Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cool Stuff You Missed: The Toryumon 2000 Project

In 2014, you can, without too much effort, find top-notch technical wrestling. Drew Gulak, just as an example, is doing the type of British wrestling more in the vein of rough guys like Billy Robinson or Terry Rudge as opposed to the classic lightweight guys like Johnny Saint, Johnny Kidd, or Rollerball Rocco that everyone knows. The fact that I can refer to Robinson and Rudge without having to make too much in the way of explanation is a wonderful development. The world has opened up to people willing to learn. But this was not always the case. World-class "pure" wrestling, not the stuff ROH tried to sell you with their Pure Wrestling division, was not always as easy to find as it is now. And for a lot of us who really enjoyed mat wrestling there was one place where you knew you could get spectacular technical wrestling. They're not around now, but they were one of the most influential "short-run" promotions that exist. Ladies and gentlemen, the Toryumon 2000 Project.

They started out in much the same way that CHikara started over here in the states, as a vehicle for students to get a chance to compete in front of live crowds. Those classes, and this is pretty clear once you hear the names, are a who's-who of junior heavyweight pro wrestling. Names like CIMA, Milano Collection AT, Naruki Doi, Masato Yoshino, Dragon Kid, and Ryo Saito started as Toryumon students.

And all of those guys I mentioned, every single one of them, were trained by two of the best and smoothest wrestlers of recent vintage. Ultimo Dragon and Skayde trained them both. Watch prime Ultimo Dragon sometime. (For purposes of this article, assume prime Ultimo Dragon to be his New Japan run as well as his early WCW stuff.) Watch how graceful he is, how nothing looks wasted.

And when the Toryumon 2000 Project, or T2P for short, started, it started with the idea that being technically proficient, being able to create wacky submissions, could be all you needed to be the ace of a promotion. Want proof? Watch Milano Collection AT from that time period. Watch this match specifically.

You just didn't see stuff like that before. Quite frankly, you don't see stuff like that now. That's why I'm said that they're gone, even though so many of those guys moved on to Dragon Gate. I just wish they had lasted.

This post was written by Okori Wadsworth, but a snafu in publishing caused me to publish under my own byline.