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Bring The Pain: Inoki's continued quest to kill New Japan and murder his wrestlers

Jan 11, 2004 - 5:34:00 AM

By Mike Sempervive, Lounger waiting for a New Japan homicide

"Hey lunchbox, I've had a chance to check out your past couple of columns for the first time in a while and I thank you for not putting worthless crap like those stupid ass jukebox selections, complete with crap that only you could possibly like, or the quote to begin a column with knowledge -- which is an oxymoronic statement when it comes to you -- in your columns anymore. In fact, thanks for barely even writing columns anymore. I love the fact that you have wasted twenty-five years of your life breathing and eating wrestling -- when not downing that green Odwalla "Superfood" crap that you think will balance out the fact you gorge your fat face on Cheeze-It's, and instead you've reduced yourself to taking the easy way out by writing columns that are basically nothing but pay-per-view recaps and boring history stories like the one on the pig-s*** flingers of Southwest Championship (a company that went out of business twenty f'n years ago) that just about one out of every million readers of the internet could give a pig s*** about. You just did a review of shows where boxers and wrestlers had no business fighting, including your boy Inoki. Write about that. Whatever it is, go back to being somewhat original and recent, dummy.

By the way, I'm getting leave in February and you still owe me thirty dollars. Tell Mom I'll call her on Sunday sometime during the games.

Love, A1C David Sempervive, United States Air Force"

- Truly a loving and inspirational clan, aren't we? Actually, I feel like I've been slapped with "fighting spirit." I need to pass that slap to someone who deserves it. And I think I know who that is...


- Imagine this scenario. WWE, a company that is suffering from not being able to build fresh faces, places a longtime star such as, say, Booker T. in a run for the World championship. And after several months of build, the veteran Booker finally gets to win the title. Before his first defense, the decision is suddenly made for him to drop the title to a young star who has some amateur wrestling experience, is on the way up, and is rife with long term potential, like maybe a Randy Orton. In the days following the win, Vince McMahon decides to book Orton against another one of his champions, one who he is very fond of for his toughness and shoot ability -- say, like a Brock Lesnar -- for the company's biggest wrestling show of the year, WrestleMania. Okay, that part is understandable.

During all of this, McMahon is also promoting a huge mixed martial arts event -- an event that he has spent more attention on than the wrestling product that's been paying the bills for so many years -- that is taking place only five days before WrestleMania. Now, this MMA show is actually competing head-to-head with a UFC and a Pride show, as well as the finals of a stunningly strong American Idol. (I know, I know. Bear with me folks.) Wouldn't that be crazy? Now, this MMA event has pretty much been a disaster from the jump. His planning has been a mess. On this show he's placed his wrestlers in shoots. A tough favorite of his -- who fans don't necessarily care for too much -- like Bob Holly against a kickboxer, who has already cleaned his clock once in a fight. He places another brash youngster like John Cena, in a bout against a man who is a world-class kickboxer, and capable of beating any man on any given night. Also, he takes a popular, ex-WWE champion like Chris Jericho and has placed him against a top-tier heavyweight shoot fighter. He has placed Jericho in this type of decision before, to horrible and disastrous results, but does it again anyway. In addition, he puts the man who has had the most shoot success, Kurt Angle, in a bout against an aged boxer with stupid match rules on the card as well. Aren't all these very scary thoughts?

Well, even more bizarrely he allows two more of his wrestlers to appear in these types of shoot bouts -- ON ONE OF HIS COMPETITORS SHOWS! He will let notorious shooter Little Guido face off against a man who is a foot taller and 200 pounds heavier, and he will also allow his newly crowned, young stud WWE champion, Randy Orton -- only five days before WrestleMania, mind you -- to go mano-a-mano with a dangerous kickboxer. Not only is that an almost incomprehensible thought, it's really rather dangerous wouldn't you say?

The bouts go off on that fateful night. Holly gets planted in 52 seconds and stretchered out. Cena goes down in 64, and Jericho gets embarrassed -- again -- in 62. On the flip side, Guido slays his giant and Angle easily dispatches of his pugilist foe. That leaves the heavyweight champ, Orton. Orton ends up getting in some good offense, but is incredibly overmatched, and ends up getting stopped. WWE tries to say that the stoppage was premature, but it stands anyway. It's announced that Orton is fit to wrestle after a trip that night to the hospital. Five days later, after McMahon has found out that his MMA show has officially been deemed a massive failure garnering an 0.2 rating during the same block that his competitors show -- the one with his world champion -- was pulling in 43% of the audience. That beaten up champ then goes into WrestleMania and wins his bout with Lesnar, but pays a heavy price as the veteran is rather stiff with the already battered young lion. After the bout, it's revealed that before the bell rang, the young world champ has suffered not one, but possibly two fractured eye sockets, possible nerve damage, a broken nose, and will be out of action for at least four months. If this was true, wouldn't all of this be just one of the most asinine, ridiculous, and dangerous chains for a professional wrestling company and its participants you've ever seen in your life?

Some of you who are familiar with wrestling outside of this country realized early on what was going on in the above paragraphs. But, considering that many a Torch and reader aren't too interested in the happenings of overseas kayfabe, I'll fill in the blanks for you. Replace WWE with New Japan, and the names Booker, Holly, Cena, Jericho, Angle, Guido, Orton and Lesnar with Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tadao Yasuda, Kazunari Murakami, Yuji Nagata, Kaz Fujita, Masayuki Naruse, Shinsuke Nakamura and Yoshihiro Takayama. And most importantly, replace Vince McMahon's name with the one of the biggest frauds walking the planet, Antonio Inoki. A man that dares walk around as some sort of deity who claims he can bring people together through sport who's actually a false idol that resembles a nut job parent that desperately is trying to live his failed fantasies through his kids.

In the days leading up to veteran Tenzan's first defense of the IWGP World heavyweight title, New Japan Pro Wrestling, who has had problems creating new breakout stars, made the stunning decision to have him drop the belt to one of the company's handful of rising stars in Nakamura. It was quite a surprising move, considering that Tenzan had been going through somewhat of an old-school quest in chasing Takayama for the title. For him to lose it so quickly, and to such a young grappler, may have damaged any main event status of his for good. Why was the decision made? Because Inoki -- who had made himself into a Japanese icon over the years by squaring off against fighters of other disciplines (as well as always channeling Rikidozan) -- wanted it so he could continue his quest of trying to show the world that professional wrestlers are among the elite fighters on the planet.

But the funny thing is, when it came to Inoki's "shoots" there was nothing real about them. The loss to Olympic gold medalist in judo, Shota Chochoshivili? Work. Win over Olympic gold medalist in judo, Willem Ruska? Work. Win over karate champion, Willie Williams? Work. Win over UFC I finalist Gerard Gordeau? Work. Draw with boxing, and cultural icon, Muhammad Ali? Possibly the worst work of all-time, for reasons we found out many years later. Win over bad-ass Don Frye in his retirement match? Work. Anoalo Atisanoe, Kim Klokeid, Akrum Pelwan, Everett Eddie, Karl Midenberger, Leon Spinks, Chuck Wepner, and all the rest. Works them all.

(Here's where I'll get in my obligatory boxing reference for the day, according to Stephen Brunt's book, Facing Ali before Wepner fought Ali for the title, he told his wife to go out and buy expensive new lingerie, because soon she'd be "sleeping with the champ." After he got his face pounded, she asked her Bayonne Bleeding hubby, "Do I go to Ali's room, or does he come to mine?")

Even if you're blind you see the disturbing trend here. Look, I have no real issue with the achievements that Inoki has accomplished in his time. He without a doubt deserves his status as an icon and legend in the business. But, for a man to send out other men who are only part-time fighters, or worse, barely trained at all into bouts against people where a well-placed blow could cause serious injury up to, and including, death, it's not just irresponsible, it's criminal.

Now old Kanji isn't exactly alone in placing untrained athletes in threatening positions. K-1 and Pride certainly deserve to be lashed for doing the same, but when it comes to Inoki it's a little different. Guys like Dos Caras Jr., Vince Phillips, Imamu Mayfield, and Frans Botha should not be booked in these types of train wreck bouts either, but they seem do it more from their own volition. (Note: When it comes to the boxers named, all these men are way past their pugilistic primes who are only doing it for the money, and not to "prove" anything as groups like K-1 would like to have you believe. Mayfield got $900,000 to get wiped out by Fujita on 12/31 which is almost surely his largest payday of his life. Botha and Phillips have benefited in similar, yet smaller, fashion.) Inoki, who has made no bones about the fact that he quests to show the world that his professional wrestlers are among the best combat fighters in the world -- even though it's been ten years since the introduction of K-1 and the UFC which officially changed nearly everyone's mindset on what a combat fighter is, and can do -- still continues to push his incredibly stupid beliefs on a roster of men that really doesn't have much choice in saying otherwise.

How could they? Inoki is the majority shareholder in the company and has been since his main financial backer in all walks of life, Kiyoshi Sagawa, died in March of 2002. When it gets right down to it, much like in WWE, no matter who the bookers may be, the final decisions on what happens with those men is in the large hands of the former WWWF World Martial Arts heavyweight champion.

Some of you might be saying, "Mike, these guys do it by their own choice. They see the money they can make, even if they lose, and do it of their own free will. And there have been successful transitions." And that's true -- but only to a small point. First, it's a pro wrestling company! Some would argue one of the greatest of all-time. And it's been proven time and again, these contests do much more damage than it's worth for product or the workers involved, but even if they were moderately successful they still should not have a place on NJ shows. And two, this isn't like Inoki is only using his "Inoki Dojo" guys like Lyoto, who are being trained to be hybrids. ("Shootfabers"?) I don't have much of a problem with that. (Although, I show why there is a major problem in that thinking too.) My problem is to look at the very few major success stories like Ken Shamrock or Kaz Sakuraba and then not only expect everyone to be able to, a) attain those goals, b) attain those goals against a level of dangerous opponent that would normally acquire months, or years, of intense training, and c) create the mindset for already contracted workers -- who thought they were choosing a different career path -- that if you don't fight in MMA, you won't be a success. Here are some examples of the shoot mentality of Inoki spilling too far into a business that shares really nothing with real fights except for half-naked men and a canvased ring...

- On January 31, 2000 New Japan and Pride come together at the Osaka Dome and draw an insane amount of people (a legitimate announced as 42,753, but was probably closer to 35,000), paying insane amounts of money (anywhere from 6,000 to 50,000 yen, or $55 upwards to $500), to see the original New Year's Eve show where shoot fighters face off against pro wrestlers in kayfabed bouts. The show is considered a massive success due mostly to the fact that the Pride guys who had done relatively few worked matches, like Gary Goodridge, Don Frye, Mark Coleman and Mark Kerr, being able to carry their load. This sets off a real spark in Inoki's mind that he can go back to doing what made him famous to help his guys. But, instead of paying shoot guys to put over his wrestlers, for some reason he starts to think that getting his wrestlers to fight in real matches would be a smart idea.

- At the end of 2001, All Japan was reeling badly after losing much of its talent and its television to NOAH. So badly that it had opened up a talent exchange with NJPW to keep itself going. Now Inoki has been compared to Vince McMahon in many ways, but there was one big difference. Even though McMahon would occasionally get himself sidetracked with things like the XFL, he would have never allowed his hated competition to keep breathing. Inoki did, and it would bite him in the rear. At the end of January, legendary Keiji Muto -- who had recently been named many publications Wrestler of the Year as well as half of the IWGP tag champions, IWGP junior heavyweight champion Kendo Ka Shin, Satoshi Kojima -- who was in one of the world's upper-teir teams with Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and six office workers left the very well-paying company, and joined All Japan. Muto had been very critical of Inoki, feeling that he had been doing great harm in placing his guys in shoot situations. Ka Shin had been one of those guys that had suffered from being placed in those spots. In August 2000, Ka Shin (real name Tokimitsu Ishizawa) who had been wrestling with a gimmick of being something of a submission expert, was placed against Ryan Gracie. Ka Shin lost, and he was then buried professionally for the next several months, until he fought a hobbled Gracie again, and won. After he left the company Ka Shin went on record as saying that he was actually rather fearful of staying with the company due to being placed in shoots.

- Tadao Yasuda, who even gives the most ardent New Japan supporters cold chills when they think about him, wins a tournament to decide a new IWGP champion and gets a two-month reign in the beginning of 2002. Why? Mostly because he defeated K-1's Jerome LeBanner in what some believe to have been a fixed fight at December 2001's "Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye" show. If the fight wasn't fixed, as Inoki would claim, then it's truly proof positive that a 40-year old, very marginal pro wrestler was elevated to the top of his business for reasons that had nothing to do with it. Who should have won the title then? Probably Yuji Nagata, but at that same "Bom-Ba-Ye" show something happened...

- The man Yasuda -- who has a lifetime 2-4 MMA record -- beat in that 7-man tournament was Nagata. When Nagata was in WCW he was pretty good, but very green. Over several years he built himself into becoming, not one of, but really the best young puro star in Japan. He was being positioned to ascend to the throne of legends like Muto, Fujinami, Hashimoto, Chono and Vader. One little thing though, the impressionable and trusting Nagata listens to Inoki who convinces him to take a bout against kickboxer Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic. Cro Cop was more of an unknown MMA commodity than he is now. The thought was that if Nagata, who was an outstanding three-time national collegiate champion in Greco-Roman, could take him down that he may have a shot to win, and become something of a legend. Well, 21 seconds later Nagata was laid out cold.

Ironically, after Nagata's bout came Yasuda's which of course he won. (Gee, that was convenient wasn't it? Star loses shoot, back up plan wins "shoot" to "save the day.") And instead of Inoki trying to hand an olive branch to wrestlers who were already reeling from an icon like Muto -- as well as the others -- leaving, Yasuda is given the title. An embarrassed Nagata would show deep disappointment on his face when he stepped into the ring at the Tokyo Dome four nights later. Unlike what would happen to Shinsuke Nakamura two years later, Nagata is booked to stiff Jun Akiyama much of the match before eventually failing in his attempt at the NOAH Global Honored Crowd title. He would finally win the IWGP title a few months later, and even break the record for successful title defenses with ten (to help people try and forget), but instead of having the title of "legend" he'll probably always be known more for eating that legendary high kick.

- In February 2002, Tokyo Sports has a big front page story saying that Inoki has sold part of his NJPW stock to K-1 money man (and his buddy) Kazuyoshi Ishii. Booker Masa Chono -- who's already far from thrilled of seeing New Japan guys in Pride -- seethes over it and states that Inoki started the rumor, and explains that he wouldn't be able to transfer anything without the green light from the other shareholders.

- After Nagata's ten title defenses, he drops the title. And who does he lose it to? Yoshihiro Takayama. Takayama is a tough S.O.B. who Inoki seemed to be partial towards. So much so, Inoki in his continuing attempts to try and blur the line between real and fake, resurrected the old 70's NWF title to give the company a "fighting world champion" -- even though the title would be defended in works. Boy, that has to warm your heart if you're a pro wrestler doesn't it? "Hey Chono, we know you gave your neck for this business, but we're going to need you to book some stuff for our new fake shoot champ, so we can further pull the believability away from the IWGP champ. Think you can do that? Thanks!" And by the way, Takayama's lifetime MMA record? 0-4.

- Nagata who has worked very hard in the wrestling ring to shake some of the weight of that embarrassing loss over the past two years, gets pushed into another situation. With Cro Cop, the dangers weren't as evident at the time. With Fedor Emelianenko it looked to be a legal homicide. Fedor is the true heavyweight champion of the world's fastest-growing MMA company, boasted a record of 14-1 -- with the one loss coming on a TKO due to cuts, and had been very active during 2003, with four real fights. Nagata hadn't been involved in a real bout since his KO loss. The result was never in doubt, as after 62 seconds of eating hard punches to the face, the fight was stopped. Some fans begin to heckle Nagata afterwards, calling him "Mr. Dead Stock," and observers of the Japanese scene wonder aloud whether Nagata has any future as a headlining professional wrestler. The business he chose to participate in, and worked so hard at, in the first place.

- Hiroyoshi Tenzan has been wrestling for New Japan for years. He's been one of those guys that was always was able to play a supporting role near the top of the card, but was never looked at to be the guy. In the second half of 2003, with there not looking to be too many other believable options, he's finally pushed towards the holy grail. He loses a suprisingly good "test" bout with champion Takayama in June. He gets sent to Calgary in an old-school angle to "refocus" himself, where he grew a beard, cut his hair, and -- of course -- learned a new move, the "Anaconda Vice." After his "voyage," he wins the G-1 Climax tournament in August, which is a traditional sign of him being a serious contender for the belt.

Around this time Inoki sends out what, in retrospect, looks to be a sign that he may be setting up Tenzan's fall. On September 22, he announces that Tenzan's main event match with Takayama at the October 13, "Ultimate Crush II" Tokyo Dome show was off, saying that he had an arena to fill and he wasn't going to be able to do it with that match. Interesting, considering the bookers had been building Tenzan up so strongly. The main event of the show (which only drew 37,000 and featured the now rather infamous press conference attack on Hulk Hogan by Jeff Jarrett) ended being a team of "outside shooters" vs. "New Japan" in the rehash of an angle that New Japan has been doing for years. On November 3, he finally gets his chance and upsets Takayama in a good match at Yokohama Arena to a surprising pop. It looks as though an old pro wrestler has the fans believing in his new tricks.

If only that was the case.

The card, which was a PPV, drew a very poor and (heavily papered) 9,000 fans, and Tenzan was going to be the scapegoat -- even though the rest of the card revolved around best of three series with New Japan wrestlers facing K-1 kickboxers and outsiders that no one wanted really to see. But, of course, because it could never be the hybrid idea that was the problem, or the fact that bad story builds have damaged the undercards, so it must have been Tenzan. And 36 days later, in his first defense, Tenzan stunningly loses the title in only 12 minutes. After all of the build for the veteran, the appearance is given to the Japanese fans that his long quest for victory was nothing but a sad fluke. And who did Tenzan, the longtime kayfaber who wants nothing to do with MMA, drop the title to? Shinsuke Nakamura.

- "Supernova" Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura is part of the newer wave of New Japan wrestler. The hybrid kind that Inoki is looking to create at his Los Angeles dojo. Nakamura was a solid college wrestler who is a tad lean (about 220 pounds) for his size (6'2"), but has a body type that looks to be able to fill out even more fully as he goes along. He's handsome, popular, and extremely charismatic. From the time he first stepped into the ring in August of 2002, and began an angle with Yasuda, the fans were not only behind him, but believed in him as well. He also shows while maybe that hybrid idea of Inoki's could one day develop into having legs, he's willing to possibly kill someone -- as well as his company -- by forcing them into situations where they are not ready.

After only his first wrestling match, Nakamura was sent to Los Angeles to get him ready for his first shoot fight against Daniel Gracie. Nakamura was submitted, but it was an exciting bout. It wasn't as bizarre of a match-up as may seem on the surface as Gracie was only in his second MMA bout, but it was still very risky due to his longtime training with his family. In May and September, Nakamura placed into two more shoot bouts. The first was against 6'9", K-1 kickboxer, Jan "The Giant" Nortje. Although the stats show a mismatch, Nortje stinks in MMA competition and is relatively easy to take down, and once he is there he's got no chance to do anything. More than probably any other bout, because of how much the crowd reacted to Nakamura, gave Inoki an incredible false sense of security of how much New Japan's fans cared about continuing to see wrestlers in shoots. The second was a submission win Shane Eitner, who was making his MMA debut, in Brazil.

On November 3, Nakamura wins the IWGP belt in what could look to someone who has no interest in MMA as a hotshot way of creating a new superstar. Unfortunately, it was it was actually done so that Inoki could claim that his comapny's world champion would be appearing on a 12/31 MMA show -- his opposition's. The last time something like this was done was when average pro wrestler, Kazuyuki Fujita, was given the reigns as the champion after winning shoots over Ken Shamrock and Mark Kerr. His run as champion? Very average. The person that Nakamura would be facing on K-1's show? Alexey Ignashov. As soon as the fight was announced many people immediately began drawing parallels to Nagata-Cro Cop. (As well as continuing to try and figure out what the hell Inoki was doing with his own 12/31 show, which was falling apart at the seams.) Ignashov wasn't close to being as explosive as Cro Cop, but at the same time Nakamura wasn't near the wrestler that Nagata was either. To put your future drawing card -- who has no standup skill -- against a B or C level fighter is dumb, but it's semi-comprehensible. To put him against a relatively unknown commodity, who is a A-/B+ kickboxer is moronic. For the part of the crowd that was unaware, it was a very intriguing match-up. Ignashov is popular, and was the Japanese fans pick to win the K-1 World Grand Prix. (Although he finished dead last here in the States, who favored eventual winner Remy Bonjasky.) Nakamura was the popular IWGP champion, who was a warrior in his three MMA bouts.

The bout did a 22.2 rating, which made it the fourth most watched bout amongst the 31 that were held on the three networks that night, meaning a whole lot of people saw it. But there is still some mixed feelings on what it was they saw. When the contest was over, Ignashov was declared the TKO winner in the third round. But there was controversy about whether the bout was correctly stopped. New Japan protested the decision claiming that Nakamura was fit to continue following a hard knee strike to his left eye and, as of now, the fight is up in the air on whether it will be changed to a no contest. As more reports have filtered out about the bout, people are still mixed on whether or not the stoppage was correct. Nakamura appeared to have been dominating the contest with takedowns, and busted Ignashov open with ground and pound, but how much actual damage he was doing in that time is up the in air. Apparently, even though he was scoring easily with those takedowns (which is his forte), he wasn't doing any major damage as Ignashov just seemed to be unaffected by his G&P, and just waited until Nakamura opened himself up to get him.

I know, you're saying "Mike, you just proved a wrestler can hang in these shoots, Inoki is right." Wrong. The young, charismatic, good looking face of the company has not one, but possibly two fractured eye sockets, possible nerve damage, a broken nose, and will be out of action for at least four months. Smart, huh? Yes, Nakamura will benefit from being competitive in the bout, but was the risk worth that kind of reward? He was a popular young star before this fantasy game that Inoki plays. What did having his face crushed, and his momentum stopped, accomplish? And what good did that 15 minutes of fighting do for the wrestling company that desperately needed that new blood champion to perform night after night? Nothing, except cause more harm to a company that didn't need it. It's almost as if he's is delusional and willing to kill his company, and possibly his wrestlers, in order to win a battle with a fantasy opponent that doesn't exist.

Inoki has never been the Mr. Clean of New Japan's world. He's funneled the company's house show and TV money between 1980-1983 to his failure "Anton Hisel" Brazilian bio-tech project. It was something that actually caused a short coup at the company before TV-Asashi ended up standing behind him. He started up a political group called the "Sports and Peace Party" and earned enough votes to become a member of the House of Councils, and then got popped in a scandal. After he lost the nine employees in the All Japan jump, he inexplicably tries to shove kayfabe backing Tatsumi Fujinami out the door as company president. Most recently, he fleeced Nippon-TV for millions upon millions of dollars to front a sloppily organized MMA event, that probably had about 10,000 paid (and only around 25,000 total) as he claimed 43,111, and finished with a dismal rating. Basically, the four NJ wrestlers (along with the DDT promotion's Tomihiko Hashimoto, who was also placed in a horrifyingly one-sided bout which he lost quickly) that Inoki put in harm's way finished not only a decisive dead last among the MMA shows, but also finished behind a "mysteries of the world show" hosted by comedian "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, who is better known to Americans as being "Vic Romano" of Spike TV's repackaged "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge." Kind of fitting that Inoki's bad joke joke of a show got beaten in the ratings by a comedian named Vic Romano. (Note: Ratings for the 12/31 shows are at the end of the article.)

But, by placing these untrained men in life-threatening positions (and make no mistake, whether it be boxing, kickboxing, or any other type of combat sport that allows punches, kicks, and knees to the head, it is a life-threatening scenario every time out) after it's already been made crystal clear that there are very, very few professional wrestlers that can compete at even a midcard MMA level, Inoki is not just showing himself to have little interest outside of his own ego, he's is showing himself as possibly losing touch with reality. If someone does die in one of these train wrecks, will he say he is responsible? Of course not. He'll claim that the deceased's "fighting spirit" was too much for this Earth, and then "spirit slap" the corpse before they shut the coffin. And since New Japan is holding all of the cards when it comes to being able to give real financial stability for wrestlers, it's makes the situation that much worse.

According to, after his most recent disastrous showing, Nagata has said that he's probably not cut out for the Vale Tudo world. Unintentionally, in a separate interview, Nagata (who has seen his career smash into a wall twice in two years, in a total time of 83 seconds) sadly told the world what the cold reality of Inoki's New Japan is: As long as he's an employee of New Japan, he expects to be placed in shoots.

The MMA shows are titled "Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye." Translated that means "Inoki Kill Him."

Sooner or later he will.


Ratings breakdown for 12/31:

1. "54th annual Red & White Music (Kohaku) Festival
on NHK: 41.0 overall. (The show was divided into two portions -- think of how Raw is rated -- getting a 35.5 and 45.9.)

2. K-1 "Dynamite!!" on Tokyo Broadcasting System: 19.5 overall. Peak rating: 42.5% for Bob Sapp's KO-1 in 2:38 of Akebono. (It's during this bout where K-1 actually beat the traditional music show 41.0 to 35.2, and Inoki's show plummeted to an 0.2%.)

3. Pride "Otuku Festival" on Fuji TV: 12.2 overall. Peak rating: 23.6% for Royce Gracie and Hidehiko Yoshida's 20-minute draw.

4. "Beat Takeshi" (special on mysteries and fascinations of the world) on TV-Asahi: 6.1 overall.

5. Inoki "Bom-Ba-Ye 2003" on Nippon-TV: 5.1 overall. Peak rating: 13.6% for Rene Rooze KO-1 in :52 over Tadao Yasuda. (It should be noted that this was the first fight of the card, and K-1 had not started as yet.)

6. A movie on TV-Tokyo. Rating unknown.

Sources used: Zach Arnold, his site, "King of Men" Keith Lipinski, back issues of Bryan Alvarez' Figure Four Weekly, back issues of Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Hiroshi Tanabe's, Nikkei (Japan Economic Journal) Net News, and personal accumulated notes.

- Well, I guess that's it for this week. Thank you very much for reading and responding to all of us here at the Torch, we really appreciate it. If you have a little to give, please donate to the
National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. Thanks. And while you're at it, listen to I've been told it's Ladie's Night tonight featuring Trinity, Kimberly Page, and Lilian Garcia. And also appearances by the Fabulous Moolah, Goldy Locks, Madusa, and more. I don't believe there's any truth to the rumor that Missy Hyatt declined an invitation to appear on the show due to being told she'd have to be clothed while in the studio.

Wade Keller's favorite writer Mike Sempervive will beat you like you stole something. He also lives for feedback send it to

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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.

He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.

He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).

He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)


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We also have a great team of
TV Reporters
and Specialists and Artists.


PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.

Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.

The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...

-New Digital PWTorch Newsletter every week
-3 New Digital PDF Back Issues from 5, 10, 20 years ago
-Over 60 new VIP Audio Shows each week
-Ad-free access to all free articles
-VIP Forum access with daily interaction with PWTorch staff and well-informed fellow wrestling fans
-Tons of archived audio and text articles
-Decades of Torch Talk insider interviews in transcript and audio formats with big name stars.


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