My views on Pro Wrestling from the East and West

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Japanese Puroresu news and thoughts

Misawa rejects Baba memorial offer
The big news in Japan now is that Mitsuharu Misawa has rejected an offer given by Seiji Sakaguchi and Motoko Baba to take part in the upcoming Baba Memorial Show (6th Anniversary of his passing) on 2/5/05 at the Nippon Budokan. Not only will Misawa not take part, but he won't let any of the other NOAH talent work the show! Misawa says that everyone already has their own memory of what Baba meant to the business and sees no point in doing a show in his memory.

My two cents? I think Misawa still holds a grudge against Motoko Baba for her ill-treatment of him while in AJPW after Baba passed on, and he knows how big a draw a show with workers from all three major Japanese feds (New Japan, All Japan & NOAH) will be. Why should he help the company that put him in charge, but wouldn't use his ideas? Then he leaves, and Keiji Mutoh takes over and is given full control using all kinds of crazy booking ideas. Nice going Motoko. I wonder if this will effect NOAH's working relationship with New Japan? Then again, the show is still more than a year away, and Misawa could change his mind by then.

New Japan news and thoughts
Does Fumihiko Uei have it in for Tenzan or what? Tenzan had a true break-out year, then suddenly his push hits a brick wall. Big win in the 2003 G1 CLIMAX, but main event slot for the IWGP title match gets pushed back. Finally wins IWGP Title, but his V1 defense of the IWGP Title? Loss it to Shinsuke Nakamura. Big win in the G1 Tag League with Osamu Nishimura, wins IWGP tag titles. V1 defense of IWGP tag straps? Loss to Yoshihiro Takayama and Minoru Suzuki just this past 2/1/2004. Suzuki has been said to not be very impressive in his current NJPW run, but since he's a favorite of Uei, he beats the established stars that are Tenzan and Nishimura for a title on his first try. Now all fingers point to Tenzan NOT winning the IWGP provisional champion tournament (See below).

Kensuke Sasaki has been named the 8th man in the IWGP provisional champion tournament. Here are the brackets:
Round 1 - Hiroyoshi Tenzan VS Kensuke Sasaki
Round 1 - Yuji Nagata VS Tadao Yasuda
Round 1 - Masahiro Chono VS Genichiro Tenryu
Round 1 - Yoshihiro Takayama VS Hiroshi Tanahashi
This is a very intruiging setup. But like I said, DO NOT expect Tenzan to be the winner here. The way he's been handled the past few months, many critics (myself included) don't see him winning this, but it's no fault of his own.

Another interesting angle NJPW is playing out is the heel turn of Manabu Nakanishi when he walked out on his partner, and good friend, Yuji Nagata during a big match against Genichiro Tenryu and Kensuke Sasaki. These two had an awesome IWGP Title 60-min draw (A tape I hope to receive soon), and that was when they were friends. Imagine the brutality the two will let loose now that their enemies?! Demon Nagata anyone? If this were the WWE, you could just see Nakanishi costing Nagata his IWGP provisional tournament match to Sasaki....

All Japan to have 2 Champion Carnivals
AJPW announced that this year's annual Champion Carnival will be split into two tours. First will be the "HOLD OUT CUP" from 3/21 to 3/28 and will feature mid-carders Shigeo Okumura, Nobukazu Hirai, Hideki Hosaka, Tomoaki Honma, Kazushi Miyamoto and Masayuki Kono. Not sure if this will draw big crowds or not. Personally, I'll give this a pass.
The second tour will simply be the Champion Carnival Series 2004. No names have been given yet, but expect it to be a main-eventer affair with a few outsiders, possibly from ZERO-ONE, since it was a AJPW worker that won the last ZERO-ONE Fire Festival (Satoshi Kojima). Now if only NOAH would get to work on a tournament of their own...

That's it for now. I'll be back tomorrow with my WWE RAW thoughts, so check back then.

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