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    Friday, June 24, 2016

    #AllWeWantIsTJP: Everything Filipinos Need To Know About TJ Perkins

    By now we're sure there aren't very many Filipino wrestling fans who haven't heard of TJ Perkins, the only Philippine representative to the WWE's Cruiserweight Classic. The media has been highlighting him well before this huge tournament, and now his inclusion has made him a household wrestling name in the Inang Bayan.

    But how much do you really know about the man fans call TJP?

    Humble origins

    Not a lot of local fans know this, but TJ Perkins is a friggin' 17-year-veteran in the pro wrestling industry. The Fil-Am born of a Filipino mother and an Irish father started training when he was only 13 years old all the way in 1998—he loves to tell stories of having to cut class on Fridays just to work shows.
    After only three years, he was signed to New Japan Pro Wrestling (NEW JAPAN!) as a Young Boy—still the youngest to have ever been a Young Boy, in fact, at 18 years and three weeks old—joining the dojo in the same class as these wrestlers you might have heard of: Yoshi Tatsu, Daniel Bryan, and, oh, Shinsuke Nakamura. TJ Perkins competed in NJPW as the "Pinoy Boy" TJ Perkins before getting the PUMA gimmick, teaming up with the fourth Tiger Mask. His last NJPW tour was in 2011's Best of the Super Juniors tournament, which he unfortunately did not win.

    ROH and TNA

    The majority of his wrestling career was spent working the indies, but he would occasionally work for Ring of Honor between 2003 and 2012, as well as TNA between 2004 until 2013, when he was finally signed by the company and took on the role of Suicide/Manik. His longest stint with the once-ROH came in 2011, when he worked with the company as "Technical Lightning" TJ Perkins, primarily feuding with former Spirit Squad member Mike Mondo (the guy some of you might remember as MIKEY!).

    If fans are aware of TJ Perkins now, it's mainly because of his exposure in TNA's X Division, where he became a one-time X Division champion. Manik won the belt (then a title that was prone to being hot-potatoed) in a three-way Ultimate X match against Greg Marasciulo (better known as Trent Barretta) and Sonjay Dutt in 2013.

    Manik would have one successful defense against Chris Sabin before losing it back to Chris Sabin at Bound For Glory 2013. After that, he was forced to join James Storm's Revolution, wearing new gear that further emphasized his Filipino roots. He quit the Revolution after not less than a month, and competed in the TNA World Title Series late last year, failing to make it to the finals. 

    As everyone knows by now, TNA decided not to renew his contract back in January.

    What does TJP bring to the Cruiserweight Classic?

    Although the biggest influence of his training was lucha libre and high-flying, over the years TJ has gravitated toward a more ground-based, yet fluid mat and chain wrestling style. If you're familiar with the work of Zack Sabre, Jr. and guys like him, it's really more like that—but his advantage over guys like Sabre is that he can be totally unpredictable and mix up both flying around, striking, and catching as catch can. He can come out of nowhere and lock in submission maneuvers you never even thought possible. He claims that he studies wrestling so much in his free time, and even claims that he doesn't talk or call in the ring; he just wrestles.

    And because he's so dynamic, he has a bunch of different finishers he cycles through.

    The first and most common move he uses is the Detonation Kick. Think of Hideo Itami or CM Punk's Go To Sleep, but with a deadlier twist:

    He also isn't averse to coming off the top rope to finish his opponents off. He either uses a frog splash, or a 450 splash like he did to qualify for the CWC (skip all the way to 3:14):

    And then his other finisher, a new submission maneuver that is slowly becoming a favorite in the Smark Henry offices, the TJP Clutch (you can see him do it to Ricochet at around 40 seconds in):

    With a strong, vocal fanbase in the Philippines and a pending show in Manila in a few months, TJ Perkins might just be a viable contender to win the Cruiserweight Classic, despite favorites such as ZSJ and Kota Ibushi.

    You can also check out TJ's exclusive two-part interview in the SGP Podcast here and here for more local goodness. And you can follow our boy over at @MaskaraManik on Twitter, and cheer him on! #LabanTJP!
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    Item Reviewed: #AllWeWantIsTJP: Everything Filipinos Need To Know About TJ Perkins Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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