At the start of 2019 wrestling got a face lift of the All Elite variety which saw The Elite leave Ring of Honor and New Japan to start All Elite Wrestling with the help of Tony Khan. One person that was left out of AEW was Marty Scurll who was still contractual obligated to Ring of Honor and couldn't leave ROH. Marty would become one of the top stars in ROH setting up his own faction with Brody King and PCO together they formed Villain Enterprise. Marty would become the talk of wrestling this time individually when his Ring of Honor contract expired at the end of November last year.
Fast forward to December 14 when Marty Scurll returned to the NWA to confront current Worlds Champion Nick Aldis at the end of the Into the Fire PPV. Early on in the new year it was reported that Marty had officially resigned with Ring of Honor and would be given the book of ROH as well. Marty took control from Hunter Johnson who had been the booker for almost a decade, but wanted to scale back his responsibilities.
Upon the news of his resigning with ROH I thought of course that meant he was done with NWA or would stay to fight Nick Aldis and then would return full time to ROH. However, it seems that with the announced working agreement the NWA and ROH have it is possible that Marty will be in NWA for the foreseeable future. One return I didn't expect was Marty returning to New Japan, but I guess the old WWE saying is more true about wrestling outside WWE now then it is for inside WWE. Anything can happen in the world of professional wrestling. Much like when the "Painmaker" returned to fight Hiroshi Tanahashi who really expected the return of the "Villain" and for him to challenge Jay White. Dream match?
It has been a long time since I gave this series another try and we find ourselves back in New Japan to another star who has called both New Japan and WWE home. Matt Bloom debuted with WWE in 1999 as the bodyguard of Darren Drozdov and later the protege of Big Bossman. In late 2000 Albert would join the tag team ranks with Test as T & A and would be managed by Trish Stratus. Following the ending of his team with Test he would hover around the upper mid-card as a complimentary character adding depth to WWE during a time when they were changing eras. After six years though Matt "Albert" Bloom would leave WWE and in 2006 would begin touring in New Japan.
Upon his arrival now known as Giant Bernard would begin teaming with a fellow former WWE stars in Travis Tomko and later teaming with Karl Anderson. On both occasions Bernard would and his chosen partner would dominate the tag team division holding the IWGP Tag Titles for 343 days with Tomko and 564 days with Karl Anderson respectively. A main difference in Japan though is that a tag team performer could headline the show and in some cases be a bigger or more recognizable star then the man wearing the World Title. II wouldn't call everyone equal in Japan as far as the championship picture, but I would call there booking strong and point to that being the main reason any champion could main event. New Japan has a way of making their champions strong and keeping an aura around every championship in the company.
In 2012, Brock Lesnar returned to WWE the night after Wrestlemania and so did Matt Bloom under a new gimmick. Now called Tensai, but looked more like a knock off of Hakushi twenty pounds heavier. Admittedly, the gimmick was a flop from the start partially due to timing and just the fact that the fans didn't believe it. Albert went from being box office gold to being a complimentary piece again, but this time on a very weak roster. In my opinion, the main reason for the difference is that in Japan they saw the best way to make Matt a star was to place him in a tag team and take advantage of his strengths. On the other side WWE just saw his weaknesses, but liked his size which gave them reason enough to keep him strong similarly to Luke Harper they just couldn't figure out the right thing to do for him.
Starting in the spring of 1984, the wrestling world would change when Keichi Yamada would step into a ring for the first time. Unlike most of his fellow young lions Yamada would leave New Japan on a high after winning the Young Lions Cup. It would be two years before Yamada would be sent on excursion to All Star Wrestling in Europe and Stampede Wrestling. Upon his return Yamada would be repackaged as Jushin Thunder Liger which was taken from a very popular Japanese anime called Jushin Liger. For the next thirty years all over the world Jushin Liger would cultivate a career for himself as the most legendary junior heavyweight. It wouldn't take Liger very long to become the measuring stick of the junior heavyweight division for New Japan.
Liger would set the world on fire with Tiger Mask, Black Tigers, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Naoki Sano, and others over the years. In December 1991, Liger would make his return to the United States to feud with Brian Pillman over the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship. The feud would end in February at Superbrawl, but it would only be the beginning for Liger and his trips back to North America. Since then Liger has spent time with ROH, WWE, TNA, and CMLL perfecting an imagine of a legend.
Last weekend Jushin Liger wrestled his the final matches of his career lacing up the boots one more time for another Wrestle Kingdom. Liger will go down as a legend and one of the greatest performers in the history of New Japan. Even blessing the new generation of the junior division in his last match taking the pin fall against the team of Dragon Lee & Hiromu Takahashi. His commitment to the gimmick and ability to embrace the anime side of the character never really needing to change with the times Liger is by far one of the best ever. Thank you for all you did for wrestling, New Japan, and the Junior Heavyweight division!! You deserve the rest now after 30 plus years of giving us your body, mind, and soul.
It's that time of year again as a new year beckons we await the first major event of the calendar and like always it is from New Japan. This year wrestling fans will be treated to a very special event with this years event stretching across two days instead of the traditional one day event. Doing this prevents burnout from fans and also allows New Japan to maximize the Wrestle Kingdom banner. Another reason this year's event is very special is due to the "Double Title Match" set for the January 5 event.
For months there has been a focus placed on showing how important this "Double Title Match" will be coming on January 5 for everyone involved. The "Double Belt Dash" is one of the more intriguing aspects of the new year as most times wrestling companies try and prevent talent from holding two titles at one time, but right now it seems like it's being encouraged. In my opinion, New Japan should seize this chance to really put someone on Okada's level, because right now he's on a level all his own.
On January 4, the "Painmaker" returns to fight Hiroshi Tanahashi it another dream match we didn't know we wanted until it was announced. Jericho is riding a hot ticket right now by starting off the decade in the drivers seat. Jericho and his Inner Circle are the hottest ticket in wrestling right wrapped in a developing feud with Jon Moxley and then he promises Tanahashi a shot at the AEW World Title if he can beat Jericho. Last time I checked AEW and NJPW weren't on the same page, but could things have changed or maybe at least soften. Seeing AEW expand overseas even a little bit with the help of New Japan will benefit both promotions equally as it could help each of them develop a foot hold in the US and Japan respectively.
Where to find news, opinions, hype and all things New Japan.