New Japan is my favorite wrestling in the world at the moment. Between that and PWG, I'm set with my wrestling habits.
I rarely watch the AXS show, but the regular shows on New Japan World are always great as of late and they've added more English commentary shows if you want clarity oppose to the emotional connection an enthusiastic screaming Japanese commentator provides.
The thing New Japan does best that WWE has completely lost sight of is long term storytelling. You especially see the development of the wrestlers when you watch over time. Seeing Omega go from the Bullet Club's Jr. Heavyweight wrestler to wrestling Okada in the Tokyo Dome main event for the Heavyweight belt was one of the coolest developing stories over the last year. Same with Okada carrying the mantle after finally beating Tanahashi. Part of what makes their feud so great is seeing those two kept separate for so long and now having these epic clashes.
I'm into it. I watched most of the G1 shows last year, save for some of the smaller ones. Don't think I'll try as hard this year, but there's plenty of awesome matches in both blocks that I may have to keep up.
Originally posted by Dr Unlikely(Shibata, for what it's worth, had been my favorite wrestler for most of the last year+ of what I've been able to see on TV. He felt like a perfect combination of "Iceman" Dean Malenko and original concept Stone Cold Steve Austin. Emotionless wrestling contract killer with a hint of something more dangerous underneath. And yet he also had an amazing redemption arc going - the guy who turned his back on This Business and seemingly came back to ruin it but instead slowly making amends the only way you should in wrestling: by beating up people you respect until they forgive you and then focusing on kicking bad people to death. Loved watching the guy wrestle - the corner dropkicks, the forearm exchanges...that spot in his match against Sakuraba where he escaped an inescapable Stunt Rider Stretch by grabbing the ropes with his teeth is probably my favorite spot of any match in the last decade or more. That said, I hate the "real" headbutts and they are basically inexcusable knowing what we do about brain injury now. And it wasn't even necessary: the "strong style" forearm exchanges he was doing, especially in that match vs. Okada, told the same story anyway and were presumably safer by a hundredfold. Anyway, I'm gonna miss the hell out of the guy and I hope something is gained by using this to change how people work across the board. Everybody go back and watch some Bret Hart matches.)
Yeah, Shibata also became my clear favorite wrestler last year and he did have the best story in contemporary wrestling. Supposedly, he was supposed to get a big push coming out of the Okada match and I can only wonder how he would've done in the G1 this year. I just have to believe that it was all building to Shibata winning as a dark horse candidate and dethroning Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 12. Oh, well.
I'm going to the Long Beach AXS show this weekend along with mostly friends who aren't really exposed to NJPW, so I can't wait to see how they handle it. I'm also going to the Meet and Greet earlier in the day, although I'm bummed Toru Yano and Suzuki won't be there.
I jumped on the bandwagon around WK10, drifted away for a little bit again but have been a fan since G1 last year.
I agree with Sklokazoid. Okada/Omega are telling a great story. Actually, the interesting story here to me is NOT that Omega wants it. It is that Okada wants to be the greatest. He rises to all occassions like Shibata (omg) and defeated Omega. BUT since he didn't get enough of the credit he wants a rematch. And now he did not defeat Omega. Can't wait to see their G1 match because it will set up the course for the next year.
However, I am a Naito guy. LIJ is awesome in the ring and Naito is the master of being cool. He can be a face and a heel at the same time and the crowd responds so well.
Tanahashi, Kushida are just perfect babyfaces and.. well I can go on and on. NJPW has so many good things going right now and the G1 Climax blocks are full of potential great matches and a cool twist or two before we see a winner.
Originally posted by SKLOKAZOIDYeah, Shibata also became my clear favorite wrestler last year and he did have the best story in contemporary wrestling. Supposedly, he was supposed to get a big push coming out of the Okada match and I can only wonder how he would've done in the G1 this year. I just have to believe that it was all building to Shibata winning as a dark horse candidate and dethroning Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 12. Oh, well.
This is definitely what I assumed the plan would have been. Shibata came back as the One Who Left who did not like the business (he was, the more I think about it, New Japan's Brock Lesnar) and was either there just for the money or to knock it all down. But then he goes through that cycle of shedding his "fighter" background, earning Tanahashi's "forgiveness" and slowly rallying to the New Japan-side vs. all the heel factions while also earning his own redemption by fighting the generation before his (who, arguably, he would have been "made by" if he'd stayed) and earning their respect through sheer asskickery, and then became the catalyst for pulling his only friend Goto up to the next level, and came out on the other end as a grudging but responsible face without dropping any of the badass nature of his persona.
Having him lose a close one to Okada this year seemed like the perfect set-up to be the next G1 winner and take it next time around. And there would have been some fantastic character work in place if Shibata had to be The Ace of New Japan against Naito. Your "face" champ is the guy who spurned the company but came back and re-learned to love it going against Naito, the guy who the company spurned and learned to resent it.
There hasn't been that kind of potential long-form, character-based top card storytelling anywhere since the Bret/Austin/Shawn feud.
Meltzer has said versions of "NJPW is listed for four hours on Saturday but AXS is totally OK if they go another hour, there's no hard limit" so many times that I need to recomend you've got an overrun built into your recording if that's how you plan on watching this show.
AXS is medium hard to find in the US. It's hit or miss by cable system (though it's on SlingTV and DirectTV's digital service if you really want it.)
(taking rom purlove.com)
Saturday's lineup, which airs live on AXS TV & delayed on NJPW World:
1. Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe, Will Osypreay, Rocky Romero & Baretta vs. Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, Marty Scurrl, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson 2. Jushin Thunder Liger, Volador Jr., Dragon Lee & Titan vs. SANADA, "King of Darkness" EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI 3. IWGP US Heavyweight Title Tournament - Round 1: Jay Lethal vs. Hangman Page 4. IWGP US Heavyweight Title Tournament - Round 1: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Juice Robinson 5. Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA, Jay White & David Finlay vs. Billy Gunn, Yoshitatsu, Yohei Komatsu & Sho Tanaka 6. IWGP Tag Team Title: Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (c) vs. Raymond Rowe & Hanson 7. IWGP US Heavyweight Title Tournament - Round 1: Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii 8. IWGP US Heavyweight Title Tournament - Round 1: Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega 9. IWGP Heavyweight Title: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Cody
Sunday's lineup (live on NJPW World, tape delayed on AXS) so far has the semifinal and final of that US title tournament, the Young Bucks vs Rocky Romero & Baretta for the junior tag titles, and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Billy Gunn for the IC title. The rest of the show will probably be all random tag matches, working in the people who've been eliminated from the tournament.
A bit late but there was/is a marathon on axs tv today before the special. Another good thing about sling is you get on demand too. Just arrow down on the channel. There's usually 8-12 NJPW shows there. From Friday and other days where they replay much older episodes.
I don't know if this goes here, a NXT thread or its own but should the WWe cut Itami loose? It looks like he's in a rut and will be stuck in NXT for the rest of his career. I know the injuries hampered him a lot. Would KENTA be offered a contract by NJPW if released?
Got on board with NJPW around the same time as a lot of American fans: Wrestle Kingdom 9 with their first stateside broadcast. Have done my best to follow them since then. It sounds like the G1 Specials from this past weekend(production issues aside) were a great success in getting them noticed by American fans.