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Is it fair to say that the King's Road style that both AJPW and NOAH employed just doesnt lead to long term success for a promotion? There's a great peak but then it all comes crashing down due to not being able to create new stars and injuries? 

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3 hours ago, Vamp said:

Is it fair to say that the King's Road style that both AJPW and NOAH employed just doesnt lead to long term success for a promotion? There's a great peak but then it all comes crashing down due to not being able to create new stars and injuries? 

It was huge for 20 years or more wasn't it? That's not bad. I'd also say poor star building is an issue everywhere.

The style being blurred with people thinking it's just head drops and chops on US shows didn't help internationally I'd think, but locally they hit a dry spot in stars in a perfect storm with mafia involvement.

Wasn't there a economic decline at the same time too, after the 90s Japanese wrestling mega boom there was a hell of a crash and unless I'm mixed up (I normally am) it came at the worst possible time. 

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It didn't help that NOAH had a Yakuza scandal that knocked them off TV, and AJPW around the same time was reduced to a skeleton crew after Wrestle-1 formed (having already had that happen when NOAH started), so neither were particularly well-positioned to create stars on a Four Pillars level, particularly as this all happened during a time when NJPW were really entering into a boom period. 

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7 hours ago, Vamp said:

Is it fair to say that the King's Road style that both AJPW and NOAH employed just doesnt lead to long term success for a promotion? There's a great peak but then it all comes crashing down due to not being able to create new stars and injuries? 

King's Road isn't, as Tommy said, defined by chops, head-drops and constant no-selling - that's one of my biggest bugbears about bloody RoH and the other indies promoting NOAH's shows internationally, even more when people use the term "Strong Style" to signify it too. It annoyed me even more when Japanese stars, who worked in front of bigger crowds in Japan than the indie darlings did in their home countries, would come back from tours wrestling that spot-fest style.

Giant Baba was the originator of King's Road, he didn't wrestle that sort of match. Neither did Naoya Ogawa, Taue, or Tenryu, Jumbo Tsuruta didn't really, and I don't think The Destroyer or Harley Race really did when they went to AJPW.

NOAH's booking was definitely a factor - they didn't seem to be able to build up new stars very well, or would undermine them by frequently reverting to putting the belt on Misawa. From what I've read here, that yakuza scandal would certainly have been the biggest problem, given what happened to PRIDE despite being the biggest MMA promotion in the world at the time.

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I apologise in advance for the essay but I've basically replied to the thread in one fell swoop.

 

CyberFight

This seems to be just the next step in the integration of Noah and DDT (and TJP).  Corporately, Noah doesn't have the muscle it once had and DDT has been very effective at punching above its weight.  I struggle to see how both promotions could sit on the same marquee.  They're very different; Noah still bobbing along as a serious puro fed, DDT is essentially a Japanese funhouse mirror parody of attitude era WWE (or doing what WWE is trying to achieve, considering that WWE itself feels like a funhouse mirror parody of attitude era WWE right now).

However, while Noah has been in decline, DDT has established itself as the clear number 2 in Tokyo, though Dragongate has a wider geographic reach and is probably number 2 in Japan as a whole.  Does that tell us that there's only room for one "serious" puro promotion, New Japan, and that everybody else is just wasting their time?  DDT are viewed as comedy wrestling, Dragongate are still ploughing their lone lucharesu furrow, everybody under six foot and almost entirely people who wouldn't get a push elsewhere.

If anybody can make a go of bringing Noah bang up to date and bringing energy to their show, you'd think it would be DDT.  Look at how Jun Akiyama, seemingly broken after dragging All-Japan back from the brink, seems to be having the time of his life.

 

Noah

Noah went down for a number of reasons.  Their best guys were juniors and they weren't accepted on top in that era.  They lost a couple of generations of heavyweights due to injuries.  Misawa put guys on top, didn't really push them there probably and then lost his arsehole when they didn't draw (plus some of the guys didn't meet him halfway - yes, you Takeshi Morishima).  Carbomb is spot on in that regard.

Plus you had hangover issues from All-Japan, where Akiyama in particular was carrying a lot of "nearly man" baggage which wasn't helped by not going with him from day one.  Can't underestimate how much bad TV slots crippled them too.  Matoko Baba was right, they were going to be reliant on foreigners.

Now, I just feel depressed watching Noah.  It's not terrible, they have some decent guys.  It's just you watch it and, unless it's a big match, it doesn't feel like people care. I love Sugiura but he also feels like an emblem of their decline.  He should be a grizzled popular midcarder but he's a perennial main-eventer.  Nakajima is still amazing but he's no bigger than Kenta or Marafuji, both of whom were considered too small 12 years ago.

 

 

All-Japan

All-Japan built itself back by accident.  It became Mutoh's lifeboat to escape to when New Japan went MMA crazy after a period of inter-promotional cooperation.  However, there was a period after Akiyama and his boys left Noah but before Mutoh and his loyalists left to form Wrestle-1 that they had probably the best roster in Japan when it came to star power.  Like everything related to All-Japan this century, it didn't last.

The last time All-Japan nearly went down, Akiyama rearranged their finances, killed all of the contracts and started paying nightly.  Some guys left, Go Shiozaki went back to Noah for instance, but some of the older guys who were loyal and some of the younger guys stayed.  They've rebuilt around former Kensuke Sasaki/Katsuhiko Nakajima trainee Kento Miyahara.  He's very good but, after an 18 month reign on top of a 15 month reign back in 16/17, it has all become a bit samey.  Akiyama burnt himself out on finding a second ace, with his main candidates Jake Lee (charisma vacuum) and Naoya Namura (too midcard) never managed to step up.  Some wounds are self-inflicted though.

Shuji Ishikawa is the new booker and he booked his perennial tag partner and homegrown ace from 10-15 years ago, Suwama, to end Miyahara's reign.  It's not that bad an idea because he's still a player, the Violent Giants are perennial tag contenders but the view was that the guy to end the reign was going to be the anointed one.  Then, Shuji hit the fucking jackpot.  A new second ace just landed in his lap from the ashes of Wrestle-1, who went bust this year; former Wrestle-1 champion Shotaro Ashino.

Ashino is only 5'9", has only been a pro for 5 years and had only been training for six months.  He's basically a wrestling savant, works a strange hybrid of classic strong style and Gotchism.  If you love the NJ vs. UWFi feud from the mid-90s, Ashino is very much a "trousers round your ankles, hand cream at the ready" kind of wrestler.  He proves just how King's Road and Strong Style no longer exist as promotion-styles but as wrestler-styles now.

Anyway, he looks the part, he wrestles the part, he's charismatic as fuck and he's absolutely the prize from Wrestle-1.  Plus he has a unit with the coolest fucking name in history; Enfants Terribles.  Arashi and Kodama joined him and they go on a tear in the Covid empty arena stuff.  They pushed Ashino all the way to a title match, the best match Suwama has had in years and then jobbed him.  Now they're treating Les Enfants like any other unit.  They had a star, now they've fucked it up.  As I said, some wounds are self inflicted.

 


Going back to the styles thing, the cross-promotion in the 00's broke down the walls between the different styles.  Ashino has come through the Wrestle-1 dojo, notionally an All-Japan offshoot, but he was trained by Keiji Mutoh, who was a product of Hiro Matsuda's era in the NJ dojo and took his excursion in the United States, and Kaz Hayashi, who was out of Michinoku Pro and was steeped in Lucharesu. Yet Ashino does rolling knee bars.  Okada's matches more closely resemble classic All-Japan than classic New Japan.

 

EDIT: All that and I missed my point. I think there's an untested hypothesis that New Japan have absorbed "straight" puroresu and the only other thing that sells is something different. DDT and Dragongate is different. At this point, Noah and All Japan (and Zero1 and the dearly-departed Wrestle-1) aren't different enough. Big Japan is a mess and what makes them different and has kept them going is the deathmatch division. As I said, untested hypothesis that is waiting to be picked apart. 

Edited by mikey

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