This one is for the guys over at the New Japan Purocast (thanks for the shout-out).
At Wrestle Kingdom, on January 4th in Tokyo Dome, Hirooki Goto will challenge Minoru Suzuki for his NEVER Openweight Title.
Suzuki thought he was done with Goto, having beaten him earlier in the year. Goto, on the other hand, still felt that he deserved another shot. Suzuki argued that he was the only one taking a risk, by putting his title on the line. Goto responded by offering to shave his head if he failed to beat Suzuki. This was enough pique Suzuki’s interest, and the match was set.
What has many fans scratching their heads is, “What’s the big deal with Goto risking his hair?” This is a valid question, as it never seemed that Goto was the type who would give a lot of thought to his appearance.
But the truth is, this isn’t about sacrificing vanity, it’s about submitting oneself. In Japanese culture, having a shaved head is an indiction of being young, a boy, or a student. That’s why the Young Lions traditionally have shaved heads or short hair styles, especially when they are just starting.
Suzuki recognizes that fact in this backstage promo:
Once more, Goto’s hair, while not necessarily valuable, represents all the he has left. He alludes to having nothing else, which might be a comment on his place within the company, that line he seems to be walking between upper and mid level placement.
He mentions being on the edge here:
Perhaps more significiantly, shaving your head also symbolizes shame, a kind of public punishment for not doing what you were supposed to. A recent and high-profile example is of a Japanese pop star who was revealed to have been seeing someone, which was against the group rules (different culture). In dramatic act of contrition, she shaved her head on video, while crying and apologizing. Story here.
In a more possitve spin, shaving your head is also seen as a rebirth, freeing yourself from distraction to gain more focus. Would I be going too far off the rails by pointing to Brintey Spears, here? I’ll just stick to the example of little league baseball players in Japan shaving their head to show their dedication. That’s better.
In conclusion, this match isn’t hair, it’s about pride, status, power, and having nothing else to lose. Hopefully, that helps in making the match a little more interesting.