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Wrestling / Michinoku Pro Wrestling

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"It's high-flying, it's action-packed. I'm going to be breathless just calling this."
Joey Styles, before the Michinoku Pro Six-Man Tag Match at ECW Barely Legal

Michinoku Pro Wrestling (MPW or M-Pro) is a Japanese independent Professional Wrestling promotion founded in 1993 by The Great Sasuke. Bred as the offshoot of Universal Lucha Libre, Michinoku Pro was the second lucharesu promotion created in Japan and the biggest one until 1999, when Osaka Pro split off from it and Toryumon Japan came from Mexico.

The promotion showcases a diverse mix of wrestling styles, though its main influences emanate from lucha libre, full of high-flying wrestling and appropiate masked aesthetic. Michinoku Pro is also famously lighthearted in tone, which allows for comedy wrestling, costumed shenanigans with folkloric Japanese characters and weird gimmicks, and a very national sense of humor and wackiness. In more recent times, it has gone to feature also garbage wrestling and very stiff action with a bit of shoot-style, and even joshi (female) wrestling. It has maintained contact with many other promotions, like Toryumon, Battlarts and almost every Japanese indy under the sun.

M-Pro is pretty geographically based: it was the first relevant Japanese federation to base itself away from Tokyo, and as such it mostly tours around Northern Japan in small local shows, only visiting the big arenas for special events, all of which gives it a close-knit feeling. Despite this factor and its small size, Michinoku Pro has outlived many and more famous wrestling promotions, and it is nowadays one of the historical marks of the puroresu scene.

Michinoku Pro Tropes:

  • Ax-Crazy: Kowloon members had a shade of this.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The promotion has some, including itself when talking of its masked tournaments and festivals, but The Great Sasuke is the biggest.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Atlantis is famous for his loyalty toward CMLL but was so popular he received an invitation to work for Michinoku Pro every year. He was allowed to take the Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Championship to help ensure he would return.
  • Cool Mask: Almost all its wrestlers, at least during the 90s. Also, the Fukumen World League enforces this and makes all its participants (even the ones who normally wrestle unmasked) wear a mask.
  • Cosplay:
    • After leaving the Ken Gundan, Rei changed his black attire to a purple and green one resembling the Evangelion Unit 01. No, really.
    • The Yapper Men team, which is a tribute to Yatterman.
    • During the Great Space War event at the end of every year, the Michinoku guys usually cosplay some popular media, including The Avengers (2012) and wrestlers from other promotions.
  • Crossover
    • First with ECW, then with WWE. TAKA Michinoku, Dick Togo and Terry Boy all joined the Blue World Order and they had the big six-man tag against the Great Sasuke/Gran Hamada/Masato Yakushiji at ECW Barely Legal. Sasuke and TAKA faced each other at WWF in Your House 16: Canadian Stampede. TAKA stayed with the company through the end of 2001. Kaientai (Togo, Teioh and Shoichi Funaki) arrived on the March 30, 1998 Raw. Togo and Teioh left at the end of 1998. Funaki, however, stayed around through 2010!
    • Michinoku got considerable time with the prestigious CMLL World Welterweight Title during Super Delfin's run.
    • The Differ Cup Scramble Tag Team Tournament, hosted by DDT, IWA Japan, Michinoku Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling NOAH and Pro Wrestling ZERO1.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: Los Salseros Japoneses danced salsa music before their matches and kicked asses during them.
  • Evil Costume Switch:
    • When The Great Sasuke became SASUKE, he changed his red and black mask to a blue and black one.
    • Rei changed his white attire to a black one when was forced to join the Ken Gundan.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Nisemono Gundan, composed by Sasuke the Great (to The Great Sasuke), Masked Tiger (to Tiger Mask IV) and NANIWA (to Gran Naniwa).
  • Force Feeding: Curry Man will force curry on his opponents.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: After UWF closed its doors and UWA shutdown, Michinoku Pro got their cross promotional intercontinental tag team titles, as they were held by Great Sasuke and Gran Hamada.
  • Good Counterpart: Kenou started like one to Hayato Fujita: both were young, cocky shooters with a load of ambition. But then Kenou turned heel, and the tables were turned.
  • I Have Many Names: Most of the wrestlers of the promotion have wrestled as several names and gimmicks. Yoshitune (Takuya Sugi) and Rasse (Masaki Okimoto), as well as the Yapper Men (Tsutomu Oosugi and Tatsuhito Senga) are the most prolific ones.
  • Kick Guy: With the new millennium, Michinoku Pro introduced some shoot-style wrestlers like Hayato Fujita and Kenou, and others like the Sato brothers adopted it as well, so definitely many people knows how to kick in this promotion.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The stable Kowloon had a darker tone than its precursors, and contributed to make M-Pro noticeably Darker and Edgier.
  • Legacy Character: Many.
    • Shinjitsu Nohashi, whose gimmick was a little version of Jinsei Shinzaki.
    • Tiger Mask IV, the first Tiger Mask oficially authorized by the original one, Satoru Sayama.
    • Also Yone Genjin, a character who was passed to the more famous Tsubo Genjin (Yone went to become Kesen Numajiro, by the way).
  • Licensed Game: Virtual Pro Wrestling is nominally a WCW series but the "Independent Local Wrestling" sections of the rosters are filled with Michinoku guys.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • The Great Sasuke and Jinsei Shinzaki. A loudmouthed, crazy ninja and a stoic, serene Buddhist pilgrim? Yeah, why not?
    • Kinya Oyanagi and Kesen Numajiro, a straight strong-style grappler and his loud enka singer friend.
  • Power Stable: Many.
    • Delfín Gundan (led by Super Delfín).
    • Kaientai Deluxe (led by Dick Togo and Mens Teioh)
    • SASUKE Gumi (led by the evil SASUKE).
    • Los Salseros Japoneses (led by Takeshi Minamino).
    • STONED (led by Kagetora).
    • Kowloon (led by Hayato Fujita).
    • Asura (led by Kenou).
    • Bad Boy (led by Hayato Fujita).
    • Mu no Taiyo (led by The Great Sasuke).
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Los Salseros Japoneses wore salsa music-styled colorful attires to complete their vicious heelism.
  • Sentient Vehicle: Los Carros Exóticos, a stable composed by wrestlers who behaved like cars. It was led by Berlinetta Boxer, naturally.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Jinsei Shinzaki introduced Kenou to the company especifically to counter Hayato Fujita.
  • "Super Sentai" Stance: The Michinoku Rangers used to do it.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Kenbai unsubtlely replaced Yoshitsune as the resident high-flying samurai wrestler.
  • Unknown Character: It hasn't been revealed who played the character Hayashi Rice Man, Curry Man's tag team partner. Many puroresu wisemen believe it was Kaz Hayashi, as Rice Man's size and moveset resembled his and his name was a very obvious pun.
  • You Are Not Alone: Terry Boy and Shiryu did it to SATO, who had just been unmasked by Super Delfín and was emotionally devastated. The three men would form a friendship which gave birth to the Kai En Tai stable.