Well since I last wrote about NJPW a hell of a lot has happened… a hell of a lot! Lets see… Kojima and Tenzan was being built up for a four crown match and it happened with Kojima becoming perhaps the only man who will ever hold that honour…
Then Tenzan killed Kojima and won it back… Then after only one defense the title was back around a Inoki golden boy who didn’t tour in the shape of Fujita, who give him credit, actually wrestled and threw some new stuff in as well…
Then came Brock Lesnar… Then came the YUKES takeover and the leaving of Inoki as stockholder… and then the return of Choshu…
Bloody hell, its quite a lot ain’t it?
So lets go through it bit by bit and break it down and see if these things and a few others will keep NJPW alive and help it re-build. Lets go…
First of all Tenzan is finished as a IWGP Champion. 4 titles reigns, only two succesful defences in all of them against Scott Norton and Minoru Suzuki and although he avenged his loses to Chono and Sasaki he just couldn’t get past Fujita.
But Fujita at least fought for his belt this way, he tried to freshen up his act and he fought with pride and instilled some life back into the IWGP title. He was built as superman and that only two men could possibly touch him… Nakamura and Chono.
Naka failed and Chono didn’t, Chono began G-1 reign number five and had it pencilled it in to get a shot and possibly his second only title run. But Inoki and NJPW had a worldwide plan and that plan meant Lesnar. And has this worked for the title? Well it’s no more damaged then it was after the Sasaki/Fujita debacle of last year and Sasaki, Tenzan, Kojima and Fujita at least made it seem important again with sterling matches and pride in the role.
But Lesnar? He’s had one match and in that he won the title. He won’t defend it until January against Fujita and then what?
But Choshu could have the answer. He is pushing the younger talent majorly. Yoshie, Yamamoto, Nagao and others have had big wins as he looks to push forward the younger heavyweight generation and stop the stagnation in the ranks and the need for gajian champions in short term bursts.
Add in the fact he seems to have re-vitilised Nagata and Nakanishi and is intent in pushing Nakamura and Tanahashi still and it looks ok there. As for the Junior divison? Well Liger is still in charge of that and he knows what he’s doing so it’s all okay there.
The major issue was though that YUKES had to come in and buy out Inoki to save the company from hostile takeover by a force that would dismantle it and it’s traditions. DSE? WWE? Hell even NOAH? Who knows, but YUKES have at least given NJPW a new lease of stability and with Simon Inoki (Antonio’s ’son’) still thinking smart they are cutting costs and doing something the company should have done long ago. STOP OVER RUNNING THE DOME!
Now these are major pluses of course but there is the small other problems that have arose….
Choshu isn’t liked by all. Mainly Chono, Tenzan and Nishimura who have all hinted at freelancing, rebillion and other acts that will undermine him. Liger himself, a usually steady hand has gone against Choshu’s wish of the armies being disbanded with himself proclaiming that despite booking CTU will live on, even if they have to fight each other to get paid.
Plus he is determined to bring back the ‘old’ NJPW. No more outsider contributions etc. No more Triple Crown shots for Tenzan, no more excursions to NOAH for Nagata and Tanahashi and no more NOAH entries in the G-1 Climax either.
All this when NWA-TNA where planning a World Cup of wrestling built around the likes of Liger, AJ Styles, Lesnar, Daniels and Samoa Joe amongst others? At a time when NOAH is striking into Europe and the US with gay abandon with XWX, RoH and WLW?
With the Dome show coming up on the 4th of January it needs to deliver answers on big questions. Can Lesnar cut it as IWGP champion in a one on one match against a shoot style wrestler in the biggest match of his career since Wrestlemania XIX?
Can Choshu bring the rebels to order within his own ranks?
And more importantly can the show draw enough to keep TV Arashi and YUKES onboard long enough for the stabilising to take effect and for NJPW to grow to keep up with the far superior NOAH, which has been light years ahead this year…
All I can say is the next three months are key to NJPW. At the moment it looks as if this can be all A-O-K but with this company in the past two years who can say?
Lets just hope for the best eh?
Till next time Puro-heads, have a good week.
Robert’ Evil Gringo’ Heard