Super Delfin, The Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada, Gran Naniwa, & Tiger Mask IV vs. Dick Togo, TAKA Michinoku, Shiryu, MEN’s Teioh, & Shoichi Funaki (Michinoku Pro 12/9/96)

Match ReviewsSuper Delfin

Two months removed from the famous These Days tag, we get another ten-man tag pitting our home team against the evil forces of Kaientai Deluxe. This time, they’re fighting under elimination rules. Eliminations can happen via pinfall, submission, or getting thrown over the top rope to the floor.

It’s a great match, but there’s a few things hindering it from the get go. The first is that the broadcast I have of this is clipped. I lose a few minutes at the start of the match when it’s joined in progress, and then a few more later on. Most of the last two acts are complete, but there’s enough of a void here that gets in the way of the pacing and build up that these Michinoku Pro tags are so adept at.

The second is the stipulation. I actually quite love big elimination tags like this, and it’s a fun way to introduce a new wrinkle into the pretty well defined Michinoku Pro tag formula. However, the stipulation combined with the footage being clipped leaves a lot of the early match feeling somewhat rushed and disjointed.

In fact, even though all the action’s quite good for the whole match, very little stands out during the first few eliminations. They all pass by in a blur, which at least does us the favor of keeping things moving at a good pace. They also keep things pretty even numbers-wise for much of that early match so no team ever really gets a long advantage. Nothing in the match really feels all that substantial and juicy until the elimination of Gran Hamada.

At that point, the match turns into more of a trios match and Kaientai Deluxe settle into a heat segment which they pull off wonderfully as always. Again, that sense of danger and coordination makes them so great to watch in these tag settings especially because it always feels like the tecnicos never quite have that same level of cohesion. That’s proven again when Togo catches an attempted Sasuke Special and dumps Sasuke to the floor to turn this into a handicap.

There’s an excellent heat segment on Naniwa who’s just a real natural babyface in peril. Being a bumbling villainous type really prepped him well to become this earnest, charming babyface that knows exactly how to draw the sympathy of a crowd. Every time he kicked out of KDX’s offense, it set my heart racing.

Unlike the These Days tag, our hero Delfin has a much more central role to this match. As part of the final two members of the babyface team with Naniwa, he plays the hot tag to Naniwa’s face in peril. And boy, is it great to see Delfin play in this role. Since Kaientai Deluxe’s run of control in this match goes much longer than it does at These Days, Delfin’s hot tag feels so much more impactful and exhilarating here than it did then. At the same time, watching him and Naniwa work in tandem as Naniwa played the constant nuisance to the heels made my heart race. Those two have such a wonderful dynamic together and watching them work together, without much error or mistake, towards a shared goal felt so gratifying.

Delfin’s eliminated before Naniwa, yet again falling victim to a low blow, this time from MEN’s Teioh. It’s fine as the match wraps up soon after with Naniwa getting a final elimination before Togo wins the whole thing.

While this match can’t quite reach These Days’ heights, the stipulation makes it distinct and creates more substantial avenues for drama. Delfin and Naniwa especially put in much stronger performances here than their already great ones at These Days. The added tension of the elimination stip meant that every nearfall felt massive, and seeing our two heroes work to overcome this huge force is the stuff of wrestling magic.

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