1) Gran Apache v. Yoshihiro Tajiri- 3
This was an infant Tajiri, wearing clover green, and we surmised after his performance that this has to be one of his first, if not his first, professional match. He was just standing in front of Apache, ready to take whatever he gets hit with, like a good dojo boy. No facial expressions, no selling, just a beatup dummy with blood and breath. Apache had a lot of fun in schooling Tajiri, which translated well to the viewers at home. He would slap the back of his head and he has a dynamite left hook that he snapped off several times against the future boyfriend of Torrie Wilson. This was an extended squash but one that showed Apache's veteran presence therefore gaining several points.
2) Johnny Gomez v. Yoshiko Abe- 3
Gomez looked like a fresh faced young American style late 90's PA indy worker with a Johnny Swinger haircut. Abe was decked out in karate gi and didn't seem to know how to work. He came out with some small chops and thrusts and used a few leg kicks to get Gomez down. I was proved wrong very shortly when Abe took a superkick and sold it like a ton of bricks. There was another kick exchange where Gomez looked like an extra from Bloodsport where he did a jump back spin kick and completely missed while Abe was on guard. Gomez, somehow, wore Abe down and locked in a pretty well executed STF for the win in a surprising victory.
3) Gran Apache v. Takashi Okano- 4
This was very similar to the first match where Apache gets to work a young boy the only difference being that you could tell Okano had some experience because he tried a few submission attempts and worked some good sequences with Apache, including a hurricanrana reversal. Unfortunately, Okano still had that same stunned look on his face as if his dog had just found his stash of good porn and pissed all over it. He performed a dive at one point that can only be described as "failed." He lunged outside and smacked his own head on the ground while Apache went sliding knees first like an 80's guitar player doing a solo, into a row of wooden chairs, pushing them out of his way like bums on the subway. He still had that brutal, lightning quick left jab and utilized even more here. There were some good high flying sequences as well so this ranked higher than the Tajiri match.
4) Crash the Terminator v. Leatherface (Barb Wire Baseball Bat Scramble Bunkhouse DeathMatch) - 5
Crash is actually Hugh Morrus wearing a sleeveless white tee adorning his image and some Road Warriors- style facepaint. Leatherface makes his usualy crazy entrance and the gimmick is both guys have to start down the aisleways and once the bell rings, they sprint towards the ring to get the barb wire bat. Crash grabs it first and barely even scratches Leatherface's smock with it; it actually takes a few minutes for either man to lay a shot in with the bat, but once they do they start tearing flesh and God knows Crash had lots to spare. Leatherface can't properly sell anything almost through the whole fight because his flesh mask is loose and he dosen't want it to fall off- Damn those cheap strings in the back! They do a crowd brawl pretty well- the strikes weren't necessarily good but the scene they create is chaotic- scattering crazed fans left and right, bumping on their overpriced seats. Leatherface got the notion to take Crash outside the arena, probably into the waiting bed of a pickup truck driven by his cannibalistic uncle, but alas, he can't unlock the door! Crash must have heard that stalling engine outside and had the forethought to lock the door- that always stops Leatherface!!!! Wait a minute...isn't he the guy with the chainsaw? oh, well, he gave up after a minute or two and just stumble-bumbled back to the ring where they traded hefty moonsaults until the dreaded bat finally spelled the end for Crash and the fans are happy being scared by the chainsaw welding freak.
5) Brian Christopher/ The Dark Patriot v. Dick Slater/ Nobutaka Araya- 4
In a pre-match promo, Slater drunkenly calls his opponents, "Dark Christopher" for our amusement. "Too Sexy" has on some circa-1971 Memphis trunks and is the workhorse for his team. I'm a huge Global fan so seeing Darky again was kind of cool although he was never a great performer. He eats a shot from behind from Slater at one point and sells it like a loud car drove past and whoooshed his ears. Araya eats the damndest superkick from Lawler jr. in the middle of the match and if I liked collecting teeth (which I don't- that'd be a freaky habit) I'd have jumped in glee because he surely lost some. I wasn't really buying the story of Slater being the overprotective father figure to Araya, saving him from double teams, covering his body up with his own during a splash from the top, especially since Araya came on strong at the end and picked up the win. Besides a few minor technical errors, this was like a basic TV tag match with some extra time.
6) Shoji Nakamaki/ Hiroshi Ono v. The Headhunters (Barb Wire Board Glass Deathmatch)- 5
The Headhunters are notorious for not bumping or selling very much and they don't disappoint here. Nakamaki is an old deathmatch veteran who was doing it before it became cool or got popularized on American wrestling video games or Extreme video shows that play every day on the UPN network. He certainly does it up here, taking full fledged shots to the face of barb wire and selling an body splash and a mother-f'n sweet ass elbow from one of the Headhunters! I mean, that thing was good. There's some crowd brawling elements that don't go very far or prove to be real shitty as the appeal for the Headhunters is trying to make you believe they will take awesome bumps into the lethal barb wire but you know it won't happen. The glass comes into play only after the match is over, when they pick up Nakamaki, parachute style in your 6th grade gym class, and drop him directly onto the layers of sheets waiting for him in a huge metal bin. One of them severely slices him in the back as you see a nice huge red stain fermenting on the glass afterwards. For what it was, this was marginally entertaining and Nakamaki's gutsy performance make this almost worth seeking out....almost.
Overall, a fun show with a strange roster with a mixed bag of talent and garbage. Only 2 matches had death match elements in them and that was a good call so it felt fresh when those matches came up. I'll definitley be purchasing another IWA Japan show for a future review.