NJPW Battle Formation In Tokyo Dome - Apr 29th 1996 (Commercial Tape + NJPW World Hybrid Event)

This version of the event is taken from multiple sources to try and give the most complete and highest quality version possible. This event is apart of the ďRecall Restoration & Preservation ProjectĒ hence the added play by play comments.

Review written - Sept 23rd 2018

ó

Match: Yuji Nagata & Tokimitsu Ishizawa vs. Koji Kanemoto & Shinjiro Ohtani
Comments: A very highly spirited opening tag match, with young lion Yuji Nagata looking so good. Some great offense by all, excellent team work by Kanemoto and Ohtani and all showcased themselves very well. Seemingly none of them were content on taking it easy as it was non stop high energy action. Nagata won via a middle rope overhead belly to belly. Shinjiro Ohtani wasnít so pleased with Nagata getting the win and they had to be separated.
Rating: ***


Match: Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Hiroshi Tenzan
Comments: An incredibly dull and pedestrian match that was very much just by the numbers with no drama or heat. After 3 flying elbow drops and a small package got Macho Man his win. The highlight were all the bright colours on display from their tights.
Rating: *


Match: Lex Luger vs. Masahiro Chono
Comments: The match started with quite a lot of energy from both trying to quickly put away the other. Though it devolved into a lot of back and forth clubbering and stomps. Lugerís offence isnít overly thrilling and in this instance neither is Chonoís but Luger did have a game plan of working over Chonoís back throughout. Chono hit a lovely piledriver once he gained control with a sleeper hold and Chono forced Luger up the ramp way and Luger managed to return the favour with his own piledriver.

Luger got Chono up for the rack and a distracted ref allowed Chono to slip out and low blow Lex. The pace picks up as we have Chono drop Luger with some big Yakuza kicks, and the STF is enough for Chono to win. Luger then finds Bischoff at ringside and complains about the low blow, which is fair and he is rightly pissed off.
Rating: **


Match: Akira Nogami, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Shiro Koshinaka & Tatsutoshi Goto vs. Osamu Nishimura, Riki Choshu, Satoshi Kojima & Takashi Iizuka
Comments: Very back and forth with seemingly everyone getting a little bit of the spotlight then moving on to the next combination, with the high point being a sudden Riki lariat for the win. it was very much just a match.
Rating: *


Match: Jushin Thunder Liger © vs. The Great Sasuke (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match)
Comments: Both charge each other with rolling kicks but both miss and Liger rolls out so Sasuke gets the upper hand with a tope to the outside. Back in Sasuke grounds Liger with a suplex and goes to work on Ligerís neck with chin locks and sleeper holds. Sasuke switches it to arm work and eventually a camel clutch.

A Sasuke bodyslam, then a leg drop and Sasuke is right back on the arm. Liger reverses an Irish whip and wipes out Sasuke by dropkicking his knee and thusly takes control. A top rope dropkick from Liger is aimed perfectly at Sasukeís knee, sending him head over heels. A stiff powerbomb by Liger nets him a 2 count and Liger relentlessly ties up Sasukeís legs. Now Liger hits a dragon screw and slams Sasukeís knee right down into the canvas. A second dragon screw leads to a figure four. The crowd are very much appreciating this as am I.

Liger takes Sasuke outside and attempts to drop his knee on the guard rails but crotches him instead. Ouch. Back in Liger gets another top rope dropkick and stretches Sasuke some more. A massive rolling koppo kick crushes Sasuke in the corner and the knee work continues. Itís very clear here who is in control. Sasuke eventually cuts off Liger and forces him outside so Sasuke hits a picture perfect Asai moonsault to the outside and then a moonsault back in gets Sasuke 2. A sudden lionsault gets Sasuke a 2. A Japanese rollingclutch gets another 2!

Sasuke feeling risky after those back to back near falls attempts a missile dropkick but Liger is having none of it and dumps Sasuke down with a powerbomb. Another rolling koppo kick sends Sasuke to the outside and Liger decides it is his time to fly with a massive diving body attack. Sasuke eventually gets back in the ring and walks straight into a wicked Liger brainbuster, which pops the crowd big. Now Liger hits a suplex and covers for just a 2.

Liger sets up Sasuke in the corner and delivers a big top rope hurricanrana but only covers Sasuke half heartedly which allows Sasuke to tie up Ligers arms and roll him into his own pin attempt, which gets just a 2! Crowd are very much invested in this battle, fully buying into these near falls. Sasuke climbs up top and is cut off and Liger busts out the top rope fisherman buster but again all it is good for is a hearty 2 count.

Liger heads up top and this time Sasuke is the one doing the cutting off and attempts his own top rope hurricanrana but the wise Liger holds on to the ropes tightly forcing Sasuke to whiff and crash hard to the mat. Liger leaps with a knee drop to the back of Sasukeís head and puts on a scissored crossface chicken wing but Sasuke somehow gets to the ropes.

Liger dashes towards Sasuke but a rolling solebut halts Liger but not enough to stop the follow up of a shotei strike by Liger. Liger dashes again and is again cut off but this time Sasuke hits a frankensteiner for a very close 2 count. So Sasuke musters up Ligerís heavy body and drops him with the fire thunder powerbomb and keeps the momentum alive and drills Liger with his tiger suplex. 1..2..3! The Great Sasuke is the new junior heavyweight champion.
Rating: ****1/4


Match: Scott Norton & The Steiner Brothers vs. Power Warrior Kensuke Sasaki & The Road Warriors
Comments: Lots of big men slamming, colliding and clobbering each other. Scott Steiner is just wild unleashing his entire arsenal of suplexes without any trouble. Lariats, diving shoulders, powerbombs and even bigger suplexes with each combination of men in the ring. Itís like a giant hoss fest and itís quite fun to watch though it feels like nothing more substantial than just a highlight reel of power moves. The match adds a further layer once it all breaks down towards the end with a crazy array of double team moves but again itís more about the spectacle. Rick Steiner loses via a Road Warrior top rope slam.
Rating: **ĺ


Match: Great Muta vs. Jinsei Shinzaki
Comments: This was far from a traditional match, both had no problem playing the heel and it was quite captivating to see what would happen next. Very much a Heaven vs Hell theme. Jinsei started strong leading the match off with his awesome rope walk into diving chop but the tide quickly turned. Jinsei took some crazy bumps being flung from the apron over the guard rail, then piledriven through a table. Jinsei got busted open massively after being stabbed with wood as his white gear quickly stained red and Mutaís slaughter and destruction of Jinsei began. Muta then hung the blood covered Jinsei with his belt then taunted him with his own blood, holy shit. Jinsei reversed a suplex attempt, hit a throat jab and a big backdrop but itís all cut short once Muta avoided a drop kick and retained control. Even a Jinsei backdrop counter and diving headbutt fell short, Muta is very much the dominating force.

A Muta handspring elbow, quick backbreaker and then Muta even attempts a moonsault but Muta lands on his feet as Jinsei rolls away, so then flattens a very weakend Jinsei with a top rope hurricanrana. The pace is quite slow and deliberate but it really suits the match aura. Jinsei hits a flurry of offense and even manages to avoid the green mist of Muta by ducking. Jinsei uses this chance to choke Muta and lay in some chair shots for added measure. Jinsei decides a space flying tiger drop is what is needed and it allows him to follow up with both a diving shoulder and diving headbutt for a 2 count. Jinsei sees his chance to deliver his praying powerbomb to finally put away Muta but Muta sprays mist to counter it and a sudden Muta moonsault is all that is needed to end this bloody war. The slow pace doesnít make for the greatest of matches but it is one dynamic spectacle and quite different from the norm.
Rating: ***


Match: Genichiro Tenryu vs. Tatsumi Fujinami
Comments: Holy shit the start is mental and heated with the crowd losing their minds with Fujinamiís early rush of a dragon screw and diving to the outside not once but twice. Grumpy Tenryu has had enough so punches Fujinami square in the face, seemingly breaking his nose. Blood everywhere!

With the momentum halted the match loses a lot of steam with Tenryu being in control but any Fujinami comeback is well received though itís all for nothing and Tenryu puts Fujinami down with a lariat. Overall it was quite the let down after that super hot opening minute.
Rating: *1/2


Match: Nobuhiko Takada © vs. Shinya Hashimoto (IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match)
Comments: Crowd are fucking hot for the main event from the offset and are very much behind Hashimoto. We begin with strikes from Hashimoto, then strikes from Takada and Takada grabs that cross armbreaker and the crowd lose it. Luckily Hashimoto gets to the ropes. Hashimoto isnít deterred and lays in knees and kicks, the crowd again erupting but a sudden Takada small package catches Hashimoto unaware but the ropes save him again.

Hashimoto kicks create a massive opening and Takadaís leg buckles so the crowd have a collective orgasm and Hashimoto seizes the chance to lace in the figure four but Takada gets to the ropes. Takadaís turn to hit the kicks and then he dumps Hashimoto with a huge backdrop and grabs that arm, determined to wrench it the fuck off. Hashimoto locks those fingers so Takada changes it up with a single leg boston crab, then into a full on boston crab but Hashimoto is just too strong. Both are back on their feet now and Hashimoto unleashes the overhead chops, one after the other and the crowd just go insane!

Takada starts rallying with a series of kicks but Hashimoto tells him to sit the fuck down by sweeping his legs out and yet again the crowd go mental. Itís so great. A Hashimoto brainbuster attempt is reversed into a Fujiwara armbar by Takada and the crowd are cheering on Hashimoto to reach those ropes and he does. Takada refuses to release the hold and once he does the kicks are in full force, so Hashimoto tells Takada to sit the fuck down again by destroying him with a massive kick to the gut.

A Hashimoto brainbuster attempt is reversed again and this doesnít phase him as a powerful backfist puts Takada back down on the canvas. Takada is up so a few sharp knees are needed by Hashimoto and a wicked DDT nets him a gigantic 2 count. Hashimoto finally hits one of the most brutal brainbusters ever and the crowd have lost it, jumping up and down as they passionately cheer. Hashimoto locks in the triangle hold and puts Takada away in stunning fashion to reclaim the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Rating: ****


Overall: This is one hell of a fun show with a very receptive and hot crowd, the card offers something for everyone and the title matches delivered in spades with both the excitement and compelling action. And regardless of the star ratings the only matches worth skipping are the 8 man tag and Savage vs Tenzan, the rest all have their charm and memorable moments. I think thatís the biggest thing to take away from all this, itís one of the most memorable and lasting shows from NJPW and itís truly stood the test of time in being a classic show.