Tomohiro Ishii just lost again in his second ever challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Kenny Omega. Against all odds I was hoping beyond hope that somehow New Japan would throughout all consistency and sense and just go with this beautiful man. But it wasn’t his night tonight and I’m starting to wonder if it’ll ever be his time to win the most prestigious championship in Professional Wrestling. Minoru Suzuki has still never won the championship, Shibata never won the championship and all these men as well as Ishii have earned a run with the belt. New Japan is effectively stingy with their main championship, even Naito, consistently the most popular wrestler in New Japan, hasn’t had a lengthy run with the belt, with his only victory over Ishii.
I know I shouldn’t have even begin to believe it was possible for Ishii to win the belt at this time, New Japan is clearly gearing up for Hiroshi Tanahashi’s last stand at Wrestle Kingdom 13 and Omega is the man to go in as champion to oppose him, but, man, what if Ishii won? Literally no one on the planet would be angry; on the 30th Walter Pyramid would reign with ‘You Deserve It’ chants and Omega could just win the belt back at Power Struggle or King of Pro Wrestling. Maybe I just wanted to believe. Besides the outcome the match was pretty great, but that’s to be expected from these two. You now they weren’t happy about not being the headlining feud of this tour, being overshadowed by Okada and Tanahashi on the 23rd. They went out there and burnt the house down, but tonight wasn’t Ishii’s night and now we are all left sitting on our hands, biting our nails hoping beyond hope that Ishii will get what he has earned one day…
I recently went to an elimination final between the Brisbane Broncos and St. George Illawarra Dragons as part of the finals series for the NRL. The NRL (Nation Rugby League) is the second largest sport in Australia behind AFL (Australian Football League) and is an offshoot of traditional Rugby that you’re possibly familiar with. It a weird hybrid game that’s only popular in Australia and New Zealand, and it’s easily the greatest sport I’ve ever watched. It’s faster than the boring NFL games, makes more sense than average Rugby Union game and isn’t pussy-shit like any random soccer game. But my recent adventure to the Brisbane Broncos’ home stadium, Suncorp Stadium sitting amongst the only contingent of Dragons fans in the entire state reinvigorated my love for the sport and showed me for the first time the fun a live sporting experience can bring.
I had gone to 10+ NRL games previously, some of them I attended so young with my parents that I don’t even remember them, but this was the first time I loved the experience more than the novelty of going to a game in person. I am primarily a fan of the always fledgling and hopeless Gold Coast Titans. They are the youngest club in the NRL, being founded in 2007, right when I was coming around as a kid and they were the new shiny team, with blue and yellow colours (my favourite) so I jumped on the band-wagon. So, all the recent games that I’ve attended, recently enough for me to remember, have been at the home stadium for the Titans on the Gold Coast, with a very different melancholic atmosphere in comparison with the blood feud ongoing between the Broncos and Dragons. The game had heavy stakes because it was an elimination final between two long-time rival clubs instead of a run-of-the-mill weekly game that the Titans will likely lose.
This game had wait, I was cheering for the underdog team, overwhelmed by the mass of Brisbane Bronco fans surrounding us on all sides; and then the Dragons destroyed the Broncos 48-18. The feeling of validation I got from the victory and the sensation of proving 40 000+ arrogant Bronco fans wrong was exhilarating. It was the biggest ‘I told you so’ moment of my life. This all culminated in one of the highlights of my year, I had so much fun at the game and now I eagerly anticipating the entire finals series coming over the next few weeks. The rush of adrenaline and the ever-present us vs them mentality took over and I had a great time. This experience may have been more rewarding and more instilled into my mind than any other media I consumed this year and has made me ultimately conclude that big time sporting events are peak media.