Puroresu Pulse, issue 106


Section 1- Results

All Japan: Tajiri decided to ‘have fun’ rather than seriously go after a tournament win (which never would have happened anyway). Day 2 had several big results, including Sasaki over Mutoh, Kojima over Suzuki, and Rosey over Kawada. Day 3 had Kea vs Sasaki going to a time limit draw. Day 4 had Suwama beating Sasaki with a fast cradle and Suzuki vs Kawada ending in a time limit draw. The standings are too close to call heading into the final day, as 7 of the 10 participants have the ability to advance or force a playoff.

Dragon Gate: Their semi-big show in Mie (near Osaka) got a solid attendance of almost 4000 to see Liger capture the promotion’s top belt from Don Fujii. The other titles changed hands as well, with Genki Horiguchi beating Matt Sydal for the lightweight title and CIMA, Yokosuka & Ryo Saito capturing the trios belts against Muscle Outlaw’z.

New Japan: Nagata beat Bernard and Makabe to win this year’s NJ Cup tournament.

Section 2- News

Dragon Gate: A full slate of title matches have been lined up. Liger’s first defense will be against Mochizuki, on 4/17 in Korakuen. That show will also have a 7 vs 7 Typhoon vs MO’z elimination match. On 4/15, Genki defends his title against Dragon Kid. On 4/6, MO’z will field a fresh team to go after the trios titles again. On 4/13 in New Japan, Mochizuki & Kanda will challenge Jado & Gedo for the WAR junior tag titles. Last but not least, CIMA vs Bryan Danielson will take place in California’s PWG on 4/19.

New Japan: Nagata vs Tanahashi is set for 4/13 at Osaka Prefectural Gym. I’d give Nagata better than 50/50 odds. Also, Bernard & Tomko defend the tag belts against Tenzan & Koshinaka, while Minoru Tanaka defends the junior title against Taguchi. Finally, the New Japan Dojo in LA has now become the Inoki Dojo, meaning Simon Inoki won full custody. New Japan won’t even get weekend visitation rights.

NOAH: It’s all but confirmed that Misawa will appear in ROH later this year, probably in New York. Also, TNA and NOAH have announced a talent-sharing pact, with a clear statement that TNA isn’t favoring one promotion over another.

Section 3- Other, different shilling

I’m linking to someone other than Botter or Clark?!

Don’t worry here’s Phil.

Section 4- TNA plays it smart overseas

ROH uses Japanese wrestlers as a main source of revenue, and uses Japanese companies for a hand up in entering the market. In exchange they usually put the Japanese wrestlers over, and make available some of the best gaijin talent. Sometimes ROH looks like a peer, but more often than not it’s clear that they are the small dog in the fight. “Dragon Soldier B”, anyone?

TNA links up with New Japan, lets them use Angle on a big show with a lot of hype, gets free airtime for Angle vs Joe, and then a month later they transition to a relationship with both All Japan and NOAH, and it isn’t even clear that the bridge to New Japan is burned. Not bad work at all. Naturally we get Angle vs Kobashi speculation online, but that sort of matchup isn’t what TNA is going for. They could care less about using Japan’s top stars in main events, since they have more high-priced mainstream US stars than they need for a promotion with a 1 hour TV show. TNA isn’t going to fall over themselves to get Misawa on a PPV; they might even turn him down if it was offered.

What TNA can get is yet another source of X-division wrestlers, and much more importantly, a foothold on the second biggest market in the world. Where ROH wants to sell a few DVDs and run a few shows, TNA’s goal would be to get a piece of the revenue stream WWE receives across the Pacific. ROH has their title defended in a main event in a rather odd circumstance in a match with two non-ROH wrestlers; TNA can have their stars given the spotlight with no strings attached and often have it look like the TNA stars are superior.

I have no idea where TNA stands as far as a potential TV deal, or whether they’re even pushing hard for one at the moment, but if TNA becomes the main source of gaijin talent to Japan rather than WWE castoffs (who are still seen as WWE wrestlers without any WWE effort), that would give TNA a big boost in any expansion effort. WWE *is* wrestling in the English-speaking world, but not in Japan, so TNA can get a lot of mileage out of having the likes of Kurt Angle and Sting.

By having open-ended relationships with multiple big promotions, TNA can fluidly move to whoever offers the biggest spotlight and the most money (TNA gets a booking fee for use of its wrestlers). They have the leverage over Japanese promotions starved for big gaijin names and awestruck at the prospect of appearances on US PPV.

Regardless of how grand or humble their goals in Japan are, TNA is in dramatically better position to achieve them than they were a year ago. For all their press releases and PR stunts they can’t say the same about the US.

Now let’s just hope Russo doesn’t get the opportunity to job Akiyama out to a shot from a bottle of sake