Sunday, December 31, 2023

Wrestler Spotlight: Rui Hyugaji - A Ring Veteran Still Ascending in Michinoku Pro

In the ever-changing landscape of Michinoku Pro, Rui Hyugaji has managed to defy the odds and climb the ranks with a tenacity that is difficult to match. With 16 years of experience honed in the Michinoku Pro Dojo, he stands as a testament to having an enduring spirit.

Rui Hyugaji's journey began under the tutelage of Jinsei Shinzaki, a legend of the industry and a cornerstone of Michinoku Pro. Hyugaji developed a unique blend of technical wrestling and aerial maneuvers that showcase his athleticism and ring experience. An example is Hyugaji's impressive diving elbow drop, which he always delivers with precision.

Rui Hyugaji's resume is proof of his unwavering dedication and exceptional talent. He has had three reigns as Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Champion, with Hyugaji's third lasting a record-breaking 553 days. The championship's lineage continues to evolve, but his position as a future legend of Michinoku Pro is solidified.

Beyond the Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Championship, Rui Hyugaji has seen success on the tag team scene, holding the prestigious Tohoku Tag Team and UWA World Tag Team Championships, demonstrating his versatility as both a singles and tag team competitor.

A veteran of the ring, Rui Hyugaji has also appeared in many other promotions, including NOAH, DDT, BJW, ZERO1, and WAVE, making him a talent with an array of knowledge and experience who can serve as inspiration for aspiring wrestlers. At the same time, he represents his established status proudly, as he displayed recently when Michinoku Pro experienced a shakeup, as an in-ring feud began between young wrestlers who represented the new generation of Michinoku Pro and what was considered to be the current generation of the company, which included Hyugaji. He was on the frontline of that feud. This shows that even though Hyugaji is not currently holding a championship, his star is continuing to rise as Hyugaji maintains being a standout on every show he wrestles on.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

WWE Legend Killer Khan Passes Away at Age 76

According to the Japan-based sports paper Sports Hoshi, WWE Legend Killer Khan (real name Ozawa Masashi) has passed away at age 76. He passed away on December 29 at 10:04pm after suffering a ruptured artery and losing consciousness at the counter of Kanchan's Jinjo Sakaba in Nishi-Shinjuku, Tokyo, which is a restaurant that Khan opened in March of this year.

Born in Tsubame, Niigata, Japan, he began wrestling in 1971 under his real name for the Japan Wrestling Association (JWA), which was the first pro-wrestling promotion to be based in Japan. After wrestling in the JWA for two years, he moved on to NJPW, where he wrestled for four years. After spending time wrestling in Mexico during the late 1970s, he began wrestling for Championship Wrestling From Florida where he had his first taste of championship success, winning the NWA Florida United States Tag Team Championship in 1979. Singles championship success came a little later in his career, when he won the Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship in 1984 while wrestling in Canada, known as Killer Khan at that point.

But it was towards the end of his career when Killer Khan received the most recognition, when he began wrestling for WWE in 1987.

Although it was for only one year, Killer Khan made a big impression during his time in WWE. With the devious Mr. Fuji as his manager, Khan would brutalize his opponents, before finishing them off by spitting blinding green mist in their eyes and delivering a flying kneedrop.

During this time period, it was common for a wrestler who was making a big impact upon their arrival in WWE to quickly want a shot at the WWE Championship, which was held by Hulk Hogan. Killer Khan was no different.

There was no doubt that Hulk Hogan and Killer Khan would soon cross paths, and that moment happened during an episode of Jake Roberts' interview segment, "The Snake Pit".

Killer Khan's attack on Hulk Hogan moved Khan to the front of the line for a shot at the WWE Championship. Making it to the main event scene of WWE was an accomplishment that few Japanese wrestlers achieved previously, making him a trailblazer for prominent Japanese WWE Superstars of today, such as Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka.

After Killer Khan's 1987 run in WWE, he retired from the pro-wrestling industry. But his days as an entertainer were not over yet, as he played the role of a bodyguard in the 1994 film, "3 Ninjas Kick Back" and also appeared in the 2006 series, "Lion-Maru G".

How Tech is Rebooting Live Wrestling Events

Since the 1990s, bright lights and smoke machines have been used to add excitement to a live wrestling event. But as we saw when the futuristic WWE ThunderDome was introduced in 2020, what lies ahead is an era where those effects will be replaced by drones and lasers. Always an industry leader in whatever new space it decides to experiment in, WWE currently uses augmented reality (AR) graphics during wrestler entrances. And that could just be the beginning.

Imagine attending a live event in the future, and before the show begins, the same type of drone light show that was presented during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening ceremony, instead being displayed on a wrestling ring. Or hundreds of synchronized drones during an outdoor wrestling event, painting the air with vibrant patterns, swirling in formation as wrestlers execute high-flying maneuvers, and unleashing bursts of light to amplify every slam and finisher. The crowd's roar would trigger dazzling firework displays, not from pyrotechnics, but from holographic projections that burst from the ring itself.

"Vader Immortal" is a virtual reality adventure game that involves stepping into the Star Wars universe. Imagine that level of world-building and emotional connection applied to live wrestling, transporting you into the heart of the event.

For example, imagine walking through a haunted graveyard as you enter the venue for the Halloween-themed NXT Halloween Havoc event.

This isn't merely a hypothetical scenario; it's a possibility that draws inspiration from existing technologies and creative experiences, hinting at a future where wrestling events become fully immersive and tech-powered.

When it's time for the first match, the wrestlers make their entrances, enhanced by AR effects. Remember, this part isn't something that will happen in the future- it's happening right now. But then add to that being able to point your phone at the ring during a match and see the wrestlers' stats and bios. This would be done using digital data called AR overlay, that appear on top of what we see in the real world through a phone's camera. AR overlay is a technology that already exists today, and is used in video games like Pokemon Go. It's only a matter of time before it is utilized in the pro-wrestling industry.

Some people may wonder "Why?", and the answer is simple. In a world filled with digital entertainment, the wrestling industry is always looking for ways to stand out more. Of course, this high-tech revolution isn't without its skeptics. Some argue that using a lot of technology can distract and overshadow the pro-wrestling product itself. However, the benefits are undeniable. Tech-enhanced shows can attract new audiences, open up creative possibilities for storyline writing, and even generate new revenue streams. The future of live wrestling will be a synergy of action and technology, with boundless potential.

Friday, December 29, 2023

[WWE Shop] New Year, New Gear: New WWE Merchandise to Buy for 2024

The clock is ticking down to 2024, and a great way to bring in the new year would be with a fresh WWE look. Whether you're making fitness resolutions, want to keep track of important dates, have travel plans, have a desire to go retro, are looking for WWE collectibles, or are interested in buying WWE merchandise representing your favorite WWE Superstars, WWE Shop has everything you need to make 2024 WWE-style.

If you plan to get into better shape in 2024, you can exercise while wearing something from WWE Shop's selection of leggings and pants. And remember to stay hydrated with a WWE Logo Callie 16oz. Stainless Steel Water Bottle.

Stay organized all year long as you track your goals, meet deadlines, and achieve success with a WWE Legends 12'' x 12'' 2024 Wall Calendar. This item is one of my personal favorites from WWE Shop, because no matter who our favorite WWE Legend is, we all keep track of dates.

If you plan on traveling in 2024, you can bring WWE with you via something from WWE Shop's backpacks and bags selection. This category includes regular backpacks, duffel bags, as well as drawstring backpacks, like the WinCraft The Undertaker Drawstring Backpack.

Sometimes it's just fun to remember when the days of the Monday Night Wars were taking place between WCW and WWE, and WWE Shop can help you do that. My personal favorite is the nWo Chenille Logo Pullover Hoodie. That black and white nWo logo is a reminder of that era, and channeling nWo vibes would be an excellent way to start 2024.

If you want to bring in the new year with some WWE collectibles, you can purchase action figures of your favorite WWE Superstars, like the Mattel Shawn Michaels Elite Survivor Series Collection Action Figure, the Mattel Randy Orton Ultimate Edition Wave 18 Action Figure, or the Mattel Kevin Owens Elite Survivor Series Collection Action Figure. Or you can buy a replica title belt, like the WWE Intercontinental Championship Mini Replica Title Belt for example.

You can show your support for your favorite WWE Superstar by purchasing gear from their individual collection. The collections include gear representing CM Punk, Charlotte Flair, AJ Styles and more, like CM Punk's, Hell Froze Over T-shirt, or Charlotte Flair's, "Diamonds Are Forever" T-shirt.

Whether you're a member of the WWE Universe or a casual viewer, the WWE Shop has something for everyone. 2024 will be a big year for WWE, so gear up now with amazing WWE merchandise from WWE Shop!

Click the link below to explore the WWE Shop!

And if you order before January 2, 2024 at 11:59pm ET, you can get up to 50% off select styles plus free shipping on orders over $49 when you use this code: WWE49

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Wrestler Spotlight: Manjimaru - A Pillar of Michinoku Pro

A great of example of dedication in the Japanese wrestling scene is Manjimaru, one of the most loyal Michinoku Pro wrestlers. A longtime member of the company roster since 2004, his career began in 2002, meaning that Manjimaru has been a part of Michinoku Pro for almost his entire career. Manjimaru's journey began with being trained in Ultimo Dragon Gym in Mexico, after which Manjimaru began wrestling in Ultimo Dragon's Mexico-based promotion, Toryumon Mexico. Manjimaru wrestled there for only two years before his career focused on Japan and Michinoku Pro became his home promotion.

Manjimaru stands out with his grounded demeanor and focused intensity. His quiet confidence translates into an aggressive in-ring style that has consisted of a mixture of stiff strikes, powerful kicks, and technical wrestling.

Manjimaru never takes a step back, and this has been rewarded with numerous accolades throughout his career. Manjimaru is one of the longest reigning Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Champions in history, and his resume also features tag team success- Manjimaru has held the Tohoku Tag Team Championship twice, each time with a different partner, with the first reign being the fifth longest in the history of the championship. All of this showcases his versatility and ability to thrive in both the singles and tag team scenes.

Manjimaru's impact goes beyond wins and championships. With his 21 years of experience that includes Mexico's lucha libre style, Michinoku Pro's combination of the traditional Japanese style with the lucha libre style, AJPW's King's Road style, NJPW and ZERO1's Strong Style, BJW's hardcore style, and YMZ' environment that blends action and comedy in its own way, Manjimaru makes a great role model to the younger generation, as his exposure to different styles makes him adaptable & knowledgeable, and a valuable resource for younger wrestlers. Manjimaru's dedication to hard work, versatility, and respect for the business earns him the respect of wrestlers at all stages of their careers, as Manjimaru supports the unique spirit of Michinoku Pro and its history of innovation and excellence.

With a career spanning over two decades, Manjimaru continues to be very active in Michinoku Pro. In fact, since returning to the ring in 2021 after taking 2020 off to recover from a knee injury that he suffered in 2019, Manjimaru's schedule of matches has increased each year as he remains a pillar of Michinoku Pro, inspiring future generations of wrestlers while etching his name further in the history books of the company.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Harold Williams’ Weekly Wrestling: [WWE] 12/26/23

Hello WWE fans, today we will look at the results of recent WWE shows, the UNDERTAKER 1 deadMAN SHOW tour, as well as NXT star Charlie Dempsey challenging for an AJPW championship in Japan and my suggestion for what should be done next.

WWE Friday Night SmackDown
12/22/23 (taped 12/15/23)
Bianca Belair, Michin, Shotzi, and Zelina Vega defeated Damage CTRL (Asuka, Bayley, IYO SKY, and Kairi Sane) (w/ Dakota Kai) in a,"Holiday Havoc" match
WWE NXT North American Champion Dragon Lee defeated Butch
Kevin Owens defeated Carmelo Hayes in a, "WWE United States Title #1 Contendership Tournament Semi Final" match
Santos Escobar defeated Bobby Lashley (w/ Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) in a, "WWE United States Title #1 Contendership Tournament Semi Final" match
AJ Styles defeated Solo Sikoa via disqualification

12/26/23 (taped 12/13/23)
Out The Mud (Bronco Nima & Lucien Price) defeated Chase U (Andre Chase & Duke Hudson) in an, "All Or Nothing" match
WWE NXT Heritage Cup Champion Noam Dar defeated Josh Briggs via disqualification
Cora Jade defeated Karmen Petrovic
Bron Breakker defeated Nathan Frazer
Joe Gacy defeated Joe Coffey
Riley Osborne defeated Lexis King in a, "WWE NXT Breakout Tournament Semi Final" match
Oba Femi defeated Tavion Heights in a, "WWE NXT Breakout Tournament Semi Final" match
Eddy Thorpe defeated Dijak in an "NXT Underground" match


The UNDERTAKER 1 deadMAN SHOW tour will be making a stop at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida on Sunday, January 28 at 8:00 PM. It will feature The Undertaker in an intimate setting sharing stories from his career and taking questions from fans in attendance.

If you live in the area and can attend this event- do so. Throughout his career, The Undertaker took the ideas of staying in character and keeping backstage stories private very seriously, so this is a golden opportunity as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time finally pulls back the curtain and connects on a personal level.

The recent partnership between WWE and Abema is a big deal for the Japanese wrestling industry, and there is now another development that shows the return of WWE's presence to the Japanese wrestling scene. WWE has sent NXT wrestler Charlie Dempsey to challenge for the Triple Crown Championship on January 3, 2024.

 The Triple Crown Championship is active in AJPW, one of the major companies here. I'm pleased to see WWE invest more in the Japanese market. Regardless of what the final result of this match will be, it will bring more attention to both NXT and AJPW. Looking beyond this match, I can conceive Charlie Dempsey and fellow No Quarter Catch Crew member Drew Gulak (who has experience wrestling in Japan) going to AJPW and winning the AJPW World Tag Team Championship. A championship win in Japan by NXT talent would strengthen WWE's international presence and further establish NXT as a developmental brand with global aspirations.


Tuesday, December 26, 2023

[NJPW World] NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 18 on 1/4/24 LIVE

The matches that took place at Wrestle Kingom 17 in January 2023 are still being talked about, yet 2024 is just around the corner as NJPW will present Wrestle Kingdom 18 on January 4th, 2024, at the Tokyo Dome, one of the most legendary venues in the pro-wrestling industry. The event starts at 1:30am EST and will be broadcast LIVE via NJPW World, NJPW's video streaming website.

In the main event, SANADA will defend the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Tetsuya Naito.

This will be a true test for SANADA, as this will be his first time defending NJPW's top singles championship on the company's grandest stage. Meanwhile, Tetsuya Naito is no stranger to being in the Wrestle Kingdom main event -both as a champion and a challenger- and he intends to leave the Tokyo Dome as champion.

In a special singles match, former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada will go against AEW star Bryan Danielson.

This will be their third encounter, and Danielson was the victor the two times they have opposed each other in the ring. This time Okada will have the home country advantage, but Danielson won't just be trying to win this match- he plans on getting revenge.

The IWGP Global Heavyweight Championship highlights NJPW's focus on international talent and expansion, signifying success within the international side of the company. It unifies championships with different styles and focuses, making versatility and adaptability a necessity. And we will indeed see a clash of three different styles when former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay, former AEW World Champion Jon Moxley, and former NEVER Openweight Champion David Finlay compete to decide the inaugural IWGP Global Heavyweight Champion.

In exciting junior heavyweight action, Hiromu Takahashi will defend the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion El Desperado.

These two men have faced each other many times in singles matches, exchanging wins and losses since 2018, and only one match ending in a draw. Desperado and Takahashi have three wins over each other, and at Wrestle Kingdom 18 their rivalry will continue, with championship implications.


IWGP Tag Team Championship / NJPW STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship
Hirooki Goto (IWGP Tag Team Champion)
YOSHI-HASHI (IWGP Tag Team Champion)
Guerrillas Of Destiny
Hikuleo (NJPW STRONG Openweight Tag Team Champion)
El Phantasmo (NJPW STRONG Openweight Tag Team Champion)

NEVER Openweight Championship
Shingo Takagi (NEVER Openweight Champion)
Tama Tonga (former NEVER Openweight Champion)

Shota Umino
Kaito Kiyomiya (Open The Twin Gate Champion)
EVIL (former IWGP Tag Team Champion)
Ren Narita

Yota Tsuji
Yuya Uemura

NJPW World Television Championship
Zack Sabre Jr. (NJPW World Television Champion)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (former IWGP Heavyweight Champion)

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Clark Connors (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion)
Drilla Moloney (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion)
Catch 2/2
Francesco Akira (former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion)
TJP (former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion)

Pre-Show: "NJPW King Of Pro-Wrestling Championship (KOPW) 2024 Right To Challenge / New Japan Rambo" match
In this modified battle royal, participants will enter the ring at timed intervals. The four wrestlers that are remaining at the end of the match will compete against each other at New Year Dash!! 2024 the next night to decide the first 2024 holder of the KOPW Championship.

Monday, December 25, 2023

[Michinoku Pro][PREVIEW] 1/14/24 Takizawa City Workers’ Physical Education Center (Iwate) Event

On Sunday, January 14th, 1:00 PM start time, Michinoku Pro, one of pro-wrestling's most unique companies, makes its return to Iwate's Takizawa City Workers’ Physical Education Center! The card will be as follows:

The main event will be a New Year Special Battle Royale, featuring Ayumu Gunji and all of the Michinoku Pro wrestlers who have matches earlier on the card!

Jinsei Shinzaki (legend who has wrestled in many major companies worldwide)
Rui Hyugaji
Yasutaka Oosera
Dick Togo (legend, former UWA World Trios Champion)
Ringo Yamaya

Taro Nohashi
(The first Tohoku, UWA World, Kyushu Pro Wrestling Triple Crown Tag Champions in pro-wrestling history)
Manjimaru (former Tohoku Tag Team Champion)
Ken45 (former Tohoku & UWA World Tag Team Champion)

Yapper Man 1 (former Tohoku Tag Team Champion)
Yapper Man 2 (former Tohoku Tag Team Champion)
Brahman Shu (former Tohoku Tag Team Champion)
Brahman Kei (former Tohoku Tag Team Champion)


Tickets are available for sale via Lawson Ticket, Ticket Pia, and e+.

On an important note, if you purchase a ticket from someplace other than the online shop, you will have to write your address, name, and phone number on the ticket stub (the smaller one) in order to be able to enter the arena.

For more information regarding this event, contact Michinoku Pro Wrestling- 019 (687) 2431.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

[Michinoku Pro][PREVIEW] 1/13/24 Sendai Hills Hotel Michinoku Hall (Miyagi) Event

On Saturday, January 13th, 6:00 PM start time, Michinoku Pro, one of pro-wrestling's most unique companies, makes its return to Miyagi's Sendai Hills Hotel Michinoku Hall! The card will be as follows:

A New Year Special Battle Royale, featuring all of the Michinoku Pro wrestlers on the card!

The Great Sasuke (legend, former Chiba Six Man Tag Team Champion)
Jinsei Shinzaki (legend who has wrestled in many major companies worldwide)
Dick Togo (legend, former UWA World Trios Champion)
Rui Hyugaji
Ringo Yamaya

Yasutaka Oosera

Taro Nohashi
Rasse (former Chiba Six Man Tag Team Champion)
Brahman Shu (former Chiba Six Man Tag Team Champion)
Brahman Kei (former Chiba Six Man Tag Team Champion)
Ayumu Gunji

Yapper Man 1 (former Tohoku Tag Team Champion)
Yapper Man 2 (former Tohoku Tag Team Champion)
Manjimaru (former Tohoku Tag Team Champion)
Ken45 (former Tohoku & UWA World Tag Team Champion)

Tickets are available for sale via Lawson Ticket, Ticket Pia, and e+.

On an important note, if you purchase a ticket from someplace other than the online shop, you will have to write your address, name, and phone number on the ticket stub (the smaller one) in order to be able to enter the arena.

For more information regarding this event, contact Michinoku Pro Wrestling- 019 (687) 2431.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Empire State Wrestling 1/19/24 Event! Former WWE Superstar Appearing!

Active since 2002, the New York-based Empire State Wrestling (ESW) often brings in name talent, and it will do it again on Friday, January 19 at the Frontier Fire Hall (2176 Liberty Drive, Niagara Falls, N.Y.), with a 7pm start time (doors open at 6pm) when former WWE Superstar 2 Cold Scorpio makes his ESW debut at, "Frontier Freeze"!

Known as, "Flash Funk" when a WWE Superstar, 2 Cold Scorpio also made an impact in WCW as WCW World Tag Team Champion, in ECW as ECW World Television Champion & ECW World Tag Team Champion, and in NOAH as GHC Tag Team Champion & GHC Hardcore Openweight Champion. His reign as GHC Hardcore Openweight Champion is the second-longest in history, and Scorpio's four reigns as ECW World Television Champion is a record that will never be broken.


"2-Out-Of-3 Falls", for the ESW Tag Team Championship
High Seas (ESW Tag Team Champions)

Katie Arquette (as seen in WWE)
Christina Marie (as seen in AEW)

The BackSeat Boyz
To Infinity And Beyond


- ESW Interstate Champion Alec Price returns

- A special address from ESW Heavyweight Champion Vince Valor

- 2023 Ilio DiPaolo Memorial Cup winner Gregory Iron

and more

More matches will be officially announced in the coming weeks as Empire State Wrestling's first event of 2024 draws closer, and tickets can be purchased here.

If you will be unable to be in New York on January 19, you can see, "ESW Frontier Freeze" LIVE via IndependentWrestling.TV, a livestreaming platform available on Android, iOS, Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and online.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Wrestler Spotlight: The Stro - Melody and Mayhem

We saw two sides of Rob Kellum's best known wrestling persona The Maestro -also known as The Stro- making the character a unique mix of charisma, showmanship, and insanity that both intrigued and mystified WCW fans and later the independent scene. He was born in North Carolina, a state where wrestling has a long and storied history, and The Stro's granduncle was legend Gorgeous George. So it's fair to say that The Stro had wrestling in his veins before he even stepped in the ring.

The Stro's eventual training came at the hands of former NWA World Tag Team Champion Gene Anderson and former WWE Champion Ivan Koloff, which means The Stro was given all the tools he needed to be successful as either a singles wrestler or a tag team wrestler. Wrestling as, "Robbie Eagle", he first wrestled for WCW early in his career, appearing on multiple episodes of, "WCW Main Event" and, "WCW Saturday Night" in 1993. While at WCW tapings, many people backstage commented that his style was similar to Gorgeous George, which led to him investigating his family tree and discovering that he was related to the legendary wrestler. Already having had grown up admiring George, this revelation inspired him to begin wrestling as, "Gorgeous George III".

Wrestling as Gorgeous George III for the USWA in 1995 gained the attention and interest of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, who invited him to participate in a tryout at a, "WCW Nitro" event later that year. The tryout was successful, and there were talks about bringing Rob Kellum in, but that plan was not followed through. He had also wrestled in a dark match for WWE earlier that year, indicating that his work on the independent scene as Gorgeous George III had gotten him on the radar of both companies. He continued to wrestle on the independent scene, but was it was his experience wrestling in Mexico for AAA in 1997 that he feels prepared him for his next tryout match for WCW, which took place later that year in a, WCW Monday Nitro" dark match with Chavo Guerrero Jr.; After the match, George was hired that same night, and his contract was for three years.

Rob Kellum never appeared on WCW-TV as Gorgeous George III because after being with the company for one year (although not debuted on television), he was informed that Randy Savage wanted to his the, "Gorgeous George" name for his girlfriend at the time, who was going to be his valet in WCW. After meeting with Eric Bischoff (who was running WCW by this point) to work things out, ideas by the two of them were combined to create the Maestro character, a classical pianist, which began appearing on WCW-TV in 1999.

In late-April 2000, The Maestro, with his contract set to expire at the end of May, received his release from WCW. The Maestro had re-evaluated his status with the company at the time, and came to the conclusion that there was no future in store for The Maestro in WCW. Before returning to the independent scene, he decided he was due for a new look, persona, name, and wrestling style. And so, "The Stro" was born- the days of piano playing and flamboyant entrance jackets were over, and it was time to be all business in the ring. He then turned his attention to the independent scene, wrestling in promotions nationwide which usually provided a learning experience for newer wrestlers.

Later on, The Stro modified his character once again, this time exploring the dark side of his character, as he began referring to himself as, "Papa" Stro. Meanwhile, the independent scene continued to be his main focus.

The Stro also helped people get started in independent wrestling by opening his own school in North Carolina, where offensive & defensive wrestling moves were taught, as well as character development. After experiencing his own success in the industry, he made the success of the next generation of wrestlers a new focus.

Something that many people don't know about The Stro is that he was ahead of the curve when it comes to wrestlers utilizing the Internet. While still working for WCW, his own website was launched, which was used for chatting with fans. After The Stro left WCW, he also began writing columns on his website. In fact, The Stro began writing columns for wrestling news sites as well. And while most wrestlers were mainly still accepting bookings via direct contact, phone, and maybe email, The Stro was open to accepting bookings via AOL Instant Messenger. He even would spend time hanging out in a chat room that was exclusively for wrestlers and managers who were working on the independent scene. I remember that it was mainly occupied by ones who were based in North Carolina, like The Stro was. He would chat and joke with the other wrestlers, and he was available for any of them who were wise enough to pick the brain of a wrestler who had worked for one of the major wrestling companies.

The Stro has a wrestling career that he can be proud of, as he reached a level in the industry early in his career that most wrestlers have not, and he has spent the rest of his career helping young wrestlers who hope to one day see the same success that he did.

Fast Meat Missing: Slim Jim's Custom Nissan Z Stolen

Slim Jim has reached out to its fans and car enthusiasts with the news that its custom Nissan Z, known as "Fast Meat", has been stolen. This unique vehicle, a collaboration between Slim Jim and WWE, has been drawing much attention across the United States in recent months, including when it stopped in Chicago for Survivor Series: War Games last month. Fast Meat features a fiery exterior, sleek custom yellow leather interior, and many Slim Jim-themed touches, including an exclusive on-the-go snack holder and a hidden glove box dispenser stocked with meat sticks.

Heading to Los Angeles for a video shoot, Fast Meat was last seen in California before it disappeared sometime before December 19th. While the Los Angeles Police Department is actively investigating, Slim Jim has called on its community to help spread awareness and potentially recover Fast Meat. If you have any information or see Fast Meat, you can contact the LAPD with a tip through their online portal. Sharing this post on social media using the hashtag that Slim Jim has started would help as well: #FINDFASTMEAT

A symbol of Slim Jim's partnership with WWE, Fast Meat is a valuable asset. The two brands have shared a history for decades, with Slim Jim sponsoring WWE events featuring wrestlers in commercials, most notably legend Randy Savage. Today, WWE-themed Slim Jim commercials feature the longest-reigining WWE Women's Champion in history Bianca Belair, and fellow WWE Superstar LA Knight.

This renewed partnership officially began in August of this year and is the largest sponsorship deal in WWE history. The collaboration is multi-layered and includes Slim Jim serving as the presenting sponsor for main event matches at major WWE Premium Live Events, collaborating with WWE Superstars to create custom video content/social media activations/online sweepstakes, and Fast Meat appearing at WWE Premium Live Events, representing the partnership.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Harold Williams’ Weekly Wrestling: [WWE] 12/20/23

Hello WWE fans, today we will look at the results of recent WWE shows, and some of my booking ideas for Royal Rumble and WrestleMania.

WWE Friday Night SmackDown
Carmelo Hayes defeated Grayson Waller in a, "WWE United States Title #1 Contendership Tournament First Round" match
Kevin Owens defeated Austin Theory in, "WWE United States Title #1 Contendership Tournament First Round" match"
The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) defeated Michin & Zelina Vega
Randy Orton defeated Jimmy Uso

R-Truth defeated JD McDonagh (w/Dominik Mysterio) in a, "Miracle On 34th Street Fight"
WWE Intercontinental Champion Gunther defeated The Miz
Katana Chance & Kayden Carter defeat WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Chelsea Green & Piper Niven to become the new WWE Women's Tag Team Champions
Ivar (w/ Valhalla) defeated Akira Tozawa (w/ Maxxine Dupri)
Jey Uso defeated Ludwig Kaiser (w/ Giovanni Vinci)
WWE RAW Tag Team Champions / WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Judgment Day (Damian Priest & Finn Balor) (w/ Rhea Ripley) (c) defeated The Creed Brothers (Brutus & Julius Creed) (w/ Ivy Nile)

12/19/23 (taped 12/13/23)
Fallon Henley defeated Tiffany Stratton
Lexis King defeats Dion Lennox in a, "WWE NXT Breakout Tournament First Round" match
Izzi Dame & Kiana James defeated Chase U (Jacy Jayne & Thea Hail)
WWE NXT North American Dragon Lee defeated Charlie Dempsey and Joe Coffey in a, "Triple Threat" match
WWE NXT Breakout Tournament First Round Match
Tavion Heights defeated Luca Crusifino in a, "WWE NXT Breakout Tournament First Round" match
Nikkita Lyons defeated Tatum Paxley
Gallus (Mark Coffey & Wolfgang) defeated Hank Walker & Tank Ledger
Ilja Dragunov vs. Ridge Holland ended in a No Contest


With 2023 coming to a close, Royal Rumble is right around the corner, and WrestleMania will not be far away after that. I have been thinking about what I would do if I were booking those two events. My plan would be one that would swerve expectations.

I would book CM Punk to win the Royal Rumble, which many fans expect, with it being assumed that he will choose to face Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

In an unexpected twist, Punk would choose Roman Reigns. Acknowledging WWE history, the reason would be that Reigns would be the ultimate challenge- while Punk has defeated Rollins in singles competition, Punk's only singles match with Reigns resulted in Reigns being the winner.

However, the next month at Elimination Chamber, AJ Styles would defeat Roman Reigns, because AJ Styles should be the wrestler to end Roman Reigns' WWE Universal Championship reign. This means that instead of facing Reigns at WrestleMania, CM Punk would face Styles. It is well-documented that they have had issues with each other that have nothing to do with WWE, so a Styles-Punk match would be of great interest to fans who have been hoping for a WrestleMania match between Punk and Seth Rollins due to them reportedly having heat with each other. While it is being debated whether there truly is heat between Punk and Rollins, there is no debate that the longtime heat between Styles and Punk has been real, which would make a match between them even more interesting for fans than a match between Punk and Rollins.

Also at Elimination Chamber, Cody Rhodes would win an,"Elimination Chamber" match to face Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. Rhodes would win the championship, but being that the WWE Championship (which is currently jointly held and defended with the WWE Universal Championship) is what he truly wants, Rhodes would not be completely satisfied. This would lead to him having a unification match with the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion.

Whoever holds the top singles title in WWE is supposed to be considered the best- yet WWE has three top singles titles. I think there should be one top singles champion, and that champion should defend the title on both brands, which is the closest that WWE can get to having a touring champion. This would raise the value of the championship, as the champion defends it against the best of both brands.


[YPW][TwitCasting] Yanagase Pro Wrestling Xmas SPECIAL on 12/23 LIVE

This Saturday, December 23 at SPORTS BAR M's Cafe, Yanagase Pro Wrestling will host its annual Christmas special event. It will start at 19:30 Japan Time. Every month, YPW is broadcast LIVE on TwitCasting, a livestreaming service based in Japan that has over 33 million registered users worldwide.

The card will be as follows:

Hide Kubota (NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Champion)
JADE (as seen in (as seen in AJPW)
Michio Kageyama (as seen in NOAH, DDT, BJW, AJPW, and ZERO1)
Convoy Nishio

Sae (as seen in BJW, ZERO1, Ice Ribbon, WAVE, and PURE-J)
Flying Penguin (one day after her debut in YPW's ladies' division, Ladius.)

Shinya Ishida (as seen in DDT, AJPW, BJW, Ice Ribbon, and ZERO1)
Konaka (as seen in Michinoku Pro, BJW, AJPW, Ice Ribbon, WAVE, and PURE-J)

Yanagase Kamen Fuerza (as seen in ZERO1)
Jack Kennedy (as seen in BJW and ZERO1)
Kenta Kosugi (as seen in BJW and ZERO1)
Lowther (as seen in DDT, AJPW, and BJW)

Yanagase Pro Wrestling was founded in 2017 and presents 3 - 4 events per month (with 2 of them being Ladius events), the final event of the year being an annual Christmas Special. Along with YPW's own talented roster, its events also feature stars of the Japanese wrestling scene who have had impressive accomplishments outside of YPW. All YPW events can be watched live via TwitCasting and are available to watch in full for the following two weeks after the live broadcast.

To learn more about Yanagase Pro Wrestling and Ladius, check out my closer look at Yanagase Pro Wrestling.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

[YPW][TwitCasting] "Ladius Friday Night Match" on 12/22 LIVE

Yanagase Pro Wrestling (YPW) presents the final "Ladius Friday Night Match" of 2023 this Friday, December 22 at SPORTS BAR M's Cafe, with the event starting at 8:00 PM. Ladius is the ladies' division of YPW. Twice a month, "Ladius Friday Night" is broadcast LIVE on TwitCasting, a livestreaming service based in Japan that has over 33 million registered users worldwide.

This week's match will be between Mari Manji and Flying Penguin.

While Mari Manji is a longtime member of Ladius, this will be Flying Penguin's debut. She is a member of the Osaka-based women's wrestling promotion, 2point5, and has also appeared in ZERO1. Flying Penguin is still early in her career, so Manji will be a true test for Penguin.

And you will be able to see this match LIVE on TwitCasting for only 1,000 yen, which is around 7 USD. Be there at 20:00 Japan Time, and you can use a time zone converter to find out what time that is in your area to make sure that you don't miss any of the live pro-wrestling action.

Yanagase Pro Wrestling was founded in 2017 and presents 3 - 4 events per month (with 2 of them being Ladius events), the final event of the year being an annual Christmas Special. Along with YPW's own talented roster, its events also feature stars of the Japanese wrestling scene who have had impressive accomplishments outside of YPW. All YPW events can be watched live via TwitCasting and are available to watch in full for the following two weeks after the live broadcast.

To learn more about Yanagase Pro Wrestling and Ladius, check out my closer look at Yanagase Pro Wrestling.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Yanagase Pro Wrestling, Sportiva, and Doutonbori Pro Wrestling: A Powerful Wrestling Alliance

While the landscape of the Japanese wrestling scene is making international headlines as major companies based in the Kanto region formed an alliance, three independent promotions based west of that region continue their alliance as they entertain fans in the Chubu/Kansai region. They are Yanagase Pro Wrestling (based in Gifu), Sportiva Entertainment (based in Nagoya), and Doutonbori Pro Wrestling (based in Osaka), with all three promotions featuring wrestlers from their part of Japan and its surrounding area, giving those talents a platform to showcase their skills for local fans. With passionate fanbases, Yanagase Pro Wrestling, Sportiva, and Doutonbori Pro Wrestling are building their own path to success, while at the same strengthening the wrestling scene and promoting Chubu/Kansai region pride.

The first co-promoted event was in August 2021, when Sportiva and Doutonbori Pro Wrestling presented "Young Master Battle", which took place at Sportiva Arena, the home of Sportiva events since its inception in 2008. Young wrestlers were spotlighted, as fans were introduced to the next generation of Japanese wrestling stars.

The second co-promoted event took place in May 2022, as Doutonbori Pro Wrestling went against Yanagase Pro Wrestling, in Yanagase Pro Wrestling's home venue, SPORTS BAR M's cafe.

The wrestlers of both rosters clashed, with the main event featuring ZERO1 star Hide Kubota representing Yanagase Pro Wrestling in a match against Yuto Kikuchi, one of the top talents in Doutonbori Pro Wrestling.

But it was in May 2023 when their biggest co-promoted event took place, as Yanagase Pro Wrestling, Sportiva, and Doutonbori Pro Wrestling presented an event at Nagoya Club Diamond Hall. The main event was Kenta Kosugi vs. Jack Kennedy, two wrestlers who wrestle in Yanagase Pro Wrestling & Sportiva, and also have appeared in BJW. In the semi-main event, Sportiva roster member Shinya Ishida (who has appeared in DDT, AJPW, BJW, Ice Ribbon, and ZERO1) went against Doutonbori Pro Wrestling's Harutoki, who was WDW Champion at the time. The rest of the card included Lowther, Kinron, and Yu Shimizu, all wrestlers who have appeared in a major Japanese promotion during their careers.

The unique offering of Yanagase Pro Wrestling, Sportiva, and Doutonbori Pro Wrestling is that all three promotions commit to nurturing local talent, which fosters a unique regional style that features traditional Japanese wrestling combined with moments of the American wrestling style and comedy wrestling at the right time. Focus on talent from that region also makes it easier for rising stars to be showcased, such as:

Top Doutenbori Pro Wrestling talent Hiromasa Koyama

Yanagase Pro Wrestling ace Yanagase Kamen Fuerza

Women's wrestling has the opportunity to be showcased as well, with Mari Manji and Sae not only being key members of Yanagase Pro Wrestling's ladies' division (Ladius), but also making appearances in Sportiva and Doutonbori Pro Wrestling.

As we head towards 2024, it remains to be seen what the future holds for the alliance between the three independent promotions, but I see much potential for it. Streaming services are growing so much that it is estimated that at the end of 2024, there will be 390.2 million subscription streaming homes in Asia, 110.6 million subscription streaming homes in Western Europe, and 110.0 million subscription streaming homes in North America. This presents a perfect opportunity for Yanagase Pro Wrestling, Sportiva, and Doutonbori Pro to present a co-promoted event via streaming with the goal of reaching a global audience. All three promotions utilize very talented wrestlers, and by using social media to connect with fans and promote the event to both the Japanese and English-speaking/reading audiences, Yanagase Pro Wrestling, Sportiva, and Doutonbori Pro Wrestling would boost their presences and publicity, becoming more popular and making the world more aware of what they have to offer, as fans are always eager to discover promotions that they were previously unfamiliar with. Perhaps the three promotions could even join forces to create a dedicated streaming channel.

Already known worldwide for its Shinkansen network, traditional crafts, and natural beauty, in the near future the Chubu/Kansai region may also become known internationally for its wrestling as well.