I've spoke about the way New Japan has handled the current pandemic plaguing society and they have done an amazing job in my opinion. A few weeks ago pro-wrestling united in Japan to help figure out what the next move will be and where to go from here. I would like to break it down for you, but there was a lot included in the article so I will post part of it and allow you to visit the link provided to read the entire article. We will be this and recover! Link here
"On Wednesday April 15, led by Bushiroad Company Director Takaaki Kidani, Hiroshi Tanahashi and NJPW Chairman Naoki Sugabayashi joined representatives from STARDOM, Pro Wrestling NOAH, All Japan Pro-Wrestling, DDT Pro-Wrestling, Diana and Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling at Tokyo’s Lower House Assembly Hall. Together the company representatives were present to consult with the Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, (and former NJPW wrestler) Hiroshi Hase to discuss how the COVID-19 crisis has affected the professional wrestling industry in Japan."
Hiroshi Tanahashi, New Japan Pro-Wrestling
"‘While events have been cancelled, our wrestlers have been training diligently and maintaining their focus for an eventual return. Yes, not being able to wrestle does make a lot of us concerned for our livelihoods, but in the world of sports, be that baseball, soccer, or sumo, I feel that professional wrestling should be the anchor. I think it should be acceptable for professional wrestling to be the last sport to return to full activity. I want people to know that when professional wrestling is back, then and only then it means truly that Japanese entertainment has properly recovered.’"
Hiroshi Hase, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
‘Thank you to the representatives of the professional wrestling industry for sharing their plight, as well as to for the explanations from official bodies today. There are measures we can enact to assist enterprises, promotions and wrestlers during these times, and I would like to continue to discuss them further. This situation will not last forever. Speedy and accurate testing, effective treatment and medicinal development are all things the whole world is working together on. Professional wrestling has a huge and very important role in raising the flag of victory over COVID-19. I ask all staff members and all wrestlers to keep working to be in the best shape possible to spread joy to the fans with incredible matches very soon.’
As I’m sure you’re aware, last week we announced the cancellation of the remainder of the events on the Road to Dontaku Tour. Our latest 12 cancellations from April 19 in Korakuen to May 4 in Fukuoka join other events already cancelled from March 1 onward.
I know how much of a disappointment this is to fans who were looking forward to attending these events. Ticket holders are all being refunded however, and as we closely monitor the situation with regards to events after May 4, ticket sales have been suspended or delayed accordingly to make the process as easy as possible for fans.
NJPW have been taking the ongoing global situation very seriously from an early stage. Currently over 90% of our employees are working from home as we continue to do our civic duty as a company to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We, like you, are disappointed and frustrated at not being able to present the best professional wrestling on the planet on a live basis at the current moment in time.
For the full letter check here!!
In my opinion, this is the complete opposite of how WWE has handled this current situation. New Japan has been leaning on their vast archive and other unique content to help until this situation becomes a little more manageable. If you go back to early March though New Japan has taken this situation from very seriously from the start and will not let up until the situation changes. I give props to New Japan for handling the situation as well as they have and attempting to make best out of a terrible situation. For more stay tuned here for updates or head over to New Japan's Main Site!
It is a rarity that I find two stars from New Japan celebrating their birthdays on the same day, but low and behold it had to happen once. As always wrestling gives us both great memories and memories we try and forget, but with the amount of moments worth remembering that have happened we are bound to forget some. The same could be said about some talent that were very much underrated during their career or never at the top of a company during a run this unfortunately makes it easier for fans to forget certain talent. These two are very different talent and had two very different careers while they worked in this great business. Sometimes we encounter those that deserve to be remembered and acknowledged. I would like to wish a very big Happy Birthday to all who are celebrating their special day today and especially to the one featured below.
Nerd Note: Hiroyoshi Tenzan is one of only a handful of wrestlers to have held the NWA World Tag Team & IWGP Tag Team Titles. Tenzan actually would win both sets of tag titles with the same partner both times and in many cases is considered a legend of New Japan.
First order of business is that Minoru Suzuki is one crazy ass mother-fucker like he is the stuff nightmares are made of and this post match interview Minoru proved my point. Moxley vs Suzuki wasn't a match it was a fight and fight that fit the reputation both men have developed over the years. Since arriving in New Japan last year it has been a bumpy ride for Moxley, but after finding his footing in Japan it seems like New Japan has found themselves another star in there IWGP United States Champion Jon Moxley.
However, it doesn't seem like Moxley's feud with Suzuki-Gun is over yet with Zack Sabre Jr attacking Jon Moxley after the match not giving him a chance to breath. It was interesting hearing Sabre explain his history with Jon Moxley going all the way back to when Moxley would tour in Europe. I've always been a fan of Sabre's in ring ability, but this was really the first time I've heard him talk. Hearing him speak you can hear a sense of entitlement and ego in his voice it seemed like he knows he is amazing and doesn't have to hide it. In my opinion, Sabre has seen his stock rise loads in probably the last two years almost like New Japan told him we pick you to push just as a random person on the roster. Imagine Sabre Jr make a move over to AEW for a dream match in America which could be possible if New Japan and All Elite still have a positive relationship.
For the full results of New Beginning take a look here!!
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.
For the last couple of weeks I have been providing updates on the final tournament of the year in New Japan the World Tag League Tournament. The World Tag League tournament is the way that New Japan determines who will challenge for the IWGP Tag Team Titles at Wrestle Kingdom on January 4. Back in 2017 and 2018 the tournament was won by Los Ingobernables de Japon members Evil and Sanada. These two men also made it to the finals this year, but came up short against the winner David Finlay Jr & Juice Robinson. Now I don't know a lot about this team, but to me this is exactly what New Japan needed to do this year after losing so many stars earlier in the year. This means that on January 4 at the Tokyo Dome the IWGP Champions Guerrilla's of Destiny will fight FinJuice for the Tag Titles.
Another surprise video appeared as the "Painmaker" graced us with his presence further building his match with Hiroshi Tanahashi on Wrestle Kingdom Day 2. For the first time Wrestle Kingdom will be split up over the course of two days with one day being headlined by Kazuchika Okada vs Kota Ibushi and another day being headlined by a match between IWGP Heavyweight Champion and Intercontinental Champion.
* Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Kota Ibushi (IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match)
* Jay White (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito (IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match)
* Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi ( IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match)
* Lance Archer vs. Jon Moxley (IWGP United States Championship Match)
* The Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Dave Finlay and Juice Robinson (IWGP Tag Team Championship Match)
* YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, and Hirooki Goto vs. Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale, and KENTA
* BUSHI, Shingo Takagi, EVIL, and SANADA vs. El Desperado, Taichi, Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr.
* Jushin Thunder Liger, Tatsumi Fujinami, The Great Sasuke, and Tiger Mask (with El Samurai) vs. Naoki Sano, Shinjiro Otani, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, and Ryusuke Taguchi (with Kuniaki Kobayashi)
IWGP Champion vs. IWGP Intercontinental Champion (Title vs. Title Match)
* Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Chris Jericho
* Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo (c) vs. Roppongi 3K (IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship Match)
* Loser of Okada vs. Ibushi vs. Loser of White vs. Naito
* KENTA (c) vs. Hirooki Goto (NEVER Openweight Championship Match)
* Winner of the Lance Archer/Moxley Match (c) vs. Juice Robinson
* Zack Sabre Jr (c) vs. SANADA (RevPro British Heavyweight Championship Match)
* El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori (c) vs. SHO and YOH (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match)
* Jushin Liger and Naoki Sano vs. Ryu Lee (Dragon Lee) and Hiromu Takahashi (Jushin Liger's Final Wrestling Match)
Around a week ago I was writing a match of the week article and after seeing that the World Tag League was underway I thought why not check that out. I was impressed by David Finlay and Juice Robinson holding the first place in the round robin tournament so far. For those who don't know or are unsure the World Tag League is basically the tag equivalent to the G1 Climax including the winners of the Tag League earning a title shot against the IWGP Tag Team Champions at the following years Wrestle Kingdom. The only way the winners don't receive a title shot is if the champions win the tag league. The teams included earn two points for a win, one point for a draw and zero points for a loss.
The tournament normally runs for about two weeks from the middle of November to the first of second of December depending on when the company wants to run the event. This year the Tag League started on November 16 and will run until December 8 when the finals will be determined. It is all about the rankings in New Japan and the top two teams are the ones that matter on the final day as they will fight for the trophy. Check out the updated standings:
EVIL and SANADA: (20 pts)
* David Finlay and Juice Robinson: (18 pts)
* Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa: (18 pts)
* Toru Yano and Colt Cabana: (16 pts)
* Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI: (16 pts)
* Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer: (14 pts)
* Jeff Cobb and Mikey Nicholls: (14 pts)
* KENTA and Yujiro Takahashi: (12 pts)
* Shingo Takagi and El Terrible: (12 pts)
* Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi (12 pts)
* Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima: (8 pts)
* Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens: (8 pts)
* Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma: (6 pts)
* Hirooki Goto and Karl Fredericks: (4 pts)
* Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toa Henare: (4 pts)
* Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata: (2 pts)
To check out the cards for the four remaining for shows that include tournament matches click here!
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