Section 1- Results
Dragon Gate: Mochizuki retained over BB Hulk. JIII retained the trios titles. CIMA & Ricochet won the tag titles.
New Japan: Tanahashi retained over Bernard. MVP retained over Yano. Suzuki beat Kojima.
NOAH: Shiozaki beat Sugiura to win the GHC title. Kotaro Suzuki retained over Kanemaru. Sasaki beat Morishima. Another bad attendance number for them, well under 5000.
Section 2- News
Dragon Gate: Theyâ€™re doing an angle where Blood Warriors stole the lightweight title because Pac will be home in England during August. Title matches will resume in mid-month after the tag tournament.
New Japan: Based on the G-1 schedule, the de facto semifinals look to be Tanahashi vs Naito and Nakamura vs Suzuki. Masato Tanaka will be MVPâ€™s next challenger. I can see that happening in JAPW, since Tanaka has wrestled there.
NOAH: Taniguchi is already back. Sasaki vs Sugiura has been added for Saturday. Shiozaki will defend against Akiyama at Differ Ariake on the 6th. Ishimori is out with a foot injury.
Section 3- Hexagon Bridge Shilling Center Pro Wrestling
Section 4- Media Corner
I tend to not even bother with New Japan heavyweight tag matches, because thereâ€™s usually a low-end scrub in there and everyone wrestles down to his level. In this case thereâ€™s no scrub, theyâ€™re at Korakuen, and the match is compact enough to be enjoyable throughout. Big personalities, good action, and it ends when it should. How refreshing!
Once again: give me a tight match that maybe doesnâ€™t have an â€˜epicâ€™ finish, over a match that bores me for 20 minutes but kicks into gear for the last 8. Nakajima throws kicks, Akiyama throws knees (and Nakajima himself), everybody wins!
Section 5- Big In 2011 & Main Event Scene updating
All Japan: I only had Suwama as a pick to have a big year in the company, and so far Iâ€™ve been right. With Mutoh wrestling part-time, Minoru Suzuki no longer full-time, and Kono being somewhat un-pushable after the Hirai incident, Suwama could end up with a very long title reign. In fact, the only person in the company I can see dethroning him right now is Kea, who has no momentum. Sanada has had a good year but is young yet, and has no chance of winning next week. The next real title match will be in the fall.
Dragon Gate: I certainly didnâ€™t see that Mochizuki win coming, let alone retaining over heel-turned Hulk. I wonder how long BB Hulk will have to wait. Yoshinoâ€™s reign ended up lasting 9 months, so not a bad showing for him. With Mochizuki having absorbed World-1 and Kamizake, and beaten BB Hulk, Iâ€™m really not sure what the next step is. Tozawa might get a title shot after his win over Shingo, but then again, Yamato beat Tozawa right before that. CIMA or Doi are the big threats from Blood Warriors, so I expect one of them to get a title shot in October at Osaka Prefectural Gym. CIMA would especially be likely to win.
New Japan: For a moment I thought that Bernard had a chance to win the IWGP heavyweight title. Then I remembered that All Together is an all-Japanese show and will have all the title holders, soâ€¦ yeah. Tanahashi has gone through Kojima, Nagata, Nakamura and Goto. What else is there? They havenâ€™t done Tanahashi vs Makabe yet, but it seems to me that Makabe has lost whatever luster he had. MVP might get a shot, but that would hurt the new Intercontinental title. Minoru Suzuki and Takayama would be fresh challengers, though it might be awkward for one of them to get a shot without winning the G-1 Climax. Ah, thatâ€™s the 500 pound gorilla in the room: who will be the one to get the next title shot, likely on September 19th at Kobe World Hall? Iâ€™ll save that for my G-1 column. Whoever it is, I really donâ€™t see what they can do if Tanahashi keeps the belt. Heâ€™s had 5 title wins and 15 title defenses in a span of 5 years.
NOAH: Iâ€™m puzzled by the decision to have Shiozaki beat Akiyama in a tag match, and follow it with Shiozaki defending against Akiyama at Differ Ariake. Granted, the show will sell out and probably have hiked ticket prices. But couldnâ€™t they have either booked a bigger venue or waited for one? Shiozaki vs Akiyama is an appealing matchup, even if their first title match in â€™09 was a bit of a letdown. Oh well, it is what it is, and Shiozaki seems like a mortal lock to retain. The first big title match should be Sasaki, probably in October. That will be the payoff to their big singles match last year, where Sasaki won but made Go look good. The big story is Kobashiâ€™s return, and I go into great detail about that in the new issue of Fighting Spirit Magazine.
Big In 2011 updates: Kojima really seems to have become a whipping boy. Heâ€™s lost to Tanahashi, Makabe and Suzuki. Not a good year for him so far. Hirooki Goto is in the same position he was at the start of the year. Nakamura hasnâ€™t done anything of note yet, other than a somewhat cursory title match with Tanahashi. BB Hulk, as I mentioned, is still going to wait for his moment in the spotlight. Ibushi has turned out to be a good pick, winning the biggest-ever Super Juniors tournament and following it up by dethroning Devitt. As for â€˜Kobashi or Akiyamaâ€™, weâ€™ll have to see what happens in the next two weeks. Nagata is the dark horse whoâ€™s had the best showing, with two tournament wins and two title shots.
Big upcoming shows: NOAH on Saturday, with Kobashiâ€™s return; New Japanâ€™s G-1 Climax final; All Together supershow; New Japan at Kobe World Hall in September. Nothing is announced for All Together yet, because they have to wait for all the heavyweight title defenses to be finished. Shiozaki vs Akiyama will be the last of them. They might wait until after the G-1 Climax, but that would only give them a couple weeks to push the card so I doubt it.
Next Time: Biggest-ever G-1 preview for my 200th issue!