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Why Mutoh is the Iceberg to AJPW's Titanic
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Old 20 Dec 2002, 06:48 AM   #1 (permalink)
Dark Angels Man
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Default Why Mutoh is the Iceberg to AJPW's Titanic

In September to the surprise of just about nobody, Motoko Baba announced Keiji Mutoh as the new President of All Japan Pro Wrestling. This event was almost the nail in the coffin of AJPW, if not for what would happen during the Mutoh regime.

After Mutoh made his jump in January of 2002, a lot of good came to Zen
Nihon, Mutoh brought up and comer Satoshi Kojima, and then current IWGP
Jr. Champion Kendo Ka Shin with him. AJPW began to kick back and easily
sell out buildings, while NJ was struggling to get away from the Inoki
shooter pushes that had cost them so much money. The first major problem was the injury of Toshiaki Kawada in March of 2002, it was unfortunate and it labeled Kawada as still not being able to hold the AJPW Triple Crown for a decent reign, but accidents happen and AJPW went on.

Kawada's injury vacated the titles and Genichiro Tenryu wound up the
champion, which was fine seeing as even at his age, he could still put
on good matches, by July when AJPW held their 7/17/02 PPV, it looked
like they would be fine, Kojima and Tenryu put on what could very well
be the match of the year. However, Mutoh had been very vocal about
wanting to get over in North American, so to fuel that fire, Mutoh and
Taiyo Kea lost their AJPW Tag Titles to former WCW Tag Team Champion
Kronic (Brian Adams and Bryan Clark). Mutoh pulled off the ultimate
coup when he managed to sign Bill Goldberg for two matches at the end of August. This was the beginning of the end for AJPW being "just fine".

AJPW had a somewhat large roster of wrestlers who really weren't
involved in anything major, but Mutoh chose to put Satoshi Kojima and
Taiyo Kea as Goldberg's competition for his two-night stay in AJPW, Kea
and Kojima were both up and comers who were very good workers and could
have used a push, but Goldberg squashed each of them in under five
minutes. Kea and Kojima's pushes were dead, Kojima was stuck in the
opening matches every night, although AJPW started to run an angle where he'd pull double-duty and work main events. October began with bad news; Brian Adams of Kronic had retired to become a pro boxer, Kronic were still AJPW tag champions, so now the titles were vacant.

On 10/27/02 AJPW held a PPV headlined by Mutoh vs. Tenryu for the Triple Crown, Mutoh had a knee injury at this time, so it would have made sense to keep the more healthy Tenryu as champion, but Mutoh went over. Mutoh announced that the winners of this year's Real World Tag League would be the new champions. As somewhat of a consolation prize, Satoshi Kojima and Taiyo Kea won the titles, but there were many injuries in the tournament and Taiyo Kea was one of them. Kea will be sidelined for three-four months leaving the AJPW titles vacant once again. Also injured was Mitsuya Nagai, one of the very few AJPW wrestlers to follow the old "King's Road" style by the late Giant Baba. Just recently Nagai announced that he is leaving AJPW. Masahiro Chono sent out a challenge for Keiji Mutoh to work New Japan's annual Tokyo Dome show on 1/4/03, but Mutoh turned it down. Hiroyoshi Tenzan sent out a similar challenge to Satoshi Kojima, which has yet to be answered. Mutoh even tried to promote MMA with WRESTLE-1 headlined by
Mutoh vs. Bob Sapp. WRESTLE-1 is also looked at as possibly the worst show of 2002, a show heavily influenced by Sapp's vision of pro-wrestling.

When Mutoh showed up in January, things were getting better for AJPW,
and hit a great peak by July. The end of August, coupled with Mutoh's
promotion to president in September has been nothing but bad news for
AJPW. If Mutoh can't find a way to get AJPW back on track, the Titanic of AJPW is going to sink.
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