This feels like the biggest show they've ran so far. The building, the fancy ring mat, the video opening, the buzz around Bob Backlund being in town. Takada even busted out the lilac ring attire!
Kiyoshi Tamura v Tatsuo Nakano
I was hoping this would be fun and I was not disappointed. Young and eager Tamura with a point to prove is the best. Maybe somebody in his life told him he wouldn't amount to much and this is him out to prove that that person was a fucking idiot. Maybe it was Nakano who told him because Tamura is even more hot-headed than normal. Usually he has a chip on his shoulder, but this time he had the whole bag of McCoy's. He refuses to shake Nakano's hand at the start and once again comes out with the double quick matwork, everything carrying a real sense of urgency. Nakano can't hang on the mat like that, but I thought it was pretty cool for the NARRATIVE~ how he just used his size advantage to wear Tamura down. At times it amounted to him rolling on top of Tamura and slowly working for position - which wasn't all that interesting, it must be said - but it worked for him because he started to open up a points lead. It also pissed off Tamura and young, pissed off Tamura is a blast. The more he struggles with Nakano's little medicine ball body the harder he works, and that leads to an awesome spot where he shoots in for a takedown and gets absolutely wiped with a knee to the face. Tamura's KO sell was wonderful, as was Nakano casually walking away like it wasn't even a thing. This of course only extends the points gap - Nakano hasn't dropped a single point yet while Tamura has lost half a dozen - and it makes Tamura even MORE annoyed. He starts shit talking and slapping Nakano and they both throw nasty little pot shots, because Nakano won't take that guff from anyone. At some point Nakano's nose starts bleeding (I mean, of course it does) and Tamura slaps him across the face, so Nakano throws a kind of downward palm thrust like he's trying to mash Tamura's head into the canvas. His flurry of palms strikes that dropped Tamura a second time was another really great spot. This all builds to the finish where Tamura basically shit talks Nakano into throwing one too many high kicks and Tamura catches him with an ankle lock. I liked this a bunch.
Gary Albright v Yuko Miyato
This went about how you thought it would. Albright looked far more like a killer in this than he did in the Anjoh fight. He threw a couple huge suplexes and smashed Miyato in the face with a nasty forearm. Miyato catches him in the stomach with a spin kick and the crowd reacts like that might somehow be the opening for the upset, but then he goes to follow up and Gary catches him and drills him with a scoop slam. Crowd were like "oh shit he might actually be able to winaaaaand never mind he's fucked." If I'm gonna watch Albright then I want him to launch dudes like they're bags of wheat, so I can't complain about this two and a half minutes.
Kazuo Yamazaki v Yoji Anjoh
Man this was good, which shouldn't really be a shock considering these are two of the three best workers in the company. Some of the stand up in particular was excellent, though maybe surprisingly it was Anjoh who was throwing the bombs. He reeled off a couple outstanding combos that ended with brutal kicks to the body. Yamazaki got the better of the ground game and had Anjoh frantically struggling for the ropes a few times. Anjoh was also really fun trying to avoid Yamazaki's kicks. There was one point where they were sprawling and countering, both of them looking for openings, and as Anjoh got to his knees he had to throw himself out the way of a Yamazaki missile. They never did it like one of your pre-rehearsed indy sequences. It wasn't telegraphed; it felt organic, like Yamazaki got to his feet first, spotted a chance to go for the knockout and Anjoh was able to move just in time.
Nobuhiko Takada v Bob Backlund
I'm assuming they made an arse of this and it wasn't Takada being a carny and booking himself to win in seventy seconds. Match had gone a little over a minute when Takada caught Backlund in the ribs with a kick, and Bob never got up after that. Similar deal to Takada/Fujiwara from the '96 show. It's a shame, because I remember liking their '88 match a ton and the crowd were pretty amped for Bob getting a run out. Takada also looked to be willing to sell Bob's suplexes like death (he stayed down for a 9 count off a back suplex inside forty five seconds), and it's always fun getting to see Bob work some amateur wrestling.
Post-match pockets of the audience start throwing garbage in the ring, presumably because they're pissed about the main event. Yamazaki comes out like the elder statesman and tells them to calm down or something and they actually seem to listen. I bet Yamazaki would be the best uncle. I liked this show even if nothing on it went beyond twelve minutes. Maybe that was welcome after the last two shows had thirty minute tags.