Spotlight on Japan

‘Sup team, Jake Mulligan here with a massive dose of Puro news! With the IP style switch we missed out on last week, but that’s quite alright because everything is in here. We have news on KENTA in Dragon Gate, ROH stars in NOAH, TNA stars in NJPW, more crossovers than you can shake a stick at! So come in, while it’s hot!

New Japan PPV Results, New Japan Cup Brackets Set
New Japan held their latest PPV at Sumo Hall this week, a joint production with TNA Wrestling. The show featured a major unification main event, a dream match, and a few other title matches. There was a sadness around the show, however, as Yuji Nagata had to pull out at the last minute due to brain abnormalities resembling a stroke. It seems he is okay now, but the Nagata vs. Goto match was cancelled. Get well soon Mr.IWGP!

TNA did claim a win on this show, as X-Division competitor Christopher Daniels (ironically, being himself in Japan while he plays his Japanese character, Curry Man, in America) defeated IWGP Jr. Champ Wataru Inoue in a non-title match. After the match, Daniels challenged for one more title match (he lost one on 1/4/08) and Wataru accepted, it hopefully will be set up soon. In the next match, GBH boss Hiroyoshi Tenzan returned, but it was not a happy return. His GBH partners turned on him, deciding to continue with Togi Makabe as the leader. Tenzan is now a man without allies, and it will be a continuing story to see who he ends up aligning with, if anyone. The next match featured a very surprising title change, as in their first defense, the RISE duo of Minoru and Prince Devitt lost the IWGP Jr. Tag Titles to the Legend team of Jushin Lyger and AKIRA. The match was said to be excellent, and I expect to see the Italy Brothers, Minoru and Milano Collection A.T., challenge when Milano returns.

NJPW then presented an excellent triple main event. First, in a TNA vs. NJPW match, Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated TNA star AJ Styles, in a great 19 minute matchup. The TNA vs. NJPW series, for the night, was set at 1-1. In the semi-main, Travis Tomko and Giant Bernard finally lost their IWGP Tag Titles, to the GBH team of Togi Makabe and Toru Yano. While Bernard will stay with RISE, Tomko seems to be done as a NJPW regular, as he is becoming more of a focus in TNA, and appeared on IGF’s last show. Makabe and Yano are expected to defend against Team 3D soon, as they hold a victory from 1/4/08. Finally, in the main event, Kurt Angle’s fake IWGP title was unified with the real belt, when Shinsuke Nakamura made Angle tap out to a cross armbreaker. Nakamura is expected to start wearing Angle’s belt. Tanahashi had said earlier that if he defeated Styles he wanted a shot at the TNA Title, so we shall see if Angle returns for a match with him.

New Japan, after the show, announced the tour outline for March, including the New Japan Cup 2008! The Cup is a 16-man elimination tournament held to crown the number 1 contender for the IWGP Heavyweight Title. We will get into a bigger preview when we are closer to the tournament, but it includes many exciting first round matchups, such as Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Jushin Lyger, Yuji Nagata, making his return, against Koji Kanemoto, and a rematch of one of last years best bouts, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hirooki Goto! The winner of the cup gets a shot at Nakamura at the end of the month. Also on this tour, Milano Collection A.T. makes his return, and Giant Bernard gets his return bout for the tag belts, Makabe/Yano vs. Bernard/Nakamura! We will have more on this tour as it approaches.

NOAH Tour Continues, Full Budokan Hall Card Announced
NOAH has continued their Second Navigation tour, completing two TV tapings already. The first night of the tour was eventful, with Kawabata retaing his Hardcore title over Momota, and Aoki and Taniguchi having their next trial matches, Aoki losing to KENTA, Taniguchi to Morishima. Also, the Kings of Wrestling, Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero, made their NOAH debut as a team, losing to Akiyama and Kentaro Shiga. After this match, the Kings match against Akiyama and Rikio for Budokan was cancelled, for whatever reason. On the next show, Go Shiozaki wrestled his last NOAH match before leaving for America, teaming with Kobashi and Tamon Honda to defeat Taue, Saito, and Inoue in over 30 minutes. NOAH then taped another TV block on February 21st. The show seems uneventful, but with an excellent looking main event, Morishima, Marufuji, and Suguira defeating Kobashi, Honda, and rookie Taniguchi. The match went almost 35 minutes, and Marufuji needed to use the Pole Shift, his strongest move, to put away Taniguchi. Here is the full card for NOAH’s Budokan show next month. I will have a full preview next week, and Mr. David Ditch will top me with a roundtable. Credit to Green Destiny:

NOAH, 3/2/08 (NTV/G+)
Tokyo Nippon Budokan

1. Genba Hirayanagi vs. Akihiko Ito
2. Kishin Kawabata & Kentaro Shiga vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Mitsuo Momota
3. Mohammed Yone & Ippei Ota vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Shuhei Taniguchi
4. Akira Taue & Junji Izumida vs. Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli
5. Yoshinari Ogawa & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Doug Williams & Taiji Ishimori
6. Jun Akiyama & Takeshi Rikio vs. Akitoshi Saito & Masao Inoue
7. Kenta Kobashi, Tamon Honda & KENTA vs. Yoshihiro Takayama, Takuma Sano & Atsushi Aoki
8. GHC Tag Team Title: Naomichi Marufuji & Takashi Sugiura (c) vs. Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe
9. GHC Heavyweight Title: Mitsuharu Misawa (c) vs. Takeshi Morishima

All Japan 2/17 Results, Full PPV Card
All Japan held a card at Korakuen Hall on 2/17, and had what looks to be a very fun show. The show was very much a set up for their PPV on 3/1, but it looks to be worth checking out on it’s own merits. Kaz Hayashi and Shuji Kondo went 17 minutes in what was said to be an excellent singles contest, but it ended in a no-contest as NOSAWA and MAZADA ran in and killed the match. Also, Dory Funk Jr. appeared, gaining a fall in a six man with his spinning toe hold. Finally, in the main event, two upcoming title matches met up, as Triple Crown Champion Kensuke Sasaki teamed with his student, Katsuhiko Nakajima, to take on Silver King and Satoshi Kojima. In the end, Kojima came out on top, pinning Nakajima. Kojima then crossed the line, attacking a number of Kensuke Office young boys. Sasaki is now out for blood and vengeance in their upcoming title match. Here is the full card for that, which I will also preview, courtesy of Shining Road:

AJPW “PRO-WRESTLING LOVE in RYOGOKU Vol. 4”, 3/1/08 (PPV)
Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan

1. Manabu Soya & CJ Otis vs. Seiya Sanada & Hajime Suruga
2. T28, Hiroshi Yamato & KAI vs. NOSAWA Rongai, MAZADA & TAKEMURA
3. Joe Doering, Kaz Hayashi & Ryuji Hijikata vs. ZODIAC, Shuji Kondo & Naoki Tanisaki
4. Suwama vs. TARU
5. Special Tag Team Match: Keiji Muto & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toshiaki Kawada & Taiyo Kea
6. Dory Funk Jr. Retirement Match: Dory Funk Jr. & Osamu Nishimura vs. Genichiro Tenryu & Masanobu Fuchi
7. AJPW World Jr. Heavyweight Title: Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) vs. Silver King
8. Triple Crown: Kensuke Sasaki (c) vs. Satoshi Kojima

New Tag Champs in Dragon Gate, Stable Fighting Continues
Dragon Gate crowned new tag team champions at their 2/8 event at Korakuen Hall, as Keni’chiro Arai and Taku Iwasa claimed the Twin Gate titles from Speed Muscle, Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino. The show was a very eventful one. CIMA and YAMATO continued their mini-feud, brawling after their matches. Also, there was stable in-fighting between Doi/Yoshino, and BxB Hulk/YAMATO. CIMA and Dragon Kid entered their names into Twin Gate contention, as the team CK-1. At the end of the night, booker K-ness made a match for the next Korakuen to solve the in-fighting. It will be Shingo, Hulk, Cyber Kong, YAMATO, and Shinobu vs. Gamma, Doi, Yoshino, Genki Horiguchi, and Yasushi Kanda. Entrants will come out Wargames style, you are eliminated by pinfall or submission, and the teams can choose what order they enter in. Teamwork is a must, and we will see who can overcome their beefs.

On the next major show, Masato Yoshino defeated another big name in a Brave Gate defense, defeating former Dream Gate champ Ryo Saito by submission with his Sol Naciente Kai, for his fifth successful defense. After the match, he made a bold challenge, calling out CIMA! In early March, Yoshino will defend the Brave Gate vs. CIMA, and in return, CIMA will defend the Dream Gate vs. Yoshino on the 3/20 PPV! #1 contenders for the Twin Gate have also been made, as stablemates Akira Tozawa and Yuki Ono, now known as the Metabolic Brothers, will challenge AraIwa in March. Finally, Dragon Gate finished a huge match signing, as on 3/20 on PPV, KENTA will appear, teaming with Taiji Ishimori (who, as a Toryumon graduate who did not come over to DG, has a history in the company) to take on Shingo and Hulk for the GHC Jr. Belts!

That’ll do it for this week. Back next week with previews for NOAH and All Japan, and some NJ Cup news!

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