When we previously left SWS, their first show ended with Isao Takagi getting his head kicked into pâté so it was probably just as well it was unofficial. This week we’re looking at their first proper show and VHS release: Commencement of War ’90.
And what a Commencement it is! The Yokohama Arena looks big-time with lazers, smoke machines and a village fair tent surrounding the ring to demonstrate SWS isn’t just spending money on other company’s wrestlers.
The tent rises like a waiter revealing the contents of a silver cloche to reveal the roster, divided into three stables:
- Genichiro Tenryu
- The Great Kabuki
- Takashi Ishikawa
- Samson Fuyuki
- Tatsumi Kitahara
- Hikaru Kawabata
- Masao Orihara
- Nobukazu Hirai
- Toshiyuki Nakahara
- Yoshiaki Yatsu
- KY Wakamatsu
- Kendo Nagasaki
- Goro Tsurumi
- Isao Takagi
- Shinichi Nakano
- Hiroshi Hatanaka
- Tetsuya Yamanaka
- George Takano
- Naoki Sano
- Shunji Takano
- Kenichi Oya
- Don Arakawa
- Akira Katayama
Revolution was composed of ex-AJPW guys, Palaestra is the ex-NJPW stable and Doko Geki was somewhere in the middle. If One Piece has taught us anything, it’s that big powerful groups can’t exist alongside each other without something violence occurring. Apparently the decision to group the roster into who they were recently employed by wasn’t just to making matches easier, the differing philosophies of NJPW/AJPW meant this was done as much to keep the peace as it was to give the crowds easy-to-understand feuds. Given all the backstage
whining drama of WWF vs. The Alliance, it makes sense SWS would do their best to alleviate a serious issue…before they made Kabuki the booker who worked under consultation from Tenryu and letting everyone know the company was pro-Revolution/ex-AJPW bias from the very start. This would all boil over later on but for now let’s focus on the most important new SWS signing:
Yes, we finally have a face to the voice! Fully agree with his job title too. Also some guy called Koji Kitao has just signed and is commentating next to him (presumably with a note that says “don’t call it fake.”) More on him next week.
Masao Orihara (Revolution) vs. Hiroshi Hatanaka (Dojo Geki)
We’re JIP with Hatanaka kicking the life out of Orihara before ending with a single-leg Boston Crab.
Jeff Wheeler vs. Kenichi Oya (Palaestra)
Wheeler’s a Canadian jobber who would be out the business in a few years so this is thankfully JIP with future FMW great Oya landing a missile dropkick before Wheeler mangles a rough Atomic Drop to confused crowd noises. “It’s rock n roll fight!” Eh, it’s more easy listening right now mate. Wheeler pins Oya following a Northern Lights Suplex and no, I don’t know why he was booked.
Shogun KY Wakamatsu (Dojo Geki) vs. Fumihiro Niikura
JIP once more with Shogun getting his legs trimmed courtesy of some low kicks. KY comes back with some brutal slaps but Niikura responds with a few of his own before the ref separates them. KY then slaps him around some more as I wonder what the hell happened between these two before the match. KY attempts a lariat but Niikura converts it into a Fujiwara Armbar to the crowd’s joy. KY shrugs off real pain to lock in an Octopus Stretch and we get a confusing end as Shogun celebrates without Niikura signalling he submitted. Crowd is pissed at the finish and KY is bleeding from the mouth as we quickly cut away and WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS. Weird minute and a half of some deliciously stiff offence and a screwy finish o
r as well it nowadays the AEW Women’s Division.
The Great Samoans vs. Dino Ventura and Jerry Morrow
OK it’s Samu and The Samoan Savage teaming up which I think makes them the Samoan Headshrinker Team. Dino & Jerry are more Canadian jobbers, they must have been on offer. JIP with Dino making the hot tag to Jerry who tries to noggin knocker The Samoans who look at Morrow and wonder if he’s ever watched wrestling before as they ignore it, double headbutt him and splash him daft for the victory.
Naoki Sano (Palaestra) vs. Snake Williams
Snake resembles one of those first round UFC guys Tank Abbott would have finished easily. We JIP right into Sano slapping the life out of him repeatedly before countering an Irish Whip into the corner by backflipping over Snake and connecting with a dropkick. Sano sends him to the outside and sails through the ropes with a middle-rope dive and finishes with a piledriver. Beautiful showcase for Sano.
Goro Tsurumi, Kendo Nagasaki & Shinichi Nakano (Dojo Geki) vs. Samson Fuyuki, Takashi Ishikawa & Tatsumi Kitahara (Revolution)
JIP with Ishikawa of the don’t-rightly-knows slapping the hell out of Nakano in the corner because I think this was during the heyday of Shooto and the like so everyone’s really laying in the slaps to the face. All three men charge Nakano in the corner which garners a “chain reaction!!” yell from our favourite commentator. Goro interferes to stop a Sharpshooter attempt and it all breaks down into a brawl on the outside with Fuyuki getting booed for some reason. I thought people liked him in 1990? We cut to Goro’s superplex getting turned into a crossbody from Kitahara like Davey Boy/HBK from SNME. Goro recovers and dumps him with a Razor’s Edge style powerbomb to win in anticlimactic fashion. Whatever.
Genichiro Tenryu & Great Kabuki (Revolution) vs. Bob Orton Jr. & Jeff Jarrett
Hiroshi Hatanaka (Dojo Geki) vs. Kenichi Oya (Palaestra)
Yeahhh more digest matches, alright rock n roll. Hatanaka gets kicked a lot as Oya takes out his frustration in having to lose to a nobody yesterday. Kick kick backdrop pin.
George naturally getting a singles match against Tenryu after pinning him in a tag yesterday. They measure one another out tremendously with plenty of escaping holds quickly and heading out the ring to avoid more close contact. Tenryu’s default facial expression is “bored anger” which works well when he’s shrugging off George’s offence and causes Takano to unleash the Honda slaps again so Tenryu can take him seriously. Which he does by slapping Takano daft in response. George stops the assault with an armbar before dunking Tenryu outside and follows with a basement dropkick to set up a flying…nothing as Tenryu side-steps it as Takano splats to the outside. It’s crazy that Takano’s more known for being a Light Heavyweight guy as Cobra because HE’S MASSIVE. Like Zac Efron as a Von Erich big. But he’s doing dives to the outside with no problems (other than landing). Back inside, Tenners plays with his food too long as Takano recovers to fly successfully off the top rope with a splash before attempting a Frankensteiner…which gets dunked into a powerbomb instead. Tenryu’s lightning bolt chops send Takano to the outside so then Tenryu decides to show him how it’s done and connects with a Tope Suicida just because. Crowd is loudly supporting Takano though and his increasingly more successful offence, including finally diving to the outside properly with a top rope crossbody. Crowd start making noises that sound like “wow could he beat Tenryu two nights in a row???” Tenryu’s bored angry face absorbs more blows before waiting for the right moment to land a flying enziguri to Takano’s face. However Tenryu has the exact thing happen to him moments later and the crowd are really eating these pin attempts from Takano. Sadly he goes for a German Suplex which is how he won yesterday and absolutely fudges it which lets the air out somewhat. They get the crowd back with Takano countering a Tenryu powerbomb into a rollup, with Tenryu holding on and nailing it anyway before giving him another enziguri and another powerbomb to end it. This did a tremendous job of establishing Takano as a force to be reckoned with, with the crowd eating out of the palms of their hand near the end (bad German suplex aside) and give the impression that it’s not going to just be Tenryu winning every match going forward. Cough.
Overall: Well it looked and sounded like a big deal in a big arena with a big commentator, with Tenryu bringing the match quality and guys like Sano standings out. But the mixed reaction for some wrestlers (Fuyuki, Takagi) and the mixed quality of the Canadian lads suggest they need some sort of reliable hook-up of solid American wrestlers soon.
Next week we’ll look at their next show featuring another bloody tournament and the debut of a man who would become synonymous with SWS…Koji Kitao.
I’ve been Maffew and I am neither STRAIGHT or STRONG and you can follow me on twitter.