My views on Pro Wrestling from the East and West

Monday, August 30, 2004

Random news and thoughts

Puroresu talent working in America
It's recently been announced that New Japan Jr ace Jushin Thunder Liger will be working several shows for US indy fed ROH.
Also, Juventud Guerrera has been negotiating with NOAH to get GHC Jr tag team champions Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA to work in Mexico and possibilly NWA:TNA. All I can say is if MaruKENTA do work TNA, is that TNA does the right thing and put them over instead of jobbing them out like every other Japanese talent they've brought in so far. These two are reigning champions and many of the X-Division stars can't hold a candle to them. Dream match I'd like to see if it happens? MaruKENTA VS A.J.Styles & Jeff Hardy.

Full NOAH card for 9/10/04 Tokyo Nippon Budokan show
Kishin Kawabata VS Haruka Eigen
Takuma Sano & Jun Izumida VS Mohammed Yone & Trevor Rhodes
Tamon Honda, KENTA, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Kotaro Suzuki VS Daisuke Ikeda, Takashi Sugiura, Mitsuo Momota & Ricky Marvin
Jun Akiyama & Go Shiosaki VS Takeshi Rikio & Makoto Hashi
Naomichi Marufuji VS Minoru Suzuki
GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title: Yoshinobu Kanemaru VS Low Ki
GHC Tag Team Title: Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari Ogawa VS Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue
GHC Heavyweight Title: Kenta Kobashi VS Akira Taue

They've been hyping the main event recently with Taue attacking Kobashi after a match at a recent show and "injuring" him. Taue has surprisingly also been losing alot of tag matches against Kobashi lately. Could Taue indeed be the next GHC heavyweight champion?
Also interesting to note the unlikely team of Saito & Inoue challenging for the GHC heavyweight tag team titles. They got the shot when they pulled a huge upset beating the team of Kobashi & Honda back on 8/20 when Inoue pinned Honda with a modified cradle. If Honda would take a fall for Inoue, there's no reason for Ogawa not to do the same now would it?
And Kanemaru VS Low Ki definately has the potential to be the show stealer.

SUWA's reason for leaving
As I mentioned before, long-time Dragon's Gate/Toryumon main stay, SUWA, left the company recently. SUWA had been out with a nasty shoulder injury and during that time contemplated his retirement in one year, and decided to finish his final year in the business as a freelancer. SUWA reportedly also has not been happy with the way things have been going in Dragon's Gate lately, with added fuel to the fire that he didn't even get a good-bye sendoff like many others who left the company in the past. Even CIMA took a potshot at him commenting recently on Susumu Yokusoka's no.1 contership win for his ODG (Open the Dragon's Gate) title as being a "poor substitute".
There's also been speculation on the future of the company, as they've been in financial troubles like many other Japanese promotions lately. I myself would hate for the company to go under after I just discovered how great they are.

American wrestling getting boring
I've noticed recently how I tend to lag behind when it comes to WWE & TNA. I normally don't get around to reading the TNA & Smackdown reports till the weekends and I don't feel compelled to write anything about RAW whether I like the show or not. Heck, I totally ignore the TNA Impact! reports. Is my interest in American Pro-Wrestling fading? Or more accurately, am I losing interest in American "sports entertainment"?

Monday, August 23, 2004

Random Thoughts

Mr. Muga in All Japan
Osamu Nishimura is currently touring with All Japan Pro Wrestling, building up to his big Triple Crown title match with Toshiaki Kawada on 9/3/2004. Nishimura beat a fellow old-school wrestler in Masanobu Fuchi today in a match that should be pretty good. Nishimura promised to bring "Darkside Muga" to his match against Kawada. Should be a fun match that's for sure.

Akira Taue and Low Ki on the hunt
Akira Taue is building momentum to his big GHC Heavyweight title match against Kenta Kobashi on 9/10/04. He's even developed a new finisher in hopes of dethroning Kobashi. If you remember in my "Who Will Beat Kobash?" article a few weeks back, Taue was one of my picks to beat Kobashi, and I wouldn't be surprised if it happened.
Also scheduled for the big tour closer, Low-Ki, currently touring with NOAH for the first time, will challenge Yoshinobu Kanemaru for the GHC Junior title. Low Ki is no stranger to holding Japanese championships as he's a former (and longest running) Junior champion in Zero-One and a former NWA Jr IC tag champions with Brian "Spanky" Kendrick. Nothing's been announced yet, but it would be really cool if they had a tag match pitting Taue & Low Ki VS Kanemaru & Kobashi to headline the show before the big title defences?
Another big match for the 9/10 show is Minoru Suzuki's return to NOAH, as he faces Junior ace Naomichi Marufuji. My question is WHY? I don't see the point of sacrificing one of their best workers to an outsider like Suzuki. They should have picked someone who could better match Suzuki's style, like maybe KENTA or Masaji Aoyagi.

SUWA out of Dragon's Gate
Just as I was getting into TORYUMON/Dragon's Gate, one of their top guys leaves the company! Former UDG champion SUWA has appearantly severed ties with Dragon's Gate for as of yet disclosed reasons. I'll get more on this later when I find out.

Hashimoto finally getting his shoulder fixed
ZERO-ONE ace Shinya Hashimoto will finally be getting long overdue surgery to his badly beaten shoulder on 8/31 when he flies to Birmingham, Alabama. Where famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews will fix him up. Hopefully, the rest of the ZERO-ONE crew take this opportunity to show Hashimoto that the company can survive without him at every show and every main event.

Predictions for RAW
Tomorrow's wedding of Lita & Kane is said to involve alot of pyrotechnics (fire). I can see it now. Kane will come out in his wrestling gear (but have on a bow tie). Lita comes out dressed in all black, with a black veil, and when it's time to kiss the bride, Kane get Sweet Chin Music as "Lita" unveils to reveal the returning Shawn Michaels.
We'll also most probably see the return of Eugene since he'll be safely back on American soil where the Canadian boos can't reach.
And of course, HHH explains why he and Evolution turned their backs on Randy Orton, which we all already know why. HE' THE GAME. HE'S THE THAT DAMN GOOD. THE TITLE ONLY BELONGS TO HIM. In short, he's gonna kill Orton's heat by hot shotting the angle.

How's this for an Olympic moment?
NJPW trainer "Animal" Hamaguchi's daughter, Kyoko Hamaguchi, lost her Olympic wrestling match to Chinese rival Wang Xu in controversial manner when Wang Xu was awarded points for a move Hamaguchi originally initiated. It led to Wang Xu scoring the upset win and advancing to the gold-medal round, whereas Hamaguchi is stuck competing for bronze. "Animal" was so pissed off he had to be restrained by police from entering the arena!

He hates NJPW that much?
Zach Arnold of PuroresuPower.com has been getting alot of heat lately from the internet for his blaming New Japan's "Strong Style" for Takayama's current injury, and many others currently going around. Hell, for some reason he seems to be blind to the fact that accidents like what happened to Takayama just happen. He and Kensuke Sasaki had a very physical match, cause that's the style the wrestle, and what the fans expect to see when these two juggernauts collide. If that weren't bad enough, he took one last cheap shot at a company he used to idolize by making a sarcastic remark that the low traffic his site has been getting this past month (his lowest since February) was due to the lack of drawing power of the NJPW G-1 Climax.
All I gots to say is that he better get his head out of his ass. If his site's traffic is low, it's most probably cause he's doing a bad job. The name of the site is PURORESU power, yet 80% of what he reports is dominated by MMA news. Even a majority of his guests on his radio show are MMA guys. I might just have to write up a whole article on the guy myself, like my buddy, TenzanTeam2K, who inducted him into his Wrestling Hall of Shame.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

WWE Summer Slam PPV Results

Show kicks off with a great opening video.

The Dudley Boys (Bubba Ray, D-Von and Spike) VS Rey Mysterio, Paul London & Billy Kidman
I was right calling this the opener. And it was just awesome! Great closing sequence of the match saw Kidman & Mysterio use a Hart Attack on Spike, Kidman then slingshots Spike into position for Rey to hit the 619 which knocks Spike into position for Kidman to hit the Shooting Star Press! D-Von breaks the cover however, and takes out London & Mysterio. The Dudleys then hit 3D and Spike pins for the win.
Match Rating: ***

Matt Hardy VS Kane – Till Death Do Us Part Match
Lita comes out and is wearing an outfit that shows some signs of pregnancy. Ugh. Surprisingly, Matt DOMINATED this match and only lost when Kane countered a top rope Twist of Fate attempt into a super chokeslam off the top! Kane gets marry Lita who runs off in disgust.
Match Rating: *** (Good match, lousy angle)

Randy Orton gets interviewed backstage and gets interrupted by John Cena who goes on to diss him.

Booker T VS John Cena – US Title Best of 5 Series, Match 1
This was a very good back and forth, faced pace match! Unfortunately, this match was SHORT. Booker had control, but Cena hits the FU out of nowhere to steal the win!
Match Rating: ***

Batista VS Chris Jericho VS Edge – Intercontinental Title

Interesting that the hometown Toronto crowd was booing Edge! Great paced match with all three putting on a great showing, well maybe not Batista, but he did what he could. Edge hits the spear on Jericho to retain the match, which the crowd BOOS!
Match Rating: ***1/4

Kurt Angle with Luther Reigns VS Eddie Guerrero

This is it! The big money match! Funny the fans were chanting for Angle! This match delivered big time! Mostly mat based, with Angle targeting Eddie’s ankle, even undoing Eddie’s boot so he couldn’t cheat like back at WrestleMania! The traded Angle Slams at one point. Eddie hits the Frog Splash, but Angle kicks out! Angle locks on the ankle lock, and locks down with a grapevine, forcing Eddie to tap out! Awesome match!
Match Rating: ****1/4

Triple H VS Eugene

And Eugene comes out to almost no pop and some boos! HHH fakes a knee injury and blindsides Eugene as the fans chant Eugene Sucks! Eugene comes back and scores a Rock Bottom! He goes for the People’s Elbow, and HHH gets up and hits a spine buster! More brawling till HHH tries a Pedigree, but Eugene catches his boot, and give H the finger which finally gets the fans to cheer for him as he follows with a Stone Cold Stunner! Ric Flair makes his way to the ring as Eugene hits a big boot and a leg drop ala Hulk Hogan, but just gets a two count. Eugene hits a Pedigree but Triple H gets a foot on the ropes! Flair tugs Eugene’s leg right in front of the referee who ejects him from ringside! William Regal comes out as Flair makes his exit and clocks him with the Power of the Punch! Eugene cheers Regal but HHH gets up and Pedigrees him to win the match! Entertaining match with the big surprise of the Toronto fans booing Eugene. And didn't Triple H say he wanted to DESTROY Eugene? He looked more like HE was lucky to get out in one piece.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Diva Dodgeball
This SUCKED big time. The Diva Search team was even short a member with no explanation. Big time DUD as predicted. When we could have had a tag team title match, we instead get this crap that hardly lasted a minute! Oh yeah, the WWE Divas LOST 5-1!
DUD! DUD! DUD! DUD! DUD! DUD! DUD! (7 Duds for the number of contestants left)

The Undertaker VS John Bradshaw Leyfield – WWE Championship
Undertaker adds the Complete Shot (Flatliner) to his arsenal. Weird, WWE championship match in progress and the live crowd does the WAVE! This was more of a brawl, though Taker did a triangle arm-bar and rolling knee bar. Fans didn’t seem to care much though. They even chanted “Spanish table” hoping someone gets put through the announce table! This was actually a pretty fun brawl though. JBL hit 2 Clotheslines From Hell, and the Taker did the overused Last Ride out of the corner bit, but JBL kicked out! Orlando Jordan tries to hammer Taker with the title belt, but Taker grabs the belt away and smacks JBL, causing the DQ. Post match, Taker slams JBL onto his limo parked on the isle-way, shattering the windshield! He then chokeslams JBL THROUGH THE ROOF OF THE LIMO! Obviously, the roof was fake. Looked like canvas to me.
Match Rating: ***

JBL gets carried out by medics as we go to a replay of JBL getting chokeslammed again, Michael Cole says “listen to this…” as the clip plays and we hear…NOTHING. Not even a reaction from the crowd!

Randy Orton VS Chris Benoit – World Heavyweight Title
So all the suicide dives Benoit had been doing in the past few weeks was to build a really cool spot where he misses Orton here and rockets his face into the barricade? Just as I predicted, Benoit dominated the closing moments of the match, then Orton hits ONE RKO to win the match CLEAN! Randy didn’t even sell any pain from the Crossface. Benoit is distraught, but returns to the ring and demands Orton be a man and shake his hand, which Orton reluctantly does. Looks like Orton is turning face and will feud with HHH next.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Overall: This was just an OK PPV. Nothing really outstanding, except that the fans brought the WWE into some reality: They want Jericho on top so badly that they'd boo their own hometown boy Edge, Eugene is a joke, No one could care less for the Undertaker/JBL match and the Dodgeball was a complete waste of time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Tenzan wins 2nd straight G-1 Climax

Hiroyoshi Tenzan became the 2nd man in New Japan history to win back to back G-1 Climax Tournaments, beating ALL THREE NEW MUSKETEERS on the final day of the tournament! In doing so, Tenzan also broke the "curse" of the G-1, becoming the first man to score a win on the first day of the tournament and winning it all in the finals!
Tenzan beat all three new generation stars with his dreaded Anaconda Vice finisher, first avenging his two previous loses against supernove Shinsuke Nakamura, who battled Chono earlier in a decision match, then Katsuyori Shibata in the semi-finals, and finally beating Hiroshi Tanahashi in the finals where the youngster put on a heck of a struggle before sucumbing to the Anaconda Vice.
As promised, the G-1 winner got his parade around town which scored huge "Tenzan" chants from the 10,000+ fans who witnessed the spectacle.
Tenzan's next target is to once again bring home the IWGP Heavyweight Champion from Kazuyuki Fujita.


Sunday, August 15, 2004

WWE Summer Slam Predictions

WWE runs it's joint RAW-SmackDown! brand PPV tomorrow. From the get go, my expectations for the show aren't really that high when you consider how they've built up the show. I could be wrong though, as they've actually been able to have good matches despite some horrible build-up. The problem with that though, is that no matter how good the match is it, it doesn't matter if they can't draw people's attention to want to pay to watch it. Anybody out there seriously paying for the PPV just to watch "Diva Dodgeball"? Didn't think so. On to my predictions!

WWE RAW matches
Chris Benoit VS Randy Orton - World Heavyweight Title
- This SHOULD be good. I just hope we don't get 'Super Orton', like his match with Mick Foley where Orton took insane amounts of punishment, but needed to just hit ONE RKO for the win. There's also the question of whether they'll give Orton the ball to run with like they did for Brock Lesner last year. Orton may be making big waves, but it still pales in comparison to the larger than life persona Brock presented as a believeble monster. Orton would come off more as an old school sneaky heel that always cheats to win (ala HHH). So will Benoit retain? Unfortunately, I'm gonna have to go with Orton winning the title.

Edge VS Chris Jericho VS Batista - Intercontinental Title
- This should also be fun with three different styles clashing in one match. WWE have been putting on some good three-ways, and Edge & Jericho should be able to hide Batista's weaknesses. And since the main story here is between Edge & Y2J, with Batista still holding a grudge against Jericho, I predict Edge retains pinning Batista, to continue a singles feud with Y2J after.

Triple H VS Eugene
- Eugene wins by DQ when HHH brings out the ol' sledgehammer and shoves the referee. This of course builds to a bigger gimmicked match.

Matt Hardy VS Kane - Till Death Do Us Part Match - Winner gets to marry Lita
- For those of you who didn't know, Matt Hardy's article on WWE.com about him needing to take 6-8 months for knee surgery was pulled off just one day after it was posted! Guess that means Hardy is losing this one.

WWE SmackDown! matches
John 'Bradshaw' Leyfield VS The Undertaker - WWE Heavyweight Championship
- Don't expect this to be pretty. But I am betting on JBL to retain after interference from Orlando Jordan. Expect a cheap finish that leads to somekind of gimmick match (Hell in the Cell?!?).

Booker T VS John Cena - U.S. Championship Best of Five Series: Match One
- Booker wins the first match of the series. No way do I expect this to be as good as the best of seven series with Booker & Benoit in WCW.

Eddie Guerrero VS Kurt Angle
- This could definately be the show stealer, and one of the few matches I have anticipation and high hopes for. Though I could possibilly understand if Angle doesn't go all out to protect himself from aggravating his neck. Expect Angle to win to tie the matches between them and lead to a tie breaker at the next PPV.

Rey Mysterio, Paul London & Billy Kidman VS The Dudley Boys (Bubba Ray, D-Von & Spike)
- Another match I have high hopes for. Paul London finally gets on PPV! This should be good, but I don't expect the match to go over ten mintes. The pros and cons being that the face team (London & Kidman actually) need a PPV win to legitimize their position, but the Dudleys also need the win to keep their heel heat going. I predict the face team win in the match that will kick off the show.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

WWE RAW thoughts

I haven't written anything about WWE in awhile cause I thought they were doing pretty good these few weeks. But last night's show sucked big time!
There were only two passable matches on the show, but those couldn't save it from a heck of a lot of logic errors. Most notebly was the shafting of having a tag team title match in favour of "Diva Dodgeball" at Summer Slam! What? It's not bad enough they waste TV with those untalented models, now we're gonna PAY to see it whether we like to or not? Jeez. This is just dumb.
Last week Rhyno & Tajiri dominated and won a non-title match against reigning champions La Resistance. So to prove they are "worthy" of a title match, they had to beat two no-name jobbers in under two minutes, and suddenly they can't even do that? And how STUPID is the referee? He KNEW the stipulation of the match was that Rhyno & Tajiri had to win the match in two minutes, yet he allowed himself to be distracted by La Resistance, all the while he could see the timer on the huge Titantron behind them, and finally decide to turn around and make a count when there was only 3 SECONDS left on the clock?!? Maybe they should have just saved us alot of hassle and just have the tag title match on HEAT. WOuld have been better than the crap they spewed in this angle.
And did all the other Diva's suddenly forget they HATE Trish Stratus? Victoria went psycho cause of her, Jazz has been gunning for her pretty face forever, she clocked out Nidia with a cast a few weeks back to screw her out of a title match, and every other Diva has SOME reason to hate her. All the sudden she gets the idea to have a Diva Dodgeball match and Molly forgets Victoria shaved her head? Victoria forgets Gail Kim has been stretching her with painful submissions a few months back? Nidia forgets about Trish knocking her lights out? WHAT GIVES? If they were going to gang up to beat up the Diva Search contestants, that would be OK, but instead their gonna work together? Unless it ends with someone beating up Trish, this will be an even bigger waste of time than it already is.
And what about WWE's rule that when an angle is going on backstage or something, the camera's supposedly not there? Or that no one actually watches the monitors backstage to know whats really going on until it happens? The rule sure didn't apply to HHH last night. How did he know Eugene snuck out? He MUST have seen it on a monitor somewhere! And couldn't they charge HHH with assault and battery for what he did to William Regal in a public place like that hotel room? And anybody notice Eugene only got a small pop from the crowd when he came back to save Benoit at the end of the show?
This was definately the worse RAW I've seen in recent weeks, and the ratings show it as it dropped to an almost two year low. Why? I'm guessing when the crappy stuff like the Diva Search contest comes on, people like me change the channel. Or in my case, I was watching the 2003 New Japan G-1 Climax on my PC and left RAW on with no volume.
And in case you guys are wondering why I didn't say anything about the Kane-Lita-Hardy angle, It's cause I've lost enough IQ points from all the other crap on the show. This is the 2nd year in a row that Summer Slam is a week away, and I have almost ZERO anticipation for it.

Gone, but who really cares?
In the past two weeks, WWE have released Rikishi, Ryan Sakoda and have "parted ways" with Sable. They stretched the Rikishi fat-ass gimmick as long as they could until they ran outof ideas. Does anyone even remember who Sakoda is? Sakoda was said to have been released due to health problems.
Sable may have been the biggest money maker of the three, as she's consistantly out-classed the other SmackDown Divas. Guess the void on SmackDown will be filled by whoever wins the RAW Diva Search!

Bad year for tournament tours?

With Takayama forfeiting his place in the G-1 Climax due to injury (see below), it's not been a good year for the promotions in Japan who have run tournament tours.
Starting out with All Japan's Hold Out Cup, which the winner would get a place on the annual Champion Carnival, the event was cancelled completely due to multiple injuries to the participants.
Then, on the actual Champion Carnival itself, No. 1 seed Toshiaki Kawada fractures a finger in a Carnival match with Nobutaka Araya and has to forfeit the rest of the tour to heal his finger. This marred what was probably the biggest Champion Carnival of the Mutoh-run era of All Japan Pro Wrestling.
Next was the annual New Japan Pro Wrestling Best of Super Juniors tour, where Curry Man (Christopher Daniels), was making big waves till he was sidelined with an injury and had to forfeit his place in the tourney.
Zero-One would be the next victim as one of their top stars, Masato Tanaka, would injure himself during a tag match and would not able to continue the annual Fire Festival tour. Had Tanaka not been injured, would Kohei Sato really have won?
And now is the case of Takayama and the G-1. Takayama was definately the top outsider with Kensuke Sasaki that had the best chance of winning it. How the rest of the tournament plays out now should be interesting.
There are two big tournament tours left this year, the New Japan G-1 Tag League and the All Japan Real World Tag League. Lets hope all goes well when those tours come around.

Takayama out of the G-1

It's been announced that Yoshihiro Takayama is out of the New Japan G-1 Climax due to his injuries suffered over the past month and all his remaining matches in the tournament will be forfeited. Takayama was diagnosed with "cerebral thrombosis", which is blood clotting in the blood cells. A botched Northern Lights Bomb by Takuma Sano on NOAH's 8/1 show was where Takayama's troubles began, add to Nakanishi's new devastating Hercules Cutter finisher (Desribed as a spinning toruture rack neck breaker) and a brutally stiff match with Kensuke Sasaki during the first 2 days of the G-1 contributed to making his condition worse. Hope he gets well soon.


Monday, August 09, 2004

A look at Hiroshi Tanahashi & the U-30 Title

After I did my “Who Will Beat Kobashi?” article awhile back, my buddy TenzanTeam2K brought it to my attention when I mentioned Kobashi was looking to break Nagata’s V10 defense record that Hiroshi Tanahashi had already made V10 defenses of “his” U-30 Open-weight title and was one defense away from breaking Nagata’s record.

Off the top, I think it’s not fair to compare the U-30 title with the IWGP and GHC heavyweight titles. Those are WORLD titles. Those are top prizes of the promotion and what the company is built around. Tanahashi claimed that the U-30 title was a mid-card title to help build up the younger guys, a stepping stone if you will, on their path up the puroresu ladder. In My view, the U-30 title is strictly costume jewelry for Tanahashi. His own little ego trip, and since HE created the title, he doesn’t have to lose it if he doesn’t want to (even Taz lost his self-made FTW title to Sabu back in ECW in what I believe was his only actual defense of it). Let’s look at those ten successive defenses Tanahashi made:

V1 Katsuyori Shibata
- Over-rated “shooter”. Even today there are many who wonder why Shibata is getting so much hype.
V2 Makai #2
- Angle to unmask him as K-Dojo’s Ryota Chikuzen, which didn’t really lead anywhere.
- Big fun brawl. Was never seen again after this.
V4 Blue Wolf
- Won the no.1 contendership from Yoshie, waited 4 months to get the match. Shows how important the title is?
V5 Naomichi Marufuji
- I wanna see this one cause it’s the only one that has any real drawing power for me. Marufuji here would be like Rey Mysterio. And we all know Mysterio can make almost ANY match look good.
V6 Yutaka Yoshie
- Lost to Blue Wolf the first time, lost to Montanha Silva the month before, but got a shot anyway. Tanahashi didn’t do much to make his then tag-partner look anywhere near as as good as Yoshie did for him.
V7 Masayuki Naruse
- Under-rated junior heavyweight.
V8 Kazunari Murakami (Cage Death Match)
- The only credible challenger thus far, but the title was really secondary to the feud here. Murakami can also be considered the credible psycho-heel guy NJPW calls when they need to put a babyface over i.e. Enson Inoue etc.
V9 Ryusuke Taguchi
- Who in their right mind thought this rookie had a chance from the get go? Seriously?
V10 Toru Yano
- Maybe this should be V10½ since he won twice in one night?

All sarcasm aside, I’ll admit I have only seen two of those ten defenses for myself. The one thing they all had in common from the reports I read was how all the challengers showed a lot of “fighting spirit”. But the difference from Tanahashi’s challengers and the ones that faced Nagata and Kobashi were that their opponents were built-up to be believable threats to the champion’s reign (Yes, even Tadao Yasuda & Yoshinari Ogawa).

But from what I can tell, most of Tanahashi’s challengers never really gave the U-30 title any thought until they found out they were in the running. From the list above, the only guy that was actually gunning for Tanahashi was Murakami. Even then, the U-30 title was just an after thought to the grudge. The other nine challengers were all more or less hand-picked by the champion himself too.

And here’s one observation I’ve made of Tanahashi. I’ve even mentioned this before actually about NJPW in general, and even President Kusama noted recently when he did a house show evaluation: Everyone looks different, but mostly work the same moves. By that, I mean Tanahashi hasn’t really done anything extraordinary. He’s got some smug charisma and he’s caught a lucky break. Maybe not as lucky as Nakamura, but luck none the less. If your talking about his ring work, he really hasn’t done anything that everyone else on the roster isn’t doing to stand out. He’s just been put in a situation where those limited abilities are demonstrated to the best it can.

When President Kusama said there were only THREE styles with many different looks, this is probably what he saw:

1. The all rounders – What Keiji Mutoh was. Guys like Tenzan and Tanahashi who have limited offense, but are versatile with what they have (Yes. I believe Tenzan has a limited arsenal).

2. The (mock) shooter – What Shinya Hashimoto was. The guys with the big strikes and submissions like what Kazuyuki Fujita, Nakamura, Shibata and the rest of the guys living Inoki’s ideals are like.

3. The brawlers – What Masahiro Chono mostly does. As emulated today by guys like Yoshie, Blue Wolf, and Toru Yano. These guys get boring easily if they aren’t in control of the match or they need to be carried by guys who will bump for them.

Back to the point, I’ll just sum-up my thoughts on Hiroshi Tanahashi like this, He’s a good looking guy with some charisma who caught a lucky break and is making waves in the business. But to date, I still can’t put my finger on what the big deal about this guy is. Maybe it’s just me, since I’m one of those modern day wrestling fans that likes to see a little something ‘extra’ from wrestlers who are supposedly leading the pack? But I stand by my view that you can’t compare a mid-card title like the U-30 title to the world titles.


Sunday, August 08, 2004

Win a tourney, Get a parade!

New Japan's annual G-1 Climax tour kicked off today with some interesting results. Before I get to that though, It's interesting to mention that not only will the winner of this year's G-1 win 2,000,000 yen, but also a new Cadillac SRX. And if that's not enough, the winner will also be paraded through town! They really are trying to pass this off as the biggest G-1 in history.

So who will win it? Here are eight guys who possibilly WON'T win it:

Block A: Shinsuke Nakamura, Yuji Nagata, Katsuyori Shibata and Genichiro Tenryu.
Block B: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kensuke Sasaki and Manabu Nakanishi.

Why won't any of the above win it? Cause throughout it's illustrious history, Day 1 winners like the eight mentioned above have NEVER won the G-1 in the end. The guy who probably came closest to breaking that curse was Pro-Wrestling NOAH ace Jun Akiyama last year, but came up short losing to Tenzan in the longest running finals in it's history. Tenzan himself was on the losing end throughout the opening rounds.

So here are the names of the 8 guys who could possibilly win it this year unless someone from the above breaks the "curse" of the G-1:

Block A: Yutaka Yoshie, Blue Wolf, Masahiro Chono and Minoru Suzuki.
Block B: Osamu Nishimura, Koji Kanemoto, Togi (Shinya) Makabe and Yoshihiro Takayama.

Then again, looking at those names, looks like someone indeed from the Day 1 winners blocks could be in line to break the curse and make a name for himself. And with Antonio Anoki going to be in attendance for the finals (And possibilly the PM of Japan), It will definately be a big deal who wins this year.


Sunday, August 01, 2004

NOAH - Exceeding Our Dreams 8/1/2004

Pro Wrestling NOAH's big tour ending show featured what was supposed to be a 10-man lottery to determine 5 big singles matches for the show, hinting at a possible Kobashi/Akiyama rematch, but at the last minute it was turned into an 8-man lottery, with Akiyama instead defending his Global Hardcore Crown against his STERNESS tag partner Akitoshi Saito! Other highlights of the show included Rick Steiner bringing the WLW title back to the USA when he beat defending champion Daisuke Ikeda. The rest of the lottery matches look good too, and I definately will be getting a tape of this show when it becomes available.
Full results are as follows:
1. Jun Izumuda, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Kishin Kawabata beat Masao Inoue, Makoto Hashi & Kotaro Suzuki in 15:09 when Kikuchi used the Fireball-bomb on Suzuki.
2. Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA beat Muhammed Yone & Go Shiosaki in 11:22 when KENTA hit the Busaikyo Knee on Shiosaki
3. Takeshi Rikioh, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Takashi Sugiura & Masaji Aoyagi beat Richard Slinger, Juventud Guerrera, Ricky Marvin & Trevor Rhodes in 13:46 when Rikioh hit Rhodes with a Lariat.
4. Yoshinari Ogawa beat Tamon Honda in 4:15 with an inside cradle (sigh).
5. Yoshihiro Takayama beat Takuma Sano in 10:45 by referee stop.
6. Rick Steiner beat Daisuke Ikeda in 11:12 with a Death Valley Bomb to win the WLW title.
7. Kenta Kobashi beat Bison Smith in 17:04 with a Brainbuster.
8. Jun Akiyama beat Akitoshi Saito in 7:05 by KO to retain the GHC Openweight title (V3)
9. Mitsuharu Misawa VS Akira Taue went to a 30 minute draw.

Credit: Strong Style Spirit for the results


Kohei Sato wins 2004 Fire Festival!

Perhaps the biggest win of his career thus far, Kohei Sato won the annual Zero-One Fire Festival tournament today, beating out top outsider Takao Omori in the finals with a German suplex hold at 22:04! It was a tough road for Sato, but in the end he only registered ONE loss to veteran Shiro Koshinaka on the opening day of the tournament. Here are the complete results for the tournament from day one:

Block A - Takao Omori (1) VS Hirotaka Yokoi (1) went to a 30 minute draw
Block B - Shiro Koshinaka (2) beat Kohei Sato (0) with a ground cobra twist at 8:32
Block A - Satoshi Kojima (1) VS Tetsuhiro Kuroda (1) went to a double countout at 13:02
Block B - Masato Tanaka (2) beat Kintaro Kanemura (0) with a rolling elbow at 11:07

Block A - Hirotaka Yokoi (3) beat Tetsuhiro Kuroda (1) with a spinning sleeper hold at 11:10
Block B - Kohei Sato (2) beat Kintaro Kanemura (0) with a German suplex hold at 9:11
Block A - Satoshi Kojima (3) beat Wataru Sakata (0) with a Lariat at 14:52
Block B - Shinjiro Ohtani (2) beat Shiro Koshinaka (2) with a German suplex hold at 10:56
*Masato Tanaka gets injured during a tag match and can't continue the tournament*

Block B - Shinjiro Ohtani (4) beat Masato Tanaka (2) by forfeit
Block A - Tetsuhiro Kuroda (3) beat Takao Omori (1) with a modified Samson clutch at 11:16
Block B - Shiro Koshinaka (3) VS Kintaro Kanemura (1) went to a double count out at 5:34
Block A - Wataru Sakata (2) beat Hirotaka Yokoi (3) with a diving foot stomp at 9:50

Block B - Shiro Koshinaka (5) beat Masato Tanaka (2) by forfeit
Block A - Wataru Sakata (4) beat Tetsuhiro Kuroda (1) with a diving foot stomp at 15:10
Block B - Takao Omori (3) beat Satoshi Kojima (3)with the Axe Guillotine Driver at 19:06
Block A - Kohei Sato (4) beat Shinjiro Ohtani (4) with a triangle choke hold at 17:32

Block B - Kohei Sato (6) beat Masato Tanaka (2) by forfeit
Block A - Satoshi Kojima (5) beat Hirotaka Yokoi (3) with a Lariat at 14:34
Block B - Takao Omori (5) beat Wataru Sakata (4) with an Axe Bomber at 7:17
Block A - Kintaro Kanemura (3) beat Shinjiro Ohtani (4) by pinfall at 1:18(!!!)
Fire Festival Finals: Kohei Sato beat Takao Omori with a German suplex hold at 22:04

Like All Japan's Champion Carnival earlier this year, the Fire Festival was marred by the injury of Masato Tanaka. How will Zero-One follow up on Sato's success? Will he be the youngster that finally gets the big rub? Or will Hashimoto continue to push himself and Ogawa above all while guys like Ohtani, Tanaka and the like continue to bust their chops in the mid-card?

Credit: Strong Style Spirit for the results