El Samurai is the first casualty of the annual contract talks in the company. Tanahashi has yet to sign following his IWGP Title loss to Nakamura and has been sent several requests from Muto, his former mentor, to join All Japan.
Tenzan is set to return and has seemingly put pen to paper as has IWGP champion Nakamura and Jr. Heavyweight champion Wataru Inoue. Also signing terms with the company, at least on a short term basis is former X-Division and RoH World Champion Low Ki, now performing under his former name as Senshi is the trademarked name of his character in TNA.
The unification match has been set and to make way for it the IGF show the day before has had its main event changed from Josh Barnett v Angle to Ogawa v Bartnett – just in case Angle gets injured against the shoot fighter turned wrestler.
Yano and Makabe will get their shot at Bernard and Tomko after winning the tag team of 2007 in the Tokyo Sports Awards, despite having to put over Team 3D at the Dome and AJ Styles will take on Tanahashi in a re-match of their TNA match from a few years back…. hopefully with no Shannon Moore run in this time.
Finally on the card AKIRA & Liger of Legend-Gun will take on the new IWGP Jr. Tag champions Minoru & Devitt of RISE and Nagata takes on Hirooki Goto in a bid for both men to re-launch themselves after recent high profile losses.
Kobashi is back for four shows this time, which is double the number he performed on the last tour and double the tour before that… so by the Summer he may be back full time at the latest.
It is also his 20th year as a wrestler this year and to celebrate this fact he will team with former allies and foes in the shape of Akiyama, Shinga and Kanemaru to take on Misawa, Ogawa, Marufuji and Mushking Terry (a.k.a. WAVE) on the 26th.
Later in the tour, the closer to be exact, their will be two big matches as Marufuji and Sugiura take on the returning Briscoe’s with the native’s GHC Tag belts on the line. Also Misawa will take on Morishima with the chairman’s GHC title on the line.
Also on the tour the Kings of Wrestling – Hero and Castagnoli – will work the tour, all of it and also so will the Briscoe’s and Takayama will be there for three matches as well.
Finally Go Shiosaki will be leaving for his excursion to the US (RoH in other words) after one final farewell match where he, Kobashi and Honda will take on Taue, Saito and Inoue on the 17th.
It’s been a bit quite in AJPW as it tends to be between tours….
Triple Crown champion Kensuke Sasaki has demanded his next defence be against Kojima and this has been set as well as the match will decide the currently vacant AJPW Jr. Heavyweight titles as Nakajima and Silver King will once more collide in a re-match of the bout that ended up with the title’s vacation in the first place.
These matches will take place on the show held on the 1st of March. Also on that show will be the retirement match and ceremony of a certain Dory Funk Jr. which will be presented by Nishimura.
Zero-One has been dominated at the moment by a gang war of sorts as The Axe Army of a certain Omari (whose finisher is the Axe Bomber, get it?) and the Sword Army of Masato Tanaka have been colliding in the undoubted run up to an Omari v Tanaka match over the former ECW stars Z-1 World Title (which replaced the AWA title after the federation withdrew its backing to the company)
Dragon Gate held a big Primal Gate show on the 3rd which saw CIMA defeat GAMMA in a No DQ or Count Out match with his Crossfire. Afterwards GAMMA admitted defeat to CIMA and shook his hand which led to Doi kicking his Muscle Outlaw’z partner, which then lead to Yoshino coming to his aid and trying to restore peace, which unfortunately failed as Doi, the co-Twin Gate champion with Yoshino left in a huff.
Also on the show Yoshino retained his Brave Gate strap after dropping Dragon Kid with the Lightning Spiral, which was his fourth successful defence. Next up for him is Ryo Saito. Also Hulk, Shingo and Cyber Kong defeated the Triangle Gate champions K-NESS, Mochizuki and Fuji in a non-title match which lead to them calling for a shot at the Trios titles…. which offended fellow NH member YAMMOTO who left in a huff as well….
Late winter is never a good time for factions in DG.
In DDT Kota Ibushi continued his reign as Independent Jr. Champion and also became the Ironman champion in a double titles match after defeating Toba with a Face Kick.
Marufuji, Kotaro Suzuki and Morishima all wrestled on the AAA La Evolution show in Mexico as well with Suzuki and Mori teaming up with Abismo Negro to take on Chessman, Charly Manson and Maru in a match that ended with Maru pinning Negro after a Shiranui…