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Top 5: Japanese Wrestlers Outside of New Japan (2018)

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Let’s show some love to the Japanese promotions with less visibility. Andrew let’s us know who to put on your radar, outside of New Japan.

After doing this last year, I figured it would be fun to throw out some names that people aren’t familiar with.

If you see on last year’s list we saw Shingo Takagi join New Japan as a part of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Naomichi Marufuji won All Japan’s Champion Carnival and Katsuhiko Nakajima went through an entire personality overhaul with a couple GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title reigns.

I mentioned those 3 names since Shingo is no longer available for this list and the other two didn’t quite make the Top 5, but there’s plenty of reasons why.

So new year, new list, just no one in New Japan. Let’s get to it.

 

5. Ben-K (Dragon Gate)

Now after the King of Gate tournament, I personally lost interest in Dragon Gate, but Ben-K has been the light in the darkness for me. Earlier this year he had a great match against then champion Masaaki Mochizuki for the Open the Dream Gate title, and seemed to be set up for bigger things. A heel turn towards the end of this year, joining R.E.D. (the same group as Eita and PAC), a decent showing in the King of Gate tournament, another failed Dream Gate shot at Masato Yoshino, as well as, holding the Open the Twin Gate title twice this year with Big R Shimizu, puts him in an interesting position.

With PAC as the current Open the Dream Gate champion, there’s a good chance he doesn’t see another title shot for a while. But being one half of the current tag champions and in one of the hotter heel stables…keep an eye out for him.

 

Masaaki Mochizuki (c) vs. Ben-K от RealHero на Rutube.

 

4.  Zeus (AJPW)

This year was a big step for Zeus. Being primarily a “solid contender”, but never getting passed that moniker, he saw the most success of his career. Starting off strong with a failed attempt for the Triple Crown against then champion Joe Doering, but rebounding the next month to win the Tag Titles with his partner Bodyguard. Even though they dropped the titles right before the Champion Carnival, Zeus had a great showing barely getting edged out by Naomichi Marufuji on the last day.

That didn’t slow his resolve, since he got another Triple Crown shot in June, and this time he made the most of it. Finally defeating the Ace of All Japan, Kento Miyahara, Zeus won the Triple Crown to quite a resounding applause. He only had one defense, in a rather lackluster match against Shuji Ishikawa, before dropping it back to Miyahara in what is most likely All Japan’s Match of the Year (see below).

But after being so close for the last few years, Zeus finally got past his biggest road block, Kento Miyahara, on a few different occasions.

 

 

3. Shotaro Ashino (Wrestle-1)

Our first returning name from last year, helped his case immensely by showing more versatility and resolve. A few days before officially holding the belt for 1 year, Ashino lost the World Title to Manabu Soya in March. This however didn’t crush his spirit and just caused him to adjust. He teamed up with Kuma Arashi to win the tag titles, unveiled a new T-Bone Suplex as a finisher and won the Wrestle-1 Grand Prix.

So as with most tournaments, winners gets a title shot, and Ashino ended up winning the title back from Soya in September, and is still the current holder.So he went from 7 defenses and nearly a year title reign as only a 3 year pro. Now moving into his fourth year, another title reign, a new move, and a lot of future potential for this rising young star.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Naomichi Marufuji – Number 2 last year, he won the AJPW Champion Carnival, well-advertised match against Hideo Itami for his 20th Anniversary Show, and even won his block in the NOAH Global League. But injuries slowed him a bit, and we all should know how good he is. So I figured I’d give some of the younger wrestlers the spotlight.

Yuji Hino – An impressive showing in AJPW’s Champion Carnival where he lead A Block until pretty much the last day, along with debuting as the newest member of Hooligans in Pro Wrestling NOAH. The man is built like a house, with a resonating sarcastic attitude that tends to add a different element to many promotions. Currently half of the GHC Heavyweight Tag Champions, and sky’s really the limits depending on how long he chooses to stay in one spot.

 

2. Kaito Kiyomiya (Pro Wrestling NOAH)

Where to start with this boy? He returned to the company at the tail end of 2017 after a 6 month excursion in Border City Wrestling. Holding much respect and regard for Mistuharu Misawa and his legacy, he even started adopting more of Misawa’s repertoire and even green attire as his own.

He was the youngest winner of the Global Tag League and Global League in NOAH, he won the GHC Tag Titles with Go Shiozaki and eventually capped off his amazing 2018 with a surprise victory over Takashi Sugiura to become the new and youngest GHC Heavyweight Champion. At only 22 years old, he started off hot, the fans seem to appreciate his polite demeanor and reverence for Misawa.

It should be interesting to see how he evolves, but with the trajectory he’s on right now, it’s inevitable he’s going to make headlines for a while.

 

1. Kento Miyahara (AJPW)

Was there a doubt who number 1 was going to be? The Ace of All Japan, the franchise, Kento is everything you want out of a wrestler. He’s charismatic, children love him, he puts of great matches and always seems to be having fun. With knee strikes that make Kenny Omega’s look lazy (yes I said it), and a throwback move set since he wins most matches with a Shutdown Suplex Hold (arm capture German Suplex), he’s a great balance.

Beating Joe Doering and Zeus for the Triple Crown this year, winning the Tag Titles with Yoshitatsu, making it to the finals of the Champion Carnival and winning the Odou Tournament…this whole year just added to an already great resume. The only real negative that can be said, is that All Japan needs to start building around him since he’s the obvious Ace and eclipses everyone else.

 

Thoughts:

This is done to bring some names to light that people may not know. Even if New Japan had a down year compared to 2017, there was more chatter and more eyes, but on only one company. Yes I understand trying to juggle streaming services or just following multiple companies is a big ask, and yes it would be more convenient if there was one hub for it all. But let’s not start treating New Japan like Japanese WWE.

By that I mean, let’s not clamor for wrestlers from other organizations to go there, and ignore any other place they may be or perceive it as less than, just because it doesn’t happen where you want it to.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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(NOAH) WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.31~ 21ST APRIL 2019

With the Global Tag League in full effect, Hisame brings us those weekly NOAH updates! Read up on one of the best Japanese promotions that tends to fly under the radar!

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With the Global Tag League in full effect, Hisame brings us those weekly NOAH updates! Read up on one of the best Japanese promotions that tends to fly under the radar!

CURRENT TOUR RECAP
NOAH’s first show back on the mainland was held on a midweek night, and while the attendance was not good (819), the show was intense and the fans that did not go were lamenting that they were prevented from going due to it being a midweek night, and therefore, a work night.

Due to Quiet Storm sustaining a concussion after receiving a kick to the head from Kenoh in Sapporo, NOAH have changed their cards (no date has been given for a return of either himself or Kimya Okada yet), and 50 Funky Powers have so far been deducted four points, as per the rules of Global Tag League which counts a team being unable to compete as an automatic loss and a win for the other team (hence the reason why The Tough have two points), and Rocky Kawamura was drafted in to compete at Korakuen Hall. His gimmick is Rocky (the character from the films), and Mohammed

Yone took his name from Mohammed Ali, so you had two boxing fans together.

Yone laughed afterwards and said that he himself might try coming to the ring in boxing gloves.

True to his word, NOSAWA Rongai bought a “friend” to Korakuen Hall.

The “friend” turned out to be Hideki Suzuki who had a match in 2018 in NOAH against Naomichi Marufuji and Atsushi Kotoge (he teamed with Jay Bradley), but wasn’t seen at all again until 2019.

Suzuki got in the ring and asked for a tag match against Marufuji (Suzuki will team with NOSAWA), as he was at ringside (and all of the heavyweights are tied up in Global Tag League), Marufuji, after telling Suzuki that he should build his own gang, said “lets just have a match” and nominated Junta Miyawaki to be his partner. Miyawaki told NOSAWA that he was going to get the victory over him.

Match has been set for the last night of Global Tag League on May 4th.

When asked why he was here, Hideki said he was “job hunting” and hadn’t been employed since the beginning of the year. He later admitted that he was here for himself.

As if the Korakuen Hall crowd weren’t wound up enough, there was a HUGE upset for AXIZ when Masao Inoue (whom the crowd had been cheering on), got the sneak win over Katsuhiko Nakajima.

After the match, Inoue and Saito went to imitate AXIZ’S pose, but at the last moment Saito walked away leaving Inoue to crash to the floor.

The crowd laughed.

Saito laughed louder.

Nakajima, however, didn’t find anything amusing and said that Masao Inoue has borrowed something big, and he will be coming to take it back.

Whatever it is that is going on between Stinger and Daisuke Harada took another turn at Korakuen Hall.

Yoshinari Ogawa offered his hand to Daisuke Harada again, and Harada went to take it, but Tadasuke objected. Harada shoved him aside, and Tadasuke fell against the ropes with a look of surprise. Ogawa tried again, but this time YO-HEY came between them. After that, Harada looked at his hand and just left the ring.

AXIZ were not the only team to have a bad night at Korakuen Hall, their rivals in KAIOH did too.

Takashi Sugiura (complete with stitches after the headbutts from Atsushi Kotoge in Sapporo) stood still and staring at his two former protegees as they entered the ring.

They probably knew that it was a very very bad sign. This match was not about “The Sugiura Army” beating KAIOH, this was about Takashi Sugiura beating down two upstarts, and although they put him through hell, he prevailed with the headlock choke on Kaito Kiyomiya. After the match he got on the microphone and told Kiyomiya that he wouldn’t push the issue now as it was Global Tag League, but he wanted Kiyomiya to remember, that he would be coming for the title.

NOAH held their next event on Sunday 21st April at a new venue (which had been a former fish market) in springtime Niigata. Attendance was a full house of 865.

Naturally, being an event by the Shinano River, a fight went outside and to the riverside, and Marufuji almost threw YO-HEY in. Tadasuke thought it would have been funny, but YO-HEY said that the next time NOAH come to the venue, he is going to bring goggles and a flotation device for Marufuji.

Marufuji’s response was basically, “bring them for yourself”.

Fact is, that if NOAH go back there in the summer or autumn, someone will most likely go in (probably Kotoge in his cape).

Daisuke Harada made the first defense ever of the IPW Junior Heavyweight title against Hitoshi Kumano. While I don’t have too much details on the match itself, one fan did liken it to a fight that one of the Four Pillars would have put on. It was that intense.

Harada said that he wants his next challenger to be British, and said it would be interesting to see if anyone came over to NOAH. He also said that with Global Junior Tag League starting, he was equally interested to see if a team would enter.

When asked about the handshake with Ogawa, Harada walked away.

Yoshinari Ogawa had said that you could see how the situation was developing, as Kotaro Suzuki added, “If the leader’s heart is swayed, then the team is over”

Kaioh were almost beaten in Global Tag League by The Inferno. That was until Kiyomiya changed the tide of the match, and got the pin via the Tiger Suplex on Maybach Taniguchi.

So far Kenoh has not managed to get a single win at Global Tag League. Once the league is over, and especially if Kaioh do not win the titles, then his resentment is going to erupt.

As of the time of writing, The Sugiura Army lead the scoreboard with eight points.


EVENT RECAPS
April 17th – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo
April 21st – Mandaijima Multipurpose, Niigata

Post match promos – April 13th, Mars Gym, Sapporo
Post match promos – April 14th, Mars Gym, Sapporo
Post match promos – April 17th, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo

NEWS
Fortune Dream6 & “TAKAYAMANIA EMPIRE 2”
On the 17th April at Korakuen Hall, Kenta Kobashi announced that Fortune Dream6 would return on June 10th. NOAH participation was announced as Go Shiozaki and Yoshiki Inamura vs Yuji Okabayashi & Kazusada Higuchi. Addtionally, Masa Kitamiya will team with Yuya Aoki against  Shoki Kitamura & Towa Iwasaki.

Yoshihiro Takayama has announced via his official blog, that “TAKAYAMANIA EMPIRE 2” will be held on Monday, August 26 2019 at Korakuen Hall.
Card to be announced.

Although Takayama cannot be at the show (although he wants to find a way to be there), there is good news on the horizon as he says that his condition is improving gradually and he can now feel the soles of his feet.

CURRENT CHAMPIONS


TOUR TIDBITS
~ Although he cannot wrestle due to concussion, Kinya Okada has been seen at ringside doing his usual duties. Poor boy looks sad, like he did when he was unable to debut due to injury.
~ Minoru Tanaka was hungover at the Niigata event. Said he hoped it would help his hangover. It didn’t.
~ Each time Atsushi Kotoge went to do the “Revolutionary Hero” pose, Marufuji smacked his arm down (Yoshiki Inamura in Niigata was a little more game)
~ Takashi Sugiura said there are to be no further entries into the “Sugiura Army”, he also doesn’t like NOSAWA being put at the center of the group in the official photographs for the new “Sugiura Army” t-shirts.
~ I don’t want to know exactly what a “YO-HEY Teriyaki McBurger” is
~ Takashi Sugiura’s most infamous dog video this week was him on his lap, and chewing the cord of his tracksuit pants.


BROADCASTS
The 4th May Global Tag League finals will be broadcast at 10pm JST on Samurai TV
The 28th May show will be broadcast live at 6.30pm JST on G+ (its the first night of Global Tag League)


LINKS
King Shame, Takashi Sugiura on becoming the core of the new born Noah

PICTURE CREDITS: NOAH GHC, PKDX, Daisuke Harada


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Mathew’s AJPW Champion Carnival B Block Results & Review: Part 3

Another few days, Mathew brings us another part of the Champion Carnival! All Japan’s biggest tournament of the year keeps churning in quality! How is B block going?

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Another few days, Mathew brings us another part of the Champion Carnival! All Japan’s biggest tournament of the year keeps churning in quality!

Welcome back to the Carnival, as we look at the next three shows for the part of the ongoing tournament.

The last part had a lot of solid matches and some nice victories that changed the game a little bit. As we get a little bit closer to the finals, the standings for this set of matches should be interesting.

Will Yoshitatsu remain the only one undefeated now or someone breaks that? Let’s see who will move up or down in the standings as we…dive right in.

Rating System:

  • 0 Stars: Dave Meltzer
  • 1 Star: Vince Russo
  • 2 Stars: Tony Schiavone
  • 3 Stars: Eric Bischoff
  • 4 Stars: Bruce Prichard
  • 5 Stars: Jim Cornette

 

4/11/2019
Champion Carnival B Block Match
Jake Lee vs. Yoshitatsu

Review: Our first match for this show is Jake Lee taking on Yoshitatsu. Jake Lee was recently able to get his first win when he defeated Joel Redman. Yoshitatsu is currently the only one undefeated when he won against Suwama at the last show. Jake would need to have another win here to move up while Yoshi winning would move him to the top spot. Can Jake get another win or will Yoshi remain undefeated?

Yoshi, I know you spent money on Hunter Club gear and I’m sure you’re very proud of yourself but I think you should let that go. You’re not in New Japan anymore, no real need for it and just move forward. Anyway, I thought this was an enjoyable match but if I had to nitpick one thing, it would be that I wish there was a lot more intensity in the match since you kinda felt that when they had a tag match in the last big show I did for them and it didn’t feel like a grudge match or anything for the first half of it. Yoshi having good matches back to back is a very pleasant surprise and I hope that momentum keeps on going as we go forward with the tournament. The chemistry between them was a really nice touch with a great showing by both these men. Jake psyched Yoshi out with a punch to the gut and ran towards him only to get caught in a Koji Clutch which Jake rolled him up for a two count. Yoshi would eventually hook the Koji Clutch all the way after countering his Backdrop and it looked like he had him tapped but Jake answered the referee, making him break it up and pin him for a two. Jake would deliver two knees to his chest before hitting the Backdrop Driver to get the three count, ending the only winning streak we had for B Block.

Rating: Eric Bischoff and a half

 

Champion Carnival B Block Match
Suwama vs. Sam Adonis

Review: Our next match is Sam Adonis taking on Suwama. Suwama recently lost to Yoshitatsu but he’s still in a good position with only one win and one loss as he still has time to bounce back. Sam currently has zero wins and two losses, so he would need to get a win here if he would wanna stay in the game a little longer. Can Suwama bounce back or does Sam sweep his chances under the rug?

Suwama is a great opponent for Sam as they have similar styles, making it easier for Sam to work with and show more of what he could do in the ring as he gave a much better performance here than his previous match against Joel. They were able to showcase enough power and strikes to make it rather engaging for the audience who are fans of this type of style, to begin with. It also shows how helpful Suwama can be with his opponents to help make them look good while bringing out your potential as the match progresses. Sam would get Suwama down with a few hits such as the Blockbuster and even lifted him for a Running Powerslam as Suwama was still able to kick out and gets frustrated as he goes to grab a chair for later. Suwama would attempt another Last Ride after failing the first time as Sam would use a dirty tactic of biting his fingers to make him let go as he grabbed the chair to try and strikes him, but Suwama grabbed it and threw it to the side. When the referee wasn’t looking, Sam would hit him with a low blow and roll him up for a two count. Sam isn’t done as he hits a Lariat and a modified Brainbuster it looked like as he shocked the fans by picking up his first win in the tournament. More of this Sam and he’ll be in good shape.

Rating: Eric Bischoff and a quarter

 

4/13/2019
Champion Carnival B Block Match
Naoya Nomura vs. Joel Redman

Review: Onto the next show as the one opening this up is Naoya Nomura taking on Joel Redman. Nomura recently suffered his first loss when he fought Joe Doering but he’s still in a good spot as he’s still in first place with the three wins he already has under his belt. Joel recently got his first win when he defeated Sam Adonis and he now has a chance to climb up the ladder a little bit more if he can take Nomura down here. Will Nomura get another win and secure his spot or will Joel pull him down a bit?

I see Joel went back to his better gear than his previous one, thank goodness because he looks a lot better without the singlet. Speaking of Joel, he delivers another great performance in his match against Nomura who also performed just as great as Joel did. Joel was able to do arm manipulation once he threw Nomura into the turnbuckle to know where he needed to take the advantage over him. Nomura did great selling the injury and getting the crowd behind him when he hits Joel with the Spear to try and get momentum back on his side. Nomura would be able to hit a Northern Lights Suplex and another Spear with a roll-up as Joel would still kick out of it. Joel was able to catch him into the Fujiwara Armbar and it looked like he had him ready to tap but Nomura would grab the ropes. Joel saw him going towards the apron and hits a Suplex from the other side and catches him for a Spinning Tombstone and Nomura would still kick out of it, but he quickly turned it back into the Fujiwara Armbar and Nomura tapped out! I know it’s been 7 years since this match happened, but I would love to see Joel Redman fight Zack Sabre Jr again, like immediately.

Rating: Eric Bischoff and three quarters

 

Champion Carnival B Block Match
Suwama vs. Takashi Yoshida

Review: Our match to close our block for this show is Takashi Yoshida coming back as he takes on Suwama. Suwama has one win and two losses while Takashi is one win and one loss as of right now, so they’re pretty much about even right now. Suwama would need to win the match here though if he can stay in the game. Which one of these two giants comes out the victor in this brawl?

I wasn’t too fond of the first half of the match due to it being a little bit clunky and the fighting around the outside of the arena dragged on a little bit longer than it needed to, plus the camera angles for most of it didn’t help out at all. Outside of that though, the middle of the match was a lot better than I highly anticipated since you got two giants duking it out as best they could with the throat thrusts, Lariats, and a Powerbomb from Takashi along with other power moves. While I’m still not a big fan of Takashi, he has been performing in this tournament much better than anticipated since he used this time to actually showcase his move set properly. Suwama was also able to help Takashi out in the match to make him perform better like how he did with Sam the previous night.

Takashi would have Suwama in his clutches as he hits him with a Diving Elbow Drop for a two count and would do his throat thrusts with a Lariat as Suwama would counter the Lariat with a Lariat of his own on his arm. Suwama would be able to hit the Backdrop and Takashi would be able to kick out of it and Suwama wants to call for the finish when he sets him up for the Last Ride. Once he had Takashi up for the Last Ride, he would just drop him down without doing the full move and I’m not exactly sure what happened there. Suwama would pick him up instead of pinning him as he hits one more Backdrop to get the pinfall victory in a solid match but sloppy beginning and end.

Rating: Eric Bischoff and a quarter

 

4/14/2019
Champion Carnival B Block Match
Joe Doering vs. Sam Adonis

Review: Our final show for this article as our opening match is Joe Doering taking on Sam Adonia. Both of these men are currently with one win and two losses under their belt, meaning one of them is going to have to suffer a third loss and be in a rather bad position with the standings. Which one of them will be in last place?

The first minute or so was basically Sam hiding behind the rope so he wouldn’t be touched as you have Joe waiting by the ropes, not having any of his crap today as he just wants to beat him up. Which is exactly what he does do when they’re outside of the ring for a couple of minutes as the two were back and forth, but it was mostly Joe that was getting the upper hand. Joe got him back in the ring as he would look to put him away as Sam would distract the referee long enough to kick Joe in the dick and down goes the giant. Joe is unable to move as Sam would pin him down to get the pinfall victory, leaving Joe in last place with three losses.

Rating: Tony Schiavone and a quarter

 

Champion Carnival B Block Match
Joel Redman vs. Takashi Yoshida

Review: Our final match for this set of matches is Joel Redman taking on Takashi Yoshida. Joel is even right now with two wins and losses while Takashi only has one win still but with two losses, meaning things aren’t looking so hot for Takashi right now. Is Joel does win here, then he’ll be in first place next to Naoya Nomura and if Takashi wins, the majority of them will all be tied up except for Joe and Nomura. Which one of them will get the victory?

It’s so weird seeing Takashi trying to chain wrestle Joel at the beginning of the match and the shocking part of it is him doing it well on top of that, scary sight if you ask me. Joel is, of course, more technically sound compared to Takashi, so of course, he would win this part of the bout. Takashi performed a lot better here than he did in his previous match with Suwama from beginning to end while Joel keeps on proving his worth with all the matches he’s been in. Joel would give Takashi a couple of kicks to take him down before he does his Diving Knee Drop off the top rope for a two count. It looked like Joel was gonna go for the Spinning Tombstone but Takashi would fight out of it to pick him up as Joel gets off him to go for a Backslide with Takashi kicking out. Takashi would hit the Kong Lariat to knock him down and Joel would still kick out, leaving Takashi frustrated and would pick him up to hit the Cyber Bomb as he gets the victory over Joel.

Rating: Eric Bischoff

 

Overall: Aside from one match, the rest of the show was solid again as usual as I’m very happy with my results so far as it comes to the quality of the matches with an exception for a couple that happened. Our next set of shows should give us a better assessment to see where people stand and who will have no chance of making it.

Favorite Match: Joel Redman vs. Naoya Nomura

Least Favorite Match: Joe Doering vs. Sam Adonis

Score: 7/10

Current Standings:
Naoya Nomura: (3-2) (6 Points)
Yoshitatsu: (2-1) (4 Points)
Daichi Hashimoto: (2-1) (4 Points)
Suwama: (2-2) (4 Points)
Jake Lee: (2-2) (4 Points)
Joel Redman: (2-2) (4 Points)
Takashi Yoshida: (2-2) (4 Points)
Sam Adonis: (2-2) (4 Points)
Joe Doering: (1-3) (2 Points)


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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