NOAH President and Owner Mitsuharu Misawa Dies Tragically in the Ring
Mitsuharu Misawa was always taught to be tough.
While it never SEEMED as such, one can only speculate as to the enormous burdens felt by the man who in 1992, after defeating Stan Hansen to become Triple Crown Champion for the first time, must have felt. Being the top dog in the top promotion in the world isn’t always the easiest spot, but Misawa never let that show.
In 1999, when Giant Baba, the then-owner of All Japan Pro Wrestling passed away, Misawa found himself in the nearly untenable position of company President, Top Star and booker. Over the course of the 1990s, Misawa had been the proverbial tip of the spear that would drive Professional Wrestling in the country of Japan to unprecedented heights. After many personal and creative rifts with Baba’s widow Makoto, Misawa elected to leave All Japan and form his own wrestling promotion, which he would call ?Pro Wrestling NOAH?.
The decision was a controversial one. For decades, the business had been driven by two companies: Giant Baba’s All Japan and rival Antonio Inoki’s New Japan Pro Wrestling. Loyalties were intense and the rivalry was fierce. Wrestler’s didn’t jump ship often, with the fear of being labeled ‘traitor’ outweighing the possible riches that would await them on the other side of the fence.
In perhaps one of the most stunning occurrences in Japanese pro wrestling history, more than 70% of the All Japan roster followed Misawa to his new promotion, including All Japan superstars Kenta Kobashi, Jun Akiyama and Akira Taue. In the years that followed, NOAH quickly rose in prominence and to many, for a period of time from 2003-2005, was considered the best promotion on the planet.
However around 2006, business began to wane. Misawa and his fellow combatants began fighting a new battle, a battle against time itself. They were getting older. Kenta Kobashi had a rash of injuries throughout his career, including two knee replacements and in mid 2006, Cancer. Akira Taue, while not experiencing the health issue Kobashi had, fell off dramatically in the ring, unable to perform at that top main event level for long. Even Misawa himself, who had survived more injuries than perhaps any of his colleagues, was beginning to decline quickly. His neck, his knees and his back all showed signs of abuse. His habit of being a heavy smoker didn’t help much, either. Despite regular chiropractic care and even going as far as to undergo acupuncture, it never erased the excruciating pain Misawa would feel night in and night out stepping through the ropes. Through it all, he never took time off.
Misawa felt a deep sense of responsibility to himself and to his fellow wrestlers that he be there to carry the slack. He came by it honestly, as his mentor Baba, was famous for only missing on match back in 1980. He felt an obligation to be there every night and do what was necessary to get people to buy into him, his promotion and his wrestlers.
Make no mistake about it though, the end of the line was clearly coming and Misawa knew it. NOAH needed to create new stars, but with Kobashi down with cancer and Taue no longer in a real position to be able to put the next generation of big stars over, the burden began to fall on Misawa’s back one more time.
When Kobashi went on the shelf in 2006, business in Pro Wrestling NOAH plummeted. Their September and October Budokan shows, headlined by Naomichi Marufuji, Jun Akiyama and KENTA, drew some of the poorest gates in the promotion’s Budokan history. Misawa made the decision to put the title on himself that December, and he would hold the title for nearly 15 months. It was a solution, but merely a bandage to stop the bleeding until Kobashi came back and they would be able to get back to business. The hope was that the younger wrestler who he was working with could keep him looking strong enough to the degree that he’d look decent enough.
While his final reign wasn’t a success, it wasn’t a failure either, and when he dropped the title to Takeshi Morishima in March of 2008, it seemed as if the storm had been weathered. With Kobashi back, the pieces seemed to be in place for Misawa to be able to take a big step back from the limelight and begin to throw the wheels into motion towards retirement. Misawa had wanted to hang up the boots in 2007. With Kobashi going down, it more or less canceled those plans until he returned. He commented that this would be his last year to several of his close confidants, including his wife and NOAH VP of Business Affairs Nyu Nakata as early as last week. Misawa didn’t want a farewell tour, as he felt he was too banged up for that. He wanted one final, fun match and then to call it quits.
Misawa thought it best to place himself in tag team matches until the year was up. That way, he could give someone the rub of being his partner, while also taking a back seat and placing less stress on his increasingly brittle body. Misawa chose Go Shiozaki to be his partner and become the person who would ultimately be chosen to carry the company on his back as the new ace.
The first phase of this move was to put Shiozaki on a winning streak that would culminate with him losing his first shot at the GHC Heavyweight Championship, which was held by Jun Akiyama. He would then team with Misawa to win the Global Tag League, before winning his first major titles with Misawa. Once they dropped those, Misawa planned to lay down and put over Shiozaki in his last match to position Shiozaki for a title shot presumably early next year where he would defeat either Akiyama or Kobashi for the title, solidifying himself as the top gun in NOAH and in essence retiring Misawa.
NOAH desperately needed the Shiozaki push to succeed, badly. The company had not only been forced to deal with the largely mediocre gates for their big shows, but had recently lost their ?Pro Wrestling? television show on NTV. With the sudden loss of exposure, NOAH was beginning to look like a sinking ship. No longer could they run the large venues that other promotions were. They simply no longer had the exposure to do so. What had to happen needed to happen quickly.
The Shiozaki run at Akiyama subsided in May in Sapparro before the Global Tag League kicked off the next month. The attendance at the Budokan Hall for the finals of the tournament drew the second worst crowd in the company’s history at the venue, drawing a paltry 7,000 paid.
The Southern Navigation tour looked like a road map highly unlike their old tour dates. Plenty of hum-drum arenas and mid-sized cities dotted the itinerary, a far cry from the bright lights of the big arenas. Despite this, there were a few bigger stops, of which included the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo and the Hiroshima Green Arena. Misawa & Shiozaki were slated to challenge GHC Tag Team Champions Bison Smith & Akitoshi Saito at the show and win the belts. It never happened.
Shiozaki worked the majority of the match, building towards the inevitable Misawa hot tag. Misawa cleaned house, throwing his traditionally potent elbows. However, Misawa seemed a half step slower that usual. Earlier on the tour, he had supposedly suffered a shoulder injury, so it could be likely attributed to that. Shiozaki, picking up on it, charged into the ring to give some life to Misawa’s quickly fading comeback. Both delivered elbows to Smith who cut them off with a running clothesline. Smith uses an iron claw slam as a finisher and connected with it on Misawa for a two count. Saito tagged into the match and capped off a series of big moves with a back drop driver suplex.
Misawa hit the mat, and laid on the canvas with a shocked look on his face. With his eyes locked on referee Shuichi Nishinaga, he muttered ?I Can’t Move?, and went unconscious. Nishinaga immediately called for the bell and the proceedings were stopped about 27 minutes into the match.
What might have made the biggest difference here is that Japanese wrestling isn’t regulated and as a result, the company isn’t required to have a physician at ringside. Workers began trickling out from the back and attempted to revive Misawa, and after being unsuccessful, they began calling out to the crowd to see if there was a doctor present. One man rushed forward and after discovering there was no pulse, began CPR on Misawa with no luck. When CPR failed to revive Misawa, who was now turning blue, they attempted to use an on-site external defibrillator to try and shock Misawa’s heart back to life, but had no success. Fans in the crowd were chanting his name, but it seemed to be to no avail.
The wrestler’s themselves began to slowly change their demeanor, at first appearing nervous, but now all individually coming to grips with the reality and severity of the situation. Many even took their shirts off to cover up their leader’s body. When EMT’s arrived, they worked over him rigorously in the ring but were unable to bring him back to consciousness.
Misawa was transported to Hiroshima College Hospital with Saito by his side. Takeshi Morishima attempted to get into the ambulance as well, but was told to stay at the arena and address the crowd. Most of the wrestlers and fans stayed at the arena, anxiously awaiting any kind of news as to what had happened to the NOAH President. A little bit before 9:45pm, Morishima addressed the crowd saying ?We haven’t learned anything new. Thank you for caring.? He could barely get the words out.
Doctors pronounced Misawa dead at 10:10pm that night, 20 minutes or so after Morishima had addressed the Hiroshima crowd for the last time. Many in the company have revealed that the doctors believe that Misawa passed in the ring, but they elected to pronounce him dead at the hospital instead, not wanting the Hiroshima crowd to think that they had just watched a man die in front of them.
The Misawa family was notified that night and flew into the hospital. They had the body transported home and in a very small, private service, had him cremated. They had asked that the results of the autopsy be made private, as they didn’t want to create a big stir in the community. The plan for now is that they will have a more public Funeral event for fans at the Tokyo Differ Ariake on July 4th. The site was chosen largely because its also the location of the NOAH offices, the place where Misawa worked and wrestled. It was also host to the first show in the promotion’s history.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the Hiroshima Police Department did release their report of the incident, which disclosed the believed cause of the Pro Wrestling Legend’s death, which can be attributed to cervical spine trauma.
Essentially, this is the same injury that paralyzed actor Christopher Reeves in 1995 as the C-1 and C-2 vertebrates were shattered, effectively separating Misawa’s skull from his neck. Reeves survived largely due to immediate medical care, however, is a paraplegic. The same fate would have likely befallen Misawa had he survived.
The Japanese media revealed earlier this week that Misawa probably shouldn’t have even been wrestling and although Misawa never sought out an opinion, he was wrestling with a cervical sprain, which he suffered in 2006 following a match where he also received a concussion.
The story received a ton of attention in Japan on virtually all of the major mainstream media outlets and talk shows. One publication out of Osaka received the news on Saturday Night and stopped the presses in order to re-do the cover for the next day. On Sunday, it was the lead story in virtually every single major newspaper in the country, in addition to being the most searched item on Google-Japan’s list.
Wrestling was hugely popular in Japan for a long time, perhaps even more than in the US at one point, and the deaths of past wrestlers have been a huge deal. Jumbo Tsuruta’s death in 2000 was widely covered in the country for a few days. The Giant Baba was a huge event, as was the murder of Bruiser Brody, which was a major news story in the country for nearly two months. Misawa’s death even received coverage in Germany, who has a large transplanted Japanese population.
Japan has always been a country steeped in mysticism, takes strong note of its history, and values its symbolism. Some media reports noted that the back drop driver, known as the Noten Sakashi Otoshi in japan, was the same move that Lou Thesz used to pin Rikidozan in Hawaii and is generally regarded as the even that resulted in the explosion of Pro Wrestling as a pop culture phenomenon in Japan. Many drew the eerie similarity, that the same move that killed Mitsuharu Misawa could possibly mark the end of Pro Wrestling in Japan.
Akiyama Vacates Title, New Champion Crowned as NOAH Tries to Move Forward
Go Shiozaki, 27, became the youngest GHC Heavyweight Champion in history, pinning Takeshi Rikioh to win the GHC Heavyweight Championship in the wake of the greatest tragedy the promotion has ever faced.
On the heels of the news that NOAH Owner & President Mitsuharu Misawa had passed away on Saturday night, the company geared up for a show in Fukuoka, trying to move on a bit and attempt to try to find something resembling as sense of normalcy after the tumultuous weekend. Business has been way down in NOAH in the past year or two, with the company losing its television contract in addition to a consistently depleting attendance figures. The Sunday show drew a sell out crowd of 2,500 of the Hakata Star Lanes, an old converted bowling alley turned live event venue. Misawa merchandise flew off the stands and there was a ‘big event feel’ at the event for the first time in forever, if not for all the wrong reasons.
After a moment of silence to kick off the show, GHC Heavyweight Champion Jun Akiyama came to the ring to announce that he had discovered a herniated disc between his L-4 and L-5 vertebrae, that would cause him to be out of action indefinitely. Akiyama said he had been working through a lot of pain in recent months and with Saturday being a huge wake up call, he went and got checked out by a doctor. The mentality in Japan is very similar to that of athletes here in the US, where those who work through injuries are looked upon highly. In a way though, that sense is almost even more prevalent in Japan, largely due to the fact that in their culture, its hammered into their being from an early age that complaining is unacceptable.
Akiyama announced that he needed to take the time off and heal up, and as a result would be forced to vacate his championship. He said he wanted the title match to go on tonight, and announced that he wanted Go Shiozaki to replace him in his match later in the evening against challenger Takeshi Rikioh to determine the new champion. Akiyama will have a whole host of responsibilities with Misawa gone. He has served as the head booker for the company for the better part of the last five years, and its widely expected by many in the company that he will be the man to take over Misawa’s responsibilities as President of the company. According to Vice President Mitsuo Momota, they plan on sitting down once the tour has concluded on June 23rd and discuss the direction of the company and where they will head from there. As for now, they’re expecting to keep the doors open and would like to announce a new President in the next three months.
The Show itself was an understandably emotional one. The main event saw Shiozaki defeat Rikioh with the Go Flaser at 22:37. Many in the company feel Shiozaki has all the tools to be the top gun in the promotion, however it’ll be more of a challenge considering the television coverage they have right now. The effect of Misawa’s death was on full display in the match itself, as Rikio turned on his shoulder for almost every single back bump.
Easily the most emotional moment of a very emotional night was the appearance of Akitoshi Saito who was working the second match of the night. Saito came down to the ring in tears, but received a hugely supportive reaction from the crowd. He made it through the match and spoke afterwards to the crowd, letting them know it was his cross to bear. He had a picture of Misawa and sank to his knees in front of the crowd, bowing to them and looking for forgiveness he shouldn’t be looking for. The crowd cheered him back to his feet.
Hakata Star Lane
2,600 fans (Super No Vacancy)
1. Chris Hero & Genba Hirayanagi beat Masao Inoue & Yuto Aijima?(11:19)?when Hero used an elbow smash on Aijima.
2. Mohammed Yone & Kotaro Suzuki beat Akitoshi Saito & Mitsuo Momota?(9:56)?when Suzuki used a face lock on Momota.
3. Yoshinari Ogawa & Ricky Marvin beat Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kento Miyahara?(12:20)?when Ogawa used a backdrop hold on Miyahara.
4. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taiji Ishimori beat KENTA & Akihiko Ito?(14:42)?when Ishimori used the Superstar Elbow on Ito.
5. Kensuke Sasaki & Takeshi Morishima beat Bison Smith & Bobby Fish?(13:43)?when Sasaki pinned Fish after the Double Impact.
6. Kenta Kobashi, Akira Taue & Shuhei Taniguchi beat Yoshihiro Takayama, Takashi Sugiura & Takuma Sano?(20:24)?when Kobashi used a lariat on Sano.
7.?GHC Heavyweight Title Decision Match: Go Shiozaki beat Takeshi Rikioh?(22:37)?with the Go Flasher to become the 15th Champion.
Good News From Southern Navigation Tour
In a tragic weekend, there was some very good news for a promotion that severely needs it. Attendance at all its Southern Navigation shows have been strong and all the shows since Misawa’s death have been sell outs.
The company held a show in Kagoshima Arena seemingly trying to move on and debuted Shiozaki as GHC Champion. He went toe to toe with mentor Kenta Kobashi is a fun chop battle. Of note from those in attendance was just how over this batch of foreigners has been, notably Chris Hero, Bison Smith and Bobby Fish.
1. Masao Inoue beat Mitsuo Momota?(7:24)?with a cradle cutback.
2. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taiji Ishimori beat KENTA & Atsushi Aoki?(11:50)?when Kanemaru used a backslide on KENTA.
3. Yoshinari Ogawa & Takuma Sano beat Akira Taue & Genba Hirayanagi?(11:17)?when Ogawa used a backdrop hold on Hirayanagi.
4. Takeshi Morishima & Takashi Sugiura beat Akitoshi Saito & Yuto Aijima?(12:01)?when Sugiura used the Olympic Slam on Aijima.
5. Bison Smith & Bobby Fish beat Kenta Kobashi & Kishin Kawabata?(17:57?when Fish used a falcon arrow on Kawabata.
6. Go Shiozaki & Akihiko Ito beat Chris Hero & Ricky Marvin?(21:01)?when Shiozaki used the Go Flasher on Marvin.
7. Takeshi Rikio, Mohammed Yone & Kotaro Suzuki beat Kensuke Sasaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kento Miyahara?(15:52)?when Suzuki used the Tiger Driver on Miyahara.
Kumamoto South Hall
2,400 Fans?(Super No Vacancy Full House)
1. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Ricky Marvin beat Kotaro Suzuki & Genba Hirayanagi?(11:50)?when Marvin used a schoolboy on Hirayanagi.
2. Takuma Sano & Mitsuo Momota?(5:23)?with a cradle cutback.
3. Takeshi Morishima & Takashi Sugiura beat Akira Taue & Kishin Kawabata?(11:05)?when Sugiura used the Olympic Slam on Kawabata.
4. Yoshinari Ogawa & Taiji Ishimori beat KENTA & Masao Inoue?(16:35)?when Ishimori used a cradle on Inoue.
5. Takeshi Rikio & Mohammed Yone beat Akitoshi Saito & Yuto Aijima?(10:35)?when Yone used a muscle buster on Aijima.
6. Bison Smith, Chris Hero & Bobby Fish beat Kensuke Sasaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kento Miyahara(16:14)?when Hero used an elbow smash to the back of the head on Miyahara.
7. Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Aoki beat Kenta Kobashi & Akihiko Ito?(24:28)?when Shiozaki used the Go Flasher on Ito.
Muto Reacts to News of Misawa Passing
All Japan Pro Wrestling President Keiji Muto recently commented on the death of friend and former NOAH President Mitsuharu Misawa, wishing him ‘bliss on the other side’. He said there has been a ton of Press around his office in recent days and in order to avoid them, they’ve temporarily moved their dojo to an undisclosed location in Tokyo.
Araya Holds Final Public Work Out Before Final Match
Nobutaka Araya held the final public work out of his career at the All Japan Kanagawa dojo last Thursday as he gets set for his final main event and retirement match against Satoshi Kojima on June 21st. Araya who was mostly known for his comedy antics, commented how weird it felt for him to be training seriously and how he’ll never miss having to eat well. Araya did some stretches and basic excersizes, and let trainee Nakaue hit him with some lariats in hopes of prepping himself for the huge Kojima lariats that await him. Araya closed the proceedings by informing the press that despite pulling a muscle on May 28th in Tottori, he wouldn’t let that stop him from going out with a bang. He said the crowd at the Korakuen would get a really fun show.
Koji Kanemoto Wins 2009 Best of the Super Juniors Tournament in Tokyo
In a rather surprising turn of events, veteran Koji Kanemoto emerged as the winner of the 2009 Best of the Super Juniors Tournament in a year that seemed to be in the business of showcasing younger juniors both inside and outside the promotion.
The event had a somber feeling with the news of the passing of Mitsuharu Misawa earlier in the weekend, and the show kicked off with a 10-bell salute to the President of Pro Wrestling NOAH, as NOAH junior stars Atsushi Aoki & Tsuyoshi Kikuchi stood in the center of the ring with a portrait of their fallen leader. The standard fare is that outsiders from other promotions get booed, but here, the two were wildly cheered as the fans chanted ?Misawa? outside the ring. As a tip of the cap, the wrestlers wore black arm bands to memorialize their fallen colleague.
The tournament went down to literally the last day of the group stage, as four wrestlers were knotted up heading into Friday night’s matches. However, as the smoke cleared two New Japan stars and two outsider talents made it through to the next phase. Joining Kanemoto in the final four, were NOAH star Atsushi Aoki and DDT’s Kota Ibushi, both of which had been of much focus heading into the final day. The fourth star was New Japan’s Prince Devitt, who really made a name for himself in this tournament, having strong matches with Milano Collection A.T. And Kanemoto in the first round.
Devitt defeated Kota Ibushi in a shockingly good match before falling in the finals to Kanemoto, who many said looked better than he has in years. The two told a fun story of Devitt showing his growth and emergence, and the stingy, old Kanemoto, clinging to his spot, not yet ready to move aside. Regardless of the result, everyone looked strong.
As a result of the win, Kanemoto is slated to challenge Tiger Mask for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship relatively soon. The match hasn’t been pegged for the upcoming Domination 09 show coming up in a week’s time.
NJPW, 6/14/09 (SXW)
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
2,005 Fans?- Super No Vacancy Full House
1. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi??beat Nobuo Yoshihashi?(5:28)?with the Fireball bomb.
2. Taichi beat Ryusuke Taguchi?(1:28)?with a thrust kick.
3.?Best of the Super Jr. – Semi Final: Koji Kanemoto beat Atsushi Aoki? (6:27)?by referee stop.
4.?Best of the Super Jr. – Semi Final: Prince Devitt beat Kota Ibushi??(8:14)?with the Shingata Prince’s Throne.
5. Tiger Mask, Jushin Thunder Liger & AKIRA beat Black Tiger, Jado & YAMATO??(3:48)?when AKIRA used a horizontal cradle on Jado.
6. Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, Takashi Iizuka, Tomohiro Ishii & Karl Anderson beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Togi Makabe, Wataru Inoue, Milano Collection AT & Tomoaki Honma?(13:14)?when Nakamura used the Landslide on Honma.
7. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada beat Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata & Mitsuhide Hirasawa?(12:47)?when Goto used the Shouten on Hirasawa.
8.?Best of the Super Jr. – Final: Koji Kanemoto beat Prince Devitt?(19:55)?with a modified ankle hold.
1. Prince Devitt, 8 Points
2. Atsushi Aoki, 8 Points
3. Tiger Mask, 6 Points
– Milano Collection AT, 6 Points
– AKIRA, 6 Points
– Jado, 6 Points
7. Black Tiger, 2 Points
1. Koji Kanemoto, 8 Points
2. Kota Ibushi, 8 Points
3. Jushin Thunder Liger, 6 Points
4. Ryusuke Taguchi, 6 Points
5. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, 6 Points
6. Taichi, 4 Points
7. YAMATO, 4 Points
Kyoto KBS Hall
1,350 Fans?- Super No Vacancy Full House
1. Tomohiro Ishii, Karl Anderson & Jado beat Taichi, Mitsuhide Hirasawa & Kazuchika Okada?(8:40)when Anderson used the Gun Stun on Hirasawa.
2. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Togi Makabe, Wataru Inoue & Tomoaki Honma beat Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, Takashi Iizuka & YAMATO??(9:47)?when Iizuka was DQ?d.
3. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto & Prince Devitt beat Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata & AKIRA(11:59)?when Goto used the Shouten on AKIRA.
4.?Best of the Super Jr. – Block A: Atsushi Aoki?? beat Milano Collection AT ?(11:12)?by pinfall.
5.?Best of the Super Jr. – Block A: Black Tiger  beat Tiger Mask ?(3:51)?with a horizontal cradle.
6.?Best of the Super Jr. – Block B: Kota Ibushi?? beat Jushin Thunder Liger ?(16:35)?with a Phoenix splash.
7.?Best of the Super Jr. – Block B: Koji Kanemoto  beat Ryusuke Taguchi ?(17:11)?with a modified ankle hold.
Toyohashi City Gymnasium #2
1,400 Fans?- Super No Vacancy Full House
1. Tiger Mask, Koji Kanemoto & Milano Collection AT beat Mitsuhide Hirasawa, Kazuchika Okada & Nobuo Yoshihashi?(7:12)?when Milano used a thrust kick on Yoshihashi.
2.?Best of the Super Jr. – Block A: Atsushi Aoki?? beat Jado ?(10:00)?with a cross armbreaker.
3.?Best of the Super Jr. – Block B: Kota Ibushi?? beat YAMATO???(10:13)?by DQ.
4. Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano, Takashi Iizuka & Tomohiro Ishii beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Togi Makabe, Wataru Inoue & Tomoaki Honma?(10:58)?when Nakamura used the Landslide on Honma.
5.?Best of the Super Jr. – Block A: Prince Devitt  beat AKIRA ?(10:53)?with a diving footstomp.
6.?Best of the Super Jr. – Block B: Jushin Thunder Liger  beat Tsuyoshi Kikuchi???(8:30)?with a cradle.
7. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto & Ryusuke Taguchi beat Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata & Taichi(17:50)?when Tanahashi used the High Fly Flow on Taichi.
Full Card for ?Domination 2009? Announced
The final card for New Japan’s next big show ?Domination? in Osaka has been unveiled. Two huge additions to the card have been made, including the first encounter between Toru Yano and Togi Makabe in a battle of former friends and Tag Team Champions. The second big match will be a blow off to the big Black Tiger v. Tiger Mask feud as they’ll have a mask v. mask match to end their feud. Not only does Tiger Mask have the chance to take Black Tiger’s mask off for the fifth time, but he’ll also be able to avenge the loss that prevented him from advancing to the next round of the Best of the Super Juniors.
NJPW ?DOMINION 6.20″, 6/20/09 (WPW)
Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium
1. Koji Kanemoto & Nobuo Yoshihashi vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & AKIRA
2. Super Strong Machine & Mitsuhide Hirasawa vs. Takao Omori & Yutaka Yoshie?
3.?IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title #1 Contender Match: Ryusuke Taguchi & Prince Devitt vs. Milano Collection AT & Taichi
4.?Mascara Contra Mascara: Tiger Mask vs. Black Tiger
5. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Yuji Nagata, Wataru Inoue & Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Takashi Iizuka, Tomohiro Ishii & Jado
6.?Special Singles Match – NJPW vs. NOAH Battle Diffusions I: Kazuchika Okada vs. Go Shiozaki?
7.?IWGP Tag Team Title: ?Team 3D? Brother Ray??& Brother Devon??(c) vs. Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson
8.?Special Singles Match – NJPW vs. NOAH Battle Diffusions II: Hirooki Goto vs. Takashi Sugiura?
9.?Special Singles Match – Dominion’s Scepter: Togi Makabe vs. Toru Yano
10.?IWGP Heavyweight Title: Manabu Nakanishi (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
LDP To Open Up Parliament Meetings On Pro Wrestling Regulation
Hiroshi Hase (former pro-wrestler) and others in the LDP have invited the major players in pro-wrestling (Ryu Nakata of NOAH, New Japan’s President, a famous medical trainer, Keiji Mutoh, and a fifth person) to a political committee meeting to talk about Mitsuharu Misawa’s death. One person is being quoted in the press as saying that Misawa’s death is now a turning point.
There is major talk of medical regulations being implemented. More details to come shortly.
Referee Ted Tanabe Passes Away
Famous Independent official Ted Tanabe (Tetsuo Tanabe) died on June 15th at Osaka General Hospital at the age of 46. During the Billy Ken Kid & Perro v. Orochi & Tadsuke match at an Osaka Pro show, Tanabe collapsed in the ring. Doctors attempted to revive him in an eerily similar manner to Mitsuharu Misawa the night before. Tanabe’s pulse was re-established, however he was diagnosed to be in a deep coma until Monday afternoon where he passed away from heart failure.
Tanabe was well known for being overweight and they’re figuring it was likely his rigorous travel schedule, stress and weight that likely caused the heart attack. Tanabe said of himself that he probably officiated in more promotions than any other in history, primarily making his home in Osaka Pro & Michinoku Pro. He was wildly popular amongst wrestling insiders to the point where he could freely come and go amongst promotions that were at war with each other with little worry of reprisal. He was one of the first referees in Japan to work the ‘heel referee’ angle. Osaka Pro is slated to hold a ceremony on June 19th for Tanabe.