2022 Resolution: Giving Japanese Wrestling A Serious Try

Starting in January…I’m Going to See What It’s Like

Now if you have been listening to Pro Wrestling Overtime podcast then you know I love wrestling, but I’ll be the first to say I don’t know a lot about the Japanese wrestling scene. I watch New Japan Strong regularly and enjoy it immensely. However, I feel at point like I may follow too much wrestling as it is. But I feel like this year I should make an effort to watch the big Japanese shows for you and try to keep up with what is going on. Thinking back, I watched a lot more Japanese wrestling than I realized back in the Bullet Club formation days with Prince Devitt (Finn Balor), Young Bucks and Kenny Omega. Then I got back into it with Cody going to Japan and then with Moxley/Jericho going over. However, I don’t have a great overwhelming passion to watch all the time, every time and I definitely don’t rate all their matches five stars plus. 

I love stories in my wrestling especially through promos and sometimes Japanese wrestling gets hard to follow with the language difference. You are going to help me out though, right? You have to. I’m going to rely on t readers and listeners of the podcast to write in and explain thing to me when I don’t understand. Luckily, announcer Kevin Kelly will be explaining things on the English broadcasts of all the major shows until the end of the New Japan Cup. He is staying in Japan from January through March. I enjoy him and feel like he explains things well. A part of me wishes Alex Koslov was with him too. I’m hoping this won’t be hard since I already enjoy Okada, Ospreay and Ibushi. Plus I have seen that some of the American stars may be going back over to Japan soon. Yes, I know that depends on Covid-19.

January 1st-NOAH at Budokan Hall

So starting on January 1st, I’m going to be watching KENTA return to Pro Wrestling NOAH at Budokan Hall. I picked up KENTA based on Jon Moxley talking about him on AEW and did some research then. He wrestled on New Japan Strong and made an appearance on AEW. From what I know, KENTA went to the All Japan Pro Wrestling dojo and graduated in 2000. Soon after he joined NOAH and has been with them for 14 years. He won the GHC Heavyweight Championship along with major championships in NOAH’s Junior Heavyweight and Heavyweight Divisions. 

I didn’t know this when he signed with WWE in 2014. Here I thought from 2014–2019, he was new and wasn’t getting “the WWE style.” I should have researched him then. Of course, he didn’t take on and do their style since he was already “known” for so much more. So much for thinking he was a jobber. He joined New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2019 and has been there ever since. So at least I know one guy that will be wrestling this event.

The main event will see Go Shiozaki against NOAH’s reigning GHC Heavyweight Champion Katsuhiko Nakajima. Shiozaki is returning after a 9 month recovery from a shoulder injury. He is going for a record fifth championship.

January 4th-Wrestle Kingdom 16 Night 1 at Tokyo Dome

Now this will be an exciting night for me. I have heard about Wrestle Kingdom for a long time. Mostly for me, it has just been watching certain matches after the fact because someone brought my attention to it. It has never been second to WrestleMania for me. I lived my life for years without even hearing about it or caring. This year however, I’m going to try to get into it and be excited for all the matches. I am somewhat excited for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match that is happening the first night between the Champion Shingo Takagi and the challenger Kazuchika Okada who I enjoy. 

Match Card-Night 1

  • Yoh vs Sho
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi and The Mega Coaches (Ryusuke Taguchi and Rocky Romero) vs Bullet Club (KENTA, Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo)
  • Los Ingobernables de Japón (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA and Bushi) vs United Empire (Will Ospreay, Great-O-Khan and Jeff Cobb)
  • Catch Wrestling Match (strikes are forbidden): Katsuyori Shibata vs TBA
  • NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii vs EVIL 
  • IWGP Tag Team Championship: Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr.) vs CHAOS (Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi)
  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: El Desperado vs Hiromu Takahashi
  • IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Shingo Takagi vs Kazuchika Okada (Winner defends against Will Ospreay on Night 2)

January 5th-Wrestle Kingdom 16 Night 2 at Tokyo Dome

Have I mentioned yet that I like Will Ospreay yet? Yes, I know I’m not supposed to like him or want to see him, but I do. I can’t help it. I have a heel preference. There has been already a lot of speculation that Ospreay may not be able to be at Wrestle Kingdom 16 with the ban on non-resident foreign nationals entering Japan due to the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Dave Meltzer, those who are permitted to enter the country will have to abide by the 14-day quarantine that has been in place for some time, as the plan to reduce the quarantine to three or ten days has been suspended. New Japan Pro Wrestling is still expecting Ospreay and other foreign talent to be allowed to enter Japan with their current visas. 

NJPW President Takami Ohbari stated, “Under the current rules…I’ve heard that (regular foreign wrestlers) have visas to work in Japan, so they will be treated as re-entry. This has been confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” NJPW has scheduled Ospreay to face the winner of the January 4th match between the champion Shingo Takagi and Kazuchika Okada on January 5th. I hope that I get Okada vs Ospreay this night. The backstory on this is that Will Ospreay had to vacate the IWGP World Championship in May due to his injury. He has stated he never lost the title in the ring and has been wearing/carrying the championship when he showed up to NJPW’s Resurgence in August in Los Angeles and then on the New Japan Strong shows as well as all the RevPro shows in the UK before he came to the United States.

Match Card-Night 2

  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Flying Tiger (Robbie Eagles and Tiger Mask) vs Bullet Club’s Cutest Tag Team (Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo) vs The Mega Coaches (Ryusuke Taguchi and Rocky Romero)
  • Mayu Iwatani and Starlight Kid vs Tam Nakano and Saya Kamitani
  • Provisional King of Pro Wrestling 2022 Trophy: TBD vs TBD vs TBD vs TBD
  • House of Torture (EVIL, Yujrio Takahashi and Sho) vs CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Yoshi-Hashi and Yoh)
  • SANADA vs Great-O-Khan
  • Tetsuya Naito vs Jeff Cobb
  • IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship: KENTA vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (No Disqualification Match)
  • IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Shingo Takagi or Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay

January 8th-Wrestle Kingdom 16 Night 3 at Yokohama Arena

On January 8th, I will be taking in the New Japan vs NOAH show at Yokohama Arena. This is supposed to be a supercard featuring wrestling stars from both companies. Hopefully after watching the above three events then I will know all these wrestlers. 

Match Card-Night 3

  • Sho vs Atsushi Kotoge
  • Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori and Gedo) vs Stinger (Hayata and Seiki Yoshioka)
  • Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Douki) vs Los Perros del Mal de Japón (Yo-Hey and Nosawa Rongai)
  • CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi) and Six or Nine (Master Wato and Rysuke Taguchi) vs Daisuke Harada, Hajime Ohara, Daiki Inaba, Yoshiki Inamura and Kinya Okada
  • Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs Naomichi Marufuji and Yoshinari Ogawa
  • Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Minoru Suzuki and Taka Michinoku) vs Sugiura-gun (Takashi Sugiura and Kazushi Sakuraba) and KENTA
  • House of Torture (EVIL and Dick Togo) vs Go Shiozaski and Masa Kitamiya
  • Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Keiji Mutoh and Kaito Kiyomiya
  • Los Ingobernables De Japón (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, SANADA, Bushi and Hiromu Takahashi) vs Kongoh (Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kenoh, Manabu Soya, Tadasuke and Aleja)

Do I make it through these first four shows? Anything I need to really know or matches I need to concentrate on? You can write me to tell me how crazy I am at ProWrestlingOT@gmail.com 

Right now, I’m taking some time off from the podcast because I have had an infection and strep throat effecting my voice. So I have been unable to record any new episodes, but am hoping to start right up extremely soon. Please subscribe and listen to Pro Wrestling Overtime for up to date thoughts, reviews, results and news about many wrestling promotions. Check www.TheOvertimeNetwork.com for articles, upcoming events and episodes. We have 5 different podcasts under the network. Look forward to seeing you there.

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