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Japanese Booking in 70s-Mid 80s: Native vs Native

Superstar Sleeze

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I understand that Japanese booking philosophy was very nativist with the general archetype being to bring in foreigners from all over the world to face the major stars of the promotion and that had been the booking philosophy dating back to Rikidozan. My understanding is that changed in All Japan with Riki Choshu invasion in 1985, which was the first native vs native feud in that promotion and due to the success of Choshu invasion angle: Jumbo vs Tenryu was born and the rest was history.


So my questions are the following:


1. Were there ever any major native vs native matches in All Japan pre-Choshu? I am pretty sure the answer is no, but I just wanted to check.


The one I am more curious about is New Japan.


2. Inoki ran some round robin tournaments in the mid-70s which required him to face Masa Saito and Seji Sakaguchi, which look like the first ever main event native vs main event native matches in puroresu history? Is the 1974 World League the first of its kind?


3. It seems like Umanosuke Ueda is the first ever Japanese heel. He regularly teamed with Tiger Jeet Singh and wrestled Inoki regularly in the late 70s. Is he the first of his kind? Is Inoki vs Ueda the first native vs native feud in puroresu history?

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Rikidozan vs. Masahiko Kimura for the Japanese Heavyweight Title in December 1954 might have been the first major Native vs Native Main Event in Japanese Pro Wrestling history. (if you don't count Rikidozan being Korean, which you shouldn't).


There probably weren't a whole lot more big native vs native matches for a while after that one, though.


Inoki vs Strong Kobayashi in March 1974, Inoki vs Sakaguchi from April 1974, and Baba vs Jumbo in December 1975 were all pretty big deals.


Edit: NintendoLogic beat me to it.


Building on what he said: Jumbo and Rusher Kimura fought in '75, '76, and '77. Their biggest match was probably the 2 out of 3 falls match for the NWA United National Title in 1976.

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I think it's arguable that Ueda vs Rusher Kimura was the first real native vs native feud. They had a match for the IWA World Heavyweight Title, which Ueda won, in June of '76. After that the feuds kind of overlap through '77 and we had a few tag matches with Ueda and Singh vs Inoki and Strong Kobayashi or Sakaguchi and Kobayashi. Then the Ueda vs Inoki feud really seemed to take off starting in February 1978 with a "Nail Floor Death Match."

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There were multiple native vs native matches in the 76 and 77 Champion Carnival. Jumbo vs Baba being the big one. Their 76 match was for who went on to face Abby in the defacto finals, and their 77 match was the de facto finals. There were also multiple native vs native matches in the 77 Tag league.

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Inoki vs. Strong Kobayashi on 3/19/74 was, I believe, the first native vs. native main event match since Rikidozan vs. Kimura in '54. Kobayashi had been the ace of IWE but he had a falling out with the management and quit. He then issued a challenge to Baba and Inoki and Inoki accepted. There was a tremendous amount of hype for the match. It was nicknamed The Duel at Ganryujima, which was a famous 17th century duel between Japanese swordsmen on the island that New Japan later used for those death matches.


New Japan and IWE formed a working agreement in 1978 and when the IWE finally folded in '81, Rusher Kimura, Animal Hamaguchi and Isamu Teranishi formed a stable and "invaded" New Japan in an angle that predated Choshu's invasion and the UWF vs. New Japan feud.


In Joshi, Maki Ueda vs. Jackie Sato headlined All Japan Women's first ever Budokan show on 11/1/77. They also had a huge loser must retire match on 2/27/79.

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Thanks for all the responses! Some really interesting stuff!


It seems like the All Japan native vs native matches happened as part of round robin tournaments rather than feuds. Sounds Inoki dabbled in some interpromotional stuff, round robin stuff, but the first major native vs native blood feud was him against Ueda. Is that right?

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