The referee’s hand comes down to the mat. “One!” the audience shouts, “Two!” they move to the edge of their seats, “Thr… Ohhh!” The three count is cut short as the wrestler on the screen kicks out in the nick of time.
I wrote an article last year about my love for professional wrestling, especially Japanese wrestling. But for anyone who enjoys televised sports, you’ll know there’s nothing better than watching with friends. There’s also nothing better than watching said sports with a drink in your hand too. Today I introduce you to “Pro Wrestling Bar Count 2.99” which combines the hobbies of drinking and professional wrestling.
Located in the heart of Osaka in Minami (between Nipponbashi and Shinsaibashi) Count 2.99 is a cozy bar (adorned with plastic figures of wrestling legends) which can seat about 8 people, and a few tables which can seat a further 12. There’s also an “Announcer table” which is designed for just two people to fulfil their desire to be a commentary team during live events. For special events, some of the tables are removed and more chairs are brought in allowing for around 30 people in total.
The main screen behind the bar
The rest of the bar is strewn with wrestling memorabilia, wrestling belts, standees, and posters for historic and upcoming events. The owner (Koji) has spent many years adding unique pieces to his bar, creating a one of a kind space. Even the entrance to the bar is sectioned off with guard rails just like a real wrestling event.
Aside from just being a bar, Count 2.99 also supplies tickets to events in Osaka from NJPW to smaller indie shows. For those people who hate the ticket ordering system in Japan, you can simply purchase your tickets from the bar, they are usually better seats than you’d probably expect too.
On the right side, there is the polaroid wall. This features thousands of wrestlers who have visited over the years, with each one having been signed and dated. Some of the wrestlers have since retired, whilst others continue to wrestle to a world-wide audience including…
WWE’s current NXT Women’s champion Asuka (Formally known as Kana)
The bar has also hosted many special events for these wrestlers including birthday parties which fans are allowed to attend too. Usually when a wrestling promotion visits Osaka, most of the wrestlers stop by for a drink. Only the other week I was sat at the bar after finishing work, and Rina Yamashita (Who wrestles for Pro Wave, Ice Ribbon, OZ academy, REINA, and a host of other companies) walked in, and pulled up a stool just next to me. She had no idea that I was a fan of female professional wrestling, so she was surprised when she realised I knew who she was!
There are copies of Weekly Pro-Wrestling for people to pick up and talk about too.
Soft drinks start from ¥600 and cocktails are around ¥800. Snacks are available assorted nuts will set you back ¥600 and some soft noodles are just ¥900 (Prices were correct at the time of writing) You can check their website for a full list of food and drinks. Be aware that like most Japanese bars, there is a seating charge! Many foreigners aren’t used to this concept.
Overall, Koji has created an amazingly fun bar, which every professional wrestling fan needs to visit if they come to Osaka. The best part is, I’m going to be helping Koji to learn English as he’s expressed that he wants more western fans to visit. So please visit the bar and exchange wrestling stories with him!