The Reality of Wrestling: New Japan Vs. TNA Part 2

The Reality of Wrestling: New Japan Vs. TNA Part 2
By Phil Clark

The Dome Show takes shape

This past weekend, New Japan officially announced the full card and match order for their January 4 Tokyo Dome show. This will be part two of the New Japan vs. TNA “feud” that began at Sumo Hall in November. Nagata/Angle and Steiners/Tomko & Bernard were definite from the get-go, but some things weren’t quite as definite and that made for some interesting choices from both promotions. Christopher Daniels won the lottery for an IWGP Jr. heavyweight shot, Team 3-D was added to the card in a match destined to become a street fight, Abyss gets Nakanishi in a American-style brawl, and the beginning tag is anything but a throwaway to TNA with Christian Cage and A.J. Styles being put on the same team. Their partner: Petey Williams. The intrigue continues.

P.C. Says: On paper, this card should draw at least 30,000

I’m going to go through this card match by match, so let’s see what we can expect come January 4:

1. THIS IS WAR! ~NONSTOP RISING~: Milano Collection AT, Minoru & Prince Devitt vs. Christian Cage, AJ Styles, & Petey Williams
Interesting choice for an opener. New Japan always runs a six or eight-man as their opener for big shows (most if not all Japanese promotions do), but the teams are what makes this one more interesting and worthwhile than most. Cage & Styles teaming up despite their current angle is interesting and likely will be explained either in January after the show happens, but before the special airs or on the final episodes of iMPACT! in 2007.

2. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: Wataru Inoue (c) vs. Christopher Daniels
Inoue is back and Daniels is the right guy from TNA—other than Styles—to get this title shot as Daniels was quite popular (albeit as Curry Man) in his tours of New Japan. Still, I’m not getting the vibe that this will be a classic, but it should be good.

3. Japanese Muscle Monster vs. The American Monster: Manabu Nakanishi vs. Abyss
This one definitely won’t be a classic, but it will be interesting. Nakanishi has never had much of a problem with American-style booking making its way into his career and in this case, it’s what should be done.

4. NEW JAPAN vs. The Alliance GROUND ZERO: Takashi Iizuka, Koji Kanemoto, Tiger Mask & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Masato Tanaka, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Yutaka Yoshie & Katsushi Takemura
Here’s an example of the throwaway tag match that is one big cards like this. Despite the name value of both teams (Tanaka in the dome again, yeah baby!) as an eight-man tag everyone will get to go out and show their best stuff and that’ll be that. Just the way these types of matches should be unless there’s something more at stake. It should still be entertaining.

5. GET THE TABLE! GET THE HIGHEST! – Hardcore Match: Togi Makabe & Toru Yano vs. “Team 3D” Brother Ray & Brother Devon
Here’s the closest to a street fight that the Tokyo Dome will see this year as there should be tables, chairs, and plenty of blood. If they go all out, everyone bleeds, if not, then at least one member of each team bleeds. I’m doubting the winners of Tokyo Sports tag-team of the year are going to job right after getting the award so Devon, you’re going through the tables.

6. ONE NIGHT STAND ~LEGEND vs. VBH~: Riki Choshu, Masahiro Chono, Super Strong Machine, Jushin Thunder Liger & AKIRA vs. Jado, Gedo, TARU, Shoji Kondo & “brother” YASSHI
Here’s an example of a big tag match with something at stake. Yes, it’s ten people and unless it goes 30-40 minutes wouldn’t be a great match as a whole, but it’s old v. new and is the (hopefully not) one-time only showing of what could be the greatest heel stable in a long time: VBH (Voodoo Bash Heel). Jado, Gedo, TARU, Shoji Kondo, & “brother” YASSHI; the only way this group could be more heel is if SUWA decided to come out of retirement and make a run in with a garbage bin or something. With the mega-heel thing going on and the old v. new atmosphere, this still could be the sleeper match of the whole show. I’m doubting it, but I’ll be glued to my seat when I see it.

7. Generation of Chaos: Hirooki Goto vs. Great Muta
Here’s where the importance factor of the card shifts tenfold and we get to the matches that will have the biggest impact on the beginning of 2008. Goto is in the midst of a huge comeback after moving to heavyweight with a win over Tenzan back at October’s Sumo Hall show and followed that up with what was said to be a career making performance against Tanahashi for the IWGP gold at November’s Sumo Hall show. This is a creative way to follow those two big singles matches up, but only if Goto wins. Yes the win/loss factor is slightly less for MUTA (he is going to be in Hustle just four days before this), but it is still something that would look good on a resume. It would look even better if it was Mutoh, but what can you do? If the match isn’t that good I won’t be too surprised, but if Goto can pull MUTA to a good match that’ll be really impressive.

8. IWGP Tag Team Title: Giant Bernard & Travis Tomko (c) vs. Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner
People who like power matches will like this, but I get the feeling this is going to be too slow for my taste. While it is the definition of a power match, that is irrelevant as I said in the earlier New Japan/TNA column because the drawing power of the match is all New Japan is truly concerned about here. We all know that Tomko & Bernard are going to win—it would be incredibly stupid if they lost the belts here—and that’ll set up a match against more than likely the winner of Makabe & Yano/Team 3-D at their February Sumo Hall show.

9. Final Resolution~REAL vs. Justice~IWGP 3rd Belt: Kurt Angle (c) vs. Yuji Nagata
Here’s the match that is the main-event to many people. Personally, I still think this should’ve been the unification match for the IWGP title. I’ve got no problem with this match taking place at The Dome (it’s fitting that it would happen here), but for only the fake IWGP title makes one think: why not just have a singles match between the two? The dream match factor is there, but despite the title controversy I’m still expecting a great match, I’m not going to say match of the night, but it still should be good. Angle winning here though would be incredibly stupid as a unification match, whether it be Nagata/Tanahashi IV or some other matchup should be in New Japan’s sights in 2008.

10. IWGP Heavyweight Title: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
The big one. These two met in the main-event of 2005’s January 4 show mainly because New Japan knew ticket sales weren’t going to be great so they could stick the two youngins out there and use them as a scapegoat. The match was well received then and should be a near classic now with both men—especially Tanahashi’s—improvement inside the ring. It is interesting to note that this will be only the fifth match to main-event two separate Tokyo Dome shows joining Misawa/Kawada, Ogawa/Hashimoto, Mutoh/Takada, and Kawada/Sasaki. While Tanahashi/Nakamura won’t join them in the upper echelon of classic matchups yet, a classic here would make steps towards it.

The Reality is…this show is more about New Japan than TNA, don’t be confused. Yes TNA talent is all over the card and they’re sending over cameras and their announcers for the special, but remember this is New Japan’s Wrestlemania. Also this is New Japan’s shot to solidify their comeback as a power in the Puro World. Even if the attendance is the same as last year’s (a possibility), an overall fantastic show with reviews the likes of which their 11/11 Sumo Hall show got will make them a force again. People—myself included—have already been coming back to this promotion, as 2007 will be known as a turning point for New Japan. How they react to this turnaround will be partially answered January 4. After that, there are tons of possibilities with the new blood being pushed in ’07 taking their place on top of the card in all divisions, the old guard is still there to lend support and provide the rub for the young guys who need it (Nagata can almost be the lone man credited with Tanahashi’s upswing in ’07). The booking seems to be better with Choshu apparently feeling it again as a booker, the talent seems motivated, things are looking good. Let’s hope it all comes together the first Friday of the New Year.

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