Thursday, August 31, 2023

[PREVIEW] Keiji Muto Retirement Commemoration Blu-ray BOX: Pro-Wrestling Love Forever [Blu-ray]

The first Japanese wrestler to become a nationwide star in America (via WCW in 1989), the first wrestler to hold the IWGP Heavyweight, Triple Crown, and NWA World Heavyweight Championships, and now a WWE Hall of Famer, Keiji Muto (also known as The Great Muta) is one of the most decorated wrestlers in Japanese history and helped to introduce America to the Japanese wrestling scene.

Keiji Muto retired this year, and in celebration of his career, TC Entertainment has produced Keiji Mutoh Retirement Commemoration Blu-ray BOX: Pro-Wrestling Love Forever, an eight-disc collection of many of his highlight matches in Japan. It's a must for any wrestling fan who wants to see one of the most influential wrestlers of all time in action against other significant wrestlers and in important matches.

The matches that are a part of Keiji Mutoh Retirement Commemoration Blu-ray BOX: Pro-Wrestling Love Forever are as follows:

March 15, 1985 Kagoshima Prefectural Gymnasium: Keiji Muto vs. Masahiro Chono

February 14, 1986 Orlando, Florida Eddie Graham Sports Arena: NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion Denny Brown vs The White Ninja

October 13, 1986 Korakuen Hall: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Keiji Muto

November 3, 1986 Korakuen Hall: Antonio Inoki & Kevin von Erich vs Kengo Kimura & Keiji Muto

March 20, 1987 Sun Korakuen Hall: Akira Maeda & Nobuhiko Takada vs. Keiji Muto & Shiro Koshinaka for the vacant IWGP Tag Team Championship

August 20, 1987 Ryogoku Kokugikan: Antonio Inoki & Keiji Muto vs. Tatsumi Fujinami & Riki Choshu

July 29, 1988 Ariake Coliseum: Keiji Muto, Masahiro Chono, and Shinya Hashimoto vs. Kengo Kimura, Shiro Koshinaka, and Tatsumi Fujinami

April 27, 1990 Tokyo Bay NK Hall: IWGP Tag Team Champions Masa Saito & Shinya Hashimoto vs Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono

November 1, 1990 Nippon Budokan: IWGP Tag Team Champions Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono vs Hiroshi Hase & Kensuke Sasaki

August 11, 1991 Ryogoku Kokugikan: Keiji Muto vs. Masahiro Chono in a, "G1 Climax 1991 Final" match

1993 March 21, Nagoya Rainbow Hall: Keiji Muto vs. Power Warrior

September 24, 1993 Miyagi Prefectural Sports Center: Keiji Muto vs. Hiroshi Hase

September 26, 1993 Osaka Castle Hall: Keiji Muto vs. Hulk Hogan

June 13, 1994, Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium: Keiji Muto vs. Tatsuji Fujinami

August 3, 1994 Ryogoku Kokugikan: Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs. Keiji Muto in a, "G1 Climax 1994 Block A" match

August 5, 1994 Ryogoku Kokugikan: Riki Choshu vs. Keiji Muto in a, "G1 Climax 1994 Block A" match

February 3, 1995 Sapporo Nakajima Sports Center: Keiji Muto vs Scott Norton in an, "IWGP Heavyweight Title #1 Contendership" match

April 16, 1995 Hiroshima Sunplaza Hall: Keiji Muto vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan

May 3, 1995 Japan Fukuoka Dome: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Shinya Hashimoto vs. Keiji Muto

August 15, 1995 Ryogoku Kokugikan: Keiji Muto vs. Shinya Hashimoto in a, "G1 Climax 1995 Final" match

October 9, 1995 Tokyo Dome: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Keiji Muto vs. Nobuhiko Takada

November 14, 1995 Hamamatsu Arena: Keiji Muto & Sting vs. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson

September 23, 1996 Yokohama Arena: Keiji Muto vs. Pedro Otavio in a, "Different Style Fight

October 19, 1997 Kobe World Memorial Hall: IWGP Tag Champions Kensuke Sasaki & Kazuo Yamazaki vs. Keiji Mutoh & Masahiro Chono

April 4, 1998 Tokyo Dome: IWGP Tag Team Champions Keiji Muto & Masahiro Chono vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Osamu Nishimura

January 4, 1999 Tokyo Dome: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Scott Norton vs. Keiji Muto

April 10, 1999 Tokyo Dome: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Keiji Muto vs. Don Frye

May 3, 1999 Fukuoka International Center: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Keiji Muto vs. Genichiro Tenryu

October 11, 1999 Tokyo Dome: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Keiji Muto vs. Manabu Nakanishi

January 4, 2000 Tokyo Dome: Keiji Muto vs. Masahiro Chono

February 18, 2001 Ryogoku Kokugikan: Keiji Muto vs. Kazunari Murakami

March 17, 2001 Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium: Keiji Muto & Don Frye vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima

June 4, 2001 Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium: Keiji Muto vs. Satoshi Kojima

September 23, 2001 Namihaya Dome: Triple Crown Champion Keiji Muto vs. Scott Hall

October 8, 2001 Tokyo Dome: Yuji Nagata & Jun Akiyama vs. Keiji Muto & Hiroshi Hase

October 28, 2001 Fukuoka International Center: IWGP Tag Team Champions Tatsumi Fujinami & Osamu Nishimura vs. AJPW World Tag Team Chamoions Keiji Muto & Taiyo Kea

December 11, 2001 Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium: Triple Crown Champion Match Keiji Muto vs. Tatsumi Fujinami

Disc 6
January 4, 2007 Tokyo Dome: Keiji Muto & Chono Masahiro vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima

April 27, 2008 Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Keiji Mutoh

September 21, 2008 Kobe World Memorial Hall: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Keiji Mutoh vs. Togi Makabe

October 13, 2008 Ryogoku Kokugikan: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Keiji Muto vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

January 4, 2009 Tokyo Dome: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Keiji Muto vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

January 4, 2012 Tokyo Dome: Keiji Muto vs. Tetsuya Naito

Disc 7
August 10, 2020 Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium: Keiji Muto vs. Kaito Kiyomiya

February 12, 2021 Nippon Budokan: GHC Heavyweight Champion Go Shiozaki vs. Keiji Muto

March 14, 2021 Fukuoka International Center: GHC Heavyweight Champion Keiji Muto vs. Kaito Kiyomiya

April 29, 2021 Nagoya International Conference Center Event Hall: GHC Heavyweight Champion Keiji Muto vs. Masa Kitamiya

June 6, 2021 Saitama Super Arena: GHC Heavyweight Champion Keiji Mutoh vs. Naomichi Marufuji

Disc 8
September 26th, 2021 Korakuen Hall: Keiji Mutoh vs Kaito Kiyomiya in an, "N-1 Victory 2021 Block A" match

November 13th, 2021 Yokohama Budokan: GHC Tag Team Champions Kaito Kiyomiya & Masa Kitamiya vs. Keiji Mutoh & Naomichi Marufuji

January 1, 2022 Nippon Budokan: GHC Tag Team Champions Keiji Mutoh & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Masato Tanaka & Masaaki Mochizuki

January 8, 2022 Yokohama Arena: Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Keiji Mutoh & Kaito Kiyomiya

January 16 2022 Sendai Sun Plaza Hall: GHC Tag Champions Keiji Mutoh & Naomichi Marufuji vs Kenoh & Manabu Soya

May 21, 2022 Ota City General Gymnasium: Shiozaki Go & Kaito Kiyomiya, and Masato Tanaka vs. Keiji Muto & Masamichi Marufuji, and Satoshi Kojima

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The Future of Wrestling in the Age of Streaming

The wrestling industry is constantly changing, and in the age of streaming, the industry is changing more than ever before. With more and more fans watching wrestling online, promotions must adapt their strategies to reach these new audiences.

One of the biggest changes that streaming has brought about is fans having better access to independent promotions. For example, if a promotion is based in a remote area of Japan and has small crowds at its shows, thanks to Japan-based livestreaming service TwitCasting, the promotion's events can be enjoyed by fans all over Japan and worldwide. And they can be watched on demand, giving fans more flexibility in how they watch wrestling. An event doesn't have to be watched live, instead, it can be done at a time that is most convenient to the fan. This leads to increased engagement and loyalty among fans.

Streaming is also changing how wrestlers interact with fans. In the past, wrestlers were limited to interacting with fans at live events or through traditional media outlets. However, streaming services give wrestlers the opportunity to connect with fans on a more personal level through social media and live chat. Currently, Twitch is the service of choice for many wrestlers who do this type of interaction, but as streaming continues to grow in popularity, it's a safe bet that platforms similar to Twitch will become occupied by wrestlers as well.

With the number of video streaming users worldwide expected to amount to 4.6 billion users by 2027, it's clear that it will have a major impact on the future of wrestling. Promotions that are able to adapt to the changing landscape will be the ones that succeed in the years to come. Although it's impossible to know exactly what the future of wrestling in the age of streaming will look like, I have opinions regarding what it should look like.

More wrestlers should create streaming channels on platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and TwitCasting, to further grow their personal brands and social media followings. They could host gaming streams, have Q&As, and even show a glimpse of their personal lives if they choose to do so.

Promotions that are on streaming platforms should put as much effort as possible into publicizing its product, so that as streaming continues to grow, the promotion will take full advantage of that growth, as opposed to getting lost in the shuffle as more promotions join the platforms.

In the future, wrestling promotions should use streaming technology to enable AI applications. For example, AI could create personalized viewing experiences, tracking fan preferences and generating personalized viewing experiences. When a fan wants to watch wrestling on a streaming service, they could be recommended specific matches based on matches that the fan has previously watched. AI could even allow fans to interact with wrestlers and each other via social media in real time.

Also, streaming combined with AI could enable a fan to feel like they are at a wrestling event while they are watching it at home. AI would generate real-time crowd noise synchronized with the action in the ring, helping to create the same excitement and energy that is like being at a live event. Virtual reality (VR) technology could create a 360-degree view of the wrestling ring, giving fans the feeling that they are at ringside, like a ringside manager or valet. Fans would feel like they are a part of the show.

Combining streaming and AI could also help wrestlers. Personalized training programs could be created for them, taking the wrestlers' strengths and weaknesses into consideration, and the program could also track their progress and identify areas for improvement.

Promoters would be able to take advantage of the streaming/AI combination as well. They could customize the production values of their events, choosing the set, lighting, and music that they want to use.

As streaming continues to become a larger presence in the wrestling industry, the promotions and talents who stay ahead of the curve will be the ones that remain relevant and successful in the years to come.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Paraphrasing Games

Along with writing for Japanese companies during my time in Japan (which have included Michinoku Pro Wrestling and Yanagase Pro Wrestling), I have also been teaching English to Japanese students. Many of my students enjoy paraphrasing games. The basic idea of a paraphrasing game is that you are given a main sentence and have to choose the sentence that has the same meaning. This forces them to think carefully about the meaning of the main sentence. My students love the challenge of these games. Also, paraphrasing games can be a fun way to learn new vocabulary and improve language skills.

If you want to improve your vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing skills, try playing a paraphrasing game. There are many types available online, and a popular option is the paraphrasing games from Wordwall. I have embedded a couple of them into this post.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Archive Interview: Angel Orsini

(originally published 12/22/05)

Angel Orsini has worked for ECW (as Prodigette) and Women's Extreme Wrestling, and currently works for many indy promotions in the United States (as Riptide). She has also worked out at OVW.

Q: How long have you been involved in the business?

A: Since March 1996 when I went to Japan to compete in a Valetudo fight.

Q: Why did you enter the pro-wrestling industry?

A: While in Japan, I met Reggie Bennett who convinced me to watch some pro matches. I was amazed at the athleticism of the Japanese women and I promised her I would try it.

Q: Where did you receive your training to become a pro-wrestler?

A: I was trained in Royal Palm Beach, Florida by Liz Chase who was an original Moolah Girl with Leilani Kai, Judy Martin, and Princess Victoria. She had an extensive career in Japan and in the US, wrestled Wendy Richter regularly.

Joannie Lee Lauer helped finish my last 6 weeks of training. Luna Vachon broke me in my first 2 years. In my travels I have trained with Demon Hellstorm, The Warlord, Jason Knight, and Dusty Rhodes.

Q: You have experience in various fighting styles: boxing, no-holds-barred, MMA Fighting, Muay Thai kickboxing, TaeKwonDo (blackbelt), competitive submission, and semi-competitive wrestling. What influence, if any, does this have on your pro-wrestling style?

A: Most people would classify my style as strong-style. I wrestle that way because of my background.

Q: What do you like the most about being in the business?

A: I love travelling and experiencing life in different countries, being exposed to different cultures and people.

Q: One of the promotions that you have worked for is Women's Extreme Wrestling, which presents itself as an alternative form of pro-wrestling, and has a target audience of 21 and older. Do you prefer working for this style of promotion, or do you prefer working for family-oriented promotions?

A: WEW has always been good to me and the fans seem to like it. There doesn't seem to be too much Success for the feds that promote the family stuff. I'm a firm believer in giving the people what they want to see, and apparently that's what the people want.

Q: Which persona appeals to you the most: Face, Heel, or Tweener?

A: That part doesn't matter to me and I like doing different characters, it makes it more challenging for me. Therefore I don't get bored doing the same thing all the time.

Q: What is your gimmick?

A: Right now I am "Wrestling Enforcement Officer" Riptide or Prodigette, that depends on the promoters, what they prefer. I wear a police-type uniform and take on the persona of a female Bossman (well I try to) LOL :-) The fans really like it and I'm having fun with it.

As far as WEW goes, I was The FBI Angel Orsini, but I don't do that character anywhere else.

Q: Which do you feel has been your best match so far?

A: I just had a great match vs. The Supermodel Amy Love, it was action packed! It was for NWA-Spinebuster in McLenny, Florida.

Q: Which has been your favorite match so far?

A: I know I've wrestled so many excellent girls, and I love working with them but for my own personal performance I think this last one in Florida. Because I Feel like with every match you get better therefore I feel my most recent one was the best one.

Q: Whom would you like to wrestle, that you have not yet done so?

A: WWE's Victoria, I've heard so many great things about her.

Q: If ECW had given you creative control, what would you have done differently? Do you think that they would still be here today if you had been at the helm?

A: There's no way I could have done a better job than Paul and Dreamer, They're the best in the business! I wouldn't have done anything different.

Q: With your previous experience in WEW and ECW, and the working out that you have been doing at OVW, a WWE developmental contract may be in your near future. How do you think that you would be best utilized if WWE added you to their roster?

A: I guess if they cared, they could let me try to get over.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: I spend my time in the gym training myself and others, and the rest of my time with my family and friends. If I'm not wrestling.

Q: What is your long-term goal in the business?

A: I would like to be on TV again where I can develop a character, manage/valet people, and wrestle. I want 5 more years at least in the business before I retire or restrict myself to just training others.

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Angel Orsini. In 2003, I began running my own website, World Wrestling Optimum, which consisted of news, articles, and interviews, including this one.

Friday, August 25, 2023

The Future of Women's Wrestling in America

A couple of months ago I looked at the future of women's wrestling in Japan. This time, I will look at the future of women's wrestling in America.

Women's wrestling in America has come a long way in recent years. When I was a child in 1987, my parents took me to a WWE event at Madison Square Garden. One of the matches on the card was between WWE Women's Champion Sensational Sherri and Rockin' Robin. The fourth match on a nine-match card, Sherri vs. Robin was seven minutes long, as Robin provided tough competition for Sherri, with the champion successfully defending her championship in the end. However, many fans in attendance did not see this match, as they were away from their seats to buy beer and hot dogs or to check out the WWE merchandise that was for sale.

Today, the level of fan interest in women's wrestling is a different story, with the matches often either being in the main event or the match that fans are talking about the next day. Women wrestlers are now taking center stage in WWE, NXT, AEW, and Impact Wrestling. Also, Women Of Wrestling can attract a viewership of over 300,000 via syndication without having a prime-time cable slot.

The rise of social media has also given women wrestlers a platform to connect with fans, promote themselves, and build their brands. One of the best examples is Asuka, who introduces her daily life on her YouTube channel, KanaChanTV.

The impact of social media on women's wrestling has been significant, helping to raise its profile and giving women wrestlers more opportunities to showcase their talents.

As we move into the age of streaming, the future of women's wrestling looks even brighter. With the number of video streaming users worldwide expected to amount to 4.6 billion users by 2027, fans worldwide will have more access to women's wrestling presented by American promotions than ever before. This will help to grow the audience for women's wrestling and create new opportunities for women wrestlers, especially in promotions that focus on women's wrestling exclusively, such as WOW, SHINE (which can also be seen via DVD nationwide), Ultimate Women Of Wrestling, Women's Wrestling Army, Kitsune Women's Wrestling, Mission Pro Wrestling, and Title Match Network (via its, "Ladies Night Out" series).

Also, the industry is becoming more representative of the world outside of the wrestling business, as more and more women of color, different body types, and different backgrounds are showing what they can do in the ring, inspiring a young girl who is similar to them to become a wrestler themselves in the future.

Here are some of the rising stars in women's wrestling who are poised to make a big impact in the years to come:

Ray Lyn: A former OVW Women's Champion, Ray Lyn has also appeared in WWE and AEW. Since last year, she has been making appearances in WOW as Chantilly Chella.

Renegade Twins: Former NWA World Women's Tag Team Champions, the wrestling industry first began taking note of Charlette & Robyn when they began making appearances for AEW in 2021, both in singles and tag team matches.

Ruthless Lala: With 20 years of experience and being open to wrestling women or men, Ruthless Lala has much to offer a promotion. An independent wrestler, she has appeared in many promotions, including WSU and CZW. LaLa first began appearing in CZW last year, and her frequency of appearances in the promotion has increased this year.

Tracy Nyxx: Receiving positive feedback after an AEW tryout, Tracy Nyxx is definitely on their radar. She has wrestled for many independent promotions, including FIP and SHINE.

Savanna Stone : A former ZERO1 USA Women's Champion, Savanna Stone has appeared on WWE-TV and wrestled in many independent promotions, including CZW, IWA MS, WSU, and most often these days, the UWN.

Rahne Victoria: Another former ZERO1 USA Women's Champion, Rahne Victoria is the co-trainer of the promotion's school, as well as its booker. She has appeared in AEW and has wrestled for many independent promotions, which include IWA MS, SHINE, and WSU.

Valentina Rossi: Along with appearing in both WWE and AEW, Valentina Rossi has wrestled in SHINE and many other independent promotions. She has also made multiple appearances in WOW as Adriana Gambino.

Vicious Vicki: Along with having an AEW appearance and multiple independent promotions on her resume, Vicious Vicki currently holds the women's championships of three different independent promotions, including the BriiCombination Wrestling Women's Championship, which she recently successfully defended at a Capital Championship Wrestling event.

Morgan Mercy: Morgan Mercy took part in XCW Dentonpalooza last year. XCW was a promotion that was seen nationally on MAVTV, had a national DVD deal, and also had PPV events when it was regularly active. She has wrestled for many Texas-based independent promotions.

These are just some of the many rising stars in women's wrestling who can be expected to have big opportunities in the years to come.

With the rise in popularity of the women's wrestling divisions of WWE, NXT, AEW, and Impact Wrestling; the impact of social media, the growth of streaming services, and promotions that focus on women's wrestling exclusively, the possibilities for the future of women's wrestling in America are endless.

Thursday, August 24, 2023


PRO WRESTLING WAVE Action!! vol.2 is is a DVD consisting of WAVE matches that took place in 2015. One highlight of this DVD is PRO WRESTLING WAVE Action!! vol.2 gives the opportunity to see current WWE superstars Asuka (then wrestling as Kana) and Meiko Satomura, current AEW Women's World Champion Hikaru Shida, and Ryo Mizunami (who has appeared in AEW) in action before many wrestling fans in the United States were aware of what these four great talents had to offer. Along with wrestling for AEW, Shida currently wrestles for WAVE as well, where she is the company's Regina Di WAVE Champion.

Launched in 2007 by Tatsuya Takeishi, WAVE is a women's wrestling promotion that entertains fans inside and outside of Japan with its own unique blend of action, drama, and comedy. Recognizing the importance of women's wrestling in Japan, WAVE has produced a series of DVDs so that their brand of women's wrestling can even be watched by fans who cannot attend WAVE events live.

The matches on this PRO WRESTLING WAVE Action!! vol.2 DVD are as follows:

WAVE Weekday Wave Vol. 88 (recorded on 3/4/15 at Shin-Kiba 1st RING)

Rina Yamashita
Hiroe Nagahama
Moeka Haruhi

"Three Way" match
Cherry (former Triangle Ribbon Champion)
Yako Fujigasaki
Fairy Nihonbashi

Hikaru Shida
Ryo Mizunami
Yumi Ohka
Mika Iida
Misaki Ohata
Sakura Hirota

Shuu Shibutani
Mio Shirai (former ICExInfinity Champion)

Ayako Hamada (former Impact Knockouts Tag Team Champion and WAVE Tag Team Champion)
Yuu Yamagata (WAVE Tag Team Champion)
Kaho Kobayashi
Tsukasa Fujimoto (former WAVE Tag Team Champion)

WAVE Virgin Killer (recorded on 3/15/2015 at Korakuen Hall)

Meiko Tanaka
Hiroe Nagahama
Sawako Shimono

Kaho Kobayashi
Tsukasa Fujimoto
Fairy Nihonbashi
Moeka Haruhi

Shuu Shibutani (former Triangle Ribbon Champion)

Hikaru Shida
Sakura Hirota (former WAVE Tag Team Champion)
Mika Iida (former WAVE Tag Team Champion)
Yumi Ohka (former WAVE Tag Team Champion)

Ryo Mizunami
Rina Yamashita

WAVE Tag Team Championship match
Ayako Hamada (WAVE Tag Team Champion)
Yuu Yamagata (WAVE Tag Team Champion)
Mio Shirai (former WAVE Tag Team Champion)
Misaki Ohata (former WAVE Tag Team Champion)

Regina Di WAVE Championship match
Ayako Hamada (Regina Di WAVE Champion)
Mio Shirai

WAVE It's 8 O'Clock! All Set! ~ SAKURASAKU 3.8 (recorded on 4/4/15 at Shin-Kiba 1st RING)

"Two On One Handicap" match
Ayako Hamada
Hiroe Nagahama

Sakura Hirota

Hikaru Shida
Misaki Ohata
Fairy Nihonbashi
Kaho Kobayashi
Rina Yamashita

Shuu Shibutani
Yumi Ohka (former Regina Di WAVE Champion)

Catch The WAVE 2015 Qualifying Battle Royal
Kana vs. Yuu Yamagata vs. Cherry vs. Sakura Hirota vs. Moeka Haruhi vs. Yumi Ohka vs. Ryo Mizunami vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto vs. Mio Shirai vs. Sawako Shimono vs. Mika Iida vs. Kaho Kobayashi vs. Rina Yamashita

WAVE Sapporo WAVE ~NA MA RA 3~ (recorded on 4/19/15)

Ryo Mizunami
Sawako Shimono
Rina Yamashita

Hikaru Shida
Sakura Hirota
Mika Iida
Yumi Ohka (former WAVE Tag Team Champion)

Shuu Shibutani
Fairy Nihonbashi,
Moeka Haruhi
Yuu Yamagata

Regina Di WAVE Championship match
Ayako Hamada (Regina Di WAVE Champions)
Meiko Satomura

WAVE Weekday Wave Vol. 89 (recorded on 4/22/15 at Shinkiba 1st RING)

Mika Iida
Yumi Ohka
Kaho Kobayashi

Ayako Hamada
Fairy Nihonbashi
Yuu Yamagata
Mio Shirai
Misaki Ohata
Tsukasa Fujimoto

"Gauntlet" match
Kyoko Kimura vs. Shuu Shibutani vs. Moeka Haruhi vs. Ryo Mizunami vs. Hikaru Shida vs. Sayaka Obihiro

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The History of Wrestling in North Carolina

Wrestling has a long and storied history in North Carolina, dating back to the early days of the business. The state has produced some of the most famous wrestlers in the industry today, such as AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, and Cody Rhodes. North Carolina is the state of origin of wrestlers who were in major promotions and later also became stars on the independent scene, including former WCW star The Stro (then known as The Maestro), former WWE star Shannon Moore, and former Impact Wrestling star Andrew Everett. It's the birthplace of Vince McMahon, one of the most powerful executives in the industry. North Carolina is the birth state of wrestlers who were very popular during the first wrestling boom in the history of American wrestling, such as Junk Yard Dog, Stan Lane, and Rockin' Robin. It has also been home to one of the most important wrestling promotions, Jim Crockett Promotions, which later became World Championship Wrestling.

The first pro wrestling match on record took place in 1923 in Greensboro, North Carolina. One wrestler featured in the match was Renato Gardini, an Italian Greco-Roman wrestler who competed in the 1912 Olympics. This was an independent event, which was followed by another one in 1929, this event featuring Gus Sonnenberg defending the AWA World Heavyweight Championship and World Heavyweight Championship. Wrestling returned to North Carolina in the 1930s via Eastern States Championship Wrestling (ESCW), promoted by Jim Crockett Sr.- this was the original name of what is best known as Jim Crockett Promotions/WCW.

ESCW introduced North Carolinians to wrestlers when they were early in their careers and before they found championship success, such as Joe Savoldi who later became NWA Rocky Mountain Heavyweight Champion, Jim Henry who later became a two-time NWA Alberta Tag Team Champion, and Chris Davros who later became an NWA Southern Tag Team Champion (wrestling as, "Bob Zaharias" by that time).

One of the most popular promotions in the United States during this period, ESCW events could draw 4,500 fans to an armory, which was considered a very big crowd for a wrestling show in the 1930s, when an armory-auditorium had a capacity of 3,000 and the average attendance for a wrestling show was around 1,000 fans. Already drawing impressive crowds in North Carolina without any name talents on the cards, ESCW could draw 5,000 fans in February 1935, presenting an event featuring five-time world champion Ed Lewis in the main event.

In 1948, the NWA was formed, acting in the role of a governing body for regional wrestling promotions). ESCW joined the NWA in 1950, and changed its name to Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) in 1952. JCP proved to be a valuable representative of the organization in North Carolina, going as far as drawing 6,919 fans to a November 1959 event at Charlotte Coliseum. The card included a match between Ethel Johnson and Marva Scott, two important figures in wrestling history who were appearing in North Carolina for the first time in their careers. Sisters, Johnson and Scott were two of the first African-American women to become professional wrestlers (preceded only by their sister Babs Wingo), during a time when segregation still existed in the United States.

Although the nationwide wrestling boom of the 1980s had not yet arrived, North Carolina was experiencing its own individual golden age in the 1970s. This was a time when the state was being visited by big names such as Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes, and Harley Race. These wrestlers drew huge crowds to venues across the state and helped to make wrestling a major cultural phenomenon, the largest crowd being at a November 1975 Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling event at the Greensboro Coliseum, where 15,076 fans filled the venue to see the three men and 13 others compete in a tournament for the vacant NWA United States Heavyweight Championship, which was won by Funk. Also, JCP began producing "World Wide Wrestling" in the 1970s, broadcasting North Carolina wrestling action on television nationally.

When wrestling reached its peak of popularity in the United States in the 1980s, television was becoming more popular as well, and wrestling matches that took place in North Carolina could be seen by millions of people around the world, via shows that continued to be broadcast by JCP (which became known as WCW by the end of the decade), as well episodes of, "WWF Superstars" that were taped at Winston-Salem Coliseum in 1988.

Meanwhile, live attendance continued to thrive in North Carolina. NWA The Great American Bash 1985 drew 27,000 fans, making it the most attended JCP/WCW show in the 1980s. The event featured Ric Flair defending the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Nikita Koloff, and Tully Blanchard defending the NWA World Television Championship against Dusty Rhodes in a, "Steel Cage" match.

In recent years, North Carolina has continued to be a great state for wrestling, as independent promotions have increased in popularity. There are two different promotions in the state. One type is the promotions that continue the tradition that JCP started, of bringing name talent into North Carolina. These promotions include WrestleCade Entertainment, America's Most Liked Wrestling, Revolution Wrestling Authority, Tarheel Championship Wrestling, DEADLOCK Pro-Wrestling, Hit Club Pro, Let Wrestling Live, and United Pro Wrestling.

The other type of promotion focuses more on giving wrestlers who live in North Carolina and its surrounding area more opportunities to showcase their talents. These promotions include AIWF Mid Atlantic Wrestling, Allied Independent Wrestling Federations, Ring Wars Carolina, Premier Wrestling Federation, World Class Elite Wrestling, United Pro Wrestling Association, Xtreme World Wrestling, GOUGE Wrestling, Pure Pro Wrestling, Fire Star Pro Wrestling, Fantasy Super Cosplay Wrestling, Alternative Championship Entertainment, Icon Pro Wrestling, and See No Evil Wrestling.

Before I moved to Japan, I lived in North Carolina for two years and still have ties there. I like what I'm seeing from wrestling promotions in North Carolina these days. With 80% of North Carolina residents living in a household with internet, and the average person using the internet for six hours and 57 minutes every day, I hope to see promotions there publicized as effectively as possible. If they are, the promotions will grow even more in visibility, show attendance, and streaming consumption, showing more fans both within and outside of North Carolina what the state offers. North Carolina has a rich history of wrestling, and if the right people are involved, the industry will continue to be popular and successful in North Carolina for many years to come.

Monday, August 14, 2023

The 30 Year History of Michinoku Pro

Michinoku Pro was founded by The Great Sasuke in his hometown of Iwate, Japan. The company is named after the north-eastern area of the Tōhoku region, which was called "Michinoku" ("end of the road") in ancient times. Michinoku Pro is dedicated to bringing pro-wrestling to Iwate, and most of its events take place there. In the beginning, Michinoku Pro was a small operation with only a few staff members. The Great Sasuke and the other wrestlers worked both in the ring and in the office, showing their dedication to the company. Michinoku Pro made its debut in 1993 with a show in Yahaba Townsman Gymnasium. The card featured a star-studded lineup, including TAKA Michinoku, Super Delfin, Gran Hamada, and The Great Sasuke. The show was a success, and it helped to put Michinoku Pro on the map.

In 1995, Michinoku Pro introduced its own singles tournament, the Fukumen World League. The tournament features masked wrestlers from around the world, and it is one of the most unique and interesting tournaments in the pro-wrestling industry. When a wrestler loses a Fukumen World League match, they must remove their mask. This is a big deal for masked wrestlers, as their mask is a big part of their identity. The Fukumen World League has been a success for Michinoku Pro, and it has helped to raise the profile of the company. Many famous wrestlers have won the tournament, including Dos Caras, Tiger Mask, Atlantis, The Great Sasuke, and Caristico.

Fukmen World League has been a positive experience for many other wrestlers as well, including Minoru Tanaka. He has had a successful career, winning titles belonging to Michinoku Pro, AJPW, NOAH, NJPW, ZERO1, and more. In 2012, he participated in the Fukumen World League tournament as "Heat" and defeated Tigers Mask in the first round. He then faced The Great Sasuke in the second round in a match that was praised by many. Tanaka said in an interview that the match "was recognized as a BEST BOUT by those around me, and it is very memorable."

In 1996, The Great Sasuke brought attention to Michinoku Pro becoming the original holder of the J-Crown, a unification of eight different titles from eight different companies. This feat was unprecedented. Sasuke continued to impress fans with his innovative matches and tournaments, and he also made a name for himself in other companies.

Every promotion eventually experiences their first major rulebreaker faction, and for Michinoku Pro that moment occurred in the 90's in the form of Kaientai Deluxe, consisting of Dick Togo, Mens Teioh, Shiryu, TAKA Michinoku, Shoichi Funaki, Hanzo Nakajima, and Super Boy. While Michinoku Pro prides itself on sportsmanship, Kaientai Deluxe went against everything that the company stood for, doing whatever they wanted to whoever they wanted.

Kaientai Deluxe battled against the fan favorites of Michinoku Pro in many matches, a highlight match being the encounter between Kaientai Deluxe (in the form of Dick Togo, Mens Teioh, Shiryu, Shoichi Funaki, and TAKA Michinoku) and the team of Gran Hamada, Gran Naniwa, Masato Yakushiji, Super Delfin, and Tiger Mask at the Michinoku Pro 3rd Anniversary event in October 1996. This match was over 30 minutes long and is considered by many fans to be the best match that took place during the Kaientai Deluxe-Michinoku Pro feud.

Kaientai Deluxe made their presence known outside of Michinoku Pro in 1997, when they appeared in ECW as representatives of the Japan branch of the Blue World Order faction. This was a major moment for Michinoku Pro, as it gave American fans their first taste of the company's unique style of wrestling. Kaientai Deluxe's appearance in ECW helped to introduce Michinoku Pro to a new audience, and it paved the way for the company to expand its reach in the United States.

Kaientai Deluxe's influence moved to WWE that next year, as Dick Togo, TAKA Michinoku, and Shoichi Funaki all wrestled for the company representing the faction. But the Kaientai Deluxe era in Michinoku Pro did not end before TAJIRI and Gran Hamada represented the faction that year as well.

In August 2002, Michinoku Pro made history by crowning its first Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Champion. The company's singles title was won by Dick Togo. Since then, the Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Championship has been held by some of the biggest names that have been involved in the Japanese wrestling scene, including The Great Sasuke, Kenoh, Atlantis, TAKA Michinoku, Super Delfin, KAGETORA, Takeshi Minamino, MUSASHI, Rui Hyūgaji, and the current champion, Fujita Hayato.

In April 2003, The Great Sasuke made history by becoming the first masked wrestler to be elected to a public office in Japan. He won a seat in the Iwate Prefectural Assembly. Sasuke had been running Michinoku Pro Wrestling up to this point, but with his new political career, he knew he needed someone to take over the company. He turned to Jinsei Shinzaki, one of his fellow wrestlers, to run Michinoku Pro in his absence.

In November 2003, after its appearances in WWE and ECW years earlier, the story of Kaientai Deluxe came full circle, as Dick Togo, Hanzo Nakajima, Mens Teioh, Shiryu, and TAKA Michinoku reunited in Michinoku Pro to form the faction once again, defeating Chinnen Hokkai, Hayate, Jinsei Shinzaki, Kazuya Yuasa, and Kesen Numajiro at Michinoku Pro's 10th Anniversary event.

In July 2004, history was made again, with Michinoku Pro crowning its first Tohoku Tag Team Champions. Jinsei Shinzaki & Último Dragón won the title, and since then the Tohoku Tag Team Championship has also been won by other standout teams such as Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kensuke Sasaki, Dick Togo & The Great Sasuke, and current Champions Yapper Man 1 & Yapper Man 2. The teams with the most outstanding records as Tohoku Tag Team Champions are the teams of Ikuto Hidaka & Minoru Fujita, and Brahman Shu & Brahman Kei. Brahman Shu & Brahman Kei hold the record for the team with the most reigns as Champions, with 4 reigns under their belts. During their first reign, Hidaka & Fujita held the title for a record length of 725 days. During that reign, they unified the Tohoku Tag Team Championship with the UWA World Tag Team Title, a title which has a very historical past that began in the Mexico-based Universal Wrestling Association.

Los Salseros Japoneses were a rule-breaking faction in Michinoku Pro Wrestling that was known for their flamboyant style and their love of salsa music. The faction consisted of Takeshi Minamino, Pineapple Hanai, and Mango Fukuda, who had previously worked together as a faction in Toryumon. Los Salseros Japoneses made their Michinoku Pro debut in 2004. In 2005, Los Salseros Japoneses captured the UWA World Trios Championship in Mexico. This was a major accomplishment for the faction, and it helped to solidify their status as one of the top factions in Michinoku Pro. In 2006, Los Salseros Japoneses leader Minamino captured the Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Championship. Los Salseros Japoneses disbanded in 2006.

In 2005, Gamma, Kei Sato, and Shu Sato formed a faction known as STONED. The faction was an alliance of wrestlers from Michinoku Pro, ZERO1, and d2p. In 2006, Kagetora became the leader of STONED. In March 2006, Kagetora captured the Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Championship. This was a major accomplishment for Kagetora and for STONED, helping to solidify their status as one of the top factions in Japan. STONED disbanded in 2007, but they left a lasting legacy on Japanese wrestling.

Gamma is a former member of STONED. He left Michinoku Pro in 2006 and since then saw success in Dragon Gate, where he was a former Open The Brave Gate Champion. However, Gamma still remembers his time in Michinoku Pro fondly, especially a particular match. In an interview with me, Gamma said that his favorite memory from his time in Michinoku Pro was the "Cuba Deathmatch" in 2005 against The Great Sasuke.

In 2006, Michinoku Pro began presenting "Space War," its annual year-end special match. "Space War" is a unique event that is filled with costumes, chaos, weapons, the ring being taken apart, and The Great Sasuke putting his life on the line while being inside of a barrel. The Great Sasuke is the star of "Space War", constantly in danger of being injured or killed. However, he always manages to survive, and he always comes out on top.

In December 2018, Kaientai Deluxe made another appearance at a Michinoku Pro event. Dick Togo, Mens Teioh, and Shiryu represented the faction in a match against Super Delfin, The Great Sasuke, and Ultimo Dragon. Both teams battled to a time limit draw.

Michinoku Pro Wrestling drew a sellout, standing room only crowd of 1,890 at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo in December 2019. This was the highest reported attendance at the Korakuen Hall for a pro-wrestling event since April 2015.

In 2020, Michinoku Pro -like every other company in the pro wrestling industry- was impacted by COVID-19. But Michinoku Pro persevered.

In September 2020, Kaientai Deluxe reunited at a Just Tap Out (JTO) event in Tokyo, with TAKA Michinoku, Dick Togo, and MEN's Teioh representing. JTO is a Tokyo-based promotion owned by TAKA Michinoku.

As business began getting back to normal for Michinoku Pro in 2021, the company was experiencing a shakeup of a different kind, as an in-ring feud began between the younger talent of its roster and the established veterans. MUSASHI, Yasutaka Oosera, Koji Kawamura, Yasuyoshi Ogasawara, and Ayumu Gunji were a group of young wrestlers collectively considering themselves to be the, "New Generation" of Michinoku Pro.

2021 also was the year that Michinoku Pro celebrated The Great Sasuke’s 31 years in the pro-wrestling industry. At an event in September commemorating him, Sasuke teamed with Jinsei Shinzaki and Super Delfin in a match against a reunited Kaientai ☆ DX (Taka Michinoku, Dick Togo, and MENS Teioh), renewing their feud for one night.

In 2022, Michinoku Pro wrestlers were making history both in and outside of the company. GAINA & Taro Nohashi unified the Tohoku Tag Team Championship and UWA World Tag Team Championship, which had not been done since 2016. At the same time, they also held the Kyushu Pro Tag Team Championship, making them the Tohoku, UWA World, Kyushu Pro Wrestling Triple Crown Tag Champions, the first in pro-wrestling history. GAINA was also making history as a singles wrestler, becoming a 5-Crown Champion.

Michinoku Pro Wrestling stars Yapperman No. 1 & No. 2 continued the company's momentum that year by winning the Itabashi Tag Team Championship while already holding the Total Triumph Team Indie Unified Tag Team Championship and the IRON FIST Tag Team Championship, making them Triple Crown Champions.

As New Generation continued it's war with the established members of the Michinoku Pro roster into 2022, the factions influence grew outside of the company, as MUSASHI recruited BJW star Kazuki Hashimoto into New Generation.

But one of the most talked about Michinoku Pro topics of 2022 was Fujita Hayato's return. After many years away from the ring, he challenged then-Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Champion MUSASHI for the championship.

This match is historical for two reasons. One of them is that with Michinoku Pro being based in the Tohoku region of Japan, most Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Championship matches take place there- this championship match, however took place at the Korakuen Hall, which is a rarity. The second reason is that this match was not just about the championship, it was Fujita Hayato's inspirational return after a long battle with an illness. And at the end of that historical match that was the winner of professional wrestling martial arts channel Samurai TV's Japan Indie Award for Best Bout, Hayato was the new Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Champion.

As Michinoku Pro celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, the company continues to entertain fans at events in the Tōhoku region, Tokyo, and other areas of the country, and there are also Michinoku Pro DVDs sold in stores nationwide as well.

Friday, August 11, 2023

How to Permanently Disable Efficiency Mode While Using Google Chrome

If you have been experiencing problems with Google Chrome freezing in recent months like I have while I've been writing posts, it might be because of Efficiency Mode. Efficiency Mode is a new feature in Windows 11 that's supposed to help save battery life and improve performance, but it can actually cause problems for some apps, including Chrome.

Efficiency Mode works by reducing the priority of background processes. But it can also cause problems for apps that you're using a lot, like Chrome. When Chrome is in Efficiency Mode, it can freeze, especially if you have a lot of tabs open.

Last month, I reset my laptop to remove Efficiency Mode. The process took hours, was time-consuming, and the fix was not permanent, because Windows eventually updated itself and reinstalled Efficiency Mode. However, there is a fix that is permanent, and can be done in minutes, even if you're not very familiar with laptops or computers. To permanently disable Efficiency Mode for Chrome:

1) Close Chrome
2) Right-click on the Chrome shortcut that is on your desktop
3) In the Target field, after Chrome.exe” make a space and then add this:
4) Click on “Apply” and then click on, "OK"
When you are asked to give administrator permission, click on, “Continue”
5) Open Chrome using the shortcut

You will now be able to use this shortcut to use Chrome without being interrupted by Efficiency Mode.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Yanagase Pro Wrestling: A Closer Look

Founded in 2017 by Maki Yuhara, Yanagase Pro Wrestling is a promotion based in Gifu, Japan, where it presents three events per month (with at least one of them being dedicated to their ladies' division), the final event of the year being an annual Christmas Special. 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. TwitCasting is a livestreaming service based in Japan that has over 33 million registered users worldwide.

Yanagase Pro Wrestling events usually take place at SPORTS BAR M's Cafe. With a permanent ring, projectors, and audio equipment, the sports bar has everything needed to present a show that is much more impressive than promotions of similar size.

As you can see from the picture, the ring is smaller than the usual ring. There are many benefits to this. The matches are more intense, action-packed, faster-paced, more strategic, and provide more opportunities for high-flying moves. It also allows for a more personal connection between the wrestlers and the fans, creating a more exciting and engaging atmosphere for them.

Yanagase Pro Wrestling matches are high quality, having the exact fast-paced, exciting, and unpredictable style you think of when you hear the words, "Japanese wrestling". However, YPW also features a unique blend of wrestling styles, combining the traditional Japanese style with the American wrestling style, as well as comedy wrestling when there is a place for it. This makes for a truly unique product that fans of all types of wrestling would enjoy.

Along with the great in-ring action, Yanagase Pro Wrestling broadcasts feature great production quality. The size of the ring combined with the stationary cameras allow for well-composed shots that capture all of the action, keeping the viewers engaged. Overhead camera shots are often done, which are very popular with many American pro-wrestling fans, although they are rarely shot these days in American promotions.

Ladius is the ladies' division of Yanagase Pro Wrestling. Its events feature Sae and Mari Manji, two talented wrestlers who can wrestle each other 1,000 times and never have the same match twice. They have wrestled in multiple notable promotions, with at least Sae or Manji being seen in BJW, Ice Ribbon, Sendai Girls, ZERO1, WAVE, and PURE-J.

They began their 2023 in Ladius with an exciting match that ended in a 20-minute draw. With Sae and Manji the key wrestlers of Ladius, the division has the potential to grow as much as Yanagase Pro Wrestling wants.

The same can be said for the men's division of Yanagase Pro Wrestling. Along with YPW's own talented roster, its events also feature wrestlers who have appeared in notable promotions outside of YPW. Wrestlers who are often on YPW cards include:

Kubota Brothers (Hide Kubota & Yasu Kubota): ZERO1 stars and the current NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Champions, Hide Kubota and Yasu Kubuta wrestle in Yanagase Pro Wrestling frequently. Yasu Kubota also gives wrestling classes at SPORTS BAR M's Cafe for YPW.

Kenta Kosugi: Kenta Kosugi has also appeared in BJW and ZERO1. He is the current Seisho Pro-Wrestling Openweight Champion in Chigasaki Pro-Wrestling.

Michio Kageyama: Along with wrestling in NOAH, DDT, BJW, AJPW, and ZERO1, Michio Kageyama has made many appearances in YPW over the past four years, including in Ladius.

Lowther: A freelance wrestler, Lowther has wrestled in many other promotions over the past 11 years such as DDT, AJPW, and BJW, but Yanagase Pro Wrestling is one of the promotions he has wrestled the most in.

Shinya Ishida: Shinya Ishida has also appeared in DDT, AJPW, BJW, Ice Ribbon, and ZERO1.

JADE: A freelance wrestler who has appeared in AJPW and many other promotions, JADE wrestles in Yanagase Pro Wrestling frequently.

Yanagase Kamen Fuerza: Called the ace of Yanagase Pro Wrestling because he made his wrestling debut in YPW and has wrestled in the promotion since its beginning, Yanagase Kamen Fuerza has also appeared in ZERO1.

Jack Kennedy: An American who wrestles in Japan, Jack Kennedy was trained by many talented Japanese wrestlers, including former WWE star and current All Asia Tag Team Champion Yoshitatsu. Although Yanagase Pro Wrestling is his home promotion, Kennedy has made many BJW appearances this year.

Yanagase Pro Wrestling also presents special guests occasionally, such as former KO-D Openweight Champion Yuji Hino and FantastICE Champion Akane Fujita.

If Yanagase Pro Wrestling can continue to produce high-quality wrestling and grows its fanbase, then it has the potential to become one of the top promotions in Japan.


Monday, August 7, 2023

The History of American Wrestling

Wrestling has been popular in the United States for centuries. The earliest forms of wrestling in America were derived from Native American wrestling styles, as well as European styles such as Greco-Roman wrestling and catch-as-catch-can wrestling.

In the 19th century, wrestling became increasingly popular as a form of entertainment. Traveling wrestlers would perform at carnivals and other public events.

In the early 20th century, professional wrestling took on a more organized form, and in the 1970s, the World Wide Wrestling Federation (known today as WWE) and Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) began broadcasting wrestling shows on television nationally, with the WWWF presenting "Championship Wrestling", and JCP producing "World Wide Wrestling".

Wrestling reached its peak of popularity in the United States in the 1980s. Television was becoming more popular as well, which caused a significant change in American wrestling. In the early days of wrestling, matches were typically held in front of live audiences. However, with television, wrestling matches could be seen by millions of people around the world. This helped to popularize wrestling and make it a household name, as matches were regularly televised on national television with levels of viewership never seen before. The same could be said for wrestlers themselves, as stars such Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Sgt. Slaughter became household names.

The WWWF (known as the WWF at this point), JCP, and the AWA were considered the "Big Three" of the industry, with WWF-TV and JCP-TV running in syndication, and AWA programs broadcast on ESPN. JCP was a member of the NWA (which was a governing body for regional wrestling promotions back then) and represented the organization with its show names having, "NWA" in the titles. However, JCP was such a major presence on national television, many fans thought JCP was the NWA, instead of a member of the governing body. In 1988, Ted Turner purchased JCP, and the company was rebranded to WCW.

In the early 1990s, wrestling's popularity began to decline. The AWA was a casualty of this decline, closing its doors in 1991 after already facing financial issues beginning in the late 1980s. In the late 1990s, wrestling experienced another boom, this one also led by the WWF and WCW. Cable television was also increasing in popularity, which allowed wrestling to reach a wider audience. By the mid-1990s, wrestling was once again of the most popular forms of entertainment in America, with WWF Monday Night Raw and WCW Monday Nitro two of the most-watched shows on TV. Hulk Hogan was a major part of this boom as well, this time as the leader of the New World Order (NWO) faction, which is still popular to this day. Other wrestlers who played a major part included The Undertaker, The Rock, and Steve Austin.

ECW also played a role in the wrestling boom of the 1990s, providing an alternative to the WWF and WCW with its hardcore style of wrestling. Although ECW's attempt to survive as an alternative did not last, the story of its successes, trials, and tribulations are no less interesting, as detailed in a documentary on ECW that was produced by the WWF after the company purchased ECW's assets. The DVD on the Rise & Fall of ECW can be purchased here.

A big difference between the American and Japanese wrestling scenes is that it is very difficult for hardcore promotions to thrive in America. State athletic commissions in America have eliminated the use of "weapons" (anything that is not a part of the human body). Meanwhile, in Japan, Big Japan Pro-Wrestling has existed for 28 years and they can have shows anywhere, without having to tone down their product. That would be impossible for BJW to do in America, due to many state athletic commissions and their rules regarding what wrestling promotions are allowed to do.

BJW has a television show on Fighting Samurai TV in Japan, a cable network that is dedicated to wrestling. Although there has been interest from American networks in the BJW product, none of them were networks that would be competitive with networks that feature major promotions today. Besides, even if BJW were on an American network, they would likely have to contend with groups holding extreme views that are against televised violence and would attempt to have BJW-TV removed from American airwaves.

BJW has been able to get around those potential roadblocks and successfully branch out to the American market via DVD, exporting their own DVDs to America. In 2009, BJW created an English website that I wrote a column for, promoting their DVDs to the English-reading audience. Today, the company continues to export DVDs overseas, and now also has a streaming service.

Although difficult, it is possible for a hardcore style promotion to thrive in America long-term as a major promotion. It's simply a matter of knowing how to publicize its product effectively so that the target audience can be reached. There is room for all styles of promotions, as the industry continues to evolve.

With that evolution, WWE continues to be of the main face of the American wrestling scene. WCW went out of business in 2001 and was eventually replaced by TNA as WWE's main competitor. Today known as Impact Wrestling, the company still has a notable presence in American wrestling (while interestingly now being owned by Canada's Anthem Sports & Entertainment). The three brands that generally get the most attention from American fans today are WWE, its developmental brand (NXT), and AEW. Another company that gets a lot of attention is Women Of Wrestling, which impressively, is able to attract a viewership of over 300,000 via syndication, without having a prime-time cable slot. Today's standout talents on the American wrestling scene include Grand Slam Champion AJ Styles, former multi-time World Champion Jeff Hardy, former multi-time World Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, and current Impact World Champion Alex Shelley

Wrestling has had a significant impact on popular culture, being featured in movies and video games. For example, the wrestling industry was the main focus of the film "The Wrestler" starring Mickey Rourke, Rocky had an exhibition fight with Thunderlips (played by Hulk Hogan) in the movie "Rocky 3", and sports games developer & publisher MicroLeague created, “MicroLeague Wrestling”.

And just as how wrestling has had an influence on pop culture, the wrestling industry has been influenced by a variety of factors that have made it undergo changes over the years. One of them is the popularity of other forms of entertainment, such as MMA for example. The rise of MMA's popularity has led to WWE spotlighting wrestlers who were successful in MMA, such as former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, and Ronda Rousey, who was undefeated for three years as UFC's Bantamweight Champion. In Lesnar's case, he already had been a successful WWE superstar before dominating UFC, but it's fair to say that his additional success in MMA made him an even bigger superstar in WWE's eyes.

A second factor is the rise of streaming. In the past, most smaller wrestling promotions had a difficult time getting exposure because they were not on major television networks. However, with the rise of streaming, these promotions can now reach a wider audience by streaming their shows online. This has led to a boom in the number of independent wrestling promotions. If the promotion is publicized in a way that attracts interest from other areas of the country, as well as overseas, a strong brand will be built for the promotion, taking it to another level and attracting a TV deal as well as potentially an opportunity to distribute DVDs internationally.

A third factor is the changing cultural landscape of the United States. In the early days of wrestling, it was largely seen as a masculine pursuit, with women's matches buried in the midcard, even if the matches involved a champion. However, in recent years, there has been a growing acceptance of women's wrestling. Today, there are many successful female wrestlers, and women's wrestling is a popular attraction for fans of all ages, with women's matches often either being in the main event or the match that stole the show.

With the many changes that occurred over the decade, the future of American wrestling is difficult to predict. However, what is clear is that the thriving industry has a rich and fascinating history, and it will continue to be enjoyed by millions of fans for many years to come.