I'm going to be looking at Michinoku Pro Wrestling for the rest of May. Much like FMW, it's one of the first Japanese promotions I really was familiar with. In some part this has to do with Kai En Tai DX coming over to WWF around when I got back into wrestling as a teenager. Then from there its probably WCW vs The World on PS1 where they had TAKA, Shinzaki who I remembered as Hakushi (but also from clips of he & Hayabusa vs RVD & Sabu shown on ECW) and the Great Sasuke who I saw very briefly on a death match tape vs Onita. Come to think of it, I believe there was part of Shinzaki vs Gran Naniwa at the very end of that as well. And I'm sure I saw TAKA in ECW. It all seemed really interesting and mysterious to me because it was in bits and pieces. Anyhow Michinoku Pro especially the Kai En Tai DX golden era is some of my favorite stuff. I thought I would explore some M-Pro outside of that short time period. This first installment will be matches from the 2000's and early 2010's. Most is from a single YouTube account. If you're interested then you should be able to find it with the name and dates. Thanks to them for posting!
Curry Man vs Onryo (04/01/00): First round match of the Super J Cup hosted by Michinoku Pro. Very short but all action match. Daniels was on an offensive roll here. At first it looked like they just needed a good opponent for Onryo but, once Curry Man got the upper hand it was a highlight reel of some of his best stuff. Good match and am going to be watching more Curry Man!
Jado & Gedo vs The Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask IV (08/19/01): I'm going to call it a near classic junior tag match. I'm going to tell you Sasuke over shoots a Swanton Bomb to Jado lying prone across a table on the floor. "Bonus" is that this is outdoors and the "floor" looks to be an asphalt parking lot! That is so brutal! It's like he blew the spot but the bump he took was so sick that it makes you think of the WCW announce team saying, "Well that's why they call it a high risk move." So it actually doesn't wreck the flow of the match. Tiger and Gedo are in the ring going at it simultaneously which helps as well. Sasuke is hurting but per usual he just powers through it and all 4 guys put on a helluva match. You don't really care about that early flub because everything before and after is so good.
Jushin Liger & Koji Kanemoto vs Minoru Fujita & Ikuto Hidaka (09/23/03): A bit of clip job on this. 9 minutes of a 17 minute match shown. This was pretty good stuff from what I saw. Fujita was on point today so all was good as the other 3 are also exceptional.
Dick Togo vs Tiger Mask IV (09/23/03): Tiger is wrestling for NJPW at this point. They really clipped this one We get highlights in essence but fun nonetheless.
Great Sasuke vs Atsushi Onita (09/23/03): Oh this is why the other matches were clipped. Sasuke vs Onita in a explosion death match...sweet! As far as later Onita matches this was good stuff. There's a formula of course. Here Onita is the heel and spends 70% of the match beating Sasuke up. We don't get any great flying moves from Sasuke or really anything other than marvelling at how tough he is! That's kinda a waste of his talent but if your going to wrestle Onita, you're going to do it his way I guess. Still a good Onita death match and like all good Onita death matches, the Onita theatre afterwards is just as important. These matches are from the TV broadcast of an even called 'The Live' in case you want to track it down online or elsewhere.
Jushin Liger vs Billy Ken Kid (08/30/07): Very good match! I liked the veteran vs hungry young star dynamic. There were some pretty great spots and sequences. Not a ton of depth but for a Masked Man League match this was quality stuff!
Kikutaro vs Tiger Mask IV (08/30/07): Another Masked Man League match. I was going to skip this but I was wanting some more Tiger Mask IV and it'd be wrong to skip a match with a bit of comedy. Even in the golden age of M-Pro, comedy was a key aspect to the style. Kikutaro is the absolute best and he doesn't disappoint. He's funny but not so much a clown that he doesn't want to win. And he's not a wimp who is going to back down from such as strong opponent. This was fun
Ultimo Dragon vs The Great Sasuke (08/30/07): A great singles match for sure. This was rough around the edges at times but really in a way that worked with the match. Sasuke had to have been hurting. Shoot! so did Ultimo for that matter. If you're a fan of these guys then you really ought to set aside 20 minutes and watch this. Never heard any talk of this one at the time but I think it deserves to be included with their other great bouts. Again not a perfect match but if you look at it as two rivals past their prime meeting again, I think you'll dig it. They really put it all out there. This night of wrestling was pretty awesome if you look at the last 3 matches.
Ultimo Dragon & FUNAKI vs TAKA Michinoku & Jinsei Shinzaki (12/16/10): Welp, that was a fantastic bit of lucharesu! This was fast as heck like it was 1996. I was really surprised. A bit of humor along with some great moves from these guys. If you've only seen them in WWE/F then go check this out! Very cool to see these guys in the same ring again. It's like they haven't missed a beat.
Dick Togo vs Rui Hyugaji (12/16/10): Joined in Progress a little and I skipped ahead once Rui Hyugaji took control on offense early on. It's my first time seeing him and he wasn't really impressive. He's supposedly the upstart boss of the heel group but his heel offense was really boring (stomps, rest holds). Dick Togo was fantastic throughout though. He made it look like Rui Hyugaji was kicking his ass and was great on offense. Rui Hyugaji got better as the match went on but just didn't do it for me. This was just OK in my book. Just couldn't get any quality Dick Togo matches.
K-ness vs El Solar (08/31/12): A fun 10 minute match for fans of El Solar. K-ness didn't really have much offense in the grand scheme of things so it really was more a display of El Solar's different submission moves.
Heat vs Tigers Mask (08/31/12): Two more non Michinoku wrestlers but its the '12 Masked Men tournament. It's cool to see Heat...well Minoru Tanaka competing under his former masked alter ego. Tigers Mask is from Osaka Pro and is really good. So we get a good match but my favorite part is Heat going up to that next level like it's Dragon Ball Z at the end. Helluva tech finish!
Ultimo Dragon, Tiger Mask IV & Super Delfin vs Nohashi, Syu & Kei Brahman (11/04/13): This is from M-Pro's 20th Anniversary show. Heel team taking on the returning stars. This was something that I thought would just be a bit of fun that turned into a pretty good match. You get the spots and nostalgia from the baby face team, the heels made sure they stooged when they needed yet were also vicious.The bowling ball spot to Delfin was particularly impressive. I liked this 6 man match quite a bit.
There were a couple more that I was going to watch:
Great Sasuke & Jinsei Shinzaki vs Hayato "Jr." Fujita & Kenoh (11/04/13)
Jinsei Shinzaki vs Fujita "Jr." Hayato (12/13/13)
The thing is that stylistically these are closer to traditional puro in the 2010's. Perhaps a little too serious/shoot-style for my Michinoku Pro. And and around a half hour each. Honestly that's not really what I'm looking for BUT if you are, I recommend seeking them out.
All in all this was a really fun week of wrestling. A good mix of singles and tag matches from 2000 -2013 shows Michinoku still had a bunch going on after their golden age in the mid to late 90's. Again I was mostly going on the one person's stuff but there's not a ton out there from what I saw. I did also cherry pick stuff with guys that I associate with M-Pro. The account has more if you're interested. I also found someone has a slew of M-Pro half hour TV episodes from the late 2000's which has matches in highlighted form. Search using the keyword "Michipro" and should should find them. They're a lot of fun...Good Dick Togo matches... highlights but hey beggars can't be choosers. I just wish they were complete or at least joined in progress.
Next time I'm going to be looking at Christopher Daniels time in M-Pro as Curry Man. This also hits another blind spot for me - 1999.
Thanks for reading! Thanks to Loss for technical assistance in getting my 300th post published.