Some of the biggest stories in New Japan Pro-Wrestling for the week of Jan 18 2013 through Jan 24 2013. For the latest news, hit up enuhito's blog and Strong Style Spirit. If you need a primer on what NJPW is all about, check out this introductory post on Punchsport Pagoda.
Tanahashi celebrates with a steak, via NJPW's twitter.
NJPW dominates the 2012 Wrestling Observer awards
For those who may not be familiar with them, voting is done by Observer subscribers. Some of the major awards that New Japan received:
WRESTLER OF THE YEAR (Overall)
1. Hiroshi Tanahashi
2. C.M. Punk
3. Kazuchika Okada
MOST OUTSTANDING WRESTLER (In-ring)
1. Hiroshi Tanahashi
2. Kazuchika Okada
3. Daniel Bryan
FEUD OF THE YEAR
1. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada
2. Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen
3. The Rock vs. John Cena
1. Kazuchika Okada
2. Michael Elgin
PROMOTION OF THE YEAR
1. New Japan Pro-Wrestling
2. Ultimate Fighting Championships
3. World Wrestling Entertainment
PRO-WRESTLING MATCH OF THE YEAR
1. Tanahashi vs. Suzuki 10/8 Tokyo
2. John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar 4/29 Chicago
3. Davey Richards vs. Michael Elgin 3/31 Ft. Lauderdale
BEST MAJOR WRESTLING SHOW
1. NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling 10/8 Tokyo
2. WWE Extreme Rules 4/29 Chicago
3. WWE WrestleMania 4/1 Miami
BEST WRESTLING MANEUVER
1. Kazuchika Okada's Rainmaker
2. Antonio Cesaro's Neutralizer
3. Daniel Bryan's Yes/No/LeBell Lock
1. Jado & Gedo
2. Joe Silva
3. Mike Quackenbush
NJPW/CMLL Fantasticamania Results
Takaaki Kidani officially steps down as President
As I wrote about last week, Takaaki Kidani, the President of Bushiroad, the company which bought NJPW early last year, has stepped away from officially running NJPW. He will still run Bushiroad, the parent company of NJPW. It's thought his stepping down is a result of signing talent and planning angles without properly communicating with NJPW staff. Publicly, the stepping down was said to be because NJPW has had such a good year and no longer required his direct involvement.
Tanahashi plans to debut new finisher at New Beginning iPPV
In an interview with Tokyo Sports, IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi states he plans on debuting a new finisher in his match against Karl Anderson at the New Beginning iPPV. Anderson was able to successfully counter Tanahashi's "High Fly Flow" in his non-tile win against him at the 2012 G-1 Tournament. Historically, beating the champion during the tournament grants a title shot--not a set-in-stone stipulation, but typically one way new contenders are made.
Suzuki Army & CHAOS set to feud
The two top heel stables Suzuki Army and CHAOS are reported to start feuding some time around New Beginning on 2/10/2012. CHAOS's top stars are Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazuchika Okada. Suzuki Army's top stars are Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr., and Lance Archer. The big match being floated is Okada vs. Suzuki, both recent IWGP Heavyweight contenders.
Nakamura's goals for the IWGP Intercontinental title
Shinsuke Nakamura laid out his goals for his Intercontinental title reign in a recent interview. He plans to differentiate it from the IWGP Heavyweight title, turning it into a truly "intercontinental" championship by defending it around the globe in places such as North Korea(!) and Brazil. It's possible that the Intercontinental Championship might become an important part of NJPW's new global push. In my opinion, Nakamura's unique charisma has more cross-cultural appeal than any other top star in the company (a mix of "drunken master" and brutally kicking the hell out of people), so it would be a good move.
English website slated to launch April 2013
As a part of NJPW's continued international push, plans were announced for an official English-language website to launch in April. Spanish and Chinese sites are also in development. As a test run, WrestleKingdom 7 had its own English site.
Invasion Attack iPPV a sign of things to come?
NJPW announced dates for some of their upcoming major cards, including a show in April called "Invasion Attack". What's interesting is that, before stepping down, Kidani was reportedly working on an invasion angle centered around bringing in "invading" outside talent. Katsuyori Shibata and Kazushi Sakuraba were brought in to start the angle, but it had appeared it was nixed after both lost at WrestleKingdom and were not announced for future dates.
04/07 “INVASION ATTACK” @ Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
05/03 “WRESTLING DONTAKU 2013″ @ Fukuoka International Center
08/10 “G1 CLIMAX 23″ @ Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
08/11 “G1 CLIMAX 23″ @ Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan
1/4/2014 “WRESTLE KINGDOM VIII” @ Tokyo Dome
Card for New Beginning iPPV so far
NJPW's next iPPV is February 10 2012. The card so far is:
1. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title - KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley (c) vs. Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov
2. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title - Prince Devitt (c) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
3. IWGP Tag Team Title - Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. (c) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
4. IWGP Heavyweight Title - Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Karl Anderson
That's all the major news I found this week. If there's anything you think I missed, let me know in the comments. In the mean time, check out the brutal Nakamura vs. Sakuraba match from WrestleKingdom 7 that's getting rave reviews. Just note that the audio will cut out during entrances for copyright purposes.