Tomoaki Honma, 40, a popular New Japan wrestler, suffered a career threatening injury on 3/3 on a show in Okinawa.
Honma took a routine move, a draping DDT from Jado, during a six-man tag with Honma & Togi Makabe & Michael Elgin vs. Honma & Togi Makabe & Jado. The finish of the match would have almost surely been Jado losing. After the move, Jado went for a near fall and Honma couldnít kick out and he was able to tell them something was wrong. Medical personnel came out and Honma was able to talk and move his head, but unable to move the rest of his body.
He was carried out on a stretcher and rushed to Intensive Care in a local hospital. Honma was unable to move for some time. He was moved out of ICU on the afternoon of 3/6. Because of his situation, that any movement could affect his spinal column and make things worse, heíll be staying at the hospital in Okinawa for a while as opposed to being moved to a hospital in Tokyo.
Honma was suffering from swelling on his spinal cord, which limited his movement, as well as damage to the C-3 and C-4 vertebrae. He started to regain some mobility in his arms and legs. His hands were very weak but he was able to hold small objects and bend his elbow by 3/6, and move his legs a fair amount. But he was unable to sit up on his own in bed.
Honma was saying that he would return to wrestle at some point, but itís far too early to tell if thatís possible, although one New Japan official described it to us as that he ďdodged a bullet.Ē
ďWith an injury between the third and fourth vertebrae, there are cases where people are unable to recover,Ē noted New Japan trainer Takeshi Misawa in an official company statement prior to the anniversary show. ďThat said, Iím very happy to see him progress day-by-day, and we just have to monitor things from here and see how it goes.Ē
ďRight now, we just have to wait for him to recover on his own. It may well be that down the road he has surgery, much like Manabu Nakanishi did, but thatís not something weíre thinking of now, thatís for down the line.Ē
Honma started his career as a death match wrestler with Big Japan in 1997, and as a trivia note, is believed to have been the wrestler who came up with the idea of using light tubes in death matches. He left the company after a dispute with management in 2000, and worked all over Japan before joining New Japan in 2007.
While a great worker, Honma was mostly used in prelims losing with the idea that death match guys and Big Japan guys arenít at the major league wrestling level of New Japan. He made his name in a sensational match with Masato Tanaka at Korakuen Hall for the IC title, where he lost, but tore the house down. He became a favorite on the undercard after that.
However, he was fired by New Japan in 2012 for personal problems and not brought back for another year. There was also a situation at the end of 2015 where his girlfriend, former wrestler Kiyoko Ichiki, complained that he beat her, but he claimed he was just diffusing the situation and she was the one beating him and threatened legal action against her. New Japan investigated and felt he was not at fault, and plans for him to win the tag team tournament that year werenít changed.
A big turning point was the 2014 G-1 Climax tournament. Honma was not even scheduled for the tournament, but Kota Ibushi had to pull out due to an injury. Honma took his place and lost every match, but had tremendous matches that the crowd went crazy for. The losing streak worked, in particular a match with Katsuyori Shibata that was among the best matches of the year. The crowd was at such a fever pitch that it was, in hindsight, a match he should have won. But nobody knew that going in and the tournament is meticulously planned and you canít change finishes in the middle without throwing everything out of whack.
From that point on, he was a star. He had two fantastic matches with Tomohiro Ishii over the Never title in 2015, including a ***** match of the year candidate. After he and Makabe won the 2015 tag team tournament, they followed on January 4, 2016, winning the IWGP tag team titles from Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows, before losing to Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa on February 20. He was also voted best technical wrestler in 2015 by Tokyo Sports.
Honma had problems with his neck before, missing several months of action in 2006. His style was extremely punishing, with a willingness to take crazy amounts of abuse, similar to Ishii, to get a match over. His specialty is the diving head-butt, or the kokeshi, however he didnít land on it like Harley Race, Bryan Danielson or Chris Benoit, all of whom had problems from it, as he landed more on his shoulder and side than flat, which in theory wouldnít be as much punishment on the neck.
Itís hard to know for sure if it was just a routine move that ended up with tragic results, or a botched landing. The match wasnít televised or taped that we are aware of and weíve heard conflicting stories whether the move was or wasnít done botched. Given his prior neck problems and style with 20 years in the ring, it would appear likely that the prior neck damage long-term played a part in this as opposed to one move.
Honmaís spot in the New Japan Cup will be taken by Yuji Nagata, who will face Tanga Roa in the first round on 3/11 in Nagoya.
He was also voted best technical wrestler in 2015 by Tokyo Sports.
I find it humorous that with a NJPW roster that still had Nakamura and Styles along with Tanahashi (who was, in my eyes, arguably the best wrestler of the G1 Climax in 2015), Tokyo Sports gave that particular award to Honma, whose style was more of a physical, almost brawling-like (not quite there on the level of brawling that Ishii and Shibata brings in their matches, almost close to there).
Then again, this is the same newspaper that gave the match of the year to Okada vs a 65-year old Genichiro Tenryu. In fairness, that match was pretty entertaining, but for reasons that people would not expect.
It's been rumored that The Tokyo Sports awards are politically motivated and have nothing to do with what's actually truth. Search out MotY's and WotY's given out prior and there's a lot to that. How Honma would fit into any kind of politics is anyone's guess.
Reminds me a bit of Mick Foley's alluding to the Yakuza's involvement in Japanese wrestling (it's in Have a Nice Day, where he was having dinner with sponsors and noticed one or several of them had only half a pinky).
I'm sure this hasn't been mentioned ITT but 2-3 years ago it was somehow revealed that the Yakuza had a huge piece of NOAH. I've never really researched it but I wonder if they had ties to Misawa from the very beginning or if this was a case of Misawa dying and Kobashi on his last legs so they were desperate for money.
edit: happened 5 years ago.
From the death of Pride Fighting Championships, it's well known that the Yakuza are heavily involved in the Japanese combat sport's dark underbelly and that taboo subject being made public can be a kiss of death. Trouble started brewing on this issue for NOAH in late January, when a book was published that revealed that a woman involved with the Yakuza who sponsored her favourite NOAH wrestlers, had befriended Mitsuhara Misawa's widow and in the process obtained a loan for 53,000,000 yen (equivalent to several hundred thousand dollars), which she largely failed to pay back. The widow subsequently won a civic case to seize the assets of the woman in question, who was later convicted and jailed for seven years for defrauding old age pensioners in Tokushima, which was how she could afford to be the benefactor of so many NOAH wrestlers.
similar thing happened with fmw but it ended a little worse with the owner committing suicide thinking his life insurance would pay back the loan but it didn't and the yakuza still collected from his wife's father, hayabusa getting pneumonia and dying just before all this is a total coincidence too of you believe in coincidences.
the only promotion i would think was yakuza free would be ajpw but i wouldn't be surprised if I'm wrong
theres a dvd docu out with drake younger and danny havoc go to japan and you can spot missing pinkies when they are at sponsored dinners n stuff
On another note, this was what Kota Ibushi was last seen doing. He could be a key guy in NXT or something or a top superstar in NJPW, but he's doing stuff like this. We don't deserve this guy. He's too precious for this world.
ďIím coming back stronger, tanner, more oiled up than before!Ē
Hi everyone, itís Kokeshi.
First of all, I want to apologize for causing everyone so much worry after what happened at the match in Okinawa.
Jadoís DDT that match was definitely the hardest one Iíve ever felt. After it hit, I noticed I couldnít feel anything below my neck. I could hear everyone rush to my side, but I couldnít hear my own voice. I tried to speak, but nothingÖThen little by little, things went black. ďAhhh, guess this is what itís like, crossing the river Styx,Ē I thought. Thatís when I heard a voice calling me. It was an enlightening experience to say the least.
Iíve been able move my feet and hands quite a bit since then, but currently Iím still paralyzed from the neck down. So the staff is kindly typing this journal entry for me. While my body may be what it is now, Iím getting better day by day. Iíll focus on my rehabilitation and be back in the NJPW ring for sure. Nothing can quell this burning desire I have to get back in there.
Pro wrestling is not broken or at fault here. This was simply an accident between two professionals.
I donít know if you read these journals, and I donít know if I should say this or notÖ but Iíll say it anyway: Iím coming back stronger than before, tanner than before, more oiled up than before! Youíll see me standing before you Jado, so just you wait!
I wonít lose, ever! Iíll be back in the ring to tell you all, ďKokeshi is happy! All together now, letís be happy!Ē
As I was reading this I was hoping for some good news. Now I just
Yeah it's amazing but they're kind of in a tough spot. They pushed AJ to the moon and he bailed, Kenny leaving seems inevitable to me so maybe they just don't want to invest that much. At the same time, he was hotter than anyone after that match and pushing him hard in the west would have got a lot more eyes on the company.
Prior to the Rumble, Kenny seemed to have all but said that he wanted to go to WWE next year but wanted to gain more notoriety throughout this year to drive up his price. Kind of a weird thing to say seeing as how it's hard to get NJPW/Gedo behind you when you say something like that. Also, it was hard to get more notoriety than that anyhow since it was the most talked about thing since Punk's shoot.
Yeah I have no idea why he was so open about that stuff, especially after NJPW has been so vocal about how pissed off they were when WWE signed Naka and AJ. Why invest in someone who says they're leaving.
Kenny certainly played his hand bad but NJPW should probably have continued to build him up and only put over top guys like Naito or Okada rather than jobbing him out clean to Ishii/whoever the bullet club is wrestling in NJPW's holeonaminuteplayatagteammatches.
That literally helps nobody and if their end goal is an Okada/Omega rematch thats basically the same as building Orton/Wyatt at Wrestlemania and having Orton lose 100% clean to Eric Rowan.
AJ Styles had the right idea, you come over when you're hottest and no amount of booking in the world is gonna have Omega hotter than he was after WK. Thats gonna end up costing him millions.