New Japan Pro-Wrestling 2021: Protect Naito and Ibushi's Necks

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Figured I'd start this thread too since it's a new year and Wrestle Kingdom is coming up.

maura, Friday, 1 January 2021 22:01 (three weeks ago) link

WK Night One (5 p.m. Japan Time, January 4):
https://www.njpw1972.com/tornament/83843?showCards=1

WK Night Two: (5 p.m. Japan Time, January 5):
https://www.njpw1972.com/tornament/83844?showCards=1

maura, Friday, 1 January 2021 22:02 (three weeks ago) link

There was an incredible hype video with a Japanese don king singing at okada through coronavirus plexiglass

a hoy hoy, Friday, 1 January 2021 22:12 (three weeks ago) link

I made the mistake of checking Twitter to find out about lockdown and to only see clips and comments of day one. If you wanna go spoiler free and follow wrestling Twitter, watch out.

Every year I forget the different time difference. I’m used to not looking the morning after American shows and just assumed it would be tonight.

Gonna try and watch it tomorrow/Wednesday. One highlight clip of a super rana off the apron and I’m hooked back in.

a hoy hoy, Monday, 4 January 2021 20:21 (three weeks ago) link

I have been sedulously avoiding all wrestling-related media for precisely that reason. these are always the best shows of the year so I'm going to treat myself and take it slow. just seen on my vid that night 1 alone is 5 hours! probably gonna take me all week to get through both nights.

i am 10 minutes into the opening battle royal (the New Japan 'Rambo'? is that what we're going with?) and aside from trolling the audience by presenting Chase Owens in the number one spot, so far they have sent out Tomohiro Ishii, Minoru Suzuki and BLUE JUSTICE Yuji Nagata, which is a frankly ludicrous run of guys to be able to send out for this kind of throwaway opening number

Windsor Davies, Monday, 4 January 2021 22:54 (three weeks ago) link

previous post didnt age well.

oh nvm Riki Choshu is in the building. he's tremendous. i watched some of his mid 80s stuff with Fujinami and Tenryu recently and enjoyed it far more than I had expected to. the energy levels in the building always seemed to go through the roof whenever he was involved.

oh i had forgotten that Kojima was gonna be challenging KENTA, that should be cool.

Windsor Davies, Monday, 4 January 2021 23:16 (three weeks ago) link

Watching now, the first of many viewings I’m gonna need this week to get through it. I love that KENTA is taking on a bit of an old bastard role, with douchy blonde hair

a hoy hoy, Tuesday, 5 January 2021 17:30 (two weeks ago) link

Who the fuck is Great O Khan and why does this look like something wack from 1995 new generation wwe?

a hoy hoy, Tuesday, 5 January 2021 17:53 (two weeks ago) link

he's one of the post-excursion Young Lions. and yes lol Great O-Khan and Master Wato are both pretty eyebrow raising at first glance aren't they. i'm quite happy to see where it goes tbh, nice to have a change of pace.

Windsor Davies, Tuesday, 5 January 2021 19:02 (two weeks ago) link

which reminds me that a while back I decided to start watching through "modern" NJPW starting with WK6 as the jumping off point (I didn't get far with this project) but omg I had never actually seen Okada's big return from excursion vs Yoshi Hashi before, which has to have been deliberate misdirection given what came next. still v funny tho

Windsor Davies, Tuesday, 5 January 2021 19:04 (two weeks ago) link

you guys had me find night 1 of Wrestle Kingdom #14... two matches in and it's okay? I haven't watched wrestling since high school though. Is there something special i should know about this league?

the serious avant-garde universalist right now (forksclovetofu), Tuesday, 5 January 2021 19:45 (two weeks ago) link

in some respects it is gleefully OTT but they take the in ring stuff seriously. they generally treat it as an actual pretend sport. they showcase very athletic guys hitting each other hard, moving very fast and doing lots of cool moves.

when they get it right (which is often) they temper the cool moves with story beats - wrestlers facing each other multiple times will pepper their matches with callbacks to previous encounters, find new ways to counter particular moves, devise new strategies, introduce new moves to get an edge, and so on.

the stories are told pretty much entirely in the ring. they are often extremely slow burning, with particular rivalries playing out over a number of years and multiple major matches. when done correctly it's about as satisfying as wrestling can be.

and unlike in the US (where there may be a bit more of an ebb and flow to the shows) New Japan shows usually start slow and gain intensity with each passing match, building to the final match or two which are usually much longer than the others with crazy finishing stretches full of ridiculous moves and exciting near falls.

all of which I guess is to say that New Japan is p much the best if you can find time for it, but not necessarily the easiest thing to just pick up from scratch? idk i definitely wouldn't recommend starting to watch night 1 of what was eventually a 10 hour show spread over 2 nights, because as i say, these things usually start slow and pick up steam

Windsor Davies, Tuesday, 5 January 2021 20:18 (two weeks ago) link

WK14 was last year's big show forks. It was very good, NJPW has been a consistently great wrestling company for a while, but it was also a struggle for them, having just lost a bunch of stars to the AEW start up and a lot of wrestlers returning from injury/bad form. If you can enjoy it, then there will be so much more for you to find after it.

It was also the first time they ever did a 2 night event, so the special matches were more spread out. If you feel like skipping a couple of the 8 man tags to iirc naito-white or takahashi-ospreay, you'll go straight to the good stuff. There is a decent divide between fans who like the big tags that fill out shows and people who skip over them. New Japan often pad out events with these type of matches to make sure everyone gets paid and they can progress peoples stories a little bit without them having to work hard hitting long matches every time, generally helping people stay fit and healthy. Its why most wrestlers belong to a faction/group, so they can support each other when they arent in a big match.

Hope you enjoy!

a hoy hoy, Tuesday, 5 January 2021 21:11 (two weeks ago) link

Last year was also the Liger Retirement special, which is a nice thing to ease into if you remember Liger from his WCW days.

I totally came here to start this thread with the title "I AM BECOME GOD" but I see that I was beaten with something even better. I stayed up for both nights. Not sure I can do it for New Year's Dash, but that's always where everything kicks off, so I might nap from after work until 11:30pm, which is when it comes on over here.

forksclovetofu: How long ago was high school for you? If you have favorites from then, maybe we can suggest modern-day counterparts?

I'm a big NJPW mark, so I love it all, but it definitely isn't the easiest promotion to just jump in to, especially with how long their story threads can be sometimes. I really got into it about 5-6ish years ago, and had to play some catch up for some things that were going on, but seeing the stories that started around then coming to fruition has absolutely been worth it. I'm so interested with where certain people go from here.

hourspass, Tuesday, 5 January 2021 22:11 (two weeks ago) link

I was into the old Tennessee NWA and then into the WWF when McMahon took it national and big. The guys i remember loving were the hart brothers, HONKY TONK MAN, big john studd, junkyard dog, hillbilly jim (we all loved the southern guys), george the animal steele, brutus beefcake, terry funk, koko b warebruno sammartino (really at the end there), jake the snake, rowdy roddy piper, fabulous moolah, british bulldogs, iron sheik, nikolai volkov, "little tokyo", macho man and mrs elizabeth, hogan, andre, king kong bundy, classy freddy blassy, jerry the king lawler, dusty rhodes, sgt slaughter, big boss man (i actually hated that guy), ted dibiase, tito santana, bobby the brain heenan, ravishing rick rude, jimmy superfly snooka, the rock n roll express, hacksaw jim duggan, ricky the dragon steamboat, bambam bigalow... basically 1980 to 1989 i guess? it's been thirty years since i thought about this! And holy shit billy corgan owns NWA now!!!

I never really liked the stories outside the ring so i can see this being something I can find some enjoyment with.

the serious avant-garde universalist right now (forksclovetofu), Tuesday, 5 January 2021 22:42 (two weeks ago) link

While some of my suggestions won't be quite so similar in style as they are in character strength, I'll try to make a few suggestions for current/recent wrestlers in NJPW.

For people to watch out for in our current years (and references to their WK14 matches):
◦Hiroshi Tanahashi is always a good choice. He's probably the most feel-good wrestler in NJPW, and their Ace babyface. He's had matches in every Wrestle Kingdom event, and has kind of bridged the gap between the generations of wrestlers. I've heard more than one person compare him to how Dusty Rhodes made him feel. He had a special singles match against Jericho at WK14 night 2.
◦Tomohiro Ishii, Shingo Takagi, & Jeff Cobb are all good for satisfying that "big guy doing big guy things" in wrestling. Cobb throws in a bit more athleticism than normal, but is just fun in general to watch (though I am biased because he is from my state and we are proud). Ishii and Takagi were both in 8-man tag matches (Ishii in Bullet Club vs. CHAOS, Takagi in Suzuki-Gun vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon) match on night 1, and in the gauntlet match for the NEVER Openweight 6-man tag belts on night 2. Jeff Cobb was not part of last year's Wrestle Kingdom, but was in the year before in a NEVER gauntlet match.
◦Minoru Suzuki is another guy that has been wrestling for forever, and has been the bad guy for about as long. He has a kind of mythos around him, and had some killer matches last year. He was part of the aforementioned Suzuki-Gun vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon 8-man tag, as well as the NEVER gauntlet match.
◦Guerrillas of Destiny (Meng/Haku's sons, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) are probably the most successful current tag team in NJPW today. Good heel tag team, representative of the stable that they are part of. Their WK14 night 1 match was against FinJuice (Fit Finlay's son, David Finlay and Juice Robinson), who are fun to watch in a completely different way.
◦"Switchblade" Jay White, who has an insane amount of charisma, and is a heat MAGNET, can remind some people of a real old school heel. His WK14 match was against Tetsuya Naito for the Intercontinental Championship on night 1.
◦Hirooki Goto, Kota Ibushi, and SANADA are great for a sort of "underdog" feel. All of them are kind of quiet and reserved (though Goto and SANADA more than Ibushi), but all three bring big heart and energy into matches. Goto's pretty solidly midcard, though you'll always want him to achieve more. Ibushi and SANADA have both been RIGHT ON THE CUSP for the past few years. Goto was part of the CHAOS vs. Bullet Club match on night 1 of WK14, and had a singles match against KENTA for the NEVER Openweight championship on night 2. Ibushi challenged for the Heavyweight championship against Kazuchika Okada on night 1. SANADA was part of the Suzuki-Gun vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon 8-man tag on night 1, and challenged Zack Sabre Jr. for the British Heavyweight championship on night 2.
◦Hiromu Takahashi, arguably the face of the Jr. Heavyweight division for years to come is great for watching someone with seemingly relentless energy and a penchant for throwing himself around the ring. He had his WK14 match against Will Ospreay for the Jr. Heavyweight championship on night 1, and a tag team match against Liger on night 2.
◦Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi are great for a good "legends" feel. They both had a tag match last year against two other veterans, Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan) on night 1 of WK14, and while Nagata is still competing, Nakanishi retired in February of last year.

If you're willing to go a few years back:
◦Takashi Iizuka retired in early 2019, but I think you might enjoy him, as he is reminiscent of George "The Animal" Steele.
◦Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith, Jr.) were a great tag team. Not as similar in style to the British Bulldogs as you might hope, but MAN does Jr. look like his daddy, and he does him proud in the ring.
◦Kenny Omega is a divisive choice, but it is undeniable that his NJPW run is what made him a real star.
◦Shinsuke Nakamura and KUSHIDA are less divisive choices, but if you were any bit interested in anything that they have done in WWE, you'll be blown away by the matches they had in Japan.
◦Katsuyori Shibata was similar to Hirooki Goto as far as place in the roster and sort of feeling he evoked. He preferred to be more simple in his attire and style, focusing mostly on striking power. Not a big guy, but not out of place in a big guy's match. He transitioned to training after a pretty serious head injury.

Sorry this is so long! I just love NJPW, and I've been lucky to find that there's a little bit of something for everyone (except for women's matches, since there are technically no women signed as in-ring competitors).

hourspass, Wednesday, 6 January 2021 00:03 (two weeks ago) link

innnnnnnnteresting. the big problem here is that there is no way i can get my gf into this so it's gonna be a guilty pleasure and go on forever... so i guess i'll get through this WK14 show with your notes in tow and see if it moves me. Thanks for the obsessive and neat primer, i'm a sucker for that stuff.

the serious avant-garde universalist right now (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 6 January 2021 00:51 (two weeks ago) link

okay, i loved the "Dad match"

the serious avant-garde universalist right now (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 6 January 2021 04:21 (two weeks ago) link

Forks, if you are starting to find interest in pro wrestling and want something a bit “easier” to watch with the girlfriend, AEW is in English and has a lot of stars from NJPW. It is run like an old territory (even some of the managers are four horseman) and the storylines are quite easy to follow, with feuds that really go somewhere, often to big old school fights like dog collar matches. The recent Winter is Coming episode is a good place if you felt like getting back into American pro wrestling, featuring a lot of people’s favourite New Japan star Kenny Omega in the title match.

Basically if you wanna dip your toe in, there is a lot to enjoy. Just don’t watch Raw. :)

a hoy hoy, Wednesday, 6 January 2021 05:47 (two weeks ago) link

heh, i think watching Magic Kingdom 14 over the next two months is gonna suit me just fine. I can't have more obsessions right now!

the serious avant-garde universalist right now (forksclovetofu), Wednesday, 6 January 2021 06:19 (two weeks ago) link

naito vs ibushi and (redacted) vs white were so good holy fuck wow

Kompakt Total Landscaping (Will M.), Thursday, 7 January 2021 03:36 (two weeks ago) link

Truly, so good. Props to all three of those guys for exceeding the hype.

The card was good from top to bottom, great in a lot of it, and downright incredible in those two main events. I also really enjoyed the special singles matches between Okada & Ospreay and EVIL & SANADA. Plus the tag matches. And the return of the New Japan Rambo/Rumble. And everything. I stayed up to watch both nights live and the lack of sleep was totally worth it. Genuinely feel very spoiled by NJPW as a wrestling fan. Two nights of WK at the dome, and some pretty fun tag matches at New Year Dash. Really excited for what is on the horizon for everyone.

hourspass, Friday, 8 January 2021 21:10 (two weeks ago) link

I’ve not finished it and will post more thoughts when I do, but fuck me, Cobb v Shingo is why I love wrestling, 6 stars

a hoy hoy, Friday, 8 January 2021 21:22 (two weeks ago) link

Was just coming here to say similar having watched it over dinner, exhilarating stuff

Backflip powerslam one-upmanship!

Shingo is a madman

hiroyoshi tins in (Sgt. Biscuits), Friday, 8 January 2021 21:29 (two weeks ago) link

I think it was the semi main but fuck me did I see someone (ishimori v hiromo?) do a baseball slide into a powerbomb? I’ve really fucking enjoyed pro wrestling today. (I watched aew today too so the fenix-omega match blurs into what I watched)

a hoy hoy, Friday, 8 January 2021 21:38 (two weeks ago) link

oh i forgot we had spoiler tags now! spoilers for main event night 2

for some reason i had kind of forgotten about murder ibushi but that was absolutely the best murder ibushi sequence i ever remember seeing. it is so impressive how much he can communicate by just going blank-faced and throwing those quick elbows back in exchanges. then he kinda took it to the next level turning into screaming murder ibushi -- which i guess in a vacuum is a typically "babyface fire" thing, but when he does it after going killer-mode, it feels like a new thing i've never seen before?

and now im talking abt main event night 1 again (w/ a little ref to ospreay-okada)

naito-ibushi blew me away with how _impatient_ it felt -- where the prevailing njpw thing for a while, as seen w okada-spray, is to start with more of a chess match, this one it felt like they were both playing for the win early, but still excellently holding back just enough to make the back half of the match feel more desperate and intense. had a friend who said he didn't care for this match that much and i demanded he go back and rewatch it because he was just so wrong. i might be overhyping it but for me it was one of the greatest WK matches i've ever seen, up there with... boy i am not sure i can think of one i liked more. (i've only been watching WKs since WK10.) Nakamura-Styles maybe from that one? naito-okada from last year maybe edges it for pure emotional catharsis but i definitely prefer this match from a minute-to-minute perspective.

Kompakt Total Landscaping (Will M.), Friday, 8 January 2021 21:41 (two weeks ago) link

Otm on your night one, didn’t click night two. Also I don’t think I need to spoiler tag this, but I’ve not watched njpw in a year, why is Kevin Kelly calling Ibushi a literal God?

a hoy hoy, Friday, 8 January 2021 21:46 (two weeks ago) link

it comes from something that ibushi himself said -- where if he won both titles he would become god. it beccame a big part of the hype for the matches i think.

Kompakt Total Landscaping (Will M.), Friday, 8 January 2021 21:49 (two weeks ago) link

Ha ok, still wish they could get some subtitles. Hope he remembers ol fascist Vince has a 1-0 on him

a hoy hoy, Friday, 8 January 2021 22:08 (two weeks ago) link

a pal and i were laughing the other day about how ibushi lost to......... tj perkins in the CWC lol

Kompakt Total Landscaping (Will M.), Friday, 8 January 2021 22:31 (two weeks ago) link

Fucking hell, didn’t he win that? Of all the things to look terrible in hindsight.

a hoy hoy, Friday, 8 January 2021 22:33 (two weeks ago) link

he and zsj lost in the semis, probably because they knew there was no chance in hell they'd sign them and they might as well elevate guys who'd stick around. from that standpoint i see why they did it, shame they did vurtually nothing with gran metalik after that tho (even tjp had at least something resembling a run?).

anyway enough about the bad company I LOVE NJPW i gotta try harder to watch more this year

Kompakt Total Landscaping (Will M.), Friday, 8 January 2021 22:36 (two weeks ago) link

a hoy hoy: I love Shingo, but as someone from Hawai'i, I was required to cheer for Cobb, since he is, in fact, the Pride of Hawai'i. That match absolutely ruled. Also, re to Ibushi calling himself God: There was a long sort of story in early 2020 where Ibushi was tagging with Tanahashi, and talking about how much that meant to him since he considered Tanahashi to be a wrestling God (someone who he idolized, along with Nakamura). They had a relatively short run with the IWGP tag titles last year (Feb-July 2020), considering how they didn't run any shows from March-June. After they lost, their tag team sort of fell apart, with Ibushi becoming disillusioned with Tanahashi since he was the one that lost the titles for them. Tanahashi apologized for not living up to Ibushi's expectations, and told him that he needs to become the wrestling God that he thought Tanahashi was.

Will, which match are you referring to in your spoiler tag for night one?

Ibushi vs. Naito, or Ospreay vs. Okada?

I really liked both, but I found that Ospreay vs. Okada was not as popular as I thought it would be if for no other reason it was a non-title match. I don't really like Ospreay, but his shots at Okada were pretty good in the build to this match, especially with Will's history in CHAOS prior to branching off and starting The Empire/The United Empire. I found that some people were similarly disinterested in EVIL vs. SANADA, which blew my mind, because that storytelling has been SO GOOD, especially during the Road to Tokyo Dome tour when SANADA just snapped and whaled on EVIL.

Best part of Ospreay vs. Okada was that return of the RAINMAKER, BABYYYYYYYYYYYY.

Other highlights of night 1: G.O.D. becoming 7x tag champs & stealing Takashi Iizuka's iron hand, the return of the New Japan Rumble/Rambo, Mox's callout, Hiromu vs. ELP, and Yano being Yano.

And for night two, I really loved EVIL vs. SANADA, and not just because I'm a LIJ mark and I've been calling myself EVIL for years (because short+fat+Japanese+crazy hair+black circles under eyes). The story between the two has always been so interesting; they've been forced to fight each other a few times over the years, in G1 blocks, NJ Cup matches, etc, but they've always come back together as a tag team and as members of LIJ. When EVIL defected to Bullet Club, that was the match on everyone's mind. We got to see EVIL vs. Naito and EVIL vs. Hiromu, but never really got to see EVIL vs. SANADA since that, until night 2. Totally delivered.

Also, GUTTED that Cobb lost to Shingo, even though, again, I love LIJ. I really thought that Cobb would be the one from the Empire to succeed, since he's the only one that hadn't gotten pinned up to that point.

I was genuinely surprised that Ibushi retained on night 2. I really thought that they were going to swerve him again, but nope! I can sleep easily now that I know my main man, the Golden Star light of my life, will not be a one night champ.
Now the question is what does Jay White do from here? I've heard rumors that he might be off to WWE soon, (which I hope is not true).

hourspass, Friday, 8 January 2021 23:59 (two weeks ago) link

Oh god I'm sorry I thought I did the spoiler thing correctly, but it did not work!

hourspass, Saturday, 9 January 2021 00:00 (two weeks ago) link

https://i.redd.it/89vtuxt0jl961.jpg

hiroyoshi tins in (Sgt. Biscuits), Saturday, 9 January 2021 16:20 (two weeks ago) link

Next tour wave (The New Beginning shows) advertising SANADA challenging on night 2 of New Beginning in Hiroshima. Already hyped for this handsome battle.

hourspass, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 18:01 (one week ago) link

I’ve still not got around the the main event. Tomorrow!

Jeff Cobb is the monster from Lucha Underground right? Such a shame that him and Ricochet went from making that show so fucking good to not really making a name under their own name.* I’ve been thinking about that match since I saw it last week, and I hope Meltzer giving it 5 stars leads to more great big hoss battles fucking each other up.

*I know they have both done some stuff, and Ricochet had that Ospreay match that meme-d all around, but I feel like they should both be bigger names

a hoy hoy, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 18:18 (one week ago) link

Yep, Cobb was Matanza from LU. I'm hoping that he continues to work with NJPW and at least gets to hold the NEVER Openweight a few more times, or even become a challenger for the other belts. I am always quick to rep for Cobb since he's from Hawai'i, and I have friends who have gotten to work with him when he was still in our independent scene.

I feel you, though. I'm surprised that Cobb hasn't come up more, but I think with the issues that many of the talents of Lucha Underground had to deal with, along with the unfortunate handling of ROH talent once The Elite left, it's been a hard road for him to gain as much traction as he could have. I was stoked when he was on AEW once, but I'm so happy that he gets to work more in NJPW (and also that Elgin does not hahaha). Cobb has definitely been built as the strongest member of The United Empire, and I can only hope that he eventually decides to branch off from them.

hourspass, Tuesday, 12 January 2021 18:27 (one week ago) link

I don't know who may be caught up or who no, but MAN, the next batch of shows (The New Beginning in Nagoya/Hiroshima) looks like it'll be a lot of fun! Some exciting title defenses coming up!

hourspass, Tuesday, 19 January 2021 18:08 (six days ago) link


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