Magazine foldout of Cactus Jack vs. Eddie Gilbert, autographed for Masanori by both men
"Champion Carnival '99" will start on Friday, March 26, and All Japan Pro's Tokyo Dome show will be held on Sunday, May 2. I really wish Cactus Jack could come back to All Japan Japan Pro Wrestling again someday.
The day I met Mick "Cactus Jack" Foley for the first time, was on Friday, March 22, 1991, in Ginza, Tokyo, before All Japan Pro 's "Champion Carnival '91" (single round robin tournament) from March 23 to April 20 (23 shows). He and other gaijin (foreign) wrestlers (Stan Hansen, Danny Spivey, Johnny Ace, New British Bulldogs [Dynamite Kid & Johnny Smith], Can-Am Express [Danny Kroffat & Doug Furnas], Southern Rockers [a.k.a. Well Dunn; Steve Doll & Rex King] and Texas Terminator [a.k.a. Big Hoss]) arrived at the hotel in the center of Tokyo by All Japan Pro's bus around 7:00 p.m. It took about one hour by bus from Narita (New Tokyo) International Airport in Chiba. Terry Gordy & Steve Williams, Andre the Giant, and Dory Funk Jr. & Terry Funk, who was his favorite, were scheduled to come to Japan later, from April 4 to April 18.
Cactus was really excited to have his first All Japan Pro tour, which he had been longing to do for years. He even went to the convenience store near the hotel to buy Weekly Pro-Wrestling and Weekly Gong magazines, and, of course, a candy bar. It was impressive that Stan Hansen advised Cactus that he had better call his family very often from Japan and gave him Japanese telephone cards.
Cactus Jack, All Japan Pro Wrestling newcomer, March 23, 1991, Korakuen Hall
Cactus had been known by wrestling video collectors in Japan; however, only one cable channel, named "Power Channel," televised "WCW Pro," which was commentated by Wally Yamaguchi in those days, so Cactus was almost a "Mr. Nobody" to casual All Japan fans.
In those days, All Japan brought indie wrestlers from Northeastern indies, such as Frankie Favorite (a.k.a. Glen "The Spider" Ruth, now known as Head Banger Thrasher) from Larry Sharpe, Undertakers (Val & Tony Puccio) from ICW, Rick Rude from TWA, and Sunny Beach from UWA.
Group A: (won-lost record)
Stan Hansen (6-0), Mitsuharu Misawa (5-1), Dynamite Kid (4-2), Kenta Kobashi (3-3), Doug Furnas (2-4), Texas Terminator (a.k.a. Big Hoss) (1-0), Johnny Ace (0-6). Johnny Ace got injured in a tag match against Cactus on April 1 and went home.
Group B: (won-lost record)
Jumbo Tsuruta (6-0), Danny Spivey (5-1), Toshiaki Kawada (4-2), Akira Taue (3-3), Danny Kroffat (2-4), Johnny Smith (1-5), Cactus Jack (0-6).
Jumbo Tsuruta (Group B winner) beat Stan Hansen (Group A winner) to win the tournament final at Aichi Prefectural Gym in Nagoya on Thursday, April 16.
Cactus couldn't win in the tournament matches at all, but he got over as the man with "eccentric conduct," like vertical suplexing his opponent to the ring announcer's desk, spitting in the air and catching it back in his mouth, and, of course, his incredible bumps (elbow drop on the floor; instead of taking the guard rail he leaped over the rail and crashed into the first two rows; and the Nestea plunge bump [backwards] off the apron onto the floor).
Cactus Jack and Masanori, April 19, 1991, Tokyo
3/23/91 Korakuen Hall, Tokyo--Cactus Jack b. Mighty Inoue (6:23)
3/25/91 Toda, Saitama--Stan Hansen & Cactus Jack b. Can-Am Express (11:13 Hansen b. Furnas)
3/26/91 Chichibu, Saitama--Jumbo Tsuruta b. Cactus Jack (4:58)
3/28/91 Tsubame, Niigata--Danny Spivey b. Cactus Jack (7:50)
3/29/91 Nagaoka, Niigata--Cactus Jack b. Richard Slinger (9:15)
3/30/91 Toyama City--Johnny Smith b. Cactus Jack (9:58)
3/31/91 Himi, Toyama--Toshiaki Kawada b. Cactus Jack (7:01)
4/1/91 Takefu, Fukui--Cactus Jack & Texas Terminator b. Johnny Ace & Richard Slinger (14:14 Hoss b. Slinger)
4/2/91 Toyooka, Hyogo--Dynamite Kid & Johnny Smith b. Cactus Jack & Texas Terminator (12:57 Kid b. Cactus)
4/4/91 Okayama City--Cactus Jack b. Isamu Teranishi (6:38)
4/5/91 Takamatsu, Kagawa--Andre the Giant & Mighty Inoue b. Cactus Jack & Texas Terminator (5:15 Andre b. Cactus)
4/6/91 Osaka Gym--Dory Funk Jr. & Terry Funk b. Cactus Jack & Texas Terminator (12:22 Dory b. Cactus)
4/8/91 Kita-kyushu, Fukuoka--Cactus Jack b. Yoshinari Ogawa (7:10)
4/9/91 Kumamoto City--Akira Taue b. Cactus Jack (8:10)
4/10/91 Oita City--Cactus Jack b. Isamu Teranishi (6:34)
4/11/91 Saga City--Cactus Jack b. Mighty Inoue (6:24)
4/12/91 Hakata Star Lanes, Fukuoka--Cactus Jack b. Rex King (a.k.a. Timothy Well)(6:37)
4/13/91 Mihara, Hiroshima--Danny Kroffat & Richard Slinger vs. Cactus Jack & Texas Terminator (12:43 Kroffat b. Cactus)
4/14/91 Nagahama, Shiga--Danny Kroffat b. Cactus Jack (12:52)
4/15/91 Shizuoka City--Dory Funk Jr. & Andre the Giant b. Cactus Jack & Texas Terminator (7:05 Andre b. Hoss)
4/16/91 Aichi Prefectural Gym, Nagoya--Kenta Kobashi b. Cactus Jack (7:30)
*Jumbo Tsuruta (Group B winner) beat Stan Hansen (Group A winner) to win the tournament final (12:53)
4/18/91 Nippon Budokan, Tokyo--Dory Funk Jr. & Doug Furnas b. Cactus Jack & Texas Terminator (9:20 Dory b. Cactus)
*Jumbo Tsuruta b. Mitsuharu Misawa to retain the Triple Crown Heavyweight title (23:17)
*Stan Hansen & Danny Spivey b. Terry Gordy & Steve Williams to retain the World Tag Team title (20:40 Hansen b. Williams)
4/20/91 Korakuen Hall, Tokyo--Stan Hansen & Danny Spivey b. Cactus Jack & Texas Terminator (7:50 Spivey b. Cactus)
Cactus learned a lot of things from other wrestlers like Stan Hansen, Dynamite Kid, and The Funks on this tour. He was a big fan of Terry Funk, so much so that he even went to a wrestling store and bought Terry Funk's picture book from the 1980s, and he checked out FMW's video (Atsushi Onita vs. Tarzan Goto in a first "No-rope / Barbed Wire / Electric / Explosion Death Match" in Shiodome, Tokyo on August 4, 1990). He said, "I can do this," though it took over six years before Cactus faced Atsushi Onita in the ring for the first time (Onita, Masato Tanaka, and W*ING Kanemura vs. Terry Funk, Mike "The Gladiator" Awesome, and Cactus at Yokohama Arena in Kanagawa on April 29, 1997).
Masanori and Cactus Jack, December 25, 1991, Atlanta, Georgia
Cactus enjoyed his first Japan tour, and the late Giant Baba liked Cactus as a promoter. By the way, Cactus found one of his favorite Japanese (?) foods, "First Kitchen's Bacon / Egg Burger," in Shinjuku, Tokyo. He still loves it and cooks it for his children by himself. But, he had no opportunity to come back to All Japan Pro (it was said that Mrs. Motoko Baba, a big fan of Johnny Ace, was really mad that Cactus hurt Johnny, and he went home), though Japanese fans waited for his return. He just left his "Double-Arm DDT" in Japan. A lot of wrestlers use it now. He smiled, "Kobashi stole it from me." I saw Cactus again at the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia on Christmas Day in 1991; I loved the combination of Cactus and Abdullah the Butcher. He became a regular for the IWA, and wrestled on over 60 shows for the IWA in 1995. I attended almost all the shows he appeared on in the Tokyo area. Of course, its climax was the "King of the Death Matches Tournament" at Kawasaki Baseball Stadium in Kanagawa on August 20, 1995. I haven't been able to see Cactus again since September 11, 1997. Cactus, Sabu, Sabu's wife, and some friends including me were talking until 3:00 a.m. after "WrestleFest '97" in Amarillo, Texas, then Cactus left the hotel at 4:30 a.m. for the airport.
Cactus is always Cactus. He will never change if he became the World Champion or the president or the prime minister. He always loves family, loves being a professional wrestler, and loves candy bars and Bacon / Egg Burgers.
Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert and Masanori, September 19, 1991, Katsushika, Tokyo
(EDITOR'S NOTE--Masanori made it into print in the U.S. this month when this picture appeared in the May 1999 issue of The Wrestler magazine ... it's remarkably similar to one which appears in Masa's story about the NWA 50th Anniversary. Our thanks to Bill Apter for permission to use this picture on our site.--Rob)
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