Saturday, May 23, 2015

The War of La Parka: A Lucha Libre Legend

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At the end of the day, there's nothing more important to someone than their name. It means everything. You can take away money, you can rob one of all prized possessions, but it would never be the same as robbing someone of their name. You do that, and their reputation crumbles, their identity falls apart, their life breaks down before their very eyes. A name means everything, and it's the basis for the story I'm about to tell you. Hopefully it doesn't kill the meaning to inform it's a pro wrestling story.

On June 6th, 2010,  AAA put together one of the most unique main events in the history of Triplemania, the promotions biggest show of the year. It wasn't fought over a heavyweight championship, it wasn't a massive multi man match for company control, it wasn't even for a well built up secondary title. Instead, Triplemania's main event was a battle over a name, a battle nearly two decades in the making that had greatly affected the careers of both participants and the promotion that created the name. It's a story not known to most wrestling fans here in the states, and it's a story worth telling. So sit back, crack open a Pepsi and settle in. This here is the tale of one lucha libre's great modern day feuds. This is the War of La Parka.

Chapter 1: La Parka's Many Masks

In 1992, frustrated by his ideas being shot down by CMLL higher ups, former wrestler turned booker Antonio Pena created the promotion we now know as AAA (Asistencia Asesoría y Administración). Almost overnight, AAA became legitimate competition for CMLL, largely due to Pena signing away talented young luchadores who had been held down in favor of CMLL's old guard. One of the young luchadores Pena signed was Adolfo Tapia, a 27 year old luchadore who had bounced around in the lower levels of lucha libre since his debut in 1987. Having a brilliant mind for the business, Pena created a new character for Tapia, one of a masked luchadore decked out in a skeleton costume, a homage to costumes used in Day of the Dead ceremonies. With that, La Parka was born.

L.A. Park, the original La Parka, in WCW

Almost immediately, the gimmick was a success. Tapia, it turned out, was a highly charismatic performer, and he quickly one over the crowd due to his unique look and colorful personality (La Parka famously strutted and danced his way to the ring, and would often bring a chair with him that he would air guitar to). Think Shinsuke Nakamura if he dressed up like Skeletor. For the next few years, La Parka become one of the most popular luchadores in Mexico, and seemed destined to be a top star for years to come. Alas, this was around the time the US was beginning to take note of just how exciting a style lucha libre was. It wasn't long till Tapia was noticed, and he and the La Parka gimmick bolted to the States, first for a brief run with ECW and then a highly memorable run in WCW, where La Parka would become the self proclaimed "chairman of WCW", beat Randy Savage (it was in fact Diamond Dallas Page in the costume, not Tapia, during that moment) and eventually get swallowed up whole by the awful Vince Russo/Ed Ferreira era.

While Tapia was having his run up north however, Pena came up with another idea. Since he was the one who designed the La Parka gimmick, he held the rights to the character in Mexico, allowing him to put someone else in the skeleton costume. Once again, Pena chose a lesser known talent in Jesus Escobedo, who like Tapia had more or less floated around before getting a shot in the suit. And wouldn't you know it, Pena struck gold again, as Escobedo turned out to be just as charismatic a performer as Tapia. For the next few years, La Parka Jr. (called that on the belief that Tapia would return to AAA at some point) proved to be a success for AAA, even as business had declined in the wake of luchadores leaving for WCW and WWE.

Antonio Pena, the man who created La Parka

Then the shit hit the fan. In 2003, with WCW long gone and WWE having no interest in any luchadore outside of Rey Mysterio and Ultimo Dragon, Tapia returned to Mexico. The only problem was that he didn't return to AAA, opting to go to CMLL instead. Pena, hurt by the decision and again, still owning the rights to the character he created, filed a lawsuit against Tapia in order to prevent him from using the La Parka name. It worked; despite having used the La Parka character since its inception, Tapia was forced to give up the name and for a time his classic appearance. He would go on to take the name L.A. Park (short for La Autentica Park), while Escobedo had the Jr. dropped from his name and officially became the new La Parka. The legal battle served as a double edge sword. On one hand, the controversy, along with the popularity of both Tapia and Escobedo, made fans clamor for a match between the two to see who indeed deserved the right to be called La Parka. On the other, the lawsuit, and several countersuits by Tapia that followed, seemingly burned the bridge between the two parties, and when Pena died of a heart attack in 2006 without making peace with Tapia, it appeared the dream match fans wanted was out of reach.

The new La Parka, signing autographs

Chapter 2: The War Begins

If there's one thing about the wrestling business however, it's that one must never say never. On March 12th, 2010, AAA held their annual Rey de Reyes event, the lucha libre equivalent of WWE's King of the Ring. The main story going into the show had been the slow building feud between AAA owner Joaquin Roldan and his son Dorian, who had broken away from his father and joined up with Mexican legend turned invader Konnan. During the show, Dorian was seen talking to a man in the shadows, promising that this was his time. After Konnan defeated Cibernetico, Dorian and the man, dressed in a trench coat and his face concealed, came down to the ring and disposed of El Mesias, who had come to Cibernetico's aid. In one of the most shocking moments in AAA history, the man took off his disguise to reveal himself to be L.A. Park making his first appearance in AAA in over ten years. La Parka would come down to ring side moments later, and the two had to ultimately be separated by security. Fans went nuts, and it was clear the fight they had long wanted was within their reach.

Park would appear again for AAA a week later at a TV taping, attacking La Parka and putting him through a table. However, Park disappeared once more after that appearance, and would go on to claim in numerous interviews that his appearance was a one off, with him having nothing to prove now that he had taken care of, as he put it, the "poor imitation." In reality, AAA had developed a well booked work, intending to use the past issues between Park, La Parka and AAA to captivate fans. It worked, and a month later Park  had returned, attacking his nemesis once more. The stage was set for a challenge, and La Parka, fed up with the attacks, officially challenged Park to a match at Triplemania. Evidently because he's a nice guy, he also threw in a catch; Park would get to pick the stipulation.

The two La Parka's face off

Now I don't know about you, but it seems pretty clear what stipulation would be picked, right? Likely sensing that, AAA dragged out the issue for a few weeks before having him give his answer during a press conference on May 12th (Park actually accepted the challenge two weeks earlier, but chose to wait to reveal the stipulation). To the surprise of no one, the stipulation for the match was that the winner would get the rights to the La Parka name, thus ending the fourteen year debate on which man (Tapia or Escobedo) was the real La Parka. A week later, the contract was signed, and the fans finally had the dream match they always wanted. All that was left was to ride out the last few weeks of build up (which involved Dorian, by this point Park's onscreen manager, having La Parka arrested for piracy in a clever angle), and it would be there. The only question was, could it live up to the years and years of hype?

The Match

Triplemania finally arrived on June 6th, and to the surprise of no one, L.A. Park vs. La Parka served as the events main event match. You could sense the electricity as both men came to the ring, each wearing near identical La Parka costumes and each coming out to Michael Jackson's classic song, "Thriller" (in Mexico, copyright laws pretty much don't exist. It's wonderful as far as entrance music goes). In a shocking turn of events however, the crowd was seemingly split 60/40 in favor of Park. This was in spite of the fact that Park entered the match as the rudo (the term for heel in lucha libre, in case you're reading me for the first time), and was accompanied to the ring by Dorian, one of the most loathsome individuals in AAA at the time. If the crowd couldn't set the stage for the spectacle of what was to come, nothing could. And yet, both Park and La Parka had a few more surprises up their sleeves.

A bloodied La Parka takes a beating from L.A. Park

It's time to be real here. This was a hotly anticipated match, perhaps the most anticipated match in Mexico in recent memory when it happened. But no one, and I mean no one, could've possibly thought the match would be a classic. Both Park and La Parka were in their mid 40's at the time, well past their prime, and the presence of Dorian and Joaquin at ringside indicated this match would be more about spectacle and interference than high quality in ring action. Boy, was everyone wrong. Not only did those two deliver, but they delivered in full force, a combined performance that was at times brutal, at times intense and at every point exciting. Watching the match, I was surprised to see how well both men moved; if I hadn't known their ages, I would've thought Park and La Parka were twenty years younger than they were. That their ability to physically hold up coincided with some excellent storytelling is what ultimately made everything work. Losing wasn't an option for either man; they had to win, they needed to win. Everything depended on it. That's how much the stipulation meant. And it was that energy from them, that storytelling, that kept the crowd on their feet for the whole match, beginning to end.

And how did it end? After accidentally taking out the referee with a suicide dive, Park was able to take control of the match once again and brutally tombstoned La Parka onto a chair. Fed up with the cheating, Joaquin came in the ring to confront Park, who then took said chair and threatened AAA's owner. Evidently, this was a bridge too far for Dorian (who had otherwise gleefully supported Park's actions throughout the match), and he came in the ring to save his father. In a shocking move, Park turned on Dorian, shoving him away and then clocked Joaquin with a chair to a surprising amount of cheers. Dorian quickly recovered and attacked Park with the chair, but before he could serious damage was run off by, get this, Perros del Mal! Yes, Perro Aguayo Jr's promotion, having come to terms with AAA on an invasion angle just a few days prior to Triplemania, arrived right in the nick of time, chasing off Dorian and moving a wounded Park over a motionless La Parka. One corrupt ref later, and L.A. Park was the winner, officially proving himself to be the one true La Parka. The rest of Perros del Mal (including Park's son, Hijo de L.A. Park), hit the ring to celebrate, with Perro and Park cutting promos to close the show as the AAA roster angrily tried to get at the stable from outside the ring. As far as closing segments go, this might be the Blade Runner of lucha libre.

Halloween and Damien 666 pull a partially unmasked L.A. Park to victory


There's plenty of instances where big time events don't live up to the hype. L.A. Park vs. La Parka wasn't one of those. This was a dream match that exceeded the hype, a spectacle with story, a brawl with technical skill, a tale of two men fighting for a name they both felt they had claim to. Professional wrestling, whether it's the lucha libre or American style, works best when there is urgency, when the stakes feel real, when the story is something right out of the world we live in. The War of La Parka was just that. It took Adolfo Tapia's struggle to regain the name that made him a household name, it took Jesus Escobedo's struggle to overcome being the sequel to the original, and turned it into a lucha libre legend. The best comparison to a WWE match I can give is the Rock-Hollywood Hogan match from Wrestlemania X8, only with better in ring quality. It's that good. So don't wait, and don't just take my word for it. The usual ending isn't going to happen in this column. Instead, I'll leave you to go out, find this match on the internet or on DVD, and take 45 minutes of your time to sit back, relax, and enjoy professional wrestling as it's meant to be. You won't regret. Trust me, no one else who has seen it has.

A quick postscript; despite winning the match, Tapia wasn't allowed to take back the La Parka name, as the Mexico City Boxing and Wrestling Commission (yes, there's a commission down there that rules on a fake sport. I don't get it either) ruled the match void due to outside interference. Thus, Tapia was forced to remain L.A. Park, while Escobedo remains La Parka. Tapia later said that the name didn't matter, though whether he believes that or not is something you'd have to ask him.

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Lucha Libre World Cup Preview Part 3: Team MexLeyendas and the International Dream Team


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We're down to four teams here in the Lucha Libre World Cup breakdown. And not a moment too soon, as the brackets have finally been released and the match ups are now known. I'll have the full predictions for every match up tomorrow in the final part of this preview. For now, let's breakdown the next two teams, including the one that is (spoiler alert) the one I'm absolutely going to be rooting for. What, I can be unbiased. I'm a fan after all! But enough justification. ON WITH THE SHOW!

Lucha Libre World Cup Preview Part 3

Team MexLeyendas


Blue Demon Jr.: Adopted son of lucha libre legend Blue Demon, undefeated in an astonishing nineteen Lucha de Apuesta matches (mask vs. mask, mask vs. hair, hair vs. hair, ect), currently working for both AAA and Lucha Underground, albeit part time with the latter.

Dr. Wagner Jr.: Son of lucha libre legend Dr. Wagner, brother of lucha libre star and former WCW wrestler Silver King. Yes, a lot of lucha libre history is in this group. Like Blue Demon Jr., Wagner Jr. has also wrestled for almost twenty years, working for CMLL, Universal Wrestling Association and now AAA, where he continues to work on occasion. Former two time AAA Mega Champion.

El Solar: Lucha libre legend, submission specialist, has wrestled for AAA, UWA and CMLL, oldest member of the field at 59 years old. Is so old, he actually wrestled during the twilight years of El Santo and Blue Demon's career, back when CMLL was the EMLL. That's a compliment by the way.

Wrestler You've Heard Of

Blue Demon Jr. Unless you're Mil Mascaras  or part of a legendary wrestling family like the Guerrero's, lucha libre stars don't get much play in the states. Thankfully for Demon Jr., his father is such a legend that he at least has some notoriety in the states, similar to El Santo's son El Hijo del Santo. Of course, del Santo also had great matches on a large scale, including the only five star match in AAA history at Worlds Collide 1994 (del Santo and Octagon took on Los Gringos Locos, the legendary Eddie Guerrero/"Love Machine" Art Barr tag team). Can Blue Demon Jr. do the same twenty one years later is the question?

Chance of Victory

Inexplicably, better than you'd expect. Yes, no one on this team is under the age of 48, but so what? They're all legends, they all can still go in the ring to some degree (Wagner in particular still looks better than some guys twenty years younger than him), and did I mention they're legends? You don't mess with legends in lucha libre; it's like trying to argue that Orlando Bloom is a better talent than Michael Fassbender. At the very least, this group gets to the second round, and it wouldn't shock me if they get to the end. At worst, they'll be the crowd favorite.

International Dream Team


Drew Galloway: Former WWE star, current TNA star, one of the most underrated wrestlers on planet Earth, went from having one of the greatest theme songs in wrestling history to being part of a semi-decent comedy stable. Man, all this section has done is make me miss Jinder Mahal. "Does it look like we work at Lens Crafters?!". Classic line.

El Mesias: Former TNA star under the name Judas Mesias, once portrayed a character named Muerte Cibernetica who was killed when being thrown into a volcano (no joke, this was a legit angle), Puerto Rican wrestling legend, baddest motherfucker on planet Earth. Oh, he's also wrestling's new face of fear.

Angelico: South African wrestler trained by the legendary Ultimo Dragon, former AAA Tag Team Champion with Jack Evans, current Lucha Underground Trios Champion with Ivelisse and Son of Havoc, overall swell dude, and the number one reason to love professional wrestling right now. He's also the most athletic dude ever. Angelico > LeBron James.

Wrestler You've Heard Of

Angelico. Oh stop booing me. I know I'm totally being biased here. I also know that Drew Galloway has had more prime time spotlight and that El Mesias has had just as much, if not a little more, than Angelico has. In the words of Dave Chappelle (get the censors ready), so the fuck what? I love both Galloway and Mesias, but it's not like the two of them have been setting the world on fire doing stuff like this recently.

My God, it's still full of stars!
What I'm pretty much saying is that you can't deny that this is Angelico's moment right now. He's white hot thanks to his LU performances, he's continued to be a great presence in AAA, and hell, I just yesterday wrote a column trying to figure out which one of his amazing death defying jumps was better. Aside from the members of the Dream Team, no one is coming into this World Cup with as much momentum and fandom as Angelico. This could be a breakout moment for him. That is of course if you don't count those two unbelievable spots as his coming out party.

Chance of Victory

If I had any guts at all, I'd pick these three to win. Alas, I think they just fall short of being a favorite behind the two teams we're going to look at tomorrow. I will be rooting like hell for these guys though. You all know at this point how I feel about Angelico, and his teammates are excellent as well. Besides, what cooler team is there in this field than one that consists of The Artist Otherwise Known as Mil Muertes, the Chosen One and the Evel Knievel of wrestling? If you're a first time lucha libre viewer, root like hell for these three and thank me after the show. GO INTERNATIONAL DREAM TEAM!

That'll do it guys. I'll be back tomorrow with a look at the final two teams in the World Cup, as well as give my predictions for where everyone slots in. Till then, GO INTERNATIONAL DREAM TEAM, remember to not use caps all time, watch wrestling, order the Lucha Libre World Cup, no Coke, Pepsi and duly note that one of my favorite Sum 41 songs is SUMMER!

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Lucha Libre World Cup Preview Part 2: Team ROH/LU and Team TNA/LU

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And we're back with the next part of the Lucha Libre World Cup preview! For this entry, we'll be taking a look at Team Ring of Honor/Lucha Underground and Team TNA/Lucha Underground. That's a lot of Lucha Underground right there, which if you've read any of my work is quite alright with me. Do any of these teams have a chance? Is there anyone you know? Why am I still asking questions. It's time! It's time! It's predicting time! ON WITH THE SHOW!

Lucha Libre World Cup Preview Part 2



Moose: Ring of Honor star, signed with Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling (though his ROH contract limits him to house show dates), former NFL player who was actually pretty decent, has future superstar written all over him.

ACH: Another Ring of Honor star, has wrestled for CHIKARA, Dragon Gate USA, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, All American Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling, Anarchy Championship Wrestling and pretty much any promotion that has the name wrestling involved. Tried out for WWE last year, inexplicably wasn't signed.

Brian Cage: Former WWE developmental star, former TNA Gutcheck contestant and current regular for AAA and Pro Wrestling Guerilla. Also makes appearances in a certain Los Angeles based promotion that you might've heard of. From the 559. He's a machine.

Wrestler You've Heard Of

Cage, although ACH has been rising up the ranks the past few years and Moose will be a star sooner than later, not to mention he's a football player turned wrestler football fans have actually heard of. Right now though, the man from the 559 takes the cut after a torrid last few months that saw him challenge Albert El Patron for the AAA Championship in Mexico and tear down the house weekly in Lucha Underground. Other than Angelico, no one in the Temple has impressed me more than Cage, a freaky combination of athleticism and power. He's like a properly used Roman Reigns I guess. I expect this to be a coming out party for him, though to be fair, it should be for all three guys. If it seems like I really like this team, it's because I do. Could be the most fun team in the Cup other than...dammit I nearly said too much!

Chance of Winning

Decent, but not too decent. For these guys though, I think the performance is going to be more important than the result. All three have something to prove. Moose's name is quickly rising up the ranks, and it's a good thing ROH took him off the market when they did. ACH could be one of, if not the best, indy wrestlers left right now, and this will be his first big, non ROH spotlight show. And you've already heard me write enough Shakespearean soliloquies on Cage to know how much I like him. Thus, I expect them to be fun to watch, but unfortunately not contenders to win. Like the United States in the actual World Cup. Tim Howard for the win!



Matt Hardy: Version 1, tag team legend, former cult wrestling hero, ect. Do I really need to write anymore? The only people who don't know who Matt Hardy is are non wrestling fans and Mazza, who is in denial about Matt's existence to this very day.

Mr. Anderson: Formerly Mr. Ken Kennedy of WWE, currently Mr. Anderson of TNA, where he was their World Champion a couple of times. Randy Orton's favorite wrestler.

Johnny Mundo: The man with many names, former ECW Champion (new ECW, not old), parkour enthusiast, currently throwing people through windows in Lucha Underground. Resides at the Palace of Wisdom, a great place to vacation I hear.

So shiny!

Wrestler You've Heard Of

All three of them. Seriously. If you're a wrestling fan, the only way you haven't heard of Hardy, Mr. Anderson or Mundo is if you just started watching wrestling in January (and only watched WWE) or just suffered a serious head injury. If it's the second one, please seek medical attention right now (and please tell the doctors to read Please Change Disks to Continue...!). In fact, this might be the most famous team in the World Cup to US audiences. All three wrestled for WWE, all three had times as at least a semi-top star in WWE and all three have had noteworthy escapades outside the ring, whether it WWE or Mundo...actually, Mundo leads a pretty quiet life. Good on you Johnny. In any case, this is a team you'll recognize. Which is good right? American audiences like to recognize wrestlers. I assume that's why Samoa Joe walking out on a stage this past Wednesday overshadowed everything else in wrestling and has gone on to become the greatest thing since CM Punk's pipebomb. In Joe's defense, that was a great strut he used (full disclosure; I like Samoa Joe, I thought the segment overall was pretty good and I'm happy he's getting a shot. But come on fans. It's not like this was Brock Lesnar's return or anything).

Chance of Winning

You'd think it would be pretty good, considering that this is likely one of the more well known team in the Cup. You'd also be wrong. In fact, I'm going out on a limb here and predicting a first round exit for TNA/LU. They don't need as much shine as some of the up and coming teams do (Team Noah, ROH/LU) and do we really expect them to overthrow one of the AAA teams? Let's be real here guys; it's not happening. I say they get bounced by the Dream Team in the opening match. All apologies dudes; I like all of you. It's just not in the cards this year.

That'll do it! I'll be back later today with a look at the Mexican Legend Team and the newly dubbed International Dream Team. Till then, play me off DUCHOVNY!

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Lucha Libre World Cup Preview Part 1: Team All Japan and Team Noah

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Big weekend coming up wrestling fans. No, I'm not talking about TNA going out of business and no, I'm not talking about Samoa Joe walking out onto a stage, evidently a moment right up there with Punk-Cena, the nWo formation and the Austin beer truck segment combined. What am I referring to then? The Lucha Libre World Cup! Yup, AAA (backed by the Mexican brewery Grupo Medelo) has put together the wrestling equivalent of the FIFA World Cup, featuring eight teams made up of talent from Lucha Underground, AAA, Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Noah, All Japan and TNA (CMLL, the other top promotion in Mexico, was invited to participate, but declined made too much sense?). These eight teams will compete in a three round tournament, with the winner going on to become Lucha Libre World Cup Champion (keeping with World Cup tradition, there will also be a third place match up. Nice touch AAA, nice touch). Oh, did I mention Matt Striker and Vampiro are calling this? Best night ever alert!

Anyways, for the next two days leading up to the big event, we're going to take a look at each respective team and breakdown what chances (if any) they have of capturing the trophy in this inaugural tournament. Our first two teams we're looking at will be the teams from All Japan and Pro Wrestling Noah. Sound good? Good. Let's not waste time. ON WITH THE SHOW!

 Lucha Libre World Cup Preview

Team All Japan Wrestling

The Members

Kenzo Suzuki, the team captain. More on him in a moment.

Tiger Mask III, former Sonny Ono client, the innovator of the Koji Clutch, kinda sorta a major Japanese wrestling legend in that he's considered one of the twenty five best wrestlers ever by PWI.

Masamune, actually doesn't work for All Japan, but was brought in as part of the team anyway. Where's a mask, which means he'll be right at home.
Wrestler You'll Recognize

Suzuki, who if you recall once wrestled for WWE. Remember that Japanese guy from the early 2000's who wrestled on Smackdown, had the geisha manager (Suzuki's actual wife) and teamed with Renee Dupree in one of the oddest pairings of all time? That was Suzuki. Ironically enough, WWE supposedly had bigger plans for him than that, and in fact originally conceived for him a role similar to the one Rusev plays today. Unfortunately, they scrapped that, eventually forced him to become a comedic performer and the rest is the kind of history that only shows up in terrible alternate timelines. Since being freed by WWE in 2005, Suzuki has rebounded nicely, having stints in CMLL, AAA and Dragon Gate before settling into All Japan five years ago. This will be a nice opportunity for him to remind the world why he was such a sought after free agent by WWE all those years ago.

Never forget

Chance of Victory

Slim, as in Slim Pickens. No disrespect to All Japan, but they're not exactly the top of the food chain in Japanese wrestling circles, not to mention that this is the second oldest team in the field (that is a factor. Don't kid yourself). I'm expecting a spirited performance from this group though, and hopefully we get to see them go up against the Mexican Legend team. Who doesn't want to see the two oldest teams in the tourney clash? That it would likely be better than half of what you see in WWE and TNA these days would be telling.

Team Pro Wrestling Noah


Taiji Ishimori, team captain, longest reigning GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, veteran of all three major Japanese promotions, former tag team partner of KENTA (now known as Hideo Itami).

Yoshihiro Takayama, pro wrestler/MMA fighter, one of only two men to hold all three major Japanese titles (the GHC Heavyweight Championship, the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship), pretty decent commentator for KENTA matches (man, KENTA/Itami is like the unofficial fourth member of this team with all these mentions, huh?).

Atsushi Kotoge, former GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, youngest member of all the Japanese wrestlers, CHIKARA veteran, yet another former opponent/partner of KENTA. Seriously, can WWE just loan Itami out for a day to compete with this team? Is anyone going to complain?

Itami/Kenta is not impressed

Wrestler You'll Recognize

Takayama, thanks in a large part to his MMA career. Despite having an unimpressive win loss record overall (0-4), Takayama was lauded for being one of the toughest men to fight in Pride. Most notably, his loss to Don Frye at Pride 21 is considered to be one of the best MMA fights ever, which saw Takayama refusing to be defeated despite taking brutal punishment. Combine that with his impressive resume in the puroresu style and his famous call of KENTA/Kensuke Sasaki match in 2005 (he famously exclaimed "I hope this never ends!" during the bouts climatic chop battle), and he's barely the most well known. In fairness though, both Ishimori and Kotoge have some familiarity with American audiences, thanks to their involvement in AAA and CHIKARA respectively.

Chance of Victory

Better than you think. Noah's team is clearly the superior of the two Japanese teams, and they have the advantage of having Ishimori, an AAA veteran on their side. I wouldn't put them as the favorite or anything, but this is definitely a team to keep an eye on. At worst, they're definitely a semi-finals team I think, and you could talk me into them winning the third place bout. I may need a few glasses of chocolate milk in me before you present that case, but it could happen.

Alright guys, that's it for tonight. I'll be back tomorrow with a look at the ROH/LU team and the TNA/LU team. Should be a good one. Till then, sleep well and dream of Angelico making more suicide dives, watch Chuck, drink more chocolate milk, stay in the car, and chill out, it's SUMMER!

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