All Japan ran Korakuen Hall in a show headlined by Jumbo Tsuruta and Tiger Mask (Mitsuharu Misawa) taking on Genichiro Tenryu and Ricky Fuyuki in a ***1/2 match. The match had a tremendous finish where Tenryu tried to lariat Jumbo out of the half crab he was applying to Fuyuki, but Jumbo held on to the leg and cinched back, which caused an immediate submission from Fuyuki. Tenryu disgustingly abandoned Fuyuki in the post-match, leaving Jumbo and Misawa to help him return to his feet. Fuyuki reluctantly accepted their help after encouragement from the crowd.
Vince McMahon backed down after attempting a dumb power play with pay-per-view distributers as Gene Okerlund announced on Prime Time Wrestling that Viewer’s Choice would now carry both the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania pay-per-views. Vince initially felt that he could increase his own profits by cutting out the middleman and working directly with the cable companies to distribute his shows, but he was unable to make the plan work and relented. The WWF signed a contract with Viewer’s Choice at the end of the dispute that lasted through 1996. On television, this was spun as the result of WWF fans exercising their Constitutional rights by calling their cable companies to demand that they carry WWF shows. It was Sinclair Lewis who once said that when fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross, and that was at least partially the case here.
WAR held a show in Yokohama. The best match of the night was a ***1/2 match between Genichiro Tenryu and Shiro Koshinaka, with one particular heart-stopping nearfall where everyone in the building was convinced the referee made a mistake.
In preparation for their Wrestlemania X ladder match, Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon began working ladder matches on the road. While the shows were not professionally taped, a few of the early ladder matches were taped by fans in the crowd, specifically this one in San Jose, CA. Shawn and Razor had a ***3/4 match on the merits, but it’s a more interesting to watch as a companion piece to the Wrestlemania match, to see what spots were kept, abandoned, tweaked or later added.
After Jim Cornette and SMW Commissioner Bob Armstrong had yet another conflict with The Gangstas, Armstrong finally agreed to lift the suspension for the Heavenly Bodies, which allowed them to return to the territory to face The Gangstas on January 28 at the Super Saturday Night Fever show. Also on the show, Cactus Jack presented Boo Bradley with a pair of his wrestling tights, which he claimed were the same ones he wore when he had his teeth knocked out and ear torn off. He wished Boo the same “luck” wearing them in the future.
Clips aired on USWA television of the January 9 show at Mid South Coliseum, where Tommy Rich and Doug Gilbert regained the USWA tag titles from PG-13. However, PG-13 challenged Rich and Gilbert to give them a rematch immediately, leading to PG-13 regaining the titles in a quick live studio match.
Harlem Heat won the WCW World Tag Team Titles for the first time on WCW Saturday Night, defeating Stars & Stripes (Marcus Bagwell & The Patriot) in a nothing match. Bagwell was the legal man but Booker T pinned Patriot while obstructing his face from the referee in a silly finish made even worse in a company that really didn’t emphasize the rules of wrestling very much. The show did a 2.4 rating.
Michinoku Pro held a card in Miyagi where Men’s Teioh faced Shoichi Funaki in a ***1/4 match. Those who think Michinoku Pro was all highspots all the time should check out this very different match, which was very basic and mat-based. That was almost to its detriment, as they were unable to take the match to the next level even after they established a nice foundation. As much as we used to hear about American wrestlers lifting new moves from the Japanese guys, the Michinoku Pro crew loved Bret Hart’s ringpost figure four and used it to great effect here.
In The “To Watch” Queue:
Dick Togo, Men’s Teioh & Shiryu vs Great Sasuke, Super Delphin & Gran Hamada (Michinoku Pro 01/14/97)
Silver King, La Fiera, Lizmark & Mr. Niebla vs Apolo Dantes, Felino, Scorpio Jr. & El Satanico (CMLL 01/14/97, Elimination Match)