Written By Alfredo Esparza

NJPW WPW Classics #17

Prior to the match against Chuck Wepner, they interview Antonio Inoki.

Antonio Inoki vs. Chuck Wepner in a “Wrestler vs. Boxer” match

Taped 10/25/1977 at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan.

Both are wearing boxing gloves. We join the match in progress in Round 3. Inoki quickly goes for a takedown on Wepner and follows with a cross armbreaker but Wepner reaches the ropes. Wepner catches Inoki with a body blow and follows with more punches until Inoki hooks his arms. Chuck keeps swinging away until the ref forces them to break.

Chuck Wepner continues to hit Inoki with punches but Inoki grabs hold of his head and takes him down to the mat. Hestomps on Wepner before separating from him. They exchange punches with Wepner getting the advantage. He knocks Inoki down to the mat and the referee starts to count. Inoki gets back up pretty quickly. More punches but Inoki hooks his arms on the ropes and then knocks him down. Wepner reaches the ropes. Bell rings ending the round.

They skip ahead to the fifth round starting with Inoki charging at Wepner. They spend some time sizing each other up and Wepner throws some punches while Inoki gets in some kicks. Wepner gets him in the corner and gets in a few cheap shots that lead to a warning from the referee. Inoki goes for Chuck’s head but Wepner keeps fighting him off. More punches thrown. Wepner gets Inoki in the corner and knocks him down again.

Inoki delivers a punch that shakes Wepner. He goes for a leg takedown but again Wepner is near the ropes. Inoki falls to the mat and goes for kicks at Wepner’s legs. Bell rings ending the round.

Round six starts with both exchanging punches. Inoki goes for a sleeper hold. Wepner’s second climbs up on the ropes complaining about a choke hold. Referee breaks the hold. Inoki goes for a flying kick at Wepner and Chuck ducks and lands on the mat. Inoki grabs Wepner in a Boston Crab! Wepner gets back up and Inoki kicks his legs and again gets him in the Boston Crab for the win!

WINNER: Antonio Inoki

They go back to airing the interview with Antonio Inoki.

Antonio Inoki & Riki Choshu vs. Tiger Jeet Singh & Umanoseke Ueda in a Two-Out-Of-Three Falls Match

Taped 1/13/1978 at Okayama Budokan in Okayama, Japan.

Singh & Ueda’s entrance as usual includes them getting into it with some fans. Singh shoves the referee before the first fall starts. Inoki charges at Ueda and Singh.

First fall starts with Inoki going up against Ueda. He knocks Ueda down to the mat. They get back up and tangle on the ropes until Ueda breaks free. Ueda gets Inoki in his corner and Singh helps him out by holding Inoki as Ueda kicks him. Inoki gets choked on the ropes by Ueda. Ueda argues with the referee before kicking Inoki after breaking the choke. He goes for an armbar on Inoki and then pulls his hair to take him down to the mat.

Inoki breaks out and gets Ueda in a headscissors. Ueda reaches the ropes and escapes the headscissors but Inoki keeps hold of his arm. Singh threatens to kick Inoki but backs away when the referee sees him. Ueda reaches out and tags in Singh who doesn’t attack Inoki but instead lets him get up off the mat.

Singh grabs hold of Inoki’s left arm. They reach the ropes and Singh breaks cleanly to the surprise of all the fans. He takes Inoki down with a headscissors. Referee forces him to break the hold which Singh does cleanly. They lock-up again and Inoki knocks him down. Singh complains to the referee that Inoki tripped him. They try to test each other’s strength by trying to gain control of the other by shoving each other in the ring.

Singh tags in Ueda. Both get in some cheap shots on Inoki but Inoki reaches his corner and tags in Choshu who comes in on fire against Ueda. He backdrops Ueda and kicks and chops away at him. Ueda chops him as well and tosses Choshu to the outside.

Choshu gets back in the ring and Ueda grabs hold of him with an armbar. He pulls Choshu into his corner to get Singh to join in on the double-team attack. They each take turns biting and choking Choshu. Referee counts and tries to get them off Choshu with no success. Nerve hold by Ueda on Choshu. Singh tags in and kicks Choshu. He follows with a punch. He whips Choshu into the ropes and lands a knee to the mid-section.

Singh keeps Choshu on the mat with a nerve hold. He continues to punish Choshu and tosses him into his corner and tags Ueda back in. Big forearm across Choshu’s chest and he goes back to using the ropes to choke Choshu. Singh and Inoki argue outside the ring. Referee separates everyone as Singh grabs the step and tosses it at Inoki. Choshu and Ueda get back in the ring.

Choshu catches Ueda with a kick and elbow. He then slams Ueda and Inoki comes in and lands a kneedrop on Ueda. They remove the covering in the corner and slam Ueda into the metal portion of the ring. Singh and Inoki brawl outside the ring. Inoki stomps on Singh. Ueda chases him away. Ueda and Inoki get back into the ring. Inoki goes for abdominal stretch but Ueda escapes and Inoki falls to the outside. Singh attacks him. All four men brawl outside the ring. Singh uses a chair to attack both.

Choshu rolls back into the ring and Singh enters as well. Inoki quickly tags back in and he and Singh go after each other. Inoki gets Singh in a sleeper but Ueda makes the save. All four men get back into the ring. Referee tries to stop Choshu and gets him back in his corner. He then tries to separate Singh and Ueda from Inoki. Choshu heads over and kicks at Ueda. All four men are tangled in the corner.

Singh and Ueda continue to attack Inoki. Double kick at Inoki and Ueda gets him in a nerve hold. Inoki tries to crawl back to his corner. Inoki tags in Choshu who goes after Ueda and slams him to the mat and gets him in a scorpion deathlock. Singh makes the save and tosses Choshu to the outside. He grabs a chair and hits Choshu with it. All four men are brawling outside the ring again. Ueda breaks a bottle on Choshu’s head! Singh and Ueda continue to attack both with chairs as the bell can be heard ringing. Choshu and Inoki win the first fall via DQ.

Tiger Jeet Singh and Ueda attack the referee! They continue to beat on Inoki and Choshu who are left bloody. Inoki ducks a punch and Singh hits Ueda. Inoki dropkicks both out of the ring. They leave the ringside area and head to the locker room. Inoki demand that they return. A few seconds later, both return with Singh bringing out his sword. They attack Inoki. Several wrestlers ringside try to stop them.

WINNERS: Antonio Inoki & Riki Choshu via DQ

Andre the Giant vs. Antonio Inoki in the MSG Series Tournament Final

Taped 5/30/1978 at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka, Japan.

Antonio Inoki catches Andre The Giant with a dropkick by surprise. It doesn’t knock Andre down but does get him riled up and he chases after Inoki. Andre grabs hold of Inoki with an armbar. Inoki tries to reach the rope to break but Andre pulls him off. He gets Inoki with an armbreaker and then picks him up as the fans start to chant for Inoki. That upsets Andre and he breaks the hold to yell at the fans.

Inoki tries to escape from Andre’s grasp but Andre reaches out and grabs him by the arm. He gets Inoki in a wristlock. Andre keeps Inoki on the mat until Inoki kicks him off! Inoki goes for a waistlock on Andre but Andre grabs him in an armbar instead. He headbutts Inoki’s back while still holding him in an armlock. Fans start to chant for Inoki again and that upsets Andre. Andre slams Inoki and gets him in a hammerlock.

Andre The Giant lands a headbutt to Inoki’s back and keeps him on the mat. Inoki reaches the ropes but Andre doesn’t break and instead gets Inoki in a pinning predicament. Inoki keeps kicking out and that upsets Andre who argues with referee Red Shoes Dugan. Inoki knocks Andre The Giant down to the mat but that doesn’t last very long. Inoki stomps on Andre’s feet to break away from him. He hits the ropes and charges at Andre and starts to kick his legs.

Andre quickly gets Inoki’s arm again and regains control of the match and slows down the pace once again. He drops Inoki to the mat with an armbar press and keeps him locked in. Another headbutt at Inoki’s back. Inoki counters into a headscissors! Andre briefly escapes but Inoki quickly gets him back in the same hold. Andre escapes and counters it into a leglock as he held onto Inoki’s legs while breaking out of the headscissors. He attacks Inoki’s legs trying to wear him down.

Inoki gets Andre in an armlock using his legs and arms to wear down his left arm. Andre picks up Inoki with one arm and tosses him to the outside floor! Inoki gets back into the ring and kicks Andre’s left arm. He gets Andre in a hammerlock but Andre knocks him down and gets him by the legs. He headbutts Inoki and then does a diving headbutt on Inoki a couple of times! Andre suplexes Inoki!

Andre goes for another headbutt but Inoki moves out of the way. He whips Inoki into the ropes but Inoki ducks a kick. Inoki with an enziguiri! He kicks Andre out of the ring. Andre drags Inoki to the outside and tries to powerbomb him but Inoki kicks himself off the ringpost and backdrops Andre. Inoki tries to get back into the ring but Andre’s second stops him. Andre drops Inoki. Andre heads over to help his second and brawls with some of the wrestlers ringside. Inoki climbs back into the ring and wins via countout.

WINNER: Antonio Inoki via countout.

Andre The Giant attacks Inoki after the match.

Post-match interview with Antonio Inoki with him being given his awards for winning the MSG Tournament.

Osamu Nishimura vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa

Taped 2/10/1993 at Gifu Industrial Hall in Gifu, Japan

Takaiwa gets Nishimura in a waistlock takedown but Nishimura escapes. Takaiwa goes for a leg takedown and taht leads to some quick attempts at trying to get each other on the mat. He ends up getting in a few forearm smashes and a stomp to Nishimura’s back. They lock-up again and this time Nishimura takes Takaiwa down. Some quick reversals by both lead to Takaiwa getting him in a chinlock.

Nishimura with a leg takedown and into a chinlock but he quickly switches over to a leglock and crossface. Takaiwa counters into a leglock. He kicks at Nishimura’s leg and again gets him in a leglock. He kicks at Nishimura’s face as the two counter each other. Takaiwa gets Nishimura in a half crab. He then switches into a bow and arrow variation that doesn’t last very long. He gets back up and gets Takaiwa in a headlock. Nishimura escapes and gets Takaiwa in a headscissors.

Takaiwa escapes and stomps on Nishimura’s head. He takes Nishimura back down to the mat and gets him in toe hold. Nishimura kicks him off and then slaps and forearms Takaiwa. Takaiwa fights back. Hard chops exchanged by both! Takaiwa slams Nishimura. Russian legsweep by Takaiwa for a near fall. He grabs Nishimura’s left leg and twists it. Takaiwa then goes for a Boston Crab. Nishimura tries to crawl to the ropes to break out of the hold but Takaiwa brings him back to the center of the ring.

Nishimura successfully reaches the ropes but Takaiwa quickly attacks. Both hit each other with elbows and knock each other down! Nishimura’s arms are full of blood. It looks like he broke his nose as there’s more blood there and it is all over him now. Referee checks on Nishimura who looks a little dazed but he’s able to get back up.

Takaiwa charges at Nishimura with another elbow. He slams Nishimura and gets him in the Boston Crab again. More blood everywhere including on the ring. Nishimura reaches the ropes. Fans applaud. Referee checks on Nishimura and calls the match due to excessive bleeding.

WINNER: Tatsuhito Takaiwa

Hiroyoshi Yamamoto (Tenzan) vs. Yuji Nagata

Taped 2/10/1993 at Gifu Industrial Hall in Gifu, Japan

Yuji Nagata with the takedown on Yamamoto but he escapes and they start the match with a nice exchange until Nagata gets him down on the mat. Yamamoto with a chinlock on Nagata. Nagata powers out of the hold. Yamamoto gets him back down on the mat with an armbar. He attacks the left arm with an elbow. Nice takedown by Yamamoto.

Nagata back up on his feet and knocks down Yamamato and goes after his left leg. He gets Yamamoto in a leglock. Follows that up with another single leglock that Yamamoto tries to break free from. He finally reaches the ropes to break the hold. Nagata stomps on him. He slaps Yamamoto and gets him in a headlock.

Yamamoto reverses and gets Nagata in a side headlock. Nagata counters and takes Yamamoto down and into a side headlock of his own. Yamamoto whips Nagata into the ropes but Nagata knocks him down and then picks him back up and slams him to the mat. Nagata tries for a cross armbreaker but Yamamoto blocks it. Yamamoto escapes and punches at Nagata.

Yamamoto with some chops and forearms. Nagata counters with some of his own. They exchange chops until Yamamoto hits him with the double chop across the shoulders to knock him down. Yamamoto beats on Nagata in the corner with hard chops and kicks. He whips him into the corner and catches Nagata with a dropkick!

More kicks at Nagata followed by a hiptoss and diving headbutt. Yamamoto goes for the pin but Nagata kicks out. Nagata catches him with a big boot and knocks him down. He follows with a dropkick and goes for the pin but Yamamoto’s foot is on the ropes. More kicks at Yamamoto. Nagata whips Yamamoto into the corner and follows with a running high knee! Nagata with a belly-to-belly suplex for another pin attempt!

Nagata goes for another but Yamamoto fights back and knocks Nagata down with some chops. He stomps on Nagata and yells out to the fans. DDT by Yamamoto for a near fall. Yamamoto with a backbreaker followed by a middle-rope legdrop on Nagata. He then gets Nagata in a leglock and arm submission hold and got the win.

WINNER: Hiroyoshi Yamamoto

Shinjiro Otani vs. Satoshi Kojima

Taped 2/10/1993 at Gifu Industrial Hall in Gifu, Japan

They lock-up and quickly end up on the ropes. Referee warns both because they are looking very aggressive to start the match. Otani takes Kojima down with a toe hold. Kojima grabs hold of Otani in a chinlock trying to break out of the hold which he does and he starts to kick at him. Again they get tangled on the ropes but this time Otani gets in a few shots at Kojima before getting him in a chinlock. He follows that up with a headscissors.

Kojima escapes and starts to stomp on Otani. He slams Otani and again stomps on him. Kojima goes for a sleeper on Otani but he starts to break out of it. Test of strength is clearly won by Kojima and he takes Otani back down. He hiptosses Otani and continues to punish him. Otani escapes and grabs hold of Kojima’s leg and gets him in a half crab. Kojima drags himself to the ropes to break the hold.

Otani continues to kick at Kojima. He stomps on Kojima. Otani then hiptosses him out of the corner and continues to stomp him and the follows with another leglock. Kojima escapes and goes after Otani’s right leg. Kojima lays in a few forearms at Otani. He whips Otani into the ropes and knocks him down. Kojima picks Otani up and charges into the corner and gets him down with the Oklahoma Stampede! He only gets a two-count. Kojima goes for a knee drop off the ropes but Otani moves out of the way.

Otani gets Kojima in an ankle lock. Kojima reaches the ropes. Otani drags him back to the middle of the ring and gets Kojima in a Boston Crab. Kojima powers out! Otani catches Kojima with a dropkick off the ropes. Hits him with another dropkick but then misses a third attempt. Kojima whips Otani into the ropes and catches him with a quebradora.

Kojima follows with an elbow in the corner at Otani. He then climbs the ropes and hits an elbow drop on Otani to get the pin.

WINNER: Satoshi Kojima

SHOW THOUGHTS: Can’t really go wrong with any episode of New Japan Classics. Really enjoyed the Inoki vs. Andre match and the last three matches. The Inoki vs. Wepner match was clipped. The tag match felt like it dragged for a bit until they turned into a wild brawl. The final portion of the tag I enjoyed. The last three matches were under 10 minutes so they were easy to watch. Nishimura getting his nose bloodied cut that match short.

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