SoCal and Puroresu: Southern California’s Connections To Japanese Wrestling (Part 2)

With New Japan Pro Wrestling making their way to Long Beach on July 1st and 2nd, I take a look at the history of Southern California’s wrestling connection to Japan in a three part series.

Author’s note: I began writing this article about a month ago. On Sunday night, a show that was promoted y a company called Brave Immortal Combat ended up cancelling their event at the last minute. The show is being considered by many in SoCal as a huge disaster, and rightfully so. This article had been planned to be published last week but was pushed back. The timing of this is pure coincidence, and hopefully people read the part about EPIC and about Brave and learn from these incidents.

Around the turn of the century, several wrestlers from Southern California made their way to Japan for various promotions. Some notable instances of SoCal wrestlers going over to Japan include XPW stars Supreme, Homeless Jimmy, and Pogo The Clown making appearances for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling in 2000, Super Dragon going on tour with All Japan Pro Wrestling while also training at the dojo, and various members of the Inoki Dojo going on several tours for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Along with these wrestlers from SoCal touring Japan, Japanese wrestling would continue to have a presence in Southern California.

In Part 2 of this series, we take a look at UPW’s relationship with Zero1, the Ultimo DragonEPIC fiasco, Dragon Gate expanding to America, Joshi, and how one person helped played a part in connecting SoCal to Japan in the modern era.

UPW and Pro Wrestling Zero1

After being fired from NJPW in 2000, Shinya Hashimoto formed his own promotion in 2001 called Pro Wrestling Zero1 and would alter establish a working relationship with Rick Bassman’s Ultimate Pro Wrestling. Several UPW wrestlers would make their way over to Japan to work for Zero1 as a result of this relationship. UPW stars that went to tour Zero1 included Tom Howard, Samoa Joe, Keiji Sakoda, The Predator (Sylvester Terkay), Horshu (Luther Reigns in WWE), Nathan Jones, Frankie Kazarian, Al-Katrazz, Tommy Wilson, Sabbath, and Smelly (Mark Bell). Several UPW wrestlers would hold titles in Zero1. On June 14th, 2001, Samoa Joe and Keiji Sakoda defeated Katsumi Usuda & Yuki Ishikawa in Osaka to become the NWA international Tag Team Championships, Zero1’s top tag team championship at the time. Tom Howard also held the NWA international Tag Team Championship with Matt Ghaffari between December 2002 and April 2003. Sylvester Terkay held the Zero1 United States Heavyweight Championship on two occasions in 2003.

Hashimoto would appear in UPW in 2001 for an angle with Tom Howard after a match involving Zero1 wrestler Naohiro Hoshikawa and Horshu of UPW. Footage of the angle would be used to build up a match between the two in Japan on June 14th, 2001. Shinjiro Otani and Masato Tanaka would also make an appearance in UPW on November 6th, 2002 in Santa Ana in a tag team match with Tom Howard and The Predator. In 2004, Kohei Sato (also known as Monster X) appeared at a UPW event in Torrance going over Andrew Hellman.

Throughout May and June of 2002, UPW hosted the UPW/Zero1 International Junior Heavyweight Tournament on several of their “Lite Show” events in El Segundo and Anaheim. The tournament would feature local wrestlers such as Rocky Romero, Frankie Kazarian, B-Boy, Scott Lost, Ricky Reyes, Joey Ryan, Lil’ Cholo, and Pinoy Boy (T.J. Perkins). The finals of the tournament would come down to Spanky (Brian Kendrick) going against Smelly (Mark Bell) on June 29th, 2002 in Sapporo, Japan during Zero1’s Creation Tour. Spanky would defeat Smelly to become the first NWA/UPW/Zero-One International Junior Heavyweight Champion.

On May 18th and 19th, 2004, several wrestlers representing UPW went over to Zero1 to take part in a series of UPW vs. Zero1 matches during Zero1’s “Ambitious” tour. Wrestlers representing UPW included Rick Bassman, Oliver John, Al Katrazz, Shane Roberts, Tommy Wilson, Sabbath, and Tony Stradlin in matches against Shinya Hashimoto, Shinjiro Otani, Tetsuhiro Kuroda, Yoshihito Sasaki, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Ryouji Sai, Hirotaka Yokoi, Jun Kasai, and more representing Zero1.

UPW would also bring in Taka Michinoku in September of 2000 while he was working for the WWF.

Ultimo Dragon, the EPIC fiasco, and Toryumon

In Part 1 of this series, I touched briefly on one of Ultimo Dragon’s appearances at the Grand Olympic Auditorium against Negro Casas in 1994, as well as his involvement with the World Wrestling Peace Festival event at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in 1996 prior to joining World Championship Wrestling. During his time in WCW, Ultimo Dragon would open a school in Naucalpan, Mexico for aspiring Japanese wrestlers who wanted to learn Lucha Libre. The opening of this school would lead to the creation of the Toryumon promotion.

In 1998, Ultimo Dragon would suffer an arm injury that resulted in his retirement from professional wrestling when a botched surgery resulted in him suffering nerve damage. Ultimo would have corrective surgery in 2002 to repair the damage, allowing him to make a comeback to professional wrestling. On September 8th, 2002, Ultimo made his return in a match against Masaaki Mochizuki in Japan.

Around the same time Ultimo made his return, a promotion called EPIC Pro Wrestling founded by Gary Yap had become Southern California’s newest “Super Indy” promotion. EPIC would promote events with big name stars alongside local talent. With a blend of big names, critically acclaimed matches, a partnership with the East Coast based promotion Combat Zone Wrestling, and a public feud with rival SoCal promotion XPW, EPIC had been garnering a lot of hype among fans in SoCal and abroad.

In October of 2002, EPIC would make waves when they announced they’d be hosting Ultimo Dragon’s America return during his comeback tour at their event Wrestle Roots 2002. The event was scheduled to take place on November 17th, 2002 at the Los Angeles Entertainment Center. In the time leading up to the event, it was announced that Ultimo Dragon was set to face Super Dragon with a stipulation to be added later. On November 15th, EPIC would hold a meet & greet event at the Valley Ball (a strip club in the San Fernando Valley) where it was announced that the “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson would be added to the match, making it a Three Way Dance. However as the old saying goes, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

At UPW’s November 6th event in Santa Ana, staff members and employees of the Anaheim based Lucha Libre promotion World Power Wrestling passed out flyers for an event scheduled to take place at the Anaheim Marketplace on November 16th featuring Ultimo Dragon. This would lead people to speculate as to whether or not he would be wrestling after EPIC had been advertising his United States return for the day after. EPIC promoter Gary Yap would ask WPW promoter Martin Marin if Ultimo would be working his show, and was supposedly told he would only be making an appearance, not wrestling. EPIC had booked Ultimo through Marin, who paid for his booking and travel fees from Mexico, with the idea that they’d be hosting Ultimo’s US return match.

Ultimo eventually worked the WPW event on November 16th, making it his official return to the United States in four years. Ultimo teamed up with Chilango, Durango Kidd, & Zarco against NOSAWA, Masada, Misterioso, & Poison. The event also featured Ultimo’s students Condotti Shuji (Shuji Kondo) and Second Doi (Naruki Doi). About 50 people attended the show not knowing that this would end up being their only chance to see Ultimo wrestle that weekend. Ultimo’s humble return to the United States would quickly be overshadowed by the events that would unfold the next day.

In the time leading up to the event, EPIC promoter Gary Yap had failed to pay for the venue in advance. According to statements by Yap, financial backers he was relying on to help pay for the venue didn’t come through. After the LAEC refused Yaps’ repeated offers and pleas to put on a show, he and a staff member from EPIC would try to find another at the last minute. In Steve’s View #89, Steve wrote about getting a phone call hours before the show’s scheduled start time informing him of EPIC having venue problems. He was also told that the event was being moved to the Anaheim Marketplace.

Efforts to book the Anaheim Marketplace were made but fell short. With no substitute venue found, the show ended up being cancelled. This resulted in many wrestlers and fans being upset at Yap for years to come. Several members of the Japanese media who were there to cover the event were also upset about the show’s cancellation. EPIC would fold immediately after this. Ultimo Dragon would sign with the WWE months later. After his departure from WWE in 2004, Ultimo Dragon would make several more appearances in Southern California on events promoted by the Inoki Dojo/NJPW-USA.

In March of 2003, WPW promoter Martin Marin (who wrestled under the name El Genio) would tour with Ultimo Dragon’s Toryumon promotion in Japan where he went over in all but one of his matches. His only loss came via DQ against Ultimo Dragon in his debut for the promotion on March 9th.

WPW would book Toryumon wrestlers and Ultimo Dragon students Henry Sugawara III (Takuya Sugawara) and Taiji Ishimori in a special attraction match at the first Best Of The West tournament in Anaheim on July 18, 2003. Ishimori (along with Ultimo Dragon and Takeshi Minamino) would later appear on the Inoki Dojo’s NJPW-USA: Toukon Fighting Spirit television show in 2004. Students of Ultimo Dragon’s school and performers from the Toryumon system such as Passion Hasegawa, TARU, and Hajime Ohara would continue to make appearances for various promotions in Southern California.

Dragon Gate Comes to SoCal

After joining World Wrestling Entertainment in 2004, Ultimo Dragon would leave the Toryumon promotion on July 4th while taking all the trademarks with him. The company would re-brand itself as Dragon Gate and was made up of former Toryumon wrestlers. Throughout 2005 and 2006, the promotion would get attention from fans outside of Japan when several of its stars appeared on a number of Ring Of Honor events. Soon after, Dragon Gate would become the hottest thing among internet wrestling fans with its new found exposure through ROH, and it wouldn’t be too long until they headed to Southern California.

In 2006, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla began gaining a steady following among internet wrestling fans in SoCal and abroad. Also during this time, a new wrestling television show called Wrestling Society X created by former XPW Vice President Kevin Kleinrock was about to film its first season for MTV.

Throughout its history, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla has utilized a wide variety of Japanese stars on its shows. Japanese wrestlers that appeared in PWG include Great Muta, Jushin Thunder Liger, Kaz Hayashi, Nosawa, Kikutaro (Ebessan), El Blazer (Takuya Sugi), KAGETORA, KAI. Dick Togo, Miyawaki, KAZMA, Kuishinbo Kamen, Tigers Mask (the Osaka Pro character, not to be confused with the “Tiger Mask” character from NJPW), and more.

While PWG has had many Japanese stars from different promotions appear on their events, the relationship it had with Dragon Gate would have the biggest impact on the promotion. For the second annual Battle of Los Angeles tournament in 2006 on September 1st, 2nd and 3rd, PWG would bring in Dragon Gate stars CIMA, Genki Horiguchi, and Dragon Kid. This would end up giving West Coast fans their first taste of the Dragon Gate style live.

A few months later, Wrestling Society X held several tapings between November 11th and 16th at Ren-Mar Studios (currently known as Red Studios Hollywood) that included Genki Horiguchi & Masato Yoshino as .Team Dragon Gate. The two were managed by Ryan Sakoda. While Wrestling Society X ended up being cancelled by MTV, the show provided a big platform for the Dragon Gate stars. The final episode of WSX, which featured Horiguchi and Yoshino defeating Teddy Hart and “M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross in an Exploding Cage match in the main event, never aired on MTV but was released on DVD.

While Wrestling Society X faltered due to a poor time slot and terrible marketing, PWG would thrive for years. The promotion would continue to feature more Dragon Gate stars throughout the years. After the 2006 Battle of Los Angeles, PWG would bring in Dragon Gate wrestlers such as SHINGO, Mastao Yoshino, Naruki Doi, Don Fuji, Stalker Ichikawa, BxB Hulk, Susumu Yokosuka, YAMATO, and Masaaki Mochizuk.

At the same time, wrestlers who had been appearing regularly in PWG at the time would also end up going on tours with Dragon Gate in Japan with PWG regulars such as B-Boy, Chris Bosh, Kevin Steen (now Kevin Owens in WWE), PAC (now Neville in WWE), El Generico (now Sami Zayn in WWE), and the Young Bucks having made trips to Japan. Dragon Gate would also bring in SoCal wrestlers Babi Slymm as “Cyber Gang” during his stint with the promotion, and would revive Martin Marin’s Toryumon character “King Ali Baba” during his tour with the promotion.

While a handful of Dragon Gate stars appeared in PWG, none would have as much of an impact on the promotion as CIMA and Akira Tozawa. CIMA would make several appearances in PWG throughout the years producing matches that had received lots of praise from fans At Night 1 of PWG’s first DDT4 tournament on May 19th, 2007, CIMA and Bryan Danielson would put on one of the best matches that had taken place in Southern California that year. The match would later be featured on the promotion’s only national retail DVD release PWG Sells Out Vol. 1. A few months later, CIMA became the first foreign wrestler and only wrestler of Japanese descent to win the Battle of Los Angeles tournament.

In 2010, Akira Tozawa began a tour of America that saw him win over new audiences thanks to his antics, charisma, and in ring talent. During this tour, Tozawa would appear in several Southern California promotions such as MPW and IWL. His most prolific matches however would take place in PWG. During the Quarterfinals of the 2010 Battle of Los Angeles tournament, Tozawa would have a breakout performance against Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno in WWE) on September 5th. The match would end up being voted the 2010 Southern California Match of the Year. Tozawa’s follow-up performance in PWG on December 11th with Kevin Steen ended up being the runner-up for the award. Tozawa’s strong performances would earn him the award for the 2010 Most Outstanding Southern California Wrestler of the Year, an award based solely on in ring talent.

After gaining a following in the United States, Dragon Gate would embark on an American excursion in September of 2008 with events in California and Hawaii. The first American event would take place on September 5th, 2008 at the John Anson Ford Park in Bell Gardens in front of about 600 fans. Dragon Gate would team up with Martin Marin’s WPW to help with producing and promoting the event. The show would also feature a pre-show match with three of Martin’s students in a Triple Threat match as Lil’ Cholo faced Amazing Junior and Infernal.

The show would feature several of Dragon Gate’s top stars along with several PWG regulars like El Generico and the Necro Butcher. The show would be headlined by an Open The Triangle Gate Championship match with Real Hazard (Gamma, YAMATO & Yasushi Kanda) defending their titles against WORLD-1 (BxB Hulk, Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi). The show also featured an Open The Twin Gate Championship match with Typhoon (Ryo Saito & Susumu Yokosuka) defending their titles against the Young Bucks, as well as SHINGO and PAC in a match that was highly regarded by many fans in attendance as one of the best of the night.

Other Dragon Stars who performed at the event included Dragon Kid, Tozawa-juku (Kenichiro Arai & Taku Iwasa), Genki Horiguchi, Stalker Ichikawa, and an appearance from CIMA. Highlights of this and the promotion’s Hawaii event latered air on Dragon Gate’s Infinity program on Gaora TV. The Los Angeles show was later released on DVD with commentary provided by Excalibur and Disco Machine. The promotion also brought in legendary FMW star Hayabusa for a special meet and greet session.

After the success of their American venture, Dragon Gate sought to establish a sister promotion in the United States. On April 14, 2009, Dragon Gate President Takashi Okamura announced the creation of Dragon Gate USA run by Satoshi Oji, Sal Hamaoui, and former Ring of Honor booker Gabe Sapolsky. DGUSA held its first event on July 25th, 2009 in Philadelphia, PA. During the first two and a half years of its run, DGUSA would run primarily in the Northeast and Midwest before running the brand’s first SoCal event on January 27th, 2012 in Los Angeles as part of the WrestleReunion VI convention at the Westin Los Angeles Airport.

The show would feature a match between Akira Tozawa and PAC that got a Four-Star rating from the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Melzter, and an Open The United Gate Championship Match with the Spiked Mohicans (CIMA & Ricochet) successfully defending the titles against the JUNCTION THREE (Jimmy Susumu & Masaaki Mochizuki). The rest of the card would comprise of Dragon Gate’s Masato Yoshino, Naruki Doi, BxB Hulk, independent stars Low Ki, Ricochet, PAC, Sami Callihan, AR Fox, Chuck Taylor, and local stars Scorpio Sky and the Young Bucks. The Dragon Gate stars who had appeared on the event also appeared on PWG’s Kurt Russellreunion 3 event on January 29th.

Dragon Gate USA would return to SoCal a year later, this time working with Vendetta Pro for a show in Santa Maria on January 25th, 2013. DGUSA would run the next two days at the Pappy Pineda Dome in Huntington Park on January 26th & 27th. The shows would lack in the number of Japanese performers from Dragon Gate with Tozawa, Eita, Jimmy Susumu (Susumu Yokosuka), and Ryo Saito being the only Japanese talent appearing on the events. The promotion went on an indefinite hiatus in 2014.

Joshi and SoCal

In Part 1 of this article series, I touched on Steve Bryant’s column about the Mildred Burke School for Lady Wrestlers and its connection to All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling. I also touched on Joshi stars such as Megumi Kudo, Combat Toyoda, Shark Tsuchiya, Crusher Maedomari, Akira Hokuto, and Bull Nakano making appearances on SoCal events during the 90’s.

On September 28th, 2001, Revolution Pro presented its very first Revolution J tournament at the Anaheim Marketplace. The show would feature a handful of Japanese wrestlers both male and female. Male stars Nosawa and Tomokazu Morita took part in the tournament, and the female ARSION stars GAMI and Michiko Omukai were featured in a non-tournament special attraction match that saw Omukai going over GAMI. The next day, Revolution Pro would hold an event in Pomona that saw Rising Son defeat Tomokazu Morita, and GAMI & Nosawa go over Michiko Omukai & Super Dragon in a tag team match. Footage of the matches would air on ARSION’s television show on Samurai TV in Japan.

The history of women’s wrestling in SoCal at the beginning of the century is very limited as there weren’t many females who were working matches regularly in the area. Women who were booked on shows in SoCal were mostly used as valets, on screen characters who weren’t wrestlers, and were rarely given the chance to perform. One of SoCal’s few female wrestlers at the time, Cheerleader Melissa, had been used as a valet for the Ballard Brothers in several promotions and would also have several matches in SoCal. In 2002, she would end up being invited to wrestle and train with the ARSION promotion in Japan. The tour with ARSION would eventually lead to more exposure for Melissa, who became one of independent wrestling’s top female stars.

Also during this time, a student of Jesse Hernandez’ School Of Hard Knocks by the name of Kia Stevens (who had been working in the promotion under the name Vixen) would end up being invited to AJW. There was some speculation on the SCU message boards at the time that this could’ve been a hoax until it was discovered Stevens had now been going under the name Amazing Kong. Kong would make a name for herself performing for several Japanese promotions such as Pro Wrestling NOAH, GAEA Japan, OZ Academy, HUSTLE, and Zero1 before joining TNA Wrestling’s Knockouts Division in in 2007.

In the years after, World Wonder Ring Stardom began to emerge as one of Japan’s most prolific female promotions. During this time, Stardom would bring in a handful of performers who worked regularly in SoCal or were products of the territory such as Cheerleader Melissa, Christina Von Eerie, Shayna Baszler, Holidead, Thunder Rosa, and Hudson Envy. Stardom would embark on an American excursion of their own, with its first event in the United States taking place on October 16th, 2015 in Covina at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

The show would headlined by a Wonder Of Stardom Championship match with Io Shirai defending the title against Mia Yim. On October 18th the promotion would run an event at the Esther Snyder Community Center in Baldwin Park with Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani defending the Goddesses of Stardom titles against Hiroyo Matsumoto & Kellie Skater. The two day tour would feature other Stardom stars Kairi Hojo, Act Yasukawa, Kyoko Kimura, internationally known workers such as Kris Wolf, Shayna Baszler, Kellie Skater, Santana Garrett, Hudson Envy, Melina Perez.

Paul T

“I know it drives some people nuts it came so easy. Nosawa was just like “Dude, manage” and it stuck. That’s a wrestling mark’s dreams right there and I’m proud of it.”-Paul T

For those who followed the SCU message board many years ago, you were probably familiar with a user by the name gurentai_pt1. He was known for a few things such as a vocabulary made up of words that would offend anyone that read them, his love of Japanese beer, surfing, and pro wrestling. He was also more than just a poster on a message board. He was a huge part of Southern California’s connection to the Japanese wrestling scene at the turn of the century.

Paul T started out as a fan who became an office worker in Japan for Antonio Inoki’s Universal Fighting Arts Organization (UFO), was a translator on the VHS tape releases for Neo Women’s Pro Wrestling’s ReMix: Women’s World Fighting Championship MMA events in Japan, was a freelance booker, and a liaison who helped connect the Southern California wrestling scene with Japan and vice versa. He would later become a manager in XPW and EPIC for Nosawa. Paul is also credited by Super Dragon as to why he got to go on tour with AJPW in 2003, and was the first commissioner of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. He also gave updates to fans on SoCal workers in Japan with insightful commentary on how they performed. Aside from wrestling, he became the “go to guy” in SoCal for anyone seeking advice and tips on traveling to Japan.

“He’s helped me out a lot in wrestling, and the reason I went to Japan. <3’s for Paul T!”-Super Dragon

On February 6th, 2004, Paul created a thread on the SCU message board entitled “Who wants Ebessan? in US 3/1 – 3/10)” to help spread the word to promoters n SoCal and abroad that the Osaka Pro star now known as Kikutaro would be in the US and was accepting bookings through Paul. Things would go awry as posters of the Death Valley Driver Video Review message board were outraged over his use of the word “faggot” in his original post on SCU after it was posted there on Paul’s behalf by former SCU staff member Scrub. At the time, SCU was a place where humor had no limits and political correctness meant nothing. DVDVR on the other hand was completely different, as they were more politically correct and frowned upon certain words that would be used on a daily basis among the SoCal wrestling community. An apology post was made by Paul, but the mods of the DVDVR board ended up deleting it. This would result in something positive for the SoCal scene.

“With the help of some other people who are all about Socal, I will do everything I can to make it happen for you motherfuckers.”-Paul T

On March 6th, Revolution Pro presented “One Step Beyond” at the Frank & Son Collectable Show in the City of Industry. The show was headlined by Babi Slymm defending the Rev Pro Heavyweight Championship against Super Dragon, and Rising Son defending the Rev Pro Jr. Heavyweight Championship against Scorpio Sky. The undercard would feature Ebessan teaming with the Human Tornado to go against Kuishinbo Kamen and Top Gun Talwar in a classic comedy match. Other Osaka Pro stars Tigers Mask and Black Tigers (Jeremy Lopez) were also on the card facing La Familia de Tijuana (Damian 666 & Halloween) for the Rev Pro Tag Team Championship.

The event drew about 234 fans, which was one of the biggest crowds in the company’s history. The show itself was good overall, with the second half being really good featuring the Ebessa/Kamen tag match and Super Dragon vs. Babi Slymm in a classic match. Ebessan would return to the United States for Rev Pro again in May of that year, but due to poor marketing the event drew a very disappointing crowd of 30. Rev Pro’s “One Step Beyond” would be considered by many to be the last great Rev Pro events before closing down in December of 2004.

The next night on March 7th at the Elks Lodge in Santa Ana, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla held an event that ended up being put together on less than a few weeks notice. Originally the promotion had been planning only on running on March 27th, but PWG decided to put on a special show on short notice to book the Osaka Pro stars. The card would feature Tigers Mask, Black Tigers, a classic comedy match between Ebessan and Kuishinbo Kamen with guest referee TARO, and Japanese stars Nosawa and Mazada of Tokyo Gurentai in action with their manager Paul T by their side.

The events that weekend, along with the Inoki Dojo’s Toukon 3 show in Hollywood that was held after RevPro, made for a special weekend for SoCal wrestling fans. Had people not been offended by Paul T’s words, SoCal fans wouldn’t have gotten the chance to see the two pioneers of comedy wrestling in person. Not only did Paul’s offensive words result in SoCal fans getting a special treat, but his crass humor would end up benefiting several local wrestlers. In the months after the Osaka Pro weekend, SoCal wrestlers Scott Lost, Scorpio Sky, Disco Machine, and Mr. Excitement would go on tours of Osaka Pro in 2004.

During his years in the SoCal scene, Paul touched a lot of lives. From message board posters, to fans, to promoters, and to the workers, Paul T meant a lot to the scene during the turn of the century before he left in 2005. Sadly in January of 2013, Paul T would pass away. After his passing, SoCalUncensored.com renamed the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Year award to the Paul T. Memorial Award for Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Year in honor of Paul. The award is traditionally meant to be given to the best wrestler in terms of in-ring quality. Paul was always vocal about match quality, so it was only natural for the site to dedicate the award to him.

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In Part 3, I’ll take a look at the Inoki Dojo and NJPW-USA.

Articles, resources, and works used in the research of this article:

Additional articles about the RPIC/Ultimo Dragon fiasco:

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  1. Real Talk 16: Looking back at the BRAVE disaster, Cornette vs.PWG | SoCalUNCENSORED.com - 06/08/2017

    […] discussed the EPIC “Wrestle Roots” disaster of 2002 in Part 2 of my three part series about SoCal and Puroresu. To this day, it was the biggest blunder in modern SoCal history. It was supposed to be Ultimo […]