The Navigation Log 12.16.07: Tokyo Sports Awards, Go 2 Sleep, and King of Gate Controversy
Posted by Matt Short on 12.16.2007
How did NOAH do compared to the best of all over Japan in the Tokyo Sports Awards? Also, KENTA talks about his finisher and we look at the controversy surrounding the end of the King of Gate tournament. Plus, an Open the Dream Gate classic from 2005 between Susumu Yokosuka and Dragon Kid!
December is a double-edged month. On one hand I love it because TV is filled with "look backs." It saves me having to digging through Dailymotion or YouTube to find the good stuff. On the other hand there's very little new stuff. I am clearly too difficult to please. But then if I was easily amused I would have a job reviewing professional wrestling in the Internets. Hai-yo.
Onto the Navigation Log!
Tokyo Sports Awards 2007
Every year the best in wrestling are honored in the Tokyo Sports Awards. Imagine if Match of the Year was decided by an impartial jury. Well, I wouldn't know how impartial the judging is but usually the results are pretty damn good. This year's big winners:
Wrestler of the Year: Mitsuharu Misawa [NOAH]
Match of the Year: Kenta Kobashi (NOAH) & Yoshihiro Takayama (Takayamado) vs. Mitsuharu Misawa (NOAH) & Jun Akiyama (NOAH) [NOAH 2007/12/02 Nippon Budokan, Tokyo]
Tag Team of the Year: Togi Makabe & Toru Yano (New Japan)
Performance Award: Hiroshi Tanahashi (New Japan)
Fighting Spirit Award: Takeshi Morishima (NOAH)
Techinique Award: Daisuke Sekimoto (Big Japan)
Women's Award: N/A
Rookie of the Year: BxB Hulk (Dragon Gate)
Comeback Award: Kenta Kobashi (NOAH)
Achievement Award: late Karl Gotch
The only real complaint that I've got is with Misawa as Japan's Wrestler of the Year. Sure, he's had entertaining matches this year but I'd chalk it up more to being carried to good matches. There have been much better wrestlers over the past year than Misawa. Not just in NOAH either. And I'm sure that most other Puro fans would agree with that assessment.
The other noticeable award is the lack of recognition for any Joshi performers. Japan's women wrestlers are top notch and it is rather odd to see that they were omitted this year. While I don't follow Joshi as much as I do other Japanese companies I do know that women's wrestling was not dead for 2007.
Still, it was a good year overall. The late Karl Gotch was recognized for his achievements in wrestling. Morishima got the Fighting Spirit Award mainly for his ROH World Title reign and great tag team matches and battles against Marufuji and Jun Akiyama. One weird choice was BxB Hulk winning best newcomer, since he's been in Dragon Gate since 2005. He did break out into the mainstream this year though with some strong matches during the Best of Super Juniors. Kenta Kobashi meanwhile swooped in out of nowhere to take both the comeback award and Bout of the Year. It would have been really hard to ignore his achievement earlier this month. Everything about that match just made it Japan's match of the year. There hadn't really been a main event level match that had such an atmosphere in Japan all year. It might not have been the best overall match as far as workrate and such but it is a fair choice.
Go 2 Sleep vs. GTS
NOAH put an interesting interview with KENTA this past week where he talks about his finisher, the Go 2 Sleep. KENTA insists during this interview that he developed the move himself in 2005 trying to perfect his main finisher, the Busaiku Knee. He debuted the move in 2005 in a match against Mitsuharu Misawa. KENTA wraps up by saying that he is aware that there are a lot of wrestlers out there who are using the move, but he invented it and is the very best at it.
Now, I haven't read too much of past interviews with Japanese wrestlers but I can't really think of any occasion where one actually commented on the fact that other people are using his move. It's generally not something that is ever acknowledged. I think off the top of my head maybe the on-screen feud between Booker T and The Rock where they made reference to the Book End being the same as the Rock Bottom. There never was a chance for a Scorpion Deathlock vs. Sharpshooter deal really. I'm willing to buy that KENTA inventing Go 2 Sleep could be suspect. However it's undeniable that KENTA popularized the move. After he started doing the move there were a number of variations of the move, specifically in the American Indy scene. The two that immediately jump to my mind are used in CHIKARA by wrestlers Cheech and Hallowicked respectively. Cheech's version is The Deluxe (Go 2 Cheech). It involves bringing the opponent over the shoulder then twisting and getting the knee to head. Hallowicked uses the Go 2 Sleepy Hollow, a Fireman's Carry then a drop into a high front kick. These two variations play off the idea kicking your opponent on their way down from, but they employ different methods.
The most notable would be CM Punk's use of the move which has been christened by the WWE, GTS. Punk executes his move exactly the same way as KENTA (a Fireman's Carry into a knee to the head). Punk's use of the move is probably what prompted the idea of doing this article to remind everyone of who made the move popular. KENTA has an easier time using the move. For one thing, he doesn't have to hold back when he hits the move. Japan likes their matches stiff and KENTA is known for kicking hard. Punk doesn't always have that luxury and also works with a lot of guys who don't sell the move as well. Punk has gotten a lot of heat for looking like a KENTA-clone and I'm pretty amused that this little interview was arranged to address that. It doesn't come right out and say it, but it's pretty obvious even with all the Engrish.
KENTA vs. CM Punk in the future? No, probably not. It is interesting that this was finally addressed after many in the IWC had been complaining about CM KENTA since he first debuted in the WWE. I'm not saying that Punk shouldn't use the move. He uses it well in the limited WWE environment, but he'll never be able to touch the man who made the move famous.
King of Gate Controversy
Dragon Gate's King of Gate wrapped up last Sunday, but not without raising some eyebrows. Muscle Outlaw'z mega heel Gamma won the whole thing through various heelish shenanigans. He pinned Dragon Kid in the semi-finals after going after his mask and beat CIMA in the finals when the ref stopped the match after a vicious low blow. Gamma cheated through every round of the tournament, which should be expected of a heel like him though the finals caused a great deal of confusion. Most people didn't understand why the match was just stopped because of the low blow. There was no way they were going to have the match end in a DQ win, but they didn't really make it clear that the match was stopped because CIMA couldn't go on.
The booking of it is strange, but in some ways it makes sense. Dragon Gate doesn't book like the big Japanese promotions. They have storylines and long-running stable wars rather than sportsman-like competitions. There's always clear faces and heels going into matches. There is nothing more heelish than cheating all the way through a company's major tournament. Gamma winning the tournament the way he did sets him up for a future shot at CIMA for the Open the Dream Gate title. Not only that but it sets a full on heel for the shot, something that has been missing in CIMA's battles with the likes of Shingo Takagi and Taku Iwasa. The notable heel would have been Naruki Doi, but everyone likes him anyway. No one likes Gamma now. Major fucking heel heat. Also, by having Dragon Kid win a special challenge afterwards puts him as a top up and coming face and someone who could go after Gamma should he win the title.
DG could have done a better job in making things clearer in what was actually going on in this match and the aftermath. What they have done is set-up an interesting story to continue the CIMA vs. Gamma saga that's been going on for awhile and positions Dragon Kid to move up the card in the future.
Your Weekly Puro
My apologies for missing the video goodness last week. To make up for it I bring you this Dragon Gate match between Susumu Yokosuka and Dragon Kid. These two have a well established rivalry and many epic encounters. They met during this year's King of Gate, but this match took place in 2005 at Kobe World Hall for the Open the Dream Gate title. The location becomes important because Yokosuka busts out his World Liner finisher, a move specifically for Dragon Kid. The match has been clipped down a lot, but such is the way of Dragon Gate releases. What's shown is awesome.
Not going to talk about TNA this week. It's getting too damn depressing and I just don't have the heart for it. But, I'm back from college so that means I'll have more free time on my hands. That mean I'll be watching more wrestling than I normally would at school. Like on TV and not recaps and clips on Dailymotion. Also since it's Christmas I'll probably be adding to my collection of DVDs and general wrestling merchandise. For starters I'd love a new wrestling game. I've only had the Day of Reckoning games on my Gamecube to keep me occupied and they've gotten too outdated to keep me interested. I can't play a game that continually uses Heidenreich as a serious threat. I'd also appreciate an expanded CAW system. While bored in Japan I made a massive roster on Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 with mostly ROH and puro guys that kept me interested for the three months I had it. You can make a really good Kotaro Suzuki in that. Plus, since I'm easily amused I tend to just make an ass load of CAWs then put them in a tournament and let the computer get the results. It's fun.
Also on my Christmas list: Ted Petty Invitational 2007. I need to see Mike Quackenbush win that. Some Chikara wouldn't be bad either, I've wanted Cibernetico & Robin for awhile and Rey de Voladores (Spanish for King of the Flippy Little Boys) looks great too. I'd also like to pick up ROH in Tokyo and Osaka just to have the little memento of the show. I'm not too big on getting WWE DVDs, but the ladder match DVD and Intercontinental title DVD have had me interested for awhile.
I mostly can't wait for the "Year's Best" shows. They're always a great way to see awesome matches on free TV without having to sift through a lot of crap. Also Spike is going to be running their TNA vs. New Japan. Puro on American TV? For free?? Need I say more?
-Man, I forgot the awesomeness of The Lethal Weapon Steve Blackman. The guy really saved the Hardcore division back in the day from being one boring comedy segment with Crash Holly after another. Holly's Mr. 24/7 thing got old fast, but Blackman actually made the title hard to get.
-Money Inc. FTW~!
-I've got a feeling that Chris Hero is going to go on a major roll during Final Battle.
That's all for this week. Enjoy Armageddon tonight and get your shopping done for the holidays! Why do I care? Well, because I myself am too lazy to do shopping and you should not strive to be like me. Ever.