About Me

I'm Phil! American living in Japan. Teacher. Ex-independent professional wrestler. Student of Japanese. Traveler. Article writer for Mythic Scribes. Also written four manga, novels, and various short stories and poems. For my fantasy-related blog, check out http://www.philipoverbyfantasy.blogspot.jp/.


Drill Bits: random thoughts, bloggy stuff
Japan Hammer: topics about Japan
Story Time: stories I felt like posting

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Living in Japan: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Frozen beer: The Breakfast of Kings

Well, that was a long break. Sorry for anyone that was interested in this blog. I kind of just abandoned it when I started working on my new fantasy-related blog. However, I'd like to pop in here more often than I have been (been over a year!)

I'd like to start updating this blog again as I'm going to be making some big life changes soon. Ultimately, I'm going to be deciding whether or not to leave Japan permanently within the next two years. I have a "countdown clock" so to speak. Every week I'm going to put a coin in a "Should I Stay" or "Should I Go" jars. By 2016, depending on our situation, this will be one of the determining factors of staying here. I can't seem to make up my mind if I want to stay or not. Luckily, I have a supportive wife that wants to do whatever makes us both happy.

While I love Japan, I have to start thinking about a permanent lifestyle here. This means finding a somewhat permanent working situation. If this becomes impossible, this is going to tip the scales more towards leaving and heading back to the U.S.

So what are determining factors for "Should I Stay:"

1. Ease of daily life

I find living in Japan to be relatively easy from certain standpoints. I prefer walking and taking public transportation than owning a car. It's just a preference of mine.

2. Good food and new locales

I love the food in Japan and I think I would miss it a lot if we left. It's also great to be able to take a train to somewhere new and see around.

3. General safety

I find living in Japan to be relatively safe. I don't have to worry about getting shot, stabbed, or robbed on a daily basis and people are generally very trusting.

Then on the other hand, what are the "Should I Go" factors:

1. Lack of permanence

While I've liked working here for the most part, the jobs for foreigners don't seem to have as much permanence. Meaning short term contracts make it hard to remain stable over a long period of time.

2. Lack of language

This is a problem I'm perpetually flip-flopping on. Not being able to speak Japanese well has a huge effect on being able to function and get better jobs. This has to be one of those things I really just dive into head first or I'm going to be treading water forever.

3. Variety of jobs

Teaching English is really the only option you have if you don't either have (a) other skills that are needed or (b) Japanese ability. This severely limits the kind of work I can get.

As time wears on in the next couple of years, I'll be making some final decisions on these issues. I hate to leave Japan as it's really my second home, but I have to factor in long-term goals at some point.

That's it for now. Stay tuned to see what I ultimately decide. I'll be posting some various blog entries in the coming months to highlight some of these shifts I'll be doing.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My New Blog: Fantasy Free-for-All

Hey everyone that reads this blog. I still plan on updating this now and again, but only when it comes to issues about Japan. I'm going to make this my "Japan" blog. For all things fantasy related (games, movies, writing, books, TV shows) I have a new blog that I'm going to update more regularly. I've been living in Japan for a while now, and while I still find new things that interest me, I find myself stretching to think of blog topics that relate to Japan or just my life in general right now. Since fantasy consumes most of my life, I'm going to focus more on that other blog.

In the meantime, if you have any topic you'd like me to explore regarding Japan (Japanese language, culture, travel, etc.) post it in the comments here and I'll make a blog post regarding it.

For now, I can say, Japan is hot! Like super hot. That's about all I have to say about it at the moment.

So for those of you that follow this blog, please follow my new blog, especially if you love fantasy-related games, movies, books, writing topics, etc. This new blog will also be my official place for announcing anything related to me writing career.

Check it out! Philip Overby's Fantasy Free-for-All

Thanks and remember, if you have a Japanese topic you're interested in, let me know in the comments below.

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Journey into Freelance Writing

I've recently decided to bite the bullet and really give this a shot. What, you may ask? Freelance writing, like the title says. If there's one thing you can say about me, I'm good at titles. Right?

Since beginning this journey, I've found out several tid-bits of information:

1. There are many scams out there in freelance land.

2. It's not quite as difficult as I imagined it would be to find legit work.

3. People really, really need freelance erotica writers.

4. There are loads of other people trying to do the exact same thing I am.

It would be awesome if I could make money solely doing freelance writing, but I know that's not a reality at the moment. I still plan on pursuing some other ideas, all while slowly transitioning my white desk with crap all over it into my home office.

I've only been doing this one month, but I've found several skills that are really important to longevity:

1. Patience

If I scan some listings and say "All these jobs suck" then I might as well not even try freelancing. Yes, there can be some work that's not very attractive, but if you're patient and do a lot of research, you can find diamonds in the rough. Patience is key.

2. Flexibility

Some jobs may require extensive revision. You have to be willing to be flexible to do what the client asks. I've always been a relatively flexible person so this works out in my favor.

3. Good Writing Ability

Notice I didn't say "awesome" or "Shakespeare-level" writing ability. Writing is a skill that requires precision, but it doesn't have to blow anyone's mind. Just do your best. If your best is not enough, then keep trying. The worst that can happen is someone rejects your proposal.

4. Judgment

Judgment is very important to both preserving your precious writing time and not wasting someone else's time. If you're not willing to put in the effort on a particular topic, avoid that topic. Your disdain will shine through in your writing. Having good judgment when picking clients is also very important. If you get a bad feeling about a client (seems like they're sketchy about payment, ask for weird requests, etc.) then severe the relationship immediately. You can find other work, just keep grinding.

I like to think of freelancing like a Final Fantasy game. If I keep grinding levels, the game will be much easier.

That said, here are some places I've been using that I think work pretty well:

oDesk: This is one of the big freelancing sites. It takes a while to get set up, but there are loads of jobs available. They do a "bidding" style, so you'll be competing and interviewing against other writers, but there are so many jobs, some that need work done immediately or very quickly that others may not be willing to do. I've found some interesting jobs on here so far, but haven't committed myself enough to it yet to actually secure work.

Textbroker: I've actually been paid through Textbroker and I like the way their system is set-up. You can get Direct Orders from clients or you can view Open Orders and just write what you find. You're not going to become a millionaire by any means, but you can make extra money to go towards bills or spending money.

Constant Content: Another one I've registered for, but haven't used much yet. This one is similar to Textbroker, but you can also just write articles and put them out there for people to view. If someone likes your article, they'll offer to pay you for it.

Some others I haven't used yet, but have heard good things about or seem to pay well:

Demand Studios: They're connected with several websites, including eHow.
Break Studios
Associated Content
Craigslist: Avoid scams, but can find good work I've heard.

You can do your own research for some of these, but I've heard various opinions throughout the internet about them.

I may be popping up at several of these places over time. So if you see me there, say "Hello!"

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Don't Trust Doctors Sometimes

I've been silent on the blogs for a while and I'd like to say so for good reason. Anyone who knows me knows that I suffer from chronic kidney disease. Meaning I get loads of kidney stones. I actually at the moment have half a dozen small ones floating around in my kidneys. This being after I've severely restricted my diet and have drank almost nothing but water. But that's how my life is I suppose. I'll deal with stone after stone and just hope I can pull through.

Most important to note is that I've had a shadow looming over me since November of 2012. Literally. I went to the doctor and he said I had a "concerning shadow." Since November, I put it out of my head and went on living my life, made a trip to Mississippi to visit and get officially married (have a ceremony anyway, I was already officially married). Upon returning, I began doing yoga and dieting. I lost weight at first and things seemed to be going fine.

That is until I went to go get my check up about this ominous shadow.

When I sit down with the doctor to discuss things, I notice Kumi seemed unnerved by what he's saying. Since I don't understand Japanese much, I just sit there blinking.

That is until he turns to me, points at the shadow and says the words no one wants to hear from a doctor:


I remember my heart racing suddenly and my mouth going dry. "Sorry, what?"

"I think it's a tumor."

My mind raced. My blood tests came back fine last time. How could I have a tumor? Wouldn't that have shown up? I panicked, I freaked, and sat there wanting to go home.

This was early May. My next appointment with this doctor was May 31st. I had to wait a whole month to find out if I had a tumor.

I remember that night I came home and started riding my exercise bike. The number one thing my doctor said to do was lose weight. I rode it so fast, my legs started burning and going numb. I just broke down crying, blubbering, trying to figure out what I could do. They could remove my kidney, right? At least then if I had a tumor it wouldn't spread. Or maybe it was benign and not bad.

I'm already a hypochondriac. To hear I might have a tumor confirmed all my irrational fears all these years.

Here it is June 16th and after talking to two kidney specialists, I've found out that no, I don't have a tumor. I do have a cyst though. Apparently that isn't anything to worry about and doesn't require treatment at the time. Cysts can be cancerous in rare circumstances but apparently the one I have isn't one to worry about or else I assume they would have said something. I need to follow up on it in a year and see if it's changed.

Regardless of my diagnosis, I've come to terms that my kidneys are going to be a constant source of problems for the rest of my adult life. There's a chance I may have to lose a kidney down the road or require dialysis. My doctors are hoping that diet change, lowering my sodium intake, and losing weight will help control my issues. Perhaps I can get to a point where I don't have stones and I just need to monitor that cyst to see if it changes at all.

In any case, I've learned that going to the wrong doctor and getting a poor diagnosis can disrupt a life pretty easily. I lost motivation at work, found myself floundering in my daily life, and have felt the need for drastic changes in all aspects of my future.

So, here's hoping I have some good doctors this time. And here's hoping these stones go the way of the dodo one of these days.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Japan 2009 vs. Japan 2013

So I haven't written anything about Japan in some time (the country's name is in my blog title) so I wanted to write a sort of retrospective entry.  It's been almost four years since I first came to Japan and a lot has changed in my life since then.  Some great things, some not so great things.  But most of all I've noticed both changes in how I deal with daily life in Japan vs. how I dealt with it when I first came here in 2009.  Sometimes it's interesting to look back on yourself and see if it's in fact that you changed or is it the fact your environment has changed around you.

View of Myself

2009:  2009 Phil was quite a strange bird.  I was anti-social, depressed a lot, and in general a pretty wishy-washy person.  If I look back on myself then, I would probably not want to talk to this guy.  I drank a lot then also, which I think contributed to my bizarre personality at times.

2013:  2013 Phil is a bit different.  I have more friends in Japan now, but I'm still verging on anti-social.  Most of my time I spend with my wife and I don't typically go out anywhere.  I've long lamented not having many Japanese friends.  I've thus become "that guy."  The one that lives in Japan, doesn't know the language that much, and mostly relies on other people to take care of things for me.  However, being that I'm aware of this makes me hopeful I can change.  Every year is the year I'm going "break down and really study."  I'm just too focused on other things though.  We'll see how it pans out.

View of Japan

2009:  2009 Phil tended to look at Japan as this wonderful new adventure.  People didn't know me here so it was a chance to re-invent myself.  I did let myself down some in that I didn't re-invent myself in a good way.  Again, I was "that guy."  I think I viewed Japan back then as a country I'd never come close to understanding.  The way some things work here surprised and baffled me at times.  That comes with the territory of living in any new country though.

2013:  2013 Phil sees Japan in a whole new light.  It's not a place to have adventures only.  It's a place to live.  It's my home.  I don't travel as much as I used to, but I guess I don't feel I need to do that as much.  I've seen lots of awesome places over the years living here.  Now I've sunk into that "I live here" phase, where I take for granted that there are still so many things I could be doing more.  Honestly, some days I don't even leave our apartment.

On the other side of the coin, I have a profound respect for the Japanese.  After seeing the hardships endured after the Tohoku Earthquake, and how Japanese pulled together, it made me so happy to live here.  I don't identify myself as Japanese, but I do strive to take the qualities I like (hardworking, polite, strong-willed) and apply them to myself.

View of the World

2009:  2009 Phil didn't know anything about the rest of the world besides what I watched on TV or read about.  I still viewed the world as a scary and strange place that maybe a guy from Mississippi just couldn't handle.  I remember after the rocket launch from North Korea that sailed over Japan, I panicked because I could never imagine how people could be so calm.  I guess my life had been rather insulated until that point so I never had to worry about these kind of issues.  Even back then, I viewed America as my one and only home and I was anxious to go back.  I got in that lull of "nothing is familiar" and that caused me a lot of rough days.

2013:  2013 Phil is a bit different.  It's strange, but since I've lived here a while, it almost feels like America is a foreign country to me now.  I love America and it will always be my home, but I don't know, I feel increasingly distant to the way things work there.  When I went home recently, I didn't experience any reverse-culture shock, but I did notice people in service roles were a lot more abrupt with me.  I'm just not used to that now living in Japan.  I'm not going to say all restaurants, bars, stations, etc. in Japan are all full of friendly people, but I'd say 99.9 percent of them are.  It's just how it is.

With the threat of any kind of conflict with North Korea and the possibility of another rocket sailing over us, I can't say I'm as anxious as I was in 2009.  These threats have happened so often that it's sad that if something actually does happen, no one is really going to expect it.  I can't live in fear though.  After dealing with radiation fears in 2011, I try not to let that consume my life anymore. 

Overall, I try to enjoy my life here as much as I can.  I'm not as adventurous as I once was, but that's due to me getting settled in.  I still have so many things I want to do here and grow more and more.  I still see Japan as my second home and will continue do so even if I leave one day. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

52 Week Story Writing Challenge: Updated 9/6/13

This is something I've decided to do after being inspired by different folks across the inter-web.  I'm going to write (but not post here) a story a week for 52 weeks, culminating with 52 completed stories by this time next year.  Since I'm starting this challenge in March 2013, it should feasibly end in March 2014.  Maybe my math is wrong, but I'm going to give it a try.

I'm going to post all the results here in this very blog post, editing it over and over again instead of making new individual posts.  If you want to follow my progress you can do so here.  Feel free to join up as well and let me know if you're doing so in the comments below.

I did a 30 Day Story a Day Challenge before, which was pretty rough, but still fun.  This will give me a full week to write something, edit it to the best of my ability, and then start submitting places.  We'll see how it turns out.

Look here for any updates!


Week 1:  March 3rd-March 9th:  "Burn it Up, Burn it Down" completed. Story about a dragon looking for his "Chosen One" who is supposed to slay him.  Quite enjoyed writing this one.  I tried 1st person POV which isn't something I use much and I think it worked out pretty well. 3,634 words.

Week 2:  March 10th-March 16th:  "Obsidian City" completed.  Obviously, a story about and obsidian city.  Yeah!  1,891 words.

Week 3: March 17th-March 23rd:  "The Dance of Five Hells" completed.  Loser has dance battle with a mummy.  Enough said.  4,439 words.

Week 4:   March 24th-March 30th:  "The Beast of the Lost Sun" completed.  Two hunters seek payment from a wizard employer that skips town.  They find more than they bargained for when they go looking for him in the dangerous Garrul Marsh.  My longest story so far and finished at the last minute!  5,287 words.


Week 5:  March 31st-April 6th:  "Red Paint" completed.  Former marauder forced to paint towns he helped destroy is on a mission for vengeance after a "friend" is killed in a kingdom where violence of any kind is strictly forbidden.  5, 454 words.

Week 6:  April 7th-April 13: "Snakes and Fakes" completed.  Wrote this in one night.  More of a flash piece for a challenge.  Had fun writing it in any case.  One of my more direct titles.  It's literally about snakes and fakes.  1,076 words.

Week 7:  April 14th-April 20th: "Sixty-Six Dragons" completed. Had a rough week so I had to scramble to write this, but I made it! I think it's a pretty good story about a little bit crazy old woman who loves killing dragons, maybe a little too much! 4,500 words.

Week 8:  April 21st-April 27th: "The Time of Trees" completed. Time travel story about guys with proton rifles, dragons, and a tornado made of fairies. 821 words.


Week 9: April 28th-May 4th:"The Shallow Grave" completed. A man searches for his mother in a graveyard and finds a witch with many secrets instead.

Week 10: May 5th-May 11th: "Diving for Dragons" completed. A base jumper goes looking for a hidden dragon, but finds some wily cat people have made her job a lot harder as she descends down a ravine. 1,266 words.

Week 11: May 12th-May 18th:"Woman Scorned, World Burned" completed. Flash fiction inspired by terribleminds.com contest. A mystical woodcutter and protector of the forest is plagued by his mysterious, destructive ex-girlfriend. 797 words.

Week 12: May 19th-May 25th:"Long Haired Beauty" completed. Story about following a woman who you don't know what she looks like. A bounty hunter learns an important lesson. 1,652 words.


Week 13: May 26th-June 2nd:"Choices" completed. Flash fiction about a man facing losing some important things due to his infidelity. His wife isn't the push-over type either. 667 words.

Week 14: June 3rd-June 9th:"Alok's Head" completed. Sometimes monster killers aren't what you imagine. And neither are the monsters. 2,254 words.

Week 15: June 10th-June 16th: "Daddy's Girl" completed. Sibling rivalry is taken to the extreme when a family of elf hunters have to deal with the threat of "mutterlings," mischievous scavengers with a taste for flesh. 1,402 words.

Week 16: June 17th-June 23rd: "Office Interlude" completed. A bit off course for me. Something of a romance story. 2,705 words.

Week 17: June 24th-June 30th: "A Lesson in Trolls" completed. Killing trolls is fun. It's not fun when you're hungover. 2,172 words.


Week 18: July 1st-July 7th: "Exterminators" completed. Some fantasy bug exterminators run into bigger problems when an infestation is worse than they expected.2,386 words.

Week 19: July 8th-July 14th: "The Winetaster" completed. A ransomed noble is forced to taste wine for a warlord. But when the noble is almost poisoned, he learns how to manipulate the warlord to do his bidding.1,567 words.

Week 20: July 15th-July 21st:"The Lost Tavern of Girlai" completed. When collectors go looking for old spirits, they find old spirits.

Week 21: July 22nd-July 28th: "Dead Bards Don't Talk" completed. A bard is murdered by a jealous warlock, who then causes the investigator to commit several sins of his own.


Week 22: July 29th-August 4th: "This is Going to End Badly" completed.When a writer doesn't get the answers he wants, he finds an editor to be a captive audience.

Week 23: August 5th-Augst 11th: "Stampede of the Satyrs" completed. Two big game hunters collect the horns of satyr for jewelry makers, but soon find out that the goat people come looking for revenge.

Week 24: August 12-August 18th: "I, For One, Welcome Our Alien Overlords" completed.Aliens don't get a warm welcome and a good ole boy figures out how to save the world from nuclear annihilation.

Week 25: August 19th-August 25th: "Bone White Dread" completed. Take your daughter to work day doesn't work out so well when dragons are involved.

Week 26: August 26th-September 1st: "The Circus of Black Burlai" completed. A story about what happens when a dragon slayer isn't so fearsome, but people still want to kill it.

Week 27: September 2nd-September 8th:

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Wrestle Kingdom 7: Live In-Person Perspective

Another year, another Wrestle Kingdom.  Another year, another Tanahashi victory.  Since I've started living in Japan and going to the annual Tokyo Dome show, this has been the status of the main events of Wrestle Kingdom:

Wrestle Kingdom 5:  Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Satoshi Kojima to become the IWGP Heavyweight Champion.

Wrestle Kingdom 6:  Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Minoru Suzuki to retain.

Wrestle Kingdom 7:  Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kazuchika Okada to retain.

Each show?  I heard thousands of fans calling out for Tanahashi.  No matter how much some people want someone new at the top, Tanahashi still IS the number one guy in New Japan.  Watching him in action, I can tell why.

It's very rare that my heart actually races during pro wrestling matches anymore.  Maybe it's because I used to wrestle on the independents and that makes me numb to some things and makes me not get as excited.  But Tanahashi vs. Okada was pretty spectacular to watch.  They had the fans in the palms of their hands.

I can say this for sure as well:  Okada has cemented himself as a major player in years to come in NJPW.  Everything from his entrance (where I managed to catch some Okada money raining from the ceiling) to his demeanor, to his resilience as a challenger, that was one match I sat there thinking "I have no idea who is going to win this."  The suspension of disbelief.  What every wrestling fan becomes a fan for.

(I'm starting from the main event and working backwards here, so here are my thoughts on the other matches.)

Shinsuke Nakamura is entrancing to watch.  If anyone personifies a snake, it's him.  The way he sort of slithers around the ring and just cocks back and blasts folks with the Boma-Ye is really quite impressive.  Sakuraba was an excellent challenger though.  He had an answer for every move Nakamura made, locking him in a variety of submissions.  Lots of nice transitions to give this fight the MMA flavor that both competitors have.  I think Nakamura holding the new-ish Intercontinental Championship lends credibility to it as well and I hope he continues to build it's prestige in the coming months.  And that knee to Nakamura's face?  All I can say is I can't believe his head didn't fly off!  The hand-shake at the end signifies that we may see Nakamura shifting more towards a babyface role going forward.  I'm still excited to see if they ever put together Okada vs. Nakamura, as I think that would be an excellent match.

Also the surprise of Stan Hansen being there to present the championship to Nakamura also made the moment and the championship more special.  

Togi Makabe is New Japan's best babyface.  I'm not saying he's more popular than Tanahashi for instance, but he evokes so much sympathy in his beat downs, that he really manipulates the crowd's emotions with ever facial expression and dizzied stumble.  Shibata pummeled him with kicks and knees and swaggered around the ring as if to say, "Really?  This is all you've got?"  Makabe's comeback and brutal table power bomb (I saw a Japanese table break!) showed that even when he looks near death, Makabe is a strong presence in the ring.  This was my first time seeing Shibata in action, only being a recent fan of puroresu, and I was very impressed.  I can see him being in the main event scene at some point in 2013.

You could see the look on Daichi Hashimoto's face told the whole story:  he was supremely disappointed to not be competing at WK.  The chants of "Hashimoto!  Hashimoto!" rang out through the crowd as a video of the late Shinya Hashimoto played on the screen and Otani stomped his way down to the ring carrying the long white bandana that was Hashimoto's trademark.  Through the whole match, Otani, a late entrant, really stood out.  He ran himself into Tenzan's chops and looked like a man half his age.  Overall, I think the match was designed to put Daichi on the map, but it was still a solid match.  Kojima's crushing lariats nearly decapitated both Mutoh and Otani alike.  It's always awesome to see Mutoh unleash a dozen or so Shining Wizards as well.  Otani's leg sweep tribute to Hashimoto got a nice reaction as well.  The slap from Daichi at the end may show a darker edge to Hashimoto's son?

The triple threat match for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship was all I expected:  an incredible display of athleticism from three of the best juniors in the world.  Ibushi was the star of this match for sure.  The fans were clamoring for an Ibushi win, much like they were at Wrestle Kingdom 5 (Devitt vs. Ibushi is still one of my favorite matches ever).  However, Low Ki's intensity really stood out for me.  His tribute to the Hitman series of video games was cool, complete with the bar code on the back of his head.  Seeing him kick and flip in that suit made him look really unique and made me want to see him utilize that more.

Yuji Nagata vs. Minoru Suzuki was another great match of two veteran's taking each other to the limit.  Both men are two of the best wrestlers going today even being older than most.  Suzuki's entrance with the live music really pumped up the crowd and it was probably the first time I saw a genuine smile on Suzuki's face and not a cocky smirk.

The IWGP Tag Team Championship match displayed why the Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith, Jr.) may be a force to be reckoned with going forward.  Both Hirooki Goto and Karl Anderson are extremely popular on their own, but they didn't have an answer for the brute strength of the champions.  I can see Goto and Anderson both go on to more singles matches in 2013 with Anderson specifically being put in high profile matches.  I could see Anderson main eventing several big shows for New Japan throughout 2013.  Lance Archer had a pretty badass entrance on top of that with the red mask and riding in on a motorcycle.   He's legit scary in the ring in Japan.  He has that big man aura that terrifies both the fans and challengers alike.  I think the KES will continue their reign of terror in New Japan for quite a long time.

The NEVER Openweight Championship match (which I'm still not sure what the title is for) was a pretty good match for its length.  Shelton Benjamin had his hands full not only with Masato Tanaka but Yujiro Takahashi on the outside.  I'm happy to see Tanaka on the Wrestle Kingdom stage consistently as I think he's one of the top guys I like to watch in all of Japan.

The first official match of the night dealt mostly with Manabu Nakanishi gaining revenge on Takashi Iizuka for constantly stripping the clothes off the announcer when he comes to the ring.  It was funny to see the announcer get in the ring after the match and give Iizuka a clothesline for all his years of tormenting him.  Akebono and Bob Sapp are huge in person.  I have a really crappy camera and the only clear picture I could get was of them because they're so big.  Strongman is probably the most jacked person I've seen in person.  MVP did very well and got a lot of good offense in.  I always enjoy seeing the Ballin' elbow and hearing the fans here chant along with it.  Yujiro Takahashi is going to be a big star going forward.  He's really come into his own as a cocky playboy type of character.  I was a little disappointed Iizuka didn't go into the crowd and start wailing on people, but it's Wrestle Kingdom so...

The two dark matches were both very good.  I was most excited to see Jushin Thunder Liger make an appearance.  I'll be glad to see some of these guys in the dark matches on the main show in the future, such as Tama Tonga, Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA, and BUSHI.

Overall, another awesome night.  I have to admit, I was disappointed there were no title changes, but I think I have to stop thinking of Wrestle Kingdom as if it's Wrestlemania.  I think Wrestlemania likes to bring all of their big storylines to a close, whereas Wrestle Kingdom is more like a showcase of who is going to be the focus of that specific year.  Tokyo Dome looked packed, so I'm sure they'll do big business going forward.

Biggest Pops:

1.  Hiroshi Tanahashi's win
2.  Togi Makabe
3.  Shinsuke Nakamura
4.  Hashimoto's music/Keiji Mutoh's entrance
5.  Kota Ibushi near-falls

Most Heat:

1.  Taichi interfering in Nagata/Suzuki
2.  Kazushi Shibata
3.  Killer Elite Squad
4.  Minoru Suzuki (after everyone forgot about his awesome entrance)
5.  Yujiro Takahashi