After a week off, here’s a bumper batch of news bits that we didn’t forget to post while we were in Germany. Honest!
NEWS: Jushin Thunder Liger will be retiring in 2020, as part of New Japan’s double-header at the Tokyo Dome. Announcing the news in a press conference, Liger said that he didn’t feel he had anything left to do in wrestling, noting: “I was Liger for thirty years, all over the world. So while I don’t want to call this a retirement tour, I want to go all over Japan and the world and show myself to everyone one more time.” His first big match after the announcement will be against Scotty Davis in Dublin for OTT’s ScrapperMania show.
ICYMI: The New Beginning in USA shows dropped on New Japan World recently – they’re all commentary-free shows, featuring a whole bunch of names you’ll not really associate with New Japan… because visa issues. We won’t be reviewing these in full because we’ve got the New Japan Cup to catch up on, but some quick bits:
Night One – Los Angeles: Alex Coughlin vs. Clark Connors – typically fun Young Lion fodder, between two of the LA Dojo’s stand-outs. There’s a sickening Boston crab in the finishing stretch – but once these guys get extended ring-time, I’d not be surprised if they became stars. Whether it’ll be under the auspices of New Japan remains to be seen… Jonathan Gresham is really, really good at wrestling (I know…)… Karl Fredericks (another dojo prospect) looked really good in defeat to Jeff Cobb…
Night Two – Charlotte: We opened with a nice speech from Katsuyori Shibata who took the blame for the lack of Japanese wrestlers on the card. Talk about a scapegoat! From there, we started with Young Lions fare, with Clark Connors nearly running over a photographer who didn’t get the Young Lion “run to the ring” entrance. Their opener was fine, but distinctly lacked the fire from the first night’s match as we went to another time limit draw. After that, a serviceable tag match between a wacky tag team of the Pretty Boy Killer Elite Squad (Shane Taylor and Lance Archer, using a name nobody gave them) against Colt Cabana and John Skyler… then we got the New Japan debut of Great O-Kharn as he took on Tracer-X. As predicted, Charlotte didn’t quite know how to take O-Kharn shambling down to the ring, but with Tracer-X being fairly popular with the local crowd, O-Kharn’s work actually connected as he had a nice little match with Tracer, ultimately winning with the Iron Finger slam. Marty Scurll and Jonathan Gresham had some fun sequences in the tag match between Scurll/King and Gresham/Cobb – a match that gives me more hope for the Best of the Super Juniors… This show was main evented by Beretta challenging Juice Robinson for the US title, but since this was Beretta’s final weekend in, you can probably guess how that went!
Night Three – Nashville: Shibata opens the show again with an apology over the lack of Japanese wrestlers because of the Government shutdown. For some reason we’ve a stage but no ramp, so the entrances look weird… Our opener actually saw a Young Lion beat another Young Lion, after the first two matches went to draws. This Young Lion match was back to the athletic, urgent nature we’re used to seeing, and it benefited from it greatly. I really enjoyed the “so close, but so far” nature of them teasing another draw. With Davey Boy Smith Jr. out on MLW duty, the Pretty Boy Killer Elite Squad paired up again, giving Lance Archer a chance to tell Nashville that they “sucked during TNA, and you suck now”. Hoytamania is dead, it seems. Great O-Kharn had a crowd that was more receptive to him here, but his match with Harlem Bravado was a shade below the Tracer-X outing
There’s something about those last two shows that felt off. Maybe it’s the canvas that mad what looked like a knock-off New Japan logo, but really it was “right”… just not the cerulean blue that Kevin Kelly keeps calling out.
NEWS: PROGRESS have announced their “big September show” – it’ll be at Alexandra Palace on September 15, with the show being called “Still Chasing” (a reference to the first show there; “Chasing The Sun”). The prior day will see PROGRESS run the Electric Ballroom for a one-day Natural PROGRESSion Series tournament. PROGRESS also announced that the Kaiju Big Battel show, that was set to run at the Dome in Tufnell Park on Saturday May 4, has been moved. Thanks to overwhelming demand, the show will take place at Alexandra Palace after the opening night of Super Strong Style 16 (which’ll also be at Alexandra Palace).
NEWS: Something we missed a few weeks ago, was LuFisto announcing her retirement from wrestling at the end of this year due to ongoing knee problems.
UPCOMING: Tickets for the New Japan show in London are on sale at https://www.gigantic.com/new-japan-pro-wrestling-eoyal-quest-tickets (yes, the typo is correct…)
UPCOMING: Tickets are on-sale now for the Kris Wolf retirement show… it’s on Friday April 26th at the Resistance Gallery for Pro Wrestling EVE, with the show called The Frantic Scramble In Search For Meaning Through A Mess Of Meaty Interactions. Get your tickets while you can at EVE’s new ticketing portal: http://evewrestling.eventbrite.com. There’ll not be a dry eye in the house, I fear…
UPCOMING: Some slight spoilers here, but the updated field for Super Strong Style 16 this year is now: Travis Banks, Ilja Dragunov, Trevor Lee, Aerostar, Artemis Spencer, DJZ, Jordan Devlin, Chris Ridgeway, Chris Brookes and Darby Allin. Six spots remain for the May weekender, and it’s nice to see that PROGRESS are taking an entirely different track with their own tournament, as there’s not much crossover in the two fields so far. We’ve two more qualifier matches on the chapter show at the end of the month – David Starr vs. Connor Mills and Lucky Kid vs. Tristan Archer… although there may well be some people howling if one of those results in an upset!