Puroresu Pulse, issue 114: Misawa, Marufuji & Joe vie for the GHC title

Section 1- Results

Dragon Gate: They had a busy weekend. On Saturday Kanda retained against Horiguchi and Doi beat Fujii for a shot at CIMA. On Sunday the team of Mochizuki, K-ness & Fujii won the trios titles from MO’z, while Saito & Yokosuka retained the WAR junior tag titles against Shingo & Cyber Kong.

IGF: The main event of their second show saw Josh Barnett beat Don Frye. No sign of Lesnar or Angle returning.

NOAH: Marufuji backed his way into a GHC title shot. He lost to Saito, which means Saito finished ahead of him in the block, but NOAH put them in a semifinal at Sunday’s Budokan show. Marufuji won the rematch. Morishima got the biggest singles win of his career by downing Akiyama, and immediately after that Marufuji pounced and won the final to get the title shot. Earlier on the tour, Marvin & Suzuki retained the junior tag belts against KENTA & Ishimori.

Section 2- News

Dragon Gate: Four title matches and all the company’s belts are queued up for the semi-big 9/22 show in Tokyo. CIMA vs Doi, Kanda vs Yoshino, Saito & Yokosuka vs Iwasa & Arai, and Mochi/Kness/Fujii vs Shingo/Cyber/??? Are said matches. The winner of the WAR junior tag will face Yoshino & Doi at some point to crown the first Dragon Gate 2-man tag champions. Also there will be a quasi-dream match of Kikutaro vs Stalker Ichikawa.

New Japan: Tenzan seems to be working hurt. It’s quite likely he will be fed to the recently returned Hirooki Goto, who is now a heavyweight and is making a big impression. They have a match on the 10/8 Sumo Hall show. Goto would then get a title shot on the 11/11 Sumo Hall card. Also on 10/8 will be Minoru getting a junior title shot, a junior division battle royal for the shot after that, and the ultra-odd matchup of Akebono vs Milano Collection AT.

NOAH: Samoa Joe will face the winner of Misawa vs Marufuji on the 10/27 Budokan show. It should be noted that TNA does air in Japan, though probably not in any sort of prime slot. Rikio’s injury has forced the tag titles to be vacated, and there will be a tournament at some point for them.

Section 3- There’s ALWAYS something on IP worth linking

Kevin’s back!

Section 4- I’d give Joe a chance if it weren’t for Joe

There’s so much conflicting data. On one hand, NOAH wouldn’t put the title on someone who can’t do tours with the company. On the other hand, Joe is the first high-profile gaijin they’ve brought in since Vader, and it would be awkward to have him lose right away. On one hand, NOAH wouldn’t hot-shot the title to someone they’ve only hinted at. On the other hand, the company seems unable to figure out how to make headway without Kobashi and might be willing to do something drastic. On one hand, Joe Higuchi is going to be in New York on 11/3 and the only reason for that would be so he can perform a title match ceremony. On the other hand, there’s no way TNA will let Joe wrestle in ROH.

Wait, that didn’t work, let me try again.

On the other hand, Joe has 1-2 years left on his contract and TNA won’t let him go so all the ‘Joe jumping to ROH’ speculation is incredibly wishful thinking.

Hmmmmm. Unless I’m doing this wrong, it seems to me that the many scenarios floating around online that have Samoa Joe with the GHC title don’t have a chance of coming true. If Joe isn’t winning the title then what will happen?

I doubt Marufuji is taking the title. Indications are that Rikio was supposed to get the shot at Misawa later this month, and Rikio hasn’t been requested by ROH. Marufuji as GHC champion in ROH was done last year anyway. Part of the allure of Misawa in ROH, an allure costing many people (including yours truly) $100 a ticket, is that he would be defending the GHC title. Does that mean Misawa will steamroll everything in his path? As it turns out that would be preferable, because a very frightening scenario occurred to me yesterday.

Think back: what matches turned Samoa Joe from a great indy champ to a world-class wrestler? That would be the series of matches with CM Punk, especially the hour draws. What did Joe do last year? An hour draw with Danielson. What’s something that would protect Joe without giving him the title? A draw. Mind you, I enjoyed last year’s Dragon vs Joe broadway, but Misawa in 2007 is no Bryan Danielson. The longest singles match of his career is under 45 minutes long. It might make booking sense but there’s a very good chance it would be bad enough to drive some of the few remaining NOAH loyalists away from future Budokan shows.

As for who’s getting the title shot in ROH, a lot of names come up. There’s Morishima, who is more credible in ROH than anywhere else and who might have dropped the ROH title by then. There’s KENTA, who is also credible in ROH and who isn’t a ‘big money’ matchup in Japan. There’s Danielson, who could only be worthy of a title shot in ROH and who could re-create the aura of Joe vs Kobashi. After that you’re looking at retreads (Nigel, Marufuji) and unworthies. Me, I’m hoping for Danielson, because he’s the best clutch wrestler alive by a hell of a lot.

Once Misawa is done with Marufuji, Joe and Mr. X, then we can start speculating as to who unseats him. If NOAH is smart they aren’t counting on Kobashi to be up for the task of carrying the company shortly after his return. Knee surgery is one thing to come back from, cancer is another matter entirely.

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