Here we are, the last iPPV New Japan Pro Wrestling is presenting outside of New Japan for the time being, NJPW’s Destruction in Kobe. It sucks there hasn’t been a fallout plan in place stemming from Ustream dropping their PPV service, but hopefully something will be worked out in the coming weeks. Originally Joe Lanza was supposed to do this review, but for about the first 40 minutes of the show there were numerous issues with the stream. Some people bought it, but had no stream. Others simply couldn’t order it. Only fitting that NJPW’s final Ustream show was riddled with stream issues since the primary reason they’ve dropped it was because they didn’t want to deal with customer service. Oops. I’m one of the few who managed to watch the show in it’s entirety, so here I am, ready to review!
Young Bucks and Yujiro Takahashi vs. Forever Hooligans and Tomohiro Ishii. Hooligans run wild early, but Kozlov gets dragged out right as he’s about to do a big dive to the outside. Young Bucks and Yujiro get the heat on Kozlov. Ishii, taped up shoulder and all gets a hot tag as the crowd pops big and throws around everyone like rag dolls. Ishii works on Yujiro and tags in Romero but he gets jumped quickly by Matt Jackson. Nick gets a 450 but Romero blocks it with his knees. Kozlov and Romero hit their finish on Nick for the pinfall. Fun little opener. ***
Alex Shelley, Maximo and Bushi vs. Taichi, Desperado and Taka Michinoku. Desperado and Taichi sang and played the guitar during their entrance. Well, it’s something new at least. Heels jump the faces as they made their way down the aisle and a brawl ensues to start things out. Things did not last long before the heels just straight up pelted the faces (primarily Alex Shelley) with chairs for the DQ. Yes. The crowd did not like this, obviously. Heels just posed then left. What a weird match, though I think it’s building to a Timesplitters vs. Taka/Taichi bout, which is totally original and refreshing. N/A
Jushin Thunder Liger, Tomoaki Honma, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata, Tiger Mask and Captain New Japan. Kojima and Nagata start beating each other up to start things off. Nakanishi and Tenzan paired off, then Tiger Mask and Jushin Liger. Those two were a team for so long, it’s weird to see them on opposite sides. CNJ and Honma complete things and soon CNJ’s team gets the advantage. Nakanishi and Nagata get their big submissions in but the opposing team clears things up. Honma ducks a headbutt attempt by CNJ and does a comeback to a big reaction. Kokeshi headbutt from the top rope finishes it. Yes, Honma scored a pinfall! People were happy with this. **1/2
Toru Yano and Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka. Another match in the FEUD THAT WILL NEVER END. Iizuka got a big reaction as he came out through the crowd. Suzuki and Sakuraba started grappling UWF-I style. Yano tags in, but Sakuraba and Suzuki start slapping each other silly. Yano and Iizuka are tagged in and Iizuka starts working over him. Everyone ends up brawling into the audience Iizuka slams Yano with a chair shot. Back in the ring, he’s choking him out with I think the microphone cord. Suzuki is tagged in and starts using a kimura but Sakuraba breaks it up. He is tagged in but Suzuki starts stiffing him and locks in a kimura on him, only for Sakuraba to use the ropes. Sakuraba manages to roll Suzuki into a kimura of his own but he gets to the ropes as well. Yano is tagged back in as is Iizuka. Suzuki with a huge boot that sends Sakuraba to the outside as Iizuka is tagged in and starts choking Yano again. Suzuki stretches Sakuraba on the guardrail on the outside as Yano fights back by grabbing his beard. Talk about having two completely different matches. Yano undoes the turnbuckle and hits Iizuka with the padding. Suzuki jumps Yano but is taken out. as the referee tends to him, Iizuka goes for the iron fingers but Yano counters and low blows him, then rolls him up for the three count. This was better than most matches featuring Iizuka and Yano, but only because the parts with Suzuki and Sakuraba were pretty interesting. The crowd being really hot tonight helps too. **3/4
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Kushida (c) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi. Solid mat wrestling to start. Kushida tries for a kimura but Taguchi escapes. Taguchi grabs Kushida’s leg and faceplants him as he gains control of the match. He rams Kushida’s knee into the ring post and starts work on it there. Kushida springboards but Taguchi dodges as he falls on his bum knee. Taguchi takes back control for a bit but Kushida comes back and works on Taguchi’s arm. He starts his comeback, including the springboard elbow but Taguchi manages to derail him with a kick to the back of the head and rolls himself into an ankle lock. Lots of great pinfall attempts by both. Taguchi goes for the dodon but Kushida transitions into a standing sleeper, only for Taughi to counter that with the three amigo suplexes, only for Kushia to counter that as both fall to the floor. Moonsault attempt by Kushida but Taguchi gets the knees up. Back and forth brawling with both working on their injured body parts. Kushida manages the kimura, but again Taguchi counters with an ankle lock, then hits the dodon, then goes back to the ankle lock. Kushida submits, and Taguchi wins the championship. Psychology wise, this was a pretty excellent technical match with both working over their body parts extremely well, and the transitions were awesome as well. Way above anything else on the card so far. ****1/4
Desperado attacks Taguchi after the match, and Taichi and Taka follow suit on Kushida. Shelley tries to make the save, but the heels are too much as they’re all laid out. Desperado was holding the Jr. title, so it looks like that will be a program down the line as well. Dunno why they needed to switch the title like this if that’s where they’re going. Kushida was pretty great as Jr. champion, and it felt too soon to take it off him to be honest.
They are plugging a Dynamite Kid DVD box set during intermission. Interested! Though I hear DVD box sets over there are more expensive over there than here in the United States.
Kota Ibushi and Tetsuya Naito vs. Tama Tonga and AJ Styles. Ibushi and Styles start things off. They go back and forth and exchange punches. AJ gets frustrated as Ibushi goes to hit the ropes, but Tonga opens up the ropes as he spills out to the outside and the heels jump him. Naito responds with a huge dive to the outside. Ibushi and Naito work on Styles, but Tonga gets the tag and cuts off Ibushi. They take turns working over Ibushi until he unleashes a dropkick out of nowhere. Naito and Styles are tagged in as Naito does his comeback spots on AJ. AJ hits the pele kick to take him out as Ibushi is tagged in. Standing moonsault, but AJ hits the knees. Tonga tagged in but Ibushi lays him out with a bridging suplex that gets a two count. Bunch of spots followed with everyone taking out everyone else. Ibushi hits a huge lariat but Tonga kicks out a two. Naito takes out Styles but Tonga, who was left on the top rope by Ibushi, hits a crossbody for a nearfall. Ibushi kicks him in the temple and hits the phoenix splash for the pinfall. A fast paced, frenetic and most of all fun match. ***1/2
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Kazuchika Okada and Yoshi-Hashi vs. Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson (c). Heels immediately jump Okada but he single handedly takes them out and tags in YH. He runs wild but Gallows drags him out of the ring and does the guardrail bit as Anderson and Okada go out into the crowd, with Anderson taking out Okada. Anderson does the Rainmaker pose as YH gets in and starts getting worked on. YH mounts a comeback on Gallows and tags in Okada who lays out Gallows, but Anderson grabs him as he goes to the top rope and Gallows makes him eat a big boot. Anderson back on offense for a bit but the faces start to clear out the heels. Okada hits the elbow and does the real rain makes poses, but Anderson immediately gets up only for Okada to go for the rainmaker but he dodges. YH is tagged in and starts getting some nearfalls but Anderson lays him out with a spinebuster. Gallows and Anderson hit their finish, but Okada breaks it up. They hit another one, but YH actually kicks out. The crowd is going wild over this. Yes, they’re going wild over YOSHI-HASHI. Imagine this a year ago when he was doing nothing but opening match tags. Faces run wild, including a big dive to the outside by Okada . YH hits a big palm strike and follows with a swanton…but YUJIRO runs in and pulls out the referee to boos. Okada gets laid out as YH eats a tree slam and their finish for the three count. Heat for this was awesome and the overall work was pretty fun. ***1/2
Togi Makabe vs. Hirooki Goto. They start off with the usual big guy battle in which they slap each other and try and take one another down. Barricade spot on Goto’s part, then follows with a post shot. Goto takes him out with a jaw shot, which is a big part of the story here as Makabe’s jaw was fractured following their match at the G1 tournament. Of course, Goto is now working on the jaw. Goto was on offense for a while until Makabe hulked up, grabbed his leg and hit a huge lariat. It’s Makabe’s turn on offense as he sends Goto around on the barricades. Makabe hits the ropes but Goto lays him out with the knee neckbreaker i need to learn the name of. Makabe tries to counter but Goto is in control until a lariat finally sends him reeling to the floor. A kneeling powerbomb and samoan drop follows, with Makabe going to the top rope for a king kong knee drop, but Goto takes him out and hits the neckbreaker again, then a reverse one on the jaw for a nearfall. Shouten kai attempt but Makabe breaks free and unleashes a double fist strike to the temple. Wow this is stiff. Makabe fights for the spider german, posts him, and hits it. He hits the king kong knee drop and picks up the victory. As hard hitting as you’re gonna get here tonight, and the psychology involving the jaw was great. ****
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. They exchange back and forth punches at the start. Shibata ends up dropkicking him to the outside and sure enough, there’s a barricade shot. I sound like a broken record, but they do this spot. A LOT. They follow with the second most used spot, a 19 count before they get back to the ring and start doing punches. Not that either is terrible or anything, but it doesn’t need to be used in every match up and down the card. Anyway, Shibata lays out Tanahashi and locks in a figure four. Tanahashi mounts a comeback and does his senton for a nearfall. They go back and forth, countering one another. Hard forearm shots by Shibata. Running dropkick that looked as stiff as ever from the camera angle they’re using. Tanahashi grabs his leg but both end up falling down. Tanahashi gets taken to the outside by Shibata, but when Shibata comes back in Tanahashi gives him the dragon screw. They trade German suplexes until Shibata kicks him right in the chest. Shibata tries a GTS, but Tanahashi counters with a neckbreaker. High fly flow attempt but Shibata gets the knees up. Bridging pin by Tanahashi but Shibata counters into a sleeper. He attempts the penalty kick but Tanahashi counters with a dragon suplex. He continues working on the knee. Cloverleaf time, but Shibata grabs the ropes. Back and forth slaps until Shibata is taken out. Spinning back fist by Shibata takes out Tanahashi. GTS is countered into a dragon screw by Tanahashi. Running dropkick to the corner by Tanahashi that did not look fun. Two high fly flows later and that seals the deal. HUGE pop for that. Really good stuff, but I’ll be in the minority and say their G1 match was better.. ****1/4
Tanahashi and Shibata shook hands after in a great moment.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bad Luck Fale (c). Young Bucks are at ringside to interfere when the time comes. Hey, you know that’s what they’re here for. They start off slow with some back and forth. Nakamura hits the shaky leg in the corner but misses a splash that opens up Fale’s window of opportunity. Fale attacks the back and follows it up with, yes, a barricade shot on the outside. He then posts Nakamura’s back and another barricade shot follows. Fale starts working on Nakamura until Nakamura cuts him off. A lot of back and forth here. Fale hits what I think is a reverse bearhug and follows with a bad luck fall but Nakamura escapes, only to get trapped into a boston crab. He grabs the ropes and manages to take him down once he’s released. HUGE reverse suplex follows. Reverse suplex and a number of knees are followed up by a boma ye attempt but Fale hits a huge sidewalk slam. Fale goes for a big splash, but it misses. More back and forth.Fale manages to hit a big backbreaker from his shoulders to the knee but Nakamura kicks out. Bad Luck Fall follows, but Nakamura reverses, falls to the floor, rolls up Fale then gets up and hits the boma ye for a nearfall. Another one follows and that’s it! Another great match between these two, probably their best yet. ****
Nakamura celebrated his title win following the match. No one came out to challenge after. He seemed to hint in his promo that he’d be defending it against someone from outside Japan next, according to Yottsume.
A great show to end NJPW’s run on Ustream. All the title matches delivered and everything after intermission was awesome. Some are touting the Tanahashi/Shibata match as a match of the year candidate…but I didn’t see that. Still a super fun, great match though. Kushida and Taguchi looked awesome, though the title change is questionable. Yoshi-Hashi looked great in his match, was super over, and didn’t look like a geek when losing. Togi Makabe and Hirooki Goto destroyed each other in a memorable match. And the main event was great thanks to Shinsuke Nakamura, who is once again the Intercontinental champion. A lot of stuff was built up for Tuesday’s show as well as beyond, and hopefully there will be ways we can continue to watch New Japan Pro Wrestling as the build to the Tokyo Dome continues.
Some good news on the USTREAM front, while everyone was under the assumption this was the end for New Japan on USTREAM, it appears that King of the Pro Wrestling from the famed Sumo Hall will be airing live on the service: