Wrestling Observer Flashback – 08.14.96
Here’s a shocking story to start this week’s issue: Dave is a really big fan of New Japan Pro Wrestling. I know, I know, what a bombshell.
– Dave proclaims that no promotion is any hotter here in 1996, with more mainstream popularity, than NJPW is. The G-1 alone sold 55,000 tickets and drew $3 million in ticket sales (converted to metric, that’s approximately one third of a Wrestlemania today). In fact, Dave declares that New Japan is the very model of what a modern pro wrestling promotion should be!
– At this point Dave puts over the brilliance of Antonio Inoki and goes into a detailed history of his career, interspersed with the detailed results of the combined G-1 and J-Crown shows, which I will spare you.
– Meanwhile, New Japan held the historic J Crown tournament, with 8 champions competing to unify all the titles into one match with 8 belts at stake. (And you thought Roman Reigns v. Brock Lesnar was a big deal!) For those keeping score, the belts at stake were the following: IWGP Junior Heavyweight, NWA Welterweight, WAR International Junior, WWF Light Heavyweight, NWA Junior heavyweight, Great Britain Junior Heavyweight, WWA Junior Light Heavyweight and UWA Light Heavyweight. Notable is that half of those “titles” don’t actually exist or at least haven’t been active in decades, but it’s still pretty cool.
– Skipping ahead to the point, Ultimo Dragon of course beat Great Sasuke to unify the 8 belts and win the J-Crown.
– And that’s literally the entire issue this time around aside from quick mentions that 1-2-3 Kid is debuting for WCW soon and Gary Wolfe has a broken neck, so consider this a a bonus appetizer tonight since it only took me 10 minutes to write, and we’ll move onto the next week’s proper double issue tomorrow with Dave back from Japan and reporting news again.