All Japan to Return to Hong Kong and Taiwan this Fall
Masayuki Uchida was in Hong Kong and Taiwan earlier this week trying to set up some live events there. Theyr’e looking to throw together a tour for November with three shows in each location. They drew 10,000 for a show last November, but that was largely due to their running the show with one of the bigger pop stars in Hong Kong.
All Japan Welcomes Two New Additions
Takumi Soya, younger brother of Manabu Soya, passed the company tryout on the 21st and is looking to debut in All Japan fairly soon. Soya was a judo competitor in college and dabbled in MMA. His goal, he said, was to win the Real World Tag League with his brother.
Also passing the try out was Takafumi Hochi, a 22 year old college wrestler. He’ll be joining up as soon as he finishes up school. Suwama saw him at a competition he was attending and passed his name on to Mutoh as someone who could potentially have a lot of success.
Giant Baba Memorial Show Announced
January 31st will mark a sad anniversary in Japanese wrestling as it will mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Japanese Wrestling legend and former All Japan promoter Giant Baba. His widow, Motoko Baba has announced that there’ll be a memorial show in January of 2011. The reason it’s been pushed so far forward is due to the fact that show will be held at the Capital Hotel in Tokyo, where many of the foreign wrestlers stayed during tours. The hotel closed in 2006, however, its been repurchased and is in the process of being rebuilt. Motoko said that baba loved the hotel and it was his home away from home.
NOAH to Tour in China
With prospects for domestic business looking poor in the coming year, NOAH Vice President Ryu Nakata, who runs the business end of the company, flew to China this past week to meet with a promoter who helped run both the Olympics and World Expo about possibly putting together a summer tour through the country. NOAH hopes to make China a new market, especially with their losing Television in April.
Kobashi Sidelined With Flu
NOAH front man Kenta Kobashi was sidelined from his rehab this past week with a pretty nasty bout with the flue. Although its not anything to be TOO worried about, NOAH officials seemed concerned enough to want to mention it on TV.
Also, there has been a lot of speculation about Kobashi’s return. Reports from NOAH have said Kobashi, believe it or not, is pretty adamant about working in the opening matches and lobbying to ‘work his way back up’. His feeling was that a lot of guys have effectively moved themselves up the card and he didn’t want to ‘cannon ball’ back into the fray, taking time away from them. While it may seem hard to believe, as this IS pro wrestling after all, Kobashi wants to let the new guys shine and have a chance to help get them over after fans buy a run up the card on his part.
In terms of drawing power, Kobashi is certainly the company’s biggest act. There was talk of them moving him right into the title picture for either a rematch with Kensuke Sasaki for the strap later this year, or even a title match with Jun Akiyama. A ‘Kobashi works his way up’ story could conceivably fit what their plans, although they’re a bit uneasy with the idea of Kobashi in lower card matches of any sort.
Second Navigation Tour Heats Up
The next big tour of course is the annual ‘Second Navigation’ tour that’ll start on the 15th of this month and continue through the remainder of the month, concluding with the big Budokan show on March 1st. NOAH has announced the foreigners for the tour as follows: Bison Smith, Doug Williams, Bull Buchanan, Davey Richards and Roderick Strong.
Also, NOAH has planted the seeds for what they’re doing story-line-wise. Jun Akiyama has stated that if he doesn’t defeat Kensuke Sasaki for the GHC title on March 1st, that he’ll never challenge for the title again. Also set in motion at the Korakuen show from 1/25 was the split of Mohommed Yone and Takeshi Morishima. Morishima’s stock has shot up considerably since their last solid run together. After successful stint in the United States where he wont the Ring of Honor World title, Morishima returned and became the GHC Heavyweight Champion in short order.
Internally, company officials feel he’s significantly surpassed Yone and now will be looked to as a bona fide main eventer, thus the split. Morishima has been replaced by another former partner of his, Takeshi Rikioh. Rikioh’s claim to fame was ending the nearly two year title run of Kenta Kobashi back in March of 2005. However, he never quite took off and with some poor title defenses against Akitoshi Saito and Mitsuharu Misawa, dropped the title to Akira Taue in November of that same year. Though they’ve attempted to (sort of) rebuild him, he’s never fully recovered and now seems to have settled into a gate keeper role for the main event stars. They feel he’ll be a better fit for Yone.
Also, Two big title matches have been announced in the past week. Of course, the GHC Heavyweight Championship match has been made official for the March 1st Budokan show in Tokyo between champion Kensuke Sasaki and Jun Akiyama. The second big title match announced will occur on February 11, as KENTA will defend his GHC Jr. Heavyweight title against Katsuhiku Nakajima as the headlining bout in the Korakuen Hall.
TV-Asahi 50th Anniversary to re-air Ali-Inoki
TV-Asahi is going to be celebrating its 50th anniversary soon and are planning on showing its 50 greatest shows in the coming weeks. On February 7th, they’re planning on re-airing the famous (or infamous depending on how you look at it) match between Muhammad Ali & Antonio Inoki. The match took place back in 1976 and drew a mind blowing 54.6 television rating. To give people perspective on how big the match was, when it re-aired in prime time a few weeks later, it drew an equally whopping 33.8 rating. The match hasn’t aired on TV in some 33 years, and perhaps with good reason, as the match was essentially Inoki laying on his back kicking at Ali’s legs for nearly 45 minutes.
Full Sumo Hall Card Announced for 2/15!
New Japan has announced the full card, in its entirety, for the 2/15 Show!
Special Tag Match: Mitsuhide Hirasawa & Nobuo Yoshihashi vs. OKUMURA & Kazuchika Okadaa
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title #1 Contender 4WAY Tag: Yujiro & Tetsuya Naito vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs. Jado & Gedo vs. Milano Collection AT & Taichi Ishikari
Riki Choshu, Manabu Nakanishi, Wataru Inoue & Koji Kanemoto vs. Takashi Iizuka, Tomohiro Ishii, Karl Anderson & Tomoaki Honma
Special Tag Match – NJPW vs. TNA Augmented Reality: Masahiro Chono & AKIRA vs. James Storm & Robert Roode
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Tiger Mask (c) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger
Special Singles Match – Burn the Debt: Yuji Nagata vs. Hirooki Goto
CMLL World Welterweight Title – Lucha Libre Globalization: Mistico (c) vs. Mephisto
Special Singles Match – Wrestle-incident DIE OR BREED: Giant Bernard vs. Kurt Angle
IWGP Tag Team Title – Hardcore Rules: ?Team 3D? Brother Ray & Brother Devon (c) vs. Togi Makabe & Toru Yano
IWGP Heavyweight Title: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
To say the least, its a pretty stacked card. The headlining match of course, will be pitting New Japan’s two top stars, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura, against each other with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on the line. These two have a pretty extensive history together. Back in 2006, Tanahashi defeated Nakamura to retain the Championship in what a lot of people billed as one of the best championship matches the promotion had seen in years. The two would meet yet again at last year’s Tokyo Dome show in the main event, where Nakamura returned the favor, defeating Tanahashi for the gold.
TNA will also have a strong presence on the show, as various stars from the promotion will be featured in three seperate matches. Kurt Angle will face gaijin star Giant Bernard in a match that took root at the Tokyo Dome show in January. After the eight man tag, Bernard attacked Angle, setting up the match. A win for either man could potentially set up a championship match over the summer. It is felt that Bernard is on the cusp of finally breaking out in New Japan, while Angle’s reputation in Japan precedes him.
The other two TNA matches will be tag team affairs, as Team 3D will be defending their newly won IWGP Tag Team Championships against Toru Yano and Togi Makabe in a Tokyo Dome rematch. The first match left a lot to be desired. In other action, the Beer Money team of Robert Roode and James Storm will be taking on Masahiro Chono & Akira.
CMLL superstar Mistico will also be in a major match on the card, defending CMLL’s Welterweight title for the first time ever in Japan. He’ll be attempting to thwart the challenge of Mephisto. The crowd reacted quite positively to Mistico at the Tokyo Dome, thus he was brought in for a second go round.
Weekend Korakuen Hall Shows Draw Mixed Results
The company’s first big shows since the Tokyo Dome were held this past weekend and the results were a little bewildering to company officials.
The first night’s show drew a horrendous 900 fans and was considered by officials to be a total disaster on all accounts. Especially considering the main event featured Shinsuke Nakamura & G1 Climax Champion Hirooki Goto taking on IWGP Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi and Zero 1 World Champion Yuji Nagata. The match itself went pretty well to build to the Sumo Hall show, as Goto pinned Nagata to win the match. Nakamura laid Tanahashi out after the match with a last ride. As a result, Goto challenged Nagata to a singles match at the Sumo Hall and could potentially be in line for a World Heavyweight Championship title show against Nagata if he wins.
Tiger Mask was awarded a new belt at the show, which was reported here last week. The belt looks very similar to the Heavyweight belt, with the names of all the past winners on the side plates. A ceremony to honor Victor Mar, also known as the Black Cat was held. Mar passed away three years ago this week. His wife was brought to the ring and presented with some gifts.
The second show on 1/31 was almost the total opposite result, drawing a sell out, standing room only (and quite rowdy for Japan) 1,600. The main event was a six man tag where Nakamura teamed with Taguchi & Devitt to take on the team of Hiroshi Tanahashi, Yujiro & Naito. Nakamura seemed to be the guy getting the better reaction in the confrontations with Tanahashi. Jushin Liger & Hirooki Goto defeated Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask in the semi-main event when Liger pinned Tiger Mask to win the match. Looks like Liger’s in line for a title shot. There was a bit of scare as Hirooki Goto injured his knee in the match and needed to be helped to the back. New Japan officials said the injury isn’t anything to get worked up about, even though he was pulled from his next match. New Japan says he should be more than good to go for the Sumo Hall.
Finally, Minoru Tanaka was allowed to give his good bye to the crowd. He put over the fact that he wasn’t overly happy in the company the past year and when his contract expired, he figured it was time to go. He thanked New Japan for the years it gave him and said he looks forward to new challenges on the horizon.
Here’s the full results from the Weekend Shows:
NJPW ?BLACK CAT MEMORIAL?, 1/30/09 (Samurai! TV)
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
1. Wataru Inoue, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt beat Jado, Gedo & Tomohiro Ishii
2. Yujiro & Tetsuya Naito vs. Milano Collection AT & Taichi Ishikari resulted in a time limit draw
3. Tiger Mask & Koji Kanemoto beat Jushin Thunder Liger & AKIRA
4. Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, Takashi Iizuka & Tomoaki Honma beat Riki Choshu, Mitsuhide Hirasawa, Kazuchika Okada & Nobuo Yoshihashi
5. Masahiro Chono & Manabu Nakanishi beat Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson
6. Shinsuke Nakamura & Hirooki Goto beat Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yuji Nagata
NJPW, 1/31/09 (SXW)
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
1,600 Fans – No Vacancy
1. AKIRA beat Nobuo Yoshihashi
2. Jado & Gedo beat Milano Collection AT & Taichi Ishikari
3. Takashi Iizuka, Giant Bernard, Karl Anderson & Tomoaki Honma beat Manabu Nakanishi, Koji Kanemoto, Mitsuhide Hirasawa & Kazuchika Okada
4. Riki Choshu, Masahiro Chono & Wataru Inoue beat Togi Makabe, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii
5. Hirooki Goto & Jushin Thunder Liger beat Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask
6. Shinsuke Nakamura, Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt beat Hiroshi Tanahashi, Yujiro & Tetsuya Naito
Tomi Fureai Gymnasium
1,200 Fans – Super No Vacancy
1.Yujiro & Tetsuya Naito beat Koji Kanemoto & Nobuo Yoshihashi
2. Takashi Iizuka, Jado & Gedo beat Ryusuke Taguchi, Prince Devitt & Mitsuhide Hirasawa
3. Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson beat Milano Collection AT & Taichi Ishikari
4. Manabu Nakanishi & Wataru Inoue vs. Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii went to a draw
5. Riki Choshu & Masahiro Chono beat Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
6. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask beat Shinsuke Nakamura, Jushin Thunder Liger & AKIRA
New Japan Odds n Ends
Yuji Nagata and Wataru Inoue worked the January 23rd Zero-One show at Shinjuku Face, losing to the team of Shinjiro Otani and Masato Tanaka. Otani challenged Nagata to a title match, however there hasnt’ been a date set for the match quite yet.
Also, New Japan has run through their contracts and everything seems to be gong smoothly. Shinsuke Nakamura and Yuji Nagata both signed their extensions. Tanahashi hasn’t signed however, still holding out for naked pictures of women.
Gran Hamada announced this past week that he is going to be opening the ‘Mexican Wrestling Federation’ with the debut to be on April 5th of this year in Osaka. Hirokazu Kobayashi is the owner and money end of the company, and is apparently a huge Lucha Libre fan. He’s planning on bringing in some legends from Mexico that were around when Hamada was top dog in Mexico in the 70s and 80s.
Yomiuri Giants Star Shinobu Takano will be making his Pro Wrestling Debut on Valentine’s Day in Zero-One. His scheduled opponent is Kazuhiko Ogasawara.
Vader produced two shows, one on Sunday and then one last night in Shinkiba, Tokyo. Both shows sold out the 450 seat gym. The brought in Aaron Neal and Mark Face from America. Test fought Lance Hoyt in the main event of the first show. Satoshi Kojima popped up the second night and shook hands with Vader, which was the first time the two had seen each other in 15 years. Kojima challenged Vader to a match. There’s no word on whether he accepted.