Start with an environment that encourages, expects, promotes, and respects a great work rate, add several heaping amounts of veterans and hungry newcomers, and top off with a combination of Japanese and Lucha Libre holds, and high flying, high impact maneuvers, and what do you get? A recipe for excitement and a great card and DVD that is “UWA Invasion a Japon vol. #2”!
And actually, even those who may not be fully aware of this have reaped the benefits. For without this international wrestling scene and mutual cooperation, the styles, repertoires, and skill levels of such greats as Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, and many others, would not have been what they eventually became.
And one of the greatest periods of times during which this talent exchange occurred was during the 80’s and early 90’s, particularly between
Mexico’s UWA promotion and some of the various
promotions in . And the event/DVD which I’ll be reviewing is
a perfect example of what can result when wrestling promotions and fans
recognize that when it comes to wrestling, “One size does not fit all.” Japan
This event took place on 11/17/90 in
, and was titled “Lucha
Primera Clase II”, or as the DVD of the event would be entitled, “UWA Invasion
a Japon Volume 2”. And there are 6
matches on this 2 hr. and 20 min. DVD which has very good-excellent video
quality. And not only is the action
great from bell to bell, it also features future legends before they were
stars, and has a little something for everyone.
So fasten your seatbelts, and let’s get started! Japan
Match 1: Coolie SZ & Bulldog KT vs. Monkey Magic Wakita & Masa Michinoku:
This opening match features future Japanese Legends and long time tag partners Gedo (Coolie SZ) and Jado (Bulldog KT) facing off against two other future legends Super Delfin (Monkey Magic) and the Great Sasuke (Michonoku). Not only do you get to see them early in their careers, but you get to see Delfin and Sasuke before they would don masks. But don’t blink, because these guys don’t even wait until the bell rings to get things started. In and outside of the ring, they perform a series of high flying and high impact maneuvers, gaining both the fans and viewer’s attention and setting a great tone for the rest of the event. It’s a very short match, but they cram a lot into those few minutes.
Greco & Sergio Hermoso vs. Kung Fu & Takeda: Bello
This is the first of what would be 2 comedy matches, and if you have never seen Bello Greco and Sergio Hermoso perform, then you’re in for a treat. Normally I’m not a huge fan of comedy, and some might think it’s a little out of place in an atmosphere like Japan, where they appreciate actual wrestling, but this tag team has always had a way of performing in a way that wins over even the most emphatic pure wrestling enthusiast. And shouldn’t wrestling be fun? Kung Fu and Takeda (who is Japanese) both make clear in Spanish during their pre-match promos their disdain for their “flamboyant” (euphemism for their “gay” gimmick) opponents. And when they get in the ring, they add their martial arts and lucha libre influenced wrestling maneuvers to Greco & Hermoso’s unique blend of comedy to make for a very entertaining match. And watching a Bello/Greco match is like eating potato chips: Once you’ve had one, you’ve got to have another.
Match 3: Blue Panther & Black Power vs. Yoshiro Asai & Kato Kung Lee:
A few years before he would don a mask and become known as the “Ultimo Dragon”, one of the most decorated Junior Heavyweights in Pro Wrestling History (at one time holding 10 different titles at once!), he was simply known as Yoshiro Asai. And even at this point in his career, he had already thrilled many a fan, both in
Japan and . In this match he teams up with Mexico ’s Kato
Kung Lee against Black Power and Lucha Legend “Blue Panther”, also known as “El
Maestro” (“The Teacher/Master”). Many
who have seen at least a little lucha (and in the case of Ultimo Dragon, WCW
& WWE) are familiar with Blue Panther and the Ultimo Dragon, but there are
some modern lucha fans who may have never seen Kato Kung Lee. And the only way to describe him is: UNBELIEVABLE. His style of lucha is not only high flying,
but it includes martial arts strikes and some of the most amazing
acrobatics. If you’re impressed with the
Undertaker walking the ropes, wait until you get a look at Kung Lee “running”
the ropes, looking like someone out of “The Matrix!” This match features great psychology while
still maintaining a fairly quick pace, and the participants display great chain
wrestling, mat wrestling, high flying spots, and Black Power adds some good
high impact moves as well. It doesn’t
matter who you cheer for in this one, because no matter what, the viewer comes
out the winner. Mexico
Match 4: Gran Hamada, Blackman, & Kendo vs. Los Brazos- UWA Trios Tag Team titles:
Recently I completed a custom DVD compilation of “Los Brazos” for Indy Pro Wrestler Colt Cabana, and this match was the one that I enjoyed the most and just had to include on that compilation. And after watching it again for this review, I realized that I enjoy it more and more each time I watch it. While Los Brazos can certain wrestle, it’s their comedic genius that’s endeared them to so many fans of Lucha Libre and Puroresu. This match is a 2 out of 3 falls event and is for the UWA Trios (6 man) Tag Team titles. And you’ll be laughing your ass off even before the match even starts. But don’t get me wrong, because this match doesn’t sacrifice good wrestling spots for the comedy, but rather enhances the wrestling with the hilarious spots.
Match 5: Aja Kong, Bison Kimura, Madusa, La Diabolica, Xochitl Hamada vs. Manami Toyota, Mika Takahashi, Kodru Madea, Esther Moreno, Mariko Yoshida- 10 Woman Elimination Tag match:
This is the second to last match of the event, but in reality, this is THE HIGHLIGHT of the card, and it steals the show. It would take a series of articles to document the accomplishments of these participants in the Sport of Women’s Pro Wrestling. And when I say Women’s Pro Wrestling, that’s exactly what I mean, because these aren’t “Divas” or “Knockouts”, they are women wrestlers. And even 20 years ago, what they did in the ring was light years ahead of what American Women wrestlers are doing today. In fact, it was even ahead of what some of the men are doing today.
Madusa Micelli was well into the second of what would be a 3 year stint in Japan, and while she does a good job in this one, it’s clear that with all of the other talent in the ring, she still has much to learn (and she would), and that’s telling, considering that she was a former AWA Women’s World Champ. Every participant distinguishes herself, and that includes Legends Aja Kong and Manami Toyota. And Luchadora Esther Moreno is lighting quick, acrobatic, and reminds me of a female version of Ray Stevens: Someone who knows how to and is willing to bump and sell. Whether you’re a fan of high impact, mat wrestling, exchanges and submissions, or high flying, this one has it all. Plus, this match has great intensity, with the women acting as if they are on a field of combat in a life or death struggle. For most of the moves are accompanied by a combination of banshee/warrior battle cries.
This reminded me of when I went to
“Little Tokyo”, searching for Japanese Wrestling and Kaiju videos. My daughter was very young at the time and a
big fan of the “Sailor Moon” video series.
I came across some video tapes with the original Japanese language
tracks and I was amazed at how much more I enjoyed them than the English
language versions. The female characters
also let out those intense Japanese battle cries and it just really added so
much drama to what I was watching and made it more enjoyable. Well, that and the fact that there’s always
something immensely appealing about Catholic School Girl and Japanese Sailor
Scout uniforms. L.A.
So you need to see every match on this disc, but if you only had time for one, this would the one.
18 Man Lucha Rumble:
This event features the male wrestlers who had participated in the previous matches on the card and is much like a Royal Rumble, but with a few differences. For one, instead of one participant being added at intervals, two are added. And secondly, a wrestler isn’t eliminated by being thrown over the top rope, but rather by pinfall. This makes for a little less brawling, and less stalling in the corner, with participants basically just holding onto each other. So while it does have its share of brawling, this match also features more movement and maneuvers than the typical battle royal-type match.
So there you have it. It’s a shame that with today’s wrestling scene that we have to often look back in time for a great wrestling event, but on the other hand, it’s nice to know that we can. This DVD offers great bang for the buck, and there are several matches on this program that are worth the price solely on their own. However what’s especially nice is that you don’t have to settle and that you can enjoy it from beginning to end.
I will be reviewing more old school DVDs, events, and matches in the future, and if you’re interested in this particular DVD title, you can contact me at Rockrims@aol.com for more info.