Puroresu Pulse, issue 81.2


Section 1- The return, Korakuen & Shops

Everything was in place for me to return. Plane tickets by way of airline miles accumulated through my parents’ business, the Golden twins (Alex and Rich) to provide company and Japanese skill, and just enough vacation time so I could afford to miss two weeks of work. This time I flew into Tokyo Narita airport, which is in Tokyo much the same way that the Meadowlands are in New York City. My first night I wasn’t able to do anything wrestling-related, as by the time I reached my hotel I’d long since missed opening bell for the night’s shows.

First destination on the morning of the 9th was Korakuen Hall, seen here as the 5th floor of the blue building next to the dome. Tickets were required for the evening’s HUSTLE show, and unlike last year we bought our tickets from the box office. There’s an odd quirk to how the box office works: on the first floor is a smaller one that opens for evening shows but is otherwise closed. On the 5th floor, next to the arena, is the main office that operates during normal business hours. First thing to jump out is the posters for upcoming Korakuen events. Then is a small area where you can make transactions with the office workers. This is possible for gaijin thanks to handy seating charts, color-coded by price and with said code listed right on the page. Point to the seats you want, fork over some yen and you’ve got tickets.

On the far left of the picture is the chart for the HUSTLE show. We went for cheaper 5000 yen seats (orange) but could have been on camera for 2000 yen more. Since the ‘action’ isn’t the core of HUSTLE shows we decided to save cash, but in hindsight there were some very good seats in the pink section and that would have meant face time. Also purchased were Dragon Gate tickets (middle section of the picture), two in the top pink section. I wish I’d taken a picture of the office, it’s very staid. Here are some more posters, and here is Daisuke Ikeda hanging ten. Tell me you don’t love that poster and I’ll call you a liar.

Second destination was the puro shops located in the area. I didn’t think to look last year, but when I did they kinda stood out. There are four or five; we found four. The one pictured had lots of action figures, there was one dedicated to tape rental that had essentially every commercial tape ever (including no less than the Giant Baba anime show), there was one with a wide variety of merchandise that I purchased some magazines and promotional guides from. Oh and New Japan’s Toukon Shop, shown with Alex Golden for reference. It’s actually just the second floor, as were other shops. Highlights of the shop include a NOAH poster at the front entrance?!, lots of signatures, and a really badass mosaic.

Oh and by the way, almost everything was way expensive. Such is Japan.

Section 2- HUSTLE

This was my second Korakuen show, following the *stellar* 8/19/05 NOAH show. Pre-show I got to say hello to Amazing Kong and Mark Jindrak as they walked to the venue. The seats we got were cheaper and not quite as good relative to NOAH, but as far as seeing the show went the savings were worth it. Comparing the seating chart when we bought seats to the show attendance, it looked like no tickets were sold after ours, meaning zero ‘walk-up’. A look at the ‘HUSTLE Army’ side of the arena, and the Monster Army side. Here’s a shot taken during the pre-show ‘trainees’ match. Here’s Razor Ramon HG, whose popularity is on the wane and who recently got married to his very female girlfriend. FUUUUUUUUU~. Here’s HG and Caiya, an American-Japanese star known for playing a stereotypical US bitch. She and Yoji Anjo had an”¦ interesting mic battle.

First match Hustle Rangers Red, Blue & Yellow (who I suspect is King Shisa/Pentagon Black) versus Frog Lesnar and the evil Maestros. Pre-match there was a video to set up the Monster Army’s use of Frog Lesnar, with lots of jokes at New Japan’s expense. They mentioned not being able to get Lesnar and pondered having a tournament to see who would replace him. At least that’s what I could pick up, they were speaking Japanese after all. Early match, showdown between Lesnar and the ever-popular Yellow. Match was decent thanks to Frog playing the anti-Lesnar and Yellow being all sorts of fun.

Second ‘match’ was Zero-One’s Masato Tanaka and spaz-boy Namiguchi against Wataru Sakata, who was involved in a 2-on-3 handicap the night before. Tanaka backed out but handed Namiguchi his powder-filled guitar. The result. Match three was a tag title match featuring HG sidekick RG along with TG (Tatsutoshi Goto) against Erica (Aja Kong using her real name) and Margaret (Amazing Kong). Reading Aja’s Wikipedia article is quite interesting because it turns out her father is an African-American, explaining a lot about why she stands out so much in the joshi world. It’s also quite humorous to know how accurate my college roommate Jeff’s nickname for her was. Despite the cool tag belts the match was nothing special and Goto left after exactly five minutes, leading to an inevitable result.

Match four got a big reaction when it was announced to the crowd: Tenryu vs Kohei Sato. Match was rather pedestrian, got capped off by some brainbusting, and led to respect for Sato. Main event was Tajiri, Ohtani & Kanemura versus Kawada, Jindrak & Giant Vobo (Hiroshi Nagao). Kawada was less than impressed by Ohtani, though Jindrak got his face cleaned. Finish was a Yinling run-in leading to a fire extinguisher and an Ohtani missile dropkick for the pin.

Post-match the HUSTLE army gathered around Yinling, while the Monster army gathered around cancer archfoe Takada. By the way I saw that billboard a year earlier (it’s in Harajuku) but I failed to get a pic of it, thank goodness it’s still there. The HUSTLE army watched in horror as Takada revealed the Monster number two”¦ Tenryu (on Takada’s right). Afterwards there was the HUSTLE HUSTLE cheer and squat. Oh Yinling you sound like an annoying priss but I’m willing to overlook it.

After the show we hung out with four Aussies who were seated directly in front of us. The Aussies were also at the Dragon Gate show, and one of them was at the first New Japan show. Outside the arena we had a quick chat with Amazing Kong and I got her to sign my ticket. I also saw some framed autographs hung in the first floor gift shop, including non-kanji signatures from Anthony W. Mori and KENTA. The Aussies took us to a wrestling bar, which featured a big-screen showing the HUSTLE show. The screening re-enforced how sub-par the show itself was, but thankfully the extracurriculars made up for it.

Section 3- DDT

Dynamic Dream Team is the ‘top of the bottom’, one of the most storied and stable of the J-indies. As the only game in town on the 10th, I went alone and paid them a visit at tiny Shin Kiba 1st Ring. Finding it was no small feat, either. Shin Kiba is an obscure little stop on the Tokyo subway system, and then I had to locate the opening in the block near the train station where the venue is tucked away. Shin Kiba, one might say, is on the wrong side of the tracks.

500 yen gets you a seata seat anywhere you can find one, and the cheapness is made up for by purchasing the cuisine of one Jun Inokuma. 500 yen for yakitori (sticks o’ chicken) or non-corn dogs? Yum! Wash it down with either a cold one (for 600 yen) or some drinks from a nearby vending machine and it’s still a cheap as hell show. Inokuma-san will even clean up after your filth.

Pre-show some of the wrestlers introduced themselves, including Muscle Sakai and Danshoku Dino (seen here just before he began sexually harassing Masami Morohashi). Dino and Morohashi bumped heads and had to be helped out. Match 1 featured HERO and his posing and Yasu Urano of K-Dojo. Match two was a somewhat generic young lions bout. Then, less than an hour in, we got a long intermission. If only I hadn’t gotten refreshments during match two! I should note that this sign was not followed even a little bit.

Semi-main had Muscle Sasaki, Masami Morohashi as Danshoku Dino and some other guy against Seiya Morohashi (top), Masami Morohashi (bottom, actually Danshoku Dino) and Tanomusaku Toba (far left with the gloves). Masami and Dino switched personalities due to bumping heads. Masami thus smooched crowd members, copped a feel and went for the junk. Dino fell victim to a brutal pantsing. Oh the humanity. Why am I so transfixed by Dino’s ass? Why am I equally transfixed by Masami’s ass? Anyway, Dino won with Masami’s finisher, they switched back, and Dino gave everyone his patented face-down-the-trunks Danshoku Driver. Truly fun for the whole family.

Main event was HARASHIMA (middle with a suit) against Moribe, who did an Eddie tribute. Solid main event featuring some body part work and HARASHIMA’s nifty Sobatto finisher. Post-show what the hell is Nabisco feeding the Japanese? And also the best milk chocolate 100 yen and/or Prince Nana can buy.

Section 4- Dragon Gate

Back to Korakuen on the 11th. This show was centered around the start of the round-robin tournament for the trios titles. We were seated facing the hard cam but I doubt we’ll make it on-screen, to say nothing of the fact that if any of the show airs it will likely be clipped up. Here are some banners and here are some more and some mini-banners and the ring before the show and the ‘North’ sign which I was one row in front of. Like HUSTLE there was no walk-up attendance, but there were also a decent number of empty seats that weren’t available at the box office. A better look at the main section of Korakuen seating. Kanda, who replaced Magnum Tokyo in the tournament, shakes hands with his partners.

First match was Do Fixer (Ryo Saito/Genki Horiguchi/Dragon Kid) versus Quasi-Blood Generation (CIMA/BB Hulk/Jack Evans). Hulk got his usual entrance featuring hotties, though he was as always the prettiest one in the ring. Ryo and CIMA locked up leading to a bridge. After some action Jack Evans did what he’s known for and that led to the pin. A fine opening sprint. Then came the comedy stylings of Tozawa Juku Deluxe against K-Ness & Az (of JAPW). The usual Tozawa antics ensued, highlighted by the HURRAH HURRAH TOZAWA cheer. Right team won.

Third match was a squash, Muscle Outlaw’z taking down My Three Shisas in short order. Post-match they kept attacking until Mori led Tozawa Juku to the save. A hasty 4-on-3 handicap was made, and MO’z won that too, looking quite monstrous in the process. After that match the Tozawa Juku flag was snapped, causing flag-bearer guy to hit the ring and lecture his stablemates. Then we got intermission, wherein I took shots of the East entrance curtain on my way to get pictures from the balcony. Also I waded through eye-watering clouds of smoke in the hallway.

Only one match after the intermission but it was a dandy. Final M2K’s team of Yokosuka, Arai and recently-debuted Onodera took on ‘Renaissance’ (Mochizuki/Fujii/Kanda) in the main event. Onodera was the focus, as he had to fight through traditional young lion punishment. In the end he took the loss but the crowd was behind him all the way, much like they backed Hashi a year earlier. Post-match Mochizuki gave Yokosuka leadership of M2K. All-in-all this show was considerably more satisfying than the Dragon Gate show I saw last year in Odaiba, and it was also better than a heck of a lot of their shows from the last twelve months. Hopefully they air it somewhat complete.

Section 5- Obligatory shill

Parting shot: Harajuku cosplayers show their Jumbo luv