Resolution ’09 Brings Mixed Results
Hiroshi Tanahashi’s claim to the title of company ace was further solidified on Sunday Night at the Sumo Hall in Tokyo, as he convincingly defeated Kurt Angle to make his second successful defense of his IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
The match itself however, was met with very mixed reviews. Angle came into the match weighing 209 pounds and claiming to be in top shape for the match. The weight was the smallest he’s been in years and many fans were have said to have thought he looked like a junior heavyweight compared Tanahashi, whom is even considered to be a small guy by heavyweight standards. Angle’s very ‘slimmed down’ appearance caught the attention of the Japanese media, who questioned him about it after the match. Angle replied that he had been training with Randy Couture, which to our knowledge, he isn’t. He could have been mistranslated, as these things tend to happen in Japanese papers, but regardless, he’s claiming an association with Couture when there clearly is none.
TNA stars Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin were said to be huge hits with the Japanese crowd, as they defended their IWGP Jr. Tag titles successfully against Prince Devitt & Ryusuke Taguchi.
The biggest news of the night however, is a possible heel turn on the part of Shinsuke Nakamura. I say ‘possible’ because they left the angle really ambiguous. During his match with GBH faction leader Togi Makabe, Makabe’s long time partner Toru Yano came out to the ring. Yano brought a chair into the ring and instead of smashing Nakamura with the weapon, he hit Makabe. After putting in a beating on Makabe after the match, Yano left with Nakamura.
Over the past year, the company has put Nakamura on a ‘cold streak’ of sorts, since he unified the the IWGP title with the IWGP 3rd belt defeating Kurt Angle in February of 2008. Nakamura lost the title to Keiji Mutoh last April before having poor performances in both the G1 and 2008 & 2009 New Japan Cup Tournaments. Nakamura failed in his bid to recapture the title f rom Keiji Mutoh in October, before being decisively beaten by generational contemporary Hiroshi Tananashi in February. Certainly by story line standards, it could point to a heel turn. However, Makabe is for all intents and purposes, the top heel in the company and has led the GBH heel faction for the better part of the last three years. New Japan isn’t letting on either way, and come this weekend, we should have a better idea of where things are going.
The last piece of big news was the return of Hiroyoshi Tenzan, who popped up surprisingly to announce that he’ll be coming back to the ring after a four month lay off after undergoing eye surgery to repair a detached retina. He said he and partner Satoshi Kojima planned to challenge Team 3D for the IWGP Tag Team titles this summer. Kojima & Tenzan were the first team in Japanese wrestling history to win both the G1 Tag Team Tournament and the All Japan Real World Tag League in the same year.
Also taking place on the card, two men who were once friends clashed in a chain match. Yujinagata and Takashi Iizuka was hastily thrown onto the card following an surprise assault f rom Iizuka last week. Iizuka ended up defeating Nagata, literally hanging him over the top rope with the chain until he passed out. Iizuka is booked to be extremely dominant in chain matches.
The team of ?Wild Child?, Manabu Nakanishi & Takao Omori also took place on the show. The duo was highly popular earlier in the decade and their resume includes a run with the IWGP Tag Team titles. The reunion however, didn’t go as planned, as Omori and Nakanishi fell in a huge upset, to the team of Karl Anderson & The Giant Bernard, with Anderson gaining the fall on Omori. Anderson is booked largely to be a lackey to Bernard, and as a guy whose still learning the ropes so to speak. Nakanishi blew a gasket after the match, and said during a press conference that he may d rop Omori in favor of Yutaka Yoshie for a tag team partner.
The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship was also defended on the card, as Tiger Mask successfully defended the title against Black Tiger. However, this wasn’t Tatsuhiko Takaiwa under the mask, it was Rocky Romero. The match was described as a ‘complete car wreck’, with an odd double count out first fall that ended up with Tiger Mask winning the match in the second fall and thus forcing Black Tiger to unmask. BT unmasked before ‘another’ Black Tiger, this time Takaiwa, came through the crowd and attacked Tiger Mask again. Truly Bizarre.
The attendance for the show was said to be a little lower than expected, especially with Kurt Angle on the card and the fact that three titles would be defended. Sunday of course, was a huge wrestling day, with the All Japan Champions Carnival kicking off down the road at the Korakuen and also, Wrestlemania 25, which is considered a big even in Japan as well. While it didn’t produce the results the company had hoped for, it still could be considered a success.
NJPW ?RESOLUTION ?09″, 4/5/09 (WPW/PPV)
Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
Koji Kanemoto beat Kazuchika Okada (8:27) by referee stop.
2. Tomohiro Ishii, Jado & Tomoaki Honma beat Wataru Inoue, Milano Collection AT & Taichi Ishikari (8:52) when Honma used a diving head butt on Ishikari.
3. Resolution ?09 Special 6 Man Tag Match – NJPW Greatest Heritage: Masahiro Chono, Jushin Thunder Liger & AKIRA beat Riki Choshu, Super Strong Machine & El Samurai (8:19) when AKIRA used a Musasabi press on Samurai.
4. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title: Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin (c) beat Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt (12:54) when Shelley pinned Devitt after the Made in Detroit (2nd defense).
5. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title – Belt Contra Mascara: Tiger Mask (c) vs. Black Tiger went to a double countout (6:47).
5a. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title – Belt Contra Mascara: Tiger Mask (c) beat Black Tiger (4:49) with a Destroy suplex hold (2nd defense).
6. Resolution ?09 Special Tag Match – Big Comeback WILD HEART: Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson beat Manabu Nakanishi & Takao Omori (15:50) when Anderson used the Gun Stun on Omori.
7. Resolution ?09 Special Singles Match – HUGE RIOT: Hirooki Goto beat Toru Yano (16:10) with a modified arm lock.
8. Resolution ?09 Special Singles Match – Bolt f rom the blue – Chain Death Match: Takashi Iizuka beat Yujinagata (21:58) by referee stop.
9. Resolution ?09 Special Singles Match – The end of discord: Shinsuke Nakamura beat Togi Makabe (12:42) with the Landslide.
10. IWGP Heavyweight Title – WHICH IS GENIUS?: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) beat Kurt Angle (15:11) with the High Fly Flow (2nd defense).
Fukuoka Show Begins to Take Shape
The Fukuoka International Center show has been named ?Wrestling Dontaku 2009? and in news that isn’t a shock to anyone, they’re already naming the matches that are scheduled to take place on the show.
The IWGP Heavyweight Championship match has been made official. Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi will face G1 & New Japan Cup tournament winner Hirooki Gotoh in the main event. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima will also be on the show, taking on the team of Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson for the right to the #1 Contender’s spot to the IWGP Tag Team Championships currently held by Team 3D. Also on the card, Tiger Mask & Koji Kanemoto will take on the team of Jushin ?Thunder? Liger & Dragon Gate mainstay CIMA. The show has been billed as a pay per view.
NJPW ?WRESTLING DONTAKU 2009″, 5/3/09 (WPW/PPV)
Fukuoka International Center
1. Wrestling Dontaku 2009 Special Tag Match: Tiger Mask & Koji Kanemoto vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & CIMA
2. TenKoji Return – IWGP Tag Team Title #1 Contender Match: Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs. Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson
3. IWGP Heavyweight Title: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Hirooki Goto
G1 Climax Tour Dates Announced
The G1 Climax Tour’s official name will be ?New Lords, New Laws?. The tournament is scheduled to kick off on August 7th at Hiroshima’s Sun Plaza and of course end nine days later with back to back shows at the Sumo Hall in Tokyo. The Hiroshima date is actually a new date added to the tour. in the past, the tournament has almost always kicked off in Osaka, before hitting the smaller Yokohama and Tokyo Korakuen venues, moving on to the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, before concluding at the Sumo Hall. So as a result, this year’s tournament will feature nine shows as opposed to eight.
G1 CLIMAX 2009 ~NEW LORDS, NEW LAWS~
– 8/7 @ Hiroshima Sun Plaza
– 8/8 @ Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium
– 8/9 @ Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium
– 8/10 @ Yokohama Bunka Gymnasium
– 8/11 @ Tokyo Korakuen Hall
– 8/13 @ Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
– 8/15 @ Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
– 8/16 @ Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
Champions Carnival Report
Current Champion Carnival standings as of 4/8:
1. Keiji Muto 3-0-0
2. Yoshihiro Takayama 2-1-0
3. Kaz Hayashi 1-1-1
4. Osamu Nishimura 1-1-1
5. Joe Doering 1-2-0
6. Seiya Sanada 0-3-0
1. Taiyo Kea 2-0-1
2. Minoru Suzuki 2-1-0
3. Satoshi Kojima 2-1-0
4. Suwama 1-1-1
5. Ryoto Hama 1-2-0
6. Zodiac 0-3-0
This year’s Champions Carnival tournament kicked off on April 5th in front of a crowd of 1,500 at the Korakuen Hall. in what was considered a huge surprise, the show did NOT sell out. It was originally announced last week that Keiji Mutoh would be forced to miss the tournament due to a slipped disc in his back, however Mutoh, who initially pulled out of the tournament, inserted himself back in, in an attempt to tough it out. He was originally scheduled to face Triple Crown Champion Yoshihiro Takayama in the first match of the tournament, and with the match being on, then off, then back on again, the feeling was that fans didn’t know what way they were going and probably elected to sit the show out.
The matches themselves were interesting to say the least, with Mutoh defeating Takayama in 18 minutes, 10 seconds using a figure four. The match was a rematch of the Sumo Hall main event f rom last year, where Mutoh’s crazed alter-ego ?The Great Muta? lost the titles. The other big match on the first night was between Satoshi Kojima and the man who ended his last Triple Crown reign and last year’s winner, Suwama. Kojima defeated Suwama in 18 minutes with a big lariat. Taiyo Kea pinned his partner and fellow tag team champion Minoru Suzuki in 20 minutes, 43 seconds. Other results f rom the night included Kaz Hayashi defeating Joe Doering in a huge upset. Also Osamu Nishimura defeated Sanada while rooking Ryoto Hama defeated Zodiac.
The second show took place yesterday in Nagaoka before a crowd of 1,100. Suwama defeated Ryoto Hama in the opener. The first draw of the tournament took place as Kaz Hayashi & Nishimura wrestled 30 minutes without a decision. Minoru Suzuki got into the win column, defeating Zodiac while Takayama also rebounded well, defeating Joe Doering. Keji Mutoh remained undefeated, knocking off Sanada. The big match up of the night was between Taiyo Kea and Satoshi Kojima. Kea ended up winning the match by submission with an arm bar.
Today marked the third day of the competition, with the show taking place in Hamamatsu in front of a sellout crowd of 1,500. Joe Doering, considered by many to be a dark horse in the tournament, finally climbed into the win column, defeating Sanada in the opener. Minoru Suzuki pinned Ryoto Hama while Triple Crown Champion Takayama put the first blemish on Junior Heavyweight Champion Kaz Hayashi’s record of the tournament, defeating him in 10 minutes. Satoshi Kojima defeated Zodiac, while Suwama and Taiyo Kea went to a 30 minute draw. Keiji Mutoh defeated Nishimura in the main event in around 11 minutes.
Pro Wrestling Goes Ends 55 Year Run on NTV
The final episode of ?Pro Wrestling? aired on NTV on Match 29th. The show concluded with Go Shiozaki issuing a challenge to Jun Akiyama for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Also, during a taped interview, Jun Akiyama suggested that Kenta Kobashi challenge Makoto Hashi for the GHC Openweight title. Akiyama introduced the title to the company in 2002 and said that he was disappointed that big names hadn’t fought for the title in some time. He said if Kobashi were to win, he’d want to face him in a title for title match.
Also, a GHC Jr Heavyweight tag title match was announced for the Korakuen Hall show on April 25th. Champions Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki are scheduled to defend their titles against Atsuhi Aoki & Akihiko Ito.
Also of note, Mohammed Yone & Takeshi Rikio have announced their stable’s name to be ‘Disobey’.
Dragon Gate to Invade the UK
Dragon Gate announced that it will be touring the United Kingdom during Halloween Weekend later this year. There will be a meet and great at the show. As of press time, a venue hasn’t been announced.
Story Behind Sumo Hall Sell Out
Initially it came across as huge news that Dragon Gate sold out the Sumo Hall and managed to outdraw both All Japan and New Japan at their chief venue. As it turns out, Dragon Gate sold their tickets in the upper half of the arena for 1,000 Yen, or what’s equal to $10 US dollars. The Bottom half tickets were close to and in a few cases, exceeded $30. A New Japan or All Japan show in the same venue usually costs $20-$25 to sit in the balcony. One of our readers email us reporting that he sat in the upper deck and that he thought it was obvious that people didn’t know who many of the wrestlers were on the show, yet enjoyed themselves none the less.
New Zero1 World Champion
Ryoji Sai defeated Shinjiro Otani on the 29th of March to win the Zero1 World Heavyweight Championship. As a result, Sai will be making his first defense against Daisuke Sekimoto on April 29th.
Other Japan News
Mascaras Comes and Goes
Mil Mascaras returned to Japan in nearly three years to take place in a legends match in Tokyo that took place on March 29th. Mascaras teamed with the Original Tiger Mask to take on the team of Gran Damada & Tatsumi Fujinami. Mascaras pinned Hamada with a flying body press to win the match. Talk heading out of the match is for Fujinami and Mascaras to hook up in a one on one match. in the early 1980s, Fujinami was in New Japan and Mascaras worked primarily in All Japan. They worked on of only a few ‘joint’ shows between the two rival promotions at the Budokan back in 1978, but haven’t locked horns since then.
New Japan Cup Championship Night!
Hirooki Gotoh v. Yujinagata, New Japan Cup Semi Finals, 3/22
I liked the general premise they were going here, which was essentially that Gotoh would literally have to go THROUGH Nagata to get to the finals. It really smacked of the the traditional ‘capable young lion v. established vet’ scheme that this company is usually pretty good at throwing together.
The strikes are certainly here in spades and work well to essentially serve as stop gaps to the escalating temper of Nagata. At first he tries to out-wrestle Gotoh and while he’s not exactly unsuccessful, he doesn’t get to the point he wants to. So he bails on that strategy and elects to take his anger out on Gotoh’s face instead. He goes back to the leg, the same thing that helped him beat Gotoh at the Korakuen show in January and the same thing that helped him defeat Gotoh rather handily at the last Sumo Hall show. But again, Gotoh is just plucky enough that it doesn’t really seem to stick to well for Nagata. So he goes back to strikes, but this time, Gotoh’s all set to go and catches him with an arm lock. Nagata’s lucky enough to be in the right place in the ring so he can get a foot on the rope, but when he gets a little too stir crazy a second time, Gotoh makes him pay again, and this time, Nagata ain’t getting out and taps out. Gotoh didn’t look dominating in any way, but rather more resourceful. That would certainly set the basis for the theme later on in the finals. **3/4
Giant Bernard v. Yutaka Yoshie, New Japan Cup Semi Finals, 3/22
You know, this was a really fun big man match that gave me just enough to really enjoy yet left enough out to the point where I know these guys probably have a way better match in them down the road. Still, this was really good. Yoshie and Bernard are pretty much neck and neck with the Undertaker and Big Show as the best super heavyweights out there, so I kind of figured this’d be pretty good.
What I really liked is that this never got offense-heavy in the sens that both men really treated each other’s offense and each other’s size with a lot of respect. A lot of the match is spent AVOIDING each each other’s big shots and selling the damage that the few shots that landed actually did as opposed to picking each other up and showing off their muscles, or in Yoshie’s case, his glorious fat. The fact that this ends in a roll up after a missed splash off the top rope makes it even better. This was a really good heavyweight match. ***
Hirooki Gotoh v. Giant Bernard, New Japan Cup Semi Finals, 3/22
This right here proves to me that Bernard-o is really ready for the big time. Gotoh is a guy who just strikes me as incredibly average across the board, and New Japan has yet to convince me that he’s the guy they claim him to be. Bernard, despite taking some losses here and there, just keeps getting better, and literally makes this entire match.
To be a competent big man, you really need to have interesting offense, and all of Bernard’s stuff is top notch. He works the leg, but doesn’t work it with strikes as much as he works it with his size. He has two great leg snaps, Vader bombs the leg, lays across the leg, he even hits a low d rop kick on one of the silly quick exchanges Gotoh attempts. He talks trash, gets the crowd into the match, and shows despair and disbelief when Gotoh survives his big stuff. Bernard gets an A++ in this match. Gotoh on the other hand is ok ish. He’s at least bothering to sell a little bit more and I like the arm bar counter as a finisher for him. He was like 0-36 against Bernard all time, so watching him finally get the win was cool, but the way they did kind of protected him, as Gotoh survived Bernard’s big stuff, stuff he couldn’t have survived even this fall, much the same deal with Nagata earlier in the night. I’m not yet convinced Gotoh’s there, but this was a good match and Gotoh’s at least proved that he can be carried to some pretty good stuff. Bernard on the other hand, is about as good as the come in Japan. ***1/4
SUMO HALL SHOW April 5, 2009
Hirooki Gotoh v. Toru Yano, New Japan 4/5
I’m convinced Gotoh is the new Shawn Michaels in the sense that he really likes to have a particular body part of his worked over so he can blow it off later on in the match. HBK has his back, with Gotoh its the leg. I’ve seen him in seven or eight matches in the last three months that the leg has become the center piece only for him to get really selective in terms of selling it. He’ll run around, jump off the leg, use it offensively and THEN go back to selling it. Methinks he’s still got some to learn here. Its hurt or its not. On touring matches, him playing around with selling is ok, but on a pay per view match, he should stick to getting kicked in the face. I get into him more that way. Yano is Yano here, solid if not unspectacular. The garbage brawling was a little unnecessary, seeing as all he really ended up doing was going after the leg. The crowd didn’t seem dead for the match or anything, so I wasn’t sure why they were bouncing through the crowd. Either way, this was ok-ish enough I guess, but Gotoh’s gotta learn how to sell a leg. **
Takashi Iizuka v. Yujinagata, Chain Match, New Japan 4/5
Man, this was a TON better than expected. Seriously. Here’s a match that with any other dude who could punch (see not Iizuka), it’d be super-high top flight stuff. Nagata’s f-ing incrdible here. The strikes are awesome, lots of pay back spots, every thing’s done to hurt, he really brings the mustard here. Iizuka is barely ‘ok’ but man, his punches missing by 60 feet really kill. Nagata’s good enough though to keep this in the ‘really good’ category. I like the blade job right off the bat, with the cheap chain shot, as it really starts things off on a good note. They do a good job of touring the ringside area, working spots on all the aprons and getting the crowd to care. Iizuka’s doing nothing but cheating, biting, whipping and whenever he’s getting hit, just flat out fleeing. The best parts of this though were the interactions of the commentary team, with them having a fun spot with Nagata being choked out over the announcer’s table and the announcer essentially going bananas. The stretch run when Iizuka has the loaded glove and the commentator trying to get Nagata’s attention was awesome too. While Iizuka’s punches REALLY looks sh!tty here, but really, it doesn’t take away f rom this too much. I really had fun with this. ***1/4
Shinsuke Nakamura v. Togi Makabe, New Japan 4/5
I wasn’t overly wow’d with this, as well as it started, it started to drag. Nakamura really starts working as a heel here, adding lots of taunting and stiffer more ‘hurty’ strikes. Makabe’s playing to the crowd here as well, which is a problem because the turn at the end of this match looks really, really telegraphed. The booking also came off a little odd, as not 20 minutes before this, Yano was facing Gotoh, a fellow RISE faction member like a crazed maniac. Sure, this will definitely get people talking and the ambiguity is kind of interesting, but still, the whole thing came off as really deliberate. The match itself was all obviously driven towards showing us a more heel-ish Nakamura and a more baby face-ish Makabe and I only think they mildly succeeded here. Nakamura’s stuff wasn’t bad, it was just dragged out for too long. Makabe’s baby face offense would’ve garnered sympathy had he actually been cut off at other points during the match. This was all about the turn in the end. *3/4
Hiroshi Tanahashi v. Kurt Angle, IWGP Heavyweight Championship, New Japan 4/5
I had some SERIOUS trepidation for this match for a lot of reasons. For one, a loss for Tanahashi would be dumb business at this point. Second, these two really have a tendency to get carried away in matches. Like really, really carried away. While that tendency did peak its head up to some degree, it didn’t really hurt the match all that much, likely because they kept the match relatively short, but also relatively simple.
Essentially, this was a much shorter version of Shawn Michaels-Kurt Angle f rom Wrestlemania 21, with Angle trying to out wrestle Michaels, Michaels working the head lock, etc. This is significantly more work rate-y than the HBK WM match, which is probably to be expected. Tanahashi is ok here and Angle looked decent. There’s some rough patches, namely the finish where Tanahashi hits two high fly flows that weren’t really needed and some spots where you can blatantly hear Angle calling spots. Overall, this is ok, a strong put over for Tanahashi over a US star. **1/2
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 f-ing hate star ratings. I just do. I used to love them, had great affection and maybe even got caught by my wife with them in 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.) Takashi Suguira & Go Shiozaki v. Shinsuke Nakamura & Milano Collection A.T., NOAH 3/1 ***1/2
4.) Minoru Suzuki & Taiyo Kea v. SUWAMA & Shuji Kondo, World Tag Team Championship, All Japan 3/15 ***1/4
5.) Hirooki Gotoh v. Giant Bernard, New Japan Cup Semi Finals, New Japan 3/22
6.) Takashi Iizuka v. Yujinagata, Chain Match, New Japan 4/5 ***1/4
7.) Mammoth Sasaki & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Shinya Ishikawa & Yoshihito Sasaki, Big Japan ? ***
8.)Hirooki Gotoh & Jushin ?Thunder? Liger v. Yujinagata & Tiger Mask, New Japan 1/31***
9.) Alexander Otsuka v. Daisuke Sekimoto, IGF 3/15 ***
10.) Yujinagata v. Hirooki Gotoh, New Japan 2/15 ***
11.) Giant Bernard v. Yutaka Yoshie, New Japan Cup Semi Finals, New Japan 3/22 ***
12.) Yujinagata v. Masato Tanaka, Zero1 World Championship, New Japan, ? ***