WILW: NJPW Cup 2017

One of the best things about NJPW is that even though most fans are smart enough to know that at its core it is “Pro Wrestling,” it still gets treated with the respect of a legit contact sport. Japanese fans know it’s fixed, they’re just more willing to suspend their disbelief. Sometimes, most times really, this works in their favor. Very rarely do things come off the rails so hard that it gets too real. It happens though. See, a little while ago, NJPW decided that MMA was the future of Pro Wrestling. They mixed in way too much “fighting” and lost the magic of what makes pro wrestling and NJPW in particular so special. They eventually smartened up and decided to go back to their roots. Management decided that the company would be built around three guys, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Katsuyori Shibata. And it worked, mostly.

Tanahashi and Nakamura became huge stars and Shibata left to do actual MMA. (he was brutal, btw) Upon his return he was the outsider, the one who left. He had to pay his dues. Apparently, his dues are now paid. New Japan runs a series of tournaments throughout the year with the first one being the New Japan Cup. This year saw the final between Shibata and the Underboss of Bullet Club, Bad Luck Fale. Now, Fale is not a guy I’m usually excited to see. He just doesn’t do it for me. And I was really worried that this was going to be his time. If there is a time I’ve been more excited to be wrong about a match over this one, I can’t think of it. In a match that was worlds better than it had any right to be, Shibata took the NJPW Cup. He will challenge the champ, Okada, in April. The guy who left may yet write the ultimate comeback story. I’m sure it will be featured here as a MOTY candidate. For now, check out the final of the NJPW Cup and follow me on twitter and instagram, @geekadedan to let me know what you thought of the cup and if you think Shibata will take the belt. Until then…


NJPW: Bad Luck Fale vs Katsuyori Shibata by therealrocknrolla

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