Monday August 26 saw 1500 fans pack Korakuen Hall for the Takayamania 2 event.
Yoshihiro Takayama suffered a spinal injury in 2017 that left him paralysed. As his rehabilitation continues, the first Takayamania event was staged in 2018 to help fund his ongoing care, and this week saw a second card in Tokyo.
Yota Tsuji, Yuji Nagata and Satoshi Kojima represented New Japan on the card in a match billed as a ‘NJPW and ZERO1 mixed tag’. Tsuji, Nagata and ZERO1’s Shinjiro Otani were opposite Kojima, and Tatsuhito Takaiwa and Shoki Kitamura of ZERO1. Otani and Takaiwa were both big names in New Japan’s junior heavyweight division in years past, and the match created an interesting combination of ring veterans and the hottest young prospects for both NJPW and ZERO1.
Kojima would pair up with Otani, and Nagata with Takaiwa in a give and take battle of hard and heavy hits. The young stars weren’t going to be overlooked however, and with the crowd fired up, they made the most of their own time in the ring.
The match ended with Nagata and Kitamura in ring. Kitamura wasn’t intimidated by Blue Justice, as he unloaded with an open hand slap to Nagata, but Nagata responded in kind, before a huge knee, Exploder and Backdrop Suplex for the three count.
Afterward, Nagata was grateful to Otani for what happened to be their first time tagging together in 12 years. Otani meanwhile had a lot of praise for Tsuji, saying that he expected the Young Lion to only continue to grow in the future.
A driving force behind Takayamania has been Takayama’s close friend Minoru Suzuki. The main event of the evening saw Masato Tanaka and Naomichi marufuji wrestle an all Suzuki (but not related) team of Hideki and Minoru Suzuki to a 30 minute time limit draw. Post match, all the wrestlers on the card entered the ring and Korakuen Hall watched a special video message from Takayama himself.
‘Little by little, I’m making progress,’ he would state. ‘I’m doing my best with my rehab; one of these days I’ll be able to finally give Suzuki a big boot in the face. I truly believe that one day soon I’ll be able to see you all in the flesh. Thank you for all your support’.
In response, Suzuki would say that ‘all our struggles can’t compare to what this guy is fighting. It might be frightening, but he’s fighting. So let’s offer these words,’ before all of Korakuen yelled Takayama’s famous catchphrase of ‘NO FEAR!’ in unison.
Check out Takayama’s official blog (Japanese):