PREPARE YOURSELF! Jay and Paul tell true stories from East LA…TWO SoCal Match of the Year Candidates…at the INOKI DOJO? Masato Tanaka fighting a ROBOT?
Click the link and BELIEVE, my friends. Planes, Trains and Automobiles Report Vol. 10: Inoki Dojo 5/13/07
by Paul Newberry and Jay Doring
Welcome to the 10th edition of the Planes, Trains and Automobiles report, as we continue on our ongoing tour of the Southern California independent scene. Today on the PT & A report, we pay a visit to the new Inoki Dojo in East Los Angeles, as it presented a very special event entitled “Burning Bridges”. Cool title huh? Well don’t get your hopes up, no actual bridges were burned during the course of the event. Heck, I’m not even sure if any figurative bridges were burnt here. False advertisement? You be the judge.
Since we last left the Inoki Dojo, it had moved from the sleazy comfort of the strip club in North Hollywood to an auto garage in East L.A., well as ending it’s association with NWA Pro. Which basically meant that we wouldn’t be seeing David Marquez sixteen times during the show. Which was cool with me. I’ve never been too keen on the whole “NWA” thing, unless that delightful M.C. Ren was somehow involved.
Coming into this event, I had no idea what to expect. My co-reporter, Jay Doring had twice visited this location, and let’s just say he didn’t give it the most glowing of reviews (to put it lightly). But the chance to see Masato Tanaka Vs. a Robot live and in person for a mere 10 dollars was just too much for me to pass up. So I proceeded to make my way to the Dojo. Ah, nothing better than exiting a freeway and being met by two guys waving roses in your face. At first I was a little disturbed at this, until I remembered that it was mother’s day… then I was greatly disturbed by this. This actually happened to me two more times before I reached the Dojo – those little guys with the flowers are nothing if not persistent.
I also noticed that the area that surrounded the Dojo was eerily empty. It was like being in a post-apocalyptic zombie movie, well beside that weird bum who started pointing at us. Other than that I mean. Once at the venue, from the outside, the building looked… how can I politely say this… fairly unimpressive. The “arena” is actually a beat up auto garage attached to a building in a pretty grungy looking part of town.
We waited in line of about 30 people, while what seemed like the all Iron Maiden station played in the background. Now waiting in lines at wrestling shows is about my least favorite thing EVER. Partly because Indy shows very rarely start on time. This time was no different. As the advertised 6:00 PM passed with no doors (or more accurately one single sliding garage door) opening.
Finally the door actually did open, and after purchasing my ticket. I got an eyeful of what was the inside of an auto garage with a ring set up in the middle with about 5 rows of chairs set up on two sides. I suppose it had it’s charm, but not much of it. The very first thing I notice once inside is Masato Tanaka, taking pictures and signing autographs at the Merchandise table. A merchandise table that featured a good supply of Japanese DVDs, programs, Amazing Kong shirts and various other nifty Japanese items. Plus there was a Japanese man running the booth and yelling out “T-shirt, program” It was tremendous.
Once everyone was through handing Tanaka their money. A mysterious voice introduces the show, and says “First competitor… PREPARE YOURSELF!” Then the voice screamed MORTAL KOMBAT!!!!!! Ok, it didn’t actually say Mortal Kombat, but it wouldn’t have seemed out of place if it had.
Apocalipto and Colossal Chris vs. Thunderwolf and Cadaver
Paul: Now it’s time for tonight’s opening contest, which featured students from the Dojo. First out is Thunderwolf, who is SoCal’s token Native American wrestler (complete with traditional Native American Juggalo tattoo). His partner here is the masked man “Cadaver” who looked mighty alive for a cadaver.
Team numero dos consisted of Colossal Chris. You may remember Chris as a nominee for SoCal Rookie Of The Year in 2006 (the single deepest SoCal rookie class ever). Tonight he was sporting ring gear that made him look a lot like 2000 era Psicosis. In fact, if you squinted, it was Psicosis. His partner is Apocalipto, who is… heck I don’t know, some lucha guy in a power ranger outfit (is this fascinating insight or what?).
One thing that bothered me with this, was that each man had his own separate entrance (complete with PREPARE YOURSELF intros). Which made it take far too long to get everybody out there. This is a good thing for a big upper card match, but overkill for an opener.
Jay: I’ve been to seven Inoki Dojo shows since their inception in Santa Monica, and seen multiple variations of this match. The best thing I can say about this one, is it really could have been way, WAY worse. I’ve seen matches with these four where the participants have screwed up most of the match and blown almost all of the spots. My general gripe with Dojo students is that it looks like they’re taught seemingly extremely complex lucha first, while not getting the fundamentals of wrestling – structure, pacing and creating a story for the audience. This was fine for the most part – Apocalipto only messed up two spots and covered the second one very well – but it plays as mostly a random collection of stuff before the babyfaces picked up the win, in a way I don’t really remember (another important aspect of wrestling: make the finish memorable.)
Paul: Apocalipto won with a springboard corkscrew splash after the announcer yelled out “FINISH HIM”. Jay, if you were watching the match instead of looking at your fancy new Nanae Takahashi keychain, you may have noticed that.
Jay:It’s a really nice keychain.
Paul: Indeed. Anyway, this was ok for a student match. Based on the horror stories Jay had told me about the Dojo. I half expected the opener to be two 9 year olds wrestling on a trampoline or worse… a Los Chivos match. But this wasn’t so bad. No, there wasn’t much depth to it, but it was fast paced and very watchable for a student opener. No complaints here.
Winners: Apocalipto and Colossal Chris
Sexy Chino Vs. Badd Blood
Paul: Sexy Chino (presumably prepared) enters the ring with his usual dancing routine to the sounds of Technotronic’s 1989 dance hit “Get Up!”. But the highlight of this was watching Masato Tanaka looking on through the doorway, smiling and busting up laughing at the antics of Sexy Chino.
Chino’s opposition tonight is Badd Blood. Who is not only SCU’s favorite wrestler but one-half of The Black Mafia tag team along with Eric Watts (no, not THAT Eric Watts), a tag team that has been competing in the Dojo for the past couple of months. He also regularly teams with LTP to comprise the duo of “Rated 2G”. Masato Tanaka seemed perplexed at the sight of Badd Blood. Not too many gangstas on the Far East Side I reckon. Badd Blood then has words with some of ring side fans.
Before the bell the referee pats Badd Blood down for shanks, AK 47s and WMDs, Sexy Chino takes advantage of Badd Blood’s position and shakes his pelvis right in his face. Further pissing off Badd Blood, who already seemed plenty pissed to begin with.
Jay: This match was fun for a bunch of different reasons – Badd Blood was the only wrestler on the show to directly involve the crowd, building around the crowd’s catcalls and feeding heat during the course of the match. Examples of this were when he singled out a female fan who said she couldn’t hear his strikes, and doing multiple variations of different strikes and yelling “YOU HEAR THAT?” It’s basic stuff that PWG has proven works in getting wrestlers over. Badd Blood also had more creative offense than most Dojo regulars, utilizing various Rolling Thunder variations. Sexy Chino has also vastly improved as a wrestler within the past year. While he was a glorified joke character in AWS, he’s evolved into a well-rounded wrestler who can hold up his end in longer matches while still incorporating his comedy. Badd Blood put the match away with a SICK version of the Tomahawk (uranage backbreaker into a flatliner) – there was no way Chino was getting up from that move.
Paul: After the match, Badd Blood returned the favor and danced over Chino’s fallen body. Fun match, good showing from both wrestlers here. While Sexy Chino is still the butt of many jokes here in SoCal. He really isn’t nearly as bad as some like to claim he is. He has a lot of charm as the always outmatched underdog, as he showed us here.
Winner: Badd Blood
Cheerleader Melissa vs. Saki Maemura
Paul: Long time SoCal fans may recognize “The Future Legend” Cheerleader Melissa from her time as the cheerleader for the Ballard Brothers in the late 90’s/Early 00’s (hey, when did Hockey players start having cheerleaders?). Since then she has rapidly evolved from a mere valet into one of the most respected women’s wrestlers on the independent scene. Just a few of her accolades include tours of both Japan and the UK. Not to mention having appeared on WWE TV (WWE Heat is on TV in Europe you know!), being featured on G4’s Attack Of The show, and having a nationally released DVD dedicated to her. She is now best known as one of the top stars of the popular SHIMMER Women’s promotion.
Here she takes on an extremely cheery little Japanese woman by the name of Saki Maemura. Who enters to the single happiest sounding song I have ever heard in my life (if anyone knows the name of this song, please tell me!) Saki is one of two visiting women from the Pro Wrestling SUN promotion in Japan, the joshi offshoot of Zero One MAX. Where she has been involved in something of a feud with Steve Corino as of late.
Jay: I expected this to be an enjoyable match, due to Melissa’s extensive experience in Japan and the fact I’ve been impressed with previous Maemura matches, but I DID NOT expect this to be one of my top three choices for SoCal Match of the Year. Melissa has put on some heated, violent matches as a heel in the past – her SHIMMER feud with MsChif has produced some of the best matches in the promotion’s short history – but I’ve seen very few people deal out the vicious shitkicking that she gave cute, spunky little Saki Maemura in this match. Melissa was absolutely unrelenting in her assault, throwing ultra-stiff forearms, slaps, and choking the life out of the smaller Saki. Maemura kept attempting comebacks, attempting to match Melissa blow for blow and most notably hitting a Shining Rana, but Melissa was too much for her. Melissa couldn’t put Saki away with the Kondo Clutch, and was even more infuriated when Maemura managed a flash rollup nearfall on her, and she completely snapped. Melissa dumped Saki to the outside of the ring and REPEATEDLY rammed her head into the guardrail from the bodyscissors position. Saki was buried beneath the guardrail by Melissa, but still managed to beat the count. An incensed Melissa brought in a chair, sat Saki down in it, and Yakuza Kicked her over. THEN, she bashed her skull in with the chair and hit an Air Raid Crash on it. When the ref refused to count (because Saki’s shoulders were on the CHAIR and not the mat) Melissa responded with the KUDOH DRIVER, and no way was Saki kicking out of that. The small crowd gave the match a standing ovation and deservedly so, because that was a WAR.
Paul: A little kid in the 2nd row summed this match up perfectly, when he said simply “that had to hurt” This was a really big surprise, I expected this to be good… but not nearly this good. Match was a perfect combination of Maemura’s tremendous showing of heart, mixed with a downright nefarious display of brutality (at its most brutal, chico) by Melissa. Both women were impressive here, especially Melissa. Who seemed to take a sadistic delight in murdering poor little Saki. Although this was a very one sided match with Melissa dominating entirely (almost reminiscent of the now classic Super Dragon Vs. TARO series in Revolution Pro, Melissa even busted out the Curb Stomp at one point) but still managed to remain completely captivating throughout.
In other words: “What a freaking match!”. I would use the term “MOTYC” here, but ROH’s sheer bastardization of the term has forever made me hate it. So “what a freaking match!” will have to suffice.
Winner: Cheerleader Melissa
Durango and Impacto vs. Jerome “LTP” Robinson and Pikachu
Paul: Hey, wasn’t Chilango supposed to be in this match? Don’t tell me he no showed! When has that ever happened before?
Jay: Try about 75% of the shows he’s booked for.
Paul: If even that. Anyway, it was now time for our second tag match of the night. First we have Durango. Who is not only one of the head trainers at the Dojo, but a well traveled wrestler, having appeared in Japan for New Japan Pro Wrestling and even on TNA PPV last year. His partner here is Impacto, and like Apocalipto earlier, I have no idea who he is or why everyone’s names seem to end in O.
The spikey green haired Pikachu enters next. And the only thing that pops into my mind is “Gotta collect em all!” This particular Pikachu however is not designed to collected by Japanese children, but rather is a student here at the dojo, and that’s pretty much all I know about him.
“Brain Stew” by Green Day hits and LTP enters wearing an airbrushed t-shirt with the letters “LTP” on it. I really can’t say enough good things about the work of LTP. After seeing him compete in AWS and NGW this February, I’ve come to the conclusion that he may be the most entertaining SoCal wrestler not currently competing in PWG. The crowd instantly gets behind LTP as chants of “LTP, LTP, LTP” ring out through the Dojo.
Jay: This tag match was an obvious improvement over the opening match, as it had a clear beginning, middle, and end, with Impacto doing a solid job of working over LTP before the hot tag. While everyone involved in the match held up their end well, the real star of the match was LTP, who continues to be the best kept secret in Southern California, combining a natural charisma with some smooth high flying. Following a strong nearfall sequence, LTP put away Impacto with the SPIRAL TAP, a move I didn’t even think he was capable of doing.
Paul: I’d agree with Jay’s assessment above. Match was decent and had a good flow to it. LTP again stood out as the star of the match. Again, I’m quite surprised that LTP isn’t a regular in one of SoCal’s “high profile” promotions. The guy just screams star, he processes all the qualities to be a true break out star in SoCal. Especially in PWG where the fans literally eat up stuff like this. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more from LTP in the future.
Winners: LTP and Pikachu
INTERMISSION TIME! Very uneventful intermission. The mysterious voice tells us to take our seat and to PREPARE YOURSELFS for the second half of the show…. MORTAL KOM.. oh right, I used that joke already.
Tony Bolt vs. Jimmy Jact Cash
Paul: After everyone was properly prepared, it was time to start the 2nd half. Next up is Jimmy “Jact” Cash. Who taunted the crowd with such vintage 1993 Indy heel statements as “Take a look at what a real man looks like”. I guess a real man looks like a cross between Hardkore Kid and Samoa Joe then. These cornball antics may fly in the sticks, but this is Capital City. Jay, since both of these wrestlers hail from your native New England. I am going to let you handle introducing this one… I’m all out of Simpson’s quotes.
Jay: Sure. Jimmy Jact Cash has been kicking around the Massachusetts indy scene for as long as I can remember – I first saw him at a Chaotic Wrestling show way back in 2001. He appeared in Ring of Honor for two shows in 2003, and has the dubious honor of being of one of the only people to ever lose in ROH to Dunn and Marcos. Both Cash and Tony Bolt were in town for the Inoki Dojo “tryouts for various Japanese organizations” that took place the previous day. Cash also worked an EWF show the Friday before the show. This was basically two big slow guys lumbering around doing power spots. Some of them looked nice: Cash can do a spinkick and pulled out a one-armed powerbomb, and Bolt finished the match with the spinning uranage that’s been an en vogue on the indies the past couple years.
Paul: While there was nothing particularly wrong with this, it’s lumbering pace just seemed out of place with the rest of the card. This is what I imagine an Indy Main Event in lower Alabama would be like… only with less “Doink The Clown”.
Winner: Tony Bolt
Shock-Wave the Robot and Sigmon vs. Masato Tanaka and Josh Daniels
Paul: Now the match we’ve all been waiting for. First out was Sigmon. Honestly, I know exactly nothing about Sigmon except that he resembled 2002 era Jonny Storm. His partner tonight is a wrestling machine, LITERALLY! I’m talking of course about Shock-Wave The Robot. Who enters wearing a grey C3PO looking costume with a mask with flashing lights on the front of it. Wow, honestly I expected the robot to suck, but nothing could be further from the truth. Really impressive entrance, that the fans really got behind.
They will be facing the International dream team of Josh Daniels and Masato Tanaka. Josh Daniels is semi-well known veteran of the Indy scene, having competed in ROH, Zero One, CHIKARA, TNA, MLW, 3PW and promotions up and down the east coast. Daniels is probably best known for his stylistic resemblance to Chris Benoit.
Masato Tanaka really shouldn’t need an introduction. A top student of Japanese Legend Atsushi Onita, who made his name in Japan with the FMW Promotion and later with Zero One. But US fans will no doubt best remember him from his incredibly influential series of matches with the late Mike Awesome in ECW (in my opinion the best matches ever in ECW) and his brief reign as ECW World Champion (back before Bobby Lashley forever ruined it) This will be his first match since November of last year, after undergoing surgery on his shoulder. He has also slimmed down quite a bit since I’ve last saw him in action, whither that is a side effect of the surgery or the Hollywood 48 Hour Miracle Diet I don’t know.
Jay: Does this match really need a report? It’s Masato Tanaka vs. A FREAKIN’ ROBOT (you could also say he was tagging with one.) The robot was pretty cool – he even had a LIGHT-UP mask, which put him ahead of Mecha Mummy, pro wrestling’s other notorious mechanized creature. The best part of the match was at the end when Masato Tanaka asks for a handshake. The robot accepts, and TANAKA SELLS THE ROBOT CRUSHING HIS HAND. Tell me that’s not awesome.
Paul: Domo arigatio, Mr. Roboto! While Tanaka was naturally the featured attraction, I dare say that the Robot stole the show here. He or it or whatever, really had the robotic movements down cold, and wasn’t a bad wrestler too boot. Great gimmick, whoever was behind it has some talent. The match was mainly between Daniels and Sigmon, with the Robot tagging in every now and then for some comedy, and Tanaka coming in every now and then to kick some ass and leave. The end came when Tanaka and the Robot were brawling on the floor, and Daniels caught Sigmon in a Dragon Suplex for the 1-2-3.
Overall, this was an entertaining match, although I was a little disappointed that Tanaka didn’t see more action (we didn’t even see a roaring elbow 🙁 ). But seeing as this was his first match back since November,. I can forgive him a little.
Winners: Josh Daniels and Masato Tanaka
Main Event for The AWA World Women’s Title
Amazing Kong (c) vs. Nanae Takahashi
Paul: Amazing Kong enters seconded by another large woman (who I’m guessing was Africa 55 from the Sun promotion, who Takanashi had originally beaten for the AWA title) and some Paul T. looking guy. Amazing Kong has an interesting story. She tried out for WWF Tough Enough 2 (yes, the same one that was won by wrestling greats, Linda Myles and Jackie Gayda) only to have Jim Ross tell her that she was too big to ever be a wrestler. But Good ole JR’s short sighted comments, only served to further motivate Kong. She begin training with SoCal’s EWF, before moving on to Japan. Where she became a huge success, and the most dominant gaijin on the joshi scene, winning titles through out the country. Recently she has made a big splash in the states with the SHIMMER promotion. Now she returns to her old SoCal stomping ground, and she returns with gold, coming into this match as both the AWA and the NWA Women’s champion. Which would have been a hell of a lot more impressive when either of those promotions were still actually alive, but let’s not hold that against Kong.
She will be facing, Nanae Takahashi who is seconded by Saki Maemura (who thankfully is still able to walk). Takahashi is nearly an 11 year veteran in the sport, who is currently wrestling for Pro Wrestling SUN in Japan. These two have alot history together, with Kong having defeated Takahashi in Japan for the AWA women’s title in the first place. This will be the rematch, only this time taking place on Kong’s turf. Kong warns Takahashi “You’re in my country now” as our match begins…
Jay: Amazing Kong has a great presence live – not just because of her size, but she comes off as legitimately tough and has a special kind of vicious charisma. The match started off a bit oddly, with a lot of outside interference from Kong’s entourage as both women went through a long feeling out process. Takahashi first worked the arm of Kong, then the leg, with neither gaining her much of an advantage.
Once the match passed this point though, it turned into one hell of a main event. Takahashi was perfect as the hardened babyface throwing everything she could at the overpowering Kong, and absolutely refused to go down. Kong seems to know exactly when to dominate and when to appear vulnerable, and I think this match wouldn’t have had the drama it did with a lesser wrestler in her role. Kong threw everything she had at Takahashi, utilizing all three of her finishers, but Nanae kept kicking out. There were several points where I definitely thought the match was over, but both wrestlers kept kicking out. While this did descend into overkill a bit toward the end, the final ending sequence, with Takahashi using every last bit of strength to shrug off a big Kong move, then she knocked Kong cold with a sick punch to the head and hit a brutal Shining Wizard for the win and the title, which brought the crowd to its feet. Excellent NOAH-style main event and a great way to close the show.
Paul: Started off slow, but once kicked it in gear it was simply stellar. Honestly, if this match took place in PWG between two male wrestlers, I promise you that it would be getting a whole lot more praise. Just a great performance from both. Especially Amazing Kong, who is one hell of a wrestler with a believable “monster” aura. The ending portion of this match, was a real rollcoaster ride with the crowd buying into the numerous near falls. Before Takahashi eventually overcame the odds (the match was basically 2 on 1 for the most part, with Kong’s 2nd getting in numerous shots in on Takahashi) to reclaim her title. Very satisfying main event experience, and like the earlier Melissia-Saki match up, this one of the best matches I have seen in SoCal all year. Fantastic showings from both of the Pro Wrestling Sun competitors tonight.
Winner: Nanae Takahashi
Post Match note: Get this, according to the Pro Wrestling SUN website. Takahashi’s newly won title was later taken from her and declared vacant. Why? Because the “AWA” say she used a DREADED closed fist(!) toward the end of the match. Which they think should have been a DQ. Yes, the same match that included a ton of outside interference and a CHAIR shot, clearly should have been ruled a DQ because of a CLOSED FIST! I love wrestling. Anyway, due to this made up crap, the held up title will now be decided on May 27th at The Korakuen Hall in a 3-way between Nanae Takahashi Vs. Amazing Kong Vs. Wesna Busic. So basically the match we just told you about doesn’t count! Yay?
Paul: I went into the show with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised with the quality of wrestling presented. It has been ages since I’ve attended a show not put on by PWG, that contained two matches nearly on the level of the Women’s matches. Which I think were two of the best matches SoCal has seen all year. Even after following weekends fantastic PWG DDT4 events, I’d still say either of these women’s matches deserve a spot on the SCU May rankings. Though I know it’s nearly impossible to get anything other than PWG ranked here, these matches really should be considered.
Jay: This show is a really tough one for me to give “final thoughts” on for a variety of reasons. Was the show excellent as a stand-alone event? Definitely – everyone involved stepped up their game big time, the two women’s matches rival the best stuff I’ve seen from PWG this year, and seeing a legend like Masato Tanaka in such an intimate setting is incredibly rare.
However, is this show really indicative of Inoki Dojo events as a whole? Definitely not. While there are a lot of guys who show potential and work very hard (LTP and Badd Blood for example) most of the time the entire show is different variations on the first match, which as you can imagine is fairly difficult to sit through. Combined with the odd atmosphere and location of the building, I’d say you really make sure there’s something you’ll enjoy on the card before heading to the Dojo.
Well that wraps up another edition of the PT & A report. For more information on the Los Angeles Inoki Dojo please visit http://www.myspace.com/njpwusa Until next time, keep watching the skies!