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Life in Japan / Osaka Pro Wrestling


Gordlow
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  • 3 months later...

I didn't manage to make it out to the final Dotonbori Pro shows or parties of the year, but I did make it out to the Osaka Pro revival show on the 28th.

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The woman to Billyken Kid's right is my new friend Chizuki. She's a web designer who has a side hustle organizing English events and lessons of various kinds. She's set me up with a couple of lucrative gigs in the past couple of months. The guys to his left are, respectively, Esteve and Gorge.

As usual when I make new friends, one of the first things that Chizuki learned about me was that I am a crazy pro wrestling nerd. She had told me that she liked pro wrestling but didn't have anyone to go to shows with, so we'd been talking about hitting a show for a while. Esteve and Gorge attend one of her English conversation get-togethers in Osaka. They are both in that intermediate stage where they have been in Japan for a few months on student/work visas and are trying to work out if they are going to stick around after those visas expire, and how to make that happen. 

Esteve is from France Gorge is from Monterrey,  home of the Arena Coliseo de Monterrey, but he has never been to a live Lucha Libre show. In fact, this was the first live pro wrestling show for all three of my new friends. 

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A lot of the O-Pro guys think about Mexico the same way I used to think about Japan when I was living in Canada: That far-away foreign land with the amazing pro wrestling that they really love and all that delicious food and unique culture and interesting history and all those slightly-exotic women... and a lot of them have spent time in Mexico on wrestling excursions. 

So a lot of them were exceptionally pleased to meet Gorge, in a similar way to how I marked out meeting Asian Cougar for the first time at a Vancouver Indy show all those years ago. Billyken, Tsubabsa, Matsuyama Kanjyuro, and maybe others all spoke to him extensively in Spanish. Gorge was pleasantly surprised and they all seemed quite chuffed to have the opportunity to use the language that they'd picked up over there. 

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I'd bragged to Chizuki about how I knew a lot of the boys from the 2009-2014 period where I'd been a regular at Osaka Pro shows and drinking parties and how everyone was so kind and friendly. It would have been a perfectly poetic kind of Murphy's Law situation if nobody had remembered me or if they'd all been too busy to say hello or whatever.

Edited by gordi
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But of course that wasn't the case at all. Everyone was just as happy to see me again as I was to see them, and they absolutely bent over backwards to make my new friends feel welcome. Anyone who remembers my endless Osaka Pro posts here and on SSS and SC and elsewhere from that 2009-2014 period will doubtless remember my old friend Kenji, who was Osaka Pro's number one fan and ambassador and my regular drinking buddy back then. He took a day off from work to come out and meet us. It was great to see him again. 

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Kenjo bought calendars from Kushikatsu Oyaji as gifts from Esteve and Gorge. It's a secret, but the guy under the mask is Japanese indy mainstay Kengo Takai, a/k/a Perro. (Here's me with Perro in 2009):

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I'm pretty sure Shirokuma is also someone I know working a different gimmick:

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His in-ring character is truly delightful: A big playful teddy bear, basically. (I'm almost sure it's Mihara a/k/a Yonel Sanders under that mask...):

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Ah... memories.

It was almost overwhelmingly nostalgic for me to see everyone again, and I took a lot of joy in listening to Chizuki, Gorge, and Esteve giggle at the comedy stuff and oooh and aaah when the action picked up. 

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The main event was an absolute corker: GAINA & HUB defending their tag titles against the indy dream team of Gamma & Super Shisa. It was also really cool to see Buffalo & Tsubasa back together working heel as Infinity in their black outfits.

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The best thing, though, was to share something I love with some new friends, (and also to have my new friends meet my old friends,  and also just to see so many old friends again). There were a lot of new faces in the small crowd, but also a lot of people I hadn't seen for about five years and in every case the reunion was a very happy one. 

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There was even one Osaka Pro fan who knew Chizuki from her English events, a very nice young woman named Mie:

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We all got packages of Wakame (a strong-tasting, in this case dried, seaweed that is quite nice with sake) and after the show (after Kenji and I helped break down the decorations while everyone else waited) we all went to a very nice Mexican restaurant in the Fukushima area of Osaka, a nice 18-minute walk from Noda Citizen's Hall (where the show was held). 

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That was a pretty cool meal, with Japanese, English, Spanish, and French all being spoken at various times by various people (Gorge speaks French fluently. I cracked he and Esteve up with my basic Canadian high school French). The food was excellent, the conversation even better. I caught one of the last trains home. 

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@odessasteps Kana was around the same scene at the same time as I was. She was a pretty frequent guest wrestler with Osaka Pro from 2009 through 2014, when I was a regular at their shows. She was fairly often at the same events or drinking parties as I was. She was often in the company of Japnese indy star Onryo back then. I have no idea if they were dating or just friends or if it was just a coincidence. I don't know if I ever saw her drink alcohol. She usually drank Oolong tea, if memory serves...Not sure if she is a non-drinker or one of the many Japanese people with an alcohol intolerance, or just wasn't drinking at those times. 

Kana has a very powerful magnetic presence. Almost all of the wrestlers I know are cool and charismatic, but Kana and Zeus really stood out even in that crowd. You were always aware when they were in the room. Kana was super sweet and very nice. She was unfailingly patient with my bad Japanese on the few occasions when I got to speak with her. The Kana-chan character from her YouTube show seems pretty true to life based on my limited experience. Also, she was just a monster ass-kicker in the ring at that time. 

@The Natural @Eivion Thanks very much for the kind words.

I still lurk on these boards and sometimes post over at PWO. I keep meaning to post more on here. I might get involved on the WK 14 discussion thread if I am not at my mother-in-law's house in the countryside at that time.

I'm pretty busy with work and I have two young daughters so I only get out to Osaka for wrestling a handful of times per year these days. Generally I will cross-post  a whole photo essay here and at PWO every time I get to an event, take a few pictures, and have enough time to make a post about it. It's always nice to get a reaction from some old internet friends and see that I haven't been forgotten.

I have been really lucky to have a really good experience of life in Japan and it always makes me happy to try and share some of that joy. 

Edited by gordi
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10 hours ago, Ryan said:

Kushikatsu Oyaji looks like Kikutaro/Ebessan's evil cousin.

 

It's true, he does. And his character is like a bad-ass version of Takoyakida. 

He wears an apron, on which is printed a warning not to double-dip. That's a very specific Osaka kind of joke, and I was pleased with myself for getting it. 

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  • 1 month later...

I made it out to the Doutonbori Pro Wrestling Shinnenkai (first party of the year) at Kemura & Flower, a Chinese restaurant and bar in Minami a/k/a Namba a/k/a Naniwa, the entertainment district of Osaka. It was all you can drink for three hours, with the staff bringing plate after plate of food to the tables, as usual. Kuuga and Kazuaki Mihara (a/k/a Shiro Kuma, the erstwhile tag team partner of Shigehiro Irie and the current Doutonbori Pro Tag Champ alongside Katumi Oribe and also the current Kyushu Pro Wrestling tag champ alongside Naoki Sakurajima a/k/a Setoguchi) were there, along with MMA fighter and promoter Testuo Kondo. We took up the whole restaurant, there were old friends at every table, and I ate and drank so much that I thought I was going to rupture my stomach. I spent the whole train-ride back to Nara sweating uncontrollably. I'm OK now, though. No regrets.

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Tofu salad with sesame oil dressing

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egg drop soup

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Karaage

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spicy fries

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mapo doufu

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tantanmen

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sara udon

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birthday cakes

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If anyone is curious, my drink choices went like this: Draft beer, redeye, umeshu soda, umeshu soda, yuzushu rocks, umeshu rocks, shandy gaff, tequila tonic (Kuuga's choice), umeshu soda (they were using Choya Black, which is a pretty tasty umeshu and which matched up well with the food, so I kept going back to it), shandy gaff made with ginger ale (to match with the spicy fries, as suggested by the nice lady from Gakuenmae) draft beer (to match with the very spicy mapo doufu/mabo tofu dish), lemon sour (ladies choice for the table), umeshu soda, whiskey highball (Mihara's choice - they were using Nikka whiskey which made me think, "This place is pretty generous with its all-you-can drink menu!"), umeshu rocks, whiskey highball (Tetsuo Kondo's choice), umeshu soda, umeshu rocks. 

Edited by gordi
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