The Best of the Road Warriors in All-Japan Pro Wrestling

The Road Warriors storm through All-Japan, destroying legends and heroes on their way to fame and glory

This collection is a DVD from IVPvideos.com and I believe was originally shown in Japan on Samurai TV as a compilation piece in the 90’s. Everything will be in Japanese commentary.

AWA World Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors vs. NWA International Tag Team Champions Genichiro Tenryu/Jumbo Tsuruta – 2/3 falls match (3/9/85)

“Iron Man” roars as the Warriors charge the ring. Paul Ellering is wearing a studded leather cape over a leopard skin tank top (because he’s AWESOME!) The fans cheer wildly for both teams as this is clearly a dream match of sorts.

Jumbo squares right off with Hawk, broadening his shoulders and showing no fear. Hawk attempts a barrage of fists, but Jumbo no sells. Hawk powers him into his corner and Animal tags. Jumbo no sells a big slam from him. Animal powers out of a full nelson, but Tsuruta no sells an elbow shot that follows it. Hawk wins a test of strength with Jumbo and Tenryu tags in.

Tenryu assumes the role of face in peril, taking a press slam and a number of back breakers as both Warriors beat him down. He rifles back with hard chops, but Hawk won’t leave his feet. Jumbo tags in but not even a double team from the Japanese duo is enough to take Hawk off his feet. Jumbo does rock him with a number of chops, leading to Animal tagging in. He quickly misses a charge, setting up Tenryu to attempt a submission. Things break down fast as both teams exchange control before Tsuruta is caught with a clothesline and pinned abruptly at 7:35.

Hawk opens up fall two by delivering a number of clubbing blows to Tsuruta, Jumbo manages to tag Tenryu who chops Hawk and delivers a back suplex. Jumbo comes back in and catches Hawk with a flying knee and a gut wrench suplex. Hawk fights back and delivers a bridging German suplex -attempting a pin. Jumbo gets his shoulder up and Hawk is pinned instead at 2:14. The Road Warriors and Ellering are livid and attack both men – and the ref. This leads to a four-way brawl that has to be broken up by the young boys who are watching on from ringside. Ellering and the Warriors beat up the young boys for good measure.

Good finish as it left both teams strong for the inevitable rematches that were to come. It’s interesting to watch someone like Jumbo play the Road Warriors no-selling game against them. Solid match overall.

AWA World Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors vs. Takashi Ishikawa/Higo “Animal” Hamaguchi (5/31/85)

Both of the Japanese men are solid veteran hands. The locals get attacked before the bell and beaten down. Hawk mauls one of the men, then the other gets similar treatment before a modified “Doomsday Device” ends this quick at 1:25.  Destroying some mid-card talents was a sure fire way to shoot the Warriors into superstardom. That sounds like snark, but I mean it.

AWA World Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors vs. Killer Khan/Masanobu Kurisu (6/2/85)

The Warriors charge the ring and attack. Khan is sent to the floor, meanwhile Kurisu is press slammed violently. The smaller Kurisu is singled out for the Warriors’ torment and they take turns hitting big power moves on him. Khan tags in and uses his larger frame to neutralize Animal long enough to deliver a hard-fought side Russian leg sweep. Animal no sells it anyway. Kurisu tags back in and goes back to being a tackling dummy for the Warriors, eating a violent flying tackle from Hawk, followed by a shoulder breaker. Animal hits a stiff clothesline at 2:20 for the finish. Vintage Warrior squash match.

AWA World Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors vs. Killer Khan/Yoshiaki Yatsu (6/4/85)

Khan gets his chance for revenge only two nights later. The Warriors again charge the ring and attack. Yatsu is press slammed and power slammed by Animal. The Warriors then down him with a double sledge before Hawk stiffly gutwrench suplexes him into the mat. Khan enters and stuns Hawk with chops. But Yatsu tags back in and Hawk takes control right away. Hawk tosses him to the floor, where Animal delivers a piledriver on the cement. Yatsu is obviously hurt after that, crawling away holding his neck as the ref counts him out for a quick win for the Warriors at 2:32. I’m not a fan of the piledriver on the cement spot, unless the plan is a long injury angle. This match going so brief really took me by surprise as both of the Warriors’ foes were name guys.

The Road Warriors vs. Shoehi “Giant” Baba/Motoshi Okuma (5/31/86)

We skip ahead a year here as the Warriors charge the ring to battle their real-life boss, Baba. Okuma gets singled out right away and both Warriors take turns pummeling him. It should be noted both Hawk and Animal look thicker and less cut muscularity-wise from a year earlier. Baba tags in and Hawk actually sells for his chops and even takes a bump for Baba’s boot. Both Warriors noticeably work a lot less snug while battling Baba. Okuma tags back in and is immediately driven into the mat with a stiff slam and then taken down with a hard clothesline. Hawk puts Okuma on Animal’s shoulder while he is sitting on the top rope. This leads to a powerslam and an easy win for the Warriors at just under 3 minutes. Baba was on the way down the cards, but I was surprised to see his team fall so easily.

The Road Warriors vs. Terry and Dory Funk Jr. (10/20/86)

The Funks are smart enough to bail out of the ring to avoid the Warriors’ pre-match battle charge. Terry teases throwing fists at Hawk, only to be scooped up and press slammed with ease. Animal flings Funk into a corner and Funk ends up flipped up on the turnbuckle. Animal kicks him and Funk takes a nasty spill to the apron. Funk is next trapped in a bear hug by Animal and stays in the vice grip for several minutes.

Funk works his way out and both men make the tag off. Hawk is double teamed but no sells a piledriver from Terry, then delivers one of his own. Funk tries to no sell that, but shows the obvious after effects of the move.

Dory tries to make Hawk grapple, exploiting the one weakness in the Warrior’s game. Animal and Dory end up exchanging blows before Terry makes his way in the ring, where he tries to duke it out with Animal. Animal makes him pay by downing him with a big powerslam. Hawk follows that by delivering a pair of stiff shoulder tackles. Hawk scores with a gut wrench suplex, but Funk fights back. A piledriver attempt ends with Funk being backdropped to the cement floor.

Dory scores with a suplex on Animal but the Warriors preserve. Terry tries a flying splash from the top and lands on Hawk’s knees. The Warriors deliver a modified Doomsday device –with Funk hanging by the ropes. Terry is sent to the floor. Dory is nailed with a Doomsday Device in the middle of the ring, but Terry saves the day. All four men brawl on the floor. Terry and Hawk hit each other with ladders and tables. Then Terry and the Warriors take turn chucking chairs at one another in a wild scene! The match is declared a double DQ after 12 minutes or so of action. Good match! The Funks proved that knowing all the tricks can help you survive against a pair of buzz saws like the Road Warriors.

The Road Warriors vs. Shoehi “Giant” Baba/Genichiro Tenryu (10/21/86)

The Warriors charge the ring and send the legendary Baba and his charge Tenryu to the floor under a barrage of forearms. Tenryu starts us off proper and he is quickly downed with big blows from both Warriors. Baba tags in. The crowd fires off a “Ba-ba, Ba-ba!” chant. He hits a (frankly) pathetic looking chop on Hawk and Hawk falls backward in a daze. It’s realty business exposing for other guys to have all their stuff no sold, only for Baba’s offense to rock the Warriors. Animal uses a bear hug on Baba, but he falls for the shitty chop as well. Tenryu then tags in and Hawk immediately ramps up the stiffness to 11 as he powerslams Tenryu into the mat.

Animal press slams Hawk into Tenryu in a cool spot and I almost bought it as the finish. Baba tags in and Hawk goes right back to selling, giving Baba a near-fall off a Russian leg sweep. Animal is then rocked with a big boot. Ellering is alarmed enough by this turn of events that he attacks Tenryu. Baba is hit with a ground level quasi-Doomsday Device/Hart Attack, but he rolls to the ropes to avoid being pinned. The Warriors attack Baba and the ref to earn a DQ, then Tenryu is blasted with a stiff clothesline. This went around 6 minutes.Baba was a legend, but the Warriors’ so obviously changing up their selling and offensive intensity when facing him really took me out of the match.

Road Warrior Animal vs. Higo Hamaguchi/Shinichi Nakano in a handicap match (11/1/86)

This is around the point that Hawk had a legit broken leg, so I assume he missed this Japan tour.  Animal mauls Nakano with ease, but a fiery Hamaguchi is able to get in some choice shots. Animal delivers a double-clothesline, followed by a powerslam on Nakano for the win in a mere 90 seconds. So even alone the Warrior style is still kill’em quick.

The Road Warriors vs. The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Dennis Condrey) (12/29/86)

This is from America. Jim Cornette introduces the Midnight Express and trolls the audience. Tony Schiavone is doing ring announcer duties. Corny hugs his men for cheap heat. Hawk signals that he thinks the men are gay. Cornette acts like he wants to fight Hawk – then kisses Eaton for maximum homophobia.

Hawk absorbs a big punch from Eaton, but shakes it off and press slams him. Eaton is then dropped with an impressive flying shoulder block and wisely tags off to Condrey. Condrey quickly becomes flustered by Animal’s raw power and tries to walk to the back. Corny has to physically restrain him.

Eaton gives it a go again and tries a test of strength. Condrey comes in to grab Animal’s other arm and the Warrior flings both heels off with ease. Hawk and Condrey end up as the legal men and Hawk is piledriven – which he no sells (of course!) Hawk subsequently misses a flying clothesline and tumbles all the way to the floor. Condrey uses Cornette’s tennis racquet to swing control in the Express’ favor. Hawk is double-teamed and kept in the heel corner. This is probably the most selling the Warriors have done so far on this DVD. Maybe by this point they were starting to learn how to really play the game?

Animal makes the hot tag and batters Condrey with flying shoulder blocks and a powerslam. Eaton gives up and just cracks both Warriors with Cornette’s racquet to earn the DQ at the 10 minute mark. The Warriors get the racquet and thrill the audience by assaulting both heels with it after the match. Condrey ends up bloody from this. The crowd heat seemed to be somewhat lacking for what was essentially the hottest program in the territory at this point. This was taking place in Inglewood, California and the crowd may just not be as hot for JCP wrestling as they could be.

NWA International Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors vs. Jumbo Tsuruta/Hiroshi Wajima (6/9/87)

Jumbo and Hawk start things off, with Tsuruta taking a big powerslam before the match spills to the floor. Hawk absorbs a stiff clothesline and falls to the cement. Wajima gets a big reaction for tagging in and going right after Hawk. He and Hawk collide and both men go down. This sets Hawk up to be trapped in a kneebar. Jumbo tags in and continues to work on the knee, but Hawk reverses things into a near sharpshooter-like move.

Animal tags in and tosses Jumbo down with a press slam. He and Tsuruta then collide, which sets up Wajima to come in for a trading of chops. They whiff on a flying shoulder block attempt, but Wajima sells it anyway and the crowd sort of boos. They get right back into it though, cheering “Wajima!” as he fights his way out of a bear hug.

Jumbo returns to action and finds himself trapped in a knee bar, then whisked over Hawk’s shoulder and left at the mercy of Animal’s flying forearm from the top rope. Hawk misses a flying splash from the top rope to set Wajima up for an offensive flurry. Jumbo blasts Animal with a stiff clothesline as things break down into a four-way brawl. Jumbo is spike piledriven on the CEMENT and the Warriors earn a count-out win at just under 10 minutes. Jumbo is up from that within a minute. The mark in me dies a little inside after seeing that. Fun match until that finish flustered me.

Road Warrior Animal vs. Hiroshi Wajima (6/11/87)

Two days later and Wajima is given his chance at revenge. The men square off in football stances and run into each other – neither man really claims an advantage. Animal tosses Wajima around for a bit, but he answers back with blows of his own. Things breakdown on the floor and Animal piledrives Wajima on the cement. This earns Animal the count-out win in just over three minutes. Things were just getting started when we got that abrupt finish. I’m now curious if there was a payoff for the Road Warrior’s violent actions or anything of that sort.

NWA International Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors vs. Jumbo Tsuruta/Yoshiaki Yatsu (10/30/87)

Yatsu tries to start fast and delivers a piledriver to Hawk within a minute into the match. You can guess by now how that ends. An enziguri downs Hawk but he shakes it off. The Japanese duo nail Hawk with a pair of flying knees and that forces him to tag off to Animal. Animal press slams Jumbo and delivers a stiff clothesline. Tsuruta answers that with a stiff clothesline of his own.

Jumbo attempts to keep Hawk down with a kneebar, but Hawk makes it to the ropes. Hawk locks Tsuruta in a bear hug.  Yatsu aides Jumbo in his escape, which allows him to trap Hawk in a sleeper. A spike piledriver is actually briefly sold by Hawk, but he quickly goes back to throwing fists.

Jumbo attacks Animal with hard chops, but he misses a charge and ends up on the floor. Hawk makes him pay by smacking him with a chair. Both Warriors take turns wearing Tsuruta down.

Yatsu makes the hot tag and delivers some power moves on Animal. This ends abruptly as the Warriors nail him with the “Doomsday Device”. Jumbo saves his partner from eating the pin. Yatsu is up quickly from the Warriors’ kill shot and he downs Hawk with an enziguri. Jumbo then catches Hawk with a flying knee from the top rope which sends Hawk into a German suplex by Yatsu that I almost bought as the finish. A four-way brawl breaks out on the floor and a double count out is declared at 12:16. All-Japan loved their schmozz finishes when big names collided. Entertaining bout though.

Final thoughts: The Road Warriors are among my favorite wrestlers of all-time, but their stuff does not lend itself well to several straight hours of viewing. Having a brief, violent power match in the middle of a card is one thing, but watching their basic match structure back to back to back proved tedious.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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