An Englishman in New Japan – ALOHA!
By Dave Newman on 20th November 2021
It’s “aloha” today, which means both hello and farewell for now, as my interest in the activities of the gaijin in New Japan is waning a bit and the weirdness of some of the nineties death matches is stronger, so this will be a bigger than usual review as I look at a New Japan event held at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 3rd, 1985. In the next day or two I’ll be returning to the bathhouse for more hot and steamy action courtesy of Big Japan!
Superfly Jimmy Snuka vs. Pretty Boy Larry Sharpe
For anyone who hasn’t seen Sharpe, he’s about as much of a Pretty Boy as Buddy Rose was a Playboy, but his legacy is strong with training the likes of Bam Bam Bigelow, Raven and the Godfather. He jumps Snuka from behind to start. Snuka is in very odd gold knee pads. Elbow drop and boots as Jimmy begins to wake up. Larry starts offering a handshake as Snuka powers up with a headbutt and a slam. Double leapfrog and chop off the ropes. Backbreaker, and it’s time for the Superfly splash and it’s done in under two minutes! Just a squash, but totally fine for what it was. I always felt with Snuka that you just want to see the finisher, so get to it as soon as possible. ICHIBAN!
Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura vs. Gene Lewis and Charlie Fulton
The commentator namedrops the WWF to explain some of the talent appearing. Charlie Fulton was a dry journeyman who ended up being the head trainer at Larry Sharpe’s Monster Factory. Lewis, better known as Gene Petit, was briefly Cousin Luke as part of Hillbilly Jim’s family group. He and Fujinami start with one another. Awkward crossbody to start, followed by a dropkick from Tatsumi. I’ve actually never seen Lewis wrestle before, but he’s got good fire. Fulton tags in and misses an elbow, then both heels get dropkicked out. Fulton returns with Kimura. The heels trap him and work the arm. Lewis even works in a quasi cross-armbreaker, although it’s more of a reverse scissors. Kimura, in his selling and protestations, is very expressive, which makes me wonder why he didn’t get some prominent North American tours. Fujinami gets a chance tag and beats on Lewis, but Lewis gets a headbutt to the gut to stop that. The heels use that to trap and work him over. Fujinami fights back and brings Kimura in, but the heels just keep moving things back. Backbreaker for two, followed by a bearhug. Kimura judo throws that off, which is a rarely used break, but gets thrown outside and Lewis slams him painfully onto the wooden barrier. Back in, back to the bearhug. I know the bearhug has had a lot of shit over the years, but it’s such an easy move to get people into. Chance dropkick for Fujinami to return, and he gets Fulton in the abdominal stretch. Lewis breaks it, but gets caught in the airplane spin, and both men go over the top. The others join and it’s a double count out. Disappointing finish, because it was in need of a throw off spot, someone being rolled back in, and the Japanese guys returning with a move off the top for the win, but otherwise it was a perfectly good tag match with guys who knew how to work. ICHIBAN!
Seiji Sakaguchi vs. Matt Borne
Borne was pretty much a glorified enhancement guy in the WWF of 1985, but he’s probably my second or third pick for heel of the year in the WWF in 1993. Just a guy with a totally unique style, even if his personal life was a total mess. Exchange of chops to start, culminating with Borne taking one on the forehead and going for a break. Back in, he takes the arm. He gets some mounted punches in the corner before using a snapmare and getting a rear chinlock. Kinda surprised me, as I don’t see Sakaguchi being in any mood to bump. He breaks with a chop and a slam, but gets caught in a front facelock. Sakaguchi hoists him up to the top rope from there and slams him off, then finishes with an atomic drop, with a foot of space between his knee and Borne’s arse, for the one-two-three. No existing issue with Sakaguchi, but I could tell this would have as little effort as possible going in, and it under-delivered even in that respect. BUST!
The Cobra vs. Superfly Tui
Never seen the Cobra in green and gold before. This is for the WWF Junior Heavyweight championship. Tui is a heel who looks like a gay sheriff, with a fluffy blue and white jacket and cowboy hat and motorcycle glasses. I can tell just from his walk that he’ll be up for a bunch of gaga and stalling while Cobra is up for just getting down to it. He’s also the typical junior heavyweight of the era, like Denny Brown and Nelson Royal, short and a bit pudgy. While they test each other out, I’m just mesmerized by an obese woman in the stands who looks like she’s wearing a sumo suit, with a big red handbag looking like her sumo nappy. Miss Hawaii, I guess. Cobra goes for a Scorpion, but Tui makes the ropes. Tui whips him into the corner and Cobra gets an Owen Hart/Shawn Michaels backflip out of the corner and a spinning back kick that just about connects. Tui takes a break and then gets a knee for two, then a sloppy hip toss to ground Cobra for a rear chinlock. Cobra flips over a backdrop and gets a pair of dropkicks then a sensational flying lariat. Dangerous tombstone, with Tui initially flopping all over in the lifted position, but Cobra runs and drops it in a perfectly safe manner, more like a powerslam. He goes to the top for a move, but Tui rolls out of the way, so he just drops down and kicks him, again not unlike Shawn Michaels with Vader. Tui dumps him and follows out and tries to ram him into the post, but Cobra’s not playing bald. Tui even trips over one of the bases of the barriers. Back in, some forearms to the back and an Irish whip to the corner. Cobra tumbles out of the way, gets a dropkick. They get into a Groundhog Day loop of not moving around and not knowing what to do. Tui gets a crappy kneedrop, but Cobra finishes with a small package. Boy, if I judge Cobra on his performance I say really good, but if I judge Tui on his I say really bad. Tui was terrible, way out of his depth. I’ll go in the middle. ICHIBUST!
Andre the Giant, Angelo Mosca and Steve Collins vs. Mark Lewin, Kevin Sullivan and King Kong Bundy
Don’t know if this was the main event, but it should be. Big, big match. Lewin is technically in his Purple Haze character by this point. Not too sure on who Collins is, but he’s going for the Magnum TA look. Mosca just died, sadly. Sullivan opens up on Collins with chops and a backdrop before bringing in Lewin with a rope to choke. Bundy throws some boots in from the outside too. Collins takes a funny bump backwards over the ringside barrier, then Lewin drops him right on his balls on it in a not at all funny bump. Not a man in the place that didn’t feel that. Back in, Collins gets a chance sunset flip for two on Sullivan, then tags in Mosca. He rams Sullivan and Lewin together and give Bundy a free shot. Bundy comes in and gets pretty much overwhelmed from the start, but won’t go up for a slam. Fair play to Angelo for giving it a shot. Just realised as well that it’s the battle of the King Kongs. Andre tags in and shoves Bundy off. He beats on all three heels at random and gets them in the corner for the assisted battering ram. Rain starts coming down heavily all of a sudden, which will be the sign from the gods to go home. Sullivan gets trapped and tries punching at Andre to zero effect. Big chop and boot, setting up Andre to press Collins onto Sullivan. Sullivan whips out what looks like a plastic document wallet full of powder to throw in their faces, and that’s it for the DQ. The heels try to overwhelm Andre, but he makes his own comeback and runs them off. The change in the weather meant we probably didn’t get half of what we were expecting, but it was completely fun. ICHIBAN!
Melting it down: Kinda sad to be knocking this on the head of my own accord with such a fun, easy show to review, but better to leave on a high note. Back before this week ends or the next one fully starts with some sensational, silly, sizzling sauna sadism!