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In the shock of all shocks, Eddie Edwards defeated Katsuhiko Nakajima on the 26th to become GHC champion.
Together they drew 921 fans to Korakuen, slightly up from the 884 Taiji Ishimori and YO-HEY drew on the 6th and slightly down from the 965 Nakajima drew with Brian Cage on July 27th. At this point we can safely say that Nakajima failed as the ace NOAH pushed him as and that NOAH looks to be moving away from him for a bit. Edwards defends against Naomichi Marufuji at the big Yokohama show on October 1st in a match Marufuji will likely win. Edwards only won the title to get it from Nakajima to Marufuji without doing the Nakajima vs. Marufuji match yet if I had to guess, which makes sense and is probably the best thing NOAH could have done right now being that Marufuji is always someone they can rely on.
Marufuji and Maybach Taniguchi lost the tag titles to Atsushi Kotoge and Go Shiozaki on the same show Nakajima lost his title on, thus freeing Marufuji up for the Yokohama main event while Kotoge and Shiozaki defend against Muhammad Yone and Quiet Storm in the semi-main event. Also freed up was Ishimori as he and Hi69 lost their junior tag titles to HAYATA and YO-HEY, allowing Ishimori to defend his junior title against Daisuke Harada.
NOAH has begun to cut back on the amount of Korakuen shows they run each month, which is a good business decision on their end since none of them draw all that well. September 23rd marks the only Korakuen date for them in the month of September with a main event of Nakajima vs. Kenoh and a semi-main event of Marufuji vs. HAYATA. And speaking of Kenoh, Masato Tanaka challenged him to a match in NOAH following their 30-minute draw for the ZERO1 title on the 31st.
All Japan Pro Wrestling
You can read my review of the All Japan Sumo Hall show for full thoughts, but as a quick recap, Kento Miyahara won his title back from Shuji Ishikawa in the main event, Daisuke Sekimoto and Yuji Okabayashi won the tag titles from KAI and Naoya Nomura, Ultimo Dragon won the junior title from TAJIRI, Satoshi Kojima defeated Suwama, and the oddball team of TAKA Michinoku and NOSAWA Rongai won the All Asia tag titles from Atsushi Aoki and Hikaru Sato.
Granted they may not have given away as many comps or what have you as they did last year and seemed to be a relatively genuine number, it drew right around the same amount of fans the show in November drew at 6,550. DDT, which I of course will get to later, only did 5,900 in comparison a few days earlier, so this was a big victory for All Japan since DDT has been the more popular of the two in the Tokyo area these past several years. With their Korakuen shows drawing just as much, they are quickly beginning to challenge DDT for the spot as the third biggest promotion in the country behind New Japan and Dragon Gate.
All Japan holds their Oudou tournament between September 12th and September 23rd, with the the show on the 23rd airing live. First round matches are TAJIRI vs. Yoshitatsu, Bodyguard vs. Shuji Ishikawa, Zeus vs. Ryouji Sai, Kento Miyahara vs. KAI, Joe Doering vs. Hikaru Sato, Koji Iwamoto vs. Yuma Aoyagi, Suwama vs. Naoya Nomura and Atsushi Aoki vs. Kotaro Suzuki, who’s replacing the injured Jake Lee. Doering and Suwama are feuding right now so having one screw the other in some fashion seems like an obvious direction, as does Miyahara losing to KAI on opening night.
What also seems obvious is Zeus winning and challenging Miyahara in October at the Yokohama Cultural Gym, which All Japan is running in February as well. Following his title win, Miyahara announced that he wants to run a few of his own All Japan shows on college campuses across Japan as a way to connect with a younger audience and to perhaps scout future trainees. As for other upcoming title matches, Akiyama and Omori are challenging Sekimoto and Okabayashi for the tag titles, Billy Ken Kid is challening Ultimo Dragon for the junior title, and Atsushi Maruyama is challenging Akiyama for the GAORA TV title. Lastly, Akiyama himself announced that he would like to run Budokan Hall at some point. Being that another Sumo Hall date has not yet been announced and seeing as how they continue to expand, Budokan Hall does seem like a realistic possibility.
In what was one of the best matches of the year and one of the best deathmatches ever, Masaya Takahashi lost his Deathmatch title to Masashi Takeda on August 19th.
Takahashi has established himself as one of the best deathmatchers in the world right now and is someone Big Japan needs to build their company around moving forward, as has Takeda, and everyone needs to seek that match out whether you typically enjoy deathmatches or not. Hideki Suzuki retained his Strong title over Daichi Hashimoto on the same show.
To go back about a week, they drew 845 to Korakuen on the 13th with a main event of Takeda and Takumi Tsukamoto vs. Takahashi and Takayuki Ueki and then 1,054 on the 14th for a Masahito Kakihara memorial show they co-produced. Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Kakihara, Takuya Nomura vs. Hideki Suzuki, Minoru Tanaka vs. Masakatsu Funaki, Naomichi Marufuji vs. Takaku Fuke and Minoru Suzuki vs. Rocky Kawamura are among the matches on the latter. Korakuen numbers continue to drop as Big Japan continues to put up meaningless cards, so no surprise there.
Teams for the upcoming Saikyo Tag League are split into the Death and Strong blocks as always, with Shingo Takagi and Yuji Okabayashi, Daisuke Sekimoto and Kohei Sato, Hideyoshi Kamitani and Daichi Hashimoto, Ryuichi Kawakami and Yoshihisa Uto, Hideki Suzuki and Shogun Okamoto, and Ryota Hama and Yasufumi Nakanoue making up the Strong block, while tag champions Abdullah Kobayashi and Ryuji Ito, Masashi Takeda and Takumi Tsukamoto, Isami Kodaka and Yuko Miyamoto, Masaya Takahashi and Takayuki Ueki, Minoru Fujita and Kankuro Hoshino, and Jaki Numazawa and Kenji Fukimoto make up the Death block. Takahashi and Ueki would be my pick for the Death block while either Shingo and Okabayashi or Sekimoto and Sato would be my pick for the Strong.
September 20th is the next Korakuen date and sees two matches for each block with Shingo and Okabyashi taking on Sekimoto and Sato, Suzuki and Okamoto taking on Kamitani and Hashimoto, Numazawa and Fukimoto taking on Miyamoto and Kodaka, and Takeda and Tsukamoto taking on Fujita and Hoshino. With a stronger card, I suspect more fans will turn up for this show as compared to the last few. Obviously not all shows will make tape so we may miss some great matches, but for what we have, this is an awesome looking tournament and should create some more interest for the promotion moving forward.
DDT & DNA
Again, you can read my review of the DDT Peter Pan show for full thoughts, but as a quick recap, they drew 5,900 to Sumo Hall with Konosuke Takeshita retaining his title over Tetsuya Endo in the main event.
Other notable matches included Naomichi Marufuji and HARASHIMA defeating Kazusada Higuchi and Shigehiro Irie for the tag titles, Akito losing his hair to Daisuke Sasaki in an Extreme title match, and Danshoku Dino defeating Sanshiro Takagi to take control of company. As a whole it was one of the most enjoyable wrestling events of the year and one everyone should have taken a few hours out of their day to watch.
Takeshita defends his title in a three-way against Extreme champion Daisuke Sasaki and Independent champion Ken Ohka in Korakuen on September 24th, with the winner taking the title from the person they pin or submit. Meanwhile, Marufuji and HARASHIMA defend against Dino and Takagi on the 20th in an empty factory match. Not much else for DDT proper this month as it was all centered around the Peter Pan show.
DNA 36 takes place on September 7th in Shinkiba 1stRING with MAO and Rekka taking on Naomi Yoshimura, who defeated MAO to win the DNA tournament on August 5th, and Kengo in the main event, while Shunma Katsumata will be taking on Mike Bailey in the semi-main and Yuki Ueno will be taking on Shigehiro Irie.
By the time you read this the WRESTLE-1 Yokohama show on September 2nd would have already taken place, but to quickly run down the big matches, Shotaro Ashino and Jiro Kuroshio are in the main event, Andy Wu and Seiki Yoshioka have a match for the junior title, Takanori Ito and Seigo Tachibana have a match for the Result title, and tag champions Koji Doi and Kumagoro defend against Shuji Kondo and Kaz Hayashi. Ito lost his title to Tachibana on the 11th in Korakuen while Doi and Kumagoro retained over Kondo and Masayuki Kono, together drawing 712 fans. Slow month for WRESTLE-1. Hopefully the return of Yuji Hino as well as a successful show in Yokohama will bring them back up some.
Io Shirai made her in-ring return to Stardom on the 13th in Korakuen as she, HZK and Viper defeated Hiroyo Matsumoto, Jungle Kyona and Kaori Yoneyama for the Artist of Stardom tag titles. Attendance was up slightly from previous shows at 915 with Mayu Iwatani and Kagetsu in the main event. Shirai, for whatever godforsaken reason, then lost a singles match to Mandy Leon of ROH on the 19th in the 5STAR Grand Prix opener. It looks as though Toni Storm will win the Grand Prix and challenge Iwatani.
In some miscellaneous joshi news, Hiroyo Matsumoto and Hikaru Shida drew 1,039 to Korakuen on August 20th for OZ Academy, Risa Sera and Maya Yukihi drew 1,047 on August 27th for Ice Ribbon, Yoshiko defeated Takumi Iroha to win the ULTRA U-7 tournament in the main event of the SEAdLINNNG Korakuen on the 24th, and JWP made their return from hiatus under their new PURE-J moniker on the 11th, drawing 1,041. Meiko Satomura vs. Chihiro Hashimoto for the Sendai Girls title looks to be happening in the near future.
Odds & Ends
- As mentioned earlier, Masato Tanaka and Kenoh went to a 30-minute draw on the August 31st ZERO1 Korakuen, which also saw Kotaro Suzuki retain his junior title over SUGI and junior tag champs Ikuto Hidaka and Takuya Sugawara retain over Keisuke Okuda and Tatsuhito Takaiwa.
- Atsushi Onita vs. Matt Tremont was announced for October 8th in Yokohama following the CZW mess in early August. DJ Hyde will also be on the show.
- FREEDOMS drew surprisingly well in Korakuen on the 27th at 1,387 fans for a main event of Daisuke Masaoka vs. Miedo Extremo.
- Isami Kodaka retained his K-DOJO title over GO Asakawa on August 19th and defends against Tank Nagai on September 18th, Nagai fresh out of a loss to Kaji Tomato and Taishi Takizawa for the tag titles with Ayumu Honda on the same August 19th show.
- TAKA Michinoku and Kota Ibushi vs. Gedo and Kazuchika Okada is the main event of the TAKA anniversary show produced by K-DOJO on September 4th. Minoru Suzuki vs. GO Asakawa is the semi-main. Some other names on the show include Io Shirai, Dick Togo and Great Sasuke.
- Kazuhiro Tamura retained his HEAT-UP Universal title over Daisuke Kanehira in the main event of the HEAT-UP Korakuen on the 12th, drawing almost 1,000 fans, a good turnout for one of the smaller indies in Japan.
- Ryouji Sai, Bodyguard and Rikiya Fudo vs. Shuji Ishikawa, Ryota Hama and Kotaro Nasu is the main event of the October 29th LAND’S END show.
- Trans Am Ryuichi (Ryuichi Kawakami) retained his Union MAX title over Yusuke Kubo on the August 24th BASARA show.
- Masaaki Mochizuki defends his Tokyo World title against NOSAWA Rongai at Tokyo Gurentai on September 27th, with Dick Togo and Shiryu defending their newly won tag titles against MAZADA and Minoru Fujita as well.
- Eddie Edwards vs. Masa Kitamiya – NOAH Global Junior Heavyweight Tag League – July 27th (****)
- Maybach Taniguchi vs. Go Shiozaki – NOAH Global Junior Heavyweight Tag League – July 27th (****1/4)
- YO-HEY & HAYATA vs. Hi69 & Taiji Ishimori – NOAH Global Junior Heavyweight Tag League – July 27th (****1/4)
- Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Brian Cage – NOAH Global Junior Heavyweight Tag League – July 27th (****3/4)
- Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura vs. Zeus & The Bodyguard – AJPW Summer Action Series – July 28th (****)
- Yusaku Obata vs. Masato Tanaka – ZERO Fire Festival Finals – July 30th (****1/2)
- The Bodyguard, Joe Doering & Shuji Ishikawa vs. Zeus, Suwama & Kento Miyahara – AJPW Summer Action Series – July 30th (****)
- HARASHIMA, Soma Takao, Yasu Urano & Yuko Miyamoto vs. Dave Crist, Shigehiro Irie, Kouki Iwasaki & Kazusada Higuchi – DDT Beer Garden Fight ~ Smile Squash Day – July 31st (****)
- Go Shiozaki vs. Maybach Taniguchi – NOAH Departure – August 6th (****)
- Taiji Ishimori vs. YO-HEY – NOAH Departure – August 6th (****1/4)
- Eita, Kaito Ishida & Takehiro Yamamura vs. Kotoka, Ben-K & Big R Shimizu – Dragon Gate Scandal Gate – August 8th (****1/4)
- Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino vs. Ryo Saito & Jimmy Susumu – Dragon Gate Scandal Gate – August 8th (****3/4)
- BxB Hulk, YAMATO, Kzy & Yosuke Santa Maria vs. T-Hawk, Takashi Yoshida, El Lindaman & Shingo Takagi – Dragon Gate Scandal Gate – August 8th (****1/2)
- Shuji Ishikawa, Ryouji Sai & Suwama vs. Zeus, The Bodyguard & Kento Miyahara – AJPW Summer Explosion – August 11th (****)
- Jungle Kyona, Hiroyo Matsumoto & Kaori Yoneyama vs. HZK, Viper & Io Shirai – Stardom Midsummer Champions – August 13th (****)
- Mayu Iwatani vs. Kagetsu – Stardom Midsummer Champions – August 13th (****1/4)
- Masashi Takeda & Takumi Tsukamoto vs. Masaya Takahashi & Takayuki Ueki – BJW Summer Vacation – August 13th (****)
- K-ness & Jimmy Susumu vs. Takashi Yoshida & Shingo Takagi – Dragon Gate Scandal Gate – August 13th (****)
- Genki Horiguchi, Ryo Saito & Jimmy Kagetora vs. CIMA, Dragon Kid & Eita – Dragon Gate Scandal Gate – August 13th (****)
- Ben-K, Big R Shimizu, Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi vs. BxB Hulk, YAMATO, Kzy & Yosuke Santa Maria – Dragon Gate Scandal Gate – August 13th (****1/4)
- Viper vs. Mayu Iwatani – Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix Night 1 – August 19th (****)
- Masaya Takahashi vs. Masashi Takeda – BJW Death Mania 5 – August 19th (****1/2)
- Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai – Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix Night 2 – August 20th (****)
- Kazusada Higuchi & Shigehiro Irie vs. HARASHIMA & Naomichi Marufuji – DDT Peter Pan – August 20th (****1/4)
- Konosuke Takeshita vs. Tetsuya Endo – DDT Peter Pan – August 20th (****1/2)
- Io Shirai vs. Jungle Kyona – Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix Night 3 – August 26th (****)
- Taichi vs. Yuma Aoyagi – AJPW Summer Explosion in Ryogoku – August 27th (****)
- Jun Akiyama, Takao Omori, Minoru Tanaka & Koji Iwamoto vs. Zeus, The Bodyguard, Joe Doering & Kotaro Suzuki – AJPW Summer Explosion in Ryogoku – August 27th (****)
- KAI & Naoya Nomura vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi – AJPW Summer Explosion in Ryogoku – August 27th (****1/2)
- Shuji Ishikawa vs. Kento Miyahara – AJPW Summer Explosion in Ryogoku – August 27th (****3/4)