It’s been a while, but Daizou Nonaka is back here with you to talk about wrestling and videogames.
It was a couple of weeks ago now, but Power Struggle was a phenomenal way to kick off November. We were back to a nine match card, in front of a sold-out crowd; I’ve got to say, it was a little bit emotional. It feels like we’ve all endured a lot through COVID, but that our efforts and co-operation is slowly but steadily paying fruit as we start to get back to normal. Let’s keep working together until the day we can get together in the venue and sing the old goodbye song to COVID!
So just like last year, the World Tag League is head to head with Best of the Super Jr. in 2021, and today I want to talk a bit about both tournaments in a gaming context.
So then, both Best of the Super Jr. 28 and World tag League kicked off on November 13. They’re both 12 entrant single block leagues, running until finals on December 15 in Ryogoku. Both leagues are slightly bigger than last year’s double tournament tour, which had ten entrants each. What really drew me into the tournaments this year though, were the comments of one El Desperado.
No doubt that the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion has a real chip on his shoulder when it comes to competing with the heavyweights in general and the World Tag League entrants in particular. He has that ‘versus heavyweight’ mindset, and it isn’t just that; as the leader of his division, he was really telling the other juniors to step up their own games as well.
There are a lot of wrestlers wo will say that they’re only focused on their match, and aren’t thinking about the other league. But Desperado is really into this competition, which is great. Anyway you look at it, the fans will be making that comparison all the way through the series, and he’s directly appealing to all of us. He has the pride of a champion in his own division, and he’s vowed not just to beat the other juniors in the league, but to beat the World Tag League as well.
Then you have Dangerous Tekkers heading into the World Tag League as champions. Taichi has had to deal with injury, and he’s gotten his body right for the league. Him, and Zack Sabre Jr. are carrying their own heavy responsibilities into this series.
With different gaming genres or franchises, we talk about ‘flagship titles’, ones that represent their fields. So in the racing genre, that might be Gran Turismo, say, or Mario Kart perhaps. They aren’t just great games, but they’re games that beat out those from other genres. People who love Mario Kart won’t just think ‘hey this game is fun!’, but ‘I really like Mario Kart, so I’m going to give another cartoon racer a try!’ They really represent and lead the way for other games in their field.
So there’s no doubt that Desperado and Dangerous Tekkers, as champions, are the flagship representatives of their divisions. It’s on them to not just win as champions, but to win out over the competing league. That’s the responsibility they carry; and not to mention, they’re doing that as members of the same faction in Suzuki-Gun to boot. With the ever present chips on Suzuki-Gun’s shoulders and their hunger for success, we’re guaranteed a pair of hot tournaments to come.
In fact, if you think back to last year, Tama Tonga said something very similar. ‘It’s not just a competition with the other teams, but to decide the better series’ (interview here ). That’s the attitude that he carried, and G.o.D won with that attitude. Not just that, but they won the IWGP Tag Team Championships the next month in the Tokyo Dome too. So he established that responsibility, and then he lived up to it.
I think talking a big game, and then backing it up- there couldn’t be anything more ‘Strong Style’. Same goes for creating pressure for yourself and then overcoming it. All that’s left for us fans is to kick back and enjoy that antagonism playing out.
An as for my picks? Well, for BOSJ we have the current champion Desperado, last year’s winner Hiromu, Robbie Eagles has to be a factor as the former champion, and then you have the freshly heel-turned SHO…
My final is- Hiromu Takahashi vs YOH! And I’m picking YOH to win! I think he’s gone through a lot in 2021, but that return in Osaka was the spark of something big for him.
As for World Tag League, I think Dangerous Tekkers, G.o.D and YOSHI-HASHI and Goto have to be favourites, but I think Tetsuya Naito and SANADA and EVIL and Yujiro will hold the key here. I think the final will be Naito and SANADA vs Dangerous Tekkers, and I have Naito and SANADA winning. With that comeback press conference, he really convinced me, and I have no doubt that he’s in perfect shape to win this one!
Daizou Nonaka is a veteran game producer, wrestling historian and pixel artist.