WARNING! The following review contains SPOILERS!
Wouldn’t you know the first Toryumon event I watch would happen to be their LAST PPV, before they change their name to Dragon’s Gate that is. I know I got the tape of their February PPV, but I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet, save for the opening match. Anyway, the main story of this show, other than it’s the 5th year anniversary of Toryumon, is the UDG (Ultimo Dragon Gym) title match. SUWA was forced to surrender the title after a nasty shoulder injury (there’s a clip of it in here, makes you cringe and go ‘OUCH!’). CIMA came up with the bright idea that the four main factions in the company would each have a representative in the tournament to crown a new champion. And if you’ve never seen a Toryumon event before, the highlight videos of the promotions brief history will give you a few ideas what to add to your list of tapes to get!
Show starts off with the four participants in the UDG title tournament coming to the ring and given the chance to mouth off at each other before drawing their placing in the tournament. They did that in an innovative way, with four ropes under a canvas. They each take one corner of the rope and the two guys who are holding the ends of the same rope are paired up for their Semi-Final match! We then go to our first match.
Genki Horiguchi, Ryo Saito & Naoki Tanisaki VS Milano Collection AT, Anthony W. Mori & Super Shisa
This was a really fun opener, with a blend of face paced action and some comedy spots from surfer boys Genki Horiguchi and Naoki Tanisaki! Genki is also leader of the HAGE (bald) movement, based on his receding hairline! Milano Collection AT and Anthony W. Mori are part of the Italian Collection faction with YOSSINO. They use a supermodel gimmick, and Milno’s intro with the female models and his invisible dog is pretty cool. He’s also an excellent worker too and worked quite well despite healing a knee injury! Super Shisa is a high-flyer in a wolf’s mask and Ryo Saito is one of the up and comers of the company. I’m not really sure what’s considered a standard match in Toryumon, but this opener truly blew me away with all the innovative and fun spots they pulled off!
Match Rating: ****
UDG Tournament Semi-Finals – CIMA VS YOSSINO
YOSSINO gets a lot of flak from the internet. Sure he’s skinny enough to make NOAH’s Kentaro Shiga look buff, but he does have some good moves. Heck, WWE’s Gail Kim stole a few of his submissions! YOSSINO took his place in the UDG tournament beating his faction leader Milano Collection AT, who’s healing a knee injury. This was to be YOSSINO’s break out moment, but the main complaint about YOSSINO from what I can tell is that he’s got an ego, and didn’t even drop his NWA Welterweight title, rather, surrendering it to get his spot in the tournament.
I’ve only actually seen CIMA wrestle once on the Osaka Pro Super J Cup show where he scored a big pinfall for his team over Super Delfin. But this is Toryumon, and CIMA is THE MAN here. His popularity is arguably tied only with Magnum Tokyo, more on him later. They ran an angle here where Touro Owashi comes down to ringside and shakes hands with CIMA. Despite being part of Shuji Kondo’s heel Aagan Iisou faction.
On to the match, and what we get is YOSSINO doing all he can to beat CIMA, pulling out various innovative submissions and some very FAST paced action. CIMA did an awesome job of making YOSSINO look like a legitimate contender, and the closing spot of the match was really cool too.
Match Rating: ***1/2
UDG Tournament Semi-Finals – Shuji Kondo VS Dragon Kid
These two had met previously in the annual El Numero Uno tournament finals, where Dragon went over Kondo. Kondo is an ex-rugby player and is a big Goldberg fan. He does imitate Goldberg in some-ways, but is still a 100-times better worker than Goldberg. And looking at him in his Ultimate Warrior type get-up here and his ruthless attitude, you wouldn’t know he used to be a member of the Italian Connection! Dragon Kid on the other hand, is Japan’s answer to Rey Mysterio. He’s a simply PHENOMANAL spot wrestler.
The match itself sees Dragon try to outwit the stronger Kondo with his speed, but literally gets tossed around like a ragdoll by Kondo when he gets caught. Kondo showed a lot of innovative power-spots here that I’ve NEVER seen before. At one point he even loss control of his own momentum and dropped Kid on his head in a scary looking spot. Don’t know if he got careless there. But Kid did manage a comeback, battling off all kinds of interference from Kondo’s Argon Assou faction at ringside. Kid took a hell of a beating in this match, which was fun to watch considering.
Match Rating: ***3/4
Post match, Kondo’s heel faction continues the beat down, and Kondo unmasks Kid! The heels smugly walk-off, and suddenly Magnum Tokyo shows up. Magnum says something along the lines of how he respects Kid’s heart and fighting spirit. He then says he’ll “take care” of him. And helps him from the ring.
“Living in America” by James Brown plays and out come the Florida Brothers, Michael Iwase and Daniel Mishima! Looking at them, the first thing that pops in my head is The Fabulous Rougue Brothers circa their All American Boys gimmick! They even speak with an American slang in their tone! Their facing a mystery opponent in somekind of ‘revenge’ match, and it’s none other than KENSUKE SASAKI! The Brothers almost pass-out as Sasaki makes his way to the ring to a HUGE ovation. When Sasaki reaches the ring, they challenge him with the stipulation that if he loses, he has to JOIN the Florida Brothers! Sasaki accepts, but the Brothers protest he doesn’t have a tag partner. Sasaki says he didn’t come alone tonight either. He then says in English, “Come out, My Honey!” And enter his WIFE! Joshi legend AKIRA HOKUTO! The Brothers are even more shocked than before and I think Hokuto got a bigger pop than Sasaki since there were a lot of females in the audience! Hokuto also happens to be my favorite joshi wrestler next to Ayako Hamada by the way. Michael makes fun of Hokuto, calling her “Oba-san”, but Daniel is more aware of Hokuto’s legend as the “Dangerous Queen” and is about to walk out on his partner when suddenly the Lone Ranger theme hits and out comes resident comedy worker/alien Stalker Ichikawa! Stalker rushes the ring and challenges Hokuto to a match!
Akira Hokuto VS Stalker Ichikawa
Hokuto squashes Ichikawa in a short and funny bout, and needs to be carried out on a stretcher!
Florida Brothers VS Akira Hokuto & Kensuke Sasaki
The Brothers gets their guts back and what follows is one heck of a hilarious comedy match! I won’t spoil anymore from here, but this was definitely a fun match that poked fun at American pro-wrestling, with the blatant use of weapons. This whole section was one of the funniest things I’ve seen since the Ebessan / Kuishinbo Kamen match from the 2003 Osaka Hurricane show.
Match Rating: ***
Entertainment Rating: PRICELESS!!!
This was Kensuke Sasaki's revenge match as he previously lost a match to the Bros back in February)
Katsuhiko Nakajima VS Ultimo Dragon
Another surprise match for the live fans. Dragon stretches young Nakajima with a series of submission locks. The wonderkid barely managed to retaliate with some big strikes and submissions of his own before Ultimo puts him away. Dragon then gives a long speech about his history and Toryumon as this is his last appearance for the company he created and leaves to big cheers from the crowd.
Match Rating: **1/2
Intermission time, and out come the Florida Brothers again! They bring an air-gun with them and shoot T-shirts into the crowd. They then go to clips of more classic Toryumon matches to fill in the intermission space.
Masaaki Mochizuki, Kenichiro Arai, Second Doi & Susumu Yokosuka VS Brother YASSHI, Touru Owashi, Takuya Sugawara & Shogo Takagi
Other than Mochizuki, I have NO IDEA who everyone else in this match is, but I took one look at Brother YASSHI and said to myself, “This is a guy that needs his ass-whooped!” Seriously, he’s one of those guys who hide behind the bigger guys and likes to take cheap shots. Hell, his look alone annoys me! The story behind this match is that Mochizuki (who looks freakingly like NOAH’s Makoto Hashi) got kicked out of Kondo’s heel faction, for acting to babyface like.
Mochizuki was the original heel of Toryumon when he formed M2K when Toryumon was just getting started. He’s a heavy striker. Kenichiro Arai or AraKen is the hardheaded veteran, Second Doi uses a baseball player gimmick since he used to be an actual baseball player, and Sususmu Yokosuka uses somekind of cyclist gimmick. He used to be Susumu Mochizuki, but had to change his name after losing a match to Masaaki with the stipulation being that only one of them could use the Mochizuki name. I don’t think their related though.
The Aagan Iisou team is comprised of the loudmouth and annoying Brother YASSHI, the well rounded Takuya Sugawara, Shogo ‘Jet’ Takagi, a striker who’s only offense is his Jet Punches and a shoulder block, and the monstrous Touru Owashi, son of a sumo wrestler with incredible size and power.
The match was totally awesome as the mostly underdog face team had to outdo the constantly cheating heel faction, and the monstrous power of Touru Owashi was a huge hurdle to overcome. Lots of faced paced action and innovative offense like most of the other matches so far. Overall, this was just a really great grudge match, and I don’t think it ended here.
Match Rating: ****1/2
Post match, K-Ness (Formerly Darkness Dragon) makes his way to the ring carrying several jackets with him. K-Ness convinces Mochizuki to have one last run and reform M2K, the original heel faction of Toryumon, but this time as a face faction with the five of them. Final M2K is born!
They play a video of Magnum Tokyo visiting Jinsei Shinzaki in the countryside to undergo “spiritual training” to rebuild himself.
Magnum Tokyo & Jinsei Shinzaki VS Don Fuji & TARU
Hands up who remembers Magnum Tokyo from his short run in WCW? I don’t actually remember seeing him wrestle there, but his skits with Alex Wright and Disco Inferno was funny. Here in Toryumon however, he’s the company’s meal ticket, along with CIMA. And hands down, Magnum’s got THE BEST intro I’ve EVER seen in puroresu. Don Fuji & TARU are the heavyweights of CIMA’s C-MAX faction. And I probably don’t need to say anything about Shinzaki.
The match itself is a step down from the prior bout, but everyone involved got to show their stuff to make the match watchable. The C-MAX team even showed some fun double team moves. I really want to see some of Magnum’s big matches to see what he can really do in the ring, and he looks freakingly like WWE’s Batista, but minus the muscles!
Match Rating: ***
UDG Tournament Finals: CIMA VS Shuji Kondo
No doubt Kondo is all set to be the next big heel of Toryumon/Dragon’s Gate. They continued the angle with Touru Owashi supposedly being on CIMA’s side, as he constantly stopped his team-mates from interfering in the match. All the interference sounds like WWE level sports entertainment, but this is all done the RIGHT way, as the interference always seems to backfire, and the match in the end is won on the sure skill of the wrestlers alone. And these two put on a very good heavyweight style match to boot that they build up very well.
Match Rating: ****
After the match, CIMA calls out the entire locker room, and everyone comes down except Kondo’s Aagan Iisou heel faction. This was a really great moment as CIMA gives props to the entire roster as everyone had something to do with Toryumon lasting its five years in business. Even CIMA’s arch rival, Magnum Tokyo, acknowledge each other as they greatest rivals and they thank the fans for their support. Show ends with CIMA and Magnum actually going into the crowd to personally thank everyone in attendance!
This was simply an AWESOME show! I have never seen any other Toryumon show to compare this with, but I was really impressed here. Even though this was their last PPV under the Toryumon banner, this is a good place to start if you’ve never seen a Toryumon show before, and you can move straight on to Dragon’s Gate. Another observation I made is that there was a lot of female fans in the audience since the wrestlers were mostly pretty boys, but man can they work!
I only have a few small complaints. That being the bad directing, where they sometimes they would suddenly cut from one camera to another and miss something that happens in the big tag matches. The camera angles also looked awkward at times, like they zoom in too close and miss something just out of screen.
Despite that, right now this stands as my pick for best show of the year! You can’t go wrong getting this show!
Labels: Dragon Gate