DO THE HUSTLE!
HUSTLE was a Japanese wrestling promotion formed in 2004 by Nobuhiko Takada that became notable for having an over the top ‘sports entertainment’ style of wrestling. The promotion only lasted 6 years before closing but gained quite the cult following.
I myself was only slightly familiar with the promotion, I had seen a few matches and a couple bits and pieces here and there, and I knew about some of its wacky storylines but that’s about it.
So recently almost all of HUSTLE’s shows got uploaded to the Realhero archive and I became interested in finally delving into it properly and writing up about it. Now I’m not sure how many shows I’m actually gonna get through since I’ve been a little busy lately and haven’t been able to watch much old wrestling stuff, but i’m gonna give it a go when I can.
So first up we of course have first HUSTLE show that was held at Saitama Super Arena in January 2004 in front of 12,000 people. Now this is a much more of a standard show compared to the ‘sport entertainment style’ it would incorporate, it features a bunch of special matches featuring international talent and MMA fighters, though some of the lineup is a little odd and its main evented by Goldberg vs Naoya Ogawa!
Match 1: Jun Kasai vs Low Ki vs King Adamo vs MIKAMI
I knew everyone in this match aside King Adamo, he’s mainly just appeared on the indies and made two appearances for the WWE, one as Fat Hardy in a handicap match against Kane and the other in a dark tag match on Heat. He did quite well in this though was comparably the weakest in the match. Everyone else are much more notable of course with Jun Kasai being known for BJW, MIKAMI for DDT and Low Ki for being one of the most popular guys on the indies in the noughties as well as his stints in TNA and WWE.
This was a fun little opener with a couple of nice spots, MIKAMI brought a ladder with him that actually gets used including him hitting his signature Swanton off the top of it. Low Ki gets the win and also is the standout in the match but they all did pretty good, 4 ways are very rare in Japan so its cool seeing one every now and again.
Winner: Low Ki(via Ki Krusher) **3/4
Match 2: Zebraman vs Ikuto Hidaka
So Zebraman is tie-in character to the movie Zebraman which I own on DVD and is directed by one of my favourite directors Takashi Miike, its quite a fun movie so I was certainly intrigued by this. Zebraman is actually played by Kazuhiko Ogasawara who is a freelancer that has worked for a number of promotions over the years though I’ve not seen anything of his before, interestingly he actually made his debut in 2002 aged 42 which is a surprisingly late age to start wrestling but he seemed pretty good here. Hidaka of course is best known for working in Zero 1 and he did really great in this match.
Match was fun overall, they kept a good pace and did some nice high flying back and forth action. Pretty good debut for Zebraman who dissappears in a puff of smoke post-match.
Winner: Zebraman(via Zebrabomb) ***
-Theres a backstage video with Takada pointing at chicken and telling Goldberg this is bad chicken, so Goldberg asks where is the good chicken and Takada says Ogawa is good chicken, so Goldberg is gonna eat some Ogawa chicken.
Match 3: Dos Caras Jr. & Solar vs. KojiKazu (Kaz Hayashi & Satoshi Kojima)
This features Del Rio back in his masked days as Dos Caras Jr. I’ve not actually seen much of his stuff from then, of course he’s working a full lucha style but you can still see a few of his mannerisms. His partner Solar is a veteran Luchador that has worked for a number of Mexican promotions over the years and KojiKazu were a part of AJPW at the time and later on in the month would win the AJPW World tag team titles.
The version of this I saw was cut at one point, so it’s not the full match but it was still most of it and what I watched was solid it was a nice mix of lucha and Japanese style that meshed well and had a consistent good pace. Always a fan of Kaz and Kojima and everyone did good here.
Winners: KojiKazu(via lariat by Kojima) ***1/4
Match 4: Emblem (Masato Tanaka & Shinjiro Otani) vs. Kevin Randleman & The Predator
So in this we have Predator who is a Bruiser Brody rip-off which him plowing through the crowd throwing chairs about, he had a failed WWECW stint as Sylvester Terkay(which is also actually his real name) and his partner Kevin Randleman was an MMA fighter who is former UFC heavyweight champion that sadly passed away last year. Emblem were a part of Zero-1 where they have primarily worked since the promotions inception. Though it still baffles me how Otani is only 30 years old at this point but looks more like 40.
Match itself was pretty good, starts off a bit slow but picks up, Randleman/Predator are an odd contrasting team but manage to make it work, Randleman busted out some flashy cruiser stuff but didn’t seem that good at much else he was alright though, I was quite impressed with Predator though he did well with his physicality and power and I liked Emblem struggles to lift him throughout because of his size. You can’t really go wrong with Otani and Tanaka so they were good as always and overall I quite enjoyed it.
Winners: Randleman/Predator(via Musclebuster) ***
Match 5: Giant Silva vs. Katsuhisa Fujii & Kohei Sato
Absolute 2 minute squash to showcase Silva which was kind of fun, Silva lumbers about like most giants his size but he’s alright at times.Fujii hasn’t done much in his career but Sato would go on to be ZERO1 World Heavyweight Champion which actually he currently holds.
Winner: Giant Silva(via Chokeslam) Squash
Match 6: Vader vs. Shinya Hashimoto
This wasn’t very good at all, they went for a shoot style contest but Vader was past his prime by this point and was getting more and more limited as a worker, so it was just a bit of a mess really despite some of Hashimotos efforts, the countout finish was also little odd and met with boos from the crowd so that didn’t go down to well. Disappointing contest really.
Winner: Shinya Hashimoto(via countout) **
Match 7: Dusty Rhodes, Steve Corino & Tom Howard vs. Dos Caras, Mil Mascaras & Sicodelico Jr.
So here its the veteran Lucha Uncles and their young Nephew against the odd line up of Corino,Dusty and Howard.
it was good overall, they kept a good pace like some of the previous matches had a nice amount of lucha action incorporated. Dusty was used very minimally so easy night for him compared to the Lucha veterans who were flying about still looking good for the age and fair play to Mascaras hitting a crossbody at 61.
Winners: Caras/Mascaras/Sicodelico jr(via Mascaras crossbody) ***1/4
Post match Corino beats on Dusty after taking the fall and Dusty retaliates leading to them both bleeding.
Match 8: Toshiaki Kawada vs Mark Coleman
It the first UFC champion up against dangerous K so this was bound to be quite physical and it was indeed, just a short fun shoot style contest though the ending was a little confusing though as Kawada has Coleman in a heel hook and the ref ring the bell, but Coleman didn’t seem to submit and when I looked it up it said Kawada won by referee decision so that’s odd, I quite enjoyed it either way.
Winner: kawada(via referee decision)***
Main Event: Goldberg vs Naoya Ogawa
This was ok I guess it was another shoot style contest but they didn’t mesh the best and there was some fumbling about here and there. Goldbergs never been the best of workers and I was actually surprised to see him on this show considering he was still part of WWE at this point, guess there was something in his contract or they worked out a deal, either way not the best of matches at all unfortunately. A ref also gets knocked out and Silva gets involved and lamps out Ogawa which leads to Goldberg hitting the spear and jackhammer (was a little weak) for the win. Goldberg stays unbeatable as per usual.
Winner: Goldberg (via jackhammer) **1/4
So that’s the first HUSTLE show, some interesting matches, some solid wrestling and some not so good stuff. The shoot style matches were definitely the weakest on the show and the lucha tags the strongest, there’s certainly nothing must see here but its pretty easy show to watch. Not bad. **3/4