You wait months for a Meltzer’s Classic and then two come along at once. We spoil you, we really do. We’re still in Japan, but we move away from Joshi and back to New Japan Pro Wrestling where two all-star teams go head to head for the vacant IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships. In one corner we have a very young Keiji Mutoh teaming up with Shiro Koshinaka, and in the other, we have Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada. I’ll be honest, outside of Mutoh these wrestlers are unknown to me, so I guess it’s time to see what they’re like.
After a short break, we are back with another dive into Dave Meltzer’s five-star classics. We’re (as we often are) in Japan for this one and it’s our second appearance from all-around badass, Lioness Asuka. In this one, she goes up against her Crush Gals teammate Chigusa Nagoya in a match which takes both of them to the limit.
We’ve already featured Jumbo Tsuruta and Genichiro Tenryu in Meltzer’s Classics when they faced off against each other in 1989. Today, however, we are going back a few years to 1986 when they were on the same team defending their NWA International Tag Team belts against Riki Choshu and Yoshiaki Yatsu. This is classic All Japan tag-team wrestling and it’s a whole lot of fun.
After the discovery of a whole bunch of 5-star matches that we missed the first time around, Meltzer’s Classics has now dived back into 1985 and to the regular setting of Japan. This is our first women’s match to feature on the list as Jaguar Yokota defends her WWWA Championship against Lioness Asuka. Being honest, I hadn’t heard of either of these women, but a bit of research tells me that they are highly respected in Japan, if not in the West.
After months of steady forward progress, I only went and found an even more definitive list of Meltzer’s five-star matches! So rather than continuing into 1992 and what would have been War Games – we’ll get there eventually – we’ve gone back to Terry Funk vs. Jerry Lawler in 1981. It’s a match that as far as I can tell wasn’t rated by Meltzer but Uncle Dave himself has called it the moment that saw wrestling move from a four-star scale to a five, so it would be a shame to skip it.
Meltzer’s Classics slides into 1992 and a wrestling world that I am more familiar with. Although in saying that, I as of this match haven’t picked up the ability to walk yet, but I’m out there somewhere. Uncle Dave is introducing us to a certain Jushin Thunder Liger who in his full body get up looks exactly the same as he did at the G1 Special. This is the final of what at the time was called Top of the Super Juniors where he goes face to face with El Samurai.
With the G1 Climax around the corner, it is fitting that our latest Meltzer’s Classic takes place at that very tournament. We jump back to 1991 when Keiji Mutoh (perhaps better known to Western fans as The Great Muta) took on Big Van Vader. It’s worth saying that the only footage that seems to be available of this match is filmed by a fan and is made up of around ten pixels. You can figure out what is going on but it fuzzes out occasionally, and some nuances may be missed.