6th JAPAN TOUR
Tom Zenk's 5th Japan tour had been the AJPW Summer Action Series in 1989.
Zenk had been asked back for the October '89 series - but meanwhile he'd been contacted by NWA. Given the heat that existed between NWA and All Japan, and given that signing with NWA meant burning a bridge with Baba, Zenk held out for a two year contract from NWA and an exemption from working NWA matches with Baba's rival, New Japan.
This exemption was respected until 1991, when Zenk was booked by Dusty Rhodes for the New Japan/WCW Supershow at the Tokyo Egg Dome - Match 2 out of 11 - Tom Zenk, Brian Pillman and Tim Horner vs Shiro Koshinaka, Kuniaki Kobayashi and Takayuki Iizuka.
For the first few weeks of Rhodes' tenure as booker, Pillman had been working Mike Graham to set up a light heavyweight division that he could dominate. In late February, Graham and Rhodes decided to give Pillman a super-push as the "new Magnum T.A.", with Graham coaching Pillman into the role. Pillman came to the New Japan/WCW Supershow hoping to convince Rhodes to set him up with a program against Jushin Liger that would help solidify his place as a main eventer and increase his money.
March 21, 1991 in Egg Dome, Tokyo, Japan
drawing 64,500 ($3,160,000)
Diary for the week
"All the wrestlers and company officials along with the press met at the Keio Plaza Hotel for a luncheon. The way everything was handled gave this show the aura of a hot heavyweight title fight. .... The difference in the overall respect that the business and sport of pro-wrestling have in Japan as compared to the United States is overwhelming..... When Antonio Inoki walked in, it was not like a celebrity had just entered the room, it was more like George Bush [Snr].... Whatever product mix one favors in regards to pro-wrestling ... the fact is that the Japanese style enables the sport (and you can't argue the word 'sport' doesn't apply here) to have a level of respect and mainstream popularity that the product mix in the US simply doesn't allow ...There are no babyfaces and heels, at least in the exaggerated sense. The heat comes from action in the ring rather than personal characteristics..." (Dave Meltzer, WON 04/01/91)
|Mr Hughes, Tom Zenk, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Shane Douglas at the Keio Plaza Hotel lunch.|
"A few hours before show time ...most of the Japanese wrestlers [were] doing either light weight work, jogging or ...squats.. A few Americans, most notably Brian Pillman, got in the ring to continually test the ropes. Some of the other WCW personnel, particularly Jim Ross, Rick Steiner and Tony Schavione were taking photos of the building like tourists. At about 1 p.m. they did a run through of the opening ceremony in which, on the giant screen, they would list the match and then have interviews and/or angles that set up the match. The sound system in the Dome is the best of any arena I've ever been in. Shortly after that, they opened the door to fans..... The show started at 3 p.m.. with about a ten minute long opening ceremony on the big screen. Ring announcer Hideki Tanaka would announce the match, which appeared on the big screen, and then one side or individual and then the other would do an interview. The interviews were done the previous morning at the hotel and most were done in American style. The fans laughed at the Japanese doing American interviews." (WON 04/01/91)
The match was before 64,500 fans – the biggest crowd in Japanese wrestling history. The plan was to work the match Japan-style with one hot move after another. We’d worked out three or more high spots each, with the idea of showcasing each of the guys. Brian's plan, however, was to do a thousand spots and basically look after himself, while giving Horner and me the cold tag. By now, I knew Brian well enough to just work around him.
I opened the match with three dropkicks on Kobayashi. Pillman came in and used a series of stiff chops that could be heard in the cheap seats. As the match went on, Horner and I did the solid stuff, Brian and I the high flying and Pillman the flashier moves, including a Satoru Sayama splash off the top rope.
After several hot near falls, Iizuka pinned Horner (at 12:10) with a Dragon suplex (full nelson into a German suplex). It had been a good cold Japan match with some nice spots and good crowd reaction – pretty much was it was supposed to be. Meltzer scored it three and three quarter stars - second behind The Steiners vs Hiroshi Hase and Kensuke Sasaki, which he considered "a definite match of the year candidate." (WON 04/01/91).