Invasion Attack may be with the remnants of NOAH
Coming off the reported front office fallout surrounding his and Sakuraba's signing, Katsuyori Shibata cornered KENTA at last Sunday's Pro Wrestling NOAH show when KENTA captured his first GHC Heavyweight Championship.
The same show featured two NJPW vs. NOAH tag team matches, with Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask and Yuji Nagata & Takaaki Watanabe representing NJPW. The matches were split, with Liger & Tiger mask winning, and Nagata & Watanabe losing with Watanabe being pinned by Mohammed Yone.
After the match, Yuji Nagata teased challenging for NOAH's GHC Heavyweight Championship on Twitter. The card for the February 9th NOAH show features two more NJPW vs NOAH matches with Captain New Japan and Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka representing NJPW.
NOAH is currently going through turbulent times. Recently Kenta Kobashi, the man who helped build NOAH with Mitsuhara Misawa, was forced to leave the company due to its financial woes. Afterwards, Jun Akiyama, Go Shiozaki, Kanemaru, Kotaro Suzuki, and Atsushi Aoki all left NOAH for All Japan.
April's NJPW iPPV is titled "Invasion Attack", signaling an invasion angle may still be taking place. In some ways, NOAH's current position mirrors the position UWFi found itself in just before the UWFi vs. NJPW invasion of the 1990s that NJPW booked.
Invasion Attack vs WWE
Okay, the headline is misleading. I didn't notice last week, but NJPW's April iPPV Invasion Attack on April 7 will finish up just hours before WWE WrestleMania kicks off. This is on top of the non-stop indy shows taking place around the New York area on iPPV, so mark your calendars accordingly. It's going to be a ridiculous weekend of pro-wrestling.
No one shows up for WWE Royal Rumble
Despite the rumor mills churning, no NJPW talent entered WWE's Royal Rumble match. Shelton Benjamin was seen as the most likely to enter, with MVP and Low-Ki (Kaval during his WWE run) also being floated as possible entrants. Benjamin was in Phoenix, and reported to be at the arena, but did not appear.
Taichi injured in traffic accident
Suzuki Army junior heavyweight Taichi sustained an injury to his left knee in a traffic accident on Tuesday. It's expected that the injury will sideline him for a month. He'll be replaced by Hiro Tonai, a student from Taka Michinoku's Kaientai Dojo, on the Road to the New Beginning series of shows next week.
NEVER title match during Road to the New Beginning
NEVER Champion Masato Tanaka will defend his title on the February 3rd show in Osaka against Tomohiro Ishii. For those unfamiliar, the NEVER division is typically comprised mainly of younger and unsigned or outside wrestlers, as well as lower card talent recently.
Minoru Suzuki wants to wrestle the CHAOS boss
In an interview with Tokyo Sports, Suzuki Army boss Minoru Suzuki kept the beef with CHAOS going, describing the feud as a "turf war". He went on to question who was really in charge of CHAOS. "Who's your boss? Nakamura? Okada? Or Gedo?" Suzuki wants CHAOS out of New Japan, and wants to finish it at The New Beginning.
Gedo had instigated the recent trouble between the two groups at a past show. IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura is generally considered to be the "boss" of the group. Neither Okada nor Nakamura have yet to be announced for The New Beginning.
The New Beginning iPPV is February 10th.
Okada wants the G-1 stip to continue
Kazuchika Okada, the winner of the 2012 G-1 Climax, wants the stipulation added to last year's tournament to continue for 2013's tournament. 2012 was the first year where the winner received a briefcase with a contract for a IWGP Heavyweight title shot at Wrestle Kingdom, and defended that title shot at major shows leading up to Wrestle Kingdom. "I think it's great that the G-1 winner goes to the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. It made the G-1 Climax more valuable."
Tanahashi to team with Karl Anderson?
IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi is facing off against Karl Anderson at The New Beginning in a title match, but says that if he's able to defeat Anderson he'd like them to team up and make a run for the IWGP Tag Team Championship.
It's possible that this is simply a case of Tanahashi showing respect to his opponent, but (and this is just speculation) NOAH's tag team tournament is held during the first months of the year so it's possible that they may team up for the potential upcoming NOAH vs. NJPW feud. They may not necessarily enter the tournament, but NJPW may need a top tier tag team for inter-promotional matches.
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, if you want a taste of what may come to be between CHAOS and the Suzuki Army, here's Nakamura vs. Suzuki at the 2011 G-1 Tournament.
Some of the biggest stories in New Japan Pro-Wrestling for the week of Jan 25 2013 through Jan 31 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.