Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Second Japan Trip Part 2

After a great main event, my friend and I had to rush out to Shin-Kiba 1st RING for the combination 666/CPE/Naoshi Sano show. The show began at 11:30, instead of 2:00 as we were told online, so we ended up missing most of the first show. We wanted to stay for the main event of the summit show though, so we had no choice anyway.
We got there in the middle of a pretty good looking 8-man tag match. Then, there was an intermission. 666 has the absolutely weirdest intermission I've ever seen. Some promotions like to shill items during intermission, and some like to bring out wrestlers, well 666 decided to have a dancing performance outside in the 20 degree weather. There was some odd wrestler beating a drum, while another danced. Then there was a naked woman begging for water to be thrown at her, while another wrestler pretended to throw water at her. My friend has video of this, so hopefully he will be able to put it up somewhere.
Then we saw a pretty good match with Onryu & Pale One vs Cho-un Shiryu and Dinasty. Dinasty looked pretty good, but he blew a spot at the end and almost hurt himself pretty good. From there, the fans lined around the ring. We knew something had to be up, and sure enough women came out and fought until they were naked(they had tape on their backsides). This put the sleazy in sleazy indy scum. There was also another match featuring a guy called Senpai who prenteded to inject some substance into his head with a fake needle. We too got to see a cool tag with the Battlarts crew and the infamous, HOT STAFF. Until about 4 AM, they rotated between 20 minute intermissions, men's matches and women's matches. Then, they kicked everybody outside again to do something to the ring. Because it was freezing cold, late, and the dancing/singing were annoying, my friend and I headed to the hotel weirded out of our minds.
The next day(1/1) we saw a great Zero-1 show. I personally think Z-1 puts out the best cards usually. Unfortunately, the audience must not agree because this was the least packed show next to MUSCLE. This card had an awesome match between Fujita/Hidaka and Sawa/Minoru. It didn't reach the greatness it could have, but it was still a very good match and a highlight of the trip. It also had a good tag match between KAORU & Hikaru vs Saki Maemura & Toshie Uematsu. Hikaru really stiffed everyone in this bigtime, and KAORU looked a little akward out there to be honest. I haven't seen enough her to see if this is usual for her though. After the match Koji Kanemoto came out and announced he and Hikaru would be getting married. The crowd chanted "KISSU" loud after this, making a really cute moment. The next two matches were just okay, and really not that exciting.
After the show, we tried to see if any wrestler owned restaurants would be open. Unfortunately, Yamada's Izakaya & Chigua's Super Freak were not. We did get a picture of Yamada's place though, and found Michiko Ohmukai's EGOIST store on accident.
The next day (1/2) we had two shows lined up, AJPW's first day of the All Asia tag tournament and BJPW. AJPW's show was really disappointing, partly because we bought cheap tickets and could not see because of a tall guy in-front of us, and because the show just sucked for the most part. The only real highlight was a heavyweight battle royal that was entertaining. In-between shows, we checked out an arcade near the Tokyo Dome. The arcade was really cool with a live-action horse racing game, and a Kinnikuman game. The Kinnikuman game in particular was really fun. Also, I got to play one of the new versions of Tekken 5, and even managed to sweep a group of japanese friends somehow.
The BJPW show that day was so much better. It started off slow for two matches, with Benki, and a long tag match, but it really picked up. MEN's Club came out and shined like they always do. After the match, the crowd joined in on a happy birthday song for Hecules Oosenga. Then, there was a sweet shark cage gimmick match. There was tons of blood and brawling in this, and at one point, MASADA stuck wooden needles into Abdullah Kobayashi's head. Abdullah wore these throughout the match, even during intermission, where I got a picture with him, and the rest of the BJPW crew like Kasai, Shadow WX, and Jaki Numazawa. They came back from intermission with a good Yoshihito Sasaki/Ishikawa vs Sekimoto/Mammoth Sasaki match, which Yoshihito was overenjoyed at winning. Then it was main event time. MASADA warned us that it would be crazy at intermission, and he wasn't lying. Everyone got to eat the lighttubes a few times, leading to a great match.
After the show, we met Shuji Ishikawa, who's back was a mess from the lighttubes, along with Great Kojika and the BJPW female referee. The BJPW crew is insanely nice, and deserve all the credit for having their wrestlers out there greeting the fans. Not enough promotions do this, and they at stupid not to. I also managed to snag some pictures of the various wrestlers scarred backs, which have to seen. You wouldn't believe some of the scars.
The next day(1/3) may have been the best day of the trip. We saw a much better AJPW show, with a few good matches(some odd booking though). We had great seats for this, and we will probably be visible on the show because of it. Inbetween shows, we made an amazing trek to Mr. Danger's Steakhouse. Mr. Danger's is a must see place. It's not hard to find at all, as long as you remember that the station needed to go to this is not visible on the Tokyo Subway map(Higashi Azuma). Once at the station though, it's on the same street, and the locals were nice enough to walk us there.
The steaks there are very good, and the surroundings of the place are good too. Nowhere else will you see barb-wire and chains hanging from the ceiling, along with various Matsunaga pictures. After eating, we requested a picture with Mr. Danger himself, and he was more than happy to oblige.
On the train back, we ran into another japanese fan who came out just to see the restaurant. We talked for a few minutes, and it's really amazing how so many people know about puroresu in japan compared to America. We then headed to the MUSCLE show at Korakuen hall.
Neither one of us knew what to expect from this show, other than comedy. We didn't expect much, but we were actually blown away. The Sato's were on this card, along with some of the Battlarts crew, Cho-un Shiryu, Kenny Omega, both MASADA and MAZADA, and the legend himself, Atsushi Onita.
The show had alot of screwy booking, but it was entertaining for the most part. There were many Kinnikuman influences, with the NEO Machine Guns appearing(their name was taken from a Kinnikuman tag team), and Omega dressing up as Buffaloman. Onita was the major highlight of the show though.
He did a quick brawl, a long speech, and even dropped a fall to Muscle Sakai of all people. I watched this from the balcony, and couldn't believe it was actually him. I ended up moving before the end of the night, and watched the last minute or two of the show next to one of the internet's favorites, joshi wrestler Cherry. Then, as soon as the show ended, me and my friend ran down to the parking lot and managed to catch Atsushi Onita for a picture. He happily obliged, leaving us marked out. We then saw Yutaka Yoshie, Aoki of NOAH, Toru Owashi, Atonio Honda, and even Munenori Sawa for the 9th and final time. While there, I had asked Sawa if Keita Yano left yet, and Sawa went to grab Yano for us! After thanking Sawa many times, I managed to get a pic with Yano, leaving me happy. Sawa's kindness is just unbelieveable.
The last wrestling day of our trip, was quite a day. We ran down to the sketchy Shinjuku area to look around. While looking around, we saw many XXX and hostess style clubs, and even had some kind of hooker/massuse come up to us. She asked if we wanted to massages, and we turned that down.
A little later, we watched Yumiko Hotta's 20th(or it may have been 25th) Anniversary. The show like the last Ito-Dojo show was a little rough in the beginning, but picked up. The midget and cosplay matches just didn't do it for me. Chigusa, Shinobu Kandori, and the Matsunaga brothers all came out to give Hotta gifts for her anniversary, then there was a great tag match featuring Toyota & Shimoda vs Kana & Arisa Nakajima. They went at a fast pace and just killed each other with big moves. Finally, the main event featured Nanae Takahashi vs Yumiko Hotta in a pretty good match.
Before leaving, we ran into Awesome Kong and talked to her for a bit. Then outside, I ran into AKINO, and got a second picture with her, since my first picture got deleted somehow. We got to the dome late enough to miss the dark match, but early enough before the main show began.
No matter what anyone says, the dome is a crappy place to watch wrestling. There are nets near the bottom of the stands, small seats, and a pretty long stretch from the stands to the ring. The matches were okay, with Nagata/Tanaka being the best by far, and the main event boring me and my friend. Mistico did a good job as well, being the star of his match. The problem is that the dome crowd just does not care about juniors, and having 3 or so junior matches in a row kept them quiet. The main also made no sense to me, as Mutoh worked Tanahashi's knee for a long time, but Tana forgot about it and quickly jumped off the top rope twice. After the dome, we met up with one of my japanese friends, and had a great conversation about wrestling, which was really fun. I then saw another gaijin before leaving, who told me the WAVE show was really good and worth skipping the dome for.
That pretty much puts my japan trip to a rest. I'd like to thank the people at joshifans, puroresufan, and DVDVR, with special mention to Kurt, Ohtani's Jacket, and Mecha Chuchu for some of the harder to find information. I also would like to thank Martin(for a great trip), June, Taka, Masa, Takashi Izumi, the guys at Backdrop and CHAMPION, Sonoko Kato, and Munenori Sawa. It was a great trip, and has left me with memories I'll never forget.

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