17th May 1992
Big Van Vader vs Tony Halme
Kicking things off with a match from NJPW’s ” Crush The Super Heavy III” group of shows (this was from show number 1) between Big Van Vader and Tony “Ludvig Borga” Halme. Vader is considered a legend in Japanese wrestling and was very successful winning the Triple Crown championship twice in AJPW as well as the IWGP championship in NJPW as well as tag title reigns. It was in Japan where the Vader character and look was created. Tony Halme was described as “obnoxious and he could be a bully if allowed to be as such” by Jim Ross and alcohol/drug issues plagued his last years including the last year of his term as a member of Parliament in Finland. Halme did win the NJPW IWGP tag titles with Scott Norton during his 3 years in NJPW before joining the WWE in 1993. Not a pretty match but two tough powerhouses collide!
15th July 2007
Davey Richards/Thoruf/Akihito Ito vs Ippei Ota/Masao Inoue/Tsutomu Hirayanagi
From the NOAH Summer Navigation set of shows ( this was number 12) we have the opening match from that show as TNA’s Davey Richards teams up with Akihito Ito and Thoruf AKA Erick Rowan ( minus the long ginger beard). A fast paced match with Davey Richards being the busiest with aerial moves galore. Davey worked for NOAH on tours during his ROH tenure due to the Global Professional Wrestling Alliance, a cooperative group agreement between several Japanese companies as well as ROH and Harley Race’s WLW. The agreement allows talent to be shared between the companies as well as sharing training facilities as well as avoiding shows to clash with each other. This was the 3rd appearance of Thoruf during a 2 month tour with NOAH having made his wrestling debut in 2003. Thoruf would wrestle back in the USA for the next 4 years until signing a developmental deal with the WWE, making his debut in FCW as Erick Rowan with a win over Kenneth Cameron ( Now in TNA as Bram) in August 2011. He would then become the “second son” of the Wyatt Family on the re-branded NXT on 12th December 2012.
6th November 2011
Akebono vs Big Daddy V
A match full of high flying exciting action with fast paced power moves…was in the second clip! To quote Monty Python “And now for something completely different!” Here we have two giant behemoths in what I hope was a reinforced ring as Akebono takes on the late Big Daddy V from AJPW’s tour of Taiwan in 2011. Akebono was born in Hawaii and started his career in sumo in Japan in 1988 becoming extremely successful until injury made him retire in 2001. A failing restaurant forced him into MMA which was not successful before entering the world of wrestling by first appearing in WWE to accept Big Show’s challenge of a sumo match at Wrestlemania 21. Akebono went on to train under Keiji Muto in AJPW before joining NJPW which included challenging Brock Lesnar for the IWGP championship in a losing effort. Akebono is a Triple Crown winner in AJPW although ill health forced him to relinquish the title in May of this year.
Big Daddy V would go on after leaving WWE in 2008 to appear on the indie scene before starting work with AJPW in 2010 for a year then rejoining again for last 3 months of the year in 2011. During his stints he teamed with Taru as part of the Voodoo Murders stable to win the All Asia tag titles from Akebono and Ryota Hama. This match may not be a classic between these two giants but I personally enjoyed it for what it is!
30th April 2007
Masada/Sterling James Keenan vs Mad Man Pondo/Necro Butcher
A tag team hardcore match is next between the team of Mad Man Pondo and Necro Butcher vs Masada and Sterling James Keenan who is currently known as Corey Graves in NXT. A typical hardcore affair although Keenan looks rather out of place in this one. The use of weaponry takes a dramatic twist when Pondo uses two knives, a guy in a wheelchair, and even a small child as weapons to bloody Keenan and Masada’s arm! Keenan signed with WWE in 2011, debuting on the September 25th tapings in a losing effort to Erick Rowan. He is currently sidelined after a second concussion and may not actually return to in ring competition. Masada is a regular in CZW and the general hardcore scene in both USA and Japan. Mad Man Pondo started working for BJW as part of a talent exchange agreement between BJW and CZW in 2000 that ended in 2001 after CZW demanded more money. While the other talent was pulled, Pondo refused as the company had treated him very well. He later became the American Booker for BJW and brought in talent like 2 Tuff Tony to work on tours for the company. Pondo and Necro Butcher (who featured in the film “The Wrestler”) have teamed together on numerous occasions for JCW primarily from 2003 onwards winning the JCW tag titles on two occasions as well as battling each other in deathmatches. Necro Butcher has wrestled for numerous companies including ROH, CZW, IWA-Mid South and PWG and is known for his willingness to participate in deathmatches although he has been booked often in non-hardcore matches because of his ability to have hard hitting slugfests without the need for weaponry. Necro was also New Jack’s final opponent in Jacks retirement match in April 2013 on night 2 of the PWS Supercard.
9th December 1980
Ricky Steamboat vs The Sheik
While working for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling as part of the NWA organization, Ricky Steamboat left as the champion to do a short tour of Japan with AJPW as part of their Real World Tag League 1980 set of shows. On a tour that featured foreign talent such as Terry Funk, Dory Funk Jr, Abdullah The Butcher, Haku, UK’s Billy Robinson and Nick Bockwinkel amongst others it was The Sheik who was paired with Steamboat on the 9th show out of 13 in a singles match which pretty much ends after 3 minutes. Seven years before Steamboat’s classic battle with the Intercontinental champion Randy Savage at Wrestlemania III we have Ricky in a rare all out brawl and an even rarer sight of Steamboat bleeding. The Sheik is the Uncle of ECW legend Sabu and a WWE Hall Of Famer as is Steamboat. A pioneer in the world of hardcore wrestling meant that the vast majority of Sheik’s matches ended in a DQ as Sheik was notorious for not losing via pinfall or submission. The Sheik passed away from heart failure on January 18th 2003 and reports suggest his notes and recorded interviews for his autobiography he intended to release are locked away until his family decide if or when to release the material.
There you have it folks! Just five examples of Gaijin participants in Japan! Thanks for checking this week’s episode out! Any feedback is more than welcome! I plan to do more themed episodes every now and again in the future!
Check out the other 10 Scavenger Hunts as well as all the other articles, reader participation blogs and much more here on the Wrestling Chronicle!