New Japan Pro Wrestling
Destruction in Hiroshima
September 22, 2016
Hiroshima Sun Plaza – Hiroshima, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Before the show began, it was announced that Katsuyori Shibata & Matt Sydal would not be on the show, the former due to his (at this point, well-known) spinal injury, and the latter due to travel issues.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, & Ricochet def. Togi Makabe, YoshiTatsu, & Captain New Japan

As I just mentioned, Matt Sydal missed this show due to travel issues, and because of that, this match was turned into a six-man tag. Unfortunately, this meant that Teruaki Kanemitsu, one of the new young lions, was left of the card. For me, that was actually a little disappointing, as I was intrigued to see this new young lion for the first time. Anyway, I thought this was a fine six-man tag. Tenzan, Kojima, and in particular, Ricochet all looked good here, and the crowd seemed to be very much into them. Makabe did some of his trademark spots, and The Bullet Club Hunters were….well….The Bullet Club Hunters. As I think we all expected, Captain New Japan took the fall for his team here, after eating a Kojima lariat. Again, this was fine for what it was. A pretty standard six-man tag here. **¾

Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay def. Yugi Nagata, Tomoaki Honma, Tiger Mask, & Manabu Nakanishi

This is my first time seeing David Finlay in his new gear. On the one hand, I’m happy to see that he’s graduated from young lion status, but on the other hand, the leopard print tights totally ruins the “Trevor Lee’s long-lost brother” look he had going with his all-black gear (all he needed was a massive amount of chest hair, and they’d be practically twins). As far as the match goes, I thought it was ok. It definitely wasn’t better than the Six-Man Tag that preceded it, but it did have some weird highlights. Nakanishi went for his “dive” to the outside onto O’Reilly very early on, but he fell waaaay short (it wasn’t even close) and crashed chest first into the floor which, for a guy as immobile as Nakanishi, can’t be good. Taguchi also tried his version of the Kokeshi, which saw him squirming around like a fish out of water. It seemed like Tiger Mask did most of the work for his team, as I can barely remember anything that Nagata or Honma did in this match. reDRagon would get the win for their team here, hitting Chasing The Dragon first on Honma, and then on Tiger Mask (the legal man) which led to O’Reilly scoring the pin. Clearly O’Reilly getting the win here is key, as he’s challenging for the NEVER Openweight Championship at some point, depending on Shibata’s health. **¼

The Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) def. Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero)

I was actually pretty intrigued by this tag team match going into this show, not because I thought it was going to be a good match (“Guerrillas of Destiny” and “good match” are two phrases that just don’t go together), but because of the fact that it was a heavyweight tag team against a prominent junior heavyweight tag team. The match, as a whole, was actually ok, but it definitely had its ups & downs. The first half was really dry, highlighted by a Tanga Loa control period on Beretta. The match did pick up a ton when the hot tag was made to Rocky Romero, who I thought did a really solid job here, and injected some excitement into the match. His efforts weren’t enough, however, as The Guerrillas of Destiny eventually hit their tag team finisher and got the win. Honestly, that finish was soooo deflating, and I think it ruined all of the hard work that Roppongi Vice (particularly Rocky Romero) did to get the crowd back into the match. Unfortunately, I think this victory could mean that The Guerrillas of Destiny are (sadly) due for another shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles, which I don’t think anyone is looking forward to. **¼

Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi

Yujiro came out with two scantily clad women who were wearing black rabbit masks. I’m happy that he’s brought these women back as part of his entrance, because otherwise, I would have zero reason to care about him. Here, Yujiro’s teaming with Chase Owens to take on the CHAOS contingent of Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii. I thought this match was decent. It went by pretty quickly, and I liked it more than the Guerrillas of Destiny/Roppongi Vice match that preceded it. Goto & Ishii throwing the two Bullet Club B-Team members around was entertaining, and I thought Chase Owens actually had some nice individual exchanges with Goto & Ishii, even hitting the former with the package piledriver. In the end, the CHAOS team would win the match after Goto hit the GTR on Chase Owens. I would much rather prefer this CHAOS team getting the next shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles over The Guerrillas of Destiny.

In particular, I think being in the tag team division would be a really nice change of pace for Ishii. He’s really never been that much of a title contender in the tag team scene since his ascension to prominence in New Japan, but just the prospect of him challenging for those titles adds something exciting to a division that has been in dire need of anything interesting. Whether he ends up teaming with YOSHI-HASHI, like he did at the G1 Finals, or with Goto, like he did here, I’m confident that, if he gets a shot, Ishii could inject more life into those IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. **1/2

Michael Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA, & Juice Robinson def. Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, & BUSHI

BUSHI comes into this match as the new IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion, having beaten KUSHIDA for the title in Tokyo. The focus of this match, however is on Michael Elgin & Tetsuya Naito, who have an IWGP Intercontinental Title match coming up in Kobe. As you might have guessed, Los Ingobernables de Japon jumps the babyfaces to start off the match, and spend the first few minutes brawling on the outside. The focus was immediately on Elgin, as Naito & EVIL really went after one of Elgin’s knees, which means that will probably play a big part in the upcoming title match in Kobe. As a whole, I thought the match was pretty solid. The first portion of the match was actually turned into a four-on-three situation until Elgin came back with the knee that was targeted all taped up, and starting running roughshod over LIJ. It was easily the best of the undercard mult-man tags, and I think everyone had a chance to shine here. The biggest news to come out of this match is that Elgin got the win for his team by pinning EVIL. Of course, as we all know, EVIL scored a victory over Elgin in the G1 Climax, so not only did Elgin get his “win back”, but this pretty much eliminates EVIL from any potential shot at the IWGP Intercontinental Title. ***1/4

After the match, we actually had a rare moment of LIJ being basically decimated by the babyfaces after the match, as Elgin took out Naito with the Elgin Bomb, while KUSHIDA had to be pulled off BUSHI.

Before the show returned from intermission, there was another “Time Bomb” video, reminding us once again that something big is coming soon.

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
The Briscoes def. The Young Bucks

This match was set up back at the Super J Cup Finals, where The Young Bucks, the current IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, challenged The Briscoes to a match for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. While these two teams have faced off numerous times in ROH, this is their first two-on-two encounter in New Japan. For the most part, I thought this was a great match. The Briscoes & The Young Bucks have always had really good matches together, and this one was no different. The match did slow down a little bit somewhere in the middle, but for the most part, I thought the action was very solid.

Something that did hurt the match though (at least, in my eyes) was the crowd, as they really only seemed to come alive towards the end of the match. Now I know that Japanese crowds aren’t as rambunctious as American crowds, but here, there were points where you would have expected a crowd reaction, but they just never materialized. As I said though, the crowd did come alive towards the end of the match, particularly after The Briscoes hit (I think) Matt Jackson with their Splash Mountain/Neckbreaker double team off the top rope, which was absolutely insane, and something I’ve never seen out of The Briscoes before. In ended up taking a Doomsday Device for ‘Dem Boys to finally put The Young Bucks away to retain their titles.

Despite my complaints about the crowd, the action in this match was great, for the most part, from start to finish. ****¼

After the match, our worst fears were confirmed, as The Guerrillas of Destiny attacked The Briscoes from behind, and demanded their rematch for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. If I honestly had to guess, I would say that, unfortunately, there’s a good chance that Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa are taking the titles back. This might have to do with the fact that The Briscoes likely won’t be able to do the World Tag League this year, since ROH Final Battle is right in the middle of that tour.

ROH World Title
Adam Cole def. Will Ospreay

For Adam Cole, this is his first appearance in New Japan since he teamed with Michael Bennett at the G1 Climax Finals in the Seibu Dome two years ago. Since then, he’s joined The Bullet Club, and went on to win the ROH World Title for a second time. He’s making his second title defense here against CHAOS member Will Ospreay. I thought this was a really good match, but to me, it just fell short of being a great match. There were a few rough spots here & there that I think contributed to that, but other than those minor complaints, I enjoyed this one. It was definitely better than the three ROH World Title defenses made by Jay Lethal in New Japan this year, so in that regard, Cole has gotten off to a good start. They told a nice story with Ospreay trying to hit the OsCutter on a number of occasions, but Cole was able to counter it every time. Eventually, Cole got the win after hitting the Panama Sunrise and the Last Shot. ***¾

Non-Title Match
Kazuchika Okada def. Bad Luck Fale

Okada always seems to have trouble with Bad Luck Fale. The two had a feud in first quarter of 2015 that culminated in a great match at that year’s Invasion Attack. This year, The Underboss of The Bullet Club earned a victory over Okada in the G1 Climax, which led to Okada calling Fale out later on. Surprisingly, Okada’s IWGP Heavyweight Title isn’t on the line year, which was very strange, as people who defeat the IWGP Heavyweight Champion during the G1 Climax usually earn title shots. While I don’t think this was as great as that aforementioned match from Invasion Attack, this was still a really good match. I would put it just above their match from the G1 Climax this year.

This has been said many times before, but when Fale is in there with someone who can carry him, he’s capable of being involved in really good singles matches, and this was yet another example of that. There were some cool spots here, including a dive by Okada over the top rope to the floor onto Fale & Yujiro (which was really cool) but the match actually told a really good story, as Fale worked on Okada’s Rainmaker arm. He damaged Okada’s arm so much that when Okada finally connected with the Rainmaker, it actually didn’t take the big man down. There was some very solid back & forth action towards the end of the match, but eventually, the IWGP Heavyweight Champion prevailed, and a second Rainmaker put Fale down for the three count. ***¾

Tokyo Dome Briefcase
Kenny Omega def. YOSHI-HASHI

With his shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Title in The Tokyo Dome on the line, Kenny Omega came into this match looking to avenge one of his losses from the G1 Climax. It’s been said so much already, but the fact that Kenny Omega vs. YOSHI-HASHI is the main event of a major New Japan event is still surreal to think about. Who would’ve thought, when 2016 started, that we’d end up here? Anyway, with regards to the match, I honestly have a lot of mixed feelings about it. The first part of the match featured constant interference from The Young Bucks. Now it’s not like their interference directly led to the finish (the match continued long after the interference) but still, the fact that The Young Bucks were able to get away with spraying cold spray (or whatever that stuff is called) in YOSHI-HASHI’s face, a double superkick, and an assisted piledriver onto a trash can is really excessive, to say the least. It’s the same stuff we’ve seen since Omega has his run as IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion. On the flip side, I thought the last few minutes of the match were actually very good. There was some great back & forth action between the two, and at that point, the crowd seemed to be behind YOSHI-HASHI.

Of course, Kenny Omega eventually got the win to retain his briefcase. The match had its ups and downs, and probably would have benefited from a few minutes being shaved off (that’s another complaint that could be made about the match). I would say it was pretty good, but it failed to equal or surpass their match from the G1 Climax this year. ***½

After the match, Hirooki Goto (who was in YOSHI-HASHI’s corner) confronted Kenny Omega, which seemed to set up a future match between the two. However, during his post-match promo, Omega brushed off Goto’s potential challenge, saying he already beat him on a much bigger stage (while seemingly joking about New Japan’s booking in the process). I’m really not sure if this will lead to a match or not. Sure, the match they had at the G1 Climax Finals was great, but like Omega himself pointed out, he’s already beaten Goto. I’m not sure if Omega will be defending his briefcase at King of Pro Wrestling next month or not, because the other two guys that Omega lost to in the G1 (Elgin & Shibata) are in title programs at the moment. It’ll be interesting to see what Omega does between now and Wrestle Kingdom, and if he actually does end up facing Goto again.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I would say that Destruction in Hiroshima (a really strange name for a wrestling show in the same city where the first Atomic Bomb was used) was a relatively solid show. The undercard multi-man tag team matches had their moments, but only one of them is really worth seeing (and that’s mainly because it plays into the main event of Destruction in Kobe). Thankfully, things picked up in the second half of the show. The Briscoes vs. The Young Bucks easily wins match of the night for me. Those two team always deliver a great tag team match. Adam Cole vs. Will Ospreay was very good and, as I already mentioned, was better than any of Jay Lethal’s ROH World Title defenses in New Japan this year.

The show came to close two rematches from the G1 Climax. While Kazuchika Okada & Bad Luck Fale were able to better their G1 outing, Kenny Omega & YOSHI-HASHI, despite having a pretty solid match, fell short of matching their match from very early on in the G1. It was far from New Japan’s best outing in 2016, as far as major shows are concerned, but it still produced some quality matches that, I would say, are worth checking out.