週刊プロレス No. 2155
Because of the NJPW vs. NOAH show announcement, Tanahashi talks in his column about past interactions NOAH. Apparently once he won the GHC tag championship with Yuji Nagata while also touring for New Japan and the experience had a positive impact on his wrestling. So he notes that the point of a crossover like that isn’t just the fights but to further the development of both promotion’s wrestlers by giving them new experiences.
A funny story is when Jun Akiyama (then working for NOAH) participated in the 2003 G1 Climax against a young Tanahashi, he joked about taking Tanahashi with him back to NOAH: 「NOAHに連れて行くぞ」.
Kenoh is sad because the match he promised would end with a quick victory went to a time limit draw, and also because NOAH apparently drew 917 people to the arena that the previous day Stardom drew 1119 people to, and as part of the main event he sees it as his personal responsibility and his failure to not have drawn more people.
They talk a little about the NOAH/NJPW show and Kenoh remarks that KENTA (who was once a big NOAH star pre-WWE) is fully a NJPW wrestler now: 「KENTAがすっかり新日本の人間っぽくなっちゃったよな。」
There’s a big report on the mass Ice Ribbon departure. This was really interesting to me since I didn’t read much detail in English when the news broke so this gives a much clearer picture.
Sounds like Risa Sera, Suzu Suzuki, Kurumi Hiiragi, Mochi Miyagi, and Akane Fujita are leaving to form a new deathmatch and hardcore focused unit named プロミネンス. Basically, it’s spinning out Risa Sera’s produced deathmatch shows in Ice Ribbon into its own independent thing, because it felt like they’d reached the limit of what they could do as part of Ice Ribbon. In an interview with Sera, she talks about how she had previously said she wanted a 10 year career and to then retire… well that would be in 2022, and it’s a much harder decision once the time actually arrives than beforehand (as you can tell from every wrestling retirement ever). And so she was talking about how she was thinking of quitting to Akane Fujita and Suzu Suzuki and they said if Sera quit, they would too. So then she floated the idea of not quitting but going independent to do what she wanted instead, and they immediately said they would join her.
They’re exploring options and offers about what exact form this new unit will take. They’re open to traditional wrestling rules as well as “D&H” (deathmatch/hardcore) but the latter is what they especially want to do.
I really hope it goes well for them! Sounds like a case where through Sera worked really hard to make as big of an impact in Ice Ribbon as she did, putting on the matches she wanted to put on. And it’s just a case of wanting to take that farther without the restriction of like, having to change Ice Ribbon’s identity or spin off a sister promotion or anything like that.
Meanwhile, Maya Yukihi is separately going independent but will still likely appear in Ice Ribbon. She says she wants to spread her name beyond Ice Ribbon, so it’s a way where she can appear in other promotions and have more control over her personal legacy and not just support Ice Ribbon’s.
(And also separately, with less fanfare, Thekla is leaving and 弓季 who I think was injured is retiring from wrestling)
Tsukasa Fujimoto says it’s definitely a shock, and you never get used to departures even over a long career, and it’s sad that plans to incorporate the wrestlers’ deathmatch interests better weren’t able to come to fruition, but she expects the remaining wrestlers to be able to support Ice Ribbon. She especially doesn’t like seeing twitter messages like “as long as Fujimoto is there it’ll be fine” since it’s not like she’ll be there forever either.
A management person says spinning off a deathmatch promotion would have been too logistically risky, and that the biggest risk about the departures is less the damage from the departures itself but more the perception of so many at once.
Giulia talks about her being decided as the partner for Konami’s last match. She says she doesn’t really have the in-ring history with her that Syuri does, but they have a complicated emotional history. It sounds like when Giulia came to Stardom, Konami would often pull pranks on her, and amid Giulia’s cold reception in Stardom at the time it was hard to tell if that was bullying or affectionate. Then when Hana Kimura passed away they shared a wordless emotional moment, and since in Giulia’s last match with Hana she promised one more match, and Konami said she would accomplish everything Hana wanted to do in her stead… it makes sense in a way for those promises to lead to this as Konami’s last match. It sounds like there’s a lot of complicated feelings involved.
Sort of interesting vignettes in the mobile app back-issue ad section. Apparently there was an AJW themed カフェテラス in the 80s called SUN族,
and Giant Baba making a wry joke poking fun at Inoki’s island match is recounted: 「宮本武蔵は巌流島で闘った後、大人になったんだよな。。。」ジャイアント馬場が巌流島決戦を皮肉る. Which I thought was sort of interesting just because I’ve heard about that weird island match, and also I don’t know really anything about 宮本武蔵 but would like to learn soon.
There’s a feature about Stardom wrestler Saya Kamitani meeting back up with Hana Matsuoka, who was in the same idol track as her but kept going with it and now is in the group HKT48.
Kamitani admits that she did feel jealousy and thought of all her failed auditions when seeing Matsuoka’s accomplishments like when she took lead on a major song, but that she wants to channel that into accomplishing a lot in wrestling by winning championships and matches. After all, it’s even the same venues idol shows run in too a lot of the time.
Genichiro Tenryu says in his column that although NJPW can just lean on the novelty of a crossover for the vs. NOAH show, they should be sure to put thought into making the card an interesting one to avoid the audience’s expectations feeling betrayed. He floats Okada/Kiyomiya as an especially interesting possibility.
Having seen the later-announced card for that show… I feel like they did not heed this advice…
Tenryu also talks about Mutoh achieving a grandslam of having won the main title and tag belts for NJPW, AJPW, and NOAH over his career, and how that’s great and all but NOAH need to really make sure that Mutoh isn’t their most prominent star going forward.
Mutoh talks in his column about awards and stuff and I glossed over that but at once point when I thought they were saying he won a music award and I researched that I found out he did a song and music video for Jumanji: Enter the Jungle??
There’s an industry column talking about ringside photography and the difficulty involved, particularly about suplexes, and how these shown are remarkable for being great photos of great suplexes (from Io Shirai and Tam Nakano) that are also portrait instead of landscape, showing a smart split-second decision on the part of the photographer.
I never really thought about it but gosh yeah, if you gave me a camera and put me at ringside and told me to take great photos I would not know where to begin at all.
週刊プロレス No. 2156
Kenoh doesn’t approve of the recent wave of wrestler departures (except Zeus), because it’s really hard out there these days for promotions not backed by huge companies (i.e. CyberAgent and Bushi Road) and wrestlers should wait to leave until things calm down, or at least head for money/security of the larger companies themselves.
The regional venue column shows pictures of a Niigata venue with a “What’s Niigata” tourism sign out front and I don’t know how anyone can look at that and not immediately follow it up in their head with “do, gata do with it”
In AJPW, Kento Miyahara and Yuma Aoyagi won the world’s strongest tag league for the second year in a row and seem in much higher spirits than I’ve seen them in the past.
Giulia talks about when she was a guest commentator frequently while injured, and gets advice from the regular commentators. Apparently you should always look at the screen when commentating, because that’s what the audience at home sees and that’s who you’re commentating for.
The regular commentator says in general Giulia’s commentary is good - the co-existence is fun between in-ring domineering Giulia and the nicer version of her on commentary. But she should interject more often - it’s fine for wrestlers to interrupt the main commentators more.
(I agree! It’s fun to listen to her and the other guest commentators, which are pretty frequent in Stardom. Although you can definitely tell she’s not a professional at it and she doesn’t seem great at acting shocked.)
In Michinoku Pro, it’s time for the 16th 宇宙大戦争!
I definitely don’t have the context to understand what’s going on, but it sounds like last year The Great Sasuke opened a time portal to pre-Corona, so the Earth should be A-OK now, so he’s decided to recover his spaceship and go back to space, admitting finally that he is from space after denying the Baramon Twins’ assertions to that end in previous space wars.
The Baramon Twins want to stop him from doing that for the sake of peace on earth, and they’ve teamed up with Pretty Ota who has a lot of money embezzled from that kickstarter he ran a while back.
Here’s some cultural references I either got or figured out:
- 帰ってきたシン・ウルトラまんたろう is a reference to Ultraman Taro, the upcoming Shin Ultraman, and Return of Ultraman, the joke being that (I assume) his name is Mantaro and he’s back “from America” they say.
- Kanegon from Ultra Q. I assume Ota is dressed like that because he has money, and Kanegon is a money-themed kaiju.
- pictograms from the olympics (they make good allies because they’re a master of every sport)
- The Great Sasuke is dressed up as Johnny Depp from the movie Minamata for no clear reason
- The doctor from Godzilla
- Also, I don’t know myself what the “my spaceship is hidden on a mountain and I need to find it” is a specific reference to, but funnily enough the current Intermedia book club pick 地球星人 references that exact trope too.
The history column is very interesting this issue. It talks about what it describes as probably the most important 事件 in Japanese pro wrestling history (mentioned alongside Rikidozan’s murder as the biggest two), which happened 50 years ago on December 15, 1971: Antonio Inoki’s ousting from 日本プロレス (both the company called that, and as consequence, the Japanese pro wrestling world in general).
It sounds like the exact details are a bit murky to this day, but Inoki was snooping around the company’s finances under claims of working to reform them, and this ended up causing the management to see his actions as a coup to take control of the company. Baba and others were unwilling to back Inoki, and Inoki was expelled from the company, with the only other major promotion in Japan at the time, 国際プロレス, uninterested in employing him due to pre-existing bad blood, therefore in effect spelling the end of Antoni Inoki’s career as a wrestler in Japan. The author talks about his then-middle school impressions of how everyone was saying regrettably Inoki’s career was done.
Instead, Inoki’s response was to found New Japan Pro Wrestling the next year, which led directly to Giant Baba also breaking from 日本プロレス to found All Japan Pro Wrestling, therefore establishing the industry status quo that would persist for a very long time, even through to today 50 years later (albeit with obviously many other changes along the way).
Nanae Takahashi is leaving SEAdLINNNG, which she co-founded. She says that she was diagnosed with depression in 2017 and felt that the trials of managing the company and performing for small crowds was wearing on her heavily and causing her to lose sight of herself. She will always wrestle SEAdLINNG-style, but she wants to reconnect with who she is as a person by working for herself again.
There’s a 中澤マイケルのAEW通信 which is nice to see, recapping Hangman Page and Kenny Omega’s feud in light of Full Gear. At the end he says to watch it on FITE TV and says 「早く日本語の解説が入れられるようにボクもいろいろ尽力していきます！」
Otherwise I’ve been watching a little bit more of that wrestling history program I mentioned… It’s got footage from the 80s of old American wrestlers sharing memories about (and cutting promos on) Rikidozan to Japanese reporters, so if you want to watch Freddy Blassie talk about how Rikidozan’s in hell and too much of a coward to fight him again, it’s good for that!
It was also interesting seeing Rikidozan’s wrestling venue - I knew that guy was extremely popular but I feel like seeing that puts it extra in perspective.
I tend to take the first week of the year off as a tradition that’s ostensibly because it’s a nice way to start the year but goes back to wanting the time to stay up late watching Wrestle Kingdom and then recuperate after…
So even though I’m not really excited for this year’s version, I’m doing a bad job so far of avoiding spoilers on twitters for year-end shows, and I’m definitely 100% not going to try to stay up to watch anything live… hopefully I’ll have some fun with wrestling anyway at the start of the new year!