wrestling / Columns

Into the Indies 08.10.10: Happy IndyVersary! (Part 1)

August 10, 2010 | Posted by Ryan Byers

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Into the Indies, the column that is rapidly aging.

For the next two installments of I2I, we’re going to be doing something a little bit different. You may not realize it, but, as of August 2010, this little column is now one year old. As a result, we’re celebrating our first IndyVersary by taking a look back at all of the various promotions and shows that I have chronicled over the course of the past twelve months as well as presenting a few other bonus features. Let’s take a look at what’s on tap:

I2I’s Top 10 Wrestlers of Year 1 – I haven’t done an exact head count, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Into the Indies has seen close to one hundred different wrestlers in the ring across all of the matches that we’ve reviewed. In the Top 10 Wrestlers of Year 1, we will count down those individuals who have consistently performed the best on the shows we’ve reviewed, both in terms of pure match quality and entertainment value in other aspects of professional wrestling. We will start off the countdown with entries ten through six this week and pick it up again next week with entries five through one.

The Indy-Dex – Did you start reading I2I part of the way through its year run? Are you brand new to the column and interested in learning more about the promotions that we have already chronicled? Well, you’re in luck. In the Indy-Dex, we will list every wrestling promotion that has been covered in the virtual pages of this column, provide a brief bit of history of the company, and link to every column in which the promotion has gotten some degree of attention. It’s the perfect way to learn more about a specific group or groups, especially the ones that we have covered the most heavily.

I2I’s Top 10 Matches of Year 1 – As with the Top 10 Wrestlers, this one is fairly self-explanatory. In Japanese wrestling much more than in its American counterpart, it is the matches that make the world go round. As a result, it would be silly of us to recap the year in I2I without exploring which bouts we’ve reviewed are at the top of the heap. Once again, we will have the first five entries on the list this week and the next group coming in next week.

Guest (High) Spots – With a few very limited exceptions, I’m really the only guy covering this type of wrestling on 411mania. One day, a very odd little part of my brain thought, “Hmmm, I wonder what other writers would think if they were exposed to Japanese indy action?” I acted on that thought, recruiting four of the website’s finest and requesting that they all review a Japanese indy match of a different type, with all of the matches being hand picked by yours truly. Who took me up on my offer? You’re going to have to keep reading in order to find out.

I2I’s Top 10 Wrestlers of Year 1size=6>


Number 10: Billy Ken Kidsize=4>

The masked Billy Ken Kid has been the ace of Osaka Pro Wrestling for the past several years. Having received the bulk of his training in Mexico, he was the perfect fit for the Super Delfin-founded promotion which sought to carry on the lucharesu legacy of the groups with which Delfin had spent the majority of his career. Over the course of the last year or two, BKK has been consistently involved in the hunt for the Osaka Pro Singles Title, main eventing the vast majority of the promotion’s big shows and going up against the likes of Dick Togo, Black Buffalo, and Tigers Mask. Though his skills haven’t quite reached the level of an all-time great junior heavyweight like Jushin Liger or the Great Sasuke, he has developed considerably over the course of his eight year career and currently stands out as one of the men on the independent circuit who could comfortably step up as one of the lighter men in a major promotion, whether in the US, Japan, or Mexico.


Number 9: Hajime Oharasize=4>

Hajime Ohara is a bit of a journeyman, having yet to find a consistent “home promotion” in which to ply his trade. Like BKK above, he was trained primarily in Mexico, though Ohara’s training was different in that it came from the Toryumon Mexico gym established by Ultimo Dragon. When he finally became a full-time wrestler in his home country in 2008, he had a brief stopover in the Dradition promotion founded by Tatsumi Fujinami before becoming a mainstay in HUSTLE in that company’s dying days. In HUSTLE he showed a great deal of promise against opponents like Ultimo, Tajiri, and Shiro Koshinaka. Once the original incarnation of HUSTLE died last fall, Ohara was recruited by Tajiri to become part of his new SMASH promotion. In SMASH, Ohara is essentially the rudo counterpart to Tajiri’s prize pupil KUSHIDA in that the two men are both portrayed as being a big part of the company’s future, one good and one evil. Hopefully for Ohara, SMASH is able to gain traction and provide him with a regular place to work, because he’s incredibly talented and it would be a shame for his entire career to be sunk by lack of a place to wrestle.


Number 8: Hiroyo Matsumotosize=4>

Hiroyo is the first female entry on the list (but not the last – there’s a bit of a teaser for you) and with good reason. The young woman started her career three years ago and has been active in virtually every women’s promotion remaining in Japan, holding her fair share of gold and wrestling her fair share of matches against veterans from joshi’s glory days. Matsumoto has a very unique style which makes her a pleasure to watch. She does a gimmick in which she is portrayed as being unusually strong and as a result uses much more “power based” offense than other women her size, utilizing the human torture rack and a wide variety of suplexes, including the deadly backdrop. On top of that, even though she has typically been a babyface throughout her career, she will occasionally use “dirtier” tactics like gouging at an opponent’s face, though she does it in a manner that makes it clear that she is a mischievous good girl and not a villain. One might think that her career would be on a downswing with several of the major Japanese women’s groups being dead and one more being set to close down at the end of the year, but Hiroyo has actually managed to keep her career lively by making appearances in the predominantly male promotion DDT and by traveling overseas earlier this year to do some work for SHIMMER and Jersey All Pro Wrestling. Simply put, Matsumoto is perhaps the brightest young star in joshi today.


Number 7: Tajirisize=4>

As virtually everybody reading this website knows, Yoshihiro Tajiri spent roughly seven years wrestling exclusively in the United States between his stints in ECW and WWE. However, before he showed up in ECW, he wrestled for the independent group IWA Japan and for a period of time in Mexico. Since returning to Japan for family reasons, he has used his international connections to bring in plenty of unusual wrestlers – including Tommy Dreamer, Eugene, and Scotty II Hotty – into his new promotion, SMASH. Though many high flying, athletic wrestlers who go through WWE are accused of having their style “dumbed down” by the company when they come out, Tajiri hasn’t had much of that problem. Though there certainly are matches during which he slows things down because he knows that he is capable of getting away with it and still getting a decent crowd reaction, he is also still perfectly capable of going balls to the wall with exactly the style of match that he used to put on in CMLL and ECW when the occasion calls for it. It is those matches – which have included numerous main event level bouts in both HUSTLE and SMASH – which put him in this top ten list.


Number 6: Go Shiozakisize=4>

Seeing Go on this list might come as a bit of a surprise to some, because he’s a headliner for Pro Wrestling NOAH, which, despite its faltering attendance figures and lack of a solid TV outlet can’t fairly be considered an “indy” at this point. However, Shiozaki is still a younger wrestler, and that means that he’s not adverse to popping up on the independent circuit from time to time. In terms of this column, we’ve seen Go both in matches produced by the independent group/dojo hybrid Kensuke Office and in the King of Europe Cup tournament. In those matches, he has shown exactly why he’s atop the major leagues of puroresu despite his young age, as the man rarely has a misstep in his matches and always manages to bring out the best in his opponents, especially those who are less experienced. We may not see that much of Go in this column anymore, but, at least for year one, he was one of the top acts we looked at here in I2I.

Head on back next week to see which wrestlers have been declared the top five performers of I2I’s first year!

The Indy-Dexsize=6>


100% Luchasize=4>

100% Lucha is the only South American wrestling promotion that has ever been covered in I2I. Based on a business model for professional wrestling that was popular with children in Argentina in the 1970’s, it features very large, muscular men portraying odd characters like wrestling lawyers and hockey players. It doesn’t generate the greatest professional wrestling matches in the world, but it’s fun to look at once or twice as a curiosity and to see just how well the sport can be marketed.

June 20, 2010: Featuring the wrestling bus driver


Apache Armysize=4>

Apache Army is no longer with us, though we did have a couple of opportunities to take a look at it in I2I. The promotion began as a group of wrestlers who were affiliated with FMW and had nothing better to do with themselves when that company went under. Over the years, they picked up a few additional members and started running their own shows under the Apache banner, many of which were headlined by deathmatches. With Apache having closed up shop in late 2009, a new company by the name of FREEDOMS has essentially replaced it, featuring virtually the same roster in the same style of matches.

December 25, 2008: Nutsville X-Mas
January 16, 2009: Sasaki vs. Kasai and much more.


Big Japan Wrestlingsize=4>

Believe it or not, Big Japan is fifteen years old. The group, originally founded by Kendo Nagasaki in 1995, cashed in on the insane popularity of deathmatches in that year and turned it into a business that still thrives today. Originally, it gained cult popularity as a result of its over the top stipulation bouts, which, for example, would involve things like piranhas, buckets of salt, and scorpions. Over the years, it started relying a lot less on shock value and a lot more on solid professional wrestling, even though the blood and guts deathmatches always remained the top draw. These days, wrestlers like Jun Kasai and Abdullah Kobayashi make it one of the most entertaining indies in Japan if you can get past the gore.

August 19, 1996: Piranha Death Match
May 26, 2006: Kobayashi vs. An Octopus
June 12, 2009: BJW vs. CHIKARA (Night 1)
June 13, 2009: BJW vs. CHIKARA (Night 2)
November 20, 2009: Jun Kasai vs. Ryuji Ito – Match of the Year
October 1, 2009: Romeo vs. Juliet


Beyond Wrestlingsize=4>

The most recently reviewed promotion here at I2I is Beyond Wrestling, a group which is based out of Northern Ohio and tapes DVDs not in front of live audiences of fans but rather in front of other wrestlers who are seated in furniture that grandma couldn’t get rid of at her last yard sale. The majority of the people who commented on my Beyond Wrestling column thought that it was only a step above backyard wrestling. I disagree, as there appeared to be several wrestlers there who were just a step below being able to make it in PWG or CHIKARA and probably will make it to one of those companies with a bit more experience.

January 2010: We Did It for the Hits


DDTsize=4>

Ahhhh, DDT. Founded by Sanshiro Takagi, who still wrestles there to this date, it is the potpourri of the professional wrestling world. You never quite know what you’re going to get out of DDT. They gave the world Kota Ibushi and popularized Kenny Omega and to a lesser extent Munenori Sawa, so they are capable of providing great straight professional wrestling matches. They are also capable of rocking the comedy when they see fit, either through their wrestling blow up doll YOSHIHIKO, everybody’s favorite edgy gay character Danshoku Dino, or their matches in insane locations like iron works and camp sites. It is also arguably the most successful independent group in Japan, as it has a highly entertaining weekly television program and has, for the last two years, sold out the 10,000+ seat Sumo Hall for special shows.

June 18, 2009: Pro Wrestling in a Theme Park
June 28, 2009: Shanshiro Takagi vs. Munenori Sawa
August 23, 2009: Ryogoku Peter Pan (Part 1)
August 23, 2009: Ryogoku Peter Pan (Part 2)
October 25, 2009: Kota Ibushi vs. YOSHIHIKO
2010 Compilation: Takagi & Sawa are fighting champions
May 5, 2010: American Balloon retirement


EAWsize=4>

Frankly, I don’t know that much about EAW aside from the fact that it’s based out of Mexico. Early on in this column’s history, though, I heard of a promotion that was putting on shows with two rings positioned next to each other, with one being on STILTS. I knew that I had to watch this, and the rest was history.

June 6, 2009: Weird show with RINGS ON STILTS~!


FMWsize=4>

Sometimes, we here at I2I like to go a little old school. When that happens, it is most likely going to involve FMW. FMW, founded by Atsushi Onita in the early 1990’s, is credited with being the group that really set off the independent wrestling movement in Japan. Known for brutal deathmatches, shows which featured multiple styles of wrestling, and dramatic storylines, the company was essentially the forerunner for Paul Heyman’s ECW. FMW also managed to grow an incredible amount over the years, at one point being sponsored by DirecTV and having a series of pay per view events hosted by that service. Unfortunately, the company folded in the early part of this decade due to financial problems which would also lead to its top executive committing suicide.

June 6, 1995: Midget Exploding Barbed Wire Match
1997 Compilation: Shin-FMW
August 25, 1997: Six Man Tag with Ricky Morton
November 23, 1999: Judgment Day pay per view
December 22, 1999: Action from Bryan Danielson’s first tour of Japan


HUSTLEsize=4>

Originally this company was envisioned as a serious one, essentially the pro wrestling branch of Dream Stage Entertainment, which at the time was making boatloads of money off of its MMA promotion PRIDE. However, it didn’t take long before things started to get wacky. For whatever reason, the group quickly started to adopt a style that it referred to as “Fighting Opera,” creating out of this world storylines and characters, including a man who was the letter “c” come to life and an army of monster wrestlers each one more bizarre than the last. For a period of time, the Fighting Opera was insanely popular, and HUSTLE could have fairly been considered the second largest wrestling promotion in Japan. The group’s fall was as quick as its rise, though, and with the exception of a few key shows from its brief glory period, it was more fairly classified as a well-funded indy group. Ultimately, the decline of HUSTLE resulted in it dying out altogether last fall. The name has since been resurrected, though the new shows are harder to come by and we haven’t seen any of them here yet.

October 6, 2006: Six person tag with Hamada, Awesome Kong
April 23, 2009: The Glory of Natto Man
April 29, 2009: (^o^)/ Chie Retirement Show
May 4, 2009: Sasuke vs. Kawada
July 7, 2009: Monster Army vs. HUSTLE Elimination Match
August 27, 2009: Shiro Koshinaka 30th Anniversary Match
October 10, 2009: The Final Show


Ice Ribbonsize=4>

Every time that I write about Ice Ribbon, I’m afraid that it sounds a little bit sketchy. You see, the company frequently involves girls as young as twelve or thirteen engaging in professional wrestling matches. It was founded by former joshi star Emi Sakura, who was making ends meet as a gymnastics instructor until her students learned about her pro wrestling past and began requesting that she teach them a bit about the sport. Eventually this lead to the founding of a dojo and then a series of shows at which the students could ply their trade. Though early on the Ice Ribbon shows consisted only of matches held in their school on simple blue mats, recently they have become a full-fledged indy promotion, appearing at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall on a semi-regular basis and drawing in numerous guest stars from larger independent groups. Oh, and you remember the twelve year old wrestlers I mentioned at the top of this paragraph? Believe it or not, a few of them are better than anybody who you’ll see in Nexus.

August 23, 2009: Korakuen Hall Debut
May 3, 2010: Golden Ribbon


IWA Japansize=4>

IWA Japan may be the foreign indy that has been the most viewed by American audiences. Why? Because their 1995 Kawasaki Dream show has been bootlegged all over the internet as “King of the Deathmatches.” Yes, it’s the show featuring Terry Funk and Mick Foley tearing each other apart in an exploding ring, land mine, and barbed wire deathmatch. That show was, far and away, the most popular thing that IWA ever did. Though Kawasaki Dream drew thousands of fans to an outdoor stadium, the group’s propularity plummeted not long after. However, they still managed to run shows on a sporadic basis throughout 2009, mainly because they’re financed by a restauranteur who loves professional wrestling and just won’t give up the ghost. Hey, there are worse ways to stay in business. (See TNA.)

May 1, 1995: Headhunter vs. Headhunter
May 24, 2009: 15th Anniversary Show


Michinoku Pro Wrestlingsize=4>

Michinoku Pro was the first independent group that I really got into, thanks in large part to the excellent matches put on during the feud between the stable of Kaientai DX and M-Pro’s babyfaces, who were headed up by the Great Sasuke. Over fifteen years after those matches were taking place, Sasuke and his partner Jensei Shinzaki are still around, though they’ve otherwise got a fairly young roster surrounding them. Nowadays, M-Pro is essentially a repository for wrestlers coming out of Ultimo Dragon’s dragon system, all of whom are talented enough to regularly produce shows well worth watching.

September 5, 1999: Super Curry MAX
June 19, 2009: Great Sasuke 20th Anniversary Show
June 11, 2010: Great Sasuke 20th Anniversary Show – Tokyo Edition

The Indy-Dex continues to chronicle all of the promotions that I2I has ever looked at when we return next week!

I2I’s Top 10 Matches of Year 1size=6>


Number 10: Takeshi Minamino, Magura Ooma, & Ken45̊ vs. Yapper Man #1 & #2 & Kenbai (Michinoku Pro 06/11/10)size=4>

There are a lot of six man tag team matches in Japanese professional wrestling. Usually, they’re put on cards as a way of getting stars to wrestle one another without having to give away singles matches that the promotion wants to use as drawing cards on major shows. However, in lucharesu promotions like Michinoku Pro, six man tags are oftentimes prominent parts of the card. In the case of this particular match, six of the talented midcarders in M-Pro were given the opportunity to showcase their stuff on a show devoted to celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Great Sasuke becoming a professional wrestler. They took full advantage of that opportunity, especially the Yapper Men, who under their masks are indy wrestlers Tsutomu Oosugi and Hercules Senga. The action was rapid fire and built perfectly, perhaps the best six man tag team action that you’re going to see in Japan these days not featuring wrestlers from Dragon Gate. In fact, I would go as far as saying that it outshone the Sasuke match that main evented the show.


Number 9: Yuki Ishikawa, Alexander Otsuka, & Munenori Sawa vs. Super Tiger II, Daisuke Ikeda, & Katsumi Usuda (BattlArts 7/26/2008)size=4>

Speaking of six man tag team matches, here’s another one . . . though it differs a fair deal from the M-Pro match earlier on the list. This bout was put on by BattlArts, an independent promotion which has a style of wrestling that is based more in shoot fighting than it is in drop downs, leap frogs, tackles, and hitting it again. Given the shoot style of BattlArts, it was a bit odd to see a six man there . . . and it got even more odd when we learned that this six man would be held under elimination rules. The result of this oddly booked match was surprisingly entertaining. The wrestlers involved made the shoot style work despite the unusual circumstances in which it was being applied. Plus this was one of the first (if not the first) matches in which I got to see Munenori Sawa ply his trade, and, as most indy fans known in 2010, Sawa is probably the future of wrestling.


Number 8: Jun Kasai vs. MASADA (Nutsville X-Mas, 12/25/2008)size=4>

When I first heard about this match and the fair deal of praise that it had received online, my immediate reaction was, “Wait, you mean Masada, the Texas Wrestling Academy guy from 2003 ROH is still wrestling?” Well, apparently he is, and apparently he’s become quite the deathmatch virtuoso in his time away from the American public eye. This match saw him in the main event of a special show booked by Jun Kasai to celebrate the Christmas holiday, and the main stipulation was that cardboard crosses with numerous razor blades sticking out of them would be available to the wrestlers for their use throughout the match. It sounds disgusting. It was disgusting. Despite it being disgusting, Kasai and Masada were able to put the match together in such a way that it was dramatic and captivating, so much so that it was next to impossible to be turned off by the copious amounts of blood flowing from bell to bell.


Number 7: Super Crazy vs. Ultimo Dragon vs. The Great Sasuke (NOSAWA Bom Ba Ye 5)size=4>

I was amazed to see that this match was as great as it was. Dragon and Sasuke – and to a lesser extent Crazy – were wrestlers who absolutely blew my mind the mid and late 1990’s with the matches that they were putting on. I wasn’t sure that they would be able to pull out a great one in this match, though, in part because Sasuke and Dragon haven’t worked a ton of three way matches during their careers and in part because everybody involved was a minimum eight years past his prime. What we got, though, was not a sad imitation of what these men were formerly able to do. Instead, what we got was intense, non-stop action from a trio of guys who absolutely made it clear that they are among the best junior heavyweight wrestlers in the world. Yes, they may have lost a step or two over the years, but when you start out being as great as they were, losing a step still means that you’re significantly better than average.


Number 6: Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Go Shiozaki (Kensuke Office, 06/29/2009)size=4>

As noted earlier in this column when explaining Shiozaki’s entry in the Top 10 Wrestlers list, some might balk at seeing his name in an “indy” column given that he is a very recent GHC Heavyweight Champion. This match didn’t take place for NOAH, though. This match took place for Kensuke Office, the training camp/promotion run by Kensuke Sasaki which has never to be knowledge drawn more than five hundred fans. If that’s not an indy, I don’t know what is. Regardless of the low level of fans watching this match live, it was an excellent encounter between two of the top young wrestlers in the world today. Shiozaki showcased everything that makes him a modern star, and Nakajima showcased everything that makes him a future star. I have a feeling that these two will be wrestling one another for many years to come, and I have a feeling that those future matches will be for significantly bigger audiences than what they will be able to draw in Kensuke Office. Should that happen, we’ll be able to look back at this match and say we knew them when . . .

Seven days! That’s how long you have to wait to find out what the five matches are that top this list.

Guest (High) Spotssize=6>

Yes, folks, in order to help me celebrate by big anniversary, I recruited some of my fellow 411 staffers who aren’t quite as familiar with the Japanese independents in order to get their take on some of the wrestling that I normally view. This week, it’s Chad Nevett taking a look at Osaka Pro and the AWF Champion Matthew Sforcina reviewing the match of another battling big man when he analyzes Akebono! Let’s see what happens when Chad and Matt head Into the Indies . . .



Match Numero Uno: Billy Ken Kid & Asian Cougar vs. Black Buffalo & Orochi (Osaka Pro, 3/14/2010)
by Chad Nevett

As I told Ryan when he asked for volunteers to contribute guest reviews, the only Japanese wrestling I’ve seen really is Dragon Gate USA, which features Japanese wrestlers quite a bit. I’ve always wanted to watch more wrestling from other countries and promotions, but time and money are always limited alas. I purposefully didn’t look up anything about the wrestlers involved, wanting to take the match on its own merits and see if they could tell a story that let me know everything I needed to know.

In that respect, the four men involved succeeded. I listened carefully when each came out to get a sense of who was who (it was easier for the heels than the faces) and it was pretty clear right off who would be the faces and who the heels. Both Billy Ken Kid and Asian Cougar wore lucha masks and outfits that made both resemble Rey Mysterio, both in yellow and black. The heels appeared to be part of a larger faction since they came out with two other men. Black Buffalo wore a mask to the ring, but took it off, wrestling in a baseball jersey it appear. Orochi looks like a cross between old school Kane and Rey Rey. The two guys with them had the same black and red motif going on, one masked and the other with dyed red hair.

The match began with Billy Ken Kid and Orochi in the ring and I was expecting some looser, more high flying stuff, but it was pretty mat-based and began slow. Orochi was tossed from the ring and the two wrestlers switched places with their partners, and Black Buffalo didn’t fare any better against Asian Cougar than his partner did against Billy Ken Kid. At this point, I wasn’t too impressed since it was a very slow start and none of the moves were anything beyond basic, basic stuff. But, when the heels started cheating, the match took off.

This match had the most rampant cheating I’ve ever seen. I’m not entirely sure what the rules here were and how much is allowed, but it’s apparently a lot. They took Billy Ken Kid outside the ring and triple-teamed him, beating him all through the crowd, while Black Buffalo beat on Asian Cougar. The triple-team lasted a lot longer than you’d expect. I guess the ref was distracted. When the action got back to the ringm the cheating continued with the masked member of the faction actually holding the ref in the corner, head pushed against the turnbuckle, so his stablemates could cheat without any possibility of the ref seeing!

The faces made a comeback, mostly because the heels got too caught up in attacking one of the good guys, leaving the other enough time to recover and get involved. The faces controlled things for a while, even coming close to winning a couple of times, but Black Buffalo managed to kick out of a Demon Bomb and the ref got pulled out of the ring on another attempt. This led to one of the most surreal things I’ve ever seen in wrestling: the faces beat down the heels, pulled them into a pile, and Billy Ken Kid began pulling chairs from under the ring… he must have pulled out somewhere between half a dozen and a dozen before Asian Cougar jumped over the rope to land on this pile of chairs and bodies. That was weird.

In the end, the faces won despite all of the cheating. The in-ring action didn’t blow me away from a technical perspective, but the storytelling was fantastic. The heels did nothing but cheat and poke eyes, while the faces fought back bravely to pick up the win. All in all, a solid, entertaining match. I only wish more bad guys would think to just hold the ref in the corner with his face against the turnbuckle in order to cheat. [***]


Match Numero Dos: Akebono vs. Shinjiro Ohtani (ZERO1, 7/25/2009)
by Matthew Sforcina

I gotta admit, this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever sat down to do. Simply put, I’m not a reviewer, never have been, probably never will be. I can talk about specific moments till the cows come home, and I can discuss feuds and shows and matches in general until the cows leave again, but actually sitting down to review a match? Yeesh.

Hence why I put this off for so long (over a month, a new record for me!). I’m not entirely sure what’s gonna come up here, but we’ll give it a shot. See, I expected to be handed an American Balloon match, and thus I could just spend most of the match saying ‘that’s not funny’ and such. But no, I get Akebono vs a guy I vaguely remember seeing the name of before but have no clue who he is.

Akebono’s an interesting case for a guy like me, in that while it’s dead and buried (not cremated though, someone else might one day come and dig it up for 411… which I’m cool with), the entire Evolution Schematic concept was one that I liked and, more importantly, used to do anything. Self justifications for plot holes come to me fairly often because I HATE plot holes. From “clearly there’s a tax benefit to having the WWF stock constantly split between the 4 McMahons, which explains how they get it back after points when Vince wins 100% of it” to “Big Bossman lifted the briefcase” (although that’s not so much a plot hole as what they all but said the next night on Raw, dammit…). I like thinking up justifications for various points in wrestling characters careers. Do it to my own often enough, and I’m pretty good at it, if I say so.

And then there’s HUSTLE, in which he was Monster Bono, the offspring of The Great Muta and Yinling via being born out of an egg via Mist Insemination.

Now how the hell do you get that into his run as a Sumo Wrestler? Did the egg go back in time via up-to-now unknown Quantum Leap qualities of Muta’s Mist? Was it only a small larva that was born, and merely implanted into his head? Do I just say everything in HUSTLE is in an acid trip of Mike Quakenbush? What?

Anyway, this isn’t HUSTLE, so let’s just forget about that and focus on the match.

Nasty scar Ohtani has on his forehead. I assume that this is some mark from a great, vast battle he once waged in the ring against a legend of the sport. Either that, or he got drunk one night and fell asleep on an open tin of sardines or something. Anyway, Scar Dude goes up against Akebono, next!

Akebono appears to have a theme song like if WWE got Pitbull to do Rey Mysterio’s song, but told him it had to be about fuel. But I do like his gear, even if it appears to have product placement on it. But so far, so good…

Then Scar Tissue appears to stop heading to the ring and instead plays a little Resident Evil judging by the sound effects before your ‘Final Countdown if the band had been called Asia’ music kicks in and he comes to the ring… He’s either quite old or he’s got Kurt Angle’s problem with his hair. But hey, he’s a Mighty Morphing Power Ranger judging by his gesture, so good for him.

Yeah, this is quite stream of consciousness, huh? Well, it ain’t gonna get better, trust me.

The two circle for a bit, as you do when your opponent weighs more than the bloody ring. A slap chop doesn’t faze Akebono, although I could do without a zoom in on his open mouth again, thank you Japanese Cameraman. More chops, same result. Shoulder tackle, Scary Spice just bounces off. Well, so far, this is one of my matches, just with less over the top celebrations from the big guy. Second shoulder tackle, and at least Harry Potter doesn’t stumble quite as badly, so overall it’s an improvement!

Until Akebono does one and drops him like a bad habit… Which I tend to find most people don’t drop, in fact they hang onto them quite hard, it’s the good habits, like Flossing and Exercise and Not Drinking Lots of Coke Zero that people drop quite easily.

… What the hell happened to Akebono’s teeth? Please don’t tell me he drank lots of Coke Zero…

BIG bodyslam, quite nice, and then he goes for… something, but Baraka slides out before Akebono does anything beyond step towards him, smart move.

Akebono then hits a running slide dropkick through the ropes, although I use that term loosely. Runs up and then weakly kicks at Greebo who takes a dive into the audience while Akebono falls over would be more accurate. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be taking that move away from this match.

Akebono rules the ring with his sole chomper while Marv walks off that DEVESTATING kick. He eventually gets back in the ring, and gets into a short Japanese Chop Battle (TM, C, R) before getting pushed away, Sumo style, into the corner. Akebono then hits a short run Avalanche, then whips Inigo Montoya to the other corner, goes for a decent run up… And gets dropkicked in the leg. Nero goes to work on the leg with stomps and kicks, as you do, finishing with a dropkick to the thigh, and then a half crab sort of thing where his knee’s on Akebono’s knee. But sensing I don’t know how to properly call that, he goes back to kicking at it.

Watership Down’s lead then goes back to the hold, before rolling Akebono over, and locking in the leg hold that’s on every generic old time Wrestling woodcut and then locking on a grapevine of the leg. Akebono drags Alternate Future Peter to the ropes, although sadly he doesn’t reach them with the tooth. Gary then, shockingly, goes back to the leg.

I’ll let you catch your breath there.

And you’ll need it, as Krauser goes for a back suplex! But it doesn’t work, and The Power Of The Ass breaks it. A charge back meets a pathetic slap and then a sleeper, since god forbid I get to see any move I don’t already know apart from that knee to knee thing which I’m sure I’ve done in training when I got lost at some point.

This goes on for a while, and Akebono doesn’t dig the tooth in, instead transitioning to a quite nice looking reverse crossface thingy.

Hey, you want proper move names, ask Ryan.

The Brandy Drinker almost taps, and almost passes out, but he has Fighting Spirit! Or whatever the equivalent for this company is, and Akebono lets go. Akebono then goes to step on him as the video runs out, onto part 2!

Yay! Halfway Done!

And here we have my main problem with this move. It sounds impressive, having Akebono stand with both feet on Marcus Fenix, but the problem is, in order to, you know, not actually do it (which would kill the man) he has to put most of his bodyweight on the top rope, which leans down so far it’s obvious, from my standpoint, what he’s doing. That’s why I just do the one step over, not as cool sounding, but it looks like all my bodyweight is on the guy. Plus it’s a whole lot more arrogant.

This does go on for a while, and then, after a break, it happens again… Who the hell’s the heel here? Am I supposed to hate Akebono coz he’s a bully? If so, then O’Chul’s done a HORRIBLE job getting me to care for him. You need SOME shine dude, seriously, even against a guy like Akebono…

Kovu can barely stand, so Akebono whips him corner to corner, then does his Sumo thing, and then charges, only to be drop toe held into the corner. And then Sub Zero ICES UP!

And gives a face wash, with the camera in the most wrong position possible, unless he has special boots that are like the side of a matchbox, you can clearly tell he’s not doing all that much. But his running one is better, enough that the fans ask for another one (I assume), so Zangief does so. Akebono shakes off the dreaded leather run gently against the cheek, and then gets slapped and running kicked, then nails a Vader Attack to buy some time. But then Snake Eyes comes back with a dropkick to the knee and leg lariat, (see, I know SOME names) before Akebono comes back with the Sumo Thrusts Into The Corner!

A decent bodyslam sets up a nice step up elbow drop, which gets 2. Akebono then gets a slightly lazy version of what is, apparently, his finisher, a hiptoss/elbow drop thingy, but Luffy’s legs are in the ropes. Akebono pulls him up by the fingers (I’d use the hair, but then he has so little, so fair play to him) and HARD irish whip to the corner.

Akebono then goes up to the second rope for a Banzai Drop, but then, like 99% of the time I go for it, the other guy is up. Sadly, Akebono slips a bit, and thus has to keep climbing even when Two Face hits him… Sigh. But they recover nicely, as Batgirl pushes him up the rest of the way, which makes sense. And then… Powerbomb out of the corner! And it looks like shit! (TM, C, R- Insane Clown Posse)

Redcloak nails a couple clotheslines in the corner, then a running kick from the apron, goes up top, and a dropkick to the back from the top rope knocks the big man down! A second one to the front knocks Akebono down, after 5 or so seconds of selling it, which may be a smidge too much. Running kicks to the sitting Akebono, then a running dropkick, and Tony Montana is feeling it! He goes up, and nails a missle dropkick to Akebono, still sitting. That gets 2. Another dropkick to the back (look, I understand there’s not a lot you can do to a big fat guy who’s just sitting there, but unless your dropkicks are super over as killing blows, vary it up a little man, really…) sets up ANOTHER missile dropkick from the top… FOR THREE?

REALLY?

REALLY?

REALLY?

OK, so I’m assuming his dropkicks are seen as deathbringers, considering Akebono gets sprayed down by one of the offsiders, clearly to help numb the pain from all those dropkicks. I think I need some of that too, frankly.

Match Thoughts: Look, I have some experience with these sorts of matches, and yes, I’m the first to admit, you’re limited in terms of movesets and options. But there’s no excuse for that many dropkicks in a row, unless it’s his gimmick. I’m not one for stars, so I’ll just say that this one’s not worth your time, unless you’re a huge Dropkick fan, in which case Dr. Doom might be your new favourite wrestler.

The Guest (High) Spots continue next week, when Aaron Hubbard and Steve Cook head Into the Indies!


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See you all next week!

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Ryan Byers
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