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My good friend, Asian Coogar

Kuuga Asian Coogar Asian Cougar Dotonbori Pro Wrestling Osaka Pro Wrestling

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#1 gordi

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Posted 30 December 2017 - 08:52 PM

It was his birthday yesterday.


I met him years ago, at a Vancouver All Star Wrestling event... then a couple of years after that I moved to Japan and met him again, and he remembered me from Vancouver. We've been drinking buddies for eight years now. He's a great guy, a great wrestler (in my opinion, one of the absolute best veteran indie wrestlers in the world) and a true friend. 


Hopefully I'll have some Kuuga-related drinking and wrestling stories to tell in the new year. Here are a few pictures from the past 8 years:




This is the bar where about 40 of Kuuga's friends had our year-end party. It was three hours of all you can eat Chinese food, and all-you-can-drink. Good times.




This is from the karaoke party in late October. I am pleased to be one of the group of people around whom Kuuga feels comfortable removing his mask. We were drinking buddies for seven years before I saw his face. 





Eating kushikatsu in Osaka's exotic Shinsekai area, shortly after my birthday. 



At the rooftop BBQ in Namba Parks this summer


I'll post more later. 

#2 WingedEagle

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Posted 30 December 2017 - 08:55 PM

Love it.  These are the kind of stories you don't get in the WON or in usual diehard circles.  Seven years before the mask came off!  How'd you close things in the third fall that night?

#3 gordi

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 06:20 AM

I'm not sure exactly what I did (if anything) to "earn" membership in the "People Cooger Doesn't Have To Wear His Mask Around" club. Most of the times we've gone drinking have been either: Pro wrestling parties (so, a mix of friends, family, and fans) or situations that combine drinking with promotion (so the wrestlers are all in character), or to places that put up posters and do other advertising or sponsorship in exchange for wrestlers coming there (and again they want them in character).
The first night he took his mask off while I was there was at A-Toys, a wrestling and MMA bar in Osaka run by the fighter Tetsuo Kondo. It was a Dotonbori Pro Wrestling drinking party, and a pot luck dinner. People started drifting out around 10, but I stuck around because we were watching WrestleMania II on the TV. Around 11, with only a few people there, Kuuga removed his mask to wipe off some sweat... and just left it off. 
Ebessan (the third one) was also there. He wrestles under his real name, Osamu Suganuma these days. He's also a great guy to drink with, warm-hearted and funny. 
The atmosphere at most of these drinking events is just amazing: It's very much an "If you are Cooger's friend, then you are also my friend" kind of situation. 
It's been like that since my first time drinking with him, eight years ago, at an Osaka Pro fan party. Back then my Japanese was pretty bad, and it can't have been easy to let me know where and when and how to get there and so on... but Kuuga has always gone out of his way to communicate carefully and make sure I understand, and even arrange to have someone meet me at a landmark close to the party... 

#4 gordi

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 06:21 AM



That's from Kuuga's Osaka Pro Godbye party. Somebody brought Dom Pérignon.




That's from the time Kuuga, Kenji, myself, and one other guy tried to finish of an entire cask of sake. We got more than halfway there. 




Sometimes, at Cooger's drinking parties, I meet  other pro wrestlers.


At this party, I met a very nice Joshi Pro Westler from Osaka named Kana:






And some horrible pro wrestling bad guys. BOOOOO!!!

#5 sek69


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Posted 04 January 2018 - 08:16 PM

I want to believe she drank everyone under the table.

#6 G. Badger

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 09:08 PM

It looks like you guys are having a blast! This is a lot of fun, thanks for sharing :)

#7 KawadaSmile

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 09:43 PM

The size of those glasses of beer, I'm jealous. Great stuff, Gordi!

#8 gordi

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Posted 05 January 2018 - 09:10 PM

I want to believe she drank everyone under the table.

Sadly, I think she was just drinking oolong tea that day. A pretty significant percentage of Japanese people are non-drinkers, often due to allergies. Not sure if Kana has allergies or if she is a non-drinker or if she just wasn't drinking that day...
She definitely brings an electric kind of vibe into a room just by being there, though.  

It looks like you guys are having a blast! This is a lot of fun, thanks for sharing :)

It really is a blast hanging out with those guys and their friends. A consistent source of good times for me since moving to Japan.

The size of those glasses of beer, I'm jealous. Great stuff, Gordi!

Thanks! Kuuga and Ebessan are very strong drinkers. About 75 per cent of the times I've been really drunk in Japan, it's been with them. We often have "nomihoudai" parties, which means all-you-can-drink. 

#9 El-P



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Posted 06 January 2018 - 04:37 AM

What a bunch of cool dudes. :)


Kana !!! Damn Gordi. You're one degree removed from Stephy.

#10 gordi

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 08:51 AM

Bonenkai is the year-end party. Shinnenkai is the first party of the year. Today was the Dotonbori Pro Wrestling Shinnenkai.


It was in what I like to refer to only half-jokingly as "Deep Osaka." One of those clubs where there is no sign on the street and it's very difficult to find if you haven't been there before. My old wrestling/drinking buddies Kai and Kenji took me to a couple of "Deep Osaka" places a few years ago and I got a huge kick out of it. Generally those places have a small but loyal regular clientele and one of them has to take you to the club the first time you go. In this case, Cooger sent me the address, but he had also never been there before so he wasn't able to give me any more information other than that it was close to a particular shop in Namba. 


On Tuesdays I teach a group of mechanical engineers, and I told them of my dilemma (Japanese addresses can be hilariously difficult to figure out). We spent the first 15 minutes of our class working out the most likely location of the party, and the best route for me to take from the train station so I wouldn't get lost.


My private students are awesome, basically always ready to help me out with stuff like this even though they are paying for our time together. 


I went to Osaka an hour early in case I couldn't find the place. I found it immediately. My students' directions were perfect. 








It's in a part of the Shinsaibashi neighbourhood, close to the famous Glico sign, that is nothing but little restaurants, clubs, burlesque houses, and so on, all piled one atop the other. 


Once I found the place, I wandered around for a bit, then waited outside the party location to help my various friends find it as they arrived. 




The building itself is floor after floor of little private clubs and karaoke rooms and such.




Our shinnenkai space was, TARDIS-like, much bigger inside than seemed possible from the outside. Comfortable, but intimate. I could see why they picked this space. We got one free drink, and there was a pretty basic but slightly eclectic selection of free snacks (French fries, edamame, gyoza, whiskey chocolates, brandied cherries...) and other food and more drinks were in the extremely reasonable 200-300 yen range. 




There was a kind of talk show, and a question-and-answer period, and individual wrestler interviews...



#11 gordi

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 09:19 AM

And then suddenly, somehow 90 minutes had passed and there was only half an hour left and everyone was kinda sad because we hadn't had much chance to hang out... but then the master of the club said we could stay an extra 90 minutes and there was much rejoicing. 
I'd understood, at best, a third of what was going on with all the talk show stuff (but I still enjoyed just being there with my friends, eating and drinking and soaking up the atmosphere). 
It's easier for me though, when the wrestlers come sit with us at the tables. I can ask questions when I don't understand, and everyone is infinitely patient with me. 
It was great to see Billyken Kid again. I don't think I had talked with him in about 4 years, but he was all, "Oh! Gordi! Hisashiburi!" as soon as he saw me. (I can understand why I'd be relatively easy to remember, but I still get a kick when they even remember my name). 
We had a nice long chat, and he regaled our table with stories of wrestling in Mexico and how his mask got designed, and of wrestling Liger and how Mascara Sagrada was one of his favourite wrestlers as a kid (Billyken really lit up talking about him) and how he got to wrestle Mascara Sagrada Jr. in AAA (Blue Demon Jr., La Parka Jr., Mascara Sagrada Jr. & Perro Aguayo Jr. defeat Goku, Jiraiya, Shiiba & Tobikage 10/4/98 - Tobikage is Billyken).
All four of the wrestlers at the party are current Dotonbori Pro champions, but Akagi's belt was not ready yet, so we made him one. (Also we were the first people to get to see the other new belts).
Later on, he took off his mask and I made believe that I was shocked that Akagi is "Mach" Hayato Nanjyo. That cracked up my table, and fortunately the man himself took it in good humour. He's had a lot of gimmicks: 
Dark Ranger
Hayato Nanjyo
Kabuto Daio Beetle
    a.k.a.  Kabuto Beetle
    a.k.a.  Beetle
Mach Hayato
Miracle Giant
and my personal favourite: Miracle Man
Young TORU is the current Dotobori Pro Champion. He also beat Koji Kanemoto in August 2017 to become VKF champion. There was a small group of young women at the party who are all clearly in love with him.
And of course my main man. Next week, some of the boys from Vancouver All Star Wrestling are coming to Osaka. we were kind of making plans for that. We're going to go to the same awesome all-you-can-eat-and-drink Chinese restaurant where we had the Bonenkai last month.

#12 gordi

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 09:32 AM



A kind of remarkable thing happened toward the end of the party. Three guys (presumably regular customers) came into the bar and they seemed nonplussed to find it busy... but then one of them noticed that the guys on the video screen wrestling (they were playing what looked like fan cams of VKF matches all night) was also the guy sitting at the next table, and within minutes they were kanpai-ing and laughing and drinking with us. 




Also, everybody got a nice memento:



#13 G. Badger

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Posted 14 January 2018 - 01:51 PM

That's a really great story! I cracked up when the 3 regulars stumbled in on the party and then became part of it :D

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