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  1. Sure enough, the 5/26 six-man which put Misawa on the map as a serious contender (the one with that elbow) was originally booked with Takano in his place.
  2. For those who may not have seen my rundown of the 2020 Jumbo biography on PWO, Tenryu claims that this match influenced his decision to leave. He was frustrated with the staleness of the Jumbo feud and wanted to make this match actually escalate things by bringing blood into it. Of course, Tsuruta had a perfectly valid reason not to want to go that route, but he had not disclosed his condition to anyone other than Baba. So he told Wada to tell "Gen-chan" to take it easy on him that night.
  3. Untelevised show from the 1975 Open League. Note that Kintaro Oki had already been written off the tour in an angle on the 12/11 Rikidozan tribute show (the brawl between him and Abby got timekeeper and Rikidozan son Yoshihiro Momota hurt, and in kayfabe Oki dropped out of the tourney in shame).
  4. The original NJPW roster. Row by row, left to right (though bear in mind that this was meant to be read right-to-left if the order confuses you): Kotetsu Yamamoto, Toyonobori, Antonio Inoki, Osamu Kido, Katsuhisa Shibata, Motoyuki Kitazawa, Shoji Ito, Little Hamada, Tatsumi Fujinami, referee Youssef Turk, Kazuo Sato, and Shinichi Kihara. Ito, Sato, and Kihara all retired in less than a year, although Ito remained with the company through its sales department until leaving as part of Japan Pro.
  5. Coverage of Onita's debut from the June 1974 issue of Monthly Pro Wrestling.
  6. Behold, PLUSHER KIMURA. Had to perform a ceremonial headbutt when he came in with my Toudoukan order today.
  7. Here's the earliest Scorpion picture out there, administered by Samson Kutsuwada in December 1972. Honestly, this makes me wonder if it was one of the many moves that Gotch drilled his students with in his infamous "250 holds in 10 minutes (or thereabouts)" sessions, and that the Japanese guys subconsciously recalled it. (I got this from the Showa Puroresu fanzine site, but it wouldn't let me insert the image from a url so I had to host it on imgur.) Edit: I guess I should've ran that Showa Puroresu page's text for DeepL, because it states exactly that. It also states that Kutsuwada received direct instruction from Gotch during his late sixties stint as a JWA trainer. While the hold being a Gotch invention had already been a theory among Japanese fans, this picture seems to be the smoking gun.
  8. It's no longer up, but I downloaded a YouTube upload of an unsubtitled rip of the 1996 direct-to-video Baba anime movie, APO APO World Giant Baba 90 Minute Match. It's essentially a fantasy about Baba needing to step up and defeat an evil masked wrestler. Baba's voiced by Kōichi Yamadera (Spike Spiegel/Ryōji Kaji/Shun Akiyama from Yakuza himself), and he does a good impression in the clips I watched, but Shigeru Chiba (Pilaf/Raditz/Garlic Jr. in Dragon Ball and Kuwabara in Yu Yu Hakusho) doesn't even try to imitate Rusher's voice. Among other things, we get a flashback sequence in which Baba his pitching arm destroyed by the shower door accident, attempts to jump off a bridge onto the path of a train, but is stopped by a pack of stray dogs bite-pulling on his trenchcoat.
  9. The period often gets pared down to "watch 12/16/88 and 6/5/89" as a tablesetter for the Misawa era, and that's so wrong.
  10. Mach Hayato just passed. He's an obscure name in the West but the man was a lucharesu pioneer. Edit 11/13: I just posted an obituary on my PWO puroresu history thread.
  11. Obligatory note that the Williams backdrop legit injured Yatsu (his ribs, iirc). At the time he claimed that part of the reason he left for SWS was that Baba didn't reimburse him for the surgery.
  12. 6:30 Man was a nickname Momota garnered for spending years and years as a curtainjerker.
  13. Necroposting pretty hard here, I'm aware, but I just got new information from the Ichise book. Kawada got this match for winning the Asunaro Cup/Tomorrow League tournament. It was originally pitched as a Triple Crown title shot (the July 15 Observer also states this), but that wouldn't work for Tenryu, brother. (For all the rebellion he inspired, it seems like Tenryu could still fall back on the old hierarchical modes of thinking. I'm remembering how he apparently had some objections to Akio Sato's early-80s reforms, though I can't find out exactly what he was opposed to.)
  14. AJPW and NJPW were cooperating around this time. Baba was back in the president's chair and Sakaguchi was NJPW president by this point, so there were friendly relations in 1990 which were compared to the fall of the Berlin Wall (yeah it seems dramatic, but I've seen this specific comparison in multiple Japanese sources, and hey, it was topical). The story has long been that Baba came in clutch and agreed to let Sakaguchi book some dream matches (in which his talent was protected) when the NJPW Dome show plans with WCW fell through, and I haven't yet seen Japanese accounts that contradict it. (The two had always been friends; in fact, I've read that Sakaguchi going to New Japan instead of All Japan had less to do with Shohei and more to do with Motoko.) If the story in the Jumbo bio about the no-pulling agreement both companies signed in 1985 is true and that paper still had any legal weight, then it stands to reason that these friendly relations were how Baba got Steve Williams (and probably Andre too) and Sakaguchi was able to go on ahead with the WCW guys. Remember, WCW was working with All Japan as late as 1989. There's also that June match where Vader defended the IWGP belt against Hansen, and Fujinami attended the May show where Misawa unmasked. According to the 2019 Hidetoshi Ichise book on the Pillars that I've been transcribing (I finished Chapter 6 but I'm going to bundle this up with 7 when I post again, and that's probably a couple weeks out due to chapter length and personal stuff), Tenryu/TMII vs. Choshu/Takano was originally Tenryu & Kawada vs. Choshu & Kuniaki Kobayashi. As it tells the story though, Choshu switched Kobayashi out for Takano (which Sakaguchi was not happy about), and Tiger Mask II was slotted in just five days before the show (which Kawada felt snubbed over).
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