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I'd love to point out how great it is to FINALLY see a mid card championship get retired. Thanks for the memories, IWGP IC title. But it's for your own good.

Hopefully this starts a trend.
 

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Which other midcard titles should get retired?
When I got into wrestling (later than most, but still 12 years ago), one of the first things I couldn't understand is why the WWE US/IC titles existed.
When you're a champion, that means you're the best at a certain thing. Best wrestler, best female wrestler, best tag team, best cruiserweight, etc.
Even "back in the day" it didn't make sense in kayfabe. Midcarding isn't a division, it has - especially in WWE - meant you aren't on the level of the top guys.
While since getting away from the E and seeing NJPW where it feels like "oh you aren't on the level of Okada? Yeah cause that's really hard, guys like SANADA are still world class athletes", It still feels like a consolation prize and it enables lazy writing.

In WWE, Lashley REALLY felt like he was less of a star with it. He's holding that belt, so you don't think of him as a main eventer, and you don't even realize how much ass he's been kicking without that golden anchor they had to book their way out of. The best midcard champs I've ever seen (obvious 2015 Cena) were guys who didn't need the belt. I can't even remember guys like Adam Cole with the North American title doing much with it.
 

E.A. Roadster

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When I got into wrestling (later than most, but still 12 years ago), one of the first things I couldn't understand is why the WWE US/IC titles existed.
When you're a champion, that means you're the best at a certain thing. Best wrestler, best female wrestler, best tag team, best cruiserweight, etc.
Even "back in the day" it didn't make sense in kayfabe. Midcarding isn't a division, it has - especially in WWE - meant you aren't on the level of the top guys.
While since getting away from the E and seeing NJPW where it feels like "oh you aren't on the level of Okada? Yeah cause that's really hard, guys like SANADA are still world class athletes", It still feels like a consolation prize and it enables lazy writing.

In WWE, Lashley REALLY felt like he was less of a star with it. He's holding that belt, so you don't think of him as a main eventer, and you don't even realize how much ass he's been kicking without that golden anchor they had to book their way out of. The best midcard champs I've ever seen (obvious 2015 Cena) were guys who didn't need the belt. I can't even remember guys like Adam Cole with the North American title doing much with it.
WWE had two shows and two brands for the better part of the last 12 years. It's hard to argue that having 1 title for 2 brands with 40 different roster members/show proves anything, the argument could be made in kayfabe that a champion frequenting one show devalues their status as the best. It's a deficit for either show to be without a champion, in the midcard.

The kayfabe function of a midcard title is pretty simple. No matter what walk of life you compete in, there's intermediary accomplishments. You get a purple belt, competing in purple belt competitions before getting a black belt, competing in black belt competitions. It's not a disadvantage for the promotion to acknowledge that the vast majority of their roster is, in fact, not as good as the world champion. It doesn't mean they can't prove themselves, both in booking and kayfabe, to be champion by showing their ability to be the best of the rest with midcard titles.

Also, the function of the midcard titles "back in the day" didn't discredit the reason for a midcard title, either. An example being JCP/WCW which had the World Heavyweight, US and TV titles, in their midcard singles division. The TV title was regularly defended on TV, and on house shows, often given to the guy deemed the best worker or with the most potential as a worker, to test their in-ring skills and endurance. This was also the kayfabe function of the title, this is the workhorse and this is him proving it. The US title was to test the ability of a guy to draw. The Heavyweight champion rarely wrestled on TV shows, or if he did, it was often in one-offs or tag matches. The US champion was the only regular, reoccurring champion to appear and wrestle, on a regular basis. The Heavyweight champion was obviously the top prize, but the kayfabe function of the US title was also very similar to the booking function, that this guy is biding his time.

WWE's poor booking of their titles is more of the issue than the fact that they exist.
 
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Asad Ali

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This other excitement factor is that whoever overthrows Okada is the 60th champion. For either Ocada or Tana, or even more Naito if the Okada tumps Tana, that is a nice feather in your cap.
Perhaps we can get Ishii vs Tana for the band if Tana wins? But when I see it, I'll believe that.
 

Snowman

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Damn, did I enjoy Dominion.

I was watching the G1 2019 with a casual buddy and I always said man, Shingo's the shit, but I totally get what they're doing. As great as he is there's just so much talent, they're buidling up Naito for the double title, building up Jay White and Moxley's debuted and Goto's having a resurgence and Taichi's improved and... Shingo was killing it but still felt lost in the shuffle as the junior who just lost his unbeaten streak to Ospreay...

Speaking of, it's going to be really interesting going forward. As a Ravens' fan, I get it before this year, no matter who we beat. the Titans' had our number. They'd always make one more play to the point where they were in our heads, so when we knocked them out of the playoffs last year it was SUCH a cathartic moment. Same with Shingo, who's hardly a bum for not beating Ospreay, but moreso makes one false move and makes one hard hit less than the Ospreay and gets caught. He cost him his unbeaten streak, beat him in his first World Title match... now here's the GOAT looking up on the lights and he's still got that specter over his head. But first, Ibushi absolutely destroys Vegeta/Jeff Cobb and Shingo wants a piece of THAT.

I've gotta throw a shoutout to Roppongi 3K and the booking of them, this was classic New Japan. In the opening match there's a ton of chaos and when everyone's out of the way, it's down to SHO and Ishimori, and SHO may get a hope spot or two but Ishimori mostly mops the floor with the dude and pins him for the W. Now SHO and YOH are like the Young Bucks in a way, where in kayfabe one's not really better than the other, just a well oiled machine together. When YOH faces Despy later on in the night, Despy's practically having to break his leg, and Yoh's out here struggling his way through landing off a thing because of the damage Despy's done, and still fighting uphill and gave Despy all he could handle. In the end, when Despy talked up how YOH was way more than he expected, Ishimori just comes out and laughs because he just murdered the shit out of his tag partner and called his shot on Despy who's proven to be SHO's equal by proxy. kinda pissing off ELP and planting the seeds for a needed Ishimori babyface turn. (Dude's too good to be a Bullet Club background player lol)

Great stuff all around, best PPV I've seen in a long time.
 
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It was a good show that brought the wrestling world in a different direction.

I mark for Okada nearly like I marked for Flair... but that honestly makes the matches they lose the better
 

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To bring up a meme from the past... Winner winner, chicken dinner. Three notes...

-As so many of us fans of western wrestling, this was the PERFECT time to put the belt back on Okada. It's the tried and true formula to strap the belt back on the GOAT and see how long Okada can keep the momentum going for after the shit year NJPW's been having. But NJPW aint playing it safe and I'm here for it. In WWE I'd hate to see them going back to the well with "top face" but this was like if they put Cesaro over Roman (like they should have) (except with Okada still being a hella beloved face), with a shitload of contenders lined up

-Again to the easy/lazy WWE comparison, I posted once how "WWE did nothing to get Roman over" and people fought me on that. "They fed everyone to him! They did nothing BUT try!"... No. Trying means doing something IN KAYFABE to make us GIVE A SHIT. That 100% still matters. Kota Ibushi has had the worst best year ever. He won the G1!!!!....and lost the briefcase. He won the WK main event!!!!....and lost the new double title in his first defense. CSB. Kevin Kelly ( who is fantastic) really put over how he's not strong enough to hold the weight of being IWGP WHC, how he always achieved before choking. And after Shingo called him out, and he graciously accepted, and started getting aggravated and paced back and forth while watching Shingo celebrate the title win... I wonder if the level of MURDER IBUSHI Cobb tried to get out will be coming out more furiously in the future, and his rage will help him maintain success or fall to the Rampage Dragon...

-Meanwhile, as this freshens up Ibushi and gives him (and "that belt is a dumb idea" Okada) a real character arc, we have 2 new guys elevated to the main event scene with Ospreay and Shingo, with made man Naito able to re-enter at any time and the Switchblade coming back soon as well. Possibly Tanahashi and they're planting some seeds for a long overdue Ishimori push. You can have your cake and eat it too

(these books are why I don't talk njpw that often)
 

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