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4 hours ago, Migs said:

Not yet, no.

I think people are getting a little too down on New Japan, especially when they're short a number of main eventers (Ospreay, Mox, White, KENTA to an extent). I do think they've past their artistic peak for this era, though (that's going to be Kenny-Okada). If Okada is Flair, early 90s WCW should be instructive here - it's hard to build new stars when the other top guys is not only still around, but the new guys are forced to work the old guy's style and can't do it (although Sting and Luger certainly > EVIL as workers in their prime).

This KOPW belt seems like just a thing to do to spice things up without burning any big matchups they have on the table. Definitely feels like they are trying to keep things in neutral when they can't do big crowds, but with COVID coming back a bit in Japan, it may be a while before they can do full shows again and there's going to have to be a point where they can't just spin their wheels.

I'm mostly in the same boat. It's the lack of talent and stretching the roster thin that's the issue. That being said, I'm intrigued by this KOPW 2020 tournament, even if I was expecting Okada to challenge Kiyomiya.

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49 minutes ago, Boss Rock said:

I'm mostly in the same boat. It's the lack of talent and stretching the roster thin that's the issue. That being said, I'm intrigued by this KOPW 2020 tournament, even if I was expecting Okada to challenge Kiyomiya.

I do think the roster seems a little thinner because they're using Tana and Ibushi together as a tag team to try and boost the profile of those titles. (I contend the ace they have in the hole is having Ibushi turn on Tana to set up a heel run on top for him. I think "crazy Ibushi" is a character with a ton of juice.)

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Yeah as much as I've enjoyed the tag division not being dominated by G.O.D. and as good as the Golden Aces and Dangerous Tekkers are, that's four capable singles wrestlers wrapped up in a tag program. Perfect time to give TenKoji a title shot!

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I commend Gedo for trying to boost the tag division but of all the places that need a boost, a tag division that has meant very little to New Japan for most of the past 30 years is kinda frustrating when other holes feel way more important. I'd be all in for a crazy heel Ibushi run though, that sounds fucking awesome.

 

4 hours ago, El-P said:

There...

As good as he is as a young lion, Shota ain't nearly ready yet to get to that level. And let's hope he doesn't come back dressed as poorly as Master Wato...

Shota has prodigy written all over him, imo. I'd be really surprised if he isn't Okada's replacement (as Okada was Tana's). Hiromu will most likely be Naito/Nakamura status: a major player with IWGP (other) title runs under his belt but not THE focus. Both are in completely different stages of their careers though, Hiromu is getting close to doing everything as a Jr. and probably make the jump to heavy -specially nowadays when that jump isn't that big of a deal-, probably taking a next step in his career at 31.

I'd be the first to admit that Shota is not as sure a thing as Okada was, I think anyone watching him as early as 08'-09' knew dude was going to be the next Ace, Didn't matter what his run TNA was or how lackluster his comeback matches were, as soon as he was legit back from excursion it was obvious (at least to me) he had next. To me, Umino is by far their most promising prospect and the one New Japan sees as the next Ace, he's only 23 and has probably two more years before taking the leap.

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I remember thinking Kawato had all the potential in the world and sort of saw him as the next ace of the Junior division. Kinda disappointing how things are now.

Fredericks is also pretty clearly poised for great things. Although I wonder if he gets a babyface run rather than be the next in line to lead Bullet Club.

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Fredericks' character so far seems like a heel. But I also don't see why the LA Dojo young boys can't be their own heel foreigner faction (especially if they include Gabe Kidd).

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On 7/28/2020 at 8:27 PM, Boss Rock said:

I remember thinking Kawato had all the potential in the world and sort of saw him as the next ace of the Junior division. Kinda disappointing how things are now.

Fredericks is also pretty clearly poised for great things. Although I wonder if he gets a babyface run rather than be the next in line to lead Bullet Club.

I'm thinking they saw his excursion in CMLL and realized "oh shit, this guy isn't as good as we thought he would be" and decided he'd be better off as a gimmick character.

 

Also New Japan just announced a tournament for the six man titles and there's some interesting pairings:

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I watched EVIL/Hiromu. Seeing Dick Togo as EVIL's second upsets me because I can't help but think how much better it would be if the roles were reversed. Also, the vibe I got from the crowd is that all the Bullet Club bullshit was generating the wrong kind of heat. That stuff has been a staple of the product for a while, but you could usually count on the IWGP title match to deliver serious wrestling. The crowd seemed to be upset in a way that leads to them saying "fuck this shit" as opposed to wanting to see the heels get their comeuppance. It was rather WWE-esque.

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Yeah. Three tournaments for three titles that are already (and will be) way disposable for a company that has way too many.

Sorry, but between this and the EVIL bullshit, NJPW's comeback has been a total and utter disappointment. Get on with the G1 already....

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It definitely feels like they need to get the belt back on Naito at the baseball stadium - call this a quick way to escalate EVIL and set up a nice moment for the stadium show and go back to Naito for a bit, because I don't know how many more EVIL main events they can do.

The tournaments are clearly a way to fill some time when they have a limited roster to pair off. Meltzer implied they may get more of the roster back for the G1, which would be nice. Pretty sure all they have is this tour to finish before the G1, so it's not like they're spinning their wheels for months.

Also really like where they're going with this Ibushi/Tana story.

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On 8/1/2020 at 1:59 PM, El-P said:

Yeah. Three tournaments for three titles that are already (and will be) way disposable for a company that has way too many.

Sorry, but between this and the EVIL bullshit, NJPW's comeback has been a total and utter disappointment. Get on with the G1 already....

So true.

My biggest issue for the last few years of NJPW has been that you can EASILY skip the first half of every PPV. Like, the undercard is... really bad. And just giving those dudes titles doesn't improve the situation. Like some of the undercard junior stuff is good, but everyone under, say, Ishii/Goto level on the card? Complete waste of time. Taguchi, EVIL (regardless of if they're trying to hot shot him or not), Nakanishi, Tenzan, Yoshi-hashi, Taichi, Chase fucking Owens, David Finlay, Honma, Nagata... just all filler garbage or over-the-hill dudes still hanging on.

The high point was that the top half of the show was so fucking good, with such great matches, that I could over look it. We kept getting great main events... but now that they put EVIL up there, they've lost that aspect as well. So it makes the faults more glaring. 

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The first half of New Japan shows have always been giving the Young Lions a chance to work and/or giving the older dudes a break by working a six man match.  This is like a WWF Attitude Era situation where once the main events aren't amazing you start to notice half the rest of the card isn't really that great.  

 

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Caught some of the NEVER tournament and there were a lot of fun matches, the Goto, Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI vs. Ibushi, Tanahashi, Wato match and the final in particular standing out. Great moment for YOSHI-HASHI.

I watched a little bit of the U.S. #1 contender tourney and Fredericks-KENTA was an awesome sprint. Further proof that Fredericks is gonna be a big deal for them. King-Tonga was also pretty fun. King is a beast and Tonga looked better than he has in years.

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If the KOPW "title" was already meh, the participants of the tourney are...wow

Okada
Yujiro
Sho
SANADA
Yano
BUSHI
Kojima
El Desperado

 

I guess they could make some refreshing matchups, but the inevitability of Okada winning (or an Okada/Sanada finals) makes this gimmick even more head scratching. You could book all these guys in cool matchups without the need of this moniker.

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I like that these guys are given something to do and that SHO and Desperado are getting opportunities. The whole KOPW thing is still whatever to me, but I'm not against more singles matches.

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It does feel like the four way for the title is going to be a really odd mix.

I'll admit to being a little worried about the G1 given that they've announced dates that would indicate a 20 man tournament and they're apparently *still* not sure if they're bringing in the foreigners for the tournament. Does the world need 9 Yujiro Takahashi singles matches?

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10 minutes ago, Migs said:

Does the world need 9 Yujiro Takahashi singles matches?

Without Pieter's intro, no. It's the highspot of his matches.

When is the stadium show with Naito vs EVIL already ?

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You can vote now on the stipulations (except SHO vs Sanada as they both had the same stip in mind)...

Kazuchika Okada (1 vs 3 handicap) vs Yujiro Takahashi (Lumberjack with Leather Belt)

SHO vs SANADA (Submissions Match)

Toru Yano (Two Count Pinfalls) vs BUSHI (Five Count Ringouts)

Satoshi Kojima (Finishers Only) vs El Desperado (No Finishers Allowed)

 

https://www.njpw1972.com/79018

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"Finishers Only" is either the best of worst stipulation I have ever read, I cannot decide.

EDIT: Damn, it seems to be a match where hitting the finisher nets you the victory, i.e. stupid video game stipulation #14, not a match where you can only use finishers.

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Those stipulations sound like the kind of shit I'd create in match creator on the WWE 2K games when I'm bored.

I haven't kept up with NJPW since Wrestle Kingdom, and it looks like I'm not missing much. The card on that stadium show looks pretty tasty, if it even goes ahead. 

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26 minutes ago, cactus said:

Those stipulations sound like the kind of shit I'd create in match creator on the WWE 2K games when I'm bored.

I haven't kept up with NJPW since Wrestle Kingdom, and it looks like I'm not missing much. The card on that stadium show looks pretty tasty, if it even goes ahead. 

The stips are really, really lame, except that a lumberjack strap match sounds reasonably fun if they feel they have to do another round of Okada-Yujiro.

The New Beginning shows were excellent. The summer shows... if you haven't been starved for New Japan, not sure there's a ton to strongly recommend. The stadium show seems like a reasonable place to hop in.

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