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

Friday, January 27, 2012

Japan Hammer: Top 5 Places in Japan (That I've Been)

Sometimes people ask me, "Where's your favorite place in Japan?" Well, that's a difficult question. I have several favorite places for completely different reasons. I have yet to travel all over Japan, but I've been to some of the "hot spots" so to speak. In my opinion, these places are cool, but if you already live in Japan or plan to visit, maybe you'd have a different opinion. I'll also name some popular places that I'm not that fond of for various reasons.

In no particular order, here are my Top 5 Places in Japan:

1. Ueno, Tokyo: For a taste of Tokyo that doesn't completely overwhelm the average tourist or traveler, Ueno has a good blend of stuff that makes Tokyo popular without all the insanity of more popular places. There's a zoo there, several museums, and also tons of shops. The popular shopping area Ameyoko is also nearby which can provide tourists with tons of little souvenirs to take home. I enjoy Ueno Park as well, as it's pretty open and sometimes there are various performers about. There are also a staggering number of homeless people here, but that's not really a good reason to visit.

2. Minato Mirai, Yokohama: This is bar-none one of my favorite places in Japan. The giant Cosmo Clock Ferris wheel is a pretty famous landmark and very beautiful during night time. It's a pretty busy area, but not too much. I like Yokohama more than Tokyo because it has a lot of the same charms, yet Yokohama feels more open and less cramped. There's also several ships in the port to look at and it's a nice place to go for a romantic stroll during the night. I personally like going here in the winter time as it has lots Christmas lights up and makes the walk around that much more entertaining. Also, World Porters has lots of shopping stuff inside if that's your thing.

3. Kiyomizudera, Kyoto-This is a temple in Kyoto which I really enjoyed visiting. It has a breath-taking view during the autumn season with all the changing leaves and is nestled in the mountains for an even better view! This is one of the more famous temples in all of Japan and was extremely crowded when I visited there. I highly recommend Kyoto overall for a "balanced" visit in Japan, as you can see some modern things and still get a taste of the old capital with lots of traditional temples. I spotted a maiko (geisha in training) when I was there and that was sort of cool to just see her walking around.

4. Hakone, Kanagawa- Hakone is a popular tourist spot mostly for its famous onsen (hot springs) but I liked it for its stellar view of Mt. Fuji from one of the nearby mountains. We took a trolley up to the top of this mountain and hiked around and also took a boat ride on the lake. I got sunburned the worst I've probably been in a long time, but it was worth it. This is a great place to relax and enjoy a leisurely stay if you're in Kanagawa.

5. Enoshima, Kanagawa- This list heavily favors Kanagawa as that's where I live, so I have some bias when it comes to talking about the area. Enoshima is really awesome for me. There's a nice beach to hang out at and winding steps up a mountain that leads to many different shops and temples littered throughout. The climb of the steps had this haunting drum music following us everywhere that gave a really cool vibe. I took some time to stare out over the sea wall and smell that salty air. Really makes me relax a lot. The trip all over was tiring but definitely worth it. I highly recommend a stop here especially during hotter times.

Now, here's my list of places that I don't like very much personally. Feel free to give them a shot, but they're not places I'm really into.

1. Roppongi, Tokyo-Roppongi is sort of the gaijin (foreigner) paradise. There are tons of bars, tons of places for entertainment and debauchery. Well, I'm not in my 20s anymore, so that kind of stuff doesn't interest me as much. Plus, the place usually gives me a creepy vibe. I did have a wonderful night here once at a work-related party at the Ritz Carlton with an amazing view of Tokyo Tower lit-up from the 48th (?) floor. But that's unlikely to happen again. So, I have mixed feelings about Roppongi. I've heard many bad stories from other people getting in trouble there, but if you know how to take care of yourself, you should be OK.

2. Shinjuku/Kabukicho, Tokyo-Probably my least favorite of the Tokyo wards would be Shinjuku. I don't know, it just doesn't do anything for me. This area is extremely popular with Kabukicho being more of the "night-life/adult entertainment" district. I was harassed one time when I went down there (I guess I looked like an easy mark) so it put me off on visiting there in the future. Just not really my cup of tea. But I've heard if you really want to get into the more "edgy" side of Japan, Kabukicho is your first stop.

These two places stand out to me the most as being "not my thing," but I'd recommend going there if you're smart with your money, careful with your drinks, and don't follow strange women to strange bars. Then maybe you can still have fun there without ending up in jail at the end of the night.

So, hope you enjoyed by lists! Feel free to ask any questions about other recommendations if you'd like!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Japan Hammer: Top 5 Reasons I Like Living in Japan

Haven't done a blog about living in Japan recently, so I'd figure I'd highlight some reasons I like living here. After the Tohoku Earthquake in 2011, I think a lot of people were put off living here or even visiting for fear of radiation or other assorted things. I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't afraid of the same things, but I stuck it out and stayed here and I seem fine so far. I feel for the people in Fukushima that are near the reactors as I used to live in Fukushima myself and saw how many wonderful people live in that area.

So as a tribute to Japan, I'm going to list the Top 5 reasons I like living here.

1. Cuteness:

If you like cute stuff, then Japan is the place for you. There are tons of cute things to find and I'm not really sure why this kind of thing is so prevalent here. There are tons of these little dogs wearing sweaters and jackets and hats. It's rather bizarre. I saw one day at a nearby mall there was this dog wearing a yellow hat and he kept trying to get it off his head, but his owner kept putting it back on. I felt kind of bad for the dog, but he did look cute. However, I wanted to free him from his cute prison and let him be a nasty, shit-eating dog like he's meant to be.

I like cute stuff, I guess. I like kittens and puppies and babies burping and all that happy jazz. But Japan kind of goes so overboard with it, it sort of has desensitized me to it. Even if I see a tiny dog wearing a tiny hat and sailor outfit, I'm unfazed.

So for my future, I'm glad Japan has made me numb to cuteness. It makes it easier for me to ignore the avalanche of cuteness that buries me on a consistent basis.

2. Politeness

Even when people are assholes here, they're relatively polite. Typically, people don't fight as much as they do in America and when they do fight it's relatively stupid. Just shouting and talking like yakuza to each other. I've never seen anyone get punched here, but maybe I just don't go out that much.

"Sumimasen" and "gomenasai" are relatively common terms, basically meaning "excuse me" and "sorry." I must use both of these words at least twenty times a day for various reasons. And "arigato gozaimasu." I'm always thanking someone for something. Buy something at the store? Arigato gozaimasu. Open a door? Arigato gozaimasu. Take a shit? Arigato gozaimasu.

Suffice it to say, people are nice for the most part. Not sure if they like me or not, but in general people are pretty nice to me. Sometimes weirdly nice like the night some random guys just bought me and my friend drinks without even speaking that much English (and our Japanese is bastardized).

And I'm going to go out on a limb here and say about 1 in 10 people I meet in America are stupid assholes/hillbillies/racists/shitheads/douchebags or some variant of said troglodytes or cretins.

3. I Don't Have to Fucking Drive

I used "fucking" there for a reason. I hate driving. I fucking hate it. If I could kill the verb "driving" I would. If I could destroy all the cars in the world, I would. I hate them.

Here, I walk. Walk. Walk. Take a bus. Take a train.

And you know what? I really hated that when I first moved here. But now I love it. Namely, because, you got it, I don't have to fucking drive. Transportation is a breeze here, especially if you live near a big city like I do. So good for me. Bad for you driving your evil devil machines.

4. Lots of Stuff I Love is Here

Puroresu, which I've fell in love with more since moving here, is right at my door step. I can watch awesome wrestling shows whenever I feel like on the cheap. Going to wrestling shows in America is quite a crap shoot. Sometimes the shows are good. Sometimes they suck donkey balls. Puroresu shows are almost always awesome. Even the crappy matches are brilliant.

My wife is here too. But not to say she couldn't follow me anywhere I go. It's nice to live in her home country though as it's easier for both of us now at the moment. I worry if we moved to America she'd be targeted by racists or experience some kind of horrible shit that would forever make me hate all human beings on Earth. So for now I like living here with her, where we have a nice, insulated life free of any overwhelming issues.

5. Like, Mind-Expansion, Man

Dude...I've totally like blown my mind here, bro. Since moving here I've become about 1,000 percent more productive in my daily life. Not to say I still don't waste shit-tons of hours playing video games and surfing the internet for dubstep songs, wrestling news, and pictures of cracked- out celebrities.

I have Twitter and I don't even really know anyone on there. I just read what other people are doing. I waste too much time on shit like that even now. However, I'm still way more productive than I was before.

I write a shit lot more. I still don't really submit things much, because I've been working on manga mostly. I've written three manga and two novels since moving here. Several short stories too. I tend to have a fear of submitting stuff because sometimes it just feels like I'm sending a baby chimp into a black hole of yawning nothingness. It makes me sad. But I still write and plot submitting stuff, so that's better than just talking about it like I did before.

I've written articles and blogs too. Entered contests. Become one of the moderators on a board. Planned to learn how to fight with swords.

Yes, fight with swords. How fucking ridiculous does that sound? "I'm going to learn to fight with swords."

It's ridiculously awesome I mean. I want to invite you to my house to battle me with a broad sword so I can pin your shirt sleeve to the wall and say "My name is Philip Overby. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Then I'll laugh and twist my invisible mustache. Then I'll disappear into a cloud of black ash.

So yeah, I think I did lots of cool creative stuff back home, but I'm leaps and bounds above what I was before. I'm getting some shit done. And learning Japanese on top of that!

So that's my list. You should come to Japan. Because it's awesome. No matter what people say.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wrestle Kingdom VI: Live Perspective Review

Also available at Puroresu Spirit.

Wrestle Kingdom VI. My second Wrestle Kingdom in a row. Last year saw Hiroshi Tanahashi capture the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Satoshi Kojima. After a full year of defenses, Tanahashi defends against challenger Minoru Suzuki going for a record 11 defenses.

I was surprised that my seats were on the floor (pleasantly) but I because people kept moving their heads around and such, it was harder for me to see some of the action. I did however get some decent pictures as I was right by the Blue Corner's exit guardrail.

The show seemed to be about as packed as last time, and overall I would say the quality of matches were good, but they didn't really match Wrestle Kingdom V in my opinion. The crowd seemed more subdued than last year as well, but that may have been just because my location made it harder to hear the reactions overall.

So, on to the show!

0. Dark Match: Tama Tonga and Captain New Japan vs. Kyosuke Mikami and Tomaki Honma

-Standard entrances for both teams.


-Captain New Japan looks like a red version of Capt. America with an inflatable New Japan shield.

-Tama Tonga worked the opening match last year as well. His style and look is heavily influenced by Jimmy Snuka.

-The heel team looked thrown together, but worked together well.

-The crowd was into Tonga's flashy offense, but the match ended pretty quickly.

-A cool series of spots and good fan reaction made Tonga the star of this match in my opinion.

WINNER: Tonga hits swinging DDT on Mikami.


-Good match to give the fans some action as they're taking their seats.

1. IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship Match

No Remorse Corps: Davey Richards and Rocky Romero (c) vs.
Apollo 55: Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi

ENTRANCE: Apollo 55 had a memorable entrance with their astronaut outfits. Definitely one of my most unique entrances I've ever see. New Japan really does their entrances well.

-Lots of kicking as expected and some cool dives to the outside.

-Richards looked a bit more subdued than his ROH-style.

-Richards tied up a Tequila Sunrise at one point which was a nice throw-back.

-A brilliant exchange of kicks ends with a Pele' from Devitt to Richards.

-Romero had a funny spot where he screamed and clotheslined Devitt in the corner over and over again only to be clipped by a clothesline of Devitt in the end.

-A doomsday flying knee from NRC!

-Richards does an impressive superplex followed by a float-over suplex.


-Fans were firmly behind Apollo 55. There was some heat for NRC when they cut off some of the outside dives.


-Richards/Devitt displayed some great technical moves, though I'm curious how awesome a singles match between the two would be.

WINNER: Taguchi pins Richards after reversing a powerbomb into a roll-up.


-A fine opening match for Wrestle Kingdom though could have been longer.


Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV, Mascara Dorada, and KUSHIDA vs.
Atlantis, Valiente, TAKA Michinoku, and Taichi


-The heel team came out to "Party Rock" by LMFAO, which I thought was funny for a heel team to be using. But Taichi is on the team so it makes sense.

-The face team had an "Atom" mascot (or Astro Boy in the US) come out then suddenly a flashing anime of a tiger looking guy flashed on the screen and crowd popped big. Liger's song boomed through the arena.

-Liger is wearing a really awesome outfit this year. He has white hair, silver mask, and a silver suit. He looks like some kind of ghost or something. Cool look.


-Taichi gets what I'm going to call "Spot Blocking Heat" by cutting off a dive early in the match. This seems to be an ongoing way to get heat for the New Japan heels, especially in a match full of high fliers.

-Lots of body splashes on Liger.

-Taichi does a series of spots where he tries to take off everyone's masks. He starts with Liger, then Tiger Mask, then Dorada. Crowd, of course, hates this. Rotten Taichi!

-There were a series of high spots involving dives to the outside. The most impressive was Dorada, who did some kind of strange, twisting splash.

-There was a botch from either Atlantis or Valiente. I couldn't tell which one.

-Liger hits a powerbomb and a stalling brainbuster!


-Taichi got the most heat with his "take off everyone's masks" spot.

-There was an audible laugh from the botched dive.

-Liger was super-over and had the coolest ring gear of the night. Kudos to whoever designed it.

-KUSHIDA shined a bit in the match. Good to see him make his debut at the Tokyo Dome.


-Liger was most over, but Dorada had some nice moments. I'd say Dorada by a hair.

WINNER: Liger with a brainbuster on Atlantis


-Good match to let everyone get some spots in, but nothing that really stood out, besides the awesome dive from Dorada and Liger's cool ring gear.


Kazuchika Okada vs. YOSHI-HASHI (Nobuo Yoshihashi)


-Okada introduces a new gimmick, Rainmaker, with a video of money raining down. Supposedly he's working as a face in this match against YOSHI-HASHI representing CHAOS.


-Pretty standard back and forth, YOSHI-HASHI spits on the ref.

-Okada hits an impressive missile drop kick.

-I have no idea what happened, but Okada hit some weird looking clothesline thing. I don't even know what it was. Match is over.


-Not much either way. The crowd said "Ehhh?" after the match ended abruptly. I'm assuming their match got cut for time. It seemed like it was over in three minutes.


-Okada, because he won.

WINNER: Okada with a weird finisher.


-This match didn't have any shining moments really and I think it suffered from time constraints. Okada wouldn't be finished tonight with his bizarre behavior.

4. BLUE JUSTICE NEVER DIE (I know it's misspelled)

Blue Justice: Yuji Nagata and Wataru Inoue vs.
STACK OF ARMS: Masakatsu Funaki and Masayuki Kono


-Blue Justice gets a strong reaction, particularly Nagata.
-STACK OF ARMS come out with an All Japan flag.


-Lots of stiff kicks as expected from Nagata and Funaki.

-Nagata gets a big pop for stretching his arm and rolling his eyes back in his head. I guess that's a signature look he has.

-Inoue hits an impressive deadlift German on Funaki for a good reaction.

-Funaki kicks the shit out of Inoue's head. And that's it.


-There was a show-down at the end, as Funaki was bleeding from the nose. He looked pissed. He headbutted Nagata in the face so maybe that's how it happened. The crowd buzzed for this.

-Nagata was loved as expected. Kono and Funaki got heat (presumably because they're from All Japan.)


-Nagata and Funaki will be an awesome singles series I think. Seems that's where they are leading.

WINNER: Funaki after a head kick on Inoue.


-Looking forward to seeing Funaki and Nagata having some singles matches. They're both very intense veterans.


MVP and Shelton Benjamin vs. Masato Tanaka and Yujiro Takahashi

ENTRANCES: The Complete Players come out together (with Jado and Gedo, I believe) and MVP and Benjamin had separate entrances. MVP had flames shooting out of the stage when he came in.


-Benjamin hits some big slams at the beginning and MVP follows with two Ballin' Elbows, which the crowd screams back "Ballin'!" Not sure they know where that comes from.

-Some nice spots between MVP and Tanaka. Tanaka splashes MVP through a table so I assume this match has no rules. He hits Benjamin with a kendo stick afterward.

-A nice reversal from MVP out of hip toss shows how agile he is.

-Benjamin gets the big exploder powerslam. Takahashi answers with a belly to belly.

-Great series of German suplexes from MVP and he kips up for a nice reaction.

-Benjamin climbs up the ropes like a cat and throws Takahashi and MVP locks in the crossface. Takahashi taps.


-MVP and Benjamin both got good pops for their offense.


-MVP and Benjamin both did a good job. I haven't seen much of their work outside WWE, but they both seem a bit freer with their offense.

WINNER: MVP with a crossface on Takahashi


-The match was pretty good and gave MVP and Benjamin a way to show off their talent on a big stage at Tokyo Dome.

6. IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match

Bad Intentions: Giant Bernard and Karl "Machine Gun" Anderson (c) vs.
TenKoji: Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima


-Most awesome entrance of the night had Anderson with a prop machine gun that he shot at a digital picture of Tanahashi holding a girl in a bikini listing him as "The MVP of New Japan" or something like that. The picture caught on fire.

-TenKoji's entrance showed their history together which I thought was a nice touch. They got a big pop when they came out together.


-Kojima flexes his pecs (a la' Chris Masters) after putting down Anderson. In a funny moment, Anderson slams Kojima and mimics the pec flex.

-For some reason the crowd makes a hissing sound when Tenzan does Mongolian chops. Tenzan makes the sound, but it's barely audible.

-Bad Intentions flatten Tenzan after repeated elbow drops and knee drops.

-Tenzan reverses a brain buster into a big suplex.

-Kojima suddenly channels Kenta Kobashi and chops Bernard like crazy.

-Anderson hits a running Liger bomb and then Bernard gives a series of Vader bombs.

-Kojima and Anderson trade Cutters.

-Tenzan hits a massive headbutt.

-Kojima breaks up a pin for a big pop and close nearfall after double team action from Bad Intentions pick apart Tenzan.

-Stiff assisted powerbomb from Bad Intentions gets a very, very close nearfall. Bernard looks shocked as Tenzan kicks out.

-A 3D on Anderson from TenKoji.

-Tenzan goes up top and hits a huge moonsault for the pin.


-This match got the best reactions of the nights. Lots of pops for the near falls and a huge pop for the title change.


-Everyone involved was awesome. A perfect tag match. Lots of drama and an emotional win for the reunited TenKoji. Bad Intentions were very gracious in their loss and had a spectacular title reign.

WINNER: Tenzan moonsault on Bernard.


-This match was the best of the night by far. Great match that highlighted the strengths of everyone involved and had great drama to it.


Hirooki Goto vs. Takashi Sugiura


-Goto was wearing a red kabuki wig of some sort, which looked pretty cool. Sugiura had a no nonsense entrance which fit his character's style.


-Lots of stiff strikes as expected from the two bruisers. Sugiura is one of the stiffest competitors in all of Japan in my opinion.

-After a series of clotheslines, Goto hits a nice spinning lariat that knocks Sugiura loopy.

-Sugiura hits some bruising Yakuza kicks in the corner over and over.

-Lots of "fake outs" where one opponent runs the ropes and the other seems to lose where the other went. Sugiura takes an opportunity with a nice spear.

-Very cringe-worthy german suplex into the corner turnbuckle (or post pad?) from Suguira, dumping Goto on his head.

-Sugiura unloads some running hip attacks, blasting Goto repeatedly. Goto looks done.

-Sugiura gives a dragon suplex and Goto kicks out. Sugiura looks annoyed.

-A brilliant sries of moves from Goto: headbutt, standing lariat, and a weird spin move.

-Goto hits a stalling suplex into a front slam for the pin.


-Crowd was into the offense. Goto had his fair share of chants. Sugiura's no nonsense character isn't as over with the more flashy New Japan gimmicks. But his moves are brutal and I think that's what wins the crowds over to him.


-The match was obviously made to make Goto look awesome in the face of a beast like Sugiura who gave him quite a beating. Goto looks goods coming out of this match beating a tough competitor and former GHC Heavyweight Champion.

WINNER: Goto with suplex into front slam on Sugiura.


-This was a pleasant suprise for me as I was expecting a "by the book" sort of match with these two, with lots of stiff strikes and that would be about it. But this was one of the best matches on the card.


Togi Makabe vs. Yoshihiro Takayama


-Crowd loves Makabe. He's sort of a wild man take on Bruiser Brody. Not quite as wild, but has that appeal. Takayama looks very imposing compared to Makabe.


-Takayama's offense is by far the most brutal looking in all of puroresu. When he does back suplexes and germans they have this sort of slow motion, car crash effect. I'm saying this in a good way. His moves look like they really hurt. Especially his repeated knee lifts.

-This was Takayama's match. He brutalized Makabe for the first part even hitting a drop kick!

-Lots and lots of knee lifts from Takayama.

-Makabe answers a big boot from Takayama with a lariat and hits a gigantic powerslam.

-Biggest spot of the night has to be the ending sequence when Makabe hits an avalanche release german suplex from the top (also known as Spider Suplex.) Then finishes him off with a flying knee drop to the back of the head.


-Huge pop for the finishing sequence. Unbelievable to see live.

-Takayama's offense all got groans from the audience. As if to say "damn, that looks like it hurts."


-Another match, like Goto's, which was intended to make Makabe look strong, especially after the prolonged beat down from Takayama at the beginning.

WINNER: Makabe with King Kong Knee Drop.


-Nice match with some stiff strikes and the insane Spider Suplex from Makabe.


CHAOS Top Team: Shinsuke Nakamura and Toru Yano vs.
GHC Heavyweight Champion Go Shiozaki and Naomichi Marufuji


-Nakamura and Yano make separate entrances.

-Shiozaki has a standard entrance. It's easy to spot the NOAH guys as they don't seem to fit in stylistically with the New Japan guys. This is the first time I've really noticed how NOAH is more straight-up puroresu and New Japan is more like sports entertainment (although the good kind.)

-Marufuji is wearing a cool red Hayabusa style mask for his ring entrance. Not sure if that was by design or not. I'd love to see another Hayabusa type gimmick in Japan. Some of the most popular characters in Japan are masked or have painted faces (Hayabusa, Tiger Mask, Great Muta, Great Sasuke, Ultimo Dragon, etc.)


-There's a buzz when Nakamura and Marufuji face off. Looking forward to seeing a possible show down with them. Nakamura always gets people buzzing it seems. Same thing happened when he faced off with Suwama at the ALL TOGETHER show in Tokyo.

-Yano has lots of funny moments in this match. Messing with Shiozaki's hair and acting like a bully in general.

-Marufuji stands on Yano's face.

-Yano has it out for Shiozaki's hair as I think I saw him grab a pair of scissors from somewhere and try to cut it.

-Yano takes off the post guard and throws Marufuji into it.

-Nakamura swaggers around and beats up on a weakened Marufuji.

-Yano hits a stalling brainbuster and a dropkick.

-Shiozaki gets in some of his signature chops in and flying shoulder tackle.

-Yano does his "RVD" style taunt, which the crowd chants with him. He pulls hair again. The crowd pops for all his heel antics.

-A series of awesome kicks from Nakamura and Marufuji. Lucky for Marufuji, Nakamura misses two round house kicks that looked dangerous.

-When Nakamura goes for the Boma Ye, Marufuji counters by kicking the crap out of Nakamura's knee.

-Shiranui from Marujui gets big pop.

-A series of reversals and cradles from Yano and Shiozaki result in the Go Flasher for the pin.

-In a strange sequence, it appeared as if Marufuji was trying to break up the pin from Shiozaki twice. Why would he break up the pin for his own team? I didn't understand that.


-The crowd loved Nakamura and Yano. Especially Yano's cheap tactics. They popped big for all of them. I'd say Yano was one of the most over wrestlers on the whole show.

-Nakamura is one of the those wrestlers that people just get excited about. He should stay in the main event scene for a long time.


-Even though they lost, Yano and Nakamura were absolutely the stars of the match. Specifically Yano, who the crowd seems to like more and more.

WINNER: Shiozaki with the Go Flasher on Yano.


-As a bully type of heel, Yano is really over. I'd love to see him transition to a bigger role as he gets some of the best reactions on any card I've seen him on.


Tetsuya Naito vs. Keiji Mutoh


-Mutoh comes out to a big pop with a video showing him throughout the years.

-The crowd is excited for Naito as they are chanting his name over and over.


-Most of this match was dragon screw leg whips from Mutoh and working the leg. He must have hit like 20 dragon screws in this match.

-Naito gets some nice moves in, but everytime he gets a flurry of offense, Mutoh schools him again and takes him down.

-Mutoh hits repeated Shining Wizards on Naito throughout the match, which Naito keeps kicking out of.

-This match had the slowest pace on the card (not that it's a bad thing) and had lots of back and forth mat work.

-Naito hits a huge Frankensteiner on Mutoh for a nearfall but misses the Stardust Press after a series of suplexes and slams.

-After several Shining Wizards, Naito collapses and Mutoh hits a moonsault for the win.


-Crowd seemed convinced that Naito would have a "passing the torch" moment with Mutoh and they didn't pop as big as I'd expected when Mutoh won.

-They seemed confused by Naito ignoring the hand shake after the match.

-Tons of Naito chants. I wonder if New Japan missed a chance to strike while the iron was hot. A win over Mutoh would have been huge for Naito. Perhaps a heel turn is in store for Naito, but I don't see why. He's more over than Tanahashi or at least tonight he was.


-Can't really say. The match was designed to show how the younger version of Mutoh (Naito) could hang with a man he's idolized. He hung with him, but couldn't pull off the victory. I'm hoping this isn't another stall in the push for Naito, though it looks like it is.

WINNER: Mutoh with a moonsault.


-I feel like the right person won, but on the wrong night. I think Mutoh should have had a series of matches with Naito where he bests him and then had them square off at Wrestle Kingdom where Mutoh would finally be beaten by the younger mirror image of himself. I understand wanting to protect Mutoh's legacy, but not really sure why they did it at the expense of one of their hottest stars.

11. IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match

Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Minoru Suzuki


-In a video package, Mutoh makes fun of Tanahashi's "I love everyone" babyface persona. HE simulates flipping back his hair. That gets a laugh from the crowd.

-Both men make their standard entrances, Tanahashi with the awesome video package that highlights all of the previous champions. I love seeing that.


-The two chain wrestle at the beginning. Suzuki manages to get Tanahashi on the top rope and does an abdominal stretch. Ouch.

-Suzuki catches Tanahashi off a dive and chokes him, dragging him up the ramp.

-Suzuki goes for a piledriver on the ramp, but Tanahashi back body drops him instead.

-In a funny spot, Suzuki does leg exercises on the mat as they referee counts a downed Tanahashi after Suzuki lays him out.

-Suzuki his three sick headbutts. He laughs at Tanahashi's offense.

-Tanahashi hits a flying forearm for a big pop.

-When Tanahashi goes for a splash to the outside, Suzuki locks in a cross arm-breaker over the top rope.

-Tanahashi goes for his finisher (frog splash) but Suzuki blocks it with double knees.

-Tanahashi comes up bleeding from the mouth after a capture german suplex from Suzuki.

-When Suzuki locks in the choke again, Tanahashi fades and the crowd rallies behind him.

-Small chant for Suzuki after he kicks out of one finisher.

-Tanahashi hits one frog splash on Suzuki's back and another on his front for the three count.


-Tanahashi is definitely still the top star in New Japan from the way the crowd got behind him. He's an absolutely fantastic wrestler, but I think it was a foregone conclusion he was going to win. Suzuki is a strong challenger and made the match very believable. I thought he was going to win several times.

-Tanahashi had a lot of the crowd behind him in this match, but it didn't seem as enthusiastic as last year. When he won last year, the place exploded. When he won this year the crowd cheered, but it was like they already expected it.


-Tanahashi's win cements his legacy as one of the best champions in Japanese history, having a record 11 title defenses. The match was designed for that moment.

WINNER: Tanahashi following two frog splashes on Suzuki.


-Wrestle Kingdom VII definitely will need something new going into their main event next year. Tanahashi victorious two years in a row may lose it's lustre. I expect a title change early in the year and there are tons of strong challengers waiting in the wings (Goto, Makabe, Okada, maybe Naito down the line.)

-Okada coming out seemed kind of bizarre at the end, especially when he just kind of shrugged after Tanahashi basically said "I'm tired right now" (at least I guess that's what he said.)

-A lengthy air guitar post-match celebration left the fans going home happy. I think they did the air guitar bit maybe two or three too many times though.


-New tag champions for both heavyweight and junior heavyweight divisions shows that New Japan is shifting around some talent. I'm not sure who future challengers will be for either of the new champion teams, but I figure there will be a series of rematches in the near future.

-Tanahashi is still champion and goes down in history as one of the greateast champions in Japanese history. Not sure how much longer this can last though.

-I was hoping for my surprises and special guests, but there weren't any.

-Naito losing to Mutoh could be a big blow to his push, but it shouldn't be. I hope they don't turn him heel as I think he has potential to be the next big babyface to step in the main event role.


-Looks like Okada is going to be the first challenger for Tanahashi. He's a very intriguing pick for a challenger as his new character seems to be very aloof. Very strange considering most heel challengers are more tough guys or arrogant. Okada just seems like he's above everything. A very intereting character going forward.

-TenKoji should get a series of excellent rematches from Bad Intentions. Perhaps even a series with Nakamura and Yano (although I rather see both pushed as singles wrestlers.)

-MVP looks strong going forward in the New Year and I expect more matches from him and Masato Tanaka.

-Naito needs to get a big win to get back on track.

-Apollo 55 are a great team, but I question taking the titles off NRC so quickly. Not sure where both teams go from here besides continuing their feud.

-The New Japan vs. NOAH matches were both very good. The stark difference between NOAH and NJPW is becoming more apparent to me.

-Tanahashi is probably the longest running champion in the world right now. Whoever beats him should be a big deal. I'm hoping they're planning for a fresh new face to take over whenever that happens. Much kudos to Tanahashi for being a strong champion and in an industry where hot-shotting happens so much, staying relevent in the main event.

So that's another Wrestle Kingdom in the books. Looking forward to next year!

Biggest Pops

1. TenKoji title win

2. Tanahashi victory

3. Naito/Mutoh

4. Yano

5. MVP and Shelton Benjamin

Most Heat

1. Suzuki

2. NRC

3. Taichi

4. Bad Intentions (although some pops for them)

5. Sugiura

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Drill Bits: My Vision of Pro Wrestling

Do you know Orville Brown? Mil Mascaras? Rikidozan? Google them. Go ahead. I'll wait.

If you had to Google them, maybe pro wrestling isn't as important to you as you thought. Wrestling has and will always be a big part of my life. Meaning I study every aspect of the business. I believe everyone should be required to take a test before they ever become a promoter. Like a driver's test. Honestly.

If you know these names and when they won their first titles, should you be a promoter? No. Just because you know the house show results of a 1995 match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart doesn't mean you should be a promoter either.

Marketing. Take a class in marketing. And business. And whatever else. Become a salesman part-time. Because that's what you need. History of the business and history OF business.

Before I ever take the plunge into promoting, I will do these things.

I've wanted to share these ideas for some time. I figured I would wait until I made my triumphant (?) return back to Mississippi and unleash my opus upon the unsuspecting masses. But screw it. I'll talk about it now.

This isn't a blog about what's wrong with the business or what I would do to revolutionize the business. About how it's dead or overexposed or full of untrained and/or unskilled workers. These are problems, sure, but maybe indicative of a deeper problem that will probably never be fixed. As long as people dream to be anything, there will be people who don't really belong. The same goes with music, sports, movies, etc. There's always going to be a share of people who "are destroying the industry." So I won't harp on that.

The problem is everyone thinks they can run a wrestling promotion. I honestly think only people who understand human psychology and selling a product can really get anything out of the business. And that's what it is. A business. If you're not in it to make money then you are doing it for a hobby. Which there is nothing wrong with. I compare some indie wrestlers to actors who do community theater. They may be good or great or the complete shits. Do they plan to make it anywhere? Sometimes. In any case, if you are paid any amount of money, you are a professional wrestler. If it supplements your income and pays your bills, then you're doing even better. If you work for free or basically nothing, you're a hobbyist.

Wrestling is an age old social experiment. Good vs. evil with interactive elements. To me the Golden Age of wrestling has always been the 80s. And the most technical period with the best matches were the 70s. The problem is, a lot of great technical wrestlers aren't very charismatic. And vice versa.

I believe in Paul Heyman's philosophy of "accentuate the positives, hide the negatives." I also believe if you're going to run a professional wrestling company, then you need to have studied those who have made money in the business. Study the history. Read books. Know where the industry's been. Orville Brown, George Hackenschmidt, Jim Londos, Karl Gotch? Do you know these names? Or does your knowledge of the business only track back to 1998? Ask questions. Why were the territories so successful? Why did the NWA have a monopoly on wrestling for years and years? Who booked their territories into oblivion and who thrived even despite Vince McMahon's seizure of talent? Why was Vince's approach to wrestling so successful?

Besides knowing history, it's good to know how to be a good salesman. Wrestling came from the carnivals, full of good salesman (albeit shady). Putting on a show isn't just having a ring and a building and some guys. It's promoting a card. Putting out fliers, radio, TV, word-of-mouth. You HAVE to do this. Every successful promoter has done this.

Back to my point about the 70s and 80s. With the exception of the boom from the NWO and the Attitude Era, the 90s were pretty forgettable. And wrestling in the 2000s has had its moments, but wrestling right now isn't as hot as it once was. However, I believe melding the past and present together will always result in the future. CM Punk's recent success is because he's a student of the game. Jericho's recent re-emergence will have people talking up until Wrestlemania. The Nexus angle really, really worked for the short time it was going. All these moments play into history and what just works. Do what works.

The most successful indie promotions are the ones with great talent, good bookers, and creative concepts. CHIKARA, Ring of Honor, and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla are probably the top three companies in indie wrestling. They've carved out a niche, and that's what promoters need to do to get business. If there are five promotions all using the same talent within twenty miles of each other, why not just pool your resources together and put on ONE good show instead of five OK ones?

Ok, I'm rambling a bit.

So, without further ado, here's my vision. I can't say my ideas are completely original, but in the right place at the right time, I think it would work:

1. The Triangle of Doom: When you put "of Doom" it just sounds cooler. My promotion would run in three towns. Far enough away from each other to draw, but close enough that it would be a regional promotion. These three towns would be the basis for the promotion.

2. Credible Champions: For a new promotion, I'd only have one champion. And this guy would have to be reliable, a good worker, a good attitude, and have drawing power. If I don't have someone to build my promotion around, then I'm not doing it. New Japan Pro Wrestling has just had a record long title reign for their champion Hiroshi Tanahashi. It's amazing in this age of hot-shotting and short attention spans. To have a credible, strong champion is paramount.

3. Blending History: In this age, people love nostalgia. They love to look back at the glory days. With gimmicks that are homages or throw-backs, as well as completely original ideas never done before (I know it sounds like it couldn't happen, but I could dream up something). Everyone's gimmick would have to be approved by me. It's great to let guys run their own gimmick, but the most successful promotions always had someone tempering the creativity of their wrestlers. I think Wrestling Revolution Project has the right idea. They've took established wrestlers and given them new gimmicks. It's a fresh look on familiar faces.

4. Money Money Money: I'm not running a show unless I have the funds to do so. That means paying everyone what I've agreed to. I would book only limited workers, but I'd pay them good. So I'd expect an awesome show. If they didn't give me one, they wouldn't be used again.

5. One Man Operation: I have the final say on everything. The reason Vince McMahon is so successful is because he has the final say on everything. Say what you want about Vince, but he is the single most important figure in wrestling history. Not to say I wouldn't have other people helping me, but the complete creative direction of the company would be done by me.

6. Tournaments: Tournaments are one of the most prestigious ways to build up talent. Promotions in Japan love tournaments. And so do I. The Super 8 Tournament is one of the most recognized tournaments in America. Stars are born there. I'd have various "cups" through the year, culminating in crowning a tournament champion (who would be separate from the main champion). Several other indie promotions do this with varied success.

7. Blending Names with Homegrown Talent: I'd bring in names, but much like CHIKARA does, have them like a special attraction. Use that nostalgia factor to lure in the casual fans, but have your homegrown talent keep the curious fans coming back.

8. Use the Triangle of Doom to Keep Things Fresh: Like a mini version of the NWA glory days, I'd have my champion defend his title in the three towns I'm running, but always have the challengers rotating out. Therefore the champion could have three different feuds running in three different towns. I'd presumably book a heel as my first champion and have babyfaces from each of the three towns battle to dethrone him.

9. Make Gimmick Matches Special: I'd only use gimmick matches for blow-offs for feuds. Therefore I'd limit the amount of hardcore, ladder matches, or cage matches. Once in a blue moon only.

10. Training of All Sorts: I'd hire a trainer (a name) to run a school for me. All talent would have to train there in their spare time. I don't want to use anyone who doesn't stay in ring shape or improving their mic skills and promos. That said...

11. Limit Promos: Fans like promos. In moderation. I'd have more wrestling and less promos. I'd try to find unique ways to make up for promos. Various angles that utilize emotion or comedy. I believe comedy has its place in any promotion, but there has to be a sort of balance.

12. Try Cross-Promotion: I'd try to work with other promotions in my area to put together "super shows." I'd only do this every so often to make them special.

13. Good vs. Evil: There would be clear lines with my heels and babyfaces. Characters the fans can love or hate. No one who's "just there."

14. Fan Polls: I'd hand out questionnaires at the shows (just like restaurants do) and have more fan feedback than any other promotion. Having a "Fans Book the Show" night could give the fans a chance to put together their own card. One of my pet projects would be a Fan-Made Tournament, where the fans would seed their favorite wrestlers.

15. And Finally...I Won't Be Wrestling: I've had some awesome times in the four years I was actively wrestling. And I decided the best way to approach my own promotion would to not be one of the talents. Not an "authority figure," not a wrestler. Nothing. Just behind the scenes.

So...I think that's it. I plan to enact my vision at some point. Maybe not in my home state of Mississippi, but maybe in another place if and when I move back to America. Soaking in the experience of seeing puroresu in Japan has given me a new perspective on how wrestling can be approached.

I've always loved wrestling and passion can translate into success sometimes. I look forward to pursuing this dream in the future!

Hope you enjoyed it!