So this time I drove out to Akita with Biff, Lance, and Smiley Norman, in a fairly new Honda Civic. Biff drove, Lance rode shotgun, and Norman and I sat in the back. The big joke was that we couldn't let the fans see Smiley riding with two rudos, so every now and then Biff would yell "Kayfabe!" and Norman would have to duck down or cover his head or something. Biff was driving so he mostly chose the music: AC/DC and Metallica.
We got to talking about entrance themes, and decided to kill time by making a list of the top 5 worst possible entrance theme songs. Our final list was:
5: You’re Having My Baby by Paul Anka
4: This Guy's In Love by Herb Alpert
3: MacArthur Park by Richard Harris
2: Muscrat Love by Captain & Tennille
1: Please Mister Please (Don't Play B-17) by Olivia Newton John
By the time we arrived in Akita, My face actually hurt from laughing too much.
Kyoko Inoue vs. Shiro Koshinaka - Tournament Alternate match
This was a fast, violent match. Kyoko charged straight at Kosh as soon as the bell sounded, catching him off guard and pounding him down. Kosh made a comeback with hip attack after hip attack, but Kyoko kept kicking out, yelling, and going back on offense. After about 7 minutes of back and forth, she caught him in a torture rack and then dropped him straight down with a sick Burning Hammer for the finish. So, if either of the next two matches proved to be inconclusive, Kyoko Inoue would be in the main event fighting for the right to be crowned the first-ever Tohoku Region Welterweight Champion.
El Samurai vs. Super Delfin - Tournament round 1 match
They wrestled this one in a pure face vs. face style, with clean breaks, handshakes, and dueling cheers from the crowd. They started out with mat work, exchanging and reversing hold after hold, then went into high-flying mode where Delfin took a clear advantage, hitting a suicide dive to the outside and a top-corner diving elbow drop for a close near-fall. After nailing El Samurai with a tornado DDT, Delfin played to the crowd... but in so doing he lost focus on Samurai, who popped up and caught Delfin in a Kido Clutch for the victory.
The Great Sasuke vs. Shinjiro Ohtani - Tournament round 1 match
Lance and Biff came out and stood with me at the back of the hall to watch this match. On the way up, Lance had opined that a heel vs. heel match is the hardest thing to get over with a crowd, because they have no-one to cheer for. On the other hand, as much as Sasuke clearly enjoys playing rudo, and as good as he is at doing so, M-Pro crowds still obviously love the guy to death. In Akita, they expressed that love by boo-ing everything Sasuke did with great enthusiasm and volume. This apparently drove Ohtani to go crazier and crazier in trying to win some boos of his own. Feet-on-the-ropes, handful-of-tights, behind-the-ref's-back classic pro wrestling shenanigans ensued. Lance and Biff were both openly marking out, which is not something I had expected to see.
Then: As Ohtani tried to regain his bearings outside the ring, Sasuke went for a flying side kick from inside... and landed head-first on the floor with a sickening thump. Lance and Biff sprinted over to ringside, while I made a bee-line for the dressing room. I grabbed TAKA, Togo, Gado, and Jedo and hauled them out to see. Sasuke seemed to be having real trouble getting to his feet. Ohtani seemed to be legitimately freaked out. The referee was counting to twenty, very very slowly.
TAKA spoke to Gedo in Japanese, He turned to me. "Sasuke is really hurt. Should we put Inoue or Ohtani in the finals?" The ref was still counting. I had no time to think.
TAKA and Togo sprinted over to where Ohtani was standing, and yelled at him to get back in the ring. He protested. The grabbed him and hurled him from the floor, between the ropes, back into the ring, just as the ref reached 19. Ohtani gestured furiously at everyone and refused to let the ref raise his hand.
TAKA Michinoku, Dick Togo, Jado and Gedo vs. Gran Naniwa, Sho Funaki, Shiryu, and Yakushiji
Presumably, this had been booked to be a fast-paced, high-risk match but, gauging the mood of the crowd, they changed things up and kept the action in the ring. Toward the end of the match, Sasuke made his way to ringside, with his arm around Ohtani, and the crowd went absolutely mental. Yakushiji got distracted by the commotion and was rolled up for the pin, leading to the unexpected sight of a bunch of rudos standing triumphant in the ring as the crowd, on their feet, chanted for Sasuke.