I'm a Hayabusa fan. I think my first exposure was from ECW clips of he & Jinsei Shinzaki vs RVD & Sabu. Then around that time, I bought a used copy of WCW vs the World for the PS1. Awesome game, tons of Japanese stars with fake names. I recognized a few though, Hayabusa being one. Thing is, I probably didn't know he was called "Hayabusa." I just knew he was this high flyer with a mask and baggy red pants...and he could keep up with Van Dam & Sabu in the crazy move department. The video game only strengthen that as it featured his standing moonsault, quebrada, phoenix splash, and the Falcon Arrow which the developers made the Steiner Screwdriver. Awesome! Crazy dives and the most head spiking move at the time (other than TD '91).
A few years after this, I was in university and was pretty much over what was going on in WWE or was it F still? Hmm...but, I got my buddies to watch death match tapes and bought Best of the Explosion Death match tape. And bam...there was Hayabusa vs Onita exploding cage death match! So, not only did I learn who 'busa was but, now a name to Onita as well (who was also in the game. His Fire Thunder P.B. was awesome!).
Then grandpa here finally got DVDs and I got a Hayabusa set to enjoy. I don't think the one I have has all of his best stuff but, it has some 'em. I've seen enough to know the wrestler's strengths and weaknesses. One match on there was he & Jinsei vs Misawa & Akiyama from '97 RWTL. Great, great stuff and it showed Hayabusa a bit more toned down. The restriction of AJ improved his execution and pacing (two weaknesses). Wow! as a fan, this was great to see. He looks on par with the AJ guys. There's a Hayabusa in AJ set out there that has a ton of matches. I'm going to watch them all but, here's the first bit that I watched... Totally psyched
Hayabusa & Yoshi Kanemaru vs Yoshinari Ogawa & Kentaro Shiga (04/19/97 AJPW): Where did this match come from!? I've never heard anyone mention this match...even derisively! Sacred steak, this was a loco Jr. action match. All kinds moves and attitude to boot. Shiga and Kanemaru (with hair!) have some beef over who's the skinniest dude in AJ (I'm talking ZSJ skinny). Hayabusa was on point with his kicks. A case of excitement crammed into 14 minutes. Very highly recommended!
Hayabusa & Jun Akiyama vs Takao Omori & Kentaro Shiga (06/06/97 AJPW): This was a really enjoyable tag match up. Excited to see more Hayabusa. This also is a good example that AJ had other stuff going on beside the big four in '97.
Shiga is plucky as all get-out. Of course, Akiyama brutalizes him in response Omori does play big brother to the Shigster...it's a good and necessary role for him here. 'Busa is the fireworks man tonight by busting out his maneuvers to perfection. He is my favorite whilst in tags. I am thankful for Baba or Misawa (or whomever has the Big Book) for keeping him in teams in AJPW. I recommend this match.
Hayabusa & Jinsei Shinzaki vs Giant Kimala II & Jun Izumida (11/15/97): Well, now I've got an idea for a Halloween costume this year. Thanks Izu! But anyways...this was a bundle of fun and different from the high energy AJ at the time. Izumida was really good and played to Kimala the Sequel's strengths. They were a good believable team as a result. It was an interesting and competitive bout. 'Busa and Jinsei were good as always. I didn't want to watch this at first but, I'm really glad that I did! It's put a smile on my face
Hayabusa & Shinzaki vs Tamon Honda & Jun Izumida (02/13/99): JIP w/ a 9 minute run time. Based on what was shown, and ignorant of AJ's roster, you could think these guys were the top stars. Hayabusa was flying, Jinsei looked cool, Honda & Izumida fought like skull crushers. For instance, be on the look out for Izu's diving headbutt to a hunched over Hayabusa. I highly recommend spending the 9 minutes on this forgotten little JIP match.
Hayabusa, Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask IV vs Yoshinari Ogawa, Manukea Mossman & Masahito Kakihara (05/02/99): This took a bit to get going but, this was a great showcase for the Indy team. Hayabusa looked most dominant and in control. That's saying something since Ogawa is Misawa's #2 man. Kakihara was the highlight for the AJ team though. I think he was particularly dynamic in this setting but, I've liked him in everything I've seen of his in AJPW. Highly recommended stuff, goes longer than you think but, man its fun.
Again, gonna check more out in AJPW. Also going to dig back into FMW 20 years later. I am coming back Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling!!