Despite popularity growing outside of Japan of New Japan, I do often see a lot of discontent on social media about the frequent booking of multi-tag matches in the under and mid-card of New Japan shows. I’m going to give you four reasons as to why I think these matches are worth watching.
One of the key reasons I believe that watching the multi-tag matches are worth it is the character development that you see throughout the matches and tours. This is linked with the story progression that I’m going to mention next, but the key separation here is that there doesn’t have to be a feud going on between two wrestlers for a wrestler’s character to develop in these matches. The multi-tag matches are great for allowing the Young Lions and the lower card talent (such as David Finlay & Toa Henare) to slowly earn the respect of the fans by executing convincing offence against wrestlers who are higher up the food chain. It isn’t just about being able to get the better of an offensive exchange or demonstrating that fighting spirit though. It’s also about developing their persona and their move set. With the Young Lions, you’ll notice as they wrestle more multi-tag matches, they will begin to broaden their move set and display further individuality. This isn’t exclusive to them either, when you look into the final 6 months of Okada’s reign, his behaviour during these matches involved him laughing, having a good time and just an all-round aura of arrogance. This didn’t happen overnight. This steady character progression happened and was demonstrated during these multi-tag matches. I personally find it really interesting to see the New Japan wrestler’s personalities develop during the tours within these matches.
Due to New Japan traditionally not having promos in front of the fans in attendance (unless you win the main event), the majority of the feuds are created and progressed in the multi-tag matches, which then lead to a singles match. For example, much of Jay White’s meddling and the storyline with Chaos has been told within these matches. Jay has been planting the seeds of dissent within Chaos for some time now, whether it be through trying to manipulate Roppongi 3K during the G1 tour, endorsing the behaviour of Ishii during their tag match at the G1 Finals or antagonising Yoshi-Hashi and Okada when they’ve teamed together. If you tune into these multi-tag matches, you may be quite surprised about how the actions and results of the matches play into the overall story and booking moving forward.
This is the bread and butter as to why we watch wrestling right? We’re impressed by what goes on in the ring. These matches can have great wrestling within them. Whether it be some great chain wrestling, some athletic spots, comedic moments or those classic puroresu fighting spirit duels. These matches can still provide high quality entertainment even if they’re not the top billing of the card. You also get to see encounters between Heavyweights and Jr Heavyweights, something that isn’t done as much as it should be in my opinion.
An Eye on Future Cards
Whilst this does link with the character development and storyline progression in New Japan, I also feel it’s another reason why you shouldn’t dismiss these matches. These matches often play a part in how the future matches/cards are booked. So, if a wrestler pins a champion in the tag match, it often means that the wrestler who scored the pinfall will get a title shot. These matches are also used to tease future matches. If you pay attention to the Chaos vs BC Elite tag matches recently, you’ll see Ospreay frequently asking to face Ibushi in the match. By doing this, they’re giving you a glimpse into what a singles match between them could be and in theory that means they’re looking into having it in the future. Perhaps Wrestle Kingdom 13? Who knows, but they’ve planted that seed and now I have to see it!
These are my thoughts on why you shouldn’t sleep on these matches. What are your thoughts? Do you usually watch these matches? Do you enjoy them? Let us know in the comments or via our social media!
Becky, Ronda, or Charlotte: Who Should Win?
Ok, we assume the match. But who wins?
There’s a historic women’s main event coming to WrestleMania, and it’s time to start considering who comes out on top.
We’re now one week closer to WrestleMania, and while we’re still not officially in the know about who’s going to be in the big match I think it’s a pretty safe bet that we’re going to end up with a triple threat between Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey, and Charlotte Flair. So the real question is: who wins? Is there a case for anyone other than Becky winning or is it Becky or Bust? I thought I’d take a look at it now.
Why: It’s the easy, feel good, no brainer call. There hasn’t been a feel good ending since WrestleMania 30 (32 was supposed to be one, but the whining crybabies in the crowd couldn’t stand to see the Prince of Darkness Roman Reigns win in the main event ruined that one). Becky winning won’t piss many people off in the building and would make a lot of people happy. After last year’s frustrating finish and the sad one from a year earlier, just do the simple thing and don’t try to get too clever or outsmart yourself, Vince.
Why Not: What comes next? Becky chasing the champion > Becky as champion, we’ve already seen that. Assuming Ronda takes a break after WrestleMania, then unless Charlotte comes to RAW with her then she’s going to be in the position of having to work as champion against a roster of opponents that either don’t appear to be on her level or could outshine her in a one on one setting, and that could make things difficult after the post-Mania glow starts to fade (I talked about this more here). Us as fans don’t have to worry about that but when you’re booking things, you do. Her character is going to hit a crossroads soon after and if they feel that the long term investment with her at the top will not pay off then taking the hit now and moving forward may be what they want to do.
Why: First up if she is going to take a break right afterwards then there is no why. She’s gotta drop the tile. But if she isn’t then you gotta look at the headlines. The biggest mainstream coverage afterwards would come with her winning. ‘MMA Champion conquers WWE at WrestleMania’ will get a lot more play then anything about her losing. To the casual observers, people who don’t watch at all, or people who only pay attention on a surface level she’s the name that draws the attention and there’s more momentum to be gained with them by still having her on top than taking a loss. For them, once she loses the story is over and it’s time to find something else to do so better to have something to keep their attention. As well as the women have performed the driving force behind the interest in their side has been Ronda being there and you want to keep that going as long as you can.
Why not: Your hardcore audience has talked themselves into believing that Ronda losing is a foregone conclusion. If it doesn’t happen a lot of them are going to be pissed. That’s pretty much it. If she’s not taking a break then it’s perfectly logical for her to win and keep the title.
Why not: I’m flipping things around here on purpose. Charlotte winning neither pays off the heroes journey story Becky is on or maximizes media coverage like Ronda winning could. To the people who have fallen hard for Becky, this would literally be the evil prevailing and would feed the narrative of Vince giving Charlotte everything because of her last name (and that is beyond tired by the way). It would be a crushing blow and might make some of them want to quit entirely. The only people who would be happy are the Charlotte fans like myself, and there would be a deluge of dirty diaper podcasts going on and on about the old man losing it again. Wrestling twitter would be ablaze about it, too. And in a world where a lot of fans take out their anger with a finish not by booing the heel but ranting about Vince, it really may not be worth the headache no matter what you planned.
Why: She’s the safest bet long term. Ronda is not going to be around 10 more years and there’s no real certainty to how long Becky’s run can maintain it’s momentum win or lose. Charlotte may never be as popular with hardcore fans as Becky is now but she is the best performer on the Women’s side and projects greatness in a way that is always going to draw attention and make her matches feel like a big deal. We know that she can perform at a high and compelling level as champion, which matters. And we’ve seen she can maintain some level of interest even without the full weight of the machine behind her like Becky is getting now. In two years Ronda may be gone for good and Becky cooled off, but Charlotte will probably be where she is now. If they think that taking this heel thing up a notch and really riding with it is the way to go then they may want to go with it now instead of waiting a few months to put a title back on her anyway. Also, the backlash may not be as big as wrestling twitter would have you believe. If the plan was always for her to win, and they have a map going forward with it after the show then my own fan bias notwithstanding I think they should stick with the plan.
So what’s the Final Verdict?
Man, I don’t know. On the one hand there is the emotional payoff with Becky and then on the other hand there are what may be the better structural decisions with either long term with Charlotte or short term with Ronda. My preference as a fan is for Charlotte, my gut says just give the loudest voices what they want with Becky, and what little business acumen I have says go with Ronda assuming she’s not going for a break. Decisions, decisions…….
Aw screw it. Ronda’s going on a break, Charlotte’s the best woman on the roster, she’s been having kick ass matches for the past year, she’s put Becky over a million times and has been as much a part of her rise as Becky herself. It’s about time excellence got properly rewarded and pushed like it should be. Enough with the damn underdogs, you don’t really like them as much as you think anyway. Give her the dam victory, she’s earned it. Suck it, haters.
And next year, we do the same for the Big Dog!!
Comics & Wrestling: More In Common Than You Thought?
Do comics and wrestling have more in common than we think?
Guest column from Chad Aaron shows the relation between comics and wrestling–even more than you think?
I was in a waiting room not too long ago and happened to be wearing a wrestling t-shirt, featuring The Shield. An older woman asked me if those were comic book characters on my shirt, and not being in the mood for a discussion at the time, I simply told her yes. As I sat and waited. I started thinking about it. Wrestlers are very much like live-action comic book characters. There is a lot of crossover between the respective fanbases. Here are some examples.
NOTE: The following are generalizations. I’m not a comic book reader, so coming at me with “Well, so-and-so does/doesn’t do this thing you said” misses the entire point of this discussion.
Wrestlers Have A Superpower: Their Finisher
Comic book heroes and villains generally have a defined superpower, some multiple ones. Most wrestles have a finishing move, something they do better than anyone else. Top stars may have more than one. Superman can fly and has x-ray vision. The Undertaker is known for the Tombstone & Last Ride, among others.
Most Wrestlers Have An Alter Ego: Them In Real Life
Most wrestlers use a different name than they have in real life. Same thing in the comic book universe(s) And then they will change names as situations and stories evolve. Dick Grayson was Robin, then Nightwing. Steve Austin was Stunning before he was Stone Cold, and his given last name is actually Williams.
Wrestlers, Like Superheroes, Have A Backstory
Most superheroes and villains have a detailed backstory that makes them who they are. Most wrestlers who stay with a company for any significant length of time will have their own collection of stories, this team, that heel/face turn, this title chase, etc…
Superheroes And Wrestlers Both Tend To Form Groups
There are alliances and groups formed for varying reasons. The nWo, DX, Four Horsemen, even The New Day. Comics have X-Men, Avengers, Justice League, Suicide Squad, among many others.
Hero/Villian Alignment Changes
You will see wrestlers turn heel/face, and heroes who become villains. This happens more often in Wrestling but is not unheard of in comic books.
Storylines Involve Real Life Situations
Storylines go beyond fighting crimes and/or fighting in the ring. Both deal with relationships, love, broken trust, enemies-becoming-allies, you name it. Family dynamics make up a significant portion of stories in each universe.
Someone Real Is Putting This On
Comic books will have a variety of writers and artists handling them, each with their own take and spin on the character. Wrestling has a never-ending series of bookers and creative teams and match agents and producers, all of whom have varying ideas what a wrestler will do or say.
Both Have Large Companies And Independents
Comics are dominated by a couple of large companies and a myriad of smaller ones. Wrestling has had a similar dynamic since the mid-80’s. In both realms, the various companies often have similar characters and occasionally, ones with the same names.
Comics And Wrestling Each Have The Most Passionate Fanbase
And the fanbases of each are very, very passionate. When a wrestler does something out of character, the reaction is swift and immediate. When a movie strays from the comic cannon, the reaction is equally heated.
Of course, there have been a few examples of crossover between the two. Stephen Amell, the actor behind the Green Arrow, has wrestled a number of matches with several companies, including a WWE Pay-per-view. Rey Mysterio Jr. and Finn Balor (as Prince Devitt) have been known to incorporate superhero designs into their wrestling attire.