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New Japan Pro-Wrestling: Great glories, low lows and the current state of it.


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Been thinking about creating this topic for the past month. Saved this draft yesterday.

My introduction to New Japan Pro-Wrestling came from The Wrestling Channel showing the NJPW Best of the Super Jr 1994 and what an introduction it was. That's the only NJPW that aired on the channel. I'd read Powerslam Magazine covering the turmoil through Inokism. I properly started following NJPW in 2012, a great year to pick: The rise of Kazuchika Okada back from excursion, his two matches with Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at The New Beginning/Dominion ***** and a unique classic between Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki at King of Pro-Wrestling. A ***** match and my 2012 MOTY.

2012-2018 was a golden era for the company. I want to recommend Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi at Invasion Attack 2013/King of Pro-Wrestling 2013/Wrestle Kingdom 10, Okada vs. Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 11/Dominion 2018 and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi in the G1 Climax 28 Finals. All ***** classics.

For me, 2018 was the last truly great year with Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito at Wrestle Kingdom 12 (everybody thought that was Naito's time...except Gedo. We were all surprised.), the aforementioned Okada/Omega at Dominion and Tanahashi/Ibushi in the G1 Climax 28 Finals.

NJPW have set such high levels from 2012-2018, it was bound to regress and not keep up. My recent issues with the company means my interest is at an all time low through...

  • Stale booking.
  • Matches going too long overstaying their welcome. Use the time given wisely. Less is more.
  • Double Gold Dash for the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships starting at Wrestle Kingdom 14 was handled poorly.
  • EVIL beating Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championship was a mistake last year. Naito should have kept the belts.
  • The Bullet Club interference is so damn tiring.
  • NJPW wanting Marty Scurll back is nauseating. Don't like them using Will Ospreay either. Fuck 'em.
  • Awful angle after the 2021 New Japan Cup Finals. You know the one.
  • I'm against what's happening with the new IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. Three reasons:
  • 1) I don't like the design of the new IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. To me the design is a bad blend of the WWE Divas Championship, Cody Rhodes neck tattoo and the Transformers logo.
  • 2) Replacing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. V4 is one of the best looking belts of all time, it's in rarefied air with Big Gold and the WWF Winged Eagle Championship.
  • 3) Its replacing an active championship that's been around for decades and the names that have held it. Upcoming wrestlers won't be able to. It's a new championship so now other titles are older/have a history to them like the WWE Championship, AJPW Triple Crown, GHC Heavyweight Championship and the AEW World Championship. Those aren't rebooted. I suspect some will disagree with my stance here.

I hope NJPW can right the ship. Thanks for reading this long post.

Edited by The Natural
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Don't have much to add other than to say I agree in full. I think I'll still always compulsively read results for all the major promotions just because I've enjoyed following all the companies for so long but this is the first time I've felt too demoralized by a company to even bother checking out the matches after reading the finishes. My main gripes would be the stale booking and especially the Ospreay/Scurll stuff, which I don't want to open another can of worms about but I think most people here know at least why neither of these guys should be employed anywhere right now, let alone pushed, even if they think Ospreay has "cleared his name" to some degree. 

I've gone on at length about this before but I'm just so tired of the Ricky SteamboatShawn Michaels-model aces they keep utilizing. Okada was unique in that he wrestled in a much more controlling, dominant way rather than playing the face in peril for long stretches, and he'd been justifiably praised over and over again for his creativity and consistency in delivering those big, very complicated and very impressive main events. But by the time he had his first WK main event against Ibushi in 2020 followed by the match with Naito the next night, it was clear we needed a break from the guy. The formula was stale, the length of the matches felt like a formality rather than epic. Ibushi feels like a watered down version of Tanahashi mixed with Omega's zany moveset, and he's been around so long and has been overpushed at various times already so it feels less like a "he finally has his moment" moment than just like "I guess they have to give it to him because they're running out of boyish athletic guys who can work 30 mins".

I still defend the Evil title win just because it broke the pattern, in the same way Makabe felt so refreshing in 2008 amidst the Tanahashi/Nakamura/Goto juggernaut of more 'conventional Ace' material. I love AJPW because as much as they protect Kento they don't treat guys like Suwama, Zeus and Ishikawa as "never gonna get the belt" type dudes the way NJPW holds down brawlers like Ishii and Shingo. And all of this would just be a matter of taste except their elevation of Ospreay this year has shown me that they don't care how unlikeable a guy is, as long as he can work a long match, do a lot of crazy bumps and acrobatic stuff, and look pretty doing it, then he's cemented a title run, the same way White and SANADA will always been privileged for the Steamboat-/Shawn-ish-ness. It's like WCW in 96-98 where they have this amazingly diverse roster but it feels like we always have the same main event (except, thankfully, in the case of NJPW at least the main events are boring because theyre always overblown, overly long, and full of wonky stuff, rather than full of geriatic kick-punch stuff like some of those Hogan main events). 

Maybe I'm just hostile because Ishii never got his big win, I dunno.

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My first exposure to NJPW was Nakamura-Tanahashi 1/4/2005. I found the rest of NJPW to be a hard watch at that time.

This goes for every promotion out there but the pandemic really hurt them. I enjoyed the empty arena NJ Cup for what it was but Dominion 2020 is where issues really began. I was cool with EVIL winning at the time but they haven't parlayed it into anything but a third BC wrestler having a managerial figure interfere for them. It is draining to see three BC matches on any given card doing the same shtick. 

Okada is rumored to have or had back issues. I felt his 2020 was very meh. His WK match with Ospreay felt like a return to form but then he had an awful EVIL feud. He has seemed disinterested and trying to get a submission over during clap only shows was a bad idea. 

Jay White seemed on the cusp of something interesting but now he is feuding with Tanahashi. They have ok chemistry but I'm more interested where they both go from here. I'd like Tanahashi to have a better focused version of the Cena US title run, you know, someone young beating him and getting a big win.

They picked a poor time to slump as Cyberfight and AJPW have more intriguing matches coming out of the pandemic. NJPW is still firmly no 2 but they aren't the power house of high spot style anymore.  

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Belgian_Waffle said:

Don't have much to add other than to say I agree in full. I think I'll still always compulsively read results for all the major promotions just because I've enjoyed following all the companies for so long but this is the first time I've felt too demoralized by a company to even bother checking out the matches after reading the finishes. My main gripes would be the stale booking and especially the Ospreay/Scurll stuff, which I don't want to open another can of worms about but I think most people here know at least why neither of these guys should be employed anywhere right now, let alone pushed, even if they think Ospreay has "cleared his name" to some degree. 

I've gone on at length about this before but I'm just so tired of the Ricky SteamboatShawn Michaels-model aces they keep utilizing. Okada was unique in that he wrestled in a much more controlling, dominant way rather than playing the face in peril for long stretches, and he'd been justifiably praised over and over again for his creativity and consistency in delivering those big, very complicated and very impressive main events. But by the time he had his first WK main event against Ibushi in 2020 followed by the match with Naito the next night, it was clear we needed a break from the guy. The formula was stale, the length of the matches felt like a formality rather than epic. Ibushi feels like a watered down version of Tanahashi mixed with Omega's zany moveset, and he's been around so long and has been overpushed at various times already so it feels less like a "he finally has his moment" moment than just like "I guess they have to give it to him because they're running out of boyish athletic guys who can work 30 mins".

I still defend the Evil title win just because it broke the pattern, in the same way Makabe felt so refreshing in 2008 amidst the Tanahashi/Nakamura/Goto juggernaut of more 'conventional Ace' material. I love AJPW because as much as they protect Kento they don't treat guys like Suwama, Zeus and Ishikawa as "never gonna get the belt" type dudes the way NJPW holds down brawlers like Ishii and Shingo. And all of this would just be a matter of taste except their elevation of Ospreay this year has shown me that they don't care how unlikeable a guy is, as long as he can work a long match, do a lot of crazy bumps and acrobatic stuff, and look pretty doing it, then he's cemented a title run, the same way White and SANADA will always been privileged for the Steamboat-/Shawn-ish-ness. It's like WCW in 96-98 where they have this amazingly diverse roster but it feels like we always have the same main event (except, thankfully, in the case of NJPW at least the main events are boring because theyre always overblown, overly long, and full of wonky stuff, rather than full of geriatic kick-punch stuff like some of those Hogan main events). 

Maybe I'm just hostile because Ishii never got his big win, I dunno.

Thanks for agreeing in full with me. I'm with you particularly on the stale booking and Scurll/Ospreay. Sakura Genesis 2021 spoiler follows:

Spoiler

Will Ospreay is the new IWGP World Heavyweight Champion defeating Kota Ibushi. I'm honestly repulsed by this: Will, Gedo and NJPW.

You've a point with EVIL. All promotions need to create new talent to go with the established headliners. I just don't think EVIL was suited to it though admittedly I'm no fan of him or SANADA. I'd have preferred Minoru Suzuki, Tomohiro Ishii or Shingo Takagi even with the miles on the first two to end Tetsuya Naito's reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion/IWGP Intercontinental Champion. I really feel it was going to be Jay White but was unable to with the coronavirus global pandemic causing international lockdowns on travel.

Like you, I'd hope Tomohiro Ishii would win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship but it's not happening. If I could give a wrestler an IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign, my first choice has to be Minoru Suzuki. Ishii would be next. Zack Sabre Jr and Shingo Takagi after. It would give us a break from the usual suspects. This paragraph is a copy and paste job from when the IWGP Heavyweight Championship was still active.

3 hours ago, Spontaneous said:

My first exposure to NJPW was Nakamura-Tanahashi 1/4/2005. I found the rest of NJPW to be a hard watch at that time.

This goes for every promotion out there but the pandemic really hurt them. I enjoyed the empty arena NJ Cup for what it was but Dominion 2020 is where issues really began. I was cool with EVIL winning at the time but they haven't parlayed it into anything but a third BC wrestler having a managerial figure interfere for them. It is draining to see three BC matches on any given card doing the same shtick. 

Okada is rumored to have or had back issues. I felt his 2020 was very meh. His WK match with Ospreay felt like a return to form but then he had an awful EVIL feud. He has seemed disinterested and trying to get a submission over during clap only shows was a bad idea. 

Jay White seemed on the cusp of something interesting but now he is feuding with Tanahashi. They have ok chemistry but I'm more interested where they both go from here. I'd like Tanahashi to have a better focused version of the Cena US title run, you know, someone young beating him and getting a big win.

They picked a poor time to slump as Cyberfight and AJPW have more intriguing matches coming out of the pandemic. NJPW is still firmly no 2 but they aren't the power house of high spot style anymore.  

Draining is the right word to describe Bullet Club.

I'd read that Kazuchika Okada has really bad back issues, he's not what he was either, ditto for NJPW right now. I don't mind the Money Clip but it's just not getting over despite his best attempts.

I'm surprised how Jay White has come on from his bad match with Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 12. How the hell can you have a bad match with someone who I think is in the top ten wrestlers of all time? I'm hoping Tanahashi has a lengthy reign as NEVER Openweight Champion skin to John Cena's WWE United States Championship Open Challenge from 2015.

Edited by The Natural
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I would like to see all the major factions shaken up. Break up CHAOS, Bullet Club, Suzuki-Gun and LIJ, especially Bullet Club and CHAOS. They are all stale to a degree. Bullet Club is almost a wrestling version of the Ship of Theseus question at this point. 

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I almost canceled my NJPW world sub. last month and kinda wished I had. My interest is so low both in NJPW and wrestling in general (the deaths of Brodie and Hana really drained me last year) and putting Ospreay on top makes me not care about the upcoming dome shows, which I was holding out for hoping they’d do something interesting there. The new era is shaping up to be one that isn’t what I want to see. 

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I canceled my sub last year for the second time and haven't thought twice. I've been watching the 1990 yearbook with friends on google meet once a week and while I wish there were more Japan and less USWA bathroom promos and shitty Austin/Adams feud coverage on the set (seriously who the fuck put this shit over? That feud is so bad despite Austin showing promise for being a rookie), NJPW had such vitality to it. They need to abandon the Tanahashi Great Match formula the company has driven into the ground for the past 10 years. It's so stale, more so than Gedo's booking and increasing reliance on shitty heels (especially foreign). We just watched Vader vs. Riki Choshu and it was something I'd rather watch than anything I've seen from New Japan since Omega vs. Tanahashi or Tana vs. Ibushi at the G1 finals. It was unpredictable (I thought they'd go pure kaiju bomb dropping, but Choshu knew he'd lose that and went with more tact), brutal, and emotionally engaging. Fans now have been conditioned not to start biting until at least the first finish has been hit and generally know nothing before then could finish the match. It's also way too long. The odd match going 25+ when the personnel make sense is totally fine. But there should be more heavyweight sprints and shorter contests on the whole. Different styles too. I saw Jay White and Tanahashi do 6 go behinds back and forth and it just looked so fucking dumb and Tana is so slow now compared to his peak. Was representative of the big problems in the company. It's time to change things up. Choshu went after Vader's eye that was still damaged from the Hansen incident earlier in the year. Brother was bleeding hardway FROM HIS EYE and while I would never suggest that sort of ruthlessness be common or necessary it was the only way Choshu turned the tide and survived. Each match was its own story. Finishes were often well built towards but way less choreographed and convoluted and instead more surprising. There needs to be some more organic flow in matches. Remember how wild that Kushida/Hiromu match that only went about 5 minutes and had some action prior to the bell? That was exhilarating because it stood out as so different. Inokiism gets rightfully dragged for a lot of things but it was entirely unpredictable. There needs to be an element of that in both the booking and in-ring style. A lack of both took me out and the few attempts at it have been so lame (EVIL lol). Noah's roster is not even close to New Japan's in quality but I'm more invested in watching their big shows and the odd match from smaller shows because shit is so different and I don't know what's going to happen. Is Fujita going to stare at somebody for a long time? Is it going to be a brutal violent bomb fest? I could do with a little less of the concussion inducing strikes of course but there is a life to Noah that New Japan does not have. 

There hasn't been a whole lot of long term setups for wrestlers since 2018 but I haven't been watching closely since the first couple of tours post-Covid shutdown and for the last stretch not watching at all. Wasn't Okada supposed to be Ospreay's big whale? I guess booking against that is nice and maybe he can instead defend against Okada at one of the Dome shows but he basically has to win. What is the point of yet another Okada reign right now? He's been so directionless since the Omega feud it's sad. The E-boi gimmick was funny at first and then just sad. Then he dropped that and it was back to normal but it didn't feel earned. It's like he hasn't had to really struggle since that god tier title run and as a result he's boring and left adrift. He's smart though, and if he's as smart as we think he is, hopefully he can be part of the change. My fear is that he's too comfortable with what is established and won't want to change. 

"Told ya so" bullshit but I've been banging this drum since Kenny left. He wasn't the only thing holding it together by any means but since he beat Okada at Dominion the company has been on the way down. The Tanahashi one last run at the G1 and Dome was cute but a sign of the times. The obvious match was Ibushi vs. Omega and they didn't pull the trigger. 

The good news: New Japan has something no other promotion in the world has and there is hope. The New Japan Dojo is the best training school in the world. These kids come outta there so polished in the fundamentals and are great at slowly letting bits of their personality shine before leaving for excursion. They have a great deal of young wrestlers that could revitalize and galvanize the company in a new and interesting (autocorrect bb) direction. They'll also offer fresh matchups for guys like Ibushi and Okada. If ever there was something that would allow a company to reimagine itself, it's the NJ Dojo. I hope the company hasn't tied itself to Gedo. He has done a remarkable job in turning the ship around and I think it would take things getting way worse once full arenas are a thing again for them to even consider making a change, so I hope he figures things out rather than having to be replaced because that would be bad. It would take way too long and things would have to get awful before then. Like Okada he's supposed to be incredibly smart, so I hope he can do the job and make the changes necessary to get New Japan out of this malaise he's created. 

Edited by Jiji
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Seconding that Okada dropping the belt was the start of the downfall rather than Omega leaving. No way you can include the build to Omega/Tanahashi in NJPW's 'golden age', the Ibushi/Cody three-way seemed like an open admission that booking had been replaced by pandering and it's clear that Omega's attitude/leaving threw a giant spanner into the planning that had previously been working well. It was hardly a Rikio but in hindsight still a waste of and step down from Okada's reign.

Will defend EVIL's title win. I've seen both New Japan and NOAH crash and burn after peaks and I don't think there's a wide realisation of the threat of it happening again. Goto, Yano, KENTA, Tanahashi and Ishii are over 40 and Shingo, Ibushi, Cobb and Naito aren't far off. Guys like Taichi or Yoshi-Hashi who seem 'new' in terms of roster presence are the same. In five year's time it will be a very different landscape, and who's replacing them on the native side? EVIL and Sanada make the third gen look like the four kings, but you've got to give them something before you're doing it because it's necessary. Putting the belt on 45 year old Ishii does not solve any problems or turn around business. I'd even argue it's not that interesting.

Okada and Takahashi aside, both divisions are short on future options. The prime candidates to link this age to the next in the heavyweight division are Okada, Ospreay and White. The latter two being Western star-getters that are under long term contract and in their 20s. With AEW around and in the ear of anyone WWE managed to miss the rotating foreigner spot isn't going to be able to rotate like it used to. You're probably thinking that star-getting isn't what NJPW needs, and I would agree with you... but it is?

I've been a New Japan guy since 2003, and I agree with a lot of the points mentioned about what would make their product more interesting. However I've grown to learn that what makes New Japan interesting to me is the opposite of what makes them popular and profitable. Didn't like the long NOAH matches in the 2000s. Didn't like the Kobashi run from a booking standpoint. I prefered plausible unpredictability over storybook templates. But Western internet fans loved them and business was on the up. New Japan start doing it in 2010s. Same result. Having loved seeing young talents rise through the ranks I couldn't stand Okada's push and Bullet Club seemed the worst kind of the many Americanisms I was seeing introduced. So of course they're quickly accepted as puro's brightest star and biggest merch sellers worldwide.

To me New Japan is about Ishii, ZSJ, Yano, Suzuki. In the past it was Nishimura, Fujita and whatever musclehead gaijin they flew in that month. Clashes of styles. Moxley in the G1? Welcome aboard! At one point Ibushi coming up from the Jrs was part of that. It's clear that NJ still values this but we know the names that made New Japan 'great' and it doesn't work to fly against that. Meltzer is the biggest promoter of New Japan in the West, and Western fans now do the unthinkable and actually pay to watch them, so that viewpoint affects their bottom line more directly than possibly anyone else. NJPW World also makes them vulnerable. WWE and AEW would have far more vocal red line issues for fans ala Ospreay if those companies were behind a paywall as opening your wallet requires a different level of engagement. I've heard 'Stop catering to Western fans' as a common complaint but it's not great advice when those fans are also now customers and they will stop paying if they don't like what they see. So cater they shall.

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6 hours ago, Salads said:

Will defend EVIL's title win. I've seen both New Japan and NOAH crash and burn after peaks and I don't think there's a wide realisation of the threat of it happening again. Goto, Yano, KENTA, Tanahashi and Ishii are over 40 and Shingo, Ibushi, Cobb and Naito aren't far off. Guys like Taichi or Yoshi-Hashi who seem 'new' in terms of roster presence are the same. In five year's time it will be a very different landscape, and who's replacing them on the native side? EVIL and Sanada make the third gen look like the four kings, but you've got to give them something before you're doing it because it's necessary.

I think this is important point and likely main reason why many old fans are now disappointed - booking is changing to prepare new generation.

I kinda suspect that this booking is somewhat motivated by Naito, to be more specific, by his failure to replace Tanahashi way back then. When he was given more "freedom" he become very different character and likely is still their #1 money maker. I think the lesson here is that you can never replace something great by copying it. Replacement has to be just as great and, most importantly, different to what it is replacing. So they are not trying to create a new Tanahashi or new Okada or new Naito, they are trying to create new X and many older fans don't really like it.

For example, Evil always dealt in bullshit. Cheating, gear that was bought from cheap Halloween shop and whole "king of darkness" character always felt like it was out of place in "sports focused" NJPW. It is clear at this point that NJPW sees him as one of the key guys going forward and what do they do with him? In the past many heels would drop amount of bullshit that they use when going up the card (Taichi, Desperado, Naito, even Omega or Suzuki changing his style after NEVER title reign when he became IC champ). They might still cheat, but they cheat way less. Evil goes the opposite, he is moving up the card and he is cheating more, he is even edgier clown than he was and he is doing more bullshit (for those unaware we got multiple "lights out" moments recently). And his next match, if I understand correctly, will be wrestling Yano with a blindfold. He is likely winning and as a new KOPW trophy holder will have even more bullshit matches. Instead of forcing him to fit the usual heel progression NJPW is enabling him to go full out. Is it working? I think we can all agree that his push has been controversial. But the point is that they don't want a new Kojima from him.

And I think we can see similar things from other new/returning wrestlers and thats why many of them receive backlash. They still operate in the world created by Tanahashi, but we can all see that they don't really fit in into it as nicely as wrestlers of yesterday. White, at this point, I think has carved out his own niche and convinced most of his haters that they were wrong, can Evil and others do the same? Only time will show.

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People liked EVIL well enough until his turn. Now his matches are tedious. He brutalized his way through the NJ Cup only to then rely on Togo interference and low blows upon winning. I can't think of much to recommend of him in the last year when he was one of their most featured wrestlers. That's a problem. 

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3 hours ago, Archibald said:

I kinda suspect that this booking is somewhat motivated by Naito, to be more specific, by his failure to replace Tanahashi way back then. When he was given more "freedom" he become very different character and likely is still their #1 money maker. I think the lesson here is that you can never replace something great by copying it. Replacement has to be just as great and, most importantly, different to what it is replacing. So they are not trying to create a new Tanahashi or new Okada or new Naito, they are trying to create new X and many older fans don't really like it.

After years of 'why haven't New Japan made Naito / Ibushi / whoever the guy yet' it turns very quickly to 'now what?' once delivered when the same guys are still facing the same guys. You mentioned Naito as an example of creating a new star, but I'd also use him as an example of reinventing one. Every now and again (Chono, Mutoh, Makabe, Nakamura, Naito... or Yano!) NJ have someone who's already up there as a mainstay but an almost US-style gimmick repackaging not only makes them more popular but is effectively a new character helping rematches feel fresh. If you can get that right it's priceless for an established name in a closed roster where everyone's G1ing everyone else year on year.

I would say Ibushi was a prime candidate for this. Seems like his God declaration was only marginally more convincing than Naito's shuyaku line, and he's going to need to tone his ring style down sooner or later. Is Okada going to be the Rainmaker for twenty years (balloon Kaz doesn't count)? Fantasy booking time but with excursions out of the question if those two names are the most rumoured to get some AEW interaction that might serve as a catalyst.

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I wonder if fans were allowed to make noise and they could run full arenas whether some of the booking flaws would be mitigated? So much of the company is heat, heat, heat and without that fan emotion to play off of it gets tedious. 

Main event match times is def a problem as well as the inability to bring in American freelancers to boost up cards. Guys like Moxley and Jericho etc. swooping in added some spice to the depth of the card. 

Running so many shows and having to split up so many matches is also a huge issue.

I think in many ways the pandemic hurt New Japan worse than any company outside of Mexico because a lot of their choices are dictated by trying to sell as many tickets as they can in limited capacities, which is why Korakuen Hall is being  run into the ground.

That said, both Dome shows were great and this was PROBABLY the best New Japan Cup they've run. 

New Japan set such a high standard for years though that things def look creaky.   

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I do wonder who the pandemic has helped. Someone is benefitting from the crowd only clapping. You wouldn't know if someone is genuinely getting no reaction. 

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I don’t watch NJPW, but I keep up with the results. Who had the last good title run? They’ve all looked kinda disappointing since, like, Okada.

Edited by Control
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Ibushi? Naito, White, Sanada, Naito, Desperado and Ospreay defences were all good, obviously ignoring personal likes and dislikes of some wrestlers in that list.

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On 4/5/2021 at 7:38 AM, Spontaneous said:

People liked EVIL well enough until his turn. Now his matches are tedious. He brutalized his way through the NJ Cup only to then rely on Togo interference and low blows upon winning. I can't think of much to recommend of him in the last year when he was one of their most featured wrestlers. That's a problem. 

 

EVIL felt like Gedo was taking all the bad ideas from Memphis that he absorbed and put EVIL on that cross.  EVIL's turn felt like how someone would change in Memphis or WWE going from face to heel, and it's one of my least favorite things about American wrestling.  

 

At least Jay despite all his weaseling, only came off that way once, and that was vs Ibushi.  Outside of that, he always looked like he was a badass who was weaseling because he could not because he had to.   And it took angry god Ibushi that surpassed Tanahashi to do that to Jay, which made it forgivable.

 

Also, I still count the Omega and White reigns as the end of the golden era.  Tana/Omega is one of my alltime favorite matches, and as a spicy take, I preferred it to the first Okada/Omega match.

 

The issue with Naito was shuyaku was Naito's ceiling.  We all know he was never going to be the long-term ace, so it made sense for Naito's goal to be something in the moment that surpassed Okada.  He got that moment, and it's like Wile E catching the roadrunner- now what?

Naito was derailed as a character by the end of his story, and they really haven't given him a good new one yet.  I think he'd actually benefit by going to America for a year so he could be missed.

Edited by alstein
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6 hours ago, Archibald said:

Ibushi? Naito, White, Sanada, Naito, Desperado and Ospreay defences were all good, obviously ignoring personal likes and dislikes of some wrestlers in that list.

I guess I was thinking the short reign (90 days) and the loss to Ospreay maybe made it a disappointment, after a fairly long trek to get there.

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18 hours ago, Belgian_Waffle said:

Any other longtime Observer fans find they have to fast-forward past Dave talking about New Japan these days? 

2 to 4 pages of TV ratings and Raw and Smackdown descriptions are what I skip. Although I agree that write ups on every NJ match on every show is more than we need.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Wrestling Dontaku 2021 spoilers:

Spoiler

Disappointed Hiroshi Tanahashi dropped the NEVER Openweight Championship to Jay White even though I like White. Wanted Tana to have a long reign with it. Match went 39 minutes and Ospreay/Takagi for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship went nearly 45 minutes.

I like long matches but lately I feel matches are going too long and would be better served trimming down by 10-15 minutes. Less is more. Just this year the record for longest NEVER Openweight Championship has twice been broken, 33 minutes with Takagi/Tanahashi and now Tanahashi/White going 39.

 

Edited by The Natural
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It would be hilarious to see these epics edited down to a series of spots, big moves and finishers with no context then a pinfall. They'd still probably last over a minute. And 30 seconds of that minute if it's an Ospreay match would be screaming, like that one cut of a match that has all the "OOOF"s that Luger did. 

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