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  #16  
Unread 08-07-2018, 12:40 PM
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Jon The GOAT Jon The GOAT is offline
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Originally Posted by Bigpapa42 View Post
Digging the context and backstory posts. Fills out the history a bit. Love that.
Thanks! <3

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Originally Posted by siah463 View Post
I've never gotten into doing BHOTWG saves because of the roster size, I usually end up just doing PGHW,It's really cool to read all this history, my interest is definitely there.
Yeah, the roster is huge, plus I think most people have that early game bug of wanting to sign a few guys, especially in Japan when you want to beat the loyalty system. I'm a bigger fan of PGHW & BCG actually but BHOTWG are still pretty cool and I think there's a ton of fun stuff I can do with it.

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The Four Heavenly Kings


Burning Hammer of the Wrestling Gods has had one feature that has long allowed them to stand apart from Golden Canvas Grappling throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and afterward from Pride Glory Honor Wrestling in the last two decades: their Juniors division. It was only past the new millennium when companies like World Level Wrestling, EXODUS 2010, Pro Wrestling SAISHO would emerge to cash in on what had for a long while been an unrivaled feature of Japan’s biggest company. Even then, none of the three companies have had the financial power or reputation to truly rival BHOTWG.


Elemental I, Elemental II & Optimus

The Juniors division can be divided into two distinct eras, the era of Elemental I & II and Optimus from 1981 to the tail-end of 2004 and the era of the Four Heavenly Kings: Elemental III, Marihito Masuko, MYSTIC Dragon & Sensational Dragon from 2006 to present-day. The first era saw the three champions exchange the Burning Junior Championship for 14 years (with the exception of a brief Stunner Okazawaya reign). From ‘95 to 2000, there was a brief attempt to transition the division away from the trio with Burning Takashita (now BURNING Exile in EXODUS 2010), Naoya Ashikaga (career ending injuries), The Great Hisato (toxic backstage), Tom Gilmore (returned to the US), Miyamae (unwillingness to commit to BHOTWG), and the next four years saw Elemental II and Optimus continue their rivalry. There is one man who successfully aided in the transition between these two eras, and who found success in both, The Awesome Kiyaru, but we’ll delve more into him later.


Sensational Dragon

March 2006, 21 years old Sensational Dragon began a new era in the Junior division when he defeated Super Joshuya for the Burning Junior Championship. Widely regarded as one of the best big-match performers in BHOTWG, let alone the world, Sensational Dragon has been stealing the show for the past decade and at only 30 years old, hasn’t slowed down a bit. His blue dragon mask remains one of the most prestigeous masks in the world, and his performances have been rewarded countless times. Sensational Dragon is equal to the Awesome Kiyaru and Elemental III in the most Best of the Super Juniors victories, and with his recent victory, he has matched Elemental II in most Burning Junior Championship reigns, now 3-shy of Optimus’s 8.

Sensational Dragon is regarded as one of the best high flyers in the world today (many have wished for a match with WLW’s Emerald Angel to settle the score), and his rivalry with fellow Heavenly King Marihito Masuko has reached Elemental vs. Optimus levels of infamy. Dragon’s success coming at a young age has swelled his ego and made him the least liked of the Four Heavenly Pillars. Now, enjoying his 5th Burning Junior Championship reign, Sensational Dragon has made his next two goals clear: win his 4th Best of the Super Juniors to set a new record, and to do what none of the Four Heavenly Kings have managed to accomplish yet, hold the Burning Junior Championship for a year and solidify himself as the King of Kings. He came close in his 3rd reign, only to see Black Cobra put an end to it at the 11 month mark, and again in his 4th reign only for Elemental III to soil it at the 10 month mark. After a four year gap without the belt, Sensational isn’t eager to ever let it go again.


"Purple Demon" Marihito Masuko

Dragon’s biggest rival, “Purple Demon” Marihito Masuko, has always been a favorite of the Four Heavenly Kings because he’s often been the underdog due to his small size. His vibrant purple wig with horns sticking out, and his distinct white paint have always been a pleasurable sight, and you’re like to find a ton of kids out there in the crowd matching his attire even more than you might any of his rivals. Masuko is fortunate in that he was able to wrestle Elemental, Elemental II and Optimus more frequently than the other kings, and actually compete with them for the Burning Junior Championship.

While Sensational Dragon made his mark by winning the Burning Junior Championship, Masuko indicated to Dragon that he was in fact better than him with a star making victory to defeat him for the Best of the Super Junior trophy that very same year. At Night of the Burning Hammer, Masuko went on to defeat Dragon a second time in December to win his first Burning Junior Championship. The two have ended each other’s Burning Junior Championship reign a total of 4 times since. Masuko’s career is already gold laden with 2 BOSJ victories, and 3 Burning Junior reigns, his most recent one just ended by Dragon.

Masuko has own significant issue he will want to overcome going forward, and that is the idea that he is the weakest and worst of the Four Heavenly Kings despite being the oldest and having compete with the first era. Many believe Masuko will be the first of the Four Heavenly Kings to fall off the throne and with the countless rising stars in the Juniors division, and a ballooning amount of talent outside of BHOTWG, Masuko needs to prove himself in 2016 as deserving his spot.


MYSTIC Dragon

MYSTIC Dragon, a year younger than Sensational Dragon, may be able to blame his lack of credentials simply on the fact that he arrived in BHOTWG only in the last 6 years. The second generation star who has refused to cite whom he’s descended from, has often claimed that being the best of the Four Heavenly Kings is his destiny. It very well might be but if anyone comes in the way of MYSTIC Dragon’s success it might not be anyone other than himself. It’s long been rumored that his inheritance has been a shadow cast over him throughout his youth, and one that has left him succumbing to demons.

Nevertheless, MYSTIC Dragon did not waste time breaking the new stranglehold on the Burning Junior Championship when he arrived, quickly proving himself with a Burning Junior Championship reign less than a year from the date he signed with the company. MYSTIC’s rivalry with Elemental III has been pretty apparent over the past 6 years, although one might say its very much been led by MYSTIC who for some reason or another has often been more aggressive and antagonistic towards the inheritor of the Elemental mask.

Having already held the Burning Junior Championship twice, MYSTIC has cited his big goal for 2016 to be a win in the prestigious Best of the Super Junior tournament, a tournament which has seen him fall short a total of 3X in the finals; twice to Elemental III, and once to American Optimus.


Elemental III

The last of the Four Heavenly Kings is the one with the biggest baggage on his shoulders, Elemental III. No one knows if Elemental III wrestled before he was chosen to wear the mask, but his debut in August 2007 with Elemental II against Black Cobra & American Optimus marked the beginning of what might go down as the career of the greatest Junior of all time. At the age of 21 years old, Elemental III matched Sensational Dragon’s feat with his first Burning Junior Championship, a title he went on to win two more times. That very same year he won the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, less than 12 months into his debut, a tournament he would go on to win two more times. He also has the distinction of having Burning Junior Tag Team Championship reign with fellow Heavenly King Marihito Masuko.

Elemental III is regarded as a complete success and if he were to retire today at just 28 years old, he would already have lived up to the legacy and been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and yet, Elemental III still has a long career ahead of him. Elemental III holds very much the same goals as Sensational Dragon, a record breaking 4th Best of the Super Juniors reign. He has also made subtle indications that he would like to do something none of his predecessors have done, prove himself against the heavyweights. That may just be fantasy and there’s no indication from President Kaneko that there will be any cross-fighting between divisions.

2016 promises to have more of the same for the Juniors division, the Four Heavenly Kings stealing show and exchanging the spotlight between each other. The Best of the Super Juniors will specifically be a tournament to watch with MYSTIC hoping to win his first, Elemental III and Sensational competing to break records, and Marihito desperate to establish himself as on part with his fellow kings.

Next, we take a look at three of the finest heavyweight tag teams.

Notes: I've got 7 more of these posts coming. They're as much for new readers as they are for me to get to know my roster better~ BHOTWG starts with 56 wrestlers so it's a lot to get through for sure. I think since we're through with the big names, it should be a bit easier to get through the rest of the roster.
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  #17  
Unread 08-08-2018, 05:24 PM
BurningLariat BurningLariat is offline
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Long time lurker first time poster here, keep up the good work! Your write ups so far have been fascinating. It's always interesting to see other people's take on your favourite TEW company
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  #18  
Unread 08-09-2018, 03:09 AM
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I'm really loving these character posters. MAkes their motivations clear for everyone who's not familiar with BHOTWG (including me). Can't wait to see the first show!
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  #19  
Unread 08-09-2018, 04:29 AM
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As a BHOTWG man myself, I'm definitely reading along.
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  #20  
Unread 08-09-2018, 05:09 AM
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IngoberNEObles I see.

Digging this so far Jon, rich backstory is my kind of backstory.
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  #21  
Unread 08-09-2018, 08:27 PM
James The Animator James The Animator is offline
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As somebody who first got into the Cornellverse by playing BHOTWG, I am definitely subscribing to this diary. Don't sleep on Mitsunari Fugunaga, though. He was a great Taz-like wrestling machine heel when I played a BHOTWG save.
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  #22  
Unread 08-09-2018, 09:16 PM
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Jon The GOAT Jon The GOAT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BurningLariat View Post
Long time lurker first time poster here, keep up the good work! Your write ups so far have been fascinating. It's always interesting to see other people's take on your favourite TEW company
Happy to be the receiver of your first post O_O hope you enjoy the read~

Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterRomanini View Post
I'm really loving these character posters. MAkes their motivations clear for everyone who's not familiar with BHOTWG (including me). Can't wait to see the first show!
Thanks. It's helping me out a ton too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek B View Post
As a BHOTWG man myself, I'm definitely reading along.
I checked your BHOTWG thread, and though it had not reached the first show, it was immensely informative and helpful for me. And obviously your BHOTWG Discussion Thread posts have given me plenty of ideas too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MHero View Post
IngoberNEObles I see.

Digging this so far Jon, rich backstory is my kind of backstory.
There's no other analogy for "coolest stable in Japan" than LIJ.

Quote:
Originally Posted by James The Animator View Post
As somebody who first got into the Cornellverse by playing BHOTWG, I am definitely subscribing to this diary. Don't sleep on Mitsunari Fugunaga, though. He was a great Taz-like wrestling machine heel when I played a BHOTWG save.
I hope Fugunaga impresses. He gives me Ishii vibes (render helps) so that's an automatic win for me. With Iesada & Hoshino's starting freelance status, there's no reason Fugunaga can't be a regular at the top of the card.

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The Stillborn Tag Team Division

It would be disingenuous to claim that tag team wrestling in BHOTWG has ever reached the same pedigree and prestige that singles wrestling has. While the Burning World Championship (re-)debuted in 1981 along with the Burning Junior Championship, and the Best of the Super Juniors tournament appeared in 2000, it took until December 2002, and September 2005 for a Burning World Tag Team and Burning Junior Tag Team championship to appear in BHOTWG lore. In the Burning World Tag Team championship’s decade-plus of activity, only a single-wrestler would be elevated from Burning World Tag Team to Burning World Champion: Yasuhiko Taira. Taira would win the Burning World Championship just a month after acquiring one-half of the tag titles, and hold them simultaneously for 8 months. Aside from Yasuhiko Taira, the only other Burning World Champion to have held the title was Tadiyuki Kikkawa. It’s widely understood that Kikkawa simply held the title to say he’d done it, and to keep him away from the Burning World Championship after he’d returned from INSPIRE.

There are arguably four teams that are synonymous with the Burning World Tag Team championships: Black Magic’s Yasuhiko Taira and Yasunobu Masuno who have held the belts twice and are now members of NEO; Shimedzu & Natsu Miyamae who were both juniors and wrestled for it before the arrival of the Burning Junior Tag Team champions, Miyamae now wrestles as a singles in the heavyweight division while Shimedzu lingers in the juniors division, they held it twice; Sanetomo Shiraishi & Sessue Kawate the inaugural champions held the belts 4x until Sessue Kawate’s retirement after their last reign in 2014; and record-holding 5X champions Chuichi Sanda and Eiji Hamacho who most recently lost the belts in November 2015.


"Explosive" Chuichi Sanda and "The Raging Bull" Eiji Hamacho

“Explosive” Chuichi Sanda and “The Raging Bull” Eiji Hamacho are incredible tag team wrestlers but neither of them would have the pedigree and reputation they have today if not for the other, and yet they are easily the best tag team in BHOTWG history. Despite having a combined near 55 years in BHOTWG, Eiji and Chuichi’s only main events for BHOTWG have come when challenging the team of Black Magic, and Kikkawa and Iesada during their respective tag title reigns, and their sole Burning World Championship challenges have come during Yasuhiko Taira’s reign - a significant part of the criticism of Taira’s reign comes from these weak title defenses. Still, their biggest claim to fame is also the fact that they’ve been the reason why borderline main event wrestlers Taira & Masuno have not had the tag title success they should have in a relatively shallow division.

Sanda & Hamacho are two of the company’s elder-statesman and are nearing the end of their respective careers, there’s a general belief that they’ve held the Burning World Tag Team Championship for the last time but they’ve resisted criticism and Sanda has been particularly determined to ensure that if they are walking away, then they are walking away passing the torch to a team that deserves it, not a disrespectful wrestler reliant on his size for success and his late blooming veteran partner. Some may be arguing for the tag team division to move forward and truly reach its potential but Sanda & Hamacho have insisted that 2015 will not be the last time they hold their belts.


Toshiki Shibanumo and "Baby Elephant" Nissho Yuasa

Current Burning World Tag Team champions Toshiki Shibanumo and Nissho Yuasa have not earned any plaudits for ending the reign of Sanda & Hamacho. Toshiki, a 29 year veteran, isn’t expected to last much longer in BHOTWG and this second reign with Yuasa is expected to end with either Sanda & Hamacho taking back the belt or a tag team with long term or main event potential taking it. Shibanumo is an average worker who would never appear on anyone’s favorite list nor will he ever show up in any hall of fame or find even much of a career behind the scenes post-retirement.

His partner “Baby Elephant” Nissho Yuasa should be credited for both reigns, has held the belts once before pairing with Shibanumo while teaming with Kanishoki, and even held the Burning Openweight Championship long before he became a reliable tag team wrestler. While Yuasa is only 35 years old, has a great look, experience and is perfectly solid in the ring, there’s very much a reason why he has stalled in the tag team division. Yuasa’s inability to reach the “epic” match lengths typical of BHOTWG main events, and a notoriously bad attitude behind the scenes has kept him from reaching his potential. Yuasa could play a pivotal role in reshaping the tag team division but it would be necessary for him to find a suitable partner that will mirror him in age and experience or that will compensate for it in speed and stamina, Shibanumo and Kanishoki were not those partners but he nevertheless managed the task of helping them reach the peak of their careers.

Shibanumo will be determined to prove the wrestling world that he is better than he’s been shown to be for the last near three decades, but Yuasa’s laziness will make that a troubling affair. Yuasa has nothing to gain from this reign, and many are expecting that to be their undoing.


"The Octopus" Matthew Keith and "Technical Thriller" Tatsuya Toshitala

The last tag team to be mentioned here has only recently formed and no pedigree to their name. The pairing of "The Octopus" Matthew Keith and "Technical Thriller" Tatsuya Toshitala was thrown together haphazardly and yet began gathering momentum as a notoriously challenging team to beat. Matthew Keith, a 7 year veteran and son of a former Burning World Champion, and Tatsuya Toshitala, a 6 year veteran and Japanese independent wrestling sensation, are both being heralded as future Burning World Champions, and that’s not something that is often said of a BHOTWG tag team. Keith and Toshitala are the smallest of BHOTWG’s tag teams and yet its their technical expertise that has made them immediately dangerous. They can pick apart nearly all of their bigger opponents, and their in-ring awareness has been shown to match even that of Hamacho & Sanda.

Here’s the catch: few believe Toshitala and Keith will last long-term as a pairing, and many believe that if they do live up to their potential, BHOTWG will push them past the Burning World Tag Team championships. Matthew Keith is regarded as a wrestling prodigy in most corners and the idea of him living up to Sam Keith’s legacy in BHOTWG (however brief), has made for an intriguing story for BHOTWG. While Toshitala isn’t quite on that level of esteem, he is seen as the successor to Okazaki’s throne as the most dangerous submission wrestler in Japan and with Okazaki on the tail-end of his career, there’s a ready made space for Toshitala to fill for himself.

There are arguments that between NEO, Kikkawa’s Army, and Nakasawa, Horri, and Hoshino, it’s time BHOTWG take advantage of a stacked heavyweight main event to fix the shallow heavyweight division and taking advantage of immense talent like Toshitala and Keith could be just the centerpiece BHOTWG needs to truly surpass their rivals in PGHW.

Next up, we'll take a look at the Junior tag team division!
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  #23  
Unread 08-10-2018, 03:20 AM
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LlamaSquad LlamaSquad is offline
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"The Octopus" is a brilliant nickname.

If this diary does indeed die quickly, I would be rather annoyed, and we're not even through the backstory!
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  #24  
Unread 08-10-2018, 10:27 AM
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Jon The GOAT Jon The GOAT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LlamaSquad View Post
"The Octopus" is a brilliant nickname.

If this diary does indeed die quickly, I would be rather annoyed, and we're not even through the backstory!
Borrowed it from Jonathan Gresham <3 Technically Matthew Keith is a big guy, most likely about Roman Reigns-sized so he's a pretty thick Octopus xD

I hope it doesn't die quick. I've got quite a bit of plans and a ton of ideas I want to go through.

---

A Trio of Legendary Junior Pairings
and the one trying to usurp them


Although it took 3 more years before the Junior division got its own tag team championships, many would argue that the Burning Junior Tag Team champion holds much more prestige than its heavyweight alternates. Compared to the Burning World Tag Team championships, the Burning Junior Tag Team champions have seen 6 former or future Burning Junior champions hold it: The Awesome Kiyaru, Optimus, Super Joshuya, Black Cobra, Elemental III, and Marihito Masuko. In spite of the heavyweight belt’s 3 year advantage, the Burning Junior Tag Team titles have had just as many different champions and pairings hold their belts, highlighting higher competition and a deeper division.

There are quite a few teams that have made of the Burning Junior Tag Team division their home, and particularly four that distinguished themselves from the pack the most. VENOM, who we saw in NEO, is among these four next to Yoshii Shiomi but will be excluded from this list and Yoshii will be found elsewhere as well. Taking the place of Yoshii & VENOM will be a newly rising tag team that has been working hard at their craft together for 8 years now and are hoping to finally hold their first Burning Junior Tag Team championship, but before them we’ll see 3 teams that have each held the belts a total of 3 times.


"The Electric Live Wire" Hyosuke Kokan & "The Big Fight Player" Kansuke Konda

The current Burning Junior Tag Team champions, “The Electric Live Wire” Hyosuke Kokan and “The Big Fight Player” Kansuke Konda won the titles at Silencing Dragons in 2015 by beating American Panther. The near 20-year veteran is at-once a talented technician, and a tremendous high flyer despite being a year shy of 40, and since joining the company in 2003, has been a regular fixture in both the Burning Junior championship scene (a title he’s never managed to win) and the Burning Junior Tag Team championship scene. Along with Konda, he is the second holder of the Burning Junior Tag Team Championship.

Kansuke Konda has never held the Burning Junior championship and yet is widely regarded as one of the greatest juniors of all time. Konda has been with BHOTWG since 1998, and besides his great team with Kokan, is most notorious for his hyper-competitive spirit and his frequent participation in the heavyweight division. No junior has had success breaking down the barriers between both divisions like Konda who holds his 6 month Burning Openweight championship reign as the finest accomplishment of his career (VENOM is the only other Junior to have held the belt, having won it from Iesada and lost it 2 months later).

The 3X Burning Junior Tag Team champions remain as competitive as they ever have and despite entering their 40s, have yet to really miss a beat. Although they have 3 title defenses in the bag, the pair are aware that American Panther and Kiyaru/Scorpion will be respectively looking to hold their record 4th reign, and that Yoshii Shiomi and VENOM will be hoping to make it a 4-way tie for most reigns. All three of those teams are aware that they’ve got the toughest possible challenge if they want to reach those goals with Kokan and Konda holding the belts.


The Awesome Kiyaru & "The Gold and Black Attack" Golden Scorpion

The team they defeated to hold the belts is the legendary pairing of The Awesome Kiyaru and Golden Scorpion, the very first holders of the belts. From 1995 to 2000 when BHOTWG sought to move away from the Elemental, Elemental II, and Optimus dominance of the Burning Junior title, the was only one man that managed to live up to their legacies and who is seen as the chief contributor to the transition between the first era of Juniors and the modern era of Juniors: The Awesome Kiyaru.

The four time Burning Junior champion has the unique honor of having won his last two reigns from Elemental II, and Elemental III and is easily the 4th most iconic junior of all time, at least until the Four Heavenly Kings finish up their own careers. Kiyaru’s biggest success undoubtedly comes from winning the Best of the Super Juniors 3 times in a row and being in a few more finals. Although it’s typically felt that the Four Heavenly Kings have good chances of surpassing Kiyaru when all is said and done, there have been many arguments that Kiyaru may in fact be the greatest junior of all time, period. The 27-year pro has competed and beaten wrestlers from both eras, is the only one to have won the BOSJ consecutively, the only one to have multiple Burning Junior and Burning Junior Tag Team reigns, and many feel, the reason why the Four Heavenly Kings even have the reputation they have today.

“The Gold and Black Attack” The Golden Scorpion is a veteran himself with 21 years under his belt, all of which were spent with BHOTWG aside from a brief loan spell in the US where he held his only singles belt: the TCW Cruiserweight championship. Scorpion will always look the lesser man to The Awesome Kiyaru but you’d be lucky to find a man who wouldn’t be. Scorpion has often challenged for the Burning Junior championship and gone far in the BOSJ but it’s never come together for him as a singles wrestler in Japan.

It’s quite possible that Golden Scorpion has held the Burning Junior Tag Team titles for the last time with The Awesome Kiyaru, but Scorpion still has an opportunity to make something of himself as an individual wrestler or help Kiyaru end his career with another record under his name. For The Awesome Kiyaru, he goes down as a guaranteed hall of famer, and there have been rumors that he will be looking for someone to inherit his one-of-a-kind mask in the way Elemental and Optimus saw their masks passed on. It has been further theorized that this inheritor of The Awesome Kiyaru mantle could even pair up with Golden Scorpion. Of course, the important question resides in who will hold it and if they can live up to such a legacy.


American Optimus & Red Panther

The third illustrious pairing that has to be sighted is that of American Optimus and Red Panther, collectively known as 3X Burning Junior Tag Team champions American Panther. The gaijin pairing sit next to Bruce The Giant, Black Cobra and Dread as the only gaijins to have multiple title reigns in BHOTWG (Raul Hughes’s King of Fighters reign occurred under the INSPIRE banner and not the BHOTWG banner). Considering Bruce and Dread are Hall of Immortals inductees, and Cobra on the verge of being one, American Panther could be said to have overachieved. Although Red Panther is still only 33 years old, neither are even remotely considered to become future members of the illustrious wrestling hall of fame.

American Optimus is, to date, the only inheritor to the Optimus name. Formerly going by Black Eagle and a veteran of the American independent scene, American Optimus is likely fortunate that he was chosen to inherit the American Optimus name because a lot of his success can be attributed to that, at the same time, what is a perfectly great career is seen as not great enough considering he inherited the title of a man who is a Hall of Immortals inductee himself, a record 8-time Burning Junior champion, and 2-time BOSJ (in spite of being 45 at the time of his second win). At 41 years old, American Optimus is unlikely to hold even one Burning Junior championship reign, and though he has a tremendous tag team history, a BOSJ win to his name, and will undoubtedly become a BHOTWG hall of famer, his career simply pales in comparison to Optimus’s. In fact, many have been citing a need for a proper, younger inheritor to the Optimus name, such as Optimus’s own protege Eagle Kawasawa (currently working for GCG).

Red Panther, a high flying Canadian wrestler once known as Phenomenal E, is lucky not to have those expectations on his shoulder. Red Panther is only 33 years old, and there’s a genuine belief that once American Optimus retires, Red Panther could very well prove himself among the Four Heavenly Kings. Others believe that American Optimus’s retirement could mean a return to the west for Red Panther. Red Panther remains under the shadow of his partner’s name, and it’s something he’s aware he will need to step away from at some point.

Heading into 2016, American Panther will be seeking to hold their 4th Burning Junior Tag Team championship, but underneath that obvious goal, both are determined to break the monopoly of the Four Heavenly Kings and hold their first Burning Junior championships. American Optimus is well aware that his time is running out and Red Panther is desperate to prove he has worth in BHOTWG beyond his pairing with American Optimus. The hope is that this doesn’t fracture one of the great junior tag teams in Japan.


"Lightning Streak" Reijiro Hiraki & "Omnipotent" Masakazu Kaima

When Reijiro Hiraki and Masakazu Kaima decided that they would begin competing in the Burning Junior Tag Team division, they were well aware that there were four great tag teams they’d need to compete with, much like the Four Heavenly Kings of the singles division.

“Lightning Streak” Reijiro Hiraki will likely rue that he wasn’t chosen to inherit the Elemental III mantel, and he has shown that in his aggressive demeanor when faced with the man, but he’s likely the only man who regrets that decision. Still, at only 29 years old, Hiraki is an incredible high flyer, a top tier technician, and has shown the physicality to compete with heavyweights. There are many rumors he may eventually move up to the heavyweight division.

“Omnipotent” Masakazu Kaima is an extremely well-rounded wrestler capable of wrestling any styles, but visibly a step behind Hiraki, and unlikely to ever move up a weight class should Hiraki choose to. Kaima isn’t ever expected to compete for a Burning Junior championship, but he and Hiraki have the potential to become Burning Junior Tag Team champions if they can gather some momentum over the year.

Heading into 2016, the goal remains as it always has for this duo - to beat the dominant teams of the Burning Junior Tag Team division and ensure their names go down in the history book as well but it’s hard to discount the fact that Hiraki has always seen himself as deserving of something more, and should he pursue those ambitions, Kaima may find himself lost in the pack.

Next, we glance at 6 of the heavyweight's rising stars.
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  #25  
Unread 08-11-2018, 07:16 AM
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The Manly Future of BHOTWG
and the Burning Path they must walk


In 35 years, there have only been 13 different Burning World Champions, only 5 of these have come after the year 2000. Only 2 wrestlers who have debuted since the year 2000 are among these 5. This is all to say, the Burning Path is the hardest path to walk in all of professional wrestling and only the greatest can have the honor of calling themselves a Burning World Champion, most can only hope to challenge for it. Nevertheless, countless wrestlers seek the Burning Path in order to find themselves in that illustrious hall of former Burning World Champions, and there’s a reason legends like Sam Strong, Sam Keith, and Bruce The Giant have come to Japan to solidify their legacies by holding the most prestigious gold in all of professional wrestling.

I preface an introduction of the future of the Burning Path with this information to let you know that while these are 6 of the brightest heavyweights in all of Japan, the odds are slim to none that any of them ever become a Burning World Champion. Its a cynical take but all walkers of the Burning Path are informed that odds are they will not fulfill their dreams the way they might if they’d joined any other of Japan’s, or the world’s, illustrious companies. Of course, the trick is to see the change in the eyes of those who hear this information, and to see who ignores it and continues charging down that Burning Path. This list will merely be alphabetical and contains 6 heavyweights under the age of 30 years old but past the status of Young Lion.


Atsumori Takemura

Atsumori Takemura was briefly known as “Ace” in order to emulate Hiroaki Nakasawa until he was reprimanded and viciously beaten by his mentor for taking such a title without having the skills or credentials to back it up, he no longer has a nickname. The 25 year old 5 year veteran is a BHOTWG homegrown talent and the successor to Hiroaki Nakasawa when he eventually retires. Few were aware Takemura was no longer a Young Lion since, like Nakasawa, he maintained his very modest attire and simply managed an upset pinfall victory over Hirokumi Saito during a multi-man match. He’s still very green and often the reason for his team’s losses. Since Nakasawa’s injuries, he’s had an incredibly hard-time as a Young Lion and was often viciously beaten by his veteran opponents, especially Kikkawa’s Army and NEO. A well-rounded worker, it’s still unlikely Takemura is able to match Nakasawa’s accomplishments in the ring, but he’s certainly going to be a reliable upper midcard and future Burning World challenger for the next decade and a half.


"Muscle Monster" Gonkuro Kamioka

“Muscle Monster” Gonkuro Kamioka is 6 foot 4 and 270 pounds with a body that’s a perfect combination of muscles and bulk, soft and tough. Gonkuro Kamioka’s bright smile, immense strength, and positive demeanor have made him one of the most likable men in all of professional wrestling. If there was any wrestler who wasn’t remotely discouraged by the thought of the Burning Path it is the most optimistic man on earth, Gonkuro. At 28 years old, and a 7 year pro, Gonkuro had his start at Hinote Dojo where he dominated and won all titles the company had to offer. He found his way in BHOTWG when the company closed and has quietly become a cult-favorite of the company. Gonkuro regularly provides awesome feats of strength that leave in men like Kikkawa and Ino dumbfounded. He may never become a Burning World champion, but this man will probably never stop trying.


"Your Daddy" Ieyoshi Shimakage

“Your Daddy” Ieyoshi Shimakage is the sort of man that is instantly detestable. He has a very lazy demeanor, doesn’t care much for his physique, has very little respect for his opponents (something that often got him physically battered by the likes of Nakasawa, Kikkawa’s Army, Fugunaga, among others when he was a Young Lion), and pisses just about everyone off. Despite that, no one can deny Shimakage’s potential. He’s a deceptively tough wrestler and has had some tremendous ten minute brawls with the likes of Nakasawa and Fugunaga that have gotten many Western fans into watching BHOTWG, and for some reason, his “dad-bod” has gotten him his share of the audience. Undoubtedly, this is a man who likely won’t hold a Burning World Champion but will give many Burning World Champions tough and brutal challenges.


"Hidden Gem" Murai Enomoto

“Hidden Gem” Murai Enomoto is 29 years old and a 10 year veteran, after spending the first half of his career on the Japanese independent circuit, he was eventually hired in 2011. A solid technician and capable wrestler, Murai Enomoto will likely spend another 20 years in BHOTWG before retiring having never accomplished anything in his time there. Enomoto’s best odds of success will come solely if he can find his match in a tag team pairing and use that to thrust himself into a career that’s more than “roster backbone” in the way Chuichi Sanda and Eiji Hamacho managed. Until then, expect Enomoto to fill out the card, beat some young lions, and put over the rest of the guys here who have some modicum of potential to do something more.


"The Golem" Ryushi Sato

“The Golem” Ryushi Sato has a permanent scowl on his face. Short by heavyweight standards at 5’11 but stocky and muscular, Sato is often the heavyweight division’s number one underdog. He’s a fine technician and brawler and there are way too many GIFs running around of Sato meeting a man like Nakasawa and trying to meet him strike for strike. Sato has had plenty of awesome brutally hard-hitting matches with Gonkuro Kamioka and Taro Shionoya down in Hinote Dojo that made Hinote Dojo a western favorite for a while. Sato has earned the Hinote Dojo Triple Crown and has plenty of time to grow in BHOTWG but his best odds remain for him to find a tag team partner and take advantage of the space that’s opening up in that division to once again adorn himself in gold.


"The Wrecking Ball" Taro Shionoya

“The Wrecking Ball” Taro Shionoya is one of the biggest wrestlers in BHOTWG and his arrival on the scene in 2013 shook up a roster that had been physically dominated for a long time by Black Magic and Nissho Yuasa (with the exception of Marat Khoklov’s brief time with the company). 28 years old with a decade of experience under his belt, he spent most of his career in Hinote Dojo with an All-Japan title reign and some absolutely brutal fights with Sato and Kamioka. Shionoya is fortunate that he’s such a physically imposing man because he’s lacking behind Sato and Kamioka when it comes to in-ring skill, and he’s still working on his physical health beyond sheer power. Although some believe he’s destined to have a ceiling in the way Yuasa has, many have argued Shionoya is already Yuasa’s match, a better figure backstage, and has plenty of time to exceed Yuasa with youth on his side. Shionoya’s advantage over the rest of his peers here is that his unique size makes it so that although he probably won’t ever become a Burning World champion, he will be a man that can easily gather some momentum and be a believable threat to anyone who holds that belt.

As I’ve mentioned early, odds are NONE of these men ever hold the Burning World Championship, but it is up to them to prove this statement wrong and to break through the tight wall that is slowly coming over the main event scene. Sanetomo Shiraishi, the oldest wrestler in the company, has commented that the best odds these men have of holding gold is to become tag team wrestlers the way he did, or hope that President Kaneko sees it fit to introduce new titles in BHOTWG. Masaaki Okazaki, the 27 year veteran and longtime main event wrestler, has only held two King of Fighters (and only one of them under the BHOTWG banner) and commented that he welcomed any of these rising stars to try to break Kikkawa’s hold on the company, but informed them they’d have to go through him first. The only absolute sure thing we can say about this crop of men is that they are bringing an increasingly hard-hitting and physically brutal style to BHOTWG which should at least leave the stars of BHOTWG with welts to remind them who they’ve crossed.

Next, we'll see the seven Juniors who are hoping to break the Four Heavenly Kings' stranglehold on the Burning Junior championship.
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Unread 08-11-2018, 07:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon The GOAT View Post
There's no other analogy for "coolest stable in Japan" than LIJ.


OG MAD BLANKEY says hello.
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Unread 08-13-2018, 10:49 AM
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Definitely enjoy these. I like seeing how some of the directions you've gone for characterizations differ from mine. Looking forward to the next installment.
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Unread 08-13-2018, 05:54 PM
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Rise of the Juniors

The Four Heavenly Kings of the Junior division in BHOTWG have left a ceiling that is nearly impossible to breakthrough. Since MYSTIC Dragon came into possession of the Burning Junior championship in 2011, no one but one of the Four Heavenly Kings has held it. American Optimus has come closest to breaking through that ceiling, and despite a Best of the Super Junior victory, even he was unable to unseat any of the Four Heavenly Kings. While the Heavyweights have left an open door for anyone with the will and skill to breakthrough, the Junior division is helmed by four wrestlers between 28 years old and 33 years old who could easily go on to dominate the division for another decade.

Having established all of that, there is an incredible depth in the Juniors division, more than ever before, of talent hoping to breakthrough. The rise of companies like WLW, EX2010, and SAISHO have all contributed to a surge in Junior wrestlers. At the moment, there are seven wrestlers in the Junior division currently working towards breaking through the ceiling of the Four Heavenly Kings to either unseat one of them, or expand this illustrious group to five. Once again, in no order of quality, only alphabetic, we will go through these wrestlers hoping to become part of BHOTWG history.


"New Century Wrestler" Hachigoro Maeda

“New Century Wrestler” Hachigoro Maeda was made in the WLW system working a whether outlandish gimmick of a wrestler from the future that wasn’t entirely human. He ditched it after being released and working at Hinote Dojo. Maeda impressed enough to earn a contract with BHOTWG in 2011. He had a solid but unexceptional Burning Junior Tag Team title reign with veteran Haru Kurofuji that last seven months, but hasn’t found much success with Kurofuji since then. Maeda cited his intentions to focus on his singles wrestling in 2016. A fine high flyer with some technical skills that often surprise his opponents, Maeda’s only weakness may be what he failed to take away from his time in WLW, a colorful persona. He hasn’t really been able to get the crowd behind him, nor has he had the sheer talent to outshine his peers. As the oldest of the Juniors on this list, and at 32 years old, on the upper reaches of the Four Heavenly Kings, Maeda has to be desperate to either have it all come together for him in the ring, or to channel his WLW past if he wants to become more than just a one-time Burning Junior Tag Team title holder.


Helikaon "The Burner"

Helikaon “The Burner” is known in most circles as K.C. Glenn, the Joey Minnesota prodigy who tore up MAW for a time from 2013 to 2015, during which BHOTWG was suitably impressed and brought him in for a tour and later on for a permanent contract. Helikaon has been quite divisive before his time in BHOTWG, his rapidly spreading highlights have seen him labeled a spot monkey, while others have highlighted him as god’s gift to wrestling. Joining BHOTWG has seen an immediate decrease of his show stealing matches, but there are many hoping the BHOTWG will round out his game and make him a smarter worker, others believe he already belongs in the upper echelons of the Junior division. After a year of working the undercard, Helikaon’s future very much resides within Kaneko and upper management, will they finally let “The Burner” loose, or continue to hold back.


Hijo Del Relampago

Hijo Del Relampago may be just another man wearing a mask in BHOTWG but his distinctively lucha libre style has made him an immediate stand out from everyone else in the locker room. A top MPWF star before it closed, and a brilliant high flyer, Hijo could’ve signed with any Mexican promotion but instead chose to head to Japan and compete with the elite Junior division of BHOTWG. He’s done less than a year so far but has certainly impressed and his rare showcases with the Four Heavenly Kings have highlighted his brilliant aerial skills. Hijo still has some holes in his game, but many believe he’s perhaps one or two years away from being in a position to challenge the Four Heavenly Kings, and at 28 years old, time is on his side.


“The Sensei of the Senton” Jin Miyamoto

“The Sensei of the Senton” Jin Miyamoto is 31 years old with 13 years already under his belt and four Hinote Dojo title reigns to show for it. One of the best athletes in the world, there are less than ten people in the world who come up with more jaw-dropping maneuvers than Miyamoto thanks to his gymnastics background. A charismatic wrestler with a substantial female fan base, Jin Miyamoto has all the tools to be a success and is probably only unfortunate in that the guys he has to compete against to become a Burning Junior champion aren’t just good or great, they’re living legends, and that’s not something that can be said for Miyamoto. Furthermore, at 31 years old, it would be harsh but honest to say that Miyamoto may be smarter taking his talents where there’s a less congested main event.


Ninja Shuni

Ninja Shunji has one thing going for him, he has a unique look. Dressed in an all-black ninja attire, Ninja Shunji is 29 years old, an 11 year pro, WLW product, and Hinote Dojo project. He’s a good high flyer and somewhat competent technician, and while his ninja gimmick is somewhat over with the crowd (especially in his showdowns with White Samurai), no one has any delusion that he can recreate the magic of Hooded Kudo. Ninja is a solid member of the roster, but he’s a mile away from competing with one of the Four Heavenly Kings, the right tag team pairing could be what he needs to be anything more than exciting low card act.


Toju Munkata

Toju Munkata is 25 years old, fresh off being a young lion after a win late in 2015 against White Samurai and ready to work towards chasing the Burning Junior belt. Next to Helikaon, Munkata may have the best odds of breaking the ceiling thanks to his youth. As a young lion, he often teamed with Kazunori Yamura (who has not shed the young lion title), but he’s expected to spend some time as a singles wrestler until Yamura is ready to reignite the PUNK Nasty Club pairing that made both of them stars in Hinote Dojo. Munka combines some slick technical wrestling with some good high flying, and his ability to connect to the crowd (by pissing them off) has shown his ability to become more than most of the older Juniors mentioned here. Expect Munkata to continue refining his craft in 2016, and perhaps if Yamura sheds his black trunks, to challenge for the Burning Junior Tag Team titles.


White Samurai

White Samurai has been with BHOTWG for almost a decade now and doesn’t have much to show for it aside from some fun encounters with Ninja Shunji. He’s the student of Scarlet Samurai and is just about destined to mirror his mentor in having brushes with the best of his decision without ever seriously competing against them. Samurai probably has a home in BHOTWG as long as the Junior division doesn’t get too bloated, but with a boom in the division, it seems almost inevitable that Samurai will find himself looking elsewhere for work.

Best of the Super Junior 2016 will prove to be a hyper competitive tournament between the Four Heavenly Kings, the elite tag teams, and the many rising stars, and that’s without counting the veterans who could easily conjure up a surprise or two. If there are two men who have everyone’s eyes, it has to be Helikaon “The Burner” and Toju Munkata, but rumors are circling around that this space may be swelling before too long.

Next up, we come near the end of our heavyweight division with 3 veterans who would probably begrudge us for presuming they're done competing for the top.
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Unread 08-14-2018, 09:55 AM
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The Stars of Yesterday

With Masaaki Okazaki and Hirokumi Saito in Kikkawa’s Army, Chuichi Sanda & Eiji Hamacho remaining Burning World Tag Team title competitors, and Toshiki Shibanumo a Burning World Tag Team champion, the list of heavyweight veterans remains a thin one. Alas, for the most part these wrestlers aren’t likely to hold gold in BHOTWG again before the end of their careers, and some could well see their career in BHOTWG put to an end once their contracts run out. Until they, it would be disastrous for anyone who faces them to let their guards down. These are easily the most vicious and experienced workers you’ll find in Japan and one wrong move could easily spell a loss for those in their prime, or those coming up the ladder. For the most part, they work the undercard, fighting against those rising stars trying to break through the glass ceiling, or the young lions still refining their crafts.


"Inhuman Indonesian" Java

Best known for his pairing with Tribal Warrior as Savage Fury, the “Inhuman Indonesian” Java made his return to Japan with BHOTWG to close out his career. After a successful decade-plus stint in USPW which saw him win 3 USPW National Championships, and 5 USPW World Tag Team Championships, Java arrived in BHOTWG with enough of a reputation to briefly headline BHOTWG against Kikkawa’s Army. While he continues to remain a surprisingly solid worker, the excitement surrounding his arrival has mostly faded and Java now remains a solid threat for top workers to overcome, and for lower workers to be crushed by. At 43 years old, and with a quarter-century career in the books, Java will likely have a home in BHOTWG as long as his body holds him up.


"Honey Badger" Mitsunari Fugunaga

The 36 year old 17 year veteran “Honey Badger” Mitsunari Fugunaga has often been mocked for his nickname, and broken teeth because of it. The nickname is all too fitting, despite being on the smaller size as a middleweight, and certainly not physically impressive with a flabby physique, Mitsunari Fugunaga is without a doubt the last man you want to threaten on the roster. He’s as tough as they come and will beat the shit out of you whether you’re Tadiyuki Kikkawa, the King, or Kazunori Yamura, the young lion. Fugunaga has often been turned to as a fitting challenge for Burning World and Burning World Tag Team titles because he’s both beloved by the crowd and will undoubtedly deliver a great match. Fugunaga’s frequent cussing at opponents to hit him harder has made nearly all of his matches a contest of manliness. Fugunaga may be an exception to this list, it’s hard to imagine him as a Burning World champion but he’s also a man that should never be discounted, and if anyone can win his heart as a tag team partner, Fugunaga could easily have gold in his future. As it is, Fugunaga only has a Burning Openweight championship reign to his name (the last to hold it), and though he’s in this category, expect him to be in the upper reaches of the card leaving everyone he steps into the ring with bruised and battered.


Natsu Miyamae

Formerly one half of The Rebellion, Natsu Miyamae is 44 years old and a 26 year veteran who has spent almost two decades with BHOTWG. One of the most well rounded wrestlers in BHOTWG history, Miyamae’s past as a Junior made him a high flyer, while remaining a great technician, a good hardcore wrestler, and a good brawler and puroresu, you’ll have a hard time finding a better jack-of-all-trades than Miyamae. It’s what helped him and The Rebellion partner Shimedzu compete for the Burning World Tag Team championships before there was a Junior equivalent of the belts. They would go on to hold the belts twice in a rivalry that lasted around two years with Sanetomo Shiraishi and Sessue Kawate. At the end of their second reign in 2005, BHOTWG decided to start a Burning Junior Tag Team championship reign, unfortunately The Rebellion who were expected to dominate the division, lost in the finals of a tournament to The Awesome Kiyaru and Golden Scorpion and would never actually hold the belts. Miyamae also has a Burning Junior championship to his name, the last of a series of experiments that was mostly regarded as a failure to see if BHOTWG could move away from the Optimus/Elemental/Elemental II rivalry. He held the belt for 3 months in 2000 before handing it to Optimus for his 7th reign. Since breaking up with Shimedzu four years ago, Miyamae has remained a static member of the Heavyweight midcard. His best years are behind him but he’s expected to remain with the company till he retires.


"Everlasting" Sanetomo Shiraishi

“Everlasting” Sanetomo Shiraishi has been with BHOTWG since 1994, and has not worked for another professional wrestling company since. A 33 year veteran, and 51 years old, Shiraishi remains the oldest wrestler in the company, and next to Masayuki Shiga, the oldest employed wrestler in the world, and one of the longest active wrestling careers out there. Sanetomo probably has a career with BHOTWG until he decides to unlace his boots. A former Tag Team of the Year winner in 2013 with Sessue Kawate, and a four time Burning World Tag Team champion as well as one-time Burning Openweight champion, and the only active wrestler who is also a part of the BHOTWG Hall of Fame, Shiraishi has done more than most wrestlers can hope to achieve. Many have argued that Shiraishi & Kawate deserve to be in the Hall of Immortals between their four Burning World Tag Team title reigns, and their Tag Team of the Year award, as well as several legendary matches with pairings like Black Magic, Hamacho & Sanda and Kikkawa’s Army. Shiraishi could retire any day now, but as it is, he continues to enjoy beating up the young lions in the opening act.

It’s hard to say what 2016 will bring for these four wrestlers, but Mitsunari Fugunaga undoubtedly remains the exception as a man who has every reason to argue he deserves to be competing at the top of the card.

With only two more entries to go, we will now check out the veterans of the Junior division composed of five wrestlers who have held countless titles between them.
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Unread 08-14-2018, 01:07 PM
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The words 'Java' and 'headline BHOTWG' in the same sentence made me cringe.
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