There’s fresh news and results to cover, and I’ll get to my big New Japan finale later this week.
Section 1- Important Results & Title Matches
New Japan- Their show in Fukuoka did a half-full house despite a fairly big card. The top three ‘grudge matches’ all had rather WWE-esque results. Kanemoto beat Liger by DQ when Liger used a mist attack. Sasaki and Nagata had a bloodbath that ended in a double-KO. In the main event, Chono beat Tenzan in a lumberjack deathmatch thanks once again to interference from his heel stable, marking the second month in a row this has happened. In a semi-related match, Ultimo Dragon’s farewell show on the 14th saw him lose to Tiger Mask Sayama in the main event.
NOAH- Naomichi Marufuji won the rather challenger-friendly GHC Openweight title via. countout over Jun Akiyama. The title changes hands with countouts, DQs, and if it goes to its 15 minute time limit.
Zero-One- They ran three more all-cage shows in a sign of all-out desperation. Two were uneventful. The third, on Sunday, had one very interesting match an a tragedy. In the main event, a 5 vs 5 singles elimination match, Ohtani’s army beat Masato Tanaka’s “Exotic Textiles” stable. The eight matches stretched just over an hour, and Ohtani wrestled 18 minutes (the longest of anyone) despite his broken face.
The third match on the card was for Takaiwa’s junior title, with Naohiro Hoshikawa challenging. Takaiwa did a superbomb (perhaps off the cage, at least off the top rope), and Hoshikawa landed on his head. After that Takaiwa gave him a hard lariat, and upon hitting the mat Hoshikawa began snoring, a sign of bleeding inside the skull. He was rushed to the hospital in a coma, where doctors performed emergency surgery to save his life. Hoshikawa might be paralyzed. This follows the death of New Japan young lion Fukuda in 2000 due to brain damage from hard shots to the head, Hayabusa’s paralysis in 2001 from a botched lionsault, and Yoshihiro Takayama’s head trauma in August. My thoughts and prayers go out to Hoshikawa, who has always been a hard-working, selfless wrestler.
Section 2- Other news & Upcoming matches
New Japan- The heel tandem of Norton & Nakanishi have been dubbed the new ‘Jurassic Powers’, which was the name of Norton’s team with Hercules ten years ago. They have a slew of big tag matches for the rest of the tour, and will probably get a big push. Also this week, New Japan announced the big matches for its Sumo Hall show on 11/3. Jado & Gedo defend the junior tag titles against Tiger Mask 4 and Taiji Ishimori. Tenryu & Fuchi defend All Japan’s All Asia tag titles against Nagai & Naruse, a rematch from this summer. In a match hinted at earlier, Kawada takes on Shibata. Nagata & Tenzan can gain redemption when they take on Chono and the dreaded Mr. X, something I’ll delve into in my New Japan column. Last but not least, Sasaki’s first IWGP defense will be against Tanahashi, who beat him in this year’s G-1. Still nothing announced for the Osaka Dome show.
The really big news for New Japan is the resignation of Uei, their head booker. The apparent cause was his inability to get Fujita to drop the IWGP title in a more satisfying manner. Ramifications from this will be enormous, both for the product and the company. It goes without saying I’ll address this in greater detail…
Next Column– New Japan’s current chaotic situation.
Next Week– A look at how All Japan, New Japan and NOAH are all trying to deal with the problem of passing the torch from the ’90s stars, including current top younger wrestlers and more recent debuts.