Cubed Circle Newsletter 214 – Nagayo, Honma & Onita’s Get Their Big Wins!
We have another busy newsletter for you this week, as we run down the 2015 Tokyo Sports awards, including some truly bizarre results, an horrendous WWE TLC go-home show, look at Honma’s big win despite domestic violence accusations, AJ Styles injury and the impact it will have on the Dome, Mid-South from 1982, as well as all of the news, including Daniel Bryan updates, Rizin, and more!
– Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor
The Pro-Wres Digest for December 7th – December 13th 2015.
Former ECW original Hack Meyers (Donald Haviland) sadly passed away on 5/12 just two days before his forty second birthday. Meyers underwent brain surgery two weeks ago and complications from the procedure resulted in him slipping into a coma which he never woke up from. Meyers became a cult favourite during the early days of ECW with his “Shah” gimmick and had a pretty good run with the company as a featured mid-carder from 94-96. At the November to Remember 1996, he was one of three guys (along with Devon Storm & JT Smith) to lose a loser leaves ECW match to Too Cold Scorpio, who was also leaving for the WWF. After Scorpio had beaten Storm, Smith & Myers, Louie Spicolli upset Scorpio and pinned him to send him packing to the WWF. He mostly worked independents after his ECW run and had a hand in training guys like Scoot Andrews, Travis Tomko and UFC Light Heavyweight fighter, “Filthy” Tom Lawlor.
Another big name is out of WrestleMania, as Sting revealed on Ric Flair’s podcast this week that he needs neck surgery after the injuries he sustained in the match with Seth Rollins at Night of Champions. It was widely known that Sting’s neck was in bad shape after the Rollins match and speculation about surgery was rampant in the weeks after Night of Champions in September, however it was not confirmed until the comments on the podcast. Sting said he wasn’t sure what the procedure would entail but Dr Joseph Maroon told him that there are two spots in his neck that are suffering from cervical spinal stenosis, the same condition that led to Steve Austin & Edge never taking a bump ever again after they retired. At 56 years-old, this could very well mean the end of Sting’s in-ring career. His recovery time would be nearly double that of a guy 20 years younger and if the procedure turns out to be neck fusion then he would surely be out for at least 18 months. If WWE’s doctors won’t clear Daniel Bryan to wrestle, you can pretty much guarantee they will not let a 58 year-old with a fused neck anywhere near a wrestling ring.
Speaking of Daniel Bryan, he was in Singapore this week doing some promotional stuff for WWE and gave a very interesting update on his current situation with the company. “I think it could be the end of my career in WWE, but I don’t think it will be the end of my career. I could find another passion, but it would just be sad because this is what I have been most passionate about since I was five”, Bryan said. From his statement, it seems that Bryan believes that there is little chance of WWE clearing him to wrestle any time soon. As we noted a month ago, Dr Joseph Maroon, WWE’s head of medical operations, will not clear Bryan to compete so he sought a second opinion from the Arizona University team sports doctor and was given the all-clear. Even if he is able to find a third doctor to clear him, WWE would still likely go with Maroon’s diagnosis since he is their guy and it wouldn’t look too good if they undermined his decision. Bryan still has two years left on his WWE contract and it is highly unlikely that the company would give him his release to go work elsewhere.
Most likely if they are not going to clear him to wrestle Bryan will continue to do media and promotional stuff like he has been doing since his last concussion. If at the end of his current deal WWE still refuse to let him wrestle then it is almost certain that Bryan Danielson will forgo a new contract and become a hugely sought after star on the independent and world-wide circuits. Bryan has been quoted many times claiming that he will wrestle again even if it is not for WWE, even noting his desire to work at Arena Mexico on the big CMLL anniversary show earlier this year. But who knows what his decision will be in two years. Bryan will be 36 by that point and maybe some sort of new WWE contract as a brand ambassador with guaranteed money will be more appealing than busting his ass on the indies. Alternatively, Bryan might decide that at 36, with a banged up body, he only has a small window to have one last big run on the indies, Japan, or wherever he wants to perform. One thing is certain though and that is that Bryan Danielson will not be short of options if he really does want to continue to work in the ring.
Alberto Del Rio went down to Puerto Rico on 5/12 to work his match with Ray Gonzalez after an angle they shot on TV where Alberto broke the arm of Ray Gonzalez Jr at the Texas Wrestling Academy. They drew 4,000 fans for the WWC “Lockout” show at the Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum in Bayamon and Gonzalez beat Del Rio via DQ when El Hilo de Dos Caras (Alberto’s younger brother) interfered. During the match, which had tremendous heat, Alberto went outside and was attacked by a fan in the front row. The guy just sort of grabbed him and threw what looked to be pro wrestling-style forearms at Alberto, but security quickly broke it up before any real harm was done and the guy was kicked out of the building. Imagine Del Rio being so over as a heel in Puerto Rico that he gets attacked by fans yet on RAW he is a complete geek with virtually no heat whatsoever.
Princess Kimber Lee became the first woman ever to win the Chikara Grand Championship at the Top Banana show on 6/12 at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia. The deal was the payoff to the year-long Challenge of the Immortals tournament and Lee’s Crown & Court stable beat the Wrecking Crew in the finals when she pinned Blaster McMassive. As the winners of the tournament, the captain of the team, Kimber Lee, Jervis Cottonbelly & Los Ice Creams all received a “Golden Opportunity” which basically means they can challenge for a championship of their choosing at any time. Hallowicked retained the Grand Championship over Eddie Kingston & Icarus later on the show and Kimber Lee cashed in her Golden Opportunity and ended up beating Hallowicked in 5 minutes with, what else, the Chikara Special. Kimber Lee has that sort of Bayley thing going in that she is liked and respected as a good worker by the adult males but is also an idol for young girls and draws quite a few of them to come see her perform. Chikara isn’t going to live or die based on who their champion is, however it will be interesting to see if more young girls start coming to the shows to see the tiny Princess who throws around 300lbs men like she is Brock Lesnar.
The Stampede Wrestling shows that were uploaded to the WWE Network have already been taken down due to some sorts of rights issue with Bret Hart. Bret owns all of the Stampede footage that he is featured on and several of the episodes that were up on the Network contained some of his matches for his father’s promotion. I guess WWE didn’t bother consulting Bret before they put the Stampede stuff up in the vault.
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma won New Japan’s World Tag League when they beat Los Ingobernables (Tetsuya Naito & EVIL) in the tournament finals at the Sun Plaza Hall in Sendai on 9/12. GBH will now be challenging Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows for the IWGP tag titles on 4/1 at the Tokyo Dome and they also set up Katsuyori Shibata challenging Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER title at Wrestle Kingdom also, which if their 2013 matches together are anything to go by should be insane. The full line-up for January 4th was announced on 9/12 on New Japan’s website and providing the semi-main event still goes ahead, we could have a contender for the 2016 show of the year. The show will not be available on traditional PPV in the US this year, because, as noted in the Observer, New Japan “never got back” to Jeff Jarrett, who wanted to put the show on PPV for the second year in a row. There were also no apparent discussions with ROH regarding some kind of deal with them promoting the PPV, even though their top stars will be on the show and Kevin Kelly and, yes, Matt Striker will be doing the English commentary at the Dome. Card for Wrestle Kingdom 10 on January 4th at the Tokyo Dome:
1) New Japan Rumble.
2) IWGP Jr. Tag Titles: reDRagon (C) vs. Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice vs. Ricochet & Matt Sydal.
3) Toru Yano & 2 mystery partners vs. Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Tama Tonga.
4) Jay Lethal vs. Michael Elgin. Probably for the ROH title if Lethal beats AJ on 18/12.
5) IWGP Jr. Title Kenny Omega (C) vs. Kushida.
6) IWGP Tag Titles: Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma.
7) Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito.
8) NEVER Title: Tomohiro Ishii (C) vs. Katsuyori Shibata.
9) IC Title: Shinsuke Nakamura (C) vs. A.J. Styles.
10) IWGP Heavyweight Title: Kazuchika Okada (C) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The final of All Japan’s 39th World Tag League took place in Osaka on 6/12 and drew 730 to the Osaka Edion Arena #2, the smallest crowd to ever witness the finals. Suwama & Kento Miyahara beat Zeus & The Bodyguard when Miyahara pinned Bodyguard in 9:36. After the match they shot an angle with Suwama turning on Miyahara and he gave him a German suplex then said he didn’t want to team with him anymore and announced Naoya Nomura as his new partner.
The Dynamite Kid, Tom Billington is in a bad way after suffering another stroke and remains in hospital where he has been for six weeks. Reports are that Billington’s speech has improved however his physical condition has worsened and apparently at one point he was so disorientated he started calling spots like he was in a match while in the hospital. Billington has been confined to a wheelchair for years due to paralysis of his left leg and in November 2013 he was hospitalised after suffering his first stroke.
Unsurprisingly, the RAW rating was the second lowest non-holiday number since 1997 with a 2.14 rating and 3.04 million viewers, second only to the embarrassingly low 2.95 million that the 23/11 show did. 8pm did 3.27 million viewers, 9pm did 3.04 million and 10pm dropped to a pathetic 2.85 million. By comparison, the atrocious Cowboys/Redskins game did 14.15 million viewers.
Fedor Emelianenko did an interview at an MMA show in Russia last weekend and revealed that he is training for a specific opponent for his fight with Rizin on New Year’s Eve. I wouldn’t put it past Sakakibara if Fedor’s opponent is unaware he is even going to be fighting at this point, although Fedor said his opponent will be announced next week. The Bob Sapp/Akebono rematch will be under Shoot Boxing rules, which basically means no groundwork, no submissions and no kicks, but takedowns are permitted. King Mo’s opponent for the 29/12 show in the Light Heavyweight tournament will be British BAMMA fighter, Bret McDermott. Mo was scheduled to face Mark Godbeer but he pulled out due to injury and McDermott, a former Rugby League player who retired from the sport in 2011 after testing positive for anabolic steroids, took his place. McDermott holds a KO victory over Oleg Thompson, who will be fighting on the rival IGF show on 31/12 in the IGF Heavyweight title tournament against Fernando Rodrigues Jr, so it is a good promotional tactic to book McDermott on the 29/12 Rizin show with that in mind. Before his neck injury, there was talk of Sakakibara wanting to bring Kota Ibushi in (as well as some other New Japan stars) to fight on the New Year’s Eve show. Obviously the New Japan thing was never going to happen, but on 8/12 the DDT website announced that they would be involved in the 29/12 & 31/12 shows at Saitama Super Arena. The translation reads: “Ganbare ☆ wrestling is December 29 (Tuesday) and 31, (Thursday), it does offer the game at will be held at Saitama Super Arena “RIZIN FIGHTING WORLD GRAND-PRIX 2015” in the event “Martial Arts EXPO” ring area. Location Community Arena in time 29 days 13:30 to 14:30, 31st 12:00 to 13:00.” The statement goes on to say, “and resonance to the concept of RIZIN Martial Arts EXPO on the theme of” interaction with Martial Arts,” […]professional wrestling in the ring area It is expected to be carried out to provide game about 2-3 games.”
Sami Zayn will make his return to NXT after six months off due to rotator cuff surgery on the upcoming UK tour. The tour will already be underway by the time you are reading this as they start in Newcastle on 10/12 then go to Glasgow on 11/12, Sheffield on 12/12, Blackpool on 13/12, Nottingham on 14/12, Cardiff on 15/12 and finally London on 16/12 for the Live Takeover special. Zayn worked matches with Finn Balor for the NXT title at the house shows and will most likely be on the Takeover special on 16/12. HHH announced on Wednesday that in addition to the live Takeover show they will be taping a TV show for 23/12 in London with a #1 contenders four-way tag match featuring the Vaudevillains, Hype Bros, Blake & Murphy and Jason Jordan & Chad Gable. The line-up for Takeover from the SSE Wembley Arnea on 16/12 is as follows:
1) NXT Title Match: Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe
2) Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin
3) Women’s Title: Bayley vs. Nia Jax
4) NXT Tag Titles: Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder vs. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady
5) Emma vs. Asuka
Survivor Series is this Sunday from the TD Garden in Boston, MA and we have six matches announced for the show.
1) WWE Title TC Match: Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns
2) IC Title: Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose
3) WWE Tag Title Ladder Match: New Day vs. Lucha Dragons vs. Usos
4) Diva’s Title: Charlotte vs. Paige
5) US Title Chairs Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger
6) Tables Match: The Wyatt Family vs. Dudleys, Tommy Dreamer & Rhyno
If you have a spare hour and forty minutes, the Tokyo Gurentai show from 12/1 is well worth checking out. 800 fans were at Korakuen Hall for Nosawa’s 20th Anniversary show and they were treated to such thrilling bouts as Kikutaro & Stalker Ichikawa beating Chikara & Mitsuo Momota for the Tokyo International Tag titles, Seiya Sanada downing Fujita (which was actually a good match), Kazunari Murakami & Minoru Suzuki over Suguru Miyatake & Yoshihiro Takayama when Suzuki pinned Miyatake with the Gotch Piledriver, Masaaki Mochizuki winning the Tokyo World Heavyweight title from Mazada and a main event with a combined age of 444 (Four hundred and forty four)!!! Dory Funk Jr (74), Great Kabuki (67), Masakatsu Funaki (46) & Mil Mascaras (73) beat CIMA (38), Kaz Hayashi (42), NOSAWA Rongai (38) & Yoshiaki Fujiwara (66) in about 17 minutes. Funk could barely move and did virtually nothing; Mascaras moved very well for a 73 year-old and he came off the top with a crossbody onto Nosawa for the finish. Funaki was in great shape and did most of the work for his team. It was by no means a classic but if you want a feel-good moment to remind you of how awesome pro wrestling can be, you can’t get much better than a 74 year-old Dory Funk Jr getting mobbed by the crowd and cutting a promo in Japanese afterwards.