Puroresu Love & Resources V3

King Kamala

Integral Poster
IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Titles are officially unified and Kota Ibushi is officially the first ever IWGP World Heavyweight Champion (with new title belt), per Tokyo Sports
 

The Amazing Rando

Integral Poster
Are there any good reasons for not having a mid-tier heavyweight singles title? The roster seems like it's big enough to use such a thing, but as I don't follow it all that closely, maybe I'm wrong.
 

Hoff

EVERYTHING
It's a shame, to me, that they even booked themselves into this position. They had the Intercontinental belt built up as a true secondary world championship, as opposed to a midcard belt (US) or an entry level one (NEVER). There was a place for all four bets, even as their roster dwindled a bit. Of all the ones to lose, I think that the IC Title had the most value and made them stand out from WWE. So it's a damn shame, if you ask me. But given where things were at, it's also well overdue.
 
I like this move. There were too many heavy singles titles. Let the US title be the main title on Strong and elevate the NEVER title. Good timing that they put it on Tanahashi as he can help do that.
 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
Here are the brackets for the New Japan Cup. EVIL gets a bye on basis of winning the 2020 Cup and Tanahashi gets a bye since he's NEVER Openweight Champion.

As usual, they've thrown in a few heaters in the first round (SHINGO-OKADA!!!) to make those shows less monotonous. Feel free to fill out those brackets, gentlemen.

I'm amazed at how many people are poopooing the Kota Ibushi-El Desperado main event on Thursday. I can see argument that result's too predictable but despite the name, anniversary show isn't a massive major event (its usually ME'd by a non title match) and I think that match will be an absolute heater. I'll take a predictable title defense against a wild card like Despy over Ibushi's other post WK storylines.
 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
Posting video of Inoki receiving physical therapy at old folks home is most @BruiserBrody thing ever.

What happened to him? He seemed relatively spry by his standards at Liger’s retirement ceremony last year .
 

BruiserBrody

Integral Poster
Posting video of Inoki receiving physical therapy at old folks home is most @BruiserBrody thing ever.

What happened to him? He seemed relatively spry by his standards at Liger’s retirement ceremony last year .
Wrestling legend Antonio Inoki, 77, is suffering from a rare heart condition, cardiac amyloidosis, according to the latest Wrestling Observer Radio.

Also known as “stiff heart syndrome,” it’s abnormal protein build-up on internal organs that cause problems with normal heart functions. It’s considered a heredity disease, and not attributed to anything he’s done previously in his life.

Inoki has been in “bad shape for awhile” and has been taking expensive medication to help fight back the problem. Inoki has described it like he’s “suffocating.”

As seen below, Inoki made an appearance ? via video ? to send a message to Jushin Liger during his retirement ceremony back in January.

 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
Someone who has been watching New Japan Pro Wrestling for more than two years can be an accurate judge but a lot of talk on Wrestling Twitter about the titles merging marking the end of this era. Not only that but you got a current junior being the #1 title contender, very real possibility of Okada and Naito both being knocked out of the first round of New Japan Cup. To me, it does feel like 2021 is the first year of a rebuild, with all of the qualities (or lack thereof) that entails.
 

cobainwasmurdered

CWM
Staff member
they do the junior champ vs heavy champ every year it really doesn't mean anything. Naito and Okada are not both going out in the first round. I would strongly bet on both winning but maybe one will lose. Not huge on the brackets tbh. Either Ishii or Sanada will be out right away either shingo or okada. and then a ton of fat might advance. i know they want to make some big matches for the first round but it just leads to the same stuff every year.

I'm very skeptical about njpw's direction. Looking back at everything they really should have had SANADA turn heel instead of EVIL. He would have actually been able to work the main events and the fans are far far more into him. Japan in general outside of maybe dragon gate feels very stale right now. I hope that NJPW surprises me and does do something interesting.
 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
they do the junior champ vs heavy champ every year it really doesn't mean anything.
I'm aware of that but it just SEEMS different to me this year because the title is actually on the line and there's actually a storyline (albeit a very short term one) leading into the match. It's usually a non title, all star game type match.

I filled out my bracket for Sport of Pro Wrestling and I got to say I'm not a huge fan either. It feels very very heel heavy. I have a heel-heel final (EVIL Vs Will Ospreay...cue groans from CWM) and 3 out of 4 semi finalists being heels, which I feel like is a likely if not probable scenario.
 

Slayer

I have no lies or truth in what I say
Someone who has been watching New Japan Pro Wrestling for more than two years can be an accurate judge but a lot of talk on Wrestling Twitter about the titles merging marking the end of this era. Not only that but you got a current junior being the #1 title contender, very real possibility of Okada and Naito both being knocked out of the first round of New Japan Cup. To me, it does feel like 2021 is the first year of a rebuild, with all of the qualities (or lack thereof) that entails.
History is better judged with a bit more distance in the rear-view mirror so I wouldn't say anything yet about today, but abolishing the IC belt after a decade does feel like a definitive marker for it. I personally consider the current era as having started from Okada's first IWGP title win, but could not have considered it such at the time given the initial response. What if at the time Okada never gains support from his first reign plus his work between then and his second win? What if his first reign winds up as his only reign because the response winds up as "yeah don't ever give him the title again please" (as seems to be the current perception of Evil's reign last year)? It took a couple years of establishing himself for me to be able to look back and say "okay New Beginning 2012 was definitely the start of this current period"

Shame about replacing the main title design, as I was a big fan, but it's not surprising given they change it about once a decade. The first one lasted from 1987 to 1998, and the second from '98 to 2008, after which we got the current design which has now become the longest lived of the belts

As for the IC belt, I've probably spilt enough words as to why I wasn't a big fan of it but at the same time take little delight from its demise. If anything I feel like the adage of a dog finally catching the car it was chasing, going "...okay, now what?"
 
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Hoff

EVERYTHING
1. Losing the IC title is still some bullshit

I have to agree about the end of an era thing to a point; honestly, I think we've been in some sad transitional period since Kenny Omega split town. Reason being, we had Tanahashi and Okada as these huge, amazing rivals, and after WK10, when Okada finally reached the summit, Omega came up and the roles ended up flipping, with Okada/Omega being the new great rivalry, but with Okada in the veteran role. And who knows how it would have shaken out, but when Kenny and Co. split town, it forced Jay White, who is a fine worker and a great scummy heel, to move from the role of the guy who takes up time between the big feuds to the guy who was supposed to *be* the big feud, and your mileage may vary, but I don't buy Jay in that role, I don't think he's suited to that role, and while I don't think they need a new gaijin, they need someone new to step up.

And God bless, they gave my boy EVIL (who isn't the technician SANADA is but I will die on the hill that he's a far better choice as a top guy) the ball in the most ass way possible, not that he did a lot to make it work, and now they're in a spot where the Bullet Club is all muddled and the top two main heel groups in BC and Suzuki-Gun have no bona fide world title contenders. And the booking at WK has been ass for two years running; Kota should have won it all at WK14, which was furloughed to give Naito a moment that came two years too late to begin with, and then had him lose his shot at this year's show only to eke back into it anyway. Now he's here and he has no one to work with except Okada and I guess Jay; they blew the Naito rematch *immediately* so now it's gonna be treading water until Kaz and his terrible submission hold or Jay and his beady little eyes and god-awful greasy beard come up and from there I dunno what they're gonna do but they need to elevate someone so to cycle off my rant and get back to the point at hand, I think we're in the era we've been in, an era of transition, and the belts are just another sign of that transition. It might end up great if the US stuff takes off and they get an influx of new talent and maybe they give Shingo the ball for a bit or I dunno. It could also be more of the same until - or unless - lightning strikes and they find someone who can really light the ring up with Kota (who isn't Tomohiro Ishii because the world isn't fair and he's 3 foot 6).

TLDR: they need new stars. They have the WWE problem where there's lots of talent that isn't really being used correctly, and having a WWE problem is a real weird place for New Japan to be in.

As I'm fond of saying when I get extra ranty, I could be way off base with all of this. I haven't watched as many shows in 2020, but I do try to keep up with their goings on.
 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
If last few months are any judge, my man Yuji Nagata is going all the way in the New Japan Cup.

Speaking of old dogs, the NOAH show in two weeks with Mutoh making his first GHC Title defense against Kaito Kiyomiya is available for order on Fite and you can bet your ass I'm dropping $19.99 to see if that gimpy gorilla Mutoh can whoop some Gen Z ass.


IRT to New Japan's issues in March 2021. You could break it down a lot of way but I think it mainly comes down to NJPW being in denial that they totally blew their easy lay up chance to crossover in North America in 2017-19.

To break it down into subcategories, I'd say they're trying to cater to the Western audience without having a really good grasp of what the hell a Western audience in 2021 wants. Related to that, I think that there's too many aspects that remind me of the worst of late '90s wrestling (STABLE WARZ, chickenshit finishes). And a huge problem which my man @Hoff alluded to a bit is there's really no strong babyfaces at the moment.

What the hell is wrong with Okada? Three years ago, I would have said he's got the best chance of any puro guy to crossover in North America since Muta. He should be (and probably still is) in the midst of his prime. Why the hell is he doing a wily veteran gimmick that's befitting of a guy 5 or 10 years older than him? I'm not sure if they ever should have stopped building the company around him. To me, Naito and Ibushi, they're like ice cream & French fries. Good treats to have but you don't want to build a meal around them. Okada is the steak. Maybe I should have eaten a bigger breakfast.
 

Hoff

EVERYTHING
NJPW....totally blew their easy lay up chance to crossover in North America in 2017-19.
Oof. This x1000.


What the hell is wrong with Okada? Three years ago, I would have said he's got the best chance of any puro guy to crossover in North America since Muta. He should be (and probably still is) in the midst of his prime. Why the hell is he doing a wily veteran gimmick that's befitting of a guy 5 or 10 years older than him? I'm not sure if they ever should have stopped building the company around him. To me, Naito and Ibushi, they're like ice cream & French fries. Good treats to have but you don't want to build a meal around them. Okada is the steak. Maybe I should have eaten a bigger breakfast.
I think Ibushi is a great choice as a guy to elevate and build around, although he's older than people think (he turns 39 in May, to Okada's 33). With Kenny gone and Tana winding down, Ibushi could be/could have been a great choice to be the next big Okada rival and have the two of them be the collective centerpiece for the next few years. That doesn't seem to be the road they're going down, but who knows.

I still remember thinking it was crazy to not have Okada go over Jay at WK 13, considering they ran the whole gimmick of Kaz being out of sorts after his loss to Kenny. Him coming out with the old music and tights for that match was an incredibly simple yet powerful piece of storytelling that "hey, Okada has found himself, he's back and he's here to kick ass" and while I like that they wanted to put Jay over strong (even though he's not my guy), this was one of those times where the obvious decision was probably the right one. But regardless, that night should have been the end of Okada being anything other than, well, Okada for a good long while. The one thing is, with his history and track record, it's fairly easy for them to pivot Okada back to Ace status whenever they feel like it.

But, even if they fix Okada and run him and Ibushi against each other for an extended period, they still need to look at getting some new blood up top.
 
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Hoff

EVERYTHING
While I'm yelling.

I'm still so pissed that they had Ibushi 1. lose the briefcase to begin with and 2. get the WK main event spot anyway because by having him still work his way into the main event, let alone walk away with the gold, undercuts the suspense of defending the case in the first place, because if you lose it, who the hell cares. Winning the case at all is lessened to begin with by the two-night format, or more accurately, the decision to defend the world title on both shows. That decision is even more confusing when, as I said earlier in this thread, New Japan HAD a perfectly good 1A title in the Intercontinental belt, a belt which has main evented Wrestle Kingdom before, but chose instead to unify the titles for, as much as I can see, no good reason other than to do it.

But beyond the flaws in how they've handled the case and the main event slot over the last couple years, to take Kota Ibushi - a guy who had been on the cusp for years, who really should have been booked as strongly as he could if you're going to say "this is the year", to have this be the guy to lose it just to show it can be lost is puzzling to me. I don't hate it happening, but you can do it in a way where it makes sense in story. Give it to a heel whose pride causes the fall; give it to a hero battling through injury, or a veteran who gets caught by a young up and comer. With Kota, I'm not sure if they thought the vulnerability would make people cheer harder for him or what, but it feels like a missed opportunity to save that for a story beat.

The only reason I bring it up now is in regards to New Japan's struggles over the last couple years as they go through this transitional period. Say what you want, but the last several briefcase winners before that were pretty easy calls, as were the storylines we were gonna see play into Wrestle Kingdom, and while there's something to be said for unpredictability, I think most found the pretty straightforward and big star-driven era of the last several years pretty entertaining.
 

cobainwasmurdered

CWM
Staff member
Okada is 33. Ibushi is 38. Okada is going to be the face of the company for a long time. They spent something like 100 million yen to build his profile and have him appear in all kinds of media and other things. Ibushi has done a fantastic job somehow avoiding major injuries but if anyone is going to break down first it is him. This is basically just Balloon Okada again where he's wasting time until he finds himself and remembers he's the Rainmaker. They cool him off so they can build guys up for him to beat.

NJPW didn't really blow their chance to crossover. The main guys they were depending on were offered money they couldn't possibly match to form their own company. Before that things were going very well.


I agree they need to build up new stars but I really don't see any big changes happening. Okada will be the Ace. Ibushi, Naito, Evil, Sanada, Jay, Ospreay, and a couple others like KENTA and Sabre will be the supporting cast and get chances to shine. Maybe I'm wrong and Ibushi will supplant him permanatly but I doubt it and tbh I don't think it would be best for business either. Okada whatever the recent issues with his character is the guy I'd count on to build the company on long term.


Also Tanahashi is not going to wind down. He's going to go until the wheels fall off. People have been predicting he's done for at least 10 years. He's gonna be crabwalking like Mutoh and hitting dragon scrws and High Fly Flows to win titles in his 60s.
 

Big Beard Booty Daddy

Canadian Destroyer213
I'm very interested to see what happens when they start bringing in the next crop of Lions as main roster players. Ren Narita had a huge win against Dickinson last week, and he's going to be a star. Shota is going to be a top guy from everything he showed when he was a Lion. Tsuji, Yuya, and Gabriel Kidd all look great and to be players. Then you have the US Lions. Fredericks is going to be a top guy once he can travel. Clark Connors is a stud and just graduated. Jason Knight just started as a Lion and already looks amazing, and Alex Coughlin is back from injury and looked great at Bloodsport.
 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
GOOD!

I'm very interested to see what happens when they start bringing in the next crop of Lions as main roster players. Ren Narita had a huge win against Dickinson last week, and he's going to be a star. Shota is going to be a top guy from everything he showed when he was a Lion. Tsuji, Yuya, and Gabriel Kidd all look great and to be players. Then you have the US Lions. Fredericks is going to be a top guy once he can travel. Clark Connors is a stud and just graduated. Jason Knight just started as a Lion and already looks amazing, and Alex Coughlin is back from injury and looked great at Bloodsport.
I've only been following NJPW casually for five years and really closely for past two years so Idk if they did the same thing with previous Young Lions classes but the commentary teams REALLY seem to be emphasizing how special this group is and how we could see them in main events in 3 to 5 years. Tsuji seems to be focal point of Tanahashi's matches moreso than previous Tana's young lion cheerleaders. Yuya has his ongoing mini feud with Suzuki.

Karl Fredericks is just one of those guys that looks like a huge star. If he can talk decently, I could see him top gaijin and the guy they build STRONG around.
 

Big Beard Booty Daddy

Canadian Destroyer213
I saw Karl in Best of the West (a company out of So-Cal) about 3 years ago. He looked like he had a ton of potential but just needed to put it together. He's been amazing since joining the Dojo. He's got a ton of upside, and could be their big homegrown gaijin.
 

Slayer

I have no lies or truth in what I say
I feel like they were saying that about the class from 3-4 years ago as well and so far all we've gotten out of that is Master Watto, Great-O-Carny and a seemingly can't miss prospect who's already out of the biz
 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
Gabe Kidd seems forgotten compared to Tsuji and Yuya amongst the Lions currently stuck in Japan but I really like him as well. I think he could be a great bruiser in vein of Fit Finlay. Actually he seems more like Fit than Fit's actual kid.

I feel like they were saying that about the class from 3-4 years ago as well and so far all we've gotten out of that is Master Watto, Great-O-Carny and a seemingly can't miss prospect who's already out of the biz
Great O-KizzarnyCarny Khan, regardless of how you feel about him, is someone who NJPW obviously plans on making a huge star in relative near future. He's grown on me and does some genuinely cool monster heel stuff. Gimmick is still the absolute pits though.

As for Master Wato, well, um, I guess wrestling needs its comedy guys too.
 

Big Beard Booty Daddy

Canadian Destroyer213
Kidd is a great talent. I saw a couple of shows with him before he joined NJ, and he was very, very good already. He could be great.

I think it all depends on what gimmicks these Lions come back with. Wato has very good in-ring talent, but the gimmick is silly. I heard Mike Sempervive compare O-Khan to Togi Makabe on WOL the other day, and that is a great comparison as far as his style goes. He still needs a bit more work, but his match against Tana the other day was fantastic. I know it was largely Tana, but O-Khan has been getting better since he came in. He could be a great brawler, and to be a Makabe level wrestler isn't bad at all. A gimmick tweek/change to both Wato and O-Khan, and I think it could help them.
 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
Wato has moments where I think he's really putting it all together and could be a promising member of the junior division than he botches a move as badly as anything I'll see on a shindy show and I'm like "WTH?". Like I know his gimmick is he's guy that's learning (or trying to "master") wrestling but he's not good enough to purposely botch that bad lol.
 

Slayer

I have no lies or truth in what I say
GOK's work has been good, yes, but the fuckin Khan gimmick has just been a complete deal-breaker for me that I can't look past it

Wato is fine enough for his position in the company ATM, just rather silly is all. Even if he changed and serious'd up his character though he's often got this really doofy look on his face that makes it hard for me to take him seriously otherwise. Wataru Inoue (how's that for a forgotten name) had that same issue
 
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