Welcome to Outside the Ring, where we talk about the biggest news in professional wrestling… taking place, naturally, outside the ring.  Last week we wrote about Kurt Angle’s likely lifelong struggle with substance abuse, and the possibility of him ending his career back with the WWE.  At the time, it seemed like the biggest story to report on.  Later in the week, some more important news broke: WWE had officially signed KENTA to a developmental contract.  

For those unfamiliar, KENTA is Kenta Kobayashi, a Japanese professional wrestling superstar known for his time in Pro Wrestling Noah.  In the United States, he is known for appearing in ROH.  If you are a fan of Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, you should be VERY excited about the signing, as Kenta works a similar style to those two.  In fact, two of his signature moves are the Go 2 Sleep, and the Busaiku Knee Kick, the very same moves utilized by everyones favorite two independent to WWE superstars.

So signing KENTA to a developmental deal is big news, especially if Daniel Bryan is out for a very long time.  Hopefully we can see an appearance from him soon on NXT.  But despite the fact that his skillset is similar to Bryan, the WWE had a number of motives for signing him.  According to Dave Meltzer and The Wrestling Observer, the biggest of which is the WWE’s plans to extend their reach into the Japanese market. (Wrestling Inc)

WWE is still heavily relying on the potential of the WWE Network to be a large profit maker for them in the future.  Although it’s release in the United States has been slower than originally expected, WWE hopes to gain some traction once the Network launches in other markets in 2015.  One of those markets, and a fairly large one at that, is Japan.  Investing in KENTA is absolutely an appeal to the Japanese market.

By no coincidence, NXT is set to debut in Japan on satellite channel J Sports in the coming months.  KENTA’s first destination?  NXT.  Although it might seem a bit insulting at first, WWE’s pandering to Japanese fans is a smart move.  Forgive me if you think this comparison doesn’t actually add up, but when the Seattle Mariners signed Ichiro Suzuki back in 2001, their Japanese following went through the roof.  Nationalism goes a long way.

Because WWE may be using KENTA to expand their product, we can hope that he’ll get a fair shake in the WWE.  That was another big topic of discussion here at TJR last week.  In response to an article on The Atlantic about WWE and racism, I wrote that:

...Beary is absolutely right about the negative stereotypes that WWE enforces with their minority characters.  Cryme Tyme was awful, as was the Mexicools, and even Goldust (when speaking of sexuality, as opposed to race).  The WWE has a history of exploiting stereotypes.  They like to fashion themselves as satirists.  But often they’re less South Park and more Carlos Mencia. (TJR)

But although I used examples involving African and Mexican Americans to illustrate my point, commenter Ryan really hit the nail on the head when he wrote: “Name a Japanese heavyweight champion in wwe? Anyone? ANYONE? Look how Japanese stars are mostly displayed in wwe.”  He’s right, Japanese wrestlers may be the most underutilized group of wrestlers in WWE’s history.

The WWE has a real chance here to right a wrong.  And all they have to do is let KENTA be KENTA.  Surely they won’t screw that up, right?

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And now, here's a little feature we like to call: Marty Jannetty TAKES ON the internet.

On Brock Lesnar's rumored return for next Monday's RAW.

Oh yeah, he's returning?  That's pretty radical.  Us guys with that freaky type of beefcake physique have to support each other.  There is a lot of haters out there.  In a lot of ways I feel like it's a bit of a curse for us.

On news of Cesaro's push being delayed while focus remains on Roman Reigns.

I know that game brother.  Once upon a time the WWE had a chance to push their own larger than life "MJ" and failed to do so.  Instead they ran with Shawn, BIG MISTAKE!  Nowadays my idea of a fine meal is a "grand-slam" at Denny's and the WWE is worldwide media empire.  Wait a minute, what are we talking about again?  Where the hell is my Natty Ice?!

On CM Punk's contract officially expiring.

What I love about this whole crazy situation is the fact that the WWE doesn't own the rights to the "CM Punk" name or character.  I say good for him!  It's about time that a guy who put his body on the line night in and night out, for the better of a company, gets to keep what is his.

On the WWE releasing a Macho Man documentary in November.

From a man who has put away an inhuman amount of Slim Jim's, I cannot be more excited about my man Randy Savage getting some WWE documentary love!  I just won't hold my breath for any Stephanie McMahon commentary.

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Be sure to check out our latest episode of The SharpShooter Cast!  This week we talk about a home-break in, and review the Raw leading up to Battleground.  And hey, it's our 50th episode!  That deserves at the very least a pity listen.

This week's episode covers:

  • Aaron's beef with his penis.
  • Tom's house is broken into.
  • Thoughts on Lebron James.
  • WWE Network pick of the week: SummerSlam 2002.
  • A review and analysis of Raw.
  • The opening segment felt overproduced.
  • Concerns over the WWE Network.
  • We like The Miz's new gimmick!
  • Obama vs Putin should headline next WrestleMania.
  • Sting's big reveal leaves much to be desired.
  • Ric Flair shines in Virginia.
  • Final match does a decent job in hyping Battleground.
  • Final Raw scores.
  • Listener questions: 1) Who are we surprised made it to the main event scene?
  • 2) Do we think WWE should split brands again?
  • 3) Who can potentially be the next Chris Jericho/Shawn Michaels or Cena/Hogan?

Here's a STREAM of the show:

And here's the Direct Download! (Right click and "Save Link As")

If you're interested in listening to more episodes, visit our little corner in the iTunes Store.  Be sure to leave us a rating!  Or, you can always click "More" on the above player, and listen to our entire catalog.  Pretty handy.

Finally, if you're like me and have a favorite app not made by Apple to play your podcasts (I love me some DOWNCAST for my iPhone, and iPP Podcast Player for my Android Tablet), here's the RSS Feed for your convenience: http://sharpshootercast.libsyn.com/rss

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Written by Thomas and Aaron Briggs