Aaaaaand we’re back! Yes it’s time for another profile in The Characters of NJPW series. Now, before we start, here’s a reminder about our main objective:
This series will try to give newcomers to New Japan, as well as people curious towards its product, a feel as for how each of their wrestlers operate, what their motivations are, how their story drives them to be who they are, and how their actions inside and outside of the squared circle further their personas. Although this will contain historical data and a brief description of each wrestler’s past, its main goal is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to a performer’s history and achievements. Rather, we intend focus on two main topics: Character and in-ring work, to see how each wrestler on NJPW sets themselves apart from the rest of the roster, and what makes them truly unique and worth investing. If you want to check all the previous parts (the Part thing is getting ridiculous, I know, but now I’m committed), here’s a list with all the articles done up until now, each readable by clicking on the wrestler’s name. With that said, let’s get it going.
Morals are an indispensable part of our society. If you were to ask away in the streets, most people would probably tell you they have a definite sense of good and bad, right and wrong, virtue and wickedness. Yet, if you were to list examples, the answers may vary greatly. Morality, as it is most commonly defined, is ultimately a construct. Most people think they are good. Their parameters for goodness can be drastically different, though, and as such, one couldn’t be faulted to see some hypocrisy in this subjectivity, and rebel. Today, we talk about someone that doesn’t believe in those concepts, and thus seeks to actively go against it. He believes he is wicked, and will act unapologetically in wicked ways. Welcome to the realm of darkness. Meet its King, EVIL.
Current NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion, since May 3, 2017 (third reign)
Introduction: As former Young Lion Takaaki Watanabe left for his traditional excursion in the United States, in October of 2013, few could be able to imagine his return as anything close to how unusual it was. Gone for two years, he returned a completely different person. It was clear that this experience had done something to him, as the former plucky underdog came back with a big cloak, with dark attire and demeanor, to exteme, outlandish levels. For god’s sakes, he carried a scythe to the ring and shot pointer lasers to the ceiling! What is this freak show?
What it was, though, was successful. Re-established as a member of Tetsuya Naito’s Los Ingobernables de Japón stable, and rechristened with the on the nose name of EVIL, all capital letters, he would soon begin to flourish as one of the rising stars of the company, displaying an unrepentant, bruising style that quickly made this make-up wearing goth a true force to be reckoned with. Since then, he won both the NEVER Openweight and NEVER 6-Man titles, as well as having a stellar, breakout performance in this year’s G1 Climax tournaments, including being the first to beat IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada in a singles match in over a year. Now, let us analyze a man looking to achieve new heights and accolades, only to pull it all down into the abyss with him. This is EVIL.
Character: When people saw how EVIL looked like upon his return, plenty of laughs were had. After all, such a loud, cartoonish style was certainly too flamboyant to be taken seriously in the New Japan landscape, right? Well, not really. Don’t let the dark eyeliner and highlights fool you. This is a silent, savage malcontent. He doesn’t believe in the fair way. He cares not for good deeds. Actually, if you ask him, not only is he evil, but all of the things are, too. The King of Darkness is not exactly bound by methods as much as he is by results.
As such, EVIL took to the role of enforcer of LIJ pretty well. A bulky destroyer, he will do things to opponents that’ll make them regret stepping up to him. His solid combination of power, agility and aggressiveness, combined with this rotten disposition, eventually took him to new places in the NJPW hierarchy. In time, people had no choice but to take him seriously, because above all else, his persistent cruel streak has an unmistakable confidence to it. No matter the choice of attire or the perceived strangeness of his persona, once he steps into the ring, he is a threat to beat down and victimize anyone that stands across his path.
Recently, he became even more of a threat, showing the results of his progress with a stellar G1 Climax 27 performance. He beat both the NEVER Openweight Champion Minoru Suzuki and the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, the latter of which granted him a title match at King of Pro-Wrestling, on October 9. When he entered the ring, he did so in a throne escorted by servants, as if to send a message of his eerie arrival to the top. Okada didn’t take kindly to it and continuously provoked him, calling him Watanabe and mocking his challenger’s efforts. Yet, EVIL’s wrath would not be silenced, and even in defeat, the upstart gave the champion one of his hardest defenses yet. In his mind, those that mocked him will learn to fear his presence. He will not rest until he proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that everything is evil.
In-ring work: EVIL’s unrepentant nature is perhaps best shown by his actions inside the ring. Well, might as well say inside the arena. The King of Darkness is, currently, perhaps New Japan’s most efficient classical brawler, using a combination of power moves and hard-hitting aggression with a very high usage of weapons and objects outside of the ring, taking the fight wherever he pleases. He uses every tool at his disposal to maim, hurt and bruise, and is also developing a knack for disrupting the opponents’ flow. If a rival tries to lock-up, he will kick their guts; If they jostle for position, he will use eye rakes; Try to brawl with him, and he might put you up a in a hold.
His list of moves is mostly designed to just plain hurt. EVIL will usually target an opponent’s back and neck, in advance of the finisher that carries his namesake, an STO hit at a high angle. He uses quite the array of big slams, chief among them the Darkness Falls fireman’s carry spinebuster, as well as german and half-and-half suplexes, fisherman busters and sidewalk slams. His hard-hitting offense comes mostly in the way of a big variety of wrecking-ball running lariats and stiff regular and rolling elbows. You will regularly see him taking advantage of NJPW referees’ lenience, lodging a chair on his opponent’s head before using another to strike it in signature fashion. He may also torture that damaged neck with his pattented arm-trap facelock.
He has yet to learn to be more adaptable, being just straight-forward enough that the top opponents manage to find enough openings and implement their offense. Still, with all of his physical tools and moveset, The King of Darkness probably doesn’t need weapons to hurt most people. That he uses them anyway speaks volumes to what his disposition is inside that ring. As menacing as they come, with a foul mood and a knack for fighting to match, this is a man that threatens every wrestler in the New Japan locker room with his disrespectful and reckless way of battling. This, until he fulfills his beliefs and changes everyone to his image, to what he truly believe they are. All of it. EVIL.
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