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Torch Japan Report: Top Five Stories of the Week including Big Show vs. Akebono

Apr 7, 2005 - 4:32:00 PM

By Mike Sempervive and Keith Lipinski, Torch contributors

1. It's just business. No, really, it is!

Many of you were scratching your heads when it came to WrestleMania's sumo challenge between Big Show and Akebono, and why the non-WWE guy in a diaper went over. Well, for those you may have never seen our past columns, it goes like this: The mighty Akebono, despite being far removed from his sumo heyday and being an god awful K-1 style fighter, still equals mainstream newspaper coverage and great television ratings in Japan. Many times, he pulls those big ratings for Fuji TV – which is one of K-1's favorite networks, which also happens to broadcast WWE's SmackDown.

As you may know, WWE has had grand visions of running the massive Tokyo (Egg) Dome. Not an easy task unless you have a major TV network behind you, print media coverage and hype, and a "native" drawing card to put prominently on the show. It should now be a touch more clear on why everything went down the way it did at WrestleMania XXI. Akebono vs. Big Show in a professional wrestling match could be a huge draw in the future, where salt can be used properly as in being thrown by Mr. Fuji in a proper heelish salt ceremony. This explains why Big Show lost at Wrestlemania, now can someone explain to us when Former WCW World Heavyweight Champion David Arquette joined the Hogan Family (not the Sandy Duncan/Valerie Harper show)?

2. Revenge is a dish best served with gauze, stitches, broken pinkees.

Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko, who is widely-regarded as the best heavyweight in mixed martial arts, defended his title with a brutal doctor's stoppage TKO (via cuts and sweet blood) of Tsuyoshi "TK" Kohsaka on April 3's Bushido Volume 6 main event at Yokohama Arena. The event will be broadcast on North American PPV beginning on Thursday, April 14th. For Fedor, it was appropriate revenge considering that the only loss on his record came against TK, in a bout that was stopped due to a cut. On three separate occasions during the ten-minute first round, the doctor checked Kohsaka's gash but declared him able to continue. Finally, and mercifully, between rounds the decision was made to stop the fight. In an interesting note, Fedor went straight to the hospital after his fight (and hopefully a refreshing shower) and it was revealed he injured the same finger while bashing in Koshaka's skull that he hurt in the 12/31/04 Saitama fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He is unlikely for his fight against Cro Cop for either June 26 OR August 28th. Which is a shame as it was a money fight which has already been previously postponed due to another Fedor arm/hand related injury injury.

Other notable results of Bushido Volume 6 included American Dean Lister winning a four-man tourney to gain entrance into the upcoming Pride Middleweight (205-pound) Grand Prix, Canada's Denis Kang winning in his Pride debut, and Fedor's always sleepy and grumpy looking brother, Alexsander, knocking out Ricardo Morias in 15 seconds. In other Pride news, the lineup for the first round of their 16 man 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix has been announced for April 23rd, 2005 from the Osaka Dome. This lineup looks to be the greatest in MMA tournament history. Here are the first round matches, MMA fans much like Fedor will need a shower after reading this lineup.

Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Yoon Dong Sik (South Korea Judo guy making his debut)
Dean Lister vs. Ricardo Arona
Vitor Belfort vs. Alistair Overeem
Yuki Kondo vs. Igor Vovchanchyn
Kazuhiro Nakamura vs. Kevin Randleman
Dan Henderson vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Mauricio Shogun
Hidehiko Yoshida vs. Vanderlei Silva

3. Super champ Kojima defending IWGP belt against ex-champs, readies for Carnival (no, not like Spring Break!).

On March 26 in Ryogoku, "quadruple-crown" heavyweight champion Satoshi Kojima made his first successful defense of his New Japan IWGP heavyweight championship by wrestling to a 60-minute draw with former champion "Supernova" Shinsuke Nakamura. The match was billed as the IWGP title vs. Nakamura's flowing hair but, due to the draw, neither one lost a thing. Total shame, but given the men involved the 60 minute draw was for the best as neither man lost steam. Kojima, who also holds All Japan's Triple Crown title, will have his next IWGP title defense against the man he beat for the belt, Hiroyoshi Tenzan at the Tokyo Dome on May 14. Tenzan earned the top contender's spot at the same 3/26 show by defeating both Manabu Nakanishi and Masa Chono in separate matches to earn the position of number one contender. Therefore the two men who had trouble filling the Sumo Hall for their double titles match will now try and fill the enormous Tokyo Dome in a no-time limit match (based on their last two matches). In addition, Kojima is also readying himself for the annual tradition that is the All Japan's Champion's Carnival that begins on April 9. This year's Carnival includes Kojima, Kensuke Sasaki, Love Machine Arashi, Taiyo Kea, Giant Bernard (A-Train portraying the son of legendary Brute Bernard, although the name Brute Bernard Jr. sounds much better) and Shuji Kondo in Block A, and Keiji Mutoh, Toshiaki Kawada, Jamal, Bull Buchannan, Chuck Palumbo, and Kohei Suwama in Block B. The top finishers in each block meet on April 20 in the semifinals and finals on April 20 when the semifinal and final take place on PPV in Yoyogi. The Carnival Tournament will be in competition for wrestling tournament attention with New Japan's creatively titled "New Japan Cup" this month. Take that March madness!

4. NOAH's second dome show brings them closer to DESTINY, the returns of Kawada and Takayama plus dream match of Rikio vs. Tanning bed

Pro Wrestling NOAH, who's first Tokyo Dome show was a critical (Wrestling Observer's 2004 show of the year and match of the year honors for Akiyama vs. Kobashi) and financial success announced over the weekend they would be running their second Tokyo Dome show on July 18th. In a not-so-surprising announcement, NOAH President Mitsuharu Misawa announced he wants fellow high school rival (yes, we're serious here) and the last of the All Japan 1990's big names not leave the company to work for NOAH Toshiaki Kawada to work the show. A Kawada vs. Misawa match after 5 years apart would definitely help fill out the Dome, unless Kawada wrestles under his Hustle-K character (even though that could be highly entertaining). Rumored for the Tokyo Dome are the long awaited Jun Akiyama vs. Genichiro Tenryu match, as well as the possible debuts of BOTH Fujita & Kensuke Sasaki into NOAH. Most importantly the possible return of Yoshihiro Takayama who most likely will wrestle his first match since being diagnosed with cerebral thrombosis on 8/8/2004 after a G-1 Climax match against Kensuke Sasaki in a New Japan ring in which Takayama passed out on a couch shortly after the match was over. In GHC title notes, Dark Agent leader and at one time the greatest mullet in puroresu, Akitoshi Saito will get the first shot at Takeshi Rikio's GHC Heavyweight Title for 4/24 at Nippon Budokan Hall show. Saito in the press said if no-one else wanted it, he'd like to have a crack. I guess the GHC title is very lonely right now, probably due to Rikio not wearing it around the house/NOAH dojo due to injury. Rikio, and this is not a bit, suffered a deep skin burn last week as he stayed in his tanning booth too long (much like a forgotten Thunder angle where PPH #44 guest Chuck Palumbo was trapped in a tanning booth).

5. Important historic and influential wrestling promotion closes doors on 4/17.

On April 17, in conjunction with Zero-One MAX, All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling will run its final show at Korakuen Hall and then officially fold the company after 37 years. AJW was founded in 1968 by the Matsunaga brothers, and is directly responsible for producing a majority of the greatest women's wrestlers and teams (Akira Hokuto, Manami Toyota, Bull Nakano, The Beauty Pair and The Crush Gals, to name a few) and events (November 1994's incredibly lucrative Tokyo Dome show, for one) in history. Most of the intellectual property of the company – including the WWWA World Women's championship – is being sold to Zero-One. The title belt is key due to it having the ability to manipulate its lineage as far back as 1932 (possibly earlier), and is arguably the most prestigious, as Mildred Burke laid claim to the title in 1937, created the WWWA in Los Angeles with it in the 50's, and immediately added credibility to the All Japan Women's promotion when it debuted.


Hero's (Maeda's new MMA promotion) first show on Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) was an 11.8% Which is nice, but not as high as K-1 shows. The show saw two of their promising Asian draws Yoshihiro Akiyama and Kim Min-Soo go down in defeat to Jerome Le Banner and Electra star Bob Sapp respectively…

Akira Hokuto, who's was in line as the number one contender World Jr. title after making Kendo KaShin disappear off the face of wrestling last year after their All Japan match, nominated "adopted sun" Katsuhiko Nakajima to face TAKA Michinoku for the World Jr. Title she also, like any good mom, nominated herself to be special guest referee for the bout… The Wrestle-1/Big Mouth show schedule for 4/23 has been postponed due to "unknown reasons"...

Seven out of the eight Differ Cup tag team tournament teams have been named for the two day event May, they are: Akarangers (GENTARO & Takashi Sasaki), Minoru Fujita & Ikuto Hidaka, Hustle Ikamen Kaz Hayashi & Leonardo Spanky, KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji, Iifushi Kota & KUDO, Super Shisa & Tigre Imperial, TAKA Michinoku & X. Hopefully X is "Akira Hokuto"…

New Japan announced that Seiji Sakaguchi would retire from New Japan after 32 years with the company, but he would remain an informal advisor to upper management. He stated his two biggest regrets were not keeping lost in the WWE shuffle star Kenzo Suzuki on the New Japan roster, and never following up with a dream match against Bob Sapp…Yuji Nagata announced his heel turn very politely during a press conference where he started he wouldn't let New Japan hold him back anymore…

Masa Chono and his Black New Japan stable are running a show on 5/29 at the Korakuen Hall called "Black Hole" which is appealing to the ladies, oh that Chono… After the last NOAH show, Minoru Suzuki who has a moniker of "the worlds worst man" is hopefully taking Akira Taue under his wing, as he wants Taue to "become an erupting volcano instead of the dormant volcano, which he has been."


ZERO-ONE-Max - 03/25/2005 – Sapporo Teisen Hall - 1,500 fans

1. Takashi Uwano beat Osamu Namiguchi in 8:11 with a Boston Crab.

2. Rikiya Fudo defeated Fuyuki Takahashi in 10:25 with the Mishima Beef Driver.

3. Spanky beat Alex Shelley in 8:03 with a schoolboy.

4. Riki Choshu defeated Tatsuhito Takaiwa in 2:23 with a lariat.

5. Shinjiro Otani & Ryouji Sai beat Takao Omori & Kohei Sato in 15:00 when Otani used a Full-Nelson Suplex hold.

6. Tables/Ladders/Chairs Match: CW Anderson/Steve Corino/Masato Tanaka defeated Sonjay Dutt/Minoru Fujita/Ikuto Hidaka in 18:51 when Tanaka used the Complete Dust on Dutt.

HEROs "Debut Show" - 03/26/2005 - Saitama Super Arena - 12,754 fans

Opening Fight - Chalid "Die Faust" Arrab (Golden Glory/Holland) defeated Yukiya Naito by decision after two 5-minute rounds.

1. Shungo Oyama defeated Valentijn Overeem in the 1st round in 1 minute, 28 seconds with an ankle-lock.

2. Ian Schaffa (Australia) defeated Kazuyuki Miyata by decision after three 5-minute rounds.

3. Joachim Hansen defeated Kaoru Uno in the 3rd round in 4 minutes, 48 seconds by KO from a left knee.

4. Genki Sudo defeated Ramon Dekker in the 1st round in 2 minutes, 54 seconds with a heel hook.

5. Gary "Big Daddy" Goodridge defeated Alan Karaev in the 1st round in 2 minutes, 58 seconds with a guillotine choke.

6. LYOTO (Ryoto Machida) defeated BJ Penn by unanimous decision after three 5-minute rounds.

7. Sam Greco defeated Heath Herring by TKO in the 1st round in 2 minutes, 41 seconds by TKO due to injury stoppage to Herrings knee.

8. Bob Sapp defeated Kim Min-Soo (South Korea) in the 1st round in 1 minute, 12 seconds by KO from a counterpunch.

9. Jerome Le Banner defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama in the 1st round in 1 minute, 24 seconds by KO from two left knees.

New Japan "NEXESS V" - 03/26/2005 - Tokyo Sumo Hall - 9,000 fans

1. Tatsumi Fujinami Return Match: Tatsumi Fujinami battled Osamu Nishimura to a 15:00 draw.

2. Wataru Inoue & Koji Kanemoto beat Taiji Ishimori & Katsuhiko Nakajima in 10:54 when Kanemoto used a moonsault press on Ishimori.

3. Masahito Kakihara, El Samurai & Tiger Mask IV defeated Masked CTU-G (Liger), Masked CTU-L (Gedo) & Masked CTU-T (Jado) in 10:45 when Samurai used a chickenwing armlock on CTU-T.

4. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yutaka Yoshie beat Togi Makabe & Ryushi Yanagisawa in 7:13 when Tanahashi used a sliding-style front cradle on Yanagisawa.

5. #1 Contender Tournament for the IWGP Heavyweight Title Semi - Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Manabu Nakanishi in 12:17 with the Anaconda Cross.

6. Young Lions Cup – Finals: Hirooki Goto beat Hiroyuki Ito in 9:55 with the Go to Heaven (which apparently is a wrist-clutch Olympic Slam.)

7. Minoru Suzuki & Ron Waterman defeated Takashi Iizuka & Kensuke Sasaki in 14:03 when Waterman used the Tiger Driver on Iizuka.

8. Tsuyoshi Kosaka beat Yuji Nagata by TKO in 4:41 with a sleeper hold

9. #1 Contender Tournament for the IWGP Heavyweight Title Finals: Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Masahiro Chono in 19:02 with the Anaconda Cross.

10. IWGP Heavyweight Title: Satoshi Kojima battled Shinsuke Nakamura to a 60:00 draw.

ZERO-ONE-Max - 03/27/2005 – Tokyo Korakuen Hall - 1,200 fans

1. Ashikaga-shi Iron beat Rikiya Fudo in 5:46 with the Hachimaki Twist.

2. Ryouji Sai & Masato Tanaka defeated Tomoaki Honma & Osamu Namiguchi in 14:51 when Sai used a low kick on Namiguchi.

3. Winner gains entry in the AWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title Tourney - Sonjay Dutt beat Tatsuhito Takaiwa in 15:04 with the Phoenix Splash.

4. NWA United National Heavyweight Title: CW Anderson defeated Kohei Sato in 10:28 with the Samson Clutch to win the title.

5. NWA International Lightweight Tag Titles: Minoru Fujita & Ikuto Hidaka beat Alex Shelley & Spanky in 17:47 when Hidaka pinned Spanky to retain their titles.

6. 3 Way Dance for the AWA World Heavyweight Title: Shinjiro Otani defeated Steve Corino at 6:25 with a daio cobra hold. Takao Omori beat Shinjiro Otani at 20:13 with the Axe Bomber to retain his title.

NOAH - 04/03/2005 – Tokyo Korakuen Hall - 2,100 fans

1. Naoki Sano beat Tsuyoshi Kikuchi in 7:20 with the Northern Lights Bomb.

2. Tamon Honda & Jun Izumida defeated Kishin Kawabata & Shiro Koshinaka in 10:16 when Izumida used the Mukado Domu on Kawabata.

3. Scorpio beat Go Shiosaki in 14:25 with the 450 Splash.

4. Michael Modest/Donovan Morgan/Rick Steiner defeated Yoshinari Ogawa/Richard Slinger/Kotaro Suzuki in 16:13 when Modest used the California Roll on Suzuki.

5. Jun Akiyama beat Makoto Hashi in 14:17 with a wrist-clutch Exploder.

6. Yoshinobu Kanemaru/Mitsuharu Misawa/Takashi Sugiura defeated KENTA/Kenta Kobashi/Ricky Marvin in 9:49 when Kanemaru used the Touch Out on Marvin.

7. Naomichi Marufuji & Minoru Suzuki beat SUWA & Akira Taue in 18:44 when Suzuki used sleeper hold on SUWA.

8. Takeshi Morishima/Takeshi Rikio/Mohammad Yone defeated Masao Inoue/Akitoshi Saito/Bison Smith in 16:33 when Morishima used a lariat on Inoue.

*** *** ***

Upcoming Shows

AJPW 4/09/2005 – Korakuen Hall - Championship Carnival Night #1

1. Champion Carnival – Block A: Shuji Kondo vs. Love Machine Arashi

2. Champion Carnival – Block B: Jamal vs. Chuck Palumbo

3. Champion Carnival – Block B: Bull Buchanan vs. Keiji Muto

4. Champion Carnival – Block B: Toshiaki Kawada vs. Kohei Suwama

5. Champion Carnival – Block B: Satoshi Kojima vs. Kensuke Sasaki

AJPW 4/10/2005 – Korakuen Hall - Championship Carnival Night #2

1. Champion Carnival – Block A: Satoshi Kojima vs. Shuji Kondo

2. Champion Carnival – Block A: Taiyo Kea vs. Love Machine Arashi

3. Champion Carnival – Block B: Bull Buchanan vs. Jamal

4. Champion Carnival – Block A: A-Train vs. Kensuke Sasaki

5. Champion Carnival – Block B: Toshiaki Kawada vs. Keiji Muto

AJPW 4/13/2005 – Ehime ITEM - Championship Carnival Night #3

1. Champion Carnival – Block A: A-Train vs. Shuji Kondo

2. Champion Carnival – Block B: Bull Buchanan vs. Kohei Suwama

3. Champion Carnival – Block A: Love Machine Arashi vs. Kensuke Sasaki

4. Champion Carnival – Block B: Toshiaki Kawada vs. Chuck Palumbo

5. Champion Carnival – Block A: Taiyo Kea vs. Satoshi Kojima

AJPW 4/14/2005 – Osaka Prefectural Gym #2 - Championship Carnival Night #4

1. Champion Carnival – Block A: Shuji Kondo vs. Kensuke Sasaki

2. Champion Carnival – Block B: Chuck Palumbo vs. Kohei Suwama

3. Champion Carnival – Block A: A-Train vs. Taiyo Kea

4. Champion Carnival – Block A: Satoshi Kojima vs. Love Machine Arashi

5. Champion Carnival – Block B: Jamal vs. Keiji Muto

AJPW 4/16/2005 – Matsumoto WERUSAMPIA - Championship Carnival Night #5

1. Champion Carnival – Block A: Taiyo Kea vs. Shuji Kondo

2. Champion Carnival – Block B: Bull Buchanan vs. Chuck Palumbo

3. Champion Carnival – Block A: A-Train vs. Satoshi Kojima

4. Champion Carnival – Block B: Jamal vs. Toshiaki Kawada

5. Champion Carnival – Block B: Keiji Muto vs. Kohei Suwama

NJPW 4/16/2005 - Tottori Industrial Gym

1. Hiroshi Nagao vs. Naofumi Yamamoto

2. Akiya Anzawa & Masahito Kakihara vs. Taiji Ishimori & Katsuhiko Nakajima

3. Samurai! TV Openweight Tag Tournament – Semifinals: Wataru Inoue & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Togi Makabe & Minoru Tanaka

4. Samurai! TV Openweight Tag Tournament – Semifinals: Hirooki Goto & Yuji Nagata vs. Koji Kanemoto & Hiroshi Tanahashi

5. Tatsutoshi Goto & Masayuki Naruse vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yujiro Takahashi

6. Black Strong Machine & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask IV

7. Samurai! TV Openweight Tag Tournament – Finals:

NOAH 04/17/2005 - Hakata Star Lanes

1. Kenta Kobashi & Go Shiosaki vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Mohammed Yone

2. Jun Akiyama/Takeshi Rikio/Bison Smith vs. Masashi Aoyagi/Naoki Sano/Akira Taue

3. Masao Inoue & Akitoshi Saito vs. Takeshi Morishima & Genichiro Tenryu

4. Captain's Fall Elimination Match: Makoto Hashi/Yoshinobu Kanemaru/Takashi Sugiura/SUWA vs. KENTA/Naomichi Marufuji/Ricky Marvin/Kotaro Suzuki

AJPW 4/17/2005 – Niigata City Gym - Championship Carnival Night #6

1. Champion Carnival – Block A: A-Train vs. Love Machine Arashi

2. Champion Carnival – Block B: Jamal vs. Kohei Suwama

3. Champion Carnival – Block B: Keiji Muto vs. Chuck Palumbo

4. Champion Carnival – Block B: Bull Buchanan vs. Toshiaki Kawada

5. Champion Carnival – Block A: Taiyo Kea vs. Kensuke Sasaki

NJPW 4/19/2005 - Hiroshima Sun Plaza

1. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Masahiro Chono vs. Tiger Mask IV

2. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Manabu Nakanishi vs. Masayuki Naruse

3. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Scott Norton vs. Yutaka Yoshie

4. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Togi Makabe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

5. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan

6. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Osamu Nishimura vs. Minoru Tanaka

7. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Koji Kanemoto vs. Ryushi Yanagisawa

8. New Japan Cup – Round 1: Yuji Nagata vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

NOAH 04/20/2005 - Osaka Prefectural Gym #2

1. Jun Akiyama/Masashi Aoyagi/Jun Izumida vs. Michael Modest/Rick Steiner/Scorpio

2. Kishin Kawabata & Akitoshi Saito vs. Kenta Kobashi & Go Shiosaki

3. Makoto Hashi & Genichiro Tenryu vs. KENTA & Akira Taue

4. GHC Hardcore Openweight Title: Mohammad Yone © vs. Takeshi Morishima

5. Naomichi Marufuji/Takeshi Rikio/Kotaro Suzuki vs. Mitsuharu Misawa/Yoshinari Ogawa/Richard Slinger

AJPW 4/20/2005 - Yoyogi National Stadium Gymnasium #2

1. Champion Carnival '05 - Semi Final:

2. Champion Carnival '05 - Semi Final:

3. Champion Carnival '05 - Final:

NJPW 4/21/2005 - Korakuen Hall

1. New Japan Cup – Round 2: Winner of Chono/TM IV vs. Winner of Nakanishi/Naruse

2. New Japan Cup – Round 2: Winner of Norton/Yoshie vs. Winner of Makabe/Nakamura

3. New Japan Cup – Round 2: Winner of Liger/Tenzan vs. Winner of Nishimura/Tanaka

4. New Japan Cup – Round 2: Winner of Kanemoto/Yanagisawa vs. Winner of Nagata/Tanahashi

NOAH 04/24/2005 - Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo

1. Naomichi Marufuji & Minoru Suzuki vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & Kotaro Suzuki

2. GHC Heavyweight Title: Takeshi Rikio © vs. Akitoshi Saito

NJPW 4/24/2005 - Osaka Prefectural Gym

1. New Japan Cup – Semifinals: Winner of #1 on 4/21 vs. Winner of #2 on 4/21

2. New Japan Cup – Semifinals: Winner of #3 on 4/21 vs. Winner of #4 on 4/21

3. New Japan Cup – Finals:

NJPW 5/14/2005 – Tokyo Dome
1. IWGP Heavyweight Title-No Time Limit: Satoshi Kojima vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan

NOAH 7/18/2005 – Tokyo Dome

*** *** ***

Credits:,,, Mike & Keith's scary imaginations

Dr. Keith Lipinski & Mike Sempervive are regular contributors to They also do a semi-weekly radio show entitled the Puroresu Power Hour, take a listen at This week (#43) Rocky Romero and Kenny Florian of the Ultimate Fighter. Next weeks show is shaping up to be our BIGGEST to date. If you have any questions, corrections, feedback, comments and ideas, Dr. Keith can be reached at: Mike can be contacted at

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