Section 1- Results
All Japan: Suzuki & Takayama beat Funaki & Suwama when Takayama pinned Funaki. Hayashi retained over Hate, and Team Fat retained over TARU/Doering.
Dragon Gate: Akebono, Mochizuki & Fujii took the trios titles from Yoshino, Hulk & Pac. Shingo & Yamato retained over Arai & Kanda (by DQ), and Doi retained over Yokosuka.
New Japan: Nakamura retained over Ohtani, and Chono/Mutoh/Kobashi beat Kojima/Akiyama/Nakanishi when Chono pinned Nakanishi.
NOAH: Notable junior league results include Delirious and Suzuki over KENTA, Liger over Kanemaru, and Nakajima going to a 30 minute draw with both KENTA and Suzuki. Shiozaki (who missed most of the tour with the mumps) and Saito won a non-title match over Sasaki & Morishima.
Zero-One: Kawada beat Tanaka to win the Z-1 title.
Section 2- News
Dragon Gate: Doi has a neck injury and will be kept off a few shows. Tanizaki will defend against Tozawa on 11/8, and a no-DQ Shingo/Yamato vs Arai/Kanda match will also take place there. Hulk will be Doiâ€™s next challenge, set for 11/23 at Osaka Prefectural Gym. This also seems somewhat random, with no particular Hulk accomplishment to set it up. Doi issued a challenge to the Toryumon old-timers, and Mochizuki stepped up, but there wonâ€™t be another title match between 11/23 and King of Gate soâ€¦ Iâ€™m confused. Even more confusing: Abdullah the Butcher is booked for the 11/6 Korakuen show in a 6-man.
New Japan: Nakamura/Yano and Bernard/Anderson are set for the tag league semis. Nakanishi/Omori and Makabe/Honma are probable, because otherwise a team would sneak in with a 2-2 record. Tanahashi is back and will challenge Nakamura at the 11/8 Sumo Hall show. Also on 11/8 is Mistico defending against Tiger Mask, and Tanaka vs Goto.
NOAH: Liger vs Suzuki and Kanemaru vs Nakajima are the semis of the junior tournament. KENTA is out several months with an ACL tear. Sasaki/Morishima will defend against Shiozaki/Saito on the 11/7 Kensuke Office card.
Section 2a- Meltzer News
HUSTLE: Their Sumo Hall show on the 10th drew 3000, and less than half of that was paid. Riki Takeuchi isn’t nearly as good in the top heel spot as Takada was and thus the new direction is a flop. Also, the announcement of Hustlemania at Sumo Hall on Christmas got booed. For a show with lots of big names, in a big venue, to not even sell enough tickets to fill Korakuen… that spelled trouble. Goes to show just how impressive DDTâ€™s show was. And sure enough, HUSTLE just announced that theyâ€™re cancelling their remaining shows and are folding. They can’t pay the bills and are behind on paying wrestlers. They even cancelled a Korakuen show set for today (Thursday) on one day’s notice.
New Japan: The Chono 25th show was a legit sellout, I believe the first sellout of Sumo Hall for them in several years. Meltzer speculated that the company wants to have a tag title match on 11/8, and right after he said that the belts went back from the Brits to the Dudleys. No match is announced yet, but then the tag league hasnâ€™t finished yet.
NOAH: The 11/3 Osaka show with Kawada was the first time in years they sold out Osaka Prefectural Gym. Marufuji returns on the 12/6 Budokan show.
Section 3- SHILL BURST AWAKENING
I have no idea who Daniel Douglas is, but he comes in and gets more comments than all my columns combined. Also, his latest output is the worst in Pulsewrestling history. I guess if you gotta suck, suck out loud. Or something.
Section 4- Media Corner
Kanemaru & Suzuki vs Jado & Gedo, GHC junior tag titles, NOAH October 3rd.
Jado & Gedo are the definition of hit-or-miss, because either theyâ€™re effectively doing Southern-style heel tag tactics or theyâ€™re mind-numbingly dull. This would be an instance of the former, and itâ€™s their best outing in some time. Kanemaru/Suzuki has pretty much dropped their heel act with the death of Misawa, and Kanemaru returns to his 2002 babyface ways quite well.
Nakamura vs Ohtani, IWGP title, New Japan October 12th.
I must admit that I wasnâ€™t expecting much from this. Ohtani in heavyweight singles matches hasnâ€™t done much for me; Nakamura doesnâ€™t have the kind of offense that makes one excited to watch him. But we get the best aspects of both wrestlers (especially Ohtaniâ€™s charisma), and most importantly the crowd gets behind Ohtani in what might be his last big match.
Best of 2000 conclusion
Minoru Tanaka, Liger & Makabe vs Delfin, Murahama & Tsubasa, New Japan December 14th 2000.
Since the show was in Osaka, they brought in three wrestlers from year-old Osaka Pro. In addition to good junior-heavyweight action there was also plenty of intensity, especially from the Tanaka/Murahama matchup. Makabe also managed to look good, and Liger was back to his â€˜90s self (at least performance-wise). Very enjoyable, and worthy of its somewhat surprising 9th place finish.
Nagata & Iizuka vs Kawada & Fuchi, New Japan December 14th 2000.
The 1st place finisher, and that one isnâ€™t surprising in the least. I have it 2nd, but it would be the puro MOTY for most years of the decade. Thereâ€™s just so much to love about it. The crowd is electric, Kawada and Fuchi are consummate ring generals, Fuchi has a â€˜best supportingâ€™ role for the ages, and the Kawada/Nagata matchup provides some blistering exchanges. Itâ€™s not perfect; the opening minutes arenâ€™t particularly heated and the finish isnâ€™t as intense as it ought to be (given the top-notch buildup). Those flaws are trivial compared to how excellent the bulk of it is. If you plan to participate in any best-of-the-decade vote, puro or global, you must watch this. Heck, youâ€™re reading this, itâ€™s must-watch already.
Section 5- A bag for you to grab.
Notes from Johnny Powers interview with 57talk.com
He was a promoter in the Toronto/Buffalo/Cleveland area. He felt they couldn’t count on NWA champs coming often enough, so he broke away with theNWF. They got good magazine press and had enough talent that they were reputable, on par with other major territories. However they lost money, in part because Johnny took a lot of risks. Inoki, who knew Powers from Powers having worked in JWA, called Powers for advice. The NWA demanded too much to join (40k; others only paid a token amount) because they already had Baba in Japan. Powers told him to forget that and said he’d make Inoki a world champ by selling him the company and its title. Inoki only cared about the title and never tried promoting shows in the US despite paying more money than the NWA wanted in the first place.
However, for some reason Powers didn’t get all the money up front. He was consultant and wrestler for Inoki for years, giving him booking ideas. In the end Inoki reneged on a promised 60k final payment in ’80 because he’d taken everything Powers had to offer (title, ideas). Powers threatened to sue, but Inoki told him he’d counter-sue and win because Powers was a gaijin. Powers decided to walk away. On one hand it was dishonest, but on the other hand Powers got a lot of money for a promotion he didn’t actually want anymore when he sold it.
Vince told Inoki to drop the NWF name (NWF having been a former northeast rival), so they went to the IWGP name in the mid-80s. Powers views himself as having had a big impact on the creation of Strong Style.
Notes from Bruno Sammartino interview with Wrestling Observer Radio
Background: Bruno wrestled in Japan starting with JWA in the â€˜60s, though he wrestled less often upon becoming WWF champ.
He gave Baba a Cadillac because Baba was driving a typical small Japanese car, and it was tough to import them (between the lines: Baba didn’t want to buy one and risk incurring nationalist resentment). Bruno loved Baba and Joe Higuchi, and they went out of their way to get Bruno, but Bruno didn’t go over often because he made such good money in the US. The car was kept through Baba’s death, at least 25-30 years. Bruno helped them get in touch with gaijin when All Japan was starting up, prior to them hooking up with the Funks. When Vince and Inoki linked up, Vince wanted Bruno to go to NJ like everyone else. Bruno refused because he’d promised only to go to Baba when in Japan.
Back in JWA, Bruno and DeNucci wrestled B-I Gun (Baba & Inoki). Inoki took liberties with Bruno, cranking full-force on a hold. Bruno got out of it and started returning fire, so Inoki bolted and wouldn’t get back in with Bruno. Bruno was more upset that Inoki ducked him afterward than anything. When Kintaro Oki tried something similar, Bruno beat him up a bit. Oki apologized afterwards and there weren’t any more problems. So Oki settled things, Inoki didn’t.
Notes on Billy â€œRedâ€ Lyons, from his Wrestling Observer obit
He lived in Hamilton, Ontario. Met Destroyer in Buffalo, and after they tagged some in California, Billy got to go with Destroyer on a tour of Japan in ’65. He got a big push right away, making Baba submit in a tag match and later taking Baba to a 45 minute draw in singles. However he didn’t return very often. His last time was in ’79, when Destroyer was told by Baba to pick anyone he wanted to come in as a tag partner vs Baba & Jumbo, and Destroyer picked Billy. They remained friends to the end.
Notes on Shota Chochoshvili, from his Wrestling Observer obit
He was part of the New Japan deal with the USSR. The first NJ vs Russia matches headlined the first wrestling event in the Tokyo Dome, 4/24/89. There were doubts heading in that it would draw, because the Russians were unknown in Japan. The concept and the Russians’ legit credentials (plus the audacity of doing pro wrestling at a huge venue) was enough to draw 44k and set a then-record gate of $2.78 million.
Shota got to beat Inoki in the main event, the first time anyone had done so in the Inoki shoot-style series. He won using the uranage suplex, which was the moveâ€™s pro wrestling debut. The rematch a month later did another huge gate in Osaka. That first Tokyo Dome show changed a lot of things in Japan, because it was thought that 25k was the biggest crowd possible even for a huge dream match. With the Russians drawing 44k, a big show with interpromotional matches could be a sellout. And that’s exactly what happened. Shota didn’t wrestle again in Japan after putting Inoki over in the rematch.
1984-1985 Wrestling Observer notes via. Cross Face Chicken Wing
-Choshu’s jump led to a huge business surge for AJ and decline for NJ.
-In addition to the Road Warriors getting 10k/week, Ellering got 10k too. Baba was concerned that the Warriors were getting too hyped, but they quickly got over.
-NJ brought in Dave Schultz after he’d slapped John Stossel, and had him slap a reporter in Japan.
-Of 31 shows on an New Japan tour only 9 sold out, and 8 of those were for Hogan. Meanwhile All Japan was able to draw 12000 for a show without gaijin.
-Jerry Lawler did an All Japan tour, but because he wasn’t sold for much and doesn’t do Japanese style he didn’t get over. He liked it anyway.
1988 Wrestling Observer notes via. Loss
-Inoki rushed his summer return in order to combat the UWF 2 split, and looked bad in his first matches. (However he was able to do well in a 1 hour singles match in short order).
-UWF started making AJ and NJ very nervous. They sold out Ariake Colliseum (12000 seats) in 6 hours, set a record for ticket sales in one day, and that was good enough for one of the ten largest gates in wrestling history at the time.
Late 2007 / Early 2008 Wrestling Observer notes
-Joe Doering turned down WWE and TNA deals after a couple tours in Japan.
-There had been plans to have Tanahashi vs AJ Styles as the IWGP title match on the 1/4/08 Tokyo Dome show, but they came to their senses and did it in February. (I still canâ€™t believe that was even consideredâ€¦)
-Muga changed its name to Dradition because Nishimura owns the Muga trademark.
-IGF’s debut show, with only 1 announced match, only sold 2500 tickets.
Next Time: Probably more Misawa. Gotta wrap it up before yearâ€™s end!