Rivals Series

A Midwinter Night’s Dream

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 Weight of Legacy – ISHIN vs Mochizuki Junior

In perhaps no other storytelling medium is legacy as important as it is in wrestling. There are no different installments or clear breaks in continuity. The beginning and end of a character’s journey are marked by the abilities and limitations of a real person’s body as they grow, age and get injured. Having someone new carry the mantle forward is a very natural point to arrive at. Fans can indulge their nostalgia, wrestlers can honor those who inspired them and stories that ended too early can find some continuation. There are many ways to achieve these goals. Gear references are a popular one, as is signature move inheritance, but perhaps the most intense form of tribute is the legacy gimmick – the direct continuation of an old character in some way.

The Ace, The Wrestler, and Second Chances

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.

“I fucking hate Shingo Takagi” – the story of the eternal rivalry of Dragon Gate’s first trueborns (part 3)

The two rivals ended 2013 back in their old slots on the pecking order – featured, but not at the top. Popular, but less so than their more charismatic contemporaries and seemingly aeons away from possibly replacing CIMA as overall ace. However, for Hulk at least, 2014 would see an upswing in fortune. Throughout the early part of the year, tension had been growing between Hulk and full shit-stirring mode Naruki Doi, which culminated on May 5th in the annual Dead or Alive six-way Hair vs. Mask steel cage escape match.

“I fucking hate Shingo Takagi” – the story of the eternal rivalry of Dragon Gate’s first trueborns (part 2)

May 2008: Takagi and Hulk were once again in opposing units, and now bitter enemies. Takagi saw Hulk as weak, and blamed him for the lack of success of New Hazard, their shared faction. Hulk felt personally betrayed by a man he had formed a huge bond with. Their first singles match since Ota-ku 2006 would take place at Osaka Prefectural Gym #2 on 29th June 2008, once again with a Dream Gate key on the line. The result was shocking, a sixty-minute draw – a first in Dragon Gate history, and by far its longest match up to this point. The aftermath was even more shocking, as current champion CIMA announced he was vacating the title due to injury. Shingo and Hulk would re-match with the title on the line the following month at Kobe World, DG’s biggest show of the year.

“I fucking hate Shingo Takagi” – the story of the eternal rivalry of Dragon Gate’s first trueborns

That these words became a catchphrase of BxB Hulk shows how intense the rivalry between Dragon Gate’s first two trueborns became and remained. This is the story of two polar opposites whose rivalry existed from the dawn of Dragon Gate until Takagi’s departure from the promotion. Earmarked from their debuts as future aces, they faced similar struggles in their attempts to reach that lofty position.

Clearing the Rainy Skies-I, The First Dance

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.