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December 2003 – Yoyogi PPV – La Ultima Caida
If some of the background information or move descriptions seem unnecessary to you, please realise that I write these reviews under the assumption that those reading are not necessarily familiar with the promotion, its wrestlers or their signature moves. As such, I will attempt to provide some notes and explanations regarding feud histories, move descriptions and the significance of titles and tournaments. Additionally, although I will obviously offer opinions and a brief summary stating whether or not I recommend the show, I don’t use star ratings. I don’t object to the star rating system, but as a matter of personal taste I choose not to incorporate star ratings into my reviews.
This show is headlined by Magnum TOKYO’s V3 defence of the Ultimo Dragon Gym championship (after successful defences against Don Fuji and Kenichiro Arai) against Milano Collection AT. The two had teamed together in the Rey de Parejas tag tournament in Autumn 2003, but they had a volatile break up when Milano got the impression that Magnum was using their alliance to duck his UDG title challenge.
Following several brawls and altercations between the two, their match was made official and scheduled for the big end of year pay per view. Milano was shown preparing for the match on episodes of Toryumon TV (Vamonos Amigos on Gaora), learning some new holds at the Toryumon Mexico gym to use on the champion, and his assaults on Magnum in the month leading up to the event usually ended with him forcing the champ to tap to his patented AT Lock submission hold. Essentially, Milano was built up as the biggest threat to Magu’s title to date.
The other main happening in Toryumon at this time was the rise of a new faction, then informally known as “Gianz”, which changed to “Hagure Gundam”, then eventually “Aagan Iisou”. Founded by former Italian Connection members Brother Yassini and Dotti Shuji, the group had also recruited T2P member Touru Owashi, and the former “Berlinetta Boxer” Shogo Takagi. The Gianz group had been involved in a bitter feud with CrazyMAX going into this PPV, and their rivalry gives us the semi-main event, CrazyMAX leader CIMA taking on Touru Owashi. The two groups had traded victories in six-man tags leading up to the show, and CIMA held a squash (sub 60 seconds) victory over Shogo Takagi. However, he was yet to pick up a win over Owashi.
Just below this is a tag match featuring the unique pairing of M2K member 2nd Doi and CrazyMAX member JUN. The two had agreed to team for one night only to take on Gianz members Brother Yassini (or Yasshi as he became known) and Dotti Shuji. This came about when the two Gianz members intruded on a British Commonwealth title match between JUN and 2nd Doi, assaulting both of them. Also in this match is the team of Italian Connection member Yossino and formally un-alligned wrestler Antony W Mori. Yossino had been betrayed by the two Gianz members when they left ItaConne, and Mori was still considering where his allegiance lay at the time, and had been taken on as an honorary ItaConne member for the time being.
SUWA, TARU and Don Fuji (CrazyMAX) vs. Susumu Yokosuka, Genki Horiguchi and Ryo Saito (Do-Fixer)
This match is pretty much filler, as there was no major issue between these two groups at the time of the pay per view, and the match reflects this, fought in a competitive yet lighthearted manner with some comedy mixed in.
Despite this, it does feature one spot that I had never ever seen before, and is worthy of mention. Early in the match, SUWA picks up one end of a giant length of elastic (as in flattened ring-rope size) and holds it in front of Genki Horiguchi’s mouth. TARU grabs the other end and begins to stretch it out, walking right up to the end of the entrance aisle. After a brief pause, TARU lets go, twanging the elastic at high speed over a good 100 metres into Genki’s face. You can’t make this stuff up, and it needs to be seen. Shockingly, this only gets a 2 count.
The closing stretch involves both teams temporarily isolating one member of the opposing team and trying to put them away. Firstly, SUWA is left at the mercy of Do-Fixer, and Saito and Yokosuka almost finish him off with a variety of suplexes that ends with a double fisherman suplex. SWA survives this, and the tables turn as CrazyMAX isolate Genki, and a flurry of offence ending in a TARU T-Crush puts Genki down for 2. Eventually, it comes down to a one on one in the ring between Genki and the permanently angry SUWA, who polishes Genki off following a John Woo and finally a FFF (his elevated pedigree variation.)
A passable back and forth six man. Toryumon churns out better matches than this on a regular basis, and its entirely missable, though the elastic twanging spot is worth a watch.
The Florida Brothers (Daniel Mishima and Michael Iwasa) vs. Dragon Kid and Super Shisa
This marks the Florida Brothers’ first appearance on pay per view under this gimmick. FloBro are T2P graduates Raimu Mishima and Takamichi Iwasa. After being refused permission to start his own faction and going on a long losing streak, Iwasa and his coach Mishima decided to head to America to ‘learn some new techniques’. After being absent for some time, the two returned in late 2003 as Daniel and Michael. They dress in Stars and stripes singlets and bandanas; sport bleached blond hair and deliver pre-written promos in awful, awful American accents. Their act mimics American tag teams of the 80s, and they incorporate old school heel mannerisms, and win their matches with screwy DQ finishes. The two have (for now at least) replaced Stalker Ishikawa as the promotion’s comedy attraction on big events.
Dragon Kid was doing very little at the time, and has spent much of his career drifting and filling up cards. He is fairly popular with the Toryumon fans, but he has been stuck in the role of generic un-alligned babyface for years. At the time he was a member of Shin-M2K, but his act didn’t change in the slightest, and his persona and matches are the same as when he debuted, with only his feud with Darkness Dragon inspiring him to add anything to himself as a performer. Since said feud ended, he has gone back to his usual repetitive self.
Shisa was stuck in a similar situation. He hasn’t alligned with any of the Toryumon factions since his debut, and as such has no logical lasting feuds. He is a gifted technical wrestler, and his Shisa/Saito Specials (signature moves involving headstands) always go down well, but he has always lacked any kind of direction from the bookers, and because of this the majority of his matches are meaningless fillers, albeit very entertaining ones.
However, for the purposes of this match, the slightly bland and clean-cut nature of the Florida Brothers’ opponents makes them ideal for their dastardly heelish antics. The Florida brothers cut a promo implying that Shisa is SAITO, which is a long running thing that I won’t go into here. They also run along the front row clapping hands with all the fans as “Living in America” blares out.
The match isn’t too long, about 8 or 9 minutes in length, but it’s long enough for FloBro to do their thing, and for Dragon Kid and Shisa to establish control. Michael and Daniel do some double axe handles and a double elbow drop, Shisa nearly wins it with one of his Shisa specials (the double arm suplex into headstand pin… I forget which number it is). Then comes the screwjob~! Michael brings a chair in as the ref (who is always Bakery Yagi for FloBro matches) is distracted, and swings at Shisa. He misses, and throws the chair to Shisa, who catches it. Michael then sells a fictional chair shot, prompting to Yagi turn round, jump to conclusions and disqualify Shisa.
Shisa and Dragon Kid try to explain what has happened but Yagi won’t listen, and they leave looking pretty miffed. The Florida Bros pose and celebrate as the US national anthem plays, then they do another promo, ending with Iwasa’s catchphrase, “OK, see you next time, bye byyyyye”.
Liking or disliking this match is dependent on whether or not you’re into the FloBro comedy shtick or not. Personally I find them entertaining, but then I like Stalker, Ebessan, Kinya Oyanegi etc. too. It’s worth seeing them once just to see if you’re into it or not.
Kenichiro Arai vs. Masaaki Mochizuki
M2K leader Masaaki Mochizuki takes on fellow member Kenichiro Arai, with the stipulation being that if Arai won, M2K would disband. Mochizuki had been on a losing streak earlier in the year, and Arai thought that it reflected badly on the members of the group for their leader to be doing so badly. So, quite a bit at stake here.
The match is hard fought but surprisingly short. Arai works the legs, attempting to neutralise Mochi’s signature kicks. Mochizuki counters Arai’s Hanshin Tiger suplex finisher, hitting a tiger suplex of his own for two. The two are pretty evenly matched, and they both get close two counts with two moves they often finish with, Arai with the Hanshin Tiger suplex and Mochi with a Dragon suplex hold. Arai, realising that his standard offence isn’t enough to put the M2K leader away, decides to go up top and bring back his old 450 splash finisher to put Mochizuki away.
A decent enough match, but far too short and a bit anticlimactic considering its implications. After the match Mochi and his former stable-mates have a group hug and go their separate ways amicably.
JUN and 2nd Doi vs. Yasshi and Dotti Shuji vs. Yossino and Antony W Mori
This is a lot of fun, and the best match on the show thus far. Two of the teams have a common enemy in Gianz, but in the opening exchanges the alliances keep shifting, as none of the teams quite trust the others. Yasshi is on top ‘annoying fool’ form here, managing to get the crowd hating him pretty quickly. 2nd Doi and JUN also put in good performances. At one point in the match, Yasshi tags in for the sole purpose of taunting and mocking a downed Mori. He struts and jumps around, yelling and looking pleased with himself and gets in the faces of his opponents. Doi proceeds to let out a loud yell, reach into the ring, grab a handful Yasshi’s hair and slam him onto his back in a “SHUT UP AND DIE YOU COCKY BASTARD!” manner. Great stuff.
Yasshi’s antics put the two other teams firmly on the same page in their aim to hurt him, and at one point he receives a quadruple dropkick. Dotti is impressive in this one, and his exchanges with Mori really showcase his strengths as a power wrestler. The team of JUN and Doi eventually get the better of him, and in possibly the coolest move of the match, JUN hits his Tsumujin spinning kick in perfect synch with Doi hitting his trademark Batakare sliding dropkick. It looks devastating, and Dotti would surely have been out if not for the save from Yasshi.
Despite this, a miscommunication between JUN and Doi leaves the CrazyMAX member vulnerable to Dotti Shuji’s devastating King Kong Lariat finisher, which puts him down for the 3 and eliminates his team. Mori and Yossino get on top of the Gianz members straight away, and some double teamwork on Yasshi’s arm sets him for Yossino’s Sol Naciente. However, just as Yossino is ready to apply it, Dotti hits his Lanzarse spear, giving him a pin fall victory over Yossino.
A really fun match with six wrestlers I like to watch. JUN’s performance in this one makes his retirement all the more saddening. Yasshi has developed into a fine heel, and Dotti always looks very impressive. As I said, this is the best match on the card up to this point.
CIMA (CrazyMAX) vs. Touru Owashi (Gianz/Hagure Gundam)
CrazyMAX are in full military combat gear for this one, as is their style when they’re at “war” with another faction. CIMA wastes little time, attacking Owashi before he can get to the ring. A chaotic brawl erupts between the two factions, and after a couple of minutes referee Bakery Yagi throws the match out. After some exchanges between CIMA, Owashi and Toryumon President Okamura, the match is restarted on condition that the various faction members don’t enter the ring.
This doesn’t stop Brother Yasshi and co. getting involved throughout however, which angers the crowd greatly.
The match is a heated brawl, focusing on CIMA’s attempts to pull off certain moves on the much heavier Owashi, and Owashi’s attempts to squash him. For example, CIMA takes control in the early going, but a scoop slam attempt leads to Owashi flattening him and taking advantage. It’s an enjoyable match, and the crowd heat aids it a lot, as does knowledge of previous encounters between these two warring factions. However, even if you don’t know the back-story, the standard big man/little man concept is easy to follow. Late on in the match, Owashi has CIMA down after a flurry of offence, including his signature running chokeslam.
CIMA fires up on Adrenaline, screaming at Owashi to get up and putting all of his strength into one last flurry against his larger foe. He hits a superkick and attempts his Schwein finisher, but this is reversed. CIMA fires up again, sending Owashi into the corner and hitting a double knee smash, before hoisting Owashi onto the middle turnbuckle for the Iconoclasm. The final turning point comes from this, as he fails to flip Owashi over, allowing the big man to fall forwards, squashing CIMA and flattening him into the mat. A great looking spot, and you can just tell that CIMA is totally finished following it. Owashi drags him into the middle of the ring, goes to the top and hits his diving body splash finisher, then drills him with a powerbomb just to put an exclamation point on it.
A high profile and a very impressive victory for Touru Owashi, who I actually enjoyed watching in this one. He’s grown on me a lot since becoming a full time member of the Japan roster, and is a fine dominating heel. He also has the awesome scary movie villain promo voice. This is the second match on the show that I’d say is worth checking out, as opposed to filler.
UDG Title match: Milano Collection AT (Italian Connection) vs. Magnum TOKYO (Do-Fixer)
Magnum brings the new Dance~! for this one, no Do-Fixer members accompanying him, just two dancers and some sticks, not as spectacular as the usual routine but a nice change.
The match goes 20+ minutes and is pretty good. Magnum works Milano’s legs in the early going, and busts out a sharpshooter, which I’ve never seen from him before. Milano goes for the arm in a variety of inventive ways, ultimately looking for the AT Lock. During their exchanges you get the impression that they’ve “scouted” each other, as some of their key moves are reversed, and Magnum actually applies Italian Stretch #8.
Mid-way through, when Magnum appears to be in trouble, the Do-Fixer members come out to ring side to offer support, which is a nice touch and puts over Milano’s threat well. After Milano escapes various arm locks including the AT lock itself, Milano tries a few pin falls, scoring a two count off an Emporio Armani shoe. The crowd is absolutely electric for the closing minutes, and slightly in favour of Milano.
Eventually, after failing to hit the Egoist driver on numerous occasions and realising that a variety of other offence including spinning kicks and lariats can’t put the challenger down, he goes up to the top and uses the Adult Video star press, which is his strongest finishing move. The AVSP (and a rather sloppy one too in this case) finally puts Milano down as the fans count along, erupting as Magnum scores the 3. It’s odd, because the crowd were very cold towards Magnum’s initial title victory, yet his defences have each received a very positive reaction.
Post-match Magnum, his two chief dancers, two extra dancers and Do-fixer minus K-ness perform the full Do-Fixer dance. At the end, Magnum punches the two extra dancers and celebrates his win with a group hug with his closer-knit group. Prior to this, he and Milano respectfully shook hands and hugged, and Milano left to a good reaction from the crowd.
Overall, a fine match, with some good limb work and some superb near falls going into the finish. My opinion on Magnum has changed a bit after watching a couple of his defences. Whilst I thought the match with CIMA in which he won the title was poor, and it is still obvious that his physical conditioning was never quite up to carrying a singles title reign, his defences have actually been of a fairly high standard. His defence against Don Fuji was very good and somewhat underrated, his V2 against Araken was passable and this match with Milano was a good bout too. His performances in his defences appeared to have won over the Toryumon fans by this point too. I’m glad he dropped the title in his next match following this one, but his reign on tape hasn’t turned out to be quite the disaster it appeared to be in text.
I can recommend this show to an extent, but I will say that its more enjoyable if you have seen some of the TV leading up to it. For example, Doi finally snapping at Yasshi is infinitely better to watch if you’ve seen how much of a prick pain Yasshi had been in the months leading up to it. The show features nothing dreadful, but as mentioned the opener is largely forgettable and the Florida Brothers can be seen on many other shows. Kenichiro Arai vs. Masaaki Mochizuki is decent enough, but is rather short and seems to be more about the on-going demoralised Mochizuki angle than anything else.
The top three matches are all good, with the 2v2v2 match providing a sprint with plenty of action, CIMA/Owashi delivering a good brawl mixed with your traditional big man vs. little man match, and the main event bringing the drama and near falls. Additionally, the top two matches also provide a bit of evidence that Toryumon can do more than just multiman sprints and fancy moves.