Michinoku Pro on Samurai TV
3.21.01 (taped 3.10.01)

This is a complete show from March that had the much-anticipated return of Dick Togo to Mpro rings. Footage is shown of a press conference where Sasuke announces that Dick Togo HAS COME BACK…TO MICHINOKU PRO! Togo, dressed in black like the cool dude he is, then says a few words on his return to the promotion that originally made him a star.

The line-up for the show is shown, and in a new feature to my reviews I will run down the card before the show starts, as is the tradition in Japan.
  1. Daisuke Sekimoto (BJPW) vs. Chi-Nen Hokkai
  2. Kazuya Yuasu vs. Ryuji Ito (BJPW)
  3. Mens Teoh/Shiryu II (BJPW) vs. Hideki Nishida/Fujin
  4. Jinsei Shinzaki vs. Tsubo Genjin
  5. Ayako Hamada interview
  6. Tiger Mask vs. Masaaki Mochizuki (British Jr Title)
  7. Great Sasuke/Dick Togo/El Gran Hamada vs. Pentagon/Gran Apache/Sasuke the Great

Daisuke Sekimoto (BJPW)
Chi-Nen Hokkai

Hokkai is an Mpro rookie with very suggestive tights. You probably saw him outside the ring on Mpro cards in 2000. He looks like he's about twelve with his shaved head and Underoos-style shorts. He throws a good dropkick and some nice stiff forearms though so he already shows more wrestling talent than Brian Adams. Sekimoto is like a slightly larger version of Kazuya Yuasa, who we will see in the next match. Sekimoto does some stiff clotheslines and finishes off Hokkai with his second spear and Boston crab combination of the match for the tap out at 2:38. Very simple match that didn't last long at all. What they did do in the short time provided was crisp and stiff though.

Kazuya Yuasa
Ryuji Ito (BJPW)

Ito is a skinny kicker from Big Japan. He looks to have put on some weight though since the last time I saw him (late 2000 Mpro). Yuasa has recently graduated from rookie status it appears since he has adopted BLUE trunks while most Japanese rookies wear black trunks. "But Ryan…", you ask. "Why does Hokkai wear those silly yellow trunks with the red logo covering his more private regions?". Well…to tell you the truth, I have no idea. Maybe Sasuke wants to give young Hokkai some help in attract the pretty ring rats of Michinoku Pro. The red logo, strategically placed, will instantly draw their attention. Heck, who wouldn't want a big red…something covering their willy and informing the world that…"Yes, this is where my little friend is!"? There is no such thing as bad publicity. Yuasa wrestles like a more basic version of Tatsuhiro Takaiwa by using clotheslines and forearms, both done quite stiffly, as he works a sort of heavyweight-junior style. He also has a bandage covering his left ear which, according to the Observer, he attempted to cut off when a relationship he was in made a turn for the worse. I guess he just hasn't met the right girl and in all honesty he never will with those plain blue trunks. The match itself was not too bad for something so simple. In the time they were given they managed to have quite a nice stiff back and forth go at it. Ito would get the advantage through his stiff kicks and a beautiful high dropkick while Yuasa countered with many clubbing forearms, lariats and a top-rope elbowdrop. Yuasa scores the first victory I have ever seen from him at 13:05 with a nice lariat. Ito's kicks were the highlight of the match for me though. He tried on numerous occasions to separate the vertebrae on Yuasa's back with his punishing strikes.

Mens Teoh/Shiryu II (BJPW)
Hideki Nishida/Fujin

This was really a textbook way to do a midcard lucharesu tag team match. Nobody blew any spots, a few traditional lucha sequences and a few dives as well. The non-BJPW team is comprised of two newcomers to Mpro, Togo trainee Fujin (who now goes by the name Psychic) and the former Monkey Magic of Osaka Pro, Hideki Nishida. Even though I love comedy matches I couldn't wait to see Nishida without the hindrance of the comedy gimmick since he was very much an underrated and very Rey Mysterio Jr-lite style of worker. To me this was Shiryu II's match. He was more graceful and fluid than anyone else in the match by far. I loved his tope atomico suicida to the outside onto Fujin. Shiryu just looked exceptionally lawndartish this time. His partner Teioh basically stuck to his spots although he did hit the stiffest Roaring Elbow I've ever seen from him. He also did a TOP-ROPE ABDOMINAL STRETCH!!! Which I have personally never seen before and it was very weird. Fujin looked good because he mostly worked with Shiryu II and since Shiryu was so smooth in the match Fujin may have looked better than he really does. He did hit a tope suicida that I would say was only .2 on the Black Warrior scale. He flew the air like a thrown feather and hit with just as much force. One memorable spot from the Shiryu/Fujin moments was a very Rey vs. Juvi-style moment. They found themselves in a sort of inside out Rito Romero Special that ended up with both of them standing on their heads with their legs locked together as they proceeded to slap each other in the face! For his part Nishida stuck closely to the moveset he used as Monkey Magic. In all honesty though I have seen him look better against Gokauku Kaiju Z Mandora than he did in this match. He didn't flub anything but his hurracanranas and flying headscissors weren't as snuggly as they had been in the past. The finish came when Teioh got the win for his team with his Teioh Lock (reverse seated full nelson) on Nishida after 15:13 of pretty much non-stop action.

Jinsei Shinzaki
Tsubo Genjin

Because this is Shinzaki vs. Genjin I will give it only the brief comments that it deserved. Tsubo pokes the ring announcer in the groin with his big bone (OH MY!). Then some other above average Tsubo Genjin comedy happens. The match gets really bad when Shinzaki has to chase Tsubo around the building for what seemed like hours. Again, its funnier than the usual Tsubo stuff Shinzaki plays the straight man a little TOO straight for the comedy to work effectively on me. Once they finally get back into the ring Tsubo Genjin attempts a Praying Rope Walk that results in Shinzaki crotching Tsubo on the top rope and pinning him after 13:01 of what I would kind of call a "funny agony". The only significance of this match is that this is Ted Tanabe's first match of the night as referee as there was a female ref who worked the preliminary matches. I have no idea who she could be.

Ted Tanabe calls out Ayako Hamada to the ring for an interview. Before she is allowed to say anything though her brother-in-law Pentagon attacks her. This leads to Papa coming out to chase off the masked in-law in what came off as a very rushed angle. Gran Hamada cuts a promo backstage with Ayako, who is holding her head. This was waaaaaay too rushed an angle to work convincingly for me.

Tiger Mask IV
Masaaki Mochizuki
(British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Title Match)

TMIV is seconded by Magnum TOKYO, thus pairing up two of my four favourite wrestlers (the other two being Great Sasuke and Momoe Nakanishi, fwiw) Masaaki is of course seconded by fellow M2K member Yasushi Kanda, who played way too big a role in this match for my liking. This match was pretty disappointing acroos the board though.by having too much cheap rudo offense by Masaaki (unlacing TMIV's mask, choking TMIV with a chair outside of the ring), was also much too short (11:58) and. had too much screwiness (a Tanabe ref bump, TMIV being unmasked by Kanda resulting in the screwjob rollup pin of TMIV). The match wasn't even all that stiff either. I really expected a top notch performance from these two and what resulted was a RAW-level performance.

Great Sasuke/Dick Togo/El Gran Hamada
Pentagon/Gran Apache/Sasuke the Great

Its very strange seeing Dick Togo on the tecnico side of a six man after 1995. Dickmania's first match back in Mpro was an action packed brawl that didn't have any glaring problems but also didn't hold a candle to the "better" tag matches the promotion has held in the past. Most of the match was brawling, both in and around the ringside area by all six men. Pentagon and Hamada paired up because they have the whole ungrateful bastard-in-law angle going. Pentagon even did a big blade job to put over the feud although I couldn't tell just when it was that he was busted open. The in-ring wrestling highlight was a short armdrag exchange between Apache and Sasuke. Apache went with Sasuke's backwards spinning armdrags perfectly. Apache is such an underrated worker. Highspots came from a perfect Sasuke tope con hilo which was followed by a Hamada top rope plancha and wrapped up with Orihara/STG's great Asai Moonsault. The returning Togo would get the win for his team after his trademark pedigree and senton bomb combo on Sasuke The Great at 13:38. Everyone worked at a fast pace throughout and there were no missed spots but it lacked the focus and actual wrestling of the "better" Mpro tag matches. Still a fun match for what it was.

In the post match festivities Sasuke and Togo go back and forth on the house mic. Sasuke then calls out all the workers from the back and everyone shakes hands with Michinoku Pro's prodigal son.

While this show didn't have the greatness of 96-97 or 99-early 2000 Mpro it was a solid card from top to bottom with nothing you would want to fast forward to apart from the Tsubo Genjin match. I really need more 2001 Mpro.

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©2001 by the author