Spotlight on Japan

‘Sup dawgs, Jake Mulligan here as always, with your weekly update from the Land of the Rising Sun. This week, info on NOAH’s next tour, including a number of ROH talents, title matches, and more! Also, we have the full card for New Japan’s next PPV, including a major return just signed this week. Then, results from Dragon Gate’s last big show, including a No DQ, No Countout match for the Dream Gate championship! Finally, an update on All Japan’s next PPV, with a Legend’s retirement match just signed. It’s Spotlight on Japan, and it’s now!

NOAH announces cards for next tour, ROH heavily featured
NOAH announced the full lineup for their upcoming Second Navigation tour, which will run from February 15th through the finale on March 2nd, in Budokan Hall. They are bringing along a number of foreigners for the tour, including regulars like Doug Williams and Yoshihiro Takayama. However, they have also announced they will be bringing over, from ROH, the Briscoe Brothers! The Briscoes are former GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, and are very protected in NOAH. Also, they will be bringing along, for the second time, Chris Hero, and for the first time, Claudio Castagnoli! Claudio holds a victory over Marufuji that aired on TV in Japan, so I expect he will be very protected as well. All the foreigners are teaming regularly, including ROH enemies Hero and Claudio, and I would expect Hero to lose the majority of the falls. Finally, Kenta Kobashi had his dates announced, and will work five dates this tour, his most yet. He also has announced his doctor’s have cleared him to wrestle regularly, and starting in March, he hopes to wrestle a regular, full, schedule! This is great news for NOAH and pro wrestling in general, so good luck to Kobashi, and congratulations!

NOAH also announced the partial lineups for this tours shows, and there are some very interesting matchups. First, on the 15th in Korakuen Hall, they will do a TV taping featuring Aoki and Taniguchi’s next Trial Matches, as Aoki will take on junior sensation KENTA and Taniguchi will take on former ROH World Champion Takeshi Morishima! Later in the night, Jun Akiyama will team with Kentaro Shiga to take on the Kings of Wrestling, Hero and Claudio! I expect the Kings to take this one, Claudio pinning Shiga. The next show will be main evented by Go Shiozaki’s goodbye match before departing for America, as BURNING will reunite, Go teaming with Kenta Kobashi and Tamon Honda to take on Akira Taue, Akitoshi Saito, and Masao Inoue. NOAH’s sister promotion SEM will invade Korakuen on the 25th with a very interesting card, as Kensuke Office is sending four competitors to the show, including phenom Katsuhiko Nakajima! As I have mentioned, the Kensuke Office-NOAH relationship growing can only be good for each company. The show will be headlined by two interesting tag matches, as Naomichi Marufuji teams with Shuhei Taniguchi to take on the Kings of Wrestling in one, and in the main event, KENTA teams with Aoki to take on the Briscoes! The next day, on a true NOAH show, two wrestlers will have their 20th Anniversary Match, as Tsuyoshi Kikuchi will celebrate his by taking on Mitsuo Momota, and Kenta Kobashi will participate in an 8-man to celebrate his, teaming with Akiyama, Shiga, and Kanemaru to take on Misawa, Ogawa, Marufuji, and Mushiking Terry. On the 28th, Takeshi Rikio makes his long awaited return, having been out since September. He will team with Jun Akiyama to take on Akira Taue and Junji Izumada. It all leads to the tour ender, in Budokan Hall. Sadly, NOAH was not able to make Takagi/Hulk vs. KENTA/Ishimori happen as originally hoped, but have placed fan favorite KENTA in a very exciting match. He will team with Kenta Kobashi and Tamon Honda to take on his elder rival, Yoshihiro Takayama, who is teaming with Akitoshi Saito and Atsushi Aoki. Also on the show, Akiyama and Rikio face the Kings of Wrestling! I expect them to take it, and continue their road to a tag title rematch. In the semi-main, Marufuji and Suguira make there second defense of the GHC Tag Titles, facing the Briscoes! The Briscoes defeated Suguira when they won the GHC Junior belts, hence this match. I expect MaruSugi to take it, in what should be a great match. Then, in the main event, Misawa makes his eighth defense of the GHC belt against Takeshi Morishima. I see Morishima winning a epic war, in what hopefully should be a star making match. The tour starts this month, and I will be sure to keep you updated with results.

New Japan announces 2/17 card in full, including Tenzan return!
NJPW added three matches to the loaded 2/17 card, setting it in full. First, the show will open with a eight man, featuring a team captained by Koji Kanemoto and Manabu Nakinishi taking on a team led by Ryusuke Taguchi. It seems a match with Zero-One could not be put together, but this is a suitable replacement. Next up, Junior Champ Wataru Inoue takes on American sensation Low Ki in a non-title match. Obviously, a win for Ki would be huge and could lead to a title shot, but I don’t see it happening. Finally, Hiroyoshi Tenzan returns to lead the GBH stable, teaming in an eight man with Jado, Gedo, and Tomohiro Ishii. He is being tested in his return, however, as he will face the LEGEND team of Choshu, Chono, Super Strong Machine, and Shiro Koshinaka! The rest of the card was already set, and here it is in full, credit to Strong Style Spirit. I will have a full preview, match-by-match, of the show soon.

NJPW, 2/17/08 (WPW/PPV)
Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

1. Intensely! Desperately!: Manabu Nakanishi, Takashi Iizuka, Koji Kanemoto & Tiger Mask vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Yujiro, Taichi Ishikari & Tetsuya Naito
2. Jr. NEW GENERATION: Wataru Inoue vs. Low Ki
3. Hiroyoshi Tenzan Return Match ~ Tenzan Home Coming: Riki Choshu, Masahiro Chono, Shiro Koshinaka & Super Strong Machine vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jado, Gedo & Tomohiro Ishii
4. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title: Minoru & Prince Devitt (c) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & AKIRA
5. Never Gonna Stop!: Yuji Nagata vs. Hirooki Goto
6. New Japan vs. TNA – The Highflying Star vs. The Phenomenal 2nd: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. AJ Styles
7. IWGP Tag Team Title: Giant Bernard & Travis Tomko vs. Togi Makabe & Toru Yano
8. IWGP Heavyweight Title Unification Match – IWGP 2nd vs. IWGP 3rd: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kurt Angle

Dragon Gate in Hakata results: Unit Shuffle Time!
Dragon Gate held there latest show, and it was loaded with news. BxB Hulk and Yasushi Kanda developed an issue, going after each others hair after their matches. Common sense seems to indicate we will see a Hair vs. Hair match at some point, with Kanda’s hair always being a focal point and Hulks gimmick being that he is, simply, man-pretty. At the show, former Triangle Gate champions Shingo, BxB Hulk, and Cyber Kong defeated the current Triangle Gate champs, Mochizuki, Fujii, and K-ness. Afterwards, Shingo issued a challenge for the belts on behalf of his team, and stablemate YAMATO was very unhappy that he was left out of the challenging team. In the semi-main, Masato Yoshino defeated Dragon Kid for the Brave Gate title, adding another impressive singles victory to his resume, as he is quickly climbing the Dragon Gate ranks. His next challenger will be from Typhoon, as Ryo Saito will make weight to challenge him! In the main event, CIMA made his 4th defense of the Dream Gate, tying Mochizuki’s previous record. He defeated longtime rival Gamma in a street fight, and afterwards, there was a handshake, seemingly ending the feud. The handshake led to bickering between Doi and Yoshino, and after the show, YAMATO aligned himself with Gamma, so while no defections have occurred officially, it is clearly that season once again.

All Japan announces Retirement Match
A quick note, AJPW has announced that Dory Funk Jr. will have his retirement match on their 3/1 PPV, teaming with Osamu Nishimura to take on Genichiro Tenryu and Masanobu Fuchi! This joins Kensuke Sasaki vs. Satoshi Kojima and Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Silver King on the card. We will soon see what else AJPW has up there sleeves.

That’s it for this week folks. Back next week with news on DG in ROH, and NOAH tour news. See ya then!

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