New Japan Pro Wrestling
Destruction in Kobe 2018
September 23, 2018
Kobe World Hall

Watch: NJPW World

After eighteen days, we arrived at our final destination of the turbulent Destruction tour in Kobe. This was a tour that featured many ups and downs in terms of match quality, and the penultimate show concludes with the latest chapter in the historic rivalry between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada.

A benefit of the last show on a tour like this is that there are no more matches immediately looming on the horizon that need built via multi-man matches high up on the card. This show felt like a proper bookend for this tour, while simultaneously setting up things for the next few shows.


Kevin Kelly stated at the beginning of this match that these two were 0-0-14. Just like that, there are stakes to this match. Can one of them get their first singles victory over the other?

Neither of them could, but it’s not for lack of them trying. Uemura attempted to turn Tsuji over for a Boston crab, but decided to sit down for a pin attempt instead. I totally bit on this near fall.

In the final minute of the match Tsuji was kicking Uemura as he turned him over for his own Boston crab. Uemura persevered, and the bell rang at ten minutes. This was a thoroughly enjoyable opening match between two entertaining Young Lions. **3/4


The Young Lions got much more offense here than I had anticipated. At times, it felt like they were firmly in control, like when SHO and YOH were caught in stereo Boston crabs by Umino and Narita.

Narita got in a few flash pin attempts before YOH hit a falcon arrow and pinned him for the victory. A good, albeit unconvincing, win for 3K as they will look to build momentum towards the impending Junior Tag League. **1/2


When Kanemaru and Despy attacked Liger and TMIV on the ramp, I figured this would be a match plagued by Suzukigun Bullshit™, but I was pleasantly surprised by the result. It was no barn burner, and there was plenty of choking and mask pulling, but every person played their part.

We saw a top-rope hurricanrana from Liger, and a Kanemaru moonsault that nearly connected. It is overlooked how good Kanemaru is. He is one of Pro Wrestling NOAH’s most decorated juniors. When he wants to, he can turn it on. He eats a quick crucifix pin here, though, and it appears that Liger and TMIV are growing their stock to challenge for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag belts soon. **1/2


There was a surprisingly small amount of comedy in this match. This was probably for the best, as these comedy bits can make a match drag. Also, Yoshida is this new, young, straight shooter out of the K-Dojo, and getting sucked into Taguchi’s ass-spots wouldn’t be a good look for him.

The NJPW dads went through all of the motions in what was a pretty tame match. The only excitement came when Yoshida tagged in and hit his back-to-front penalty kicks on Yugata. He was then subjected to the Nagata lock and a high angle back drop as Nagata picked up the pin. I didn’t feel any sort of way about this match. **1/4

Instant Reaction: NJPW Destruction in Kobe 2018


This match could have gone one of two ways. One: KES are presented as killers, and clearly better than Best Friends, as they march towards a title challenge. Two: Best Friends are here to stay, and deserve to be in the mix for belt contention. I am ecstatic that the latter is what came to fruition.

KES spent most of the match dominating Best Friends, but every time they went for a big move, they were thwarted by a dodge or counter. These two teams are building the narrative that they are getting familiar with each other’s moves, and therefore can evade many attacks.

While Chuckie T is immobile on the outside, Davey Boy Smith Jr. shouts “Let’s kill him!” to which Lance Archer responds, “Everybody dies!”

They administer the killer bomb to Beretta, and 1..2..BERETTA ROLLS ARCHER OVER FOR THE PIN!

As soon as they hit the killer bomb, my hopes for a Best Friends push was quelled. That made it all the sweeter when Beretta wrapped up Archer in a crucifix pin. Dating back to the build to Wrestle Kingdom 11, Beretta has had this amazing ability to tell a slow burning, underdog story in the ring. I’m excited to see where this goes from here. A good match with the best finish. ***3/4


Maybe I’m riding a high from Best Friends’ win, but I loved this. On paper, nothing particularly stood out about this six-man tag match. We have seen different iterations of CHAOS vs faction-less/Taguchi Japan/Sekigun before, but tonight everything was clicking. YOSHI-HASHI has been out to prove his worth lately. He started off hot, getting the better of Finlay and Juice. I am warming up to Henare’s islander/USO character. It’s a little over the top, but when he does stuff like a delayed, deadlift vertical suplex, I can get behind it. No one was working like they were on a mid-card multi-man match. As Finlay is down in the ring, Ospreay looks like he’s about to springboard onto him, but does a double jump and flips onto Juice and Henare on the outside instead. Very crazy.

In a testament to how a well placed recurring spot can elicit a great response, as YOSHI-HASHI restrained Henare for White to strike him, the crowd began to buzz. They knew what was coming. Sure enough, Henare ducks out of the way and White connects with YOSHI-HASHI instead. After a moment of totally sincere remorse, White hits Henare with a Blade Runner for the win. This six-man match contributed to the CHAOS dissension story, while also containing really fun wrestling. ***1/4


Despite being a part of what many considered a boring main event in Beppu, Naito is very over here in Kobe. It didn’t take long for Suzuki to drag Naito to the floor and deliver a beating. They faced off for a bit in the ring, as well. Honestly, I think these two are good in these condensed tag matches. Everything is quick and aggressive, but I hope this feud goes on an indefinite hiatus.

The highlight of the match was when EVIL and ZSJ were pairing off. ZSJ’s lanky frame trying to contort EVIL’s tree-trunk-shaped body makes for a great aesthetic. Also, ZSJ hates Halloween, which is obviously EVIL’s favorite day of the year. Taka got a few near falls in that almost had me convinced, due to EVIL’s dejection after losing in Beppu.

EVIL wouldn’t be denied a win tonight, however, and hit Taka with Everything is Evil for the win. A good match, but a lot of questions surround what storylines will take shape around LIJ leading into Strong Style Evolved, King of Pro Wrestling, and ultimately Wrestle Kingdom. ***


BUSHI came out in a giant, tribal headdress because he’s BUSHI, and why not? Normally, I wouldn’t think BUSHI would stand a chance in a match like this. Given the circumstances, however, the doubt was there. Could BUSHI advance and win the belt for his injured LIJ comrade, Hiromu Takahashi?

Things started somewhat slow. BUSHI’s in ring skill is underrated. He’s agile, smooth, and has a cool move set. The problem is that a lot of his matches seem to have one speed, and they don’t kick into that extra gear that takes a match from good to great.

That almost happened here, but they managed to pick up the pace with a hot strike exchange. KUSHIDA’s rolling DDT is countered into a code breaker, and then BUSHI’s tope suicida is somehow reversed into a hover board lock.

It should be noted that this crowd loved BUSHI. So much, that when he pushed the ref away and sprayed KUSHIDA with mist, the crowd cheered. They were ready for him to vanquish the ace of the junior division. Unfortunately for the BUSHI-lievers in Kobe, KUSHIDA kicked out of a pin and hit his Back to the Future package brain buster two times in a row for the pin. This was better than a lot BUSHI matches, and made more interesting by the crowd’s affection for LIJ junior. ***3/4


Kevin Kelly noted that Okada has been in six straight Wrestle Kingdom main events, and that unless he won this match, that streak would be broken. He also brought up that Tanahashi hadn’t been able to beat Okada since 2015. It’s pieces of information like these that give so much more value and weight to a match.

Okada looks as if he knows that he statistically has the advantage. It seems like he’s fighting back a smile as he stands in his corner, waiting for the match to begin. He may have drawn Tanahashi a few times in the past, but there is no way he is losing this match.

At the onset of the match, the crowd erupts with chants of “Go Ace!” When Okada backs Tanahashi up to the ropes he doesn’t even think about giving a clean break. He greets Tanahashi’s teeth with a forearm. The crowd doesn’t like this.

The Ace lands hard on his left knee after hitting a plancha to the outside. Much to the ire of everyone in Kobe World Hall, Okada begins targeting Tanahashi’s knee. Boo’s reverberate throughout the arena. Okada is so good at slightly altering his character to evoke a certain response from the audience.

Okada then tweaks his left knee, which Tanahashi capitalizes on. Things start to go back and forth with each person trying to damage the other’s knee. Tanahashi gets his knee caught in the top turnbuckle, but luckily Red Shoes enlisted the help of the Young Lions who ran to aid Tanahashi. That was somewhat strange.

What followed was a long figure four spot. Have I mentioned how much I love really long submission spots? Read my review of Naito vs Suzuki. I do not enjoy them. Luckily, this was kept relatively short. It also helped that, for the remainder of the match, Tanahashi’s knee was shredded. He couldn’t run the ropes without hobbling.

Tana gets some momentum in his favor when he hits a tombstone piledriver and high fly flow to Okada on the outside. I had to laugh when Kevin Kelly covered for Okada’s lack of selling his own injured knee by crediting his “recuperative skill”.

Despite his destroyed knee, Tanahahsi found ways to counter all of Okada’s rainmaker attempts. These two have faced each other so many times that they know how to construct a frenetic late-match sequence to keep you on the edge of your seat.

After countless reversals, they spend a few minutes vying for control on the top turnbuckle. I’m not a big fan of spending a lot of time trying to set something up on the top rope like this. It ends up looking clunky and taking way too long. The result, however, was Tanahashi pushing Okada down and landing with the hardest looking High Fly Flow I’ve ever seen. He hits another. And another. And Tanahashi pins Okada, retaining his briefcase and his shot at Wrestle Kingdom.

This was my favorite match of theirs since their G1 time limit draw in 2016. The targeting of the knees made the bulk of the match feel different than their recent encounters. ****1/2

Before anyone could settle down and await Tanahashi’s post-match speech, Jay White slid into the ring and hit the Ace with a Blade Runner. He proceeded to attack Okada. YOSHI-HASHI ran to Okada’s defense, and White snapped on YOSHI-HASHI hitting him with a chair.

After rubbing YOSHI-HASHI’s blood across his face (which occurred when YOSHI-HASHI tripped on his way down to the ring) like war paint, White took the chair into the ring to finish Okada off. At this point Gedo comes marching down to the ring. Everyone begins to cheer, as Okada’s former corner man came to scold the disobedient black sheep of CHAOS. That did not happen.

Gedo took the chair out of White’s hands, and delivered a (pretty weak looking) chair shot to Okada, who had his back to him.

Gedo motioned for White to hit Okada with a Blade Runner. He then proclaimed that White had beat both of these guys, and the briefcase and title contract therefore belonged to him. He ended by saying that this is a new era.

We have been waiting awhile for something to happen in CHAOS. Some speculated YOSHI-HASHI or Jay White would dissent, but something of this magnitude was completely unexpected. It looks like we are going to see Tanahashi and Okada both involved with White. What does this mean for CHAOS? As always with NJPW, we will have to wait and see.


After two somewhat lackluster Destruction shows, we are rewarded with a hot wrestling event from beginning to end. We got an inoffensive, easy to watch undercard, a mid-card packed with good wrestling and storyline advancements, and an awesome main event, followed by a huge angle that disrupts one of New Japan’s biggest factions. The main event and post-match angle are must watch, but the rest of the card is well worth your time as well.