NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
ROAD TO POWER STRUGGLE 2020
NOVEMBER 1, 2020
Watch: NJPW WORLD
On the road again. I can’t wait to get on the road again. I’m just watching NJPW with my friends, and I just can’t wait to get on the road…to Power Struggle! Tonight our main event is the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title which has the potential to be a lot of fun. We’ll see what the undercard can achieve as well!
Yuya Uemura def. Yota Tsuji
My love for Young Lions is well recorded by now. I always expect solid somethings better than good bouts and a good showcase of where their current levels are. This was a short but feisty match. Both men looked solid throughout it and as per usual it was the Young Lion goodness you want out of them. It especially picks up well at the five-minute mark and has a fun closing exchange of chops, forearms, and then Uemura catching Tsuji with his amazing suplex and winning the bout. Not a lot to write about but just know this is a solid and straightforward match and with the Young Lions that is nothing to sneeze at and something you can’t go wrong with by any stretch of the imagination. No complaints here as I’m always about giving the Young Lions some love. ***
Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto def. DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr & Taichi
In case you are wondering, yes Suzuki-Gun attacked before the bell. Match has an opening stretch of Yano abuse and I immediately want to unfairly give it a high rating for that. This match of course involved teases and glimpses of YOSHI-HASHI and Goto versus Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi and some of the exchanges definitely got me ready for the match that is coming tomorrow. So in that regard the match served it’s purpose. As for the match as a whole, it was fine, well-worked, and fun. Everyone seems to be willing to work tonight. It didn’t go overly long, YOSHI-HASHI and Goto got a win going into tomorrow and we got ourselves a fight at the end of the match that CHAOS comes out on top of taking down the tag champs. Do I think we’ll have new champions tomorrow? No, but I think it’s going to be fun. ***
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Will Ospreay & Great O-Khan def. Kazuchika Okada & Gabriel Kidd
Hmmm, I wonder who’s taking the fall? It’s a mystery!
Admittedly while I still chuckle at the Great O-Khan’s entrance, his overall ring gear look doesn’t bug me at the slightest. It’s fine. There’s now a Pig Plushie in Ospreay and O-Khan’s corner and when there’s a match it gets punted that match will get five stars. I promise. Match picked up a bit once we got some Ospreay/Okada exchanges which are not shocking at all. Things SHOULD be a bit more heated whenever they are in the ring. I’m not getting into the Great O-Khan’s offense but that could change when he has his singles match this weekend. He’s working on things and I’m not going to be dismissive on that. I sincerely want him to do well. Gabriel Kidd continues to excel in his role and by the end of this match, we had a good fun match. I feel like I’m saying that quite a bit, but when it’s true it’s true. This is probably my favorite of the first three. ***1/4
Chase Owens, KENTA & Jay White def. Tomoaki Honda, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi
We got our Tanahashi and Jay White ab off so this match is off to a fabulous start. A good long stretch of Honda abuse was not the best way to get me into this match. It didn’t feel overly long but it was definitely not overly interesting. Don’t worry once done you get the expected teases of White/Ibushi and Tanahashi/KENTA this match. The Ibushi/White exchanges were good and I think their match this weekend can be pretty damn fun if interference isn’t overdone. The KENTA/Tanahashi exchanges went fine but I still don’t have as much confidence in their next match, but as always there’s a chance I’m proven wrong. I think both matches got teased well throughout this match which was the main purpose of course. Chase Owen gets a victory in his return, isn’t that nice. Overall I thought it was a good match. This show has been easy and breezy so far. ***1/4
SANADA & Tetsuya Naito def. Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL
Ugh, so much ugh.
Okay, we’ll review this. We got to prep ourselves for EVIL/Naito IV after all. I mean do we have to? We do? Fuck, okay. We got a good portion of Naito/EVIL teases which admittedly is how it should be. None of it succeeded in getting me excited for another match. Just zero investment or interest. just I’m over and done with it all. But truth be told, and it might be biased, I couldn’t get into any of this match. I struggled. Just didn’t excite me or get me invested or achieve its aim. Oh, there’s a paradise lock on Yuijiro if you like that move, which I don’t. But I’ve learned to live with it. Yujiro and Sanada had a standoff with biting each other’s thumb at one point and as much as I hate to admit it, I was amused. This match is one of those matches that felt longer than it actually was, and that’s never a good thing. Dick Togo chokes Naito out and we get ourselves a DQ EVIL stands tall, Naito is in trouble, and I don’t care. *3/4
IWGP JR. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado (c) defeat BUSHI & Himoru Takahashi
MAIN EVENT TIME! I appreciate the match starts with everyone going right at it. No feeling out, no testing each other. Just we know what each other is about so let us do this! Really this match just keeps going and doesn’t rest. Both teams are full of energy. I’m not saying it doesn’t ever slow down, it does, I’m just saying I don’t feel like anything is wasted or we’re getting filler which I appreciate. BUSHI had a hot tag spot and he looked REALLY GOOD in the role this match. Full of fire and just working his butt off. Can’t knock that one bit. It was really fun. When Takahashi eventually gets tagged back in the same speed and energy is kept up. Everyone is wrestling as if they are in the main event spot and it’s appreciated.
When Kanemaru and Despy are in control I don’t find it boring in the slightest. They keep things going and make sure it never gets too mundane or dull. This isn’t shocking because Kanemaru and El Desperado make a fantastic team, and Kanemaru in particular needs to get more respect than I feel like he gets sometimes. Including from me. Man can still go, and in particular, he excels at these junior tag battles. We have ourselves a Kanemaru/Takahashi section and it’s fantastic to watch. Both men just work well together during these sequences. In fact other than a brief bit of BUSHI and El Desperado we get them going just each other for quite a bit. Which since it’s good I have zero complaints.
We hit three-paragraph territory and I’m honestly unsure at this point of the winner which I love. BUSHI and EL Desperado get a segment of just them one on one and I’m all in. BUSHI is just bringing it hitting a top rope hurricanrana and a Canadian Destroyer on El Desperado. We get a Ref bump from Desperado putting him in the way of BUSHI coming off the top and things slow down to a stop with everyone down and the ref out. We know it’s shenanigans time and Desperado proves that correct bringing in a title belt but is cut off by a replacement ref! I admit at this point I feel like we should be hitting the ‘bring it home’ point and to be fair it does with the ref distracted to allow a low blow and Desperado putting BUSHI away. I thought this was great, I felt the ref bump was not needed in this match and I do feel shaving off some time would’ve made it better. Also, I wish the finish was a bit hotter. With that said I found it to be great and ends up in four-star territory. In my mind, though BUSHI was the standout. ****
NJPW’s Road to Power Struggle 2020 Night 7 was an easy show with a great main event. Nothing you really need to go out of your way up until the main event which was great with some minor criticisms. I love that titles like the Jr. Tag our getting main event spots, it’s a great way of elevating and making the titles feel important. It’s NOT hard to make titles feel important and worthwhile. But it does take actually wanting to put in the effort. Make the titles feel like they are important and I will treat them as such. Seems simple, hmmm?