Japanese professional wrestling is an enigma unto itself. While North America’s presentation primarily emphasizes spectacle over sport, Japan’s exhibition of the art accentuates the opposite. While it might look the same as the staged combat seen in the west, the eastern flavor has more kick.
While WWE is the industry leader, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) is Japan’s most prominent and longest-running wrestling promotion. Founded in 1972, NJPW is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Today, NJPW is arguably the second biggest promotion in the world and puts on great wrestling matches that have produced a global cult-like following. All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and New Japan will team up for their Forbidden Door pay-per-view event this Sunday.
There are many great matches from a multitude of events that epitomize NJPW. Consider this an introductory course for the uninitiated, citing ten matches that best illustrate the style and presentation of New Japan.
This isn’t a “best-of” list, and I won’t be teaching this class alone.
I called the Jobber Knocker Podcast’s resident NJPW expert Dennis Conway aka SSJPegasus. We’ll each pick five matches that are great introductory examples to New Japan Pro Wrestling.
If you’re watching AEW Forbidden Door this Sunday and are unfamiliar with NJPW, this one is for you.
Continue reading “10 Matches for People Who Don’t Watch NJPW”
Written for and published by What Culture June 2015
The design of tag team wrestling is to increase the amount of action and drama in a particular match. Four wrestlers can pull off certain moves and tell certain stories that two wrestlers alone could never do, such as blind tags and double team maneuvers. ECW revolutionized the wrestling business in the ’90s with hardcore action, mature storylines, and highly technical and competitive matches showcasing different styles.
Their tag team division was not only a pivotal part of the show, but they exuded the essence of the art by increasing the excitement in a promotion that was already extreme. The ECW Tag Team titles were originally introduced in 1992 under the promotional moniker of Eastern Championship Wrestling and an affiliate of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).
Seven tag teams held that incarnation of the championship until the promotion left the NWA in September 1994, when the company and the belts were rechristened Extreme Championship Wrestling. Three physical versions of the belts were fought over and defended until 2001, when the company’s original incarnation closed its doors.
Taz pupils Danny Doring and Roadkill were the final team to hold the titles and even defended them on the independent scene post-mortem. Thirty-one teams over eleven years produced many popular feuds and memorable matches with a mixture of uniformed duos and makeshift pairs that often stole the show. Some teams stood out and brought more to the table (literally) than others.
Let’s look at the 10 Greatest ECW Tag Team Champions.
Continue reading “10 Greatest ECW Tag Team Champions”
For twenty-three years, Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin from the 1996 Survivor Series was my favorite wrestling match of all-time. That all changed on January 4, 2015, at 5:30 A.M. EST as the IWGP Intercoientlal Title was defended in the co-main event of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s preeminent show, Wrestle Kingdom 9. Continue reading “Favorite Matches #1: Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kota Ibushi”
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been on a quest to pen love letters to my ten favorite wrestling matches. Nine of them have already been written with one more to go. Professional wrestling, like any form of entertainment, is subjective. What I like is going to be different from what someone else enjoys, and that’s ok. That is part of the reason why I wrote about each of these matches. To celebrate, not delineate, or force my opinion upon anyone. As my good buddy Dave once told me, “Hey, you like what you like.” Continue reading “Favorite Matches: Honorable Mentions”
Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada have engaged in what many have called the greatest in-ring rivalry of all-time. Four bouts with 25 ¼ stars ratings between them have changed the conversation on what makes for a stellar wrestling match. You can’t go wrong with picking one match over another. However, one encounter tickles my fancy more than most due to its simple and compelling story. Continue reading “Favorite Matches #2: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega III”
On the evening of April 5, 2009, Michael Hickenbottom and Mark Calaway didn’t put on just another excellent performance. They produced a classic match that a generation of wrestling enthusiasts look to as the capstone of their fandom. I knew Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25 was going to be something special considering the landscape of WWE at the time. Continue reading “Favorite Matches #3: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels”
The critically acclaimed HBO series Legendary Nights tells the story surrounding thirteen of the most unforgettable bouts in the modern era of boxing. If professional wrestling were to produce an equivalent series, there is no doubt Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog from SummerSlam 1992 would occupy the list. Continue reading “Favorite Matches #4: Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog”
The Hart family always produced classic matches when wrestling each other. February 26, 1997, in Berlin, Germany was no exception when brothers-in-law the British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart squared off in the finals of the tournament to crown the inaugural WWF European Champion.
They were also the tag team champions amidst dissension and the increasing animosity between the two suggested that Owen would be the architect of the team’s demise. Despite both men being heels at the time, no one was going to jeer the Bulldog in Europe.
Continue reading “Favorite Matches #5: British Bulldog vs. Owen Hart”
The WWE Intercontinental Championship is essentially the silver medal of in-ring achievement. It’s the stepping-stone to main event glory. Behind the scenes, it’s been christened the “workhorse belt” due to its rich history of classic matches. Back in the day, IC title bouts were usually the best match on the card. The action inside the ropes often accentuated the title’s prestige.
Continue reading “Requiem for the Intercontinental Title”
The night before the Summer Slam 88, a Mega Powers’ promo hyping their match against the Mega Bucks got me hooked on professional wrestling. The actual matches were ancillary as it was all about the drama and interviews ending in “whatcha gonna do.” Three years later, my wrestling fandom got flipped turned upside down by an amazing match between two all-time greats.
The Intercontinental Title match at Summer Slam 1991 between Mr. Perfect and Bret Hart completely changed how I looked at wrestling. I didn’t know anything about booking or storytelling at the time, however, the match was a masterful display of the art.
Continue reading “Favorite Matches #6: Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect”