Metalhead’s Riff: And The Winner Is… (NJPW, New Japan Cup, Kota Ibushi, Bill DeMott, Championship Belts)

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Again lots of things to talk about today, the New japan Cup final, further updates on the Invasion Attack card,  interesting rumors from WWE but first of all I would like to address an issue I have been thinking about for some days now. Some veteran writers here have been wondering at the lack of comments and articles about the “Bill DeMott situation”. And I agree with them, such behavior, if proven, should be spoken of more and condemned. It’s one thing to test a new student’s mettle to see if he/she has what it takes, but I myself have always been skeptic about the therapeutic virtues of having someone crawl trough shit in order to “pay his/her dues”.

So if DeMott is indeed guilty of the allegations made against him, just sue him, condemn him and make sure he is never again put in such a position again right? Well, yes and no. The problem I have with this situation is the obvious solution isn’t really a solution. The simple fact is, whether we want to admit it or not,  many Pro-Wrestlers trainers have and had a controversial reputation. You all know the clichés “have to pay their dues”, “must prove they have what it takes/can handle it”, and so forth. It is nothing new really, while respected, Buddy Lee Parker wasn’t exactly an angel with his trainees, but back then such behavior was considered “normal” by most people involved in wrestling. I wonder what trainees would make of the “Sarge” nowadays. Killer Kowalski was also one of those old-school trainers who ended being hated, albeit respected by most of his trainees. You don’t get these kind of reactions by inviting your students to a tea party. Did they cross the line at some point? I guess we’ll never know. Want a more concrete example? Look at the “welcome” the WWE locker room gave to WCW wrestlers back in 2001. That was pure and simple bullying by all accounts.  And I could go on. There is unfortunately a very thin line between “making someone pay his dues/prove his mettle” and abusing of a situation  of power to humiliate someone. That line is even thinner in professions such as wrestling. The simple fact is, while I couldn’t disapprove more of the kind of conduct DeMott is being accused of, I also know that many “old-school” wrestlers, trainers, commentators and others will privately simply shrug and say: “Well the guy was just doing his job”. Don’t get me wrong I’m not justifying what DeMott did in any way here, just pointing at what is, I think, not uncommon in the wrestling world.

And there is your problem. DeMott might be the accused one right now, but that’s actually peripheral. It’s about certain mentality’s in certain sports, hell even beyond. Anyone who has had any kind of military training knows what I’m talking about, even in some corporate settings the “new guys” are often picked on by the “established guys”. Humiliating someone to get him/her to a certain point, to see what he/she can handle, to see if he/she has what it takes, the justifications are numerous, if often nothing more than sheer sophistry. And accepted or at least ignored unless enough people start to complain.  But who do you complain against? The guy who actually does these things? Yes, but that is like spitting in a violin, you might have some sort of sound but the symphony simply won’t start. Wrestling (and not only wrestling) should sometimes stop, look at itself, and condemn it’s ugly sides, try to break some ingrained and, frankly, unacceptable attitudes and stop making excuses. Unfortunately by just pointing at DeMott, you aren’t doing any of those things.

Part 1: New japan Cup:

Yes, I’m keeping my habit of dividing my columns in several parts, since I tend to be random and speak of several subjects at once, I find it helps keeping a semblance of structure in my rantings.

Anyway, as promised last week, let’s take a look at the finals of NJPW’s New Japan Cup 2015. In full results from the show:

Mascara Dorada, Tiger Mask IV & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Jay White, KUSHIDA & Jushin Thunder Liger

Yohei Komatsu & Satoshi Kojima defeated Sho Tanaka & Yuji Nagata

Tomoaki Honma & Katsuyori Shibata defeated Cody Hall & Tama Tonga

Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi & Captain New Japan

Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke’s Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI defeated Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson & Yujiro Takahashi

New Japan Cup Semifinal Match: Hirooki Goto defeated Togi Makabe

New Japan Cup Semifinal Match: Kota Ibushi defeated Tetsuya Naito

New Japan Cup Final: Kota Ibushi defeated Hirooki Goto

After the final, Ibushi announced his intention of going after AJ Styles’s Heavyweight Championship.

 

Which give us the following (updated) card for Invasion Attack 2015 (according to the “Wrestling Observer”):

 

Yuji Nagata, Captain New Japan, Kushida, Alex Sheklley & Yohei Komatsu vs Manabu Nakanishi, Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi & Sho Tanaka

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma vs Yuji Takahashi, Tama Tonga & Cody Hall

IWGP Jr. Tag Title Match: Champions Young Bucks vs Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Trent Baretta)

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match: Champion Kenny Omega vs Mascara Dorada

IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Champions Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs The Kingdom (Michael Bennett & Matt Taven) w/Maria Kanellis

Togi Makabe, Hirooki Goto & Tetsuya Naito vs Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuyori Shibata vs Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba

Kazuchika Okada vs Bad Luck Fale

IWGP heavyweight Title Match: Champion A.J. Styles vs Kota Ibushi

Barring further updates, there is one thing that is really obvious here, NJPW has complete faith in Ibushi and Styles being able to carry the main event on their own. Excepting the Junior heavyweight titles and the tag team titles it’s all about the IWGP Heavyweight title here and Ibushi’s meteoric rise in the heavyweight ranks. Now could NJPW be thinking of going all the way with Ibushi? I believe so, all signs point towards that. The fact that all other major stars are engaged in various tag-team battles (except Okada but he’s fighting Fale, that doesn’t count) and the fact that the two other major titles (Ishii’s EVER Championship and Nakamura’s Intercontinental championship) are being put on hold puts all the weight of this event on AJ Styles and Kota Ibushi. This might indicate that Invasion Attack 2015 could very well be Ibushi’s big moment.

The question is, can he carry it? The answer is, YES! YES! YES! (sorry couldn’t resist). After numerous well-received battles against the likes of, for example, prince Devitt in the Junior ranks, Ibushi has done everything right since he went over to the heavyweight ranks. To quell even the slightest question of his ability to carry a main event, just watch this:

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a five star match.

An added incentive to this Main Event is that Ibushi has never fought for the Heavyweight belt and has never faced AJ Styles. So this is the first match ever between one of the very best in the world and one who is right on the verge of joining that select club (if he hasn’t already) for the biggest price of them all. I, as a wrestling fan, couldn’t be more exited for this one.

Part 2: Championships

Let me first refer you to following article by Widro and it’s comments:

http://insidepulse.com/2015/03/18/wwe-wrestlemania-31-news-could-wwe-creative-be-re-thinking-the-finish-spoilers/

This is indeed a rumor that has been floating around on various sites, the fact that WWE could be thinking about keeping the title on Lesnar, making the Lesnar/Heavyweight title combo a “special-attraction” only and focusing on the Intercontinental title and US Title, building those back up by putting them on Daniel Bryan and John Cena.

Now as one who thinks that every promotion who treats their titles as simple props to be thrown around at the creative team’s leisure is missing the point of pro wrestling, I applaud any move of rebuilding the former grandeur of both “lesser” title. Looking at NJPW, you will see that it IS possible to have several strong titles featured, without diluting their value. That being said I’m not sure that feat will be accomplished here. Several problems immediately come t mind. Raising the value of your secondary title by putting them of some of your major stars is a good idea. But not if it hurts your major title in the process. Putting the “special attraction” bill on Lesnar is OK since that’s what he is. But if you leave the title on him, doesn’t that become a “special attraction” too? What does it say about a company if you allow your World Title to be featured only when WWE and Lesnar feel like it? What is the value of a title that is NEVER being represented on the company’s weekly TV-shows? Why does Lesnar uberhaupt NEED the title? To make him even more special? To make him even more dangerous? To make him even more of a special attraction? What is WWE or anyone gaining from this situation if it happens?

Let me tell you, in my opinion of course, nothing.

All this will do is devaluing the title even more, and make the “Main Event” Championship matches involving Lesnar even more meaningless. If WWE is indeed serious about making both secondary title more important, then they should do so by creating structured story-lines, having specific groups of wrestlers going after specific titles and feature them heavily in the top-tier of their Pay-Per-Views. That’s the only way. But then at, say, Summerslam, Lesnar comes back, is challenged by whomever and takes top-billings over anything else? What is the sense in that? How will that make ANY belt look better? Why even bother rebuilding full-times belt, just for them to be pushed aside by a part-time belt anytime Lesnar appears?

WWE isn’t going to rebuild anything if it continues to depend on a 5 million a year special attraction that has a questionable loyalty towards the company to begin with. Keeping the title on Lesnar won’t solve anything and won’t help the secondary titles. Going forward and trying to create solid storytelling around all three titles (and the tag-team title and the Diva title while they’re at it) is the only way to go forward and come out of the slump they’ve gotten themselves into. You do that by pushing forward the guys who are actually there week in, week out, not some part-timers. The special attraction theme has its limitations, and, in my opinion they’ve reached those with Lesnar. Time to move on and, especially, move forward.

On the other hand, remember, this IS wrestling and this whole story could be nothing more than another red herring. Wouldn’t be surprised.

 

In closing, I apologize for somewhat rushing trough things these last couple of weeks, health issues have been plaguing me, limiting the time I can actually concentrate on things and do some serious research, but I hope to be back in form for Wrestlemania week-end and, of course Invasion Attack.

Below you will find the links for the New Japan cup Final, for those who are interested. be sure to check out the Ibushi/Naito semi-final, great match. I haven’t been able to find proper Dailymotion links, but this is my usual channel to watch wrestling and it’s always decent quality, so…

http://watchwrestling.ch/video/watch-njpw-new-japan-cup-2015-finals/

That’s all from me this week, see you all next week were I will finally give in to Wrestlemania weekend-madness and see what I can make of all that is scheduled to happen.

Have fun!

 

 

 

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