Big Japan Pro Wrestling
BJW ~RYOGOKUTAN~ 2017
July 17, 2017
Ryogoku Kokugikan
Tokyo, Japan

Meet our previewers:

  • Brennan Patrick: Co-host of Burning Spirits. VOW contributor. Big proponent of non-black wrestling t-shirts. (@bren_patrick)
  • Drew Wardlaw: Co-host of Burning Spirits. Coca-Cola enthusiast.  Has bad taste. (@_burningspirits)
  • Kevin Hare: Co-host of Burning Spirits. (@stan__hansen)

Kota Sekifuda’s Return Match: Kota Sekifuda & Yuya Aoki vs. Ryuichi Sekine & Tatsuhiko Yoshino

Brennan Patrick: Kota Sekifuda is yet another promising BJW young boy who was starting to build a lot of momentum last year before he suffered a knee injury in November — an unfortunate circumstance for any 22-year old athlete. He’s been rehabbing for his return and physically looks to be in great shape so I’m excited to see him back in action. He can easily slide into the BJW Junior Heavyweight division and add even more depth to the roster. Aoki continues to impress and Yoshino is the best kind of utilityman so this should be fun. Prediction: Ryuichi Sekine & Tatsuhiko Yoshino Drew Wardlaw: The big story here is the return of youngster Kota Sekifuda after a knee injury last fall.  The Big Japan landscape has changed a bit since then with the addition of the Junior Heavyweight division, and he will be a great addition to that roster.  This should be a high energy, hard-hitting match to open the show, with all four guys looking to make an impact, and will be tons of fun to watch.  I’m expecting Yoshino to pick up the win here, and potentially use that momentum to get a title shot against the forthcoming Junior Heavyweight champion. Prediction: Ryuchi Sekine & Tatsuhiko Yoshino Kevin Hare: After his awesome performance at the last BJW Korakuen show, I’m excited to see a lot more of Yoshino in the future. I’m hoping he has a good showing here to keep some momentum going Prediction: Ryuichi Sekine & Tatsuhiko Yoshino

Special 6 Man Tag Match Great Kojika, Tsutomu Oosugi & Hercules Senga vs. Kendo Kashin, Shu & Kei Brahman

Brennan Patrick: This is definitely the “Drew Wardlaw 5 Bad Boys Special” with a dream team like Kendo Kashin and the Brahmans. Sounds like a weird 60’s garage band. This should be…entertaining, to say the least. Someone’s probably getting wet. Prediction: Great Kojika, Tsutomu Oosugi & Hercules Senga Drew Wardlaw: Please ignore Kevin Hare’s stick in the mud prediction here, we might see Darth Kojika, Kendo Kashin spitting goo, ample amounts of water and black ink; the possibilities are really endless here. This will be heavy on the comedy and add a nice touch of variety to the card. Prediction: Kendo Kashin, Shu & Kei Brahman Kevin Hare: This match is going to suck. Prediction: Great Kojika, Tsutomu Oosugi & Hercules Senga vs. Kendo Kashin, Shu & Kei Brahman

Special Tag Match Masakatsu Funaki & Kazumi Kikuta vs. Yoshihisa Uto & Takuya Nomura

Brennan Patrick: Takuya Nomura trading stiff kicks with Masakatsu Funaki can only be a good thing. I can’t wait to see these two mix it up and watch Nomura’s smiley, cherub-cheeked bad boy face get slapped silly. This should be a good time for Kazumi Kikuta to shine a little more and Uto to throw his weight around. I can see Nomura picking up the “upset” team win here over Kikuta which could mean we get a Funaki vs. Nomura singles match at some point. Fingers crossed. Prediction: Yoshihisa Uto & Takuya Nomura Drew Wardlaw: The big standout thing here is getting to see Masakatsu Funaki mixing it up with everyone’s favorite up-and-comer Takuya Nomura.  Kikuta is someone to keep an eye on here though.  He was left out of the Junior Heavyweight title tournament and has been fighting hard to prove his worth ever since.  He’s really impressed me in the past couple months as well, looking more determined and aggressive.  I’m going out on a limb here and say that he will pick up the win over Nomura, and like Yoshino, maybe use that victory to get a title shot. Prediction: Masakatsu Funaki & Kazumi Kikuta Kevin Hare: Masakatsu Funaki’s appearance on this show completely took me by surprise. I’m all in on Funaki vs. Nomura interactions. Nomura is best as the scrappy, grumpy young boy going against the REALLY grumpy vet, and there are few older and grumpier than Funaki. I think there are big plans for Uto over the next year and expect him to pick up the pinfall here. Prediction: Yoshihisa Uto & Takuya Nomura http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/2017/07/13/burning-spirits-big-japan-ryogokutan-preview-fortune-dream-4/

Tetsuori & KMGT Deathmatch Yuko Miyamoto & Isami Kodaka vs. Takumi Tsukamoto & Toshiyuki Sakuda

Brennan Patrick: Instead of challenging for the tag titles against Strong BJ, Yankee Two Kenju get thrown into a “Tetsuori & KMGT Deathmatch”…whatever that means. This will probably be more in the vein of the kind of deathmatches I can tolerate — more fast-paced offense and less gross out spots. Tsukamoto and Sakuda are both deathmatch guys I enjoy so I’m looking forward to this. I’m sure Kodaka will do something stupid and a win here for Yankee Two Kenju puts them right at the front of the line for a tag title shot. Prediction: Yuko Miyamoto & Isami Kodaka Drew Wardlaw: A lot of people (not me) were disappointed to see Yankee Two Kenju lose to Kobayashi & Ito in a #1 contenders match last month, but what we get as a consolation prize is a stronger undercard tag death match than we would have gotten with the veterans in this position.  Look for crazy ladder spots, huge hammer swinging, and a fast-paced bleeding spectacle here.  This is a match that could really determine just how good this card is overall.  It’s right in that spot where it can really deliver big and boost up the undercard, and with the young team of Sakuda and Tsukamoto, I expect that to happen. Prediction: Yuko Miyamoto & Isami Kodaka Kevin Hare: I am fired up for this match. I’m expecting it to be all action for about 10-12 minutes. Many times, the deathmatches featuring the older guys in Big Japan can be a bit plodding, but scrapper guys like Kodaka and Miyamoto are able to apply the deathmatch style to the spring tag team style. This is an “iron cage, Kariki (lawn trimmer), Mega Hammer, Giga Ladder, and Terra Table” deathmatch. Kodaka and Tsukamoto had an incredible deathmatch earlier this year that featured the mega hammer and ladder. I’m very much hoping for a fun, quick undercard match that can overdeliver. Prediction: Yuko Miyamoto & Isami Kodaka

Concrete Block Tag Deathmatch Jaki Numazawa & Masashi Takeda vs. Minoru Fujita & Kankuro Hoshino

Brennan Patrick: This is my least anticipated match-up for obvious reasons. Thankfully, these “Concrete Block” deathmatches are less gory but Numazawa will still find a way to do something gross. Masashi Takeda might even suplex someone onto a concrete block, I don’t know. Prediction: Jaki Numazawa & Masashi Takeda Drew Wardlaw: Kankuro Hoshino got a haircut a few months ago, and let me just say, he looks about 10 years younger.  I like that this is a 2 on 2 tag match and this should be a nice cool down match with a slower, more lumbering vibe than the previous death match. Prediction: Jaki Numazawa & Masashi Takeda Kevin Hare: This should be brutal and stupid. Hoshino has been out of the spotlight since losing the Death Match Championship to Abdullah.  I expect him to be built back up for a future title shot. Prediction: Jaki Numazawa & Masashi Takeda vs. Minoru Fujita & Kankuro Hoshino

First BJW Junior Heavyweight Championship Decision Match Kazuki Hashimoto vs. Shinobu

Brennan Patrick: This is a rematch of their decisive 6/28 tournament match, which Hashimoto won to secure the #1 spot. Whether or not that’s telling of the outcome here, I still think Hashimoto, with his fresh dye job, best represents Big Japan’s style of junior heavyweight wrestling. He’s almost 10 years younger than Shinobu and could work some exciting title defenses against guys like Nomura, Yoshino and Kikuta. They definitely held back on 6/28 so I’m fully expecting these two to go all out and light up Sumo Hall. Prediction: Kazuki Hashimoto Drew Wardlaw: The newly-christened junior heavyweights of Big Japan have been going off on each other over the past month to earn a title shot here.  In some ways, I think this group of guys (Nomura, Aoki, Shinobu, Yoshino, etc.) have been carrying the torch of the ultra stiff, brutal style of the strong division better than the heavyweights have, with super intense action in every match.  These two faced off last month in a tournament match, and while good, it was clear to see they were holding back a bit.  I’m expecting these two to really let loose here and leave it all on the line.  This match could really go either way, with either the veteran Shinobu leading the division or Hashimoto taking his rightful spot as ace of the division.  I think I’m going with Hashimoto here, completing his story of coming back from injury and getting in great shape.  I can’t wait for his match. Prediction: Kazuki Hashimoto Kevin Hare: I love the idea of this new title. The Big Japan junior style is a cool combination of the typical Japanese junior style and the harder hitting strong Big Japan style.  Adding a big match like that onto the midcard of bigger shows is a great idea to me.  I’m expecting these guys to go out there and try to steal the show.  They had a match a few weeks ago in Korakuen that was good but never hit 2nd gear.  I’m expecting them to turn it up here and kick off the brand new title with a bang. Prediction: Kazuki Hashimoto

Yokohama Shopping Street 6 Tag Championship Match Ryota Hama, Yasufumi Nakanoue & Shogun Okamoto © vs. Kohei Sato, Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani

Brennan Patrick: Ryota Hama is a big attraction — literally. You can’t help but smile when he’s in the ring, slapping his buttcheeks like a destructively happy baby. He and Yasumfumi Nakanoue recently signed with BJW so it’ll be interesting to see which direction they go with these titles, which seems like they’re a better fit for the deathmatch division but I’m down for some Strong Division six-mans. A win for Team Sato gives Hashimoto and Kamitani something to do but these titles have been hot-potatoed for a while now, so who knows. Prediction: Kohei Sato, Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani Drew Wardlaw: A great thing about BJW multi-man Strong matches is that they almost always deliver.  No one is on cruise control in these matches and everyone always gives maximum effort, and this match will be no exception.  Nakanoue has looked good recently, showing more fire than I’ve seen from him before, and the crowd has been responding accordingly.  Kamitani has taken a step down from where he was last year, but him and Hashimoto have been a consistent tag team and I’m expecting them to pick up the win here. Prediction: Kohei Sato, Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani Kevin Hare: Hama and Nakanoue are now full-time roster members.  While the other team is a bit more star-studded, I think that Hama will pick up the win here to help solidify himself as a true member of Big Japan. Prediction: Ryota Hama, Yasufumi Nakanoue & Shogun Okamoto http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/2017/07/13/purple-reign-purple-reign-hideki-suzukis-underdog-wrestler-year-campaign/

BJW World Strong Heavyweight Championship Match Hideki Suzuki © vs. Ryuichi Kawakami

Brennan Patrick: This is an interesting match-up for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Ryuichi Kawakami was always intended to be the Strong Division guy but through the years, he’s suffered a number of major setbacks due to injuries. Most recently, he re-injured his left knee at the end of 2015 and returned at last year’s Sumo Hall show as BJW pulled the trigger on Hideyoshi Kamitani. Kawakami’s been slow to get back to 100%. He had a failed and quite frankly forgettable title challenge against Kamitani last year and lost to Hideki Suzuki in a #1 Contender’s Match. He’s been showing more fire as of late but I still don’t think he’s the guy to lead the Strong Division. Suzuki’s reign has been no less than stellar and in addition to his refreshingly throwback style, he brings with him such a cool presence that’s unique to a lot of Japanese promotions. When the purple trunks come out, you know it’s all business. I won’t be shocked if Kawakami beats him but I will be disappointed. I want a Suzuki vs. Hama match. Prediction: Hideki Suzuki Forever #1 Drew Wardlaw: My heart and my head are really pulling me in different directions here.  On the one hand, Kawakami’s story is a strong one: He has recovered from a severe injury, with his re-debut match being at last year’s Ryogokutan show against Daisuke Sekimoto.  Now, a year later, he’s competing for the Strong title.  It’s a great story and I like Big Japan continuing to build up the next generation of wrestlers (more on that in the main event.)  I like Kawakami, and if you’ve seen him in Basara working as Trans*Am Ryuichi, then you know he’s got the charisma to be a champ.  However, Hideki Suzuki has been an incredible Strong champion, providing a unique, more ground-based approach to the division than previous champions.  I really don’t want to see his title run end yet.  I just want more defenses.  I do think it’s a possibility that Suzuki wins here, maybe providing a speed bump for Kawakami, and holding the belt until Death Vegas.  If I’m forced to choose though, I’ll go with Kawakami.  An interesting little note though, is that the Strong title has changed hands at each of the previous Ryogokutan shows.  Will that trend continue, or is it an indication that we are due for the champ to retain? Hmmmmm. Prediction: Ryuichi Kawakami Kevin Hare: Last year, Hideyoshi Kamatani was pushed throughout the first half of the year and, surprisingly, got the title shot and win in Sumo Hall.  Fans were given reasons to root for him throughout the year, he showed tons of fire and Sumo Hall was completely behind him as he ended the epic title run of Yuji Okabayashi, leading to one of the most memorable matches of 2016.  This year, BJW attempted to elevate someone else in the same way, Ryuichi Kawakami being 2017’s chosen man.  However, there hasn’t been much in his push to really grasp onto.  I feel nothing about a Kawakami title shot and don’t really care about seeing him here.  However, I do think he showed a new, more aggressive and charismatic side after dying his hair for the 6/28 show.  The brief Suzuki vs. Kawakami interactions were super hot, giving some hope for a good match here.  If they go all out for about 15 minutes, this match could deliver.  The Suzuki title reign has been great, but I don’t really see him being a long time champion.  I expect him to be the transition to this year’s anointed man.  Prediction: Ryuichi Kawakami

BJW Tag Championship Match Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi © vs. Abdullah Kobayashi & Ryuji Ito

Brennan Patrick: It’s the old scarred up guard of the Strong and Deathmatch Divisions battling it out in a non-deathmatch setting. I can’t say I’m excited to see Abby trying to wrestle without a lighttube in his hand but this is a big moment for the promotion and something I think the fans at Sumo Hall will enjoy. With the Strong Division holding the six-man titles and soon, the junior heavyweight title, I think this is a way for the belts to transition back to the Deathmatch Division for awhile. Strong BJ have run through most of the strong boys and they’ve been recycling teams at this point so having the titles fought under deathmatch rules adds something fresh. Prediction: Abdullah Kobayashi & Ryuji Ito Drew Wardlaw: An important aspect of this show is that it’s clearly being used to establish younger stars.  This is clear in every title match except this one.  The logic of this match here is that you have the four biggest stars of the company and the previous generation, in a drawing position to boost the other matches featuring younger talent.  Now, for the match itself, it’s a fascinating match up and I couldn’t be more excited.  I live for weird matches like this.  The story here is that you have the two aging veterans of the Death Match division seeking to prove they can hang in a straight wrestling match with the two pillars of the Strong division, the nigh-unstoppable Strong BJ.  Where other people might see a missed opportunity for a hot, workrate heavy tag title match, I see an interesting, emotionally off kilter underdog story waiting to be told.  I cannot wait to see Abdullah hopping around the ring hitting his signature spots.  The crowd is going to be red hot for this and I expect them to be fully behind Abby and Ito.  This is my most anticipated match on the show and if you let it just wash over you and get lost in the story, this could really deliver big time. Prediction: Abdullah Kobayashi & Ryuji Ito Kevin Hare: I’m torn here.  On one hand, I completely understand putting the four biggest stars in the company in the second biggest match on a show headlined by two newcomers.  On the other hand, though, this show feels like it ushering in new blood, and new blood this is not.  If this was a deathmatch, it would be a bit interesting, but otherwise, I’m expecting this to have a big atmosphere but not much else.  The tag belts have been away from the deathmatch division for a while, I think they go back here. Prediction: Abdullah Kobayashi & Ryuji Ito

BJW Death Match Heavyweight Championship Match Masaya Takahashi © vs. Takayuki Ueki

Brennan Patrick: As a non-deathmatch guy, I’m actually pretty excited about this match. I like both guys but especially Ueki after watching his “shoot-style” stuff with Hikaru Sato in the short-lived AJPW/BJ cross-promotion. He’s got a lot of charisma and can work any number of styles. Plus, with these two being team partners and blood brothers, you can expect some carnage. It would be cool to see Ueki win the title but I’m supportive of a lengthy Takahashi reign and seeing more of the younger generation of deathmatch guys step up and challenge. Prediction: Masaya Takahashi Drew Wardlaw: The Bloody Brothers explode! If you look at the Strong and Death Match rosters, the Death Match side is much, much smaller, and made up of mostly veterans.  This puts Big Japan in an interesting position, where the company’s biggest drawing attractions seem to be slowly vanishing and not being replaced.  Takahashi and Ueki represent two of the next generation though, and they will work their hardest to ensure the continued success of the company.  This is a huge spot for both competitors, Takahashi especially, who looks to continue his reign after beating Abdullah Kobayashi at Endless Survivor.  Every time these two have a match they really go for it, and here, in the main event of the biggest show of the year, will be no exception.  I’m expecting these two to absolutely destroy themselves and each other.  This should be a huge, violent spectacle.  I’m really hoping both guys end up shirtless by the end, especially if thumbtacks are involved. Prediction: Masaya Takahashi Kevin Hare: It was a bit of a surprise to see these guys in the final of the tag tournament last year.  Imagine my shock when Big Japan decided to headline their biggest show of the year with these two tag partners.  I’m expecting this to be completely brutal, with two guys with tons to prove showing that they can be the flagbearers of the deathmatch connection.  I’m just hoping that Ueki keeps his gun at home. Prediction: Masaya Takahashi