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The UPW Gaijins

The things we do when its 6am and you can't sleep…I work, work, work on wrestling. Since I've been working on my own site and watching UPW (they offer free streaming video of monthly shows) non-stop all weekend, I have to share my knowledge.

Ultimate Pro Wrestling is one of the hottest indies in the US. They are one of the key members of the SoCal (Southern California) wrestling scene, which is probably the best in the country right now (sorry Tri-Staters). They are one of the WWF's developmental territories, so they can bring in some of their boys and they often send up guys with developmental contracts. In the past year, UPW has also branched out to Japan, namely Zero-One. Though I have not seen the pay-per-view with the UPW boys on it, I've heard it's a good one. I highly suggest if you like "indy sleaze" as the DVDVR boys call it and want to see guys who may very well be the future of the WWF (a.k.a. American wrestling) you should watch some of UPW events from the past year.

"Big Time" Tom Howard had the task of maineventing the show against Japanese great - Shinya Hashimoto. They billed him as a "Green Beret," but Howard is just veteran wrestler, whose traveled to Mexico and run UPW's Ultimate University. He has a great look, well-rounded style (especially for his size), and a definite future in this business. I really haven't seen much of him for whatever reason, but I've enjoyed what I have seen.

Samoa Joe is perhaps my favorite of the boys who went to Japan. He is a big boy with a background in Judo. I've heard nothing, but good things about Joe and he lived up to the hype. Only flaw is he wrestles with a shirt on (how indy though), but he doesn't seem to be out of shape to me. Joe even scored a win over Masato Tanaka in the Fire Heart tournament, so you know Zero-One sees something in this guy. He uses some great strong style moves: Dragon Suplex, Back Suplex, and even Misawa's old Emerald Fusion. I like this guy a lot and nobody in UPW is more deserving of the Heavyweight title, which he currently holds.

Horshu may be known to many as a short-lived jobber from WCW. Though he was that in his formative years, `Shu's gotten bigger and better since. He doesn't seem to show off much skill in the way of a moveset or big man agility, but he wrestles with experience. Horshu is better than most of his peers in the way of selling, psychology, and mic skills. Though he's no Ric Flair, `Shu's just got natural charisma and a chiseled body to match, so I see him going further than most of his comrades.

Keiji Sakoda is something you don't see often, a Japanese-born, American-bred wrestler. He is self-taught in Jiu-Jitsu and is perhaps the most built Japanese guy I've ever seen (Lyger's close though). Sakoda seems to one of the few Japanese wrestlers I know, who could make it in WWF (and he has had dark matches). He is UPW's best technician and though he is given the mist-spewing assassin gig, he works it just as well as Keiji Muto did in the US so many years ago. This guy is one of my favorites and someone who could be WWF's answer to WCW's Great Muta and ECW's Masato Tanaka.

"The Predator" Sylvester Terkay is a monster like many of the UPW's "top" guys. Rick Bassman (UPW owner) tends to elevate these big guys, but doesn't actually have them work regularly. This makes sense because Vince loves the big boys and Bassman gets a cut of WWF signees contracts. Terkay definitely has potential to be much better, hopefully he's not the kind that gets pulled up too soon.

The Urban Outlaws (Mike and Marshal Knox) are just two big brawling Texans (I think they're genuine Texans anyways). Though Marshal is still too inexperienced, Mike is ready. I know Japan would love a gaijin like him and he has the potential to be a great one. I'd love to see him and even Marshal (when he's ready) to be in All Japan being what I wish Bobby Duncum Jr. would've been. I've got a soft spot for Texan brawlers and I think the Knox "Cousins" could go far in Japan.

All and all, UPW is a good developmental territory. I can't fairly assess it in comparison to OVW (the WWF's direct feeder), but some of these guys seem better conditioned for TV than people like Shawn Stasiak, Chuck Palumbo, and even some of the so-called vets. The aforementioned guys seem better suited for Japan (except Sakoda) and could make broad strokes there. I think a lot of their juniors are spot artists, but the more experienced (namely B-Bob a.k.a. Benni Chong and the Cubanitos) are some of SoCal's best. I think they offer good shows (and they're free on the net dammit!!) and I give them a thumbs up. I love seeing young guys busting their asses to entertain people and UPW offers just that and kudos to them.

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