I, uh… I don’t believe it.
Did that really just happen? I’m… I’m almost at a loss for words…
A pity that I’m, in fact, paid to provide those!
It’s Sapporo, where it’s a fantastic time to Bang! It’s one of the biggest shows of the year, Hell’s Blazing Garden in Sapporo! Every championship in Bang! Pro Wrestling is on the line tonight! (Except for the Bang! All Day Championship, last seen in Belgium almost a year ago, if you have any clues about the whereabouts of that championship, please contact the proper authorities!)
MAY 15th, 2023: HELL’S BLAZING GARDEN IN SAPPORO
- The Kazuyagumi (“Ace of Hearts” Kazuya Fukumaru, Pom Shinjoku, and “RED” Ryota Saijo) def. the Monster Menagerie (Cowabunga Kenji & the Beasts of Tokyo (Seiko Serizawa & HAMAYUMI)) @ 11:08 by pinfall after the Kanabo (discus elbow) from Fukumaru to Kenji
- Roosevelt Black & Tani Albright def. DESTROY IT ALL (“Grim Face” Ichiro Kuwayama & EIJI) @ 10:08 by disqualification via outside interference from Junpei Tsukioka, leading to…
- Roosevelt Black, Tani Albright, and “GIANT TEKKAI” Bando Ichikawa def. DESTROY IT ALL (“Grim Face” Ichiro Kuwayama, EIJI, & Junpei Tsukioka) @ 8:09 by pinfall after a chokebomb from Ichikawa to Kuwayama
- Bang! With Your Friends Championship: The Crownless Kingdom (Powerslam Anubis, Ignacio el Jaguar & “Lunch Lawyer” Lord Gavin Yum, Esq.) © def. The Monster Menagerie (Admiral of the Pacific and its Fleet Lord Kurosame-sama, the Big Blue Bug, and a mysterious birdman) @ 18:41 by pinfall after the Scales of Dominion (fireman’s carry powerslam) from Anubis to Kurosame-sama to retain the titles!
- Interim Bang! Hardweight Championship, Hell’s Blazing Ladder Match: Generalissimo Garry “Ray-Ray” Bolamba def. “Hippo of the Deathmatch” Rory Hayes, MAGNUS DESTRUCTO, Circe, “Diamond” Daisuke Hashiwara, Duke Easton, Curtis Alexander Brown, and Kensuke BLACK @ 22:05 after retrieving the championship!
- “Ace of Clubs” Haruki Kazano def. “Ace of Spades” Izou Yoshida @ 24:09 by pinfall after the Burning Hammer
- Bang! With Your Partner Championship: The New World Trash (Bex Savage & Angel Quinley) © def. Intelligent Design (“Thick Walls” Wally Wallace & “Stunning” Sam Smart), No Laughing Matter (Frank Pastore & Domingo Cruz) and No Quarter (Daryn Thompson & Bracken Krueger) @ 19:44 by pinfall after the Eternal Sunrise (shooting star double stomp) from Quinley to Wallace to retain the titles!
- Bang! Conception Championship: “Hawkeye” Taka Sakuragi def. “The Iron Idol” Riko Tsukino © @ 21:19 by ref stoppage to win the Conception championship!
- Bang! Openweight Championship vs. Bang! Hardweight Championship: Claire Merci © def. “Big Iron” Gorou Ichikawa © @ 41:09 by pinfall after a single underhook pumphandle piledriver to win the Openweight championship!
The show begins with Cowabunga Kenji leading parts of the Monster Menagerie – himself and the team of the tiger Seiko Serizawa and the dragon HAMAYUMI – into war with his old mates in the Kazuyagumi! The action is the usual Kazuyagumi mess – lots of brawling, some furniture being thrown around, and Kazuya acting like he’s having the time of his life throwing haymakers with his former friend!
The Beasts acquitted themselves well despite their recent freefall, fighting tooth and nail with Saijo and the legendary Pom Shinjoku. However, things rapidly fell apart after both Beasts fell through a table at the hands of Saijo and Shinjoku, leaving Kenji to take finishers from Saijo and Shinjoku before Fukumaru put him away with the Kanabo.
After the match, Kazuya addressed the fact that the Kazuyagumi haven’t seen a lot of shine since their retooling – thanks in large part to the formations of the new Crownless Kingdom, DESTROY IT ALL, and even the Monster Menagerie. Thus, the Kazuyagumi kingpin declared his intent to challenge the winner of the Openweight championship match later tonight!
Roosevelt Black and Tani Albright have had a lot of run-ins with DESTROY IT ALL’s members, and it all came to a head tonight against Kuwayama and EIJI! At least, that’s how it was supposed to be, before Junpei Tsukioka interjected himself midway into the match! But then, someone unexpected returned to even the odds – “GIANT TEKKAI” Bando Ichikawa, returning early from his injury! The former tag champion made his mark and turned the tag match into a six-man tag!
The resulting match was chaos, with DESTROY IT ALL’s three members not knowing how to deal with the biggest member of the Ironhearts. After Roosevelt Black took out EIJI and Tsukioka with a corkscrew crossbody, Ichikawa landed the chokebomb on Kuwayama and secured the win!
The Bang! With Your Friends Championship match had insane stakes, because not only were the Crownless Kingdom defending the belts – if they lost the titles to the Monster Menagerie team of Lord Kurosame-sama, the Big Blue Bug, and a mysterious birdman, then Powerslam Anubis would get “deported” to Bolambaland! And I can’t stress this enough, but we’re pretty sure that you can’t get deported to a piece of land that’s underwater during high tide!
Trickery was the name of the game early on, with the two premiere tricksters of each faction taking point – Lord Gavin Yum, Esq. for the Kingdom and Lord Kurosame-sama, the Admiral of the Pacific and Its Fleet of the Monster Menagerie! Low blows, hair pulling, eye pokes… you name it, they tried to do it, and all the referee could do was shout ineffectual warnings at the two of them!
Ignacio was thrown around like a softball by the two massive members of the Menagerie, the Big Blue Bug and a mysterious birdman, and was in a lot of trouble until he could make the hot tag to Powerslam Anubis! Anubis did what Anubis does, and even the big men of the Menagerie had trouble containing his sheer athleticism! Eventually, though, Lord Kurosame-sama cheated and hit Anubis with a low blow, then machinegun low blows! All behind the referee’s back, of course. His Shark Cage only gets two, however, when Yum intervenes! After Yum low-bridges a mysterious birdman and Ignacio takes out the Big Blue Bug with a Meteora, Anubis managed to recover long enough to put down Lord Kurosame-sama for the three count with the Scales of Dominion!
All of that was just an appetizer for what might have been the craziest match of the tour: the Hell’s Blazing Ladder Match to determine who holds the interim Hardweight championship of Bang! Pro Wrestling!
The tone-setter of the match was undoubtedly MAGNUS DESTRUCTO grabbing hold of Duke Easton and sending him straight to hell, throwing him from the ring into the stack of ladders at ringside! This caused many of the remaining participants to gang up on the gigantic heavy metal monster to try and take him out of the equation! After DESTRUCTO was put through some tables by the high-flying Curtis Alexander Brown, Hayes and Bolamba ended up working together to eliminate the competition on behalf of the Monster Menagerie.
However, things broke down a bit for the Menagerie when the unwillingly conscripted Hayes didn’t want to let Bolamba win the match, and that opened the doors for MAGNUS DESTRUCTO to return to the match and start decimating everything in his path. Ladders were used as projectiles, blunt instruments, and attempted decapitation implements!
The biggest spot of the match came when Brown leapt from laddertop to laddertop to land a Magnum Fang on Hashiwara, clearly throwing caution to the wind! Kensuke BLACK came the closest to winning the titles after that, but he was swatted down by DESTRUCTO. However, when MAGNUS attempted to make the climb himself, it was Generalissimo Bolamba who pushed him off of the ladder and through a stack of tables at ringside, and then the Generalissimo climbed up only to get stopped by Circe! Once they took each other out, Hashiwara and Brown fought up the ladder… and then Duke Easton snuck into the ring after everyone thought he was deceased and knocked them both down! But just when it looked like the Devil of Delaware would win… BLACK returned to stop him. And while they fought on top of the ladder, Hayes grabbed hold of Easton’s legs to prevent him from climbing further. Meanwhile, Bolamba snuck in behind BLACK and used his great height and long limbs to snatch the interim title belt from BLACK to secure the victory!
That’s right, Generalissimo Garry “Ray-Ray” Bolamba has claimed the interim Bang! Hardweight Championship for the glory of the Bolamba family name! For Bolambaland!
Timo must be pleased with his son that was legally declared to be his son due to winning a professional wrestling match, indeed!
In a somber affair, the “Ace of Spades” Izou Yoshida met the “Ace of Clubs”, Haruki Kazano. Yoshida sought a last chance at glory, an all-or-nothing affair with his longtime friend and rival. Should he win the match, he would be granted a title match against the Openweight champion. Should he lose, then the first of the Four Aces and second-longest reigning Openweight champion would find themselves in retirement.
Knowing each other very well, the pair went right for the action, trading bombs early on. This ended poorly for Yoshida, always the smallest of the Aces but the most skilled, who was forced to retreat before Haruki could land a lariat. Yoshida resorted to desperation tactics early, clipping Haruki’s knee and working it over before the aging Ace could mount a comeback.
Then it was Yoshida’s turn to take absolute punishment. The Yoshida of recently would have folded against Haruki’s onslaught, but the determined Living Highlight Reel kept fighting him off despite Kazano’s pleas to call the whole thing off. This ended up costing Kazano, who got caught in the Director’s Cut and nearly lost the match. A Highlighter soon followed, but Kazano managed to get his shoulder up before the three! Yoshida attempted a second one, but Kazano moved out of the way and Yoshida was forced to land on his feet in a roll… and right into a hard lariat from Kazano!
The Higekiri DDT soon followed, but Yoshida refused to go down and managed to kick out! Kazano, fed up with Yoshida, attempted to use the rarely seen Burning Hammer to put him away, but Yoshida flipped out into an inside cradle for a near fall! Yoshida then landed his own Higekiri DDT for a close fall!
However, the end game when another Director’s Cut was foiled, turned into a powerbomb that folded Yoshida in half. The Burning Hammer soon followed and Izou Yoshida, by his own words, was finished.
Fans gave Yoshida a standing ovation after the match, and while Yoshida was devastated by the loss and the knowledge that he’d talked himself into retirement, he held himself with the dignity of a man who went out on his shield. He shook hands with Kazano and told him to go seek his fifth Openweight championship. Kazano accepted this notion, and then left to allow Yoshida his time to say his goodbyes.
During intermission, the announcement of this year’s Celestial Dragon Tag League in July was made official! Sixteen teams from around the world will compete to determine who goes to Infinite Anniversary, on August 8th, to face the Bang! With Your Partner champions on the biggest stage possible!
But an even bigger announcement was made – Bang! Pro Wrestling is coming to North America! That’s right! On June 9th and 10th, Bang! Pro Wrestling will be in Mexico City as part of a huge wrestling weekend that also includes PWA-02! Members of the Bang! roster have already been seen in Mexico leading up to the event, including the big eight-man tag between the Crownless Kingdom and Vae Victis last month, and so this seems like a natural next step for the eleven-year Japanese promotion!
So, what’s going to happen when it’s time to Bang! in Mexico? See you next month to find out!
The Bang! With Your Partner championship was definitely its own brand of chaos! Four teams, all of whom were about complete and total destruction, set out to destroy each other and themselves for one of the richest tag team prizes in the game! Referee “Soft Hands” Tsukuji couldn’t possibly have kept track of the eight men and women involved in this one!
Early on, though, it seemed like No Laughing Matter would control the pace. They isolated the inexperienced Wally Wallace and tried to keep No Quarter and the New World Trash out of the match completely. Unfortunately, the moment Wally started to turn things around and got Sam into the match, all hell broke loose and you had eight people trying to kill each other! Bracken Krueger began an unmitigated slaughterhouse of everyone he could reach, including throwing Angel Quinley – the smallest person in the match – from the ring and through one of the announce tables!
That left Bex Savage alone to try and keep the titles around the waists of the Trash, and she fought valiantly against the other three teams! But Krueger remains a difference-maker, ragdolling everything he came across. Thompson was dropped with a Deuce Dime by Domingo Cruz, though, and that left Krueger alone to fight off the other five people in the match. Things came to a head on the outside when Intelligent Design set up a table and then both No Laughing Matter and Savage helped Smart land a Smart Bomb on Krueger through the table!
The fight waged on, but it eventually came down to No Laughing Matter and Intelligent Design battling it out. It looked like Wallace was going to take the match and the titles after landing the Wonderwall on Frank Pastore, but as he made the cover, Quinley came off of the top rope with the Eternal Sunrise on Wallace and stole the victory!
This match clearly still had a lot of bad blood left, though. Krueger and Thompson were still interested in fighting, Pastore and Cruz still had room for more, Savage and Quinley were always looking to find new ways to explode and die, and even Intelligent Design were ready to keep going!
But none of that mattered, because powerbombs.
That’s right, the thing that quelled the entire notion of the fight continuing was the appearance of Sid Phillips. The freshly re-signed member of the PRIME roster made a sudden appearance in the ring, immediately powerbombing Frank Pastore into Domingo Cruz! Both members of Intelligent Design recognized the danger and immediately fled the scene, being the ones most familiar with Sid’s most common form of communication. Bex Savage did not. She attempted to Bakebrain the man of a thousand powerbomb-related nicknames, but she was stopped when Joe Fontaine came out of nowhere with a flying Busaiku knee that leveled her!
The Winds of Change stood tall at the end after knocking No Quarter from the ring. They picked up the Bang! With Your Partner championships and after briefly posing with the belts, dropped them on the prone bodies of the New World Trash.
Are they the next challengers for the Partners championships? We’ll find out soon!
The next match was a grudge match that’s been months in the making. Ever since he initially joined the Ironhearts, “Hawkeye” Taka Sakuragi has had disagreements with the “Iron Idol”, Riko Tsukino, who was in need of a tag team partner after last year’s “Infinite Anniversary” saw Bando Ichikawa suffer a knee injury that’s sidelined him all the way until now. Their disagreements kept costing the Ironhearts wins, until at least, Sakuragi was fed up and left the Ironhearts to pursue his path. Now, he leads DESTROY IT ALL – a faction that, well… their intent is right there in the name, no?
Riko Tsukino, the inaugural Conception Champion of Bang! Pro Wrestling, was very quick to immediately attack Sakuragi before the bell even rang, rocking him with kicks to the legs and forearms to the face. The leader of DESTROY IT ALL found himself on the backfoot and needing to the retreat to the floor, though he had forgotten that the outside was not a safe haven from someone as relentless as Tsukino, who pounced on him from the ring apron and continues to hammer him until she busted his mouth open!
Back inside, Tsukino continued to fight Sakuragi, but the experienced fighter turned things around and started retaliating, hammering her with hard kicks and the occasional suplex. Sakuragi continued to batter the champion, until he drew blood off of a buzzsaw kick that nearly won him the title right then and there! Tsukino was in even more trouble after Sakuragi used a brutal piledriver for a close two-count. But Tsukino didn’t give up, and she eventually fought back, landing a Canadian Destroyer and a knee strike for two!
The match continued, and Sakuragi retook the advantage. The Iron Sight was avoided when Tsukino suddenly popped up and landed her own knee strike on the Hawkeye, and then Sunspark that followed nearly won her the match! But she became overzealous in trying to finish things with a second Sunspark, and was powerbombed nearly on top of her head in brutal fashion!
Sakuragi landed the Iron Sight for a narrow two count, and then laid in with repeated elbows to the side of her head for an uncomfortable amount of time… until referee Ryuunosuke Doi called for a stoppage to the absolute scorn of the crowd! Taka Sakuragi, who abandoned the creed of the Ironhearts for the allure of absolute destruction, is now the Bang! Conception Champion!
Tsukino had to be stretchered out after the match, while Sakuragi remained in the ring stoically accepting the hatred of the crowd. He barely held his newly won championship over his head at all, and in fact, he almost left it in the ring entirely before Ichiro Kuwayama slid into the ring to retrieve it for him.
A new champion who barely even cares about the belt… is he truly going to represent Bang! Pro Wrestling as a champion?
And then, finally, the main event.
On one side, you had Claire Merci. The Merciless Queen of the Crownless Kingdom. Her rise over the past year has culminated in her reforming the Kingdom that’d once been sundered by the Godslayer and taking the Saikyou Cup in dramatic fashion. Before then, she claimed the Hardweight championship and has successfully held it to this point.
And on the other side, you had the unconquerable leader of the Ironhearts, “Big Iron” Gorou Ichikawa. At 850+ days, he’s the longest reigning Openweight champion (or champion in general, really) in Bang!’s twelve year history. He’s taken on all comers, and turned them all away. The Godslayer. Coral Avalon. All four of the Aces. Even outsiders like Amy Campbell. Still in his 20s, Ichikawa’s star shines the brightest here in Bang! Pro Wrestling!
Both have been known to be protégés of Coral Avalon, in attendance to watch the match from the front row. Merci was taken under Avalon’s wing when she first came to Japan, becoming the fifth member of the Crownless Kingdom. And Avalon had taken Ichikawa under his wing while he was on excursion in Europe, and that tutelage led him to unprecedented success the moment he returned to Japan: winning the TC-X in his first year back and winning the Openweight Championship from Akira Hanazawa months later.
But the question was always… could Gorou Ichikawa defeat Claire Merci, the only person to pin him in Bang! Pro Wrestling in the past year?
The match began slow, with both feeling each other out. Claire threatened Ichikawa with her kicks early on, but Ichikawa used his wrestling skills to keep her from being in a position where those kicks could land true. It took until ten minutes for one side to catch an advantage, when Ichikawa tried to create an opening to land the Peacemaker, only to get kneed out of the air by Merci and knocked to the outside!
On the outside, Claire worked over Ichikawa’s arm, smashing it into the guardrails and the ringpost. At one point, she even locked in the Royal Hanging Garden Stretch on the outside! It was only because Claire needed to beat Ichikawa in the ring that she released the hold and brought him back into the ring.
Claire dominated this part of the match with various strikes to the arm as well as submission attempts, but near the twenty minute mark, things got crazy and never slowed down after Ichikawa landed a lariat with the bad arm to knock her down!
Ichikawa took over from here, but every time he landed a suplex or the European uppercuts he’d taken from his mentor, his arm took damage, too. This culminated in one of Ichikawa’s uppercuts missing and for Merci to snap him over with the Royal Butterfly Suplex for a narrow near fall!
The straight knee that defeated Hanazawa was blocked, however, and Ichikawa dropped her with a dragon screw and began working over her knee! Ichikawa got her in a lot of trouble with a figure four leglock, but after Merci managed to reverse the hold, Merci attempted to retake control with another knee… only to do more damage to herself than to Ichikawa in the process! That allowed Ichikawa to fold her in half with the Peacemaker… but only for two!
Ichikawa went right for Joker’s Wild after that, but Merci rolled out of it sooner than Ichikawa was expecting and caught his leg on the way down, landing a dragon screw of her own! This left Ichikawa open for the straight knee, but Merci couldn’t cover because of the damage to her knee! With both combatants down, there was a real chance that this long match – thirty minutes deep – would end in a draw! However, both returned to their feet and began exchanging strikes in the middle of the ring!
But Ichikawa threw one big haymaker, and Merci ducked it and applied the Royal Hanging Garden Stretch! She attempted to use joint manipulation and her own weight to bring Ichikawa down, but Ichikawa refused to go down to the hold! Instead, he managed to muscle her into the Joker’s Wild! Unfortunately, the damage to Ichikawa’s knee done just moments ago delayed his ability to cover Claire, who narrowly kicked out before three! It’s the first time in two years that anyone’s kicked out of that move!
Ichikawa moved himself to the corner to load up the Peacemaker one more time, but this time, Claire caught him in mid-air with a Death Valley Driver! The straight knee connects again, but it only gets two because Claire is also delayed in going for the cover!
Hobbled on one leg, but refusing to give in, Claire looks like she’s going for Coral Avalon’s own Excalibur. However, she instead uses the double underhook to drive her knees into Ichikawa’s head multiple times! Ichikawa manages to fight out of it, but a headbutt from Claire rocks both of them. When Claire puts him back into the standing headscissors, she only hooked one arm before linking Ichikawa’s other arm between his legs and delivering a ferocious piledriver… for the win!
To say that the fans in attendance were shocked by this turn of events is an understatement.
Gorou Ichikawa, Openweight champion since January 4th, 2021… had finally fallen.
After the match, Claire Merci showed nothing but respect to the now-former champion, helping him to his feet and shaking hands with him – an almost uncharacteristically classy move from a new champion that cemented her new Kingdom while sitting on the chest of the old one.
Merci was soon joined by the rest of the Kingdom – Powerslam Anubis, Lord Gavin Yum, Esq., and Ignacio el Jaguar – who hoisted the new champion on their shoulders. Coral Avalon, who was also in attendance to watch the match, joined them in congratulating the new champion.
Never one for long speeches, Claire Merci only had a few words to say to the live crowd.
“Thy kingdom come.”
But the new champion and her Kingdom soon had many future challengers appear to watch over her coronation. Generalissimo Garry “Ray-Ray” Bolamba, flanked by his admiral Lord Kurosame-sama and the Homicycle, stood at the top of the stairs at the back of the arena. New Conception champion Taka Sakuragi and the rest of DESTROY IT ALL stood near front row, none of them looking impressed, and each of them looking to fulfill the mission statement of their very name. Haruki Kazano, the Ace of Clubs, watched from the entrance ramp. And MAGNUS DESTRUCTO was in the background still rampaging around somewhere, never taking his eyes off of the new champion or her kingdom.
Just because Claire Merci was finally the champion didn’t mean that her problems were over… no, they seem to only be beginning!
See everyone in Mexico City!