For more news, notes and discussion on the world of puroresu, please visit our International Wrestling subforum on the VOW Forums. We also recommend listening to our three Puroresu-specific podcasts, Burning Spirits, Open the Voice Gate and New Japan Purocast.
NOAH the REBORN
Two major shows for NOAH this month between June 4th in Korakuen, headlined by Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Muhammed Yone, and June 25th in Fukushima, headlined by Nakajima vs. Atsushi Kotoge, drawing 1,405 and 1,229 respectively, two of their better numbers this year.
Nakajima retained his GHC title in both cases, with both matches being of high quality. Brian Cage, who defeated Takashi Sugiura on the June 4th show, came forward as the next challenger and gets his shot on July 27th in Korakuen.
Sugiura will be taking a few months to himself as he faces heart surgery on July 14th, so you can consider that his way of jobbing on the way out. He plans on returning in the fall so everything should be alright, but keep him in your thoughts regardless.
Taiji Ishimori became a double champion on the 25th when he defeated HAYATA for the junior title as both head into the junior tag league next month, which will run from the 13th through the 27th. Ishimori and the other half of the junior tag champions Hi69, YO-HEY and HAYATA, Hitoshi Kumano and former junior champion Hajime Ohara, Daisuke Harada and Tadasuke, DDT DNA’s Shunma Katsumata and MAO, Chile’s Kaiser and Gaston Mateo, Ryuku Dragon’s Guruken Mask and Shuri Joe, and Scott D’Amore student Phil Atlas and freelancer Seiya Morohashi make up the tournament. NOAH doing a nice job utilizing their connections as you could see with all of those outsiders. Some names to keep an eye on are Hi69 since he recently announced that he wants to become a full-time roster member and is a potential winner, MAO, who’s very impressive in DDT, and the two Chile guys since they come from the same promotion as Alejandro Saez.
And speaking of outside connections, perhaps the coolest story coming out of NOAH this month was the announcement that Kaito Kiyomiya will be going on excursion. His last match was against Kenoh on the 25th. Impact will his home-base, though you can expect him to pick up a good deal of indie bookings as well. Marufuji will be working a bunch of indie dates too when he’s over, so they will likely come as a package deal. Kiyomiya has not yet been announced for much outside of Canada, where as Marufuji has been announced for Michael Elgin’s Glory Pro on July 9th, Will Ospreay and Ryan Smile’s Lucha Forever on October 5th, and Impact’s Slammiversary on July 2nd where him and Taiji Ishimori will take on Drago and El Hijo del Fantasma, Garza Jr. and Laredo Kid and LAX in a four-way for the Impact and Global Force tag titles.
Will Marufuji and Ishimori come home with the prestigious Global Force tag titles around their waists? Marufuji will also be defending his GHC tag titles with Maybach against Nakajima and Masa Kitamiya on July 20th in Osaka. Marufuji and Maybach are one of the best tag teams in the world at the moment and the other two are always great together in their own right, so that should be an excellent match.
All Japan Pro Wrestling
1,312 for Korakuen on the 11th with Shuji Ishikawa and Jake Lee on top as attendance holds steady even without Miyahara as champion. Miyahara in a lot of ways stabilized All Japan’s business and put them in a position to where he can slide into a semi-main event role seamlessly with no problems. His match with Ishikawa from May 21st aired this month and I’m not going to do a full recap of it obviously but what I will say is that if for whatever reason you have not seen it yet, do go out of your way to watch it as soon as possible. And as for the Ishikawa vs. Lee match, you can read my full review of it on the site.
Suwama defeated Miyahara on that same show to earn a shot at Ishikawa for July 17th. Other matches on July 17th include Miyahara vs. Doering to set up the next Triple Crown challenger, Zeus and Bodyguard vs. Jake Lee and Naoya Nomura for the tag titles in which Zeus and Bodyguard won back from KAI and Kengo Mashimo on the 11th and then retained over Jun Akiyama and Takao Omori on the 25th, and Hikaru Sato vs. Minoru Tanaka for the junior title in which Sato retained over Koji Iwamoto on the 28th. With matches like those and a good undercard, that show could easily be their best of 2017. It will be their last big stop before Sumo Hall on August 27th, so whoever walks out with the titles will be walking into Ryogoku with them.
You can make a safe prediction that Tanaka will beat Sato since Sato already holds the All Asia tag titles, unless Tank Nagai and Ayumu Honda beat them on July 23rd, which I guess is not impossible. Stranger things have happened. Regardless, Sato will likely be wrapped up with that at Sumo Hall so Tanaka is a great choice to have as champion. Miyahara will clearly beat Doering and headline with Ishikawa, so those matches are predictable in that sense but both will be great so who cares.
All Japan is bringing in Italian wrestler Massimo for a tour next month. How or why they acquired him, I have no idea, but there you go. Caristico, El Diamante and Sam Adonis are coming in for Ultimo Dragon’s 30th anniversary show on August 19th, with Caristico sticking around for Sumo Hall as well.
Big Japan Wrestling
Big Japan released the card for their July 17th Sumo Hall show, and I have to say…not a fan. It is what it is and I have to accept that Big Japan is not booking for me, but for what I like in my wrestling and by the standard they’ve set for Sumo Hall the past two years, the card is not good.
- Masaya Takahashi defends his Deathmatch title against Takayuki Ueki in the main event
- Daisuke Sekimoto and Yuji Okabayashi defend their tag titles against Abdullah Kobayashi and Ryuji Ito
- Hideki Suzuki defends his Strong title against Ryuichi Kawakami
- The trio of Ryota Hama, Yasufumi Nakanoue and Shogun Okamoto defend their Yokohama Shopping Street six-man titles against Kohei Sato, Daichi Hashimoto and Hideyoshi Kamitani
- Kazuki Hashimoto and Shinobu go one-on-one to crown the new junior champion
- Jaki Numazawa and Masashi Takeda take on Minoru Fujita and Kankuro Hoshino in a concrete deathmatch
- Yuko Miyamoto and Isami Kodaka take on Takumi Tsukamoto and Toshiyuki Sakuda in a Tetsuori and KMGT deathmatch (whatever that means)
- Masakatsu Funaki and Kazumi Kikuta take on Yoshihisa Uto and Takuya Nomura
- The Speeds of Sound and Great Kojika take on the Brahmans and Kendo Kashin
- In the opener, the returning Kendo Sekifuda teams with rookie Yuya Aoki to take on Ryuichi Sekine and Tatsuhiko Yoshino.
My problem is really with the Strong and Deathmatch title matches, being that Ryuichi Kawakami has not been good since returning last year and is not cut out for a major Sumo Hall match, and that the main event, despite being the match that the fans voted on to headline, is weak by any standard, the same way Suzuki vs. Kawakami would be.
I have less of a problem with the tag title match and can see why they would book it, but I would certainly prefer a team better than Kobayashi and Ito. I am unsure how the attendance will shake out with a card considerably weaker than cards of years past, it could be lower or it could be about even, I cannot see how it could top the previous two shows though.
Korakuen numbers from the 28th were not reported but it looked like a poor crowd. Lots of empty seats. Kobayashi and Ito vs. Miyamoto and Kodaka was the main event while Suzuki and Uto vs. Kawakami and Kikuta was the semi-main event. Only news coming out of the show was that Hama and Nakanoue have signed a contract and start with Big Japan as full-time roster members on July 1st.
DDT & DNA
Tetsuya Endo defeated HARASHIMA to win King of DDT in Korakuen on the 25th in front of 1,333 fans, a match everyone needs to go out of their way to see.
Endo as a result gets his shot at Konosuke Takeshita in Sumo Hall on August 20th. Takeshita, however, has two challengers standing in his way beforehand in the form of Mike Bailey and Keisuke Ishii with Bailey earning himself a shot for July 2nd and Ishii for July 20th. New six-man tag champions were crowned on the 25th as well as KUDO, Masa Takanashi and Yukio Sakaguchi defeated MAO, Makoto Oishi and Shunma Katsumata. It was then announced that they will defend those titles against the team of Antonio Honda, Dick Togo and Yasu Urano at Sumo Hall, along with a Sanshiro Takagi vs. Danshoku Dino match that was announced. KUDO and Sakaguchi are also in line for a shot at Kazusada Higuchi and Shigehiro Irie for the tag titles on July 9th.
Higuchi, speaking of, has a big month ahead of him between that, a big singles match he has in Osaka, and his graduation from DNA on July 4th when he teams with Ryota Nakatsu against Kouki Iwasaki and Naomi Yoshimura. Rounding out that card is Shunma Katsumata vs. Yuki Ueno, Koji Kanemoto vs. Mizuki Watase, Mike Bailey and Cody Hall vs. Diego and Rekka, Shiro Koshinaka and Kotaro Suzuki vs. Daiki Shimomura and Nobuhiro Shimatani, Tetsuya Endo vs. MAO, and Dai Suzuki vs. Hideki Suzuki, Jun Kasai, NOSAWA Rongai and Guruken Mask.
DDT then runs the Osaka EDION Arena on July 16th where Higuchi will take on Shuji Ishikawa one-on-one, Konosuke Takeshita and Shigehiro Irie will take on Magnitude Kishiwada and Black Buffalo, Masa Takanashi will take on HUB, Naomi Yoshimura and Yuki Ueno will take on KUDO and Yukio Sakaguchi, Kikutaro will take on Kuishinbo Kamen and Antonio Honda in a three-way, DAMNATION members Endo, Mad Paulie and Daisuke Sasaki will take on HARASHIMA, Mike Bailey and Dick Togo, and lastly, Danshoku Dino, Super Sasadango Machine and Atsushi Maruyama will take on Makoto Oishi, Yuni and Jun Kasai. All in all, it may be the best card DDT has put together this year.
798 for Korakuen on June 6th with Shotaro Ashino defending his title against Koji Doi in the main event, Masayuki Kono and Takanori Ito defending their tag titles against Ganseki Tanaka and Manabu Soya in the semi-main event, and MAZADA defending his cruiserweight title against Kaz Hayashi.
That attendance number (798) is around what they usually do so that could say something about how much of a draw Ashino is or could just be the brand that draws, because Koji Doi is not any sort of big name. Ashino obviously retained in what was a decent match, as Doi moved on to win back the tag titles with Kumagoro on the 24th by defeating Kono and Ito.
WRESTLE-1 has their big Yokohama show on September 2nd, where Ashino will defend against the winner of the Grand Prix tournament that takes place at the next Korakuen on July 12th. Masayuki Kono vs. Daiki Inaba, Shuji Kondo vs. the winner of the Pro Wrestling ACE four-man rookie tournament on the 2nd, Manabu Soya vs. Kumagoro and Jiro Kuroshio vs. Koji Doi make up the tournament matches. Names to mark down as potential winners are Soya, Inaba and Jiro. Kaz Hayashi announced this month that, along with the heavyweight Grand Prix, WRESTLE-1 will be running a tag league and a cruiserweight league in the fall and the winter respectively. Shingo Takagi and Naomichi Marufuji were also announced for the Yokohama show.
WRESTLE-1 branch promotion Pro Wrestling MASTERS returns on July 26th. Tatsumi Fujinami, Riki Choshu and X vs. Great Muta, Great Kabuki and Savio Vega (!) is the main event. Other matches on the show include Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Takaku Fuke vs. Jushin Thunder Liger and Takuma Sano, Ricky Fuji vs. Hisakatsu Oya, a six-man between Shiro Koshinaka, Akira Nogami and Akitoshi Saito vs. Great Kojika, Daisuke Sekimoto and Yuji Okabayashi, and a lucha masters match between the trio of Great Sasuke, Shiryu and SATO and the trio of NOSAWA Rongai, MAZADA and Minoru Fujita. How will Sasuke, Shiryu and SATO hang in their with such masterful luchadores.
Kairi Hojo and Io Shirai had their last matches with Stardom this month with Shirai losing her title to Mayu Iwatani on the 21st and Hojo, Konami and Hiromi Mimura losing their titles to Shirai, HZK and AZM on the 4th (that team obviously dropping the titles later in the month as well). Hojo, now known as Kairi Sane, will be competing in the Mae Young Classic, while Shirai takes a bit of time to recover from an injury (or so she claims). Expect Shirai to pop up in the crowd at the next NXT Takeover event. Losing them is a big hit to Stardom as Shirai, at least in my opinion, was really the only strong point of the promotion for a long time, but I wish both of them the best.
Iwatani vs. Yoko Bito is the main event of Korakuen on July 16th. Iwatani and Shirai did 750 fans, so I doubt Iwatani and Bito do much more than that. Kagetsu and Hana Kimura also defend their tag titles, in which they won from Hiroyo Matsumoto and Jungle Kyouna on the 21st, against Kyouna and HZK on the 16th.
Hiroyo Matsumoto defeated Chihiro Hashimoto for the Sendai Girls title on June 10th in what was an excellent match. Satomura seems to be in line for a shot, though Hashimoto will clearly win the title back at some point in the near future.
Lastly, AKINO and Kaho Kobayashi won the OZ Academy tag titles on the 25th by defeating Hikaru Shida and Syuri.
I may combine the joshi section of this column with the odds and ends section moving forward due to there never being a ton of news. If there is enough news to give it its own section one month then I will give it its own section, otherwise there is simply not enough to justify it anymore. Just a heads up.
Odds & Ends
- Masato Tanaka, Yusaku Obata, Kohei Sato, Kenoh, James Raideen, Daiki Inaba, LEONA, Super Tiger, Shogun Okamoto and Yuko Miyamoto make up the 2017 ZERO1 Fire Festival.
- Inaba, LEONA, Sato and Okamoto vs. Miyamoto, Super Tiger, Tanaka and Obata was the main event of the June 22nd Korakuen.
- Kengo Mashimo and Yuki Sato what seems to be the remainder of 2017 with injury.
- Real Japan did 1,563 in Korakuen on the 29th for Shinjiro Otani vs. Masakatsu Funaki which will sadly never make tape.
- Taichi and TAKA Michinoku vs. BUSHI and Hiromu Takahashi is the main event of the August 28th TAKA & Taichi Produce show in Shinjuku FACE.
- Daisuke Masaoka and Minoru Fujita are headlining Korakuen on July 5th for FREEDOMS.
- Antonio Inoki is running a show in Korakuen on July 24th with the only match at the moment being Scott Norton and Hikaru Sato vs. Hideki Suzuki and Takatoshi Matsumoto.
- NOSAWA Rongai, MAZADA, FUJITA & KIKUZAWA vs. CIMA, Eita, Takhiro Yamamura & Kaito Ishida was announced for Tokyo Gurentai on July 19th.
Recommended Matches (****+)
- Masaaki Mochizuki vs. BxB Hulk – Dragon Gate King of Gate – May 20th (****)
- Naruki Doi vs. CIMA – Dragon Gate King of Gate – May 20th (****1/4)
- Kento Miyahara vs. Shuji Ishikawa – AJPW Super Power Series – May 21st (****1/2)
- Masa Kitamiya vs. Naomichi Marufuji – NOAH Navigation with Breeze – May 23rd (****)
- Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi vs. Ryota Hama & Yasufumi Nakanoue – BJW Road to Ryogokutan – May 25th (****1/4)
- Hideki Suzuki vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani – BJW Road to Rogokutan – May 25th (****1/4)
- Ryo Saito vs. Naruki Doi – Dragon Gate King of Gate – May 26th (****)
- Hajime Ohara vs. HAYATA – NOAH Navigation with Breeze – May 27th (****)
- Takehiro Yamaura vs. Jimmy Kagetora – Dragon Gate King of Gate – May 28th (****)
- T-Hawk, El Lindaman & Shingo Takagi vs. BxB Hulk, YAMATO & Kzy- Dragon Gate King of Gate – May 28th (****)
- Shigehiro Irie vs. Keisuke Ishii – DDT King of DDT – June 3rd (****)
- Kaito Kiyomiya vs. Go Shiozaki – NOAH Navigation with Breeze – June 4th (****)
- Kenoh vs. Atsushi Kotoge – NOAH Navigation with Breeze – June 4th (****1/4)
- Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Muhammad Yone – NOAH Navigation with Breeze – June 4th (****1/4)
- Konami, Hiromi Mimura & Kairi Hojo vs. Io Shirai, HZK & AZM – Stardom Shining Stars – June 4th (****)
- T-Hawk vs. Eita – Dragon Gate King of Gate – June 10th (****)
- Shingo Takagi vs. Naruki Doi – Dragon Gate King of Gate – June 10th (****1/4)
- Chihiro Hashimoto vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto – Sendai Girls – June 10th (****)
- Shuji Ishikawa vs. Jake Lee – AJPW Dynamite Series – June 11th (****1/4)
- Takashi Yoshida, El Lindaman & Shingo Takagi vs. BxB Hulk, YAMATO & Kzy – Dragon Gate King of Gate – June 11th (****)
- Naruki Doi vs. T-Hawk – Dragon Gate King of Gate – June 11th (****1/4)
- Yuji Okabayashi & Kaito Kiyomiya vs. Go Shiozaki & Takuya Nomura – Fortune Dream 4 – June 14th (****1/4)
- Kohei Sato & Shingo Takagi vs. Daisuke Sekimoto – Fortune Dream 4 – June 14th (****)
- Io Shirai vs. Mayu Iwatani – Stardom Galaxy Stars – June 21st (****1/4)
- Masa Kitamiya & Go Shiozaki vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi – NOAH Great Voyage in Fukushima – June 25th (****1/4)
- HAYATA vs. Taiji Ishimori – NOAH Great Voyage in Fukushima – June 25th (****)
- Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Atsushi Kotoge – NOAH Great Voyage in Fukushima – June 25th (****)
- Tetsuya Endo vs. HARASHIMA – DDT King of DDT – June 25th (****1/4)