FEBRUARY 9, 1990


Tatsuo Nakano . . . throws around Johnny Barrett like he’s Brock Lesnar taking Rey Mysterio to suplex city!

Nobuhiko Takada . . . knocks Kazuo Yamazaki into the middle of next week with a well-timed roundhouse to the face.

Yoshiaki Fujiwara . . . reminds everyone why he’s still amongst the best workers in the world, even with an opponent that didn’t seem to be able to add very much.



When they’re on their feet, this actually isn’t half bad. They don’t mind swinging wildly or teeing off on each other, and Barrett is pretty good about trying to use his size to get Nakano into a compromising position, he does a belly-to-belly to lead into a legbar, he hits a big lariat that gets Nakano called down and Barrett even busts out a super heavyweight dropkick! Unfortunately, they spend far too much of this match on the mat, and neither of these guys is a Fujiwara or Kido for making even the most basic matwork seem engaging, so we get long stretches of legbars, headlocks and facelocks with both of them just laying there until it’s time to get to the ropes or do a counter/escape. The only odd thing is that toward the end Nakano suddenly decides to make the size difference seem negligible. He hits a big German suplex to set up a juji-gatame and forces Barrett to use a rope break, and then hits a vertical suplex to get Barrett into the facelock that taps him out. They had the chance to go somewhere interesting with it, such as Nakano being unable to get the big man up and having to do something else, like an armbar takedown instead of the vertical suplex, or have Barrett shift his weight to fall on top of Nakano and try a chickenwing armlock. But all they wind up doing is leaving a sour taste at the end of what was actually a somewhat watchable match.



It seems like both men decided to follow in Anjo’s footsteps after seeing his match from the last show and went out there trying to be the biggest jerk possible. The match isn’t great, but between their intensity and a clever finish, it’s a fun enough way to spend ten minutes. You know you’re in for a good time when the first down is a double slap that actually drops both of them and causes them both to lose a point and answer the count. It’s also nice to see Miyato in there with a halfway capable worker and show that he can hold his own. It looks for all the world like Suzuki has the match in the bag when he hits his running dropkick for a down and then quickly gets another after his headbutt and arm throw gets Miyato down to his last point. Suzuki catches a kick and counters into a body slam, and had he left well enough alone, that probably would have won him the match. But Suzuki goes for broke with a body scissors sleeper in the center of the ring and Miyato quickly gets one of his legs over Suzuki’s ankle and traps him in a makeshift ankle hold and it's Suzuki that has to submit. While this wasn’t anything great, it’s better throughout than Nakano/Barrett, and after he got next to nothing from Takada or Maeda and Roesch being basically useless and then getting saddled with Kastelle, who would have to show a ton of improvement in order to be useless, it’s nice to finally see Miyato get a match with someone that he’s actually able to work with.



I can only assume that this was Anjo’s reward for his great performance the month before. “You did such a good job in that match with Yamazaki. You remember that five-foot-nothing musclehead we brought in last month? He’s all yours, just keep it under ten minutes!” This is better than the match Wilkins had with Suzuki, although that has nothing at all to do with Wilkins. It’s easy to spot Anjo giving him the openings for the top wristlock and the blocked knee strike that sets up Wilkins connecting with the fisherman suplex. Anjo tees off on him at will, connecting with kicks and knees that Wilkins doesn’t even try to defend against. Once Wilkins establishes that his leg has become the weak spot, Anjo uses that to lead into bigger offense. There’s a tease of another surprise upset when Wilkins blocks a knee and maneuvers Anjo into a backdrop suplex, but he tries to press his advantage and wrap him up, and he’s no match for Anjo on the mat, and Anjo easily traps him in a grounded legbar to tap him out.



At first this seems like it’ll be the usual solid, if unspectacular, match between a pair of old rivals. It certainly helps that these two having an off night is a lot better than most wrestlers at their best. They have moments that serve as a good reminder that they’re still two of the best, Takada forces Yamazaki to the mat and hits a kick to the back and backs up with a smirk on his face that says, “If you don’t like it, do something about it.” And Yamazaki responds with a kick of his own to Takada’s upper leg. There’s also a good sequence where Yamazaki wants a chickenwing, but Takada blocks the hold and forces him to the mat, so Yamazaki settles for wrenching on Takada’s ankle. Takada tries to grab a sleeper, but Yamazaki’s grip is too strong, and Takada has to relinquish the hold to scramble for the ropes.


The turning point comes just after Yamazaki connects a kick to the ribs and follows up with a kick flurry that only sees Takada stay on his feet thanks to the turnbuckle. Yamazaki backs off, thinking he’s made his point, and Takada connects a single kick to the face that drops Yamazaki and keeps him down until nine, and leaves him looking dazed and loopy for the rest of the match. Takada drops him again after another kick and Yamazaki realizes that he’s burning his points, and the match turns into the proverbial dogfight, with both of them trying to knock off points any way they can, including Takada avenging the earlier rope break by catching a Yamazaki kick and cinching in a legbar that sends him scurrying to the ropes. They really didn’t need to take the match down to each of their last point before Takada finally won, especially with how well Yamazaki was selling. If anything, it would have come off better if Yamazaki took off a point and Takada decided to just buckle down and finish Yamazaki then and there. Yamazaki doesn’t need any sort of rub or protection, and, after tapping out Maeda the month before, it seems like something of a negative that Takada gets pushed so far before he finally manages to put Yamazaki away.



The Fuj is more than good enough to make this watchable, but, for the second month in a row now; a main event featuring Maeda in a rematch of a classic encounter winds up being underwhelming. Whether he’s still dealing with the eye injury, he’s still brooding from having to lose the month before or something else altogether, Maeda just doesn’t appear to be very interested in having this match at all. The matwork is better than last month (which isn’t much surprise with Fujiwara involved) but still not as good as what he’d been doing for the previous year, and there’s no real sense of urgency from him in any form. The one bit of continuity from the month before is when Fujiwara catches an errant kick and takes Maeda right down into an ankle lock, and Maeda goes for the ropes straight away, rather than try to fight out of it. They wind up with a pretty good finish that plays off this as well as the Takada/Yamazaki match. Fujiwara snags the kick and takes Maeda down into the legbar and Maeda grabs the sleeper, the same away that Takada did with Yamazaki, and Maeda also manages to use his other foot as a brace to stave off some of the pressure from the legbar and that little bit of edge is enough for him to put Fujiwara out with the sleeper. But that one nice bit from him is the exception rather than the rule. One of the first holds Maeda gets is a chickenwing armlock and it’s noticeably loose, and for someone known for his punishing kicks, there’s very little snap on them.


Luckily, Fujiwara is involved, and not only is he more than capable of making something out of this, but he’s very much in the mood to make something out of it. He shows plenty of aggression and intensity to go with his usual craftiness. The headbutt had been firmly established as his primary strike by this point, and one of his first big offensive spots was catching a kick and sweeping Maeada’s other leg to put him on the mat and then planting him with a falling headbutt. You know exactly how game for the match The Fuj is when he backs Maeda into the corner and just unloads on him with body punches. Fujiwara does what he can to make Maeda look good as well. The only point that Fujiwara loses is when Maeda has to kick his way out of the legbar, and the ref calls him down after the hold is broken. Fujiwara stays down for several seconds and gets up at four, but he smirks and lets the ref keep counting before holding up his hands at the last possible second. Before going out to the sleeper, Fujiwara somehow got his mouth busted open, so he evidentially did something that woke up Maeda and made him fight back.


It’s really a shame too, because if Maeda had just made a genuine effort, then, while it probably wouldn’t have surpassed their match from August, it would have at least been a worthy follow up. With Maeda having just lost to Takada, the crowd would certainly have bought the possibility of Fujiwara pulling off the win, especially with how the match plays out as far as Fujiwara outwrestling Maeda and being prepared for his kicking attacks. There’s more than enough good here, between Fujiwara’s performance and the story of the match, to make this come off as a good match, it’s just too bad that Maeda was unwilling or unable to add much to the proceedings.


Conclusion: Although it’s lacking a real standout match, like Yamazaki/Anjo from the month before, it’s still a solid show, with nothing overtly bad on it. Even the not-so-great stuff namely the Anjo match, is at least watchable if not a little bit of fun.