There were some big doings in the Pacific over the weekend, as a show produced a result that will have ramifications throughout the pro wrestling world. North American audiences might think that show was TNA's Bound for Glory, but unfortunately for fans hoping that that company will move the needle, that was not the promotion or event we're talking about.
SPOILERS follow for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and their October 13th King of Pro Wrestling show.
You have been warned.
In front of a full house at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, Hiroshi Tanahasi defeated AJ Styles to become the first ever seven-time IWGP Heavyweight champion. In a match for the #1 contendership for that belt, Kazuchika Okada retained his Wrestle Kingdom title shot with a victory over Tetsuya Naito, so it looks like old rivals Tanahasi and Okada will main event the biggest show on the NJPW calendar in January - a show that will also be available on pay-per-view (PPV) in the United States thanks to Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling (GFW) initiative.
As a casual New Japan follower, this is a bit surprising, as it seemed like the payoff to the Rainmaker's long running issues with the Bullet Club stable would culminate in taking the belt from AJ at Wrestle Kingdom. It's also a little shocking that the main event won't feature a familiar name like Styles for the GFW audience in the U.S. (especially considering that at Bound for Glory, Team 3D announced they'd be on that card, at least partially for that reason).
Another face familar to WWE fans re-debuted for New Japan during the main event title change. Naofumi Yamamoto, who most of us knew as Yoshi Tatsu, stopped Jarrett from interfering on AJ's behalf. It's been seven years since the New Japan dojo grad appeared for his home company, and it looks like he's back.
Thanks to the puroresufan.com blog for the results; click on over for a full accounting of the night. If you'd like to learn more about New Japan and some of these names, read our own Sir Hurley's excellent primer here.
Shocked by the change? Excited to see the show? Does this open AJ Styles up for a Ring of Honor title run? Sound off in the comments below!