Tag Archives: NJPW

A Wrestling Post Not About Wrestling

Two Fridays ago, I spent time with someone who I am quite fond of and when I left I was miserable. I felt like a burden to that person and it increased my depression. This past Friday, I spent time in front of my computer watching NJPW Dominion and while I am still struggling-that made me feel better than just about any day I have ever spent with the friend in question or any other friend.

I forget if it was this blog or my more personal blog, but I said that if I had the choice between never watching another wrestling show or never talking to my friends again, I would choose the latter (and it would not even be a difficult decision). Not all wrestling is as good as Dominion (which should go without saying and that is an impossible standard). The point is that wrestling (especially wrestling that I enjoy whether it is current or past wrestling) does it for me like nothing else and no one else in the world does.

I’ll put it this way, after seeing the friend two Fridays ago, I was crying tears of sorrow. After Omega beat Okada, I had tears of joy.

Whether it is chanting Kaze ni Nare with the Osaka fans, smiling widely when Takahashi celebrated the junior championship or having my eyes moisten when the Golden Elite hugged, wrestling (especially today’s New Japan) gives me something that nothing else in the world does. I’m beginning to think that wrestling gives me something that nothing or no one else in the world can.

 

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WrestleKingdom Thoughts Part II

IC Title Match

This is a case where having a great match could and should be enough for Jay White. Moreover, if White loses here, it actually frees him up to win the New Japan Cup which might do just as much or more than winning the IC championship. At the same time, Tanahashi is banged up and may take time off after Wrestlekingdom so having White as the Intercontinental champion may be a necessity. My thoughts are essentially based on Tanahashi’s ability to wrestle going forward. If Tanahashi needs significant time off, then this is a perfect opportunity for him to drop the IC title now and get healthy for the Spring and Summer. If they have big plans for Jay White beyond this title and Tanahashi can give them one more big event, then Tanahashi should and probably will win.

US Title Match

I am pretty sure that Omega is going to beat Jericho. I am also pretty sure that he will do it at WrestleKingdom…but that is not automatic. There is a New Japan event called Strong Style Evolved on March 25th so Omega could beat Jericho on that event. I am not usually for even-steven booking, especially when the idea is to get a new person over. At the same time, this could be more than just about Omega. In fact, it is more than about Omega. Anecdotal evidence says that Jericho wrestling at WrestleKingdom has at least gotten people interested enough to check out this show. If this is Jericho’s only match with New Japan, then obviously Omega should win. If not, the only question is whether or not it is a negative to have Omega lose at WK which will have a bigger international audience than Strong Style Evolved. Then again, Jericho could always put over Omega twice. Let’s also not forget the social media friction between Jericho and Naito which could lead to a match between those two, but Jericho does not need to beat Omega to have a match with Naito, even the Naito match is for the world title. I’ll say Omega because Jericho does not have to beat him to do more with NJPW and if he does not do more-the result is obvious.

World Title Match

Personally, I would love to see Naito win..but as I have learned from those who have followed NJPW longer than I have…the Ace does not lose at WK. Someone on Reddit brought up a good point, if you have followed Naito’s story…this could easily be another chapter in the story. In other words, once he comes out for the main event…that is a triumph in the Naito story. Naito does not have to beat Okada right now. I think he should eventually and if it was me, it would be this year…but Okada winning is not a bad choice.

One argument against Okada is that there is no one left for him to face. I thought so too. Then I was walking to the store and I thought of several more challengers who he has not gone through in this reign (or finished telling the story with in this reign). There is Jay White, Zack Sabre, a heel Goto, Ishii, a tiebreaker with Omega, a rematch with Naito and even Jericho. In essence, there are fresh matches no matter who wins. I went from being all in on Naito to trusting Gedo and enjoying whatever happens.

Wrestlekingdom 12 Thoughts Part I

I am very excited for Wrestlekingdom 12. There has been some talk that this particular card is a setup for the future more than it is a standalone card. I am fine with that, although there is only one match that I would have done differently (Suzuki against Ishii instead of Goto) so as a standalone show, it is fine with me. I am just going to talk about the show with a limited structure…even though I think I may get the match order right by accident.

Junior Tag Title Match

This could go either way and be fine. A win would do wonders for Roppongi 3K. At the same time, barring injury-Roppongi 3K will get their win over the Young Bucks. The Young Bucks certainly do not have to win to be over, especially with North American fans. At the same time, because this is such a tough match to call…I lean towards the Young Bucks because more North American fans are going to be watching this show…including people who have never seen the Young Bucks so for those fans (especially if wins and losses matter to those fans). Roppongi 3K will have their time.

Six Man Title Match

Well, we are almost 100 percent sure that War Machine and Elgin will not win. That leaves Chaos, Suzuki-Gun and Bullet Club. I think that the Bullet Club or Chaos team makes the most sense. There is a chance that they are getting Fale ready for Naito (if Naito wins the title), to me that means booking him strong and having him win this match. They switch the titles a lot and I am intrigued by Ishii, Yano and Baretta as a team…so like I said either Chaos or Bullet Club.

Ibushi vs Cody

Very interesting match here. There is part of me that thinks that Cody lost the ROH title just so he could also lose this match. Furthermore while Ibushi is not signed, I am almost positive that he is going to have a major match with Kenny Omega so he (Ibushi) should be kept strong for that. Certainly with the potential BC split coming the history between Omega and Ibushi could influence this match. For example, Cody could be aggressive in an “inappropriate” way to get at Omega. Then again, would you want Omega and Ibushi to be overtly aligned before the two have their match? Another option is that Cody could lose to Ibushi and then Ibushi could lose to Omega which makes Cody jealous. Yeah…this is interesting.

Tag Team Titles-Heavyweight

I like Evil and Sanada as a change of pace. I agree with the sentiment that the heavyweight tag division is the weakest part of NJPW in many ways. I actually enjoy KES, but it does not seem to be working so why not go with something fresh? They still need more teams so hopefully Best Friends are part of the NJPW tag division this year.

Never Openweight Title

I would have preferred Ishii in this match. My idea since I knew this was the planned match was that Goto was going to win to make up for the two losses to Suzuki in 2017. I would have Goto lose and join Suzuki-Gun (maybe as soon as New Year’s Dash). Goto with a new look (shaved head) could do wonders for him. He feels stale, which is a shame because he is a very good wrestler with a strong theme song. Suzuki will be fine either way and if he loses that opens him up to win the New Japan Cup…but I think it is more important to freshen up Goto. I should also mention that this match more than any other on the card has “trust Gedo” all over it because Ishii is a fresher and better matchup in my eyes and in the eyes of many others.

Junior Title

I would go with Takahashi here. I mentioned Goto being stale, I get the same feeling about Kushida. I don’t think he should win unless he is turning heel. The other two are strong choices. I think this is where NPJW has to be careful about going with so many foreigners at the expense of Japanese talent. I personally do not mind either way…to me talent is talent, but I just wonder if NJPW feels the same way. I’m okay with any of the other three besides Kushida winning (unless he turns heel like I said) I am a fan of Kushida, but it seems underwhelming just to re-establish him as the ace when it seems like his popularity is regressing. I think it is first fall wins so Ospreay winning without beating Scurll is a good story going forward (even if it is elimination that story could still be told). I think Takahashi is the best of all options

 

Pro Wrestling Youtubers…and my opinion of them

There are several pro wrestling Youtubers on….YouTube. I would do it myself, but I am too shy, I would not do it unless I could grow an audience and I could barely afford the apartment I am living in so I certainly cannot afford equipment. The Youtube shows (and I do not listen to all of them) are a good way to pass the time. I am not here to recommend channels over others. This is just a good way to discuss how I feel about them without talking to myself.

JDfromNY: The biggest positive is that he is passionate about wrestling. I say that as someone who is not a fan of ranting and raving about wrestling (most rants do not entertain me). The biggest issue that I have with JD is that while it is better to prioritize WWE for maximum viewership and exposure, one has to wonder how big of a fan of wrestling he is if he does not watch other promotions (other than House of Glory which he does announcing for). It would be one thing if he enjoyed WWE, but it seems like he hates it. If you like (or love) wrestling and hate WWE (or at least most of their shows)…then try something else to see if it is for you.

(Edit: 1/16/18). I hated his headline in his video about Paige’s retirement. I could have listened to what he said, but the headline turned me off so much. He put “who cares” in the title. There are actually two problems with that. The first is that if Paige does indeed have to retire from something she loved, it is callous to say “who cares.” It’s not necessarily a “tragedy”. but it sucks for her. The second reason is it represents JD’s approach to wrestling which is a major negative from my perspective…it is the “center of the universe approach to fandom…if I don’t like it or I don’t care, then no one else should care. That is not how it works or should work.

Good Mic Work: Good Mic Work (or Goodmicwork) has an enjoyable show. I don’t have much else to say about it. I enjoy listening every week. One criticism I have is that he often will try to soften what he thinks will be an unpopular opinion in order to avoid dislikes. If people are going to dislike a video because they do not agree with Roman Reigns beating Cesaro (a most recent example), then they are not intelligent wrestling fans. I wish Good Mic Work would not soften a legitimate opinion because a Roman Reigns hater or a John Cena hater might be offended. I do not have the same criticism of Good Mic Work as I do of JD from NY in terms of not watching other promotions, because the former does not rant about WWE as much as the latter so there is not as much (in theory) reason for Good Mic Work to watch other promotions. I know I did not say much positive about Good Mic Work, but I do very much enjoy listening to him. I just thought of a specific positive…I like that he gets what WWE is trying to do from a business standpoint. He also accepts it, so that is a positive because many people criticize things they do not like without seeing the other side of it.

Velena: Velena is okay for me. I am a subscriber so I do know when her videos come out and watch most of them. It is not destination listening for me, but it’s not a turnoff by any means. She uses the word literally too much, but that’s fine I guess. I do not know what Velena is going for in terms of coming across as an expert on wrestling (she does seem passionate about it), but I put her somewhere between JD from NY and Good Mic Work, if she wants to come across as more knowledgeable, she could stand to watch more wrestling outside of WWE…at the same time she does not seem to hate WWE like JD so it is not a case of she should just try to watch something else.

Dalyxman: Dalyxman is fine…there is some “stereotypical smark” in him, but he is a good listen. I like that he cares about the content of his channel and always tries to keep things interesting in terms of discussions and talking points. He also dabbles in other promotions which is something I respect…yeah so he is okay. I don’t have any macro or even micro criticisms that come to mind (other than the stereotypical smark thing)

Wyza: Wyza is my favorite. He seems like a cool person and he is intellectual about wrestling. There is very little ranting and if there is it makes sense. He is both engaging and intelligent when talking about wrestling. It does not get much better than that. I even subscribed to his Twitch account so that I can watch his live viewing of wrestling shows (even though I don’t watch his live viewings…live). The only criticism is that he can get distracted at times, but that’s my personal hangup. He also dabbles in NJPW and other promotions, so that is another positive.

Pro Wrestling is My Best Friend (Example 2)

This example is a more broad example than the one I gave in my last post. From the moment I started watching wrestling 31 years ago (I’m 36 now), I have not once considered not watching or taking a break. There were times where our household did not have cable so it was more difficult to watch, but I always kept up with what was going on. Furthermore, any time I had the means to watch wrestling, I always did and I always will.

Even now, I am several episodes behind on ROH. I am months behind on Impact/GFW/TNA/insert name here, there is no way I am going to watch all of World Tag League (I basically skipped to the finals) and I am a couple of episodes behind on NXT. I actually…well I kind of feel guilty. It’s similar to how I feel when I don’t answer a text from a friend or a client. I feel like I am ignoring a friend. As loyal as I am to the friends I have in real life, I feel that same loyalty (actually more) to wrestling.

Follow up on Tanahashi post

A few posts ago, I speculated on Tanahashi’s Wrestle Kingdom opponent. What NJPW decided to do was better than all of the options that I set forth. Certainly, there is some questioning about giving Switchblade Jay White such a big push (it’s the #3 match at worst for Wrestle Kingdom and it may be #2). At the same time, that is what companies should do. They should push new talent especially if they are…well talented. The match itself should be fun and White gains whether he wins or loses.

Also with the Omega-Jericho match, now we have a situation where the IC title match could in theory be #3, which is something that I did not take into account, because I figured Tanahashi had to be in the number 2 match.

How to Fix 50/50 booking…if they insist

50/50 booking is going to be a constant theme of this blog because it may be the biggest problem that WWE has in terms of getting people over. Also, knowing their patterns makes things more predictable than they should be. I would say this, I think it works better in other promotions than in WWE, because the only issue with 50/50 booking in promotions like NJPW and ROH is that it makes things predictable, but in WWE it not only creates predictability, it makes it difficult for people to get over.

With the above in mind, if 50/50 booking is going to be a reality, then there are two things that WWE could do to make it easier to digest for those in the audience who do see it as a problem.

The first is acknowledge the parity. Acknowledging the parity has to be more than “anything can happen in WWE.” It has to be treated like a sport where it is outright said that the wrestlers’ records are relatively even for the most part. I see why they would not approach things in the manner I just suggested, but at this point it is almost insulting the intelligence of the audience not to discuss the reality that 90 percent of the company is around the .500 mark (at least it seems that way). I do not always agree with Wade Keller, but one thing he often preaches that I do agree with is that companies should “own their booking”. If they want to book 50/50, then they should address it just like any other sports announcer would address parity in a league where there is obviously parity.

The second one is a bit more difficult to explain in terms of reasoning. I’ll start by saying that one thing I feel wrestling promotions should avoid (for the most part), is giving people a reason to remember that this is a “show.” When people talk about that, they usually talk about wrestlers “laying their stuff in” or not writing or producing a “hokey” segment. I agree with those sentiments. I would expand it and say that when a promotion does a match one week and then does the same match the next week…there needs to be a storyline reason for it. If Wrestler A beats Wrestler B on November 1, if there is a rematch on November 8…give us a reason. Even if that reason is on the company’s website or YouTube page. When you don’t give a reason, it makes some members of the audience think…”oh, they just want to give Wrestler B his or her win back.”

If you don’t want to give a storyline reason, go back to what I wrote in the above paragraph, just have the announcers say that the management of the show in question wanted to see if last week was a fluke or that the promotion believes that there is parity, so one match does not prove that one is better than the other and the next match is to make sure. Of course that does not explain why there would not be a third match, but this post is to make 50/50 booking work. I think it’s a poor way to book, but there are ways to make it manageable.