Section 1- Results
Dragon Gate: Stalker Ichikawa lost his retirement match with Akira Tozawa but won’t actually retire at all, just his ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Stalker’ persona. I doubt it sticks.
GPWA: The multi-promotion group held its debut show on Tuesday in Korakuen, and for the most part it used younger stars.
Section 2- News
All Japan: They’ve announced a prominent link-up with New Japan’s 1/4 dome show, which will include a Triple Crown defense and almost certainly AJ’s biggest stars. Though every dome show in recent memory has featured lots of cross-over work, this seems closer to co-promotion, which hasn’t happened in some time.
New Japan: Kanemoto vs Minoru Tanaka in a junior title rematch will take place on 12/24.
NOAH: The final tag title tournament team is Ohtani & Murakami (the latter now full-time in Zero-One). They’re booked in advance for all three shows they’d wrestle on if they were to reach the finals. Their first round opponents are Honda & Shiozaki. Also, All Japan junior champ Kondo will be appearing on Friday’s Korakuen show, leading to Kondo/TARU/Yasshi appearing on the 12/10 Budokan.
Section 3- The usual
Kevin Wilson takes a look at the last big NOAH show. A puro review that’s timely? What a concept!
Section 4- Freelancers, Alliances & Big shows
All Japan doesn’t join the GPWA and instead links up with New Japan. Yet All Japan’s top heel stable and junior champion will be appearing on NOAH shows, and the Kensuke Office (which is linked heavily to AJ) is a part of the GPWA.
Zero-One is one of the most prominent members of the GPWA, and is increasing its participation in NOAH. Yet one of its biggest stars, Takao Omori, has been at the center of New Japan’s tag division for months and could continue to do so.
Takayama and Minoru Suzuki wrestle for everyone under the sun. Shibata jerks around both of the big groups because of his odd relationship with Uei. The wrestler of a thousand names currently known as El Blazer might set an unofficial record this year for most promotions wrestled in with the most gimmicks.
My point in all this? One, the number of freelancers has grown quite immense since the pioneering freelancer group of Sasaki/Takayama/Suzuki/Tenryu made waves in 2004. Two, freelancers aren’t constrained by the NJ & AJ vs GPWA war. Three, their movements aren’t all that notable after a certain point because Japanese fans now have a firm sense of who the true representatives of the big promotions really are. None of the things referenced above has caused a big splash or big headlines. Remove freelancers from the equation and you’re left with the actions of regular wrestlers associated with their home promotions. That in turn brings us to the ups and downs of two shows.
First up the GPWA card, or as it would be more accurately described, Indy Summit Plus. Last year the Indy Summit brought together most of the same talent under the auspices of various wrestling publications. The GPWA show added more significant names from more significant groups to the mix. And”¦ um”¦ that’s about it. Nothing set up for the next show, no plans on increasing the size or scope, just a chance to have young guys get more of the spotlight than usual. That’s nice and all but it falls well short of the original implications of the group.
Second is the not-so-shocking news that New Japan will be leaning heavily on All Japan to get a mildly good crowd into the Tokyo Dome for the annual ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Japanese Wrestlemania’. In addition to bringing Mutoh on board, New Japan also got a very public thumbs-up from Yukes on the venture. Perhaps All Japan’s special feline friend will be helping to fund this endeavor, giving Yukes enough confidence to come out of the shadows and smile on the risky supershow. Either way I don’t see how they’ll be able to sell much above 10,000 tickets considering that the Triple Crown isn’t a draw, Minoru Suzuki is ubiquitous, and Kojima & Mutoh are still just five years removed from being in New Japan themselves. All Japan vs New Japan ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“dream match’ booking was assumed as the base of a successful dome show, not the entirety of it.
One show aims very low and hits the mark. Another aims very high yet seems more likely to hit the feet of its promoters. Time will tell which vision has staying power.