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[2002-08-25-Michinoku Pro] Dick Togo vs Tiger Mask IV

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Dick Togo vs Tiger Mask IV - 08/25/02 Inaugural Tokugun Jr. Heavyweight Champion


I didn't really care for this one at all I thought this was a badly executed 2002 US Indy match that focused way more spots (that didn't even look good) than trying to tell a compelling story. They piqued my interest from the outset when Togo started the mask ripping, chair throwing and dragging Tiger Mask around by the neck with a cord, but once Tiger Mask was able to crack Togo in the skull with the chair things went downhill fast. Tiger Mask's offense looked awful, his sweep the leg was shit and he just looked like he could beat himself out of a wet paper bag. I know Togo is revered and I have not seen much so I will keep an open mind, but those Pedigrees have got to go. He makes me long for Kojima's Ace Crusher. The top rope Pedigree was particularly bad. At least the senton he used decent. So I lost my notes for this match and only the negatives stick out, but I do remember thinking it was at least entertaining in regards to the early brawling and Togo's heel work. **3/4

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Dick Togo vs Tiger Mask 4, junior title tournament final, Michinoku Pro August 25th 2002

 

Background: Michinoku Pro had used several singles titles over the years, typically obscure ones from Mexico. In 2002 they decided to create their own belt and had a huge round-robin tournament to crown a champion. Togo and Tiger Mask 4 were the top two and advanced to the final.

 

Why I think it's underrated: MPro's heyday was 1996, with the Kaientai stable helping to generate one great sprint after another. The promotion lost its consistency when most of the roster went elsewhere, since MPro tours the relatively poor and very rural north part of the country and thus doesn't pay particularly well. A case in point is this bout, with two Michinoku trainees who now only worked part-time for the promotion. Due to its lack of great match production, MPro shows tended to fly under the radar. This match went completely unnoticed from what I can tell, yet I'd say pretty much anyone will enjoy it. Life-long heel Togo is able to push life-long babyface Tiger Mask 4 to the breaking point in a very compact, intense battle. After watching it the first time I thought it was quite a bit longer than it actually was; they cram a lot in there.

 

What it deserves: Top 100. This feels like the climax of a US-style feud more than a Japanese title match, but it will have a hard time going ahead of matches that are twice as long and still great throughout.

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My opinions on matches tend to be very different from Superstar Sleeze, from what I've noticed, but I think he's spot on here. That match might as well have been a 2002 ROH main event to me. Togo played a great heel early on with the knee work and the mask ripping, then gave it up. Tiger Mask no selling a pedigree was a bit jarring given how protected that move is in the WWE, but I suppose it isn't really that great of a move to be killer. Spamming it wasn't the right call. The top rope one looked terrible. Tiger Mask's offense was bad, really bad. Half the time it looked like Togo had to do all the work to make it land effectively. This is the lowest rated match of any bolded title in the file. I'd give it maybe **1/2. Suffice it to say, I'm not putting that match on my list.

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This was 'bolded' based on doing well in the final catch-all vote. To compensate for the 'leftovers' not having any of the consensus MOTYCs as did the regular year-by-year votes, only 3 matches from that vote were bolded. No telling how Togo vs TM4 would have done in the 2002 vote. I suspect it wouldn't have cracked the top 10.

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This could have happened in late 90s ECW easily. I'm confused as to MPro rules, was the ref supposed to ignore the chair being brought into the ring? Togo early on heels it up great. TM4 can't take a pedigree to save his life, so why they did 4 I'm not sure. And how the pedigree sets up the senton is yet another mystery. Some matches I've liked TM4's offense, but it doesn't work well here. Even with him completely noselling the leg. Probably won't make my ballot.

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This was really good. Tiger Mask wasn't so stale back then and Togo is timeless. Blood, mask ripping, choking, etc. The fact that I can't find a billion Togo singles matches like this from the last decade makes me sad.

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