Full review of Osaka Pro Hurricane 2009 show

Every year, Osaka Pro Wrestling has held their biggest show, entitled “Osaka Hurricane”, at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. This is a review of the 2009 edition of the show from February 15th, headlined by Hideyoshi vs. Billy Ken Kid for the Osaka Pro Singles Title and featuring appearances from Ultimo Dragon, Dump Matsumoto, Stalker Ichikawa, KAZMA, Makoto Oishi, Shiori Asahi and the rest of the stars of Osaka Pro. What made this show so intriguing to a fan of the promotion like myself was one question: How would they manage without the influence of the wrestlers who had left in 2008 to join the Okinawa Pro promotion, the likes of Super Delfin, GAINA and Zero?

The following matches are taken from the Sky-A broadcast of the show which, from my version at least, omitted the Sasuke match. More info on that at the end.

Naoki Setoguchi vs. Kazuaki Mihara. This is a students match so I don't expect it to go particularly long. Mihara has been a regular fixture - and loser - on Osaka undercards for a while, while Setoguchi's been injured-prone and is returning here, although he is wearing some additional protection on his right shoulder. Setoguchi attempts to use the Boston crab early, clearly having watched numerous matches and worked out that all rookies tap to the move. It is also likely Setoguchi has only been active long enough to learn one move. Unfortunately, Mihara did not tap, so Setoguchi is screwed. True to form, Mihara shows his advanced skill by using a HALF BOSTON CRAB~! to win. What a technician. Just a rookie match, nothing of note really. I think Setoguchi hurt himself yet again after this.

Tsubasa & Ultimo Dragon vs. Orochi & Masamune. This is Ultimo's customary annual appearance for Osaka Pro. I would have bet my house he would not lose this match. The fact I know the result as I write this makes that statement significantly less impactful. Anyway, Orochi and Masamune are basically the lowest two in the Rudo Army, unless you really count The Bodyguard, but essentially they're... Condor and Masamune from the 2008 Hurricane show, really. Ultimo Dragon beat them there too. This match is joined in progress and clipped, as you'd expect. They did a funny spot early where Ultimo walked all over Orochi and made snake wine! Only half of that happened, though. Obviously Tsubasa ended up getting cut off. The rudos actually hit a couple of decent high impact moves, including a big rocker dropper from Masamune and a back-bump-o-rama of a missile dropkick from Orochi. Ultimo finally got in and basically won. Orochi tried to actually do a move on the man and that nearly resulted in him being put to sleep with the dragon sleeper. Tsubasa did the moonsault to the floor so Ultimo didn't have to and Ultimo pinned Orochi with the Asai DDT. Your standard fare from Ultimo Dragon, can't really say it shocked or disappointed me because it's exactly what I expected. I would have greatly preferred to have seen Tsubasa teaming with Cooger on this show, though, as those two wrestling Tigers and Buffalo for the tag belts would have ruled. This just seemed like a massive waste.

This wasn't shown, but apparently backstage Orochi went mad and attacked everyone, including Masamune, so Tigers Mask sent him to Nepal to chill out. He recently returned having "shed his skin" - perhaps a costume change or a new guy in the attire - and has gone undefeated, so I suppose this job was the start of an attempt to rehab him.

Dump Matsumoto, Kuishinbo Kamen, Ebessan III & Kyusei Ninja Ranmaru vs. Takaku Fuke, Miracle Man, Stalker Ichikawa & Kanjyouru Matsuyama. This is the traditional Osaka Pro Hurricane comedy match, which really I could do without nowadays as guys like Ebessan III and Matsuyama aren't brilliant, especially compared to past battles like the old Ebessan vs. Kuishinbo 2/3 falls matches. However, by bringing Dump and Ichikawa in things are a bit more interesting, plus we still have Kamen and Miracle, so we'll see. Miracle Man is walking around dressed in WAR ATTIRE. I'm talking MIRACLE MAN'S LEATHER JACKET, ladies and gentlemen. Ranmaru may be recognised by some for some CHIKARA appearances in early 2006, although I've never seen her name on any cards in a long, long time outside of occasional Osaka Pro spot shows. Dump has a swastika on her forehead, that's new.

The first move of the move falls to Fuke, who, true to form, pulls guard. Okay, things are off to a hot start. Dump responds by beating him with a cane, which even her own team mates aren't best pleased with. Dump takes these concerns on board, thinks about them deeply, then beats all of the opposition up with the weapon. Matsuyama and Ranmaru actually do some wrestling so Fuke, spotting their error, hops into the ring and pulls guard again (2). Because he's so passionate about it, each time he pulls guard his partners have to carry him out. Stalker comes in for the first time and immediately rules, coming up short by a mile with a short range crossbody. Any time a wrestler intentionally misses a move, that is always funny. Well, unintentionally too, D-Von Dudley etc. Ebessan and Stalker engage in deep conversation about something that would probably be brilliant if I understood it. Fuke leaps in and dances for some reason, variety perhaps. Kamen runs in and misses his flying headbutt charge, which again is always worth seeing. Miracle keeps trying to get Kamen to look away by pointing with the intent to cheap shot him, but Kamen is a relentless bull of a man and refuses to stop beating up Miracle. These two rule outside of comedy too. I demand more serious matches from them. Everyone except Dump does the M-Pro hop. I really wish Dump had done that. She tries after but it's just not the same. Stalker and Miracle team up to beat on Kamen's ass. I'm not joking, that happened. Any attempt to rephrase it would either make it more inaccurate or not change the dirtiness of the statement.

Ranmaru ends up in the ring with Matsuyama and Fuke and somehow manages to pause everyone, including the referee and the wrestlers in the apron. Oh, and an announcer. Dump stops all that shit by just hitting her with a cane. Matsuyama and Kamen engage in a session of fan slapping, which, as opposed to the more popular game of punching a spectator, instead literally involves slapping a foe with a hand fan. Rather disappointing. Kamen BEAT THE SHIT out of Matsuyama in this game, by the way. Miracle runs wild on the asses, again literally, of Ranmaru and Dump with DEATH THRUSTS which as far as I can tell involves making a gun motion with his hands and shooting the posterior of the victim. Members of the DUMP ENTOURAGE hit the ring and fall to a similar fate. Dead. All of them. Miracle even grabs some boobage in the melee. Interesting turn for the Miracle Man character. From beetle-based grappler in 2005 to pervert in 2009. In a GREAT spot Miracle tries to grab an opponent but each time they fall from the ring before he can hit a move. First Ranmaru, then Ebessan, then Kamen just doesn't bother stumbling and just slowly walks across the ring before hopping out. Matsuyama throws evil spider webbage on Dump but she eventually beats the shit out of him anyway and she gets the pin with a big fat splash onto Matsuyama and Stalker.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm not such a huge fan of these modern Osaka Pro comedy matches, and this was not one I'd recommend as a comedy classic, but by my low standards this was fine. No laugh out loud moments but numerous moments that simply made me smile. It did also seem to get better as it went on, or, if you like, as Miracle Man's perversion became much more apparent. What that says about me, I'm not quite sure.

Blood & Guts (Atsushi Kotoge, Daisuke Harada & Tadasuke) vs. Omega (Makoto Oishi, Shiori Asahi & KAZMA). This feud is between the future stars of Osaka Pro - B&G - and Kaientai Dojo - Omega. Up until this show Omega had dominated, and they probably had the most notable dude in the match as Oishi's a regular participant in matches for Big Japan Pro Wrestling and holds quite a few title belts on top of that. He's also got quite a bit of charisma, very entertaining wrestler who should really try and make it into Dragon Gate full-time at some point. Asahi's basically his life tag team partner, while KAZMA's the biggest dude in the match and may be familiar to PWG fans for his performance there in late 2008. Harada and Kotoge are, in my opinion, two of the most underappreciated young wrestlers in Japan today. Whether their home promotion of choice has any impact on that, I don't know (although the lack of love for Billy Ken Kid over the years suggests that does place a part), but they do need to be picked up by more promotions. Hopefully Kotoge's recent appearance(s) on MEN's Teioh's shows will lead to a BJW spot or something. Tadasuke, the lowest ranking member of B&G, appears to slowly be morphing into a version of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, as now not only does he have a leather jacket but he appears to be developing a... swagger, I guess. Asahi wins the prize for best ring entrance as he slides down the entrance ramp while lying front-first on a skateboard.

Things get started all hot and heavy early as B&G jump the heels and everyone pairs off to DO FIGHT~! until Tadasuke inevitably fails to dominate KAZMA and that leads to Kotoge getting worked over with a million moves, including some very nice double teams from Asahi and Oishi. Asahi beats the garbage out of Kotoge with his skateboard - always good - while Oishi does a dandy little dance in the ring. One thing of note is that Kotoge has cut and bleached his hair and thus looks startlingly like a more conservatively-dressed Shinobu, which may explain Oishi et al beating him up so much. Kotoge finally makes a DROPKICKTASTIC~! comeback and makes a hot tag to Harada, who quickly rules the school by suplexing Asahi and Oishi around. Things go a bit TNA all of a sudden as KAZMA no sells the POOOOOUNCE~! from Tadasuke and hits a Black Hole Slam. Kotoge tries a dive but gets foiled by Asahi so he runs the ropes startlingly fast before hitting a leg lariat. Oishi and Asahi go for the kill with kick combos but Kotoge's havin' none of it, with Harada even saving him from a Yoshi Tonic DOOM which pinned him in the past. They try the same thing on Harada but Tadasuke suplexes Oishi out of it, earning his spot as dogsbody of the group. After teasing the move a couple of times previously Kotoge finally hits a dive on KAZMA, which ruled, and Harada actually cleanly pins Oishi with a hip toss into a knee strike followed by the high angle bridging German suplex hold.

This match was GREAT fun. It was no super ace MEN's World exhibition, but it was a decent adaptation, as they kept all the fun and games from those matches and made it different by slowing it down, teasing some big spots that would pay off later and just adding a bit more traditional psychology to the proceedings. Everyone looked good, even Tadasuke who I've never really taken much notice of. He's still a way behind Kotoge and Harada, but they're both incredible prospects so it would be unfair to expect him to be up there with them. He's improved a lot. Interestingly, they've just recently been holding a Round Robin with Tadasuke, Harada and Kotoge to determine Oishi's next challenger. Harada, the man who pinned Oishi, is in danger of being eliminated. Superhero comeback and a challenge to Oishi? Oh yes. Good times ahead.

Riki Kanshu & Tatsumi Ebenami vs. Small Antonio Inoki & Honey Shinya. Yeah, no prizes for guessing what THIS match is. Riki Kanshu is Kanjyuro Matsuyama doing a Riki Choshu tribute, and he's fat enough to play Choshu, I can confirm that. Ebenami is shockingly Ebessan III playing Tatsumi Fujinami in a tribute to the man who taught him the true power of Muga World. They're accompanied by regular old Kuishinbo Kamen for no other reason than he just has to be there. Small Antonio Inoki is a small Antonio Inoki and Shinya is a Hashimoto... fan. Small Inoki has fabulous hair and is acting particularly manic so he should be made #1 contender to the Osaka Pro title. Ebenami and Inoki start off with a criss cross spot and MY GOD Small Antonio Inoki can run the ropes. It's entertainment in and of itself. The man leaps into the top rope and springs back and oh it's brilliant. Ebenami just can't compete. Inoki hits the ENZUIGIRI OF DEATH and Ebenami is done for. Kanshu comes in and walks right into an abdominal stretch. Kanshu hits a lariat on Shinya and tries for the Scorpion Death Lock but Inoki's having none of that. Kanshu tries more lariats on Shinya and finally succeeds to earn the win for his team. Perfectly fine parody match but much of the appeal went after the initial rope running. They peaked early, they couldn't match that sort of fun.

Zeus vs. The Bodyguard. No, US wrestling fans, not that Zeus. He's a big former bodybuilder dude who also wrestles sometimes in HUSTLE. Well, wrestled. MORE ON THAT LATER! The Bodyguard's the, well, bodyguard of the Rudo Army and this is his debut wrestling match. The story is that he's also a former bodybuilder and he and Zeus will battle to determine who truly is THE STRONGER~! This starts off as basically your typical BIG STRONG MAN #1 VS. BIG STRONG MAN #2 match, a theme from which I cannot see us deviating. Tests of strength, shoulder tackles, basic strikes, etc. None of yer Blood & Guts vs. Omega shite in this one. Bodyguard is wearing a shirt with SECURITY written in, like, gothic font on his back, so you know he's not one to be messed with. Bodyguard basically takes the first half of the match time-wise but offence-wise, I dunno. Snails' pace is a way to describe it. Zeus finally takes over and things speed up a bit. Not too much. Just a bit. Bodyguard kicks out of the JIHAD~! at 1 for some reason and nearly kills Zeus with a Razor's Edge. If he was doing that move on Kotoge he would have finished him off. He'd be in the ground. Zeus finally wins with a chokeslam. I'll say this, for a debut wrestling match Bodyguard did NOT do too badly. There's dudes on WWE TV who I've seen have worse matches with better workers. This wasn't exactly up there as far as top matches on the card go, but by its own standards this was good enough.

Again, they didn't show this on my version, but Zeus announced his retirement from wrestling after the match. He's apparently going to try to become a boxer. I expect his return within 6 months.

Osaka Pro Singles Title Match: Hideyoshi (c) vs. Billy Ken Kid. The story's very simple in this. Hideyoshi is a former tag team wrestler (teaming with Masamune as Sengoku) who defeated Tigers Mask for the title and remained aligned to Osaka Pro when the Rudo Army formed. He's the new top man. Billy Ken Kid was the new top man just a couple of years ago but has suffered through shoulder injuries and the like. Billy wants his title and his spot back. Hideyoshi's not too keen on that idea. They're GONNA FIGHT~! They had a match late last year that was shockingly good for a face vs. face match, so hopefully this will be just as good even though we expect a result this time around. Anyway, Billy looks suspiciously like Super Delfin in his entrance attire here, so you know he rules. Hideyoshi, on the other hand, has gone for dandy lilac!

Things start off fairly slowly with Hideyoshi leading until Billy picks up the pace with arm drags and sends Hideyoshi running for the hills. It may not be obvious by my descriptions and such, but even though both men are babyfaces, Hideyoshi is basically the subtle heel because Billy's a very familiar face. He's done the whole heel thing, none of that nonsense for him nowadays. Billy takes over for a while until Hideyoshi goes a bit mental and just lobs him onto a couple of ring boys on the floor with a press slam. Actually, I believe two of them were Tadasuke and Atsushi Kotoge. Sucks to be Tadasuke, but I'm quite disappointed in Kotoge. He'll never be a main eventer if he lets things like that happen to him. Takoyakida the masked prince, last seen being killed by Orochi, is also wandering around. Hideyoshi then kicks, stomps, forearms, spinebusters and powerslams Billy around for a while, and the man has quite the double stomp. This ain't no indy "double stomp bounce" off a man. He makes it look good. Billy finally retaliates with a frankensteiner and a slingshot in from the apron into a DDT, only for Hideyoshi again to stop Billy by hitting a horizontal slam swung around into a side DVD followed by a big tope. Back inside Hideyoshi hits a hanging pedigree and a JOHN WOO KICK~! which means his odds of winning this match have increased exponentially. Unfortunately, that is all immediately cancelled out when Hideyoshi posts himself and Billy does a run down the apron into a flip senton over the post. That move always rules.

Hideyoshi breaks out of the Air Raid Crash inside the ring and grabs the cobra clutch. Billy makes the ropes so Hideyoshi stomps the shit out of him and hits a version of the Bakatare sliding kick for a nearfall. Hideyoshi tries for another pedigree but Billy puts the kibosh on that via Air Raid Crash. Hideyoshi gets his grounded cobra clutch on again, Billy tries to roll out so Hideyoshi cradles him for a nearfall. A front powerslam spun right around into a uranage yields the same result. That was a cool move, although for a moment I did question who it actually hurt. Hideyoshi appeared quite bamboozled. He scores with a lariat for a one count as Billy pops up and does the revival act. A strike battle breaks out and Billy ends up getting pancaked on his face for a two. A lightning fast series of reversals ends in a BILLY BACKSLIDE FROM HEAVEN for two. Hideyoshi with a quick rana for two. A Buzzsaw kick misses and Billy connects with a Yoshi Tonic for a nearfall. Hideyoshi comes close with a press slam off the top. Billy rolls around in peril while locked in the grounded cobra clutch and eventually makes the ropes. Hideyoshi tries a super pedigree but eats a SUPER AIR RAID CRASH~! and VERTIGO~!~! and somehow he still kicks out. Billy then hits a FIREBIRD SPLASH~! to once again climb to the top of the mountain and become the Osaka Pro Singles Champion, and the ace of Osaka Pro Wrestling.

This match wasn't a heated, emotional affair like the Black Buffalo vs. Tigers Mask mask vs. mask match from the 2008 Hurricane show, but it was still a damn fine match and a perfectly acceptable Hurricane main event (especially compared to a shitty one like Super Delfin vs. Big Boss MA-G-MA from a few years back). Billy becoming the champion again is the perfect way to continue his story after struggling with injuries over the past year or two, and as I mentioned in passing, he truly is one of the more underrated junior heavyweights in Japan in my opinion so any time he gets props it's good. It's his home promotion, but good recognition is good recognition. However, with that said, I have no idea where Hideyoshi goes from here. His reign was good, better than I expected it to be, but I don't know if he has enough momentum or charisma without the belt to, say, form a team with BKK to battle the Rudo Army. There's still something missing about the guy that makes me question his future as a top level babyface.

NOTE: If any of you are wondering, there was one extra match on this card as Tigers Mask & Black Buffalo lost the Osaka Pro Tag Team Titles to the new Mucha Lucha duo of Asian Cooger and Great Sasuke. However, for a reason I don't have at the moment, apparently this didn't air on the Sky-A show, which is a bit annoying. Whether that's true or not, the match link never showed up so BOO!

Overall, this show was fairly entertaining, although I think I liked the 2008 Hurricane more as I preferred that main event and I actually saw the 2008 tag team title match. However, that’s not to say this was a bad show at all, because the main event was a cracking effort and the K-Dojo vs. Osaka Pro trios match adequately replaced the traditional fun tag match. The rest of the undercard wasn’t particularly special, but the Hurricane undercard very rarely is so judging it on that scale, good stuff! They may have had to have put on a Hurricane show without some of the more influential characters of the past like Delfin, but they did themselves proud and still put on a very good show. Worth a watch if you’ve got the time.

For more on Osaka Pro Wrestling, go to www.osaka.puroresufan.com!

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