Written by Eli Conroy-de Voss.
Bit of a slower week, this one, but we still got some fun announcements and one big development out of it. The Japanese scene is slowly changing.
New Japan Pro Wrestling:
As of writing this, word has literally just broken about perhaps the biggest news in wrestling all year. On January 31st, Kazuchika Okada will finish his contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling and leave the company to pursue other ventures. Okada is to New Japan what John Cena was to WWE at one point, and so this news is very shocking. Okada has given no reason for his decision or where he intends to go next but has given big thanks to New Japan, his opponents and the fans for all the years of support. Okada had recently appeared for TNA’s Snake Eyes event as well as competing in Will Ospreay’s farewell match at Battle in the Valley, a show with a number of big revelations. Matt Riddle made his in-ring debut, teaming with Jeff Cobb, while AEW’s Jack Perry made a shock appearance, assaulting Shota Umino after his match and tearing up his AEW contract in the process. Recent free agent, Mustafa Ali, turned up as well, challenging Hiromu Tanahashi for a match at Windy City Riot on April 12. Jon Moxley also made a challenge for that show. After defeating Shingo Takagi in a hellacious Texas death match, Moxley called out the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Tetsuya Naito for a match, which has since been confirmed. CMLL will also be cross-promoting another tour with New Japan next month when they bring some of their stars over for Fantasticamania 2024.
Pro Wrestling NOAH:
At NOAH’s Star Naviagtion 2024, Kenoh successfully defended his GHC Heavyweight Championship against long-time rival Go Shiozaki, before afterwards being confronted by former National Champion El Hijo Del Dr Wagner Jr. That match has been sanctioned for February 4. That same show will also see DAGA defend his GHC Jr Heavyweight Championship against Hajime Ohara and GLG defend their Heavyweight Tag Titles against former Jr Champions, Los Golpeadores. Before that though, GLG’s Yo-Hey and Tadasuke will need to defend their Jr Tag belts against Junta Miyawaki and Shuji Kondo on January 28. And finally for NOAH news, GLG’s Jack Morris successfully defended his National Championship against American independent star, Titus Alexander. He currently reigns as a double champion, holding both the red and tag belts.
All Japan Pro Wrestling:
In All Japan news, Real World Tag League winners, Katsuhiko Nakajima and Hokuto Omori, failed to take the AJPW Tag belts from the reigning Saito Brothers, after Rei pinned Nakajima for the win. It was determined after the match that Yuma Anzai and Ryuki Honda would be the next challengers for the belts, taking on the terrible twins on January 27th. Following this, Nakajima had some rather odd words to say. He cut an ominous prom, claiming that there’s been a strange aura surrounding All Japan and that he suspects many of its wrestlers are being snatched up to bigger companies and planning a mass coup d’état. He claimed that he would become All Japan’s focal figure and inject the company with some necessary fighting spirit. In response to this, GHC Heavyweight Champion Kenoh would call him brainwashed, claiming he wasn’t like this when they were in Kongoh.
In somewhat sadder news, former KO-D Openweight Champion and professional MMA fighter, Yukio Sakaguchi announced he would be retiring from pro wrestling in the near future. He claimed that it wasn’t due to a lack of emotion or physical ability — he simply felt the timing was right — and asked everyone to focus on the newer generation instead of himself. His last match will occur on February 7. Sakaguchi and Eruption stablemate Hideki Okatani also lost the All Asia Tag titles to Toy Kojima and Atsushi Onita. When Sakaguchi retires, Okatani will be the only member of Eruption left in the group.
Big Japan Pro Wrestling:
On January 7, Masashi Takeda and Takumi Tsukamoto will make their first defence of the BJW Tag Team Championships, taking on the team of Daiju Wakamatsu and reigning Deathmatch Champion, Yuki Ishikawa.
And last but not least, after sustaining an injury at a SEAdLINNNGS show on January 12, Arisa Nakajima has thankfully been released from hospital. She was diagnosed with a minor spinal-chord injury, but luckily there was no internal bleeding. Wishing her all the best on a healthy recovery.