We kick off this edition of Fighting Opera Hustle with a look at the events leading up to tonight’s big 5 on 5 war, as well as the announcement of Hustle Aid.
Live in the arena now, and GM RG (or RGM) comes out to a chorus of boos. He comes out in Hanshin Tigers baseball team gear, but than goes for the cheap heat by revealing a Tokyo Giants uniform underneath as he bad mouths the local team. After a bit more bantering, the card for the show is shown.
Generalissimo Takada than appears on the screen and does a quick promo on the main event, mixed in with a bit of comedy.First Hustle: Neo Devil Pierroth #1, Neo Devil Pierroth #2 & Kyo Itako VS Hustle Kamen Red, Hustle Kamen Blue & Hustle Kamen Yellow
Kyo Itako (aka Fear Psychic Medium) is the mystery partner for the Neo Devils. He looks like a masked monk in a straight jacket due to his posture. An odd pairing for sure, but anybody teaming with the two evil clowns would make for an odd team. The Hustle Kamens on the other hand have some new shiny uniforms on.
As weird as he looks, Itako actually ends up being the highlight of this match! He starts off acting really fragile and weak, but than he channels a spirit into his body and suddenly he’s the late Giant Baba! Throwing Baba’s signature overhead chops, as well as hitting the 16tn Kick and the side Russian leg-sweep before the spirit leaves his body and he’s back to being normal! The second time he channels a spirit, it turns out to be the late, great Jumbo Tsuruta! And the crowd goes absolutely NUTS as he hits the jumping knee attack and does Jumbo’s classic “OH!” pose! He than hits a big backdrop for a near fall as the other Kamens break the count. His final transformation is into Riki Choshu! But just as he’s about to hit the Riki-Lariat, he suddenly changes into some disco dancer and is ejected from the ring by Yellow, leading to Red hitting a big top rope 619 on one of the Devils followed by a West Coast Pop for the win.Match Rating: **
(Simple, but REALLY funny and memorable!)
A quick look at how the feud developed between Kenzo Suzuki, who has been struggling to find his place in Hustle, and Wataru Sakata, the next generation star of the promotion. This mostly has to do with Hiroko Suzuki making fun of Yuko Aoki’s ample assets.Second Hustle: Kenzo Suzuki with Hiroko VS Wataru Sakata with Yuko Aoki
Seriously now, they are trying to hide Suzuki’s lack of talent with comedy? Hiroko tried every trick in the book to cheat on her husband’s behalf, but Suzuki just looked really bad in there that the only given explanation would be to do the comedy spots he did, losing a really short match when he got dizzy giving Sakata an EIGHT rotation airplane spin, with Sakata slipping out into a sunset flip pin for the win.
Note to Sakata, we know Yuko is your woman, but how about letting her wear something other than a track suit? And why the heck wasn’t Kenzo wearing any underwear?!?Match Rating: DUD
A quick look at how our next match came about. Hustle is known as the Fighting Opera due to the fact they are “sports entertainment, and as such, they have brought in actual celebrities in the past to take part in the shows, be it in or out of the ring. The Yoshimoto Kogyo are a comedy group, who seemed to have differences with each other after doing a wrestling sketch or something, which leads to our next match where they hope to settle the score in tag action.Third Hustle - Yoshimoto Kogyo Special Match: Joji Shimaki & Yuki Rock VS Captain Bomber & Masumi Yagi
On one hand you could say that you need to know who these guys are, as well as know the Japanese sense of humor to understand the bizarre comedy antics of these guys, and on the other hand you could say this was a wrestlecrap worthy bad idea which mocks the business to the nth degree. Personally, I didn’t like it and really could have done without it, but hey, that’s Hustle for ya.Match Rating: DUD
During the intermission, we are shown supermodel Carolyn “Kaiya” Kawasaki announcing her participation in the upcoming Hustle-Aid show, and a demonstration of her Kaiya-Bomber lariat finisher.
After the intermission, the rules for the main event are explained. Two persons start off, and the loser is out and is replaced by the next team mate. This keeps going until an entire team is eliminated.
We than go backstage to the Hustle Army locker room where “Captain Hustle” Naoya Ogawa fires up his team. Erica, Margaret and Hustle Kamen Yellow are also in the room, and TAJIRI wonders who their mystery partner is. HG jokes that the “X” could be Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman! And just before Ogawa announces who the fifth member is, we go to the Takada Monster Army lair, where team representatives are warming up for the match, while the Yin-egg is glowing! Generalissimo Takada fires up his team, and it’s on to the main event of the show!Main Hustle: Hustle Army VS Takada Monster Army – 5 VS 5 Survival Match:
Match #1: Giant Vabo VS “Captain Hustle” Naoya Ogawa
Story of the match is Vabo continually attacking Ogawa’s left leg. Vabo hung Ogawa up in the Tree of Woe and hits a volleyball-like spike into Ogawa’s vital area and gets some big boos from the crowd for it. Vabo thinks he has things going his way, but the Hustle leader is able to rally back and hits an STO to eliminate Vabo.Match Rating: *
Match #2: “Captain Hustle” Naoya Ogawa VS Sodom
Sodom is the new 2m tall giant Takada promised to debut, and it’s actually Mark Jindrak in face paint and leather pants. He goes to work on Ogawa’s bad leg, but gets floored temporarily by an STO. Sodom comes back with a big double jump lariat out of the corner followed by a big splash on Ogawa’s bad knee to pin him and get the 3 count! This really shocks everyone as you could actually see the jaws of several spectators drop as the referee counts 3!Match Rating: 1/2*
Match #4: Sodom VS Erica
So Erica turns out to be the mystery partner of the Hustle Army. Sodom can’t believe he actually has to fight a woman, and doesn’t want to. This then turns into sort of a comedy match as Sodom tries to get his hands on Erica, but tires himself out when he can’t catch her, leaving him open for Erica to hit the Uraken for a near fall. This enrages Sodom even more and he starts pounding on her and hits her with a hard lariat to a chorus of boos from the crowd. Sodom hits the Side Effect on Erica to eliminate her.
Match Rating: DUD
Match #5: Sodom VS “Hustle Achichi” Shinjiro Ohtani
Sodom attacks Ohtani as he enters the ring, but Ohtani fights him off and gives him multiple running corner kicks. Sodom battles back, but misses his springboard lariat moves and Ohtani capitalizes on his mistake by pinning him with a diving sunset flip off the top rope.Match Rating: *
Match #6: “Hustle Achich” Shinjiro Ohtani VS “Monster-K” Toshiaki Kawada
It was short, but these two had a little great match here. Kawada counters Ohtani’s running corner kick with a kick of his own, and they trade strikes which Kawada wins and shows a mean streak as he slams Ohtani and drops knees on him. Kawada locks Ohtani in a single-leg crab followed by a painful looking bow & arrow lock. Back on their feet, Ohtani absorbs some strikes from Kawada only to come back with a big face kick of his own. Ohtani tries for the dragon suplex, but Kawada blocks it so he hits him with a backdrop instead for a near fall. Ohtani goes up top and misses a missile dropkick, leading to Kawada hitting a big powerbomb for a near fall before finally putting Ohtani down with a sick brainbuster.
Damn that was awesome!Match Rating: ***
Match #7: “Monster-K” Toshiaki Kawada VS TAJIRI
TAJIRI tries to steal a win by sneaking in out of the audience and rolling up Kawada, but only gets a 2 count. TAJIRI starts working on Kawada’s leg, but Kawada rallies back and works on TAJIRI’s leg instead! TAJIRI survives a barrage of strikes and tries multiple attempts to cradle Kawada for a flash pin, but can’t get it. Kawada gets pissed and himself tries to cradle TAJIRI but only gets a 2 count. Kawada levels TAJIRI with a lariat for another near fall. Kawada tries for a powerbomb, but TAJIRI counters into a frankensteiner. Kawada charges TAJIRI in the corner, but TAJIRI tries for the Tarantula only to get shoved out of the ring. They brawl way out into the audience, and TAJIRI is able to stun Kawada enough to tie him to some scaffolding with duct tape! Unfortunately, TAJIRI takes too long to tie up Kawada and BOTH end up getting counted out and eliminated!Match Rating: *1/2Match #8: “Mr.300%” An Jo VS HG
I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised with HG’s in ring ability since he used to backyard wrestle with Hiroshi Tanahashi when he was a teen. He might not have a lot of moves, but everything he does gets a pop from the crowd, even if he did borrow a few of his gay moves from Dansyoku Dino, the original gay gimmick wrestler. And again HG shows he’s more than just a mascot character when he’s willing to bump and get stretched the way he does. Just when An Jo thinks things are going his way, HG gives him a superkick, followed by a rather sick looking 69 Driver for the win.Match Rating: *Match #9: HG VS the Yin-Egg
TAJIRI quickly grabs the Yin-Egg from the entrance ramp and brings it to the ring. HG gives it an atomic drop and tries to pin it, but the egg has no shoulders for the referee to count down! Generalissimo Takada than appears on the big screen and calls HG an idiot for trying to wrestle an egg! And the truth is that that’s not the real egg and brings out the actual egg which is HUGE! The egg hatches, and out comes HG’s actual opponent: NEW YIN LING-SAMA! Match #9: HG VS New Yin Ling-sama
The new Yin Ling is more evil looking, wearing all black with half a mask and horns on her head. She charges to the ring and whips a shocked Ogawa before entering the ring to face off with HG. HG tries to fool around, but New Yin gives him a pair of middle kicks and drops him with a back elbow off the ropes! She kicks him twice while he’s down, than starts shouting “Kill!” before whipping him a few times and driving the butt of her whip handle into his gut. She then chokes him with the whip before tossing the whip out of the ring and actually wrestling HG by taking him down with a pair of armdrags into an armlock! She definitely moves so much better now that she isn’t wearing high-heels in the ring. She puts HG in a stepover armlock, shades of Antonio Inoki. HG gets to the ropes to break the hold, and Yin Ling continues her assault with several middle kicks and a high kick to the head. She does the Masochist Lock pin for a 2 count! HG blocks a slap and puts her in a chin lock, but she slips out and turns it into an armlock! HG reaches the ropes to break the hold, and TAJIRI distracts Yin Ling long enough for HG to recover and hit the 69 Driver! He makes the cover, but only gets a 2 count! Everyone can’t believe it! Yin Ling recovers and charges at HG with a cross body, but he catches her in mid-air and tries to swing her around, but she uses the momentum to turn it into a Fujiwara armbar and she changes that into a La Majistral cradle to score the 3 count and give the win to the Takada Monster Army! The whole Hustle Army is shocked at this turn of events!Match Rating: **
(Entertaining just to see Yin Ling actually try to wrestle)
Show ends with the usual back and forth banter between the Hustle Army and the Takada Monster Army, but there seems to be some trouble in the Monster camp as Kawada isn’t too happy to see Yin Ling back and Takada refuses to let him speak either.Overall:
For me, the most memorable thing about this show was definitely the opening match, mostly due to all the impressions that were done by the masked Kyo Itako. The 5-on-5 elimination match wasn’t bad either, with a lot of entertaining matches, especially the Ohtani/Kawada match. I still haven’t seen any good TAJIRI/Kawada encounters yet though. Imagine how awesome it would be if Kawada & TAJIRI had a match where the size and seniority level (and ego) didn’t really matter.