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#1 gordi

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 09:20 AM

MoriokaZoo_1009.gif
 
I arrived in Morioka City two days ago. Finally got my internet today, so I can start writing again.
 
It took 2.5 hours to get here from Tokyo on the bullet train. Get this: The Tokyo to Morioka shinkansen is called the "Hayabusa" How awesome is that?
 
I'm gonna miss all the pro wrestling in Tokyo, but apparently the local promotion here is pretty good. You remember the '94 Super J Cup, right? The one Benoit won? Do you remember how great that was? Well, a whole bunch of the guys from that show work up here now. El Samurai, Gedo, Delfin, TAKA... and The Great Sasuke is the owner of the promotion! Rumour is he might even be bringing Ohtani up here, too. So, I mean, it's not like I'll have a dozen different shows to choose from every week... but that's a whole lot better than nothing, right?
 
Also, the weather is just way nicer up here (in the summer, anyway). It was about 25 today in the middle of the afternoon, not much hotter than my home town ... and by the way, Morioka, Iwate, Japan and Victoria, BC, Canada are sister cities. Maybe that's why I got the job offer...
 
...anyway, I think the heat and humidity would have killed me if I had to spend another summer in Tokyo.
 
It's pretty "countryside" here. Not a lot of tourist attractions. The zoo is hilarious. You seriously would not believe the slide in the children's play area there. And check out this photo of an actual sign from the Morioka Zoo:
 
 
monkey.jpg
 
 
so, yeah, the zoo is crazy... and so is my new boss: Mr. Yamaguchi:
 
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His name is Yusuke, but he wants me to call him Wally. Whatever, as long as he pays the bills, you know?
 
Like I said, he's crazy... in a good way, I hope. He has the weirdest laugh and he seems to have a bit of a temper. On the other hand, he got me a kicking apartment, and it seems like i'm gonna have a pretty light workload for now: A few private lessons (including twice a week with Wally himself), two-hour lessons twice a month at a special-needs school, business English on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and some group lessons in the afternoon, mostly for elderly students. And for that I'm gonna get paid more than I made at the school in Tokyo. It looks like I am gonna live like a king here... hopefully I can find something to do with my spare time and money. 
 
The apartment is not far from "Cinema Street" which is the closest thing Morioka has to a night life district. There are a couple of really nice sake bars there, and some karaoke bars, and Wally seems to be a very well-known character in that area. He kept introducing me as his "Yojimbo" which the old boys in the bar found pretty funny.
 
Anyway, gotta go. I'll write more soon, let you know how the first week is going. 



#2 Grimmas

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 10:02 AM

Ok, this hand's down makes the whole project worth it. I am so excited for this and this style!



#3 SirEdger

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 01:12 PM

Very well-written. It's gonna stand out from all the rest!



#4 elliott

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 12:15 AM

OH SHIT gordi, this is amazing.



#5 dexstar

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 04:46 AM

This is a rad approach

#6 gordi

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Posted 26 August 2016 - 09:04 AM

Thank you, gentlemen. I truly appreciate your kind words.

 

Now... you are not going to believe this:

 

 

 

Turns out my new boss, Wally, is a huge pro wrestling fan!!!

 

Remember how when I was filling in the application, I couldn't decide whether or not to admit to being a huge puroresu nerd? There was that section about my interest in Japanese culture, and I wrote about sake tasting and sumo and Ghibli movies and I figured that would be enough; but then there was this other whole section on what I could tell my students about the connection between culture in my home country and culture in Japan. That's a really specific question, and there was a whole big space to fill in underneath it. I just went ahead and did a whole spiel on pro wrestling and samurai movies. I did this ridiculously elaborate comparison between Jumbo Tsuruta and Toshiro Mifune: How they took quintessential North American art forms and gave their own stamp to them, how they have ultimate intensity and how, at their best, they can just somehow give more than anyone else...

 

I regretted having done that when I sent it in, but as it turns out, maybe that was what got me this plum job! F'n life, eh?

 

Here's the story: I wore a shirt and tie on my first visit to the office, but Yamaguchi-san was all, "No! No! I want students to be comfortable. Happy! T-shirts is A-OK!"

 

He yells pretty much all the time. Mostly in a happy or excited way so far... though he does seem to have a temper. As Japanese bosses go, he seems rather atypically casual. I totally see his point though. In my experience, most Japanese people had a ton of vocabulary and grammar pounded into their heads in high school. The job, teaching private lessons, is not so much to teach them (because they already have the knowledge in there). It's really to give them an opportunity to practice conversation and it helps a lot if you can create a comfortable environment where they are not afraid of making mistakes or accidentally offending their teacher. I'm all for dressing casually. I think a teacher wearing a tie can be a bit intimidating, make them feel like it's work or school, where mistakes aren't tolerated. Then they just clam up, give short answers, look at their papers all the time.

 

ANYway, as it happens I had a t-shirt in my gym bag; That faded old Victoria Pavilion Stampede Wrestling shirt. I changed into it.

 

 

Whan Yamaguchi-san saw that, he flipped out

 

Usually his pronunciation is pretty good, but when he saw that shirt he was all, "Bu-rate-oh Hah-toh! Mistah Hito! Shi-choo Hah-tooohhh!! Die-no-might-oh KEED-OOOOHHH!!!" And, like, grabbing my shoulders and shaking me. It was mental. I managed not to bust out laughing, but it took some serious force of will. "You know Rance-oo? Rance-oo? Oh ho ho! Rance really gonna love you! Soo-tam-pee-doh! Baddo Nyoozu! Bee-ah belly shaya croppa!" 

 

Then he goes into his office, comes right back out, and gives me this:

 

mpro1.jpg

 

 

"Michinoku Puroresu! Berry good-oh! Fast! Funny!" Making elaborate hand motions indicating, I suppose, people flying around in the ring. "You know? You like?"

 

Like I said, usually he speaks straight-up good English, but he was just so worked up about it. He took me around the office, yelling about my t-shirt to his mostly confused staff. The receptionist gave me the prettiest smile, though. Oh, man! Life in Morioka is great so far. We went through the magazine, writing out the names of the wrestlers and some moves and stuff. That was my first private lesson in Morioka: Wearing a Stampede shirt and talking wrestling with a crazy fan.

 

Seriously: Can you believe it? 



#7 gordi

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 09:38 AM

meme1.jpg

 

So Yamaguchi-san owns at least two little businesses in town. There's a knife shop that sells, repairs, and sharpens; specializing in (if I understood correctly) left-handed shellfish knives and a special true-forged sushi knife called a honyaki. Honyaki go for the equivalent of about 500 bucks! You could literally buy two hand-made custom replica katana (which they also make and sell) for less than that.

 

Across the shopping arcade from the knife shop, there is a little public patio with a handful of specialty food shops arranged around it. Wally owns one of those: A food import shop selling things like long loaves of french bread, various kinds of salami, black pudding, and even New Orleans style andouille! Gonna get me some of that on payday. Next door is a little farmers market that sells daikon radish, eggplant, plantains, zucchini, cucumber...

 

Wally has a big display table set up on the patio, and  several times a day he'l go out there and draw a crowd by just chopping the hell out of a salami or cucumber with one of his knives. He hands out samples and I'd have to say that the majority of the people who get one go into the shops and buy something. It's amazing to watch. He's quite a showman.

 

There's a meeting room upstairs in the knife shop, and I do business classes there. The people who make and fix the knives are really cool. Older guys, mostly. Their English is mostly so-so, but none of them are shy about talking. The ladies from the import food shop all speak pretty good English, and most of them are well-traveled. It's an unusual set-up. I'm in there for three hours twice a week, and anybody from any of the neighbourhood businesses can come in and chat with me while I'm there. I've had from one to eight students at any one time, and the Murphy's Law for this job is that if there are two students in the room one of them will be a total beginner and the other one will be nearly fluent. It doesn't seem to bother them, though. The better English speakers help out the lower-level ones. They mostly seem to know each other and they love joking around. I dunno if it's just a first-week thing, but a lot of the students brought snacks and treats and there was always some kind of soft drink or tea available. It's impossible to plan a lesson in those circumstances, but the first two session flew by. 

 

For his private lesson tomorrow, Wally said he's gonna bring his pro wrestling photo books. I'm not sure if he meant, like personal photo albums or those big magazine-books that list everybody working for every promotion. 

 

AND!! There's gonna be a Michinoku Pro show on September 1st, and Wally's gonna take me. I think a few of the people who work for him are gonna come, too. Hopefully I'll get more info on that tomorrow.

 

One last thing: I finally made it to the gym. The facility itself is pretty big but the weight area is crammed into the back corner, behind row after row of machines. There are machines for cardio, machines for stretching, and - of course - machines for pretending to lift. There's a Smith Machine, and Hammer Strength Bench and Row machines, and a rack of dumbbells going up to 30 kilos. There's also a big pile of weights for the Smith and Hammer Machines but no barbells or squat rack. Guess I'll have to figure a way to do squats and deads in the Smith. Or something.

 

The craziest thing that has happened to me here so far (which is really saying something) happened just as I was leaving the gym. Two guys  - both absolutely jacked up - were coming down the sidewalk, sporting zebra-striped Zubaz pants and Venice Beach Gold's Gym tanks. A white guy with a flat top and a long, flowing, blonde rat-tail (!!) and a Japanese guy with a blonde flat-top, with two black tiger stripes running front to back (!!!). Amazingly, that is not the crazy thing.

 

This is the crazy thing: They came right up to me. Rat-tail held out his hand. "You must be Go-di. I'm Lance. It's a pleasure to meet you." He seemed absolutely sincere. "I am Masao, Yoroshiku onegaishimasu." said Tiger-stripes. I tried to speak, sputtered a little. 

 

"Talk to you later!" said Lance, as they walked inside, "Gotta get our workout in."



#8 Grimmas

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 11:09 AM

I am so blown away by this. Amazing job!



#9 Matt D

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 12:15 PM

Who ended up with Steel/Val?

#10 gordi

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Posted 29 August 2016 - 09:45 AM

I think he's somewhere in the Mid West  ;)

 

I'm looking forward to dexstar's write-up on him. 



#11 gordi

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Posted 29 August 2016 - 10:43 AM

So today's lesson with Wally ended up going for the better part of four hours. He brought four huge photo albums, a scrap book, and a collection of trading cards; and we barely scratched the surface of it. Guy has a story about everyone, and I mean "everyone" almost literally:

 

wally%20with%20flair.jpg

 

 

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In particular, he has a TON of stories about anyone with a local connection. I told him that I saw TAKA at the super J Cup last year, and he lit up like a Christmas tree. He had, like four pages of pictures of the two of them together, and a story for every picture. He gave me a couple of TAKA trading cards, too:

 

mpr3%201.jpg

 

The big thing we talked about was the September 1st card. It's gonna be held outdoors, in the stadium parking lot. Apparently they are going to be welcoming a bunch of new wrestlers to the roster, and everyone on the card is going to be an M-Pro regular going forward. 

 

Here's the run-down:

 

The opening match is a ten-man tag: Kuniaki Kobayashi, Terry Boy, Yakushiji, Tajiri, and Miracle Man vs. Jado, Gedo, Masaaki Mochizuki, Biff Wellington, and Black Buffalo

 

Biff Wellington! You gotta remember him, he used to tag with Benoit in Stampede. Remember their match with Liger and Pillman from Clash XIX? No wonder Wally freaked out when he saw my stampede shirt. I'm freaking out now. And Kobayashi! Remember his matches with Tiger Mask? Right up there with the Dynamite Kid matches. Wonder how much he's got left in the tank. And Jado and Gedo from WAR. Those guys are crazy! I wonder if Samson Fuyuki is up here too. I heard he's working for Baba now. Any news on Baba, by the way? I heard he collapsed at a show down there, or something. 

 

Second match is a regular tag: Sho Funaki and Kato Kung Lee vs. Dick Togo and Masao Orihara

 

Orihara is the Japanese guy I met coming out of the gym! I don't know why it never occurred to me that he might be a wrestler. That hairdo makes more sense now. Aparently Funaki and Togo are Michinoku Pro young lions. Wally seems really high on them. I'll be honest with you, though, that Togo guy looks a little pudgy. I doubt he's going to be doing much flying around. Apparently Kung Lee is a Panamanian wrestler who spent most of his career in Mexico, working what looks like a ninja-type gimmick. 

 

The third match is set up to welcome Shinjiro f'n Ohtani to Michinoku Pro! Another Benoit partner. That match they had with Black Tiger and Great Sasuke in the finals of the Super Grade Junior Heavyweight Tag League in October. Oh, man. What a match. I can see why they brought him up here.  And check out who he's tagging with: 

 

TAKA Michinoku and Shinjiro Ohtani vs. Gran Naniwa and Shiryu

 

That's gonna be insane! Naniwa's the guy who does that hilarious crab-walk elbow. Shiryu's another guy who Wally is crazy about. 

 

The next guy they are bringing in is Dos Caras! Yes! Crazy Mexican submission holds, please!

 

Super Delfin vs. Dos Caras

 

Delfin's got a rep as a pretty good technical worker, too, so that should be another fun one. 

 

And finally (try not to get too jealous here):

 

El Samurai and Shiro Koshinaka vs. The Great Sasuke and Kyoko Inoue

 

The match is about bringing in Mr. Butt-based offense and the Joshi star... but... Samurai vs. Sasuke! And we'll probably have great seats for it. My first-ever North East local indy show, and look at that card. I can hardly wait!

 

I realize I'm using too many exclamation marks here, but hopefully you guys can understand how I'm feeling.

 

How are things back in Tokyo? 



#12 dexstar

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Posted 29 August 2016 - 12:21 PM

I think he's somewhere in the Mid West  ;)

 

I'm looking forward to dexstar's write-up on him. 

 

I got Jungle Jim Steele, but I *think* Matt is referring to Steele/Val Venis. 



#13 gordi

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Posted 29 August 2016 - 12:28 PM

My mistake! I assumed incorrectly that Jim Steele was an early Val ring-name.

#14 dexstar

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Posted 29 August 2016 - 01:03 PM

My mistake! I assumed incorrectly that Jim Steele was an early Val ring-name.

 

MTW fans wish that was true



#15 gordi

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 01:21 AM

It's a little too early to say for sure, and it might just be recency bias... but if that wasn't the best day of my life it was at least in the top ten. 

 

It started with being woken up pretty early (10 am, so early for me anyway), which is generally not a good sign. It was Wally and Lance (the guy with the rat tail, from the gym) banging on my door, come to pick me up for the show. Start time was 2 pm, but according to Lance they'd already been out at the stadium parking lot for hours, setting up. He said I should bring my gym bag, shower there after we were done.

 

"Done what?" I wondered.

 

There was a panel truck blocking half the road outside my apartment, piled high with folding chairs. We squeezed into the cab. Apparently the show was part of some local summer festival, and apparently the crowds were way bigger than anticipated. Lance said they had set up 500 chairs, but the festival staff were worried that wouldn't be enough. Wally was really excited about that. I guess "more than 500" is a pretty good crowd for an M-Pro show. 

 

So, yeah, Wally, Lance, a tall muscular guy with an English accent named Smiley, and I spent an hour and a half setting up another few hundred folding chairs in the afternoon sun. I was glad to shower and change after that.

 

Lance and Smiley set up the gimmick tables while I was getting changed. There were a bunch of really attractive, but mostly kinda young, girls working the tables. They were selling t-shirts and towels with various wrestlers' images on them, mugs and document folders with the M-Pro logos, stacks of Gong and Weekly Pro-Wres magazines, video tapes, beer, chuhai, calpis sour, soft drinks, rice crackers, and kakigori (like a sno-cone, but very tasty). Wally was chopping up salami with his red-bladed katana, drawing a crowd as usual. 

 

I was waiting in line to buy a beer when Lance came over and grabbed me. There was kind of an impromptu hanamichi leading from the dressing rooms out to the ring, plywood and scaffolding to make a little elevated walkway, with railings on either side. A few rows of chairs, all with paper "reserved" signs on them, separated the ring from the dressing room. The walkway ran through the middle of those rows. On one side there were nine chairs - 3 rows of 3 - spaced a bit more widely apart. There were three big coolers and a table of camera and video equipment placed behind those 9 chairs. That's where we were sitting. Lance cracked open one of the coolers. It was packed with ice, beer, fruit, and water. 

 

"Help yourself!" Lance grabbed a water and disappeared, I grabbed a big bottle of Yebisu beer, an apple, and a third-row chair, and watched as the rows across from me began to fill up. 

 

Pretty soon, there weren't many empty chairs left. There was a small hill to the West, and I could see families and small groups setting up picnic blankets with a view of the ring. People had bags and baskets of drinks and snacks and even though M-Pro was also selling drinks and snacks they didn't seem to mind if people just brought their own. There were a few fluffy clouds in the sky. There was a light breeze. 

 

The reserved seats started to fill up, too, and I recognized a few faces. Some of the shop ladies from my English class leaned over the hanamchi and passed me a basket of sandwiches and rice balls. I plopped it on top of one of the coolers. Lance came by to check on me, and later Smiley did, too. He introduced himself as Norman. The pretty receptionist from Wally's office came and sat in the chair right beside me, and took a big swig of my beer. "I like Yebissu in summer," she said, "It's little bitter." Wally was over at the camera table, setting things up. He shot me a thumbs up. 

 

Kuniaki Kobayashi, Terry Boy, Yakushiji, Tajiri, and Miracle Man vs. Jado, Gedo, Masaaki Mochizuki, Biff Wellington, and Black Buffalo

 

Man, Biff Wellington looks way different from what I remember. He's balding and stocky, and he fights almost shoot-style now. He and Mochizuki, and later Mochhizuki and Tajiri, just kicked the crap out of each other. The match itself was mostly character work, with Jado, Gedo, and Black Buffalo in particular jjust heeling it up something fierce, and Yakushiji and Terry Boy selling like crazy. Eventually, Kobayashi got the hot tag and went to town on Mochizuki. He hit him with a savate kick, then a gorgeous fisherman's suplex which he transitioned into a leg lock and then the rear naked choke for the finish, as his teammates blocked Jado, Gedo, Biff, and Buff from interfering. The crowd was amazing, booing any heeling tactics like crazy, chanting for the underdogs, and just losing it when Kobayashi finally got tagged in. 

 

buff%20yaku%202.png

 

 

 

tryboy%20gedo%202.png

 

 

Sho Funaki and Kato Kung Lee vs. Dick Togo and Masao Orihara

 

Oh boy, was I ever wrong about Dick Togo! That chubby little guy can really fly. He is amazing. This was kind of a comedy match, with Funaki and Kung Lee really working the Hong Kong martial arts movie gimmick, including a couple of slow-motion sequences. The athleticism to pull that stuff off was pretty close to incredible. In the end, Orihara finally got hold of Kung Lee's nunchaku only to accidentally clock his partner, which allowed Funaki to hit a tornado DDT and get the pin. 

 

TAKA Michinoku and Shinjiro Ohtani vs. Gran Naniwa and Shiryu

 

This started out like another comedy match, with TAKA and Ohtani desperately trying to block Naniwa's rope walk elbow. After almost ten minutes of working variations on that theme, Naniwa finally nailed it, only for Ohtani to kick out at one. After that, it was all technical wrestling, with Ohtani and Shiryu working a great long sequence of roll-ups and reversals that had the crowd going crazy. Eventually TAKA hit Naniwa with a crazy dive to the outside, leaving Ohtani to hit a beautiful dragon suplex on Shiryu, and hold a bridge to get the pin. 

 

During the break, Lance, Norman, Orihara, and Yakushiji came out and handed drinks and sandwiches out among the fans in the reserved seats, then sat and helped themselves to rice balls, fruit, and water. The pretty receptionist (her name is Kaoru or Kaori or something like that) fed me grapes and shared another bottle of Yebisu with me, The boys busted my balls over that, which actually made me feel really good. The young girls from the gimmick tables came over to have some snacks and sit with the boys. One of them giggled and smiled at me, and the receptionist grabbed my arm, like, "He's mine!" which...  no way that would ever happen to me in Canada, having two hawt women competing for my attention at a wrestling show. 

 

Super Delfin vs. Dos Caras

 

This was a pure display of technical wrestling. It doesn't exactly seem like selling is Delfin's main thing, but he was able to match Caras hold for hold. They were working almost a pure Mexican style, even down to working the right side of the body. It didn't seem to throw Delfin off at all, as they kept working longer and longer chains of moves right up to the 15 minute time limit. It struck me as odd that Caras didn't go over in his debut... but during the show of respect after the match Caras clobbered Delfin with a huge clothesline, then tore his mask half off. I guess maybe  they wanted to get him over as a rudo, and figured this was how to do it. It didn't seem to work to well, though. At least half the crowd was cheering wildly during the mask-ripping. I have to admit, I was marking out. It was pretty cool to see that in person.

 

El Samurai and Shiro Koshinaka vs. The Great Sasuke and Kyoko Inoue

 

kosh%20sasuke.png

 

In a way, this match was almost disappointing. I really wanted to see a Samurai-Sasuke war. Instead, they gave the spotlight almost entirely to the debuting Koshinaka and Inoue. I guess "disappointing" is the wrong word. It just subverted my expectations is all. Kosh and Inoue told a great story in there, with Kosh initially reluctant to hit a woman, frustrating Kyoko to the point where she was all but begging him to engage in a strike exchange. 

 

Eventually, Koshinaka was forced to open up on her, and that led to a solid five minutes of back and forth power moves. As the two were staggering around the ring in the aftermath, with the ref distracted, Sasuke snuck in and hit a huge mule kick on Kosh. Kyoko seized the moment and finished him with a Niagra driver for the one! two! threeee!

 

Wally, who had been ringside taking pictures all day, got one of his staff to take me back to my apartment. He told me that since I helped with set-up, I didn't need to help with clean-up. I was getting kinda drunk, so I didn't argue with him. I had strict instructions to be at a bar called Otaru at 7:30. 

 

I got there at 8. About half the guys on the card were there, some of them wearing their masks. M-Pro workers, insiders, and hardcore fans had taken the bar over completely. Wrestlers moved from table to table, signing stuff and posing for pictures. I was welcomed like one of the family.

 

It's a 1500 yen nomihodai (all-you-can-drink) bar with really good food. We were there at least two hours, and drank like animals the whole time, but they still only charged 15. The food was really good, too. I couldn't stop eating, even though I wasn't hungry.

 

DSCF3499.jpg

 

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I ended up sitting with a couple of women who work at one of the restaurants near Wally's knife shop. They don't speak much English, but we had a blast trying to communicate. They both drank like fish. Around 11, we moved across the road into a karaoke place. The pretty receptionist met us there, along with El Samurai and Kyoko Inoue. I guess at that point I had my arms around the fun-loving restaurant girls. Kaori (or Kaoru) looked so disappointed in me. Story of my life.

 

So, I probably blew it with the receptionist and I got such a bad sunburn that I look like a boiled lobster today... but even with all that, yesterday was still one of the greatest days of my life.

 

I love my local indy.  



#16 SirEdger

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 11:25 AM

The screencaps with the videogames are so awesome! What game is it?



#17 gordi

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Posted 03 September 2016 - 01:58 AM

Fire Pro Wrestling Returns. I love Fire Pro. Probably my all-time favourite series. 



#18 Grimmas

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Posted 03 September 2016 - 08:00 AM

Holy shit man! This blog is a masterpiece!



#19 SirEdger

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Posted 03 September 2016 - 01:38 PM

Fire Pro Wrestling Returns. I love Fire Pro. Probably my all-time favourite series. 

 

Which, sadly, I always wanted to try but could never find it anywhere up here in Canada. :(



#20 gordi

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Posted 03 September 2016 - 04:13 PM

I'm originally from Vancouver. Fire Pro Returns, for PS2, and the two Fire Pro games for the GBA (which can also be played on the DS) shouldn't be hard to find. I got all of them cheaply and easily. Have you tried Amazon or eBay? Is there an EB Games near you? Every wrestling fan should try fire pro. The rosters are insane, and the CAW even more so.




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