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NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 in Tokyo Dome 1/4/19

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Kenny's done a better job recently for sure, and the match will be good enough to put the whole feud in a positive light... but I wish there was a little more of a bright line in this conflict of styles. Maybe I've just been around a bit too long, but I can't see Tanahashi as a pure strong-style vanguard. He's always been the flashy "sports entertainer" (his favorite wrestler is HBK!) with a heavy emphasis on melodrama and narrative in his matches, conveyed through contextual deployment of a relatively small move-set. Which is, plus goofier faces, exactly what Kenny does. If it's just a question of how foreign-focused New Japan should be, that was essentially the build for Omega/Okada; only now, you'd be pretty hard pressed to say Kenny's wrong. (Which is to say, if Kenny weren't a brat on twitter so often, I'm not sure Tana would have much of an argument here; and it really would look like he just wanted to keep his spot. Maybe that's the idea?)

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Tanahashi is defending his own style (mostly Dragon Style and western traditional elements and few stuff borrowed from the Royal Road) and others that borrowed during his era. Whereas Omega wants to do his own pro wrestling style and change NJPW further.

Tanahashi is also defending Puroresu or Japanese pro wrestling and not Strong Style. Strong Style at this point is just a buzzword, no longer a style.

 

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For reference, Tanahashi on Strong Style:

http://yottsumepuroresu.blogspot.com/2014/05/njpw-hiroshi-tanahashi-talks-about.html

He's not a fan.

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Yeah, I mean that’s my point: whatever strong style is/was, Tana ain’t it. He was the revolutionary, and I don’t see Omega’s in-ring sensibilities being substantially different. (There’s a ton of King’s Road in his structure, and he literally does a dragon suplex.) Which could be compelling! Sometimes the old revolutionary hates the new because they aren’t terribly different, at the end of the day. They’ve also been inconsistent on the native/gaijin angle. Kenny thinks the foreigners work harder... but not all of them... mostly just the best ones... and even then he likes the best Japanese guys too... even Tana is great, they just don’t get along.

I’m just not sure, having listened to/read basically all the build, what the strike points actually are between their two styles/ethics. Kenny wants to have a gimmick match every few years? Eh. That they seem to kinda hate one another might have been simpler, and more compelling (to me). And the Old Legend, either going out on top or on his shield is timeless. But, I’m still stoked.

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Tana doesn't like escalation and thinks Omega's matches has no real narrative. Doesn't like certain things Omega brings in as well, tables, gimmick matches etc. 

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I see it more as Omega trying to replace current NJPW style with American Indie style.

 

 

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18 hours ago, Beech27 said:

Kenny's done a better job recently for sure, and the match will be good enough to put the whole feud in a positive light... but I wish there was a little more of a bright line in this conflict of styles. Maybe I've just been around a bit too long, but I can't see Tanahashi as a pure strong-style vanguard. He's always been the flashy "sports entertainer" (his favorite wrestler is HBK!) with a heavy emphasis on melodrama and narrative in his matches, conveyed through contextual deployment of a relatively small move-set. Which is, plus goofier faces, exactly what Kenny does. If it's just a question of how foreign-focused New Japan should be, that was essentially the build for Omega/Okada; only now, you'd be pretty hard pressed to say Kenny's wrong. (Which is to say, if Kenny weren't a brat on twitter so often, I'm not sure Tana would have much of an argument here; and it really would look like he just wanted to keep his spot. Maybe that's the idea?)

Well I think this is on Omega when he talked nonsense about how Tanahashi's style is "classic" and that "it worked back then". I don't think that Omega's style is more modern than Tanahashi's at all, it is just a bit different and has different influences/ideas. I think that Omega managed to communicate that a bit better in that last interview.

As for bold part, I think thats totally the case here. I remember Tanahashi talking about Okada/Omega and Okada/Naito lacking heat and maybe not being that great of a main event for WK. For me it always looked like he was just trying to rationalize why he should be in main event regardless of the "title structure" just like in WK8. I mean, didn't he float the idea of doing another fan vote during Okada/Omega build and Naito shot it down?

As for Strong Style being dead thing, I never quite got the distinction why some people didn't consider Shibata and Suzuki as representatives of Strong Style?

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Suzuki is considered MMA style, maybe Shibata as well, and both of them left NJPW for other promotions at one point.

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Tanahashi has called both Omega and Suzuki strong style, and I know Shibata at least embraced the label. But that's part of my point here: these stylistic distinctions and accompanying labels are all pretty amorphous, and ultimately, not very useful in this context.

3 hours ago, Archibald said:

Well I think this is on Omega when he talked nonsense about how Tanahashi's style is "classic" and that "it worked back then". I don't think that Omega's style is more modern than Tanahashi's at all, it is just a bit different and has different influences/ideas. I think that Omega managed to communicate that a bit better in that last interview.

Right. They aren't carbon copies of one another; but the clash points are basically: 1) Omega thinks Tana's too slow for the elaborate reversal dances these days, and that there's no reason to work the knee for fifteen minutes if it won't contribute to the finish anyway; 2) Tana thinks nothing matters in an Omega match until the finishing run, that he thus relies on too many big spots too early to fill time, and that Kenny's too rude too often. Those criticisms don't function well within the fiction, however; you essentially have to acknowledge the whole thing as a work to criticize the artistry of the other guy's matches. Which is, to me, a less-than-ideal reason to fight. And once again... we've all seen criticisms of both where they're knocked for move spamming, overkill, blowing off whole segments of matches, hammy overacting, etc. This isn't Tana/Nak, or Tana/Shibata, which is why the announcers have to resort to generic platitudes when talking about their different philosophies, rather than using specific details.

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I remember Tanahashi talking about Okada/Omega and Okada/Naito lacking heat and maybe not being that great of a main event for WK. For me it always looked like he was just trying to rationalize why he should be in main event regardless of the "title structure" just like in WK8. I mean, didn't he float the idea of doing another fan vote during Okada/Omega build and Naito shot it down?

He did.

Anyway, I feel like I'm not doing a good job of articulating my points on this subject. I know the story that they're telling us they're telling us; I simply don't think it maps terribly well onto observable reality, regarding how they work; and even if it did, I don't think that's a great basis for a feud.

I do still think the match will be great, though, and probably have a very compelling internal narrative.

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7 hours ago, Beech27 said:

Tanahashi has called both Omega and Suzuki strong style, and I know Shibata at least embraced the label.

Strong Style has never been an actual style in wrestling. Its whatever is being done by NJPW workers at the time. Its a brand. I recall Stuart from SSS being just a pinch annoyed by the US indies aping and calling every hard hitting wrestler strong style when that started to be a thing last decade. It wasn't remotely accurate.

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Inoki said it was a brand and image and presentatation, fighting pro wrestling. It's not about how you work a match structure wise or strikes,  because the style in ring always changed over the years. 

Inoki-ism however is a whole different thing, and that's what Tanahashi refers to getting rid off but calls it Strong Style for some reason. Escalation is something else that has nothing to do with Strong Style but Tanahashi hates that too.

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NJ Cup poster hit today, conspicously missing Omega and Ibushi.  Take that what you will.

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Champions aren’t in it anyway, so there’s at least one benign explanation.

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I think that last year all champs were on it. Another noteworthy thing is that 4 blocks are bigger since big 4, duh. Point is that White has big block just like Tanahashi, Okada and Naito.

Both images for easier comparison:

j23ohoubbt521.jpg?width=640&crop=smart&a

DvBEtP9V4AAiOBJ.jpg

 

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Kevin Kelly did a WK preview on the Super J Cast, and did a very nice job of keeping the fiction intact while revealing quite a lot, actually. The interview itself starts at 1:40.

Some things:

-He (agreeing with me! so... yeah) finds the Omega/Tana story a little too abstract/meta, considering they actually hate one another, and could just focus on that. (All he knows and/or gives away is that Tana has never been a fan, and Omega knows who his backstage enemies were/are.) But he also feels Kenny should just put his "rabbit ears" down, and be less sensitive in general.

-He kinda throws ROH under the bus, saying the Rev Pro relationship is more mutually beneficial, whereas ROH treated New Japan like "the girl you call when you're drunk, and just want to hook up/sell tickets." He also mentions All Elite, so... maybe some dots to connect there.

-"There's gonna be guys that leave, and it wouldn't shock me if some Japanese guys leave too." But that's fine. Guys will step up.

-He thinks Tana's winning... maybe, but he's most bullish on Jay White, whom he thinks will beat Okada, and that his ascent up the card is so sure a thing that this can't rightly be called a launching point. That is, he's launched, and ascending. Gedo's committed and it won't change.

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Hmmm that all sounds fascinating and scary at the same time. All Elite is something wrestling desperately needs right now but I also don't want it fucking up NJPW either. Ideally Ibushi and Omega are there for the bigger shows and NJPW realize what Kelly's saying about ROH and work with AEW moving forward. But I don't think it'll work out like that. Wwe can have Yujiro but his BTE appearances will be missed ('who do you think you are? Brocklesnar?' or 'Kenny, you're a fucking pedophile!'). 

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I find it weird that he described RoH/NJPW relationship like that. Looking at who and how gets booked you'd think that NJPW are treating RoH badly, not the other way around. They also, if I'm not mistaken, mentioned how RoH's world title match is now RevPro's title match and well, lets be honest here. Only reason they have RevPro title on the card is because Ishii is the champ and Zack is the challenger, full time NJPW guys. And they don't care about Lethal or Dalton while in the past guys like Cody (Cody vs Ibushi was supposed to be title match till Cody lost it to Dalton) and Adam Cole had some relevance to NJPW.

So, I don't know, maybe NJPW will dump RoH for AEW, but at the moment I find it very unlikely.

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Can't see them dumping ROH anytime soon. The Msg show is still on.

Any Japanese guys leaving will have to fit the patterns, either wanting to go overseas or for more money. 

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1 hour ago, D.Z said:

Can't see them dumping ROH anytime soon. The Msg show is still on.

Any Japanese guys leaving will have to fit the patterns, either wanting to go overseas or for more money. 

I feel like NJPW is smart enough to know that MSG is an anomaly due to novelty and Mania factors, as well as NJPW/The Elite being the main driver of ticket sales even if the latter won't be there now. 16,000 tickets aren't sold to see Jay Lethal vs. PCO or whatever ROH will feature in 2019.

I don't know how formal the relationship is between NJPW and ROH but I could see it either ending in the summer or, if it's done annually, next year. Meltzer has talked on more than one occasion about Cody wanting to work more NJPW dates in 2019 before AEW stuff started to crystallize. I would think Omega would be pushing to stay in NJPW and still be able to work with his buddies stateside too (that is if he's not intending to go to WWE and cash in). Interesting times.

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It seems like that would be what Omega wants, and you have to think New Japan would let him. That is, we don’t know if AEW even wants a Japanese dance partner; we don’t know if NJPW would be interested; if rejected, we don’t know if AEW would reach out to DDT, AJPW, et al; we don’t know if the Bucks and/or Cody would really draw for those companies. (I mean, give me Page learning how to be a proper gaijin cowboy from Doering, though.)

But: We know Kenny would draw for any Japanese promotion; and we know that New Japan must know that too. Which is why I think he’s sticking around, one way or another. (Maybe he follows the Ibushi model of being a nominal freelancer?)

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Omega is too ambitious to be an Ibushi-style freelancer. There was that video on NJPW's YT channel following Kenny and the Bucks out on the town in which Omega stated he wanted to be The Gaijin regarding titles and legacy. NJPW seems really reluctant to commit to Ibushi (though in hindsight Tanahashi winning the G1 certainly worked too) and Omega is keenly aware of that. Maybe it's just a long-term story with Ibushi constantly being the nearly man and needing to really forge his own path rather than be a guy constantly looking up at his idols (refusing Tanahashi's handshake may be step one to that) or to his partner. We shall see but Ibushi vs. the winner of Omega/Tanahashi at MSG (or Omega non-title) sure makes a lot of sense for a place to go full circle with him. But... the big "glass ceiling" wins in this triangle are Ibushi beating Tanahashi and Omega beating Ibushi. Perhaps Tanahashi wins, drops the title to Ibushi after the Heisei period comes to a close, and Omega beats Ibushi. But that would mean Okada, Naito, and now White are out of the IWGP Championship loop for like a year and it may be a tough ask. I don't know. Fuck it.

While we certainly don't have much of an idea of what AEW's big goals are, sure, we do know the Bucks and Cody seem to enjoy their time in NJPW, and they'll be their own masters in terms of scheduling now more than ever. It's down to New Japan and their connection with ROH. I don't think they'd want to lose Omega over that when AEW would more than likely be able to provide everything ROH provides NJPW and more if they get a decent TV or even streaming deal. And if AEW could land Chris Jericho, Jericho could continue picking his spots for AEW and New Japan.

My pre-WK viewing plans: watch the Taichi/Zack matches from the tag league plus a few of the recommended matches (DREAM TEAM) and round it off with Omega vs. Tanahashi from 2016.

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Yeah, I don't see what exactly Naito, Okada, White and Tanahashi would be doing whole year if they'd start fully doing Omega/Ibushi.

Funny enough, I think that IC title actually fits Omega better than heavyweight title. Him not being around as much and doing more international stuff would make more sense if he was IC champ. I don't know how Ibushi or Omega could really get it now (I think that giving them another win over Naito might be a bit too much), but I think it could provide hot IC title program that it has been lacking for a while now. And they totally need to get tag team titles at some point.

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I really wish the Okada/White match had some sort of deathmatch stip and/or blood.  I think it's needed.  (I know NJPW has their no blading policy, but they waived it for Jericho stuff)

Doesn't need to be deathmatch, but they need something out of Gedo's Memphis playbook that would fit a Lawler/Eddie Gilbert feud or something.

 

 

 

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Cage to keep the bullet club shitheads from interfering. Rusher Kimura would be proud. I have no recollection of Tanahashi's cage match with Murakami from 2004 and that was during the height of my first Japanese wrestling craze. I have hazy memories of Takayama vs. Chono in a cage a year earlier.

https://streamable.com/6l0k6

Crazy how Takayama throws the worst punch at Sakaguchi only to drop one of the best non-obese leg drops you'll ever see on the old man just seconds later. I guess it was that slow so Sakaguchi could be sure to block it but talk about going from 0-100.

Quote

At age 61, Seiji Sakaguchi came out of retirement to team up with Masahiro Chono against Yoshihiro Takayama and Shinya Makabe on September 14, 2003.

Whaaaaaa?!

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