POST NEWS UPDATE: NJPW President Takami Ohbari talks IWGP Women’s Title, AEW, FTR vs. Aussie Open

In-depth chat with Takami Ohbari, Caprice Coleman on his AEW commentary spots, Bobby Fish's first ROH salary, MJF-All Out, William Regal note

Photo Courtesy: New Japan Pro-Wrestling

If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

** The first IWGP Women’s Champion is going to be crowned at NJPW x STARDOM ‘Historic X-Over’ on November 20th. In an interview with Proresu-TODAY, NJPW President Takami Ohbari said he had the idea for an IWGP Women’s Title pre-pandemic. Ohbari previously served as CEO of NJPW of America.

I had the idea for the IWGP Women’s Championship even before COVID. But at that time, unlike what you just said, you can imagine the reaction of the audience. As I mentioned earlier, I had to fight against the prejudice of the public. I had to contend with these prejudices… I would be exposed to them many times over, and although it would be an interesting challenge, I decided that it was not yet time. And the fact that we are doing this means that the IWGP name is within reach for STARDOM fighters.

Continuing on the topic of Historic X-Over, Ohbari expressed how excited he is about the event. He touched on the growth of women’s wrestling and said the forthcoming show is a symbol of new challenges and added that both he and Bushiroad CEO Takaaki Kidani came up with the ‘Historic X-Over’ name.

Of course I am looking forward to these matches, but of course there will be many other matches as well. Until now, there have not been so many New Japan Pro-Wrestling matches where women’s wrestlers and men’s wrestlers have stood in the same ring… I think the environment has already changed from the old prejudice against women and bringing women into the ring… But I don’t think we should forget the struggle… Besides, I think women’s wrestling is being reevaluated because of their efforts, especially STARDOM. As for the naming of this event, the ‘Historic’ actually came from Takaaki Kidani, and the ‘X-Over’ was my idea.

Of course, this is not just an exchange, not just a mixed match, but there is a very symbolic card lined up right now, with the word ‘women’s’ after IWGP. New Japan Pro-Wrestling, we are always challenging ourselves to new things, and if it doesn’t work out, why don’t we just stop? This event is a symbol of new challenges and I think the meaning of each match is very deep. The meaning of each match is stronger and deeper than the last. I think all the matches will be historic, both memorable and record-breaking and I think there will be more on the card than just the four that have been mentioned here.

The conversation then turned over to NJPW Royal Quest II that took place in England. Ohbari heaped praise onto the night one main event which was Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) versus FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler). Ohbari wants everyone to see that match as soon as possible.

The main event [from night one of NJPW Royal Quest II] is Aussie Open and FTR. Aussie Open was huge and I really want everyone to see that match as soon as possible.

I only saw a little of FTR when I was at AEW, but it was ten times different from my impression of that match. That match was amazing. Aussie Open are strong champions, and they can fly, and they have a lot of experience. They are very strong and it was a very interesting match. As you all know, FTR won. I was really excited… It was a great main event.

In part one of the interview, Ohbari looked back at the AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door event. He recounted his appearance on Dynamite alongside Tony Khan. Ohbari shared that he did not want anyone to know he was there so he stayed hidden. He stated that he and NJPW of America C.O.O. Kaname Tezuka agreed to stay out of the public eye as much as possible.

First of all, I didn’t want anyone to know about it [his AEW on-screen appearance]. We only wrote our names as guests in the waiting room. Everyone else had their real names written down.

We were sneaking around when we entered the hotel. And the name of the waiting room at the venue was ‘Special Guest’, not ‘NJPW’. So I had to sneak off to the restroom, and I couldn’t go out in front of the audience. Tezuka was going there too, but I knew that an Asian in a suit would probably be recognized, so I agreed with Tezuka, the C.O.O. of N.J.o.A., that I would try to stay out of the audience’s way as much as possible. I would have liked to see the match unfold and the atmosphere of the audience live, but I watched it on a monitor inside.

It was amazing. It was the biggest crowd I had seen in a long time. I think the venue held more than 10,000 people. Tony Khan went out first and there were many unexpected things, but when he said, ‘New Japan Wrestling, Mr. Ohbari!’ Everyone stood up and applauded… I guess it was a surprise that the President of New Japan Pro Wrestling came to the event. I felt the greatness of New Japan Pro-Wrestling on my back. I was determined that there was no turning back now. 

While speaking about the vocal crowd noise restriction in Japan and having some events where that vocal cheering is/was allowed, Ohbari recalled meeting with Hiroshi Tanahashi after one of those events and Tanahashi being emotional.

Ohbari brought up when he was at Windy City Riot and he started to shed tears at the crowd reactions and thinking about how restricted things were in Japan. Ohbari recorded those crowd reactions at Windy City Riot and sent it to New Japan executives and Bushiroad’s Board of Directors.

I met Tanahashi at the exit gate after all the matches were over [following a vocal crowd noise show in September]. Then Tanahashi’s tears, which he had been holding back until that point, began to flow at once, and he said, ‘Boss, it’s not fair, I had held back until this point.’ We hugged each other and cried together. I was covered in sweat and crying, and I wondered what that was all about… I guess it must have been painful for the wrestlers too.

I remember when Tomohiro Ishii and Minoru Suzuki were fighting in a singles match in Chicago, everyone stood up and gave them a standing ovation, and the chants of ‘fight forever’ and ‘this is awesome’ kept going on and on. When I was watching that, I couldn’t stop crying… I was so disappointed to be shackled in Japan. I mean, you can see their fights in Japan, though not so often. In the U.S., the excitement was so great, and I was shaking my shoulders thinking, this is real wrestling. When Clark Connors came up behind me and hugged me on the shoulder, I said, ‘This is real wrestling,’ and it’s frustrating.

I was filming the match. Why? I wanted to report it to Japan as soon as possible. I showed the footage to the New Japan executives and Bushiroad’s Board of Directors a few days later, and explained the situation of live sports and entertainment in the U.S. I also explained that vocal crowd noise is such a dominant factor in the value of content and that the lack of vocal crowd noise lowers the value of the content, as well as the steps to lift the ban on vocal crowd noise in the future.

I cried in frustration in Chicago, but as a result, I ended up crying in Korakuen when Tanahashi cried tears of joy, so it was a good way to end the show.

Circling back around to STARDOM and the IWGP Women’s Championship tournament, Ohbari highlighted names such as KAIRI, Alpha Female Jazzy Gabert, Himeka and Lady C.

I personally think [fondly] of Himeka and Lady C. I’ve always been biased because I’m taller than other people. I have had my share of expectations (pre-conceived notions about me) due to being taller than others, so I can sympathize with them. I also think that Alpha Female, who I saw in England, was amazing, and KAIRI, who made a name for herself in WWE, would look great in The Dome. But that’s just my personal opinion.

** By way of his commentary role with Ring of Honor, Caprice Coleman makes appearances on AEW programming. He was a guest on The Black Rasslin’ Podcast and commented on the reaction he’s received to his commentary on AEW. Caprice used a music analogy to describe that feedback.

Yeah, it’s weird because it’s… I think I’ve always been known to some people but it’s always funny, the different platforms you go to. It’s like people don’t know who you are or they know who you — it’s kind of like I’m that album that you bought from an artist and you bought it for one song that you heard on the radio and then they start playing another song and you was like, oh, that song is dope too. I got this song, I got that song, you know what I’m saying? It’s kind of like that to where it’s like they’ve had me forever but then it’s like, oh shoot, he’s got another hit and so it’s kind of like one of those types of things and this album’s been playing for 27 years.

Caprice’s broadcast partner is Ian Riccaboni. He expressed his thought that they are the modern-day version of Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler.

I really feel like [Ian] Riccaboni and I are the modern-day Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. That’s how I feel like him and I are and the way we can feed off of each other and how we can take it up, we can take it down, we can be serious, we can be funny, you know, and it’s just a vibe that we have… You can’t make chemistry. It just has to be. Either you have it or you don’t, you know?

Another name who Caprice credits when it comes to his development as a commentator is Colt Cabana. He talked about how much he appreciates him and said he would not be on commentary if it was not for Colt.

I rock with Colt [Cabana]. Colt’s my dude. I wouldn’t be on commentary if it wasn’t for Colt. Colt helped me out, Colt has always been a friend. I was on commentary with [Ian] Riccaboni, Colt and me and Colt Cabana wanted to wrestle and Colt said, ‘Caprice, you got it bruh’ and he helped me out man. I ain’t got nothing bad to say about that dude. He’s aight with me. He calls me every now and then, send me stupid texts. But it’s him, you know what I’m saying? That’s Colt man. I love that dude.

** Episode #133 of Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore Podcast featured Bobby Fish. As he was going over his career in wrestling, Fish shared that his first contract with Ring of Honor was a $40,000 per year salary.

Fish: I’ll be honest, I think my first contract with them [Ring of Honor] and I don’t wanna blow up spots here but I think was $40 grand a year but I was blown away by the fact that like, wait a second, you mean you can get a wage that pays you — it’s not per appearance? That can happen in pro wrestling? Like wait a second and that was the realization of like, wow, I guess I can maybe make a living doing this.

Diving into his time with NXT, Fish spoke about the time when Paul Heyman chatted with Undisputed ERA. He expressed to them that they’re great as a group and as individuals but they’re all playing their roles in the group. Fish said that resonated with him because he knew he could talk on the mic but scaled back and just added bits and pieces because that was his role at that point.

Fish: [Paul] Heyman actually came in and had just talked to us [Undisputed ERA] about some stuff and one of the things he mentioned was like, ‘You have a role and you guys are great in this group and you’re great individually and the key is gonna be highlighting the differences between each of you’ and so I’m looking at that going, all right, well if Adam’s kind of the mouthpiece, I know I can talk, I can know I can blow but why am I gonna compete with that when I can be something else? And Kyle [O’Reilly] can be something else and then eventually Roddy [Strong] came in and so, I was playing my role and my role wasn’t — okay, so I’m in Top Gun. Well no, Tom Cruise isn’t Maverick, I’m Maverick. No. You’re the one signing my check. I’ll be the best of what you want from me that I can give you so I kind of parked a lot of that stuff and I did. I purposely was quiet and added color here and there and I think because fans, new fans — the turnover is there — they saw a guy doing the new version and they weren’t privy to the stuff I did before that and the fact that I can talk and I don’t get tongue tied and I mean for crying out loud, I was an English major. So I’m not saying I’m smarter than anybody else. Christ, I’m definitely dumber. I’m dumber than my wife for sure. She corrects me all day long. But, yeah, I think that that’s what happened and then people forgot that, oh, he can talk.

Staying on the topic of Bobby Fish in WWE, Tommy Dreamer recounted receiving a call from then-WWE Head of Talent Relations Mark Carrano about Fish. Carrano was questioning who Fish was.

Dreamer: Another sidebar, I didn’t even work in WWE and Mark Carrano called me up about you and it was this whole, ‘Who the f*ck is Bobby Fish?’ And I was just like, ‘Oh, Bobby’s a great guy, know him well’ and he’s like, ‘Well, he was booked and then he wasn’t booked and now we’re signing him’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know anything about this’ but I’ll never forget a random call from good ole WWE and, ‘Who the f*ck is Bobby Fish?’

** MJF joined Sam Roberts in-studio to record an episode of the Notsam Wrestling Podcast. They discussed MJF’s return to AEW at All Out and MJF reflected on the crowd reaction he received in Illinois that night.

I’m gonna be completely transparent. I was not prepared for the ‘devil worshippers’ [reaction he got at AEW All Out]. I was not. Now I’m all for it. Grab your pitchforks daddy, let’s go. I’m all for it. When I came out, I had what used to be called an L.O.D. pop, right? It’s now an MJF pop. My ears were bleeding, and we were in Chicago of all places… and when I got to the back, it was at that moment I went, oh, this is new. Okay.

Earlier in the conversation, MJF talked about training under the likes of Pat Buck and Brian Myers at Create A Pro Wrestling Academy. He feels Buck was ‘unnerved’ by how good he was on day one of his training.

I think Pat Buck was unnerved by how good I was on day one. I think it made him uncomfortable. I really do because I look back on it now and I think being run through the drills at Create A Pro at 18 years old, doing all of the moves, learning it day one and just nailing everything and I’m not saying it to be funny, this isn’t hyperbole. I literally did everything perfectly and I remember Pat just had a look on his face. It was half disdain and half shock and awe.  

** Corey Graves and Kevin Patrick co-hosted the most recent edition of WWE After The Bell. Matt Riddle joined them on the show and discussed being a singles talent again while Randy Orton is off TV. Riddle feels he’s coming into his own as a mainstay singles talent.

Yeah. You know, it definitely does [the opportunity to get back to being a singles talent shows he’s more than an attachment to Randy Orton]. Don’t get me wrong, with Randy, I had opportunities with Roman [Reigns], stuff like that, especially when Randy was gone. But, I think at the end of the day, that story with Randy, I enjoyed it and I felt like I got to build a relationship and a reputation with the WWE. But now I think with Hunter in play and now being a singles competitor without Randy, getting more competitive, getting meaner, getting angrier. You can see it in the promos, you can see it in the Street Fights, you can see it in the brawls and like you [Corey Graves] said, instead of being a goofy sidekick who helps elevate his partner and his partner elevates him, now I’m coming into my own as a mainstay single competitor in the WWE. I’m getting that respect as well. Not necessarily from the boys in the back. The boys in the back know I can handle myself but the fans, you know? Because for so long, they just saw me be like, ‘Hey Randy’ and I’m kind of such a goof and now they see me coming out, talking trash, throwing zingers at Seth [Rollins] and then trying to hurt him.

** Ahead of defending the ROH World Championship against Bryan Danielson on 10/12, Chris Jericho spoke to NOW Magazine. Jericho, who is billed from Winnipeg answered the question of if he thinks he’ll be booed when he appears on AEW Dynamite in Canada.

The great thing about AEW is it really doesn’t matter. People are going to cheer who they’re going to cheer for. I mean Jericho Appreciation Society are the heels. We’re sports entertainers and we’re going to desecrate the legacy of the championship. I’m facing Bryan Danielson, who is one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. But it’s Chris Jericho in Canada for the first time with AEW. I expect a monstrous reaction for both of us. As long as they’re making noise, it’s all I care about. But if you had to ask me, gun to the head, I think I’m probably going to be pretty popular in Canada. Even though Toronto is thousands of kilometers away from Winnipeg.

** The focus of the latest Gentleman Villain podcast was William Regal’s partnership with TAJIRI. Back in 2005, Regal and TAJIRI won the WWE World Tag Team Titles in Japan. Regal said it was an honor to be part of that and added that he was happier about TAJIRI’s home country moment than he was for the overall moment.

It would be a big thing for TAJIRI to win the — it was a big honor I was trusted with that but, I was happier for him that we got to win the WWE Tag Team Championships in Japan. That was an unbelievable night, an incredible night.

I think it was [a big moment for him]. I would imagine it was… I don’t know and I really don’t know. But I would imagine it’s some kind of validation for him that he’s had to leave his homeland and go around the world and he comes back in the biggest company in the world in the biggest stage and becoming the World Tag Team Champion. I would think that would be a big deal.

In 2016, Regal and TAJIRI reunited at the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. He detailed how he and TAJIRI immediately clicked when they filmed their vignettes and it was like they picked up right where they left off.

That was great, it was great [reuniting with TAJIRI at the WWE Cruiserweight Classic]. I was happy that he got in it and there was a space for him in it and then because that was another story and that was an incredible thing. I don’t know if people realize — such incredible stuff going on. It was so much of it. The Network at the time was all about selling the Network and the Cruiserweight Classic but I was happy [to see] TAJIRI because we had a great time. All the cruiserweights came to the PC. All these people from all over the world, different companies and brought them all together. It was a fantastic time, that cruiserweight thing and to top it all off, I get to see TAJIRI again and so, that was just a spur of the moment, somebody said, ‘Do you want to film something with TAJIRI?’ And no thought whatsoever about it. ‘Yeah. Roll the camera.’ Boom, me go back into my character which is a stereotypical English whatever — villain in movies… Whatever it is and all the silly stuff that I do.

There was another one that we filmed and it was just, ‘Let’s just film it now.’ ‘Do you wanna do –’ because whoever it was, Dustin I believe, this lad called Dustin was really good and used to film stuff backstage. ‘You wanna do something with TAJIRI?’ ‘Yeah…’ and we just straight away did something stupid… Whatever thought he was and maybe he just told me and we did that and it was a couple of things. It was just nice to see him and yeah, that was it. Me and TAJIRI have a — yeah. It was fun.

** After the ten-bell salute for the late Antonio Inoki at NJPW’s Declaration of Power event, Kazuchika Okada was interviewed by the press. He was emotional and recounted his thoughts when he was first informed of Inoki’s passing. Okada feels that the NJPW founder is looking over him and he’ll put on a show in his name at Wrestle Kingdom 17.

I was frustrated, wasn’t I? When I heard Mr. Inoki’s entrance music (at the ceremony), I wished he had come… I wanted people to come and see it, so… (at first) I didn’t think it would be that sad, but… it’s frustrating.

I hope I can mourn Mr. Inoki by fighting a fight that lives up to his name. It may not be as much as a dedication to Mr. Inoki, but I think he is watching me over there. I would like to fight a passionate fight [at Wrestle Kingdom 17].

** Prior to Bobby Lashley losing the WWE United States Championship to Seth Rollins, he was interviewed by Busted Open Radio’s David LaGreca. Lashley looked back on his match against Mustafa Ali from the 10/3 Raw. The former U.S. Champion said Ali brings different ideas to the table.

He’s hungry [Lashley said about Mustafa Ali] and I like that. When he’s hungry, I was like, I got Ali. Does this kid wanna die? He’s getting in the ring with me? Does he wanna die? [Lashley laughed] But at some point in time, you can only go and fight so long and he’s been fighting so long to get that opportunity. He’s bringing in different ideas. He’s like, you know what? I’ll fight Bobby. No one else wants to fight Bobby because Bobby will crush somebody. But he went out there and it was such a great story that-that match told. It told somebody like him that just refused to give up and that’s what the wrestling business is about. Me coming back. I came back at 42 and I didn’t wanna give up.

** In edition #100 of Hiroshi Tanahashi’s Ace’s HIGH series, he expressed that even after he is done in-ring, he wants to figuratively remain in the corner of younger wrestlers. Tanahashi was addressing a comment that was made by an individual years ago that bothered him.

I’m not going to be wrestling forever. But even after I hang the boots up, I want to be in the corner of the younger wrestlers, figuratively. I want all the wrestlers to know I have their backs. All of us got to be where we are because of NJPW, so to then turn around and slam something you saw for two seconds and don’t like, you’re denying your roots and making yourself look bad in the long run.

** Joel Pearl of Fightful conducted an interview with Trey Miguel. The former IMPACT X Division Champion is the booker for Universal All Pro Wrestling based in Ohio. Miguel said being in that position has caused him to have a greater appreciation for all things wrestling as he came to the realization of how tasking running a show can be.  

It gave me a lot more appreciation for all of the things pro wrestling. This was the first time I ever had to go and reach out for sponsors and get a venue booked… reach out to talent individually, get rates from people, get money put up and do all of this stuff. [When it comes to] setting the actual show up on the day of, I’ve never realized how hectic it is to be at the top of that chain. Even if you’re just the one delegating things… I helped along with, I practically set up that ring almost by myself [along with] the guardrails, the chairs… It was so much to do but, it was worth it. The juice is worth the squeeze. People showed up, we showed out. Everyone that I booked, they killed it. We had Lady Frost, Billie Starks, Savage Gentlemen, Aiden Prince. My next show, I’ll have some Toronto natives, Mark Wheeler, Jessie V, Taylor Rising, they’re all coming down so I’m really excited to keep this pushing.

** The topic of concussions was discussed by Christopher Nowinski on the FOX News Rundown podcast.

** Tickets for New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s November 12th show are sold-out. They’ll be in Kazuchika Okada’s hometown of Anjo, Aichi, Japan.

** Comicbook.com’s Brandon Davis spoke to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to promote Black Adam.

** Murtz Jaffer of the ‘Toronto Star’ interviewed Chris Jericho, Tony Khan, Britt Baker, The Bunny and Christian Cage.

** Maryland Championship Wrestling posted the following match on their YouTube featuring Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian:

** ‘Wild Boar’ Mike Hitchman appeared on the Wrestling With Johners Podcast.

** There is a fundraiser being held in Chillicothe, Ohio for the D.A.R.E Program and First Capital Recovering & Counseling. Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, Lex Luger, Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, Tatanka, Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake, Erick Redbeard and Bobby Fulton will all be present.

** October 11th birthdays: Taz, Dusty Rhodes.

If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

About Andrew Thompson 5022 Articles
A Maryland native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.