Antonio Inoki gets back in the ring and Andre gets him in an armbar. Inoki reaches the ropes but Andre pulls him off. Andre twists the arm. Inoki headscissors his way out of the hold. Andre kicks Inoki in the corner. Inoki goes for a waistlock on Andre but Andre shoves him off with his rear-end and it sends Inoki tumbling to the mat. Andre gets Inoki in a reverse chinlock.

Inoki with a hiptoss on Andre and he gets him in an armlock to the fans surprise! Andre writhes in pain on the mat as Inoki applies more pressure. Fans start to clap for Inoki. Andre gets up and grabs hold of the middle rope and has Inoki in a pinning predicament only the referee kicks his arm off the ropes and they tumble back onto the mat. Andre goes for a second attempt to pick up Inoki and does so. Inoki falls to the outside but quickly returns to the ring and attacks Andre’s left arm with kicks.

Andre catches one of Inoki’s attempted kicks and drops him down on the mat and stretches out his leg. Both men break apart for a bit. Inoki tries to kick Andre and that upsets the Giant. Andre misses a big fist in the corner and hits the turnbuckle pad. He gets Inoki with a reverse surfboard and applies pressure to Inoki’s back and shoulders. Inoki headscissors his way out of the hold and takes Andre down to the mat.

Andre The Giant counters with a headscissors of his own so they both have each other’s head trapped until Andre starts laying in some hard rights to Inoki’s mid-section. He follows that up with some headbutts to Inoki’s shoulder and chest region. Andre twists Inoki’s head which looks like the size of a melon in Andre’s hands. He attacks Inoki’s left leg and gets him in a leglock. Some punches thrown at Inoki’s knee while Andre has him in the leglock. Inoki attempts to reach the bottom rope.

Andre The Giant pulls Inoki by the legs and drags him away from the ropes and lands a knee into Inoki’s mid-section. He goes back to a leglock on Inoki. Andre gets Inoki in a bow and arrow submission hold but Inoki is close to the ropes and reaches out and grabs the middle rope to break the hold. Inoki gets sent to the outside by Andre as he kicks him out of the ring.

Antonio Inoki gets back in the ring and Andre whips him into the ropes. Inoki surprises him with a dropkick to the neck. Hard chops thrown by Inoki on Andre’s upper back. He tries to whip Andre across the corner but Andre holds onto the ropes. Referee kicks his arm off and Andre goes flying into the corner. Inoki gets in a few more chops and tries to whip him into the corner again but Andre reverses and sends Inoki into the corner. Andre charges into the corner but Inoki moves out of the way and that sends Andre down to the mat as the fans cheer on.

Inoki kicks at Andre who finally grabs hold of Inoki’s left leg. He takes Inoki down and grabs hold of his left leg. Inoki gets in a forearm right at Andre’s face which makes him upset. He grabs Inoki by the hair and headbutts him and then goes back to the leglock. Inoki kicks at Andre’s head and reverses the leglock into a Fujiwara armbar submission hold. Andre uses his size to grab Inoki’s left leg again and punches at it forcing Inoki to break his grasp on his arm. He uses the bottom rope to choke Inoki.

Andre The Giant gets Inoki in a cobra clutch! Inoki hits Andre with a few elbows but he can’t break the hold. Inoki reaches the ropes but the referee has him break away. He uses the ropes to jump over them to land on the outer portion of the apron. Andre picks Inoki up and brings him back into the ring. Inoki does the same again but this time he and Andre fall over the top rope to the floor.

Andre and Inoki brawl outside the ring. Andre tries to headbutt Inoki but instead hits the ring post and falls to the floor. He bleeds from his forehead as they both return to the ring. Inoki lays in a few punches at Andre but Andre stops him and picks up over his shoulder in a backbreaker. Inoki flips over in the backbreaker and that sends Andre down to the mat! He gets a two count as Andre shoves him off. Referee checks on Andre’s cut but Andre shoves him. He shoves his second as well. Inoki continues to attack Andre The Giant.

Andre The Giant chops Inoki. He keeps swinging trying to get to Inoki as the bell rings. He takes a swing at Inoki and falls over the top rope. Inoki gets the win due to Andre bleeding from his head. Andre continues his attack on Inoki by headbutting him and then splashing him. He kicks at Inoki and sends him to the outside. It is announced that due to referee stoppage, Inoki won.

WINNER: Antonio Inoki

Andre and Inoki continue to brawl after the match ends. Every wrestler ringside tries to pull him off but they struggle to do so. Inoki grabs the mic and wants to continue to fight Andre The Giant. They both get held back by all the wrestlers ringside.

Wilhelm Ruska vs. Seiji Sakaguchi in a Judo Jacket match.

Taped 3/20/1978 Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.

This match is fought under judo rules. A few takedowns from each to start the match. Sakaguchi gets Ruska in the corner and the referee has them break. Ruska tries for a takedown but Sakaguchi blocks him and the two grab each other by the judo jackets. Ruska has to break as they reach the ropes.

Sakaguchi gets in a big forearm across the head of Ruska and the referee warns him. Wristlock by Sakaguchi and he delivers some kicks at Ruska. He switches over to an armbar and then hiptosses him down to the mat. They grab each other by the jackets again and this time Ruska takes down Sakaguchi. Big elbow across the chest of Sakaguchi.

Again they grab each other by their jackets and Ruska with a nice takedown of Sakaguchi. Sakaguchi starts to kick Ruska’s thighs. He complains about getting kicked. Big knees and some chops thrown by Sakaguchi at Ruska. He whips Ruska into the ropes and chops him again as he’s clearly not following the judo match rules and has turned it into a wrestling match. Sakaguchi gets Ruska in a reverse chinlock.

Sakaguchi flips Ruska across the ring and both men quickly get back up. Ruska with a takedown and a side headlock on Sakaguchi. Sakaguchi escapes and knees him across the head. Some judo punches thrown! LOL! More knee drops across the head of Ruska. Sakaguchi gets Ruska in a choke but Ruska reaches the ropes and heads to the outside.

Ruska gets back in the ring and monkey flips Sakaguchi a couple of times. He gets Sakaguchi in an armbar. Sakaguchi escapes and gets Ruska in a half crab before switching it over to a leglock. He drops his knee across Ruska’s back and right arm. The fans start to boo. Sakaguchi continues his attack with some chops. Ruska reverses it and chops Sakaguchi and tosses him around by his jacket. Sakaguchi chops him and Ruska removes his jacket. They continue to fight. Ruska gets Sakaguchi down with an armdrag and starts to choke him.

Ruska removes his belt and uses it to choke Sakaguchi. The referee warns him and tells him to break but Ruska doesn’t. Referee disqualifies Ruska.

WINNER: Seiji Sakaguchi

They continue to fight after the match.

Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Hiro Saito in an IWGP Jr. Heavyweight #1 Contenders Tournament match

Taped 1/18/1990 at City Gymnasium in Tokuyama, Yamaguchi, Japan.

Match is joined in progress with Hiro Saito in control of the match. He slams Liger to the mat and chokes him near the ropes. He tosses Liger to the outside and tosses him hard into the guardrail. That sends Liger into the crowd and Saito follows with a chair and slams it at Liger. Saito returns to the ring.

Jushin Liger returns to the ring and Saito quickly gets him with a DDT. He gets a two count on Liger. Big elbow across Liger’s back. Saito whips Liger into the ropes and then picks him up and slams him down to the mat. He gets another two count on Liger. Legdrop by Saito followed by an elbowdrop. Another elbow by Saito only gets a two count in another pin attempt.

Hiro Saito follows with a headbutt that knocks Liger down to the mat. Body slam by Saito and he only gets a two count. Fallaway slam by Saito gets him another two count. Backbreaker by Saito and another pin attempt but he only gets a two count. Saito whips Liger into the ropes but Liger catches him with a headscissors and sends him to the outside. Liger follows with a baseball slide kick to send Saito into the guardrail. He follows it up with a tope con giro! They both get back in the ring but Liger tosses Saito back to the outside. He takes him into the crowd and hits him with a chair.

Liger returns to the ring and Saito soon follows but he’s bleeding from his forehead. Saito gets slammed into the corner. Liger continues his attack on Saito going after the cut on his forehead. Big kick at Saito’s mid-section. Liger stomps on Saito. He gets Saito with a piledriver and goes for the pin but only gets a two count. Liger whips Saito into the ropes and catches him with a belly-to-belly suplex for another near fall.

Saito rolls to the outside and Liger follows him and again takes him into the crowd. Liger climbs up on a table and piledrives Saito on it! Both men return to the ring but Saito drags Liger back to the outside and slams him into the ring post. Punches thrown by Saito at Liger. He follows with a knee drop and goes for a pin but Liger kicks out. Liger with a belly-to-back suplex on Saito. He climbs up to the top rope but Saito catches him and punches him. Liger knocks Saito off and jumps off the top rope but misses. Saito follows with a senton for another near fall.

Saito slams Liger and then goes for a middle-rope senton on Liger! Liger kicks out of another pin attempt. Saito with a belly-to-back suplex for the pin but Liger escapes! Liger escapes another suplex attempt and reverses it into another pin attempt but Saito kicks out. Saito whips Liger into the ropes but Liger catches him with his rolling koppu kick.

Saito reverses a whip into the corner by Liger but Liger climbs up on the ropes and goes for a sunset flip for the pin on Saito. Saito holds onto the ropes and is able to cover Liger for the pin. Liger argues that Saito held the ropes to no avail.

WINNER: Hiro Saito

Masa Saito & Shinya Hashimoto vs. Big Van Vader & The Great Kokina (Yokozuna)

Taped 1/18/1990 at City Gymnasium in Tokuyama, Yamaguchi, Japan.

Masahiro Chono shows up to scream at Shinya Hashimoto before the match. Hashimoto tosses his flower bouquet at him. Chono leaves before the match starts.

Vader shows up wearing his helmet. He removes it and has it blow smoke out of it. Vader and Hashimoto start the match and Vader slams into Hashimoto. He gets Hashimoto in a bear hug and lands an elbow across his head. Backdrop driver by Vader. He headbutts and punches Hashimoto. Powerslam by Vader gets him a two-count on Hashimoto. Vader whips Hashimoto into the ropes and misses a clothesline. Hashimoto catches him with a German suplex for a two count.

Hashimoto chops Vader and gets him up with a suplex. He follows with a reverse spin kick. Saito runs into the ring and charges at Vader with a clothesline that sends the big man to the outside. Hashimoto and Saito double-team Vader outside the ring and catch him with a clothesline. Some kicks from Hashimoto send Vader over the guardrail. The Great Kokina heads over to assist his partner.

Vader gets back in the ring and throws a few punches at Hashimoto. They lock-up and Vader takes Hashimoto into his corner and tags in Kokina. Headbutt by Kokina sends Hashimoto into his own corner and he tags in Saito. Hard chops exchanged by both. Saito pulls Kokina by the hair and gets him in a side headlock. He punches at Kokina and rakes his face across the top rope.

Kokina gets his revenge and punches Saito. Vader drags Saito to the outside and they double-team him out there. Saito gets back in before the count but Kokina is there to meet him and stomps on him. He punches at Saito and whips him into the corner. Kokina charges into the corner but Saito moves out of the way and Kokina crashes into the corner. Saito slams Kokina. Kokina’s able to tag in Vader.

Vader whips Saito into the corner and splashes him. Saito rolls over to tag Hashimoto. Vader grabs Hashimoto with an armbar. He takes Hashimoto down and applies more pressure to his left arm. Vader switches it over to a front facelock and into a suplex for a two count. Vader misses a corner splash and Hashimoto lays in a series of kicks at him before Vader knocks him down again. Kokina tags back in and the two double-team shoulder block Hashimoto. Stomps on Hashimoto by Kokina. He gets a nerve hold on Hashimoto.

The Great Kokina gets Hashimoto in the corner and chops him. He whips him into the other corner and hits him with a hip attack followed by Vader splashing him in the corner. Vader tags back in and slams Hashimoto. He goes for a sunset flip for a pin on Hashimoto but Hashimoto reaches the ropes. Kokina back in and he whips Hashimoto into the ropes only Hashimoto counters with a DDT and tags in Masa Saito.

Masa Saito gets in the ring and chops Kokina and Vader. He slams Kokina and then backdrops Vader! Saito chokes and bites Kokina in the corner. Vader and Hashimoto get in the ring. All four men brawl in the ring. Vader and Hashimoto head to the outside and continue their brawl. Saito chokes Kokina. Vader comes back in and stops Saito.

Vader climbs up to the top rope and dives onto Saito. Kokina goes for a series of headbutts on Saito followed by a big splash for the pin!

WINNERS: Big Van Vader & The Great Kokina

SHOW THOUGHTS: Good episode. Best match on the show was the Inoki vs. Andre match. If you are only familiar with Andre’s work in the U.S. especially as he got older, you definitely should seek out his matches from Japan during the ’70s and early ’80s. In this match he did quite a bit more than he would usually do in the U.S. He was still mobile enough to do a bit more. Wasn’t a fan of the Judo Jacket match. Thought it was a bit boring. The last two matches from January 1990 were good. Surprised to see Hiro Saito get the win over Liger. Vader and Kokina made for a fun tag team.


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