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[1987-03-26-NJPW] Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito

Superstar Sleeze

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Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito - NJPW 3/26/87 

Masa Saito is BACK BABY! Saito had served his time, finished out some work in AWA and was ready for the big money feud with Inoki. This would be match one in a series that would culminate in the famous Island Death Match which may have been the pioneer in cinematic pro wrestling. Saito became Inoki's main rival for 1987 and along side the return of Riki Choshu ensured that the New Japan would continue its hot streak after the return of the UWF workers in 1986. The April match is a wild, red hot match, this being the first match in the series is more of the technical match then turns into a Vince Russo Wet Dream Angel. 

Front Half: I enjoyed the work. There was not really a sense of progression per se, but there was a lot of tight, snug work, lots of close quarter grappling. They worked some good NWA championship style grappling with Inoki working out of Saito's headscissors. Tempers flare a little. Inoki smacks Saito. Saito headbutts and Inoki returns in kind. Inoki hits a great explosive dropkick and Saito powders. Saito comes back with a Scorpion Deathlock. I was surprised how quickly they went to that. Great struggle over it. Inoki powdered. Tried for the working from his back strategy. Amazing leg kicks and ENZIGUIRIS from his back. Inoki was an insane athlete. SAITO SUPLEX~! Demolished him! They are bringing out the big bombs. Inoki used his insane leg strength to whip Saito off on the next Scorpion Deathlock attempt. Inoki throws another headbutt in there and some great suplex bombs. Hitting a top rope kneedrop. Peculiar that Saito nailed suplex shortly thereafter. It wouldnt be a long Inoki match without an Inoki Short Arm Scissors, which coincidentally is a favorite move of mine. I really enjoyed watching the work of this and it was breezy action. I wish there was a better constructed narrative, but I have enjoyed this so far.  Saito breaks free and Saito Suplex! Inoki retaliates with his own Saito Suplex. This is red hot shit and then the Inokiism kicks in...

Second Half: Maybe this would be improved if I understood Japanese, but here we are and I will describe what I saw. Anybody that has any more information, I would be very interested. All of sudden there is a commotion in the crowd and the entire crowd has their heads turned to an aisleway as if this was WCW 1998. Saito drops Inoki repeatedly three times on the top rope balls first. Then it happens. I thought it was going to be Riki Choshu's big return. It was a man dressed in a hockey mask and pantaloons. It looked like something Tiger Jeet Singh would wear. They mystery man handcuffs himself to Saito, which I think is a play off Saito's jail time. Then it was weird, heatless stretch of time. Saito and Inoki took shots at the hockey mask but neither get it off. It was lame and weird. Saito is dragged to the back. The crowd chants Saito as if they want an encore at a rock concert. Saito comes back with the handcuff cut off, but the cuff still on his wrist. Inoki feeds to have Saito hit him in the head with the cuff. It is very clear they are trying to draw hardway blood and it is gnarly to watch. At one point the ref throws a toekick to Saito's gut and throws a left kick. Saito clobbers him. What the fuck? They finally get it so Inoki undoes the top turnbuckle which happens in the April match. Saito wraps Inoki in an inverted figure-4, what the fuck? Inoki cracks him with the turnbuckle and draws blood. They slap each other a little. It was a pretty tepid brawl. 

Nearly impossible match to rate. The match was ~**** but the angle was convoluted and heatless. It was a Vince Russo. Wet Dream. So Bizarre! Does anyone have any info on this?

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  • paul sosnowski changed the title to [1987-03-26-NJPW] Antonio Inoki vs Masa Saito
2 hours ago, Superstar Sleeze said:

Does anyone have any info on this?

I browsed the Japanese internet to see if I could be of assistance. NJPW referee Mr. Takahashi wrote a kayfabe-breaking autobiography-cum-expose about his time in New Japan a few years back, and if we're to take him at his word, the pirate man (played in this instance by Black Cat) messed up and handcuffed the wrong guy. If it's any consolation, you weren't alone in your dissatisfaction. 35 cops, five fire trucks, and two ambulances were dispatched to quell the riot that ensued.

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