MICHINOKU PURORESU TAPES 2002

Battle Station Michinoku Puroresu 2/11/02 taped 2/3/02 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Tsubo Genjin vs. Chinnen Hokkai. Genjin was wasting as much time as possible. Hokkai actually got to be on offense. This allowed Genjin to play dead after Hokkai stomped on him several times, leading to his comeback with a low blow when Hokkai checked on him. The odd obsession with trying to make all adults look like 8 year olds has now gone so far that Genjin pulled Hokkai's underarm hair to point out he's not petrified enough of his own body hair. Someone remind me how growing more and more afraid of what we look like by the minute is "evolution". Yuka Nakamura tried to help Hokkai, but her missile kick backfired. 10:27. -*

Gran Hamada & Hideki Nishida vs. Shinigama & Psychic. Shinigami and to a lesser extent Psychic are stalking type heels. They execute their moves fairly well and take decently, but no better. Psychic does show good athleticm at points, including doing a lionsault. Nishida is frustrating because he's one of those Ai Fujita types that has a ton of athleticism, but only applies it to a few moves and doesn't use it to make the opponent look better. Nishida did show a few more moves today because the offense was lower ranked. Hamada was typically solid. 9:50 of 13:05. **1/4

Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Macho Pump. Pump is the one whose gimmick is based on being a muscle man, yet Shinzaki beat him in a test of strength just using 1 hand! Shinzaki also no sold Pump's jumping headbutt. Pump had to leave his regular offense and pull out a few dives he rarely uses to get Shinzaki to sell anything. 6:22

Tiger Mask & Kazuya Yuasa vs. Ikuto Hidaka & Tomohiro Ishii. At this point I can usually pick out the matches that have a chance of being excellent because there are so few of them, but I was totally caught off guard by the exceptional effort displayed here. Everyone was inspired and gave a peak performance; it was the good kind of trying to stand out where they busted their ass delivering a memorable in ring performance trying to make a name for themselves to the Tokyo audience . From before the opening bell, they put maximum effort into every spot. Hidaka & Tiger are elite wrestlers, so excellence from them is no surprise but together they achieved their highest level. What was a surprise is that Yuasa & Ishii were able to more than hold their own. They don't have the capability of the other two, but they were also executing their moves as well as could be, with consistent (far better than their norm) stiffness and explosion. I wish these two would have shown more evidence of how good they could be at other points in the year because it's hard to not feel they regressed after seeing what they could deliver, but that's one thing that made this match special. There were some excellent near falls you could really believe in regardless of the move they came after. Hidaka's big juice job was rather wasted, but it was another way they pulled out all the stops. It did play a part in the Tiger vs. Hidaka program as the justification for Hidaka unmasking Tiger after the match. 18:18. ****1/4

SASUKE & Chabinger & Sasuke Perfoma 346 vs. Sasuke The Great & Masked Tiger & NANIWA. Extreme Lucha or in other words a chaotic clusterfuck with a bunch of meaningless gimmick spots. The stupidity of the match can be summed up by the spot where SASUKE propped Sasuke The Great against a ladder leaning on the ropes and had Great avoid it so he could take this crazy bump where he landed between two steps and flipped the ladder over with him so he didn't mangle his neck. Injuries are the big reason Sasuke is on the decline, but at least one might have been able to argue there was some short term reward to the crazy chances he took in years past. Match had no heat and the fans didn't react to anything beyond a few flying moves. NANIWA was quite bad, even bungling Gran's signature crab walk beyond recognition. 346 was more like Austin than Sasuke. He showed nothing beyond the ability to do the stunner and drink some beer. Orihara unmasked after the match, putting an end to the Sasuke The Great gimmick. 17:49. *1/2

Michinoku Lucha TV #53 2/21/02
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

12/23/01 Saitama

Kazuya Yuasa & Chinnen Hokkai vs. Hi69 & Yasu Urano. Yuasa was wrestling with more confidence and fluidity at the end of 2001 and beginning of 2002. Here he was the leader of the bunch, but he got timed when he was elevated to one of Sasuke's partners in the main event tags. Yuasa was by far the class of this group, with Hi69 being #2 since Urano wasn't too involved in what aired. 19 minutes is way too long for these guys, but the portion shown was pretty good. 6:52 of 18:58

Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Curry Man. Shinzaki decided this was a junior vs. heavy match. Then again, he decides to squash every opponent except Sasuke, but they don't seem to have singles matches anymore. The usual Shinzaki routine, made better by having Curry as the one to take it. 2:32 of 13:24

APEX OF TRIANGLE Senshukenjiai: The Great Sasuke & Gran Hamada & Tiger Mask vs. Dick Togo & Gedo & Tomohiro Ishii. Sasuke's team was a lot stronger at this point with Hamada & Tiger rather than Nishida & Yuasa. Tiger has the best combination of skill and execution in the league. Good match with a lot of nice moves, but not much in the way of drama and build. 10:31 of 17:20

1/14/02 Miyagi Zepp Sendai

Ladder Match: Chinnen Hokkai vs. Tsubo Genjin. Only purpose of this match was to give Genjin an excuse to pull Hokkai's pants down. They used a ladder with just 3 steps, so when Genjin was about to win Hokkai suddenly realized he could jump up and grab the medal without even using the ladder. Hokkai then gave medal to Hiromi Yagi. 6:43. -**

Masao Orihara vs. Macho Pump. Nothing match. Pump used his Rock ripoffs then Orihara beat him with one move. 3:11 of 5:46

Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Yone Genjin. Genjin has really slown down. Shinzaki still gave him more respect than Curry, even though Genjin was just an undercard comedy guy in his "prime". More respect from Shinzaki meant Genjin got one hope spot turning the praying powerbomb into a kaiten ebigatame. Genjin took a bump off the balcony, but he was fully extended and Shinzaki had to step on his hands to get him off so it wasn't that far a drop. 4:26 of 12:11

Tiger Mask & Hideki Nishida & Kazuya Yuasa vs. Ikuto Hidaka & Tomohiro Ishii & Psychic. Had its moments, but overall seemed disappointing. Hidaka & Tiger weren't as involved since it seemed to be more of a showcase for the younger guys. Hidaka is a lot quicker than even Tiger & Nishida. 8:16 of 16:22

NWA World Middleweight Title Match: The Great Sasuke vs. Gedo. Sasuke's lack of psychology was more apparent than usual because he was out there for 25 minutes without developing much of anything. The only real story involved Togo's gang on the outside. They beat Sasuke up including Togo stopping a quebrada with a cane shot and Ishii following with a dangerous German suplex on the ramp. Sasuke's friends then came to the rescue, so Ted Tanabe threw all the seconds out but of course they were back for the finish. Gedo dominated the match, set up by the afformentioned outside the ring action, but in a manner that was too across the board. He doesn't have the offense to dominate a match of this length to begin with, but him being so unfocused hurt that much more. Sasuke relies too heavily on spectacular flying these days. He often doesn't do a whole lot else offensively, and thus he's not working to the moves, creating a plausible situation to do them, or getting much out of them. There was a lot of good stuff, especially move wise, but also a lot of goofiness. Sometimes there were combinations of the two, for instance the spot where Gedo avoided Sasuke's tope atomico onto the ramp, but Sasuke was somehow right up and DDT'd Gedo, collapsed, then beat Gedo up and did a senton atomico onto the ramp. They were selling for AJ main length in the later portions, though Gedo suddenly got to this point where they were almost dead. 25:14. **1/2

Battle Station Michinoku Puroresu 3/24/02 LOVE TOKUSHIMA taped 3/10 Tokushima Shiritsu Taiikukan
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Yuki Ishikawa vs. Tomohiro Ishii

Mima Shimoda vs. Yuka Nakamura

Tsubo Genjin vs. Chinnen Hokkai

Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Psychic

Gran Hamada vs. Macho Pump

Tiger Mask & Hideki Nishida & Kazuya Yuasa vs. Ikuto Hidaka & Curry Man & Super Boy

Satoshi Kojima & The Great Sasuke vs. Keiji Muto & Jinsei Shinzaki

Michinoku Puroresu Battle Station 4/3/02 Lucha Pack 2002 taped 3/17/02 Iwate Yahaba Machi Min Sogo Taiikukan
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Ricky Fuji & Macho Pump vs. Teppei Ishizaka & Sambo Oishi

Tsubo Genjin vs. Chinnen Hokkai

Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Psychic

3/3/02 Twin Messe Shizuoka, Kazuya Yuasa 5 Match Challenge #1: Kazuya Yuasa vs. Jushin Thunder Liger 4:13 of 13:23. They basically just edited the down time, skipping right from 1 high spot to another. Liger didn't wrestle this like the huge favorite he was, but pretty much like Yuasa was his equal. They went back & forth throwing what they had at each other. Yuasa's offense wasn't as deadly, but he had some well timed counters & came off very credible. Not one of Liger's classics obviously, but about as good as it could be given the opposition. A good effort, with both wrestlers making a good showing all around.

3/5/02 Nagano, Kazuya Yuasa 5 Match Challenge #2: Kazuya Yuasa vs. Kintaro Kanemura.

Kazuya Yuasa 5 Match Challenge #3: Kazuya Yuasa vs. Yuki Ishikawa

Tiger Mask & Hideki Nishida & Kazuya Yuasa vs. Dick Togo & Ikuto Hidaka & Tomohiro Ishii 16:24. The majority of the match was fairly underwhelming rudo brawling. I was surprised at the lack of skill & action being mixed in, though Tiger's team was a bit overmatched & underwhelming. When they finally flipped the switch, it was quite impressive, but almost everything of note happened during the finishing sequence, which given that, was all too brief. Nishida hit some hot corbatas including a nice 1 off the apron, but neither Togo, Hidaka, nor Tiger approached their level of excellence, so it was kind of a miss overall even though the ending was really good. **1/2

NWA World Middleweight Title Match: The Great Sasuke vs. Masao Orihara 22:35. This match was just all over the place. Orihara did as much brawling as possible, with Sasuke mixing in some lightning transitions into flying moves. Amidst all this, there were several rather uninspired mat sequences where they just held onto a hold for too long. It was mostly Orihara's heel match, with Sasuke throwing in a half dozen awesome spots, and Orihara was a bit lacking in crispness & intensity given what he was trying to do. The finish was bizarre with Sasuke taking a ridiculous bump onto the back of a table that was just laid out in the ring from a spider German. Rather than trying to win the match now that he rebusted Sasuke's skull, Orihara just didled around on the top rope & Togo and friends eventually came in & taunted Sasuke, the ref finally deciding to DQ Orihara ***

Kazuya Yuasa 5 Match Challenge #4: Kazuya Yuasa vs. Dick Togo

Kazuya Yuasa 5 Match Challenge #5: Kazuya Yuasa vs. Jinsei Shinzaki

The Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask & Hideki Nishida vs. Dick Togo & Masao Orihara & Ikuto Hidaka

Michinoku Lucha TV #55 4/12/02 taped 3/23 Miyagi Zepp Sendai
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Sambo Oishi vs. Teppei Ishikata. Counters on the mat. They weren't exactly Owen Hart level arm bar counters, but it was a lot more passable than the usual stuff inexperienced guys do. Oishi attacked the knee, already showing a more diverse arsenal than Muto has. Solid. 8:21 of 8:39. *3/4

Tsubo Genjin vs. Kohaku (?) Kamen. Kamen was a sloppy Luchador that did one or two decent things early then let Genjin do his pathetic routine the rest of the match. 6:53. DUD

Ricky Fuji & Macho Pump vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Psychic. Adequate match. The execution was fine, there were a few good moves, and everyone looked decent. I'm liking Macho Pump that much less now that he's doing the people's elbow and rock bottom. He did do one cool move though where he sprinted the ramp and dove over the top with a headbutt. 15:00. **

Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Kazuya Yuasa. The usual slaughter. Shinzaki would just wait for Yuasa to get up so he could hit him with the next move. Finally, after a dropkick, Shinzaki tired of this and kept covering Yuasa until he didn't bother to kick out. 15:02. *

The Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask & Hideki Nishida vs. Dick Togo & Masao Orihara & Ikuto Hidaka. It seemed like they were just going through their routine for the first 10+ minutes. It was real good once they picked up the pace and did the more dangerous spots, but it was almost over by then. Nishida gave the best effort, but he can't pull everything off smoothly yet. With Tiger Mask mysteriously absent, Sasuke & Hidaka were the main two upholding the quality. 13:17 of 14:44. ***

Michinoku Lucha TV #56 5/17/02 taped 5/5 Miyagi New World Sendai Tennis Club
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

World of the Ring Saishusen: Hi69 vs. Yasu Urano. Kind of an odd style. It was kind of like an AJW rookie match with some Lucha sequences and a knee attack that was put over surprisingly well. It was mainly decent, but kind of deliberate and they handled time poorly. Urano has more potential, but Hi69 is more advanced right now. 12:48 of 15:00. **

Tsubo Genjin vs. Chinnen Hokkai. Hokkai doesn't assert himself at all. He's just fodder for the awful caveman. 5:28 of 9:09

Jinsei Shinzaki & Jodie Fleisch vs. Curry Man & PABLO (Marquez). Shinzaki is miscast against speedy little guys. He doesn't use power moves and he slows them down, with the combination of him not being as quick and having such a deliberate style making it much more obvious he's cooperating. Some good moves, but it wasn't smooth or fluid and had no direction. 2-3 choice dives, but the match never picked up and no one stood out. 15:02. **

6/23/01: The Great Sasuke vs. Gedo. Pretty well structured match with good selling that was always interesting. Gedo came to wrestle, and he was good and smart enough to let Sasuke carry him. I'll never be big on his offense, but Sasuke did so many nice moves it really didn't matter. The biggest problem with this match is Sasuke reverted to his old trick of forgetting the injuries they went out of their way to create/point out early. Sasuke accidentally took ref Ted Tanabe out when Gedo pulled him into the path of his space rolling elbow. This led to Gedo trying to hammer Sasuke with the timekeeper's mallet, but Dick Togo snuck up, pulled it out of his hand, hit him with it, and then left him laying with a DDT. It looked like Togo was surprisingly waking Sasuke up to put him on top, but he DDT'd him too, gave him his diving senton, and then taunted him before he left. Amazingly, aside from setting up angles, this segment actually helped the match because they followed with a good dramatic segment where all 3 (Tanabe) were hurt and selling between the near falls. 17:14 of 22:33. ***1/2

The Great Sasuke & Gran Hamada & Tiger Mask & Hideki Nishida & Kazuya Yuasa vs. Dick Togo & Masao Orihara & Ikuto Hidaka & Tomohiro Ishii & Macho Pump. Didn't follow the classic Michinoku 10 man structuring and arch. That could be okay, but they didn't do the near falls and saves and went home in about half the time. The timing also wasn't nearly as good as in the past, but that's mainly because the bottom 4 are a far cry talent wise from the 1996 group. Nishida impressed me quite a bit here though. He always had the athleticism, but now he's filling out his flying arsenal. He was in the Yakushiji roll and even did a few of Yakushiji's old moves. The guy that's really impressive though is Hidaka. He isn't just a great athlete, he's one with total control of his body, and that's the far more important aspect. 15:58. ***1/4

Battle Station Michinoku Puroresu 5/29/02 10th Anniversary Commemorative Rally #1 taped 5/6/02 Iwate Ken'ei Taiikukan
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Hi69 vs. Yasu Urano. These guys quick and athletic, but they aren't too accurate. 2:42 of 12:27.

Tsubo Genjin vs. Chinnen Hokkai. Genjin was at his most annoying here. Hokkai was just a jobber. Genjin left with Hokkai's cardboard cutout of Yuka Nakamura. 3:45 of 8:17.

Jinsei Shinzaki & Jushin Thunder Liger & Jodie Fleisch vs. Curry Man & PABLO & Onryo. This wasn't very good matchmaking because you had a team of complimentary, athletic catcher types against two guys that do more heavyweight style offense and one guy that is ridiculously athletic but doesn't have many moves. The final portion, which had all the good moves and tons of near falls, was spectacular, but the rest seemed more in the pretty good range. Fleisch work has improved and he did couple of awe-inspiring moves, as always, includinghis swandive shooting star press to the floor. 11:27 of 17:23.

Seikigun vs. FEC Zenmen Kecchaku Single Match 5 vs. 5

Kazuya Yuasa vs. Tomohiro Ishii. Neither of these two are going to make a match. It was pretty basic, nothing overly impressive but nothing that was exactly botched either. There were a lot of things that should have been done a little better, but hopefully that will come with experience. There were some good things like the hard chops early and a nice arched backdrop by Ishii. The match was even and there was something on the line for more important guys, so the fans got into the near falls at the end. 11:18. **1/4

Hideki Nishida vs. Masao Orihara. They mixed brawling with quick junior sequences. They made me believe that they didn't like each other. Orihara bled. There was nearly a great sequence where Orihara kicked Nishida into position for a quebrada, but Nishida was in the ring by the time Orihara jumped and he proceeded to catch Orihara with a tope con hilo. The problem was Orihara was too the apron and instead of reentering he backed up because he saw he was going to have to catch Nishida in a second. Very enjoyable well worked match, but it was on the short side. 8:30. ***

Gran Hamada vs. Macho Pump. One of those matches where they didn't really work with one another. I mean, both guys offense was fine, but there was no connection. Just one guy did some moves then the other guy did some. 7:33. *3/4

Tiger Mask vs. Ikuto Hidaka15:17 of 15:28. Both men were on, trying hard to make it dramatic. Hidaka was well above Tiger though, an all around wrestler compared to someone who is basically just showing cool offense. Hidaka displayed slick technical wrestling as well as great body control and selling to make Tiger look that much more impressive. My favorite part of Hidaka's selling was when he instinctively jumped off the middle rope when he finished his punches in the corner, regretting that decision when he reaggravated the knee on the landing. They made the moves meaningful right off the bat, both by putting them over properly and knowing when to wait a bit before going to the next spot. Hidaka did an excellent job of putting over his knee, continuing to do so throughout the match. This probably would have been an excellent match if Tiger went back to it a few times later on instead of just ignoring Hidaka. Tiger controlled early, but Hidaka came back when Tomohiro Ishii tripped him up and Hidaka spewed water and ripped his mask. Hidaka shifted into his own knee attack, softening it up with diversity but Tiger always knew to counter or avoid the big Shawn capture. Hidaka finally hit it in the center of the ring, but Tiger dramatically held on until he could slide close enough to grab the ropes via a desperation lunge. I liked how they incorporated junior style offense with the submission base, for instance Tiger going from a standing moonsault knee crunch to a Kimura to a chickenwing facelock to suplexing Hidaka on his head. ***3/4

The Great Sasuke vs. Dick Togo 16:29. A blow away match to settle the series. Togo came in with a bad shoulder, which Sasuke quickly reinjured with a quebrada. This made Sasuke's usually meandering submission portion meaningful because Sasuke focused on the shoulder, and in fact it wound up being one of Sasuke's most effective openings, although the shoulder was predictably forgotten later on in favor of the expected junior fireworks. There was a cool spot where Sasuke put Togo on the apron with the bad shoulder hanging off and gave him a diving headbutt to the floor, as well as one of those insane spots you only get from Sasuke where he slanted a table up and tried to put Togo through it with a tope con hilo but Togo avoided. They just spent a ton of time on the outside, with Togo also lariating both to the floor and hip tossing Sasuke into a table, which ripped his pants and gashed him on the upper thigh. Sasuke also got a bloody lip at some point. They went to the finishers early, but kept it going despite many legitimate final moves, including Sasuke kicking out of the diving senton. Maybe they didn't have the crowd for it to have a big match aura, but they pulled out all the stops. The work was excellent, but like the last match the main problem was the injury didn't play any part in the 2nd half of the match. The big difference here is both men were able to add to the match on a number of levels, whereas Tiger really just had offense and Hidaka had to do most everything else. The comfort level between Sasuke & Togo was really high, and you felt like they knew exactly what the other was going to do and where they'd be so there was some exquisite timing. I loved the stop where Togo seemed to jump into an Oklahoma side role the moment he avoided Sasuke's quebrada. TAKA showed up after the match to set up Michinoku & K-Dojo working together and him teaming with Sasuke again. 16:29. ****

Michinoku Lucha TV #57 6/14/02 taped 5/15 Action Fukuoka
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Yasu Urano vs. Teppei Ishizaka. Solid technical wrestling carried by Urano. Basic holds with good transitioning. Not exciting, but not long enough to get boring. Definitely a good foundation match. 7:17 of 7:27

Chinnen Hokkai vs. Tsubo Genjin. Genjin was seeing if he could get away with wasting more time than Leizi Muto. He danced around in a pink robe before the match to remind Hokkai of his love Yuka Nakamura. He did just as much wrestling once the bell rang. Totally one-sided turd with Genjin using such skillful offense as the titty twister to lead him to victory. 7:35 of 7:49. -**

Basara vs. Kenshiro Yukimura. Generic plodfest. Kenshiro is some robotic bulkster and this was one of those matches where they didn't blow moves, but they didn't do anything well. They tried to wrestle technically, but were weak going in and out of the moves. Kenshiro did show some decent submission skills. 9:31 of 9:43

Masao Orihara vs. Macho Pump. Not much of an attempt. Orihara can still wrestle, but it seems like every match has to be less than 10 minutes so he has more time to mutilate his body. Pump was not at his best here, wrestling too much like a mini Rock, though Orihara did a good job of countering him. I don't have a problem with Pump not being ready to compete with Orihara, though they seem to send mixed messages on Pump's standing so I'm not even sure that's the case, but they could have at least made an effort to make it somehow interesting before the academic result. 5:52 of 6:02. *1/4

Gran Hamada & Jinsei Shinzaki vs. The Great Sasuke & Ricky Fuji. Good moves, but such a deliberate structure and no flow. Sasuke had tape over his pants around his bad right hip and was kind of limping around. As the match got going though, he wound up being the best and still pulling out all the "necessary" flying moves, even a diving headbutt with Hamada on the apron. Hamada was also good, and I liked the spot where he turned Fuji's delayed suplex into a DDT. Fuji is still a lousy taker and his offense is not near the level of the other veterans, or hell even Urano. He was mainly selling for Shinzaki, which is some deliberate combination. 16:13 of 16:19. **3/4

Tiger Mask & Hideki Nishida & Kazuya Yuasa vs. Dick Togo & Ikuto Hidaka & Tomohiro Ishii. Hidaka is the best wrestler in Michinoku this year. He didn't get much offense today, but was a lot of the reason Tiger came off as impressive as he was. He has some of the best body control in the business and took really nice bumps for Tiger. There was a great sequence where Tiger landed on his feet for the German suplex and ran at Hidaka, but Hidaka still did the Shawn capture. Nishida is in the Yakushiji role doing the quickness and flying stuff, even the nice headscissor moves. He's gotten good enough at it that he can hang with the veterans and maintain the quality for his portions (he's quite a ways away in singles though). Ishii is making good strides as well. He's Togo's understudy, trying to look like him and using more and more of his holds. He's not going to have a great match anytime soon, but he's solid, efficient, and effective. 16:56 of 17:19. ***1/2

Battle Station Michinoku Puroresu 6/27/02 taped 5/20 Nagasaki Shimabara
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Teppei Ishizaka vs. Masao Orihara. Orihara blitzed like Rob Johnson was behind center. He nearly pinned Ishizaka 20 seconds into the match. Ishizaka countered once and got a few moves in, but soon Orihara had him in the Tonpachi lock for the submission. Fine for what it was, but didn't help Ishizaka any. 1:44

3/31/02 Big Parrot Fukushima: Man vs. Woman Mixed Match: Tsubo Genjin vs. Yuka Nakamura. This is a classic for those who think sexual harrassment is cool. Otherwise it's just pathetic. Genjin was just concerned with copping a feel, and willingly lost to the huracanrana because he was supposed to be eating Nakamura out. Even within this base, err, basic little framework they couldn't work together with any semblance of, well I was going to use decency but that obviously doesn't apply to this match, competency. 4:22 of 4:35. -***

Tsubo Genjin vs. Chinnen Hokkai. Genjin got Ted Tanabe to wrestle with Hokkai instead and Tanabe scored a takedown before returning to his role as ref. From there it was worse than the usual stallfest. Genjin did the whole Bulkster post match flex in the middle of the match then told Hokkai to do it. When Hokkai reluctantly started, Genjin came up from behind and hit him. Genjin set up the praying powerbomb, but instead gave Hokkai a wedgie and spanked his ass. 10:20 of 10:29. -**

Kenshiro Yukimura vs. Basara. Better than their Lucha TV match, for what that's worth. It was passable when Basara was on offense. He's a one move at a time with nothing particularly difficult to take type, but that simplicity minimizes the chance for mistakes. Kenshiro had no offense in the portion shown except for the winning counter. 5:27 of 7:38.

Gran Hamada vs. Yasu Urano. Solid little match. Hamada didn't consider Urano a joke, Urano was fodder for him of course, but he wasn't embarrassed. Urano could have been given more, of course, but I didn't have a problem with this because he should earn it against the younger guys first. 4;54 of 5:02

Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Ricky Fuji. Basically a squash. Shinzaki might have had to work a little harder to get his moves off, but Fuji never got started or presented any kind of threat. Fuji can do all the Shawn Michaels imitations he wants, but until he actually makes some guys look better between the bells he'll always come off as the lamest kind of wannabe. 6:44 of 11:18.

Tiger Mask vs. Tomohiro Ishii. Tiger easily outwrestled Ishii, but eventually he'd make a mistake and Ishii would get it back to a brawl. Ishii had a chance as long as it was in his style. Of course, once Tiger got going that was it, but Ishii understands the Togo system so to speak and he got to rough Tiger up some. 10:16 of 10:21. **1/2

The Great Sasuke & Hideki Nishida & Kazuya Yuasa vs. Dick Togo & Ikuto Hidaka & Macho Pump. Togo's team controlled with Yuasa being the primary whipping boy. Sasuke was barely in until 13:00 when he did a few of his flying moves, but even then Nishida came right in. Since Sasuke was the only spark for his team, with his lack of ring time the match wound up being too one-sided. Hidaka was the best again, but this time nobody wrestled up to their capability. Sasuke did the most impressive moves, but basically that was all he was in the ring for. I guess the real problem is Sasuke either needs a better partner or Nishida needs to be given more offense so he seems like a real #2 not 3A to Yuasa's 3B. 17:39 of 17:43. ***

Michinoku Lucha TV #58 7/5/02 K-DOJO taped 6/2 Club Heigh Hotel
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Kazuya Yuasa vs. Teppei Ishizaka. Yuasa has been in the main events this year, but honestly there doesn't seem to be too much difference between him and opening match wrestler Ishizaka. Both are passable but still learning. This was above rookie level, but they didn't try too much. 9:20 shown. *1/2

Undercard highlights

Chocoball Mukai & Macho Pump vs. Ricky Fuji & Gentaro. They appeared to stay up all night figuring out how to expose all their asses at the end. The rest was not very well worked and not too inspired. Match was kind of deliberate and clumsy since most of these guys aren't cut out for the purolucha style they are supposed to be working. 9:39 shown. 3/4*

3/29/99 New World Sendai Tennis Club NWA World Middleweight Title Match: The Great Sasuke vs. Judo Suwa. 4:09 shown

12/10/99 Nagoya Shi Nakamura Sports Center NWA World Middleweight Title Match: The Great Sasuke vs. Masaaki Mochizuki. 3:36 shown

11/22/00 Across Fukuoka NWA World Middleweight Title Match: The Great Sasuke vs. Hiroyoshi Kotsubo. 2:22 shown

1/14/02 Zepp Sendai NWA World Middleweight Title Match: The Great Sasuke vs. Gedo. 7:41 shown

NWA World Middleweight Title Match: The Great Sasuke vs. GOEMON. Match exposed Sasuke's singles weaknesses more since GOEMON brings nothing to the table. As usual, the early portion didn't offer much. Sasuke sold a lot, with GOEMON mainly brawling to try to mask his lack of wrestling ability. Sasuke facebustered GOEMON onto a table GOEMON had been using on him then put GOEMON through it with his no touch tope con hilo. GOEMON only came close once when he got extra leverage from the ropes, but Ted Tanabe noticed it and didn't count the fall. 14:15. **

Battle Station Michinoku Puroresu 7/31/02 Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen taped 7/20 Iwate Yahaba Chomin Sogo Taiikukan
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Ikeda-kun vs. Tomohiro Ishii. Ikeda-kun does a fanboy gimmick which is actually somewhat funny. At this point he's inexperienced so it's okay for him to just get squashed, but if he ever becomes good he'll need a new gimmick to be able to advance up the card. Ishii used a wicked lariat for the win. 4:05 of 6:15

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: Chinnen Hokkai vs. Tsubo Genjin. A pleasant surprise. It was actually a wrestling match, and it was even well executed and exciting. Hokkai did a snap suplex and missile kick, so he actually does have a few moves. 1:38

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: Macho Pump vs. Pentagon Black. Dull somewhat sloppy match. Neither of these two take very well. They each did some spots, mainly Pump since he wa losing, and that was it. 6:37 of 7:44. *

Jinsei Shinzaki & Hideki Nishida vs. Yuki Ishikawa & GOEMON. Sadly, even this was better than GOEMON's title shot. Ishikawa & Nishida worked well together, with Ishikawa getting a lot out of the youngster. Ishikawa even lead Nishida through some pretty good mat wrestling, an area Nishida hasn't been asked to take many forays into. Of course, Ishikawa had to sell virtually the entire time Shinzaki was in. Shinzaki, who doesn't even do the move, even had to beat Ishikawa to the cobra twist (Ishikawa most likely was trying the manjigatame, one of his favorite moves). Ishikawa wrestled the majority of the match, making GOEMON a non-factor, which was a bonus. 10:04. **1/2

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: Ikuto Hidaka vs. Kazuya Yuasa. Probably Yuasa's best singles match. Hidaka did a really good job of carrying him. A crisp, well worked match with some good sequences and solid impact. Yuasa didn't bring any particular attributes, but was able to go along with Hidaka without making Hidaka dumb himself down. Hidaka made it seem like Yuasa was more of a threat and giving him a tougher time than he actually was. Hidaka built the match up and it was actually pretty dramatic with a lot of near falls that Hidaka made look legit. Yuasa hung around long enough that he actually countered Hidaka's magistral for the upset. Hidaka & Ishii put the boots to Yuasa after the match to put him back in his place. 14:24. ***1/2

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: Dick Togo vs. Masao Orihara. A battle of punks that usually dominate their matches. Either could have won and there were some good sequences. Match was too short though with a more punching than necessary. 10:16. **3/4

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: The Great Sasuke vs. Metal Master. Metal Master was supposed to be the next big thing, so they put him over huge here. He dominated, beat, and supposedly injured Sasuke, who was stretchered out. Unfortunately, Master was competent at best. This match had so many nice moves that it worked, but that was mainly because of Sasuke. Metal basically did moves you could do to anyone because he wasn't ready to do a lot of interacting with his opponent. His shortcomings were quickly obvious and he just kind of disappeared after a major first week push. 10:18. **3/4

Highlights of league matches from 7/21, 7/24, 7/26 & 7/27

Michinoku Lucha TV #59 8/11/02 taped 7/21/02 Big Parrot Fukushima
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Hideki Nishida & Ikeda-kun & Kazuya Yuasa vs. Ikuto Hidaka & Pentagon Black & Macho Pump. Good work and fun to watch, but totally one-sided. Hidaka's team set the fast pace and had surprising teamwork. Ikeda wanted Pump's picture before the match, so Pump started posing for him only to kick him when he was off guard. 6:33. **

Jinsei Shinzaki & Chinnen Hokkai vs. Yuki Ishikawa & GOEMON. Logically worked, but Shinzaki could have found it in him to wrestle more than 2 minutes so his team might have had a little chance. Hokkai was totally dominated from the outset. Ishikawa "knocked him out" with his backdrop. Shinzaki saved, but Hokkai just lay there until Ishikawa pulled him up. Shinzaki came in and cleaned house around 8:30, but Hokkai was back in a minute later. Shinzaki helped him with a couple double teams, but then Hokkai was left on his own and quickly trapped in a submission. 9:50. **

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: Tsubo Genjin vs. Tomohiro Ishii. Good little match. Too bad Genjin insists on being such a bozo most of the time, as he wrestled a smart match with good technique when he actually tried. Good mat wrestling with regular positioning and countering. Ishii started roughing Genjin up, but Genjin turned his vertical suplex into a wakigatame to get it back to the mat. 3:55

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: Masao Orihara vs. Metal Master. Master has a few nice moves, but is a long way away as a worker. He could go along with Orihara to an extent, but doesn't react that quickly and is a bit deliberate. The last 5 minutes were pretty good, but because of Master it was a big sloppy and looked overly choreographed. 11:43. **

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: Dick Togo vs. Tiger Mask. Very even back and forth match with good selling by Togo. Togo was at his most dickish using a rope to choke Tiger against the post, running his head into the post, etc. Togo jumped headfirst into the post when Tiger avoided his attack, with Tiger ramming him  a few times and dropkicking a chair into his head to bloody Togo. They brawled a lot, but also showed some solid technique and did their wrestling moves in nice combinations.19:11 of 20:00. ***3/4

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: The Great Sasuke vs. Gran Naniwa. Sasuke had a tough act to follow, though with the size of the Michinoku "crowds" one wonders if that's much of a factor. In any case, he did more early on and was doing all the work until Naniwa came back at 7:30. In both big matches on this show they made a more concerted effort to sell early since the league match time limit was 20 minutes. The big spot was Naniwa trying to Frankensteiner Sasuke off the top to the floor, but Sasuke turning it into a powerbomb onto the apron. Naniwa held on to the top rope though, so it was actually largely avoided. Naniwa was better than he's been, but basically the difference is he fought seriously and used some better moves. They avoided sequences and moves that required timing and cooperation, making this more of a spot spectacle. 13:42. ***

MPW Battle Station 8/23/02 Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen taped 8/15/02 Niigata Phase
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Gran Naniwa & Jody Fleisch vs. Hideki Nishida & Chinnen Hokkai. Short match with the outcome never in doubt, but good work and some impressive spots. Fleisch vs. Nishida was quite good because of their great display of athleticism. Hokkai was whipping boy again, sneaking in a few dropkicks but that's it. He can actually work some pretty good little sequences, though if he has to end them it's going to be with a dropkick. 7:00 of 9:06. **

Jinsei Shinzaki & Kazuya Yuasa vs. Kintaro Kanemura & Macho Pump. More of a brawl due to Kanemura's presence. They fought on the outside a lot and a table was in play in the ring, including Kanemura sliding it into Yuasa's crotch. Shinzaki spends most of these matches on the apron then looks good the couple times he's in with his opponents putting him over like he's some kind of god then going back to beating on his partner. Yuasa got to kick out several times, but since Shinzaki never comes in and only stays in for brief periods it seemed like just a matter of time. Yuasa actually weathered the storm and pinned Pump through after a sequence that was pretty good and dramatic. 10:13. **1/4

Highlights of league matches from 8/10 & 8/11

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: Masao Orihara vs. Tsubo Genjin. Genjin's league matches had all largely been contested on the mat, but Orihara started off brawling with a chair. Genjin was able to counter into submission sometimes, but Orihara eventually used the necessity of submission against Genjin. Decent. 4:53

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: Ikuto Hidaka vs. Tomohiro Ishii. Hidaka put together some nice sequences and counters, bringing Ishii closer to his potential. Hidaka tries to create opportunities and purpose for his moves, at least more than most guys these days. I liked how they worked for the holds, especially how something easier can actually create an opening to sneak something harder in. Hidaka tried to suplex Ishii ino the ring, and after two tries that were getting closer they started exchanging blows then Hidaka knocked Ishii to the floor with a boomerang dropkick and did an early pescado. 12:43. ***1/2

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: Curry Man vs. Pentagon Black. Match seemed average, but they cut out a lot and in this case that doesn't bode well. Curry did a good job, but Pentagon wasn't up to speed. Some spots that should have been good weren't because Curry had to wait for Pentagon to arrive. 8:06 of 13:13

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: Tiger Mask vs. Metal Master. Metal was already seeming as limited and predictable as an AC/DC CD. Tiger couldn't raise his level any, so they pretty much just took turns having the advantage. Worst we've seen from Tiger in a while. 9:11. **

Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen: The Great Sasuke vs. Dick Togo. Togo had to forfeit 2 matches, but he was back with his ribs bandaged. Sasuke dominated because of the injury, stretching him and working on his arms so it was that much tougher for Togo to attack. The injury made the psychology a little better, but the work really suffered. It was far less developed and exciting , with the injury seeming more severe (or at least less healed) than the usual weak spots that are incorporated. Hidaka helped Togo out, attacking Sasuke on the floor then holding him so Orihara could throw a latter into him. Later on, Sasuke set the ladder across the top and tried his senton atomico as if doing it off a ladder is going to help. Togo was probably supposed to win this from the outset, but he really needed the points to make up for what he missed, and the finish came off more necessary than credible with him avoiding the afformentioned ladder move and throwing the ladder into Sasuke's face for the win. 14:20. ***

Battle Station Michinoku Puroresu 9/12/02 Tohoku Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Kettei Leaguesen taped 8/25 Miyagi Sendai Shi Sun Festa
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

8/24 Tohoku league digest

Ikuto Hidaka & Macho Pump vs. Masao Orihara & Tomohiro Ishii. Hidaka took a while to get in, but soon was stealing the show as usual. Orihara had a good match. Pump was putting his moves together better, not chaining them but at least doing them in rapid succession. Fans were really into Pump & Ishii trading near falls at the end. 11:17 of 12:38. ***

Gran Hamada vs. Metal Master. Short spot oriented match. Metal should be called Robotic instead. Hamada made it watchable. 4:23 of 5:50

Tsubo Genjin vs. Chinnen Hokkai. Yuka Nakamura was special ref. Unfortunately, that took these two away from the wrestling they'd been doing in the Tohoku league and back to the perverted crap that's supposed to pass for comedy. Genjin didn't do any wrestling, instead reverting to things like the stink pin for a near fall. The pathetic finish saw Nakamura fight to keep Genjin from chairing Hokkao, but when Hokkai dropkicked Genjin in the back botehr Genjin  & Nakamura cracked their heads on the chair. When Nakamura was revived she got them all to dance together and they just walked to the back so I guess it was a no contest and their dreadful program is FINALLY over. 6:47. DUD

Hideki Nishida & Jody Fleisch vs. Curry Man & Pentagon Black. Spectacular match with lots of flying from Nishida & Fleisch. Nishida did an ultra corbata off the 2nd to the floor. Pentagon even showed some athleticism instead of just brawling. He was the weak link offensively, but he wasn't out of place like I expected, even doing a quebrada. Curry did a nice job of carrying Fleisch. 6:59 of 15:40

The Great Sasuke & Jushin Thunder Liger & TAKA Michinoku vs. Jinsei Shinzaki & Gran Naniwa & Kazuya Yuasa. All the best wrestlers being on one team wasn't a good thing. It was somewhat lacking in chemistry and flow, and one of those matches where they did just enough to make it good. No wrestler was the strength or the weakness, it was basically routine. Yuasa needs more fire and aggression to be a desired bump boy. The bump boy doesn't have to be a great bumper, which he isn't, but he has to try hard and stand up and challenge the veterans to get the fans behind him. 17:57. ***

Tohuko (North-East) Jr. Heavykyu Shodai Oza Ketteisen: Tiger Mask vs. Dick Togo. They had a few things going on, first Togo working Tiger's knee then Togo bloodying him against the post. They didn't really develop anything though. It was more like Togo did submissions then started brawling and Tiger continued brawling then did high spots. Very well executed. The high quality was because the individuals are so good, not because of anything special they did for the match. It didn't have much drama or feel like anything special, but they are excellent wrestlers and enough of that translated. 14:47. ***1/2

Michinoku Lucha TV #61 10/11/02
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

8/9

Curry Man vs. Macho Pump. Short nothing match. They did some of the usual spots then went home. 4:39 shown

Jinsei Shinzaki & Kazuya Yuasa vs. Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Ricky Fuji. To me, Fuji seems that much worse than he really is by copying Michaels. People like Michaels for what he can do in the ring, and Fuji has none of that ability. By attempting to copy his mannerisms and antics, he just elicits comparisons to a wrestlers he isn't even in the same solar system with. He'd be better off doing a parody. Fuji did carry his team, whatever that was worth. Yuasa was practically just on defense since Shinzaki, as usual, was only on offense. Fujiwara didn't fit the style, of course. He did blade when Shinzaki rammed him into the piece the connects the pole to the turnbuckle, but that had nothing to do with the rest of the match. Shinzaki still hurt his hand on Fujiwara's head when he did the ropewalk chop. 13:33. *1/2

The Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask & Hideki Nishida vs. Pentagon Black & Ikuto Hidaka & Tomohiro Ishii. First 8:45 was just there, but then it took off with a Sasuke dive followed by a nice Hidaka vs. Tiger segment. Once it got going it was damn good, with the pairs switching off every minute or so, allowing each to show some of their best stuff. Just when they really had something going it ended though, so between that and the nothing beginning it was underachieving. 12:59. ***

11/7/99 New World Sendai Tennis Club, Michinoku Futari Tobi '99 Kesshosen: CIMA & SUWA vs. Tiger Mask & Magnum TOKYO. Tiger & CIMA really carried this, working together extremely fast. Magnum was typically mediocre, making a handful of moves look sloppy and acting as well as his porn freak idols. Damn good when Tiger was in though, which luckily was the bulk of the match. 14:32 shown. ***1/2

11/3/00 Aomori Kenmin Taiikukan, Michinoku Futari Tobi '00 Kesshosen: Gran Hamada & Tiger Mask vs. Pentagon & Electro Shock. Tiger & Hamada looked good at times, but got little help. Rudos were just cheating, including busting Hamada open with a metal rod. Tiger & Shock finall tried to wrestle, but their chemistry wasn't good and Shock's sloppiness was apparent. 13:14 shown. * 1/2

11/2 Amekotei Park, Michinoku Futari Tobi '00 Kesshosen NWA Intercontinental Tag Title Decision Match: Dick Togo & Gedo vs. Great Sasuke & Masao Orihara. Orihara had his chance for a memorable match instead of another 6 minute waste, but once again squandered it. He did work well with Sasuke, and they had many opportunities because Togo then Gedo were out on the floor trying to recover. Pentagon Black did a run in when the ref was distracted, and wound up tombstoning Sasuke on the stage. This gave Togo & Gedo their chance to double team Orihara, who was already a bloody mess from earlier. Again, just as I was thinking the match was going to be quite good it ended. 11:38. **3/4

Michinoku Lucha TV #62 11/4/02 Michinoku Futari Tobi 2002 ~Tag Leaguesen~
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

10/12 Koyama Sogo Taiikukan

Hayate & Komachi vs. Tsubo Genjin & Yone Genjin

The Great Sasuke & TAKA Michinoku vs. Masao Orihara & Tomohiro Ishii

10/19 Aomori Hachinohe Heights

The Great Sasuke & X No. 5 vs. Hayate & Komachi

Ricky Fuji & Macho Pump vs. Tsubo Genjin & Yone Genjin

Curry Man & Hayashi Rice Man vs. Jinsei Shinazaki & Kazuya Yuasa

10/20 Aomori Kenmin Taiikukan Sub Arena

Tag League Yushoketteisen: Curry Man & Hayashi Rice Man vs. Jinsei Shinzaki & Kazuya Yuasa vs. The Great Sasuke & TAKA Michinoku. This is the style of Triangle Match where two teams fight at a time, winner stays on, with the ultimate winner being the team that wins consecutive matches.

Michinoku Puroresu TV 11/27/02 10th Anniversary Commemorative Rally #3 taped 11/8/02 Tokyo Ota-ku Taiikukan
-2hr. Q=TV Master

Kazuya Yuasa vs. Naohiro Hoshikawa. Good little match. Hoshikawa can instill some drama even into a one-sided match against a guy he'll definitely beat. Hoshikawa busted Yuasa's nose with a sliding kick in the corner and gave him a few wicked kicks to the face. 5:20 of 9:35

Gran Hamada & HANZO & Hideki Nishida vs. Masao Orihara & Tomohiro Ishii & Macho Pump. Looked like a pretty good little match. Hamada was contributing more today, and did some quality work against Orihara. 4:53 of 9:01

Tsubo Genjin vs. Yone Genjin. Not as offensive as the other Genjin matches, but at least as awful. They chopped each other and ran around up to the balcony for the DQ. I guess they shot for who would be declared the winner? 4:11

Tiger Mask & Heat vs. Koji Kanemoto & Gedo. They get NJ to send them Kanemoto & Heat only to have a 9 minute tag match? I hope Tiger winding up in the next match was the reason. He was good here, but Kanemoto worked the hardest and stole the show. 4:22 of 9:16

Curry Man & Tiger Mask & Dragon Kid vs. CIMA & SUWA & Don Fujii 11:34. I don't like the idea of essentially just doing a long finishing sequence, but as a rare occurence with mostly guys that can't build a match anyway it was more than a worthwhile experiment. They didn't get into most of the things that make a match excellent, but they did some nice athletic counters, a bit of comedy between Fujii and Curry, and a bunch of junior spots. The first half was fine, building in speed and difficulty into an impressive highlight reel of big moves, quick changes, double teams, and saves. Dragon stood out the most for his athleticism, including an impressive swandive somersault stunner, but everyone was good and contributed in their own way. Fujii doesn't have the offense for this match, but he at least took some nice moves. ***1/2

Sho Funaki vs. Ikuto Hidaka. The idea that the WWE wrestlers are in great shape is one of the great myths. They have impressive physiques if you are into that kind of thing (if that's what's important why not watch bodybuilding instead?), but those physiques are the reason for the constant chinlocks and regular muscle pulls and tears. Funaki is one of the only guys in the league that doesn't look like he's ready to burst, but his cardio was no better, perhaps even worse. A very promising wrestler in 1997, that Funaki should have been able to have an excellent match with this Hidaka. But after years of humilition and hideous dubbing, he could only hack a 7 minute match, and half of that had to be resting. The result was the most disappointing match of the Michinoku year. Here you have their best wrestler, Hidaka, in a big show semifinal that was very important to him because it was his chance to work with one of his biggest influences, Funaki. Yet the match couldn't even hold a candle to the matches Hidaka had earlier in the year with Yuasa & Ishii, who were essentially along for the ride. There were some good counters, one or two impressive sequences, and they even worked the submissions in well. But there were way too many concessions made because Funaki has no conditioning, including him more or less staying in the same area. 6:59. **

The Great Sasuke & Jinsei Shinzaki & Dick Togo vs. TAKA Michinoku & Kaz Hayashi & Gran Naniwa. This might not have been the best Michinoku match from a technical or structural standpoint, but it was certainly a wild match where everyone was pulling crazy spots from start to finish. There were tons of dives, with even Naniwa doing a couple. It was very much a group match, like all the best Michinoku matches are. With TAKA & Hayashi back, the talent level was way up and far more equally dispersed. Even if Naniwa & Shinzaki kept it from being a classic, I assure you it wasn't from lack of effort as everyone put their best foot forward and tried for a blow away match. I particulary liked the spot where Naniwa stopped Sasuke's quebrada before he was able to jump and dangerous German suplexed him off the middle rope. They started fast like the earlier 6 man, with a series of dives and some impressive high paced stiff and intense action from Togo vs. Hayashi. It slowed after a few minutes, if only so they'd be able to have a long match they could build up. They were able to fool me into thinking it was about to end, then calm things down a little so they could build up another big near fall. The match started getting really good at 12, but by putting some thought and altering the pace they were able to get another 10 minutes out of the match. Togo vs. Hayashi and Sasuke vs. TAKA were the main pairings, but as Sasuke & TAKA were the main guys on their teams, I found it very refreshing that they had arguably the biggest match of the the year ultimately come down to them. 21:45. ****1/4

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