A newb-friendly guide to some of the biggest stories in New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) for the week of March 13, 2013 through March 19, 2013.
New Japan Cup - Round 2
The second round of the New Japan Cup took place Mar. 17 in Amagasaki in front of a sold out crowd of 5,500 fans -- four matches to decide who goes on to compete in the semi-finals at the New Japan Cup finals event on Mar. 23 on iPPV.
Davey Boy Smith Jr. defeated Yujiro Takahashi via pinfall with a jumping powerbomb
Hirooki Goto defeated Tomohiro Ishii via pinfall with his Shouten Kai (suplex sitout side slam)
Toru Yano defeated Minoru Suzuki via pinfall with Akakiri (red mist)
Kazuchika Okada defeated Karl Anderson via pinfall with his Rainmaker (lariat)
The biggest upset came when CHAOS's Toru Yano defeated Suzukigun leader Minoru Suzuki with a little help from a red misting, meaning we won't see a rematch between Suzuki and Okada.
The shooter team Laughter7 (Kazushi Sakuraba & Katsuyori Shibata) returned to NJPW to defeat the team of Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi. After the match, Sakuraba respectfully requested a singles match against Sakuraba. The two are grizzled veterans whose early careers in pro-wrestling took very different paths.
Also of note outside the tournament; Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley defeated Tama Tonga, Prince Devitt, & Ryusuke Taguchi in a six-man tag match. What's of note is that after the match Prince Devitt again got in Hiroshi Tanahashi's face.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Prince Devitt has been having a bit of a melt-down since his loss to Tanahashi at the Anniversary Show--it's clear the loss has affected him. And unlike most of what goes on in NJPW, we English-speakers can enjoy it because Devitt has been tweeting up a storm since that loss. Here's a taste:
@tanahashi1_100 if you ever try give me a high fly flow again i will stand up and punch you in the d*ck!— Prince Devitt (@fergaldevitt) March 16, 2013
@herocaptainnjpw Is it true that you were so nervous last night that you pooped your pants??— Prince Devitt (@fergaldevitt) March 18, 2013
@takam777 Im going to kick you in your peanut d*ck like 'TOO SEXY' Brian Christoper!
— Prince Devitt (@fergaldevitt) March 18, 2013
New Japan Cup iPPV prevew
Despite not originally being scheduled for it, it was announced two weeks ago that the finals of the New Japan Cup will be available worldwide on iPPV on NJPW's official Ustream. The show takes place Saturday Mar. 23 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. In Japan, the show goes on the air at 6:30 PM. For most of us, it'll be way early in the morning:
Pacific US: Saturday, Mar. 23, 2:30 AM
Eastern US: Saturday, Mar. 23, 5:30 AM
UTC/GMT: Saturday, Mar. 23, 9:30 AM
The winner of the New Japan Cup will get a title shot against IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi at Invasion Attack. The New Japan Cup matches that will take place are:
Hirooki Goto vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.
Toru Yano vs. Kazushika Okada
New Japan Cup final
Yano vs. Okada is a CHAOS vs. CHAOS showdown, which may make for an interesting dynamic. Goto vs. Smith Jr. sees Smith Jr., one half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions, coming in with a lot of momentum having defeated IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura earlier in the tournament, making him the presumptive number one contender for that title. But, the New Japan Cup has been Goto's specialty, having won three of the last four Cups.
Non-cup matches scheduled for New Japan Cup are:
Bushi, Super Strong Machine, & Yuji Nagata vs. Tiger Mask, Jushin Liger, & Manabu Nakanishi
Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, & Togi Makabe vs. YOSHI-HASHI, Yujiro Takahashi, & Takashi Iizuka
Jado, Tomohiro Ishii, & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Taka Michinoku, Lance Archer, & Minoru Suzuki
Alex Shelley, KUSHIDA, Captain New Japan, & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Prince Devitt, Tama Tonga, & Karl Anderson
If you're wondering what's up with all the multi-man tag team matches, NJPW will save singles match-ups for when they'll matter more. It helps keep matches more important when they do occur.
Kidani upset over piracy
Takaaki Kidani, the President of NJPW's parent company Bushiroad, is upset over the high rate of piracy of their content, Wrestling Observer reports.
Apparently between Daily Motion, You Tube, Torrent sites and other downloads, he found out that the Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Prince Devitt match from the 3/3 Anniversary show was downloaded 2 million times.
NJPW introduced iPPV in August 2012 and by all accounts it's been a big success in Japan--a country without the PPV tradition that the U.S. has. It's been difficult to get a handle on just how many buys shows are doing outside Japan, but the numbers have continued to grow little by little.
In some ways, Japanese wrestling is at a disadvantage when it comes to overcoming piracy in the west. For a long time shows were impossible to legitimately buy unless you had a contact in Japan willing to buy them there and ship them to you. If the show was televised, it was on a channel not available even in the most extreme extended packages of western satellite television. Nearly all Japanese wrestling fans either consumed it via tape traders or bootleggers, and later it was consumed via internet piracy. Many of its fans today--and especially the ones who would buy an iPPV--became computer literate by necessity. It will be hard to overcome the inertia of all that.
On the other hand, a lot of fans understand the importance of financially supporting a product they like now that it's easily doable. There were times when fans were required to spend a lot of time digging for shows, and these iPPVs turn those hours of sniffing out a show to simply paying $25. The worst offender in terms of turning people off from buying the shows is likely the quick turn-around of the show being posted to YouTube. Sometimes it's a little more than a week. Sometimes it's as short as a few hours.
What they've done correctly so far is using a platform like Ustream that's very reliable. Every NJPW show on Ustream I've watched has been great quality. The shows are available as VOD for a week shortly after the show ends. All this makes it easy and convenient to buy the shows from NJPW.
What's so curious is just how much iPPV content NJPW allows to stay up on YouTube. I have a feeling it's simply a lack of understanding, because YouTube takes down videos all the time due to copyright infringement--it's simply a matter of contacting YouTube and asking them to take it down. YouTube also offers a pay VOD service, something that TNA has taken advantage of, which I think would be a perfect fit for offering old NJPW events.
Piracy is something that all creators of digital content have to deal with. So far the best solution has been making it more of a hassle to access pirated content, while at the same time making it easier and more convenient to access fairly-priced content.
NWA invasion notes
Nothing new has officially come out since last week's video announcing NWA's intention to bring over a wrestler of their own to prove their superiority.
The scuttlebutt was originally that Lance Archer was interested in bringing over NWA-affiliated talent he's familiar with, possibly a tag team to face he and Davey Boy Smith Jr., the current IWGP Tag Team Champions. Wrestling Observer reported NWA Tag Team Champions Scott Summers & Ryan Genesis were being eyed for the role.
But the NWA Championship changed hands Mar. 16 when Rob Conway defeated Kahagas in a moved potentially meant to put Conway in place to come over to NJPW. At the New Japan Cup show Mar. 17 Satoshi Kojima volunteered to take on any NWA invader. Now some are thinking that means Kojima vs. Conway would be the first match in the NWA invasion. NWA Bruce Tharpe was holding the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in his hands when announcing the NWA invasion. But a request for a match doesn't mean that'll be the match, and holding the title doesn't mean they're sending their champion, so everything is still very much up in the air when it comes to what the NWA invasion will ultimately mean.
Karl Anderson to wrestle in ROH
Ring of Honor announced on that NJPW gaijin Karl Anderson will wrestle Roderick Strong at Supercard of Honor VII in New York City on Apr. 5 over WrestleMania weekend. What the means for NJPW fans is that Anderson very likely won't be wrestling at Invasion Attack which takes place Apr. 7.
The jr. heavyweight tag team of Alex Koslov & Rocky Romero wrestled for Ring of Honor Mar. 2 & 3 in losing efforts both nights.
Stan Hansen selling NJPW's card game
No further words need be written. See you next week.
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.