Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Bad News Berzerker Goes to Japan: Part 1

64. 19 Man Battle Royal (AJPW 1/2/94)

What did Nord do in the year between his last Berzerker appearance and his first AJPW appearance? Was he in a battle royal no man's land? Walking the earth like Caine, lost in battle royal purgatory. I can only assume that after he got tossed out of that last Raw battle royal he Hussed his way out of the Manhattan Center and stomped his way across America, dove into the Pacific, pillaging his way through the ocean, stopped for awhile in Hawaii to build up strength, then plunged back into the water, showing up 11 months later in Tokyo.

And All Japan battle royals are the weirdest, most pointless, most amusing, most wonderful little regular gimmick match in wrestling. I think I should to a Complete & Accurate AJPW Opening Tour Battle Royals. They're awful and they're the best. I had a lousy day at work and came home, flipped on this Happy New Year 1994 Battle Royal, and 10 minutes later I was smiling and laughing and my day was saved. Where did these come from? The concept is absurd. 20 or so guys hugging the ropes like a bunch of guys standing around the edge of a public pool. Somebody takes one back bump, and 10 guys pounce on him and he leaves to zero fanfare. Whose baby was this!? Did these things used to be different, and by the time I was watching in the 90s, this is what they had evolved into?  More research needs to be done, because I am in love.

We open on Korakuen, a funky disco take on the Star Wars main theme pumping through the hall. All of our native participants enter first, and none of them look excited. They all enter in their neon trunks and look like they are heading to a group delousing. Izumida is wearing Eigen's hot pink trunks. Rusher has the highest hiked tights you've seen. Taue comes out absentmindedly rubbing his tits. Then the gaijin arrive, lead by mega-tubs Kimala II and Abby. Why there's Brian Costello, arguably the weirdest one tour guy in All Japan history! Stan Hansen comes out last with some of the most epic bedhead, looking like he fell asleep in a sunbeam and lost a couple hours. John Nord is entirely absent, and doesn't show up until a minute in. He doesn't make a big spectacle entrance, just literally walks in from the back, grabs Rusher from the apron and starts clubbing him. It's entirely believable that he was just using the restroom when the battle royal entrances started, and he decided it was still okay to show up, better late than never.

The match starts as you expect, with nobody wanting to risk falling on their back. Falling on your back in an All Japan battle royal is like falling into hot lava. Once you're down, forget about it, you're done. Chris Youngblood is the first to go. Korakuen sits in stunned silence. If Chris Youngblood can go out this early, then this is truly anybody's battle royal to win. Kimala begins leading a huge elimination streak, dishing out big splashes to a few guys, which in turn leads to several guys holding him down on his opponent. The funniest was Kimala splashing Brian Costello, and Izumida bolts across the ring to hold Kimala's shoulders down, lest Costello be able to kick out without Izu's extra pressure. Big moment comes when Kobashi and Kawada square off and kick each other's ass. Fans are going wild and want to see them burn it down. They go big right away, trying to powerbomb each other out the gate, then both go down from a double clothesline. Misawa, ever the prick, rolls Kobashi onto Kawada and then lets everybody pin Kawada. He could have had everyone dogpile on BOTH men, but he purposely rolled Kobashi onto Kawada. Johnny Ace gets Kobashi in a small package, and 8 guys make sure Kobashi doesn't kick out...and then they roll it over and make sure Ace doesn't kick out. These things are so bad!!! And so perfect. Hansen hits a fucking brutal standing lariat on Izumida. NOBODY helps him pin Izu. Help is not needed.

Nord exits quietly, victim to a Kimala splash. He leaves the ring without a single huss. We are in a new world. Eigen is still pissed after Hansen dispatched his boy Izu, and he cheapshots Hansen! Hansen is an awakened bear (again, really working that nap gimmick with his bedhead) and Eigen hightails it away as fast as he can, burrowing into a corner and maneuvering Omori, Honda and Akiyama in front of him as part of Operation Young Boy Human Shield. Hansen makes it clear that Eigen's sneakery will not be forgotten, and begins killing men with western lariats. He seems to decapitate Akiyama with a particularly nasty one. All his boys get taken out. Eigen is left with Hansen as the remaining survivors stay the fuck out of it. Hansen charges full speed and swings his arm as hard as he can at the side of Eigen's head. Eigen does not kick out. We get a final four of Hansen, Baba, Abby and Kimala. The bigguns double team Baba, gently massaging his scalp with tender headbutts. Baba takes one back bump, and Kimala gives him the lightest, gentlest, most protected big splash. I explain to Rachel that Baba is old and frail, so needed to be protected at this point. As I say that, Abdullah sprints across the ring and plants Baba with a full force falling elbow right to the sternum. Welp. Hansen tries to save Baba but is too late, but clearly wants blood. He smashes Abby with a back elbow and literally lariats the face paint off of Kimala II. He and Abby gouge at each other's eyes, but Hansen manages to whip him into the corner where Baba is waiting, eliminated. Baba gets that size 32 boot up into Abby's....well, mostly into Abby's boob, truth be told, and Hansen follows behind with another lariat for the win. He is presented with a gift certificate of some kind, possibly for a steak dinner, possibly for a prostitute.

"Happy New Year," he screams to the crowd. The crowd screams back. To this, Hansen responds, "Buuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr," waving his BOGO ballroom dance lesson certificate above his head.


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