Super Delfin, Gran Hamada, Gran Naniwa, Tiger Mask IV, & Masato Yakushiji vs. Dick Togo, TAKA Michinoku, Shiryu, MEN’s Teioh, & Shoichi Funaki (Michinoku Pro These Days 10/10/96)

Match ReviewsSuper Delfin

As far as Michinoku Pro tags are concerned, this is The Big One.

This comes from the most famous Michinoku Pro show of all time, These Days. It’s a big event for the company, held in the ever so prestigious Sumo Hall. In the 90s, this may have been the most circulated Michinoku Pro event among a certain generation of tape traders, and this ten man tag is often the key attraction that people point to on the show.

It’s a great place to look for Michinoku Pro action especially given how stacked the line up is. On the tecnico side, we have a ragtag group of heroes, many of whom we’ve covered already, but with the inclusion of Gran Hamada and Masato Yakushiji. Meanwhile, the rudos are the big bad of 1996 Michinoku Pro, Kaientai Deluxe. It’s always great when entrances and gear can tell us a lot about the participants of a match before the bell gets going. All the tecnicos enter individually, and they wear their own standard gear of varying styles and colors. Kainetai Deluxe emerge as one, all clad in their signature blue gear.

Structurally, it’s not all that different from the big Michinoku Pro tags that we’ve already covered. The opening moments are dedicated to initial pairings feeling each other out, setting a good pace, with an emphasis on the babyfaces getting their shine. That continues to please the crowd until the rudos find a way to seize the advantage for an extended heat. Then, everything breaks down into a bunch of big spots.

What separates this from what we have seen so far is the tone of how that structured is applied. The opening exchanges move at a much quicker pace than usual, a lot of that thanks to Masato Yakushiji who just blazes through this match as an irrepressible ball of energy. He may just be the highlight of the tecnico team as all his offense is lightning fast and silky smooth, all the qualities you really want from a dazzling high flier.

There’s variety in tone here though as Hamada, Teioh, and Togo all bring a much more hard nosed flavor to the match. Togo especially is great at throwing hands while Teioh utilizes more of a power-based assault.

That brings me to the next quality that separates this from the usual Michinoku Pro tags: the heel heat. In the past, we’ve seen Delfin, Naniwa, and a rotating series of partners play more of bumbling villains. They crash into each other, the babyfaces always find a way to make fools of them, it’s easy to laugh at their misfortune.

In contrast, Kaientai DX easily feel like a pack of highly competent and coordinated aggressors in this match. They seize controls by utilizing the numbers game, and their attacks while in control involve a string of multi-man offense like multiple elbow drops or multiple double stomps. They really do feel like a well-oiled machine, and a cocky and brash one at that. The famous Kaientai DX heel pose over a downed opponent really is just one of the coolest things possible in wrestling.

Our hero Delfin doesn’t really stand out as one of the best workers in this match. Just on his own team both Naniwa nutting up against heavy hitters like TAKA or Yakushiji wrestling circles around the heels leave much stronger impressions. But that’s not to say Delfin was bad in this at all. His interactions early in the match with Shiryu work extremely well and harken back to their skirmishes in the January tag. Delfin also gets some nice moments in the final stretch such as doing DDTs in stereo with Naniwa or working to put TAKA away with two of his signature tornado DDTs.

It’s a nice bit of continuity that Delfin’s rivalry with Togo continues in this. Those two have real great natural chemistry and it’s a low blow from Togo here that earns Kaientai Deluxe a massive victory in Sumo Hall.

With the heel victory, I can’t help but suspect that there’s a better version of this match potentially waiting right around the bend. As great as this is, I feel like something a little tighter or a little more explosive at the end could be even better. Perhaps I’m just inventing an ideal version of this match in my head to compare it too, but I’d say that while I do think this is the best match we’ve covered so far, the gap between this and second place probably isn’t as wide as one might imagine.

That being said, it is a remarkably easy watch, and a fantastic showcase of every talent involved. All of it while making the most of the classic Michinoku Pro in-house style. Well worth going out of your way, if you haven’t already.

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