So, maybe I should start with an introduction.
Welcome to the Weekly Open, a new weekly thread we’re trying here during these long summer months. Maybe we’ll continue it in the fall, who knows!
The goal of the Weekly Open is to provide you, the savvy reader/commenter/smart person who came to this website a place to just hang out. Most of our comment sections are directly related to the article in question, and usually stay as on-topic as possible, so we wanted to create a space where you can just hang out for the week, talk about whatever you want to talk about, regardless if it involves UCLA or not.
Want to talk about the Dodgers or Angels? Go ahead!
Saw a cute animal video that made you go “awwww”? Don’t be selfish, share it!
Have a new barbecue recipe that worked well and you want to share? Please do!
Want to complain about your job? Want to brag about having the best job ever? This is the place to do so!
Each week one of the writers here will launch the thread with a topic of our own choosing (we’ll get to mine in a bit here), at which point we encourage you to have fun. Again, this is your space to talk about whatever, so feel free to make it your own.
Of course, there are still going to be some ground rules here. As always, adherence to both the Bruins Nation Community Guidelines and the larger SBNation Community Guidelines will still be required. I added a handy link to each of those so you can refresh your understanding of those if need be. This especially means that, though this is an Open Thread and really without a specific topic per se, things like politics or things that are going to be problematic to talk about are still prohibidado. I said it in Spanish, so you know how exotic, and not allowed it is (and props if you get that reference). But as long as you all keep it civil and respectful, most other things should be fine.
With that said, let’s get started.
I was sitting here, struggling with what topic to use to launch this whole thing. Anthony Bourdain died on Friday, and that hit me hard enough to get me to go back and watch Parts Unknown on a loop, while local institution Disney announced changes to their Annual Passport system (spoiler: I am a huge Disney fan and maybe go to Disneyland once a month, so expect a deep dive at some point).
But then New Japan Pro Wrestling ran a show this past Saturday (or super late Friday night if you’re a monster like me that stayed up to watch it) and it’s all I could think about.
I love sports. I wasn’t the most athletic kid but I was smart and knew the angles, and as I grew up playing sports gave way to theorizing about sports to romanticizing about sports, but professional wrestling has always held a special place in my heart. And yes, I understand that it’s all fake, but that’s never been the point.
At its core, professional wrestling has been about storytelling, and for the past few years the best stories have been told in New Japan Pro Wrestling (or NJPW for short). NJPW is Japan’s top promotion, and by all rights is the second-biggest wrestling promotion in the US (you could probably make the case for WWE being the biggest promotion in Japan, to be fair). NJPW has been a bit different because they don’t run on anything resembling a weekly basis like WWE does - they instead run tours and are more willing to let their storylines breathe and move their stories along at incremental pacing, while also focusing many of their stories on the conceit of wrestling actually being a legitimate sport.
It all works extremely well, I assure you.
Anyway, this last show featured the culmination of a storyline that has been told over the past 2 years, featuring the champion Kazuchika Okada and his challenger/rival, Kenny Omega. I wrote a whole thing about trying to explain it, but honestly this video does it better than I can even hope to.
Suffice to say, the match they had this past weekend owned. At almost an hour and a half, it was also extremely long, so you’ll pardon me for this condensed highlight video.
Besides just being impressed that two guys were able to go all out for that length of time, what wowed me most was the story they told inside the match. Omega had said in the lead-in to the match that Okada was a better wrestler than him, but that his gameplan was to simply outlast him and rely on his legendary cardio, and that was exactly what happened. Both men did whatever was possible to try and secure an early pinfall, which Okada was able to do with a flash pin. From that point, Okada became his normal, cocky, confident self, while Omega became more desperate and started taking more risks, which eventually paid off in getting the second pinfall. From there, it became obvious that both men were spent physically, and the sequence leading up to the final pinfall was a showcase of both men being intimately familiar with each other and throwing absolute bombs to try and get the other man to stay down for 3 seconds. In the end, Omega was able to achieve his dream and take over the top spot in the promotion.
If you’ve never watched wrestling before, it’s hard for me to recommend this as a jumping in point, and honestly I never would; there’s just too much history involved that could leave new viewers lost. But if you’ve ever liked or watched wrestling, you owe it to yourself to watch this match (VODs are available through subscription to njpwworld.com, though the site is in Japanese so use Chrome and its built-in translations for help) just to see what professional wrestling can be.
Ok, that does it for my thing. Maybe you want to talk about wrestling, or literally anything else (E3 is happening right now! Y’all like video games?), so go ahead and get commenting!