Retro Wrasslin'

A look back at pro wrestling history.

NJPW WPW Classics #15

Written By Alfredo Esparza

New Japan WPW Classics #15

Antonio Inoki vs. Andre The Giant

Taped 11/9/1977 at the City Gymnasium in Muroran, Hokkaido, Japan

Andre The Giant gets introduced and he along with his second tell the fans to applaud for him. Andre stares at the fans while the referee tries to check him for weapons. Inoki wants Andre’s second to get out of the ring.

Bell rings and Antonio Inoki charges at Andre The Giant which upsets him. Inoki lays on the mat but gets back up as Andre tries to grab hold of him. Inoki with a waistlock but Andre breaks out of it easily. Side headlock by Inoki. Andre picks Inoki up and escapes. He grabs hold of Inoki with a headlock. Andre applies more pressure on Inoki’s head. Inoki get’s his hand in between and escapes the headlock. He slides down and gets Inoki with a leg takedown! Inoki jumps on Andre and gets him in a camel clutch as the fans cheer on.

Andre The Giant pulls Inoki off him and into the ropes but Inoki keeps hold of Andre’s head. Inoki’s forced to break the hold as they are on the ropes. Andre grabs hold of Inoki’s arms and gets him in a surfboard variation. He picks Inoki up as he tries to reach the ropes. Andre takes him down to the mat and gets him in a bow and arrow leglock. Inoki escapes but Andre quickly grabs hold of his legs again. Andre splashes Inoki as he holds onto a leglock.

Andre The Giant elbows and grabs Inoki’s arms and gets Antonio in a surfboard! He pulls and we see Inoki writhing in pain. Inoki reaches the ropes and the referee wants Andre to break the hold. He does so but stomps on Inoki as Inoki rolls to the floor.

Inoki gets back in the ring and Andre quickly grabs him in a bear hug. Inoki punches at Andre’s head trying to break the hold. They reach the corner and Andre goes for a punch but Inoki ducks out of the way. Inoki starts to use his speed to run away from Andre but he’s caught in a cobra clutch. Inoki reaches the ropes but Andre pulls him off again. Andre keeps pulling Inoki back into the ring while holding him in the cobra clutch.

Inoki uses the ropes to bounce off and toss Andre The Giant. Andre heads to the outside holding his back. He gets back in and quickly attacks Inoki. Headbutt from Andre followed by a body slam. Andre charges off the ropes for a splash on Inoki, but Inoki moves out of the way. Inoki lands a knee off the top rope on Andre and goes for the pin. Andre tosses him off at two!

Inoki continues to attack Andre’s back. Andre blocks an abdominal stretch attempt by Inoki and takes him down with a wristlock. Inoki reverses that into a headscissors! Andre gets the wristlock back on Inoki again and is able to break the headscissors. He goes to work on the left arm. Andre gets back up and just jumps on Inoki’s legs. He starts to attack Inoki’s left leg.

Andre and Inoki stay on the mat and Inoki is able to get Andre in a cross armbreaker. Andre breaks the hold and reverses it into a leglock but can’t keep the hold on because he grabs his arm which seems to be bothering him. Inoki quickly gets back up on his feet and starts to kick Andre The Giant. Andre gets Inoki with a chop and headbutt. He whips Inoki into the corner but Inoki goes for a sunset flip for a pin attempt. Andre charges at Inoki but goes over the top rope. He holds onto the ropes and Inoki keeps attacking him.

Andre pulls Inoki to the outside. The two brawl outside the ring. Andre slams Inoki onto the floor and then splashes him. The bell rings declaring the match a double count out. Both continue to brawl outside the ring. The Great Antonio comes out and grabs Inoki but Andre The Giant attacks him! Andre then grabs Inoki and takes him back to the ring. Andre then leaves.

WINNER: Double Count Out

Antonio Inoki ©vs. The Masked Superstar for the NWF Heavyweight Title

Taped 3/30/1978 at the Kuramae Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan

The Masked Superstar is accompanied by a gentleman wearing a nice suit, hat and is smoking a cigar. Inoki calls Riki Choshu over and points out Superstar’s second. Referee gets the second out of the ring.

Inoki goes to the mat preparing to kick at Superstar but Superstar heads to the ropes. They lock-up a few seconds later but break away. Inoki goes for a side headlock on Masked Superstar that he turns to more of a facelock as they struggle with the hold. Superstar pulls him off. Hammerlock into a full nelson by Inoki. Superstar powers out of the hold but Inoki trips him and Superstar heads to the outside.

The Masked Superstar gets back in the ring and quickly gets Inoki in a full nelson. Inoki escapes and gets Superstar with a kangaroo kick too that sends Superstar back to the outside. Superstar returns to the ring and Inoki gets him in a side headlock. Some pin attempts by Superstar on Inoki while he’s in the side headlock. Inoki keeps applying more pressure on Superstar by turning the headlock on his head. Superstar tries to whip Inoki off him but Inoki keeps him in the headlock.

Inoki keeps hold of the headlock for a long time despite Superstar trying to escape the hold. Superstar finally reaches the ropes and tries to punch Inoki, but Inoki blocks it and AGAIN gets Sueprstar in a headlock. He turns that into a sleeper hold. Superstar tries to take him off but Inoki switches back to headlock on the mat. Referee finally tells Inoki to break the hold.

Inoki again gets Superstar in a sleeper hold and Superstar rolls thru to take him off, but Inoki switches that into a headlock. Referee seems to think the sleeper was more of a choke and has him break the hold. Inoki keeps going for a headlock or sleeper on The Masked Superstar. He catches Superstar with a dropkick. Superstar struggles to stand up and Inoki gets him in a head scissors.

The Masked Superstar is dominated for most of the match. Inoki whips Superstar into the ropes and goes for a headscissors that sends both to the outside. The Masked Superstar takes advantage of this and slams Inoki into the ringpost before heading back into the ring. Inoki returns and Superstar gets him with a few forearms to the back. He whips Inoki into the ropes and catches him with a clothesline for a two-count. Bow and arrow submission hold by Masked Superstar as he’s finally getting in some offense in the match.

Headbutt by The Superstar at Inoki’s back followed by an elbow and a two-count. Another headbutt to Inoki’s back. Superstar gets Inoki in a bear hug. Inoki fights out of the hold. He whips Superstar into the corner but gets caught by a big boot from Superstar. Neckbreaker by Superstar for a two-count. Superstar goes for a dropkick but Inoki moves out of the way and rolls to the outside.

Inoki gets back into the ring but Superstar hits him a few times in the head. He bites Inoki and then uses the ropes to choke Inoki. Snapmare into a headlock by Superstar but Inoki quickly escapes and starts to stomp on The Masked Superstar! They both end up on the ropes with Superstar rolling to the outside and dragging Inoki into the ring post where he slams Inoki’s leg into it.

The Masked Superstar gets back in the ring and kicks at Inoki. Inoki catches his leg and then gets him in a leglock. He then drags Superstar to the ring post and repays him by slamming his leg into it. Inoki gets back into the ring and gets Superstar in an Indian deathlock! He then switches over to a bow and arrow submission hold but Superstar lands on the ropes and that forces Inoki to break the hold.

Double thrust chops from The Superstar at Inoki. He gets Inoki in a front facelock. Inoki counters and slams Superstar but Superstar quickly rolls through and gets the facelock back on again. Knee at Inoki’s mid-section as they get back up. The Masked Superstar goes for the bear hug again. Inoki escapes and the two struggle to grab hold of each other and eventually reach the ropes. They exchange punches with Inoki getting the advantage and knocking Superstar down.

Inoki catches The Masked Superstar with a kick to the head. He goes for a second kick and goes for the pin but Superstar kicks out! Superstar whips Inoki into the ropes and they bump into each other. Both go down. Superstar goes for another neck breaker and gets a two-count on the pin attempt. He whips Inoki into the ropes and Inoki ducks a dropkick. Inoki dropkicks Superstar and then slams him. Inoki climbs to the top rope but Superstar slams him off!

The Superstar misses a running elbow drop. Inoki goes for a double under hook suplex on Superstar. He follows that up with the octopus submission hold! Superstar gives up! Inoki wins!

WINNER: Antonio Inoki

Post-match interview with Inoki.

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Umanosuke Ueda in an MSG Series Preliminary Tournament Block D First Round match.

Taped 4/21/1978 at the Kuramae Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan

Ueda tosses a bouquet of flowers at Tatsumi Fujinami before the match starts! Fujinami surprises Ueda with a dropkick before the bell rings! He goes after Ueda’s right leg. Crowd erupts at the start of this match. Ueda tosses Fujinami to the outside. The two brawl with Ueda tossing Fujinami into the ring posts. Ueda uses a weapon on Fujinami and opens up his forehead!

Ueda tosses Fujinami into the ring post again before heading back into the ring. Fujinami climbs back up but Ueda grabs him over his shoulder. Fujinami holds onto the ropes and Ueda falls. Fujinami dropkicks Ueda to the outside! He then follows with a tope suicida to the floor! Fujinami climbs back into the ring. Ueda gets on the ring apron and Fujinami misses a dropkick. Ueda pulls Fujinami into the ring post and pulls him into it! Referee calls for the bell. Ueda bites at Fujinami’s forehead. Other wrestlers try to pull him off as the bell continues to ring.

Ueda pulls Fujinami back to the outside. He gets separated from Fujinami.

WINNER: Tatsumi Fujinami via DQ.

Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Akira Nogami vs. Pegasus Kid (Chris Benoit) & Naoki Sano

Taped 2/10/1990 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan (NJPW Super Fight In Tokyo Dome)

Match is clipped on this episode as they show introductions but then go to the match with Pegasus Kid and Akira Nogami exchanging punches near the corner. Pegasus Kid catches Nogami with a dropkick and then attempts a headlock but Nogami escapes and grabs hold of a wristlock and tags in Liger. Pegasus Kid is quick to counter Liger and gets him with a snap suplex.

Sano tags in and picks up Liger for a power bomb and gets a near fall but Nogami makes the save. He follows that up with a piledriver for another pin attempt but Nogami again makes the save for Liger. German suplex by Sano for another near fall and again Nogami makes the save. Both men tag out and Nogami catches Pegasus Kid with a pair of dropkicks. Nogami follows with a half crab but Pegasus Kid reaches the ropes.

Nogami whips Pegasus Kid into the ropes but Pegasus Kid gets him with a sunset flip for a near fall. Pegasus Kid follows with a piledriver for another near fall. Sano tags back in and he and Nogami chop each other. Nogami tags in Liger who sends Sano into the corner and then whips Nogami into him. He follows and then they both hit a double dropkick at Sano in the corner.

Liger whips Sano into the ropes but Sano flips off the ropes. Liger catches him with a German Suplex anyway for another near fall. Liger climbs to the ropes but Pegasus Kid grabs him and Sano dropkicks him off. Sano then hits a tope suicida to the outside at Liger! They get back in the ring and Sano picks Liger up on his shoulders and Pegasus Kid dropkicks him.

Pegasus Kid slams Liger and then climbs the top rope and lands a flying headbutt on him. He goes for the pin but Nogami makes the save. Sano then takes Nogami to the outside and gets him with a suplex. In the ring, Liger counters a whip into the ropes by The Pegasus Kid and goes for a pin attempt but Pegasus Kid kicks out. Everyone’s back in the ring.

Nogami with a jumping knee at Pegasus Kid that sends him to the outside. Liger then whips Nogami into the ropes and Nogami hits a tope suicida at Pegasus Kid! Liger then follows with a dive at Sano. Nogami and Pegasus Kid get back in the ring and Nogami goes for a top rope body press on Pegasus Kid for a pin. Pegasus Kid kicks out. He then gets Nogami with a belly-to-belly suplex for a near fall as Liger makes the save.

Sano tags back in and gets Nogami with a tombstone piledriver. He then tags Pegasus Kid and he hits a senton on Nogami. Pegasus Kid and Liger head to the outside. Sano gets the pin on Nogami with a tiger suplex. Good match.

WINNERS: Naoki Sano & Pegasus Kid

Hiroshi Hase, Kuniaki Kobayashi & Kantaro Hoshino vs. Blond Outlaws (Hiro Saito, Tatsutoshi Gotoh & Norio Honaga)

Taped 2/10/1990 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan (NJPW Super Fight In Tokyo Dome)

This match is joined in progress on this episode. Gotoh whips Hoshino into the ropes and they work really quickly. Hoshino gets Gotoh and Saito with a headscissors and then clotheslines them out of the ring. Gotoh gets back in the ring and he grabs hold of Hoshino. Saito tags in but Hoshino suplexes him and tags in Hase.

Hase gets Saito with a Northern Lights Suplex. He then follows with a cool kick at Saito for a near fall. Some hard chops exchanged between the two. Kobayashi tags in and continues to chop and knee Saito. He places Saito on the top rope for a suplex. Kobayashi tries for a half crab but Gotoh makes the save. Honaga holds onto Kobayashi so Saito can get in a few shots.

Honaga catches Kobayashi with a dropkick but they are near Kobayashi’s corner and he tags in Hoshino who delivers some punches on all his opponents. He tags in Hase who takes down Honaga but Saito helps Honaga out. Honaga gets Hase with a clothesline. Saito tags in and suplexes Hase and gets another near fall. Hase counters with a neckbreaker on Saito.

Kobayashi tags back in and catches Saito with a spin kick. He goes for a dive to the outside at Saito but Saito moved. Kobayashi blocks an attempted German Suplex. Gotoh comes in to help Saito. Hoshino tags back in and he gets in a few punches on Saito. Saito tags in Gotoh who goes for an airplane spin on Hoshino but Hoshino turned it into a pin attempt.

Hoshino keeps countering every move Gotoh goes for. He whips Gotoh into the corner and they all charge at him but he’s able to kick Hoshino. Gotoh gets Hoshino in a Samoan Drop and covers him for the pin.

WINNERS: Hiro Saito, Norio Honaga & Tatsutoshi Gotoh

SHOW THOUGHTS: Fun episode. Really enjoyed the two Inoki matches. Some might not be as fond of 1970s wrestling because of how long they’d keep a headlock on or how they’d go back to that same hold numerous times during a match but Inoki and The Masked Superstar made it work. Andre The Giant was awesome and I hope those who only saw him on WWF/E TV take the time to search out his matches outside of that area just to see how great he was. The tag match with Liger & Nogami vs. Pegasus Kid & Sano was really good even with it being clipped on this show. Fujinami vs. Ueda was a pretty wild brawl. Fujinami should get some consideration in that GOAT list. I even enjoyed the clipped version of the six-man tag to close out the show since it was mostly Kantaro Hoshino running around doing some cool stuff against his opponents.

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