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Opinion

New Japan Could Use The IWGP United States Championship For Expansion

Is New Japan’s greatest asset for westward expansion…a championship?

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Juice Robinson IWGP United States Championship

The IWGP United States Championship represents opportunity for the expansion of New Japan!

Since New Japan Pro Wrestling has started trying to appeal to a larger audience, the process hasn’t always been very successful. While it is hard to say New Japan is failing to expand, there are some issues to fix on various sides, from the product the company brings, to things that are not specifically related to Wrestling. Today, let’s see how the symbol of the expansion, the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship, can make a difference in that aspect among others.

The first thing we need to ask ourselves is this:

What’s the exact purpose of the New Japan IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship?

It is still hard to figure out how New Japan sees this championship. Is it for upcoming talents? Top stars? Mid carders? Since the creation of the championship in the summer of 2017, different types of wrestlers have held it (Even though every champion so far has been a foreigner), and the company tended to put that new title on the side. The championship felt quite important thanks to Kenny Omega holding it and defending it regularly, but since then, it has felt more like a mid-card championship more than anything. Therefore, if a wrestling company wants to expand globally and creates a championship based on that idea, one would think that this championship to be regarded as very important, in one way or another. I personally would argue that the NEVER Openweight Championship means more than the US championship, to try and compare with another title which suffered similar issues.

Now, to give a potential answer to the question initially asked, let’s say New Japan pushes the idea that this championship will mainly be held by non-Japanese wrestlers. They want to keep reaching to a more global audience, meaning there is a need for foreigners to be highly featured, without putting aside the core of the roster, which appeals to the core audience. This is where the idea of creating a sort of “Gaijin big four” comes in. The goal isn’t exactly to replicate what has been done with the main event stars in Okada, Tanahashi, Naito and White, but it is to have more than one foreigner being a pillar of the company, and the other being on a lower level. Jay White, a former US champion, is ultimately taking that spot of Gaijin pillar, but he can also make the bridge between main eventing against Okada and Naito in the future, as well as elevating the US championship in a second reign later on.

Which other three foreigners, since we’ll still take the “big four” model for this example, could be featured alongside the Switchblade, as the main guys to work on elevating the IWGP United States Championship?

The first man seems quite obvious, as he is the current IWGP US Heavyweight Champion, Juice Robinson. Already in his second reign as champion, Juice has been portrayed as the next big Gaijin babyface, and he got that big win against Cody for the US title at Wrestle Kingdom. Since it is hard to consider Jay White as an actual “Gaijin Ace” as he doesn’t fit the mold, Juice however fits in as he’s globally popular. Last point, Juice and Jay have had an intense rivalry over the US championship last year, so there is a something to keep building here over time.

The second man has already said he would take the US championship one day, that man is Zack Sabre Jr. The Suzuki-Gun member has yet to win any gold in New Japan, but he made his presence felt near the main event scene, winning the New Japan Cup, being a real challenge for the top stars and having an impressive G1 Climax last year. Zack has already told Juice he would take the title on US soil as well. There will be a handful of opportunities to build up to that match, and ZSJ can also bring legitimacy to the championship, looking at his past accomplishments, in only two years as part of the New Japan roster.

The last man to feature in this “big four” would be Will Ospreay. Will is an upcoming heavyweight and the current NEVER Openweight Champion, and while he will possibly stick around this title for a while, ultimately, he is a well known foreign figure in New Japan, and a constantly improving wrestler. In the long run, Ospreay as a heavyweight offers a lot of possibilities for really good matches, and it would be a shame not to use it to elevate a championship, in both the literal and more symbolic way.

Let’s say these four wrestlers are the guys New Japan builds its expansion around. The oldest of the four is ZSJ, being 31 years old. Juice is 29, Jay is 26 and Will is 25, which leaves a lot of time to build each of these guys as top figures in New Japan, without necessarily having them always hang around the Heavyweight or IC title picture. Also, you get to represent four different factions, which fits within the New Japan landscape.

Now, elevating the IWGP United States Championship will not only revolve around these four young guys. As the goal can ultimately be to put the belt at a similar level the Intercontinental Championship now reached, top Japanese talents will also have to compete for it, at least. I am not asking for Kazuchika Okada or Tetsuya Naito to face whoever will be the US champion in seven months, but the US Championship, as much as it is linked to New Japan’s expansion, also needs to be built up in Japan. Therefore, I want to see guys like Minoru Suzuki, Tomohiro Ishii, Kota Ibushi, SANADA, or Hirooki Goto challenge for this title in the future. I want to see the US championship headline shows in Japan as well as in the US, and I want it to grow as a prize where big rivalries can revolve around.

New Japan will need another method than “Use one or two popular foreigners to make us go global” to keep the expansion going. Think long term. To go global, relying on the usual big four concept and hoping the foreigner being in that category works in front of non-Japanese audiences may not cut it.

Tell me, what do you think of raising the legitimacy of the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship by creating a core of Gaijins to revolve around it?


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Opinion

AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21

AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?

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As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.

Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!

#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time

There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…

THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!

I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.


#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic

Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.

People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.

I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.

#3- Overuse of Certain Moves

This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…

Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.

If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.

How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.


That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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