July 20th Sapporo Show ? Full Card Announced
New Japan has released its full card for the July 20th show that will emanate from Sapporo. The main event was set at the end of the Dominion ’09 show last month, with Takashi Sugiura of Pro Wrestling NOAH challenging IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi. This will be the first time a Pro Wrestling NOAH wrestler has challenged for New Japan’s top prize. In 2003, both Masahiro Chono and Yuji Nagata challenged then GHC Champion Kenta Kobashi, but came up short in their efforts.
Togi Makabe will take on Toru Yano in what has been announced thus far as a special singles match, but will likely turn into some sort of gimmick match, given the progress of the feud. Also, Tiger Mask will put his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title on the line against Best of the Super Juniors winner Koji Kanemoto. The third title match of the night will feature the newly crowned IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt making their first title defense against the team of Milano Collection AT and Taichi.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Takashi Iizuka will renew their rivalry from last year in a Chain Death match on the card as well. Riki Chosu, Masahiro Chono & Jushin Thunder Liger will head up a New Japan legends team that will face Yuji Nagata, Hirooki Goto and Mitsuhide Hirasawa in six man tag team action. Shinsuke Nakamura will face Tomoaki Honma in singles action. Manabu Nakanishi, Takao Omori, Wataru Inoue, AKIRA and Kazuchika Okada will take on the team of Giant Bernard, Val Venis, Karl Anderson, Tomohiro Ishii and Jado in a special tag team match to round out the card.
NJPW, 7/20/09 (WPW)
Tsukisamu Alpha Court Dome
1.?IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title: Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt (c) vs. Milano Collection AT & Taichi
2. Manabu Nakanishi, Takao Omori, Wataru Inoue, AKIRA & Kazuchika Okada vs. Giant Bernard, Val Venis, Karl Anderson, Tomohiro Ishii & Jado
3. Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
4. Riki Choshu, Masahiro Chono & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Yuji Nagata, Hirooki Goto & Mitsuhide Hirasawa
5.?Chain Death Match: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Takashi Iizuka
6.?IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Tiger Mask (c) vs. Koji Kanemoto
7.?Special Singles Match: Togi Makabe vs. Toru Yano
8.?IWGP Heavyweight Title: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Takashi Sugiura?
G1 Climax Participants Announced!
Twelve of the 14 G1 Climax Tournament participants were announced after the company’s Korakuen Hall show on Sunday. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi will be featured as well as the man whom he took the title from last month, Manabu Nakanishi. Former IWGP Heavyweight Champions Yuji Nagata, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Shinsuke Nakamura will also be included in the tournament.
The rest of the field will be rounded out by last year’s winner Hirooki Goto as well as ’08 runner-up Togi Makabe. CHAOS faction members Toru Yano and Takashi Iizuka are scheduled to participate in addition to Giant Bernard and Takao Omori.
As per the usual, there will be an ‘outsider’ presence on the show as well, as Pro Wrestling NOAH’s Takashi Sugiura will be taking part in the festivities. The other two spots have been yet to be announced, but one is strongly rumored to be Zero-1 Champion Masato Tanaka, who made his first appearance in the promotion since losing his bid to win back his Zero-1 title from Yuji Nagata at the Tokyo Dome at the Osaka show, and made his intentions of entering the tournament clear. Masahiro Chono, whose won the tournament several times, is the rumored 14th participant, although plans are subject to change. Takeshi Morishima was also rumored to potentially be the magic #14.
2009 G1 Climax Tournament Participants
1. Hiroshi Tanahashi?
2. Manabu Nakanishi?
3. Yuji Nagata?
4. Hiroyoshi Tenzan?
5. Hirooki Goto?
6. Shinsuke Nakamura?
7. Togi Makabe?
8. Toru Yano?
9. Takashi Iizuka?
10. Giant Bernard?
11. Takao Omori?
12. Takashi Sugiura?
Devitt, Taguchi Topple TNA’s Motor City Machine Guns to Win IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship at Korakuen Hall
Ryosuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt, hot off solid performances at the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament last month, defeated TNA’s Motor City Machine Guns for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship at the Korakuen Hall this past Sunday in front of a sell out crowd of 2,000 fans. The ‘Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) won the titles on January 4th at the Tokyo Dome and made two successful title defenses, one in Japan and the other overseas in the United States.
NJPW “CIRCUIT 2009 NEW JAPAN SOUL”, 05.07.2009?(SXW)?
Tokyo Korakuen Hall?
2,000 Fans?- Super No Vacancy?
1. Milano Collection A.T. & Taichi def Jushin Thunder Liger & AKIRA?(11:33)?When Milano pinned AKIRA with an inside cradle
2. Tomoaki Honma def Toru Yano?(5:44)?with a diving head butt
3. Hirooki Goto def Kazuchika Okada?(7:34)?with the Shouten
4. Manabu Nakanishi & Takao Omori def Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson?(7:03)? when Nakanishi pinned Anderson with a German Suplex
5. Yuji Nagata def Tomohiro Ishii?(13:02) with the backdrop hold
6. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Togi Makabe def Shinsuke Nakamura & Takashi Iizuka?(11:43)?when Iizuka was disqualified
7. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tiger Mask def. Wataru Inoue & Koji Kanemoto?(12:54)?When Tanahshi defeated Inoue with the High Fly Flow
8.?IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title: Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt def. Alex Shelley??& Chris Sabin??(c)?(21:34) when Devitt Pinned Shelley with the Prince’s Throne
Akira Taue Named New President of Pro Wrestling NOAH
Longtime NOAH star and All Japan fixture Akira Taue was named NOAH President at a Press Conference in Tokyo on July 5th. Tokyo Sports, the weekly Japanese wrestling/fight sports magazine, reported the previous week that Taue was going to be the pick according to sources inside the company. The rumors were all but confirmed heading into the weekend as Kenta Kobashi, Jun Akiyama and Mitsuo Momota all said they would not accept the position if they were to be offered it, thus withdrawing their names from consideration publicly.
Taue was one of All Japan’s ?Four Pillars of Heaven? in the 1990s. He began wrestling in 1988, entering the All Japan dojo after years of Sumo wrestling. He would go on to become Jumbo Tsuruta’s right hand man in the Misasa-Jumbo wars, and would become Toshiaki Kawada’s #2 when Kawada replaced Tsuruta as Misawa’s chief rival. Taue had most of his success in the tag team ranks with Kawada, winning several World Tag Team Championships. The team would become the dominant duo of the 1990’s, while Misawa headed up the singles ranks. Taue would enjoy singles success as well, winning the Triple Crown in 1995 as well as emerging victorious in the prestigious Champions Carnival in 1996.
Taue followed then All Japan President Mitsuharu Misawa to Pro Wrestling NOAH in 2000 and would go on to be one of the staples of their main event scene in the early years of the promotion. In 2005, he would win the GHC Heavyweight Championship, his last major singles title, defeating Takeshi Rikioh. Taue was Misawa’s hand picked successor, as he had repeatedly mentioned to media types and those close to him within the organization, that should anything happen to him, he would want Taue to be his successor.
Misawa Funeral Draws 26,000 People
Pro Wrestling NOAH and the family of Mitsuharu Misawa held a funeral for the public at the Differ Ariake arena in Tokyo on Saturday. The Differ Ariake is home to the Pro Wrestling NOAH offices. It is believed to be one of the largest funerals for an athlete in history.
Many fans waited for as long as four hours to have an opportunity to come inside the arena, and the line was said, at one point, to be more than three miles long. Many were said to have come to the funeral and seen the lines and left. The promotion had printed up cards, roughly expecting around 10,000 people maximum for the event. Of course, the crowd was much, much larger than expected.
NTV ran a special on the funeral during their sports segment with a documentary on his life and career aired later in prime time. NTV News Anchor (equivalent to say, a Peter Jennings here), Tom Mboya, spoke at the funeral as well.
The funeral is believed to be the second largest funeral in the history of Japanese sports (second to the Giant Baba who had in upwards of 28,000 people at his funeral).
Misawa Memorial Draws Colossal Crowd In Tokyo
Pro Wrestling NOAH held its Sunday Memorial Show for Mitsuharu Misawa on Sunday. The show featured what appears to be a slight shift in booking philosophy, as the company appears more geared towards pushing special attraction and singles matches. The show kicked off with a Royal Rumble early on where the returning Naomichi Marufuji defeated a mixed field of heavyweights and juniors.
Also announced at the show was that Takashi Sugiura, who recently challenged New Japan’s Hiroshi Tanahashi for the promotions IWGP Heavyweight title, will also be taking place in the New Japan G1 Climax Tournament this August.
Tokyo Differ Ariake
1,800 Fans?(Super No Vacancy)
1.?Royal Rumble: Naomichi Marufuji? beat Oshiri Kajiri Mushi?(44:54). Order of Eliminations: Masao Inoue, Junji Izumida, Kishin Kawabata, Tamon Honda & Kentaro Shiga, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, Takuma Sano, Akihiko Ito, Ricky Marvin, Atsushi Aoki, Genba Hirayanagi, Makoto Hashi.
2. Shuhei Taniguchi beat Yoshinobu Kanemaru?(10:10)?with a modified backdrop hold.
3. Takeshi Morishima beat Akitoshi Saito?(14:50)?with a backdrop.
4. Takashi Sugiura beat Taiji Ishimori?(8:43)?with an Olympic Slam.
5. Mohammed Yone beat Naomichi Marufuji??(8:46)?with a Muscle Buster.
6. Go Shiozaki beat KENTA?(28:43)?with a modified reverse DDT.
7. Takeshi Rikioh beat Kotaro Suzuki?(11:24)?with the Muso.
It was also announced today that Takashi Sugiura will be a participant in this year’s NJPW G1 Climax tournament.
Two Big Title Matches in Kanazawa Show
All Japan held its ?Cross Over 2009? show Sunday in Kanazawa, in front of a crowd of 1,869 fans at the Ishikawa Industrial Exhibition Hall #3. The two main events saw both the All Japan World Junior Heavyweight Championship and the World Tag Team titles successfully defended.
Taiyo Kea and Minoru Suzuki made their fourth defense of the tag belts, defeating the team of Keiji Muto and Masayuki Kono, making them the longest reigning tag champions in quite some time. Taiyo Kea was said to have been injured in the match, but continued on through to the finish. There is no word as to who will be the team’s next challengers.
Kaz Hayashi made his third defense of the All Japan World Junior Championship, defeating Mazada in a nearly 30-minute long main event. Hayashi, whose been suffering through some injuries, is likely due for some time off once the next tour is over with.
AJPW “CROSS OVER 2009”, 05.07.2009?
Ishikawa Industrial Exhibition Hall #3?
1,869 Fans?- Super No Vacancy?
1.?3 Way Match: Hate def Nobutaka Araya & Otokosakari?(9:10)? When Hate pinned Araya with a horizontal Cradle.
2. Ryota Hama & Phil Atlas def Osamu Nishimura & Brad Martin?(12:51)?When Hama hit a running body press on Martin
3. Seiya Sanada & Manabu Soya def Zodiac & Joe Doering?(8:08)?When Sanada pinned Doering with an inside cradle
4. Satoshi Kojima, KAI & Hiroshi Yamato def TARU, Minoru & Toshizo?(14:43)?When Kojima pinned Toshizo with the lariat
5. Suwama & Shuji Kondo def Yoshihiro Takayama & NOSAWA Rongai?(8:59)? when Suwama pinned Rongai with the German Suplex hold?
6.?AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Title: Kaz Hayashi (c) def MAZADA?(29:19)?with the power plant (3rd defense).
7.?AJPW World Tag Team Title: Taiyo Kea & Minoru Suzuki (c) def Keiji Muto & Masayuki Kono?(26:48)?when Suzuki pinned Kono after a Gotch Style pile driver (4th defense).?
Taiyo Kea to Undergo Surgery
All Japan star and one half of the World Tag Team Champions Taiyo Kea, will be undergoing surgery on his left arm next Tuesday and is expected to miss the next tour. The injury itself isn’t believed to be very big, and at the July 5th show in Kanazawa, Suzuki and Kea retained their titles, defeating Masayuke Kono & Keiji Muto. One would have to assume, that it won’t derail any long term plans for the team.
Kaz Hayashi is also reportedly banged up, and will be getting some time off next month as well.
B-1 Climax Tournament Day One Results
Kitasenju Theatre 1010
1. Katsumi Usuda & Kyosuke Sasaki
2. Block B: Yujiro Yamamoto  (9:39 Jujigatame) Baisen TAGAI 
3. Block A: Yuta Yoshikawa  (9:48 Modified Heel Hold) Tiger Shark 
4. Block A: Yuki Ishikawa  (20:00 Time Limit Draw) Ryuji Walter 
5. Block B: Super Tiger  (13:01 Gamen Solbut -> TKO) Munenori Sawa 
Hunter’s Mindless, Ongoing, Who-Cares-what-he-thinks!? Best Puro Matches of 2009
I’m hoping by that at the end of this nonsense, I’ll have a nice 10-15 match list for you guys to check out at the end of the year. Heck, maybe even a top 20~. Just so you guys know, I hate star ratings. I just do. I used to love them, had great affection and maybe even got caught by my wife with them i n the past, but hey, I just don’t think ******** is a replacement for actually knowing what you’re talking about and wish to communicate. Take them with a grain of salt, but anything that pops up on THIS list, you should probably check out.
1.) Hiroshi Tanahashi v. Shinsuke Nakamura, IWGP Heavyweight Championship, New Japan 2/15 ****
2.)Shinsuke Nakamura & Hirooki Gotoh v. Mitsuharu Misawa & Takeshi Suguira, New Japan 1/4 ***3/4
3.) Alexander Otsuka vs. Yujiro Yamamoto, BattlARTS 2/15 ***3/4
4.) Minoru Suzuki & Taiyo Kea v. SUWAMA & Shuji Kondo, World Tag Team Championship, All Japan 3/15 ***1/2
5.) Takashi Suguira & Go Shiozaki v. Shinsuke Nakamura & Milano Collection A.T., NOAH 3/1 ***1/2
6.) Jun Akiyama v. KENTA, NOAH 5/17 ***1/2
7.) Go Shiozaki & Kenta vs Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiku Nakajima, NOAH 6/22 ***1/2
8.) Katsumi Usuda vs. Yuta Yoshikawa ? BattlARTS 2/15 ***1/2
9.)Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada vs. Takashi Sugiura & Atsushi Aoki, New Japan 5/5 ***1/4
10.) Hirooki Gotoh v. Giant Bernard, New Japan Cup Semi Finals, New Japan 3/22 ***1/4
11.) KENTA v. Ricky Marvin, NOAH 6/5 ***1/4
12.) Mammoth Sasaki & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Shinya Ishikawa & Yoshihito Sasaki, Big Japan ? ***1/4
13.) Ricky Marvin v. Taiji Ishimori, SEM 5/18 ***
14.) Alexander Otsuka v. Daisuke Sekimoto, IGF 3/15 ***
15.) Giant Bernard v. Yutaka Yoshie, New Japan Cup Semi Finals, New Japan 3/22 ***
16.) Yuki Ishikawa vs. Alexander Otsuka, B-Rules, BattlARTS 1/10 ***
17.) Milano Collection A.T. vs. Prince Devitt, New Japan 5/30 ***
18.) Takashi Iizuka v. Yuji Nagata, Chain Match, New Japan 4/5 ***
Koji Kanemoto v. Prince Devitt, Best of the Super Juniors Final, New Japan
This, on its face, is a pretty interesting match up. Kanemoto has been a staple of the New Japan juniors division for a long time, arguably the #2 in the division for seemingly forever, and a primary rival to Jushin ?Thunder? Liger. Prince Devitt on the other hand, is one of New Japan’s rising junior stars. With Devitt getting over so much over the course of the tournament, one had to think he might have been the favorite to go over, but its pretty clear Kanemoto has something else in mind.
One thing I really dislike about Juniors wrestling in general these days is the tendency to want to move from basic mat work into some sort of leg segment. In my opinion, I’ve found that this formula is often problematic with many juniors, largely due to the style. Juniors wrestling is often fast paced, and when you take the wheels off a car, its not going to go very fast. It becomes problematic, largely because this leg work is almost always shrugged off to the point of ridiculousness, and really hurts the overall dramatic thrust of the matches.
That quibble of mine rears its ugly head in this match early on, with the two wrestlers working the mat, before moving into a really well timed crash and burn spot, where Devitt throws himself head over heels over the top rope, and Kanemoto side steps him. They milk a really good count out finish, before Devitt re-enters the ring and initially sells the injury like he can’t put weight on the leg, much less stand on it. Not two minutes later, Devitt is running all over the ring and even crashes and burns on the same exact spot a second time, and this time, no harm is done. Its a little baffling.
What hurts this even more is all the focus on leg locks and escaping Kanemoto’s ankle locks, which is his signature move of sorts. Devitt hangs out in these ankle locks for what seems like an eternity, and to be frank, by the time he finally taps out to it, you wonder why he didn’t do it a heck of a lot earlier. The crowd’s certainly into the action, so you can’t out and out fault them for sticking with the plan, but really, just because a crowd’s dead doesn’t mean the match stunk, while the same holds true for the opposite; just because the crowd is hot, doesn’t mean its a very good match. Case in point here.
The finish of the tournament comes off feeling a bit anti-climatic with Kanemoto winning, especially given just HOW out of their way New Japan management went to put Devitt over in this tournament. None the less, its a fun enough match if that fast paced, high-flying stuff is your cup of tea and as is par for the course, its a big enough match that it warrants a look-see. **1/2
Keiji Mutoh, Masayuke Kono & Suwama v. Yoshihiro Takayama, Minoru Suzuki & Taiyo Kea, All Japan 6/21
This is a pretty good mix here, pitting the All Japan team against the Gurentai faction, in a big six man tag team match. Everyone’s got more or less a stake in this. Kono is fresh off his big comeback and has scored a big win over Satoshi Kojima earlier this summer. Mutoh is Mutoh and Suwama is a win or two away from being in line for a shot at the Triple Crown. Gurentai? They’ve got all the belts.
We start out with some rather awkward mat work from Kea and Mutoh, which is capped with a Mutoh Emerald Frosion and a Kea Tiger Driver ’91, both nice tribute spots to Mitsuharu Misawa, who had passed away earlier in the week. Misawa was a huge part of the promotion’s history and its a cute tribute spot. Kono and Suzuki get to know each other a little bit, and like dogs sniffing each other’s behinds, it ends in some rather harsh feelings. Kea becomes the main focus of the match as the All Japan team zeros in on his arm, and the control segment is pretty solid stuff. Kea is a guy who has a lot of selling issues, but he’s really, really good here at taking the beating. It kind of turns the whole trope of the baby face needing to take the lion’s share of the beatings and turns it on its head a little bit, as Kea is the heel here, trying to fend off a relentless face team assault.
Suwama and Takayama have several exchanges that build up to the finishing stretch. Tak is beginning to lose a step as he’s clearly entering the twilight of his career and it shows as he’s clearly behind the 8 ball on a lot of spots. Suwama’s got some nice signature spots, and when he finally learns how to put them all together in a coherent way on a consistent basis, he’ll be a pretty good wrestler. Still, the finishing sequence is good enough, with Suwama picking up the pin fall on Takayama, clearly putting him in line as Tak’s next challenger for the Triple Crown. This won’t blow anyone’s doors off or anything, but its a solid enough six man tag match. **1/4
Satoshi Kojima v. Nabutaka Araya, All Japan 6/21
Well, this right here is a really, really fun match. Araya has been a comedy character for some time in All Japan now, and Kojima, well… he’s Kojima. A steady main event guy whose been a major staple of the promotion for some time now. This is Araya’s final single’s match (his retirement match is coming up soon) so he’s got something to prove before he bows out for good. The opening video package for this is pretty hilarious, with Araya having his first training session in forever, and he looks out of shape. Surely, he’s over matched. Right?
If you really liked the whole Zach Gowan ‘helpless baby face’ run in the WWE in 2003 (say what you want about the angles, the matches were pretty good), you’ll like this. Kojima is looking for a little payback here as Araya taught him a lesson back when he was getting started up, and wants to give Araya a receipt on his way out. He throws everything at Araya including the kitchen sink here, but nothing seems to keep the unexpectedly plucky Araya down. He’s over matched for sure, but you get the sense as the match goes on, if he can catch some lucky breaks, he might have a chance.
This has some fun interference from Mutoh and Kono, who are on the outside cheering their comrade on in his last match, which adds some fun comedy. The finishing run of this is really, really awesome, with Kojima letting Araya kick out of all his big signature spots and Araya returning the favor. Araya goes as far as to bust out the old moonsault, which he hasn’t done in years, to a HUGE pop from the crowd. Once they burn through that fall, you get the sense that Araya simply doesn’t have the goods anymore, but holy smokes, he makes you want to believe. The All Japan roster cheering him on from the ringside area just lends to the ‘big deal’ feel of the match.
This isn’t mind-blowing action, but lemme tell ya, its a heck of a lot of fun and the dramatic exploits of this match completely outshine any technical flaws there might be. Absolutely one of the most fun ‘old man finds it one more time’ matches since at least Flair-HBK at Wrestlemania 24, if not all the way back to 2006 and the SUWA-Mitsuo Momota match from NOAH’s August Budokan show. Certainly well worth going out of your way to check out. ***1/4