Wrestling News: Hiroshi Tanahashi Elevates NJPW Openweight Title

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Hiroshi Tanahashi: “I will raise the status of the NEVER belt until it is at IWGP level, or even higher”

Even with a new title, Hiroshi Tanahashi is back in a familiar position.

Tanahashi, who helped bring New Japan Pro-Wrestling to new heights throughout his storied career, is now in his first run as the NEVER openweight champion.

This title is unique to New Japan, as it is open to both heavyweights and junior heavyweights. With the unification of the IWGP heavyweight and intercontinental titles, the NEVER openweight belt has the potential to emerge as New Japan’s second most important gold coin.

“It’s about starting something new, creating a new kind of fire,” Tanahashi explains through a translator. “There’s something about changing people’s minds, and that includes NEVER going beyond the IWGP name.”

The belt was first established in New Japan nine years ago. Unlike the other New Japan Championships (the IWGP titles, named after the governing body of NJPW), NEVER stands for New Blood, Evolution, Valiantly, Eternal, and Radical. The title developed its own identity over time, delivering extremely physical matches that stood out from the world title image.

More recently, title reigns have been shorter, but Tanahashi is looking to change that with a long and meaningful run. And while big stars have held the title – Tomohiro Ishii, Katsuyori Shibata, Hirooki Goto, Kota Ibushi and current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay are all former champions – it’s a chance to reach a whole new level of prestige with Tanahashi in the lead. .

Tanahashi meets Jay White at Dontaku wrestling on May 3, a high-level encounter placing the Openweight Championship in the main event.

“I think the most exciting thing about it is being able to fight more opponents than I’ve had the chance to meet so far,” Tanahashi says. “There are a lot of new possibilities opening up and that’s really cool.”

The title reign for Tanahashi began in late January when he defeated Shingo Takagi for the belt in a 35-minute match that ended with his signature High Fly Flow. Takagi is a rising star for new Japan who will challenge Ospreay for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on the second night of Dontaku wrestling– and it’s a talent that Tanahashi sees as an important part of New Japan’s future.

“Takagi has many strengths, but what I will say particularly impresses me is the energy he puts into each of his matches,” Tanahashi said. “Whether it’s against a youngster, a veteran or whoever it is, he gives his opponent everything he has. I think he could absolutely be IWGP World Heavyweight Champion at some point.

With no weight restrictions, Tanahashi has endless options to fight new opponents all over New Japan, including junior heavyweight division talent like Taiji Ishimori.

“I want worthwhile opponents, worthwhile matchups,” Tanahashi says. “Get people talking about the game, talking about the belt, and then delivering the game itself. That’s how to raise that championship.

A longtime flag bearer of New Japan, Tanahashi is now looking to add a new chapter to his legacy. There’s a lot at stake, establishing the belt as a premier title, perhaps even moving it from NEVER to the IWGP brand, and supplanting the status of the now defunct Intercontinental title. Naturally, those responsibilities are taken on by the company’s ace, who always puts on a magnificent display of craftsmanship inside the ring.

“I will elevate the status of the NEVER belt to IWGP level or even higher,” Tanahashi says. “And I’ll have the whole world watching in the process.”

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Cesaro on his favorite coffee around the world

Cesaro picked up the most significant win of his WWE career earlier this month at Wrestle Mania 37where he emerged victorious against Seth Rollins.

While it briefly appeared he was set to challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship, Rollins attacked Cesaro last Friday on Smack down to add another barrier to his world title plans.

Cesaro, whose name is Claudio Castagnoli, grew up in Lucerne, Switzerland, watching WWE pay-per-views after midnight due to jet lag. He fell in love with the spirit of professional wrestling, an element he now captures in his work. Away from the ring, a constant throughout Cesaro’s career has been his affinity for coffee.

“We both love double espresso,” says Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro’s former tag team partner. “We still share that in common.”

A world traveler and speaker of five languages, Cesaro has traveled the world in pursuit of his wrestling dreams. These trips also allowed him to explore all the different kinds of coffee.

“Where is the best coffee in the world? Cesaro asks. “I couldn’t choose a place. There is good coffee everywhere.

“It’s a little different everywhere. I think the United States comes a long way. Many people in America grew up with coffee in a large ceramic mug. In Europe, you grow up with smaller drinks, like espresso. The Middle East has Turkish coffee. All over the world there are different coffee rituals and different coffee drinks. It’s part of people’s upbringing and culture.

Due to the pandemic, WWE is no longer running its extensive touring schedule. But when it did, Cesaro – who even sells his own coffee – relished the chance to travel to different countries, continents and cities, always seeking those coffees off the beaten path.

“That’s when you really experience the culture, the people and the way they do things,” Cesaro says. “In the United States, I love these little cafes that roast their own beans.”

Working in Florida, the sheer volume of high-profile coffee chains comes in handy, but Cesaro noted that his preference was always to find local coffees.

“If I’m in a pinch, I’ll grab a cold brew at Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” he says. “Here in Florida, there’s a place called Lineage that’s really good. When we were racing in St. Pete for the ThunderDome, there was a place called Bandit that I really liked.

Coffee is a multi-billion dollar industry. He even served as a conduit last season Calm your enthusiasm series on HBO, in which a battle took place between Larry David’s cafe Latte Larry against his rival Mocha Joe’s.

“I’m a big fan of Calm your enthusiasm, and I always talk about it with Sami Zayn,” says Cesaro. “I didn’t watch the last season, but I’m glad to know it has so much to do with coffee.”

The (online) week of wrestling

  • Monday Raw was again disappointing. There were a few highlights – Randy Orton’s backstage interaction and the match with Matt Riddle among them, as well as the Kofi Kingston – Elias match – but the whole show lacks an intensity throughout. three hours.
  • Christian Cage, who adds value to every segment he appears in on dynamiteis the exact type of talent WWE needs to breathe life into and showcase young stars on Raw. Although there was no interest from WWE following his Royal Rumble appearance, Cage is doing exactly that in AEW.
  • AEW’s ‘Blood & Guts’ Promo Artwork Did a Great Job Paying Tribute to War games.
  • Io Shirai-Franky Monet (former Taya Valkyrie) should lead to a fantastic program.
  • The A&E episode on Steve Austin’s career was very entertaining. Since WWE is providing the footage, there were definitely important parts omitted from Austin’s story. It will be interesting to see how the controversial moments are handled in future episodes of the series.
  • WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures on A&E was also a really fun watch, especially since it featured so much of Mick Foley. The highlight for me was getting a glimpse of these wrestling collections, which were amazing.
  • Foley was also on this week Star pawns.
  • MLW has a new TV deal on Vice TV.
  • During his Pro Wrestling 4 Life podcast, Sean Waltman shared phenomenal insight into the significance of the Sasha Banks – Bianca Belair main event. Wrestle Mania 37, stating, “I got feelings I haven’t felt in a long time for a pro wrestling match. It was really important. Some people might say, “It’s not black history, it’s not women’s history, it’s just history.” No, it’s historic for black women. In general, black women don’t get the credit they deserve. To see that and to see Bianca trying to hold back her tears, I’m trying not to cry right now.”
  • Keith Lee is another artist who could inspire Raw with a desperately needed life.
  • Sami Zayn continues to make great contributions to the world outside of wrestling.

Rich Swann on Mauro Ranallo: ‘I hope I can hear his voice during the game’

Rich Swann meets Kenny Omega in a title vs. title match this Sunday on pay-per-view.

The winner of the match, which will be the main event for the Impact Rebellion show, will walk away with the AEW and Impact titles. There are few times in Impact’s history when the company has garnered such massive interest in a pay-per-view main event, and guest broadcaster Mauro Ranallo, who we’ll call Omega-Swann, adds to the pomp and ceremony. current circumstances.

Ranallo is best known in wrestling for his time in WWE, but he also has a history of calling New Japan shows for AXS TV. He’s a fixture in the MMA world, currently serving as the main voice for Bellator, and he’s also been involved in two hugely high-profile events in which he provided play-by-play for Conor McGregor – Floyd Mayweather in 2017 and November. with Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr.

“Mauro is one of the greatest commentators I’ve ever heard, and that includes wrestling, fighting, boxing,” Swann said. “I just listened to him on Showtime calling Bellator. When I heard the news that he was calling this match, I thought about all the more this moment was going to mean.

Swann and Ranallo share a history dating back to the 2016 WWE Cruiserweight Classic tournament, when Ranallo called matches with Daniel Bryan. Swann lost in the quarterfinals to eventual tournament winner TJ Perkins but went on to claim the belt after defeating Brian Kendrick in November 2016, a match also called by Ranallo.

“We are definitely going back,” Swann says. “Mauro has called some of the biggest matches of my WWE career, and I can’t wait to be reunited. I hope I can hear his voice during this match. Bringing Mauro in takes that to a different level.

Tweet of the week

Anthony Bowens was a star in the Indies, and then he’s going to be a real star in AEW.

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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrass[email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @justin barrasso.

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