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Mitchell’s WWE Backstage Report! (4/14/20)

On this day! I see clearly!

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WWE Backstage 2020

WWE Backstage gets Rated R!

Okay, not really. But it will have the Rated R Superstar, EDGE! How is the WWE Hall of Famer feeling after WrestleMania Weekend?

 

CM Punk’s back on Backstage!

He, Renee Young, Booker T and Christian are here, and Punk says he was built for “isolation.” He doesn’t need to be told to stay away from other people. But he does hope everyone is safe and healthy. #FlattenTheCurve. But to business, WWE is in WrestleMania Aftermath and some new champions are learning what it’s like to have targets on their backs. With that, it’s time for…

Just the Highlights!

On SmackDown, the tables have turned! The New Day figures that just because John Morrison retained on behalf of The Miz, that doesn’t mean The Miz can take it easy. This coming Friday, the SmackDown Tag Team Championships will be on the line when it’s The Miz VS Jey Uso VS Big E! What happens when the other three halves fight for the titles? Then Tamina will get a SmackDown Women’s Championship match IF she can get past Sasha Banks! Is Bayley writing checks The Boss can’t cash? The WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions are STILL Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross after a WrestleMania rematch! And Braun Strowman is a fighting champion who is willing to #LetHimIn. Will The Fiend get back the big blue belt? Or will he #GetTheseHands?

On Raw, the Women’s Money in the Bank qualifying matches got brutal! Shayna Baszler STOMPS Sarah Logan’s arm apart to punch her ticket to the ladder match. But The Man dares all the women of the WWE to come for her with that MITB briefcase. Because Becky is ready to “shock the world” again. As for The Queen, she’s headed back to NXT to teach them a “lesson in humility.” Will the black ‘n’ yellow bow down to Charlotte Flair? And the Monday Night Messiah’s resurrection begins with an attack on the WWE World Champion! Will Seth Rollins #BurnItDown and rise from the ashes of Drew McIntyre’s dream come true?

The panel discusses!

McIntyre has only been WWE World Champion for nine days and already The Architect wants to end that. Booker’s thoughts on this new feud definitely puts McIntyre “right in the mix.” McIntyre is not someone that needs to sit on the sidelines and wait for who is next. Rollins steps up, and we know both men can compete at a very high level. The magic they create is highly anticipated by Booker. And we always look for a pairing that can be “married to each other” in a long feud, and that’s this for Booker.

Christian adds that this is the right move. He likes Rollins shifting slightly, and is letting that beard grow. Maybe get the chest hair going, too? Christian remembers telling CM Punk that strong chest hair game gets good heat. Christian continues that he likes Rollins’ confidence and even arrogance. Even after a defeat, he has this demeanor, this sense of control yet unpredictability. Those were things Rollins still needed, and it adds layers. But most of all, McIntyre got through a monster in Brock Lesnar, so now it’s time to switch it up to a smaller, faster opponent. These two will bring out the best in each other.

CM Punk says this is the best possible spot for Rollins and McIntyre to both be in. As Booker said, there are times you want two guys to be linked together for much longer than just the next PPV. These guys could go all the way to SummerSlam or beyond. Rollins puts unnecessary pressure on himself as “The Guy,” so if he’s not The Guy, it puts a chip on his shoulder. McIntyre, meanwhile, is a big ass kicker who fans will support because of his journey. CM Punk will watch this match-up for sure.

Renee brings things to Zelina Vega’s new stable and how it was in the middle of everything last night. Christian says Vega is great, super talented and really good on the mic. She goes out there and has more confidence because of her trio. Her confidence creates credibility for the trio in turn, and it works that they’re united with her. He only sees things growing from here.

CM Punk loves Vega, and not just because she played the part of AJ Lee in Paige’s biopic. Vega is focused on being the “valet,” the manager, a forgotten art of being in charge of multiple wrestlers. And when it is a woman, that makes it even greater because we haven’t seen that before. She could bring it all back alongside this “group of misfits.” Punk says these guys don’t look like they fit together, but they become a dangerous alliance. He’d even like to see one or two more join up for some mix-and-match tag teams. Vega is the glue that holds it all together and makes it a great stable.

Renee moves things along to SmackDown. Bray Wyatt tries to rain on Strowman’s parade his first Friday as WWE Universal Champion. Bray vows to take Strowman out, but Strowman says he’ll #LetHimIn. Punk’s response is a bit negative. Both Bray and Strowman aren’t back on firm footing yet. Strowman is someone WWE didn’t pull the trigger on until they had to. He’s on top now, but going up against a genuine fan favorite who also has yet to have his day in the sun. This feels rushed, like it could’ve waited until SummerSlam or until it could be built bigger. But this is just the first few steps, so we’ll have to wait and see what comes of it. Punk’s French Bulldog, Larry, also seems negative on it.

Booker says that this is wrestling, and Fiend VS Strowman is a main event “anywhere in the world.” Strowman found himself in the spotlight and has that chip on his shoulder, just like the Backstage panel was saying last week. Strowman needs to prove himself worthy, and who better to do that than Bray Wyatt? Christian agrees more with Punk. Strowman VS Wyatt could have happened later given the back story. Christian feels that we’ve already seen the Universal Championship flip-flop a few times too many. With Braun having that chip on his shoulder, being the Roman Reigns substitute, the WWE should build him up first. They should give Strowman a strong run with the title first. If he and Bray do separate things first, that would make their match-up even bigger.

To Christian, Bray is a Roddy Piper type, where he doesn’t really need that title to be in the main event. Booker agrees there, as Bray has already said it isn’t about the title. We need to get Strowman to a place where he needs to be. It’s not about the title to Booker, because The Fiend has said so. Punk says that “guys who don’t win the title say it’s not about the title.” But how do you get sympathy for a guy like Strowman? How do you get sympathy for a guy like The Fiend? It’s fascinating, but the timing is way off.

Speaking of timing, Renee brings up how it was only a matter of time before the Lashley-Lana romance starts hitting a rough patch. We saw that tension on Raw the last couple of weeks. The night after WrestleMania, Lashley let it be known he was considering getting a new manager, or perhaps just a new wife. Who saw this coming? Flashback to the December 10, 2019 edition of Backstage! CM Punk himself booked this! After the blow-off, Rusev washes his hands of Lana, and then Lana eventually grinds on Lashley’s nerves. Lashley leaves Lana and joins Rusev in an anti-Lana group!

Back to the present, Renee says Punk basically nailed it. Even Punk is surprised he predicted this one. But it was just obvious, really. Everyone wants Lana to shut up right now. Now we need to wait for the strange Lana in a Shark Tank match, and just have her stuck up there for an entire show. Everyone will love it. Renee hopes Lio Rush comes back to join Lashley. But as great as Lio returning to that role would be (for Renee, at least), Edge’s return has been huge for the WWE! And after the break, Edge makes a Backstage debut!

 

Edge is Backstage!

Nine long years, and the Rated R Superstar is back in the WWE ring! And now, after watching a highlight reel of fan reactions, he joins Renee and Christian on FS1. Christian says that last clip was the most obvious fake crying ever. Edge says Christian would know. Christian agrees, because he is soulless. “And so it begins.” But WrestleMania 36’s Last Man Standing Match was Edge’s first full match in the last nine years. How did it feel to be back? Edge says this year was so odd and different given what’s going on. He had to wrap his head around a way to still do this without the usual things, like a crowd. Then there was getting back in the groove and answer some questions he still had.

The Royal Rumble is one thing, even with Edge being in it for 25 minutes. But a singles match is much different. By the time he and Randy Orton were done, it was 40 minutes long and that actually surprised him. He felt he could’ve gone another two hours given how good he felt. That was a big test that proved he could do this again. Edge feels like he’s back at about where he was those nine years ago. Obviously, he still needs to tailor his style to fit his recovery and his age. And yes, he knows Beth Phoenix was “perturbed” after seeing him take some risks. But Last Man Standing needed things like that. And it felt good to be back in that “realm” as opposed to just getting time on a treadmill or stationary bike.

Christian says that Edge was one of the many superstars who had to adjust to empty arena wrestling. But many, including Christian, will say that those promos were some of Edge’s best ever. What does Edge feel about them? He enjoyed the promo aspect a lot. It allows more attention to detail, and you can hear that here, whereas it might get lost in front of a crowd. When fans aren’t there, you get to “show your chops.” That was a really cool part.

Before that first in-ring empty arena promo, Edge told the cameraman that he was “coming right down the barrel.” It surprised the guy but Edge said he had to. Edge had to go straight to camera so as to be straight to Orton and the audience. It was fun, like a monologue for stage theater. That has been the rewarding part. Edge does miss the audience, but we’re delving into areas we don’t normally get to, and that is a part of the craft that is new and fun.

Renee asks about other things in the build to WrestleMania that Edge and/or others had to adapt to. Edge says the change of mindset for promos was the biggest one. There is no audience to feed off of or interact with, so things become much more personal. You need to play to the camera or it’s just weird and inorganic. It feels more natural to talk to the camera. That’s how these have to be within these current circumstances. Renee says it is fresh, having come from being the backstage correspondent interviewing superstars. It was nice for them to now connect to the home audience. Edge agrees, because it allows for a more conversational and real style. He feels the WWE should bring that in.

And Edge is also thankful for the last nine years being on television show sets, because he has a whole new tool belt he didn’t have before. He might not have been prepared like he is now without that. Christian notes that Edge’s chemistry with Orton, like Christian’s own, was undeniable. How seamless was it for them to put the feud together? It was so natural. The moment Edge first came back, he said, “It has to be Randy.” Edge knows that when Orton can sink his teeth in, “there’s no one better.” When Orton is motivated, he is top notch in everything. In the ring, on the mic, Orton can take it to another level not even he knows he has. This feud did that for them both.

Before the quarantines, when Orton and Edge had crowds there, those reactions were as they thought and more. That first night, Orton’s first attack got fans screaming, and that told Edge this is above their expectations. It’s as Christian said about the instant chemistry. Orton has been someone like that for both Edge and Christian. It was so much fun. And after nine years off, Edge knew he was rusty and would need help, so again, who better than Orton? There was confidence and comfort but also that motivation and reality. Edge feels he fires Orton up and Orton fires him up. A lot of what they tapped into was truth. Renee says Edge’s return has definitely been a bright spot for us all during such a “tumultuous” 2020. The WWE 24 special really hit right in the feels, and we get a clip of it now.

Edge narrates that after nine years, there are questions. He can think he has this, but he won’t know until he goes out there and does it. Edge gets a good luck kiss for Beth, then Drew McIntyre ELIMINATES Brock Lesnar. Edge gets a good luck hug from Christian as he narrates, “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t know I could do it.” The countdown ends, the music hits, and the WWE Universe lost its collective mind! The reaction backstage was also great, with Shane McMahon at the helm and Matt Riddle raising his hands in joy. Beth was almost in tears, but of joy.

Back in the present, Renee admits she started WrestleMania’s second day with some crying of her own because of that documentary. But what was it like for him to watch it all back? “Insane.” Edge says the production team crushed it. And just being able to encapsulate “this happy accident.” The documentary wasn’t supposed to be that, and starts off with Edge saying as much. It starts with Edge framing “life after wrestling” and how he adapted. But then it became this “insanity” that is all caught on tape. That is the element that touches hearts the most. A thing that was never supposed to happen is caught on tape as it happens. It was lightning in a bottle, serendipity, etc. He isn’t sure how to put it himself, but Edge says being at the center of that “maelstrom of positivity” was wild.

And even more mind-blowing, the last time Edge was wrestling, fans didn’t record reactions to things. That phenomena just blew Edge away. “That was so humbling” just to know and see the effect he had on the fans. It reminds him of why he was a fan as a kid in the first place. Edge was with his uncle and they saw Hulk Hogan, and it took hold. There’s so much to this, and he’s grateful to Beth for being his rock. Shout out to the Glamazon!

Christian asks how integral Beth was in all this. Obviously, the documentary catches a glimpse, but what was her reaction to the match? They watched it together, and she wasn’t totally pleased about the DDT to the truck bed… But she’s happy and proud. Edge believes that if you can visualize something, you can manifest it. That’s what this is, and they were in this together. This only happened because Edge had a team around him. He has his nutritionist, his trainers, he has Beth and seam team that put his gear together for him. All of it came together but top secret, so that you could get that true reaction from fans. That reaction is so rare because so much gets announced or leaked. Protecting that secret was like protecting his baby. And it all worked out in the end.

Renee thanks Edge for taking the time to talk, and gives him congratulations on the great abs. Christian is glad they only now mentioned those. Christian had a vomit bag just in case. Edge says Christian is just upset because he’s going to go for his “dad walk” later. Go Canada! When and where will we get to see the Rated R Superstar again?

 

Wrestling with Your Feelings, with Rachel Bonnetta

FoxSports1’s resident “psychiatrist” is back, and has The Man come around. Becky Lynch joins Rachel for another session since the first one went so well. Rachel’s notes have how Becky said therapy is a crock, and then a bunch of expletives that can’t be repeated. How about they discuss Charlotte? NO. Well, Charlotte was sitting right there on the couch as she called Becky a peasant. Becky moves over to be on the other end of the couch.

Well, given all of Becky’s pent up anger and reluctance to discuss past relationships, Rachel wants to talk about Ronda Rousey. Becky mumbles about “that little weirdo.” Rachel notes how Becky calls herself “The Man.” Is this an identity crisis? No, Becky identifies as “The Man.” Does that make Becky feel more powerful to call herself that? DUH. Because Becky is the best thing in wrestling today. How does Rachel not get that? Does Becky feel like hitting Rachel? Yes, actually. Right now, even.

Rachel suggests Becky use an action figure as a substitute. Becky plays around with the Rachel action figure, and starts pulling on the head! She rips it right off and then goes after other limbs. Well that’s all for the session today. Rachel “taps out” and Becky throws the pieces at the wall. Becky storms out and Rachel says that was great progress.

 

The panel discusses the Steve-O’s Wild Ride with Ronda Rousey.

Needless to say, her comments on the podcast caused quite the stir. Ronda openly wondered what she’s doing pro-wrestling for if she can’t spend her time and energy on her family and instead must spend it on “a bunch of ****ing ungrateful fans that don’t even appreciate me.” She loves performing, she loves being out there with the other women, but at the end, “**** these fans, dude. My family loves me and they appreciate me, and I want all my energy to go into them.”

To follow up, the #KayfabeKiller had a Twitter rant to add on. “Anyone who is outraged by me calling pr wrestling ‘fake fights for fun’ has never been in a REAL fight. While you all are tip toeing around bruising some pro wrestlers’ huge soft egos – no one is thinking about all the REAL fighters you’re insulting when pretending pro wrestling is somehow on the same level of realism.” Ronda understands wrestling “300 days a year for years on end is incredibly tough on the body and a difficult profession – but do you know what would happen if you got in 300 REAL fights in a year? You would be dead.”

Naturally, there were responses from WWE wrestlers, such as Alexa Bliss. Alongside a gif from her own WWE 365 documentary, Alexa tweets, “Hm. Was out for almost a year. Must have been ‘fake’.” Nia Jax’s response reads, “I can’t wait for Ronda to one day return to WWE. Even if WWE orders me to make Ronda look good in the ring, which is the only way for Ronda to look good in the ring with me, I’ll risk my job to go down in history as the one from this biz that knocked her the **** out! #TestMeBitch”. WOW.

Renee asks CM Punk, who has been in both worlds and should understand both sides. What is Ronda up to? Quarantine crazy or a work? CM Punk says this is her doing her job. He loves this, because this is “pure chaos.” Work, shoot, whatever, it isn’t ending well but it will be fun to watch. It’s great to see a lot of people bite on the bait, it’s great to see people retort. People can bring up how Ronda got knocked out, how she’s gone soft, how she’s not a real fighter, only to also say she’s not a real pro-wrestler. The whole time, she’s got them in the palm of her hand. She says controversial things to push people’s buttons, but blurring the lines is when wrestling at its best.

But where things get messy is when you start saying, “What I do is real, everything else is phony.” That’s not thin ice, you’ve fallen through into ice water. They might have to tread lightly, but Ronda’s got us talking and Punk loves it.

Booker adds that the talk about ungrateful fans, he knows a lot about that. But talking about “fake fighting” and different worlds, Ronda of course was amazing in UFC. The WWE embraced her and put her on a pedestal by making her Raw Women’s Champion and putting her in the WrestleMania 35 main event. That is huge because everyone wants that spot. But Ronda is all but disqualifying herself from returning because she talks about it being fake. No one wants to see Ronda do fake fighting. Booker wants Ronda to go back to real fighting against a Holly Holm or Amanda Nunes. The WWE embraced Ronda even after her “catastrophic losses,” so for her to talk about pro-wrestling like that is disrespectful. Ronda should apologize because she just slapped every woman in that locker room.

Christian says that Ronda is a lightning rod. Even in her UFC career, she was booed by fans. Then the same happened in her WWE run near the end there. Ronda thrives when she feels disliked, but the word that bothers people is “fake.” It was a poor choice of words, perhaps. But as a wrestler, “fake” is the offensive word. We’re all passionate and protective, especially when it feels like someone is attacking. The instinct is to attack back, and we’ve seen that with Conor McGregor recently. Everyone jumps on and reacts, and then that person gets what they really wanted: attention. Booker says the difference is, Conor didn’t come to the WWE and pick up a huge check first. Yet.

Punk says he can sink his teeth into this debate. The genesis of Mixed Martial Arts in Japan was because of pro-wrestling. That became the Pride promotion. So if you’re to pick a side in this debate, the point is trying to disparage pro-wrestling. But Punk feels this could lead us to the long-anticipated Four Horsewomen VS Four Horsewomen. Charlotte, Bayley, Sasha and Becky VS Ronda, Shayna, Marina and Jessamyn. The honor of pro-wrestling against MMA fighters makes for a great story. Christian says they’re using pro-wrestling promos to sell fights, so why not. Punk says it is all entertainment in the end. And the women are still thriving in it all! Renee plugs next week’s WWE programming marathon on FS1! The Best of Becky, Ronda’s WWE 24, then the Best of Charlotte and the Becky WWE 24, all before a new Backstage!

 

Backstage discusses WWE’s cinematic matches!

WrestleMania Night 1 had the Boneyard Match! Night 2 had the Firefly Fun House Match! And even NXT’s unofficial TakeOver of USA Network had One Last Beat. Renee discusses 1v1 with CM Punk about these matches, and she personally loves them all. Punk’s take is that it has its good and its bad. His favorite is the Boneyard Match far and away because of the strong character in The Undertaker. Taker can shoot lightning out of his hands and teleport. He has the currency with the fans to do the “hokey” stuff, like the movie style exaggerated striking sound effects. You can’t really do that with guys who haven’t had the longevity, and it exposes things a little. In certain situations, big thumbs up. Just don’t beat it into the ground.

 

Backstage takes us back in time!

It was Raw on April 14, 2003 when Booker T teamed with The Hurricane to defeat the tag team of Ric Flair and HHH! With some help from Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash. To which, Booker DECKED HBK and left Nash speechless!

Renee asks what he said at the end there, and Booker says, “You don’t want to know.” But speaking of memories, Money in the Bank has become a big staple of the WWE. All three have been in the MITB but only CM Punk has come away Mr. MITB. What goes on putting a match like this together? Ask Christian, because he’s been in seven. But there’s always someone in the match that is the ring general. Punk was the new guy in his first official WrestleMania moment. Punk went along with whatever the others said, and Christian was in there helping direct traffic. There was a lot of stupid stuff as the young, hungry guy and Punk put his body on the line.

Booker was only in one, for good reason. He sucked! But he remembers going to Christian asking what he’s supposed to be doing. Christian says that the only reason he was in so many was to keep them together. Why didn’t he book himself to win? Well it was before his manly chest hair came in. But in seriousness, the toughest part of MITB is being aware of what you were doing, as well as everyone else. There are so many moving parts in the MITB ladder match, especially the ladders themselves. Ladders have minds of their own and anything can happen. The biggest thing relates back to the early days of tag team ladder matches, such as the original TLC. The prize changes the trajectory of the winner’s career, which is why they’re such special matches.

Renee asks about Punk and Christian being in the one match together. Christian got hit in the eye, because when Kofi Kingston dropkicks the ladder, it gets him in the face. Punk surely remembers that match, too. You can’t call stuff on the fly like other matches. Punk had to wait for Christian or Booker to do their spot, then he can come in, then Sheamus and so on. Like Christian says, wrestling with furniture can throw everything out of the window. Everything’s fine until Christian gets hit in the eye with a ladder and starts bleeding. Christian has to take time out of the match, and everyone else is left waiting.

Christian admits he’s terrified of needles, and yet had to have in his face in front of 70 thousand. But he managed to see what was going on, pushed past the doc but assured him he’d be back. Christian gets in, does a spot, then goes back to getting his face needled. So everyone came out a winner. Punk was the actual winner of the match, but still. Who knows what happens in this year’s MITB, but we all know it’ll be exciting.

 

Backstage goes Hollywood!

The WWE recently put out a Netflix original film, The Main Event! Renee says she had a lot of fun playing her part, and Backstage gives us a sample. Renee returns to NXT and to commentary alongside Corey Graves, but is a bit grim thinking someone’s gonna die in the Steel Cage match. “Oh I’m sorry. Have you seen the size of Kid Chaos?” Graves admits she has a point but assures the audience that no one will die. The action will be incredible, especially if someone dies.

Punk says Renee is a natural. Acting is like pro-wrestling, it is a natural extension of yourself. Main Event Renee is the extremely bloodthirsty Canadian within her. Booker liked it, and Christian notes she’s changed since that movie came out. Renee says it wasn’t just her dabbling in film. Booker was in WCW’s Ready to Rumble with David Arquette. But there’s also some classic footage to show off Booker’s acting chops. It was from the Road to WrestleMania 21, and while the now late great Eddie Guerrero was John Travolta’s Vincent Vega, Booker played Samuel L. Jackson’s role of Jules Winnfield in a parody of Pulp Fiction.

“Blessed is he who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger, those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers! Now can you dig that, SUCKAAA?!” Tickets to WrestleMania 21!

What would it take to bring that hair back? Booker cracks up laughing, and Christian says Booker looks like he ate Samuel L. Jackson. If there is ever a reboot, Punk says Booker should absolutely get that same role. Or the guy who gets his head blown off. But that’s all, folks! Stay home, stay healthy and stay safe.

 


 

My Thoughts:

A really good episode jam packed with material. I just wish Punk had more to share about the cinematic matches, such as analysis of the stories they told. But other than that, it was great hearing from him and from Edge tonight. I do admit that while I was excited about Strowman VS Wyatt, this is too soon. Punk and the panel is right that Strowman should build his reign on someone else before coming back to his past with Bray. Strowman VS Nakamura would’ve been a great extended feud to go into MITB. At the same time, as they noted about a prolonged McIntyre VS Rollins feud, I could see the same for Strowman and Wyatt. There’s plenty of history for Wyatt to dig up and pick on in regards to Strowman, maybe both brands will have prolonged feuds for the top titles during Empty Arena Era.

I also like everyone’s comments on Ronda’s comments towards pro-wrestling. Booker and Christian point out something I don’t think too many others were. Ronda may be trying to do a worked shoot but it just writes herself into a corner. Why would she come back to something she says is fake and beneath MMA now? Though, I will say Nia’s tweet was some strong stuff that could do it in kayfabe. And I hope Punk is right about WWE finally getting on that Four Horsewomen VS Four Horsewomen battle. He predicted the tension between Lana and Lashley, so maybe his words will come true in time for Survivor Series 2020.


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More From Japan

(NOAH) NOAH WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.182 ~ 8TH AUGUST 2022

After a rare live stop in the UK for HAYATA (which Hisame was present for), she informs us of all the NOAH happenings leading towards the N-1 Victory!

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HAYATA defends the GHC Junior against Shuji Kondo in Japan and Chris Ridgeway in England

In a brutal match which combined speed vs strength, and technical ability vs psychological warfare, HAYATA succeeded in defending the title against Shuji Kondo in the main event of DEPARTURE 2022 on the 5th August. It was by no means an easy fight, Kondo possessed the size and the strength that HAYATA did not, and so HAYATA had to find a way round him, which he did by too capitalizing on the element of surprise, which was the strategy that Shuji Kondo was also aiming for. In the end, he won by The Headache after 19 minutes and 3 seconds. Backstage, HAYATA said that since he was fighting Chris Ridgeway on the 7th July, why not make it a title match?

The second GHC Junior title match (and HAYATA’S 5th defense) took place at The Portland Centre in Nottingham only about (and maybe not even) forty-eight hours after defending against Kondo. WrestleCarnival (the promotion hosting the title match), followed NOAH’s traditions by playing the theme music for the title and showing the gallery of champions. For the newer fans, each belt, even the newer GHC National, have their own title music. Ridgeway vs HAYATA was STINGER vs STINGER with the atmosphere of the venue changing radically to a NOAH show. The match was a vicious technical fight, with very much Yoshinari Ogawa psychology (not just submissions, but amazing reversals i.e. Ridgeway catching HAYATA mid flight and turning the move into an ankle lock), which was very much Match Of The Year quality. HAYATA succeeded in defending the title with The Headache. Afterwards, they shook hands.

You will be able to view the match on WrestleUniverse in due course.

Yoshiki Inamura Fire Festival

Yoshiki Inamura’s summer peaked when finishing the highest in his block, he went on to the Fire Festival 2022 finals against Daisuke Sekimoto. Sekimoto has been both a tag partner and a rival of Inamura, and so this was Inamura’s chance to both show him how much he has grown and also overcome a senior. Sadly, Inamura was not successful in his attempt.

The GHC Junior Tag Championship: A tale of a stolen belt, duct tape and a sneak win

While HAYATA was defending his belt against Shuji Kondo and then heading off to face Chris Ridgeway, Yoshinari Ogawa had his own championship problems, as Eita is still parading around with the GHC Junior Tag belt. Eita is even going to far as to proclaim himself as the GHC Junior Tag Champion, have official pictures taken with the belt, and say all his singles matches in DragonGate were championship matches. No wonder at DEPARTURE 2022, Yoshinari Ogawa came out looking grim and holding a chair which he swung at Perros Del Mal De Japon. Kotaro Suzuki, who was at ringside seconding, was taped to the corner post by Yuya Susumu and Kai Fujimura, as Ogawa chased Eita around over the belt.

Kotaro was later freed from his duct tape prison, and used as a missile by NOSAWA Rongai, as he still had his arms taped down. The match was “won” by young Kai Fujimura, who Ogawa threw over NOSAWA, after he dodged thanks to Eita showboating with the belt, and who had hit NOSAWA in the face. Ogawa once again was not successful in getting his tag belt back, as after a tug-of-war over it, Eita ran off.

N-1 Victory 2022 change: Timothy Thatcher out, Kinya Okada in

Due to Visa issues, Timothy Thatcher was announced by Naomichi Marufuji, to have pulled out of the N-1 VICTORY 2022. Marufuji admitted that there were seniors to take his place, himself included if he so wished (he didn’t because of just coming back from a knee operation), but he wanted to see NOAH’s younger generation take that slot, and therefore a match was arranged between Kinya Okada and Yoshiki Inamura at DEPARTURE on Friday 5th August. If anyone was going to have that slot, Kinya Okada vowed it would be him. He and Yoshiki Inamura were the same age and contemporaries, both from the same class and the same generation of NOAH, but whereas Inamura seemed to have all the advantages – Fire Festival, title matches, and even main evening, Okada (whose career had suffered from a couple of early injuries), was in the opening match and losing constantly. This was his chance to catch up and fought like never before, and overcame his friend/rival. Kinya Okada will therefore enter this years N-1 VICTORY 2022 in Timothy Thatcher’s place (B Block). His first match will be on August 11th against Masakatsu Funaki.

Hiroshi Hase to take part in Mutoh’s retirement road?

As Governor of Ishikawa Prefecture, Hiroshi Hase usually makes an appearance when NOAH are in town. Normally his participation involves opening the show, presenting a gift to the winner of the main event (etc), but on the 31st July he not only chopped Kendo Kashin, and chugged beer with Kazuyuki Fujita, and made Keiji Mutoh a tourism ambassador for the region (Naomichi Marufuji fulfils the same role for Saitama), he also said he would like to take part in Keiji Mutoh’s retirement road, although at first he didn’t think he would be able to as he didn’t think the people of the prefecture would approve. Hase, who has been retired since 2018, admitted he needed to get back in the ring and do some training. NOAH have announced nothing as of yet.

Kenoh names his new move, “Enrin”

Kenoh has named his double knee attack moonsault, “Enrin”, which basically means flaming circle. He says that flames are a good look for him. The name was chosen following a public poll on Kenoh’s twitter

Kenoh WBC?

Following an appearance by El Hijo Del Santo in NOAH and Kenoh as usual squaring up to him, (plus a very funny shoving spot behind Tadasuke as he talked to the camera), it appeared that El Hijo Del Santo issued a challenge to Kenoh, over his belt. Kenoh said that had never heard any belt by that name, except in boxing, but would be happy to take him on, anytime and anywhere.

Naomichi Marufuji returns, dates in America

Naomichi Marufuji made his return to NOAH at DEPARTURE 2022, teaming with Go Shiozaki and Takashi Sugiura against Daiki Inaba, Masato Tanaka and Satoshi Kojima. The match (despite it’s N-1 fight between Sugiura, Shiozaki, Tanaka and Kojima), was won by Go Shiozaki. On the 28th August, he will go to New York to face Eddie Kingston at House of Glory Wrestling. There will also be a further date in America in November for  King of The Indies 2022.

Tadasuke injured

Tadasuke has been injured with nasal bone fractures, and will therefore miss (probably) the next three NOAH shows, which includes Osaka and Hiroshima, places very special to him.

“Camel Kobayashi”

KENTA revealed in his autobiography, “Footsteps”, that his ring name was very almost “Camel Kobayashi”. This was because he was teased by his seniors as they thought he looked like a camel, and it was Naomichi Marufuji, who suggested the name! KENTA says that it was because of this nickname that Satoru Asako defeated him with the Camel Clutch, although this was not a move he usually did.

ELSEWHERE IN NOAH

– Mohammed Yone described Funky Express as “this little old man army”. Saito told him that most definitely did not describe him. They might be aging. He wasn’t.

– Eita apparently said he was the “GHC Junior” champion by mistake once

– Shuhei Taniguchi actually trusted a Kendo Kashin handshake. Think about that for a moment.

– Naomichi Marufuji said that after drinking with Mitsuharu Misawa, they were both so drunk they each paid the taxi driver, so he got two fares. Takashi Sugiura said that Kinya Okada and Daisuke Harada, both have a tendency to wander off when drunk.

– When Kenoh was looking for a name for his moonsault, Naomichi Marufuji suggested “New double knee attack moonsault”. Kenoh didn’t even bother to respond.

– When Kaito Kiyomiya was teaming with El Hijo Del Santo and Ultimo Dragon, he and Alejandro did a double over the top rope somersault. This is not a usual Kiyomiya move, and he said he was inspired by his seniors.

– A TikTok account craze has swept NOAH. Pretty much everyone except STINGER and Kongoh it appears have created an account.

– Tadasuke’s camera corner was interrupted by a scuffle in the background between Kenoh, Kaito Kiyomiya, El Hijo Del Santo, Ultimo Dragon and Alejandro.

– Kaito Kiyomiya has a new feature on his YouTube channel, “Kiyo’s Kitchen” (I get the impression that “Kiyo” is his nickname within NOAH).

EVENT RECAPS AND POST MATCH INTERVIEWS

  • Midsummer Clash 2022 (Ishikawa Industrial Exhibition Hall No.3, Sunday July 31st)

Event recap

Post match interviews

  • Sunny Voyage 2022 (Act City Hamamatsu, Saturday July 30th)

Event recap

Post match interviews

  • DEPARTURE 2002 (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Friday 5th August)

Event recap

Post match interviews

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

 

THIS WEEK IN NOAH

(August 2022 schedule)

NOAH will hold the press conference for the N-1 VICTORY 2022 at 4pm JST on Wednesday 10th August. This will be live and free to view as it will be streamed on YouTube.

  • N-1 VICTORY 2022

Thursday, August 11th

Start time: 16:00 JST

Venue: Yokohama Budokan

Broadcast: ABEMA (Live)WrestleUniverse (Live, English commentary)

Saturday, August 13th

Start time: 17:30 JST

Venue: EDION Arena Osaka 2nd Stadium

Broadcast: WrestleUniverse (Live)

Notes about broadcasts

– WrestleUniverse will have English commentary for all nights.

Unless you are living in Japan or have a VPN you know is compatible with ABEMA, please do not subscribe to the service. For fans living outside of Japan, a subscription to WrestleUniverse would be better as they show more NOAH shows than ABEMA, and usually the events get uploaded very quickly. ABEMA broadcasts are only in Japanese, you can only watch them live, and this is the only NOAH they show. They do not broadcast old shows as these belong to Samurai TV.

HAYATA UK APPEARANCES

Saturday, August 13th: HAYATA – PROGRESS Wrestling (Sheffield)

Sunday, August 14th: HAYATA – PROGRESS Wrestling (Newcastle)

I am informed that PROGRESS have their own streaming service, but I am unsure as to whether the matches will be put on WrestleUniverse.

BIRTHDAYS AND ANNIVERSARIES 

Wednesday, August 10th: Yasutaka Yano (22)

Friday, August 12th: Junta Miyawaki debut anniversary (5)

LINKS

“Take it from me in the truest sense of the word”, Mutoh teaches Kiyomiya “The Mutoh Finishing Method” directly

Will Naomichi Marufuji never go bankrupt? When I asked the wrestlers about NOAH and the legendary heavy drinkers, there was surprising episodes….

Naomichi Marufuji, “I want to stand again as one of NOAH’s pillars” – press conference on the eve of his return for the first tine in two months

GHC Junior match signing ceremony: “I will create NOAH Junior’s brand”, Kondo declares comeback for the first time in none and a half years, HAYATA brands him as a “guy from the past”

Interview with El Hijo Del Santo towards NOAH War, Ultimo says about Kenoh, “I won’t let him lay a finger”

AKITOSHI SAITO’S N-1 EVALUATION

Takashi Sugiura

Jack Morris

Masato Tanaka

Hideki Suzuki

Anthony Greene

Masa Kitamiya

Masaaki Mochizuki

Kazuyuki Fujita

Satoshi Kojima

BOOK CORNER

“Donmai, Donmai” – Mitsuharu Misawa’s diary

Akira Taue complains of someone snoring, he thinks it was probably Yoshinari Ogawa, but Mitsuharu Misawa admits it may also have been him.

PICTURE CREDITS: House of Glory (Naomichi Marufuji & Eddie Kingston), myself (HAYATA)

GIF taken from WrestleUniverse


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NOAH WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.181 ~ 29TH JULY 2022

With only a few weeks before the N-1 Victory tournament kicks off, NOAH is setting the stage and the Juniors are forever causing trouble!

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NEWS

Seiki Yoshioka joins the NOAH Junior Regulars

Following a singles match with Daisuke Harada at “STAR NAVIGATION 2022” (July 21st, Korakuen Hall), Seiki Yoshioka took Harada up on his offer to join the NOAH Junior Regulars. Yoshioka explained his decision as he had tried to get the GHC Junior Heavyweight belt by himself and had failed, so now he was going to try getting it working in tandem with people he had never teamed with before.

When it came to meet his new teammates, not everyone was initially happy with Daisuke Harada’s decision. Alejandro had no issue with it, Atsushi Kotoge put the past behind them and shook hands, but YO-HEY was a little more cautious, and naturally the same went for Seiki Yoshioka.

To set the scene for newer fans, Yoshioka and YO-HEY were in a unit called FULL THROTTLE together, which fell apart when Yoshioka kicked YO-HEY in the head and turned on the unit saying that expressions such as “Perron” (YO-HEY) and “Mui Bien” (Hajime Ohara) weren’t going to get him to the top of the NOAH Juniors and after kicking Hajime Ohara down, he joined with his old friends in STINGER. Since then, he and YO-HEY have been enemies. YO-HEY later said that Harada had made a decision, and basically he would abide by it and see how it went. The ice was broken a little at the NOAH Junior Twitter Space, and again the next day at their second one (NOAH seemed intent on replaying the first interview), but being in the ring and tagging together is the real show your true intentions as far as the NOAH Juniors go, and this is precisely what is going to happen on the 29th July when YO-HEY, Seiki Yoshioka and Daisuke Harada team together against STINGER. Yuya Susumu is not impressed by Yoshioka’s decision, asking if this is the path he chose on leaving them?

STINGER vs Perros Del Mal; A Tale of Two Tag Belts

Since Eita stole Yoshinari Ogawa’s tag belt, Ogawa has been on a long and fruitless quest to get it back. He almost succeeded at Korakuen Hall on the 22nd July, when he snatched the belt and went backstage during the match (leading to an unintentional but typical slightly funny moment of Yuya Susumu having to be the responsible one and sort things out), but PERROS chased him and grabbed the belt back. In the ring, Yoshinari Ogawa was taped to the ropes and forced to watch young Kai Fujimura forced to submit. HAYATA saved Ogawa from being beaten down by running into the ring and making PERROS scatter. Backstage, another fight broke out when Ogawa threw a plastic water bottle at PERROS and attempted to get the belt back. Eita declared it was his, and ran off with NOSAWA, as he clutched the belt to him. In fury, Ogawa threw a steel barrier. Fortunately, the other tag belt is safely in Chris Ridgeway’s possession. Eita warned him not to come back too quickly, he’s having too much fun beating up Ogawa.

“Not Misawa or Mutoh”

Kaito Kiyomiya says that despite the “Three Sacred Treasures” (as the Japanese sports press have named Keiji Mutoh’s gifts of The Shining Wizard. The Figure Four and The Dragon Screw), Kiyomiya at the moment has no intention of using them. He is grateful to Mutoh, but during the N-1 he wants to win as himself and find a move that is uniquely his. Kiyomiya believes that this final task from Keiji Mutoh, is Mutoh’s final gift to him.

Shuji Kondo’s mind games

Shuji Kondo declared that he would defeat HAYATA by using mind games. However, after their last pre match at Korakuen Hall on the 22nd July where Kondo had basically side stepped HAYATA, no sold him and then was not where HAYATA had anticipated he would be, HAYATA played his own mind games by offering Kondo a handshake and then attacking him, dodging Kondo he slid out of the ring and growled on the mic, “To be continued, August 8th, Korakuen Hall”.

N-1 VICTORY battlelines drawn up

The heavyweights are gearing up for the N-1 VICTORY, which means they go slightly wild like their junior counterparts.

Katsuhiko Nakajima says this will be his summer, and has already sparked with Kaito Kiyomiya, defeating him and throwing him from the ring at the last Korakuen.

Kenoh says he is aiming for Kazuyuki Fujita to avenge his GHC National loss, and of course to rid NOAH of what he terms “the old men”. Kenoh has also renamed the N-1, the K-1 as he believes it will come down to Masakatsu Funaki (GHC National Champion), Katsuhiko Nakajima (the winner of the league the past two years) and himself (the GHC Heavyweight Champion). Kenoh says he will win.

Go Shiozaki is aiming for Satoshi Kojima

Satoshi Kojima is looking to create his own record and be the first person to win a Grand Slam in league matches in New Japan, NOAH and All Japan.

OPEN THE TRIANGLEGATE Update

Perros Del Mal De Japon retained the titles against HIGH END on July 21st, and have been challenged by M3K. This match will take place in Dragon Gate. However, NOSAWA Rongai has challenged YAMATO to a singles match which will take place in NOAH.

ELSEWHERE IN NOAH

– Mohammed Yone said in a recent interview that before matches, he pumps up his ‘fro by about 10cm

– Pec flexing seems to have become a competition in NOAH as Satoshi Kojima does it with Kenoh and Katsuhiko Nakajima doing it in matches, and Kaito Kiyomiya demonstrating it to the crowd at one of the recent fan events.

– Katsuhiko Nakajima was asked if he where to have a girlfriend among the NOAH roster, who would it be? He said it would be himself.

– NOAH will go back to selling full seating for venues in September

– Fans are wondering when HAYATA is going to start talking like Kenoh!

– NOSAWA asked Masaaki Mochizuki (52), who was dressed in the baggy pants, t-shirts, shades and varsity jackets and floppy blonde hair reminiscent of 90s college boys, if he was a little old to be dressing that way? He added that Ryoto (Mochizuki’s son) didn’t really want to be dressing that way either.

– KENTA wrote in his biography a funny/embarrassing incident that took place in Hakodate when he and Kenta Kobashi were eating with some locals. Kobashi asked KENTA who was his favorite in a local band called “Judy and Mary”, did he like “Judy” or did he like “Mary”. While the locals suppressed their giggles as the band is a four piece and not a duo like Kobashi thought, KENTA (who himself was turning red at Kobashi trying to be hip) saved him further embarrassment and said “Judy”. It is probably better that Kobashi did not ask Jun Akiyama…

Another KENTA story was when he was injured during training for his debut due to an elbow to face by Makoto Hashi. Concerned, Mitsuharu Misawa came over and tilted KENTA’S head up to look. KENTA said he forgot the pain in his nose, as he was more worried about Misawa kissing him.

EVENT RECAPS AND POST MATCH INTERVIEWS

  • STAR NAVIGATION 2022 (Thursday July 21st, Korakuen Hall)

Event recap

Post match interviews

  • STAR NAVIGATION 2022 (Friday July 22nd, Korakuen Hall)

Event recap

Post match interviews

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

THIS WEEK IN NOAH

(August 2022 schedule)

  • SUNNY VOYAGE 2022

Saturday, July 30th

Venue: Act City Hamamatsu, Shizuoka

Start: 18:00 JST

Broadcast: WrestleUniverse (broadcast on Tuesday 2nd August from 18:00 JST)

  • MIDSUMMER CLASH 2022

Sunday, July 31st

Venue: Ishikawa Industrial Exhibition Hall No. 3, Ishikawa

Start: 16:00

Broadcast: WrestleUniverse (broadcast on Wednesday 3rd August from 18:00 JST)

  • DEPARTURE 2022

Friday, August 5th

Start time: 18:30 JST

Venue: Korakuen Hall

Broadcast: WrestleUniverse (Live)

DEPARTURE celebrates NOAH’s birthday, which means that this year, NOAH will turn twenty two. Each year NOAH reaches this point is a miracle given the turbulent history of the promotion. Mitsuharu Misawa gave NOAH’s first ever show this name as a way of sticking up two fingers to All Japan as he had walked out with three of The Four Pillars, half of the roster, and most of their young talent, referees, office staff and eventually NOAH would even take All Japan’s TV spot.

LINKS

A man named Kaito Kiyomiya

“Why did you start using “Kinniku Buster” in Pro Wrestling?” Mohammed Yone, “I wanted a special move to say “This is who I am”

Satoshi Kojima swears an early comeback for the N-1, will he exceed Mutoh in The Grand Slam & Three Promotions League Championship? 

Kenoh plans a N-1 Veteran “Spring Clean”, the number one target is Kazuyuki Fujita, the symbol of the old men

Neither Misawa or a copy of Mutoh! Kaito Kiyomiya talks about his N-1 Resolution

Fan Meeting 2022 – Saturday 23rd July

Fan Meeting 2022 – Sunday 24th July

Kaito Kiyomiya, who has inherited Keiji Mutoh’s special moves, will display a “New Kiyomiya at N-1”

From Cirque Du Soleil..the hidden “Real Face” of super unique wrestler Ninja Mack

AKITOSHI SAITO’S N-1 EVALUATION

El Hijo Del Dr Wagner Junior

Masakatsu Funaki

BOOK CORNER

“DONMAI, DONMAI” – Mitsuharu Misawa’s diary

27th January 2006 added

With thanks to: Metal NOAH

GIF taken from WrestleUniverse


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