American hosses have built a legacy out of going to Japan and stomping around like titans. When you think of names like Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen, or Giant Bernard, you associate them a little less with their American success and more with their domination of little Japanese men (okay, they’re not all little). With the recent acquisition of some of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s top stars, it’s a good time to look to the west for some big American beasts.
All that said, Michael Elgin is Canadian. However, he did find his success in the good ‘ol US of A as a powerhouse in various promotions, including ROH and PWG (just to name a couple). Big Mike very recently signed a two year deal with New Japan and as the rumor mill has it, they have big things in store for the big bearded gaijin.
If you aren’t familiar with him, Elgin has been working since about 2004 with various independent promotions throughout the USA and Canada, but really made his mark with Ring of Honor in 2008, winning their world title in 2014. His work in PWG is fantastic as he’s had absolute banger matches with most of that roster, nearly won the 2013 Battle of Los Angeles, and is a former tag team champion with Brian Cage in The Unbreakable F’in Machines.
The real meat and potatoes lies in Unbreakable Mike’s athleticism, especially for a man of his size. For a man who might as well be just a walking muscle, he moves around that ring fairly quickly. The power, obviously, is tremendous. His ability to hold up some pretty big men in a vertical suplex position, or dead lift suplex them from the aapron to the inside of the ring never fails to astonish.
It’s no wonder why New Japan snatched him up. Elgin has been putting on great performances in NJPW since 2015 and really connected with the Japanese crowd. More recently, he had an awesome showing at this year’s New Japan Cup tournament, having great big man matches with Togi Makabe and Bad Luck Fale, before being bested by Hirooki in the semi-finals.
There’s no doubt (in my mind, at least) that Elgin will be in pursuit of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship by the end of this year or beginning of next. My very bold (and probably baseless) prediction is that Tetsuya Naito will be champion soon and Elgin will be the one to chase and dethrone him. Before that, however, be on the look out for him to have some hard hitting matches with guys like Shibata, Ishii, or EVIL. Perhaps there is room for him in the Intercontinental title picture with Omega. There are many possibilities, but the certainty is that Elgin will find much success in the east.