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Modern New Japan


Sean Liska
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Like most people on the internet, I loved Japanese wrestling in the 90s, grew disenchanted with the deterioration of the All Japan style in the late 90's, New Japan's self-destructive booking, and the overall collapse of the industry in the early 2000s. I paid attention to NOAH during Kobashi's title reign and enjoyed parts of it, but haven't watched much over the past few years. I hated the strike exchanges, no-selling, and guys needing to stiff the hell out of each other to get reactions. It seemed to me like the Puro-style had devolved to being like a bad ECW show where guys needed to kill each other to get a pop.

 

I've been reading about how New Japan is having a solid business year and is improving, and decided to check it out. And I have been shocked by how much I've enjoyed a lot of what I've watched. They have a roster of diverse characters. They do a good job of mixing the 90s guys with the newer talent. And what I'm most surprised about is that the structure of a lot of these matches are really solid. They have heels that really heel it up when they wrestle, even more so than most modern WWE guys. Now, some of the longer high-profile singles matches fall into the bad habits that I was turned off by, but most seem to be pretty good. I've even enjoyed watching MVP wrestle as a heel for them, and I expected to hate him. I made a trip to a Japanese supermarket to pick up recent TV for the first time in years.

 

Here's a match from YouTube that is the type of thing I'm talking about - Tenzan/Nagata/Tanahashi vs. Yano/Izuka/Naito. It has a heel/face structure, good heat at Korakuen, and smart wrestling. Am I crazy or is this pretty good? Not the greatest thing ever, but worth watching. Who is booking now?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Czawa6EoLko (part 1)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sE-74O7GGs...feature=related (part 2)

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That's the thing, we don't really know.

 

I wish I could have just ASKED Gedo a few weeks ago, but the odds of a Japanese wrestler breaking kayfabe to a random pasty gaijin have to be infinitessimal...

Agreed, a Japanese wrestler is unlikely to break kayfabe even to his or her family in some cases.

 

I really enjoy NJPW, you can be assured that 90% of every card contains world class wrestling. I'm particulary partial to the Junior Heavyweight matches as they set a standard sometimes that Dragon Gate couldn't hope to follow. I'm always impressed with how NJPW handles their 'Gaijin's', look at Matt 'Giant Bernard' Bloom, he went from being a nobody in the WWE to a world renowned brawler and top big man in NJPW. As for booking, I was under the impression that Keiji Mutoh was the lead booker, but that has probably changed.

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I think you're confusing 2001 with 2002-2009. In 2001, especially after winning the Triple Crown, he wrestled regularly in both companies. But after 2002 he only wrestled in NJ a few times a year in interpromotional bouts where both companies would agree on the outcome. He was All Japan's booker for most of the last decade, not New Japan's.

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I think you're confusing 2001 with 2002-2009. In 2001, especially after winning the Triple Crown, he wrestled regularly in both companies. But after 2002 he only wrestled in NJ a few times a year in interpromotional bouts where both companies would agree on the outcome. He was All Japan's booker for most of the last decade, not New Japan's.

Actually, Its worse, I'm confusing Keiji Mutoh with Masahiro Chono for some reason!! Very slow day today, apologies! But yeah, Masa was booking informally, up until recently in NJPW. Now that he's become an freelance wrestler, I'm at a loss to say who the booker(s) could be. But I think Gedo and Jado is in the ballpark.

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