Puroresu Pulse, issue 181: Autumnal Fallout

Section 1- Results

All Japan: Kono turned heel and joined Voodoo Murders.

Dragon Gate: Yoshino retained over Saito. KnesSuka retained over CIMA & Gamma. Warriors retained the trios over Kamikaze. Doi won the stable vs stable match to end Deep Drunkers, but then turned heel. Deep Drunkers will become a new heel stable led by Doi and Tanisaki, while World-1 (which also might be re-named) has possibly added Yokosuka & Kness. Arai was kicked out of the heel stable, and I’d expect him to end up with Mochizuki’s veterans group.

New Japan: Makabe retained over Tanaka, but fell to Kojima on Monday. Also on the Sumo Hall event, Ibushi & Omega won the junior tag titles and Goto beat Nakamura. Earlier, both sets of tag champs retained on 9/26.

NOAH: On 9/26, Sugiura, Kanemaru and Takayama/Sano all retained. Sugiura defended the title again in Mexico.

Section 2- News

All Japan: Akebono & Kea defend the tag titles on the 24th against Big Daddy V & Haas.

Dragon Gate: Pac defends the lightweight title against Kness on the 24th. Yoshino challenged CIMA for a title match, and CIMA accepted. Match will take place on 11/23 at Osaka Prefectural Gym. Warriors defend the trios titles again on the 25th against the to-be-named heel stable.

New Japan: Two tag leagues are lined up. The junior version will include Liger & Samurai, Devitt & Taguchi, Richards & Romero, Jado & Gedo, and Kanemoto & Tiger Mask. So it has the GHC junior tag champs but not the IWGP. The heavyweight tournament includes Bernard & Anderson, Tanahashi & Tajiri, and Nakamura & Daniel Puder. Kojima’s first defense will either be against Nakamura (his pick) or Goto (NJ’s pick).

NOAH: Kobashi got married. He’d been de facto married for years, but dropped hints about be

Section 2a- Meltzer News

All Japan: Mutoh had 33 pounds to lose for the junior title match when the angle was done, and they said if he doesn’t make it then the company will offer refunds to the crowd on the 24th.

Dragon Gate: They’re hoping to make DGUSA more sustainable by adding an iPPV to their US trips. Even a couple hundred buys would affect the bottom line.

IGF: Satoshi Ishii, a gold medal winning judoist, will apparently wrestle for the promotion. He challenged Naoya Ogawa to a match on IGF’s Sumo Hall show in December. Meltzer adds that Ogawa is supposedly retired.

New Japan: They drew 7500 in Kobe for Makabe vs Tanaka, which I’d consider admirable.

NOAH: They only drew 5500 for the Budokan show. There’s breaking news about NOAH possibly returning to NTV and splitting; I have a feeling things will get much clearer in the next few weeks.

Section 3- MuShill Orchestra

Phil talks NJ & NOAH.

Phil talks about Bryan.

Roundtable sans Ditch.


Section 4- Media Corner

I Love the ‘90s Part 9: ‘Not All Japan’ 1990 Closeout

Sano vs Liger, New Japan January 31st 1990. An upgrade to the video I posted a few months back.

Mutoh & Chono vs Hashimoto & Masa Saito, New Japan June 26th 1990.

Mutoh & Chono won the tag titles from Hashimoto & Saito a few weeks before. This is non-title, and is one of the last good outings from Saito. As was amply demonstrated in the New Japan ‘80s bouts, Masa could raise hell with the best of them, and he drives the quality of this one as well. Nifty finish!

Bull Nakano vs Manami Toyota, WWWA title, All Japan Women July 21st 1990.

It doesn’t get much more ‘new era’ than what happened in AJW. Chigusa Nagayo and Lioness Asuka, the company’s top stars, both retired in 1989 because at the time women wrestlers in Japan had to retire at age 26. Asuka was the champion at the time. Nakano won a tournament in January for the vacant belt, and immediately was the company’s top star as a monster heel. Toyota at this point did not have the array of moves she would become famous for, but she did win the Japan Grand Prix tournament to earn the title shot. This is a fairly basic size versus speed battle, with Bull holding things together because Toyota was still on the green side. The finish is about a thousand times more brutal than anything you’ll ever see in a women’s match at a mainstream US promotion.

Tenryu vs George Takano, SWS October 19th 1990.

You might recall Takano from some New Japan tags in ’89 and a New Japan vs All Japan tag earlier in ’90, both of which I linked this year. Takano pinned Tenryu with a German suplex the night before, and he gives Tenryu all he can handle thanks to superior speed and agility. A quality, ‘hidden gem’ bout with some “quality” production values.

Mutoh & Chono vs Hase & Sasaki, tag titles, New Japan November 1st 1990.

At this point Hase was still trying to find success as a heavyweight, and Sasaki was trying to find success period, so they come in as big-time underdogs. This is as good a heavyweight tag as the company produced in the ‘90s, with an especially hot finishing stretch.

Hase & Sasaki vs Koshinaka & Iizuka, New Japan December 13th 1990.

You might expect it to be awkward for Hase & Sasaki to go from underdogs to top dogs so quickly, but it works out quite well. Hase brings the hate and spite, the crowd is hot, and as with the last match they build to a dramatic closing run.

Section 5- Booking analysis roundup

All Japan: I had a feeling that the Suwama & Co. vs Suzuki & Co. feud as the focus of the company would be short-lived, but even I didn’t think it would change so quickly. I think it’s for the best. Suwama needs opponents, and he and Kono had some good exchanges in the main event of their final 2009 event. Kono is the sort of ‘important to the company’ personality Voodoo Murders has needed, and Suwama can easily replace him with Kondo or Hama as the #2 man in the stable. Funny to think of 9 year pro Kondo and Suwama, who debuted at age 27 and is older than Kondo, as the core of a ‘future stars’ stable. Having Kono turn now does somewhat take the air out of Suwama vs Funaki, but then I doubt many fans think Funaki will be winning. Suwama vs Kono will likely be saved for February or March, giving them plenty of time to build to it and for them to get comfortable against each other in tags.

As for the business aspect… let’s just say that if All Japan plans to run the match at Sumo Hall, it could manage to do worse than Kojima vs Hama did this year. They’ve got 4-5 months to develop an undercard, and there won’t be any excuses if they fail to out-do the lackluster booking effort they had in March. Suwama and Kono are the future, but I have my doubt about their drawing ability.

Dragon Gate: Yoshino beat Saito. Yawn. It’s okay to have a low-tier match like that at a venue like Hakata Star Lanes, which is comparable to Korakuen Hall. But to have three months without a title defense for Yoshino, and have THAT as the end result, with absolutely zero in the way of storyline? Very strange, considering how detail-oriented the booking usually is. We’re talking about a company that’s so OCD, they had a match to determine the 3rd man of a unit challenging for the trios titles, a championship that changes hands at least four times a year and did so four times just between May 5th and June 24th! And the challenging team lost anyway!

Following up with CIMA is a big improvement. On one hand, CIMA is always a threat since he’s the top star of the company. On the other hand, Yoshino vs Doi is the biggest storyline right now, so it seems like Yoshino should retain and go on to face Doi. On the third hand, Yoshino vs Doi might not really need to be a title match. Hmmm.

New Japan: Kojima over Makabe was a no-brainer. Makabe isn’t the sort of guy who would benefit from a long or ‘epic’ title reign, and he’s faced the top names in the company so often that he’s stale against anything besides outsiders. Kojima, on the other hand, provides a charismatic figure and a slate of fresh matchups. Since they don’t have a big event until the end of the December tour (when they have two back-to-back), there’s probably only going to be one title defense between now and January 4th.

The question becomes, will they have Kojima put over Tanahashi or Goto at the Tokyo Dome event, even though it would be just the second title defense? Or will his reign go beyond there? I really think Goto needs to win in his next title shot, and after beating Nakamura it seems like he should be next in line. If it’s me, I’m putting Goto over at the biggest Japanese wrestling show of the year rather than having him win (or lose) in December or February. Kojima wouldn’t be hurt with “only” one title defense. A bigger problem would be having fresh matchups for Goto, who has tangled with all the company’s big names multiple times since his push began three years ago. Perhaps they’ll do Tanahashi vs Goto in a #1 contenders match in December, with Tanahashi winning and the company doing Kojima vs Goto down the line. Perhaps Goto will fail in December but get a revenge win in the spring. Perhaps Karl Anderson will be the next IWGP champion. Who knows?

Bottom line here is that the company has plenty of options, and is still in much better shape than the other heavyweight promotions. Kojima won’t be selling out Sumo Hall, but then nobody else is.

NOAH: Sugiura retained? Really? The last year hasn’t been enough to show that the guy isn’t a proper headliner? Granted, it doesn’t help that he’s had to repeatedly go 24+ minutes at one-half to one-third full venues, but he clearly isn’t lighting the world on fire either way. The Budokan show seemed to build Bison Smith as the next challenger, but the company would be suicidal to put that match on top at December’s Budokan show. Sasaki should be the #1 contender after taking Sugiura to a draw in the singles tournament, beating Akiyama in it, and beating Shiozaki in July. Sugiura vs Sasaki wouldn’t be a big draw either, but it would do about as well as anything short of a not-happening Sugiura vs Kobashi matchup. If it were me, I’d have Sasaki beat Sugiura, get a couple defenses, then put over Shiozaki after Shiozaki wins the singles league. Sadly, there aren’t any good options when it comes to the promotion being able to sell more than 5000 tickets to its biggest events. I won’t even get into the prospect of a split.

Next Time: Puroresu Primer #2… or possibly NOAH splitting. Man…

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