Pro Wrestling Crusaders
Tokai, Aichi, Japan
Say hello to the newest puro company to hit Tokyo! Which makes it sixteen companies running the area, several of which are already on spaghetti legs so clearly this is the best time to be doing this. As a reminder, this is the company set up the the Takano brothers after leaving NOW because they weren’t allowed to do what they wanted.
So far PWC have announced the signing of Isao Takagi (who was fired from SWS for spending too much time gambling) and a selection of W*ING lads who aren’t good but need the work. I’m throbbing already, let’s check out the Marsupilami to NOW’s Bonkers.
‘Sad Genius’ Great Yoshinogawa vs. Harold Subuta
It’s our first glimpse of the legendary Sad Genius! Like a lot of the Japanese indies during this period there’s only snippets of his life and career available in English but from what I’ve been told: he was a millionaire from birth and was trained by both Lou Thesz (!!) & Satoru Sayama (!!!) and seemed custom-fit to join a company like NJPW but instead bounced from tiny company to crappy tiny company with less than 30 recorded matches to his name because he declined the idea of starting off as a mere young boy for a NJPW Tokyo Dome Show because he thought he should be the one to retire Inoki. Truly the Kota Ibushi of 1993.
I have no idea who Harold is as even CageMatch and WrestlingData don’t include info on these first two matches but he has the saddest pair of tits I’ve ever seen on a pro wrestler. Just one giant unhappy face. Anyway this is a mixture of bad comedy both intended and otherwise because Harold was clearly trained by Freight Train. Not the wrestler, the Ohio ones that exploded. Anyway the crowd give up laughing because it’s so badly done and a mashed potato splash puts away Sad Genius at 2:30 and the crowd noticeably pauses before politely applauding.
King Cobra & Max Cobra vs. Ukiyotei Ring & Ukiyotei Side
Like the previous match there’s no details on anybody and it makes me wonder what my life has turned into when I’m feverishly searching for details on unknown Japanese indie wrestlers for companies no-one cares about when even the few remaining tape traders don’t have the full listings for them because no-one’s ever ordered them. The Cobras are both masked so one of them could be Lord Lucan for all I know. The action here is rougher than a badger’s arse with all four wrestler’s noodle arms generating laughter whenever there’s a strike involved. The pipe-cleaners figure out they should just stick to suplexes and bust out a few of them before one of The Sides (let’s call him Mushy Peas) gets the pin after a side suplex after seventeen whole bastard minutes.
And in one of the greatest and most unexpected things I’ve ever seen in a wrestling show, green tarp is suddenly placed on the canvas and WE GET A DOG SHOW.
From what I can gather they’re Guide Dogs and PWC is giving them a charitable donation. Given the state of the industry, the mutts should have been giving their loose change to the Crusaders. Some Guide Dogs though, I’d hope mine would give me a warning woof if I was heading to a show like this when FMW, NJPW, AJW etc were all available.
This is followed up by an introduction to the roster, clearly the come down segment after the dogs.
Hiroshi Shimada & Shunji Takano vs. Masaru Toi & ‘Sad Genius’ Yukimasa Watanabe
Hiroshi Shimada is moonlighting between W*ING tours. He’s still around in 2023 doing the small-time slow-mo stub-stab matches but is probably most known for being Uchu Majin Silver X at The Bridge Of Dreams mega-show in 1995 (right after Lou Thesz did a speech about how great wrestling is).
Toi is still working for companies with names like “Secret Base Crack On The Monster Egg.” Shunji Takano is a notorious alcoholic, drunk on both alcohol and his own ego as he seems to think he’s second only to Rikidōzan despite being lazy in the ring and having a body like a dropped sponge cake.
Shunji starts by slapping the hell out of Sad’s face who takes them obediently. Shimada tags in and delivers a safe Ganso Bomb before following with a lariat and no-one in the crowd cares. There’s no way there’s nearly 2,000 fans here. Maybe they counted the dogs like WWE’s attendance for Wrestlemania 32. Sad takes more harsh shots from Shimada before a spinning wheel kick takes him down and gets the first pop of the evening. Toi tags in and the match stays in first gear. Shunji tags in to stiff more Young Boys and connect with a second rope knee-drop. Sad Genius dramatically makes the save with a flurry of strikes like Scrappy Doo. I don’t know him well enough to know if he was taking the piss but I’m guessing he was. Toi and Sad double team Shunji with ankle locks which means we get plenty of Shunji’s favourite style of wrestling: lying on his back doing nothing. Several minutes of that is followed up with Sad Genius accidentally sending himself out the ring on an up-and-over. Even the Guide Dogs were jeering that one. This drags on and on until Shunji makes a warm tag to finish off Toi with a top rope knee drop but Sad Genius does his furious flurry again to break it up. So Shunji lands a series of stiff kicks to Toi’s chest to end it at 11:46. Match felt twice that length. The only thing interesting about these matches are the backstories to the wrestlers and how hard Shunji is hitting people.
Tsunehito Naito vs. Kenichiro Yukimura
Naito’s a really low level indie guy who kept on jumping from place to place until 2011. I don’t know who Yukimura is and neither does anyone else. The camera pans during the entrance and yeah, there’s no way in hell there’s even close to 1,000 people here. Crowd looks like when you first play a Command & Conquer map and you haven’t clicked anywhere yet. This is all mat wrestling until Naito puts away Yuimura with an armbar at 7:21 and the crowd barely registers the match even occurring.
Ho Des Minh & Zetton vs. Kazuu & Ultraman Robin
Minh is a really young Poison Sawada so this might be something. Oh wait he’s in a match with two nobodies and an Ultraman cosplay so maybe not. Ho tries a powerbomb but lets go too early which generates nervous laughter from the audience. Ho’s wearing a full-body black outfit covering his face & body so he resembles former WWE champion Vacant. Ultraman demands he tag in after several minutes of Zetton doing nothing. Robin and Ho exchange waistlock attempts a decent lucha hand-holding pin sequence before some headscissors brings in Kazuu for duelling Mexican Surfboards. There’s a lot of enthusiasm on display here regardless of the skill levels. Case in point, Zetton sails with a tope and manages to bang on every rope on the way out but still manages it. Zetton hulks up and yells C’MONNN, causing a nearby fan to laugh so hard they start coughing. Everyone badly times a kick-out sequence as the fans continue to laugh in a mocking way so Ho knocks down Kazzu with a rolling senton off the apron and Ultraman flies with a Tope Con Hello. Finally Zetton locks in a STF for the instant submission to end a loooong 17:03 match. Lots of energy here even if there wasn’t much accuracy. Still, it’s definitely the best match involving a pun on a former Vietnamese Prime Minister that I’ve ever seen.
Benkei vs. Ushiwakamaru
Benkei’s the future Hideki Hosaka aka Mr. Pogo II. He wasn’t any good and he continues to be booked to this day because that’s life. Ushiwakamaru is another guy still rattling around while changing his name every few months as he’s also known as Akagi, Miracle Giant, Kabuto Daio Beetle, Kabuto Beetle, Beetle, Hayato Nanjo, Mach Hayato & Dark Ranger. He’s tiny. They go through some basic big man/little man stuff before Ushi completely fudges a dive to the outside and splats and of course everyone sympathetically laughs at him. Back inside Ushi gets polite applause for running underneath his opponent’s legs before Benkei shrugs off his kicks to powerslam Ushi and end it with a lariat after 7:27 of mostly nothing. Here’s a review of Ushiwakamaru from Cagematch user tmxicon:
Hayato Nanjo has always been one of those wrestlers that is just… there. He’s always been in the back of the pack for whatever promotion he was working for. He’s rubbed elbows with some of the greats and has been a fixture in the Japanese indy scene for decades, so he’s done okay for himself. There’s not really much more to say about him other than that. Rating: 5.0
George Takano & Gerry Morrow vs. Iron Horse & Isao Takagi
George Takano is above shows like this but his ego is as monstrous as his brother’s so he’s here. Gerry Morrow is a Stampede Wrestling veteran from the 70s who used to appear regularly for IWE so he’s a decent name to be headlining. Iron Horse wouldn’t last long, only having a few matches for W*ING and the fascinating-sounding Badger State Wrestling (edit: oh sadly this just means it’s in Wisconsin) to finish a career that lasted shorter than Kizarny’s. Isao was one of the few people SWS bothered to fire. The only other one was Koji Kitao which speaks volumes.
George demonstrates his athleticism straight away by manhandling Takagi before kipping up. Crowd sounds relieved to see someone trained. Iron Horse should be called Iron Hoss as he slams Morrow around before Gerry utilises a rolling ankle pick. George and Horse go through a kick/dodge sequence except Horse manages to get hit by every kick before ignoring it and carrying on with the next spot. I don’t know if that was by design but that’s potentially something someone should steal in 2023. George starts laying into Takagi because despite his gambling and gut size, he’s competent enough to hang with George. The Artie Lange of PWC gets worked over for a while before Horse tags in to lay some big ol’ shots in on George. The American Gladiator-looking-lump falls victim to Morrow’s falling headbutt which gets a very nice response. Crowd hasn’t reacted to any of the stiff kicks but a falling headbutt gets a rise out of them. Horse kicks out of two top rope splashes and tries to shrug off George’s lariats which opens him up for a perfect moonsault to end this at 13:11. George was working hard like he always does but his opponents weren’t good or competent enough to give anyone a reason to bother with this show.
Overall: I mean it’s not every day you see a wrestling show outclassed by a mid-show dog walk so it had that going for it. Everything else was exactly what you’d expect from a tiny indie involving two mild names and a stack of mid-card W*ING lads.
Next week: WAR’s first big show of 1993 as the NJPW inter-promotional feud continues!