Welcome, one and all, to a bonus post! So, I’ve had some mixed luck when it comes to predicting the results for pro wrestling this year, haven’t I? Now, there is a WWE PPV this Sunday … but given my luck, I’m going to throw my predictions out for something different: Sasuke 34!
For those that don’t know, Sasuke (aka Ninja Warrior) is a Japanese show that sees 100 people from various backgrounds attempting to clear a gruelling obstacle course. The series has spawned several international spin-offs, including the popular American Ninja Warrior. Now, I’m not going to be predicting the results for all 100 competitors in Sunday’s competition. That would be rather barmy, given that I know very little about a lot of them. Instead, I’ll be focussing on some of the better- known competitors and a couple of others that impressed me in Sasuke 33 earlier this year. Yup, even with Makoto Nagano retired and fan favourite Kazumi Asa missing this one, there are still plenty of great competitors to watch!
Shingo Yamamoto – Appearing at literally every single tournament, he’s had a mixed run of it of late. There was a time that it seemed like he’d be a dead cert to finish the course and achieve kanzenseiha, and even now you can sometimes see flashes of that ability, such as his run in Sasuke 28. The last two years though, he’s been thwarted by the same obstacle on the first stage: the Double Pendulum. Even with this fall in success though, I still believe that he can put in a good run. This year, I see him finally clearing the Double Pendulum, and making it to second stage. If he can make it past the Salmon Ladder, then he should make it at least as far the Backstream, but I think that he’ll likely fail to reach stage three.
Toshihiro Takeda – the only other All-Star still competing, the former fireman has never reached the final stage of the competition. Even so, he’s been arguably one of the more consistent All-Stars, perhaps only sitting behind the legendary Makoto Nagano in terms of performance quality. In Sasuke 33, he cleared the first stage with ease, only to fail at the Salmon Ladder in stage two. This year, I can see him repeating his initial clearance, and I would expect him to have done enough work to get further into the second stage too. While I would love to see him return to stage three, I can see him failing at the Backstream in stage two.
Yuuji Urushihara – The shoe salesman is the only man to achieve kanzenseiha twice. That is a great achievement! Unfortunately, he’s been on a run of poor performances recently, failing the first stage in Sasuke 31, 32 and 33 (even falling on only the second obstacle in 33). It’s about time the double champion made a comeback though! Past form indicates that he is more than capable, so I’m going to predict that he makes it to the third stage, but falls on the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger.
Yusuke Morimoto – The most recent champion had a really good run in Sasuke 33, making it all the way to third stage before falling on the flying bar. For him to not at least reach this point again seems ridiculous to me. This year, I think that he’ll make it to the final stage, though I think that the changes will prove too much for him this time around.
Masashi Hioki – He always feels like an underdog to me. Regardless though, he made a valiant run at the second stage in Sasuke 33, only to time out. This year, I see him barely clearing the stage, but falling at the Flying Bar in stage three.
Kenji Takahashi – The man known as Kong has failed on the TIE Fighter in stage one two tournaments on the trot. Sasuke 34 should be the tournament where he returns to form. I see Kong fighting through but failing at the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger in stage three.
Tomohiro Tawaguchi – He reached the final stage in Sasuke 30, and stage three in 31 and 32. Imagine the shock when he failed stage one in Sasuke 33. He’ll be out for revenge here, and I can see him going as far as stage three, but the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger may be a task too far for him.
Drew Drechsel – The American competitor was the man that made it the furthest in Sasuke 33, and he usually puts in a good performance. He should make it at least as far as the third stage, and if he beats the Ultra Crazy Cliffhanger this time around, I can see him also making it to the final stage. I don’t think he’ll clear the final stage, mind you.
Takeru – The K1 fighter finally cleared stage one in Sasuke 33, but failed at the Salmon Ladder. This year, I expect an improvement, but foresee him failing at the Spider Walk.
Seiki Takasu – The fishing boat captain stormed through the first stage in Sasuke 33 but failed on the Salmon Ladder. Much like Takeru, I think that he’ll do better this time, and could see him nearing the end of stage two. I predict a time out on the Wall Lift.
Kenji Darvish – The drummer for J-Rock Band Golden Bomber made it to the final obstacle of stage one in Sasuke 33. Not only that, he made it to the top of the obstacle. Then he fell. I was legitimately shocked when I saw that. He’s cleared the first stage before, and is adamant that he can at least make the third stage, so I’m putting some faith in him. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he reaches the third stage, but if he does so, he’ll likely fail at the Flying Bar.
Shunsuke Nagasaki – A long time competitor that was neither an All-Star nor a New-Star, he put in a great showing in Sasuke 33, making it all the way to stage three before falling on the Flying bar. I expect him to better that performance this year, maybe even making it as far as the Pipe Slider. By then, fatigue may be a factor though, and I’m not expecting him to clear the stage.
Jun Sato – A parkour instructor who’s coming into this off the back of two consecutive third stage fails. He should reach that stage again with ease, and I’m going to say that this year he finally goes one better and reaches the final stage. Unfortunately, that’s where I think that he’ll fail.
Hiroshige Yamamoto – A SEGA worker who failed the clear the first stage in Sasuke 33. He is a member of the Black Tigers, a group trained by All-Star Katsumi Yamada. Having cleared the first stage twice, he is the most successful of the group, and that should go in his favour here. I see him avenging his failure in Sasuke 33, but falling foul of the Salmon Ladder in stage two.
So, those are my thoughts. What about all of you? Do you watch Sasuke/Ninja Warrior? Are you looking forward to Sasuke 34? Who do you think will do well?