The Navigation Log 11.18.07: Mauritius
I always like to start these columns off talking about something completely off topic. I think that this time I'm going so far away from wrestling it frightens me.
There's apparently an old Civil War era picture of Abraham Lincoln getting around. Only it's not of him, it's a long shot of Gettysburg right before his speech there. If you zoom in over and over again you will see a blurry image of what may or may not be a man with a beard wearing a stove pipe hat. I know that it's a rare chance to see what the man actually looked like, but are we really treating him like Bigfoot? I say it's not Lincoln, but rather Manbearpig.
Onto the Navigation Log!
Mauritius Cup: Week 1
The Mauritius Cup got under way this past week with the start of the Winter Navigation. This battle of the rookies is looking to be mighty interesting and it does look like they're actually being given time to have decent matches. The thing that I've worried about this tournament is that it's not going to be perceived as serious by the fans. None of these guys are really up to main eventing shows and the finals of the Cup won't be taking place at the Budokan Hall.
Regardless of that, NOAH does seem to want people to care about these matches. The tournament matches are opening shows for the obvious fact that the guys involved are so young and inexperienced in the eyes of Japanese fans. They're not getting time to have complete matches on the main show. Singles matches no less, which are hard for rookies to come by.
Here's how the point standings fall after the initial bouts:
Shuhei Taniguchi: 3
Atsushi Aoki: 3
Taiji Ishimori: 2
Akihito Ito: 2
Tsutomu Hirayanagi: 0
Ippei Ota: 0
Aoki vs. Taniguchi opened the tournament this past week and went to a 20 minute draw. I'm very interested in seeing this match since it's been given a great deal of time and since their match on the ROH in Tokyo show was of good quality I'm curious to see how they've built upon it. The DVD of that show doesn't really show it, but the crowd was very into that match. Well, in a Japanese way.
The following night saw Ishimori beating Hirayanagi and Taniguchi going over Ota. Ishimori has more experience than most of this field, both in time wrestling and having competed in a fair number big matches over the past year in NOAH. Taniguchi looks to have been positioned to be a strong contender for winning the whole thing.
The next show saw Aoki going over Ota with a jujigatame. He's now tied with Taniguchi and also looks to like he'll have a good run in the tournament.
NOAH seems willing to push Taniguchi and Aoki which is fine with me. I could even see this ending in a tie breaker between the two. The next few weeks' matches will reveal where this will end up going in the end, but I'm predicting now that it'll be close or end in a draw between Aoki and Taniguchi. The real hurdle is going to be getting past the far more experienced Ishimori, but it's extremely likely that NOAH will put over a graduate of their own dojo before Ishimori wins it.
This Week in Title Matches
Every GHC title is being defended through the Winter Navigation. I like this plan of spreading the defenses out, rather than cramming a bunch onto the Budokan show. I figure that they may add another defense or two, but right now it makes sense. The return of Kenta Kobashi is going to overshadow most of that card anyway so there's no reason to pack the show with title defenses that won't generate any crowd interest
This week on 11/19 we'll have to title matches. First, will be the Global Hardcore Championship decision match. Kentaro Shiga and Kishin Kawabata will face off with both the title (reverted back into a singles title) and their hair on the line. No one really expects Shiga to have to give up his hair since it's part of his gimmick. Kawabata doesn't especially need it, which kind of explains the coming break of the team. I'll be sad that we'll be losing this team, but it does just add to the anything goes nature that NOAH's Hardcore Championship brings.
The other match that night doesn't have quite the amount of drama that's being planned between Shiga and Kawabata, but it's going to be an interesting match regardless. Ricky Marvin vs. Yoshinobu
Kanemaru for the GHC Jr. Heavyweight title. Marvin has been having a great year in the Jr. Heavyweight tag team division. This shot is a long time coming for him. Being the huge Marvin proponent that I've been since the first time I saw him live I can only hope that he wins the title here. It might look like they're just passing the belt around too much, but this really makes sense to me. Kanemaru doesn't need to hold the belt again and it easily sets up a potential Kotaro Suzuki vs. Ricky Marvin title match. Which would be amazing.