An absolute tidal wave of big shows and big results! Who wound up on top? What does the future hold? FIND OUT!
Section 1- Results
All Japan: The Champions Carnival is in the books! Some relevant results include Kojima over Kawada, Doering over Minoru Suzuki, Mutoh over Kojima, Suzuki over Suwama and Sasaki, Kawada over Mutoh, Nishimura over Suzuki, and Tanahashi over Kojima. This led to Suwama beating Tanahashi in the finals, by far the highlight of his career to date. Kea lost every match and there are hints heâ€™ll join VM.
Dragon Gate: Arai & Iwasa retained the tag titles against Mochizuki & Fujii on the 6th.
New Japan: Makabe beat Tenzan and Tanahashi beat Taguchi in round 2 of the NJ Cup. Tanahashi beat Makabe and Bernard beat Yano in the semi-finals, after which Tanahashi beat Bernard to earn a title shot. That took place on 3/30 in Korakuen, and Nakamura again bested Tanahashi to retain. Tenzan & Iizuka beat Makabe & Yano in a non-title match on that show.
NOAH: Results from the tag tournament include Akiyama & Rikio over Morishima & Yone, Smith & Saito over Sasaki & Nakajima, D-Lo Brown & Buchanan over Misawa & Ogawa (in 2 minutes!), Takayama & Sano over Sasaki & Nakajima and Akiyama & Rikio.
Zero-One: Results from the show at JCB Hall (Korakuen 2) include Kanemoto over Hidaka, Minoru Fujita & Sugawara over Shelley & Sabin, Makabe & Yano over Sekimoto & Y. Sasaki, and Masato Tanaka over Nakanishi. Itâ€™s worth noting that JCB Hall is much more expensive to use and as such wonâ€™t have the impact on wrestling that was implied when it was first announced.
Section 2- News
All Japan: Hijikata will challenge Silver King for the junior title on the 29th.
Dragon Gate: Lots of big matches upcoming. Yoshino goes for a sweep of the Typhoon stable when he defends the lightweight title against Mori on the 13th. New Hazard defends the trios belts against Saito, Yokosuka & Dragon Kid on the 17th. CIMA defends against Saito on the 27th. Last but far from least, theyâ€™ll be taking a risk in using the big Aichi Prefectural Gym on 5/5, with a 6-way cage match on top. The last person in will lose his hair or mask, and the participants are CIMA, Dragon Kid, BB Hulk, Yoshino, Kanda and Yamato. Also set for the show is a match hinted at last year, KENTA vs Doi.
New Japan: After lending several wrestlers to Zero-One in March, Zero-One returns the favor this month, especially on Sundayâ€™s Korakuen show. That will be headlined by Tanaka defending the Z-1 title against Kanemoto. Also on the next tour will be Makabe & Yano defending the tag titles against Tenzan & Iizuka on the 27th. Liger & AKIRA defend the junior tag titles on Sunday against Yujiro & Naito, the latter of whom is starting to make a name for himself due to great athletic ability.
Section 3- The shill that dares not speak its name
Hey! You! Go sign up on my forum. Ask me stuff and vote in polls. Itâ€™ll be fun!
The results of every Kobashi match ever (in German).
If I paid attention to the Staff Forum like Matthew tells me to I might have been the one who wrote about Stan Hansen. But I donâ€™t so I missed out. I should listen to Matthew more.
Section 4- The state of All Japan, Dragon Gate, New Japan and Zero-One
All Japan: A mixed bag. On one hand, they have a solid mix of upper-tier talent (Sasaki, Kawada, Mutoh, Kojima, Suzuki) to keep them relevant, and theyâ€™re going to attempt to create the first homegrown All Japan superstar since Akiyama (or Kea, if you consider him a superstar). Suwama was pushed as a phenom in 2005, got a heel push in 2006, and now they seem to be pulling the trigger all the way as he gets the big win over Tanahashi, who in turn just won a tournament in New Japan. If Suwama can come into his own and win over crowds it will do wonders for the companyâ€™s long-term viability, especially when 4 of the big 5 I mentioned earlier have 20+ years on them.
On the other hand, even with the loaded lineup they only managed to fill Korakuen Hall for the finals. Night 1 had Kojima vs Kawada, night 2 had Kojima vs Mutoh, night 3 had Tanahashi vs Mutoh, night 4 had Kawada vs Tanahashi and Sasaki vs Suzuki. Granted, night 2 was up against Zero-Oneâ€™s big JCB Hall christening PPV, but thereâ€™s no excuse for struggling that badly in Tokyo with that much star power. Iâ€™m of the opinion that five years of largely underwhelming heavyweight singles matches has drained the enthusiasm of All Japanâ€™s fan base, and it will take more fresh faces than just Suwama and Nakajima to turn things around.
Dragon Gate: Where is this company going? Last year it was straightforward: Liger had the belt and everyone was chasing him, with the climax to take place at the Kobe World Hall supershow. This year we have the return of the escape cage match (last seen in 2003 Toryumon), one that focuses on *intra*-stable squabbles. DoiYoshi, who seemed ready to dominate, were quickly depushed. The Dream Gate title scene has been lackluster, with Gamma getting a token and rather predictable shot in February, and Ryo Saito getting a shot despite no build and having fallen short against Yoshino. Despite my reservations, there is one matchup I envision well worth putting on top at this yearâ€™s big Kobe event: CIMA vs KENTA.
New Japan: Theyâ€™ve done a remarkable job of keeping Tanahashi in the spotlight despite his losing the title. He loses nothing for falling in the finals of the Champions Carnival, and right now is in the driverâ€™s seat for puro MVP barring a big surge from Kobashi. Nakamura is strong by proxy, though there is the issue of who his challengers will be. Goto and Bernard are part of his stable, and Makabe seems likely to challenge but might not be seen as much of a threat. Both Nagata and Tenzan would be good choices, and perhaps NJ will get a defense against Masato Tanaka as â€˜paymentâ€™ for Tanaka beating Nakanishi and (I assume) Kanemoto, but none of those bouts are certain. The same goes for whether TNA will lend any more big names this year.
Considering that the company built and built to Nakamura vs Angle, the general passiveness of Nakamura in terms of feuds and storylines compared to the rest of the roster is striking. Nakamura is a more of a Misawa-style company leader, so he isnâ€™t going to be picking fights, but there ought to be fights picked with *him*. Thereâ€™s a good chance the next title match will be on the 5/2 Korakuen show, which would mean 4 of 8 IWGP title matches were held in Korakuen. Not a positive sign of the companyâ€™s health to say the least. Theyâ€™re doing a good thing in not running at as many huge venues, but using some mid-sized venues in Tokyo now and then would look better than running Korakuen constantly. They can still draw 3,000+ in more places in Japan than anyone and should be taking better advantage of it.
Zero-One: The shift to having a Zero-One champion heading the company is a good move, and it helps that Tanaka has been fed not only Zero-Oneâ€™s finest but also New Japan wrestlers. Using the NWA and AWA monikers to try and gain credibility post-Hashimoto didnâ€™t work, and with a lack of important championships or hot cross-promotional feuds there was little they could do to grow. Now with a title they control gaining in prominence and an extended rivalry with New Japan, they can gain momentum for the first time in years.
Overall: Lots of potential, very few sure things. None of them have made the kind of tear-your-hair-out decisions that used to be a common occurrence, but years of bad luck and mistakes are going to be incredibly hard to overcome.
Tags: all japan, Dragon Gate, new japan, Puroresu