Last Night…

Last night was the first show that New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) has ever run in Melbourne, as part of their very first Australian tour. For those who are wondering “WTF is NJPW?”, they’re the second largest pro wrestling organisation in the World, behind the WWE (formerly WWF, or World Wrestling Federation) but pretty much unanimously considered to be the promotion that has the best actual in-ring wrestling in the world. Obviously lots of the competitors are Japanese, but lots are American, along with many Canadians, Mexicans, Tongan, New Zealanders, British, Irish and so on…

Bad News Fale, Mr Juicy Gambino, Sanada, Evil

A special thank you to Bad Luck Fale for being one of the driving forces behind the tour, and also to the group who I believe were his family, especially the older gent who told us to move forward when they left the show shortly after intermission. (If you happen to see this, Fale – please do pass on our thanks!) We had good seats which became great ones for the final three matches, including the main event.

It was pretty amazing to be able to see so many NJPW stars live, even those who have visited here before. Sanada, Evil, Okada, Kushida, The Young Bucks, Cody, Fale, Juice, Ishii, Suzuki, Jay White, Okada, Omega, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa, Lance Archer, Rocky Romero (victim of a “No” chant!) The local guys – and I’m not that familiar with them all yet – acquitted themselves well, particularly Slex, Robbie Archer, Eliot Sexton and Rock.

"Switchblade" Jay White

The show was really cool. I’ve already used amazing in the previous paragraph, but seeing a Meltzer Driver live, Omega vs Okada (for awhile) live, Sanada, Suzuki… well, you get the idea. It was a bloody fun night, and made more special because we haven’t gotten NJPW here before, and it was the first time many of these stars have been in the ring here. We get expensive WWE tours roughly once a year, but it’s not like we can see higher profile guys regularly. The local indy feds have been much better than I expected when I saw my first shows, but we don’t have anything on the scale of RoH, or Progress, or PWG, or even WCPW/Defiant, so it’s a real treat to see the big international names from such a workrate-oriented promotion. Hopefully they made enough to make it worth their while to come back again next year.

Merch was a bit disappointing – they’d sold out of the AU Bullet Club Logo before the show at the outdoor merch stand, and had none left at the end of the show (aside from XXXXXL!) at the indoor merch booth when we were able to access it after the show. The line to see the wrestlers and but merch/photos was huge, and almost all were out of shirts by the time we got there. I did get to shake hands with and thank Kushida, Evil and Sanada, Minoru Suzuki (who felt like a really gentle (!) and humble guy in person in huge contrast to his brutal persona), Ishii (who looked tired and grumpy), and Jay White, who was well prepared with a suitcase full of shirts. We both got AU Lion Mark tour shirts, Marouda got a sleeveless T (and signed) by Sanada, and I got a shirt (and signed) by Jay White.

Photos were $20/photo/wrestler, which was a bit rich for me personally. I’d rather buy a shirt and have it signed than take two photos. Bring more merch next time so I can spend more!

Here are a couple of photos that are actually good (though to be fair, he had a better view! ;), by Digital Beard Photograpy – go check his social for more!

Anyway, that’s it for this Professional Wrestling tangent. Tomorrow, back to the models!

Melbourne City Wrestling

“Impressive” Indi Hartwell vs “Riebell”.

I haven’t been doing much hobby painting or gaming in the last week. Lots of cleaning up and painting small bits for my friend Carlo, and helping sort things out for my Dad. I did manage to pick up good seats for the New Japan Pro Wrestling Australian Tour when they come to town in February, though – so that’s a good thing.

So on Friday, we happened to look around online and noticed that MCW had a show the following evening, so we decided to go and check it out. MCW is a small(ish) local indie fed, though they have been around for a few years now, and have brought out international talent including Will Osperey, Marty Scurll, Bad Luck Fale, and most recently, the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, who you will probably know of if you’re a wrestling fan who watches stuff outside of WWE – and if not, all you need to know is that he’s pretty much unanimously agreed to be one of the three most talented wrestlers in the world today – between Kenny Omega, AJ Styles and Okada.

“Slex” holds Robbie Eagles vertically for a good 10-15 seconds or so before completing the suplex from the middle turnbuckle.

Anyway, none of the international stars were in attendance last night. The performers seemed to be well-known in the local scene, but this meant that I really had no idea really who any of these people were. I had heard of “Slex”, as he was the guy who Okada wrestled, and also one other guy – “Mr Juicy” Gino Gambino who competed briefly in the New Japan Rumble through his relationship with Bad Luck Fale. Who also (sort of) inducted him into Bullet Club at a local show last year.

Since this was my first show at this promotion, I had no idea who anyone else was – who the babyfaces or heels or tweeners are, or what their characters, gimmicks or finishers were. Most of them managed to get that across reasonably well. The matches ranged from pretty meh, through to surprisingly good. Match of the night was the main event for the Intercontinental Inter-Commonwealth (what?) Title, which ended in a disappointing clusterfuck finish, and the women’s match. Not a bad night in the end, so we bought some merch from a couple of the wrestlers as souvenirs of the night and to show them some support.

Tomorrow: Back to wargaming stuff.