New Japan Pro Wrestling
Destruction in Hiroshima
September 16, 2017
Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall

Watch: NJPW World

Meet our previewers:

  • John Carroll: They’re back for another go, because there’s no way this show can be worse than Destruction in Fukushima was right? Right?? Follow their twitter @toshanshuinla if you need more anime trash and/or Wrestle-1 talk in their life (excited to watch their Yokohama show finally!). Also follow their two podcasts, @wrestleomakase & @openvoicegate!
  • Taylor Maimbourg: He had such a great time last week that he’s back for more! Follow him on Twitter @tamaimbo for wrestling thoughts and lots of talk about horror movies once October rolls around.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask vs. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Jado)

John Carroll: It’s weird that we don’t have the young lions jerking the curtain, but this lineup is so oddly loaded there’s simply no room for them, and thus we get the throwaway old folks match (yes, welcome to hell Goto) in the opener slot instead of match 3 or whatever. I’m gonna throw some quick facts at you here: the Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall, home of this show, holds 6,052 fans. Meanwhile, Kobe World Hall, site of the final Destruction show, holds about 8,000 fans (don’t tell Dragon Gate that, they might get mad). So uh, why the hell is this show so loaded up, both on the undercard and in a more marquee main event (for a more prestigious title)? Weird, right? Maybe it has something to do with how much more rarely NJPW runs the area (the last show was April 27th), I dunno, but I don’t really get it. Anyway, this match. It’s certainly a match that’s going to happen, yes. Prediction: CHAOS, I guess? Who cares

Taylor Maimbourg: This is a match. There’s three random people on one side, and three slightly less random people on the other side. What is there to say about this match? What are they doing with Hirooki Goto? When he joined CHAOS, I thought it was a good idea – give Goto a change of scenery and maybe his infamous title fortunes would change. Then he won the NEVER title and it seemed that things were looking up. Unfortunately, he then lost the title, and since then has almost completely fallen apart. He had an average showing in the G1 and is now slogging his way through opening tag matches. He’s far too talented for this. Prediction: CHAOS

Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Bad Luck Fale & Leo Tonga

John Carroll: Okay, I will admit to being out to lunch when I was predicting the similar tag match for Fukushima; no matter how damn tall Leo Tonga may be, of course he’s gonna be eating pins left and right for the next year or so. Hopefully when he’s done with that he gets something better than a horrific injury and being shunted off to NOAH. It’s been weird not having Wacky Pants Omega on this tour, but at the same time it’s not like it’s been that big of a hole or anything. I’m sure the fans that actually bought tickets would have liked to see him, but for those of us watching on television I think we’re all surviving okay. Prediction: Juice Robinson & David Finlay

Taylor Maimbourg: Speaking of wrestlers going nowhere, now a match with David Finlay! David Finlay continues to spin his wheels in New Japan while his young lion counterpart Jay White makes his name for himself all over the place. Why don’t they send this guy on excursion? Does he not want to go? Does New Japan think he is providing any value in his current role? Your guess is as good as mine. As for the match, this is the fourth time in a two week period we’re seeing this match up, so I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. Watching Leo Tonga get his sea legs under him is interesting, but other than that, there’s not much here. Prediction: Juice Robinson & David Finlay

Roppongi Vice Final Match
Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Beretta) vs. Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens

John Carroll: Alright, we’ve got the pointless first couple of matches over with, now we get into the stuff with some real juice here. First of all, I’m 100% down with the idea of giving Roppongi Vice a Japanese goodbye. Sure, they didn’t have to do this after the team announced they were splitting up back in Long Beach, but why not give the Japanese fanbase a last chance to see a team that was always quite popular with them? I’ll miss the theme song (Rocky already seems to have a new theme, and I would imagine Beretta will get one too at some point), I’ll miss the wacky leaping high fives and the even wackier arguments, and basically I’ll just miss them. They were a much better team in New Japan Pro Wrestling than the Young Bucks, and anyone who even argues that point is not to be trusted. Here in their final match they’re up against a couple of ex-juniors (Yujiro from his early Team No Limit days and Chase from his, well, days until they randomly just decided he wasn’t a junior anymore without even really telling anyone), which seems fitting somehow given Beretta’s graduation. Beretta has had a little feud going with Yujiro, which is actually kind of cool just because it’s nice to see Yujiro get something to do for a change. It also makes kinda makes sense to have him start at the bottom of the heavyweight division (and with Yoshitatsu and BONE SOLDIER both thankfully gone right now, make no mistake about it, Yujiro is the bottom). Anyway, I could see this one going either way, with them either giving RPG Vice the feel-good last win or with Yujiro being the party pooper to keep heating up the feud with Beretta. I’m leaning a little more toward the latter, but either is very possible. Prediction: Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens

Taylor Maimbourg: I’m glad to see RPG Vice get one last match after it appeared that the team was breaking up abruptly a few months ago. I’m sure both Rocky and Trent will go all out and we will see all the classic RPG spots. As for the match itself, it continues the mini feud that has been brewing between Beretta and Yujiro. Beretta got a pin on Yujiro earlier in this tour, and I think he’ll probably do it again, proving his worth in the heavyweight division and sending RPG Vice into the sunset with a feel-good victory. I’ll miss you Roppongi! Prediction: Roppongi Vice

Togi Makabe, Michael Elgin & Kota Ibushi vs. Suzukigun (Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka & TAKA Michonku)

John Carroll: It’s time for our monthly throwaway Kota Ibushi appearance! At least unlike his Tiger Mask W days you can see a light at the end of this tunnel; in Kota’s recent interview with NJPW’s official site (read the translated part 1 here), he flat out states at the end that he wants the winner of Tanahashi and Sabre, this evening’s main event (he beat them both in the G1, so it makes sense). So you can probably pencil in Tanahashi-Ibushi for the IC title as your main event of Power Struggle in November, and regardless of the outcome there he should be on to the Dome to face Kenny Omega. Direction for Kota, holy crap! In the meantime, he’s here to bide his time, and maybe make his presence felt at the end of the main event. This match itself is whatever. If you’re one of the three people left on this earth not sick of Suzukigun, god bless ya. Prediction: Makabe & Elgin & Ibushi

Taylor Maimbourg: Kota Ibushi is here! Is there anything else to say about this match? The good news is that this Kota Ibushi appearance feels a bit different than the others. Instead of just randomly appearing to fill out card numbers, this seems to be a short break for Kota before he challenges for the Intercontinental belt and then hopefully Kenny Omega. Even in these throwaway tags, I’m glad Kota is back, as he brings a different energy and puts a little juice in a throwaway match. If he ends up sticking around and continues to be put in matches like this, the shine might disappear, but for now, I’m glad to see Kota Ibushi anywhere on a New Japan card. Prediction: Makabe, Elgin and Ibushi

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Funky Future (Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet) (c) vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi

John Carroll: Is Ricochet on his way to the WWE? That’s been the rumbling forever, of course, but it seems like it’s gaining steam again. I remember over a year ago at Invasion Attack (April 2016), when Roppongi Vice defeated Ricochet & future island resident Matt Sydal in a bit of an upset at the time, everyone thought it was because Rico was about to bolt. Of course, that didn’t happen, and here we are in September of 2017 with Ricochet once again defending the junior tag team titles. Kanemaru & Taichi had a brief reign earlier this year and it wouldn’t shock me at all to see them pull the upset off here again, with people once again proclaiming Ricochet as definitely WWE-bound imminently as a result. We’ll have to wait and see on both fronts, I guess. I think ultimately these belts are bound for Hiromu & BUSHI before long (check out that new tag team mash-up theme they debuted back at Korakuen, for one), so whoever wins here might just be keeping them warm for a little while. I’d much rather see Taguchi & Ricochet in that match than the boredom twins, so I’m gonna hold out hope Rico is with us for at least a little while longer. Prediction: Funky Future

Taylor Maimbourg: Funky Future has been a breath of fresh air in the junior tag division. In fact, a team like Funky Future is exactly the kind of team that should be challenging for the heavyweight tag team titles – two guys who aren’t wrapped up in any singles titles joining together to team for the tag belts. They show they can do it for the junior belts, why not the heavyweight belts? Anyways, this match should be fun. As I said in the last preview, I’ve hopped back on the Taichi train after his great match at the All Japan 45th Anniversary Show, and watching him against Taguchi and Ricochet should be awesome. Is Ricochet going to WWE? He might, but Lucha Underground hasn’t even finished airing, so he’s not going now. I know it’s unlikely to happen, but I would love to see Funky Future hold these belts all the way until Wrestle Kingdom. Then, if Ricochet plans to leave, drop the belts and give him a proper send-off at your biggest show of the year. Prediction: Funky Future

NJPW Destruction in Fukushima (September 10) Results & Review

IWGP Tag Team Championship 3-Way Match
War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) (c) vs. Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr) vs. Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)

John Carroll: I’m not previewing this dumbass match again. I’m giving this division exactly as much thought as Gedo: fucking none. Prediction: I rolled a virtual die and it came up 5, so Guerillas of Destiny

Taylor Maimbourg: Hey, this is the same match! So here, word for word, is the same thing I said last preview: This division stinks. Who could possibly care about this when the result won’t matter in just a few days when they run this match again, and then a few days after that when they run the match again. New Japan clearly doesn’t care about this division, should why should I? I’m just glad that there’s at least one change with the addition of KES instead of them just running War Machine vs. GOD again, but it still does not excite me at all to watch this match three times this month. Sigh. Prediction: War Machine

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Will Ospreay & Gedo) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)

John Carroll: LIJ’s 10-man tag team prowess has showed no signs of slowing in 2017, with virtually every match they’ve teamed together in being a keeper. It’s been said a million times already, but they’re just such a great unit, with every part complementing each other and so much chemistry as partners, that it’s almost impossible for them to be in a bad match together. We’ve got a lot of feuds here: Okada-EVIL for the IWGP title, Okada-Naito in the “this is probably the Dome main” early tease, Ishii-Naito for the briefcase, and Ospreay-Hiromu for 猫ちゃんですか。猫ちゃんじゃない!They’ve also largely kept CHAOS and LIJ apart since the end of the last Okada-Naito feud in 2016, with LIJ mostly dealing with sekigun/Taguchi Japan while CHAOS mostly feuded with BULLET CLUB in the past year+, so having these two units against each other actually feels pretty fresh again. Good stuff! Prediction: LIJ

Taylor Maimbourg: This match, like most of the 10-man LIJ tags, should be great. The build to Okada-EVIL has been great, with EVIL really turning a corner and looking really great. After taking some time to fit back into New Japan, he has now started to work on adding the little things that really make a wrestler pop. If Okada-EVIL doesn’t have you interested, how about Naito and Ishii? These two have wrestled a number of times, but their pull apart brawls on this tour have really put a different energy into their upcoming match, and I’m really looking forward to it. Finally, there’s Will Ospreay and Hiromu Takahashi. Look, I think their match will be great obviously, but I’m starting to find this “cat” build groan worthy. I found their initial interaction on Twitter funny, but like WWE, Will Ospreay owns a subtlety hammer and has now beat the idea into the ground. Dressing as a cat, creating merch off the idea, involving Ricochet, etc., etc. I said last time that I wasn’t looking a gift horse in the mouth with this match, but at this point, I wish they would just get to the match so I can enjoy it without all the nonsense that has surrounded it. Prediction: LIJ

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
KUSHIDA (c) vs. El Desperado

John Carroll: It should probably go without saying that this is the biggest match of El Desperado’s career: semi-main on by far the most loaded of the three Destruction shows, challenging the junior ace for his championship. I have a soft spot for Despy, who I think brings a sense of danger and unpredictability that can be sorely lacking from New Japan at times. Simply put, he has a vibe to him of “Don’t fuck with me, I might actually be unstable.” that not a whole lot of guys on this roster have in 2017. Plus, I think he’s a good wrestler who generally has good matches, as I believe his run in BOSJ this year showed. I don’t think he’s winning here (which is unfortunate, because honestly 2017 KUSHIDA is boring as hell to me and I still don’t think he should have taken the belt back from Hiromu in the first place), but as long as he gets to put up a good fight and have another really good match, it will undoubtedly help his career. Despy just getting a junior title shot has long been on my wish list; up next on said list would be him getting the hell away from the black hole of suck that is Suzukigun. Prediction: KUSHIDA

Taylor Maimbourg: I don’t think I’m as big of a fan of El Desperado as some other people, but I am really looking forward to this match. It’s been nearly three months since KUSHIDA’s last title defense, and I’m happy to see another. I think I often forget how good KUSHIDA is, and then a title match comes along, he blows me away, and I wonder how I could forget. Desperado is a fresh challenger and hopefully they are allowed to go out and have a high level match without any Suzukigun nonsense. The result isn’t in much doubt, but hopefully the match will live up to the abilities of the two men in the match and their spot on the card. Prediction: KUSHIDA

IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

John Carroll: Your main event of the evening shows the value in all those undercard tags, because with Zack Sabre having not been around for any of the televised hype-up matches on this tour so far, this match actually feels oddly flat to me. Yeah, Zack tapped him out twice, I know I know. I just wish he had been around to stretch him on this tour too and remind everybody that he’s a legitimate threat to win this belt. As it is, him parachuting in for this match feels like he’s just here to kill time until Kota Ibushi shows up to challenge Tana. Yes, that probably is what he’s doing, granted, but at least if he was around more it might feel a little less obvious. With that complaint out of the way though, there’s no reason this can’t be a really great match, maybe even better than their very good G1 match with the added heat of the title on the line. I think we’re in for a real treat here, and honestly we’d better be just to wash the bad taste of Fukushima and the awful Suzuki-Elgin main event out of our mouths. Keep the damn interference to a minimum, for the love of god! Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

Taylor Maimbourg: If there’s been one complaint I’ve had about Zack Sabre Jr. since his arrival in New Japan (outside of his inclusion in Suzukigun, get him out of there!), it is that his style often contrasts the usual New Japan style. Big New Japan matches build to a crescendo, picking up the pace and driving up the intensity, while Sabre’s style often operates at a single level, relying on an audience’s investment in grappling and submissions. To me, Sabre’s best matches in New Japan have been against opponents who force him out of his comfort zone and create a blend of the building New Japan style with the tight submission work of Sabre’s usual style. Luckily, Hiroshi Tanahashi is a master at working with his opponents to create a great match based on his opponent’s strengths. Also, his character is the delusional ace returning to his rightful main event spot (even though it’s on a smaller show), so you know Tanahashi will be ready to go all out. I expect to see a lot of work on Tanahashi’s torn bicep, which should be falling off by now after all the matches where it’s been targeted. Either way, two highly talented, very motivated guys working in the main event sounds like a recipe for success to me, even if the build up to the match has left to something to be desired. Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi