Hi there, good people! The Characters of NJPW is back to give you even more #content. Before we start, though, 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 out of the way, we can now proceed.
Have you heard about that quote from Steve Jobs (or maybe Rob Siltanen, who knows)? About the so-called “crazy ones”? It tells a story of how those deemed crazy are actually visionaries, innovators and all that? Well, never mind that, our subject today is batshit insane. This is a man keen to carry a stuffed cat to the ring with him. He calls the title “Belt-san” and has baths and dinners with it. He is a practitioner of plenty humorous moments where the joke is you’re never exactly sure if he’s only kidding. But he is also one of the most dangerous competitors in the entire World, a well traveled kamikaze-like performer who changed the entire landscape of the Junior Heavyweight division upon his arrival, and who can go from silly to downright scary in a moment’s notice. It is time we talk about the Ticking Time Bomb, Hiromu Takahashi. Hmmmm, maybe that quote was on to something after all…
Introduction: When the Time Bomb videos started to show on New Japan PPVs, people speculated many famous names from the wrestling circuit. However when, after much hype, Takahashi showed himself as the culprit, returning from one of the longest Young Lion excursions ever in Mexico, he exuded a star aura bigger than any of the buzzed about talent could have hoped for. Exentric, just off, but still with a certain aura of dangerousness. With a personality like this, of course he would align himself with the Naito-led, hot stable Los Ingobernables de Japón, becoming a sensation overnight. He would challenge Junior Ace KUSHIDA for the title and, in his re-debut, won the whole thing after a classic match. After defenses against perennial rival Dragon Lee and mainstay top junior/fellow loony Ryusuke Taguchi, he would face the Time Splitter again.
This time, he beat KUSHIDA in under two minutes, looking like the unstoppable wrecking ball superstar this division had not seen in a while. So it came as a surprise that, after a Best of the Super Juniors so grueling he could not win, he was defeated by the same KUSHIDA. The loss messed with him, and he showed a sillier side of his, culminating in many humorous moments, but he never forgot that which he truly desired, to regain his belt. He acted in his own pace, until when he was finally ready to challenge the champion again. It took three tries and two title changes, but he finally made it, and a new, darker edge started to show. The tricky thing is, can you even keep track with the reasoning of Hiromu? Well, let’s try to disarm that bomb.
Character: Unpredictable, eccentric, unhinged. These are all good adjectives to begin to describe the roller-coaster that is Hiromu Takahashi. But keep in mind that, above all else, the Ticking Time Bomb earns his nickname because he is an explosive, threatening personality, always craving to destroy. The recipient of his destruction, and the way he is willing to do it, is what changes from time to time, seemingly on whims. Whenever he cuts promos, he always talks about “more, more, more!!!!”, which speaks volumes about what drives him.
With Takahashi, the instincts guide every action, and his wants are all on a very deep, primal level. Which doesn’t mean he is not cunning and doesn’t know what he is doing. Only that his brain works in a different wavelength. Inside whatever craziness he is (rightfully) portrayed as exuding, lies some form of mental game, which he thoroughly exploits to take advantage of any cracks on an armor that his opponents show. Also, he has no problem doing whatever it takes to get what he want, including suffering various forms of abuse. In fact, he relishes it. The thrill of feeling pain is just something that makes him feel alive.
When he lost the title, he showed instability, starting to rely on comedy to entertain himself throughout matches. The fact is, he simply gets bored when things are either too easy or too wholesome. When he can’t get the thrill, he’ll find other ways to distract himself, even if it detriments his career. Whenever he gets close to scratching that itch though, expect his starved, aggressive side to show itself again. Takahashi is always ready to engulf everything into the flames. He is motivated by causing bigger and bigger explosions, and will stop at nothing to get there whenever he has the chance, physical health be damned. What he chooses to explode, though, is only up to his mind and its random whims. That is the most dangerous explosive component you could ever find.
In-ring work: Let’s just say that safety is not a priority for Hiromu Takahashi. You know that thing that you get when you’re close to putting yourself or another person in a situation of risk, and a voice in your head says “don’t do that, you/someone else may get badly hurt”? Take the “don’t” out of that sentence and you’ll have summarized the Ticking Time Bomb’s whole syle. Head drops, massive falls, nasty strikes and a general disregard for the limitations of the human body are all traits of Takahashi’s ethos, and he’ll have no problem putting himself and you through hell to achieve victory.
Which isn’t to say that he isn’t an able competitor. Because he is, extremely so. To achieve that style’s perfection and be successful with it, Takahashi has a combination of extreme, impactful maneuvers only possible due to his unique blend of power, speed and athleticism. Most of his moves target an opponent’s head and neck. Case in point, his finisher, the aptly titled Time Bomb, a fireman’s cary swinging sitout powerslam that drops the opponent right on the back of his dome. He also has the D Guillotine Choke, the Canadian Destroyer flip piledriver, the running Death Valley Driver into the turnbuckles, as well as a myriad of insane dives, sentons, dropkicks and ranas provenient from his time in CMLL.
Takahashi’s mind is his blessing and his curse. His unique thought process allows him to catch opponents off-guard, but his adrenaline-seeking nature makes for a complete throw of caution to the wind, inviting way more punishment than necessary or even sustainable. Still, opponents would be hard pressed to keep up with the sheer volume of high-impact offense that he can dish out easily and effectively, each and every night. His is a formula that is extremely difficult of figuring out. This is a time bomb with all blue wires. You might be forced to cut one, and all you can do then is pray it doesn’t blow up on your face.
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