NJPW on AXS TV is back for their second season and they are starting off in a big way — the 2015 New Japan Cup. Other than some minor changes to the opening video, the format for the show is the exact same, so without further ado, let’s get to the ring.
Kota Ibushi and Doc Gallows kick things off. From the opening bell, Mauro Ranallo and Josh Barnett do a great job of making a big deal about the size difference between the two. Even though he is a heavyweight, Ibushi is still pretty small and much, much smaller than Gallows, and therefore, any offense he was able to land was made a big deal by the two commentators. Ibushi squeaks out a win with a rollup, which is fitting for the way this match was worked with Ibushi being much quicker than the big man.
The Bullet Club was back for the second match of the evening as Karl Anderson took on pre-Los Ingobernables Tetsuya Naito. Remember when Ibushi & Naito tagged for awhile last year? And when people thought that they would wrestle Meiyu Tag a bunch last year? Ah, that was fun. Thinking about how poor the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team division has been over the past few years is really quite saddening, but the good news is, this match is a whole lot of fun. Naito, at the time, was floundering and Anderson was being dragged down by Gallows on a monthly basis. The two worked really hard here and the result is a match that I very much enjoyed.
Once again, the Bullet Club made their way onto the screen for match three as Bad Luck Fale battled Kazuchika Okada. Much like the prior match, it’s funny looking back on this in hindsight. I was so annoyed when Okada was strapped to Fale last year and I hated seeing him spend the first quarter of his year battling the big man. It actually ended up not only being great for the Okada character, but in terms of match quality as well. Ranallo and Barnett make Fale so much more enjoyable than he should be, especially here. Every move he hits is presented like it could kill Okada and when Fale finally scores the pinfall, it’s presented as if it were a BIG DEAL. Ranallo and Barnett were excellent in this match.
The show finally closes with a doozy of a main event and promo. Toru Yano is the one in front of the camera this time, talking more about the Tokyo Marathon than his match with Hiroshi Tanahashi, because he’s Toru Yano and he can do whatever he wants.
“That [New Japan Cup] was a long time ago It was right after a marathon. I thought I could go on f0r hours. But from the marathon I realized I can’t fight for over 6.5 hours. What I found out by running the marathon is that it’s tough. It’s tough like no other, right?”
Yano then goes onto mention that he doesn’t have a strong impression of Hiroshi Tanahashi and that he’s “nothing special”. Heavy shot from the funny man. Heavy, heavy shot.
As for the match, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Yano and Tanahashi when Tanahashi is trying to nurse a plethora of injuries. It’s fine for what it was. The commentary is fine, the match is there, and the presentation is nothing special, but by no means was it offensive. The weakest match of the four on the show, but something worth taking a peak at.
Yano’s post-match interview is nothing special, just him plugging a CHAOS CD and DVD. It’s, well, exactly what you’d expect.
Final Thoughts: While the main event was maybe the weakest that NJPW on AXS TV has offered yet, the three matches that precede it are all very good. Natio vs. Anderson is a four star match and Okada vs. Fale isn’t too far behind it. A thumbs for the season 2 debut of NJPW on AXS TV.