More Details Coming Out On Proposed Juniors Tournament
As was reported last week, The All Japan Junior Tag Team tournament will be held from April 17th through to the 29th of that same month, with the finals being held at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. The news has been somewhat controversial as some are questioning the idea of booking a tournament immediately after the Champions’ Carnival, which is coming up next week. The tournament however, does have a full line up:
Petey William & Phil Atlas
Kaz Hayashi & Shuji Kondo
Kai & Hiroshi Yamato
Masa Fuchi & El Samurai
Nosawa & Mazada
Minoru & Toshizo (Ryuji Hijikata)
Mutoh Withdraws From Champions Carnival
In some pretty huge news this past week, Keiji Mutoh, who won the Champions Carnival in both 2004 & 2007, has withdrawn from the competition due to a back injury. Mutoh apparently suffered a slipped disk after taking a pretty menial bump in practice at the All Japan dojo yesterday. Mutoh has unwillingly ceded his spot to another wrestler, of which has not been announced yet.
Mutoh has been a mess for injuries in recent years, having re constructive surgery on both knees which are said to be in such shoddy shape, that he struggles to fully extend them. Recently, he has been toying with the idea of formulating a new finisher which would be more like a power bomb, as opposed to the shining wizard he’s been using.
Champions Carnival Hype Turned Up
Perhaps the coolest thing about boxing up until the 1970s was always the idea of the ‘public workout’, where the champion or challenger would open the gym up to members of the media so they could come and see how dangerous he looked, what kind of shape he was in, etc. All Japan, going for more of that old school flavor and really putting an emphasis on ‘traditional’ in this year’s Champions’ Carnival, did just that.
Satoshi Kojima hosted a public workout for the press to attend at All Japan’s Excersize Hall, even going as far as to bring KAI and Hiroshi Yamato along with him as ‘sparring partners’. Kojima did sit ups, squats, push ups and some sparring. After the workout, Kojima worked the press, saying he believed his biggest challenge was going to be his first round match up on the first day with Suwama. Kojima said he knows of Suwama’s ability all to well and that he’s not just a ‘future ace’ anymore. He called Seiya Sanada the dark horse, saying if he showed enough personality and fighting spirit, that he could make a surprise run to the finals.
New Trainees on New Diet
All Japan has put its new trainees on a new weight management system that now includes a new diet that they will follow through their last year at the university. Hirooki Kuwahara stated that the hope was that it’ll give them a year to build up muscle mass and strength before fully entering the excersize hall next year.
Rise Up Tour ’09 Dates Announced
RISE UP TOUR 2009
5/17/09 @ Tokyo Korakuen Hall
5/20/09 @ Kumamoto Hungnam Hall
5/21/09 @ Miyazaki MRT Diamond Hall
5/22/09 @ Kagoshima Citizen Gymnasium
5/23/09 @ ACROS Fukuoka
5/25/09 @ Oita Event Hall
5/26/09 @ Yanai City Gymnasium
5/28/09 @ Tottori Industrial Gymnasium Small Gymnasium
5/30/09 @ Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
5/31/09 @ Wakayama Prefectural Hashimoto Gymnasium
Sumo Hall Show This Sunday Gets a Boost
In hopes of adding a little extra something to the Sumo Hall card, New Japan switched gears last Thursday. At a press conference after the Okinawa show, Yuji Nagata was sneak attacked by his former friend Takashi Iizuka, who beat Nagata into a bloody mess and caused him to be carried out of the press room on a stretcher. Nagata demanded a card change and now all of a sudden, we have a chain match scheduled for the Sumo Hall. The originally planned match was for Nagata to team up with G1 and New Japan Cup winner Hirooki Gotoh, to take on Toru Yano & Iizuka in a tag team match. Gotoh has been put into a singles match with Yano.
Also, Team NO LIMIT was unsuccessful in their bid to reclaim the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tat Team championships from TNA’s Motor City Machine Guns. As a result, the ‘Guns have cleared one hurdle, but will have to leap over another, as this Sunday, they’ll be at the Sumo Hall as well, to defend the titles against Taguchi & Devitt. Today, the duo announced a new double team move they call the ?Apollo 55?.
Here’s your final card for Sunday:
NJPW ?RESOLUTION ?09″, 4/5/09 (WPW/PPV)
Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
Koji Kanemoto vs. Kazuchika Okada
2. Wataru Inoue, Milano Collection AT & Taichi Ishikari vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Jado & Tomoaki Honma
3.?Resolution ?09 Special 6 Man Tag Match – NJPW Greatest Heritage: Riki Choshu, Super Strong Machine & El Samurai vs. Masahiro Chono, Jushin Thunder Liger & AKIRA
4.?IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title: Winner of Motor City Machine Guns/NO LIMIT (c) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt
5.?IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title – Belt Contra Mascara: Tiger Mask (c) vs. Black Tiger
6.?Resolution ?09 Special Tag Match – Big Comeback WILD HEART: Manabu Nakanishi & Takao Omori vs. Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson
7.?Resolution ?09 Special Singles Match – HUGE RIOT: Hirooki Goto vs. Toru Yano
8.?Resolution ?09 Special Singles Match – Bolt from the blue – Chain Death Match: Yuji Nagata vs. Takashi Iizuka
9.?Resolution ?09 Special Singles Match – The end of discord: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Togi Makabe
10.?IWGP Heavyweight Title – WHICH IS GENIUS: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Kurt Angle?
Ultimo Dragon Sponsors Lucharesu Show
Ultimo Dragon recently held a Lucharesu show at the Zepp Tokyo on March 20th, headlined by himself and Blue Demon, who teamed to take on the pairing of Rey Ohara & Shigeo Okumura. The show did well, but is the first show in the history of the US, Japan or Mexico to be sponsored by the GOVERNMENT. Yes, the Mexican embassy in Tokyo sponsored the show in addition to Aero Mexico. The show did quite well, selling out at 1,200 fans.
Akebono’s Not Running in Marathon
There was a bit of controversy last week about the reasons behind Akebono’s dropping out of the Tokyo marathon. Turns out that a lot of the details weren’t exactly true. Apparently, Akebono quit training on Doctors orders. They said no one at his size could be cleared to do a marathon, walking or not. Akebono did not drop out of the race itself. He dropped out before the race on doctor’s orders.
Masato, Genki Sudo and K-1 Promoter Sadaharu Tanigawa all did run the marathon however. They all finished as well. Masato ran it in under four hours at 3:51 and seemed to be a huge hit with the crowd and was said to be the ‘most over’ guy in the race. Sudo finished the race at 5:46:19, while Tanikawa at 6:12:50.
The final numbers are in on the March 22nd Sumo Hall show and turns out Dragon gate sold about 10,500 seats, which is an astonishingly good number considering the company’s overall reach in Japan. Its considered even more of an accomplishment when one considers that All Japan barely put 6,000 in the stands and giant New Japan did around that same number.
Because of this success, Dragon Gate has opted to make their Sumo Hall show an annual tradition. They’ll be doing quarterly big shows in the major media markets in Japan (Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya). To help build to that big show.
Show in Taiwan Canceled
As reported last week, there was some controversy between the Taiwanese government and Yushi Ishikawa’s BattlARTS promotion over a show being scheduled there for later in the year. As it turns out, the government has pulled the plug on any possibility of there being a show. According to a spokesman, the government felt the show would be too bloody and ‘anti-social’ for the Taiwanese people.
Ishikawa had hoped that the show would be a good chance to capitalize on the Taiwanese market, which is the only nation outside of Japan with a Puroresu TV-only TV station.
Walter to Return to BattlARTS
Ryuji Walter will be returning to the futen promotion after a near 2 year absence. Walter was originally put on the shelf with an elbow injury that kept him on the shelf for most of 2007. Once it was rehabbed, Walter elected to pursue training in other disciplines first, before returning to the ring. His only worked pro wrestling match since then was against another ex-BattlARTS fighter, Rastaman, at a self-promoted show.
Kitasenju Theatre 1010
1. Ryuji Walter vs Sanchu Tsubakichi
2. Chihiro Oikawa vs ESUI
3. Munenori Sawa & Fujita Jr Hayato vs Baisen Tagai & Akira Saito
4. Yuta Yoshikawa vs Keita Yano?
5. Yuki Ishikawa & Katsumi Usuda vs Super Tiger & Yujiro Yamamoto
Kikutaro Becomes Owari Champion in Osaka Pro. No. Seriously.
Kanjyuro Matsuyama’s reign with Osaka Pro’s Owari title lasted 11 months, and was ended by, of all people, Kikutaro. In a shocking turn of events, Ebessan came out after the match and has laid down a challenge to Kikutaro for April 4th for the title belt. That means of course, its a battle between two different generations of Ebessan.
Osaka Pro-Wrestling 3/28/09
?SATURDAY NIGHT STORY?
Osaka Delfin Arena Dotonbori
1. Tigers Mask, Black Buffalo [W] & Masamune (9:44 Backdrop) Takaku Fuke, Miracleman & Kazuki Niimura [L]
2. Kuishinbo Kamen (7:51 Mask Rip -> DQ) Ebessan
3. Atsushi Kotoge & Tadasuke [W] (10:35 WC) Daisuke Harada & Kazuaki Mihara [L]
4. Orochi [W] & The Bodyguard (17:36 Vertigo) Billyken Kid [L] & Hideyoshi
5.?Osaka Pro-Wrestling Owari Title Match: Kikutaro (12:02 Ground Cobra) Kanjyuro Matsuyama (c)
*Kanjyuro fails in 9th defense, Kikutaro becomes the 2nd champion?
Hirooki Gotoh v. Shinsuke Nakamura, NJ Cup Quarter Final, New Japan 3/15
Gotoh as you all know by this point, ended up winning this tournament. The story behind his run this time was that Gotoh essentially had to climb those mountains that had proved to be too steep in the past. The first mountain was his mentor of sorts, the man whom he’s only #2 to in the RISE faction, Shinsuke Nakamura. Gotoh has defeated Nakamura in the past, but that was booked to be more of a ‘lucky’ win. This one was certainly more of a ‘win’.
While Nakamura is booked to be better than anyone else in Japan on the mat, he can be beaten throwing bombs. Gotoh finds himself regularly outworked in the mat, but is able to keep in the game thanks to winning most to all of the strike exchanges between the two.. He finally gets his opportunity to really focus in on one thing, going after Nakamura’s neck. Really though, I couldn’t help but feel like these two were holding something back. It seems like they went for a strong finishing stretch, slapped on some obligatory limb work and left it at that. Despite having his arm worked over, Gotoh is able to hit Nakamura so hard with a lariat that it flips him in the air. Eh. Not quite. Decent action, but that’s about it. **1/4
Yuji Nagata v. Takashi Iizuka, NJ Cup Quarter Final, New Japan 3/15
I was pleasantly surprised by this. Iizuka is one of those guys who seems to be over, despite being bad at pretty much everything. No idea why. He’s awful AND looks bad. So for this to be a pretty decent brawl, shocked me greatly. They cook the crowd up pretty well and Nagata plays up his whole ?Capt. Everything? gimmick up well, defending the spirit of fair competition against those dirty jerks from GBH. Iizuka has zero chance of beating Nagata without plenty of shenanigans, so he brings those shenanigans in spades. We get exposed turn buckles, a couple of post shots, some not so friendly chair shots, outside interference, brawling through the crowd, blood and all sort of general douche-baggery. Once Nagata finally gets an opening though, its pretty much a matter of time. Even Iizuka and his cronies know that. Know it to the point where they get their boy DQ’d rather than have him face the humiliation of having to tap out. Pretty good stuff. **3/4
Yutaka Yoshie v. Tomohiro Ishii, NJ Cup Quarter Finals, New Japan 3/15
I’m a little puzzled by how much praise this got. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but to me, its just Yoshie being fat and crushing a pluckier than expected Ishii. The comebacks aren’t particularly exciting, and to be frank, I’m just not a fan of smaller dudes hitting moves like straight up brain busters. Especially when they can’t hit them later in the match. Yoshie is generally awesome at pacing a match, and that’s all here, but while Ishii carries his weight and more in a literal sense, he doesn’t do so in the figurative, and as a result I don’t ever buy for a second that he’s got a shot at overcoming our fat friend in pink. Yoshie’s good here. He lays out the map, Ishii does what he can to try and impress, but he’s just not that great at it here. **
The Giant Bernard v. Milano Collection A.T.. NJ Cup Quarter Final, New Japan 3/15
This was one of the more interesting match ups of the quarter finals for me, if for nothing else, just based on the small dude trying to take down the big man times 10. Milano’s whole gimmick is being all crafty, so I was kind of interested to see 1.) if they’d let him do actual damage and if so, 2.) what he’d do to actually hurt Bernard. I was surprised to see him work this a lot like Iizuka worked against Nagata earlier in the night, where Milano took the ‘I’ll go down, but I’m going to give you a fight’ thing to almost absurd levels. He throws his coat on Bernard, he stomps on his feet, he tries weapons and all sorts of chicanery, and heck, even kicks out of a baldo bomb, but really doesn’t have the offense to get the job done. Like not even close. Bernard no sells a lot of his dumber looking offense, which is fine by me, but nothing Bernard really does is super sensational looking either. Also throw in the fact that here’s a guy whom he could squash like a grape and he needs outside interference to get the job done… this is a big, fat, ‘no’. *3/4
Mammoth Sasaki & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Shinya Ishikawa & Yoshihito Sasaki, Big Japan ?
This was a super well executed, simple tag match. While this isn’t going to score points in the OMG INNOVATE~ column, it doesn’t have to and these kinds of matches should really be applauded these days. Tag matches, especially in Japan over the years, have gotten increasingly spotty, so more back to basics tags not only stick out, but are just welcome to a dude whose really tired of the WORKRATE~ style that’s consumed the country’s wrestling industry. Apparently fans agree, because they’re not showing up much anymore. Big Japan, to its credit is mostly a hardcore fed, but MAN, do these dudes produce some awesome straight up tags that get slept on. Here’s another one.
Ishikawa is an awesome scrapper and while he doesn’t collect Shinobu circa 2008 levels of sympathy on the beat down, he’s pretty great as the young scrapper. Mammoth and Daisuke are fantastic, overpowering bullies here, easily manhandling Ishikawa and showing him what it takes to be a ‘man’s man’. Really though, Ishikawa totally steals the show with his sympathetic selling which builds super well to the finish. While Yoshihito is the dude who gets the fall (and most of his team’s offense) in, its Ishikawa who gets the big sendoff, as he FINALLY connects with a move, and its a big one, as he hits a soaring drop kick off the apron that neutralizes Mammoth Sasaki on the outside for good, and esssentially wins the match for his team. Not that Yoshihito isn’t good here, he’s ok, but his offense IS a bit suspect in choice. Its nothing though, that takes away from the big picture, which is a really fun, simple story. ***
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. Right now I haven’t seen enough good stuff to warrant a top 10, but we’re getting there.
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.) Mammoth Sasaki & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Shinya Ishikawa & Yoshihito Sasaki, Big Japan ? ***
6.) Hirooki Gotoh & Jushin ?Thunder? Liger v. Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask, New Japan 1/31 ***
7.) Alexander Otsuka v. Daisuke Sekimoto, IGF 3/15 ***
8.) Yuji Nagata v. Hirooki Gotoh, New Japan 2/15 ***
9.) Yuji Nagata v. Masato Tanaka, Zero1 World Championship, New Japan, ? ***