A newb-friendly guide to some of the biggest stories in New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) for the week of February 27 2013 through March 5 2013. Thanks as always to enuhito and his bilingual blog for covering the sports pages in Japan.
Forty-one Years of New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Source: NJPW Official YouTube
Mar. 3rd Anniversary Show results & fallout
NJPW's Anniversary Show on Mar. 3 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo was by all accounts a success: a series of solid matches put on before a full house of 2,015 paying fans. The only downside is that the show wasn't available on iPPV for fans outside Japan. (But more resourceful readers might stumble across the show elsewhere.)
Anniversary Opening Match
Hiromu Takahashi & Takaaki Watanabe defeated Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu at 8:43 via submission after Takahashi used a crab hold on Komatsu
Eight-man tag match
Hirooki Goto, Karl Anderson, Tama Tonga & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Yuji Nagata, Wataru Inoue, Super Strong Machine & Captain New Japan at 9:23 via pinfall after Anderson used his Gun Stun (jumping cutter) on Captain New Japan
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Time Splitters (C) (KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley) defeated Jushin "Thunder" Liger & Tiger Mask at 11:22 via pinfall when Shelley used the Shelley Clutch (arm wrench inside cradle) on Tiger Mask
Eight-man tag match
Togi Makabe, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi defeated Toru Yano, Takashi Iizuka, Yujiro Takahashi & YOSHI-HASHI at 12:27 when YOSHI-HASHI was disqualified
Suzukigun vs. CHAOS: Eight-man elimination tag match
Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Kengo Mashimo & TAKA Michinoku defeated Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Jado & Gedo at 19:50 when Suzuki threw Okada over the top rope to the floor
CHAOS vs. Suzukigun: IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura (C) defeated Lance Archer at 15:01 via pinfall after using his Boma Ye (running high knee to seated opponent’s head)
Anniversary Special Singles Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Prince Devitt at 17:23 via pinfall after using his High Fly Flow (frog splash)
CHAOS and Suzukigun again split their matches, with Suzukigun winning the multi-man elimination match, and CHAOS’s Nakamura retaining his IC title against Suzukigun’s Archer. If you're confused by the result , NJPW's elimination multi-man matches allow for top rope eliminations, which is how Suzuki eliminated Okada.
It appears the major showdown in the Suzukigun vs. CHAOS feud will come when the two groups’ leaders, Minoru Suzuki and Shinsuke Nakamura, finally face off one-on-one. Neither man has lost to an opposing group member yet. The other major match I would expect is Okada and Suzuki to squaring-off again with Okada trying to prove he can beat Suzuki, but with a singles loss and being eliminated by Suzuki two events in a row, I would think it’s time for Suzuki to move on to the next CHAOS challenger.
After his match, Nakamura raised the proposition of wrestling next the other half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions, Suzukigun member Davey Boy Smith Jr. They're currently scheduled to wrestle in the first round of the New Japan Cup, but any title implications for that match haven't been announced. CHAOS were solidly the crowd favorites against Suzukigun at the show.
Hiroshi Tanahashi will not be vacating his IWGP Heavyweight Championship as he stated he would if he lost against Devitt, despite it being a non-title match. This means the winner of the New Japan Cup will be declared the number one contender for that title.
Prince Devitt was all kinds of pissed after their match. In stark contrast to Karl Anderson bowing and shaking hands with Tanahashi after his loss last month, Devitt began pushing and shouting at Tanahashi after the match, and continued to shout on his way to the locker room. Devitt seems to be set to continue his quest to prove he is the best wrestler on the planet, regardless of weight class.
NJPW now goes on tour until the start of the New Japan Cup.
A war of words begins with All Japan
As reported here earlier this week, All Japan Pro-Wrestling (AJPW) was purchased by Speed Partners, a company that seems to do a little bit of everything in Japan, headed by Nobuo Shirashi. In terms of popularity and financial success, NJPW sits on the top tier of Japanese wrestling by itself, but AJPW is still the second-largest pro-wrestling promotion in Japan, so its new owner instantly set their sights on NJPW in the press. A war of words began.
First, via Nikkan Sports on Feb. 26, AJPW's Shirashi "declared war" on NJPW, stating his intent to catch up with them within one year, and begin running Tokyo Dome tours regularly within three or four years. Shirashi stated he was interested in buying an MMA organization, and that if he wanted to he had the funds to buy NJPW from Bushiroad, as well. The article also described the relationship between Shirashi and Kidani as them having been friends for years.
And then, from the Feb. 28 Tokyo Sports, Kidani called him out.
AJPW's new owner Shiraishi called me a friend, but I've only met him four or five times, so I'm not a friend of his. He should announce concrete plans to fans as we did. He said he'll have (his) wrestlers to fight in MMA, but that's nonsense. He said he'll purchase NJPW... It's very rude. We don't need AJPW wrestlers. It will be war between AJPW and NJPW.
Kidani added on Twitter that the notion that MMA and pro-wrestling should be mixed is an outdated idea, and that pro-wrestling and MMA have evolved since a decade ago when they were more closely linked.
This position from Kidani should clear up any worries some people had that Kidani had a desire to return to the NJPW of the '00s that saw pro-wrestling and MMA intermingled within the product--a booking direction that nearly sank the company.
On Mar. 1, Shirashi shot back in Tokyo Sports.
I didn't say me and Kidani were friends. We haven't even shared a drink together... I expected NJPW to be stronger (than it is today). The only good wrestlers NJPW have are Nakamura and Nagata, I think.
Among the wrestlers, Hirooki Goto and Ryusuke Tagushi from NJPW took offense to Shirashi's knock against NJPW's roster. Although, Nagata did tell Tokyo Sports he was glad to recieve the praise.
In AJPW, Masakatsu Funaki was critical of Shirashi's actions in the press, and floated his leaving the company within the year.
The first concrete action in the "war" between the two promotions is the shutting down of the AJPW/NOAH Card Pro-Wrestling DX card game app for smartphones. NJPW currently runs a card game both online and with physical cards called King of Pro-Wrestling. It's slated to have the "Invasion Attack" booster pack released in April to closely coincide with the iPPV of the same name.
What all of this means, and whether the war between NJPW and AJPW will extend beyond just words, remains to be seen.
New Japan Cup first round announced
The first round of the New Japan Cup taking place Mar. 11 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo was announced. The New Japan Cup is a single elimination sixteen-man tournament taking place over three nights. The second night will be Mar. 17, and the third night, when the semi-finals and finals will take place, will be Mar. 20. All three nights will be broadcast on TV in Japan, but will not be available on iPPV outside Japan.
The eight first round matches are:
If Davey Boy Smith Jr. were to win his match against Nakamura, it would surely cement his position as the number one contender to Nakamura's IWGP Intercontinental Championship. It's also possible, as that match is the main event for that night, that it could wind up as an Intercontinental title match. Nakamura wants a tournament for the Intercontinental Championship, and this may be a way to inject that title into the New Japan Cup. That match is also a continuation of the CHAOS vs. Suzukigun fued, as is Kazuchika Okada vs. Lance Archer.
Hirooki Goto, a three-time New Japan Cup winner and last year's winner, made note previously that if he won the Cup a fourth time he would instead use the win to set up a match with Katsuyori Shibata instead of going for the Championship. Goto has had an obsession with trying to set up a singles match with Shibata since WrestleKingdom.
Yuji Nagata vs. Minoru Suzuki is a rematch from WrestleKingdom, and another match in what's at this point a lifelong feud between the two.
It's a solid sixteen-man lineup without a clear favorite to win--a number of previous number one contenders mixed in with guys trying to move up on the card. I'll keep you posted on the results.
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 NJPW posted above.