Super Delfin, Gran Naniwa, & TAKA Michinoku vs. The Great Sasuke, Tiger Mask IV, & Shiryu (Michinoku Pro 3/16/96)

Match ReviewsSuper Delfin

Here’s a big one, often touted as one of the seminal matches of 90s Michinoku Pro. It’s not hard to see why given the stacked cast of characters here plus just how great the match ends up being by the end. The match also represents a rather fascinating shift from the other matches that we’ve covered in the project so far.

To this point, the Michinoku Pro trios I’ve watched come with a healthy dose of comedy and lighthearted bits that work incredibly well with all the bright and colorful workers involved. This trios, however, is played mostly straight with a real heavy emphasis on action and how that affects the storytelling around it.

Before we talk about that lovable rascal Delfin, there’s some very big plot points here worth addressing first. One simple visual change that demands attention is Shiryu’s change in gear. Gone is the fur lining, leaving him now with a much sleeker and intimidating blue and white outfit that foretells things to come. The important thing to note here is the presence of Dick Togo (the once SATO) and MEN’S Teioh in Shiryu’s corner, as Kaientai.

The early segments of the match center on just everyone pairing up and feeling out their opponents. It’s a lot of the classic lucha-inspired exchanges that make these Michinoku Pro tags so fun. Even here, there’s an attention to detail that makes for a richer experience. Take, for instance, the first interaction between TAKA and Tiger Mask IV. It plays out clean for the most part, until TAKA escalates the aggression with a big elbow to the face at the climax of the exchange.

Things take an even sharper turn later on when Shiryu nails a low blow on Naniwa early in the match. It’s a shock to the system coming from a wrestler on the tecnico end of things. It’s done so swiftly that there’s no mistaking it as an accident either. The foul clearly drives a wedge between Sasuke and Shiryu on the outside–a tension that places extreme focus on Shiryu and his role in the match to come.

What follows might be one of the most straightforward and effective rudo heat segments from this particular trio yet. Instead of bumbling about and crashing into each other, Delfin and Naniwa actually work together incredibly well to seize control of the match by isolating Sasuke. A lot of the older mistakes the two make as a team aren’t present here at all, giving them the feel of a much more seasoned, and smarter unit than ever before. One thing that illustrates this is TAKA and Delfin having the mindfulness to hold Sasuke down in place when Naniwa attempts the crab walk elbow drop. Instead of having to chase his target on the ropes, Naniwa nails it perfectly without any issue at all.

Hell, the heat segment even endures past Tiger Mask IV rushing in to swap out with Sasuke. The rudos stay in charge until a big burst of offense from the tecnico team finally turns the tide. From there, things lead into the standard Michinoku Pro fireworks display that we’ve come to expect. One segment stands out though as a rather heated exchange between Delfin and Shiryu takes center stage late in the match. It very much centers Shiryu and showcases his toughness as he works to endure a combo of moves from Delfin. What Delfin brings to this segment is how well he protects his signature offense.

Part of how Delfin is able to afford Shiryu so many great nearfalls in this segment is because it takes a few tries to nail the move just right. When Delfin first goes for the tornado DDT off the top, he does so without the stiff punch he usually uses to set it up, thus leaving Shiryu lucid enough to pop right back up from the move. It drives Delfin to be a little more straightforward with a backdrop suplex, and yet another tornado DDT, this time of the pop up variety. When Delfin finally hits the tornado DDT flush–complete with the set up punch–and locks in the Delfin Clutch, it takes The Great Sasuke flying in from nowhere the break up the hold. Delightful attention to detail in such a small sequence.

A real accomplishment from all six-men, and a key part of the Michinoku Pro canon for a reason.

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