A newb-friendly guide to some of the biggest stories in New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) for the week of March 6, 2013 through March 12, 2013.
Yuji Nagata vs. Masato Tanaka from New Japan Cup 2011. Source: NJPW Official YouTube
New Japan Cup, round one results & fallout:
The first round of the annual New Japan Cup took place last night, (Mar. 11) at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,950 fans.
Davey Boy Smith Jr., one half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions, defeated IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura in the non-title main event, knocking the Intercontinental Champion out of the tournament. Nakamura previously beat Smith's tag team partner Lance Archer in a title match, and after that match Nakamura questioned if he should face Smith next.
With this win, Smith is presumably set to square off against Nakamura for the Intercontinental Championship. Nakamura taunted the tag team to Tokyo Sports on Mar. 5, telling the paper that, after his win against Archer, he deserves a shot at the IWGP Tag Team Championship.
Kazuchika Okada debuted his new finisher in dispatching Lance Archer. In keeping with his "rainmaker" gimmick (as in, making it rain dollar bills at the club), the new submission finisher is called "Red Ink". I've yet been able to see a tape of the move, but it's reportedly a cross-legged STF somewhat similar to William Regal's Regal Stretch. Okada says he's abandoned the Rain Maker in favor of Red Ink.
Minoru Suzuki declared Suzukigun will win the tournament. After Davey Boy Smith Jr.'s win, Suzuki caught Okada in a sleeper hold as both men were cornering their stablemates during the match.
The other major upset, outside of Smith beating Nakamura, was Tomohiro Ishii beating Satoshi Kojima.
Tomohiro Ishii beat Satoshi Kojima, via pinfall with a brainbuster.
Hirooki Goto beat Tama Tonga, via pinfall with his Shouten Kai (vertical suplex side slam).
Toru Yano beat Manabu Nakanishi, via pinfall.
Karl Anderson beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan, via pinfall with his Gun Stun (jumping cutter).
Yujiro Takahashi beat Togi Makabe, with a deadlift German suplex hold.
Minoru Suzuki beat Yuji Nagata, via pinfall with his Gotch-Style Piledriver (cradle piledriver).
Kazuchika Okada beat Lance Archer, with the Red Ink (cross-legged STF).
Davey Boy Smith Jr. beat Shinsuke Nakamura, with a jumping powerbomb.
The second night of the New Japan Cup takes place Mar. 17 at Memorial Park Gymnasium in Amagasaki. The New Japan Cup matches are:
Yujiro Takahashi vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.
Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Karl Anderson vs. Kazuchika Okada
Minoru Suzuki vs. Toru Yano
New Japan Cup finals announced for iPPV:
In an unexpected move, NJPW announced that the final night of the New Japan Cup, where the two semi-finals and finals match will take place, will be available on iPPV on their Official NJPW Ustream. The New Japan Cup finals will take place Mar. 23 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
NWA announces invasion of NJPW:
NWA President Bruce Tharpe addresses NJPW. Source: NJPW Official YouTube
On Mar. 6, NWA President Bruce Tharpe announced his intention to bring over a wrestler from the NWA and issued an open challenge: NJPW can select any of their wrestlers to go against his NWA wrestler at Invasion Attack. Tharpe did not reveal who the NWA wrestler would be, but promised it would prove America's superiority over Japan in the wrestling ring.
The NWA has been in a state of flux since Tharpe took over the organization via a lawsuit, and the Adam Pearce/Colt Cabana Seven Levels of Hate series of matches culminated in the new NWA front office refusing to sanction the last match and both men symbolically walking away from the title and leaving it in the center of the ring after that match, signaling their exit from the NWA and their disgruntlement with the new NWA.
You can say what you will about the state of the NWA, but Tharpe played his part well in the video as the heel American promoter, and it's not impossible for the NWA to find someone within their ranks who could hang in a NJPW ring.
WWE and TNA have been scooping up high-profile indie talent, but there are indie wrestlers who haven't come up on the radar of groups like ROH, PWG, or DGUSA/Evolve who are damn good. It's just a matter of making sure whoever gets selected is based on merit and nothing more--and it's likely that NJPW is going to have the final say when it comes to who wrestles from the NWA.
Also, keep in mind that the NWA name likely still carries some historical significance to older Japanese wrestling fans who remember NWA Champions coming over as a big deal. My first thought is that Shinsuke Nakamura and his IWGP Intercontinental Championship will play some role in the feud, as Nakamura has expressed a desire to see the Intercontinental Championship truly be a "world" championship in that it's defended in various nations and against wrestlers of all nationalities.
It's all very much wait and see, but it has the potential to be a fun Japanese vs. foreigner angle if done correctly.
NJPW vs AJPW war of words continues:
In a continuation of the trash talk that kicked off after it was announced All Japan Pro-Wrestling (AJPW) was purchased by Speed Partners, the new head of AJPW and Speed Partners President Nobuo Shiraishi says he plans on aggressively trying to sign Shinsuke Nakamura and Yuji Nagata to AJPW. Shiraishi had previously said he sees Nakamura and Nagata as the only two good wrestlers in NJPW. Shiraishi went on to tell Tokyo Sports that, while NJPW wants to have the "coolest" pro-wrestling, AJPW will have the strongest (or toughest) pro-wrestling.
Bushiroad President Takaaki Kidani dismissed the talk, calling Shiraishi a jerk. Previously Kidani had dismissed Shiraishi's insistence on "tough guy" pro-wrestling being the kind of pro-wrestling that people want to see, with pro-wrestling and MMA being intermingled in the product. Yuji Nagata has been very vocal publicly about his annoyance with Shiraishi, calling his talk in the press rude and saying he's a lifelong NJPW wrestler. He ended his statement to the press by telling Shiraishi to stop bullshitting.
That's it for this week. If you feel we missed a story let us know in the comments section. In the mean time, check out the great Nagata vs. Tanaka match from 2011 posted above.