Sunday, May 3, 2009

Okinawa Pro 1/10/2009

So what is Okinawa Pro? I guess we have to start with Super Delfin. Delfin was/is a pretty popular guy who wrestles a lucha style. He met a lot of success in the 90's doing well in New Japan's 1994 Best of the Super Juniors Tournament, and being apart of the big Michinoku Pro boom. In 1998, he set up Osaka Pro which was to be a regional promotion for the Osaka Prefecture. The company is still in business and doing pretty well, having built a very faithful fan base inside Osaka and out. Check them out if you can. So the Okinawa Prefecture wanted to do something similar. What they wanted was a fun promotion that would draw attention and tourists to the city, and Delfin has become a center piece to developing this idea.

Both companies work in a lucha influenced style and both are geared towards the family audience. Okinawa Pro, however gears its wrestlers much more to children with most of it's roster consisting of strange and fun masked gimmicks like pirates, pigs, and pineapples. While they utilize a lot of lucha maneuvers, the matches are pretty light hearted with many comedic elements. It's that kind of "comedic competitive" style that one would call an acquired taste. Nothing too intense, but the roster, from what I've seen is pretty slick and crisp - the kind of wrestling that kids can watch until they're ready to watch the real deal Holyfield kind of stuff that makes them want to headdrop their buddies on a trampoline.

As I mentioned, Okinawa Pro is set up to sell folks on coming to the city, and the television show reflects that. In between matches we get to see the wrestlers out and about going to different local dives, and generally showing off what the city has to offer. For the Japanophile, this can be pretty fun, as you get to see interesting places not called Tokyo, and with goofy masked wrestlers as your tour guide.

Also, their venue is FREAKING SWEET. It's small but it's really fun and reminds me of the Angel Grove Youth Center from the old Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

Menso~re Oyaji vs. Kanmuriwashi Yoko
Oyaji is the goofy underdog who gains fighting spirit from some beverage. He does a wobbly rope rock that is kind of humorous. The guys are very athletic and move well, but the match isn't particularly inspiring. I'd say it would probably be more fun to actually watch it live where you can get into the action with a bunch of other people who just want to have fun. Yoko kind of has a kick boxer shtick and he hits everything really well. I mean seriously, these guys may not blow you away with insane workrate stuff, but they're crisp and they move well. There's plenty of guys on the larger national stage who can't do that. I thought Oyaji was going to be kind of a sloppy joke but he does handle himself well, and hits a really nice spring board dropkick. It's one of those moves that has kind of been taken for granted I think. Juniors hit that stuff all the time, but I think people don't appreciate them nearly as much. Oyaji hits a flashy sunset flip the win and we're moving on.

Goya Mask vs. Kijimuna vs. Agu
Agu is the guy in the pig mask. Kijimuna is some kind of Forest Demon, and Goya Mask is the frog with the cape. AND this is all for their prestigious UWA approved, MWF recognized Junior Heavyweight Title. It's basically a title that Delfin held on to for a long time and now uses for this company. Agu plays a good power guy and never really looks out of breath or out of shape. Which is impressive, because he's a portly little porker. Goya is pretty much the hero in peril and flops around for Agu's headbutts. Seriously, I think I really Really like Agu. He's quick and agile and fat. He's also got a great rolling senton. Not a whole lot of triple threat chain moves or stuff like that. It's mostly them trading off different combs of one on one action. Goya seems a little boring to me until he explodes with a BARREL ROLL OVER THE TOP TO THE OUTSIDE!!!!!! It's kind of wild because this place does not lend itself to dives to the outside at all, with the audience being so close. They don't seem to mind as they all just snap some pictures off. Goya has another neat move where he wedges Kijimuna in between the first and second turnbuckle and then springs off the second turnbuckle with a double foot stomp. It's kind of cool. Agu is dropping folks with spears and Michinoku Drivers and I swear he's awesome. No, really. At one point he finds himself down and Kijimuna goes up top but is met by Goya Mask. While they battle, Agu runs up and does a double back body drop from the TOP! It looked pretty cool. They trade off some big moves as she heads to the finish. Goya Mask hits a huge flying cross body from the top that hits Agu SQUARE IN THE SNOUT. It did not look comfortable, and Kijimuna gives the porker a backcracker to send him rolling out of the ring. Goya Mask surprises the red devil with a big jump kick to the face for the win. GOYA MASK RETAINS! GOYA MASK RETAINS!

I'm not joking when I say this was fun. All the guys had there moments. But alas, you can only get like 75 people soooo excited, you know? But those folks were into it in those closing moments. Good match.

Super Delfin, Captain “Churaumi Pirates” Zack & Mil Mongoose vs. Kaijin Habu Otoko, Shisaou & Golden Pine

Golden Pine is a fruity Pineapple guy, and people dig him. His partners both look like they mean business. I'm actually really excited about this. Golden Pine keeps trying to feel up Delfin's junk. They go for a chop battle and when it's Pine turn he gently rubs his hand down Delfin's body. Delfin = Not Pleased. Then they go for a test of strength. They lock up one hand and then before they lock up the others Pine rubs down Delfin's junk again. Delfin = Mildly Confused. Eventually pine gets kicked to the outside and seeks refuge in a ring side fan's lap. Where as the last match was a little more competitive this one is heavy on comedy spots early on. Once Mongoose gets in there it kind of settles on some face in peril action. They do a lot of double teaming until Mongoose is ready to make his comeback. I like Mongoose, he's another one of those guys who moves really well in the ring and guys like Shisaou and Kaijin are stout enough but agile enough to be good bases. Speaking of Kaijin, I wonder where I've seen him before. He's easily the best guy in the ring. He's got a slick moveset with some call outs to Keiji Mutoh, like the dragon neck screw. He also hits a HOT Running Wizard to an oncoming Captain Zach.

The finishing stretch is fun with a good combination of comedy spots, like a six man german suplex chain, and some false finishes. Some of the best stuff happens when Mongoose and Kaijin are in the ring, and I'm welling to be they work together a lot. Poor Mongoose gets hit with a lot of offense and is eventually put away with a cross arm powerbomb by Shisaou.

Not really as good as the last match, but some of the exchanges was fun. Mongoose was the whipping boy but he's no bum. Definitely one of the more energetic people on the roster. And I know Kaijin wrestles as somebody else somewhere, and when I figure it out you'll know.

OVERALL: The Show is fun, and refreshing if you spend a lot of time watching the more famous promotions. I wouldn't go in with expectations of being blown away with mind blowing spots, as it's a little more simple and basic. I've watched way worse by bigger companies than the three matches on this card. So have you probably.

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