By David Parker, Wrestling Observer
Here is the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Radio mailbag where we post some of the questions asked during weekly Observer audio shows. Want to know if something’s been asked? These will be a good place to start. If you want to hear more questions and insight from Observer audio several times a week, subscribe now!
Questions are asked by Bryan Alvarez or Mike Sempervive and are in bold, and primarily answered by Dave Meltzer unless otherwise noted.
(Do you know) who owns the tape to the Crockett-Heyman WWN taping in New York?
DM: Probably Crockett.
MS: Has that ever seen the..
DM: I never saw it. It would be either Crockett or a guy named Jim Hudson from Austin, Texas who was..it was Crockett and Jim Hudson who were the two guys behind it, so one or the other or both would have those tapes. Never saw it.
Regarding the April 2, 1995 Weekly Pro Wrestling show at the Tokyo Dome, is there any reason behind New Japan sending Hashimoto vs. Chono as the main event while the other promotions sent tag matches featuring many of their best wrestlers? Any background on why this match didn’t live up to the quality of everything else on the show?
DM: The deal on that show was that it was (a) 13 promotion show. Weekly Pro Wrestling was the premier wrestling magazine; (they) decided that they were going to book a show at the Tokyo Dome, and it was first going to be like seven or eight promotions, and then all of a sudden, every promotion wanted to get involved, except for All Japan and WAR, and WAR didn’t want nothing to do with it, and All Japan at the-not the last minute, but I think they had to pay All Japan, I don’t know if it was $150,000-but the whole thing was that everybody wanted to do it. New Japan was gonna get the main event because they were the biggest promotion, and I think that part of it was (for) some of the small promotions, it was good to be on the card because it showcased your promotion in front of a big audience, but a lot of bigger promotions, I don’t know if they wanted to, but Weekly Pro Wrestling was so powerful in the market, nobody wanted to piss them off. It was like if you turned them down, you would get bad coverage, or you might get bad coverage.
Nobody wanted to be on their bad side, so everybody that was asked, with the exception of WAR, because WAR was very tight with Gong, which was the rival magazine. I went to this show. It was the same day as WrestleMania in 1995, which would be the Lawrence Taylor WrestleMania, so that’s the only WrestleMania I didn’t see live, I believe. Yeah, it would be the only one, because I was in Japan, and that show was a million times bigger than WrestleMania that year, so it sold out the Tokyo Dome, 50,000 people. They said 60,000 in those days, but it was really 50,000. So, this show, it’s 50,000, sold out in advance, and Gong Magazine, number two wrestling magazine, pretends it doesn’t even exist. Not even not covering it. It’s like it doesn’t exist. There (are) two or three newspapers that cover all pro wrestling, Tokyo Sports being one of them, because it was a Weekly Pro show, I remember getting Tokyo Sports.
Think about it; they cover wrestling every day. The day of the show, not a word. The day after the show, not a word. I’m going like, “How is this possible?” It really taught me about Japanese media. They did not..it was like because Weekly Pro was doing it, all (of) the media would not pretend that the show never existed, yet it was like one of the biggest shows in the history of wrestling.
The promotions all got to pick what they wanted. Most of the matches were tags because everybody wanted to steal the show, and All Japan and, if I recall, JWP, had a killer match, and All Japan Women had a killer match..
MS: Oh, the JWP was the one that opened the show, which is, I mean, then again, I was always a Cutie Suzuki fan, but that was the Kansai and Candy Okutsu and that eight women tag against Masami and Ozaki and Suzuki. Yeah, that was awesome.
DM: That whole show was really, really good. I wouldn’t say it was the best show I ever saw, but it’s right up there. But Hashimoto and Chono going last, and man, it’s just like, talk about not being able to follow, because they put All Japan, and it was a six-man tag, and I’m thinking it’s Misawa..
MS: Kobashi and Hansen.
DM: Is it Misawa, Kobashi, and Hansen against Kawada, Taue, and Johnny Ace?
DM: Okay, so they have a freaking thirty-minute draw. Oh my god. That match is like..I may have given it four and three-quarter stars, I think, I don’t think I gave it five, but what a freaking awesome match [Note: Dave is correct.], and they came out and before the match even started, you could really see that like Misawa was so..they’re chanting Misawa’s name before they’re even out there, and then when the minute Misawa’s music plays, oh my god, it was just huge, and then Hashimoto and Chono had to follow, and it just like they couldn’t follow. And it wasn’t a good match, and it was like the IWGP champion and the top contender, and (it) just didn’t work. But no, every promotion picked their match, and they wanted to pick their..they put their big two stars. I guess Mutoh would be..they were all three kinda positioned pretty equally, so Mutoh was the odd man out, but they wanted their big championship match, and they followed All Japan, and on that night, it was just like, man, did All Japan kick New Japan’s ass. And the women, that was a real big deal because those women showed up-I don’t want to say they showed up the men, but the All Japan Women and the JWP women, those matches were better than anything but..the All Japan match was the show-stealer, but I think they were number two and number three.
MS: Aja Kong and Kyoko Inoue beat Manami Toyota and Blizzard Yuki..
DM: Sakie Hasegawa
MS: ..the match after that was the Go Gundan match between..
DM: that match, the Ryuma Go match, had tremendous crowd reaction. It was terrible.
MS: It was the Go Gundan Interplanetary Title in an Alien Death Match.
DM: Yeah, they brought in these guys dressed up as aliens, and Ryuma Go was defending the United States against the alien invasion on this serious show with all these things, and they had all these aliens that were..and yeah, for the Interplanetary Championship, or whatever it was called, and they put it on the show, and the people loved it. The Go match got over more than the Onita match. They did an Onita explosion match I think, it was probably with Pogo.
MS: Pogo, yes, it was.
DM: Okay, so they set up a ring. They had the one ring, and then they set up the one ring in the corner, which was set up for all of the explosions, and Onita was drawing really big, and Onita wasn’t really that over on that show. Now Maeda fought..did Maeta fought Chris Dolman?
MS: Chris Dolman.
DM: Okay, so that match wasn’t that good, but Maeda was really, really over, I do remember that, and it was Chris Dolman’s retirement match, and the match itself was very anticlimactic, but the before and after match were very strong. The Takada, who was drawing huge, the UWFI match was good, but Takada wasn’t as over as I thought he would be. Suzuki did a shoot with Christopher DeWeaver. That was a real shoot match on that show.
MS: I was gonna say, because was that and was the Shinobu Kandori..
DM: The Shinobu Kandori match was a shoot too. Yes.
MS: Okay, that’s what I thought, because for those who didn’t…Suzuki and DeWeaver went 1:50, and Kandori beat Harley Saito in 1:12.
DM: Yeah. Kandori just beat the hell out of her. Kandori was a real shooter. She was I think second or third in the world in judo. The rest of the girls were workers. They trained the girls in shooting, but Kandori was at a different level. She was the toughest. I’m relatively sure of all the women wrestlers in history that they can say what they want about Mildred Burke or Mae Young that Kandori would’ve killed any of them.
MS: Another lady by the way who became a politician in Japan based off of her popularity and success.
DM: That’s right, but Suzuki was really over on that show. When he came out, it was like…I remember Suzuki, great facials and all that. It’s funny now. It’s like we’re almost (at the) 20 year anniversary of that show, and Suzuki is still around.
MS: And you look at Shiryu, who people don’t know is Kaz Hayashi, and Taka Mickinoku was on that show, and I’m not saying that all (of) these people are still there because..
DM: You know what? They had a great match too. The Michinoku match was really good. That was one of the better matches on the show too. Well, Kaz was really young then, probably 20, 21, something like that. They had Naniwa who was on that show, right, and he passed away, and I think he was only a teenager. He was maybe 18 or something.
MS: Wow. It’s amazing. Was that show, did it call out to spirit for that one in 1978, because that was a Tokyo Sports. They had that all-star dream card, so was there supposed to be kind of a linear tie-in with..
DM: Yes. This was the second one, but the one in 1978 everybody covered, whereas the one in 1995, the politics had gotten so weird, it just blew me away. That’s when I was like, “God, your journalism sucks.” I would tell people that. It’s like, how the hell…there’s 50,000 people sold out in advance, and wrestling people wouldn’t even cover it, and they wouldn’t even go to it if they were with the rival publications. It was like it didn’t exist in the biggest newspaper, Tokyo Sports, the biggest sports newspaper, they pretended it didn’t..I couldn’t believe it. I’m looking the next day, and it’s like they may have had the results in small agate, or they may not have at all, I think they may have had the results in small agate, and they had all (of) these big photos because there was a show head-to-head.
This is Tokyo Dome, and Gong, which was the rival magazine to Weekly Pro, promoted a show with Tenryu with WAR and whatever other promotions, but it was mainly WAR at Korakuen Hall next door at the same time, and so Tokyo Sports would (have had) these big photos of the Tenryu show at 2,000 people were at, if that, and nothing on the other one. It was amazing, but just the whole politics of…that to me, that far as an all-time legendary show…did you see that, because they never released a commercial tape because of all (of) the politics involved..
MS: No, just the individual match. I’ve never seen the whole thing all the way through.
DM: I have, believe it or not, it’s in my collection. I have a copy of the tape because…I mean, I have it. That’s all I remember that I have it. The other one was the World Wrestling Peace festival. There’s a story. The World Wrestling Peace festival that never came out, but was supposed to be on television. They had a TV deal, but there (were) all kinds of problems with the rights with WCW. That was (a) WCW, AAA, CMLL, and New Japan combined show at the Sports Arena in L.A., and Mike Tenay and I were supposed to do the TV announcing for that, but we were supposed to do voiceovers later, and then with all (of) the politics, we never got it done. So I actually have a copy of that too that we were going to voiceover. And that show wasn’t as good, but there was a Jushin Liger-Great Sasuke match. That was a really good match. The other ones, was it Lex against Masa Saito?
MS: It was…Giant, Sting, and Konnan and Jericho and Bigelow in a triangle..
DM: Right. That match was okay. That match wasn’t too bad.
MS: It was Craig Pittman against KGB..
DM: Yeah, that was Tom Howard. That wasn’t any good.
MS: Jim Neidhart and Bobby Bradley.
DM: That wasn’t good.
MS: Akira Hokuto and Lady Apache defeating Bull Nakano and Neftali.
DM: That was good. It wasn’t great, but that was good. Well, you now, Kira Hokuto and Bull Nakano, they were all-time greats.
MS: Benoit and Alex Wright.
DM: It was good. Actually, that was real good. By the way, Jericho got his job off of that match. Bischoff was there, this was great too. So Bischoff’s there..actually this is how Jericho got his job in WCW: I had sent a tape to Zane Bresloff of the Super J Cup the year that Benoit wrestled Jericho in it, which by the way that’s another one. (If) you ever get a tape of that Super J Cup, the first one is on New Japan World, and I actually have not even seen that whole show from start to finish because I only saw a one-hour edited version of it, so we should actually someday watch that show and then do a review afterwards because at the time in 1994, that was considered the greatest show of all time by the people who were there live. It was like, “Oh my god!” And then when I watched it on TV, it was the last two matches.
Sasuke beat Liger, and then Benoit beat Sasuke, and Benoit won it, and I just remember the last two matches were…it was like (Wrestle Kingdom) where one is 4.75 stars and one is 5 stars, or something of that equivalent, and there was a Sasuke-El Samurai match that was unbelieveable and all that, but if you go to New Japan World, you should probably watch that one, but the other one, the second J Cup, which was a phenomenal show also, there was a match with Jericho and Benoit on the show, but anyway, I sent that tape to Zane Bresloff with this idea of (you’ve) got all of this freaking Nitro every week to fill; why don’t you do a Super J Cup, because they had all (of) that talent that was working in WCW at this point. Here’s what they did in Japan with this; why don’t you do this, because if I gave it to Zane, Zane would pitch it like it’s his idea to Eric, and Eric, if it was a good idea, would do it. So Zane pitches it to Eric and sends the tape to Eric, and Eric never does it of course (laughs), but he’s watching the tape…
MS: No surprise there.
DM: It would’ve gotten the wrong guys over. If you know the stories about booking ideas that were pitched for the wrong guys, and it would’ve been the same in WWF. In WCW, I knew guys who would call me up and pitch ideas, and these were great ideas, and they were always nixed because unless the idea involved Hogan, Hogan made sure…you know what’s funny about stuff is people think they don’t know or they know, but they don’t. So anyway, Eric saw the tape and he just saw the Benoit-Jericho match and saw Jericho, and it’s funny because of how Eric ended up using Jericho and everything, but just, “Oh my god! Who’s this guy? He’s great!” so he goes to Benoit and he goes, “This guy Chris Jericho, I saw this match with you and Chris Jericho. Should I hire him?” And Benoit goes, “Absolutely.” So this is like probably a week before this L.A. card, and Eric is in L.A., and he’s going, not knowing that I actually sent the tape, but he’s talking to me, and he’s like, “I saw this tape of Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho, and I asked Chris Benoit, ‘Should we hire the guy?’ and he said, ‘Yes.'” So he goes, “That’s the only match I’ve seen, and I’m hiring him right now.” So he hired Jericho that day.
So this is the best part of the story. This is also the day that Eric first met Rey Mysterio, and I remember coming right after…Rey Mysterio had a match: Psicosis and Heavy Metal against Rey and Ultimo Dragon. That match was great, and Eric comes back, and he’s just like, “Now I get Rey Mysterio,” because he had heard the name, it’s just like everybody had that blocked, because he was so small, and he just goes, “The smallness works for him,” because how would he know? This isn’t making fun of him. How would he know? He had never seen him, but he saw him, and he got him right away. A lot of people didn’t get him right away. Eric got him right away. He just goes, “Now I get Rey Mysterio. Now I get it,” and they hired Rey and they put him against Dean Malenko right away. Eric got it right away. If it was Vince, Vince would’ve never got it. So anyway, Eric hires Jericho, and he didn’t watch that match with Jericho, Konnan, and Bam Bam because he left the building. I’m thinking, “If I hired the guy, I would at least want to watch his match.”
MS: Really? Where did he go?
DM: I know where he went, but he left the building. But I will say this, the crowd harassed Eric so bad. I think it was the Benoit-Alex Wright match. Eric was at ringside, and Benoit and Alex Wright are having a really good match, like a solid three plus (star match), and really solid, good wrestling, and the Americans in the crowd-the audience was one-third Japanese, one-third Mexican-American, and one-third WCW fans. About 2,500 of each, which was a really interesting mix. So the Japanese fans are all silent and enjoying it, and they’re reacting to the Fujinami and people like that. The Mexican fans were awesome; the Mexican matches were the most fun because (of) the crowd, and the American did not have a good night. I was one of them, but they did not have a good night.
And Eric’s out there, and they’re just booing Eric and they’re doing these negative chants on Eric. “We want good wrestling!” and I’m thinking, “This is what was bad.” Benoit and Alex Wright are out there having a really good match, and these crowds were “We want wrestling!” It was like, “Oh god.” It was kind of embarrassing that night. That was a really good show too, but the Tokyo Dome show was…there have been very few shows in history of wrestling, and maybe there’s never been a show in the history of wrestling with that much talent in one sitting. You look at that Tokyo Dome lineup…look at all of the legends and Hall of Famers on that card. From Hashimono Chono, Onita, Maeda, Takada, look at the freaking talent all in one night. I don’t know if there’s ever been a show with that much talent on it.