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[1988-09-12-NJPW] Tatsumi Fujinami & Keichii Yamada & Shiro Koshinaka & Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Kengo Kimura vs Hiroshi Saito & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Super Strong Machine & Masa Saito & Riki Choshu


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  • 1 year later...

Whilst they're never able to capture the magic of the '86 NJPW vs UWF elimination tag, this was still a whole bunch of fun. Even though we are still a year off from him donning the Jushin Liger gimmick, Keichii Yamada shows that he has tons of potential, he has a lot of heart and wrestles this match like it's a sprint. Fuijiwara is fantastic as always. Sadly those two are some of the first to go and the match slows down a bit. Things get going again once it's down to Choshu, Fujinami and H. Saito. Choshu is a lariating machine, but eventually finds himself eliminated. Saito finds himself busted open and bleeds buckets. He really starts to up his performance around this point and sells his arse off to put Fujinami over. The shock finish caught me off guard and wrapped this one up nicely. This may not have the frantic pace or the sheer talent (Choshu's team was seriously lacking in top tier guys), but this is a must watch for fans of classic NJPW. 


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  • GSR changed the title to [1988-09-12-NJPW] Tatsumi Fujinami & Keichii Yamada & Shiro Koshinaka & Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Kengo Kimura vs Hiroshi Saito & Kuniaki Kobayashi & Super Strong Machine & Masa Saito & Riki Choshu
  • 1 year later...

Tatsumi Fujinami, Keiichi Yamada, Shiro Koshinaka, Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Kengo Kimura vs. Hiro Saito, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Super Strong Machine, Masa Saito & Riki Choshu - NJPW 9/12/88

It is Team Choshu led by Big Match Riki vs Team New Japan led by Fujinami. Choshu & Masa Saito not to be confused with Hiro Saito returned in 1987. Inoki vs Saito was the major feud of 1987 climaxing with the infamous Island Death Match which may be the first instance of Cinematic Wrestling. Saito took a backseat after that match and introduced the world to VADER! Choshu became a prominent player again in 1988 with multiple big time matches against Inoki including a clean victory with two Lariats in July. Choshu and Fujinami also had two kickass battles over the IWGP Championships earlier in the year. I am surprised Inoki is not with Fujinami, but Fujinami has his buddy Kengo Kimura again, I guess they patched things up. Fujiwara feels like a substitute for Inoki, in the eyes of some, an upgrade. As much as I love Inoki, Fujiwara is in my ten favorite wrestlers of all time, so I am happy he is here. Each squad has two juniors on their team, Fujinami has the bigger star power there with Koshinaka and Yamada. While Choshu has Kobayashi and Hiro Saito. For the purposes of this review, I will use full names. I am more familiar with Kimura because his tag team and feud with Fujinami. Perhaps I am selling Super Strong Machine short when I say there is a clear dropoff in star power there. However, Super Strong Machine has a wild tag classic in 1989 with George Takano of all people against stablemates Choshu and Masa Saito so I shouldnt sell SSM short. I am expecting a lot of slam bang action, so I am going stream of consciousness.

First Elimination: Masa Saito gets under Fujinami's skin during the introductions. Fujinami throws a kick. Hiro Saito and Yamada to start off for their teams. Yamada wins as shoulder tackle. Big back drop by Hiro Saito who tags in Kobayashi. Kobayashi big running knee and vertical suplex by Kobayashi. Choshu is in and massive kneelift! Big bump by Yamada. Chinlock tags in SSM. SSM headbutt. Four members of Team Choshu in and only one from Team Fujinami. Big Difference. SSM tries to eliminate Yamada via the floor. Great scramble. Masa Saito has tagged in and all of Team Choshu has taken turns on beating on Yamada. Hiro Saito big reverse elbow and suplex on Yamada. I like how this one is starting with a dramatic heel heat segment as opposed to the workrate each performer takes a turn to shine in the Juniors version. SSM Misses an elbow drop and Yamada tags in Fujiwara. Excellent choice! Fujiwara owns SSM with clubbing rights and headbutts. Fujiwara owns Kobayashi with his patented Boston Crab reversal and an excellent leg scissors takedown before tagging out to Koshinaka. Koshinaka squanders the advantage by being too fancy. Kobayashi spin kick and a big ol slap. Koshinaka gets an Enziguiri to tags in Kimura who kits his one move, the Running Leg Lariat, which doesnt bode well for his prospects of staying in the match. Kobayashi tags out to Choshu. Choshu ties him up and he and Masa Saito hit a double suplex. Only problem is they threw him into his own corner, Kimura tags out to Yamada. YAMADA VS MASA SAITO IS ELECTRIC! Yamada bumrushes him with kicks, ROLLING KOPPOU KICK! Mark out city! He is firing off a relentless onslaught of kicks...Kobayashi tries to save but nothing will stop Yamada well that is until Masa Saito HEADBUTTS him! Saito big hiptoss out of the corner. He tags out to Hiro Saito. ROLLING KOPPOU KICK BAILS LIGER OUT! Koshinaka and Hiro Saito do a nice criss cross sequence. Tag out to Fujinami and Choshu! The first time seeing Fujinami! Here we go! Not much happened to be honest. Just some tieups. Fujinami ended getting SSM in a full nelson and backing into his own corner to tag out to Fujiwara. Fujiwara Boston Crab on SSM. SSM makes the ropes. Fujiwara growling is amazing here. Kimura in now. Bodyslam. Kimura goes for piledriver but SSM deadweight shim and powers out. Kobayashi in. SSM lariat in the corner and Kobayashi goes for the cross-armbreaker but Kimura claspes his hands, great selling from Kimura. Fujiwara bodyslam on Kobayahsi. Double Dropkick by Fujinami's juniors. Double Suplex now by them. Owen style belly to belly suplex by Yamada. Fujinami dropkick but it backfires as he dropkicks Kobayashi into Choshu who tags in. Fujinami punches Choshu! Saito Suplex on Fujinami! Choshu/Masa Saito double team on Fujinami attacking the knees. Inverted Indian Deathlock by Choshu which Fujiwara breaks up with a headbutt but Masa Saito hangs on. Fujinami scoots over and tags in Fujiwara. Fujiwara vs Masa Saito is what I need in my life! Fujiwara pelting him with overhand chops! Saito punches him into his corner. That was a letdown. SSM in and he is choking Fujiwara with his boot in the corner. HIRO SAITO EXPLODES WITH A RUNNING REVERSE ELBOW IN THE CORNER! Fujiwara clubbing shots and headbutt. Hiro Saito Throws Koshinaka DOWN! Big Ol Senton! Bodyslam by Hiro Saito. Koshinaka Superplex for two! WOW! Not many nearfalls. Koshinaka catches the dropkick into a Boston Crab for our first elimination. Hiro Saito was probably lowest on the totem pole for star power so it makes sense. Tons of action, but it is not a very sticky match. The marquee matches are letting me down. Yamada is the MVP thus far. Team Fujinami 5-4.

Second Elimination: Kobayashi jumps Koshinaka, NO TIME TO GRIEVE! Spin Heel kick. Yamada in! Kick to the gut! Fisherman Suplex to Yamada! Kobayashi tries to choke Yamada out, great selling by Yamada. They roll into the ropes and Kimura tags in. Kimura powerbomb out of a piledriver position for two, Tenryu takes notes. Single Leg Crab by Kimura, Kimura wriggles free. Choshu in. He stomps on Kimura. Punt kick to face! SSM in as Choshu holds Kimura. German Suplex on Kimura. Kimura tags out to Fujinami. SSM takes Fujinami to woodshed and hits dropkick for two. SSM Snapmare and tags in Masa Saito. Msas Saito tries for a Saito suplex great block by Fujinami so Saito settles for a Russian Legsweep. Kobayashi beats on Fujinami but misses a dropkick. Robinson backbreaker by Fujinami. Tilt a whirl backbreaker by Yamada. Tomboston Piledriver. Top Rope Diving Headbutt! Yamada on fire! Tiger Suplex but too close to the ropes. ROLLING KOPPOU KICK IN CORNER! YAMADA RULES! After all that Kobayashi schoolboy rolls him up to eliminate the best wrestler in the match. BOOOOOOOO! We need Choshu, Fujiwara, Fujinami and Saito to step it up now that Yamada is out! Tied 4-4.      

Third Elimination: Koshinaka comes in and immediately gets beat up because he sucks. SPIKE PILEDRIVER! Koshinaka tags out to Fujiwara. Big meaty shots by SSM. Bodyslam and middle elbow by SSM. FUJIWARA ARMBAR! Pop from the crowd and me! Tap him out! He never applies it fully. Fujiwara looing for the elimination via the ropes. SSM gets a kick to the gut, to stave off elimination. Boston Crab reversal blocked by SUPER STRONG MACHINE tries to pin Fujiwara but he reverses and Fujiwara pins him! Nice little segment. Team Fujinami 4-3.

Fourth Elimination. Masa Saito attacks the fallen Fujiwara. Fujiwara Armbar! Takedown, but cant get it fully in! Fujiwara goes for lunging headbutt but Saito sidesteps him and Fujiwara ends up on the apron in pain and Saito stomps out his fire for the elimination. Koshinaka is still there, but Liger and Fujiwara are gone BOOOOOOO! Tied 3-3!

Fifth Elimination: Kimura attacks Saito. Team Choshu double teams him. Kimura fires off some kicks to midsection of Kobayashi. He is making in-roads. Tag in by Fujinami. We needs some leadership! Great verbal selling by Kobayashi. Choshu tags in. Scorpion Deathlock attempt by Choshu who fights through the Fujinami slaps to turn him over! Choshu tags out to Saito. Saito Boston Crab on Fujinami. Not looking good for our hero. I was always more of a Big Match Riki guy honestly. Kobayashi drops the elbow on Fujinami, backslides gets two. He misses the rainbow spinning heel kick Robinson backbreaker and Dragon Sleeper and Fujinami forces Kobayashi to submit. Fujinami's team needed that. He still took an asskicking but that was a definitive strong elimination by their Captain. Team Fujinami 3-2. 

Sixth Elimination: Time for Koshinaka to go, methinks. Choshu is the one that takes charge. Kimura tags in and he stomps a mudhole in Choshu. Some wicked left uppercuts by Kimura who kits his running Leg Lariat, he almost knocks Choshu out the ring. He realizes it and tries desperately to kick Choshu out of the ring. He goes for it again when Choshu is on the apron but Choshu back drops him over the shoulder for the elimination. Interesting, I thought for sure they were going to do Fujinami & Kimura vs Choshu & Saito. Koshinaka makes it to the Final Four.      

Seventh Elimination. Koshinaka pounces on Choshu. Choshu demolishes the pipsqueak with a Saito Suplex. Saito tagged in. Saito drops him throat first on top rope. He does it again. Choshu tags in. Suplex by Choshu. Koshinaka gets a sunset lip for two. Bridging German for two. Choshu gets what he calls that the REAR VIEW! Koshinaka misses the top rope splash. MACK TRUCK LARIAT FOR TWO! ARE YOU SHITTING ME? CHOSHU DECAPITATES HIM WITH THAT ONE TO LEAVE NO DOUBT! It is Fujinami vs Choshu & Saito which was the most likely ending. 

Eighth Elimination: I dont like Saito chances here. Fujinami overwhelms him with strikes and then a big suplex as Saito bounces off the mat. Saito's trick knee acts up and kicks Fujinami's in the balls. Must have learned that one in America, :p Inverted Atomic Drop and tag out to Choshu. Choshu bowls Fujianmi over and Choshu holds onto the ropes as Fujinami dropkicks. Pair of Lariat as Fujinami stays on his feet. Fujinami on the apron. Can he stave off elimination? Choshu clubs him with closed fists. Fujinami HEADSCISSORS! Fujinami dropkicks Choshu off the apron to eliminate him! WOW didnt see that coming. It comes down to Fujinami vs Saito! 

Ninth Elimination: Choshu's corner's turnbuckles have been exposed and it backfires...Fujinami bashes Saito's head into the exposed turnbuckle. To quote the great Kal Rudman, THAT IS BLOOD! Saito gigged himself good. Fujinami is just teeing off as Saito is spewing blood mist and his body is drenched in blood. Saito tries to suplex Fujinami to the floor but gets suplexed back in which was a good highspot. Fujinami ripping into the cut with fists and kicks was awesome! Ref bump and the Robinson backbreaker gets Fujinami a visual pinfall, everyone and their mother now knows he is losing. Saito sidesteps him on a charge and Fujinami careens to the outside for the loss. 

I thought this was pretty great but suffered from similar issues as the Juniors Ten Man Elimination tag I just watched too much emphasis on workrate and not enough on character, narrative and build. Where this one succeeded and the other didnt was the beginning with Yamada was better here and the ending was far more memorable. I am shocked this finished #3 on the New Japan DVDVR while I thought it was great, I have definitely seen plenty better. ****1/4  

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