Here we go with the final entry in my FMW 1999 project. Let's see what we've got!
Darkside Hayabusa & Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Hisakatsu Oya vs Koji Nakagawa & Yukihiro Kanemura & Hido (08/20/99): jip. This looked to be like a graveyard match or something as there were big banners up, a coffin and wooden grave markers (which were used as weapons). This was fun! Hayabusa is sporting a different mask here which shows some of his face plus his hair is bleached orange. Both were ways to get fans accustomed to his new look down the road (I don't like the H look).
Mr. Gannosuke vs. Masato Tanaka (08/20/99): Awesome gimmick match with Fuyuki as the guest referee. So basically a heel referee match which makes Tanaka chances slim to none. If you know Dangan then you know that's not going to stop him from trying. Gannosuke has got to use his technical skills along with his rough housing (what a skill set!) to chip away at Tanaka. Then Fuyuki can bend the rules a little to get him closer to victory. I thought I would not like this as this era of FMW with the more American entertainment style isn't my taste. This doesn't go over the line though and kinda reminds me of TNA in a good way. There's a gimmick of a heel ref but it doesn't kill the excitement of the actual wrestling. It's a great match...maybe a near classic. And if I was watching this in real time, I could see going higher. But in 2023, "great match...maybe a near classic" sounds about right.
Hayabusa vs Yukihiro Kanemura (08/23/99): Saw this in highlights but looked pretty sweet! Kanemura dove off the wall and over the stairs in Korakuen onto Hayabusa & drove him through a table. Not to be out done, Hayabusa did a springboard leg drop to Kanemura who was laying across a table on the floor at ring side.
Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (08/25/99): Very good match but I wish it would have built up more logically. They went from mat work into big moves with little build.. but it works in this setting as they add surprises and variation along the way. There's a lot AFTER the match so I think that's why this wasn't as developed as it should have been. Remember though this is very much the Fuyuki Entertainment style FMW at the time. They're a bit closer to ECW than AJPW now. That's a bunch of criticism from me yet I did like the match. I saw this probably 15 years ago and read my review from then and I gave it the same rating. It's a very good match but having seen WAY more FMW, I know they're capable of much more. Btw this is Hayabusa's last match as Hayabusa (for a time). He becomes the unmasked H and Gannosuke becomes "Hayabusa" with a mask for awhile but sheds it, leaves Team No Respect... I'm getting ahead of myself.
The Gladiator (Mike Awesome) vs. Kenta Kobashi (AJPW 09/04/99): Finally got to see this and it was really good stuff. I think these two had really good chemistry and unfortunately could have done a nice little program or feud. I think they left a lot on the table. I saw their match in NOAH and I think that they went bigger despite being older and more busted up. But this match was all Awesome/Gladiator and Kobashi was very gracious to let Mike drop so many bombs. If you're a a fan of both wrestlers, you need to see this. Heck if you just want a point of reference for how big Awesome was this is worth a gander. Dude is bigger than Kobashi. I really wish he would have stayed in Japan.
Mike Awesome vs Taz vs Masato Tanaka (ECW Anarchy Rules '99): 3 way dance for the ECW title. Taz is taken care of rather quickly but he does get in some high impact offense at the start. He doesn't stand a chance with both Awesome and Tanaka attacking him though. Then the rest of the fight is Tanaka and Awesome reintroducing themselves to the ECW fans. They do their standard stuff but have a couple new moves they've picked up, most notably Dangan's Diamond Dust. It pretty good stuff overall. I think all together with Taz being on his way out, having in impromptu 3 way dance with Paul Heyman intervening & dropping F bombs, big time moves like Taz's suplexes, Awesome's power bomb variations and dives, and Tanaka's toughness & innovative offense, this was very sweet at the time. None of this stuff was being done by the big two in 1999.
Always loved the ECW PPV canvases
Mike Awesome vs Masato Tanaka (ECW November to Remember '99): At the end Joey Styles says "this might have been the greatest ECW World Heavyweight title match we've ever seen. " Announcers are prone to hyperbole and hyping, Joey Styles especially, but he makes a good point. This was a great match. Yes, it was a collection of brutal spots but it no one was even coming close to these anywhere else. Sure earlier ECW had matches with crazier spots but the matches themselves stunk like crap in many (not all) cases. Few if any were able to put on a match like these two. I think this may be the definitive Awesome vs Tanaka ECW match. I don't know if it's their greatest but it hits everything you want in their encounters and it provides twists/surprises/teases. They were doing what people loved about the Jerry Lynn/RVD or Tajiri/Super Crazy feuds but at an extreme level, no pun intended. This felt like a heavyweight title match in ECW should. I'm very lucky that I got to see this live on PPV (and taped it) as it lived up to the hype which could not be said for many PPV big matches. In fact his PPV was probably the best later ECW PPVs with a Tajiri/Super Crazy/Jerry Lynn 3 way dance, Sabu vs Chris Candido, RVD vs Taz in his final ECW match, and Impact Players + Rhino vs Dreamer, Sandman & Raven as the main event.
Kodo Fuyuki vs. Masato Tanaka (11/23/99): Great match, great throw back to the Onita days with this electric cage match too. They do the cage spots but don't make the whole thing about them. In fact the actual wrestling is quite good with Fuyuki showing us his AJPW/SWS/WAR self is still in there. He and Tanaka really lay in their shots. So we get the best kind of death match, one that focuses on the wrestling and uses the gimmick to enhance what they are doing. I'm not a big fan of Fuyuki in FMW but as a fan of Fuyuki's prior I'd recommend this. Tanaka is fantastic and is having an amazing 1999.
H & Mr. Gannosuke vs. Masato Tanaka & Tetsuhiro Kuroda (12/12/99): This is another one I saw from 15 years ago. Based on my old review, I wasn't sure if I wanted to watch it again. I'm glad that I did as my opinion has improved. I thought this was a great match. I appreciate the early work Kuroda and Tanaka did on Gannosuke's leg. It neutralized him and forced H (Hayabusa) to make the save. I think if they would have gone with a 2 on 1 story, this would have been a classic. As it was we got a traditional tag match with some great action with very believable near falls. We get a pretty awesome finish too. Not a fan of the H outfit (Hayabusa has platinum blonde hair, leggings and daisy duke shorts) but Ezaki kicks butt whatever the gimmick.
1999 was a big transition year for FMW. Fuyuki took charge behind the scenes and is having the company be more like the very popular American style. I've skipped past some of worst stuff that I remember like the Fireworks in the butt wager match (which I guess Gannosuke & Hayabusa had done to them as young boys in the FMW dojo) as well as the Shawn Michaels guest ref match. What I did watch really dodged most of that crap and allowed me to watch some really great wrestling. 1998 was a fantastic in ring year for FMW but to my surprise, so was 1999. '99 was an amazing year for tag team wrestling. I was happy to include the ECW and AJPW matches as well. I think there's a Awesome vs Tanaka match that people really like from 12/23/99 but I might cover that down the road or as a bonus to this post. Anyhow, very fun project and perhaps as far into FMW that I want to dig. I think I'd much rather go back to 95-97. But I've got some other stuff lined up for March.
Hope you enjoyed this or got a couple things to check out. There's got be be something here that you will dig. Thanks for reading!