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Vamonos Amigos #64, Toryumon X Mexico Special
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.
For those that aren’t aware, Toryumon X was a spin off promotion created by Ultimo Dragon in order to showcase the third group of trainees from his facilities in Japan and Mexico. Similar to T2P and initially Toryumon Japan itself, this third batch of Ultimo Dragon Gym trainees has been given its own stage on which to showcase its abilities. The theme behind X is that it has a lower average performer age than any other promotion. The roster is made up of a mix of new factions, original singles characters and miniature versions of some of the Toryumon Japan wrestlers and factions.
This show is the last X show of 2003, from December, and focuses on the finals of the 2003 Young Dragons Cup. The YDC is the rookie equivalent of El Numero Uno, and the idea is that the winner goes onto bigger things after taking this title. The previous recent winners are:
2000: Milano Collection AT.
The ace of T2P, and a man who was pushed as a star from day 1. He received an unprecedented monster push as soon as he hit Japan, winning the T2P Strongest league in 2001 and earning squash submission victories over established main roster members such as Ryo Saito. Now firmly established as a main event calibre performer on the main Toryumon Japan roster, he is the most successful graduate of T2P and one of the most recognised performers in the promotion.
2001: Touru Owashi.
The “Power fighter” of T2P. He went from looking rather out of his element on the T2P shows, to finding his niche as a monster heel as part of the Gianz/Aagan Isou faction. He’s certainly grown on me as the muscle for this faction, and the fact that he is part of the most dominant heel groups in the promotion in recent times shows the sort of level YDC winners can reach.
2002: Taiji Ishimori.
The ace of Toryumon X, Ishimori has been pushed as the promotion’s golden boy since his debut. I personally find him to be highly overrated, and his faction is my least favourite in X. Despite this, he does have a good look and some flashy signature offence, and appears to be about the most marketable member of the X roster. He holds wins over both X roster members, and outside performers such as Super Crazy. Given the recent split within the promotion, its likely that Dragon Gate (which is essentially Toryumon Japan) won’t see much of Ishimori, as he’s likely to stick with Ultimo Dragon in Mexico.
This brings us to 2003…
Dragon Scramble match to determine Young Dragons’ Cup semi-finalists
The show opens with a Dragon scramble battle royal. In this case, the final four left in the ring will make up the semi-final brackets for the YDC finals. Mini-CrazyMAX, Los Carros Exoticos and Los Salserios Japonaises are all represented, as well as some un-aligned wrestlers like Manabu Murakami and Naoki Tanisaki. The match is nothing too special, though it has some nice moments.
The self-elimination of Small Dandy Fuji (Mini Don Fuji) is pretty funny, as everyone in the ring stops and cheers him on, encouraging him to hit a suicide dive over the top onto the eliminated Murcielago. After some encouragement, he hits a spectacular dive over the top, and gets up looking very pleased with himself. He then tries to get back in the ring and wonders why the referees won’t let him. His reaction to realising what he’s done is funny stuff.
There is no in fighting amongst the factions, because entire factions could feasibly advance to the semi-finals, making fighting amongst themselves in the battle royal pointless. As a loner, Naoki Tanisaki does a good job of playing the factions off against each other, and his scheming leads to the elimination of one of his more difficult opponents, SUWA-Cito. We end up with a final four of Naoki Tanisaki, Mango Fukuda (Los Salserios), Manabu Murakami and Takeshi Minnamino (Also of Los Salserios). The random draw conveniently keeps the Salserios from facing each other in the semis, which gives us Tanisaki vs. Fukuda, and Minnamino vs. Murakami.
Mini CIMA & SUWAcito & Small Dandy Fuji vs. Koichiro Arai & Murcielago & Lambo Miura (Los Carros Exoticos)
This is a decent enough six-man effort, though nothing amazing. Koichiro Arai has rather limited input. Saying that, this match should really have been on the first Japan X show rather than that odd handicap match with SUWA in it. I like Los Carros Exoticos, Mini-Araken (Koichiro Arai) is insanely enthusiastic about everything all the time, and I suspect drugs. SUWA-Cito is an X stand out, Mini CIMA is an effortlessly athletic aerialist, and Small Dandy Fuji is a sort of comedic flier.
Los Carros have nifty trademark submissions that fit in with their car-based gimmicks. Lambo Miura does an arm lock, Murcielago’s is a leg lock, and both involve tying the opponent up on the mat in a way that allows pushing with one foot to put the pressure on, with the idea being that the motion is similar to pressing down on a car’s accelerator. To hammer this point home, they actually have little steering wheels handed to them by ringside aids to pose with as they have these holds applied.
Mini-CIMA has a slick variation on one of CIMA’s finishers, running up the ropes and turning into a springboard variation on CIMA’s “Mad Splash”. He has incredible balance and jumps amazing distances. SUWA-Cito does all of SUWA’s offence perfectly; including the superb “John Woo” seated dropkick and his finisher, (which wins this match) the FFF.
Naoki Tanisaki vs. Mango Fukuda
Tanisaki is completely overmatched power-wise in this match, and quickly wins over the fans with his plucky attempts to take Fukuda down with low dropkicks. The match is very short, clocking in at just over five minutes, with Tanisaki picking up an upset win with a surprise backslide pin, possibly in homage to Genki Horiguchi, who used the same surfer gimmick as Tanisaki early in his career.
Takeshi Minnamino vs. Manabu Murakami
Minnamino at 17 years old has to be seen as the underdog in his match against the thong-clad Shoot style wrestler Murakami. The man in the thong dominates with arm bar variants and his rather unsettling “hip”-based offence, though thankfully he doesn’t bust out the shining ‘hip attack’ in this one. Despite this, Minnamino gets some offence in, including his trademark second rope high angle senton atomico, and eventually gets the win following a Death Valley driver, which he seems to have taken on as his finisher, though it is as yet nameless. Sadly, Minnamino doesn’t do any of his salsa dancing reversals here.
UWA & NWA Welterweight title unification Match Taiji Ishimori (NWA welterweight champ) vs. Yossino (UWA welterweight champ)
I didn’t like this much. I’m not a fan of Ishimori, and Yossino doesn’t seem particularly interested which is unusual for him. Yossino does some arm work, building towards his Sol Naciente finisher, and Ishimori does a ton of needless flips as usual. Yossino hits the torbellino (flying headscissors into a sort of arm bar take down), and then goes for the Sol Naciente (which you need to see as its a difficult to describe T2P submission, suffice to say it hurts the arms a lot). Ishimori reverses this into an inside cradle, they trade a couple of near falls, then go to the finish, which ends in a double pin fall, ending the match in a draw. The crowd absolutely hates this finish, and no amount of handshaking and sportsman-like gesturing can stop their booing.
Young Dragons Cup Final: Takeshi Minnamino (w/ Pineapple Hanai) vs. Naoki Tanisaki
Now this I liked. Tanisaki is on fine form, and he does the babyface fire thing well, the way he has the crowd so firmly behind him provides good justification for his move from Toryumon X to the Toryumon Japan main roster, and I hope he stays on with Dragon Gate following the split despite being an X graduate (Since writing this review, I have learnt that he will indeed be staying on as a member of the Dragon Gate roster).
They go back and forth for a while, before some filthy cheating from Minnamino and his fellow Salserios member at ringside gives the young heel an advantage. He dominates Tanisaki for a while but is unable to keep him down. His mistake comes when, after hitting his 2nd rope Senton atomico, (Which needs a name as he does it every match!) he gets too cocky and climbs up to hit another, this time from the top. He stalls for way too long, allowing Tanisaki to knock him down and take control.
For the next couple of minutes, Tanisaki throws everything at Minnamino to try and put him away, only managing two counts. Tanisaki even tries Genki Horiguchi’s “Beach break” finisher, but Minnamino escapes it. They do a 2-count sequence, but it works in the context of the match because they both seem desperate to win, and they don’t get up and pose after doing it, which is refreshing. Tanisaki gets a long two with an Elix Skipper style “Overdrive”, and then signals to the crowd that its time to finally end it. He removes his kneepad and signals for a running knee attack. Unfortunately for him, Minnamino catches him mid-leap and hits a quick DVD, picking up the three to the disappointment of the crowd.
A fine match given the inexperience of both competitors, and I’m not too unhappy about Tanisaki losing as he got the better deal in the end by going to the main roster.
Ishimori shows up to hand over the trophy as previous champion, and Minnamino snatches it away aggressively before celebrating, he also receives a giant cardboard Toyota car key, which I presume means he’s won a car as part of his prize. Backstage, Tanisaki cuts a promo that seems to be targeting Genki Horiguchi, with the thrust of it being that he has inherited the surfing gimmick, and also some cheap digs about him having lots of hair, as opposed to Genki, who is Hage (bald).
I have no idea what Minnamino’s promo is about, but it’s hilarious all the same. Strange lad. Oh, and I also like his Road Warrior Animal style hair-do.
Kei Sato, Shu Sato, Henry III Sugawara and Jorge Rivera vs. Milano Collection AT and Los GDI~! (Rey Bucanero and Ultimo Guerrero)
The Sato brothers are identical twins, and they seem to be counted as one wrestler, their matches tend to be handicap multimans, they were also the two principle Syachihoko Machines back in the days of T2P. They are very scrawny and do lots of fancy spots that are hit with varying degrees of success. As harsh as it may sound, they come across as the Japanese equivalent of Special K. Rivera acts as one of the trainers in the Toryumon Mexico gym and often wrestles under a mask as Skayde, and is credited with teaching Milano some of his 44 “Italian stretches”.
Henry III Sugawara is a T2P member who was in X limbo at the time of this show, mainly due to the complete failure of his “Royal brothers” faction. I’ve always rated him, and I’m glad that he’s back on the main roster currently. Milano is the aforementioned T2P Ace and bona fide main eventer. GDI shouldn’t need much of an introduction. They’re from EMLL in Mexico, and are regarded as one of, if not the absolute best, tag teams in the world.
The first fall lasts only 4 minutes. Rivera I don’t like in this match, everything he does looks so very very choreographed, and if something doesn’t go right he no-sells whoever else may be attacking him and tries the exact spot again. Bucanero/Ultimo Guerrero and Sugawara seem to work OK together, and Bucanero manages to fit one of his arena floor bumps into the opening fall. The Sato twins do some double-teaming, and Milano stretches them, applying a figure four to both at the same time. The first fall comes when the Sato twins catch Ultimo Guerrero in the old Syachihoko clutch (which they used to do under their old masked gimmick), which is a Gedo clutch combined with a Jacknife hold.
They pay dearly for this, as the rudos destroy their opponents in the second fall with some very cool double and triple team moves. Milano takes out Henry on the outside, leaving the GDI to put the Satos away, Ultimo with his top rope reverse suplex, and Bucanero with a Gory special submission. This all happens in about 3 minutes.
The third fall is pretty much one on one between Milano and *Sato twin* (if you can tell me which one is which during a match you’re very talented). Milano puts on the Italian stretch number 8, gets a near fall off an Emporio Armani shoe (best…lionsault…ever), before finally putting the little scamp away with an AT lock.
After the match, the GDI parade Milano on their shoulders, and Milano has a go at doing their trademark taunt. Then they’re presented with a cup of some kind, and oddly enough, it appears that they have also won a TV and DVD player. I’m not making this up! The match was ok, though it was far too short. Rivera wasn’t great, the Sato twins are never brilliant, and everyone else was good.
After this, we see some footage of Milano and Rivera training, with Milano learning some new stretches in preparation for his UDG title match with Magnum TOKYO.
The show is far from essential, and it would be easier to recommend it if the X’ers were still likely to make it to the main roster. As it stands, most of them probably won’t due to the split. Still, the YDC final is good, and the other matches are watchable. The main event has a certain novelty appeal due to the mixture of participants, but it’s not brilliant. Probably one for completists (like me), or those who are intrigued as to how the latest batch of UDG trainees is developing.