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Wrestle and Romance (PROJECT19)

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Wrestle and Romance (WAR)
 

Owner
Genichiro Tenryu

Partner
Yoshiaki Fujiwara

Trainers
Katsuyori Shibata 
Josh Barnett

Referees
Frank Atsushi
Yukinori Matsui

 

Titles
UWF Heavyweight Championship - Hideki Suzuki
J-Crown - KUSHIDA
WAR World Six Man Tag Team Championship - Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kazusada Higuchi & SHO Tanaka

 

Heavyweight Roster
Jun Akiyama
Shotaro Ashino
Kazusada Higuchi
Tomohiro Ishii
Shuji Ishikawa
Kengo Mashimo
Yuji Nagata
Katsuhiko Nakajima
Daisuke Nakamura
Takuya Nomura
Matt Riddle
Alexander Rusev
Yukio Sakaguchi
Go Shiozaki
Takashi Sugiura
Hideki Suzuki
Minoru Suzuki
Timothy Thatcher

Junior Heavyweight Roster
Fuminori Abe
Akito
Shinya Aoki
Jonathan Gresham
Drew Gulak
Kazuki Hashimoto
Koji Iwamoto
KENTA
KUSHIDA
TAKA Michinoku
Keisuke Okuda
Daisuke Sasaki
Hikaru Sato
Munenori Sawa
SHO Tanaka
Dick Togo
Kota Umeda

 

Units
DAMNATION (Daisuke Sasaki, Dick Togo, TAKA Michinoku, Jushin Liger)
Burning (Jun Akiyama, Go Shiozaki, KENTA)
Escalante (Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kazusada Higuchi, SHO Tanaka) 
Kingslayers (Shuji Ishikawa, Kengo Mashimo, Kazuki Hashimoto, Kota Umeda)
Lion’s Pride (Yuji Nagata, Tomohiro Ishii, KUSHIDA)
Moon Vulcan (Hideki Suzuki, Takuya Nomura, Fuminori Abe, Koji Iwamoto)
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Yukio Sakaguchi, Hikaru Sato, Keisuke Okuda, Shinya Aoki)
WAR International (Timothy Thatcher, Alexander Rusev, Drew Gulak, Jonathan Gresham)


 

 

 

 

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January 15, 2019
Tokyo, Japan

Genichiro Tenryu held a public press conference at the Aristrist Omotesando in Tokyo, Japan to officially announce the return of Wrestle and Romance (WAR) to the professional wrestling landscape. Tenryu stated that while wrestling in Japan has received much exposure in recent years due to online steaming services and international tours, he feels that the “strong style” that once defined Japanese pro-wrestling has been lost as companies look to appeal more to Western audiences. Not only will the newest incarnation of WAR represent the “strong style” of wrestling but it will incorporate elements of “shoot style”, which defined and influenced many pro-wrestling companies during the late 1980s and 1990s, and was a direct precursor to the mixed martial arts boom in the mid-90s.

Tenryu introduced a partnership with the UWF and representative, Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Fujiwara appeared with the old UWF Heavyweight Championship and revealed that he would be working alongside Tenryu to help introduce the “newest generation of fans” to the classic stylings of Japanese professional wrestling. The UWF Heavyweight Title would be restored and coveted as WAR’s top prize, only to be defended and challenged under “UWF Rules” – that is, by knockout, submission, doctor/referee order stop or judges decision. In addition to the UWF Heavyweight Title, Tenryu confirmed the return of the J-Crown Championship, the top junior heavyweight title, and the WAR World Six Man Tag Team Championship. Both the J-Crown and the six man tag titles will be decided in upcoming tournaments.

Fujiwara, however, announced that the champion who best represents the philosophy of the UWF is none other than Hideki Suzuki. Suzuki was then brought on stage to accept the title belt from Fujiwara and Tenryu. Suzuki commented briefly that he was very honored to hold and defend such a prestigious championship, and that he would do his best to help elevate WAR as a promotion. However, before he could continue, Suzuki was interrupted by commotion in the back of the conference room...with the arrival of Minoru Suzuki and his Suzuki-gun stable, which includes Yukio Sakaguchi, Hikaru Sato, Shinya Aoki and Keisuke Okuda. Minoru stormed the stage and confronted both Hideki and Fujiwara. He said he felt “betrayed” by Fujiwara for not considering him for the UWF Heavyweight Title, considering their history with the UWF and Fujiwara-gumi. Minoru said that the belt belonged to him by right, and he will not stop until the belt is his.

Tenryu intervened and made it clear that a 16-man “UWF Rules” tournament would take place to establish the top contender to the UWF Heavyweight Title. Tenryu said that Minoru would have to fight for a chance at the title, along with 15 other men, which will include legends such as Jun Akiyama and Yuji Nagata, as well as top foreign names Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher, among others. Tenryu said another short press conference will be held in the coming days regarding the tournament but for now, Minoru would have to wait his turn and if he or his Suzuki-goons did anything “uncharacteristic” of the new promotion, he would have no problem removing him from the tournament.

Tenryu ended the conference by revealing the full roster of talent contracted to WAR (see above). In addition, Tenryu and Fujiwara have brought on Katsuyori Shibata and Josh Barnett to serve as trainers and mentors, and to help with the transition in style. 
 

 

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January 16, 2019
Tokyo, Japan

Genichiro Tenryu and Yoshiaki Fujiwara were on hand at the new UWF Dojo to announce the upcoming match-ups and cards for the UWF Rules Tournament, as well as the J-Crown Championship Tournament to decide WAR's next junior heavyweight champ, which will run coincident. The J-Crown Tournament will be wrestled under standard pro-wrestling rules -- that is, pinfall, submission, or knockout. A total of eight cards were announced, culminating in the finals at Tokyo Korakuen Hall on February 2, 2019. According to Fujiwara, the shows will have a more intimate feel, only featuring five match cards. 

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/18/2019
Ota Ward Gymnasium

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: Drew Gulak vs. Kazuki Hashimoto
2. Timothy Thatcher, Shotaro Ashino & Alexander Rusev vs. Shuji Ishikawa, Kengo Mashimo & Kota Umeda
3. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Minoru Suzuki vs. Daisuke Nakamura
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: Munenori Sawa vs. Daisuke Sasaki
5. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Yuji Nagata vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/19/2019
Ota Ward Gymnasium

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: Shinya Aoki vs. Fuminori Abe
2. Yuji Nagata, Tomohiro Ishii & KUSHIDA vs. Minoru Suzuki, Keisuke Okuda & Hikaru Sato
3. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Timothy Thatcher vs. Yukio Sakaguchi
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: KENTA vs. Kota Umeda
5. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Takashi Sugiura vs. Shotaro Ashino

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/20/2019
Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1:  TAKA Michinoku vs. Jonathan Gresham
2.  Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kazusada Higuchi & SHO Tanaka vs. Hideki Suzuki, Takuya Nomura & Fuminori Abe
3. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Alexander Rusev
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: Koji Iwamoto vs. Hikaru Sato
5. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Shuji Ishikawa vs. Go Shiozaki

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/23/2019
Hachioji Esforta Arena

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: Akito vs. SHO Tanaka
2.  Minoru Suzuki, Yukio Sakaguchi & Shinya Aoki vs. Timothy Thatcher, Alexander Rusev & Drew Gulak
3. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Matt Riddle vs. Takuya Nomura
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: KUSHIDA vs. Dick Togo
5. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Jun Akiyama vs. Kazusada Higuchi

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/25/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 2: X vs. X
2. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: X vs. X
3. 1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 2: X vs. X
4. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: X vs. X

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/26/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 2: X vs. X
2. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: X vs. X
3. 1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 2: X vs. X
4. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: X vs. X

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/27/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Semi-Final: X vs. X
2. UWF Rules Tournament Semi-Final: X vs. X
3. 1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Semi-Final: X vs. X
4. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: X vs. X

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019 ~ FINAL",  2/3/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Final: X vs. X
2. UWF Rules Tournament Final: X vs. X
 

 

 

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The Ota Ward Gymnasium in Tokyo housed the return Wrestle and Romance (WAR) and the first rounds of the UWF Rules and J-Crown tournaments. Prior to the start of the first match, Genichiro Tenryu thanked the fans and introduced all sixteen competitors in the J-Crown Tournament. The opening match saw American Drew Gulak defeat Kazuki Hashimoto in a heated match-up. The match stayed mostly on the mat, with Gulak utilizing his amateur skills to ultimately get the better of Hashimoto, submitting him with a grounded variation of the dragon sleeper.

The UWF International trio of Timothy Thatcher, Shotaro Ashino, and Alexander Rusev defeated the Kingslayers (Shuji Ishikawa, Kengo Mashimo and Kota Umeda) in a fun six-man tag after Rusev pinned Umeda with a big ura-nage. Rusev was said to be leaning more heavily into his sambo background with some of his takedowns and throws. 

Following this match, Yoshiaki Fujiwara came out to introduce the sixteen competitors of the UWF Rules Tournament before Minoru Suzuki and Daisuke Nakamura kicked off the tournament with their first round match. Suzuki, who was accompanied to the ring by Suzuki-gun, worked rather aggressively against Nakamura and although Nakamura was able to send him to the ropes, Suzuki secured the rear naked choke for the submission win. 

In a very exciting match, Daisuke Sasaki scored the “upset” victory over veteran Munenori Sawa after avoiding the Shining Wizard and rolling up Sawa for the pinfall. Sawa was, more or less, in control throughout the match, pummeling Sasaki with stiff strikes and working to set up his borrowed signature move but Sasaki’s wiliness paid off in the end as he advances in the tournament. 

The main event more than delivered as veteran Yuji Nagata and brash youngster Katsuhiko Nakajima beat the hell out of each other, delivering kicks and face slaps and more kicks and more face slaps. Nagata busted open Nakajima’s lip at one point in the match and nearly had him down for the count after he hit an Exploder suplex. But Nakajima fought back and in the end, KO’d Nagata with a nasty kick to the face. Nakajima, who was joined by the members of Escalante, told the fans afterwards that he would win the tournament and become the ace of WAR. 

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019", 1/18/2019
Ota Ward Gymnasium
2,875 Fans
– No Vacancy

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: Drew Gulak beat Kazuki Hashimoto (8:12) with a grounded dragon sleeper.
2. Timothy Thatcher, Shotaro Ashino & Alexander Rusev beat Shuji Ishikawa, Kengo Mashimo & Kota Umeda (10:34) when Rusev pinned Umeda with a ura-nage.
3. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Minoru Suzuki beat Daisuke Nakamura (7:57) with a rear naked choke.
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: Daisuke Sasaki beat Munenori Sawa (14:38) with a Shining Wizard-cutback cradle. 
5. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Katsuhiko Nakajima beat Yuji Nagata (18:41) by KO (face kick). 
 

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I gotta believe that Drew Gulak has to be one of the favorites to win the J-Crown title. At least, he'd be mine! I was a bit surprised to see Nagata lose in the main event but that just makes things interesting in my book!

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The UWF Heavyweight Champion, Hideki Suzuki, introduced the show and spoke a bit about what the legacy of the UWF means to him, and how he hopes to honor that tradition by embodying the fighting spirit of professional wrestler. He talked about mentoring the likes of Takuya Nomura and Fuminori Abe, both of whom have aspired to embody that same spirit. As Moon Vulcan began making their way to the ring, Suzuki-gun appeared from behind in a threatening manner. However, Minoru Suzuki held them back and said that they were only here to support Shinya Aoki in the opening contest. Aoki and Abe put on quite the mat clinic, with Abe’s cat-like reflexes and movements catching Aoki off guard. Aoki’s experience, however, played an important role in this match and when Abe failed to escape a hold, Aoki cinched in the double wristlock for the submission.

Suzuki-gun remained in the ring as the Lion’s Pride came out for a six-man tag match. As expected, this match delivered on the stiffness scale, with Tomohiro Ishii and Suzuki especially going at it throughout. Yuji Nagata, of course, was the fan favorite as he blasted the opposition with big kicks. In the end, he and his team picked up the victory after Ishii dropped Keisuke Okuda with the brainbuster.  

In another first round match-up of the UWF Rules Tournament, Timothy Thatcher defeated Suzuki-gun member, Yukio Sakaguchi, when he caught him off guard with the wakigatame. Sakaguchi was a little cocky when it came to taking Thatcher seriously and mostly came at him with kicks and knees but Thatcher brought his A-game and proved he could handle the UWF style.

KENTA made his long-awaited return to Japan and won his first round match of the J-Crown Tournament against Kota Umeda, who more than challenged KENTA’s patience throughout. The two worked a very similar style – kick heavy – but Umeda fought with a chip on his shoulder and got some big nearfalls on KENTA before ultimately succumbing to the Go 2 Sleep, which got a big reaction from the Tokyo crowd.

The main event featured another similarly-contested match with veteran Takashi Sugiura taking on Shotaro Ashino. Ashino looked very impressive against Suguira, as the two went back-and-forth trading suplex throws and fighting for control of the ankle. By the end of it, they were both hobbling around and trying to snag it once last time for a submission, which Sugiura was finally able to do after hitting Ashino with a release German. Sugiura tried to shake Ashino’s hand after the match but Ashino smacked him in the face and walked off.

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019", 1/19/2019
Ota Ward Gymnasium
2,825 Fans
– No Vacancy

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: Shinya Aoki beat Fuminori Abe (10:12) with the double wristlock. 
2. Yuji Nagata, Tomohiro Ishii & KUSHIDA beat Minoru Suzuki, Keisuke Okuda & Hikaru Sato (12:23) when Ishii pinned Okuda with the vertical-drop brainbuster.
3. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Timothy Thatcher beat Yukio Sakaguchi (11:08) with the wakigatame. 
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: KENTA beat Kota Umeda (13:42) with the Go 2 Sleep.
5. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Takashi Sugiura beat Shotaro Ashino (19:26) with the ankle hold.

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The show opened with another first round tournament match to decide the new J-Crown Champion. American Jonathan Gresham returned to Japan in a match against veteran junior, TAKA Michinoku. TAKA tried to play dirty with Gresham, who was not having it and wanted a clean contest. TAKA eventually relented, which led to some slick exchanges, but when TAKA tried for his signature Michinoku Driver II, Gresham slipped out and into the octopus hold for the big submission win!

Escalante and Moon Vulcan battled it out in six-man tag team competition, with Katsuhiko Nakajima going after the UWF Heavyweight Champion, Hideki Suzuki. Suzuki was able to let his protégé Takuya Nomura be the workhorse and of course, Nomura and Nakajima beat each other silly for a while before the bigger Kazusada Higuchi cleaned house and pinned Fuminori Abe with the Doctor Bomb. After the match, Nakajima got in Hideki’s face and said he was coming for him.

Bulgarian Alexander Rusev had a big challenge ahead of him, not only in terms of the UWF rule set, but because his opponent was Tomohiro Ishii. Ishii let Rusev have it and to his credit, Rusev was able to dish it back, firing off elbows and kicks and suplex throws. Ishii struggled to his feet at the count of eight following a release German suplex but when Rusev tried for the ura-nage, Ishii fought him off with elbows and headbutts and KO’d him with a nasty vertical-drop brainbuster!

Koji Iwamoto defeated Hikaru Sato in a very good grappling-heavy contest, in which Iwamoto was able to showcase his judo skills. Sato was able to take Iwamoto to the ropes a few times and tried breaking him down with kicks, but after Iwamoto hit the judo throw seemingly from out of nowhere, he held on and tapped Sato with the katagatame. Sato seemed disappointed following the match and backstage, he apologized to his mentor, Minoru Suzuki, for the loss. Suzuki only slapped him.

The main event was the definition of a slugfest as Shuji Ishikawa and Go Shiozaki annihilated each other with elbows, knees, lariats, headbutts, chops – you name it, they threw it. There was very little matwork and it was clear they this was only going to result in a knockout. In the end, Shiozaki signaled for his Gowan short-arm lariat but Ishikawa was able to reverse the attempt with an absolutely brutal ripcord heatbutt for the KO. Ishikawa celebrated his victory alongside the other members of Kingslayers.

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019", 1/20/2019
Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center
3,500 Fans
 

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1:  Jonathan Gresham beat TAKA Michinoku (8:34) with the octopus hold. 
2.  Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kazusada Higuchi & SHO Tanaka beat Hideki Suzuki, Takuya Nomura & Fuminori Abe (10:53) when Higuchi pinned Abe with the Doctor Bomb.
3. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Tomohiro Ishii beat Alexander Rusev (13:34) by KO (vertical-drop brainbuster). 
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: Koji Iwamoto beat Hikaru Sato (12:11) with a katagatame. 
5. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Shuji Ishikawa beat Go Shiozaki (19:48) by KO (ripcord headbutt).  

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Wrestle and Romance held a rather intimate show at the Hachioji Esforta Arena in downtown Tokyo. Members of the Tokyo Hachioji Bee Trains were in attendance and met with Genicihiro Tenryu and Yoshiaki Fujiwara to open the show. In another first round match of the J-Crown Championship Tournament, SHO Tanaka defeated Akito with his Shock Arrow. Tanaka, who was accompanied to the ring by Katsuhiko Nakajima, showed a lot more attitude in-ring and worked more aggressively than he had previous during his time in New Japan. Akito tried working the leg but Tanaka used his strength to his advantage and ended up putting him away with his piledriver variation. 

WAR International members Timothy Thatcher, Alexander Rusev and Drew Gulak fought Suzuki-gun in six-man tag team action. The primary focus of the match was between Thatcher and Minoru Suzuki, as well as Gulak and Shinya Aoki, who opened the match with a great back-and-forth mat exchange. Rusev used his power to throw people around with suplexes and Yukio Sakaguchi brought the kicks and knees. In the end, however, Sakaguchi found himself in the same predicament as his UWF Rules match against Thatcher, tapping to the wakigatame. 

Former UFC fighter, Matt Riddle, received quite the ovation from Japanese fans as he made his in-ring debut for WAR. Riddle seemed excited to be there but when Takuya Nomura got into the ring, Nomura wasn't in the same mood. He immediately went at Riddle with big kicks and open hand slaps, backing Riddle into a corner. Riddle's strategy was to get Nomura on the ground but Nomura was fighting hard to stand his ground. He caught Riddle's kick attempt and planted him with a capture suplex. Riddle caught Nomura with a nasty high knee, stunning him long enough to secure the triangle choke for the submission. 

KUSHIDA and Dick Togo put on quite the junior heavyweight modern classic, with Togo working as the heel (backed by both Daisuke Sasaki and TAKA Michinoku) and trying to destroy KUSHIDA's arm. KUSHIDA played the babyface and rallied back against Togo, avoiding the diving senton to hit a small package piledriver into the Hoverboard Lock for the submission win. After the match, KUSHIDA thanked the fans for their support and promised to bring the J-Crown Title back to prominence. 

In the main event, legend Jun Akiyama wasn't happy to be up against Kazusada Higuchi and his sumo-influenced approach. Higuchi literally threw himself at Akiyama on the offensive, pummeling him with shoteis and chops, and catching at one point with a nasty headbutt. Akiyama brought plenty of knees but he mainly tried to keep Higuchi on the ground. After a few Exploder suplexes, Akiyama was able to cinch in the front necklock to submit Higuchi. After the match, Nakajima got into the ring and went face-to-face with Akiyama, setting the stage for the quarterfinals.

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019", 1/23/2019
Hachioji Esforta Arena
1,255 Fans
 - Super No Vacancy

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1:  SHO Tanaka beat Akito (7:56) with the Shock Arrow.
2.  Timothy Thatcher, Alexander Rusev & Drew Gulak beat Minoru Suzuki, Yukio Sakaguchi & Shinya Aoki (9:43) when Thatcher used the wakigatame on Sakaguchi.
3. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Matt Riddle beat Takuya Nomura (13:18) with a triangle choke.
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 1: KUSHIDA beat Dick Togo (14:40) with the Hoverboard Lock.
5. UWF Rules Tournament Round 1: Jun Akiyama beat Kazusada Higuchi (18:34) with the front necklock.  

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The cards have been updated to reflect the second round match-ups for both the J-Crown Championship Tournament and the UWF Rules Tournament. Wrestle and Romance (WAR) will return to Korakuen Hall in Tokyo for three consecutive nights, followed by the final on 2/3. In regard to the WAR World Six-Man Tag Team Titles, Genichiro Tenryu said that a small tournament of eight teams would take place over the course of February to decide the new trio of champions. He believes the promotion's return has thus far been a success, with a lot of older wrestling fans returning to the sport with WAR's heavy focus on strong and shoot styles. As far as Hideki Suzuki coming into the promotion as the UWF Heavyweight Champion, he praised Suzuki for his honoring of past legacies and said that he trusted Yoshiaki Fujiwara's judgement when it came to selecting a champion. 

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/25/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 2: Drew Gulak vs. Shinya Aoki
2. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: Minoru Suzuki vs. Timothy Thatcher
3. Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kazusada Higuchi & SHO Tanaka vs. Jun Akiyama, Go Shiozaki & KENTA
4. 1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 2: KUSHIDA vs. Daisuke Sasaki
5. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: Takashi Sugiura vs. Tomohiro Ishii

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/26/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 2: Koji Iwamoto vs. SHO Tanaka
2. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: Shuji Ishikawa vs. Matt Riddle
3. Yuji Nagata, Tomohiro Ishii & KUSHIDA vs. Hideki Suzuki, Takuya Nomura & Fuminori Abe
4. 1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 2: KENTA vs. Jonathan Gresham
5. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: Jun Akiyama vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/27/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Semi-Final: X vs. X
2. UWF Rules Tournament Semi-Final: X vs. X
3. 1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Semi-Final: X vs. X
4. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: X vs. X

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019 ~ FINAL",  2/3/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Final: X vs. X
2. UWF Rules Tournament Final: X vs. X

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Korakuen Hall was packed for the second round of the J-Crown and UWF tournaments, headlined by Tomohiro Ishii versus Takashi Sugiura. The show kicked off with Drew Gulak (accompanied by Shotaro Ashino) and Shinya Aoki (accompanied by Yukio Sakaguchi and Keisuke Okuda), in a back-and-forth game of chess on the mat, with Gulak utilizing more of his amateur stylings against Aoki’s slick maneuvering and limb grabbing. At one point, a fed up Gulak started pounding away at Aoki and snap suplexing him into the corner. Aoki seemed like he was being set up for the finish but he caught Gulak with the double wristlock from out of nowhere, and Gulak had no choice but to submit. 

Gulak’s stablemate, Timothy Thatcher, didn’t fare much better against Suzuki-gun leader, Minoru Suzuki, when Suzuki KO’d him following a nasty shoot Gotch-style piledriver. To his credit, Thatcher held his own and at one point, had Suzuki scrambling for the ropes when he grounded him with the wakigatame. Thatcher, who was seconded to the ring by Alexander Rusev, got into it with Suzuki’s second, Hikaru Sato.  Sato argued that Thatcher was using an illegal choke but Rusev was able to stare Sato into silence. 

In a big six-man tag, Burning (Jun Akiyama, Go Shiozaki and KENTA) fought Escalante (Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kazusada Higuchi and SHO Tanaka). Of course, the emphasis of this match was on Akiyama and Nakajima, although Shiozaki and Higuchi chopped the hell out of each other and KENTA drilled SHO with a nasty flying knee. Shiozaki finally finished Tanaka off with the Gowan lariat. After the match, Nakajima and Akiyama continued to fight at ringside until Shiozaki and KENTA were able to separate them. Nakajima spit at the retreating Burning. 

KUSHIDA had a heck of a time getting passed Daisuke Sasaki, who tried just about everything to defeat KUSHIDA, including a big diving elbow from the top to the outside with KUSHIDA seated on a chair. Sasaki nearly had him with a dragon suplex hold but when he tried for the satellite headscissors into the crossface, KUSHIDA was able to counter with the Hoverboard Lock, turning that into his small package piledriver for the victory. TAKA Michinoku and Dick Togo, who were both at ringside, teased interference throughout. 

The main event was easily the match of the night and one of the best matches of the tournament, as Tomohiro Ishii and Takashi Sugiura beat the living hell out of each other under UWF Rules. Sugiura, however, was able to dominate Ishii on the ground and tried to keep him off his feet by working the ankle. Ishii, however, wasn’t having it and continued blasting Sugiura with elbows and forearms. The elbow exchanges were stiff, to say the least, and the finish saw Ishii bust Sugiura open with a headbutt for the KO. Ishii and his second, Yuji Nagata, helped Sugiura to the back. Backstage, Ishii called that one of the toughest battles of his career. 


Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/25/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
1,730 Fans
– Super No Vacancy Full House

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 2: Shinya Aoki beat Drew Gulak (8:38) with the double wristlock.
2. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: Minoru Suzuki beat Timothy Thatcher (12:12) by KO (Gotch-style piledriver). 
3. Jun Akiyama, Go Shiozaki & KENTA beat Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kazusada Higuchi & SHO Tanaka (14:45) when Shiozaki used a short-arm lariat on Tanaka. 
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 2: KUSHIDA beat Daisuke Sasaki (12:56) with the Back to the Future.
5. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: Tomohiro Ishii beat Takashi Sugiura (15:21) by KO (headbutt). 

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The second night at Korakuen Hall kicked off with Koji Iwamoto and SHO Tanaka hyping up the crowd with a fast-paced back-and-forth match, mostly dominated by Tanaka in the first half. He was able to get quite a few nearfalls on Iwamoto, including a two count off a beautiful German suplex hold. Iwamoto blocked a thrust kick attempt and took down SHO with his snap judo throw, cinching in the katagatame upon landing for the submission. 

Matt Riddle had quite the giant to slay in the form of Shuji Ishikawa but perseverance (and a lot of legwork) paid off as Riddle was able to Shuji to tap out, when he caught the running knee and turned it into a cross kneebar. Ishikawa knew he couldn’t beat Riddle on the ground so he was throwing everything he had at Riddle, pounding him to the ground in the hopes that he would get the KO or TKO. Riddle, however, had the crowd behind him and was able to move on to the semi-finals. 

In six-man tag team action, Lion’s Pride and Moon Vulcan tangled, pitting Yuji Nagata against Hideki Suzuki for the first time. The two had great chemistry together but, perhaps more interesting, was Takuya Nomura’s interactions with the veteran Nagata. In that Nomura ended up pissing off the wrong dad and ate a plate full of stiff hand slaps. KUSHIDA and Fuminori Abe tore it up on the mat with a very quick touch-and-go, before Abe actually caught KUSHIDA in an armbar. In the end, however, Nagata pinned Nomura with his backdrop hold.

Jonathan Gresham’s road to the J-Crown Championship ended when KENTA put him to sleep in another fast-paced match. Gresham tried his best to avoid KENTA’s fiery strikes and focused instead on his takedowns and submission work. He briefly trapped KENTA in the octopus hold and when he struggled too much, he turned it into a piledriver! KENTA caught him with a flying knee and finally downed him with the Go 2 Sleep. 

The main event delivered on just about every level a main event can, with Jun Akiyama trying to squash the petulant Katsuhiko Nakajima with suplexes and running knees and even his front necklock. Nakajima wouldn’t stay down and throughout the match, you could see Akiyama’s fuse grow shorter and shorter. Nakajima went from disrespectful prick to fighting for his life by the end of it. When he countered the front necklock with a quick brainbuster, Akiyama struggled but beat the ten count. Nakajima’s last resort came in the form of a nasty punt kick, who put Akiyama down for the count. After the match, Riddle came down to the ring and cut an English promo, saying he couldn’t wait to face Nakajima in the semi-finals and “knee the grin off his face.”  


Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/26/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
1,750 Fans
– Super No Vacancy Full House

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 2: Koji Iwamoto beat SHO Tanaka (10:27) with the katagatame.
2. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: Matt Riddle beat Shuji Ishikawa (14:56) with a cross kneebar.
3. Yuji Nagata, Tomohiro Ishii & KUSHIDA beat Hideki Suzuki, Takuya Nomura & Fuminori Abe (12:02) when Nagata used the backdrop hold on Nomura. 
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Round 2: KENTA beat Jonathan Gresham (9:34) with the Go 2 Sleep.
5. UWF Rules Tournament Round 2: Katsuhiko Nakajima beat Jun Akiyama (21:18) by KO (punt kick). 
 

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Full card released for tomorrow's semi-finals.

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/27/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Semi-Final: KUSHIDA vs. Shinya Aoki
2. UWF Rules Tournament Semi-Final: Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Matt Riddle
3. Daisuke Sasaki, TAKA Michinoku & Dick Togo vs. Jonathan Gresham, Akito & Munenori Sawa 
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Semi-Final: KENTA vs. Koji Iwamoto
5. UWF Rules Tournament Semi-Final: Minoru Suzuki vs. Tomohiro Ishii 

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The UWF Heavyweight Champion, Hideki Suzuki, joined the commentary team for tonight’s event. The opening contest was a hard-fought chess game on the mat between KUSHIDA and Shinya Aoki, with both looking for an opening to the arm submission and neither giving much more than an inch. Aoki had him in the double wristlock, which was countered into the Hoverboack Lock, which went back to the double wristlock, until KUSHIDA was finally able to hook the leg and trap Aoki for the submission. KUSHIDA moves onto the final to face the winner of KENTA/Iwamoto. 

Katsuhiko Nakajima came into this match like he was walking out of it the winner. Perhaps his overconfidence and nonchalance cost him the match. He drilled Matt Riddle with some heavy kicks, and kept him pinned in a corner, blasting him with shot after shot. Riddle tried to get something going on the ground but Nakajima wasn’t having it, slipping out and going back to the strikes. When Nakajima tried for a brainbuster, Riddle turned it into a front necklock and then transitioned into the triangle choke. Nakajima tried to escape out, wouldn’t tap out, and eventually passed out, awarding Riddle the KO victory. 

The junior heavyweights tore it up in six-man tag team action as BAD HOMBREZ battled WAR Jam. A very Michinoku Pro style six-man with a little BattlARTS thrown in for good measure. Dick Togo got a lot of time to shine in there, mostly against Jonathan Gresham, but in the end, he was able to hit Akito with the Pedigree to set up the final senton.

Koji Iwamoto nearly had KENTA beat in his semi-final match, catching him from out of nowhere with the judo throw. But he wasn’t able to secure the follow up submission and KENTA rallied back with his flurry of strikes, blasting him with the flying knee before putting him down for good with the Go 2 Sleep. Both men shook hands after the match and Hideki Suzuki praised Iwamoto’s performance in the tournament. 

The main event of the evening was the highly-anticipated semi-final between Minoru Suzuki (with Suzuki-gun) against Tomohiro Ishii, who was seconded by Yuji Nagata. It was heated, it was emotional, with Ishii playing the lovable Stone Pitbull underdog who kept battering Suzuki with every part of his body. Suzuki’s slaps were intense and about halfway through the match, he realized Ishii wasn’t going down without some kind of tranquilizer. He kept trying to snag Ishii with a sleeper hold but Ishii would burst out and destroy Suzuki with elbows and headbutts. But similar to the Nakajima/Riddle match, once Ishii tried to finish him off with the brainbuster, Suzuki slipped out behind with the sleeper and held on til the very end when the ref had to pry him off. After the match, Minoru got in Hideki’s face at the commentary table and slapped his headset off. The two were held off by Katsuyori Shibata at ringside. 

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019",  1/27/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
1,755 Fans
– Super No Vacancy Full House

1. J-Crown Championship Tournament Semi-Final: KUSHIDA beat Shinya Aoki (8:57) with the Hoverboard Lock.
2. UWF Rules Tournament Semi-Final: Matt Riddle beat Katsuhiko Nakajima (16:23) with the triangle choke.
3. Daisuke Sasaki, TAKA Michinoku & Dick Togo beat Munenori Sawa, Jonathan Gresham & Akito (10:18) when Togo used the senton on Akito. 
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Semi-Final: KENTA beat Koji Iwamoto (15:34) with the Go 2 Sleep.
5. UWF Rules Tournament Semi-Final: Minoru Suzuki beat Tomohiro Ishii (19:44) with the sleeper hold.  
 

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A press conference was held today from the WAR offices in downtown Tokyo, with Genichiro Tenryu announcing the full card for the tournament finals on 2/3 at Korakuen Hall. In addition to the UWF Rules Tournament Final, which will feature Minoru Suzuki and Matt Riddle in a rematch from their 2017 Bloodsport match, KENTA and KUSHIDA will determine the new J-Crown Champion. A big eight-man tag team elimination match will open the show, featuring Kingslayers against Moon Vulcan. Drew Gulak will take on Munenori Sawa in a UWF Rules match, and finally, Katsuhiko Nakajima and Kazusada Higuchi will team up to take on Yuji Nagata and Tomohiro Ishii

Tenryu also took time to discuss the WAR World Six-Man Tag Team Titles, and revealed eight teams that will be involved in the tournament, set to take place over the course of February. The teams are as follows:

BAD HOMBREZ (Daisuke Sasaki, Dick Togo, TAKA Michinoku)
Burning (Jun Akiyama, Go Shiozaki, KENTA)
Escalante (Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kazusada Higuchi, SHO Tanaka) 
Kingslayers (Kengo Mashimo, Kazuki Hashimoto, Kota Umeda)
Lion’s Pride (Yuji Nagata, Tomohiro Ishii, KUSHIDA)
Moon Vulcan (Takuya Nomura, Fuminori Abe, Koji Iwamoto)
Suzuki-gun (Yukio Sakaguchi, Keisuke Okuda, Shinya Aoki)
WAR Jam (Jonathan Gresham, Akito, Munenori Sawa)

Finally, in closing, Tenryu thanked the public for their continued support of the WAR reformation and said that the first month was a success and it's clear that the fans had missed true strong-style wrestling.

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019 ~ FINAL", 2/3/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall

1. Elimination Match: Shuji Ishikawa, Kengo Mashimo, Kazuki Hashimoto & Kota Umeda vs. Hideki Suzuki, Takuya Nomura, Koji Iwamoto & Fuminori Abe
2. UWF Rules: Drew Gulak vs. Munenori Sawa
3. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kazusada Higuchi vs. Yuji Nagata & Tomohiro Ishii
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Final: KENTA vs. KUSHIDA
5. UWF Rules Tournament Final: Minoru Suzuki vs. Matt Riddle

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The UWF Rules and J-Crown Tournaments concluded today in front of a capacity crowd at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Genichiro Tenryu and Yoshiaki Fujiwara opened the show by once again thanking the fans for their support. Tenryu, holding the J-Crown title belt, said he was very excited to reinstate the junior heavyweight championship and crown the new champion tonight. He praised both competitors for their past accomplishments and said that he was confident either man would represent the company well as J-Crown Champion. 

The show opened with a big eight-man elimination match featuring Hideki Suzuki’s Moon Vulcan against the Kingslayers. Plenty of action throughout, as one by one the competitors were taken out. In the end, the UWF Champion went toe-to-toe with Shuji Ishikawa, ultimately pinning Ishikawa with a dragon suplex hold. Hideki then joined commentary for the remainder of the show. 

In a UWF Rules match-up, Munenori Sawa defeated Drew Gulak when he was able to lock him in the octopus hold. The match was mostly a ground affair, although Sawa was sure to throw out a number of nasty strikes, including his signature baseball punch, which kept Gulak off his feet for an eight count. Gulak and Sawa shook hands after the match, and Sawa announced that he would be working primarily as a trainer in the UWF Dojo along with Katsuyori Shibata and Josh Barnett. With that, WAR Jam was disbanded.

Backstage, Gulak and Timothy Thatcher offered Jonathan Gresham a spot in WAR International - to which, Gresham accepted, shaking hands with both. This, however, didn't go well with Shotaro Ashino. Ashino told Thatcher that he is the leader of WAR International and when that doesn't go over well with the other members, Ashino flips everyone off and leaves, saying that the group was only holding him back. Thus, Ashino has left WAR International...

In tag team competition, the veterans of Yuji Nagata and Tomohiro Ishii took on Katsuhiko Nakajima and Kazusada Higuchi of Escalante. As expected, the match was very hard-hitting, especially when it came to the exchanges between Nagata and Nakajima. Ishii and Higuchi also chopped and elbowed each other silly but Nakajima was especially feisty and seemed bitter about having not reached the finals of the tournament. Ishii, however, picked up the win for his team after pinning Higuchi following a vertical-drop brainbuster.

KUSHIDA was crowned the 20th J-Crown Champion in an excellent back-and-forth match with KENTA. KENTA was the dominant aggressor for much of the duration as he tried to overwhelm the more mat-focused KUSHIDA with stiff kicks, knees, and slaps. Finally, KUSHIDA let KENTA have it with some big slaps of his own before trying to destroy the arm to set up the Hoverboard Lock. At one point, KENTA had KUSHIDA up for the Go 2 Sleep, but KUSHIDA countered beautifully into a headscissors takedown into the Hoverboard Lock for the submission. KUSHIDA celebrated in the ring and backstage, told reporters that he was very proud of this moment in his career.

The main event determined the top contender to the UWF Heavyweight Championship as Minoru Suzuki and Matt Riddle battled it out on the mat and on their feet. Riddle’s speed worked to his advantage as he kept taking Suzuki down to the ground and working his way into a front mount. The ground and pound approach didn’t last forever, as Suzuki was able to counter his way out and lay into Riddle with dirty open hands and knee strikes. He tried spiking Riddle with a shoot Gotch-style piledriver but Riddle avoided it and in turn, caught Suzuki with a gnarly high knee which nearly scored Riddle the victory. Suzuki’s experience led him to his victory as he was able to snag the sleeper hold off the ropes and kept it locked in until Riddle took a nap. After the match, Hideki Suzuki entered the ring with his title belt and stood face-to-face with Minoru to bring the event to a close. 

 

Wrestle and Romance "UWF RULES! 2019 ~ FINAL", 2/3/2019
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
1,768 Fans
– Super No Vacancy Full House

1. Elimination Match: Hideki Suzuki, Takuya Nomura, Koji Iwamoto & Fuminori Abe beat Shuji Ishikawa, Kengo Mashimo, Kazuki Hashimoto & Kota Umeda (18:33). Nomura pinned Umeda (5:23) with the PK. Hashimoto pinned Abe (7:59) with a running buzzsaw kick. Iwamoto pinned Hashimoto (9:11) with a judo throw hold. Mashimo pinned Iwamoto (12:14) with a brainbuster. Ishikawa pinned Nomura (14:05) with the Fire Thunder Driver. Suzuki pinned Mashimo (16:12) with a double arm suplex hold. Suzuki pinned Ishikawa (18:33) with a dragon suplex hold. 
2. UWF Rules: Munenori Sawa beat Drew Gulak (11:27) with the octopus hold. 
3. Yuji Nagata & Tomohiro Ishii beat Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kazusada Higuchi (14:52) when Ishii pinned Higuchi with the vertical-drop brainbuster.
4. J-Crown Championship Tournament Final: KUSHIDA beat KENTA (17:48) with the Hoverboard Lock to become the 20th J-Crown Champion.
5. UWF Rules Tournament Final: Minoru Suzuki beat Matt Riddle (19:10) with the sleeper hold. 

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Wrestle and Romance's owner, Genichiro Tenryu, held a press conference this morning from the UWF Dojo to discuss the upcoming tour and the tournament to decide the new WAR World Six-Man Tag Team champions. Tenryu revealed that the short tour would culminate in Osaka at EDION Arena Osaka on 2/24, with not only the finals of the tournament taking place but Hideki Suzuki defending the UWF Heavyweight Title against the top contender to the belt, Minoru Suzuki.  He also confirmed that WAR Jam would be replaced in the tournament with a team from WAR International, consisting of Timothy Thatcher, Drew Gulak and newly-added member, Jonathan Gresham. Other news and notes from the press conference include:

  • Munenori Sawa will be training junior heavyweights in the UWF Dojo, bridging that gap between traditional pro-wrestling and the UWF style
  • Akito will be working in DDT for the months of February and most of March 
  • Shotaro Ashino was reported to be "building" a new unit for him to lead after his abrupt departure from WAR International 
  • Matt Riddle is heading back to the United States but will be involved in the show at EDION Arena Osaka on 2/24

Tenryu then revealed the cards for this month's tour, featuringthe first round match-ups for the six-man tag team title tournament. 

 

Wrestle and Romance "WAR IN OSAKA 2019 Tour", 2/15/2019
Dream Messe Miyagi Main Building Exhibition Hall C

1. Keisuke Okuda vs. KENTA
2. WAR World Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament: Timothy Thatcher, Drew Gulak & Jonathan Gresham vs. Daisuke Sasaki, Dick Togo & TAKA Michinoku
3. Katsuhiko Nakajima & SHO Tanaka vs. Kengo Mashimo & Kota Umeda
4. UWF Rules: Jun Akiyama vs. Yukio Sakaguchi
5. WAR World Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament: Yuji Nagata, Tomohiro Ishii & KUSHIDA vs. Takuya Nomura, Koji Iwamoto & Fuminori Abe

 

Wrestle and Romance "WAR IN OSAKA 2019 Tour", 2/16/2019
Chino Citizen Pavilion Multi-Hall

1. UWF Rules: Takuya Nomura vs. Timothy Thatcher
2. WAR World Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament: Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kazusada Higuchi & SHO Tanaka vs. Kengo Mashimo, Kazuki Hashimoto & Kota Umeda
3. Hideki Suzuki & Koji Iwamoto vs. Minoru Suzuki & Hikaru Sato
4. WAR World Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament: Jun Akiyama, Go Shiozaki & KENTA vs. Yukio Sakaguchi, Keisuke Okuda & Shinya Aoki 

 

Wrestle and Romance "WAR IN OSAKA 2019 Tour", 2/22/2019
Osaka Edion Arena #2

1. WAR World Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament Semi-Final
2. WAR World Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament Semi-Final:

 

Wrestle and Romance "WAR IN OSAKA 2019", 2/24/2019
EDION Arena Osaka

1. WAR World Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament Final
2. UWF Heavyweight Title: Hideki Suzuki © vs. Minoru Suzuki 
 

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Over the weekend, Wrestle and Romance held a special ceremony to "officially" crown KUSHIDA as the 20th J-Crown Champion. Genichiro Tenryu and Yoshiaki Fujiwara were in attendance, as well as KUSHIDA's stablemates, Yuji Nagata and Tomohiro Ishii. However, the master of the ceremony was none other than legendary junior heavyweight, Jushin "Thunder" Liger. Liger spoke briefly about his run with the J-Crown back in 1997 and his feud with Ultimo Dragon at the time. As he was about to present the title to KUSHIDA, however, the ceremony was interrupted by Daisuke Sasaki, Dick Togo and TAKA Michinoku AKA the BAD HOMBREZ.

The trio stormed the stage, confronting KUSHIDA and Liger, and Sasaki went on a small tirade about how he was screwed out of the tournament and how KUSHIDA shouldn't be the champion. Daisuke said he already had two legends at his side (referring to Togo and Michinoku) who could beat KUSHIDA but that he had an ace up his sleeve, which nobody would see coming - especially, KUSHIDA. Sasaki told KUSHIDA to "turn around and smile", and when he did (not smiled, necessarily), Liger blasted KUSHIDA with the title belt! Those in attendance were baffled and shocked, and as Liger stood over KUSHIDA with the J-Crown title belt, Sasaki told KUSHIDA "Welcome to your DAMNATION!". Ishii and Nagata hurried to the stage and Nagata and Liger briefly locked eyes before Sasaki and his crew fled through the crowd and disappeared. 

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HEEL LIGER~! 

Interesting to see how the International boys do, along with if we get KENTA & Nakajima kicking the crap out of each other in a six man tournament match. Suzuki was obviously the right guy, both in terms of actual drawing business and booking to serve as champ, but will be fun to see who gets crowned as the actual future ace of the company in the long term. 

 

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