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PGHW '97 - The Inside Dirt

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** Excerpted from The Wrestling Insider newsletter online archives **


** A note on dates: This dates back to the period when the newsletter still existed in both online and physical forms. Through most of this time, Dick would post the text of the newsletter on Friday nights, but mail the physical copies out on the following Monday. Addenda to the Friday updates (usually PPV results) that would be included in the physical newsletter were archived as special updates. Since I only have full access to the online archive, and to avoid confusion with different dates of publication, I will simply refer to which week (1-4) of a particular month the report corresponds to. It is easier to avoid the confusion caused by different dates of publication. **




*From January 1997 Wrestling Insider (week 1)*




PGHW released a press statement to the Japanese wrestling media, flush off the success of their big show two weeks ago. Underneath the logo was a photo of Hito Ichihara holding the Glory Crown belt over his head after the main event of that show, which I covered in detail last week. The main point of interest in the release concerned the schedule of the upcoming year.


I had it on good authority that PGHW intended on touring 7 or 8 months this year, running 3 houses a week, including TV. Well, it turns out they will be running two houses a week (again, including TV), but for nine months. I don't know what is behind the change, but I'd assume that with the physical style they work, it would be hard to use guys more than twice a week.


The first tour of the year is being advertised as the "Spring Rising Series", and will run from February through May. They are running Tokyo in the first weekend of February, the second weekend of March, the third weekend of April, and the last weekend of May. New this year is the naming of these shows, "Night of RESPECT" is to be the first one. I have heard that they are close to signing a PPV deal for these events.


In backstage news, it looks like Koryusai Kitoaji is in and Danger Kumasaka is out as head booker, although it is mostly semantics, as both have been in the inner circle since the company's founding, and Jimbo-san has the last word on everything anyway.



*From January 1997 Wrestling Insider (week 2)*




The big news in PGHW this week was their signing of a PPV deal with J-Remote 1. No details have leaked, and the PPV market in Japan is not as closely attached to pro wrestling as it is in the states, but it is an additional revenue source that should help the company in their first full year of operations.


Java and Rico Santana were informed at the conclusion of the last tour that they would not be brought back for the Spring tour. I don't know what the issue was with Santana, but Java was going to have limited availability since he has signed on with Stallings' company (and you still can't make me say the name).


There had been talk that Koji Kojima and Koki Ishibashi would be on the next tour, but that appears to have been scuttled.


The main event for Night of RESPECT has been announced as Yodo Nakane challenging for the Glory Crown against Hito Ichihara. Nakane was Kitoaji's first challenger last summer, and his history as Ichihara's primary tag partner last year adds an interesting wrinkle. More pragmatically, Nakane is easily the least over of the "First Four" (also including Ichihara, Kitoaji, and Kumasaka), so he should be used to draw money while he can. The only undercard match announced so far is Miwa/Hoshino vs. Kumasaka/Mushashibo.

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<p>*From January 1997 Wrestling Insider (week 3)*</p><p> </p><p>


Lots of news this week! Lee Wright and Dread have been acting as talent relations for the gaijin (foreign) workers. Well, one or the other of them has been reading my Canadian Independents reports, because PGHW has completed touring contracts with Bryan Holmes and the tag team of Lee Bennett and Alexander Robinson. All three of those guys should do well in Japan. The biggest news was the touring contract signed by Duane Stone! It had been rumored that BHOTWG had shown interest, but, as we will get to, they've apparently taken their eye off the ball this week. On the far far far side from that news comes the report that Elmer Kelly is also being brought in for the tour. I'm not saying that Dread recruited him so that he could look fit by comparison, but I'm also not *not saying that.</p><p> </p><p>

On the native side, the big news is that Ken Shimedzu and Natsu Miyamae signed exclusive deals. They had been considered likely to go to BHOTWG, but Burning Hammer had gotten tied in to the 3-way negotiations with their steals of Shiga, Fukazawa, and Murkami this week that PGHW won a bit of a coup. Miyamae signed early in the week, and Shimedzu was still thought to be up in the air for another day or two. The other signings of note were more interesting for their backstage connotations. Akahito Miwa, the brother of rising star Mito Miwa is coming in. He has done a pretty funny gimmick as a manager on the indies, but it would seem a bit out of place here. He did play it straighter when appearing with his brother when they were on the circuit together. The other signing is Kaneie Fuyuki, who is a family friend of Hito Ichihara. The PGHW website lists him as Tiger Ichihara, though it doesn't attempt to kayfabe him as a son or anything. There are supposedly a few more touring contracts about to be closed. I will report on those as I hear about them.</p><p> </p><p> </p><p>

*From January 1997 Wrestling Insider (week 4)*</p><p> </p><p>


The Spring Rising Series starts next week, with the Night of RESPECT at the end of the week. Another match has been confirmed for that show, with Eisaku Kunomasu to take on Koryusai Kitoaji.</p><p> </p><p>

PGHW finalized their roster for the tour. Mamoru Nagahama will be touring, though I hear he is very likely for a full-time contract if things go well. He was close to being part of the inaugural roster last year. Hayate Hasegawa will also be coming in, and is probably not in the plans beyond May.</p><p> </p><p>

Prepare for more words written about Kansuke Konda than ever before or again...</p><p> </p><p>

It was not surprising on the level of the Miyamae/Shimedzu/Stone signings of last week, but Kansuke Konda is leaving Hinote Dojo for an exclusive PGHW deal. I must admit that I thought Konda was on a BHOTWG developmental contract, but it turns out he was just working shots for Hinote on his own. Konda would not have been a great fit in BHOTWG, since even though he is a junior, he does his best work against bigger guys. PGHW is better about integrating across weight divisions, but I just can't see Dread selling much for this guy. In the late 70s, and throughout the 80s you could find indy groups running "openweight" titles. The key was either one big guy who would sell for a series of little guys, or one "mighty mouse" type guy who could go around the horn with a different big man every month. It doesn't work too much in the television era, and the business is more serious, particularly in Japan, than it was then, but it was a good way for a company that couldn't manage a real Junior division to give work to the smaller guys. GCG might have been the best fit.</p><p> </p><p>

And speaking of the Golden Casket, their 17-year-old rookie Hiroyasu Gakusha is going to be pulling double duty, touring for PGHW. All sides involved are clear that there is no official working relationship between the two companies, and that this is a chance for Gakusha to get experience. He's looked okay in the bits I've seen of him so far, which isn't much. But for being basically a kid, he's definitely got promise. Everything I hear about the current students in the Golden Dojo is encouraging. It's truly shocking that Maeda and Yoshizawa are still willing to stay aboard this foundering ship, but if there is really a good crop of talent on their way, maybe they can stay upright. If not, well, Furusawa's got a 10-year-old son. Maybe they can push him.</p>

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<p>*From February 1997 Wrestling Insider (week 1)*</p><p> </p><p>


PGHW returned to action this week with their first shows of the year. The first PPV in company history will be this weekend. Next month's PPV will feature the finals of what they are calling "PGHW Elite Series", a twelve-man, two block round robin tournament that will begin next week. We will get to that in some depth a bit later, as it was featured this week in TV.</p><p>

On Monday they ran the first house show on the Spring Rising Series, drawing 3,300 paid in Tohoku.</p><p>

1. Team Toronto (Robinson & Bennett) beat Rebel Cell (Sarumara & Okazawaya). Not one moment of this match made it to the highlight show.</p><p>

2. The Rebellion (Shimedzu & Miyamae, who are apparently going just by their family names now) defeated Duane Stone & Bryan Holmes when Shimedzu pinned Holmes. Stone showed up under a hood, using the name "Black Cobra". I don't know why they didn't just let him use his real name, since the Stone family is known in Japan, but I don't think the company is trying to hide who he is. What was shown in highlights looked pretty good.</p><p>

3. Dread & Elmer Kelly defeated Amane Shunsen & Hirokumi Saito. Kelly is going as "Everest", with a shaved head and dyed white evil goatee. Not much aired of this match, but the finish saw Dread powerbomb Shunsen, then Kelly splashed him for the pin.</p><p>

4. Yodo Nakane & Kimitada Yanagita went to a 20-minute time limit draw with Hito & Tiger Ichihara. Most of the match was Nakane vs. Hito, setting up their match this weekend. Those parts were well wrestled and had heat, the other parts were not. Call it a C+.</p><p>

5. Mito Miwa & Eisaku Hoshino beat Nobuatso Tatsuko & Mamoru Nagahama when Miwa pinned Nagahama following a series of forearm strikes. All four men shook hands afterwards. The match drifted when Nagahama was in, but was pretty good. Ten minutes aired of around 18. B-</p><p>

6. Danger Kumasaka & Yoshimi Mushashibo went to a 30-minute draw with Koryusai Kitoaji & Shuji Inukai. The crowd didn't love the finish, as it came not too long after the earlier broadway, and there wasn't much heat the last few minutes as everyone seemed to realize they were going the distance. Mushashibo grabbed Kitoaji in a triangle choke shortly after the one minute call, and Kumasaka prevented Inukai from breaking it up. This got the crowd into it, as it seemed briefly as if Kitoaji might actually submit to the youngster, but the bell rang and that was that. It was curious that they used these, the tag pairings from last year, as the Mushashibo/Inukai team they threw together last December was such a hit.</p><p> </p><p>

The King's Road TV on Thursday drew a 3.95 rating and another 3,300 house in Shikoku.</p><p>

1. Eisaku Kunomasu & Kansuke Konda beat Kazuo Mitsushi & Hiroyasu Gakusha in about 9 minutes when Kunomasu pinned Gakusha with a knee strike. Mitsushi looks just about done. C-</p><p>

2. Black Cobra (Duane Stone) pinned Hirokumi Saito in just over 8 minutes with a superplex. Duane tried, but Saito is still pretty green. D</p><p>

The Elite Series tournament was announced next. Group A will consist of Hito Ichihara, Danger Kumasaka, Mito Miwa, Dragon Agakawa, Eisaku Hoshino, and Yoshimi Mushashibo. That is a loaded group, and I could honestly see a few different guys coming out of it.</p><p>

3. Dread, Lee Wright, & Raymond Diaz beat Hayate Hasegawa & Rebel Cell in roughly 9 minutes when Dread pinned Okazawaya with a powerbomb. Basically a squash. C</p><p>

4. Kimitada Yanagita & Mamoru Nagahama defeated Shimedzu & Miyamae in 17 minutes. This was a surprising and perhaps disappointing result, since The Rebellion can outwork those guys every day of the week. Yanagita hit a vicious looking backdrop driver on Miyamae for a near fall, but Shimedzu broke up the pin. Nagahama took him out and Yanagita hit another for the pin. It was a strong finish at least. C</p><p>

Group B of the Elite Series was announced. It will see Koryusai Kitoaji, Yodo Nakane, Dread, Nobuatsu Tatsuko, Shuji Inukai, and Black Cobra. I have to think Kitoaji or Dread wins this block, but there should be a lot of good wrestling to be seen.</p><p>

5. Tatsuko beat Mushashibo in 27 minutes with the Tatsuko Driller to retain the Historical Japan title. Very good match. B+</p><p> </p><p>

The full rundown of Night Of Respect is as follows:</p><p>

Hito Ichihara vs Yodo Nakane for the Glory Crown</p><p>

Wright/Diaz vs Miyamae/Shimedzu for the Glory Tag Crown (you heat them up for the title shot by jobbing them to Kimitada Yanagita, of course)</p><p>

Miwa/Hoshino vs Kumasaka/Mushashibo</p><p>

Koryusai Kitoaji vs Eisaku Kunomasu</p><p>

Dread/Everest vs Agakawa/Tiger Ichihara</p><p>

Shuji Inukai vs Harumi Okazawaya (50/50, I think!)</p><p>

Holmes/Bennett/Robinson vs Gakusha/Shunsen/Saito</p><p> </p><p>

See you Saturday!</p>

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<p><strong>Hito Ichihara </strong>vs Yodo Nakane for the Glory Crown: Yodo is a solid hand but Hito is gold.</p><p>

<strong>Wright/Diaz </strong>vs Miyamae/Shimedzu for the Glory Tag Crown (you heat them up for the title shot by jobbing them to Kimitada Yanagita, of course): Since you probably werent unlucky and did not get bad chemistry with Wright/Diaz like I did, they'll win. Diaz is still pretty green tho.</p><p>

<strong>Miwa/Hoshino</strong> vs Kumasaka/Mushashibo: Assuming Kumasaka is in TD.</p><p>

<strong>Koryusai Kitoaji </strong>vs Eisaku Kunomasu: Kunomasu will be great but Kitoaji is already great. Hope he isnt on TD</p><p>

<strong>Dread/Everest </strong>vs Agakawa/Tiger Ichihara: Push Dread .o. Agakawa is probably on TD. </p><p>

<strong>Shuji Inukai </strong>vs Harumi Okazawaya (50/50, I think!): Shocked if Okazawaya wins</p><p>

<strong>Holmes/Bennett/Robinson</strong> vs Gakusha/Shunsen/Saito: Go Team Canada! The second team is a lot greener.</p><p> </p><p>

PGHW is great. Keep it up <img alt=":)" data-src="//content.invisioncic.com/g322608/emoticons/smile.png.142cfa0a1cd2925c0463c1d00f499df2.png" src="<___base_url___>/applications/core/interface/js/spacer.png" /></p><p> </p><p>

Predicting Hito makes it to the finals. And probably loses.</p>

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<p>*From February 1997 Wrestling Insider (week 1-weekend update)*</p><p> </p><p>


PGHW drew a 15,000 seat sellout to Tokyo Civil Stadium tonight for Night Of RESPECT. Preliminary reports show about 140,000 PPV buys, which is a good start for the company's first PPV outing.</p><p> </p><p>

1. In the opener, Shuji Inukai pinned Harumi Okazawaya in just over nine minutes with a lariat. The work was decent, but the crowd didn't see any real possibility of Okazawaya winning. C-</p><p>

2. Bryan Holmes & Team Toronto (Robinson & Bennett) beat Hiroyasu Gakusha, Amane Shunsen, & Hirokumi Saito when Holmes pinned Shunsen. The match was a throwaway, with Shunsen's only participation coming at about 8 minutes in to do the job. I don't see a future in the company for his style. D</p><p>

3. Dread & Everest defeated Dragon Agakawa & Tiger Ichihara when Dread pinned Ichihara with a Dread Bomb about 10 minutes in. His work was no good, but I'll admit that Everest might be resonating with the Japanese crowd. He was limited to coming in a few times to work spots dealing with his size, but the guy definitely has size. Dread is a legend in Japan, and Elmer is even bigger than he is. He is never going to be anywhere near the worker Dread is, but if he is booked to look strong, he could possibly start getting over. C-</p><p>

4. Team Strength Rush (Wright & Diaz) retained the Glory Tag Crown against The Rebellion (Shimedzu & Miyamae). The work in this match was pretty good, but the crowd wasn't buying The Rebellion as a threat, particularly after they lost to Yanagita and Nagahama earlier this week. About 18 minutes in, Shimedzu came off the top for a bodypress, but Diaz caught him and powerslammed him for two, then hit a wicked lariat for the pin.</p><p>

5. Koryusai Kitoaji pinned Eisaku Kunomasu after 22 minutes of a very good match. The match featured good psychology, with Kitoaji working the knee to try to take away the launching knee strike, and Kunomasu working the arm to prevent the lariat. In the end, Kitoaji hit two released German suplexes for the win. B</p><p>

6. Mito Miwa & Eisaku Hoshino went to a 30-minute draw with Danger Kumasaka & Yoshimi Mushashibo. The match not too different in construction from Kumasaka & Mushashibo's match from TV this week. The last few minutes were hot with Miwa and Hoshino throwing everything they had at Kumasaka trying to pin the legend, with Mushashibo diving in for the save several times. B-, would have been higher with a finish.</p><p>

7. In the main event, Hito Ichihara retained the Glory Crown against Yodo Nakane in 33 minutes. Good mat wrestling for the first several minutes. Nakane started throwing stiff chops about half-way in, and Ichihara responded with some pretty hard kicks. Late in the match, Ichihara locked in both his armbar and a triangle choke, but Nakane reached the ropes. Nakane hit a high angle back suplex for a near fall, but Ichihara got his foot on the ropes. Nakane dragged him to the middle of the ring and went for his big brainbuster, but Ichihara countered it with the Ichihara Armbar for the submission. B+</p><p> </p><p>

During the show, a graphic was shown of the schedule for the first week's matches of the Elite Series.</p><p>

On Monday's house show, Dragon Agakawa will face Yoshimi Mushashibo, Dread will take on Yodo Nakane, and Black Cobra will face Nobuatso Tatsuko. On TV, Danger Kumasaka will go up against Hoshino, Kitoaji will face Inukai, and Mito Miwa will wrestle Hito Ichihara.</p><p>

All matches have a 30 minute time limit. Two points will be awarded for a win, and one for a draw.</p>

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<p>Nice PPV. Hopefully Dread moves on from Everest. Surprised you haven't gone for Kunomasu/Hoshino and Inukai/Mushashibo teams. I like to pair up Hito & Mito because they have similar names as well.</p><p> </p><p>

<strong>Dragon Agakawa</strong> will face Yoshimi Mushashibo: I'd go Mushashibo but maybe the pop gap will make you give Agakawa the win?</p><p>

<strong>Dread</strong> will take on Yodo Nakane: Front row seat to prove he belongs as a title contender.</p><p>

Black Cobra will face <strong>Nobuatso Tatsuko</strong>: Dont remember much about Cobra. Tatsuko is your future ace.</p><p>

<strong>Danger Kumasaka</strong> will go up against Hoshino: Similar to Agakawa/Mushashibo. Kumasaka may be in time decline but hes got the pop advantage. On second though, you might push for a draw in these two vets vs. young lion matches.</p><p>

<strong>Kitoaji </strong>will face Inukai: Kitoaji probably has a title shot in him before the Fantastic Four start beating him.</p><p>

Mito Miwa will wrestle <strong>Hito Ichihara</strong>: Can't sink your champ's pop. If Hito loses to anyone itll be Koryusai or Dread.</p>

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<blockquote data-ipsquote="" class="ipsQuote" data-ipsquote-username="Jon The GOAT" data-cite="Jon The GOAT" data-ipsquote-contentapp="forums" data-ipsquote-contenttype="forums" data-ipsquote-contentid="45436" data-ipsquote-contentclass="forums_Topic"><div>Nice PPV. Hopefully Dread moves on from Everest. Surprised you haven't gone for Kunomasu/Hoshino and Inukai/Mushashibo teams..</div></blockquote><p> </p><p> Regarding the Eisakus and Team Dynasty, I get there (I'm mid-December of actually running shows, but kind of got the hook for how a diary with the conceit that it was excerpted from a dirtsheet could sound this week, and tried it out). There are certain... mile markers in Cornellverse canon I try to work to, and Hoshino/Kunomasu find their common cause as the weather gets warmer. I made mention of Inukai/Mushashibo in I think the first set of shows. The way I pictured the first several months of PGHW was that the top established guys generally worked with younger partners (Kitoaji with Inukai, and Danger with his protégé Yoshimi. And Hito/Yodo, because I didn't have a hook for either of them at the time.), with Miwa, Tatsuko, and Hoshino as the up-and-comers trying to hang with the old guys. This year, things are branching off a little as the next gen is starting to get over in their own right (and as I fish for chemistry).</p><p> </p><p> Everest, I figured I'd bring in as a cheap touring guy that I could build against the Amane Shunsen tourists of the world, then feed him to one of my permanent guys, but he went and got mentor/protégé with Dread on like his first show. So that complicated what I had planned for him. I think The Insider will have a tangent on how it really isn't possible to properly book a Dread/Everest team in the near future.</p><p> </p><p> And, particularly in the round robin the next 5 weeks, DRAW is always going to be a viable option. Those all get me where I needed to go, and I think I toned down my use of broadways, particularly on TV, after Night of PRIDE. I had a few that first week that I don't know why I didn't job someone.</p>
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<blockquote data-ipsquote="" class="ipsQuote" data-ipsquote-username="MFJJ" data-cite="MFJJ" data-ipsquote-contentapp="forums" data-ipsquote-contenttype="forums" data-ipsquote-contentid="45436" data-ipsquote-contentclass="forums_Topic"><div>Regarding the Eisakus and Team Dynasty, I get there (I'm mid-December of actually running shows, but kind of got the hook for how a diary with the conceit that it was excerpted from a dirtsheet could sound this week, and tried it out). There are certain... mile markers in Cornellverse canon I try to work to, and Hoshino/Kunomasu find their common cause as the weather gets warmer. I made mention of Inukai/Mushashibo in I think the first set of shows. The way I pictured the first several months of PGHW was that the top established guys generally worked with younger partners (Kitoaji with Inukai, and Danger with his protégé Yoshimi. And Hito/Yodo, because I didn't have a hook for either of them at the time.), with Miwa, Tatsuko, and Hoshino as the up-and-comers trying to hang with the old guys. This year, things are branching off a little as the next gen is starting to get over in their own right (and as I fish for chemistry).<p> </p><p> Everest, I figured I'd bring in as a cheap touring guy that I could build against the Amane Shunsen tourists of the world, then feed him to one of my permanent guys, but he went and got mentor/protégé with Dread on like his first show. So that complicated what I had planned for him. I think The Insider will have a tangent on how it really isn't possible to properly book a Dread/Everest team in the near future.</p><p> </p><p> And, particularly in the round robin the next 5 weeks, DRAW is always going to be a viable option. Those all get me where I needed to go, and I think I toned down my use of broadways, particularly on TV, after Night of PRIDE. I had a few that first week that I don't know why I didn't job someone.</p></div></blockquote><p> </p><p> That was sort of my initial strategy as well. Koryusai/Nobuatsu, Eisakus/Yodo, Hito/Mito, Danger/Team Dynasty, Dread/Wright/Diaz. </p><p> </p><p> The dirtsheet is definitely a good idea for getting through the year fast without too much investment in each show. </p><p> </p><p> The round robin should be solid but I imagine year two will produce much better results for the Elite series.</p>
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<p>*From February 1997 Wrestling Insider (week 2)*</p><p> </p><p>


On Monday, PGHW drew 3,300 fans (I was asked about this, and that magic number has to do with how they stage their mid-size shows. Since even non-televised events are taped for their recap show and tour-end commercial tapes, they block off certain sections for staging and hard cameras.) in Hokkaido for the first night of Elite Series matches.</p><p>

1. Dragon Agakawa (1 point) went to a time limit draw with Yoshimi Musashibo (1 point) in a Group A match. This was a good old school vs. new school technical match, which saw both men working towards submissions. Mushashibo had to carry the last several minutes because Judai was simply gassed. In his defense, he's 52 damn years old. There are other guys on the PGHW roster on the wrong side of 40, but nobody really expects to see someone like Danger Kumasaka still in the ring ten years from now. Mushashibo finally gave up the submission attempts in the final seconds, and took Agakawa down with a vicious high kick, but the bell rang before the referee could count a pin. B-</p><p>

2. Team Toronto beat Amane Shunsen & Kansuke Konda in barely over 8 minutes when Bennett pinned Shunsen. This did not air on the recap show, but I've heard it was not good.</p><p>

3. Bryan Holmes & Everest beat Tiger Ichihara & Hayate Hasegawa in about ten minutes when Holmes rolled up Ichihara. Only the finish and a few seconds of Everest dropping an elbow on Hasegawa on the floor aired. I'd guess it was probably a D.</p><p>

4. In a somewhat surprising result in a Group B match, Nobuatso Tatsuko (1 point) was held to a draw by Black Cobra (1 point). Duane is of course one of the world's best technical wrestlers, but in Japan he is not yet seen as being on the level of even the second tier PGHW guys, so a Tatsuko win was expected. About half of the match aired, with the in-ring storyline being Tatsuko throwing increasingly high impact moves, and Cobra using his technical excellence to counter and just try to hang on. The crowd seemed appreciative of both men after the match. B- for what was shown.</p><p>

5. Dread (2 pts) pinned Yodo Nakane (0 pts) after 14 minutes in a Group B match. The entire match aired on the recap show. The crowd seemed a bit restless early when Nakane went to an armlock, possibly worried they wouldn't get a finish in any of the Elite Series matches, but Dread took over for good in fairly short order. A Dread Bomb got the pin. B</p><p> </p><p>

On King's Road TV, they drew 4,400 in Chubu. Due to the time constraints of TV, only the advertised Elite Series matches took place, which made for a better and tighter show.</p><p>

1. In a Group B match, Koryusai Kitoaji (1 pt) went to (say it with me) a time limit draw with Shuji Inukai. The story told by the match was solid, and the work was good, but something about it just didn't click. The psychology of the match was that Kitoaji didn't seem to want to go as far as it took to put down his younger partner, while Inukai threw everything he had into trying to gain the upset. Finally, in the last few minutes, Kitoaji started dropping bombs, but Inukai kicked out of a few near falls. They shook hands after the match. B</p><p>

2. Danger Kumasaka (2 pts) made Eisaku Hoshino (0 pts) submit after about 21 minutes in a Group A match. This match also used the Old vs New dynamic, but changed it up in that Kumasaka was willing to give as good as he got. Hoshino had him in trouble, and went for the Gojira Plunge, but reversed to a cross armbreaker for the win. B</p><p>

3. Hito Ichihara (1 pt) and Mito Miwa (1 pt) went to a time limit draw in a Group A match. Miwa is definitely the most polished of the next gen PGHW workers, and Ichihara is the Glory Crown champ, so this match was heated start-to-finish. Akahito Miwa was ringside in a tuxedo, which was jarring next to the dojo boys in warmup gear. It was the closest he's come to his Mr. Miwa schtick that he ran in the indies, and there was one entertaining moment that I should mention. Late in the match, Ichihara had rolled from the ring following a released German suplex. Mito, in the ring, started running towards the ropes to dive out, and Akahito waved his arms trying to get him to stop. Mito dove through the ropes and connected with an awesome looking forearm strike to the jaw, at which point Akahito turned to a couple of kids at ringside and pointed to his head, as if to say "I told him to do that". Interesting note, one of the kids is Koryusai Kitoaji's son. The bell rang as both men traded stiff shots in the middle of the ring. B</p><p> </p><p>

Next week's schedule of Elite Series matches is as follows:</p><p>

Monday's Spring Rising Series house show will feature</p><p>

Dragon Agakawa (1) vs Eisaku Hoshino (0)</p><p>

Shuji Inukai (1) vs Yodo Nakane (0)</p><p>

and Koryusai Kitoaji (1) vs Black Cobra (1)</p><p> </p><p>

Thursday's King's Road TV will feature</p><p>

Dread (2) vs Nobuatso Tatsuko (1)</p><p>

Hito Ichihara (1) vs Yoshimi Mushashibo (1)</p><p>

and Danger Kumasaka (2) vs Mito Miwa (1)</p>

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<p>Way, way too many draws xD</p><p> </p><p>

Monday's Spring Rising Series house show will feature</p><p>

Dragon Agakawa (1) vs <strong>Eisaku Hoshino (0)</strong>: Do you say **** it and piss off Agakawa to give his prised pop on the young guys?</p><p>

Shuji Inukai (1) vs <strong>Yodo Nakane (0)</strong>: some redemption after losing to Dread</p><p>

and <strong>Koryusai Kitoaji (1) </strong>vs Black Cobra (1): Forgot Black Cobra = Duane Stone. Still, Kitoaji should win this. </p><p> </p><p>

Thursday's King's Road TV will feature</p><p>

<strong>Dread (2)</strong> vs Nobuatso Tatsuko (1): I'm a huge fan of Dreads. If im booking this, hes murdering everyone except maybe one draw. </p><p>

<strong>Hito Ichihara (1) </strong>vs Yoshimi Mushashibo (1): Champ needs to look stronger</p><p>

and <strong>Danger Kumasaka (2)</strong> vs Mito Miwa (1): Dont see Kumasaka putting anyone but the legends Hito/Koryusai/Dread over and mayyyyybe Dragon or Yodo.</p>

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<p>Yeah, the heavy front-loading of draws was poor planning. I plotted out the round robin in an excel spreadsheet, to get everyone to the point totals I needed them, then worked backwards scheduling them, so that I could get the story I wanted told out of the last couple of weeks. But it meant that just about every draw that I needed to get in to make the points come out right came at the beginning. I should have tweaked one of the groups to not have four in one week, but from week 3 on there's some storyline stuff happening, so it was what it was. Week 2 is some improvement, and the rest of the way is pretty good about getting finishes.</p><p> </p><p>

I'm thinking for year 2 of moving the March-May PPVs all to week 4, giving a 7 week run-up to Night of PRIDE, so that I can have 2 blocks of 8. Kunomasu, for one thing, isn't even in this one because he starts as a midcarder. And a couple other guys are poking around by the end of the year. But having a couple more lower level guys involved lets me spread around the broadways a little thinner, while still getting where I need to go.</p>

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<p>This is very interesting stuff. I preferred the '10 version of CVERSE 1997 because it was so much more streamlined and didn't include the CVERSE 1975 stuff, but seeing someone tackle the founding of PGHW is good stuff either way. </p><p> </p><p>

Though if I'm being honest, I always got the impression PGHW was a spinoff of GCG in some respects ala AJPW/NOAH, given guys like Jimbo were GCG champs. I'm surprised there's not animosity there in the '97 verse. Also, Golden Casket? You're a monster for saying that, but a genius for coming up with it.</p>

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<p>*From February 1997 Wrestling Insider (week 3)*</p><p> </p><p>


PGHW drew 2,700 in Kyushu on Monday for their latest Spring Rising Series show.</p><p>

1. Eisaku Hoshino (2 pts) pinned Dragon Agakawa (1 pt) in an Elite Series Group A match in just over nine minutes with a Gojira Plunge. Only the finish aired on the recap show, but Agakawa looked to be out of gas already. He did a strong 30 last week, which I guess is still catching up with him.</p><p>

2. Team Toronto (Robinson & Bennett) beat Rebel Cell (Sarumara & Okazawaya) in dominating fashion after 11 minutes. Bennett pinned Okazawaya.</p><p>

3. Eisaku Kunomasu & The Rebellion (Shimedzu & Miyamae) defeated Kazuo Mitsushi, Hiroyasu Gakusha, & Kimitada Yanagita when Kunomasu pinned Gakusha after a very stiff knee strike in 17 minutes. Kunomasu came out in gear similar to his partners, and I'm told all three were announced only by surname, but I haven't heard anything about them being officially grouped together, so that may have been testing the waters. A few bits aired other than the finish in which Kunomasu kept trying to get Mitsushi, the veteran in the match, to come in and face off with him. What was shown looked good enough.</p><p>

4. In the first of two Group B matches to close the show, Yodo Nakane (2 pts) pinned Shuji Inukai (1 pt) with a brainbuster in 28:58. The crowd sensed a draw, so the finish coming with just barely over a minute remaining got a pop. B-</p><p>

5. Koryusai Kitoaji (3 pts) pinned Black Cobra (1 pt) after a lariat in 19 minutes. I don't know if the crowds are quite buying into Duane yet, but if he keeps getting to look respectable against top guys, he could get there. B</p><p> </p><p>

On Thursday, they ran King's Road TV in Chugoku to 3,600 and a 4.03 rating. Last week's show got a 3.91. I think I forgot to mention that last week.</p><p>

1. Hito Ichihara (2 pts) went to a draw with Yoshimi Mushashibo (2 pts) in a group A match. Danger Kumasaka, who takes on Ichihara next week, was ringside with Mushashibo. The match started with some top notch technical wrestling. Mushashibo is really one of the best there is on the mat, even at his young age. Mushashibo controlled the middle portion of the match, with Kumasaka doing some excellent work yelling for more punishment. He could be useful in that sort of role in a few years when his in-ring career is over. At the end, the champ took over and hit big move after big move trying to put the youngster away. When the bell rang, he simply dropped Mushashibo and stared down Kumasaka. B</p><p>

2. In Group B, Dread (4 pts) pinned Nobuatso Tatsuko (1 pt) in 21 minutes with a Dreadsault. Tatsuko showed good fire throughout the match, and never quit, but the big man wore him down and got the win. B</p><p>

3. Danger Kumasaka (3 pts) and Mito Miwa (2 pts) went to a draw in Group A. Both guys were out there dropping bombs left and right, and the crowd was in to it from bell to bell. It's past time for Miwa to get a win over one of the First Four, but that anticipation led the crowd to pop huge for every one of his near falls. I should mention that the other kid sitting in the front row with Kitoaji's son last week is apparently Sadaharu Jimbo's nephew. I knew that Jimbo-san's brother works for the company in production, but I didn't realize that was his kid. Thanks to the readers who pointed that out to me. Anyway, the match was excellent. B+</p><p> </p><p>

Next week takes us past the halfway point of the Elite Series.</p><p>

Group A</p><p>

Danger Kumasaka (3) vs Hito Ichihara (2) (TV)</p><p>

Eisaku Hoshino (2) vs Yoshimi Mushashibo (2) (TV)</p><p>

Mito Miwa (2) vs Dragon Agakawa (1) (Tour)</p><p> </p><p>

Group B</p><p>

Dread (4) vs Koryusai Kitoaji (3) (TV)</p><p>

Yodo Nakane (2) vs Nobuatso Tatsuko (1) (Tour)</p><p>

Shuji Inukai (1) vs Black Cobra (1) (Tour)</p>

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<p>*From February 1997 Wrestling Insider (week 4)*</p><p> </p><p>


PGHW drew 3,500 in Kinki for their Spring Rising Series, featuring the third week of matches in the Elite Series.</p><p>

1. Shuji Inukai (3 pts) pinned Black Cobra (1 pt) in a Group B match. A good bit of this match aired on the recap show. Inukai got the win with the Untouchable Lariat. C+</p><p>

2. Kimitada Yanagita & Amane Shunsen beat Atsushi Nagamichi & Bishimi when Yanagita pinned Nagamichi with a backdrop driver. Nagamichi and Bishimi were in for a one-off.</p><p>

3. The Rebellion (Shimedzu & Miyamae) beat Kansuke Konda & Hirokumi Saito.</p><p>

4. Everest & Team Strength Rush (Wright & Diaz) beat Bryan Holmes & Team Toronto (Robinson & Bennett) when Diaz pinned Robinson. Not much beyond the finish was shown.</p><p>

5. In a Group A match, Mito Miwa (4 pts) pinned Dragon Agakawa (1 pt) with a Pride Bomber in a little over 10 minutes. Agakawa has apparently been wiped out since his broadway against Mushashibo a couple of weeks ago, and it seems that he just can't be relied on to wrestle every week, at least as a single. B-</p><p>

6. Nobuatso Tatsuko (3 pts) pinned Yodo Nakane (2 pts) with a Tatsuko Driller in 19 minutes. The crowd exploded for the first instance of one of the new generation beating a member of the First Four. Granted, Nakane has been a step and a half behind Ichihara, Kitoaji, & Kumasaka, and his days on the top of the card are possibly over, but it is still an important milestone. B</p><p> </p><p>

King's Road TV drew 4,100 in Tohoku, doing a 4.00 rating. That's just over 3 million viewers in each of the last two weeks, so PGHW has been getting great exposure.</p><p>

1. Eisaku Hoshino (4 pts) pinned Yoshimi Mushashibo (2 pts) with a Gojira Plunge at 29:33. They teased the time limit finish, but Hoshino put him away in the waning seconds. B</p><p>

2. Koryusai Kitoaji (5 pts) pinned Dread (4 pts) in Group B after about 25 minutes. Dread looked great in the match, laying in some really stiff shots throughout. The finish saw him get a near fall with a Dread Bomb. He then went for a Dreadsault, but Kitoaji got out of the way, then rolled him up for the surprise pin. Dread looked strong in defeat, as he kicked out just after the three-count, and Kitoaji had to be helped to his feet afterwards. B+</p><p>

3. In Group A, Hito Ichihara (4 pts) pinned Danger Kumasaka (3 pts) in 27:14. Another really good match. In the end, Kumasaka locked on a cross armbreaker, but Ichihara rolled over him for the pin. After the bell, however, Kumasaka held onto the hold until the dojo boys could pull them apart. Ichihara sold a shoulder injury after the match. B+ for the match and angle.</p><p> </p><p>

Group A</p><p>

Hito Ichihara (4) vs Eisaku Hoshino (4) (TV)</p><p>

Mito Miwa (4) vs Yoshimi Mushashibo (2) (TV)</p><p>

Danger Kumasaka (3) vs Dragon Agakawa (1) (Tour)</p><p> </p><p>

Group B</p><p>

Koryusai Kitoaji (5) vs Yodo Nakane (2) (TV)</p><p>

Dread (4) vs Black Cobra (1) (Tour)</p><p>

Shuji Inukai (3) vs Nobuatso Tatsuko (3) (Tour)</p>

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<p>Regarding the lack of hostility between PGHW and GCG, I imagine it this way:</p><p> </p><p>

I picture Jimbo telling Furusawa that he was starting his own company, and Furusawa (who the canon does not paint as the best businessman in the world) scoffing "eh, you'll come crawling back"). It's also certainly possible that Jimbo would have been released, with Furusawa seeing him as dead weight.</p><p> </p><p>

If you look at the initial roster, Kumasaka, Agakawa, Ichihara, & Kitoaji came from Burning Hammer. Miwa, Tatsuko, & Inukai came from the indies. Initially, only Nakane and Hoshino came over from GCG, with Dread coming along later. With GCG hemorrhaging to BHOTWG and HGC at the same time, I can see Furusawa shrugging at the few guys who went to PGHW and saying "well, at least it wasn't Burning Hammer".</p><p> </p><p>

But mostly I'm just glad there isn't a working agreement, as there was in some earlier editions.</p>

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*From March 1997 Wrestling Insider (week 1)*



The big news in PGHW this week was the announcement of contract talks between the company and Tasuku Iesada. His contract with BHOTWG will be up later this month, so it is unlikely that he would be able to debut for PGHW until after Night of PRIDE, but talks are apparently going well. Iesada did a pair of jobs this week, including one to Kudo that was apparently a fantastic match. In other contract news, they have reached out to Joel Kovach of AMW, but who had done several tours with GCG a few years ago. Kovach's contract runs through the end of the month, but he and Trenton Evenrud legitimately hate one another, so there is no chance that he is resigned.


On Monday, PGHW drew a 2,000 seat sellout at Kawaga Sports Field.

1. Danger Kumasaka (5 pts) made Dragon Agakawa (1 pt) submit to a guillotine choke in just under 9 minutes of a Group A match. Agakawa's first match in the Elite Series was longer than his last three combined. And that's probably the problem.

2. Hayate Hasegawa & Amane Shunsen defeated Takuro Matsumoto & Fumihiko Uno. Matsumoto & Uno were in on a one-night basis.

3. Hiroyasu Gakusha, Tiger Ichihara, & Mamoru Nagahama defeated Bryan Holmes & Team Toronto (Robinson & Bennett) when Nagahama pinned Bennett.

4. The Rebellion (Shimedzu & Miyamae) beat Eisaku Kunomasu & Kansuke Konda when Shimedzu pinned Konda.

5. In a Group B match, Dread (6 pts) pinned Black Cobra (1 pt) in 12 minutes with a Dread Bomb. The match aired almost in its entirety. Duane has been made to look strong, even though he hasn't taken a match. B

6. Shuji Inukai (5 pts) pinned Nobuatso Tatsuko (3 pts) with an Untouchable Lariat in 28 minutes of a Group B match. These guys have had some excellent matches in the indies over the last couple of years, and this was no exception. B+


On King's Road TV, they drew 3,000 in Chubu with a 4.05 rating.

1. In Group B, Koryusai Kitoaji (6 pts) went to a time limit draw with Yodo Nakane (3 pts). Kitoaji was sporting a legit black eye from his war last week with Dread, and his ribs were taped. The draw was telegraphed early, with Nakane dragging out bearhug sequences, which at least sold the rib injury. The result puts Kitoaji and Dread in a dead heat going into the last week of the Elite Series, with Inukai just a point behind.

2. Mito Miwa (6 pts) pinned Yoshimi Mushashibo (3 pts) in a Group A match. The finish came in 25 minutes when Miwa hit a Pride Bomber. I can't wait to see these guys put on this kind of match for the next fifteen years. B+

3. The last Group A match of the week saw Hito Ichihara (5 pts) and Eisaku Hoshino (5 pts) go to a time limit draw, leaving them both (as well as Danger Kumasaka) one point shy of Miwa entering the final week. Ichihara sold the arm and shoulder injuries from last week's match and angle with Kumasaka. Hoshino went after the arm with a ferocity that he hasn't shown yet in PGHW. The end of the match saw both men looking frustrated. B+


One week left!

Group A

Mito Miwa (6) vs Eisaku Hoshino (5) (TV)

Danger Kumasaka (5) vs Yoshimi Mushashibo (2) (Tour)

Hito Ichihara (5) vs Dragon Agakawa (1) (Tour)


Group B

Dread (6) vs Shuji Inukai (5) (TV)

Koryusai Kitoaji (6) vs Nobuatso Tatsuko (3) (TV)

Yodo Nakane (3) vs Black Cobra (1) (Tour)

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<p>*From March 1997 Wrestling Insider (week 2)*</p><p> </p><p>

I am spending the next week-and-a-half in Japan. With BHOTWG, PGHW, and BBW all on tour, it is the perfect opportunity to catch a bunch of live shows. In addition, PGHW will run Night of PRIDE, and BBW will run War Strategies before I leave, so I will catch two major shows as well.</p><p> </p><p>


PGHW wrapped up their first annual(?) Elite Series round robin this week, with the finals to come at the PPV this weekend.</p><p> </p><p>

On Monday, they drew 2,900, including me, in Kinki.</p><p>

1. Yodo Nakane pinned Black Cobra in their final Group B match. The match was back and forth for about 12 minutes before Nakane finished with the brainbuster. Nakane finishes up with 5 points, which will look respectable enough in hindsight, though he was at no point really in the running in their group, and it appears that his slide out of main events has begun. Duane winds up with a single point, earned in his first match, but he has been allowed to look strong against everyone he went up against. This match didn't have much heat, as it is the only remaining round robin match with nothing at stake. C</p><p>

2. Rebel Cell (Sarumara & Okazawaya) beat Tiger Ichihara & Hiroyasu Gakusha in 9 minutes when Sarumara pinned Gakusha. D</p><p>

3. Everest & Team Strength Rush (Wright & Diaz) defeated Kazuo Mitsushi, Kimitada Yanagita, & Hirokumi Saito when Lee Wright pinned Saito. Match went about 10 minutes. Everest draws gasps when he comes out, because he's so damn big, but no real reaction at all for his work. D+</p><p>

4. In Group A, Hito Ichihara made Dragon Agakawa submit in 13 minutes. This gets Ichihara to 7 points in the group, and Agakawa finishes with 1. Agakawa is just about done, though I hear that Sotatsu Sarumara has been traveling with him, so maybe he can impart some knowledge before he shifts to a behind the scenes role. B-</p><p>

5. In another Group A match, Danger Kumasaka won by submission over his protégé Yoshimi Mushashibo in about 28 minutes. Easily match of the night. They teased early that Mushashibo might lay down to give his mentor the easy pin, but they shook hands and laid into one another. It was teased that Mushashibo would hang on for the draw, but he tapped out to a heel hold with about 90 seconds remaining. Kumasaka finishes in a dead heat with Ichihara, with 7 points. Mushashibo finishes with 2, but no victories. B</p><p> </p><p>

On Thursday, King's Road TV drew 3,500 in Tohoku, doing a 4.07 rating.</p><p>

1. Mito Miwa faced Eisaku Hoshino in the final Group A match of the tournament. Entering the match, Miwa could win the group outright with a victory. A draw would put him into a 3-way tie with Ichihara and Kumasaka, while a Hoshino victory would put Hoshino into said 3-way tie. All three outcomes were teased during the match, which went nearly 27 minutes. In the end, Miwa won with the Pride Bomber. He finishes with 8 points, winning Group A, and advancing to the final at Night of PRIDE. B+</p><p>

2. Dread and Shuji Inukai faced off in a Group B match. Dread entered the match a point ahead of Inukai, and tied with Kitoaji, who would be in the night's final match. Dread came out looking pissed off, and beat the holy hell out of Inukai. I've heard there was some backstage drama, but nobody was telling more than that. The last several minutes saw Inukai kicking out of everything, and Dread dropping stiffer and stiffer shots trying to put him away. Finally, the bell rang, signaling the draw. Dread finishes with 7 points, Inukai with 6. B</p><p>

3. In the final match of the round robin, Koryusai Kitoaji and Nobuatso Tatsuko faced off in Group B. Kitoaji needed a draw to keep pace with Dread, and a win would advance him to the finals this weekend. Much was made of Tatsuko's win over Yodo Nakane, as his only role at this point was to act as spoiler. Dread ran down to ringside late in the match, and tossed some of the dojo boys around, but both Kitoaji and Tatsuko turned and stopped him from getting into the ring. He stormed off, throwing a chair into the crowd. The finish saw Kitoaji win Group B after dropping Tatsuko on his head for the pin in 26 minutes. B+</p><p> </p><p>

PGHW finalized contracts this week with Tasuku Iesada and Joel Kovach. Iesada's contract with BHOTWG runs for another two weeks, but he was pulled off the road after doing one final job to Yoshinaka Toshusai. He will presumably enter PGHW at or near the level of the current crop of younger stars. I'm told he'll be making a little more than Inukai, but less than Miwa and the top guys. Kovach has to finish his bookings in the states through the rest of this month.</p><p> </p><p>

PGHW Night of PRIDE is this weekend. The lineup looks like this:</p><p>

Koryusai Kitoaji vs Mito Miwa for the inaugural Elite Series finale title</p><p>

Hito Ichihara vs Danger Kumasaka for the Glory Crown</p><p>

Team Strength Rush vs Team Toronto for the Glory Tag Crown</p><p>

The Rebellion vs Hoshino & Nagahama</p><p>

Nakane & Mitsushi vs Tatsuko & Mushashibo</p><p>

Dread & Everest vs Inukai & Gakusha</p><p>

Rebel Cell vs Bryan Holmes & Black Cobra</p>

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<p>*From March 1997 Wrestling Insider (week 2 - Update)*</p><p> </p><p>


PGHW ran Night Of PRIDE this weekend, drawing a 15,000 seat sellout (me included) at Tokyo Civil Stadium. The preliminary reports show about 132,000 buys, which is down a bit from last month. It's not clear whether last month got a boost from being the company's first PPV, or if this month was harmed by not being able to announce their top few matches until the round robin was completed.</p><p> </p><p>

A little more housekeeping: it turns out that Eisaku Kunomasu has been held off the road resting a minor leg injury. It wasn't clear, since he was not in the round robin, but he apparently tweaked his hamstring in his last outing, and has been recuperating ever since. He is expected back in the next week or so.</p><p> </p><p>

1. Eisaku Hoshino & Mamoru Nagahama defeated The Rebellion (Shimedzu & Miyamae) in about 15 minutes when Hoshino pinned Shimedzu with the Gojira Plunge. Nagahama seemed a bit outclassed by the other three in the match. B-</p><p>

2. Black Cobra & Bryan Holmes defeated Rebel Cell (Sarumara & Okazawaya) in 11 minutes when Duane pinned Okazawaya. C-</p><p>

3. Dread & Everest beat Shuji Inukai & Hiroyasu Gakusha in about 9 minutes when Dread pinned Gakusha with a Dread Bomb. The Dread/Inukai segments were very heated, but Gakusha isn't over yet, and Everest can't work. C</p><p>

4. Team Strength Rush (Wright & Diaz) retained the Glory Tag Crown against Team Toronto (Bennett & Robinson) when Diaz pinned Robinson in 14 minutes. C</p><p>

5. Yoshimi Mushashibo & Nobuatso Tatsuko beat Kazuo Mitsushi & Yodo Nakane when Tatsuko pinned Mitsushi in 17 minutes. B</p><p>

6. Koryusai Kitoaji beat Mito Miwa to win the inaugural Elite Series title. Very good match, though the level of expectation was through the roof, and it couldn't quite meet that. The crowd was very nearly evenly split between the two men. The finish saw bith guys standing toe to toe in the middle of the ring throwing some of the stiffest elbow strikes I've seen live. Miwa came off the ropes attempting a Pride Bomber, but Kitoaji ducked it, then hit him with a rolling elbow that put Miwa down in a heap for the pin in about 34 minutes. Miwa looked as if he was legitimately knocked out, but I hear that it was just a convincing sell job. B+</p><p>

7. Hito Ichihara retained the Glory Crown by making Danger Kumasaka submit to an armlock in 37 minutes. The psychology of the match was off the charts, with Kumasaka trying to reinjure the shoulder that he had damaged a couple weeks ago. They teased the finish of that match a few times, with both men getting rollups off of submission holds. In the end, Ichihara hit a high angle back suplex, then clamped on an armlock for the win. B+</p>

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