Super Delfin, The Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada, Gran Naniwa, & Masato Yakushiji vs. Dick Togo, TAKA Michinoku, Shiryu, MEN’s Teioh, & Shoichi Funaki (Michinoku Pro 12/16/96)

Match ReviewsSuper Delfin

The keyword that I’ve been using when describing Kaientai Deluxe in these 96 tags has been “dangerous.” In comparison to past rudo combos in MPro that we saw from 94-95, there’s a tougher side to these guys that make them such an imposing challenge for our heroes. A big part of that is the unity of purpose that they move with. Their actions always feel so coordinated and unified that it’s hard for the tecnicos to find a winning strategy against them, no matter how skilled they may be.

For the first time in the matches I’ve watched, it seems that the tecnicos have finally figured out how to match that aggression. Typically Michinoku Pro tags open with the wrestlers working their way through various pairings and feeling out the opposition in generally clean opening exchanges. Things start grimy here with Hamada getting right into TAKA’s face and engaging him before the bell even rings.

The entire match follows this grittier tone. Usually, the tecnicos play a very clean, structured game of cycling through their tags, engaging the opposition one-on-one until things begin to break down. This time, there’s a rougher side to the babyfaces. This match becomes less about those beautiful, smooth lucha-inspired action, and far more about scrappy struggles for control.

Key to this idea is that the tecnicos work much harder to dictate the pace of the match as a team. In something like the These Days tag, all the tecnicos seem rather pleased to work as individuals at first until Kaientai Deluxe’s tactics force a change on their part. Here, they’re a far more proactive bunch. More than once, the home team work to drag opponents into their corner.

They get to do far more of the isolation and control than in previous iterations of this match. There’s also action beats like Sasuke tossing TAKA into the chairs in the crowd that really stand out in comparison to earlier in the feud. There’s also some particularly nasty offense early on such as Naniwa dropping Shiryu straight onto his head with a gruesome backdrop suplex. They also get a little measure of revenge on KDX’s flashier offense when multiple people grab a hold on one rudo at once, in a nice reflection of the signature Kaientai Deluxe pose.

The rudos really struggle to find any kind of sustained advantage. Much of the first half plays out as a really competitive back and forth. Even though we see some of the classic KDX offense–the swarm leading into the flex pose, the multiple double stomps, etc.–it takes them a long time to finally get some continued offense going. It’s about halfway through the match’s total runtime when they’re finally able to isolate Sasuke for long enough to actually do some damage. It’s at this point that Kaientai Deluxe also rise to the challenge of the heroes’ increased aggression, tossing a chair right onto Sasuke’s head.

But again, there’s this overwhelming sense that the tides have turned on this night. The babyfaces make their comeback and things breakdown into the big bomb fest we’ve come to expect. But this finishing stretch feels far more purposeful than ever before. For one, it’s here that we get my personal favorite moment with Delfin in the match. He’s been great, just mechanically speaking, throughout the whole thing. He slots in as a great and credible member of the team but it’s in the finishing stretches where he shines the most.

For one, he really is a tremendous hot tag. He’s all blazing fury, knocking the heels down, it’s so satisfying to watch. There’s also a segment that really tugs on the heart as he and Sasuke work in unison to double team the rudos. Considering this project started with those two as opponents and they’ve been regular rivals since, seeing them work together to topple the massive challenge of Kaientai Deluxe was everything I want from wrestling.

Delfin gets his signature torando DDT and locks in the Delfin Clutch, but as always in these big tags, gets cut off by Dick Togo. It’s here that the match pulls off one of its greatest tricks as Dick Togo has been the difference maker in these tags. When he comes off the top rope for his senton, it’s been game over for the babyfaces consistently. That’s what makes it so, so damn good when he’s setting up on the top rope and someone fully launches at steel chair at him to stop the senton. From there, it’s that fireball Yakushiji that takes him out of commission and opens the door for veteran Hamada to secure the big victory.

It’s an amazing match, the perfect culmination to the Kaientai Deluxe vs. Michinoku Pro rivalry that’s played out at the top of the card in the company all year long. It almost feels wrong to center Delfin in this match–as great as he is–because it truly isn’t about one performer. The match is all about team work, coming together for a common cause and breaking through to solve a problem like Kaientai Deluxe. It’s a big babyface win in December, probably one of the matches that most feels like Christmastime to me just on first viewing.

As far as Michinoku Pro tags go, These Days may be The Big One, but this is The Best One.

IS IT BETTER THAN 6/3/94? Sure is. Don’t think 6/3/94 really has anything on the way this match is constructed, not to mention this match’s result and finish giving it a far more euphoric vibe than a continued Kawada tragedy. And hey, this has head drops in it too, nothing to top Kawada’s Tiger Driver 91 bump, but if that’s what you want out of wrestling, you’ll find it here as well.

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