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Mitchell’s WWE Backstage Report! (6/16/20)

The best meet Backstage!

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WWE Backstage 2020

The Best in the World, and the Best There Ever Will Be!

The Voice of the Voiceless, CM Punk, makes a surprise return after what happened to Christian on Raw. What will he have to say Backstage?

Renee Young welcomes us Backstage!

Yes, the Best in the World is back and says the check’s in the mail for Randy Orton. But we also have the Best There Is, Best There Was and Best There Ever Will Be! The Hitman, Bret Hart, makes his Backstage return as part of the panel! And after watching Survivor Series 1996, Renee notes how it was integral to Hart’s last run in the WWE, which followed a long period of contract negotiations, and of course “spurning” WCW. How did Stone Cold fit in as Hart’s first opponent back? They’d wrestled before but nothing big. They were both looking forward to working together, and that was the first real consequential match they ever had.

In all fairness to Steve Austin back in those days, he would get a bit nervous, but also very intense. It showed when they worked a match that A) Austin was going to give his all and B) he was anxious. Austin was still finding himself, but it still turned out to be one of Hart’s favorite matches ever, on par with WrestleMania 13. Speaking of which, they had already given so much at Survivor Series, so they weren’t sure what more they could do. And in the end, they managed to do just that, and it was a situation where Hart stayed in great shape and felt ready, but it was also a situation where he felt that match even months later. It takes a toll on you. You don’t feel the pain in the ring, you feel it over the next few months after. It was like he got run over by a train.

Punk speaks to Austin being nervous, it all makes sense given where Austin was in his career. But talking to Hart here, and how they’re friends, Punk admits he’s a bit nervous still. Punk has a Hart Family hoodie. Renee says we all got that good good Hart merch. But while the nerves are great, Austin “famously” got fired by Eric Bischoff from WCW in 1994, and Hart was someone who went to Vince McMahon and told him about “this Steve Austin guy.” Dating back to that, what are the things Hart saw in Austin that made Hart want Austin in the WWE? Hart says he knew of Austin from even the Von Erich days. Austin was a guy coming up with that Rick Rude intensity and drive to get better. Especially in those early days, when Hart could catch Austin’s matches on TV, Hart always thought Austin was climbing up, improving.

Then there was that time Austin went to ECW, Hart was mad with Vince for letting Austin slip away. The WWE was looking for new faces, but they let the hottest free agent at the time go somewhere else! Then a week later, Austin was in the WWE and it shocked Hart just a bit. Hart likes to think he shook the tree and got the result he wanted. Punk says that given the position Hart was in, you gotta shake trees. Punk remembers in 2012, when he was a Heel, he wanted all kinds of guys to work with. Punk looked around, checked off the list of who he already worked with, and had to look outside. NXT was developmental, but that’s where Punk picked out Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and other new, fresh guys that the world should see and that had something to prove.

Punk remembers back to watching Austin take on Ricky Steamboat and thinking, “Man, this guy needs to be bigger than he is.” Maybe that’s something Hart thought, too. Punk remembers the build to Survivor Series 96, the Hart VS Austin match. Hart came back, cut a basic yet meaningful promo about, “I accept the challenge of the best wrestler in the world, Steve Austin.” Bret Hart saying someone else was the best wrestler in the world, that carries weight, especially to fans like Punk. Punk was so ready for Survivor Series, and they delivered. This may be a trick question, but would Hart say Austin was his best opponent? Hart says Austin is up there in a very small handful. Well who else is in that handful? Well, Mr. Perfect, HBK, those guys and Hart just clicked. Austin was right on the edge of that group.

To be honest, their Survivor Series match, and looking at Austin’s work rate soon after, it was a huge leap in ability. Hart always thought Austin had all the necessary ingredients to be a huge star, and his promo was a challenge for Austin to fill those shoes. And Austin did, though he was a bit “erratic” at times. Austin gets intense, but sometimes that works against a guy. Hart giving Austin the confidence and the motivation, Austin found his voice and his style. Punk says that while it was called the “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever,” he wants Hart’s opinion on Orton VS Edge from Backlash. Hart saw that match, and thought it was definitely a great match. It’s really almost impossible to name a match as THE greatest, because pro-wrestling evolves and changes. You watch the old days of Buddy Rodgers and his generation and go, “That was the greatest match, back in 1962.” There are just certain matches you will always remember for the hype or how they come out. It is impossible to say there one match is the greatest ever.

One thing that keeps Hart from saying Orton VS Edge at Backlash is the greatest is that there were no fans. You need that ingredient. Sure, the match had to great wrestlers in a great match, but the audience adds something to that. That is just an unfortunate limitation of the circumstances that we can’t do anything about. But with that said, Orton and Edge certainly had a great match, it was very realistic and intense, and it reminded Hart of a great tennis match with the back and forth rally for minutes at such a fast pace. That’s probably the difference between Hart’s era and this current one. They don’t take time to slowly build a story like you could and would back then. But it was a beautiful match and we couldn’t have asked for more from Orton and Edge. Hart watched Orton’s other matches with Edge over the last decade, and they’ve all been great. Those two just have great chemistry and are two of the better wrestlers of all time, in any era.

Renee says Hart helped coach Edge a bit. Were they having conversations leading up to that match? Hart tried to give some advice. Edge was a little uncomfortable with this match being declared the Greatest Wrestling Match Ever, especially before actually having it. That is a tough pair of shoes for anyone to fill, but Hart gave what he feels was the best advice. For Hart, before he went out to wrestle, he’d envision it and always thought of it as if he were a fan in the front row watching it. Hart wants to entertain himself, make it for him, and do everything for the fan in him. If Hart can make that person stay focused and make him go, “Hey, this is a great match!” That’s probably what Edge did for himself. Edge put himself in the fans’ shoes and came up with a match he could enjoy. Hart was always a big fan of a great wrestling match and its psychology. Watching wrestlers work holds and tell a story, Edge and Orton did a great job of that.

Renee says Punk has a story to share about SummerSlam 1994. Well, talk about one of the greatest matches of all time. The United Center in Chicago was built for Michael Jordan and the Bulls, but the first event in that arena was SummerSlam, with the main event as The Undertaker VS The Undertaker, and there was this investigation to figure out who the real Taker was. But as a wrestling fan, you knew the real main event was Bret VS Owen in a Steel Cage. Punk looks at the limitations of the 1990’s “big blue cage” the same way as he does the limitations of Orton VS Edge was stuck with. “Go out, have the Greatest Wrestling Match Ever, but there are no fans, and you can’t do this and you can’t do that.”

Punk finds that personally, the best wrestlers are the ones who take their circumstances and make, pardon his language here, “chicken salad out of chicken sh*t.” The Big Blue Cage was because they wanted it to be different from the NWA cages, the chain link steel that gets nasty and bloody and there was no blood in the WWE. But even then, Bret and Owen put on what is arguably one of the best cage matches ever. Punk was there live, so from a fan and friend, people may not always remember what Bret did or said, but they will remember how he made them feel. Punk still remembers SummerSlam 94, watching live as the Hart Family teared the house down. Punk thanks Hart for all his contributions to the wrestling world.

Hart does remember that match, and if he could’ve, he probably would’ve, if only HBK and Scott Hall hadn’t taken his Ladder match idea. Hart would’ve had the first ever ladder match at SummerSlam with Owen instead of a big blue cage. Punk is right, those big bars were not the best because they were right at the ropes. You had to be careful or you’d crack your own head open. They were dangerous and awkward for an already awkward match type, but Bret feels he and Owen and British Bulldog and Jim the Anvil all did their best to do what they can with their limitations. Bret will always remember the suplex that brought Owen up and over the cage and to the mat. They felt like they were falling off a building or something. It is definitely a memorable match and Hart was proud that among cage matches, and one without blood, it is still one of the best. They made it great on wrestling alone, so it’s great to know Punk was there live and thinks so fondly of it.

 

The panel assembles!

Booker T and Mark Henry join Renee and Punk to add even more Hall of Fame power to the show! Punk wants to make sure Henry and Booker show off their rings more. Renee notes that in just one week, we’ve had title changes, relationships breaking up and true wrestling clinics! But in case you missed it, here’s…

Just the Highlights!

On SmackDown: Your NEW WWE Intercontinental Champion is the Phenomenal AJ Styles! The House that AJ Styles Built has gold again! What will this new era mean for the title of legendary workhorses?

At Backlash: Bayley and Sasha Banks had an intense Triple Threat Tag with Bliss-Cross and The IIconics, and they kept those titles around their waists! But will #BayleyDosStraps and The Boss make it through NXT tomorrow night? Then, Jeff Hardy and Sheamus looked to settle things, and in the end it would be the Celtic Warrior that crushed the comeback! Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley fought even before the bell and give it everything they had! But STILL WWE World Champion, Drew McIntyre! The same goes for the Monster Among Men, as The Miz and John Morrison had a malfunction of egotistical instinct! The handicap advantage went awry, and Braun Strowman still has the Universal Championship! But biggest of all, Orton VS Edge, in truly an incredible main event won by the Viper!

On Raw: The Monday Night Messiah tried to reason with Rey Mysterio to make Dominik a disciple and not a sacrifice. But Dominik spoke for himself with action as he attacked Seth Rollins! Will Rollins make both father and son pay for their sins? As for Orton, Christian returned to confront him, but then things turned ugly in an Unsanctioned challenge! Mostly because Ric Flair betrayed and low blow’d Captain Charisma for Orton’s PUNT! “This is your fault! I didn’t want to do this! Why are you here?!”

The panel discusses this week in the WWE!

While Christian hadn’t been in a match for six years, he got himself right in the middle of the Orton VS Edge drama last night. It did not end well. What does the panel think of how that all played out? Henry was worried for Christian. Not about him taking a punt to the head, but about Christian blowin’ up and having a heart attack. Booker T says Christian is finished. What was he thinking? He has a great spot on Backstage and he had to go and do that. It is not a good idea for older wrestlers to go out there after being away for so long. It is a young man’s game now. Renee asks for Punk’s “silver lining,” but he isn’t sure there’s anything he could add. Punk’s just happy to be here this week, because again, he wasn’t scheduled and then Christian went and got himself kicked in the head. Thanks, Backstage Buddha.

But to what Punk and Hart talked about earlier, what do Booker and Henry think about that added pressure of calling Orton VS Edge at Backlash “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever”? Did it live up? Henry says it was a great match, they played the greatest hits, but you definitely need to be over 40 to remember “Putting on the Hits.” A great show in the 80’s and Henry enjoyed that here. Orton and Edge played all the tunes we love so much, but for it to be the GREATEST EVER, Henry was heckled by Punk for this, but Henry wanted a ref bump and all the “bells and whistles,” but we didn’t get that!

Renee asks, would we have considered one of the greatest matches ever if the WWE didn’t just already label it that? Booker says that the match itself was excellent, for the same reasons Henry said. There were throwbacks to the other all-time-greats in wrestling, even Eddie Guerrero. Some say Edge hit a Rock Bottom for The Rock, but you could also say that was a Bookend for Booker T. Either way, it’s about the marquee. Booker was a huge fan, watching John Travolta and all his moves in Saturday Night Fever. The moves of a wrestler makes you want to see that wrestler. So Orton VS Edge, #GWME, you want to see it regardless if it really was the greatest ever. Those two went out there and did a great job.

Renee gives Punk his chance to speak his mind on this match. Punk says that if you’re Orton and Edge, you’re better off ignoring the label. It’s too subjective, “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever.” What’s the greatest song of all time? The greatest band of all time? Greatest car of all time? It’s too subjective, everyone will have a different opinion. But that’s what makes wrestling great. You can talk about all these different wrestlers from different regions and eras, and their different styles, and sometimes you get magic. Orton and Edge had a great match. Punk has seen better Orton matches and Edge matches, but that to be the marquee that gets people to watch, it was unnecessary pressure to put on Edge, a guy who is coming back after being off for almost a decade. But for what it’s worth, Orton and Edge did a great job just ignoring the label and giving us their best.

What does everyone think of the additional crowd noise added in? Booker says he likes crowd noise. He’s been watching boxing, and there’s an app now where you can have your own voice as part of the show, so Booker kinda liked what WWE did. It didn’t take anything away from the actual match, and it perhaps added to it. Renee does agree. If she hadn’t been told about it ahead of time, she probably wouldn’t have realized it right away. Before jumping further into this, it must be noted that Edge suffered a torn tricep muscle, but has had successful surgery and is resting at home. Backstage wishes Edge a speedy recovery and return.

 

The Backstage panels discusses the Mysterios VS The Monday Night Messiah!

It feels so good to see Dominik punching Seth Rollins in the face, doesn’t it? Henry remembers 10 years ago, he was playing with action figures in catering with Dominik. To see him grow up, Henry is sure Dominik will be the next one of those guys that comes from a wrestling family, that was born and bred in this and can be out there like Orton or The Rock. Dominik is going to be a great talent. Henry didn’t want the WWE rushing things, and so far they haven’t, but Dominik still has a few years before he’s truly at “grown man status.” But as someone that understands the business, he’s right there. Everything he did was solid and in a way that didn’t look like playing around. He looked like a pro-wrestler, and Henry is proud.

Booker says that he’ll give Dominik that rub. Dominik is being baptized by fire into the business, he’s on a fast track, and he’s still young. The green is still there, Booker just hopes Dominik isn’t being rushed into something. Like Henry said, Dominik was only a kid in catering a few years ago, now he’s in the ring running around. Imagine if there were 10, 20, 50 THOUSAND people in the arena being there to judge him. It’ll be a hit or miss move for Dominik at this point. Punk says that he likes the idea that we’re seeing Dominik grow and enter wrestling. Punk doesn’t want people just starting out to be the best at anything. Wrestlers shouldn’t come in super polished. Not everyone be like Kurt Angle, a freak athlete that comes into a new business and picks it up so easy. The slight awkwardness is appropriate, and it lends a lot to the story. The thing is, Dominik needs to lay his stuff in! Really hit him! Rollins and the others are grown men, they can handle getting hit. Sound advice from the best!

 

Bret Hart returns Backstage!

After reliving a promo The Hitman cut in WCW about El Dandy being a great wrestler despite his weight class, Hart joins Booker and Renee. Poor Dandy never did get that title shot, did he? But these two two-time Hall of Fame inductees are here to talk their WCW days. What does Hart remember working with a young and rising Booker? Hart is happy to say that Booker was one of the first guys he wanted to work with. Hart wanted a good dance partner, and for some reason, WCW didn’t understand what that was. They were rather clueless there. But Hart wanted to work with Booker, he felt they could bring out the best in each other, and they did get to a few times. It wasn’t anything all that meaningful, even as footage of Booker shoving Hart plays. Bash at the Beach, their first match against each other, hard hitting stuff.

Booker remembers that for being so excited knowing Hart was coming to WCW. He was a fan even though he was wrestling Hart. And then when Hart walked up to him, Booker gave him that big shove. Booker remembers Hart just looked so cool playing it off, he remembers it like it was yesterday. Booker asks Hart about coming in, and relating it to how Booker eventually went to WWE and wanting to make a difference. What difference was Hart hoping to make in WCW but didn’t get to? Hart says he was never more hungry to do that than in WCW. When he left WWE to join WCW, he came in with so much momentum, such as shoot knocking Vince out in the locker room after the Screwjob. Being cheated out of the title after winning it off Taker at SummerSlam, then Hart would one day face Austin at WM13.

But in WCW, there was so much momentum, Hart was just ready to do anything and everything to make a difference. He was hungry to prove himself, and then that idea for Hart to be a special guest referee, “That’s the best you’ve got? I’ll give you a million ideas better than that.” But it didn’t get any better. From day one to the last day, it just proved Vince right when he told Hart that WCW would have no idea what to do with him. After three or four months, Hart couldn’t deny it. They had no appreciation for Hart’s skills, and he kept going to Bischoff and asking him, “How about throwing me in with this guy?” And it’d always be the most lame reason as to why not. Booker was working with someone else, blah blah blah. That’s not a reason! WCW didn’t know what they were doing, and who knows what the politics were like.

Booker says he has the answer: The two of them were great workers. They could go out and out perform anyone and everyone, even the top dogs in the company. But if Hart could do it all over again, would he? Hart says he might try to figure out a better way to stay in the WWE. Knowing what we know now about WCW, Hart is sorry he ever went there. That includes Goldberg kicking him right in the head. Goldberg was one of those guys that the more he wrestled, the more disregard he had for those he was working with. It didn’t matter to WCW, they’d just keep patting him on the back and ignore the other guy limping his way to the back, including Hart. Hart told Goldberg, “Whatever you do, don’t hurt me.” Then he kicks Hart as hard as he can. Goldberg didn’t know any better because he had people telling him how great he was. They weren’t do anyone any favors by not teaching Goldberg that wrestlers aren’t crash test dummies. Unfortunate in that standpoint.

And as Booker said, the “top guys” put a lid on Hart to make sure he didn’t go anywhere. A shame, really. Hart had heard things before even going there but hindsight is 20-20. Booker asks if it’s true that Steve Austin tried to talk Hart out of WCW because of his own experiences. Yes, it is. And a few other guys, actually. Kevin Nash when he came back to the WWE, he told Hart “what a sh*t show it was.” Austin and the others, even Owen Hart in his short time, not even a couple weeks. Owen told Bret to never go there, but Bret was hoping he could change things. Bret had so much value, but then how WCW used him, what Hart could’ve done, there’s no reason he couldn’t have been big business for them. Instead, they wasted Hart and many other great talents, Booker included. Not to mention Sting, who was someone else Hart loved working with. Even if it did boil down to Bischoff telling Hart what to do all the time.

Hart just wished WCW would’ve trusted him, asked for his input, but Hogan was calling the shots. No one was going to get past him. There was just a lot of illogical stuff going on, they didn’t know the difference between a good idea and a bad idea. Booker will say this, wrestler to wrestler, man to man, and as friends, Booker had the utmost pleasure getting in the ring with The Hitman. What time they did have together was magical, some of the best stuff Booker did in his career that made him feel better as a wrestler afterward. All the things Hart has said about Booker, Booker really appreciates. Hart was 100% professional, that is what Booker will always remember about him. No one said it better than Finkel in his introductions. Fink was the best, we all loved him. Renee thanks The Hitman for stopping by, and hopes to have him in person when the studio can open up. Bret thanks them for having him and hopes we all stay safe.

 

Backstage discusses Daniel Bryan VS AJ Styles!

For the first time, the Phenomenal One became the WWE Intercontinental Champion! What did everyone think about this match? Punk was talking about it earlier and couldn’t put his finger on why he didn’t feel it was as great as it sounds on paper. He was excited to watch, but he just couldn’t get into it 100%. Two of the best ever, Punk has seen these two have amazing matches on the indies and all that, even in front of no people. But what was missing was the people this time. It’s a really good match, but Punk wanted it to be great. That something missing was the fans and their electricity for the fans to feed off of more. Structurally, can’t say anything bad about the match, but that third element just bugged Punk in the back of his mind.

Booker says he understands Punk’s perspective. Thinking about singing A Capella, the rhythms and the beats are missing, but once that happens, it all clicks. You might start A Capella to then get the music, but Bryan VS Styles, both those guys are in the primes of their careers. Styles has been all over the world, has been the best wherever he goes. “Mah boi, D-Bry” came from the bottom, clawed his way up, got injured, came back, and is still up top. The match was everything for Booker, perhaps THAT was the Greatest Wrestling Match Ever. Henry loved the physicality and toughness and aggression. Dominik, if you’re listening to this, watch that match again. Become both men you saw in that ring. They whooped each other, and felt it the next day, that’s for sure. They not only played the hits, but they took serious, serious dangerous moves and then reversed out of them and kept going. It was truly impressive.

 

Backstage plugs next week!

Leading into next week’s episode, don’t miss FS1 playing Royal Rumble 2008! CM Punk still feels cheated on that one because John Cena comes back from a torn pectoral muscle three months early!

But that’s all for the show this week! Renee thanks Bret Hart, CM Punk, Booker T and Mark Henry for joining her for another great episode. Be sure to be back again for more!


My Thoughts:

A really good episode for Backstage, it was great to hear from Bret Hart on his match with Austin for Survivor Series, which we all got to relive not just tonight on FS1 but on 205 Live under The Singh Brothers’ “Matches That Made Me” episode. Such a good match, and obviously it fits in with the discussion about Greatest Wrestling Match Ever. Obviously everyone in reality feels that Orton VS Edge at Backlash was a great match, but you can’t actually call something the GREATEST ever. Hearing Hart shoot on WCW was great, and even on Goldberg and how things were for him in reality. I also like that Booker kinda snuck in another feeling that I know I was having: Styles VS Bryan may have been a better match to call #GWME after the fact. While Styles and Bryan argued about Styles taking it easy while having others “earn” matches with the champion, I really hope we get quite a few more amazing matches from the Intercontinental Championship to help SmackDown with its ratings.


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More From Japan

NOAH WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.187 ~ 29TH SEPTEMBER 2022

Keiji Mutoh continues his Retirement tour and bringing out faces from the past! NOAH has a new champion! Interesting inter-promotional battles on the horizon as well!

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Kaito Kiyomiya is the new GHC Heavyweight Champion, nominates Kazuyuki Fujita as challenger

Following provocation by Kenoh not only saying that he was going to be the one to inherit Keiji Mutoh’s Shining Wizard and the memory of Keiji Mutoh himself (and the outright claim that Kiyomiya would simply forget about Mutoh once Mutoh had retired, which Kiyomiya didn’t even bother responding to), Kenoh went one step further at their last pre match on the 19th September by pulling Keiji Mutoh’s pose, kissing his hand, putting it to Kiyomiya’s lips and then exploding it. Kiyomiya erupted in fury at this, it was far more than any verbal provocation of Kenoh’s, which I guess he has learned to ignore over the years. They fought for the GHC Heavyweight in Nagoya on September 25th, with Kiyomiya emerging victorious following a modified Shining Wizard. As Kenoh left it was like a spell was broken. Kenoh went backstage and muttered about Kiyomiya being the company favorite and in his interview the day after winning the title, Kiyomiya said nothing about Keiji Mutoh. Mutoh as we know had been a focus of both Kiyomiya and Kenoh leading up to the title match.

Back in the ring, Kiyomiya called out his next opponent. Kazuyuki Fujita. Fujita came to the ring, carrying a can of beer which he swigged from. Getting in the ring he circled Kiyomiya and took off his t-shirt. Kiyomiya said that he was expecting a fight, but Fujita did something that no other NOAH wrestler had (or perhaps would) do, and that was to throw himself at Kiyomiya and then make nuzzling motions against his head, while he licked the belt. Kiyomiya pushed him off, and Fujita retaliated by pouring beer over his head.

Kiyomiya screaming that he hated beer was met with Fujita toasting him from the ramp and yelling “Kampaiii” (“cheers”) after a fight had broken out, and Kiyomiya threw him from the ring.

 

Backstage, Kiyomiya said his reason for nominating Kazuyuki Fujita as his challenger was that he had never been defeated for the GHC Heavyweight. Fujita had to give up the belt due to Coronavirus. It has been a recurring theme of most of the GHC Heavyweight champions since Go Shiozaki, that Fujita has been the man to beat in order to cement yourself as champion. Kiyomiya was picking up that torch.

As for Fujita, he played it as if he was a Casanova and had been asked out on a date by warning Kiyomiya that when you experience Fujita, you can never go back because you were never going to be the same. He was going to “make it a night to remember”. He sipped his beer, and licked his lips afterwards.

Title match has been set for NOAH’s return to Ariake on the 30th October.

STINGER lose, NOAH Junior Regulars win, enter Tadasuke (with a chair)

Following a period of brutal attacks on Seiki Yoshioka (by the end of the match he could hardly use one side of his body) and a title challenge where Atsushi Kotoge was bloodied up, The NOAH Junior Regulars emerged victorious and bought the tag titles home to their unit. They had very little time to celebrate their win and put ice on their wounds, when Tadasuke burst in and attacked Atsushi Kotoge with a chair while Hi69 beat up on the already incapacitated Seiki Yoshioka. Tadasuke (wild grin on his face) got on the microphone and made a challenge for the tag titles. Then Tadasuke wiped the blood from Kotoge that had got on his hands on his hair, leaving red streaks in the peroxide. Tadasuke was even waving the bloodied seat of the chair, which had detached during the attack, around backstage.

Title match will be on the 30th October when NOAH return to the Ariake complex.

Takashi Sugiura and Satoshi Kojima, NOAH’s most dysfunctional tag team, win the GHC Heavyweight tag titles

It must be said that with the combined efforts of Satoshi Kojima and Hideki Suzuki, we almost have our Sugi back.

At the press conference/title match signing, Sugi and Kojima appeared dressed in suits and wearing dark glasses. They looked something between The Men In Black and “Dangerous Detectives” (as Tokyo Sports called them  which stems from a Japanese TV show). Hideki Suzuki was on form, not only mistranslating Timothy Thatcher and stating at one point that Thatcher said he came to Japan to “beat you up” and being rude to a journalist for being overfamiliar with his “punk mouth”, the highlight of the press conference was his long close up stare at Sugi, who was trying not to laugh.

The dysfunctional team won the titles in Nagoya on the 25th September, and despite their falling out during the match, Sugi actually gave Kojima a proper handshake. Then they went back to squabbling backstage over Kojima talking on the mic when it was Sugi who got the win. No challengers have come forward as of yet.

HAYATA retains the GHC Junior, Ninja Mack makes his long awaited challenge

It had been an emotional match for YO-HEY, and for fans. Cutting out the aerial techniques that had characterized their earlier matches, both he and HAYATA demonstrated how much they had both evolved by concentrating on a more NOAH based ground attack with submissions. YO-HEY might have failed in the challenge, but he had at least gotten one win over HAYATA in the pre-match. He knew the title match would be different and he would need to level up, and afterwards he reflected and said he would start from rock bottom in order to make his next challenge. What fans had noticed that while things had changed between them, some things were the same, such as YO-HEY coloring his hair, his tongue (and even his boxer shorts) purple, which is HAYATA’s color, and HAYATA not speaking as much as he has done in previous title challenges, as he is content to let YO-HEY talk. After the match, Ninja Mack came to challenge. HAYATA accepted by saying, that he was “finally interested in the belt” and acknowledging him as challenger. Title match will of course be on the 30th October. But HAYATA is not immediately going into a fallout match with Ninja Mack at NOAH’s next event on the 30th, but is having a tag match against YO-HEY.

Keiji Mutoh’s Retirement Road

Keiji Mutoh has been very busy.

– 23rd September: Great Muta appears in AEW

The Great Muta made a surprise appearance in AEW to rescue Sting, who had been tied to a chair by Darby Allen. Muta came to the ring, advanced on Sting and then turned and spat green mist into the face of Allen and then reunited with Sting. Keiji Mutoh announced that Sting would attend Muta’s retirement on the 22nd in Yokohama, but has not said in what capacity, although it is assumed that they will tag. Regarding any further appearances in America, Mutoh said he didn’t think it was likely, but did warn that The Great Muta may pop up somewhere as you never knew where he would turn up next.

– 25th September: Keiji Mutoh Retirement Road: Love Forever 2

Keiji Mutoh teamed with his junior Kazuyuki Fujita to take on Mutoh’s classmate, Masakatsu Funaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima, who Mutoh has known since he was a boy, and still calls affectionately “Katsuhiko”. Nakajima said he was going to break up this class reunion, and while Mutoh did get kicked (Nakajima smirked and said it was fun when Mutoh later complained his leg still hurt) but it was Fujita who got the worst of it. During the match, Nakajima pulled out Mutoh’s Space Rolling Elbow. Mutoh was initially not pleased, but then he became very happy to see it and said that he thought that “Katsuhiko” did it because he had some small measure of feeling for him. I think had Nakajima been a more acrobatic wrestler, Mutoh might have handed it to him. Mutoh won the match with The Shining Wizard, pinning Nakajima. This was Mutoh’s farewell to Nagoya, his classmate, his junior and Nakajima.

– 26th September: Hiroshi Tanahashi comes to the press conference and a tag match is announced

Hiroshi Tanahashi presented 38 roses to Mutoh when he came to the press conference. Each rose symbolizes a year of Mutoh’s career. Mutoh joked that he should have laid them at his feet, as had happened in boxing recently. Tanahashi said he wasn’t good at ad-libbing, and then introduced himself as “one of the greatest New Japan talents in the past one hundred years”. During the press conference, a tag match was announced. New Japan’s Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe and Honma Tomoaki will team together against the team of Naomichi Marufuji, Keiji Mutoh and Keiji Mutoh. This will take place on the 30th October. Mutoh has not given up hope of appearing one final time in the New Japan ring.

– 16th October: A new match is announced

NOAH announced that due to fan demand, Keiji Mutoh will be appearing in Fukuoka. He will tag with Ninja Mack and Satoshi Kojima against Naomichi Marufuji, HAYATA and Jack Morris. Satoshi Kojima is of course connected to Mutoh through All Japan and New Japan, Naomichi Marufuji has wanted a match against Mutoh (he will be tagging with him as we know on the 30th October) and HAYATA has been a big fan of Mutoh for a while, as he has influenced a lot of his style and persona. HAYATA thinks of himself and The Great Muta as “The Phantom Team”. Muta doesn’t like to speak and HAYATA said, neither does he.

Naomichi Marufuji and Katsuhiko Nakajima head overseas

Naomichi Marufuji and Katsuhiko Nakajima will appear for Evolution Pro Wrestling in New York for their anniversary show on November 12th. Marufuji’s match is yet to be announced, but Nakajima will take on Josh Alexander. Alexander has said he wonders how Nakajima is going to kick after he snaps his ankle. They will also appear at King of Indies in San Francisco on November 19th.

NOSAWA vs Katsuhiko Nakajima (and Kenoh)

After being beaten up by Katsuhiko Nakajima who gave him some pretty stiff soccerball kicks outside the ring at Korakuen Hall recently, (although he would tell you that Nakajima tried to beat him up), NOSAWA Rongai has been on a quest to face Nakajima in a match. Then he threw in Kenoh, so it could be himself and Eita versus Kongoh. Hideki Suzuki told him that he was probably going to die, but NOSAWA has taken no notice and kept on with his demand. His demand has not been met because rather than facing Nakajima and Kenoh, NOAH have booked him against rookies Yasutaka Yano and Kai Fujimura. NOSAWA thinks he is having to go through some kind of trial.

ELSEWHERE IN NOAH

– Hideki Suzuki has hinted that perhaps Takashi Sugiura might like to get back online.

– Yoshiki Inamura and YO-HEY continued their guild, despite the fact that YO-HEY said someone attacked and burned their castle down. A picture was taken of YO-HEY and Inamura playing the game, with YO-HEY seated cross legged on Inamura, who was doing a bridge in the ring. We have seen Inamura used as a weight, but is he now used as furniture?

– NOAH’s Director, Narihiro Takeda, wrote on a NOAH Note that he would like for Darby Allin to come to NOAH one day.

– Tadasuke got a match thrown out by ripping off Alejandro’s mask. Tadasuke did not care, and did not even respond when Alejandro asked if he wanted a mask for himself?

– Daiki Inaba had his long awaited singles match with Katsuhiko Nakajima, but failed to revenge himself for Nakajima’s behavior in W-1. Nakajima even went for the cocky pin by grinning and leaning on Inaba.

– There was usual chaos at the NOAH Junior Space sessions as Daisuke Harada is not there to take control. Atsushi Kotoge seems to be the main culprit, forgetting to invite Seiki Yoshioka in and at one time even failing to press record.

– It’s probably best that Daiki Inaba, who apparently likes to be in the nip backstage, was not present when NOAH was at Differ. It was bad enough that Sugi used to wander around naked…

– Mitsuharu Misawa wrote in a diary entry for 2006 about filming an advert for THE LEAVE, and having to sing first thing in the morning while they were filming. Probably due to the fact that he had a problem with his throat anyway, was a heavy smoker and had taken “so many chops and kicks” to it in his career, he said he sounded very hoarse.

EVENT RECAPS AND POST MATCH PROMOS

SUNNY VOYAGE – September 19th 

Event recap

Post match promos

N-INNOVATION – September 21st 

Event recap

Post match promos

GRAND SHIP 2022 IN NAGOYA/KEIJI MUTOH RETIREMENT ROAD – September 25th

Event recap

Post match promos

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

  • GHC Heavyweight Champion: Kaito Kiyomiya
    Challenger: Kazuyuki Fujita, [Muto Retirement Road] ABEMA presents Ariake Gaisen-THE RETURN-PRO-WRESTLING LOVE FOREVER . 3 ~TRIUMPH~ Sunday 30th October, Ariake Arena, Tokyo
  • GHC Junior Champion: HAYATA
    Challenger: Ninja Mack, [Muto Retirement Road] ABEMA presents Ariake Gaisen-THE RETURN-PRO-WRESTLING LOVE FOREVER . 3 ~TRIUMPH~ Sunday 30th October, Ariake Arena, Tokyo
  • GHC Heavyweight Tag Champions: KojiSugi (Satoshi Kojima & Takashi Sugiura)
    Challengers: TBA
  • GHC Junior Tag Champions: The NOAH Junior Regulars (Atsushi Kotoge & Seiki Yoshioka)
    Challengers: Kongoh Juniors (Tadasuke & Hi69), [Muto Retirement Road] ABEMA presents Ariake Gaisen-THE RETURN-PRO-WRESTLING LOVE FOREVER . 3 ~TRIUMPH~ Sunday 30th October, Ariake Arena, Tokyo
  • GHC National Champion: Masakatsu Funaki
    Challenger: Masa Kitamiya, SUNNY VOYAGE 2022 – Friday September 30th (Bandaijima Multi-Purpose Square Ogama)

(This event will not be broadcast live, but hopefully this match will be shown via Instagram)

THIS WEEK IN NOAH

(October 2022 schedule)

– Friday, October 7th

STAR NAVIGATION 2022 – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo

Time: 18:30 JST

Broadcast: WrestleUniverse/ABEMA (live)

– Saturday, October 8th

STAR NAVIGATION 2022 – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo

Time: 18:30 JST

Broadcast: WrestleUniverse (live)

Note about broadcasts

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.

BIRTHDAYS & ANNIVERSARIES

Wednesday, 5th October: Keiji Mutoh debut anniversary (38)

Wednesday, 5th October: Seiki Yoshioka debut anniversary (14)

LINKS

“I want to protect this belt for the rest of my life”, new GHC champion Kiyomiya holds morning press conference to establish a new NOAH landscape

Mutoh’s Retirement Road, tag match against Tanahashi in round three: “I want to grab the secret of secrets”, Tanahashi presents 38 roses

Great Muta teaming up with Sting for last match? “Agent” Mutoh’s opinion 

“I wonder if I can transmit more” YO-HEY aims to revitalize the junior ark with his first championship

AEW Shock! Great Muta appears in America! Rescues Sting and shake of hands

“Follow Me You Bastards” – Kenoh’s Weekly Pro Column

GHC Junior Match Signing: YO-HEY “Last Chance, I don’t think as my ex partner now”, HAYATA “I don’t feel anything”

“Taka & Satoshi” reveal a “dangerous detective” look, mischievous Suzuki is a reckless interpreter, the GHC tag signing ceremony is thrown into chaos by bizarre question and answer between the two teams

 A “Comrade” and an “Older Brother”, Masakatsu Funaki talks about his thoughts on Mutoh’s retirement, “I want to kick him mercilessly”

BOOK CORNER

“Donmai, Donmai” – Mitsuharu Misawa’s diary

With thanks to: Metal NOAH

GIF taken from WrestleUniverse & NOAH Official YouTube

Picture credit: YO-HEY & NOAH.co.jp


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(NOAH) NOAH WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.186 ~ 18TH SEPTEMBER 2022

Hisame sorts through some of the larger points as NOAH slowly comes into the Fall season!

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NEWS

Kenoh, Kiyomiya & The Shining Wizard

At the time of writing, the two pre matches between Kenoh and Kaito Kiyomiya are even, both has one win over the other. Kiyomiya defeated Kenoh at Korakuen Hall on the 15th using a variation of The Shining Wizard, with Kenoh (who swore he would never lose to that move again), using Keiji Mutoh’s version of The Shining Wizard to defeat Kiyomiya. Prior to doing it, Kenoh had even gone as far to pull Mutoh’s pose and he did it again while leaning over Kiyomiya. Kenoh stated backstage that he didn’t believe that after Mutoh had retired that Kiyomiya would continue using the move, so therefore he, Kenoh, would use it and cherish both the technique and Keiji Mutoh. If you thought Kiyomiya was made mad enough by Kenoh patting him on the head, wait until they clash again at Yokohama Radiant Hall on the 19th.

YO-HEY & HAYATA

In the past you got the impression that HAYATA didn’t really care about his opponents, they were just there to be beaten and for him to move on after beating, this time the feeling is very different. Compared to all of HAYATA’S other title defenses so far, this has been the most personal (anything involving YO-HEY is always more personal than anyone else), the most bitter and the most savage. Whilst HAYATA seems to want to keep YO-HEY in mint condition for the title match, as neither Yoshinari Ogawa, Chris Ridgeway or himself seem to want to concentrate on breaking down his knees or damaging his arm (unlike poor Seiki Yoshioka, who is getting the brunt of all three, Ridgeway even tearing off his bandages and attacking the bone), YO-HEY has taken to attacking HAYATA after matches. Both matches so far have been inconclusive and neither has the win over the other, but at Korakuen on the first night YO-HEY dropkicked HAYATA in the face, at the second he gave him the GAMEN-G. YO-HEY has described this as a “switch being turned on” in him, and says he has a strategy for the title match. HAYATA naturally has said nothing, which is odd considering how vocal he has been in the title challenges before.

Taka & Satoshi

Satoshi Kojima and Takashi Sugiura have made a functional dysfunctional tag team. Their first pre match against Hideki Suzuki and Timothy Thatcher contained a misfire when Sugiura caught Kojima by accident and they had a spat. The second time, Sugiura was made to tap out by Timothy Thatcher in a match that reminded me of the Galleria fight between the T-800 and T-1000 in Terminator 2. Kojima came to the ring, Suzuki got in it and then Kojima took everyone out and closed the show on the microphone. Sugi started complaining that not only had Kojima arrived too late to help, but his theme music had started playing. Kojima said it wasn’t deliberate, Sugi didn’t believe him. The handshake where Kojima offers his palm and Sugi his finger (not the finger) seems to have become their thing, and Kojima will face off against Timothy Thatcher in a singles match on the 19th in Yokohama. Thatcher has sworn revenge for what happened at Korakuen.

NOAH’s New Debut

NOAH’s 16th NOAH Born, Taishi Ozawa, made his debut at Korakuen Hall on the 15th September. Weighing in at 87kg and with a height of 181cm (which is marginally smaller than Yoshiki Inamura and Shuhei Taniguchi at 182cm), he has naturally gone into the heavyweight division. His first match lasted 6 minutes and 31 seconds, and got him praise from the fans and wrestlers alike. After the match, Yoshiki Inamura praised him and said he wants him to grow stronger and make his body bigger. Personally, I can see Ozawa becoming one of NOAH’s ultra-heavyweights, but this may mean he has to give up doing dropkicks, which you don’t see too much of amongst NOAH’s heavyweights. NOAH celebrated this debut by broadcasting messages from support from fans on the screen, the President of The Leave presented him with flowers and special commemorative face masks were given at the door.

NOAH & Dragon Gate Joint Event

NOAH held a press conference on the 9th September to discuss the NOAH and DragonGate joint event which will be held on the 11th November at Korakuen Hall. Sadly Daisuke Harada does not think his neck will be in good enough condition for him to take part, so he has nominated himself as “Event Ambassador”. Cards announced so far are Seiki Yoshioka vs YAMATO (who said that local idiot Kzy agreed to this nonsense, and that if he liked festivals so much he should do a solo strip show, but getting back to Yoshioka, he was going to pay) and Mochizuki Junior, Ryu Fuda & Madoka Kikuta vs Kai Fujimura, Yasutaka Yano & Yoshiki Inamura. This latter match sets two sets of rookies against each other, and NOAH and DragonGate’s resident hosses.

GLOBAL2Days

In addition to the NOAH & DragonGate joint event, the day before NOAH will hold the first day of the two days at Korakuen Hall they have called “GLOBAL2Days”. Night 1 will be a NOAH show only, with all the titles put on the line. No cards yet have been announced for this.

NOSAWA vs Katsuhiko Nakajima?

NOSAWA Rongai declared that he wanted a singles match with “little bitch” Katsuhiko Nakajima, after Nakajima (tongue stuck out at the side of his mouth) gave him a round of soccer ball kicks. Hideki Suzuki said something along the lines of that while he thought NOSAWA was dead following this, NOSAWA probably was going to be dead after this. At the time of writing nothing has been announced yet, and Nakajima said it was “fun”.

Yuya Susumu

Due to cervical neck sprain, Yuya Susumu will miss about four events (which includes the past two Korakuen Hall events and probably the N-Innovation and one more event after that)

ELSEWHERE IN NOAH

– Kenoh apparently has a sense of humor similar to Mitsuharu Misawa’s i.e. blue. His column was once him yelling about his enemies, now he is making innuendos about how anatomy reacts to gravure models.

– Chris Ridgeway says that he has plans to not only get the GHC Junior Heavyweight, he also wants to bring the GHC National to the juniors.

– Katsuhiko Nakajima has likened the Nagoya Keiji Mutoh Retirement Road match as being like a reunion as it involves Mutoh’s classmate Masakatsu Funaki and their junior, Kazuyuki Fujita, and says he is going to destroy that atmosphere. He has also warned Mutoh to be careful in Nagoya, as he may not reach the Tokyo Dome.

– The children at NOAH’s most recent fan event (Tokyo Verdy) were fascinated by Kaito Kiyomiya and Masa Kitamiya’s muscles, despite the fact that they got pulled over by them at the tug of war. They let the children win the first time, but were pretty merciless the next time.

– Hideki Suzuki burst in wielding a pipe chair when Satoshi Kojima and Takashi Sugiura were talking backstage and threatened to throw it at someone. Sugi suggested he throw it at Kojima, Kojima, (had he been a New Yorker), basically said, “Hey, I’m talkin’ here!”

– Junta Miyawaki will challenge Tromba for the ASPW Openweight Championship on Saturday November 5th in Guadalajara.

– Jack Morris interrupted The Shutter Chance…I don’t think anyone in NOAH has ever done that before.

– Yoshiki Inamura’s reaction to Disco was to stand with his arms crossed and glare at Mohammed Yone. Yone did not forget this insult.

– NOAH have taken part in a team gaming event, which sees Kongoh (who sat apart from everyone else) join in. YO-HEY and Yoshiki Inamura seem to have formed a guild. STINGER, naturally, are not taking part.

EVENT RECAPS AND POST MATCH PROMOS

– STAR NAVIGATION 2022 (THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 15TH, KORAKUEN HALL)

Event recap

Post match interviews

– STAR NAVIGATION 2022 (FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 16TH, KORAKUEN HALL)

Event recap

Post match interviews

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

  • GHC Heavyweight Champion: Kenoh
    Challenger: Kaito Kiyomiya, [Muto Retirement Road] GRAND SHIP 2022 in NAGOYA PRO-WRESTLING LOVE FOREVER.2 ~OUT BREAK~ Sunday September 25th, Dolphin Arena (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium)
  • GHC Junior Champion: HAYATA
    Challenger: YO-HEY, [Muto Retirement Road] GRAND SHIP 2022 in NAGOYA PRO-WRESTLING LOVE FOREVER.2 ~OUT BREAK~ Sunday September 25th, Dolphin Arena (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium)
  • GHC Heavyweight Tag Champions: The Sugiura Army (Hideki Suzuki & Timothy Thatcher)
    Challengers: KojiSugi (Satoshi Kojima & Takashi Sugiura), [Muto Retirement Road] GRAND SHIP 2022 in NAGOYA PRO-WRESTLING LOVE FOREVER.2 ~OUT BREAK~ Sunday September 25th, Dolphin Arena (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium)
  • GHC Junior Tag Champions: STINGER (Chris Ridgeway & Yoshinari Ogawa)
    Challengers: The NOAH Junior Regulars (Atsushi Kotoge & Seiki Yoshioka), [Muto Retirement Road] GRAND SHIP 2022 in NAGOYA PRO-WRESTLING LOVE FOREVER.2 ~OUT BREAK~ Sunday September 25th, Dolphin Arena (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium)
  • GHC National Champion: Masakatsu Funaki
    Challenger: Masa Kitamiya, SUNNY VOYAGE 2022 – Friday September 30th (Bandaijima Multi-Purpose Square Ogama)

*This event will not be broadcast live, but hopefully this match will be shown via Instagram

THIS WEEK IN NOAH

(September 2022 schedule)

  • Monday, September 19th

SUNNY VOYAGE 2022 – Yokohama Radiant Hall, Yokohama

Time: 17:30 JST

Broadcast: WrestleUniverse (Live)

  • Tuesday, September 20th

Title match signing (GHC Heavyweight Tag, GHC Junior Heavyweight)

Live on NOAH’s Official YouTube at 17:00 JST

  • Wednesday, September 21st

N INNOVATION – Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo

Time: 18:30 JST

Broadcast: WrestleUniverse (Live)

  • Sunday, September 25th

GRAND SHIP 2022 in NAGOYA/PRO WRESTLING LOVE FOREVER IN NAGOYA – OUTBREAK (Keiji Mutoh Retirement Road)

Start: 16:00 JST

Broadcast: WrestleUniverse (Live)

LINKS

Keiji Mutoh talks freely, “PPV at Retirement Match”, “Cut Ties” for O-Khan

Long awaited one on one fight with Katsuhiko Nakajima. Will Daiki Inaba’s obsession with Katsuhiko Nakajima be fulfilled?

“I don’t have the sense for a name! (laughs”) The secret story of the birth of the Shining Wizard variation & recruitment of technique name!

“Finish it all at once” GHC Junior Tag Team Champion Chris Ridgeway Interview, complete belt and league domination, ambition of GHC National Challenge

Kaito Kiyomiya receives reinforcement from the kick world, if he fails to take the GHC in the Kenoh match, “I can’t go to the top anymore”

“After the N-1!, the 15th & 16th Korakuen are two consecutive events, the next big match is 25th September Nagoya (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium). Focusing on developments for the four major GHC fights, a new battle begins

NOAH collaborates with Tokyo Verdy! Naomichi Marufuji, “I want to put up a ring at Ajinomoto Stadium and have a match”

“I’ll let you challenge my GHC Heavyweight” GHC Champion Kenoh nominates himself for Keiji Mutoh’s Retirement Match, Next Year on 21st February At Tokyo Dome

Fan event recap: Tokyo Verdy

Junior Brand Event: YO-HEY and Kotoge introduce the highlights of the 21st September Shinjuku N-Innovation Competition

GHC Heavyweight signing ceremony: Kenoh “A beautiful story, I’m gonna break it down and I’m gonna draw it”, Kiyomiya prepares for “Last Chance”

“I want to become white ash” Keiji Mutoh’s retirement stage will be 21st February at The Tokyo Dome, “Pubic Persuasion” Chono will also go to his retirement match

Funky Kato is dazed about Keiji Mutoh’s retirement, the final opponent is “Not Okada”

“I’m using it, so it’s my technique!” with Mutoh finisher at full power, Kaito Kiyomiya defeats Kenoh towards the culmination of their five year story

Katsuhiko Nakajima and the 25th September Nagoya match with Keiji Mutoh, who will retire at The Dome next year

OLD INTERVIEWS

“Dandyism?”, it’s not like that”

Interesting interview with Mitsuharu Misawa from circa February 2002, in which he discusses Kodo Fuyuki’s retirement, friendship, NOAH, All Japan, his childhood and his juniors.

BOOK CORNER

“Donmai, Donmai” – Mitsuharu Misawa’s diary

GIF taken from WrestleUniverse & NOAH Official YouTube


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