Big Japan Wrestling
BJW Ryogokutan 2018
November 11, 2018
Ryogoku Kokugikan
Tokyo, Japan

Meet our previewers:

  • Kevin Hare: Masashi Takeda is a legitimate Wrestler of the Year candidate Masashi Takeda is a legitimate Wrestler of the Year candidate Masashi Takeda is a legitimate Wrestler of the Year candidate Masashi Takeda is a legiti…
  • Paul Völsch: German living in Ireland who watches entirely too much Japanese wrestling. Staff member on the Cagematch Japan team. Don’t follow him on twitter.

Dark Match: Yuichi Taniguchi vs. Frank Atsushi

Paul: This may only be the dark match but this feud has actually been one of the longest running feuds in Big Japan. Frank Atsushi is Big Japan’s man for everything as he’s done pretty much every job one can do in a wrestling promotion. He even runs his own Produce shows in front of 50 people at some small theatre in Tokyo. Yuichi Taniguchi has been with Big Japan since the beginning, literally as he was in the first match on the first Big Japan card. These days he is mostly doing ringside work for the promotion and wrestles occasionally. This feud kicked off all the way back in July at Death Market 45 when Frank challenged Taniguchi how was taking photos ringside. He came up short in that match, due to a giant inflatable sausage (no really),  but would get his revenge a day later at the B(e) Select show. The feud then heated up at a Big Japan charity show of all places when Taniguchi faced off against Jaki Numazawa with Atsushi as Special Guest referee. Not only did Taniguchi lose the match he then also suffered a post-match beat down at the hands of Atsushi. Now the feud culminates at Big Japan’s biggest show of the year in a dark match. So none of you are going to see it unless you’re there. You might ask yourself now “Paul doesn’t the fact that this is a dark match render this entire elaborate recap entirely pointless?” And the answer to that is Yes. Prediction: Frank Atsushi because I like the cards of his Produce shows

Masaki Morihiro & Akira Hyodo vs. Takuho Kato & Yuki Ishikawa

Paul: This is your traditional young boy tag match opener. The average in ring experience here is less than one year. The most experienced out of these four is Masaki Morihiro who has barely more than one year of in ring experience. It should be noted that this in fact not that Yuki Ishikawa from the Battlearts days but in fact Yuki Ishikawa+ a 22 year old that made his debut in March this year. Prediction: Masaki Morihiro & Akira Hyodo

Astronauts vs. 666: Takuya Nomura & Fuminori Abe vs. Shinobu & Kouju Takeda

Kevin: Abe and Nomura have the potential to be the future stars of the promotion. Abe, based out of DDT offshoot Basara, was trained by BattlArts legend Munenori Sawa and has a similar unique striking style. Nomura is a protege of Hideki Suzuki and has as much potential of anyone under 25 in Japan right now. He’s more in the traditional strong BJ mold, but has a youthful cockiness to him that makes him feel like a star already. On the other side, Shinobu is coming off of a long Jr. title reign. Takeda is a spunky young kid without much experience. This match was set up in a post-match brawl on the recent 10/25 Korakuen Hall show. This should be a fun, sprinty, hard-hitting undercard match. Could be a bit of a hidden gem. Prediction: Takuya Nomura & Fuminori Abe

Paul: Abe broke out alongside Koji Iwamoto in All Japan a couple of years back and for a while was rumored to sign with them as well after they signed Koji. He ultimately settled on signing with BASARA instead. As Kevin said Nomura is one of the biggest blue-chip prospects in Japan right now and has been put into some fairly high profile positions by Big Japan even though he has just two years of in-ring experience. This includes a Strong Title challenge against his mentor Hideki Suzuki. Shinobu was inaugural BJW Junior champion and managed to hold onto that title for quite a while before losing it to Kazuki Hashimoto. He has mostly been bouncing around Big Japan undercards ever since. This should be some fast stiff action and if it gets time could be one of the better matches on the show. Prediction: Takuya Nomura & Fuminori Abe

Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani vs. Yoshihisa Uto & Kazumi Kikuta

Kevin: Hashimoto (son of Shinya) and Kamitani are both failed Strong Title champions that have had very up and down careers. They have become a very established team and have finally started to mesh into a great team. Uto is coming off of a foray into the deathmatch division and has even shaved his head to look more like partner Abdullah Kobayashi. This should be a solid undercard match. Prediction: Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani

Paul: Okami can be a very frustrating team to watch. Anytime they wrestle outside of Big Japan they tend to be outstanding, for a recent example look at their run in wXw’s World Tag Team League. However, when they wrestle in their home promotion their output tends to be more of a mixed bag. With that being said whenever they click they click at a really high level. Uto took an excursion into the deathmatch division during the recent tag tournament but seems to be returning to the strong division with this match. Prediction: Okami

Great Kojika, Shiro Koshinaka, Brahman Shu & Brahman Kei vs. Tsutomu Oosugi, Banana Senga, Tatsuhiko Yoshino & Kota Sekifuda

Kevin: If you haven’t seen a Brahmans match, you will get a lot of water being thrown and bowling balls being thrown into crotches. Kojika, the founder of BJW, makes a rare in-ring appearance, and the legendary Shiro Koshinaka will bring many hip thrusts. This will be a comedy match and will probably be fun enough but overall, skippable. Prediction: Great Kojika, Shiro Koshinaka, Brahman Shu & Brahman Kei 

Paul: Senga recently lost a match that led to him now being called Banana Senga for the rest of his career and therefore shall only be referred to as such and nothing else. Banana Senga and Oosugi was collectively known as Speed Of Sounds have been a staple of Big Japan undercards for nearly ten years now. This is going to be their ceiling and they are likely going to continue to be in the same spot for the next ten years. Yoshino and Sekifuda have established themselves recently as a mid-card tag team and its hard to see them move up from that spot anytime soon or ever. Prediction: Great Kojika, Shiro Koshinaka, Brahman Shu & Brahman Kei

Death Match
Yuko Miyamoto, Takumi Tsukamoto & Kyu Mogami vs. Minoru Fujita, Kankuro Hoshino & Ryuichi Sekine

Kevin: This is basically all of the deathmatch guys in the company not in bigger matches together. Should be fun and violent. You might see Miyamoto jump off of something big. Prediction: Yuko Miyamoto, Takumi Tsukamoto & Kyu Mogami

Paul: Yuko Miyamoto has been a bit lost since his tag title reign got cut short due the injury to his Yankee Two Kenju partner Isami Kodaka. The rest of the people in the match are just the rest of the deathmatch division that has nothing to do. This should be some quick violent action but don’t expect anything too crazy. Prediction: Yuko Miyamoto, Takumi Tsukamoto & Kyu Mogami

2008 Debut 10 Year Showdown – Yuji Okabayashi Return Match
Yuji Okabayashi vs. Ryuichi Kawakami

Kevin: Okabayashi has been the second biggest star in the strong division for a few years, following only Daisuke Sekimoto. Unfortunately, he’s been sidelined for more than a year with a shoulder injury. The division has tried to create new stars in the months he’s been out, but nothing has really stuck. While the thing the strong division truly needs is a brand new rising star to grab the torch, having a talent like Okabayashi return is a breath of fresh air. Meanwhile, Kawakami has been meandering in the division for a long time. He had a title match on last year’s Sumo Hall show but has been in the backseat since. While it is always possible that Okabayashi loses here, as is a bit of a standard in Japanese wrestling, I fully expect him to catapult right to the top of the division right away, maybe even getting a Strong Title match within the next few months. Prediction: Yuji Okabayashi

Paul: Kawakami has been someone the promotion has been hoping would break out for a while now. So far every push he got has fizzled out after a while, but the promotion has also been shy about pulling the trigger and going all the way with him. This may be his last chance to move up from his current spot with a young and hungry generation, led by Takuya Nomura, currently coming up below him. With that being said I can see him picking up the win here. Okabayashi loses nothing by taking the loss here as he just has infinite credibility as a top guy in Big Japan and the promotion can push him into the title picture at any time they want to. However, the strong division has been very stale ever since he got injured so the promotion might want to push him right back to the top to refresh the stale title picture. Prediction: Ryuichi Kawakami

BJW Tag Team Title
Ryota Hama & Yasufumi Nakanoue (c) vs. Takayuki Ueki & Toshiyuki Sakuda

Kevin: Hama and Nakanoue won the vacant tag titles by winning the annual Saikyo Tag League in October. Nakanoue has really broken out over the past year or so, having multiple good matches against Hideki Suzuki and becoming a bit of a fan favorite. To be honest, I think he should have become the Strong champion at Death Vegas in September. Their opponents, the 3rd Generation Chimidoro Brothers, began as the team of Takayuki Ueki (who recently wrestled in GCW’s Tournament of Survival in the US) and Masaya Takahashi but have since expanded to add Sakuda to the unit. Although the group has existed for a few years and has been put in prominent spots both as singles and as tag teams, they have never won the tag titles. Sakuda is one of the only newest generation deathmatch guys in the promotion and has recently been spotlighted a bit more (his performance in the Brothers’ 9/24 match being a good example). While a non-deathmatch isn’t the strong suit of the Chimidoro’s, I’m leaning towards them finally getting the belts here. Prediction: Takayuki Ueki & Toshiyuki Sakuda

Paul: Hama and Nakanoue have been cornerstones of the tag team division ever since signing with the promotion full time. I always considered Nakanoue to be the epitome of just a guy, but he has really stepped up his game over the past year. While I do like his team with Hama I wouldn’t mind seeing him get a push in the next year. I could even see him win the Strong Title at some point next year, which would open up a lot of potential great matchups against the likes of Okabayashi and Sekimoto. Sakuda has gelled very well with his teammates since joining up with Ueki and Takahashi. He is easily the smallest guy in the death match division at 1.55 metres (5 11 feetsies for Americans) and as such tends to be the guy getting his ass beat in every match. But he also adds a lot of dynamism to the death matches he is in and therefore adds another dimension. The Chimidoros have won the bane of my existence the Yokohama Shopping Street Six Man Tag Team Titles approximately one million times since June. But I don’t see them picking up the tag titles here. The tag titles have been with deathmatch guys for the entire year and with Hama and Nakanoue I expect the titles to go back to the strong division for the time being. Prediction: Yasufumi Nakanoue & Ryota Hama

BJW Jr. Heavyweight Title Table Crash Match
Kazuki Hashimoto (c) vs. Yuya Aoki

Kevin: Since the creation of the Jr. Heavyweight title last year, Kazuki Hashimoto (no relation to Shinya) challenged champion Shinobu multiple times, always coming up short. While having jr. versions of strong title matches on shows were always fun, it felt like BJW went back to the same wheelhouse a little too often. Finally, Hashimoto defeated Shinobu in August. Shortly thereafter, he teamed with Aoki in the tag league. Aoki is a standout amongst a very promising group of young wrestlers in Big Japan, and this is his biggest test yet. He has a lot of young fire and should be out to prove that he can hang in matches like this. I don’t expect him to win here, but he should deliver a breakout performance. Prediction: Kazuki Hashimoto

Paul: The Junior title has been a nice addition to Big Japan as it gives a bunch of the smaller strong division guys something to do and we even had some deathmatch people like Kankuro Hoshino mix it up in the division for a while. While Shinobu held the title for most of the year, Kazuki Hashimoto always felt like the guy that is supposed to carry the division and is finally doing so after winning the title. Takuya Nomura tends to be the young guy in Big Japan that tends to get all the buzz, but you shouldn’t sleep on Yuya Aoki who has come a long way since his debut just a year and a half ago. He has seriously upped his game recently and has become a blue chip talent for Big Japan. With that being said I see the ace of the junior division retain relatively easily here. Nevertheless, this has the potential to be a very entertaining match. Prediction: Kazuki Hashimoto

Resurrection 045 Evil Monkey’s – Death Match
Jun Kasai & “Black Angel” Jaki Numazawa vs. Abdullah Kobayashi & Ryuji Ito

Kevin: There is a lot of history in this match. Although many people associate Kasai with the Big Japan deathmatch style, his actual history in the promotion has been very rocky. He’s left the company multiple times, most recently in 2014. The announcement of his return was unexpected and got a big reaction from the live audience when it was announced. His partner, Numazawa, is seemingly nearing the end of his career. Kasai’s return feels like a way to tie the bow on an end of an era. Ito and Kobayashi are also nearing the twilight of their careers as two of the icons of the promotion. Kasai and Numazawa made a surprise appearance during Kobayashi and Ito’s recent 10/25 match and cleaned house to a crowd that was going absolutely crazy. It’s hard to tell if this is a one time deal for Kasai or if he’ll be back. but the crowd should be very into this match, and it should be a ton of fun. Prediction: Jun Kasai & Jaki Numazawa

Paul: This is Jun Kasai’s big return to BJW after a four year absence. This match was set up with a great angle at Big Japan’s last Korakuen that got a massive reaction from the crowd. They should certainly have the crowd fired up for this match, but I don’t see the match quality being all that great unfortunately. Kobayashi has refined his shtick to such a level that he will just be able to do it indefinitely and Kasai is still as crazy as ever, but both Numazawa and Ito are both pretty broken down at this point and are likely fairly close to their retirements. I’m not holding out hope but maybe they can make the magic happen one last time here. Prediction: Jun Kasa & Jaki Numazawa

BJW World Strong Heavyweight Title
Hideki Suzuki (c) vs. Daisuke Sekimoto

Kevin: Suzuki has held the title for almost 500 days. His reign over the Strong Division has been a bit controversial, as he can have a somewhat plodding style that many love and many others hate. While I’m somewhat indifferent towards him as a wrestler, Suzuki winning the belt back from Daichi Hashimoto in the spring felt a bit like a retread and he hasn’t done anything to change my mind since. This is the 4th title match between these two. Their first match against each other, with Sekimoto as champion, was a 30-minute draw in March of 2017. He then beat Sekimoto to start his first title reign a few weeks later. They did not meet again until earlier this year, when Suzuki’s first defense of his second reign was another 30-minute draw against Sekimoto. Although Sekimoto is the standard “reset button” that BJW uses to transition to new title reigns, it feels like it is his time to finally get a win over Suzuki and possibly transition to matches against he freshly returned Strong BJ partner Yuji Okabayashi. Prediction: Daisuke Sekimoto

Paul: Hideki Suzuki vs Daichi Hashimoto was one of my least favorite feuds in recent times and his title reign overall is pretty much a bust. Although it has picked up a bit recently with a fun defense against Yasufumi Nakanoe at Death Vegas. Putting the title back on Sekimoto feels like the safe choice here, but I don’t think Suzuki is losing the title here as I believe there is one more obstacle that he will have to face. Prediction Hideki Suzuki

BJW Death Match Heavyweight Title Death Match
Masashi Takeda (c) vs. Masaya Takahashi

Kevin: Over the course of any wrestling fan’s fandom, there are flashes, moments, memories that you’ll remember forever. Matches that transcended, moments that reverberated, stories that you get enamored in the moment and don’t really realize the gravity of until years pass. We are living in one of those moments, but, luckily, I’m fully able to appreciate it. Masashi Takeda’s title reign since winning the Death Championship last August has been absolutely legendary. People are quick to praise title reigns such as Kobashi’s NOAH reign from 2003-2005, or Okada’s reign from 2016-2018, with just cause. Takeda’s is right up there. He’s taken on all comers in multiple promotions and has incredible matches almost every time. The running story since defeating Masaya Takahashi in August 2017 is that Takeda has challenged and defeated the old deathmatch guard, from Kobayashi to Fujita to Ito and everyone in between. He’s defeated his own partner, Takumi Tsukamoto (one of the best and most underrated matches of this year), he’s defeated Isami Kodaka in a match that will finish very highly on a lot of Match of the Year lists, and he even became the FREEDOMS champion and then defeated Jun Kasai there. Every chance he gets, Takeda makes this reign more and more special.

Which leads to this match. Takahashi had a meteoric 2017. He won the surprisingly bi-annual Deathmatch Survivor tournament and went on to win the Deathmatch title, even headlining last year’s Sumo Hall show against his own partner Ueki. He began to establish himself as the future of the deathmatch division. Then, he met Takeda. The two went on to have two classic matches, each being a unique spectacle. The first felt a bit more like a brutal sprint, while the second, which finished very well in VOW’s 2017 MOTY poll, was the deathmatch equivalent of a G1 main event. Since losing, Takahashi has taken a backseat to Takeda’s reign, finally reemerging to challenge again almost one year after their last match. Sumo Hall usually prohibits glass and light tubes, two Takeada staples, so it will be a bit interesting to see how these two adapt without them. It hurts to say this, as I don’t want it to ever end, but it feels like it is time for Takahashi to take the belt back and finally get his win over Takeda. And I will cry great tears of sadness. Prediction: Masaya Takahashi

Paul: Masashi Takeda has done the impossible. He has brought death match wrestling back to the consciousness of the wider hardcore Japanese wrestling crowd. His match with Isami Kodaka is one of the best matches this year and has brought a lot of international eyes back on Big Japan after a lackluster Strong Division drove them off. He has reigned over the deathmatch division with a bloody fist for well over a year now and I wouldn’t mind seeing his reign continue. But equally I’m also excited about the potential of Takahashi as champion and this moment seems set up for him to ascend to the top of the division and the promotion.

Now as for the soon to be former champion, I could actually see a bit of a change of air for him at least for a little while. While Takeda feels most at home in a deathmatch setting he can more than hold his own in a non-stipulation match as well. At the Korakuen before this even he faced off against Hideki Suzuki in a tag match and it seemed to me that they were sowing the seeds for a Takeda and Suzuki feud in that match. Therefore, I see a bit of an excursion into the Strong division coming up for Mr. Takeda.

As for the match itself, this should be a bloody spectacle as these guys are just absolutely insane. Takahashi has started incorporating gravel into his matches recently and the spots he does with it look really nasty. If any match has the chance to top Takeda’s match with Kodaka it’s this one. Prediction: Masaya Takahashi