Toryumon-UWA Hardcore Wrestling Invitational Night 1 Live Report Featuring Jushin Liger, Ultimo Dragon, Chris Sabin, Claudio Castagnoli, and More
By Mike Da Silva
We arrived at St. John's Hall at 5:00 P.M. on June 25th, 2007, 2 hours before the doors opened and still weren't the first people in line. We were, however, the second group of Balcony Ticket holders and thus, were seated front row centre on the balcony. We recommend Balcony Tickets to any one who cannot get Golden Circle Tickets (tickets that automatically seat you within the first few rows of ringside). They are worth the extra $5 CAN ($20 CAN each as opposed to $15 CAN for General Admission Tickets).
Before the matches, Claudio Castagnoli, Larry Sweeney, Sara Del Ray and Sonjay Dutt were out selling merchandise and taking pictures with fans. Michael bought a copy of Larry Sweeney: The Legends Tour and a copy of Claudio Castagnoli: Superior Swi$$ Selections (the latter of which was handed to him by Del Ray and which Castagnoli was nice enough to sign at no extra charge).
Introduction: At 8:00 P.M., UWA Hardcore Wrestling announcer and co-founder Joe E. Slick began the show by introducing UWA Hardcore Wrestling President Osiris and Toryumon President Ultimo Dragon, each of whom were dressed business casual. Osiris thanked Dragon for all his work putting the card together and said if it wasn't for Dragon, Liger “wouldn't be here.” Dragon told fans his English is “a little better” than the last time we was in Canada and thanked the fans for their support. Slick then introduced the Toryumon and UWA Hardcore wrestlers individually. Toryumon wrestlers wore black jackets. UWA Hardcore wrestlers wore grey jackets. Alex Shelley got one of the night's biggest pops, but shook it off like a heel, making the masturbation hand gesture. New Japan Pro Wrestling wrestlers Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Puma did not appear at this time.
Match One: Dan Paysan defeated Daisuke Hanaoka by Pinfall. Paysan's gimmick is that he is an Italian stereotype. He even has part of the Godfather theme play before his entrance. Hanaoka wore bright green tights with cloverleafs on them. Paysan was very entertaining in this match, comically overselling at times. Paysan did the first big highspot of the night when he hit Hanaoka with a hurancanrana off the top ropes to the floor. Paysan drew some gasps when, in heel form, he called his opponent a “puny Jap.” After defeating Hanaoka with his Whop Drop finisher, however, Paysan shook hands with his opponent and they went to the back together. This was a solid technical wrestling match.
Match Two: Passion Hasegawa defeated “Sweet 'n' Sour” Larry Sweeney by Pinfall. Hasegawa wore bright pink tights with frills. After a series of offensive maneuvers, Hasegawa mocked Sweeney's strut. This prompted Sweeney to stop the match and grab the microphone, claiming that Hasegawa may be a better wrestler, but there is 1 title Sweeney knows that he holds: “best dancer in UWA.” Sweeney thus challenged Hasegawa to a STRUT OFF! After 2 turns each, Sweeney looked to be sizing Hasegawa up to blindside him, but Hasegawa caught Sweeney with a roll-up for a near-fall. Sweeney hit Hasegawa with a number of old school moves and Hasegawa was great at selling the larger man's offense. Eventually, however, Hasegawa made a comeback and won the match with a fireman's carry followed by a Swanton Bomb. Hasegawa looked a tad ridiculous giving the fireman's carry to the much larger Sweeney, but this was still an entertaining spectacle.
Match Three: Hiromi Horiguchi defeated Arik Cannon by Pinfall. Horiguchi wore basic red trunks (the first aesthetically pleasing trunks on a Toryumon wrestler that night). Cannon was a lot bigger than Horiguchi. Shortly before winning the match Horiguchi hit a sick modified neckbreaker. Fairly unimpressive match, although both men showed some solid offense, with Horiguchi looking especially fluid. Once again, some of the Horiguchi’s offense seemed slightly unrealistic given Cannon’s dwarfing size advantage.
Match Four: Chris Sabin defeated Sonjay Dutt and Brian Lee in a Triple Threat Match when Sabin pinned Lee. Sabin was originally supposed to wrestle NWA World Welterweight Champion Hajime Ohara, but Ohara was not present at the event. Thus, the scheduled Dutt vs. Lee match was turned into a Triple Threat Match. Sabin was the heel. The match followed the classic 3-way formula with 1 man being knocked out of the ring at any given time so the other 2 could work together. Dutt and Lee seemed to have good chemistry, working a fast-paced style. That said, Lee had very little offense in this match. Most of it was Sabin vs. Dutt and that seemed a tad mundane. The referee would not count out any individual who spent a large portion of time outside the ring, but would count all 3 men out. If 1 man went to the top rope, however, the referee began to count him out. We never got to see what happens if 1 man stays in the ring and the other 2 go outside. Countouts in Triple Threat Matches are rather confusing and lead us to believe that all 3-ways should be elimination bouts. Our enjoyment of the match was severely hindered by a group of fans who tried to heckle Dutt chanting “Soooooooooooonjaaaaaaaaaay” throughout the entirety of the match.
Intermission. Paysan joined Castagnoli, Sweeney, Del Ray and Dutt to sell merchandise. At the UWA Hardcore merchandise table, Cannon and Dragon signed 8X10s and posed for photographs. Before the second half of the card, Joe E. Slick put over Del Ray for coming to the show even though her match was canceled (her scheduled opponent Mima Shimoda was unable to attend) and urged us to buy her merchandise.
Match Five: Claudio Castagnoli defeated Toshiya Matsuzaki by Pinfall. Castagnoli was more than a head taller than Matsuzaki. The smaller man was dressed like the blue Power Ranger. This was a perfectly executed big man-little man match. Matsuzaki hit a number of highspots in quick succession early in the match, frustrating Castagnoli. Castagnoli then hit Matsuzaki with a large number of power moves, which the Toryumon wrestler sold like a pro. Castagnoli even hit a Tilt-a-Whirl Slam with over 15 rotations. Matsuzaki made a brief comeback before falling victim to the Running Uppercut. He received a huge ovation after the match. He could not have won the match and made it look credible, but he still got over through good wrestling and good booking.
Match Six: UWA Lightweight Championship Match – Champion Lionel Knight defeated Challenger Amigo Suzuki by Pinfall. Suzuki came to the ring in Mexican-styled garb and wore Mexican-styled tights. Knight was very over as a heel with fans chanting “small balls” and “tiny testes” throughout the match. At one point a frustrated Knight pointed at a man in the front row attending with a female and told the man “I'll put my dick in your bitch's mouth.” The “small balls” heckling then got even worse. Moments later Knight got a 2-count leading to a thunderous chant of “TWO...small balls.” Suzuki clotheslined Knight over the guardrail and smoked 2 ringside fans in the process. He then climbed the top rope and jumped from the ring over the guardrail onto Knight. Knight would come back, however, and win the match with Angel's Wings from the middle rope.
Match Seven: UWA Canadian Championship Match – Champion Josh Prohibition defeated Challengers M-Dogg 20 (with Jennifer Blake and Britney Michaels) and Alex Shelley in a Triple Threat Match when Prohibition pinned Shelley. Despite his actions earlier in the night, Shelley worked as a face in this match. This match did not follow the classic 3-way structure as closely. When someone did leave the action, it was always for a short period of time and usually had a purpose (i.e. Prohibition flipping off the other 2 men and retreating to the corner, urging the other 2 to fight it out or M-Dogg wanting to spend time with his valets). In the early going, a series of 3-way submission holds were used, making us wonder who would win if, for instance, M-Dogg and Shelley each had Prohibition in a submission hold and Prohibition tapped out. The logic of Triple Threat Matches make our heads spin. Shelley got a big pop when he hit Prohibition with a drop toehold, causing the champion to fall face first into M-Dogg's crotch. Shelley then forced Prohibition to stay there by holding Prohibition's head down with his foot. This drew a “J-Pro swallows” chant. M-Dogg hit a series of stomps on his opponents that were very impressive. Shelley and Prohibition hit M-Dogg with a spike piledriver, drawing World Wrestling Insanity Founder James Guttman's favourite chant: “This is Awesome.” Prohibition pinned Shelley with a roll-up as he held the tights for an underwhelming finish to a very good match.
Match Eight: Special Attraction Main Event – Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Puma defeated Ultimo Dragon and Kazuchika Okada when Liger pinned Okada. Liger wore black. Puma wore black and silver tights. Dragon wore silver. Okada wore basic black trunks. During introductions, Slick read a long list of titles won by both Dragon and Liger individually. It was a long list indeed and I think it was still a partial list. Liger's Dragon Gate title win was not mentioned, although that may have been for political reasons. Both Dragon and Liger had streamers thrown for them. They appeared to pair off early in the match with Puma facing Okada and Dragon facing Liger. Soon, however, Liger and Puma got the heat on Okada. Puma, a former Canadian Champion, has drawn a lot of flak with UWA Hardcore Wrestling fans, but he was solid in this match, wrestling a fast-paced style. That said, the biggest pop of the night came when Dragon hit a moonsault to the outside onto Puma. Both Dragon and Liger hit many of their signature spots (i.e. Dragon's kick combo and Liger's palm strike) before Liger isolated Okada and hit him with the Liger Bomb to end the match. Apparently, as we left the building, the Murder City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley) attacked Dragon and Liger, setting up a tag match the next night. This would apparently replace the scheduled Dragon vs. Liger singles match. It was almost 11:30 P.M. when the night ended.
Overall: This was a very good card. We would go so far as to call the second half of the night great. During the initial introductions, fans seemed unsure of how to respond to the Toryumon wrestlers, but most of the wrestlers won over the crowd by night's end. Castagnoli, Sweeney and Dutt were 3 of the most over wrestlers there, showing the benefits of spending time with fans. Dragon and Liger are in great shape for their age and were involved in the Match of the Night. Due to a number of circumstances, we were not able to attend Night 2 of the invitational, but it promised to be very entertaining as well.
|© 2005-2007 All content contained here Copyright 2006 by James Guttman *** World Wrestling Insanity and ClubWWI are not affiliated with any wrestling promotion.|