Shingo Takagi has been a man broken by circumstance and struggle over the last few months and has a big match against Jeff Cobb at Wrestle Kingdom.
Despite claiming the Openweight Championship on November 7th by defeating Minoru Suzuki, Shingo Takagi has struggled in proving his worth in the squared circle of NJPW. And that issue falls into one person. A mighty mountain, both literally and in metaphor.
That mountain being Jeff Cobb. Since joining Empire, gone is the Cobb of fun and smiles. Well, the smiles are there, but they have taken an undeniably arrogant and cocky demeanor that is obviously due to the influence of Empire’s leader, Will Ospreay. Cobb, almost taking a cue from the man who he lost the Openweight Title to nearly two years ago in Wrestling Dontaku 2019, has fallen from the man who earned the love of the crowd to a self-satisfied and dominatingly insufferable bruiser.
And the reason it’s just so infuriating is that it led to win-after-win for Cobb. Be it with the Great O-Kahn in the World Tag League representing the Empire. Or in the grandest tournament of New Japan Pro Wrestling, The G1 Climax. Jeff Cobb can back up his cockiness in the ring, like a bully who is as strong as they are mean. And we all hated that bully.
And who is this bully’s most recent victim? The veteran Shingo Takagi.
Why Shingo Takagi struggles against Jeff Cobb
Shingo Takagi has struggled to ever overcome the challenge that is Cobb. From the G1 Climax 28 where they first squared off in NJPW, Shingo ate a loss to Cobb. In the following G1 Climax 29, history repeated itself as Cobb once again proved to be Shingo’s better in the ring.
And while Shingo Takagi would show hardship in these losses and Cobb would brag and bluster about how much he is Shingo’s better, the true loss for Shingo Takagi would come in the World Tag League.
Being pinned and eliminated from reaching the final by Cobb once again, Takagi not only cost himself this chance of a grand win, but also his partner and friend, SANADA. In an emotional promo backstage, broken and barely able to stand, Takagi apologizes and takes ownership of the loss to SANADA.
This has no longer simply become Takagi’s own personal bugbear of an issue. It has become something that hinders those he considers friends in Los Ingobernables de Japon. It has made him a liability.
And that is why he needs to win at Wrestle Kingdom.
A tried and true story will emerge at Wrestle Kingdom
In losing to Jeff Cobb time and time again, Shingo Takagi has highlighted a story as old as time that goes beyond even the sport of professional wrestling. The story of redemption.
Takagi’s losses to Cobb have cost him his pride, the advancement of SANDA and are on their way to costing him the Openweight title at Wrestle Kingdom. If that happens, it will cost Shingo Takagi everything that matters to him.
So, Shingo Takagi needs to dig deep and show why he is The Dragon King. How he is still the man that fought and clawed to the finals of Best of the Super Juniors and wrestled a classic match. Shingo Takagi is a performer who has earned the respect of fans through his amazing work. And to be proven inferior to Jeff Cobb, who while an amazing wrestler in his own right, is not the way to treat someone who is still in his prime and shows that every day.
Shingo Takagi is The Dragon. And New Japan Pro Wrestling better let him be that at Wrestle Kingdom.