MAY 22, 2017

Watch: NJPW World

Yoshinobu Kanemaru (4) def. Volador Jr. (2)

So this was pretty much like every other middle of the road Kanemaru match, but this time it had Volador Jr.

Just when I thought I was going to completely check out on the match, Volador did a cool dive and woke me back up. He tried his best, but even Volador couldn’t make me like a Kanemaru match. He’s the most generic heel going in wrestling right now. I will give him credit that he’s trying to spice up his act with the introduction of a bottle of whiskey, which he used to help him win the match. This was a boring and completely skippable contest, something that I’ve never said about a Volador Jr. match before. **

Tiger Mask IV (4) def. ACH (2)

This was a match that could have benefited from an appearance from Tiger the Dark. Regardless of that, ACH worked Super hard here and put together a pretty great match with Tiger Mask. In years past, Tiger Mask BOSJ matches were a pretty easy skip, but he has had a very strong tournament so far. Tiger Mask has been good to great in every match since he got to tag with his younger Tiger counterpart in a tag match against Okada and Gedo. It goes to show what a bit of motivation can do for an older wrestler that most people have written off. In this match we saw the young and hungry ACH taking on the veteran Tiger Mask that refused to go down. ACH kept throwing his flashy offense at Tiger, but he withstood all of it and waited for his opening. He eventually found it and caught ACH with a crucifix pin to score the three. This was such a simple story, but I loved it. ACH continues to impress in New Japan and Tiger Mask keeps rolling through a strong 2017. ***¾ 

El Desperado (6) def. Ryusuke Taguchi (4)

Before I mention anything else, we need to talk about the elephant in the room. This match had one of the single most upsetting images I’ve ever seen in the ring. Desperado took a pen and shoved it into the funky weapon.

At one point it looked like Despy’s entire hand disappeared in there. This was a shocking visual to say the least, but when you’re a maniac like Desperado and you’re against a man who uses his ass as his primary weapon, it’s a move that makes sense.

Aside from that sequence, Despy showed what a great technical wrestler he is in this match, spending most of his time picking apart the knee of Taguchi. It looked like Desperado was going to get a submission victory, but Taguchi managed to slip out of it and turn the tide of the match by locking in his ankle lock. Taguchi really took control after that, which was a good way to show how devastating his ankle lock can be. The end of the match came when Desperado used his mask to his advantage by ripping it off and throwing it to Taguchi to make it look to Red Shoes like Taguchi unmasked him. In the confusion, Despy put on a new mask, kicked Taguchi in the balls, and put him away. Kanemaru should really be taking pointers from Desperado on how to be a good heel at this point. This was the second tournament match tonight that ended in cheating, but at least it was interesting this time around. ***¾

KUSHIDA (2) def. BUSHI (0)

While I wouldn’t feel right calling this match a sprint, there was a certain sense of urgency about it that I loved. Both men were fighting their hardest to get the win because they both had zero point coming into this. That’s kind of insane seeing as this is the main event and they are both champions. These two have had great matches in the past and this one was no different. The action was fast paced and hard hitting. You really got a sense of the animosity that still lingers whenever these wrestlers step in the ring against each other. I don’t know if anyone meshes with BUSHI as well as KUSHIDA does. It feels like they were meant to wrestle each other forever. I was convinced that KUSHIDA would continue his losing streak here, but he managed to counter BUSHI’s MX with a code breaker of his own to put some momentum behind him. The Hoverboard lock just wasn’t working today so we saw KUSHIDA break out what appears to be a new finishing move. I’ve always loved God’s Last Gift aka the small package driver and KUSHIDA is perfectly suited to use it. I’m not sure if this was my favorite match between KUSHIDA and BUSHI, but it was a very good main event. ****½

Final Thoughts:

If you skip the Kanemaru/Volador match and just watch the top three matches, you’ll have a pretty good time. Each of those three matches brought something different to the table and were all pretty great. If you’re looking for one must-see match, KUSHIDA/BUSHI is the easy choice, but I highly recommend both Taguchi/Desperado and ACH/Tiger Mask.