While WWE fans throughout the world call Roman Reigns, “The Guy” or “The Big Dog”, meanwhile over in the Rising Sun of Japan, Shuji Ishikawa is “The Giant” or “The Big Dog”. 2016 has seen Shuji Ishikawa deliver MOTYC bouts in every promotion he’s worked in, ranging from Big Japan in the Strong Climb Tourney to his domination of winning KING OF DDT then winning the KO-D Openweight Title over Konnosuke Takeshita at RYOGUKU PETER PAN 2016. Shuji has been a freelancer as of this writing, since the dissolution of his former promotion, UNION Pro at the end of 2015. If there was an open case for Tokyo Sports MVP, Shuji Ishikawa would have to be considered among the favorites since there hasn’t been a clear-cut runaway winner in 2016 for several reasons.
2016 began for Shuji by teaming up with his ‘Twin Towers’ partner Kohei Sato and Kazuki Kikuta in a 6 man match against AJPW’s Suwama, Daisuke Sekimoto and Hideki Suzuki in Korakuen for Big Japan in a heated 6 man match that saw Suwama get massive heat as he was the Triple Crown champ at the time for All Japan on January 2nd. He wrestled in Big Japan at Korakuen 3 weeks later with Sato and Hideyoshi Kamitani to defeat Hideki, Seiya Sanada, and Yoshihisa Uto.
He appeared under a Dog costume to reveal himself as Daisuke Sasaki’s partner for the KO-D Tag Titles by laying out Happy Motels in Korakuen for DDT. He defeated Tetsuya Endo the following month at Korakuen in a prelude for the Anniversary show at Sumo Hall. Shuji and Sasaki defeated Happy Motels to win the tag titles at the show. They would remain tag champs until losing it to KAI and Ken F’n Ohka in July. Shuji Ishikawa participated in the KING OF DDT tournament. He went through DNA up and comer Kota Umeda, AJPW Jr. Heavyweight Champ Soma Takao, Shigehiro Irie and Endo to win the tournament to face Konnosuke Takeshita at RYOGUKU PETER PAN for the KO-D Title. He defeated Takeshita to become KO-D Openweight Champion. He successfully defended the belt against Kazusada Higuchi on September 25th and Danshoku Dino on October 23rd. He will face the “ACE of DDT” HARASHIMA at Osaka Octopus on December 4th.
He worked for All Japan Pro Wrestling during 2016 in the 1st half of the year but hasn’t worked there much since his schedule was busy with DDT and BJW taking priority in the latter half of 2016. He worked the January 2nd and 3rd shows for AJPW in which he defeated Hikaru Sato on the 2nd and was on the winning team on the 3rd teaming with Kento Miyahara and Zeus to defeat Evolution. He mainly worked the Korakuen shows for All Japan but not before getting an AJPW World Tag Title shot with Hoshitango falling short against Big Guns team of Zeus and the Bodyguard on March 27th. He actually got the pin over Suwama in his return match from his Achilles Tendon injury on July 14th at Korakuen.
When he wasn’t being under the control of DAMNATION’s leader, Daisuke Sasaki, Shuji was tearing it up in Big Japan Pro Wrestling in the Strong Big Japan (non-deathmatches division) division. He teams with Kohei Sato to dominate the tag team division over in Big Japan. They won the tag titles by defeating Hamakani (Ryota Hama and Hideyoshi Kamitani) on May 30th in Korakuen. They retained the titles at Ryogukutan on July 24 defeating SMOP (Akebono and Hama) in a match that saw Twin Towers utilize the strategy of making Hama tired by having him run the ropes nonstop. They defended the titles on August 24th against Yuji Okabayashi and Yasufumi Nakanoue at Ueno Park. They had a dominant run in the Saikyo Tag League Block A in which they didn’t drop a fall in the league matches including beating Strong BJ (Yuji Okabayashi and Daisuke Sekimoto). They reached the semi-finals of the league by defeating Daichi Hashimoto and Hideyoshi Kamitani on October 14th. They lost the semifinal match to Strong BJ on Halloween.
Ishikawa had a strong run in the Ikkitousen Strong Climb league. Ikkitousen alternate years in which Death Match get the Odd years while Strong BJ gets the Even years. He defeated then Strong BJ Champ Yuji Okabayashi, Uto, Hama, Shinobu while losing to Hideki Suzuki on the final day of the league block action. He defeated Daichi Hashimoto in the semi-finals of the Ikkitousen Strong Climb then he followed that by defeating Hideyoshi Kamitani in the finals to win the league while earning a title shot against Okabayashi at Endless Survivor at Yokohama Bunka Gym on May 5th during Golden Week. Shuji came up short in winning the Strong BJ World Title on that show falling to Okabayashi via Golem Splash.
Shuji’s versatility in his matches for the promotions makes him one of my favorites. In a running joke in DDT, DAMNATION is a heel stable but Shuji would cut promos in a babyface manner before Daisuke kicks him down to remind him he is a heel and to stop acting like a babyface. Daisuke would lead Shuji on a leash and dog collar in tag matches to remind folks that, just because Shuji is KO-D Openweight champ, it doesn’t mean he is not under Daisuke’s control. Shuji is a former BJW Deathmatch Heavyweight champ but he hasn’t done deathmatches as often as he used to in the past; but the scars from the deathmatch wars are visible throughout his body.
Shuji’s a giant in Japan. Since most of the Japanese guys are short in height, he uses this to his advantage often in the matches. Some of the moves he uses in his matches include the following: Knee strikes, s running knee strike, elbow strikes, Headbutts of Doom in which he headbutts a ground opponent to oblivion, Splash Mountain Bomb (Sit out Razor’s Edge), and the Giant Slam (Cross-Armed Angle Slam).
Shuji Ishikawa’s Must See Matches of 2016
1. Kazusada Higuchi vs. Shuji Ishikawa, 9/25: https://rutube.ru/video/63a60f60f8e46ddbec5b84e588802159
2. Tetsuya Endo vs. Shuji Ishikawa, 6/26: https://rutube.ru/video/78f4472b2e2666559eb91dfe9691cd56
3. Shuji Ishikawa vs. Shigehiro Irie, 6/26: https://rutube.ru/video/b766a5ba8404c1421cfaf63837086d13
4. Twin Towers vs. HAMAKAMI (c), 5/30: https://rutube.ru/video/e132cf1deddccaf373dacbc01baaaa39
5. Twin Towers vs. SMOP, 7/24: https://rutube.ru/video/a6d146fe829a9a18fbd2a66ab12ccd0f
6. Ryota Hama vs. Shuji Ishikawa, 3/31: https://rutube.ru/video/ebbc7680273669e30d9cda358b9acca5
7. Shuji Ishikawa vs. Hideki Suzuki, 4/9: https://rutube.ru/video/c737e92be334b927d09add4e3a396193
8. Takeshita (c) vs. Shuji Ishikawa, 8/28: https://rutube.ru/video/ebd784bf5a025fec18ef0d7c65e2c786
9. Dino vs. Shuji Ishikawa (c), 10/23: https://rutube.ru/video/b2f221b6e3a66423c12483d097f5532e
10. Shuji Ishikawa vs. Yuji Okabayashi, 5/5: https://rutube.ru/video/9047452bcb8a138035da2f98a4623213
11. Strong BJ vs. Twin Towers, 10/31: https://rutube.ru/video/a5b6a4c70fba905dcd79fae8daa94598
12. Twin Towers vs. Speeds of Sounds, 9/22: https://rutube.ru/video/ffaa908584835050a9f5b2024ffb48dd
13. Twin Towers vs. Daichi Hashimoto & Hideyoshi Kamitani: https://rutube.ru/video/d92f8361a4417d3a1b4cd592cc7cb2b3
14. Suwama, Daisuke Sekimoto, Hideki Suzuki vs. Kazumi Kikuta & Twin Towers, 1/2: https://rutube.ru/video/f1d4208a3dc97239b1fdd07f12fca15c
15. Hamakami & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Twin Towers & Yuji Okabayashi, 6/26: https://rutube.ru/video/e28de46f812199ef0507ec1f7a7ae9ff
16. Shuji Ishikawa vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani, 4/10: https://rutube.ru/video/f07184bfdb72ea48ff22004404ad285d
17. Hideki Suzuki, Seiya Sanada & Yoshihisa Uto vs. Twin Towers & Hideyoshi Kamitani: https://rutube.ru/video/d894f4a34bfea127e264d3ad8215c8ab
18. Jun Kasai & Mammoth Sasaki vs. Shuji Ishikawa & Yuko Miyamoto, 9/15: https://rutube.ru/video/5ec417e1c912b94b1bad9a864026e7bd/
19. Yuji Okabayashi vs. Shuji Ishikawa, 3/6: https://rutube.ru/video/0f4b126d068238dab1e6c3882ceef11c/
20. Shuji Ishikawa vs. Endo, 2/28: https://rutube.ru/video/69f58de3e6b514e958709a2ef4fde38a/
21. Shuji Ishikawa vs. Takeshita, 5/8: https://rutube.ru/video/4d06b84a7c4994eaf21986ae43085366/
22. Shuji Ishikawa vs. Uto, 3/10: https://rutube.ru/video/69e7be66c535affe312f9d4290785eb6/
23. Shuji Ishikawa vs. Jake Lee, 3/12: https://rutube.ru/video/5c86bc3f6cf14f55e3db26aabf6fdf0b/
24. Shuji Ishikawa vs. Hikaru Sato, 1/2: https://rutube.ru/video/6d3cc20f68f2f3f9fdb123a060b05b4a/
25. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Shuji Ishikawa vs. Kohei Sato & Maybach Taniguchi, 6/14: https://rutube.ru/video/3f6948af7c0dd843f755c0be07de89f0/