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[1973-12-10-NJPW] Antonio Inoki vs Johnny Powers


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This was before Inoki started doing the „World's Greatest Martial Artist“ thing, so this was all JWA style old school grappling. Johnny Powers was kind of a poor man's Johnny Valentine, guy with a crazy stare who will drop elbows and knees on you. His holds and elbows and knees looked vicious especially when he was dropping elbows and knees on Inoki's throat. His googly eyed selling was pretty goofy and he also blew some highspots. I liked the opening 10 minutes of this a lot with Powers locking in a mean armlock and really chopping away at Inoki's arm and Inoki looking like a slick grappler countering with some super tight headscissors. The following 10 minutes Powers starts kicking ass altough the match gets a little restholdy here and there. Inoki is using more chops than punches here. The 2nd fall continues with both guys beating on eachother before Powers is able to lock in the Figure 4. He continues working over Inoki's leg in vicious fashion in the 3rd but hits his head on the rope when he tries for the Figure 4 again allowing Inoki an easy victory with the Octopus Stretch. This would have been pretty good were it not for the mentioned goofs.

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This is the match where Inoki won his first international title, the NWF World Heavyweight title, the belt of Pedro Martinez's Ohio-Pittsburgh-W.Virginia-Buffalo federation. It was originally the North American title of the NWF, but was elevated to 'World' status after Bruno lost the WWWF title (which, in turn was losing it's 'world' title status, as they rejoined the NWA the same year). Pedro Martinez (along with Kola Kwariani) booked MSG from '59-'60, when Bruno faced Haystacks Calhoun and first headlined the Garden, teaming with Rocca. It was also Martinez who booked Bruno in Buffalo during his blacklisting. When Toots sold Pittsburgh to Bruno, a condition was that he not in turn sell the territory to Martinez. Six years later, Bruno sold it to Geeto Mongol, who sold it to Martinez exactly one year later. Then Martinez brought Bruno in to be his booker in Pittsburgh. As soon as the WWWF belt was put back on Bruno, Bruno had to quit the booking job and Pittsburgh immediately started going under. Eventually, the NWF collapsed, and Martinez returned a year or two later with the IWA. The NWF belt legitimized New Japan, before the Ali match, and was the primary title of the promotion, until the creation of the IWGP belt in the late '80s.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1973-12-10-NJPW] Antonio Inoki vs Johnny Powers

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