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.
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.
After reaching a level of prominence deeming him undeniable in NOAH, the winds of change would take Kenoh beyond the ark itself. Through opposing bigger names and brands, while continuing on “internal” growth through more familiar opposition, Kenoh would go on a path to become the protagonist of pro wrestling, getting his promotion, his unit onto the biggest stage.
In Pro Wrestling, like in other mediums, part of the key to success is not going unnoticed. Making our presence felt in some way. There is one wrestler out there, vowing to change the hierarchy for years, now taking this statement to a whole other level.
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.
When Harada walked into the arena, he was facing an opponent who could barely acknowledge the ties between them, who repeatedly denied their connection as rivals or as partners. But by the end of this match, something important shifted.
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.
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.
Super Hardcore Katsumata (SHK) was, for the man under the facepaint, Katsumata Shunma, an embodiment of Shunma’s specific talents. Talents that, over the 14 months of SHK’s existence, found recognition and helped establish ‘idol wrestler’ Shunma as a serious competitor whose creativity brings far more than just novelty value to his wrestling. In between the scattered legos and facepaint, there’s a story of friendship, rivalry and personal growth. This is the story of the burial (and life) of Super Hardcore Katsumata.