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Shawn Cooperation or Mega Corp Power Grab (Part 1)

Moves going down in Asia, including WWE and more.

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HKWF Hong Kong Wrestling Federation

Shawn takes a look at the movement happening in Asia and what it mean for wrestling!

Late Wednesday 20 March 19, a lone tweet by a small wrestling promotion was sent out on twitter.  To the casual reader, this tweet appears innocent enough.  Many may agree that multinational partnerships are great.  The creation of a women’s wrestling division in China is also a major step forward.

Analyzing the situation brings dark omens from the phantasmal claws of an overreaching mega corporation.  Which is it? At this point noone knows for certain, but the evidence is stacking against the case of Regional cooperation.  The impact it could make from either option will require two articles to understand the depth.  So we start with the dark and dirty first.  Proceeding in the direction this one tweet leads the Asian/Pacific regions into; only one of two options appear most likely to occur in the near future.  Regardless of the choice, the appearance of today’s scene will forever be changed.  After my analysis, the fan debate will rage in favor of the choice they prefer.

Mega Corp Power Move

The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has been active in Asia since 2016.  The WWE’s Chief Operations Officer Triple H has visited multiple times, meeting with independent promotions and government officials.  While conducting a question and answer session, Triple H revealed future plans for WWE to expand the NXT brand.  Triple H spoke about Asia  “It’s the same grassroots territory feeder system that existed before – except now, not on a national level but on a global level. And all under the WWE banner.

The WWE’s expansion plan was travelling at a liesurely pace, a tryout camp, a couple live events, and meetings took place, but no real attempt to take over.  Then something happened and it wasn’t the starting of All Elite Wrestling.  A group of former WWE talents filled the Asian markets (John Cena, Zeda Zhang, Ho Ho Lun, the Great Khali) promoting active partnerships.

Ho Ho Lun and Great Khali created wrestling promotions as Zeda went on tour building relationships.  Still, this sounds innocent enough.  It isn’t the actions above that concern me, it is the impact that could happen.  Fans can point out that John Cena was working on a movie with Jackie Chan.  That is not all he was doing though, he also made appearances discussing WWE’s expansion.  And if it were just for a movie, why make appearances for the WWE in locations like Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan?

Taking a second look at the tweet, notice what promotions are included, their locations, and who was not included.  Middle Kingdom Wrestling, Hong Kong Wrestling Federation, and New Taiwan Wrestling.  Three of the four big boys outside of Japan and Australia.  Middle Kingdom and Hong Kong Wrestling have had relationships with the WWE since 2016. That alone shifts the balance of power into Vince’s hands. The early risers Grapple Max Pro (Singapore), Singapore Pro Wrestling, Philippine Wrestling Revolution, Saigon, and Malaysia Pro Wrestling would create a second monopoly under the grasp of the McMahon family.

Yes, there are other promotions in Asia.  However, such an alliance with WWE would strangle those promotions quickly.  Asian wrestling promotions rely heavily on smaller Japanese promotions and free lance wrestlers for talent bookings.

The problem arises when such wrestlers can no longer participate in the WWE umbrella.  That forces these wrestlers to fly from Japan directly to Thailand, the Philippines, Pakistan, and India.  Saigon won’t be impacted immediately.  It is a minor promotion relying on WWE videos for training.  This move would enure Saigon Wrestling Club never grows outside of a small promotion.  Considerably more expensive flights without the ability to wrestle in closer cities to build the funds to support their tours.  This alone threatens the existence of these promotions.  Most major independent promotions in Australia and New Zealand are partnered with Vince.

As usual, there will be some fans that applaud this move by the World Wrestling Entertainment.  They would support placing all of professional wrestling under this banner regardless.  These fans enjoy one type of wrestling and shun any other options.  Other fans will respond with a sense of dread and hope that one little tweet won’t lead down this rabbit hole.


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(NOAH) NOAH WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.157 ~ 19TH JANUARY 2022

Kicking off 2022 with well received matches and determination, covid mixes things up but doesn’t detract from the main title match! Hisame gives us all the adjustments and how NOAH decided to pivot up the stairs!

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Kicking off 2022 with well received matches and determination, covid mixes things up but doesn’t detract from the main title match! Hisame gives us all the adjustments and how NOAH decided to pivot up the stairs!

NEWS

Major COVID outbreaks hits NOAH

A major COVID outbreak hit NOAH on the 14th January causing ten wrestlers (Kaito Kiyomiya, Yoshiki Inamura, Yasutaka Yano, Yoshinari Ogawa, Tadasuke, Daiki Inaba, Junta Miyawaki, Super Crazy, Kinya Okada and Masato Tanaka) to be absent. In Tanaka’s case he tested negative for the virus, but was generally unwell. Yoshinari Ogawa was positive, and aside from a high temperature and a feeling of discomfort in his throat had generally mild symptoms. Ogawa credits getting the jabs for this. Added to the absent wrestlers were the trainees and one of the referees. The outbreak seems to be prevalent among those who habitually use the NOAH dojo. Due to the large amount of absences, the card for BUMPER CROP 2022 in Sendai was massively changed. The roster all pulled together with Daisuke Harada (“the backstage MVP” according to Mohammed Yone) organizing everything that the trainees normally would do i.e. bus duties, hotel duties and cleaning up the locker room and arena before leaving. Perros del Mal De Japon also did their part. Fans thought they were coming down to the ring to announce something before the title matches began, but to applause, they had come to clean the ring and surrounding area.

The outbreak and the missing roster wasn’t the only thing on NOAH’s mind in Sendai. The eruption of the Hunga Tonga volcano and subsequent tsunami had caused an alert to be triggered for Japan’s east pacific coast, with Miyagi prefecture, where NOAH were that night, on full alert. Both Manabu Soya and Keiji Mutoh hinted that the roster probably didn’t get much sleep as everyone’s phones were pinging with alerts, plus people had family in coastal areas to worry about. Fortunately, the danger was over by 2pm, (although Japan did see some sea swell in some areas and small waves in Kanagawa), and the show went off much changed, but without a hitch. NOAH had asked that people stay at home and watch on WrestleUniverse and not put themselves in danger by coming out, and in the event of things they did an attendance of 633.

Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA vacate the tag belts, but not by choice

Despite Yoshinari Ogawa giving an interview on his condition, and saying that he felt better and was ready to wrestle as soon as possible, the issue does not seem as clear as that and on the 19th January NOAH announced they were stripping STINGER of the tag belts. Fans are upset as it makes Ogawa look like he’s done something wrong and that it is punishing HAYATA for no reason.

The tag title match was due to take place on the 22nd January in Osaka, but as Yoshinari Ogawa cannot compete, NOAH have made it a fight for the vacant titles between STINGER (Seiki Yoshioka and Yuya Susumu) and The NOAH Junior Regulars (Atsushi Kotoge and Hajime Ohara). Atsushi Kotoge had defeated Yuya Susumu for the right to challenge in Sendai. The defeat had led Susumu to mutter that they would be challenging the winners, but the new title match has led him to say that regardless of whether the belts were taken from STINGER, this was a championship match and he would be going for it. Like Ogawa, Susumu wants a “STINGER vs STINGER showdown”.

With the tag belts now taken from them, fans are wondering if Ogawa will seize this opportunity to challenge for the GHC Heavyweight tag belts with HAYATA. The belts are currently being held by Keiji Mutoh and Naomichi Marufuji (M’s alliance), and Ogawa has been saying for a while that he wants to challenge one day. The M’s alliance are also without challengers having retained the belts in Sendai against Kongoh’s Kenoh and Manabu Soya.

Haoh defects to The NOAH Junior Regulars

Haoh’s New Year statement was “to have my own words”, which everyone (including Kenoh no doubt) thought was another example of Kongoh’s stance against authority. It turned out there was a different meaning. In Sendai after a catalogue of errors in a tag match, the usual missed spots and accidental strikes on tag partner, Haoh shoved Nioh away rudely and left the ring. Fans thought it was only a build to a defection at a later date, but the NOAH Juniors can move quickly. After Daisuke Harada had defeated Seiki Yoshioka, Haoh came to the ring. It was thought he had come to challenge for the title to redeem himself after the issues in his own match, but no, Haoh came to announce he was quitting Kongoh and asked Harada if he could fight with him in the NOAH Junior Army. To show his resolve he removed his Kongoh t-shirt, and dropped it on the floor. Haoh said he wanted to rise and change his environment. Harada seeing his resolved welcomed him.

Nioh wasn’t going to be so accommodating and he asked Haoh if he had gone mad? Was he really going to leave Kongoh and join Harada? It’s true others had left Kongoh and not had reprisals, Masa Kitamiya, Yoshiki Inamura (who joined up with Kaito Kiyomiya right in front of Kenoh of all people) and Atsushi Kotoge had all left and not suffered for it. But Haoh is a NOAH Junior. They do things differently there. Usually involving fights. After a scuffle had broken out (and kept breaking out) an impromptu tag match was formed between Harada and Haoh and Nioh and Aleja which Harada won. Nioh cannot believe that Haoh would do this, and bitterly assessed him as having no belief in Kongoh. He also says he will never forgive him.

Nakajima’s next challenger

Katsuhiko Nakajima retained the belt against Masa Kitamiya in a title match that was built around things only Nakajima and Kitamiya knew as Naomichi Marufuji put it, and was challenged by none other than Kazuyuki Fujita. Since the epic stare off with Go Shiozaki at Korakuen Hall during the height of the pandemic, Fujita has used this for both comedy purposes and as a threat. In Sendai it was a threat as he came to the ring after the main event, and stared down Nakajima who was holding up the belt. Title match has been set for February 23rd at “GAIN CONTROL 2022 in NAGOYA”.

Go Shiozaki photobook

To celebrate the man who carried NOAH at great personal cost through the pandemic, NOAH are releasing a photobook to celebrate his achievement covering the period from winning the title (2020) to his being absent for surgery in March 2021. It will also contain some pictures of his rehabilitation and return at the Nippon Budokan on the 1st January 2022. You can pre order the book at the official NOAH site. It will cost ¥ 4,400 including tax. Please note that NOAH sadly cannot deliver internationally, and so you will need to order through a carrier like White Rabbit. Please see my guide to ordering here. The book will be on sale until midnight JST 24th January. (23:59 pm). Shipping time is estimated to be mid March 2022.

EVENT RECAPS AND POST MATCH INTERVIEWS

BUMPER CROP 2022 IN SENDAI – Sunday January 16th, Sendai Sunplaza Hall

Event recap Post match interviews

ELSEWHERE IN NOAH

– In Sendai Kendo Kashin provoked that wild rage in King Tany by carrying the weapon of Maybach Taniguchi (the violent monster and King Tany’s alter-ego) the Sasumata* to the ring. Tany went wild as The Sugiura Army all joined in trapping him and the poor ref in the corner, driving them back and then chasing Kashin around the arena.

– YO-HEY joked that Perros came to Sendai to clean. The sight of Perros rushing around with disinfectant spray and cloths has given rise to a lot of fan art on the subject.

– Takashi Sugiura posted a picture of a suggestive looking sushi piece, and then told everyone at 5.30am the next morning what it was. Sugi normally posts these kind of things if he’s had to behave at some point during the day, so this means that he was in one long meeting…

– Go Shiozaki had to purse his lips to try to not laugh at King Tany and Mohammed Yone when he teamed with them in Sendai. They asked if he wanted to be funky. He refused.

– Nothing has been said yet as to whether Haoh will change his name back to Yuki Sato, but it seems likely that he probably will.

– KENTA has been trolled by Takashi Sugiura. Who he has been ignoring.

– YO-HEY probably gave Nioh flashbacks to Osaka Mixture. I dare you to look that up on YouTube at 2.15/2.25.

*The Sasumata is a prong that was used by the Edo era Samurai police force to apprehend criminals.

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

  • GHC Heavyweight Champion: Katsuhiko Nakajima
    Challenger: Kazuyuki Fujita- “GAIN CONTROL 2022 in NAGOYA”, February 23rd
  • GHC Junior Champion: Daisuke Harada
    Challenger: No challenger as of yet
  • GHC Heavyweight Tag Champions: The M’s alliance (Naomichi Marufuji and Keiji Mutoh)
    Challengers: No challengers as of yet
  • GHC Junior Tag Champions: Vacated
    Challengers: Either The NOAH Junior Regular Army (Atsushi Kotoge & Hajime Ohara) or STINGER (Seiki Yoshioka and Yuya Susumu). The title match will take place on Saturday January 22nd at the EDION Arena 2nd Stadium in Osaka.
  • GHC National Champion: Kenoh
    Challenger: Masakatsu Funaki- “HIGHER GROUND 2022”, EDION Arena Osaka 2nd Stadium, Saturday 22nd January

THIS WEEK IN NOAH

(Full January schedule)

Friday, January 21st: Go Shiozaki (40)

Saturday, January 22nd: HIGHER GROUND 2022

Start time: 17:30 JST

Broadcast: WrestleUniverse 

LINKS

Kaito Kiyomiya is defeated by direct attack, Okada & Tanahashi on the 8th January…thoughts on tears from the bottom of the heart

Even with Corona, Ogawa’s ironic “healthy” sarcastic barrage; “Not Qualified” for Kotoge, “Carbon Copy” for Harada

“Beast” Kazuyuki Fujita challenges for the GHC on the 23rd February, ally Kashin gives urgent warning “NOAH will collapse”

Costume research: Katsuhiko Nakajima

GIF taken from WrestleUniverse

Picture credit: NOAH GHC


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News From Cook’s Corner 1.17.22: Gory Self-Mutilation

AEW tried to catch lightning in a bottle for the second time. Did it work? What other news struck last week?

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! We’ve got a short column for you this week, which most of you were probably expecting when the Cincinnati Bengals actually on a playoff game. Nah, I didn’t party too much, just had an allergic reaction with my eye again. We’ve done this before. This time I’m pretty sure it had something to do with cleaning my bookshelf and rearranging my books. Hadn’t done that in awhile, so there was a ton of duct. Sitting down and looking at a computer screen sucks, so we have to limit it as much as possible.

There’s still a couple things that warrant discussion though, so let’s get to it.

WWE On The Offensive

Looks like this week’s top stories are about WWE trying to do things to undermine wrestling promotions. We start with Major League Wrestling, who has filed a federal anti-trust lawsuit against WWE claiming that WWE has interfered with their ability to make various media rights deals.

Some of the highlights:

-Former WWE executive Susan Levison allegedly warned an executive from VICE that Vince McMahon was “pissed” they were airing MLW programming. MLW claims that WWE had leverage over VICE due to the Dark Side of the Ring series often being focused on WWE subject matter.

-MLW alleges that when WWE found out about their agreement with Tubi, WWE threatened to stop doing business with Fox. The fallout from the Tubi agreement falling through led to a drop in ticket sales & event cancellations & delays.

-As an example of WWE’s anticompetitive behavior, MLW cited AEW being held out of two arenas in the Cincinnati market due to pressure from WWE. Jon Moxley wrote in his book that the Heritage Bank Center on Cincy’s riverfront refused to book AEW due to WWE influence. I don’t know the other, could be the BB&T Arena across the river on the campus of Northern Kentucky University where WWE has held house shows. AEW wound up running the Fifth Third Arena on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, and outdrew the Raw taping held at the HBC just prior.

-Apparently starting in early 2020, WWE started trying to poach MLW wrestlers that were under contract, and aired footage of an MLW wrestler without MLW’s consent. (Somebody would have to fill me in on this one, I haven’t the slightest idea who this would be.) MLW also claims that WWE sought to prevent wrestlers from working with MLW by refusing to hire wrestlers that had worked there, and that one MLW wrestler demanded to be released early from his contract so he could join WWE.

Do I think that at least some of these allegations are true? Having followed pro wrestling for over thirty years and having read up on the history of WWE…you betcha!

I don’t think there’s a question that WWE has resorted to any means necessary to drive potential competitors out of their market. They’ve been doing this since taking most of the territories’ top stars back in the mid-1980s. It’s been a monopoly for nearly two decades for a reason. The main question I have: Will a judge actually care, or will they throw it out of court because it’s silly pro wrestling?

How do you think WWE slips under the radar on things that other media companies & sports leagues actually have to deal with? People have been trained to not take WWE seriously. As much as people like us obsess over the rasslin’ business, people that don’t “get it” are happy to ignore it. Vince McMahon can do any darn thing he wants, and the reaction from folks outside the wrestling bubble will be non-existent. It’s wrestling! To outsiders, the whole damn thing is an outlaw mudshow.

AEW = Gory Self-Mutilation

The Toronto Sun did an article on All Elite Wrestling over the weekend, talking about their status as a competitor to WWE. They asked WWE for comment & got one:

“If you look at the gory self-mutilation that bloodied several women in the December 31 event on TNT, it quickly becomes clear that these are very different businesses. We had an edgier product in the `Attitude’ era and in a 2022 world, we don’t believe that type of dangerous and brutal display is appealing to network partners, sponsors, venues, children, or the general public as a whole.”

A few notes here:

1. I’ve been doing this stuff longer than I care to admit, and I never thought of asking WWE for comment on something. Should I start asking people for comments on topics I’m writing about? I doubt I’d get any answers, but it might be worth a shot.

2. This has been WWE’s strategy when asked about AEW for some time now. We remember Vince McMahon using the phrase “Blood & Guts” to describe the promotion on a conference call. They know that people get squeamish about blood, especially when it comes to blood coming from women. The Fabulous Moolah never busted anybody open on television, and she trained most of the women for years. People aren’t used to seeing it, and they often get uncomfortable with things they aren’t used to seeing.

3. Most people find other people bleeding pretty gross. There’s a reason why deathmatch wrestling is a niche produxct. People that love it really, really love it, but it’s a very small percentage of the marketplace.

4. WWE’s belief is that advertisers & media companies aren’t big on blood, so they make sure to mention AEW’s apparent lust for the red stuff whenever the subject comes up. Their hope is that advertisers will shy away from advertising with AEW, and media companies won’t give AEW big money when their current deal with WarnerMedia is up.

5. Thus far, whenever Tony Khan is criticized on something, he doubles down on it. So there’s a pretty good chance that we’re going to see even more matches with female bleeding. AEW’s female workers seem happy to do it.

6. WWE could be called out as being hypocritical on this front, but there aren’t many people that will hold them accountable.

It’ll be interesting to see how this goes. All I know for sure is that the smack talk between these two promotions and their fans is just beginning. Think it’s tocic now? Wait a couple of years.

Welp, that’s all for this week. Thanks for reading! Join me later in the week for some Divisional Round picks. Until then, keep your stick on the ice.

In Memoriam: Pete was a longtime reader from back in the day. From my dealings with him he was a kind person that knew how to use his head. When you’ve written things on the Internet as long as I have, you learn that’s a rare thing. From what I’ve read from people that knew him in real life, he was the same way off the computer. Sadly he passed away from cancer on Friday night. Pete was always about serving others, as he was a U.S. Air Force veteran & a regular blood donor. He will be missed.


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