Here’s a slightly random post but I found someone who had a copy of a show I’ve wanted to see ever since I saw the photos in Powerslam Magazine #112 and if you’d seen this in 2003 you’d be excited too:
I’ve seen a lot of Onita matches since then so I know what to expect from Wild Thing but Sasuke has a fascination with finding new ways of completely ruining his body so this match has a hell of a reputation and I wanted to see if it’s based on the match quality or the rarity of the show. Let’s find out together and I hope you know more about 2003 M-Pro than I do.
We’re at the uhhhh APPI Kogen Ski Resort Special Ring with apparently 8,000 fans in attendance but they must be all behind the hard camera which is more interested in capturing the giant yellow real-life SNES RPG building instead.
So all I know about the show/match is this was done to give publicity to both men’s political careers with Onita getting voted into the Japanese Diet in 2001 and Sasuke getting voted into the Iwate Prefectural Assembly in April of 2003. AFAIK this didn’t get a proper home release but it was shown on Gaora TV so like a lot of Puro shows with a limited time-slot the first few matches are cut like New Jack’s forehead so I’ll skip ahead.
Jushin Thunder Liger & Koji Kanemoto vs. Ikuto Hidaka & Minoru Fujita (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles)
You can tell it’s a big show when the NJPW champions are visiting and this is back when they didn’t switch these titles every show too. Compared to the NJPW lads, Hidaka & Fujita look like they’ve accidentally walked into a first class train carriage. Fujita and Kanemoto start off with Koji winning a chop exchange with a kick. We clip (aww) to Hidaka countering a Liger powerbomb into a DDT and the first cool spot of the night sees Liger knock Hikada out of the ring with the Rolling Kick, only for Hikada to hold onto the ropes, bounce back in and take out Liger with a spinning wheel kick.
Fujita makes the hot (ehh) tag and gets a really indie-looking basement-dropkick-with-obvious-clap but redeems himself with a STF variation where he’s trying to make Liger’s neck touch his foot. Kanemoto tries to interfere so the M-Pro lads dispose of him so they can get an elevated Tornado DDT on Liger. This pisses him off so he immediately retaliates with Palm Strikes but for some reason Fujita ignores it and gets a roll-up for two instead. I thought that move was deadly but I guess going to CZW has turned Fujita extreme. Kanemoto is able to tag in and commence working over Hidaka but he’s able to kick out of a Falcon Arrow and the invisible crowd is really getting into Hiddy now. He’s able to use the crowd support to connect with a springboard dropkick to the ankle and follows with an Ankle Lock. Fujita takes out Liger on the outside and tries to help by applying the STF variation to Kanemoto too but he can only hold it for five seconds before the ref tells him to piss off. Kanemoto’s able to get the ropes resulting in a polite golf clap because like Christopher and Tony Soprano, the crowd may not love him but they do respect him. Fujita and Hidaka try to double-team Double K but he starts firing off kicks instead with the crowd getting emotional every time Hidaka takes one but are nonchalant for Fujita. Hidaka refuses to get pinned leading Liger to dispose of Fujita so they can combo the fuck out of Hidaka with a Palm Strike, Face Wash, Running Liger Bomb and finally an Ankle Lock enough to make Hidaka tap.
Winners & still IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Champions: Jushin Thunder Liger & Koji Kanemoto (Nice tag match with Liger & Kanemoto letting the kids look like they had a shot until reality did a run-in. Hidaka was silky smooth and I really enjoyed both teams making sure to remove the other team’s partner so they could get away with murder. Fujita looked rough in appearance and execution and I don’t know if he ever got better.)
Tiger Mask IV vs. Dick Togo (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title)
Two M-Pro originals going at it. Clipped straight to a STF and an attempted mask-removal from Dick. Dick ducks a crossbody and the ref takes it. Oh shit, it’s Red Shoes! Dick takes advantage of the lack of ref to start abusing Tiger with a chair. But when the ref recovers he still uses it but pretends to not hear the ref’s protests. Dick ends up beaning himself but cuts off Tiger Mask with a backdrop suplex before he can take advantage. Speaking of cuts, we skip ahead to Tiger just kicking out of a
Anyway Dick lands a Pedigree followed by the Top Rope Back Senton but Tiger’s just able to roll to the ropes. They fight on the top rope with Tiger managing a Sunset Flip Powerbomb (his first offence of the match) for two followed by a Tombstone Piledriver and Tiger Suplex…for two. Jesus Dick. Tiger follows with a top rope Butterfly Suplex and a second Tiger Suplex to end it.
Winner and still IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion: Tiger Mask IV (The cutting reduced this to Just A Bunch Of Moves so ehhhh. Dick looked worn out but we’ve all been there.)
Jinsei Shinzaki & Osamu Nishimura vs. Makai Club (Makai #1 & Tadao Yasuda)
An M-Pro original teaming with a NJPW good guy to take on two NJPW bad guys. I know Osamu from his brief appearances in WCW & ECW, and Shinzaki can be great but only when he feels like it. Cagematch says Makai #1 is Super Strong Machine but he doesn’t look super, strong or machine-y so I think it’s one of the other Makai members but don’t know enough about them to guess who. This is why puro fans encourage gate-keeping. Tadao Yasuda is a former IWGP Heavyweight champion because he won a MMA fight during Inoki-ism and coincidentally his gimmick now is “Head of a MMA-based stable that worships Inoki.” Makai Club attack while Osamu is talking and we clip ahead with Osamu showing off his mat wrestling by escaping a head-scissors via hand-stand. More clipping as the ref gets distracted so The Club can work over Shinzaki. It’s all very old-school WWF tag action with the Makais distracting the ref so they can hit double teams and it’s cool to see that formula works anywhere in the world with the invisible crowd booing The Club. Eventually Shinzaki gets the smooth Irish Whip-into-a-kick-to-the-back-of-the-head on #1 to make the hot tag. Osamu cleans up until it breaks down with all four men brawling until Tadao shows his age by falling side-ways off a double dropkick rather than backwards and then Osamu gets the pin on Makai with an Octopus Hold Pin.
Winners: Jinsei Shinzaki & Osamu Nishimura (Like watching a Million Dollar Corporation tag match from a WWF house show. Shinzaki did the bare minimum but I still love him.)
Atsushi Onita vs. The Great Sasuke (No Ropes Barbed Wire Explosive Mine Board Death Match)
ALRIGHT HERE WE FUCKING GO JAPANESE POLITICS. Onita’s entrance is more entertaining than the entire previous match, swaggering to the ring grinning and smoking like his cock’s ten foot wide. He’s accompanied by a suited-and-booted Mr. Pogo who was also attempting to break into politics but he didn’t meet the requirement of being able to break a 1/2* match rating to enter the Diet.
Sasuke brings a ladder with him because there wasn’t enough horror already. In case this is your first Onita match, the ring ropes have been removed and 3/4 has barbed wire which will explode upon contact. The other quarter has no ropes with barbed wire mines outside which will also explode. Usually these Double Hell matches have two barbed-wire ropes and two sets of mines but 7,990 fans are up on the hill so having the mine-side facing them will be the only sane part of the match.
Onita goes for Sasuke as soon as the bell rings and the crowd boos because he’s MR. LIAR. Onita can’t throw Sasuke into the explosions so he gets a jumping DDT (the one from No Mercy 64) but that doesn’t help and both men resist the urge to go into the barbed wire. Onita counters a headlock into a backdrop suplex but Sasuke holds on and we get more sandbagging. It’s more gripping than I’m typing because the crowd goes OOOOOAHH every time they go near anything pointy and you get the feeling there’s going to be an explosion anytime. Sasuke manages to reverse an Irish Whip and Onita is the first to die.
Mr. Pogo helps Onita back into the ring but he’s able to kick out at two. Sasuke gets offence on Onita until “Mr. 20,000 Women” spits red mist to the disgust of the crowd. Sasuke gets twatted with a chair and he inches slowly towards the Mines with every shot to really get the crowd chewing their fingernails. Sasuke tries a dropkick but Onita brutally knocks him down mid-air with the ladder. Sasuke is already walking dead and he’s not touched anything sharp yet. He manages to knock down Onita and then very un-wisely decides to climb the ladder as the crowd collectively holds their breath. Onita also climbs the ladder but there’s only one possible outcome here and Sasuke is too close to the barbed-wire to fall with the ladder “safely” so instead we get one of the craziest fucking bumps I’ve ever seen as Sasuke plummets off the ladder and lands FACE-FIRST DIRECTLY ONTO THE EXPLODING BARBED WIRE.
Christ. A slow-mo replay shows Sasuke didn’t land directly on the barbed-wire but scraped them as he fell and landed on the hard ground and thus got the worst of both worlds. His tights are cut, he’s bleeding from the mouth and there’s smoke still pouring out his body.
Sasuke just about manages to get back into the ring where he’s met by a ladder to the back. Onita goes to remove his mask and the referee has to drag Onita off him as no-one sees Sasuke’s face. Onita does such a good job of ripping it that Sasuke’s second has to throw a replacement in and Sasuke leaves the ring to change masks, complete with towel-boys covering him up. That’s a smart way of buying time. Sasuke gets a powerbomb on a chair while we check out Sasuke’s new look blue mask he’s been able to shove over the red one. After finding his pulse, Sasuke finally gets some offence in and gets a two-count off a piledriver. Sasuke thinks this is a really good time to climb that ladder again as the crowd can be heard hiding behind their hands as Onita launches Sasuke into the mines outside.
Sasuke’s gear is torn apart once more and the referee very slowly begins the count. Al Pacino at the end of Scarface is doing better than him right now but he’s somehow able to reach the ring when Pogo throws a fireball right into Sasuke. Onita goes for the pin but Sasuke’s not had enough yet. Fire Thunder Powerbomb also only gets two as the crowd are happy he’s still alive. Onita gives him another one on the ladder and you can hear the loud screams from poor Sasuke but he still kicks out. Sasuke stands up and you can see the gaping wounds in his back and then OH BOY BEAR WITH ME HERE Onita rams Sasuke into the barbed wire for more explosions and immediately afterwards Pogo appears for another fireball and this one’s BIG and causes Onita’s shirt to set on fire and the referee has to save Onita’s life before Sasuke can roll him up and end the war.
Pogo attacks post-match but Sasuke is immobile because of the match and Pogo is immobile because he’s Pogo. Eventually Onita turns on Pogo and sends him away with soft offence so Sasuke can be dead in peace. We get Onita Theatre and the trademark water-throwing (which the crowd goes nuts for) and both men promise to work together in the world of politics from now on because the match needed a hopeful love ending.
Winner: The Great Sasuke (Sometimes you know you shouldn’t watch something you’ve wanted for so long because there’s no way your imagination and years of build can meet the expectations and you’ll just be disappointed. This wasn’t one of those times. Onita is technically limited but has great timing and charisma while Sasuke is insane and will take bumps Mick Foley would refuse to do, so this was the perfect blend of sadism and masochism and even Pogo’s attempt at barbecuing Onita only added to the craziness. Like the lager in Ice Cold In Alex, this was worth waiting for.
Overall: Regardless of the star-power on the undercard, this was a total one-match show and that show was fucking awesome if you’re into that kind of thing.
If you want a copy, go see BAHU and he’ll hook you up if you bring your wallet.