411's International News Report #61 (WWF Japan Card Announced & More)
Posted by Evan Zivin on 01.21.2002
Issue #61 of 411's International News Report is up & running. Give credit to Zach Arnold of www.PuroresuPower.com and myself when using the news below. Puroresu Power featuresall the latest Japan news and promotion links so check it out.
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And here's what you've all been waiting for, that lovely Puroresu news.
DDT ran their January 17th show in Shibuya, Tokyo at Club ATOM. Results:
1. Tomohiro Ishii defeated Ken Ohka in 6 minutes, 19 seconds with a crab-hold.
2. YOSHIYA defeated HERO! in 7 minutes, 58 seconds.
3. Sanshiro Takagi & Tomohiko Hashimoto went to a no-contest with Poison Sawada & Hebikage in 12 minutes, 48 seconds when Fake Sanshiro Takagi (Ichinomiya of IWA Japan) did a run-in.
4. Super Uchu Power, Asian Cougar, & GENTARO defeated Kyohei Mikami, Takashi Sasaki, & Tanomusaku Toba in 13 minutes, 11 seconds when Uchu Power did a high-angle powerbomb on Toba and Cougar pinned Toba for the win.
NOAH ran their January 17th show at Gifu Industry Hall (near Nagoya), drawing 2,000 paid in the 4,000-seat building. Results:
1. Jun Izumida defeated Matt Murphy in 5 minutes, 17 seconds with a choke-slam.
2. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Haruka Eigen defeated Mitsuo Momota & Rusher Kimura in 12 minutes, 3 seconds when Kikuchi rolled-up Momota for the win.
3. Juventud Guerrera & Richard Slinger defeated Yasuhiro Suzuki & Kentaro Shiga in 15 minutes, 53 seconds when Slinger used a new "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" finisher on Suzuki for the win.
4. Takeshi Morishima & Daisuke Ikeda defeated Makoto Hashi & Masaji Aoyagi in 14 minutes, 30 seconds when Morishima used a back drop supelx on Hashi for the win.
5. Donovan Morgan & Michael Modest defeated Kishin Kawabata & Yoshinari Ogawa in 14 minutes, 35 seconds when Modest used his "Reality Check" finisher on Kawabata for the win.
6. Yoshihiro Takayama & Takao Omori defeated Takashi Sugiura & Takeshi Rikio in 11 minutes, 11 seconds when Takayama used a high-angle German Suplex Hold on Sugiura for the win.
7. Naomichi Marufuji, Naoki Sano, & Mitsuharu Misawa defeated Bison Smith, Bull Schmitt, & Scorpio in 16 minutes, 54 seconds when Sano used a Northern Lights Bomb on Schmitt for the win.
8. Masao Inoue, Tamon Honda, & Akira Taue defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Akitoshi Saito, & Jun Akiyama in 12 minutes, 56 seconds when Inoue used a Torture Rack on Kanemaru for the submission.
** After the show, NOAH announced more on their 1/20 Korakuen Hall show. The show will have:
- Kentaro Shiga vs. Takashi Sugiura
- #1 tag team contender's match: Masao Inoue & Tamon Honda vs. Takeshi Morishima & Takeshi Rikio
- ELIMINATION MATCH: Jun Akiyama, Akitoshi Saito, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, & Makoto Hashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa, Naoki Sano, & Naomichi Marufuji
There's a lot of apprehension right now amongst employees of both New Japan and All Japan in regards to the Keiji Mutoh situation. New Japan released the cards for their February '02 tour early in case changes needed to be made or something bad happened. However, given that NJ tried to keep Kanemoto by aligning him with Chono in tag matches and Mutoh & Kea are scheduled to defend the IWGP tag titles against Kojima & Tenzan on 2/1 in Sapporo at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center. Here are the two prevailing trains of thoughts amongst the wrestlers in New Japan right now:
- If Mutoh & Kea vacate the IWGP tag titles before 2/1 or even the day of 2/1 in Sapporo, then his jump is probably legitimate.
- If Mutoh & Kea show up on 2/1 in Sapporo and Kea loses, the fear amongst a lot of the wrestlers is that Tenzan & Kojima will "jump" to All Japan after winning the belts.
There's a lot of skepticism mixed in with fear right now amongst the New Japan wrestlers. Most of the wrestlers think Mutoh's "jump" is an elaborate work and that Tenzan & Kojima will be political pawns once again, no matter which environment it is. While the clear skepticism from the wrestlers is that Mutoh's jump might be a work, the fear amongst the workers is rooted from the fact that even if it is a work, it could cost the company (New Japan) their TV slot on TV-Asahi, which is a huge source of revenue in the company. There's a lot of political infighting amongst the members of New Japan management (including Antonio Inoki) over TV-Asahi's future with the company (even if TV-Asahi owns 8,000 shares of private stock) and where Tokyo Broadcasting System fits into the whole picture. What complicates the picture with a possible Inoki/Tokyo Broadcasting System/NJ relationship tie-up is that in the last week or so, Tokyo Broadcasting System has had a major stock shake-up in terms of owner of the entire network. The Yokohama Bay Stars (baseball team), which is tied in with the large Maruha company (on the Japanese stock market), has changed a lot of the ownership around in terms of who has power in Tokyo Broadcasting System. To be blunt, it's a convoluted business mess on everyone's behalf and there's absolutely no stability whatsoever.
The new school that Antonio Inoki keeps claiming that he will open in Santa Monica, CA. is nothing more than a private training facility in which Inoue, Shibata, Tanahashi, etc. will be flown to and end up training with guys like Tito Ortiz, etc. to do shoot stuff.
Yuji Nagata will negotiate his contract tomorrow with New Japan management and is expected to raise his price to stay in the promotion or else he will leave.
TV-Asahi made an official comment regarding the jumps from New Japan to All Japan. TV-Asahi said that they will telecast New Japan's 2/1 Sapporo and 2/16 Ryogoku Sumo Hall shows. They said, however, after 2/16, they will re-analyze their relationship with New Japan.
The Triple Crown match between Keiji Mutoh & Toshiaki Kawada at All Japan's 2/24 Nippon Budokan show will now be a match to determine the "true ace" of the promotion once and for all.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Michiyoshi Ohara suspended contract negotiations with New Japan financial backer Tetsuo Baisho.
New Japan President Tatsumi Fujinami has told other members of NJ management that he is freezing relations with All Japan.
Kensuke Sasaki & Tadao Yasuda signed one-year dual contracts with New Japan for 2002. Satoshi Kojima is supposedly gone from New Japan.
The list of those who have signed dual contracts:
- Kensuke Sasaki
- Tadao Yasuda
- El Samurai
- Junji Hirata
- Blue Wolf (Dolgorsuren Serjudbee)
- Wataru Inoue
Those who have opted out from their contracts:
- Koji Kanemoto
- Keiji Mutoh
- Kendo Ka Shin
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan
- Satoshi Kojima
- Michiyoshi Ohara
The All Japan Women's group officially announced (and confirmed) the top matches for their 2/24 Yokohama Bunka Gym card. Line-up:
- Tomoko Watanabe, Nanae Takahashi, & Kayo Noumi vs. Eagle Sawai, Rumi Kazama, & Takako Inoue
- All Pacific Title Match: Kumiko Maekawa vs. Momoe Nakanishi
- Yumiko Hotta & Shinobu Kandori vs. Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda
- WWWA Singles Title Match: Kaoru Ito vs. Manami Toyota
In yesterday's edition of Tokyo Sports, the newspaper printed an unconfirmed report regarding All Japan's newest financial backer/sponsor. However, within our own internal sources, we were able to confirm Tokyo Sports' report regarding All Japan's financial situation. All Japan's new financial backer/sponsor is a billion-dollar company named Softbank, an Internet technology company that is heavily into broadband and is on the same, if not higher level than Sony Communications. The net worth of Softbank is $1 billion, 60 million dollars. The company is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and has ownership in over 600 Internet companies. Softbank has joint ventures with Microsoft, Cisco, and Yahoo. Softbank also owns large amounts of stock of Yahoo, E-Trade, and CNet in America.
One of our sources showed up today in Shibuya, Tokyo at the New Japan offices when the word officially came that Yuji Nagata re-signed a one-year dual contract with New Japan. Nagata went into the meeting with New Japan financial backer Tetsuo Baisho & Tatsumi Fujinami asking for substantially more money than he was making last year, and he got what he wanted. Nagata answered very few questions to the Japanese media, but said that he didn't regret re-signing at all. However, Nagata said he did regret the fact that he wouldn't be facing Mutoh again in a singles match.
Total Sports Asia held a press conference today in Japan concerning the WWF's 3/1 Yokohama Arena show. The WWF will run a main event of The Rock vs. Chris Jericho for their 3/1 Yokohama Arena show. The show will not have any workers from Japanese promotions nor will it have Steve Austin or Triple H. It will be Rock, Jericho, and basically the mid-carders (Edge, Test, Kane, Big Show, Dudley Boys, Stacy Keibler, Torrie Wilson, Tajiri, Kidman, Shane Helms & Mighty Molly, DDP, Funaki, and Haku). They will have a real tough time with this show in terms of drawing. Tickets will go on sale on 1/20 at 10:00 AM JST.
Here is the full (and pathetic) card for the WWF's 3/1 Yokohama Arena show:
1. Billy Kidman vs. Shane Helms w/ Mighty Molly
2. Edge vs. Test
3. Hardy Boys w/ Lita vs. Billy Gunn & Chuck Palumbo
4. Kane vs. DDP
5. Haku vs. The Big Show
6. Yoshihiro Tajiri & Shoichi Funaki w/ Torrie Wilson vs. The Dudley Boys w/ Stacy Keibler
7. The Rock vs. Chris Jericho
Maybe Vince is trying to prepare this guys to start working arenas with empty seats, because there's going to be some empty seats at the 16,000-seat Yokohama Arena for sure on this deal.
All Japan Pro Wrestling is about to undergo a major internal overhaul in terms of the way the company is structured. The company will now have an accounting division, information system division, a software division, and a sales department. The money's pouring in now.
New Japan held a press conference today at the Prince Hotel in Tokyo with Tatsumi Fujinami, Minoru Tanaka, & Yumi Fukawa. Tanaka & Fukawa announced that they have gotten engaged to get married soon, proving what I had been saying last year about the two being a couple (even while getting trashed by the joshi fans for saying I was wrong). Tanaka talked to the media about how he met Fukawa in the first place, and he went into detail about how he did out-door lessons for Battlarts and whenever he worked mixed-team shows for ARSION, he was with Fukawa the whole time. Fukawa was quiet the whole time, basically saying that her relationship with Tanaka was serious, faithful, and amiable. Tanaka said he thought about getting engaged to her as far back as last Autumn. Fukawa played the traditional quiet, almost-submissive role at the press conference.
Big Japan announced matches for their February & March 2002 shows. Notes:
2/3 Korakuen Hall
- Ryuji Yamakawa, Shadow WX, & Abdullah Kobayashi vs. Jun Kasai, Hidoh, & The Winger
- BJW Heavyweight Title Match: Daikokubo Benkei vs. Kamikaze
- Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Men's Teioh
2/5 Chiba Koen (Park) Gym
- Ryuji Yamakawa & Kintaro Kanemura vs. Jun Kasai & Hidoh
- Shadow WX vs. The Winger
2/11 Shizuoka Shin Messe
- Shadow WX & Abdullah Kobayashi vs. Jun Kasai & The Winger
- Ryuji Yamakawa & Kintaro Kanemura vs. Mark & Jay Brisco
3/3 Yokohama Bunka Gym
- Ryuji Yamakawa vs. Jun Kasai
- Shadow WX vs. Hidoh
- Abdullah Kobayashi vs. The Winger
- BJW Heavyweight Title Match: 2/3 Korakuen winner vs. Sekimoto/Teioh 2/3 Korakuen winner
- 2/3 BJW Title loser vs. loser of Sekimoto/Teioh 2/3 Korakuen match
By Matthew Randazzo
Motoko Baba had everyone fooled. Everyone expected her to sell All Japan to perennial enemy New Japan, to do the unthinkable: make the lifeís work of Shohei Baba the property of New Japan and Antonio Inoki. Many had said that she had done just that by giving the Triple Crown to Keiji Mutoh in the first place, or, even earlier, embracing the traitor Genichiro Tenryu. Everyone thought Mrs. Baba was a stupid, subservient old bat who was easily influenced into selling out All Japan. Well, that is a portrait that has to be drastically redrawn; no one can call her subservient, for one. This woman is a dangerous, aggressive businesswoman who lulled New Japan into a stupid dormancy before striking a deadly blow. No one thought it would be this Baba with her foot on the throat of New Japan.
Letís forget the merits of the signings and the questions surrounding them and consider just how brutal a strike Motoko Baba delivered. While I think it would be presumptuous that this was a long-term plan, that the embarrassment of Scott Hall vs. Keiji Mutoh for the Triple Crown was merely just a move to trick the enemy all along, there should be no doubt that this is not some whim. Baba did not go from wanting to sell to New Japan one day to having a huge, unlikely financial backer by luck or getting tricked into it. This has been in the works for a while, as any deal of this nature must be, and, for a couple months at
least, Motoko has been playing a coy game. That it worked is undoubtable: All Japan signed the most over man in Japan, the IWGP junior champion, and, in my estimation, a man who has rapidly become the third best wrestler in Japan in Kojima. Baba had always been considered a one hell of a bitch; this week, she proved to be the biggest bitch in wrestling, and I mean that in a good way.
Inoki, in short, was caught with his pants down, eyeing lustfully the world of MMA. Having ignored, degraded, and embarrassed pro wrestling and its tradition far worse than any booker in New Japan history, Inoki deserved a revolt and got one. Only the most biased and naive would call Mutoh and Kojima traitors; the New Japan that made them does not exist. By leaving the absurd, embarrassing, psuedo-shoot circus of New Japan, they have done more for pro wrestlingís future than anything that could be accomplished by engaging Inoki in a futile pissing contest over the control of NJ. Careers are short and lives are risked; Mutoh and Kojima followed the money and followed the opportunity. Their treason is understandable and fair and is utterly negated by the completely unnecessary treason of 12/31/01.
Ka Shin is a more interesting case; he was made by Inokiís shooter obsession. Of course, Ka Shin doesnít forget how he was abused and squashed when he wasnít living up to the absurd expectations of Antonio Inoki. Even Inokiís most successful wrestler-to-shooter project knows Strong Shooter Styleís emptiness and utter lack of long-term viability. The biggest story of this week wasnít Motoko Babaís new fangs: in my opinion, it was the utterly fantastic kick in the balls delivered, with gusto, to Antonio Inoki.
And what a kick it was. Mutoh is the most over man in Japan, and, for better or worse, he represents the history and tradition of Puroresu with his "Puroresu Love" gimmick to the average Japanese mark. On top of that, he is a political atom bomb; with one fell swoop, he stole all of New Japanís political cards against AJ and embarrassed the IWGP tag belts, the only belts that had escaped being made meaningless by Inoki-ism. Next comes Satoshi Kojima, a wrestler who developed so quickly this year that itís frightening, quickly approaching Kawada and Nagata as one of the best wrestlers in Japan. On top of that, he was NJís most charismatic wrestler, very over, and one of the cornerstones of their tag division. Ka Shin, an average wrestler, represents another blow New Japanís prestige and a respectable building block for a possibly resurrecting junior division. The latest information points to all of the above being "goners", and Tenzan, Kanemoto, and Ohara are considered to be near-locks for leaving as well. Tenzan and Kanemoto are among the top 30 workers in the world, and Ohara is being groomed for a feud with Johnny Smith, supposedly.
The next variable, and the most important one, is exactly how these new additions will be used in All Japan and how they will affect the wrestlers already in place in All Japan. If Baba isnít careful, she may end up making a trade-off with New Japan of Mutoh/Kojima/Ka Shin/others for Kawada, a trade that probably wouldnít be considered a big loss in her eyes but one she would like to avoid. Kawada IS Kingís Road, and he is the only worker today who can uphold that tradition. NOAHís style has gone far, far past Kingís Road, into an entirely different style (which I will address one of these days) that hasnít completely found its bearings. Without Kawada, All Japan is simply New Japan Part Deux. Kawada is essential for the maintaining of All Japanís traditions.
For this massive offensive to work, the simple fact is that Kawada needs to win the 2/24 Budokan Triple Crown match. Mutohís matches as Triple Crown champion are exhausted for now, and, for All Japan to actually build on their present fanbase, they need to maintain that fanbase. Without Kawada, that fanbase leaves. Giving Kawada the win provides stability for the promotion that Brittle Knees canít bring them, keeps Kawada in the promotion, rejuvenates their main event scene, and actually gives All Japan credibility as still being All Japan as opposed to a Strong Style imitator. Thereís plenty of room for
Mutohís slowly ego masturbation outside of the Triple Crown.
Of course, thatís probably not the way things will go, and weíll just have to wait and see. Whatever happens, both New Japan and All Japan are in a critical time where they must establish their true identities and define their visions. No one would have thought ten days ago that All Japan would be looking like the most financially viable promotion in 2002, and ten days from now who knows what will happen. All I know is that, right now, the man who can make or break a promotion is Toshiaki Kawada. With one move, he can reinvigorate New Japan; with one move, he can put NOAH truly over the top as the #1 promotion. And, if he stays under the right circumstances, he can be something heís never even had the possibility of being: the ace in the biggest promotion in Japan. More than any other time, the world is in Kawadaís hands. Itís finally time to see if he is going to fight for his legacy.
Keiji Mutoh revealed to the media today that he can't sign a contract with All Japan until February 1st due to the terms of the current agreement he is binded to. Mutoh says that he has no intentions of coming back to New Japan and that he is just at a freezing point for the moment. Mutoh intimated that when he, Ka Shin, Tenzan, Kojima, and others (like Ohara, Kanemoto, etc.) stopped contract negotiations with New Japan, they knew that they had to wait until 2/1 before they could sign any deals with All Japan.
(February 1st is the next crucial date. Conceivably, All Japan's coup could still fall apart if Mutoh and his guys ask for more than AJ can offer. The wrestlers are in a clear and ultimate advantage right now, being able to play both sides of the coin. New Japan still has a legal shot of keeping their wrestlers, but the price would be ultimately a very costly one.)
Masa Chono made a public statement regarding Keiji Mutoh & the other wrestlers who are in the process of transfering from New Japan to All Japan. Chono (who's a booker and a member of NJ management) said that he is dissatisfied with the way Mutoh and the other wrestlers handled the situation and said that the explanation for their departure is simple. Chono said that the wrestlers were unhappy with Antonio Inoki's intervention. However, Chono spun the story around and basically said that All Japan was afraid of Antonio Inoki's power and intervention into pro-wrestling. Chono said that Ka Shin & Kojima transferred from NJ to AJ because Mutoh did and that "they were simply following the leader." Chono said that he doesn't have a regret about the 10 office employees leaving them except that it left a bad taste in his mouth. Chono questioned the wrestler's committment and said that they didn't have a clear convinction as far as their career direction was concerned, and emphasized at one point that the "lower guys" sold out due to money. Chono's statement came off as bad damage control.
Kendo Ka Shin (Tokimitsu Ishizawa) did a short TV interview for the S-Arena program on Samurai TV today. Ka Shin said that the reason he is transferring to All Japan from New Japan is because "I want to escape from Inoki and from New Japan." In addition to Ka Shin's interview, Weekly Gong did an "expose" on Ka Shin's career status by doing a review of his history in PRIDE. Gong mentioned that when Ka Shin was preparing for his first PRIDE fight, Satoshi Kojima & Tatsuhito Takaiwa were in his locker room helping him out.
Weird fact - Giant Singh signed a one-year deal with New Japan last August (2001) when he made his debut at Ryogoku Sumo Hall on 8/12/01.
Well got all that news outta the way but I'll be back tomorrow with another huge International News Report. Til' then this is Brian Cole saying I'll see ya.