KYUSHU PRO WRESTLING
TOKYO LAUNCH BATTLE – GOING TO TOKYO
JANUARY 3, 2022
Kyushu Pro is based out of Fukuoka on Kyushu Island in Southwestern Japan and was formed in 2007. It’s run by K-DOJO alum Ryota Chikuzen (AKA Makai #2 in New Japan). Kyushu Pro is a fun company that regularly puts their events on YouTube and works with promotions like 2AW, All Japan, Dragongate, GLEAT, HEAT-UP and Michinoku Pro. No other company out there can get away with working with Dragongate and GLEAT, but somehow Kyushu Pro does it.
Kyushu Pro has made the trek to Tokyo for the first time ever to put on a show during the biggest week of pro wrestling of the year in Japan.
KODAI NOZAKI DEF. TATSUYA HANAMI (8:30)
Hanami is a promising young 2AW wrestler that I’ve written about before. Nozaki is one of those beefy but not that tall guys you see often on Japanese indies. The story here was simple. Nozaki is a big guy and Hanami is much smaller. Hanami also happens to be a great seller and did a lot of it here. After taking a lot from Nozaki, Hanami mounted a comeback in the last few minutes using his speed and technique. Nozaki powered out of a grounded Sleeper Hold, hit a Death Valley Driver for a near fall, hit a leg drop from the middle rope for another. Hanami then tried some cradles and an Enziguri but Nozaki no-sold and hit a big Spear for the three count. Good opener. ***¼
THREE WAY MATCH
NAOKI SAKURAJIMA DEF. BATTEN X BURABURA & GABAI JI-CHAN (6:08)
Gabai Ji-chan is an indie favorite of mine. He does a masked gimmick of an old man complete with a big fake beard and a cane. Though he acts like he can barely move to start off a match, he’ll then start pulling out a bunch of high-flying moves. Sakurajima started off his career in Osaka Pro and was trained by Atsushi Maruyama (AKA Izanagi and Tigers Mask). Burabura is a Kyushu Pro original, and debuted in 2007. His gimmick seems to be a cross between MEN’S Teioh and Randy Savage (he came out to Pomp and Circumstance).
Before the match, they ran a video where Gabai Ji-chan went to the wrong place and Gurukun Mask was there and told him where the show actually was. They then showed a clip as the match started of Gabai-chan slowly walking through the streets of Tokyo.
Burabura was in control of the match but then Gabai Ji-chan’s music hit and he slowly walked to the ring. Gabai Ji-chan accidently hit Burabura with his cane and then did a cane-assisted rope walk to Sakurajima but got crotched on the ropes. This allowed Sakurajima to surprise Burabura with a German Suplex Hold for the win. There wasn’t much to this match, it was more of an angle, but Burabura and Sakurajima did some decent stuff before Gabai Ji-chan got there. I’m not the biggest comedy fan but I did laugh at this. **½
MINORU TANAKA [D0 E4] DEF. HITAMARU SASAKI [D4 E1] (10:53)
Under Lidet’s UWF rules used in GLEAT, each wrestler gets five points to start which can be lost by rope break or knockdown. This got some video packages to make it feel like it was a big deal. Lots of grappling on the ground to start. Sasaki forced the first rope break of the match from Tanaka and controlled the opening minutes of the match. But slowly but surely, the Jr. legend took control, getting the first knockdown of the match on Sasaki with a high kick. Both men eventually wore down each other to one point each. Tanaka unleashed a palm strike flurry and used two high kicks to knockdown Sasaki for the TKO. This was not Kiyoshi Tamura vs. Volk Han, but it was a fun little shoot style match if you are into that.
After the match, Saski also had some words with Takanori Ito and Soma Watanabe who seconded Tanaka. Perhaps this will carry over into GLEAT. ***½
MENTAI ☆ KID & SUGI DEF. KAGETORA & TARO NOHASHI (12:12)
This was billed as a Toryumon reunion match of sorts. Mentai ☆ Kid debuted in Kyushu Pro back in 2008, but he received training Ultimo Dragon. He’s worked on a few Dragongate shows over the years. Nohashi is from the Toryumon X class and is a Michinoku Pro regular these days. Kagetora and SUGI were Toryumon X guys as well.
This was what you’d expect from these guys, but I mean that in the nicest way possible. After a flashy start from everyone involved, Kid got worked over by Kagetora. After that, the match became a flurry of big move after big move. Kid pinned Nohashi with the Mentai ☆ Splash (a Firebird Splash). After the match Kid cut a promo and everyone shook hands.
This was a ton of fun and a nice little Dragon System tribute. ***½
KYUSHU PRO CHAMPIONSHIP THREE WAY
GENKAI DEF. KENGO MASHIMO © & GAINA (12:12)
Mashimo has been the champion since last July when he beat Genkai for the title in a three way that also had GAINA in it. He made one defense of the title in 2AW last October against Hitamaru Sasaki. Genkai debuted all the way back in 1998 in Wrestle Yume Factory, an indie which I remember as having a modest cult following online back then. He is the Kyushu Pro ace. GAINA, the former Kazuya Yuasa, debuted in 1999 in Michinoku Pro. He worked a lot for Osaka Pro in the mid-2000s before returning to Michinoku Pro as his homebase, though he’s technically a freelancer. Mashimo, the most well-known wrestler in this match, is the long-time K-DOJO ace, now a veteran hand in 2AW. He’s been plagued by injury the past few years but is still great.
GAINA used his size and power moves to gain the advantage at first. Then Genkai and Mashimo traded stiff strikes. This featured a lot of your standard three-way spots like someone getting knocked out of the ring, or finally getting back in to break up a pin or submission at the last second.
Genkai kept getting knocked out of the ring by GAINA or Mashimo. But he made a valiant return and speared GAINA while GAINA had Mashimo up in a Fireman’s Carry. After everyone hit big moves on each other for an extended period with a bunch of near falls, Genkai managed to knock GAINA out of the ring just long enough to deliver a Northern Lights Bomb then a Superman Punch to pin Mashimo and win the Kyushu Pro title for the fourth time.
This started off pretty formulaic, but everyone worked hard (and they’re all in their 40s). The closing stretch was pretty intense with a few false finishes that I bit on. I could quibble that GAINA didn’t need to be in this, but it’s not like this match was for the GHC title or Triple Crown or something like that. ***¾
In a good sign for Kyushu Pro, this show drew 242 to Shinjuku FACE which is just about the limit you can have in there right now with pandemic restrictions.
I’ve watched a lot of puroresu already this year, but this may have been the show that I had the most fun watching. There were no match of the year contenders, but the production values, as always with Kyushu Pro, were great for an indie. The comedy mostly landed with me, which doesn’t always happen. The show was also helped by featuring a number of different wrestling styles. The YouTube file is a little over two hours, but you can watch it in less time by skipping the intermission.
Adopt a New Year’s Resolution that Kyushu Pro will be part of your regular wrestling viewing habits in 2022.