The first Japanese promotion I really did a deep dive on was Michinoku Pro, particularly 1996-1997.
MPro formed when Hamada’s UWF folded and the Great Sasuke wanted to keep the style (sometimes coined as lucharesu as a playoff of words from puroresu).
1993-1995 is traditionally booked for a Japanese company. Super Delphin was the lead rudo (for the most part) and had an extended feud with Dick Togo (Sato) that built to a Mask vs. Mask match. Lots of comedy carrying over from Lucha in the early years. Jinsei Shinazaki was featured prominently from 1994-1995.
MPro had a working relationship with PWFG and BattlArts from 1994-1997 and would often exchange talent.
1996 through early 1997 was the height of Michinoku Pro from a storyline, heat, and work rate perspective. I don’t want to give spoilers so I’m going to give tape recommendations. I also highly recommend watching in order – none of the storylines are complicated (in fact, the Sasuke Sekigun vs. Kaientai feud was basically a junior’s version of Choshu’s Army versus All Japan). The feud was at its best in 10-man tags, but there are plenty of trios and singles matches worth seeing. In general, the commercial tapes either show complete matches or abbreviated highlights. Every match that you want and need to see in full is available on the DVD’s below.
- Michinoku Pro: Sasuke & Me Commercial Tape 3/15/96-6/23/96
- Follows the beginning of the storyline of Delphin turning technico while MPro loyalists Taka and Funaki are swayed to the rudo side by Dick Togo
- Michinoku Pro: Crisis in Lucha Paradise Commercial Tape 6/8/96 – 6/23/96
- Michinoku Pro: Sekai (World) Senshuken (Championship Title) Series Commercial Tape 7/21/96 – 8/25/96
- The rise of KDX; Jushin Liger stops by
- Michinoku Pro: Heartbreak in Japan Commercial Tape 9/23/96 – 12/20/96
- KDX run rampant over MPro
- Michinoku Pro These Days Commercial Tape 10/10/96
- Samurai TV Debut Show 12/1/96
- Michinoku Pro: Champ Forum 12/10/96 taped 12/9 Osaka
- Michinoku Pro Battle Station taped 1/14/97 Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center
- Michinoku Pro on FIGHTING TV SAMURAI! 3/30/97 Sakura Sakura '97 taped 3/1/97 Osaka Rinkai Sports Center
- 5 on 5 blow off series (the juniors version of the 3/13/86 Choshu vs All Japan singles series)
* February 97 Battlarts show: 8-man KDX vs Sasuke Sekigun from Korukuen Hall with some blood
* I think there is a good August 1997 8-man with Oriental from CMLL that is on the 1997 yearbook which is worth watching
I’m going to go through my notes at home tonight to see if I am missing anything.