Andrew gives his take on the very special All Star event, remembering Giant Baba!
The 20th Anniversary of Giant Baba’s passing and Abdullah the Butcher’s official retirement ceremony are encapsulated in this show.
Some of the match ups are a little random, some people wouldn’t be on a normal wrestling card nowadays, but this is a special event. There are memories and connections in every match and nearly every wrestler involved in this show. No one expects the Pro Bowl or All Star game to be the best game of the year, just good ole fashioned fun.
That’s what this should be. Having fun, match ups we haven’t seen in years or have yet to see, all in memory of a legend.
Let’s see what went on.
- Giant Baba Memorial Battle Royal: Mitsuo Momota wins via Double Legged Cradle – *
- Kazushi Miyamoto, Tomohiko Hashimoto, Daichi Hashimoto & Takuya Nomura vs Tomoaki Honma, Yuji Okabayashi, Naoya Nomura & Ren Narita: Okabayashi wins via Torture Rack – **
- Bunkhouse Deathmatch: Atsushi Onita, Hideki Suzuki, Hideki Hosaka & Kendo Kashin vs The Great Kojika, Shuji Ishikawa, Mitsuya Nagai & Hikaru Sato: Suzuki wins via Double Arm Suplex – ** 1/4
- TAKA Michinoku, Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Yuma Aoyagi, Masanobu Fuchi & Yoshiaki Fujiwara: Taichi wins via Inside Cradle – **
- SANADA & BUSHI vs Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto vs Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida: SANADA wins via Moonsault – ***
- Naomichi Marufuji & Jinsei Shinzaki vs Masaaki Mochizuki & Shun Skywalker: Marufuji wins via Perfect Inside Cradle – *** 3/4
- Takao Omori, Jun Akiyama & Taiyo Kea vs Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima & Osamu Nishimura: Akiyama wins via Wristclutch Exploder – ** 1/2
- Kaz Hayashi & NOSAWA Rongai vs Mil Mascaras & Dos Caras: Mascaras wins via Flying Body Press – *
- Kento Miyahara & Daisuke Sekimoto vs Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yoshitatsu: Kento wins via Shutdown German Suplex – **** 1/4
Anotnio Inoki opens the show to a great reaction. He ends with his 1,2,3 catchphrase, and the crowd loves it.
Battle Royals are rarely taken seriously in Japan, and this has numerous veterans and interesting wrestlers. Mighty Inoue is the special guest referee. As expected, this is mostly comedy. Addullah Kobayashi does all the Abdullah the butcher stuff. Stalker Ichikawa gets a special entrance, and eliminates himself when he slips off the top turnbuckle. The finish sees Mitsuo Momota pin Mens Teioh with a Double Legged Cradle. It’s fun since Momota is Rikidozan’s son. Rikidozan being the father of Puroresu and the man who trained both Baba and Inoki. So it’s a feel good moment.
Miyamoto and Honma have history, since they were once a tag in All Japan, called Turmeric Storm. This is the first serious match on the card, and each member played their part well. Narita got beat on for a while since he’s a New Japan Young Lion, Naoya had a small flourish to support him currently being one half of the All Asia Tag Team Champions and Okabayashi was the dominant powerhouse he’s known to be (also helps to lend credence to him being 1 half of the AJPW World Tag Team Champions) . The finish was a little sloppy since Takuya slipped off his shoulders during the Torture Rack attempt, but redoing it allowed for the tap out. Not bad all things considered.
Well now, a Bunkhouse distinction in the match, Onita’s Wild Thing entrance song, and being seconded by Freddie Krueger – is it 1988? I mean, this wasn’t a technical classic, but it was what most expected. A few veterans in a hardcore match that had fun spots. A notable spot was Great Kojika taking an unprotected seat popping Chairshot to the head, followed up by Onita wanting to Piledriver him through a table. Kendo Kashin implores not to do it, since Kojika is an old man, so he goes and grabs Sato to offer him as sacrifice. Sato took all the major bumps in the match. Piledriver on the table, he got hit with a barbed wire baseball bat, put through a barbed wire table on top of chairs, and then ate the Double Arm Suplex finish. He’s gonna need some ice and Advil…damn.
At this point we get Abdullah the Butcher’s retirement ceremony. Dos Caras, Mil Mascaras, Jun Akiyama, Tiger Mask (Satoru Sayama), Dory Funk Jr, Seiji Sakaguchi, Stan Hansen (who remarks “I really want to beat you over the head with this”, referring to the bouquet of flowers) and Keiji Mutoh come out to present Abdullah with flowers and have a few words with their old friend. Mutoh even goes as far as trying to goad him into a fight, with a big smile on his face. There’s even a video from Minoru Suzuki. Abdullah grabs the mic and references that his friend and former manager Billy “Honest John” Robertson passed away. Reminds people to never put their parents in a home, since you’ll get old eventually. Obviously has a deeper meaning to him, but still words that are very true.
As Taichi makes his entrance with Miho, it looks like Kawada is on coverage. So this is interesting given the fact that there are many people who hate Taichi and think he’s an embarrassment to Kawada (being one of his students). So I’m curious how that little moment hit Japanese fans. As for the match, it’s what you’d expect from a heel team against 2 veterans and a younger guy. The veterans got their moves in, the crowd popped. When the heels did stuff to the veterans, they got massive boos. It should be noted that Taichi did pull out very half-assed Kawada kicks on Fuchi, and the camera panned to a less than happy Toshiaki Kawada. After Taichi’s roll-up victory, which was set up by a low blow, he has words with Kawada. Kawada doesn’t emote, doesn’t really respond, and from the angle of the camera doesn’t even seem to make eye contact. So since Kawada has stated he doesn’t see himself ever wrestling again, I’m curious if that’s building to anything.
Okay this match was fun. The Young Lions and Sweeper took out LIJ early and took it to one another. Iwamoto beat on Shota, Yoshida managed to get a few good licks in, but Los Ingobernables were the stars here. BUSHI kept finding ways to goad Jake or Koji into their corner so SANADA could tag in. A lot of fun and quick tag offense, BUSHI mists Koji, SANADA puts Jake in the Paradise Lock and has him stuck in the ring while he finishes off Shota with a Moonsault. Jake seems quite insulted afterwards and has words with SANADA. So maybe if All Japan and New Japan stay on good terms, maybe one of the teams enters the respective Tag League.
Well now we’ve got three legendary names and Shun Skywalker who tends to be Masaaki’s tag partner in many special bouts. But Marufuji is the Ace of NOAH and Jinsei, many may know as Hakushi from WWF, but he’s still going damn strong. This was a fun match, but a crisp, well wrestled kind of fun. Not goofy fun like we’ve had in a few of these matches. Marufuji took most of the bumps in the match, but Jinsei did get in a good bit of offense. His Prayer Rope Walk Chop, Diving Shoulder Tackle and a gorgeous Cartwheel Thrust Kick that makes you forget he’s 52. But yes, with Masaaki and Marufuji’s past, coupled with the finish, cause I haven’t seen Marufuji use the Perfect Inside Cradle in like forever…this was great.
Ahh the 6 man Dads match. Akiyama, Taiyo Kea, Nagata and Kojima can still put on a damn good match, but they’re obviously a bit beyond their primes. It’s nice to see some old rivalries relived that we haven’t seen in years, but this was alright. Nishmura ate the pin as to keep Kojima and Nagata protected a bit, especially with All Japan’s Champion Carnival coming up. We could always see one of the non-AJPW talents from this match, show up in the Carnival.
The semi-final match is this? Dos Caras and Mil Mascaras? Mil is like 76 and Caras is pushing 70…Mil had to be basically carried to the ring. Ugh, okay this is one of those moments when feel good moments go a step too far. I feel bad for Kaz Hayashi. Now I’m not new the Japanese wrestling, so I understand their love and propensity for nostalgia and legends. I’m also aware that he had matches with Baba back in the day, so I get his reason for being there. Semi-main however is what bothers me, but hey, the crowd loved it, Hayashi played up the heel role and I guess that’s a thing. I give it the one star out of respect for the legends, and the fact that it obviously played well for the Sumo Hall crowd.
Kento comes out with the current and original Triple Crown Championship belts. Very nice tribute for Baba’s memorial show. Surprisingly the crowd is a Kento crowd. The Kento chants drown out the Tanahashi chants, so Yoshi and Tana play heel for most of the match. This was exactly what you’d expect from an All Star match. EVEN Yoshitatsu held his own. Sekimoto looked great and hit his I’m Helping Double German Suplex – at least that’s what I call it. When Kento did his against the post spot to Yoshitatsu, the referee saw Tanahashi coming over, called him faster and instructed him to pull Kento’s hair to break up the hold. Slingblades and Blackouts aplenty, this was a fun match and definitely worth being the main event. Kento playfully chided Tanahashi after the match, but the crowd started chanting for Tanahashi to join the Triple Crown Champion, and they both pose while saying a combination of one another’s catch phrases. Very nice moment.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
Johnny Ace, Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair have nice video messages to close out the show dedicated to Baba, followed by a 10 bell salute. As for the show, it was fun. A great combination of legends with ties to Baba and current talent to deliver good in-ring product. No one expected this to be 5 star matches everywhere, and yes some things about it were very Japanese, so the casual fan may not appreciate some stuff, but there were still some solid matches to search out if the historical aspect doesn’t do it for you.