“That within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good.”- Martin Luther King Jr. The tried and true in pro wrestling when it comes to villainous factions within the sport is underhand tactics, being someone you aren’t, and not caring about anyone other than yourself. […]
To reclaim the SAMURAI GYM signboard, but also take Minoru’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from his grasp, YUJIRO would be the next from the group to step-up. On May 22, 2007, he’d get what was built as a double crown match. Winner would indeed take all in this one.
The coin drops, much to everyone’s surprise and delight, including Kenny who is shocked at hearing the theme of his greatest rival. The same man he had those historic, boundary pushing matches against, every single one of which was incredibly taxing and probably took years off of both their careers. The matches most people laud as the greatest rivalry in modern pro wrestling and one of the greatest of all times. The series that pushed the boundaries of what pro wrestling could be and forced it to evolve.
The singles match with Okada has the potential to reveal a matured, post-Mutoh Kaito or, yet again, could define Kaito by who and what he is not.
LEGEND’s next challengers approached, but it wasn’t your usual suspects. A young wrestler struggling to breakout on his own, and his junior that had made waves in the previous Best of The Super Juniors were here to call their shot. YUJIRO and Tetsuya Naito made their first ever challenge for the IWGP Jr tag straps, and YUJIRO’s first title challenge since the dissolution of Samurai Gym. Gutsy move as they were not just stepping to junior legends, but one of the men they were challenging was the symbol of junior excellence. How would they handle the challenge?
For Katsuyori Shibata, his departure and then return to New Japan Pro Wrestling in late 2012 was rooted in several years of genuine animosity. This provided the groundwork for an eventual feud with company Ace, Hiroshi Tanahashi. One centered around Shibata’s second chance. Now in a vastly different landscape, this second chance would ultimately have to go through The Ace. These circumstances make for one of the more compelling series of matches between two men that would ultimately shape the company’s future.
While the Wrestle Kingdom match between them was about control, not just over each other but also the company as a whole, their Dominion match is about pain, punishment, and at times the teasing denial of it.
I don’t like horror. As a genre, whether movies, tv, fiction etc. I don’t like it. Or rather, I don’t get it. The awful creativity of the human mind in creating monsters or new ways of suffering, the rising suspense in waiting for the worst to happen, imagining the worst…not my thing. Or so I thought. Then I discovered death matches. More than that, I started watching death matches before bed to relax. Particularly in the midst of very real personal and global anxieties, death matches have been an outlet and even a special sort of comfort.
New Japan Pro Wrestling commonly presents stories told in cycles and parallels. Whether it be a hero finally overcoming the odds after repeated failure, or a battle to determine the face of the company, these stories tend to revolve around heroic figures. 2022 saw the culmination of a redemption arc, though with the focus on the villain in “Switchblade” Jay White. White’s journey spans over a year, through multiple promotions. One that took the “Still My Era” catchphrase from a statement of self-reassurance, to an undeniable truth at the summit of professional wrestling.
The date is 4th of January 2017. It is Wrestle Kingdom 11 and the match between IWGP Heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada and challenger Kenny Omega is the main event of the night. The bout they have is widely praised by wrestling fans, industry veterans & wrestling journalists alike. The match was about control, not just over each other but also the company. Here begins what many consider the best rivalry in modern pro wrestling, and one of the greatest stories in wrestling ever. A story that is about two men, one title and its relation with the two of them.