Section 1- Results
Dragon Gate: Tanizaki and Shingo/Yamato retained their respective titles on Sunday.
IGF: Ogawa beat Takayama.
New Japan: Bernard & Anderson won the tag league, beating Taguchi & Devitt in the final. The Sumo Hall show saw Nakamura defend against Tanahashi, the Dudleys vs Bernard & Anderson go to a double countout, and Tiger Mask regain the junior title from Mistico. Tanaka beat Goto, and there will be a rematch next month.
NOAH: Kanemaru beat Liger in the junior tournament final. Sasaki & Morishima retained the tag titles over Shiozaki & Saito, with Morishima pinning Go.
Section 2- News
Dragon Gate: Hard to tell exactly how this will turn out, but it seems as if four stables have merged into two big ones. Warriors 5 (led by CIMA) will join up with Mochizukiâ€™s clan to represent the old guard. Kamikaze (led by Shingo and Yamato) will join up with World-1 (led by Doi) to represent the younger group. Sugawara, who left/was fired in late 2004, is back to side with the old guard. There will be a 6 vs 6 match on 12/3 to really kick the feud off. Real Hazard has enough members that it wouldnâ€™t really need to be modified if this goes down the way it appears. In title match news, Shingo & Yamato will defend against Mochizuki & Fujii, and Tanizaki will defend against Tozawa and Kagetora in a three-way, on 11/23.
New Japan: The 5th Super J Cup will take place on 12/22 and 12/23 in Korakuen. It was first hinted at in the now-dead PREMIUM offshoot. 12/5 in Aichi will be headlined by Nakamura defending against Nagata (called it!) and Tanahashi vs Tajiri. Tajiri will be on several shows of the next tour, Iâ€™m guessing due to the end of HUSTLE. Tajiri and Masato Tanaka have a loose alliance with Nakamuraâ€™s Chaos stable on tour cards. Jado & Gedo will get a junior tag title shot on 12/3.
NOAH: Set for the 12/6 Budokan event are Shiozaki defending against Sugiura, Sasaki & Morishima defending against Kobashi & Akiyama, and Marufuji versus Aoki. Also, a brief correction about my last column, Kawada wrestled on 10/3 (I wrote 11/3).
Section 2a- Meltzer stuff
Billy Robinson interview notes (with some backup info from puroresu.com):
-He first went to Japan for IWE in ’68, after IWE promoter Yoshiwara went to Europe to get talent after they had lost their US wrestlers. Robinson was quickly made champ and fit in well because Karl Gotch had taught the Wiggan (British catch-as-catch can) style to the Japanese. That exposure led to him being brought in by Inoki in ’75, also due to a lack of US talent.
-He liked Inoki best of the Japanese as far as in-ring skill, but he liked Baba more as a person.
-“Jumbo was never as good as he thought he was”
-Billy helped train a number of UWF/UWFi wrestlers, and had a gym in the US. Eventually they opened a gym in Japan and he taught MMA there for ten years. The UWFi guys who did shoots (Sakuraba, Takada, Tamura) learned from Robinson.
HUSTLE: They were paying Bob Sapp $35k a week even as they started running out of money.
Meltzer himself: At one point in the â€˜80s, after the Observer had started, the WWF paid him to keep them informed about the Japan scene. Dave says they didnâ€™t try to use this to influence what he wrote, and that he has turned down offers from other promotions to work on the business end of things.
Section 3- Shill Style Symphony
Section 4- Media Corner
I clipped out the first portion of this because it takes a little while for things to get going. But they do get goingâ€¦
So. This match. If youâ€™ve seen the other YOSHIHIKO matches I linked to, then you should know what to expect. If you havenâ€™t seen them, then steel yourself for a wrestling experience like no other.
A short match packed full of big bumps. Kobashiâ€™s knees are a wreck but apparently his neck is fine. I hope.
Best of 2001
The vote at the deathvalleydriver board doesnâ€™t wrap up for a couple weeks. However, there are some matches I can comfortably say should place well. Also there are two of my personal top ten of this year in the Misawa update, by complete coincidence.
Wagner and King are brothers, and appropriately are a hell of a team. The bulk of the match is taken up by stuff thatâ€™s neat, nifty, cool, or awesome, and the finishing run is something else. One of my top five for â€™01 and something most anyone can enjoy.
Section 5- Misawaâ€™s Career, part 6 of 7
Misawa early in the decade (generally) toned things down from the â€˜90s, since he could only get so much out of his body after years of hard bumps without a break. Thankfully, Misawa was about more than just the big bumps.
45. Kobashi & Akiyama vs Misawa, & Taue, NOAH August 5th 2000. Covered in the Kobashi set.
Importance: Misawa versus Hashimoto. Royal Road versus Strong Style. This match, even with two â€˜lesserâ€™ partners, was a big-time dream match.
Uniqueness: If thereâ€™s one complaint I have about Misawa over the last ten years of his career, itâ€™s that there wasnâ€™t enough emotion. Granted, Misawa was Mr. Stoic, but there wasnâ€™t the sense of a real feud after he got done with Kawada. This match feels like part of a feud.
Why it’s a good match: Shinya Fâ€™N Hashimoto. I mean, Misawa is one of my five favorite wrestlers ever, but Hashimoto makes this. His selling, his beatdowns on Ogawa, his exchanges with Misawa, itâ€™s all good. Misawa holds up his end of the dream pairing like youâ€™d expect him to. Ogawa and Otsuka are fine as supporting characters.
Importance: The first Zero-One main event, and possibly the biggest match the company ever had. A true dream tag where all four matchups are big. The first New Japan/NOAH clash. The final Misawa/Hashimoto clash. That, Iâ€™m comfortable in saying, is important.
Uniqueness: In a way we have a return of the Misawa/Akiyama mid-90s tag team, but with a more â€˜grown upâ€™ and assertive Akiyama. Itâ€™s also a clear â€˜level upâ€™ of the last tag.
Why it’s a good match: Misawa and Hashimoto going at it. Akiyama getting under Hashimotoâ€™s skin. Nagata trading fire with the NOAH contingent. Plenty of crowd heat. I have this as the second-best puro match of â€™01, and while it isnâ€™t on par with the top matches of â€™00 itâ€™s still a great match even with a half-botched finish.
Importance: A match to crown the first-ever GHC champion would tend to be important.
Uniqueness: While Takayama had already proved his worth the year before in challenging Kobashi for the Triple Crown, there was still a question about whether he could deliver at a big (10,000+ seat) venue main event.
Why it’s a good match: To be honest, the first half drags pretty badly. But the second half makes up for it with plenty of snug striking and a handful of killer nearfalls, and in the end Takayama looks like a legit main eventer.
Importance: NOAHâ€™s first time at Nippon Budokan, and quite bafflingly the final Misawa vs Akiyama match. They met in the semis of the title tournament, which Misawa won with a cradle. This one doesnâ€™t end in a cradle.
Uniqueness: To an extent, Misawa was a â€˜baseâ€™ for his opponents. Yet while others in his position would force their opponents into a highly cookie-cutter formula (ie. Hogan, post-peak Flair), Misawaâ€™s matches with one opponent tended to be different from his matches with another. This match isnâ€™t like the Takayama match, or like the Kobashi match just a few items down. The spots they go for, the layout, it isnâ€™t much like what one expects from Misawa.
Why it’s a good match: To be honest (again), this is mostly here for historical purposes. You should see it, and itâ€™s not bad, but it also doesnâ€™t excel the way their 2000 outing did. You get some good sequences and big moves.
50. Misawa & Chono vs Kobashi & Taue, NOAH January 10th 2003. Covered in the Kobashi set.
51. Misawa vs Kobashi, GHC title, NOAH March 1st 2003. Covered in the Kobashi set. I will add that I re-watched this a few months ago, and while I donâ€™t think itâ€™s â€œfive starsâ€, they do a hell of a lot right. Itâ€™s not just mindless neck-crunching.
Importance: The heavyweight tag champs face the quintessential junior tag team, fresh off Marufuji pinning Ogawa in a junior tag match. This was a big moment for Marufuji and KENTA, getting to be competitive with a team that almost never lost.
Uniqueness: The â€˜generation warfareâ€™ theme last seen in Jumbo vs Misawa returns, this time with Misawa as the grizzled over-the-hill vet. Very distinct from anything else in Misawaâ€™s career, between the contexts and some of the spots used.
Why it’s a good match: Misawaâ€¦ being an old prick? KENTA doing callback spots to All Japan? Marufuji ripping off Takao Omori?! There were plenty of surprises packed in, and between that and the story this was widely hailed as a MOTYC.
Next Time: Misawa conclusion.