NJPW World Tag League 2017 Finals (December 11) Results & Review

Author : joelanza

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017 – Finals
December 11, 2017
Fukuoka International Center
Hakata, Fukuoka, Japan

Watch: NJPWWorld.com

For some hardcore New Japan fans, the World Tag League tour represents a much needed break. Even if you bypass most or all of the seemingly endless tour, the final is never a recommended skip, as we get the final angles in the lead up up to NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12. While this show featured no standout matches, it did feature multiple must see angles and storyline advancements. Wrestle Kingdom is less than one month away, and this is your primary go home show. And for the most part, it was a fun one.

Jushin Thunder Liger, Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan def. Togi Makabe, David Finlay, Katsuya Kitamura, Hirai Kawato, Henare

Combined age of the winning team was TWO HUNDRED FORTY FIVE.

Fast paced opener with Kojima decapitating Kawato with a Cozy Lariat to pick up the win for the olds. People pick on New Japan multi man undercard matches, but the energy is always great and the work is always solid. Good start to the show. **1/2

Western Lariat! #NJPW #njwtl https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/Ih8OOKLxYV

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) December 11, 2017

War Machine, Michael Elgin, Jeff Cobb def. Yujiro Takahashi, Hangman Page, Chase Owens, Leo Tonga

The highlight here was Jeff Cobb and his carnival strongman antics, lifting and tossing and throwing everyone in sight, including the very large Leo Tonga. Cobb got over within the first 30 second of his debut in Korakuen Hall, and if he sticks around (and we’re told there is a very good chance of that happening), I could see him becoming a real player, perhaps in a slot vacated by Elgin, whose contract expires shortly after Wrestle Kingdom and whose status is very much up in the air right now.

War Machine picked up the fall, scaring the shit out of everyone because with a win over Killer Elite Squad during the round robin and a strong showing here, the fear was a walk out after the final and another three way title match for Wrestle Kingdom. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. **3/4

Fallout!! #NJPW #njwtl @RAYMONDxROWE @WarBeardHansonhttps://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/64qnPQyFoR

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) December 11, 2017

Bad Luck Fale def. BUSHI via DQ

A rare heavyweight vs junior singles match, set up when BUSHI scored an upset fall over Fale at King of Pro-Wrestling.

This was horrendous. Fale has had some excellent roadblock matches against people like Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi and can be an effective monster, but this was disjointed and lacked heat. BUSHI spit mist in Fale’s face without much of a setup, leading to a flat DQ that left the crowd quiet and confused. The match wasn’t good, the finish wasn’t good, none of this was good. Arguably the worst big show NJPW match of the year. DUD

Toxic Mist from BUSHI! #NJPW #njwtl https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/vHpx99L1Zg

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) December 11, 2017

Best Friends def. Death Juice

An unexpected straight tag between Block B and Block A teams.

It was good to see New Japan try some new talent on this tour. Jeff Cobb was a hit. Sami Callihan didn’t seem to get over all that much, and generally just felt like a bad fit. Chucky T has received mixed reviews, but his work has been solid. A heavyweight tag run wouldn’t be the worst next step in the elevation of Beretta, and Best Friends would give CHAOS a steady heavyweight tag team. If I’m running things, I retain Cobb, bring back Chucky T and push Best Friends into eventual title contention, and send Callihan packing back to the U.S. indie sleaze circuit.

Callihan was given plenty of shine before eating the pin, scoring a near fall on Beretta using Beretta’s Dudebuster, and then nearly earning a submission with his own stretch muffler. Beretta put away Callihan with the assisted Dudebuster, with Chucky T assuming the old Rocky Romero role of hitting the top rope dropkick. Solid mid card match. ***

Tornado DDT! #NJPW #njwtl @trentylockshttps://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/frvsNhMqk0

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) December 11, 2017

Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI def. Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, Killer Elite Squad

It’s good to see Lance Archer back in full force, chokeslamming dudes and terrorizing fans, after missing nearly six months earlier this year due to back surgery.

This eventually whittled down to Goto facing off with Suzuki as expected, but it was Desperado who took the fall. Goto pinning Despy instead of Suzuki was an important storyline key. With Goto chasing a NEVER title shot, Suzuki blew him off, claiming he hasn’t earned one, and in addition, that Goto has nothing at risk in exchange. Goto fired back that he has his HAIR. So it appears we’re on our way to a Wrestle Kingdom NEVER title match with Goto putting up his flowing Samurai locks up against Suzuki’s NEVER belt. ***

Ushigoroshi! #NJPW #njwtl https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/EokAPee2w2

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) December 11, 2017

Cody & Marty Scurll def. Kota Ibushi & KUSHIDA

This was a classic “put heat on the PPV match” match that happened to already be taking place on a major show. The World Tag League Final is funny like that. It’s technically a major show, but it’s also the highest profile go home for Wrestle Kingdom, so it serves the dual purpose of concluding the tournament but also heating up the key Wrestle Kingdom stuff with angles and such. This means you always get an eventful, newsworthy show, even if the matches don’t deliver at the level of the usual big New Japan tour ender.

Cody is the ROH champion, and over like crazy pretty much everywhere else on Earth, but this guy continues to get nothing, and I mean nothing, from New Japan crowds. Perhaps they see through him as a guy who parachutes in for the major shows but doesn’t work the tours. Maybe they’ve been less than impressed with his mediocre matches. It’s probably a combination of both. While I give Cody more credit than most for carving out arguably the most successful post-WWE indie run we’ve ever seen, he also has the benefit of The Elite rub in ROH and on a lot (but not all) of his indie appearances, something that isn’t nearly as profound in New Japan as it is elsewhere, and aside from Omega, the rest of The Elite isn’t nearly as over in Japan as they are everywhere else. Whatever the reasons, New Japan Cody continues to come off like a guy presented as a big deal who the fans refuse to treat like one.

With that said, Cody may have finally gotten the attention of New Japan fans with a devastating Crossroads delivered to Ibushi on the entrance stage that looked like it snapped Ibushi’s neck. The Cody/Ibushi match isn’t the Ibushi bout that most people wanted, but it sure is intriguing.

Will Cody even enter the match as champion, with Dalton Castle at Final Battle looming? If so, would ROH put their title on Ibushi? Probably not, which means the outcome of the match largely depends on the outcomes of Cody vs Castle.

While Cody was attempting to break Ibushi’s neck in the entranceway, Scurll threw powder in KUSHIDA’s face behind the referee’s back to pick up the win. Scurll’s gimmick in New Japan is full on Villian, winning the junior title under controversial circumstances, and beating KUSHIDA in a sleazy manner here. Scurll is another act who has failed to get over at the same level in Japan as he has elsewhere, but his singles matches have been good and usually win the fans over by the end. ***1/4

Cross-armbreaker off the top from KUSHIDA!! #NJPW #njwtl https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/aMjuns8xHu

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) December 11, 2017

Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks def. Roppongi 3K & Rocky Romero

An average match, with t-shirt Kenny putting away Romero with the One-Winged Angel. But this wasn’t about the match.

Following his latest video message, Chris Jericho made a surprise appearance, popping up in the ring when the lights came on and attacking Omega from behind. A short lived “Y2J” chant died a quick death when Jericho attacked a referee and used a belt shot to bloody up Omega.

Jericho, in his new Alpha Club shirt, hit a Codebreaker and left the ring. If you’re wondering where The Bucks were while this was going on, well, that’s a good question that I don’t have an answer for. With Omega a bloody mess, Don Callis hopped in the ring to attend to his pal and give Jericho the business. Jericho hit Callis with a Codebreaker and Callis sold it like he was dead, with a full stretcher job. The Bucks finally showed up to run Jericho off.

This was a great angle, and a double turn of sorts, even though Omega works in shades of gray like most of the rest of the roster. It certainly solidified Jericho as the heel in this feud, and destroying Callis along with Omega was a nice touch. The only critique is the Fukuoka crowd didn’t quite understand how to take it. It seemed as though they were excited to see Jericho initially, but the heel tactics threw them off.

The nature of the attack and the blood have set the tone and established that this is now a blood feud, and any ideas that the Wrestle Kingdom match may have been loaded with shtick are now out the window. It also sets up a deliberate, slower paced match, which will be helpful to Jericho, but also has the possibility of killing the crowd in an enormous building that will unsympathetically swallow mediocre crowd reactions if the fans aren’t into the story. The reality is asking Jericho to keep up with an Omega workrate special was probably asking too much, so this was a good move. The angle was a big hit on Twitter, so it did garner plenty of Western attention, but the live reaction in Fukuoka makes it unclear if it got over with the Japanese. Some of the fans clearly wanted to cheer for Jericho, but the violent nature of the angle shut that down. I suspect some of them had no idea who he was to begin with.

Either way, Jericho’s impact ultimately will be measured in New Japan World subscriptions and eyeballs on the AXS replay two days later. **3/4 for the match, but a **** angle.

CODEBREAKER!! #NJPW #njwtl @IAmJerichohttps://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/fAcPdFSvAR

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) December 11, 2017

Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi def. Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay

After Hiromu (with still no sign of the star-killing gimmick Daryl) dispatched Ospreay, Naito talked some shit to the exiting Okada, who ran back to the ring, countered a Destino, locked in his new cobra clutch style submission and attempted to choke Naito to death before the January 4th encounter. The Wrestle Kingdom main event will be built around that new submission, and Naito attempting to finally hit the Destino.

This crowd was molten, and I mean MOLTEN for Naito, who is peaking at precisely the right time. One of the oldest theories in wrestling is to make ‘em wait. The hard part is timing it. If you miss the moment, you risk fans losing faith and you could kill a hot act. Give the fans what they want too soon, you could fail to minimize the impact. Naito’s arc has proven to be nothing short of perfect. He’s never been hotter, peaking right when they need him as we head down the home stretch to Wrestle Kingdom. Advance ticket sales back that up, but with that said, we’ve heard that story before. But if crowd reactions are any indication of how tickets will move for Okada vs Naito, they will surely top last year’s Bushiroad-era attendance record.

Okada’s dominant title reign has served multiple masters. His record breaking title run has been an unquestioned home run both aesthetically and at the gate, selling out every defense and putting up an all time year bell-to-bell. But the hidden story here, ironically enough, is that Okada’s dominance will benefit Naito, the man some critics think has been unfairly passed over in favor of Okada. Savvy observers know that was never the case. Crowning Naito a year ago would have been too soon, and even if you still aren’t convinced, Okada’s 2017 success makes the point irrelevant. 2017 was Okada’s time, and it was an unmitigated success. It all worked, from 2012 to now, to absolute perfection. And if 2018 is Naito’s time, it’ll be kicked off by being put over by the most dominant IWGP champion of all time on the biggest show of the year while both men are at the absolute peak of their stardom. This is long term booking brilliance the likes of which we haven’t seen since…well, I can’t even recall the last time we saw something peaked this perfectly, at least on purpose and with apologies to Daniel Bryan. They not only knew they could be patient with Naito, they also knew it was the prudent thing to do.

Invasion Attack two years ago gave people a taste. You gotta make ‘em wait for the meal. ***1/4

Okada counters Destino again!! #NJPW #njwtl https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/dtsc6vbA0q

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) December 11, 2017

World Tag League 2017 Final
EVIL & SANADA def. Guerrillas of Destiny

GoD can be very hit or miss, and they were hit and miss in the same match here.

This featured a painfully boring first half, with GoD putting the world’s most boring beatdown on an LIJ team that is better suited to the opposite role, contrasted by a dramatic closing stretch that was probably aided by this being the final of the hardest to predict WTL in many years. GoD has been at their best working wild balls to the wall bouts like their excellent WTL final against GBH last year, and this LIJ combination works better as heels rather than babyfaces in peril, so this match dynamic was just all wrong until the usual New Japan near fall fest.

In between those contrasting bookends was a flat and cringeworthy BUSHI run-in, before he was chased off by Fale. My guess is this sets up GoD & Fale challenging for the NEVER six man titles at Korakuen Hall next week, a match that Bullet Club may win since LIJ is challenging KES for the tag titles at the Dome.

KES came out for the requisite post match stare down, with EVIL doing all of the talking for LIJ. EVIL had a big year, and he’s been positioned as not only the star of this team, but also the clear #2 man in LIJ altogether, and a potential future star of the company. KES defending against LIJ also feels super fresh, so fresh in fact that I still don’t entirely trust the company to not insert War Machine or Elgin & Cobb or GoD or all of the above into the match before the card in finalized. I clearly suffer from post traumatic multi-team IWGP title match disorder, and I blame Gedo for my affliction. I’ll believe this is two on two when the bell rings.

I was prepared to really bury this, but the closing stretch was dramatic enough to push it to average. **1/2

Magic Killer through a table from LIJ!! #NJPW #njwtl https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/neecQKPu8T

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) December 11, 2017

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NJPW World Tag League 2017: Night 18 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 18
December 9th, 2017
Texport Imabari
Imabari, Ehime, Japan

Watch: NJPW World 

Tomoyuki Oka & Ren Narita def. Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tetsuhiro Yagi

On paper, you’d think that Liger’s team winning would’ve been a lock (considering the fact that Liger is the only non-young lion) in the match, but surprisingly, that wasn’t the case here. Oka & Narita actually picked up the victory here when Oka make Yagi tap out to the Liontamer. Liger didn’t really do much, and the match was relatively basic, but it’s always fun to watch these young lions develop and gain experience. Liger & Yagi worked over Narita’s arm until he eventually make the tag to Oka, which set up the final sequence that led to the finish. **1/4

EVIL & SANADA def. Manabu Nakanishi & Hirai Kawato

Of course, LIJ won the A Block the night prior, and they built some momentum towards the finals with a victory here over the makeshift team of Nakanishi & Kawato. This was another basic tag team affair, but it still had its moments. Kawato had some fun interactions with EVIL & SANADA throughout, while Nakanishi’s lone highlight was tossing EVIL from the Torture Rack position into SANADA. LIJ eventually won when SANADA tapped out Kawato using the spinning variation of the Skull End. **1/4

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI def. Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado

Well, if you still have hope that we wouldn’t be seeing Goto/Suzuki for the NEVER Title once again, the fact that they’re facing off here in a non-tournament match should dash those hopes. I really don’t understand why Goto is facing Suzuki AGAIN. Even though his previous losses to Suzuki involved a ton of outside interference, it doesn’t change the fact that Goto lost to him TWICE. Yes, he pinned Suzuki during the tournament, but why are we doing this song and dance for a third time, possibly with another wacky stipulation? I thought that Ishii challenging Suzuki would be the direction for the Tokyo Dome, based on the story of Suzuki running through members of CHAOS in title defenses this year (Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Yano). Ishii is the only one he hasn’t faced, plus it’s a really fresh matchup. I have nothing against Hirooki Goto (I’ve always liked him), but why does Gedo insist on giving him a semi-important singles match at Wrestle Kingdom over Ishii, who had another amazing in-ring year? Despite being one of the best wrestlers in the world, he’ll probably be relegated to a multi-team schmoz for the second year in a row. It’s both disappointing and frustrating.

Anyway, this tag team match was slightly better than the two bouts that preceded it. The first few minutes featured the Suzuki-gun special (brawling in the crowd), which did include a funny moment where Milano Collection AT literally had his chair stolen out from under him by Suzuki. The action in the ring was pretty standard, and ultimately, Goto pinned El Desperado after hitting the GTR. Again, this simply continued the build towards (what will presumably be) the NEVER Title match at Wrestle Kingdom. **1/2

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Juice Robinson, Sami Callihan, & Yuji Nagata def. The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, “The Hangman” Adam Page, Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens, & Leo Tonga)

I wasn’t expecting much from this one, but it ended up being a fun little ten man tag. Aside from a brief lull in the middle portion of the match, this was worked at a relatively quick pace right from the opening bell. Everyone got a chance to shine, and it was pretty entertaining for what it was. Death Juice got the win for their team after hitting a Leo Tonga with a Pulp Friction/Splash combination. Nothing much else to say about this one, beyond that. A perfectly fine multi-man tag. ***

Togi Makabe & Henare (2) def. David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura (0)

Well, one of these winless teams had to win a match at some point, and when the dust settled, Finlay & Kitamura ultimately fell short against Makabe & Henare. This wasn’t amazing by any means, but for a tag team bout that went just over six minutes, it was pretty decent. The two young lions worked hard (especially against each other), Finlay put forth a solid effort, and Makabe did the same thing he’s been doing for most of this tour, though this time, he actually got to hit his Knee Drop from the top rope (which looked like more like a shin drop, as he overshot Kitamura a little bit). I thought the team of Finlay & Kitamura had a shot to win, since Kitamura is near the top of the pecking order when it comes to the young lions (he would’ve beaten Henare in that case), but it’s hard to imagine a team with Makabe on it not winning in this particular scenario. **3/4

The Killer Elite Squad (10) def. Best Friends (8)

I’m not going to even bother explaining all of the potential scenarios for winning the B Block, as six of the eight teams came into the show tied at 8 Points. I do enjoy the fact that so many teams were in the mix on the last block show, but it’d take forever to explain the various outcomes that could happen. A win by either team would’ve kept their hopes of winning the block alive, and in the end, KES took the victory after hitting a Killer Bomb on Chuckie T.

This was a really good match that had some good action throughout, but mainly relied on the story that was told. KES dominated the early stages (with Archer teasing Beretta about being a heavyweight at a couple of points), but Best Friends didn’t give up that easily, and fought hard until the very end. The crowd reacted any time Beretta or Chuckie T made a comeback, but their best efforts just weren’t enough to secure the win. Beretta took a lot of punishment from Archer in this one. At one point, Archer caught him on a dive and gave him a chokeslam on the apron, and later, he actually gave him a freaking military press from the ring straight to the floor (that must’ve hurt). It was that move that ultimately took Beretta out of the match, which allowed KES to pick up the win with Chuckie T isolated. This wouldn’t make my list of the top five bouts from this tournament, but it was certainly in that overall upper echelon. ***1/2

War Machine (10) def. Jeff Cobb & “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin (8)

You knew this was going to be a very interesting match to watch after the comments Elgin made regarding Cobb as well as War Machine (which is just part of the larger drama that “Big Mike” is currently involved in). There was a fair amount of swearing, particularly during the opening exchanges, which wasn’t much of a surprise. As for the match itself, it was very good. While it lacked crowd heat at certain points, there was a lot of really solid back and forth action from start to finish. What’s not to like about four big dudes just smashing into each other for about eleven minutes? If Elgin’s issues weren’t putting his future with New Japan in doubt, his team with Cobb would be an excellent addition to the heavyweight tag team division on a regular basis in 2018. Alas, that doesn’t look likely. While Cobb looked impressive once again, he fell victim to Fallout, as War Machine picked up the win to move to 10 Points. ***1/2

The Guerrillas of Destiny (10) def. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (8)

So it came down to this match to decide the B Block. If Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa won, then they would move on to the finals. However, if the CHAOS duo managed to win, then we’d get a convoluted three-way tie with CHAOS, KES, & War Machine. Luckily, that latter scenario didn’t play out, as G.O.D. got the victory to win the B Block. This wasn’t quite as good as the previous two tournament bouts on this card, but it was still a very solid match. Interestingly enough, the main highlights of this one were the exchanges between Ishii and Tanga Loa. I’m not sure what it is, but Ishii seems to bring out the best in Tanga Loa (does that really surprise anyone?). We did get some shenanigans between Yano and Tama Tonga, but those weren’t the primary focus of the match, which was good to see. There were some fun back and forth exchanges, but in the end, G.O.D. got the win after hitting Guerrilla Warfare on Yano. Again, this was pretty solid, but it just below the two tournament bouts that came before it, in terms of quality. ***1/4

After the match, G.O.D. gloated about winning the B Block, and then called out EVIL & SANADA. They come out, EVIL cuts a short promo in Japanese, and two teams had a stare down.

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, & BUSHI) def. CHAOS (“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, & Gedo)

With this being the last night for the B Block in the World Tag League, you’d think an actual tournament match would’ve been the main event. Well, that wasn’t the case. Instead, we got to see these six guys go at it again. I don’t have a ton to say about this one, since they’ve done the same bout on almost every show of the tour. Ospreay did some different things, but other than that, the only thing that was different on this night was the result. BUSHI got the win for LIJ after hitting Gedo with MX. Despite the fact that we’ve seen this six-man tag (with the same six participants), throughout the tour, the match never fails to be less that very solid. CHAOS might’ve gotten the win in Hiroshima, but on this night, LIJ got the better of them. ***1/4

Final Thoughts:

While this show was certainly the lesser of the two block finals (and lacked that great match to cap of the B Block), there was still some good stuff throughout the card. Aside from the first tournament bout (which featured the two teams with no wins coming in), it was a good showing overall for the rest of the B Block, with three solid tag team encounters that set up a battle between LIJ and G.O.D. in the finals. There really wasn’t anything noteworthy on the undercard, and the main event featured another fun clash between CHAOS & LIJ.

Here are the final standings in the B Block:

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NJPW World Tag League 2017: Night 17 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 17
December 8th, 2017
Hiroshima Green Arena – Small Arena
Hiroshima, Japan

The Bullet Club (The Guerrillas of Destiny & Leo Tonga) def. David Finlay, Katsuya Kitamura, & Tomoyuki Oka

It’s good to see that Tanga Loa was wearing regular trunks instead of that ridiculous bodysuit he worn on most of this tour. Anyway, this was a decent opening contest. While the team of Finlay, Kitamura, & Oka got opportunities to shine throughout, the sons of Haku were in control for the majority of this one. It was a little odd that this match didn’t involve teams that would be fighting on the last night of the B Block (as that’s been the pattern when New Japan does for undercards on tournament shows), but Tanahashi being pulled from the rest of the tour did force some changes, and perhaps this match was one of them. The Bullet Club got the win after Tanga Loa hit a horrible Samoan Driver on Oka. It wasn’t horrible in the sense that it was botched. The issue was that it looked like shit. Tanga Loa picked up Oka for the move and then just….sat down. It looked incredibly weak. **1/4

Jeff Cobb, “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin, & War Machine def. CHAOS (Best Friends, Tomohiro Ishii, & Toru Yano)

On paper, this had the potential to a pretty entertaining eight-man tag, considering who was involved, and when the dust settled, it ended up being just that. This match was by no means extraordinary, but there was fun action from start to finish, and there weren’t any dull moments to speak of. Despite coming out with the win, there were some signs of dissension on the team of Cobb, Elgin, & War Machine. At one point, Elgin tagged himself in (much to the annoyance of his teammates), while later on, there was an actual moment of miscommunication in the ring, when Rowe accidentally took out either Cobb or Elgin (can’t remember which). Those moments did serve as a bit of buildup for their tournament match the following night. Cobb would score the victory after hitting Chucky T with Tour Of The Islands. Again, for an eight-man tag that went about eight minutes, it was enjoyable. ***1/4

War Machine confronted Cobb & Elgin after the match, and as they went back up the ramp, Rowe yelled “Fuck Michael Elgin” into the camera.

Suzuki-gun (The Killer Elite Squad & El Desperado) def. Togi Makabe, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, & Henare

Honestly, I really don’t have a ton to say about this one. It was a perfectly fine six-man tag that went exactly how you’d imagine it going. The heel side (Suzuki-gun in this case) dominated Liger in the first few minutes, Makabe hit some of his signature spots after Liger tagged him in, and then Henare got a bit of offense in before eventually getting beaten up by KES. The only noteworthy item here was the finish, as instead of using the Killer Bomb to finish off Henare, Davey Boy Smith Jr. pinned the young lion on his own after hitting a Bulldog Bomb. Nothing much else to say beyond that. **3/4

CHAOS (“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, & Gedo) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, & BUSHI)

I noticed that LIJ has doing this scene during their entrance where Naito tries to slide his Tokyo Dome Briefcase across the ring in an attempt to hit Hiromu. Not entire sure what the deal is with that. Anyway, as I’ve been checking out cagematch throughout the World Tag League (mainly to check on match times for the tournament matches), I saw that they’ve repeated this exact six-man tag for the majority of this tour. It’s not the most creative booking, but considering the guys involved, you know it’s going to deliver every single time, and it certainly didn’t disappoint on this occasion. This was an entertaining six-man tag that continued the build towards Wrestle Kingdom 12. Ospreay had some fun exchanges with Hiromu, Naito had some interactions with Okada, and we even saw LIJ work over Gedo’s beard (as weird as that sounds). After Okada counter a Destino attempt from Naito with his new submission hold, Ospreay got the win for CHAOS after pinning Hiromu clean with the OsCutter. That was certainly a slight surprise, since you’d think either Gedo or BUSHI would be taking the fall in this situation. Either way, CHAOS certainly got the better of LIJ on this night. ***1/4

After the match, Okada locked BUSHI in his new submission hold, and then the CHAOS trio mocked Naito by doing his eye taunt.

Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (4) def. Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (6)

After being on the losing side of things for most of this tour, Nagata & Nakanishi ended the World Tag League on a high note after picking up an upset win over The Bullet Club. This was a pretty basic tag team affair. Nagata actually got the upper hand of Fale in the opening minute or so before The Bullet Club took control during a brawl on the floor. From there, the New Japan Dads had to fight an uphill battle, but they eventually got the win when Nakanishi made Owens tap out to the Torture Rack while Nagata had Fale locked in an armbar. When was the last time Nakanishi actually won a match of any kind?! I feel like it’s been a very long time. Even though the result really doesn’t matter, in terms of deciding the winner of the block, this win got Nagata & Nakanishi up to 4 Points in the final standings. **1/4

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (6) def. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (6)

For the second A Block show in a row, Suzuki-gun lost a match by disqualification when Iizuka used the iron fingers. Fortunately, we actually got a proper match before the DQ was called, unlike that horrid mess from Night 15. For the most part, this bout was actually pretty decent. We did get the usual brawling in the crowd (a requisite for all Suzuki-gun matches seemingly), but the interactions between Kojima & Suzuki (particularly their chop exchanges) definitely lifted this one up. Aside from that, this was relatively standard. Nothing much else to add. TenKoji gets to 6 Points, though not in the way they were probably expecting. Also, can Iizuki just….go away? Please? **1/2

Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan (8) def. “The Hangman” Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi (8)

Page & Yujiro actually had a shot to win the A Block coming into this match, though they also needed Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI to defeat LIJ in the main event (if there was a tie, Page & Yujiro would hold the tiebreaker over the CHAOS duo). However, that possibly went out the window when Death Juice managed to pick up the victory here over The Bullet Club. This was a really good tag team bout. Things got off to a hot start, as everyone (including Yujiro!) hit big dives to the floor. From there, the match featured a lot of entertaining moments and, similar to some of the multi-man tags on the undercard, there really wasn’t a major lull in the action. This was easily one of the best matches of the tournament for this Page/Yujiro team, and it’s not much of a surprise that it came against Death Juice, who’ve definitely been one of the bright spots in the A Block. Again, this was a very good match with a result that set the stage for a “win and move on” scenario in the main event. ***1/2

EVIL & SANADA (10) def. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (8)

With Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi falling to Death Juice, that meant whoever won this bout would officially win the A Block. This had the potential to be one of the strongest matches of the entire A Block, and in the end, it certainly delivered. This was a great main event! Not only was this unquestionably the best match in the A Block, but it was also one of the best bout of the entire tournament. Things got off to a pretty standard start, but as the match progressed, it continued to build momentum slowly but surely. The second half was excellent, and there were some awesome nearfalls in the final few minutes. Both teams went back and forth, and the Japanese commentary team was going crazy by the end. At one point, Goto & Yoshi-Hashi hit EVIL with their double-team GTR (which they’ve won most of their matches with), and EVIL became the first person in the tournament to kick out of it. The crowd exploded at that nearfall, and in general, they got louder as the bout progressed. Eventually, LIJ managed to hit their tag team finisher (essentially The Magic Killer, which Anderson & Gallows used) to win this main event, and the A Block. Once again, this was an incredible match, particularly down the stretch. I’m not sure if EVIL & SANADA will win the tournament, but hopefully they’ll be involving in the heavyweight tag team division more often next year. ****1/4

Final Thoughts

This was on its way to being another run-of-the-mill World Tag League event until the last two matches. Bullet Club vs. Death Juice was very solid, but the main event was easily the match of night. If you have time, you should definitely check it out, because it was pretty awesome. As for the rest of the show, the other two tournament bouts are skippable, but there are a couple of multi-person tags on undercard that were pretty entertaining.

Here are the final standings in the A Block:

EVIL & SANADA (5-2) – 10 Points
Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan (4-3) – 8 Points
“The Hangman” Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi (4-3) – 8 Points
Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (4-3) – 8 Points
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (3-4) – 6 Points
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (3-4) – 6 Points
Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (3-4) – 6 Points
Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (2-5) – 4 Points

NJPW World Tag League 2017: Nights 15/16 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 15
December 6th, 2017
Sasebo General Ground Gymnasium
Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan

“The Hangman” Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi (8) def. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (6)

In one of the most shocking developments of 2017, Red Shoes actually decided to disqualify someone for once. Yes, you read that correctly. This match ended in a DQ, just over five minutes in, after Iizuka used his iron fingers on Page. Out of those five minutes, these two teams spent about four of them brawling in the crowd. Simply put, this was trash. Easily the worst match of the tournament. Don’t waste your time. DUD

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (8) def. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (2)

While the New Japan Dads had the opportunity to play spoiler, since they were eliminated from contention in the A Block some time ago, the CHAOS duo ultimately picked up the win here (as I’m sure most people expected). This was a relatively solid tag team encounter, but nothing much else beyond that. There was actually some decent action throughout, particularly in the second half, and the crowd seemed to be into the match at times. Again, this wasn’t outstanding by any means, but those elements I just mentioned helped make it a little more enjoyable to watch. At least we got a proper tournament bout on this event. **3/4

Final Thoughts

Night 15 was easily the worst show of the World Tag League thus far, with one decent match and an absolute DUD. You only really needed to see CHAOS vs. Nagata & Nakanishi if you’re a completist. As for the Bullet Club vs. Suzuki-gun bout, those are five minutes I’m never getting back. Don’t bother watching it. Use those five minutes for something that’s actually useful or productive.

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 16
December 7th, 2017
Refresh Park General Gymnasium
Yamaguchi, Japan

War Machine (8) def. David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura (0)

While the outcome of this one was never really in question, these two teams still managed to have a pretty decent match, which clocked in at just under eight minutes. War Machine was in control for the majority of this bout, but it was far from a total squash. Finlay & Kitamura did manage to put up a good fight, getting in some offense here and there, but in the end, Hanson & Rowe managed to hit Fallout on Kitamura for the win. Nothing much to say about the match beyond that. While the loss meant that Finlay & Kitamura remained at one giant goose egg, War Machine moved up to 8 Points. **3/4

The Killer Elite Squad (8) def. Togi Makabe & Henare (0)

I think New Japan needs to put in “splash zone” signs (or maybe “spit zone” signs) every time KES is on the show. Archer’s antics with water have gotten to the point where, on this show, he actually chased down a random fan just so he could spit water on him. Anyway, this was another match with a result that was never in doubt. This was a slight notch below War Machine/Finlay & Kitamura, but it was still a perfectly fine tag team contest. The story they told was pretty similar to the one we just saw in the earlier tournament bout. KES dominated the majority of the match (mainly beating up Henare), and even though Makabe & Henare did get some offense in during the second half, they ultimately came up short, as KES hit the Killer Bomb on Henare for the win. **1/2

Final Thoughts

This was probably the most predictable night of the entire tour, in terms of match results, as you had two of the top teams in the heavyweight tag team division (including the current IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions in KES) going up against two teams that had young lions on them. There was no question that KES & War Machine were going to get wins here that would keep them alive in the B Block, but their opponents certainly didn’t go down without a fight. You don’t really need to seek these particular bouts out (unless you’re a completist). The only thing you need to know is who won their respective matches.

There’s no real point in going over all of the scenarios in both Blocks, since the actual finals of the tournament would’ve already been set (by the time you’re reading this), so for record’s sake, I’ll just list the standings as of Night 16:

A Block

EVIL & SANADA (4-2) – 8 Points
“The Hangman” Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi (4-2) – 8 Points
Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (4-2) – 8 Points
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (3-3) – 6 Points
Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan (3-3) – 6 Points
Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (3-3) – 6 Points
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (2-4) – 4 Points
Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (1-5) – 2 Points

B Block

Jeff Cobb & “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin (4-2) – 8 Points
Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (4-2) – 8 Points
Best Friends (4-2) – 8 Points
The Guerrillas of Destiny (4-2) – 8 Points
War Machine (4-2) – 8 Points
The Killer Elite Squad (4-2) – 8 Points
Togi Makabe & Henare (0-6) – 0 Points
David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura (0-6) – 0 Points

NJPW World Tag League 2017 - Night 14 (December 5) Results & Review

Author : tamaimbo

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017 – Night 14
December 5, 2017
Oita Event Hall
Oita, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano (8) def. Beretta and Chucky T (8)

The Best Friends team of Beretta and Chucky T has been a godsend for the World Tag League, delivering consistently good, and sometimes great matches. Tonight they were tasked with taking on their CHAOS stablemates of Ishii and Yano.  The Best Friends, hesitant to take on their (other, less than best) friends, offered to start the match with hugs. Yano obliged, but Ishii predictably was having none of it, attacking both men right at the start.  

However, the Best Friends quickly took control by isolating Yano, even resorting to using some Yano-like sneaky tactics. Unfortunately, the tactics eventually backfired as Chucky T accidentally hit a plancha onto Beretta and the tides turned. Ishii tagged in and the match went back and forth before Yano tagged in again and started pulling out his usual tricks: messing with the turnbuckle, pulling hair, and trying for groin shots. For a while, it seemed the Best Friends had a good read on all of them, but after Chucky T missed a moonsault, Yano used the opening to hit him in the groin and pick up the victory with a roll up.

While it wasn’t the usual high work rate of some of the previous Best Friends matches in the tournament, I still liked this match. Beretta reminds me a bit of Kenny Omega: he can have really great serious matches, but he’s also a great comedy wrestler when he needs to be. He and Chucky T have great chemistry, and their ability to play off Yano really made the match a lot of fun. It won’t appear on any match of the year lists, but in my opinion, a fun match like this is a big improvement over the usual going-through-the-motions style of the World Tag League. *** 1/4

In terms of standings, the loss makes it a bit harder for the Best Friends, but they are still in it.  Their last remaining match is with the Killer Elite Squad.  If they beat Killer Elite Squad, they would have 10 points and would have the tiebreaker over GOD, but would lose the tiebreaker if they tie with either War Machine or Yano and Ishii.

Ishii and Yano’s last match is with GOD.  If they beat GOD, they would have 10 and would have the tiebreaker over GOD, War Machine and Best Friends, but would lose the tiebreaker to Jeff Cobb and Michael Elgin and Killer Elite Squad.  It looks like this whole thing is going to come down to the very last match.

Jeff Cobb and Michael Elgin (8) defeat the Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa) (8)

Just like Chucky T, Jeff Cobb has been a good addition to this World Tag League, and he has developed a good in-ring chemistry with Michael Elgin.  Their good work has been rewarded, as just like the Best Friends, they are hovering around the lead as we close in on the final days of the tournament.  Tonight they had a tall task in former champions GOD, and they proved more than up to the task.

The match started comedically, with both Tama Tonga and Tonga Roa trying to use their quickness to outmaneuver the stronger men, mostly to no avail.  However, some double team tactics help give them the early edge as they beat down on Jeff Cobb for the beginning portion of the match.  Unfortunately, they got cocky, as Tama Tonga tried to deadlift suplex Cobb and Cobb was able to tag in Elgin.  From there, it devolved into the usual back and forth match before Jeff Cobb picked up the win for his team by pinning Tanga Roa after a Tour of the Islands.

As the match description probably portrays, this was pretty much your typical World Tag League match.  Get in, do your spots, and get out.  It is what it is.  The best news is that Jeff Cobb continues to get good reactions, and I hope that New Japan chooses to bring him back, as he could be a very strong addition to their roster and would have some great singles matches. ** 3/4

As for the standings, Cobb and Elgin have their last match against War Machine. If they win,m they would have 10 points (I sound like a broken record).  They currently have the tiebreaker over Best Friends, GOD and Ishii & Yano.  They would lose a tiebreaker to KES.

GOD’s final match is against Ishii and Yano. If they win they would have (say it with me) 10 points.  GOD has the tiebreaker over KES and War Machine, but don’t over Best Friends or Cobb & Elgin.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens!

Final Thoughts:

After a brief uptick in quality, the World Tag League has settled right back into the usual groove — fine matches that are totally skippable. While no match was bad, there’s nothing on the show to go out of your way to see.  But, if you’re really invested in the Tag League, this is a simple show to get through, as it’s only two matches.

NJPW World Tag League 2017 Night 13 (December 3) Results & Review

Author : richkraetsch

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017 – Night 13
December 3, 2017
Kochi Prefectural Gymnasium

Watch: NJPW World

Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale (6) def. Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan (6) 

Those following recent nights of the World Tag League know the story of the A Block has been the increasingly large blob of teams with six points. Tonight, we added yet another as Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens joined their opponents (Death Juice), Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI and Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka with six points.

This was a fine match, good at times but fell victim to an absolutely comatose crowd that barely registered noise at any point during the match and a lackluster finish. Just as Juice and Sami gained momentum in the match, Owens intercepted a Callihan suicide dive attempt into a school boy. I couldn’t tell if Owens had the tights (or jeans in this case) as it was a single hard-cam show, but either way, Owens and Fale picked up the cheap win. There was some effort put forth in this match but it ultimately left me feeling flat. Bad Luck Fale didn’t even bother to take his shirt off. **

In their post-match promo, Fale, ever the optimist said “Even though we have no chance of making the finals.” To which Owens said “No, no… there’s still a chance.” Fale was actually right though, Fale & Owens can beat Nakanishi & Nagata to get to eight points but they lost the tiebreaker to SANADA & EVIL so they are out.

Juice and Callihan discussed their tournament fate as well with Juice assuming they were knocked out as well. But, he is wrong. If Death Juice defeats Page & Yujiro they will have eight points. Assuming SANADA & EVIL lose their final league match (spoiler: they are winning the main event of this night’s show), both teams will have eight points with Death Juice having the tiebreaker. So in fact, all Juice and Sami need to do is keep winning and hoping Goto & YOSHI-HASHI can pull off the big upset and knock LIJ out.

In a nice bit of character work, Callihan took full blame for the team’s loss and apologized to Juice for potentially causing him to miss Wrestle Kingdom. Callihan went on to say he’s doing too much pandering to the crowd and he needs to refocus and stop fucking up.

SANADA & EVIL (8) def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (4) 

Believe it or not, they resisted the temptation to give seven of the eight World Tag League teams six points by having SANADA & EVIL get the big win over TenKoji.

This was a far better match than the previous if only because the crowd was hyped to see the legends Tenzan and Kojima in the flesh. This included a few children (I assume) screaming TENZAAAAAN! throughout the entire match. No, seriously, the entire match. Usually I would find it annoying but after the pin drop that we heard the previous match this was a welcomed change.

As far as match quality went, this was your run-of-the-mill 2017 TenKoji match with the chops, the Hiss, etc., etc. you know the drill at this point. EVIL and SANADA played super heels the entire time which is cool to see as they often can lean more tweener on the big shows.

The only disappointment from this match was the finish which again came somewhat abruptly and again was a cheap win for the heel team. Tenzan went to the top rope, presumably to hit the diving headbutt. EVIL jumped onto the apron and held Tenzan’s legs—in clear sight of Red Shoes, mind you, who was looking at this happen.

SANADA hit a Powerbomb but Tenzan was able to kick out at 2. EVIL and SANADA then double teamed Tenzan eventually beating him with the Magic Killer. Kojima slid into the ring but laid there as they made the three count. Better than the prior match but still very much lacking. **1/4

This tournament stinks. Only a few more days to go, people. We’re in the home stretch.

As mentioned above, this puts EVIL & SANADA squarely atop of the A Block and in control of their tournament fate. They win their next match vs. Goto & YOSHI-HASHI and they are in the finals.

If they lose, well, things get interesting. They racked up losses to Death Juice and Suzuki & Iizuka, so if they do lose their final tournament match, they can be knocked out with wins by either team. For what it’s worth, Suzuki & Iizuka hold tiebreakers over not only SANADA & EVIL but also Death Juice.

World Tag League 2017 Standings (as of December 3)



Final Thoughts: 

Don’t waste your time.

NJPW World Tag League 2017: Night 12 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 12
December 2nd, 2017
Osaka Central Gymnasium – Sub Arena
Osaka, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Best Friends (8) def. David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura (0)

After their big win over Jeff Cobb & Michael Elgin on Night 10 in Korakuen Hall, Beretta & Chucky T continued to build momentum in the B Block with a victory over the team of Finlay & Kitamura. This was a relatively decent encounter. As the opening tournament bout on this card, it was perfectly fine for what it was. It only went about seven or eight minutes, and was pretty fun to watch from start to finish. While he wasn’t as big of a focus here, compared to some of the other matches he’s been in thus far on the tour, Kitamura did get some attention here.

During the first few minutes, Best Friends essentially isolated Finlay so that Kitamura couldn’t tag in, but once he made the hot tag, he did run wild on Beretta & Chucky T for a few minutes before falling to the Strong Zero. The fact that he was the one who got the primary hot tag here was just another example of Kitamura getting a ton of opportunities to shine in this tournament. While his team with Finlay is still at 0 Points, Best Friends before the first team in the B Block to reach 8 Points. **3/4

Jeff Cobb & “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin (6) def. Togi Makabe & Henare (0)

Elgin has most of his left leg taped up (basically from above his knee all the way down), so he must’ve suffered an injury at some point. This was another decent tag team affair, though I’d say that Best Friends vs. Finlay & Kitamura was slightly better. Henare decided to attack before the bell, which ultimately proved to be a poor decision on his part, as from there, Cobb & Elgin basically imposed their will on poor Henare for the first few minutes. He eventually made the tag to Makabe, who did some of his signature spots before tagging the young lion from New Zealand back in. While Henare did get a few hope spots, he ultimately got pinned after eating an Elgin Bomb. Another tournament match that was on the shorter side (seven minutes or so), but again, it was completely inoffensive, and gave the team of Cobb & Elgin a solid victory. **1/2

The Guerrillas of Destiny (8) def. The Killer Elite Squad (6)

I only just realized that the three teams who faced off in three way title matches repeatedly back in September are all in the same block during this year’s World Tag League. They just can’t seem to get away from each other. Anyway, this was easily the best tournament match on the show, up to this point. KES spent the first few minutes working over the left arm of Tama Tonga, but once G.O.D. made their comeback (it seemed like they were the de facto babyfaces here), this turned into a solid tag team encounter. There was some fun action in the closing stretch, but in the end, Tama Tonga caught Davey Boy Smith Jr. with the Gun Stun to get the win.

A lot of interesting things to take away from this one, in terms of the result. First, after getting off to a 3-0 start, KES have now lost two straight. Then, this win catapulted The Guerrillas of Destiny into a tie for the lead in the B Block with Best Friends at 8 Points.

Finally, it’s really interesting that KES lost to both G.O.D. & War Machine. Theoretically, this means that both have earned title shots. I think all of us are hoping that we don’t see yet another three way between those three teams. ***1/4

Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (6) def. War Machine (6)

After a huge victory over KES in the main event of Night 10 in Korakuen Hall, War Machine (in a bit of a surprise) came up short here against Ishii & Yano. In terms of match quality, it was about on the same level as the tournament bout that came right before it. The various individual exchanges Ishii had with Hanson & Ray Rowe were very entertaining, and for the most part, that action was the driving force of this one. Of course, we saw the usual Yano shenanigans, and when the dust settled, Yano actually got the win for his team. With Ishii distracting Red Shoes, Yano managed to hit a double low blow on War Machine, and rolled up Ray Rowe for the victory. This match didn’t set the world on fire, but from bell to bell, it was pretty fun. Part of me hopes that we’ll get to see singles matches with Ishii against Hanson or Rowe in the future, but I don’t think those will ever happen. ***1/4

Final Thoughts:

This was one of the weakest showing from the B Block thus far (in terms of shows that featured four tournament matches), but it would certainly beat a number of the A Block events that’ve taken place over the last week or so. While there wasn’t anything that really stood out on this card, nothing was below average. The top two matches were clearly the best of the bunch, but even the first two matches were entertaining in their own way. If anything, this was an incredibly easy show to sit through, especially since three of the four bouts clocked in under ten minutes.

Here’s a quick update on the standings in the B Block, after Night 12:

While the bottom two teams were eliminated a few shows ago (they were never really in contention), things have tightened up in the rest of the block, as the remaining six teams sit either at 8 Points or 6 Points. In a slight surprise, Best Friends & The Guerrillas of Destiny are now tied for the lead of the B Block. If I had to guess, I’d say that one of the two teams that’s currently sitting at 6 Points (either KES or War Machine) will ultimately win the block, but at this point, any of those six teams could make it through. This means that these next few shows are going to be critical, particularly for those 3-2 teams, because if they suffer another loss, and one of the two teams at 4-1 wins, then they’re out.

NJPW World Tag League 2017: Night 11 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 11
December 1st, 2017
Toyohashi General Gymnasium – Second Gymnasium
Toyohashi, Aichi, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

“The Hangman” Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi (6) def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (4)

Visible basketball hoops and massive curtains can be seen as the camera zoomed out during the entrances. As for this opening tournament bout on Night 11, it was relatively good. The first few minutes were a little slow, but as the match progressed, it slowly got better. The second half was particularly solid, with some fun back and forth action between the two teams. Kojima ended up getting pinned after a Buckshot Lariat from Page, followed by a DDT from Yujiro. Again, this was a perfectly fine tag team affair. ***

EVIL & SANADA (6) def. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (2)

After getting off to an 0-2 start, the LIJ team of EVIL & SANADA extended their winning streak to three after picking up a victory here over the New Japan Dads. This was an average match, at best, but it still had its moments. The second half was much better than the first half, so in that regard, it was pretty similar to the bout we just saw with Bullet Club against TenKoji. Nagata in particular had some solid individual exchanges with both EVIL & SANADA. Towards the end of the match, Nakanishi had SANADA in the Torture Rack, but he got out of it, and immediately went to distract the referee so EVIL could use a chair on Nakanishi. The two then hit him with their neckbreaker/slam combo to secure the win. With that result, Nagata & Nakanishi are officially eliminated from contention in the A Block. **1/2

Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (6) def. Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan (6)

Callihan had the upper part of his left arm all taped up here, so I’m guessing he has a minor injury of some kind. While LIJ has been on an upswing, Death Juice has been on somewhat of a downturn as the tournament has progressed. After winning their first two matchups, they’ve now lost two of their last three, which includes this particular bout where they came up short against Suzuki-gun. This was slightly better than the match Suzuki-gun had with The Bullet Club on Night 9, but it was still relatively bad. Aside from a few moments here and there, Suzuki-gun was firmly in control for the majority of this one. Of course, the first few minutes involved a lot of brawling in the crowd, with El Desperado helping them out when the opportunity presented itself. There was one fun spot where Iizuka bit Callihan’s middle finger after he flipped him off. That was probably one of the lone highlights (if not the only highlight) of this match. Death Juice made a slight comeback, but it simply wasn’t enough. Robinson got pinned after getting hit with the iron fingers from Iizuka, followed by a Gotch Piledriver from Suzuki. Don’t waste your time with this match. *3/4

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (6) def. Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (4)

I’m pretty sure that Bad Luck Fale was wearing sneakers for this one (they stuck out like a sore thumb). The winner would join the growing list of teams at 6 Points, and when the dust settled, that team ended up being CHAOS, who scored the victory after hitting their double team GTR on Chase Owens. This was better than Death Juice/Suzuki-gun, but just a slight notch below LIJ/Nagata & Nakanishi. The first part of the match, which featured another crowd brawl, wasn’t that interesting, but much like some of the earlier tournament bouts on this card, things did improve down the stretch. There was some decent action in the final few minutes (mainly involving Chase Owens, who did a fine job in this one), but aside from that, this barely managed to hover around average. **1/4

Final Thoughts

After a very poor showing on Night 9, the teams of the A Block followed that up with an even worse showing on Night 11. I don’t think I would call this the worst New Japan show of 2017 (simply because only half of the overall card even made tape), but in the context of the World Tag League, it was easily the worst show to date. The first of the four tournament bouts is the only one that you could say was “good”, and even then, it was barely good. The rest of the tournament matches are skippable, and the only things you really need to know from this show is who won and who lost.

Here’s an update on the A Block standings after Night 11. While there was a logjam in the middle of the pack following Night 9, there’s now a logjam at the top of the block, with five teams sitting at 6 Points with 3-2 records. If you throw in the two teams that are still technically in it with 4 Points and 2-3 records, the A Block is truly up for grabs. As I mentioned earlier, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi are the only team that has officially been eliminated.

NJPW World Tag League 2017 Night 10 Results & Review

Author : atrich92


Watch: NJPW World

After eight straight single-camera shows with no commentary and a-la-carte match selections, World Tag League returns to Korakuen Hall with a full show, multiple camera angles, and color commentary. So let’s get to work!


The two young lions brought the fire to the elders, hitting Nagata and Nakanishi with everything they had. At one point, Narita slapped Nakanishi in the face and hit him with a big belly-to-belly suplex. That’s quite impressive, considering Nakanishi eats Narita’s bodyweight in food every morning for breakfast. Muscle Justice eventually put the youngsters in their place. Nakanishi made Narita submit with the Argentine Backbreaker, while Nagata had Umino locked in the Nagata Lock II. A simple match, but perfectly acceptable as an opener. **3/4


This was your standard “show your face” multi-man tag that happens on pretty much every New Japan show. Everyone gets their turn in the match at some point, even if it’s only once. In the case of Juice Robinson, he technically never got a turn because he was never legally tagged in once during the match!

Nothing really to right home about with this one. It’s just a bunch of A Block teams fighting on a non-A Block night alongside their respective rookies. Chase Owens got the pin on Oka thanks to his Package Piledriver. As Bullet Club walked to the back, Page held his rope down by his crotch. He motioned for the camera to “get a shot of this big ol’ rope. This big ol’ rope down here.”

The rope represents his huge schlong, in case you couldn’t figure that one out. **1/2


Goto vs. Suzuki at Wrestle Kingdom 12 seems more and more likely at this point. These two were going hard at one another right at the opening bell, so much so that they had to be pulled apart by their respective partners. The Suzuki-gun bullshit was thankfully minimized in this match. With the exception of a little crowd brawling (during which Suzuki poured water on Tomoaki Honma who was sitting at ringside for color commentary), the match was kept in the ring and interference-free, so the action was solid. The ending, oh my goodness: Goto and YOSHI-HASHI hit their new tag team finisher (!) the GYR. It’s similar to GOD’s Guerrilla Warfare, except instead of dropping Desperado into a DDT, they drop Desperado into an inverted GTR. Ouch. ***


You look at a match with these four guys and at minimum you know it’s going to be good. And this match was good, especially as the pace quickened about halfway down the line. All four guys put in the extra effort to make this match exciting, which is nice to see on a World Tag League show. You can tell the crowd appreciated it. Tanahashi at one point caught EVIL’s leg, tossed it to SANADA, then picked up SANADA’s leg and did a dragon screw legwhip, which in turn caused SANADA to give EVIL a dragon screw legwhip. That was cool. There was also a nice visual where Kawato had SANADA in a Boston crab while Tanahashi had EVIL in the Texas cloverleaf.

What I love about Kawato, and the young lions in general really, is that they come across as eager to a fault. They can get the absolute bejeezus knocked out of them for the bulk of the match, but if they sense an opportunity to prove themselves, they’re going to want to take it. We’ve seen time and time again where Kawato gets beaten up, makes the hot tag to his experienced partner, then when his partner is getting ready to hit his finisher and win the match, Kawato BEGS and PLEADS to get tagged back in so that he can score the fall. Then what happens? Kawato gets tagged in and loses the match. Eagerness overrides common sense. This match went exactly the same way. Kawato BEGGED and PLEADED to Tanahashi to tag him back in. Tanahashi, the smart veteran that he is, initially refused to tag out. But Kawato kept BEGGING and PLEADING and Tanahashi eventually had no choice. He tagged Kawato back in. And Kawato showed GUTS and he showed HEART and he showed FIRE and he almost pinned SANADA with a small package!

Then he tapped out to the Skull End. ***1/4


The match with two of the biggest stars in the company ends up being the shortest match of the night at 6:31. But despite how short the match was, it wasn’t without significance. Okada had Naito in his crosshairs the entire time. Every chance he could to attack Naito, Okada took it. Towards the end Naito looked like he was going to get revenge on Okada by hitting him with the Destino, but Okada countered and put Naito in a new submission move, a cobra clutch with bodyscissors. He kept that bastard locked in tight, even after the match ended. They basically had to pry Okada off of Naito.

Okada is likely adding the move to his arsenal to help him retain his IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom. But as Mr. Lariato points out, we may be seeing history repeat itself very soon.

Okada revealing his Destino countering submission ahead of the dome…puts me in mind of Naito revealing Pluma Blanca before Wrestle Kingdom 8, which gave Okada the opportunity to have it fully scouted for their title match #NJPW #njwk12

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) November 30, 2017

Meanwhile Ospreay and Hiromu were their usual awesome selves (their interactions had me salivating for Wrestle Kingdom and beyond), BUSHI rocked a magnificent gold and black color scheme, and Gedo was Gedo. Ospreay pinned BUSHI with the OsCutter in a match that was short, sweet, and to-the-point. ***


Kitamura is still rough around the edges on the technical side, but his natural charisma is off the charts. So what if he’s only been wrestling actual matches since March; his look and his persona transcend all of that. Kitamura looked great in this match and a large part of that is thanks to the Guerrillas of Destiny. Tama and Tanga made Kitamura seem like an actual threat, especially Tama. He was his usual cocky, jackass self before the bell, but when the match started and he faced off with Kitamura, it was a different story. Tama chopped Kitamura and Kitamura brushed it off like it was nothing. Kitamura chopped Tama and Tama immediately fell over, clutching his chest and screaming like a little girl. The high-pitched scream would recur throughout the rest of the match, like when Kitamura press slammed Tama over his head. Tanga was much more effective against Kitamura, pinning him with Apeshit to win the match. A bunch of fun to be had in this one. ***1/4


HEY NEW JAPAN: STOP MUTING MAKABE’S ENTRANCE! PLEASE! I BEG OF YOU! You have Great Bash Heel’s theme “Trickster.” You have Makabe’s dub theme “A Real Bad Attitude.” Just pick one and press play. It’s that simple.

Anyway, this match may not have seemed like much on paper, but holy moly did this one surprise me. Why? Because Henare and Tomohiro Ishii, that’s why. Good heavens, the stiffness of those elbows and those lariats. Those two went to war, no question about it. And it wasn’t like Ishii was dominating the whole way through; Henare was holding his own, rocking Ishii at multiple points during the match. He clobbered Ishii with a lariat that damn near took his head off, and towards the end he hit Ishii with a spear that looked like two trucks colliding. Makabe and Yano stuck to their normal schtick, but whenever Henare and Ishii were in the ring together, they made you pay attention. Ishii eventually kept Henare down with the Vertical Drop Brainbuster in a match that was better than it had any right to be. Keep your eyes on Henare, folks. ***1/2


Going in I had heard good things about this match, but wowzers trousers did this one blow me away. Talk about a perfect pairing. On the one hand, you have Cobb and Elgin, two big thick slabs of beef whose freakish strength can get over practically anywhere. On the other hand, you’ve got the Best Friends, who are smaller, faster, and able to absorb a ludicrous amount of punishment in order to generate sympathy. Add these two together and you’ve got the recipe for a fantastic match.

Cobb and Elgin had the power advantage.

WOW #NJPW #njwtl @RealJeffCobbhttps://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/oDHyv4y2DA

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) November 30, 2017

But Best Friends had the agility factor.

CHUCK IS INSANE!!! @SexyChuckieT #njwtl #njpwworld https://t.co/oGYshyXDEz pic.twitter.com/X7iscSc9Rn

— Deno (@KiingDeno) November 30, 2017

The two sides managed to keep it relatively even during the first stretch, but then Cobb and Elgin took things up a notch. Elgin gave poor Chuckie a powerbomb on the floor and the apron. Jeff Cobb tossed Beretta around with suplex after suplex like he weighed nothing. But the Best Friends wouldn’t stay down. Even a top rope Elgin Bomb into a Cobb German suplex couldn’t put Beretta away. You could actually see Michael Elgin getting more and more frustrated as the match went on, which led to some nasty backfists and elbows.

Yet no matter how big and strong Jeff Cobb and Michael Elgin are, they were no match for the power of friendship. Beretta and Chuckie hit Cobb with Strong Zero to get the win. Little Kazu would be proud. Not only was this the match of the night, it is hands down the match of the entire tournament to date. Bravo to all four guys. ****1/2


Nothing on this show could top Best Friends vs. Cobb and Elgin, but the main event certainly came the closest. When a match starts with Lance Archer and Raymond Rowe trying to see who can throw an elbow the hardest, you know you’re in for a good time. These two teams delivered a hard-hitting contest that was practically nothing but big slams, heavy strikes, and an exorbitant amount of curse words, which is exactly what you want with Killer Elite Squad and War Machine. The crowd certainly agreed; even after the awesomeness of the previous match, Korakuen was still hot for these two teams to beat the tar out of each other. A bruised and battered War Machine picked up the win with Fallout on Davey Boy, giving KES their first loss of the tournament. A step below the semi-main, but still a really good match. ****


What a relief to have a show like this one come around. Every match was at the very least okay, a bunch were pretty good, and the top two were excellent. It’s also nice to have a show that actually feels like a show, with multiple camera angles, color commentary, and an excited crowd in Korakuen. We won’t get any more proper shows like this one until the final three nights starting on December 8. From now until then, it’s back to the house shows. Prepare yourselves accordingly.



B Block

NJPW World Tag League 2017: Night 9 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 9
November 28, 2017
Nagano Athletic Park Gymnasium
Nagano, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan (6) def. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (2)

Death Juice became the first team in the A Block to reach 6 Points (and a 3-1 record) with a victory here over the New Japan Dads. This was a technically sound bout, for the most part, but it was just barely above average. There was no real sense of urgency, and it felt like they never got close to hitting that next gear. Nagata & Nakanishi did get some offense in, but Death Juice were in control for the majority of this one. Honestly, the main highlight was all of the swearing from Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan, with the former (at one point) telling Nakanishi to fuck off. The match ended after Death Juice hit their tag team finisher (Robinson hits Pulp Friction while Callihan hits a splash from the top rope). It did look a little clunky, but they were hitting the move on Nakanishi, so that’s not a total surprise. **3/4

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (4) def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (4)

Unfortunately, the New Japan Dads went 0-2 on this night, as the CHAOS duo picked up the victory in this second tournament bout of the show. Considering the two teams involved, you’d think this would have the chance to be pretty good. When the dust settled, however, it was only slightly better than the match that came before it with the other half of the New Japan Dads. This actually shared some similarities with that earlier match, in that it was just above average and never really got to that next level. Fortunately, the crowd seemed to be more invested in this one, and that certainly helped. There was a nice little closing stretch where Kojima tried to fight off both members of CHAOS before he ultimately came up short. With this result, both teams are now at 4 Points with 2-2 records. ***

Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (4) def. Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (4)

To say that I wasn’t very excited to see this match would be a massive understatement. This had the potential to be pretty bad, and in the end, it was. Suzuki-gun jumped The Bullet Club team as they made their entrance, and the first few minutes were spent brawling in the crowd. Once the action got back to the ring, it was mostly Suzuki vs. Owens with Iizuka attacking Fale on the outside with chair shots. When Iizuka eventually got in the ring, he used a rope to choke Owens in full view of Red Shoes (to be fair, Red Shoes later refused to count the subsequent pinfall attempt by Iizuka). Fale was the legal man for a little bit, but it wouldn’t be enough. Suzuki-gun got the win after Owens got hit with Iizuka’s iron glove thing, followed by a Gotch Piledriver from Suzuki. This was easily the worst match of the tournament thus far. Don’t even bother with this one. *

EVIL & SANADA (4) def. “The Hangman” Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi (4)

A story that’s gotten lost during the first half of this year’s World Tag League is that the LIJ team got off to a pretty slow start. Fortunately, they finally got some momentum going, and picked up their second straight victory here. Interesting enough, their two victories thus far have come against the two Bullet Club teams in the A Block. This was a solid match as a whole, but I wouldn’t say it was any better than the CHAOS vs. TenKoji bout from earlier. While it didn’t feature a ton of excitement, it did have a few things that the other tournament matches on this card lacked. After a decent exchange in the opening minutes, SANADA got his legs tied up in the turnbuckle, and Adam Page nailed one of his knees with a chair shot while Yujiro had Red Shoes distracted. The Bullet Club then spent time working over SANADA’s knee, but ultimately, LIJ managed to mount a comeback, and scored the win. The fact that this match featured some sort of story was good to see. Plus, the crowd appeared to be invested, so that helped as well. A perfectly fine but forgettable contest. ***

Final Thoughts

The weaknesses of the A Block were more prominent than ever on this show, which was one of the worst of the tournament thus far. There were two matches that (for me, at least) just barely cracked the *** threshold, but this card just isn’t worth watching. The fact that it featured the worst bout of the tournament thus far should be enough to convince you that this show isn’t worth your time.

Here are the updated standings in the A Block following Night 9:

While there’s currently a clear leader (Death Juice) and a clear last place team (Nagata & Nakanishi), the rest of the A Block is one big logjam at 4 Points. It’s still very much wide open, but based on how league tournaments in New Japan over the last several years have played out, the early leader doesn’t usually end up winning the block. That’s not a good sign for Death Juice. I would keep an eye on EVIL & SANADA, as a slow start could be an indicator of a team that will certainly be in contention to win the block on the final night, should they win out. The bottom line is that, aside from Nagata & Nakanishi, any of the other seven teams can still feasibly win the A Block.

NJPW World Tag League 2017: Night 8 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 8
November 26th, 2017
Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Jeff Cobb & “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin (4) def. David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura (0)

This was the first B Block contest on this card, and as a whole, it was solid, yet relatively standard. Finlay got in some early offense on Cobb, but for the most part, the team of Cobb & Elgin were in control. There were a few points where they got to show off their power, including a spot where they traded Finlay off a couple of times in a vertical suplex. Kitamura did get in a flurry of offense towards the end, but this wasn’t one of his better outings. At one point during the bout, there was a very awkward spot where Kitamura attempted to lift Elgin up in a Military Press, but dropped him. Thankfully, Elgin was able to adjust himself so he didn’t land on his head (that could’ve been a lot worse). In the end, Cobb picked up the win for his team after hitting Tour Of The Islands on Kitamura. A perfectly fine match, but not that memorable. **3/4

Best Friends (4) def. Togi Makabe & Henare (0)

In a result that shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, Beretta & Chucky T defeated Togi Makabe & Henare, moving to 2-1 in the process. This was a pretty solid match overall. Henare got a good chance to shine here, as he first took out Best Friends with a series of shoulder blocks before his previously injured ankle/foot came back to haunt him. From that point, he spent most of the bout selling as Best Friends worked over that injured limb. Makabe eventually got the hot tag and managed to hit some of his signature spots before Henare tagged back in. He showed a lot of fight in the closing stages, surviving a double chokeslam before later kicking out of a piledriver from Chucky T. Despite showing some great fighting spirit, Henare ultimately got pinned after he got hit with the Strong Zero (with Chucky T doing the double stomp this time instead of Rocky Romero). Again, this was relatively good. I would say it was a step up from the bout that came before it. ***

The Killer Elite Squad (6) def. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (2)

Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. became the first team in the tournament to reach 6 Points and a 3-0 record after picking up the win here over the CHAOS duo of Ishii & Yano. This was easily one of the best matches of the tournament thus far. Of course, we did get some of the usual Yano shenanigans, but it was Ishii’s performance that really lifted this one up, in my eyes. He did an excellent job here in his role as the underdog babyface. KES beat him down for a number of minutes before eventually making the hot tag to Yano. When Ishii became the legal man once again, the match picked up a lot from there. The crowd really got behind the “Stone Pitbull” as he gave it everything he had against KES. Every time Ishii would kick out of a big double team, the crowd’s reaction got louder and louder. I feel like some people (myself included) mainly see Ishii as the one who’s usually the aggressor, or even a bully in some instances (as seen in some of his G1 matches over the years), but this was a perfect example of how he can be an awesome underdog. He had the crowd in the palm of his hands as he fought back time and time again, but ultimately, it just wasn’t enough. KES finally nailed Ishii with the Killer Bomb, and there was no kicking out from that. Again, this was definitely one of the best bouts in the tournament up to this point. If you’re a big Ishii fan, you’re going to love his performance here. ***3/4

The Guerrillas of Destiny (4) def. War Machine (4)

If there’s any matchup in the New Japan heavyweight tag team division that’s been done to death over the last year, it’s been this one. These two teams have faced each other numerous times since they first clashed in last year’s World Tag League. Despite that, however, they always seem to have solidly good bouts every single time they meet (in a two-on-two situation, at least). They never blow you away, but yet they’re never really subpar. For the most part, I would say that this particular encounter fits right in with those other matches. It wasn’t spectacular by any means, but aside from a slow start, it was pretty good. There were plenty of solid exchanges throughout, and the crowd seemed to get more into it as things progressed. I do have a few minor complaints about this one, however. Towards the end, War Machine hit Tama Tonga with Fallout, and he managed to kick out on his own. I don’t necessarily mind the idea of having someone kick out of a tag team’s finishing move, but that’s something that should be saved for a bigger match. Don’t do it on some random night of the World Tag League. Something else that hurt this bout was the actual finish. Tama Tonga won the match for his team after he got Ray Rowe to pass out in his new submission finisher. It was hard to tell from the single camera vantage point, but it looked like Tama Tonga used a variation of Matt Riddle’s “Bromission” (I think it’s better known as “The Twister” in MMA). There’s nothing wrong with debuting a new finisher, but in this instance, it came off really flat. I’m sure it can get more over if Tama Tonga uses it more consistently, thus establishing it as an actual finisher, but until that point, it’s going to come off as a very underwhelming way to end a match. Even if it didn’t come off that well, the submission still got the desired result, as G.O.D. got their second win of the tournament. ***1/4

I should note that the actual main event of this particular night of the tour (Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay) actually made tape, and is available to watch on NJPWWorld, along with the aforementioned tournament matches.

Final Thoughts

Night 8 was another solid showing from the B Block, proving once again that they’re without question the superior block in this year’s World Tag League. It featured one of the best matches in the tournament thus far in the form of The Killer Elite Squad vs. Ishii & Yano.

The rest of the bouts didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but again, they were all relatively decent, at the very least.

Here is how the standings look after Night 8:

A Block

Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan (2-1) – 4 Points
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (2-1) – 4 Points
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (2-1) – 4 Points
“The Hangman” Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi (2-1) – 4 Points
Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (1-2) – 2 Points
EVIL & SANADA (1-2) – 2 Points
Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (1-2) – 2 Points
Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (1-2) – 2 Points

B Block

The Killer Elite Squad (3-0) – 6 Points
War Machine (2-1) – 4 Points
Best Friends (2-1) – 4 Points
Jeff Cobb & “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin (2-1) – 4 Points
The Guerrillas of Destiny (2-1) – 4 Points
Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (1-2) – 2 Points
Togi Makabe & Henare (0-3) – 0 Points
David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura (0-3) – 0 Points

NJPW World Tag League 2017 Night 7 Results & Review

Author : atrich92

NOVEMBER 25, 2017

Watch: NJPW World


After some initial heel team vs. heel team shenanigans (The illegal Fale pulled on EVIL’s ponytail from the Bullet Club corner while the illegal SANADA did the same to Owens’ ponytail from the LIJ corner), this settled into the Bullet Club boys acting as the true heels of the match while LIJ became the defacto babyfaces. EVIL got worked over to build up the hot tag to SANADA. After some quick-fire SANADA action and a few cool combos, EVIL & SANADA put away Owens with the Magic Killer.

I like how each LIJ tag combo now has it’s own distinct finisher; EVIL & SANADA have the Magic Killer, BUSHI & Hiromu have Insurgentes, Naito & EVIL have Out of Control. Makes you wonder what a Naito/SANADA tag finisher would be. (Side note: There was a moment during the match that made me chuckle. EVIL did his move where he caught Fale’s leg, tossed it to the referee, and then he kicked Fale. But Fale’s leg is so big that the referee almost fell over!) This was perfectly average, nothing to cheer over but nothing to jeer either. Welcome to World Tag League, folks. **1/2


I like Sami Callihan in New Japan. He just brings a different energy to the proceedings. You don’t often see a man who looks (and let’s face it, probably smells) like a truck stop speed freak bouncing around a New Japan ring, so it’s pretty neat to see a guy like Callihan in this environment interacting with guys like Kojima and Tenzan.

Safe to say I can cross Sami Callihan kissing Satoshi Kojima on the mouth off my 2017 wishlist.

In any event, I thought this was a fun, hard-worked match between all four guys. Juice and Sami, while not outright heels, came off like hungry youngsters trying to stake their claim in the world, while Ten-Koji came off like their usual selves: Veterans of the game, a lot of city miles on their meters (especially Tenzan), but still having enough gumption and heart to take the fight to their younger opponents and make the match interesting. Kojima pinned Callihan with the Koji Lariat. You shouldn’t expect a blow-away match here, but this is easily my favorite match of the night. ***

Meanwhile on Twitter:

I fought with callihan for the first time.

He is a wonderful fighter.

However, when he kissed me, I was upset.

There are many mysteries in the world of wrestling.

— 小島 聡【SATOSHI KOJIMA】 (@cozy_lariat) November 25, 2017

Meanwhile backstage:


In his Night 5 review, Rich Kraetsch mentioned that the average age of the Ten-Koji vs. Nagata & Nakanishi (a.k.a. Muscle Justice a.k.a. Seize the Justice a.k.a. a billion other potentially cool names) was 48. Well sorry Rich, but I’ve got you beat. The average age of this match is 50! And boy oh boy does it show.

This match went exactly as you would expect given the participants involved. The slow pace of Manabu Nakanishi? Check. The crowd brawling of Minoru Suzuki? Check. The biting offense (literally) of Takashi Iizuka? Check. The saving grace of Yuji Nagata? Check. The only time I perked up during this match was when Nagata and Suzuki were in the ring together near the end. But even then it wasn’t anything special. Nagata ultimately kept Iizuka down for the three count with his Backdrop Hold. Go home, nothing to see here. *1/2


To me, this match mirrors the first one: Everything is A-OK, but nothing stands out to me. I like all four guys in it to varying degrees. Goto & YOSHI-HASHI are one of the three workhorse teams of A Block (along with EVIL & SANADA and Death Juice) and they’re always ready to put in a good performance. Hangman Page is a guy who I’m not over-the-moon about, but I think he’s solid. And I’ve softened up a lot towards Yujiro. He’s fine. They’re all at minimum fine. But ultimately I am not going to remember this match because it was just a match. I mean, what else is there to say, really? Watch it if you want. If you don’t want to watch it, you’re not missing anything. Page pinned YOSHI-HASHI with the Rite of Passage. **1/2


Well I can’t say this is a bad show (I don’t even think you can call it a show because it’s only four matches a-la-carte), but it is definitely a skippable one. Death Juice vs. Ten-Koji is good, everything else is average or worse. And the beat goes on and the beat goes on and the beat goes on…


A Block

Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (2-1) – 4 points

Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi (2-1) – 4 points

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (2-1) – 4 points

Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan (2-1) – 4 points

EVIL & SANADA (1-2) – 2 points

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (1-2) – 2 points

Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata (1-2) – 2 points

Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (1-2) – 2 points

B Block

Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer (2-0) – 4 points

Hanson & Raymond Rowe (2-0) – 4 points

Chuckie T. & Beretta (1-1) – 2 points

Jeff Cobb & Michael Elgin (1-1) – 2 points

Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (1-1) – 2 points

Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (1-1) – 2 points

David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura (0-2) – 0 points

Henare & Togi Makabe (0-2) – 0 points

NJPW World Tag League 2017 Night 6 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 6
November 24th, 2017
Yonago Convention Center Big Ship
Yonago, Tottori, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (2) def. David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura (0)

Both teams came into this one looking for their first win in the tournament, and to nobody’s surprise, the CHAOS team of Ishii & Yano picked up the victory. With a young lion on the other side, the result was a foregone conclusion, but the match itself was still relatively solid. Finlay & Kitamura got the early advantage when they attacked for the bell, but CHAOS quickly took control after the ensuing brawl. This bout had some good back and forth action throughout, while also serving as a fine showcase for Kitamura. He got to hit Ishii with some his hard chops, no sold being thrown into the exposed turnbuckle by Yano, and even managed to lift Ishii up for a military press!! It’s pretty obvious that this guy has a bright future in New Japan, but right now, he’s still a young lion, which meant that he took the fall after a brainbuster from Ishii. ***

The Guerrillas of Destiny (2) def. Togi Makabe & Henare (0)

This was pretty much a carbon copy of the previous bout, in terms of the situation. Both teams were 0-1 coming in (as each side lost their first tournament match), and a young lion was on one of the two teams. Once again, the result of this one was never in question, but it was also a perfectly fine match for what it was. Henare got the advantage early, and actually dominated Tama Tonga in the first thirty seconds or so of the bout, but G.O.D. soon regained control. The action throughout was solid, and they seemed to wrestle with a sense of urgency, which certainly added to the match. While this wasn’t quite as strong as the showcase that Kitamura got earlier, Henare looked good here. It’ll be interesting to see where he’s positioned, compared to the other young lions, once the tournament ends. Despite his best efforts, much like Kitamura earlier, Henare ultimately got pinned after getting hit with a Samoan Driver from Tanga Loa. This was by no means spectacular, but much like the first tournament bout on this card, it was pretty solid. ***

Shop VoicesofWrestling.com/Amazon

War Machine (4) def. Best Friends (2)

While the first two tournament bouts on this card featured teams who lost in their first B Block outing, these last two bouts feature teams who won in their first B Block outing. On paper, this particular encounter had the potential to be one of the best in the tournament thus far, and when the dust settled, it definitely was. This was a really good match from start to finish. Since both teams are great, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. It did get off to a slow start (at least, in my view), but the action throughout the rest of the bout certainly made up for it. Even in a smaller setting like this, they still put forth a ton of effort, and the crowd was definitely into it during that second half. War Machine got the win (and looked strong in doing so) to move to 2-0, but Best Friends still looked good, even in defeat. ***3/4

The Killer Elite Squad (4) def. Jeff Cobb & “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin (2)

Here we had another match that had a ton of potential going into it, but unlike the previous contest, this one didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It was definitely a good match, but considering who was involved, I was expecting a little bit better. There was plenty of back and forth action throughout, and there was nothing wrong with the bout when it came to the actual wrestling. It just felt like the match was missing something, and thus, it never really got to that next level. Perhaps it was the slow start that featured Davey Boy Smith Jr. (who’s incorporated more submissions into his arsenal) grappling with Jeff Cobb which contributed to how I perceived the match, but that’s just a guess on my part. Speaking of Cobb, seeing him play the “babyface in peril” role for a decent chunk of this bout was so strange. He eventually made the tag to Elgin, and there was more action in the second half, but again, it just never got up to that next gear. Thankfully, the crowd seemed to be into it, for the most part. In the end, Cobb got pinned after KES hit the Killer Bomb out of nowhere. Perhaps if this was worked more like a sprint, it could’ve been a better match overall. ***1/4

Final Thoughts

NJPW World Tag League 2017 Night 6 was one of the best nights of the tournament thus far. Nothing on this show was bad, and for the most part, all four B Block bouts were relatively easy to watch. If you only have time to watch one match from this event, definitely check out Best Friends vs. War Machine. Even though the other tournament bouts on this card didn’t set the world on fire, it’s further proof that the B Block is clearly the superior block in this year’s tournament.

Finally, here’s a quick update on the block standings, after Night 6:

A Block

B Block

NJPW World Tag League 2017 Night 5 Results & Review

Author : richkraetsch

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017
November 23, 2017
Kobe Sanbo Hall

Watch: NJPW World

My apologies for the slight delay on this review. The Thanksgiving holiday had us distracted and while I would have loved to gather the family around to watch some hot, single hard-cam, no commentary A Block World Tag League, it just wasn’t in the cards.

Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (4) def. Yujiro Takahashi & Hangman Page (2)

Intra-Bullet Club World Tag League matches have long been a throne in the side of World Tag League viewers. Once a very interesting matchup between devoted stablemates, they’ve become passe in recent years as the stable continues to bloat. While often creative, they lack any disernable heat or intrigue. The story of this particular BC vs. BC match was both teams trying to prevent Bad Luck Fale from doing anything and instead relying on Chase Owens and Hangman Page’s ground game and mat wrestling to determine which team was the best. Each time Bad Luck Fale tried to slam, chop or really do anything, members from both teams ran to stop him. Fale continued to teach Bad Luck Falls throughout the match but would get cut off each time. The finish saw Yujiro attempting to “Too Sweet” Fale which gave Owens the opening to roll him up in a schoolboy. I promise you’ll find better ways to spend 12 minutes today. *1/2

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (2) def. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (0)

Yer da and his pals had a few too many at the pub, started arguing about the ol’ drag racing days drag racing and decided to settle it at Kobe Sanbo Hall.

The average age of this match was 48 with the always, spry youngster Hiroyoshi Tenzan being the youngest at a mere 46-years-old. Despite the ancient participants, the match was a lot of fun with everyone working at a quicker pace than you’d expect. Not everything looked crisp or well-timed but there was clearly a ton of effort from all four men. You even got a Nakanishi crossbody so you know he had his working boots on.

To further emphasis just how important this match was to the participants we had a kickout at one spot (I shit you not) when Nakanishi bounced (well, slowly worked his way back up with some help from the ropes) up at one after a Kojima delayed suplex. Sick of these lads getting back up Kojima tossed his elbow pad to the crowd and hit Strongest Lariats on both Nagata and Nakanishi to secure the first points of the tournament for TenKoji. **1/2

Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (2) def. EVIL & SANDADA (0)

This wasn’t very good and certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that half the match was wrestled amongst the crowd. Normally impossible to see on shows with decent cameras, this is a single hard-cam show so while they panned to where the action was, the famous “Can’t See Shit” chant was necessary. If you had a big enough TV you may have been able to see the action through the cell phone videos being taken by the crowd. I’m guessing even if you saw everything it wasn’t much either. The finish, ugh, came when Suzuki-gun’s El Desperado marched to ringside with a chair in hand. This distracted Red Shoes (our referee) long enough for Iizuka to get his Iron Claw on, slide into the ring and hit EVIL with the claw. Once staggered, Suzuki pounced finishing off EVIL with the Gotch-Style Piledriver. **

Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan (4) def. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (2)

Sami has a real presence about him in NJPW. Having seen a lot of his matches live over the last two years, I wasn’t sure how well it would translate but the fans seemed to have taken to him. It also helps when you throw a chair into the ring to start off your entrance. What’s also stunning to see is how much of a babyface Sami has been thus far. He spent the first half of the match trying to get the crowd to chant for Juice complete with the uber-babyface tropes including slapping the turnbuckle and stomping his feet. It’s definitely jarring.

This was fine but once again and was the only match to truly feel like it had any importance. Death Juice (awesome name, by the way) worked their ass off and YOSHI-HASHI and Hirooki Goto are so good that they can make even the mundane look great. This was a five-star affair compared to the rest of the night but still wasn’t a lot to write home about. Death Juice picked up the win and continue to look like the A Blocks dominant team early on. ***

Final Thoughts: 

There’s a reason so many people use World Tag League as a NJPW vacation and nights like this are why. I appreciated the effort from the NJPW dads as well as Sami/Juice but this was a bland, boring show with very little to offer.

NJPW World Tag League 2017 Night 4 Results & Review

Author : tamaimbo

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 4
November 21, 2017
Aimesse Yamanashi
Kofu, Yamanashi, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Killer Elite Squad (2) defeats David Finlay and Katsuya Kitamura (0)

The team of Finlay and Kitamura has to be one of the most interesting teams in this year’s World Tag League. They probably won’t have very much success in the ring, but it is clear that New Japan has big plans for Kitamura and this appears to be the first step in taking him out of his comfort zone and into some bigger scenarios. He’s shown loads of charisma and potential, and hopefully a run in the Tag League will help boost his in-ring credentials as well. On the other end, what is there to say about David Finlay? He’s immensely talented, but as an excursionless ex-Young Lion, he feels stuck in neutral and I’m not sure where the future lies for him. Here’s to hoping that striking out on his own with Kitamura will bring about some kind of change for him.

Tonight, the young team had a tall task in the current IWGP Heavyweight Tag champions, Killer Elite Squad. And when I say tall, I mean it literally. Kitamura, who usually looks humongous next to his Young Lion compatriots, was dwarfed by both Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr. It’s sometimes easy to forget just how big KES is, but like Billy Gunn in last year’s World Tag League, they tower over most of the wrestlers in New Japan.

As for the match, it was a typical World Tag League match. Kitamura started for his team and was quickly isolated as Archer and Smith took turns beating on the Young Lion. At times, they even had some fun with it, as Archer ran towards the apron as if he was going to knock David Finlay off before changing his mind at the last minute. Ever the gentleman, Finlay jumped off the apron anyways. With a pretty quiet crowd, it didn’t amount to much and even Kitamura’s tag to Finlay couldn’t really get them going. It wasn’t until Kitamura tagged back in that the match picked up. Kitamura entered and started trading moves with both Archer and Smith, including impressively gorilla pressing Archer over his head. But, Kitamura’s advantage was to be short lived as the numbers game caught up to him and he was pinned by Smith after a Killer Bomb. Standard stuff. ** ¾

War Machine (2) def. Togi Makabe and Henare (0)

It’s been a great year for War Machine. They debuted at last year’s World Tag League as one of the few teams that seemed to give their max effort night in and night out. They won over not only the Japanese fans, but fans all over the world, and they spent the year tearing down the house all over the place. Now an established team in New Japan, I’m interested to see how their second tournament goes.

Henare also returns to the World Tag League after teaming with Manabu Nakanishi last year, and it has been an interesting 365 days for the youngster. Last year, Henare seemed like a good young talent with some bit of potential, but tagging with Nakanishi often left him stuck in a role as Nakanishi Jr. instead of using the Tag League to work on creating his own style. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury early in 2017 and while he was out, the Young Lions blossomed. He now returns to an entirely new landscape, and it’s not exactly clear where he fits in. In some ways, it’s like he’s starting over again.

This year, instead of Nakanishi, he’s tagging with Togi Makabe. Makabe has been a man adrift ever since the unfortunate and scary injury to Tomoaki Honma, and both Makabe and Henare seem to enter this year’s tournament with no clear sense of direction. I only hope that a fresh tag partner will help Henare get back on track. If this match is any indication, that may be an uphill climb.

Even by lowered World Tag League standards, I found this match to be underwhelming. War Machine gave a great effort, but the basic style of Henare and Makabe never meshed with the exciting, risk-taking style of War Machine. At times, it even felt like an exhibition for War Machine, as Henare and Makabe stood in as test dummies for a display of War Machine’s wide variety of maneuvers. And with the match lasting less than 10 minutes, it was tough to expand outside of the usual beatdown-hot tag-breakdown-pin format. Add in a quiet crowd, and it just didn’t add up. **

Final Thoughts:

It’s the World Tag League! If you’ve seen one, you know what to expect. The first few days of the tournament have each seemed to carry a theme, and tonight’s theme was the Young Lions against established tag teams. There’s nothing to go out of your way to see on this show, but if you are a Katsuya Kitamura fan (like I am), check out his match with Killer Elite Squad.

NJPW World Tag League 2017: Night 3 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 3
November 20, 2017
Tokorozawa Citizen Gymnasium Main Arena
Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

“The Hangman” Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi (2) def. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (0)

I went into this fully expecting a pretty average match, considering who was involved, and well, that’s close to what we got here. This particular duo from The Bullet Club spent most of the bout isolating Nakanishi, which eventually built towards a hot tag to Nagata. Despite their best efforts, however, this pairing of the New Japan Dads fell short after Yujiro pinned Nakanishi with a DDT.

The main highlight of this one, however, has to go down as one of the most hilarious spots of the entire year. During the first half of the bout, Yujio attempted a sunset flip on Nakanishi, but the veteran blocked it, so what does Adam Page do? He gets in the ring, grabs Yujiro by the legs, and catapulted him, face first, straight into Nakanishi’s crotch for a low blow. Yes, you read that right. Adam Page actually thrusted Yujiro’s face straight into Nakanishi’s junk. I honestly couldn’t believe that spot actually happened a first, but it did. Let’s just say I don’t envy Yujiro in the slightest.

While the match itself was very standard (aside from the ridiculous spot I just mentioned that probably sparked some new ideas for those involved with making “customs”), the fans were firmly behind the team of Nagata & Nakanishi, so hearing an invested crowd was much better than hearing a quiet one. **1/4

Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (2) def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (0)

What’s better than one Bullet Club vs. New Japan Dads tag team match on a World Tag League card? Two of them! Yes, it seemed that there was a theme with this particular night of the tour, as the second tournament match on Night 3 featured the Bullet Club pairing of Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens going up against TenKoji. I was also expecting this one to be average, at best, but to my surprise, this was actually pretty solid. A big reason for that was the crowd. They really got behind TenKoji here, and were generally active throughout the entire match. Once again, this is a great example (an even better example than the first tournament bout on this card) of a crowd adding a bit of energy to what otherwise would’ve been an run-of-the-mill tag team encounter.

During the early stages, The Bullet Club was firmly in control. In particular, Chase Owens did a fine job in his role, as he always seems to work well with Tenzan & Kojima whenever they’re on opposite sides in a tag team situation. Things picked up once TenKoji made their comeback, with Tenzan & Kojima hitting some of their signature moves, both individually and together. Kojima had some decent exchanges with Fale in the closing stages, before he eventually got hit with a Bad Luck Fall (which nobody kicks out of) for the pin. Again, this was surprisingly good match that was lifted up by an energetic crowd and a strong second half. ***

Final Thoughts

While this was a big night for The Bullet Club in terms of match results, this event perfectly exemplified the issues surrounding the A Block in this year’s World Tag League. It’s filled with a ton of relatively weak teams that aren’t going to produce a ton of exciting matches. You have a few good teams, but it’s definitely the weaker of the two blocks.

Thankfully, this particular show had a crowd that was a little more energetic, which helped to lift both of the tournament bouts on this card. You don’t really need to seek out Night 3, unless you a big TenKoji fan that wants to see all of their matches.

NJPW World Tag League 2017: Night 2 Results & Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 2
November 19th, 2017
New Sunpia Takasaki – Takasaki, Gunma, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

World Tag League Block B Match
Beretta & Chuckie T (2) Def. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (0)

Chuckie T/Chucky T/Chuck Taylor/DUSTIN/whatever his name is this week was a lot more over on this show than he was at Korakuen the night before. People were confused by him as they are apt to be any time a new wrestler comes in, but it seemed he made a better impression on these fans here as he was given more shine. If I were New Japan I would sign him to a contract if he delivers on this tour and make him and Trent a regular team on the roster, which is in desperate need of more heavyweight teams. Trent is not a guy I could see being given a singles push anyway so it would probably be best for the both of them, Taylor not having work in many other places to begin with.

Tonga and Loa targeted Trent as a way of welcoming him to the heavyweight division and so Taylor ended up doing a lot of the work for the team. Not much out of the ordinary when it comes to G.O.D, lots heel antics and some crowd brawling with the babyfaces eventually coming out on top. Solid match, one I would have liked to see in a bigger building with all four on top of their game. Expect that most matches on this tour will be similar. ***1/4

World Tag League Block B Match
Jeff Cobb & Michael Elgin (2) Def. Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii (0)

Cobb is earning himself a contract. No way this man walks away from this World Tag League without a New Japan contract and a future singles push. He is way too over and has way too much potential to not be a guy they lock up. Was his performance here as good as his performance in Korakuen? No. Will he have much better performances as the tour progresses? Absolutely, but it was clear from watching this and watching his previous performance that this guy is made for New Japan. He conducts himself like a New Japan wrestler, he looks like a New Japan wrestler, he works the New Japan heavyweight style; he belongs in this company and I cannot wait to see his matches with the likes of War Machine and KES later on.

Yano thankfully stayed out of the way as much as possible. He had his moments but it was mostly Ishii in there with Cobb and Elgin, and interestingly, he was the one who took the pin. While it could have just been something they did to put Elgin over, you do have to question what it means for him, especially if this continues. Personally, I thought Ishii would be challenging Suzuki at the Dome, and if that is the case then Yano needs to be the one taking these falls. Regardless, this was a good match. About as good as you can get on these smaller house shows. ***1/2

Final Thoughts:

Two solid matches, though nothing you need to see. Everyone was taking it easy being that this was really a nothing show, and who could blame them. As always, you can safely skip these house shows and just watch the Korakuens as the Tag League tour is rarely anything special.

NJPW World Tag League 2017: Night 1 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 1
November 18th, 2017
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan

In a really cool move, New Japan streamed this first night of the World Tag League for FREE on their YouTube channel. As I type this, the event in its entirety is still up on their channel, so if you want to see a New Japan event for free, be sure to check this show out.

Hirai Kawato & Shota Umino def. Tetsuhiro Yagi & Ren Narita

Nothing like a fun tag team match with the young lions to open up the tour in Korakuen Hall! Right from the start, it seemed like Kawata was in no mood to play around, as he shoved Yagi & Narita before the bell rang. As for the bout itself, it was a perfectly solid opener with the young lions. If there’s one big takeaway from this one, it’s that Kawato is being allowed to show off more offense beyond the traditional young lion move-set template. Of course, he’s already established the springboard dropkick as a signature maneuver, but now he appears to have his first finisher in the form of a spinning kick to the back of the head, which he used to pick up the win here. I’m not sure if he’s used that before, but it’s cool to see that he now has an established finishing move. It’ll certainly add more drama to his matches, particularly when it comes to the ongoing Young Lions Cup. ***

The Bullet Club (The Guerrillas of Destiny & Leo Tonga) def. War Machine & Tomoyuki Oka

Oka came out wearing War Machine style face paint, which was pretty cool. For the most part, this was a fun six-man tag. The first portion of the match mostly featured Leo Tonga vs. Oka while War Machine brawled with G.O.D. on the floor. While it’s blatantly obvious that Leo Tonga still has a long way to go, he’s slowly improving. It seemed like he had a little more confidence here (at least, compared to the last time I saw him), and appeared to be comfortable in his role as a heel. The only way he’s going to get better is by gaining as much experience in the ring as he can, and based on his performance here, he’s certainly gotten better compared to when he first started. As for the rest of the match, things really picked up once Oka made the hot tag to Ray Rowe. Hanson hit his repeated clotheslines to a huge reaction from the crowd, while Rowe gave both Oka and Hanson a bodyslam onto Tanga Loa. While Oka had a solid showing here, he ultimately ate the pin after getting hit with a Samoan Driver from Tanga Loa. Again, this was perfectly fine for what it was. ***

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, & Best Friends) def. “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin, Jeff Cobb, David Finlay, & Katsuya Kitamura

This was the New Japan debut for both Jeff Cobb & Chucky T. From start to finish, this was a very entertaining eight-man tag. Things kicked off with a surprisingly fun exchange between Elgin & Yano (I say it was “surprisingly fun” because their bout in G1 Climax this year was awful), and in general, this match featured solid action throughout. However, the big story here is that New Japan did a great job establishing Jeff Cobb & Chucky T right out of the gate. With Cobb, he got a hot tag from David Finlay and immediately showed off his power as a threw everyone on the opposing team around with an impressive array of suplexes and slams. Cobb then had a good exchange with Ishii (wouldn’t that be an awesome match to see in the 2018 G1 Climax?) where he further displayed his power along with his athleticism. He immediately won over the crowd in Korakuen Hall, which was awesome to see. In a way, his debut in New Japan was very similar to Michael Elgin’s debut in the 2015 G1 Climax (he was in the B Block that year, so his first actual match on the tour was a multi-man tag like this). As for Chucky T, I don’t think he got as over as Cobb did, but he did manage to pick up the win for CHAOS after hitting a nasty Awful Waffle on Kitamura, who was motionless on the mat for a good minute or so after the pin. This eight-man tag was a ton of fun to watch, and from a booking standpoint, it accomplished its goal of establishing two new talents right out of the gate. ***1/4

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata, & Manabu Nakanishi def. The Bullet Club (“The Hangman” Adam Page, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, & Yujiro Takahashi)

I honestly can’t remember the last time that all four of the “New Japan Dads” teamed up together in one match. Regardless, they’ve united once again to take on this Bullet Club contingent led by Bad Luck Fale. It’s safe to say that this was the weakest bout on the show, up to this point. It was still a fine bout, all things considered, but it certainly wasn’t better than the three matches that preceded it. Nakanishi got isolated by The Bullet Club until Nagata, and later Kojima, managed to mount comebacks. Chase Owens had been mocking TenKoji throughout the match, first stealing Tenzan’s mongolian chops, and later stealing Kojima’s machine gun chops. Of course, it only makes sense that Owens got his comeuppance in the end. After getting hit with the TenKoji Cutter, Owens got pinned following a lariat from Kojima. An average contest as a whole, but totally fine considering who was involved. **1/2

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, & Henare def. Suzuki-gun (The Killer Elite Squad & El Desperado)

Henare is making his return to New Japan competition after suffering a bad achilles injury back in February. Meanwhile, it looked like Tanahashi was wearing biker gloves….for some reason. Anyway, this six-man tag was about on par with the eight man tag that came before it, in terms of match quality. Henare got a few moments to shine early, but then got picked apart by Davey Boy Smith Jr., who went after the leg that had the aforementioned achilles injury. Makabe made a comeback after getting the hot tag, hitting his signature spots, before Tanahashi came in towards the end. He took out El Desperado (with an assist from Henare), and hit the High Fly Flow to score the win for his team. A pretty standard match, but it was nice to see Henare back in action. Unfortunately for him, that taped up leg will likely be a big target for the others team in their block, when it comes to the tournament matches. **1/2

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, & Hiromu Takahashi) def. CHAOS (“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, & Gedo)

The final non-tournament bout on this show featured yet another chapter in the feud between CHAOS & LIJ. We’ve seen variations of this match, whether it be in six-man, eight-man, or ten-man tags, so many times over the last two years (to the point where some might say it’s been done to death), but they almost always deliver. This was another perfect example of that. It wasn’t spectacular by any means, but it was very solid from beginning to end. We did get some interactions between Okada & Naito (both at the start of the match and towards the end) ahead of their big title bout at Wrestle Kingdom 12. Will Ospreay was the highlight of this six-man tag, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, as he always seems to put forth more effort into these multi-man tag than he really needs to. Ospreay had some cool exchanges with Hiromu, but in the end, BUSHI would get the win for LIJ after hitting the MX on Gedo (who sold it like he had just gotten hit with a Stone Cold Stunner). Afterwards, Naito attacked Okada with his Tokyo Dome Briefcase before spitting on, and rubbing his boot in, the face of the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. I’m sure we’ll be getting more clashes between CHAOS & LIJ (and these two specifically) in multi-man tags throughout this tour. ***1/4

CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) def. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka)

Why does New Japan still book Takashi Iizuka in 2017? I honestly don’t get it. You have so many talented performers that work for your company, and yet you still book this weirdo. Even though I dislike Iizuka in general, I must admit that he was fine is match which, as a whole, was pretty decent. I wasn’t looking forward to it going into this first night of the tournament, but there was solid stuff scattered throughout this one. Of course, we got a ton of brawling in the crowd at the start (pretty standard when it comes to Suzuki-gun). From there, the CHAOS duo was forced to fight from underneath, and they eventually managed to mount a comeback. Both teams played their respective roles well, and in particular, I enjoyed the Goto/YOSHI-HASHI pairing. Obviously I would’ve preferred Goto/Ishii, but it is what it is. Going into this year’s World Tag League, the Goto/YOSHI-HASHI team was one that I thought would go pretty far, maybe even win the whole thing. Neither guy has anything pegged for Wrestle Kingdom 12 at the moment, but if the result of this match is any indication, that might not be the case. Goto won the match for his team when he pinned Suzuki (the NEVER Openweight Champion) clean in the middle with the GTR.

This would seem to indicate that Goto will get another title shot at Suzuki, probably at the Tokyo Dome. While it should be a good match in theory, I’m not too excited to see it. Goto lost twice to Suzuki last summer in NEVER Openweight Title bouts (both of those involved a ton of interference, but they were losses for Goto nonetheless), and I get that he beat Suzuki here, but do we really need Goto/Suzuki AGAIN?? I guess this could be Suzuki getting his comeuppance at the hands of the man that was screwed by him twice before, but the prospect of that match just doesn’t excite me, especially if it’s another stipulation match with more Suzuki-gun interference. Speaking of which, the lack of those shenanigans was actually a nice change of pace in this tag team match. Again, a fine match as a whole. ***

Death Juice (Sami Callihan & Juice Robinson) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)

If you told me on January 1st, 2017 that, before the end of the year, Sami Callihan would be main eventing a New Japan show in Korakuen Hall, I would’ve called you crazy. Well, here we are, right before Thanksgiving, and Sami Callihan is indeed in the main event of a New Japan show in Korakuen Hall. What’s fascinating about Death Juice (yes, that is indeed their team name) is that these two actually had a brief mini-feud against each other in NXT before both left the company. I was curious to see how well they would work together, especially against an experienced team like EVIL & SANADA. In the end, in what some might call an upset, Death Juice managed to pick up the victory over the LIJ duo. From start to finish, this was a really good match (easily the best of the night) which featured plenty of action throughout. As we saw in the G1 Climax, Juice Robinson has strong chemistry with EVIL as well as SANADA, so in that regard, the quality of the bout wasn’t a total surprise.

Of course, everyone was wondering how Sami Callihan would do in New Japan, and on his first night in, he seemed to do pretty well. I don’t think he got as over with the fans in Korakuen Hall as Jeff Cobb did earlier in the night, but Callihan definitely worked hard, and by the end of the match, the fans seemed to be into him. We’ll see how he does on the rest of the tour, but he seemed to make a good first impression here. Robinson would ultimately get the win for his team after hitting EVIL with Pulp Friction. Again, this was a really fun main event, and I’ll be curious to see how well this Death Juice team does on the rest of the tour, both in terms of match quality and in the overall standings. ***3/4

Finals Thoughts

Despite only having two actual tournament matches, the opening night of the 2017 NJPW World Tag League was an entertaining show.

Death Juice vs. LIJ was easily the best of the two tournament bouts (and the match of the night), but the Goto/YOSHI-HASHI vs. Suzuki/Iizuka match was surprisingly solid, so in that regard, the World Tag League is off to a positive start. The middle portion of the card dragged a bit, but there were a number of fun matches throughout the rest of the undercard. It wasn’t the greatest New Japan show in the world, but it’s available to watch for FREE on YouTube via New Japan’s YouTube page, so there’s really no excuse to not check it out.

NJPW Power Struggle 2017 Results & Review

Author : jojoremy

NOVEMBER 5, 2017

Watch: NJPWWorld.com

New Japan Pro Wrestling wrapped up its entertaining fall tour with its last big Osaka show of the year. Expectations were high with the continuation of a world-renowned feud, a top-tier main event, and a mystery debut.


Throughout most of the Road to Power Struggle series, David Finlay appeared in the mid-card paired with Juice Robinson. However, tonight he found himself in the familiar spot of an opening singles match (although this was technically dark). Finlay is great at selling, he made Kitamura’s power offense look crisp.

Finlay’s high-velocity attack of European uppercuts and backbreakers looked great, as always. Commentary noted that Kitamura is borrowing from Nakanishi and Goldberg as he develops. Finlay won with the Prima Nocta in 5:32. There wasn’t much to this, but it was solid. The most noteworthy occurrence was the post-match curveball of the two apparently forming a World Tag League team. **¼


It’s been so long since the Young Bucks have appeared in New Japan, that I didn’t recognize their theme music. As you would expect, this was full of flips and dives. Titan was a highlight of the tour for me and didn’t disappoint here. This match did a great job of getting the crowd warmed up, thanks in part to Dragon Lee taking a nasty apron DDT, and Titan hitting an insanely high Quebrada. There wasn’t much meat to this, but it was very fun. The Bucks won in 7:18 with an Indytaker into a Sharpshooter/Crossface combo. **3/4


This was short, but it accomplished quite a bit. There was limited heel schtick from Suzuki-gun. There was a short, but awesome Juice/Zack exchange. Toward the end, Kawato flew in with a swan-dive missile kick and, as he did earlier in the tour, flew out with a beautiful tope con giro. KUSHIDA beat TAKA in 5:19 with the Hoverboard Lock. A feel good win for the babyfaces to close out the tour. **½


Tenzan spent a lot this match on defense, which was effective in keeping the crowd energy relatively high. Chase mimicking the babyfaces was the highlight here. Kojima beat Owens with a lariat at 8:11. **½


YOH and ACH are both bearing the scars of the tournament. YOH has his slap-blistered chest taped, while ACH has his ribs taped after he airballed a dive at Korakuen. After some opening comedy spots by Super 69, Roppongi 3K focused their attack on ACH’s taped ribs. Taguchi got the hot tag and hit three consecutive flying moves, including a corner dive over the floor cameraman.

SHO continues to implement new kicks into his offense, including a counter middle kick, and a cool new combo that was reversed by Taguchi. ACH’s multi-show selling on his ribs has been a pleasure to watch. He missed a huge frog splash, but fought back to target YOH’s taped chest with chops.

A dodon/firebird combo got a huge reaction, but was broken up by SHO. YOH continues to sprinkle in cool new offense, like an Asai DDT and John Woo. Roppongi hit a 3K on ACH to win at 15:51 and capture the tournament as current champions of the division.

As expected the Young Bucks emerged to challenge the champs afterwards. This was a great end to the tournament that built on the previous rounds, and further developed Roppongi 3K, establishing them as the current leaders of the division. They are still working on figuring our their in-ring personas, but are progressing with each match. ****


Well, Osaka still boos Naito. Also, Naito is not above spitting into the crowd. Everyone looked sharp here and we got a good amount of Okada/Naito interactions. There’s not much at stake in these matches anymore, but it’s pretty amazing that they are able to make all ten guys come out looking good. The important thing here is that the crowd stayed hot. Okada beat BUSHI with the Rainmaker at 12:07. ***

After the match, a video ran to announce New Japan’s return to the US. Strong Style Evolved will take place on March 25th, 2018 on the campus of Long Beach State University in the 5,000-seat basketball arena, the Walter Pyramid.


Minoru’s attack was ruthless as you would expect. Goto game out to get rid of the Suzuki-gun members at ringside, but interference still ended up playing a big role in this match with Iizuka and Taichi appearing towards the end. They teased an Iizuka face-turn, but that didn’t end up happening. Maybe I’m a grump, but I didn’t really enjoy this. The crowd seemed engaged, though, and that’s all that really matters. Minoru retained with a Gotch-style piledriver at 15:21. **½


I thought these two did a pretty forgettable job of building to this match through to the tour. Scurll briefly targeted Ospreay’s arm, but this was quickly abandoned. The pace of the match became more frantic with lots of big moves and reversals. Scurll and Ospreay have excellent timing and obviously know each other very well.

Ospreay did some amazingly athletic things in this match.  Scurll turned his attention back to the arm intermittently throughout the match and Ospreay’s selling was very good. Shockingly, Scurll won at 17:28 with a flash pin, Ospreay failing in his first defense. Overall, they worked really hard and the crowd was completely stunned by the finish. The match was very good, but it could have been more meaningful with a better build. ***½

KUSHIDA came out to challenge Scurll, but Ospreay stopped him. Hiromu came out well-prepared and protected to propose a 4-way for Wrestle Kingdom. I still hope we get that big Hiromu/Ospreay singles match at some point next year.


Coming off a few high-impact table spots on the outside, Kenny focused his attack on Trent’s back. This match had an excellent, yet simple dynamic. Trent played a great underdog and took a lot of damage from Kenny. Beretta’s top rope German had the crowd buzzing and the bump Kenny took on Trent’s knee was incredible.

登録&視聴▷https://t.co/mWOSKKO5do #njpst #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/CM6mm0yLZ1

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) November 5, 2017


Kenny unleashed a brutal offensive flurry: four dragon suplexes, a crazy high-speed powerbomb and three effective knees. Kenny tucked his head at the last split-second for a great Dudebuster near-fall. Beretta got another great near-fall with a crucifix, but a V-trigger and One-Winged Angel got Kenny the win. One of Trent’s best singles matches that I’ve seen and probably his best in New Japan. The crowd was into this, but it started to show signs of fatigue. ****¼

Kenny cut a great English/Japanese promo that was followed up by something even greater…

#NJPW #njpst https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/66nmHYQxh9

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) November 5, 2017


Chris Jericho now has two of the most memorable debuts in the history of wrestling. This was an incredible surprise and one of the coolest post-match moments in recent NJPW history. Rather than his long-time parter Kota Ibushi, Kenny Omega will face Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom. Beyond their upcoming Dome match, I’m excited to see what happens with Jericho in New Japan. We’ll get the Omega/Ibushi match eventually.


Ibushi went for his Golden Triangle moonsault, but Tanahashi had him scouted and hit a low dropkick to start his attack on Ibushi’s leg. Ibushi’s selling was great: pain, panic, frustration. Tanahashi confidently stalked his prey. Ibushi was also great at working the selling into his normal spots like the standing moonsault and kick combos.

wateRouge by home+ Presents POWER STRUGGLE!(11/5)を公開!
視聴▷https://t.co/EKVC0SXimF pic.twitter.com/YOhJggUZiH

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) November 5, 2017


Ibushi acknowledged their shared history with Nakamura by using the King of Strong Style’s corner knee, and trying for the same swan-dive German suplex that he used on Nakamura. Ibushi lawn-darted Tana into the corner pad and connected on the swandive German, but missed a Phoenix splash.

Like his bouts with Nakamura, Ibushi recklessly slapped, kicked and stomped his opponent. Tana fired back with equally intense palm strikes. Tanahashi got a near fall with a dragon suplex hold, then followed it up with two High Fly Flows for the win at 29:26. ****½

Tanahashi and Ibushi embraced after the battle before Tanahashi cut a promo and played some air guitar. A leather-clad “Switchblade” Jay White came out, post-confetti, to challenge Tanahashi to an IC title match at Wrestle Kingdom. Before he could accept, Tanahashi was attacked and laid out by the returning former young lion. A small detail, White hit Tana with one of his own strike combos. Jay has been alluding to wanting to face Tanahashi in interviews throughout his excursion, so this seems like it’s been in the works for a while. For now it seems like Jay is unaligned, but we will see.

#NJPW #njpst @JayWhiteNZ pic.twitter.com/ZLtvE5Rhqe

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) November 5, 2017


The angle came off a little weird. The fans were expecting Jay to speak on the mic, but he never did. He spoke in English/Japanese to Tanahashi, so I’m not sure why it unfolded the way it did. Anyway, I’m a big fan of White and I’m glad to see that he is “Switchblade.”


The crowd was decent, but they never quite reached the level of the best Osaka crowds. Despite the somewhat disappointing crowd, this was a very eventful show with three excellent matches and two epic debuts/returns. Highly recommended.

NJPW Road to POWER STRUGGLE (October 30th) Results & Review

Author : jojoremy

OCTOBER 30, 2017

Watch: NJPW World

New Japan returned to Korakuen Hall for the second consecutive night for the semi-finals of the Super Jr. Tag Tournament. This show would also be the last to air before Power Struggle on Sunday November, 5th.


Tonight’s opener paired the two losing teams from last night’s tournament matches. TAKA and Taichi hid in the crowd to ambush the babyfaces to start the match. Taichi forced Tiger under the ring, but lost track of him. Tiger reappeared to sneak up on TAKA with a crucifix for the win at  5:16. Angry Liger is the best Liger. **


This is the third time this week that Korakuen is getting this tag match. Tonight’s match started off where last night’s ended: Minoru hooked Yano up to the bull rope and started dragging him around ringside. Minoru attached the other end to his own wrist and they brawled up to the middle of the orange seats on the south side of Korakuen. Back in the ring, Minoru sent referee Kenta Sato flying with a front high kick. Goto came to Yano’s rescue, but got the Iron Finger from Hell. Tiger Hattori came out and called the match off. NR


This is another rematch from last night. Marty, Chase, and Kenny came out dressed as Aladdin, the Genie, and Princess Jasmine for Halloween.

今日の #BulletClub#halloween 仕様!?ケニー@KennyOmegamanX、チェーズ、マーティ@MartyScurllが可仮装して登場!
#njpwworld pic.twitter.com/d6saKn4ItM

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 30, 2017

CHAOS came out to US title challenger Beretta’s new theme. This obviously had lots of comedy, but it didn’t detract from the match. They did a better job tonight of creating interest in the title matches. Trent beat Chase again with the Dudebuster in 10:47. Beretta attacked Kenny after the match with a flying knee and an apron piledriver. Unfortunately, he didn’t get much of a reaction. I would have liked to see Marty and Ospreay mix it up a little more before their title match. **3/4


Finlay showed great aggression, particularly when he was in the ring with Kitamura or Kawato. Tanahashi and Ibushi re-used a lot of the same spots as their previous tags on the tour, but I’m really looking forward to see what they do in the big-show main event.

タイトルマッチに向けて着実にボルテージを上げていく両者!棚橋@tanahashi1_100 VS 飯伏@ibushi_kota 本日も白熱した戦いが繰り広げられています!
#njpwworld pic.twitter.com/iFvZpoTpE2

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 30, 2017

Kitamura didn’t quite get the same support that he did on Monday, but the crowd really got behind Kawato. He got some great near falls on Finlay, but ultimately lost to Finlay’s Prima Nocta at 14:08. ***1/4


This really started to pick up with Ishii getting isolated by LIJ. EVIL was very explosive on offense. Once Ishii got a hot tag to Okada, the pace picked up and didn’t really slow down for the rest of the match.

WK12のメインイベントで対決する、オカダ@rainmakerXokada と内藤@s_d_naito !本日も激しい攻防を繰り広げます!
登録&視聴▷https://t.co/mWOSKKO5do #njpst #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/b0ocHeoOLa

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 30, 2017

We got more great Naito/Okada exchanges here. SANADA beat Gedo with Skull End at 11:58. ***1/4


Suzuki-gun focused their attack on ACH’s taped ribs and ACH’s selling was great. Once ACH finally made the hot tag, Taguchi flew all around the building with dives and flying hip attacks.

登録&視聴▷https://t.co/mWOSKKO5do #njpst #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/DqRMh4KoF0

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 30, 2017

ACH continued to sell for the remainder of the match, and it really added to the story. The Korakuen crowd really loves ACH, and this was a good opportunity of him to deepen that connection with his selling. He ripped of his taping before hitting another beautiful Firebird splash. ACH and Taguchi won with their Dodon/facebuster combo at 17:06. ACH and Taguchi are quickly developing some great, quirky chemistry. This wasn’t quite big-match Taguchi, but ACH has improved his stock drastically over this tour. ***3/4


RPG3K’s entrance got a better reaction tonight. Hiromu welcomed YOH back to the main roster by quickly blistering his chest with slaps.

ヒロム@TIMEBOMB1105 との激しいしばき合いによってYOH @njpwyohei_k の胸から出血!
登録&視聴▷https://t.co/mWOSKKO5do #njpst #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/8F0MQdMKdB

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 30, 2017

YOH showed off lots of new offense, and he didn’t really rely on the base of spots he used as a young lion. Unsurprisingly, it seems like he’s growing more comfortable with each match. SHO continued to show more kicks and suplexes. RPG3K did their tandem tope con giro into the third row and SHO followed it up with his rolling Germans for a near fall.

The LIJ tandem is an excellent tag team. It’s a shame that we’re probably not going to see them in a 2-on-2 tag again until Fantasticamania. In particular, BUSHI may be better suited to tags than singles; he doesn’t have to rely on as many heel tactics with less in-ring time. Hiromu took a crazy German from YOH right before the 20-minute mark. RPG3K showed off their creative tandem offense down the stretch. YOH pinned BUSHI after 3K at 20:34. This was the best we’ve seen of RPG3K so far, but they will continue to improve as they get more comfortable. They also showed more personality in their short post-match promo. ****


This was right on par with last Monday’s outing. Both of the tournament matches were great; the main event is a highlight of the tournament so far.

NJPW Road to POWER STRUGGLE (October 29th) Results & Review

Author : jojoremy

OCTOBER 29, 2017

New Japan returned to Korakuen Hall for the second of three shows in seven days. Thankfully, there’s no typhoon in the forecast for tomorrow.


Juice Robinson’s Twitter and Instagram accounts mysteriously disappeared over the weekend, but Samurai TV, who produced this show still plugged his Twitter account during his entrance. Leo and Yujiro isolated Finlay, who worked up to a hot tag to Juice. Leo looked good, but credit may go to Finlay and Juice; two of the best at making their opponents look strong.

登録&視聴▷https://t.co/mWOSKKO5do #njpst #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/sZrDZotyTw

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 29, 2017

As I’ve mentioned, I’d really like to see Juice and Finlay get a run in the World Tag League. Juice and Finlay hit a double flapjack followed by Finlay’s Prima Nocta into Juice’s Pulp Friction for the win at 7:24. This was a solid tag match. **1/2


This was a rematch from last week’s Korakuen show. Last week’s match ended with Goto pinning Iizuka. Tonight, Suzuki-gun attacked before the bell to kick off a brawl into the crowd. Minoru and Iizuka attacked Yano with their typical rule-breaking tactics.  Yano got a lukewarm tag to Goto who worked hard to get a short-lived chant. Minoru attacked Yano with the bull rope, which got him disqualified at 7:39. Minoru tried to tie up Yano, but Yano was able to tie the bull rope to Kitamura’s ankle. Kitamura got hung with the rope AND attacked with a chair. Wrong place, wrong time, I guess. This didn’t have as much crowd support as Monday’s version and basically just set up the post-match beat down. *3/4


This was the first show of the tour for everyone except for YOSHI-HASHI. This was pretty heavy on the comedy and didn’t really create any excitement for the Ospreay/Scurll title match. Kenny and Chase hit a cool Complete Shot/Kotaro Crusher combo. Trent beat Owens with the Dudebuster in 10:40. Kenny and Beretta didn’t really touch, but this was seemingly deliberate. Trent challenged Kenny to a US title match at Power Struggle. **1/4


This matchup combines the Power Struggle main event competitors and the two first-round losers from the opening night of the Jr. Tag Tournament. Kawato and Titan were two of the standouts on Monday, and they continued to impress here. Ibushi and Tanahashi are doing a great job of building up the tension heading into Osaka.

エース@tanahashi1_100 VS ゴールデン☆スター@ibushi_kota
登録&視聴▷https://t.co/mWOSKKO5do #njpst #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/L3Wo8X68y0

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 29, 2017

Titan showed off a bunch of cool submissions on top of his typical high-flying attack. Kawato got a small package near fall that the crowd loved. Unfortunately, he took a nasty bump on the finish, but seems OK. Titan won with the Immortal at 8:55. **3/4


This match serves as a preview for tomorrow night’s likely main event of Roppongi 3K and BUSHI/Hiromu. Hiromu came out carrying a makeshift contract to make tomorrow’s match a title bout. There was a cool dynamic between Hiromu/EVIL and Roppongi 3K, the latter entering the dojo immediately after their LIJ counterparts. This had a good balance of junior tag action and Okada/Naito interactions.

IWGP王者・オカダ@rainmakerXokada が挑戦者・内藤@s_d_naito を圧倒!
登録&視聴▷https://t.co/mWOSKKO5do #njpst #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/vEwAaOy05z

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 29, 2017

Rocky looked really good here too, particularly when he was in the ring with SANADA. SANADA beat Rocky with Skull End at 12:45. ***


They did a great job of building heat for these tournament matches on Monday. Mask ripping never gets old. Suzuki-gun attacked the babyfaces as they entered, cutting off Ikari no Jushin! True heels! Tiger and Liger are pissed off! Liger used an exposed turnbuckle on Pe. Liger barked at Kanemaru, challenging him to come to Desperado’s rescue. Desperado did a great job of selling for Tiger Mask’s kicks. The heels turned things around as Kanemaru ripped at Tiger’s mask while Desperado beat Liger with a fan’s umbrella.

Suzuki-gun continued to attack Tiger until Liger made the hot tag. Liger’s offense was cut off with more mask ripping from Desperado. I had a feeling no one was going to finish the match with their mask intact. Tiger hit an avalanche-style, double-arm suplex followed by a Tiger driver for a near fall. Liger followed up with an avalanche-stle Frankensteiner and a Liger bomb. Kanemaru spit whisky in Liger’s face. Pe followed it up with the Pinche Loco for the win at 17:28. Suzuki-gun continued their attack after the bell. This was a very good match with more aggression from the babyfaces than we have seen in years. ***1/4 


This match had a lot to live up to after Monday’s 4-star closer. Tonight’s main event started off with Taichi targeting Taguchi’s butt, eventually ripping the seat of the Funky Weapon’s tights.

タイチ @taichi0319 の非常な木槌攻撃に田口 @taguchiryusuke のケツが悲鳴をあげる!?
登録&視聴▷https://t.co/mWOSKKO5do #njpst #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/xP24OVXc8r

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 29, 2017

ACH has been a highlight of this tour for me. He’s becoming a favorite in Korakuen. Taguchi’s exchanges with TAKA were good and did a great job of getting the crowd behind Taguchi. There was a lot of flying down the stretch: ACH took a crazy spill on a plancha, TAKA hit an Asai moonsault and a doomsday flying kneel kick. ACH hit a beautiful firebird splash. Super 69 won with a dodon/facebuster combo at 18:42. ***1/4


Overall, this show didn’t match Monday’s outing, but the two tournament matches are worth your time.

NJPW Road to POWER STRUGGLE (October 23rd) Results & Review

Author : jojoremy

OCTOBER 23, 2017

I usually stay away from New Japan Korakuen shows unless it’s a special show like New Year Dash or a singles league like the G1 or Best of the Super Juniors.

However, I decided change things up and check out the opening matches of the first round of the Super Jr. Tag Tournament.


I think I liked this more than Saturday’s match, which had Kitamura in Umino’s spot. The Korakuen crowd was hot from the start. It seems like they are teasing something between Leo and Oka. Umino is quickly improving and also looks like he is bulking up. Oka was solid as always and Leo looked more confident. Leo controlled most of the match until Umino had a quick comeback. Yujiro abruptly beat Umino in 6:25 with his Pimp Juice. **1/4

#NJPW #njpst https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/7EnU7UgcnW

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 23, 2017


The fans ate up ACH pantomiming karaoke during Liger’s theme. Like Saturday night, ACH worked really hard and won the crowd over; I hope he stays around in New Japan next year.  The heels spent most of the mask ripping at Tiger’s mask, which they eventually got off. This was a fun trios match and a good preview for the remaining 1st round Jr. Tag Tournament matches. Taichi beat Taguchi with a Taichi-style Gedo clutch at 8:09. ***

Big superkick from TAKA! #NJPW #njpst https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/JgZysSnu2O

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 23, 2017


This, along with the last match, did a great job of reminding the Korakuen fans about Suzuki-gun. With Bullet Club basically off the tour, Suzuki-gun are really the only true heels around. This match felt violent and Minoru, in particular, came off like a loose cannon, swinging his bull-rope like Stan Hansen.  Goto put away Iizuka in 9:38 with the GTR. **1/2

THAT FAN LMAO!! #njpst #NJPW #NJPWWorld https://t.co/Op8ECoduF6 pic.twitter.com/FmjLitxtn5

— Deno (@KiingDeno) October 23, 2017


It shouldn’t be a surprise given the guys in this match, but…the match was surprisingly good. Maybe even great. Tanahashi and Ibushi are building up their chemistry for their tour-ending main event. It’s a minor touch, but Tanahashi has been doing a new (I think) Steamboat-style flying headscissors takedown. They had some really nice exchanges here and I am pumped for their title match.

For their part, Juice and Finlay are working on their teamwork and tandem offense, perhaps preparing for a run in the World Tag League. If Honma isn’t back for the Tag League, I would love to see Makabe and Kitamura form a team. Kitamura was great here. Well, he was good…but the crowd (including me) LOVED him. Other than another young lion later in the show, he probably got the best reaction of the night. It actually felt like he had a chance to pin Juice with a jackhammer. Given Juice’s momentum, that was definitely not happening, but Kitamura was so good that I bought in. Juice won in 13:11 with Pulp Friction on Kitamura. ***3/4

Tanahashi hits a dragon screw! #NJPW #njpst https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/kuf6qqFceT

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 23, 2017


There wasn’t much new in this match, but it was very good. For the second time this tour, Okada entered from a separate side than his teammates. Okada seems to be trying to be more expressive and almost goofy before matches. Two fairly obvious, yet important things stuck in my mind. First of all, Tetsuya Naito is a great wrestler. As always, he worked very hard, taking crazy bumps on what is basically a televised house show.

The second point, which cannot be undersold, LIJ is the most over act in the company. Every time a chant was started for CHAOS, it was swallowed by a LIJ chant. I noticed more support for EVIL than last time I saw him in Korakuen, probably a credit to his Ryogkoku performance against Okada. There were just enough interactions between Naito and Okada to remind you that that’s the main event of the year. SANADA put away YOSHI-HASHI at 12:58 with Skull End. ***1/4

Headbutt and a huge lariat from Ishii!! #NJPW #njpst https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/D1cxjAzkFX

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 23, 2017


I bought my ticket to see this match. Furthermore, this match compelled me to spend 8,500 yen for a “special ringside” seat instead of 4,500-yen for my usual reserved (orange) seat. The reason is simple: Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu are two of my favorite wrestlers.

Under-used during their North American excursion, Tanaka and Komatsu returned earlier this month as Roppongi 3K: SHO and YOH. SHO spent a lot of his time in  jiu-jitsu dojos and has great job of incorporating this experience into his evolved, unique in-ring style. YOH, on the other hand, is basically the same wrestler he was when he left. The problem for YOH, or at least one of the problems, is that Hirai Kawato is also basically that very same wrestler, perhaps even better.

Kawato was the star of this match. He hit a beautiful Prince Devitt-esque tope con hilo and unleashed the full arsenal of kicks that he has only flashed from time to time. He did a great job selling, too. His near falls towards the end of this match got the best reaction of anything on the card.

The crowd wants to support SHO and YOH, but their gimmick is currently a hindrance. They haven’t figured out their characters yet, and the crowd doesn’t know how to react or what to chant. Maybe they will make it work, but right now, I’d say they are definitely fighting an uphill battle.

Anyway, this was a very good, entertaining match that you should definitely check out. The champs won with their 3K combo in 12:39. ***3/4

WOW!! What a tope from @kawatohirai! #NJPW #njpst https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/jQ4FP42HnJ

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 23, 2017


It’s clear that BUSHI and Hiromu have put a lot of thought into their team. They have a mash-up entrance theme, split entrance masks and have been featured on New Japan’s website for the past few weeks. It’s always special to see Hiromu and Dragon Lee go at it, and this was no exception. However, on his side, Titan stood out most to me. He had a few breathtaking dives and some really slick exchanges with BUSHI.

Despite not getting the same geniune crowd reaction that Kawato and Kitamura did, these guys all worked really hard and put together a spectacle of a spotfest. LIJ won with a really impressive doomsday MX on Titan at 20:20. ****

WOW!! Insane tope suicida from Dragon Lee, followed by a huge Asai moonsault from Titan! #NJPW #njpst https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/LyjwgBHdzD

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 23, 2017


Overall, this was one of the most enjoyable New Japan Korakuen shows I can remember this year. The highlights for me were the performances of the two young lions in big spots (Kitamura and  Kawato) and the main event. This show is highly recommended.

NJPW Road to POWER STRUGGLE - Blue Justice VII Results & Review

Author : jojoremy

Road to POWER STRUGGLE – Blue Justice VII – Yuji Nagata 25th Anniversary
October 21, 2017
Togane Arena – Togane, Chiba, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Yuji Nagata, along with the mayor of his hometown, Togane, started the show by thanking the crowd for the great turnout. There was also an excellent career retrospective for Nagata-san which played before the matches started.


Oka’s recent LCL injury kept him off the first two shows of the tour, but also earned him a single kneepad. Achievement unlocked. Kitamura started out being worn down by Leo and Yujiro until he eventually made the hot tag to Oka. Yujiro eventually fought back and spiked Oka with his mini-DDT, Pimp Juice at 6:28. This was a simple tag with not much too it. The best thing about it is that Oka looks healthy and ready for the rest of the tour. *3/4


Taichi’s valet, Miho Abe, was dressed as a devil for Halloween. It was funny to see Taichi across the ring from his young doppelgänger, Narita. The young lions attacked before the bell with a triple dropkick.

東金大会、第2試合は #ヤングライオン VS #鈴木軍 Jr.!
登録&視聴▷https://t.co/mWOSKKO5do #njpst #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/iSO2IrW9El

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 21, 2017

Suzuki-gun wore down Yagi’s back. Desperado stole a pen from the commentary table and hid it in his shoe; later using it to attack Yagi’s eye. Umino got the tag and showed some great fire. Narita got a couple quick nearfalls before tapping to Numero Dos (a stretch muffler) from (Des)Pe at 7:39. This was really fun while it lasted. **3/4


This match featured 4 of the teams in the upcoming Super Jr. Tag Tournament. A generous KUSHIDA made a baby cry by with his dogtag necklace. It seems like they are calling ACH & Taguchi’s team Super 69. ACH looked energized and worked really hard in this match. Titan hit a crazy quebrada on KUSHIDA.

登録&視聴▷https://t.co/mWOSKKO5do #njpst #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/CYGWmkuNHF

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 21, 2017

Kawato and Dragon Lee flashed some good chemistry before a really scary botch. Thankfully it seems like Kawato is OK, Dragon Lee beat him with his desnucadora at 9:26. **1/4


Yano came out with Minoru’s stolen NEVER belt, while Minoru came out with a bull rope. As you would expect, there was a lot of brawling in this one. Admist the brawling, young lion Yagi took a right hook from Minoru like a champ. With Yano and Goto on the losing end of the crowd-brawling, YOSHI-HASHI took a beating from all three Suzuki-gun members. I hope we get Goto and YOSHI-HASHI as a World Tag League team; they have a simple, yet effective dynamic. Minoru went for the Gotch-style piledriver at the ten-minute mark, but was reversed. Out of frustration, he choked Yano with the bull rope and threw referee Marty Asami out of the ring. CHAOS won by DQ at 11:09. **1/2

After intermission they played congratulatory messages for Nagata-san from his generational peer/AJPW boss Jun Akiyama and Wrestle Kingdom Ambassador/SKE48 member Jurina Matsui.


Juice and Finlay are another team I’d like to see in the World Tag League.  Clearly beyond their prime, Tanahashi and TenKoji still feel like an important six-man team. Tanahashi and Ibushi started out with some fun exchanges. Juice and Finlay wore down Koji, who eventually hit a Koji-Koji cutter and got the hot tag to Tenzan. The Tanahashi/Ibushi exchanges were really the focus of the match as they prepare for their main event at the tour-ender in Osaka. Finlay may be one of the most underrated wrestlers on the roster. Everything his does is super crisp and he always makes his opponent look good. Koji beat Finlay with a lariat at 10:27. This was good, but didn’t really have the crowd support or depth to reach the next level. **3/4


CHAOS and LIJ will be the focus of the company through Wrestle Kingdom. This is the second Roppongi 3K match to make tape, so that’s the main intrigue for me. RPG3K face BUSHI & Hiromu in the main event of Monday’s Korakuen (also live on World). RPG3K got a separate entrance with their producer, Rocky Romero. Okada came out through the crowd to try to wake up the fans, but it seemed to have little effect.

After a short exchange between SHO and BUSHI, Ishii was isolated by LIJ. Okada got the hot tag and single-handedly took out all 5 LIJ members before tagging out to YOH. RPG3K hit some cool double teams on Hiromu, but Hiromu fought back and suplexed Komatsu into the turnbuckle pad. Gedo tagged in to take it home, eating an MX from Bushi at 12:00.  ***

#chaos VS #LIJ
IWGP王者オカダ@rainmakerXokada が1人で #LIJ を一掃!
登録&視聴▷https://t.co/mWOSKKO5do #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/L9wnETweA2

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 21, 2017

We got another video package before the main, highlighting the relationship between Nagata and Nakanishi.


SEIZE THE TACTICS! Nagata got the Pirates of the Caribbean intro, but it was cut out of the World broadcast. Shinpei Nogami took over on commentary to call his favorite wrestler’s anniversary match. Nogami mentioned that this was the first career singles match for Nagata in his hometown of Togane. Nagata gained control early, but the tables turned when Nakanishi hit a counter spear on the outside. Nagata fought back and started to focus on Nakanishi’s leg with kicks.

Nakanishi absorbed a bunch of middle kicks before setting up Nagata for a huge superplex. Nagata rolled out of the ring, but Nakanishi came crashing down on him with a plancha! Nagata regained his composure but ate a missile kick as Nakanishi continued to show off his high flying attack. A slap battle floored Nagata and a lariat led to a near fall for Nakanishi. Nakanishi went for the win with his Argentine backbreaker but Nagata fought back and hit an Exploder and Justice knee. Nagata returned the avalanche-style favor with an Exploder from the top that Nakanishi basically no-sold. Nakanishi hit a German and a Hercules cutter.

Road to POWER STRUGGLE BLUE JUSTICE Ⅶ 〜青義激突〜!!(10/21)を公開!
メインイベントは 永田裕志VS中西学!
視聴▷https://t.co/Iq5SerAvI3 pic.twitter.com/AhW4gRDU09

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) October 21, 2017

Cameras flashed as Nagata caught Nakanishi in a reverse armlock (SHIROME, SHIROME…). Nagata hit a vertical-drop brain buster, but only got a 1-count. An Exploder of Justice finally got Nagata the win at 17:47. These guys worked really, really hard and deserved a much better crowd. ***1/2

Nagata and Nakanishi were presented with three sets of photos from highlights of their respective careers. The Hontai roster members came out to congratulate Nagata and Nakanishi. Dragon Lee awkwardly stood between Nagata and Nakanishi until KUSHIDA clued him in. Nagata and Nakanishi thanked the crowd to close the show.


This was a run-of-the-mill house show with a very good main event that deserved a better crowd. If you’re pressed for time, watch the post-intermission matches. If you enjoy the young lions, check out their match against Suzuki-gun.


Author : jojoremy

OCTOBER 12, 2017

Watch: NJPW World

LION’S GATE is always a highlight for me. I think I have been to six of the eight Lion’s Gate shows. I was lucky to sit in the front row for this one, which is probably the most intimate environment you can get for New Japan. As always, Shinjuku FACE was packed and enthusiastic.


Kawato is the senpai of the current young lion tribe. A 20 year-old fan-favorite, Kawato will be familiar to most regular New Japan viewers. Kawato was very good here; showing off the kicks that have wowed audiences since his tryout. He also has a very impressive vertical leap which caught my attention on a counter dropkick and swan-dive missile kick.

19 year-old Ren Narita was solid here. This was only his seventh career match, and his first in Tokyo since he debuted at the last LION’S GATE show. “RenRen,” as one supporter called him, resembles a young Taichi, and seems to be more of a natural heel. He showed good aggression here; for some reason he reminded me of a very green Japanese version of Bret Hart. He used a rare second rope guillotine drop and also sent Kawato neck-first into the bottom rope with a slingshot.

Rolling high kick from @kawatohirai! #NJPW #njgate pic.twitter.com/xglaP58q8p

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 12, 2017

Ultimately, Kawato won with a Kofi Kingston-eqsue spinning enzuigiri for the win at 7:14. **1/2


The second match of the night featured the two oldest young lions. 25 year-old Tetsuhiro Yagi debuted at the May LION’S GATE show and is surely bound for the heavyweight division. He has a solid, somewhat wiry build and is great at expressing emotion in the ring. His dropkick arch looks great and he got a good reaction with a Muta lock. Overall, he impressed the crowd and seems to be developing into a well-rounded young lion who’s ready to contribute to openers even on mid-size New Japan World shows.

31 year-old Katsuya Kitamura is not your typical young lion. He’s the most muscular and tanned guy on the roster and he spends most of his time wrestling in the mid-card.  Kitamura triggers an audible buzz everytime he enters the ring. He would have to be one of the favorites to win this league. After spending most of the meat of the match getting neutralized by Yagi, Kitamura fought back with some booming chops.

Spear and a Jackhammer from Kitamura! #NJPW #njgate pic.twitter.com/0xq8pdHWWe

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 12, 2017

Kitamura won with a Goldberg tribute: spear into jackhammer at 8:32. I could hear Kitamura say “this is my house” about seven times as he exited; he also dropped a “who’s next?” in his English promo backstage. Yagi looked very good here, but I would have liked to see more offense from Kitamura. **1/2


This match is the reason I went to this show: a singles match between my top two prospects in New Japan. Shota Umino is the 20 year-old son of main event referee Red Shoes Unno. He shows great potential as a babyface or heel in the ring and is already a convincing post-match backstage promo. Debuting back at the April LION’S GATE show, Umino has already earned a spot on most house shows.

26 year-old Tomoyuki Oka is also basically a lower midcarder in his team with Kitamura. He’s developing more of a presence and learning how to use his size. Oka did a great job of selling for Umino’s attack given his significant size advantage. Unlike Kitamura, Oka never really seemed like he was getting dominated without fighting back. Oka gained control and showed off what seemed like a dozen different neck submissions before Umino fought back to a good reaction. They told a simple yet effective story and had the crowd behind them all the way.

Goddamn, Oka's STRONG #NJPW #njgate pic.twitter.com/aAXCuXVi8U

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 12, 2017

Oka hit the first deadlift front suplex (I think) I’ve ever seen before locking in a Boston crab for the win at 10:50. This is one of the best young lion matches of the year. ***1/4

These two had the best promos of the night, too. Oka confidently claimed he’d win the YL Cup and World Tag League. Umino was frustrated with his performance, but passionately promised to train harder to improve.


SEIZE THE TACTICS! Yoshino is a happy-go-lucky, goofy dancing caveman from Kaientai Dojo. This was fun, but nothing special. I understand why guys like Yoshino are on these shows, but he’s not much of a serious prospect for the future of major league wrestling in Japan. Nonetheless, I was definitely entertained and I legitimately laughed for a great portion of the match; especially when the crowd chanted in caveman: “unbaba, unbaba, unbaba…”

Something tells me Nakanishi is about to go all Monster Morning on Kotaro #njgate #njpwworld https://t.co/z1Sseo7bMh pic.twitter.com/yfbwegWlKk

— John.xmas 🎅 (@DK1105) October 12, 2017

Referee Marty Asami’s facial expressions were great in this match. Nakanishi won in 7:32 with his Argentine backbreaker. **


I’ve spoken and written about Yuma Aoyagi on multiple occasions. He’s one of the best prospects in Japan and, currently, one of my overall favorites to watch in the country. The All Asia tag champ was seconded here by fellow AJPW youngsters (tag partner) Naoya Nomura, Koji Iwamoto, and Yusuke Okada. All three wore AJPW shirts, which was a cool visual callback to the NJPW young lions appearing at AJPW’s GROWIN’ UP.

The main takeaway here is that they are building to a singles match between a bulking Yuma and Kojima. I would assume it will happen on the next LION’S GATE show. Tenkoji seemed to be more laid back than usual and truly enjoying the intimacy of Shinjuku FACE. K-DOJO’s Asakawa was also good here; he hit a really cool blizzard suplex. Koji beat Asakawa in 12:33 with a lariat. The match was fine, but like I said: Koji vs Yuma. **1/2


I’m guessing Nagata books these LION’S GATE shows, as he has a big part in training the young lions. He’s also been in the main event of all eight shows; only on the losing side once. This was good, but a little disappointing. I had high expectations of HEAT-UP’s Daisuke Kanehira, but I think I prefer his previous LG match against YOSHI-HASHI. In the early stages, Kanehira seemed a little hesitant going up against a legend like Nagata. Kanehira’s look also reminds me of a grimier version of T-Hawk.

Backdrop driver hold from Yuji Nagata!! #NJPW #njgate pic.twitter.com/H1pLyiFXZp

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 12, 2017

Nagata-san won in 12:12 with a backdrop hold. **3/4

Final Thoughts:

With six matches in about 90 minutes, this show is worth a watch. If you’re pressed for time, just watch Oka versus Umino.

NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling 2017 Results & Review

Author : joelanza

New Japan Pro Wrestling
King of Pro-Wrestling 2017
October 9, 2017
Ryōgoku Kokugikan – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI def. Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, Leo Tonga

This is where I like my Yujiro, nestled in the prelims, bringing charisma to the first half of a card. Where Yujiro doesn’t belong is anywhere near anything important. The closer he delves to intermission (and god help us, anywhere post intermission), the more likely he is to be badly outclassed and exposed. Yujiro is a prelim act, an entertaining prelim act, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Speaking of prelim acts, let’s talk about Daryl. The finish here, with BUSHI escaping the certain death of a Bad Luck Fall thanks to Hiromu distracting Fale with the dopey stuffed cat, allowing BUSHI to mist Fale and score the pin, was good fun and a solid callback to Fale tearing apart Daryl on the G1 tour. “Good fun” is where Hiromu lives these days, ever since the introduction of Daryl. “Good fun” is fine in prelims and against the likes of Yujiro.

My issues with Daryl have little to do with Daryl in the literal sense, or an aversion to fun, they have to do with a star act in Hiromu teetering dangerously close to the edge of comedy wrestler territory, and comedy wrestlers are almost always prelim acts. The character shift from the unstable, edgy, unpredictable Time Bomb to the childlike, comfort toy carrying, temper tantrum throwing manchild is a disappointing turn, because the former was on a potential main event arc, while the latter is firmly preliminary shtick. Hiromu Takahashi is simply too talented and has too much potential to be saddled with such a reductive, low ceiling gimmick. This is the kind of stuff more suited to the Yujiro’s of the world, who lack the superstar intangible and need to find creative ways to connect with crowds. Hiromu has evolved in a negative way. He’s still over, and for that matter so is Daryl, but Takahashi is now on Ryusuke Taguchi’s path as opposed to a major star one.

He’s way too good for this shit, and here’s hoping the toy animal gimmick quickly runs its course and we get our unstable potential superstar back. ***

fale's seen a ghost #njkopw #njpw pic.twitter.com/N014N9j0Jv

— daniel (@early90spants) October 9, 2017

Hirooki Goto & Toru Yano def. Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr (via count out)

Yano slithered into the ring to beat the count while wrapped in rope, outsmarting Suzuki once again, and earns a NEVER title match at Power Struggle as a result. That pretty much sums up this bout, as we rekindle the least exciting feud of 2013-2014, when we were treated to seven singles bouts and something like 1,276 tag matches between these two. **3/4

#SublimeMasterThief!! #NJPW #njkopw https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/OcSP6EI8py

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 9, 2017

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
Roppongi 3k def. Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet (c)

SHO(Tanaka) & YOH(ei Komatsu) return from excursion, revealed as Rocky Romero’s charges and the newest members of CHAOS. All told, the pair worked roughly 75 bouts abroad from February 2016 and September 2017, a relatively short excursion, mostly for CMLL & ROH. With their new gear and haircuts, they look like sleazy Dove Pro or DDT undercarders with gym memberships.

The returning boys looked pretty great here, starting off with a bang with a double flip dive to the outside to cut off the Funky Future entrance, and finishing Ricochet off with a flapjack/complete shot double team finish (which I believe they are calling “3K”), which followed SHO destroying everyone in sight with a million German suplexes, including catching Taguchi in mid air on a hip attack attempt. This is a fresh, homegrown team that could inject life into a junior tag scene that always produces good matches, but sometimes lacks heart and focused long term booking direction.

As SHO & YOH return, it appears Ricochet will exit. ACH is paired with Taguchi on the Power Struggle tour, and Ricochet’s body language seemed to indicate that he was finishing up, backing up rumors that his Lucha Underground contract issues have been settled, freeing him up to potentially sign with WWE. ***1/2

Elevated flatliner!! RPG 3K win the titles on their debut! #NJPW #njkopw https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/r5ATF6rhnM

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 9, 2017

IWGP Tag Team Titles
Killer Elite Squad (c) def. Guerrillas of Destiny & War Machine

Look, everyone was tired of this matchup after FOUR straight major shows. This one was a little different with the tornado/elimination rules. Critics were hard on this feud, none harder than this very site, but it’s important to remember that the wrestlers have no control over the booking, and when the dust settled, despite being put in the disadvantageous position of the same match over and over and over that these six dudes improved on each successive bout, with this one being the best yet. You’d probably never get them to say it, but I’m sure these guys were tired of working the same match every show, and it would have been easy for malaise to set in. That never happened, and they busted their asses to give fans four pretty damn good matches. A tip of the cap to all six dudes. Thanks.

KILLER BOMB THROUGH A TABLE!!! @kelitesquad #NJKOPW #NJPW #NJPWWorld @DBSmithjr @LanceHoyt pic.twitter.com/hfKiAi3NnC

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) October 9, 2017

When the dust settled, KES (2-2) came away with the final two matches and the titles, War Machine (2-2) could be done with their run (and if so, it was a solid ~1 year run), and GOD put up a goose egg (0-4), so I have no idea where they go from here.

Now please, PLEASE Mr. Gedo or Jado or whoever is booking this division—let’s all move on to something fresh. ****

Kenny Omega, Cody, Marty Scurll def. YOSHI-HASHI, Beretta, Jado

Run of the mill six man match featuring the returns of Cody and Scurll, and low effort fringe tights/t-shirt Kenny. Sometimes CHAOS runs out of members on a show and it forces Jado to work. This was one of those times, and whoa boy does he look stiffer and less athletic with each passing match.

Nothing much to see here. Kenny will defend the IWGP United States title in Chicago vs YOSHI-HASHI, and not much heat was put on the match. You get the sense that Kenny doesn’t care all that much. YOSHI-HASHI is going to have to work heel, because there is no way the Chicago ROH crowd is going to boo Omega. Scurll tapped out Jado with the chicken wing, a fall score that set him up for his IWGP junior title challenge later in the show. As for Cody, well, he existed. I have no idea why they bothered flying him out for this. I have no idea why they bother to book him, period. He adds nothing. **3/4

.@MartyScurll snapping fingers #NJPW #njkopw https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/6eTMuqKFLK

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 9, 2017

Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson def. Hiroshi Tanhashi & Togi Makabe

I figured that noted tag team match sandbaggers Tanahashi & Makabe would jokey for position to do the least while poor Juice sold for 90% of the match to protect IC title challenger Ibushi, but that wasn’t the case as everyone worked hard here. I was flat out stunned when Juice rolled out of the way of a King Kong Knee Drop and hit the Pulp Friction to pick up a pin on Makabe.

I know Juice scored a win over Kenny Omega, but that was a title match setup G1 upset, the likes of which we see pretty frequently. To me, this is a more significant scalp, because Makabe is a protected veteran who almost never jobs, and I was fully suspecting Juice to eat the loss here (which wouldn’t have hurt him one bit in a match with stars of this caliber). Makabe putting Juice over tells me that they take Juice seriously as a real player moving forward. ***1/4

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title
Will Ospreay def. KUSHIDA (c)

A great match, but one that fell short of the Best of the Super Juniors final.

Hiromu came out to challenge, but similar to when Will knocked him out and took his spot vs KUSHIDA, Marty Scurll walked out, broke his fingers, and made the challenge. This is an entertaining little gimmick of people stealing Hiromu’s challenges, but it smells a little too much like WWE style goofiness for my taste. At least it appears to be headed somewhere, but unfortunately, the destination may wind up being a three (or four) way match at Wrestle Kingdom. No thanks.

I’m not going to pretend that Ospreay isn’t hyped to a high degree, but he still comes off as a guy who is severely underrated. There may not be a wrestler on the planet who delivers at a more consistently high clip than Ospreay, whose singles work settles right at the cusp of match of the year level nearly every time out, especially over the last few years as he matured as a worker. His knocks from critics almost always come off as horribly dated four year old takes from people who haven’t seen him wrestle since 2014.

“He doesn’t sell” (one of the best around in this regard, and if anything, he over sells), “His matches are all the same” (utter nonsense, unless you are so obtuse that all you see, or want to see, are the flipz), “He doesn’t understand psychology” (the Ricochet series, ironically enough bashed for all of the above, featured excellent match to match psychology).

His style may not be for everyone, but no style is. Will Ospreay is one of the five best wrestlers in the world. And I may be underrating him. ****1/4

Sasuke Special, but KUSHIDA catches Will into an armbar!! #NJPW #njkopw https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/wNbg4Y5Pu8

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 9, 2017

IMPLOSION 450!! #NJPW #njkopw @WillOspreay https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/7Uh8RAx5sI

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 9, 2017

Tetsuya Naito def. Tomohiro Ishii

My ratings for the last four Naito/Ishii matches:

5/3/16 was the Wrestling Dontaku match that is quite possibly my favorite singular pro wrestling performance of all time (by Ishii). It prompted an emotional Flagship rant on the greatness of Ishii, and this is what I wrote about him in the review, which to this point has been the only IWGP heavyweight title challenge of Ishii’s career:

Ishii has an intangible quality about him where he compels you to pull for him, and is probably the most complete pro wrestler working today. His offense is nasty and believable. His selling is top notch, maybe the best in the business, whether staggering after a big blow, absorbing a giant bump, going limp for a finish, or going glassy eyed and drooling when his stubborn heart is finally stomped dead. He gives off a vibe of being a hard to kill, but not impossible to beat, eliciting the right kind of emotion for the modern era where the superhero archetype isn’t necessarily what the people want. He’s a real guy, the everyman, who will never give up. He’s like John Cena without the primary colors or the pandering, the quiet neighbor who you never knew was a volunteer fireman until he pulls you out of your burning house, dutifully goes back in to look for your parakeet, and won’t stop looking until he digs through every pile of ash. He will fight to the death, but you know he can lose (and so does he), and that’s the hook. You’re happy for him when he wins, and you’re gutted for him when he loses. He’s a great worker but an even better character.

The last thing I expected this to have was drama, and shame on me. Ishii is Ishii. But then you had the added dynamic of Okada and Gedo cheering him on, thwarting EVIL and BUSHI’s attempts to save Naito as Ishii attempted to tear the champion’s leg from his torso. How could you not think about an Ishii/Okada IWGP title match while watching this? All the while Tanahashi is creeping on commentary, looking like he’d like another crack at that strap. Ishii worked and worked and worked Naito’s surgically repaired right leg, and wrestled perhaps his most complete match yet. Ishii and Naito always have great matches, but this one was different. This was an Ishii with a plan, an Ishii who went after Naito’s leg like he wanted to rip it off and take it home as a trophy along with the title. “Ishii Smash”, after all, didn’t work at New Japan Cup.

Naito didn’t get the help he thought he needed, because Okada took care of that. The Pluma Blanca wasn’t enough (is it ever?), but the Destino was. The crowd, somehow sucked in just like I was, was quickly and suddenly silenced.

It would be fitting if this Wrestling Dontaku clash was the one and only IWGP Heavyweight Title match in Ishii’s career. He came to work, he showed HEART, he showed FIGHT, and he came up short. He has never been the chosen one. He wasn’t destined to win. He couldn’twin. We knew better. But he got us anyway. He always does.”

The 7/1/17 match was in Long Beach, the first of three 4-star+ matches in two days for Ishii (I went the full five on the Omega final). Ishii was more over than Naito on this night, thanks to his underdog charisma and the fact that LIJ is a hotter act in Japan than it is in the U.S.

7/29/17 was a G1 rematch three weeks later. Modern G1 matches tend to get lost in the shuffle. I don’t remember much about it, other than the “****1/4” in my notebook.

Instead of heaping praise this King of Pro-Wrestling match, let me offer a minor critique, but one that bothered me enough to knock the match down a peg. The top rope brainbuster spot was done a little too early. I may have bought the spot, for at least a split second, had it been placed closer to the home stretch. Naito kicking out at two without much milking for drama took me out of the match for a bit.

My favorite of the four, by far, was the Dontaku match. It’s one of my favorite matches of all time. ****1/4

"TranquilooooOOOHHSHIIIIT!!" #NJPW #njkopw https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/evbWTtFgIY

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 9, 2017

IWGP Heavyweight Title
Kazuchika Okada (c) def. EVIL

EVIL was carried to the ring on a throne by masked goth geeks, looking like the unfortunate spawn of a wild Harley Race, Triple H, and demonic era Undertaker drunken fuck fest. It may not read well, but he came off like an absolute superstar.

#NJPW #njkopw https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/aJOT4UYlVu

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 9, 2017

This gradually developed into a great match, slowly peeled back with layers of subtlety. It lulls you early, with the winner never being in any sort of doubt, and business as usual Okada & EVIL spots (Okada whiffing on a way-too-early Rainmaker, EVIL wrapping a chair around Okada’s head and whipping him into the guard rail, et al). It continues to go through the motions until Okada ducks a flying chair on his crossbody over the rail spot, a tremendous callback counter to the memorable G1 moment that was promptly borrowed by Braun Strowman a few days later on RAW.

Crossbody over the barricade from Okada!! #NJPW #njkopw https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/FEeIELtjDZ

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 9, 2017

The work here is hard, clean, and stiff throughout, with a crowd that had been pro-LIJ all night politely(?) split early on, perhaps not wanting to feel foolish by backing a man who everyone in the building knew had no chance to win.

That all changed when a cocky Okada stomped a downed EVIL’s back, in the most disrespectful manner possible, eliciting boos and working up the LIJ heavy crowd. The tone of the bout then shifted, with EVIL working face and Okada backpedaling as the heel, perfectly peaked with an enormous pop for EVIL’s huge lariat that knocked the champion out of his boots, followed by EVIL mocking the condescending back stomps he endured moments earlier. The fans were firmly behind the challenger the rest of the way.

The shifting heel/face dynamic after the first two thirds of the bout was a microcosm of modern New Japan, where a large chunk of the roster works as fluid tweeners. Tetsuya Naito will cowardly attack opponents from behind in a post match brawls to soften them up for future matches, and on the very next show cut long babyface promos after winning his main event match. Okada represents the valiant babyface ace champion one moment, yet blatantly shows cocky disrespect by not taking Satoshi Kojima or Tiger Mask W seriously the next. Kenny Omega receives some of the biggest pops in the company, while leading the (mostly) heel Bullet Club (a unit with plenty of underlying inner strife among the members). The purest babyface, KUSHIDA, will throw his straight right closed fist in times of desperation, knowing full well the crowd will boo him out of the building. On this very show, Hiromu popped the crowd by outsmarting Fale with his Daryl antics in the opener, but was then positioned as a clownish heel buffoon in the Ospreay/Scurll post match title challenge.

With the exception of (most of) Taguchi Japan and Suzuki-gun, the bulk of the roster is presented in various shades of gray, with some fans choosing hard allegiances, and talented dudes like Okada, Omega, and Naito manipulating the emotions of the rest to whatever best suits the situation. This Okada/EVIL match was a great example of that, and the Wrestle Kingdom main event will put this dynamic on display under the largest spotlight possible.

The closing stretch created just enough drama with the angry, charging, maniacal EVIL surviving one Rainmaker and escaping another, without going too long or overly dramatic for a challenger of this caliber. There was delicate balance in how the finish ultimately played out, with EVIL clearly elevated through both the G1 and this bout, but Okada taking care of business in a manner slightly easier than he does against a Kenny Omega or Minoru Suzuki. This was the right approach, and all told, this was a satisfying match with a satisfying conclusion that told the correct story. A slight notch below Okada’s best stuff of 2017, but an excellent, well worked match to cap off a tremendous show. ****1/2

RAINMAKER!! #NJPW #njkopw https://t.co/4ULitIESXx 👀 pic.twitter.com/RtB6kD3vlR

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) October 9, 2017

Final Thoughts

New Japan rebounds from a mediocre Destruction tour with an excellent show featuring no less than three great bouts and several other very good ones. It’s hard for a show to deliver when virtually none of the relevant outcomes are in any doubt whatsoever, but this one did, and it even managed to produce a few pleasant surprises (Juice pinning Makabe, the cool debut of Roppongi 3K). A four hour New Japan mega show that is well worth your time. Fire up New Japan World and don’t skip any of it. Even the mediocre bouts have something to offer in the way of storyline advancement.

NJPW Destruction in Kobe 2017 (September 24) Results & Review

Author : lsquared1219

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Destruction in Kobe 2017
September 24, 2017
Kobe World Memorial Hall

Watch: NJPW World

There wasn’t a ton of buzz for NJPW Destruction in Kobe 2017. Likely a result of being on the backs of two of NJPW’s weaker outings in recent memory. This show also finds itself wedged in a big weekend for wrestling in general with WWE No Mercy, ROH Death Before Dishonor and a newsworthy week on the American independents. The lineup is not awe inspiring but it has a main event worth getting excited for, let’s dive in.

Hirai Kawato and Hiroyoshi Tenzan def. Monster Rage (Katsuya Kitamura and Tomoyuki Oka)

Monster Rage, huh? I dig that. Wouldn’t mind seeing them in tag league. I know it’s not the hottest of takes but these are a good crop of young lions. I’m struck by how natural Oka and Kawato feel in the ring already, and the idea of Oka being pushed as a future Ace against Okada excites me. Though Kitamura is the one Vince McMahon would push, he still feels like he’s thinking in there a bit.

This was going along well until Tenzan went for a Samoan Drop on Oka and it got botched. I don’t know who was at fault for that but it disrupted the flow of the match. Tenzan hit a Kokeshi, which was a nice Honma tribute. Kawato springboarding in with a missile dropkick got the crowd back and Tenzan submitted Oka with the Anaconda Vice. **1/2

Jushin Thunder Liger, Ricochet, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask, and Togi Makabe def. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Taichi, Taka Michinoku, Takashi Iizuka, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

“Yeah, big shock. Fast start from Suzuki-Gun”, says Don Callis dryly and really, who could dispute the man. You’d think these babyfaces would learn by now. Kelly and Callis might legitimately be my favorite announce team out there now. They do a good job and I feel are an underrated commodity for NJPW to have, especially Callis.

Taguchi Japan is a lot of fun; I don’t care what anyone says. The babyfaces go into the “round the bases” spot with Taguchi waving them into Iizuka in the corner and it’s delightful. Taguchi and company are thwarted when they go to whip Iizuka into Taguchi’s readied ass in the far corner and Iizuka counters by biting it while his teammates jump the other faces from behind. Has that play ever worked, Taguchi? Why keep trying it, it’s got a lower success rate than the Kokeshi.

Heat on Taguchi. Usual Suzuki-Gun shenanigans ensue. Whips, eye poke, bell hammer…wait, what’s he doing with that hammer? Oh, well. My word, Taichi goosed him with it. Turnabout is fair play though as Taguchi returns the hammer goosing in kind and tags in Ricochet. Ricochet might have the best hot tag in wrestling. He’s just incredible. After taking out all of Suzuki-Gun with crisp, smooth offense he caps it off with an effortless running shooting star on Kanemaru.

Down the stretch Iizuka’s use of the metal glove is thwarted by Taguchi’s hip attack. After a great dive from Ricochet Makabe gets the pin on Taka with the King Kong Knee Drop. **3/4

Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI def. Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens

The fact that a talent like Goto is in matches like these isn’t really a slight to him as much as it is a testament to the depth of the NJPW roster. He will move up the card again but for now he’s in these prelims, working the likes of Chase Owens, who looked good here. Chase got in some solid offense, including a nice strike combination on Goto. YOSHI-HASHI picks up the win with Karma. **1/4

Beretta def. Yujiro Takahashi

I was really looking forward to this. This match was really good and the best thing on the card up to this point. More than that, it was the best Yujiro match in recent memory. Yujiro hit all of his big moves on Beretta, but Beretta just wouldn’t stay down and wouldn’t quit. Beretta’s selling was absolutely tremendous here. This was a great struggle and really gets me invested in Beretta’s character moving forward. Beretta eventually won with the Dudebuster in a very good match. ***1/2

IWGP Tag Team Title Tornado Rules Match
Killer Elite Squad def. War Machine (c) & Guerrillas of Destiny

Definitely the best of the three straight tag matches matches. I was really hoping War Machine would retain to position them as dominant champs and put both of these teams in the rearview. This match was good though as all three teams worked with much more urgency here than in their previous two encounters. Ray Rowe was the 4th biggest guy in this match, which is nuts to think about.

Down the stretch Archer ate Guerrilla Warfare on the stage and Ray Rowe body slammed Hanson onto Davey Boy through a table. That left War Machine and G.O.D. to face off as K.E.S. looks toast. They traded near falls before War Machine hit Fallout. They nearly had the win until Davey Boy pulled the ref out of the ring. “Anything goes” Don Callis reminds us.

Archer knocked Hanson off the apron through a table on the outside. Tonga’s Gun Stun was  countered into a one-armed powerbomb by Archer. Rowe tries to survive K.E.S. as long as he can but he was all alone and succumbed to the Killer Bomb. Another good match. ***3/4

Hiroshi Tanahashi and Michael Elgin def. David Finlay and Kota Ibushi

The chemistry between Ibushi and Tanahashi is mouthwatering while Elgin and Finlay both had their working shoes on. Finlay is so good, it’s such a shame he has no direction in this company. He needs to go on excursion if they won’t push him. I could also easily see him being a trios champ or something, just give the man something to do. Elgin and Ibushi had some cool sequences as well that made me want to see a match between them someday.

Down the stretch Elgin turned Ibushi inside out with a lariat. Then Elgin caught Finlay in midair while he was coming off the second rope with a European uppercut, right into a German suplex with a bridge. Elgin pressed Tanahashi over the top rope onto Ibushi. He hit Finlay with a vicious discus lariat before finishing him off with the Buckle Bomb/Elgin Bomb combination. ***¼

Rocky Romero, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano def. BUSHI, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito

Ishii is such a badass. I would argue he’s been the best wrestler of the Okada era. He no sold BUSHI and immediately went after Naito, chucking him into the guardrails with malice in his eyes.

The SANADA/Yano feud continued. A feud based around the paradise Lock. Hooray. Rocky and BUSHI are having a cool mini feud as well but Naito and Ishii remained the focus throughout the match.

Ishii conveys hate and Naito conveys flippant aloofness to the same believable degree. Part of what’s cool about Naito’s matches is that the more damage he takes the more the veil of apathy drops and he is forced to try harder to win. It’s the moment when “Tranquilo” becomes “Fuck this, I’m killing you”. You usually only see it in his singles performances but he gives some of that here. He must love working with Ishii.

Ishii grumpily scored the pin on BUSHI but he wasn’t done there. He pulled Naito into the ring, yanked his shirt off of him, and gave him a violence party for a full minute while the bell rang. Then he just turned and walked away. Naito spat in his general direction. I can’t wait for their showdown at King of Pro Wrestling. ***

Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay def. EVIL and Hiromu Takahashi

This was a lot of fun! Ospreay and Okada are some sort of dream team. EVIL continued to work on Okada’s taped up neck, applying a cravate at one point. The sequences between Ospreay and Hiromu were fast and crisp. When Hiromu got offense on Okada it excited me, because I could one day see Hiromu working as a heavyweight main eventer and this match seems like a real possibility. Okada continues to sell the neck very well, even in the little things like not doing a kip up after his signature flapjack.

Down the stretch Ospreay flipped out of the Time Bomb, back flipped off of Hiromu into a step up enzuigiri. That spot is always great. Then he hit Hiromu with the Robinson special but this time in the face while he was standing. Ospreay went for the OsCutter but EVIL saved Hiromu from it, and went to STO Ospreay but Okada came from behind and gave EVIL a Rainmaker. Loved that, and I believe that’s the first time in this feud Okada has gotten the better of EVIL. Ospreay hits the Oscutter on Hiromu to score the pin. Ospreay seemed to get the better of Hiromu at every turn. I don’t know if this booking lends itself towards a three way with KUSHIDA or maybe Ospreay will get his singles match after all. ***1/2

Afterwards Okada cut a promo on EVIL “Hey, EVIL. You said you know how to beat the superman. You must be dreaming. On October 9th, in Ryogoku, I will teach you what it takes to win the IWGP title. Be ready for it.” Oh I’m ready, Okada.

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega © def. Juice Robinson

Kenny Omega is a brilliant man. From the moment he came out through the entirety of this match, I wasn’t sure whether he was concerned that his knee wasn’t ready to go or if he was just selling. This is something people really miss the mark on when it comes to Omega. His usual goofiness doesn’t just let him rest in tag prelims, it also provides a contrast to when he seems concerned or serious.

Early on in this match I was feeling empathy pains in my own knees when Omega would land on his feet from a move or try to run the ropes at his usual speed. Kevin Kelly and Don Callis did an excellent job putting over how recent his surgery was and how superheroic his return in this type of environment is. Juice, ever the babyface, refused to go after Omega’s knee in the early going. Omega played possum and lured Juice in, only to drive him into the guardrail. I wasn’t sure if Omega was conserving his energy for big moments or if his knee was actually 100% and I was being worked.

Juice went for Pulp Friction but Omega countered into a V Trigger. Omega was starting to overwhelm and outclass Juice, hitting a reverse rana early. Another V Trigger and Omega went for One Winged Angel. Juice rolls through into a victory roll for a near fall. As Omega had Juice up for One Winged Angel, Juice slipped out and chop blocked Omega’s knee from behind. Don Callis sold this as a heinous act and even the Japanese crowd seemed to turn on Juice a bit for this, but Juice realized he would have to pull out all the stops to defeat a man of Omega’s caliber.

From there this match was great. Juice worked Omega’s knee with no remorse. A move as simple as a single leg crab pops the Japanese crowd. Juice figure four’d Omega’s knee around the ring post. Omega suplexed Juice from the apron to the floor, a spot reminiscent of the classic Kobashi/Akiyama match from NOAH in 2004. You could hear Juice gasping for air on the floor.

The next sequence saw Omega hitting Juice with multiple snap dragons, a flurry of v-triggers and absolutely insanity from both men. Juice looked like he may have pulled off the upset after hitting a a Pulp Friction in the middle of the ring but Omega kicked out at the last second.

Juice went for a Pulp Friction off the top rope but got caught on Omega’s shoulders leading to a Super One Winged Angel! You could’ve counted to a hundred, Juice was done.

This match started slow but this was the most complete performance of Juice’s career, even more so than his great Naito main event earlier this year or his G1 Climax effort against Okada. Omega barely kicking out of Pulp Friction was great. Shows what you can do when you protect finishes. The storytelling here was excellent. This wasn’t as fast paced and high octane as other Omega matches, but overall, I thought this was great. ****1/4

Afterwards, Omega cuts a promo. “The Cleaner is back.” He praised Juice’s effort. Juice is unmoving on the ground. “Make no mistake, the best in the world, on the planet, is me.” There’s a funny moment where Omega tried to do his signature sign off while holding his title and the mic and it takes him a second to figure that out. The man can do little wrong in my eyes after a performance like that.

In the post-show press conference YOSHI-HASHI came up to challenge Omega.

Final Thoughts:

NJPW Destruction in Kobe 2017 was the best of the three Destruction shows, with arguably the best main event. I found this an easy watch top to bottom, if not exactly a newsworthy show. If you’re low on time I highly recommend catching the main event, and to a lesser extent the tag match and Beretta’s match.

NJPW Destruction In Hiroshima (September 16th) Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

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

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

Kevin Kelly is flying solo on commentary for this first portion of the show, as Don Callis was helping Kenny Omega heal up in preparation for his big title defense in Kobe against Juice Robinson. This opening matchup featured a number of New Japan stalwarts, and when the dust settled, it ended up being your typical undercard multi-man tag. It wasn’t good, but it was by no means bad. There was some decent action throughout, but it wasn’t that energetic (though to be fair, we shouldn’t expect this kind of match to have much energy). It seems that the two people that worked the hardest here were Liger (not surprising) and Tiger Mask (a little surprising). Liger managed to hit a big superplex on Goto at one point, which looked very good, while Tiger Mask got a nice nearfall after hitting YOSHI-HASHI with a Tiger Driver.

Tiger Driver! #NJPW #njdest https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/2i8GCmp51t

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) September 16, 2017

Now you would think that with Jado in this match, the CHAOS trio would surely lose. However, that wasn’t the case, as they managed to pick up the win after YOSHI-HASHI got Tiger Mask to tap out to that stupid Butterfly Lock. I guess it’s good that he finally managed to win a match with it, but I still believe that it’s one of the worst submission holds in pro-wrestling today. **1/2

Juice Robinson & David Finlay def. The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Leo Tonga)

This is my first time seeing Leo Tonga in action, and boy is he big!! I saw the picture that was floated around months ago of him towering over Bad Luck Fale, but it’s still amazing to see just how tall this guy is. As for the match itself, it was basic tag team affair, which shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. While Leo Tonga was (obviously) green as grass here, I didn’t find him to be inoffensive in any way. The rudimentary stuff he did seemed to solid enough, for someone who doesn’t have much experience at all. We shouldn’t expect the matches that he’s involved in to be any good, I’m very intrigued to see how he progresses over time. I certainly think that he’s much better off in the New Japan dojo/young lion system than a place like the WWE Performance Center. Juice Robinson got the win for his team after hitting Leo Tonga with the Pulp Friction. Kevin Kelly teased that this Juice Robinson/David Finlay team could be in the World Tag League later this year, which I wouldn’t mind. **

Stunner from @THEdavidfinlay! Pulp Friction from @_juicerobinson_! #NJPW #njdest https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/sfvFZb1KKy

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) September 16, 2017

Roppongi Vice def. The Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi)

While the end of the team was announced back at the G1 Specials in Long Beach, California, this was the official last match for Roppongi Vice as a tag team. There was also some backstory to this one coming in, as throughout the tour, Beretta has been having a mini-feud with Yujiro Takahashi (Beretta’s first program as a heavyweight). I find it a little odd that this ended up being the last tag team bout for Roppongi Vice. They seemingly went out with a bang in their match against The Young Bucks during the aforementioned G1 Specials, This particular Bullet Club duo of Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi is definitely less exciting, but it does make sense with regards to the story they’re telling with Beretta, as he encounters some initial struggles after making the move up to the heavyweight division. The match itself turned out to be a relatively good one. Even though Roppongi Vice didn’t even last three years, you could always count on them to deliver, regardless of their position on the card, and this was a perfect example of that. There aren’t a lot of boring or subpar Roppongi Vice matches to speak of. At the same time, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi were pretty solid here as well. Again, I wasn’t excited to see them, but they showed some good teamwork, and were perfectly proficient here as a mid-card heel tag team. Roppongi Vice, in the end, were able to go out with a win after hitting Chase Owens with the Strong Zero. ***1/4

#NJPW #njdest @azucarRoc @trentylockshttps://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/5Q1tCFvJZG

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) September 16, 2017

After the match, Yujiro took the mic and cut a promo on Beretta. He said that the heavyweight division is too hard for Beretta, and told him to go back to the juniors division. Yujiro then issued a challenge for a singles match against Beretta, which I’m guessing will happen either at King Of Pro Wrestling or at some point during the Power Struggle Tour. As others have mentioned previously, it’s nice to see New Japan setting up some singles matches that don’t involve any titles. I don’t think anyone is expecting a Beretta/Yujiro Takahashi encounter to set the world on fire, but it is a nice step in Beretta’s progression into the heavyweight division.

Kota Ibushi, “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin, & Togi Makabe def. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taka Michinoku, & Takashi Iizuka)

So I went on cagematch.net this morning to mainly check out the match times for this show, and I found this funny little error that seemed to suggest that clones of Kota Ibushi & Togi Makabe joined Suzuki-gun. Speaking of Kota Ibushi, this was his first appearance on this entire tour, and it comes in six-man tag team action against a Suzuki-gun trio. In a move that should come as a shock to absolutely nobody, Suzuki and his cohorts attacked their opponents before the bell, and we got a big brawl on the outside to start. Suzuki-gun’s shenanigans have become very tiresome, but at least these particular members were relegated to an undercard tag. I didn’t find this match to be that interesting, but thankfully, the team of Ibushi, Elgin, & Makabe managed to do enough to keep my attention.

Powerslam from Makabe! #NJPW #njdest https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/cpXFYp780U

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) September 16, 2017

Ibushi would get the victory after hitting his Kamigoye knee strike on Iizuka. There was some decent exchanges between Makabe and Suzuki during the match itself, and a post-match confrontation seemed to suggest that we’re getting a Suzuki/Makabe feud over the NEVER Title, which will probably be either at King Of Pro Wrestling or Power Struggle (I would guess the latter). As for this six-man tag, it was ok, but not very memorable. **1/4

I should mention that Kevin Kelly brought up on commentary that Kota Ibushi was back full time with New Japan. Obviously Ibushi wasn’t on this entire tour, but if he’s in New Japan on a more consistent basis, even if he’s a semi-regular, I think all of us will be happy with that.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles – Funky Future (Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi) def. Suzuki-gun (Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

Rocky Romero came out to join Kevin Kelly on English Commentary for the rest of the night, which was pretty good. I think we can all agree that Romero’s done an excellent job with his contributions to the English Commentary Team at the G1 Climax Finals the last two years, so it’s nice to see that he’s getting the chance to do more. This was the first title defense for the team of Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi, who captured the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles from The Young Bucks at the G1 Climax 27 Finals last month. They’re defending against the Suzuki-gun team of Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru, who’ve sort of become the perennial title challengers during these tours that separate the big New Japan events on the calendar. As a whole, this was a very good tag team encounter. Unfortunately, we did get some Suzuki-gun shenanigans at a few points, mainly involving foreign objects. At one point, Taichi got the ring bell hammer and blocked a Taguchi hip attack by….shoving it up Taguchi’s asshole (I wish I was making that up). Later, Taichi poured whiskey down Taguchi’s throat, and attacked both members of Funky Future with his mic stand. Despite all of those negatives, they still managed to have an exciting tag team title bout. A lot of the credit has to go to Ricochet, who is such an incredible performer. Whenever he was on the offensive, the match just kicked into another gear. Ricochet adds so much energy and exciting in every match he’s in, and that just speaks to how awesome he is.

Standing SSP from @KingRicochet!! #NJPW #njdest https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/aWc2icAogA

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) September 16, 2017

Additionally, both Taguchi and Kanemaru put forth a ton of effort as well. Of course, we all know that Taguchi can deliver when the situation calls for it, while Kanemaru was really solid throughout. The final few minutes of this match were particularly exciting, with a number of nearfalls and entertaining action. Eventually, Kanemaru got put in the ankle lock by Taguchi, and after getting hit with a 450 Splash from Ricochet while in the submission hold, Kanemaru was forced to tap. This was easily the best match on the card, up to this point. Funky Future is a very fun team to watch, and the Suzuki-gun team (despite the various shenanigans) did a fine job in their role as the heel challengers. ***½

After the match, Rocky Romero left the English Commentary Table, took the mic, and got up on the apron. He said that tonight, Roppongi Vice died, but the next generation of Roppongi was coming. Romero announces that he’s bringing a team to New Japan that is bigger, stronger, faster, and 3000 times better…..Roppongi 3K. Ricochet accepts the challenge on behalf of Funky Future, noting that they’ll be champions “forever”. It’ll be interesting to see who this team ends up being, and based on commentary later on in the night, this Funky Future/Roppongi 3K bout will potentially take place at King Of Pro Wrestling. With Roppongi Vice coming to an end, CHAOS is lacking a regular junior heavyweight tag team, and this new team looks to be filling that void, with Rocky Romero potentially being a manager (as it sounded like it’s a whole new team, not just one guy coming in to team with Romero).

Before the next match, we got another weird vignette involving the so-called “switchblade man”.

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles – Three-Way Match – War Machine def. The Guerrillas of Destiny & The Killer Elite Squad

How ridiculous is it that we’re seeing the exact same three-way tag team title bout three times on the same tour? Anyway, this is the second of the three IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Title bouts on this tour, but before diving into the match itself, what’s up with attire on KES? Did they lose their regular gear or something? Davey Boy Smith Jr. looks like he’s paying tribute to his father’s WWF run in 1999 with those jeans, so I guess in that case, there’s a connection, but still, it’s very odd to see both guys wrestling in (essentially) street clothes. Meanwhile, Tanga Loa came out wearing this weird….body suit….thing. Some questionable attire choices in this one, for sure.

As for the match itself, it was relatively solid, but by no means outstanding. There was good action throughout, and all three teams had chances to shine, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed. We always complain about these multi-team matches for both sets of tag team titles, but they almost always end up being better than we expected. That wasn’t the case with this particular bout, which is strange, because one would think these three teams are perfect for a three-way, given that they all wrestle a similar style. To be fair, they seem to work well together, but the issue is the matches fall short of what they could be. That point aside, this was still solid, as I already mentioned. War Machine got the win after hitting Fallout on Davey Boy Smith Jr., which was a slightly different result from the three-way in Fukushima (War Machine pinned Tanga Loa to retain in that one). This result does add a bit of intrigue to the third encounter between these teams in Kobe, as War Machine has now pinned both of their challengers. One would think that a title change is coming, but time will ultimately tell. ***1/4

FALLOUT! #NJPW #njdest @WarBeardHanson @RAYMONDxROWEhttps://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/W81tfe7wbi

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) September 16, 2017

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

So this Ten-Man Tag is helping to build up to a number of matches that are coming up at King Of Pro Wrestling in October (Okada vs. EVIL, Naito vs. Ishii, and potentially Hiromu vs. Ospreay). From start to finish, this was a highly entertaining contest that served its purpose perfectly. This featured some very good action throughout, and a number of entertaining exchanges involving the feuds that I already mentioned. Even those who weren’t really involved in a specific program got chances to shine here as well. Yano was (once again) trapped in the Paradise Lock by SANADA, while BUSHI and Gedo battled each other in the final few minutes as the two legal men. The formula for this one was every Ten-Man Tag you’ve seen in New Japan, but there was enough action in here to make a blast to watch. Towards the end, EVIL hit the STO on Okada, and stood tall over the IWGP Heavyweight Champion as BUSHI got the pin on Gedo.

Everything is EVIL!! #NJPW #njdest https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/HS7Xa146k4

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) September 16, 2017

After the match ended, we got a number of post-match attacks by the LIJ contingent. EVIL hit Okada with Darkness Falls onto a pile of chairs in the center of the ring, while Naito relentlessly went after the injured knee of Ishii, locking him in a figure four at one point. Once again, this match and the post-match angles did a fantastic job to build up the two big matches at King Of Pro Wrestling. EVIL looked incredibly strong here (and the English Commentary really helped to put him over as a major threat), while Ishii appears to now be in an underdog position with an injured knee going into his match with Naito. LIJ looked stronger than ever coming out of this one. ***1/2

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title – KUSHIDA def. El Desperado

Great Scott! IWGP Jr Champ @KUSHIDA_0904 makes his entrance at #njdest Hiroshima Sun Plaza! Time to make history!pic.twitter.com/O1fCAvO03D

— njpw_global (@njpwglobal) September 16, 2017

El Desperado was looking a little like Pentagon Jr. here with the black and white face paint under his mask. This title bout was set up before G1 Climax started, when El Desperado hit KUSHIDA with a vicious guitar shot following a title defense in Korakuen Hall back in June. On the English Commentary, Kevin Kelly brought up that KUSHIDA, for the last three years, has lost the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title in the month of September, to Ryusuke Taguchi, Kenny Omega, & BUSHI respectively (I believe he credited Chris Charlton for bringing that to his attention). That actually added a unique wrinkle to this one, as KUSHIDA (evidently) has horrible luck in the month of September, which is sort of similar to how the Dallas Cowboys have a reputation of falling apart during the month of December.

Guitarra de la Muerte!! #NJPW #njdest https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/9S62snfYpI

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) September 16, 2017

Fortunately, KUSHIDA managed to overcome that bad history by retaining the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title here against El Desperado after hitting him with Back To The Future. This was similar to the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title bout earlier in the night, in that the match had to overcome a bunch of Suzuki-gun shenanigans, though this one didn’t turn out quite as well as that match did. While there was some very solid wrestling throughout, El Desperado tried to used a variety of different shortcuts to get to the title. This included using Takashi Iizuka’s leash to whip KUSHIDA, wedging a chair into one of the corners, and even an attempt at a phantom DQ when he took his mask off and threw it to KUSHIDA. There were a couple of good exchanges between the two, and the wrestling throughout was solid, but again, the shenanigans definitely hurt this one, as it wasn’t quite able to overcome them as well as the aforementioned IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title bout did earlier in the night. ***1/4

Rolling Hoverboard Lock off the top!! #NJPW #njdest https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/nOVtMQOdf2

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) September 16, 2017

Ospreay congratulates KUSHIDA on another successful title defense. He brings up how he fell short in the Best Of The Super Junior Finals as well as the WCPW World Cup Finals. Ospreay doesn’t want to be defined as the man who can’t beat KUSHIDA. He says that no matter how many times he gets beat, he gets right back up. Ospreay wants to change the junior heavyweight division and New Japan, but he can’t do that until he beats KUSHIDA. Hiromu Takahashi then comes out and goes to speak, but Ospreay immediately knocks him out with a hard right hand. KUSHIDA has a staredown with Ospreay before the two depart, and then Hiromu throws a temper tantrum in the ring. This was very interesting segment, in terms of how it was handled. It seems like the Ospreay/Hiromu match that’s been speculated about for weeks will be a  No. 1 Contender’s Match, but at the same time, Hiromu looked like a complete punk in the segment when Ospreay just knocked him out with a single punch. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with that No. 1 Contender’s bout, should it happen. Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked if we get some sort of draw in that one, leading to a Triple Threat Match at Wrestle Kingdom with KUSHIDA, Ospreay & Hiromu all involved. It wouldn’t be the first time that IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title has been defended in a Triple Threat in the Tokyo Dome.

LIGHT'S OUT! This cat's got claws 😉 #NJPW #njdest @WillOspreayhttps://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/gUHyZkWZjM

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) September 16, 2017

IWGP Intercontinental Title – Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Zack Sabre Jr.

I know it’s been a few weeks, but I still can’t believe that Hiroshi Tanahashi actually cut his famous hair. It was for a movie, and it seemed like here that it’s on its way to being back to normal, but still, he looks so different. Of course, this match came about after Zack Sabre Jr. made Tanahashi tap out twice during the G1 Climax (once in their actual tournament match on the opening night, and again at the G1 Climax Finals during a Six-Man Tag). While we, once again, saw Suzuki-gun shenanigans in a title bout on this card, it was still the match of the night. There were some great back and forth technical exchanges in the first ten minutes, before Zack Sabre Jr. finally decided to target the injured arm of Tanahashi. In response, Tanahashi went after one of Zack Sabre Jr.’s legs, meaning that the contest would potentially come down to which body part would give out first.

OH MAN #njdest #NJPW #NJPWWorld @zacksabrejr pic.twitter.com/2AJPlG6Lyw

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) September 16, 2017

Texas Cloverleaf! #NJPW #njdest https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/frJUmBZNUu

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) September 16, 2017

While this did clock it at around thirty minutes or so, it was paced pretty well. Things started slow, but as the match progressed, the pace quickened, and the action intensified. The English Commentary also did a very good job throughout this main event. Kevin Kelly & Don Callis are a great team on their own, but when Rocky Romero is on the call as well, he adds so much to the matches, including this one. I know people aren’t that big on a three man commentary booth (especially after WWE’s done it for years), but I believe the combination of Kelly, Callis, & Romero might be the best three person commentary team right now.

Anyway, back to the match itself, this definitely had the potential to equal their bout from the G1, but unfortunately, those hopes were dashed when Minoru Suzuki ran out and attacked Tanahashi in the ring. Michael Elgin eventually ran out and fought with Suzuki up the ramp and too the back, but still, this interference by Suzuki was so egregious.

Perhaps we can give it a pass in undercard title matches, but this kind of shit has no place in a New Japan main event. If there was any silver lining, it’s that Suzuki’s involvement didn’t directly lead to the finish. We saw a few more minutes of exchanges between Tanahashi & Zack Sabre Jr., but eventually, Tanahashi was finally able to secure the victory with a High Fly Flow. Again, the interference definitely hurt the match, but the action from start to finish was so great that it was able to overcome the interference. It obviously could’ve been better, but as we’ve all seen over the course of the year, Suzuki-gun interference is bound to happen when one of their members is in a big match. ****

After the match, Tanahashi cut his usual end-of-the-show promo, but not before calling out Kota Ibushi, who defeated him during the G1 Climax. This brought out Ibushi, who respectfully accepted the challenge from Tanahashi. Since King Of Pro Wrestling already has two high profile matches scheduled (Okada vs. EVIL & Naito vs. Ishii), I would guess that this will be the main event for Power Struggle in November. Their encounter in the G1 Climax was fantastic, and I’m sure this upcoming title bout will be no different.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been dealing with a bad head cold over the last few days, so I was hoping that watching this show would lift my spirits up a bit. For the most part, I think it managed to do just that. The 2017 edition of Destruction In Hiroshima was a return to form for New Japan after the abysmal event that took place in Fukushima several days earlier. Even though there weren’t any amazing matches on this card, the main event of Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. was great despite the interference, and a majority of the undercard bouts were pretty solid, with a lot of them ranging in that ***1/4-***1/2 range. The card also featured a lot of buildup towards King Of Pro Wrestling and (potentially) Power Struggle. Finally, I should mention that Kevin Kelly & Rocky Romero did a fantastic job with the English Commentary, and I hope we see Romero on commentary more often in the future. Destruction In Hiroshima was far from New Japan’s best show of 2017, but it was light years ahead of the disaster of a card known as Destruction In Fukushima.

#njdest #NJPW #NJPWWorld pic.twitter.com/ysq3wNqTak

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) September 16, 2017

NJPW Destruction in Fukushima (September 10) Results & Review

Author : augustbaker12

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Destruction in Fukushima
September 10, 2017
Azuma Gymnasium
Fukushima, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Yuji Nagata & Hirai Kawato def Manabu Nakanishi & Shota Umino

The one thing I wanted from this match is Kawato to show no fear against the much larger Nakanishi. We didn’t really get much of that. We didn’t really get much of anything. Nakanishi was slower than normal. Kawato slipped off the top rope doing a springboard. No one had any fire. Nagata tapped Umino with the Nagata Lock. Not a great start to the show. *3/4

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI def Katsuya Kitamura & Tomoyuki Oka

Watching YOSHI-HASHI try to bully the much larger Kitamura was pretty funny. YOSHI has spent so much time on the receiving end of these slaps and shoulder blocks, and now that he has a chance to treat some Young Lions the way he has been treated, they’re twice his size. Kitamura shows off his strength by winning a suplex struggle with Goto. YOSHI and Kitamura brawl around ringside, and Goto pins Oka with a kick to the chest. Poor Oka didn’t even rate a real finisher apparently. Goto and YOSHI didn’t do a lot to justify their continued existence as a tag team. **1/4

Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens def Beretta & Jado

Beretta and Jado come out to RPG Vice theme music and video, which you may recall has Rocky Romero on vocals and his name in the video. Awkward. Beretta, get your own music dude. The story here is Beretta having to prove himself as a heavyweight against low card scrubs like Yujiro, but presentation matters almost as much as wins and losses. Chase Owens interrupts a pin by jumping on the referee when he easily could have landed on the wrestlers, which was such a heel move. Yujiro pinned Jado with the Pimp Juice DDT, and I assume Beretta and Yujiro are going to keep doing this the rest of the Destruction tour. **1/2


Juice Robinson & David Finlay def Bad Luck Fale & Leo Tonga

This is my first look at Leo Tonga. He certainly is tall. Fale is a great coach. He makes sure Leo is watching before he does a move, then makes Leo do the same move. This could be a really great dynamic going forward. Fale gets knocked out of the ring and Leo eats a Stunner from Finlay and Pulp Friction from Juice. **1/2

Taguchi Japan (Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA, Ricochet, Ryusuke Taguchi & Togi Makabe) def Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Taichi, Taka Michinoku, Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

Desperado trying to lead a crazed Iizuka through the crowd is always funny, I don’t care what the haters say. Unfortunately it means we don’t get Taichi’s entrance, which is the high point of nearly every Taichi match. Iizuka gets caught in the corner, Taguchi Japan runs into him, over and over, but every time Taguchi himself tries he gets kicked. Despy and KUSHIDA preview their title match later in the tour, and based on the few minutes they spend together here, it should be pretty good. Ricochet does some great Ricochet things, no doubt high off his BOLA win. This is also my first time seeing Tanahashi’s mid-life crisis haircut. I hate it. Taguchi countered the dreaded double eye poke from Taka with a redirection into Kanemaru, then back to Taka, then rolls him up for the win. This had some genuinely funny moments that made me laugh out loud. ***1/4

A brief switchblade vignette airs. Still hoping it’s Jay White.

IWGP Tag Team Championship
War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) (c) def. Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)

Our previewers spent enough time burying the concept of having this same exact match on three different shows, so I can just gloss over it. My thought would be to add another team like TenCozy and have a little tournament. But wouldn’t literally anything have been better than doing the same match three times? There are a lot of big people in this match. And Tama Tonga. These guys are doing stuff, and it’s fairly entertaining, but the fact that this is going to happen two more times, probably exactly the same, hampers my enjoyment. Hanson and Rowe pin Tanga Loa with a guillotine leg drop, and at this point I would just have War Machine win the next two matches too. ***

Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi def Tomohiro Ishii and Will Ospreay

Really hoping these last three matches can turn this show around. Even early on, this match has an explosiveness that the show has lacked. Will is moving at full speed here, which is such a relief on a show where everyone else is half-assing it. Ishii’s knee is taped up, which provides a convenient target for Hiromu and Naito. Ishii and Naito spend a fair amount of time together, and I wish they didn’t. We’ve seen them have some great matches this year already, we don’t need a preview of their upcoming match. In a show struggling for energy, we don’t need stuff we’ve seen a dozen times before. The interactions between the other guys is a lot of fun though. Naito counters a flip by kicking Ospreay straight in the balls and nailing Destino for the win. ***1/4

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA) (c) def CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Rocky Romero & Toru Yano)

The VOW previewers already explained how weird this CHAOS team is. But the real point of this match isn’t the NEVER Openweight 6-Man titles, it’s EVIL vs Okada. Even with his big win in the G1 Climax and his destruction of Okada in the subsequent weeks, EVIL still feels like an odd challenger for one of the biggest shows of the year. Anything to keep elevating him is good in my book. Okada teases the Red Ink, his rarely used submission, and I think it would be hilarious if their match was a submission match. While I didn’t need any more preview of Ishii/Naito in the last match, the preview here, especially with EVIL looking strong, is exactly what was needed.

SANADA has added a rolling clutch to his repertoire, which along with the Paradise Lock, gives him the goofiest moveset in wrestling. They’re telling a good story where EVIL is the only one who can stand up to Okada, and Okada is the only one on his team that can stand up to EVIL. The two dominate their time in the ring. SANADA ties Yano in the ropes with the Paradise Lock, EVIL counters the Rainmaker with EVIL, and BUSHI pins Rocky after the MX. EVIL stands tall over a fallen Okada. A really good match that keeps the story between EVIL and Okada strong. ***1/2

NEVER Openweight Championship
Minoru Suzuki © def. Michael Elgin

I gave Suzuki/Elgin ***1/2 at the G1, and remember absolutely nothing about it. That doesn’t bode super well, nor does making it a Lumberjack match. It’s no secret I think Elgin needs to be used better in New Japan. I’m not sure the NEVER title is the right place for him, but at least it’s something. Elgin has Taguchi Japan as his lumberjacks, while Suzuki of course has Suzuki-gun. Taichi teases taking Suzuki’s spot, and now I hope Elgin murders him with a powerbomb before this match ends. Elgin flips off Suzuki-gun while holding a delayed suplex, and the SKG lumberjacks sure are doing a bad job of getting Suzuki back into the ring. Instead, they brawl with Taguchi Japan while Suzuki and Elgin brawl into the crowd. Worse. Lumberjacks. Ever.

If you have a Lumberjack match, you have to at least pretend to follow the tropes of the match. Otherwise, you just have a bunch of people fighting outside the ring for no reason. The match itself is mostly forearms. Suzuki wails on Elgin with a chair, and an angry Elgin no sells it. Elgin gets a big pop by refusing to hit Suzuki with the chair and throwing it aside. Suzuki-gun gets in the ring while the ref is “distracted” and Taguchi Japan just watches like dopes. Finally Tanahashi and company get in the ring to help out. Elgin clears the ring and lands the Elgin bomb but SKG pulls the ref out. KES and War Machine come down and get involved. Elgin lays into Suzuki and goes for the Burning Hammer, but Suzuki wiggles out into a sleeper, Iizuka chops Elgin with the iron hand, and the Gotch Piledriver puts Elgin away for the three count. This started out weak, got better with a hot nearfall off the Elgin Bomb, but sank quickly at the end. **

Final Thoughts: 

This felt like a house show. Guys weren’t trying very hard. There were no match cards or name placards on the screen. A quiet crowd that didn’t even pop for the usual spots like Suzuki’s theme song. This show is a victim of dividing up the Destruction card into three shows. If the final two matches here had been matches five and six on a bigger card, I wouldn’t complain but headlining a supposedly big show, they fell badly short. The only match I can recommend is the six-man tag, both for the ringwork and for the continuing story of EVIL and Okada.

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Finals (August 13) Results & Review

Author : joelanza

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 – Finals
August 13, 2017
Ryōgoku Sumo Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World  / Final VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em Standings (Winners will be contacted this week): voicesofwrestling.com/forums

El Desperado, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku, Yoshinobu Kanemaru def. Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask, KUSHIDA, Hirai Kawato

The focus here was KUSHIDA and Despy building heat for their upcoming IWGP junior heavyweight title match, but once again Hirai Kawato stole the show.

It’s gotten to the point that Kawato not only steals the show in every match he’s involved in, but now the matches are deliberately structured for him to do so. The formula is simple. The veteran teammates gain the advantage. The spunky young lion demands to be tagged in, to the delight of the fans. Kawato then proceeds to get murdered, costing his team the match. The New Japan dojo has pumped out some great workers over the last five years or so, many advanced well beyond their experience level, but none have exhibited the crowd connection that Kawato has. He may not be an in ring prodigy like Sho Tanaka or Yohei Komatsu, a potential top star like Jay White or Tomoyuki Oka, or possess the physical presence of Katsuya Kitamura, but there is an underdog charm about him reminiscent of Tomoaki Honma that virtually guarantees a certain level of success. **3/4

Crazy tope con giro from El Desperado!! #NJPW #G127 https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/pocJ1MSBsW

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 13, 2017

Guerrillas of Destiny def. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi

With his final G1 officially in the rear view, Yuji Nagata now assumes the position of undercard fodder, on this night teaming with his pal Manabu Nakanishi and putting over a contending tag team. His 2016 NEVER run will likely wind up being his final singles push, a storyline designed to help Katsuyori Shibata get over the hump as a main event player with character defining wins over the third generation stars. Nagata proved to be the perfect man for the role, humbling the cocky Shibata and teaching him respect, the last symbolic piece of the puzzle that Shibata needed to finally pay his penance, his final stamp of approval, years after abandoning the company at their low point. Nagata’s most important role now shifts to behind the scenes, preparing the young lions to be the next generation of stars.  **1/2

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI def. Togi Makabe & David Finlay

A neat & tidy win here for the CHAOS side, and at this point in the show everyone seemed content to get in and get out after a long and grueling tour. Makabe continues to languish is booking limbo without his pal Honma. **1/2

TenKoji & Juice Robinson def. Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens

Let’s talk about Chase Owens.

He may be the Bullet Club fall guy, but he’s developed a habit of being the hardest working man and standout of their tag bouts, despite being guaranteed to take the loss as the lowest ranked member of the group. This dude works his ass off whether he’s taking the fall in a six man tag, working as G.O.D.’s corner man, or taking the L as Kenny Omega’s tag team partner. Owens has a defined role as the Bullet Club utility player, and instead of sleepwalking through it or pouting until he gets a push, he fills that sometimes thankless role with enthusiasm and top notch effort. He’s the last remaining relic of the NWA relationship, and he’s more than earned his spot. Good on him. **3/4

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet) def. Young Bucks (c)

A tremendous match, right on par or better than the excellent Young Bucks vs RPG Vice series. All four men were excellent here, with the Bucks attacking Ricochet’s knee throughout as the story (including a long double scorpion deathlock spot), Ricochet selling the knee so convincingly that many people on Twitter were concerned he blew it out, and Taguchi, who could easily be a top heavyweight worker if he chose to be, holding the match together as the glue. For the finish, Taguchi broke up the Meltzer Driver with a mid air ass attack to clear Nick out of the way, leading to a Ricochet Shooting Star Press on Matt. One of the better, if not the best, New Japan tags of the year. ****

Dodon's Throne!! #NJPW #G127 https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/6fyd8HhiW1

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 13, 2017

“I’m alive. That is all!”

A few short words and one symbolic bump later, with thousands of shocked fans reduced to tears, we were left to speculate on the vagueness of Katsuyori Shibata’s return to the ring for the first time since Sakura Genesis in what was an incredibly emotional scene.

Fans around the world welcome back #TheWrestler Katsuyori Shibata! His emotional message: "I'm alive!" #ShibataFightsOn #G127 pic.twitter.com/iLqk4AoFt9

— njpw_global (@njpwglobal) August 13, 2017

IWGP Tag Tam Titles
War Machine (c) def. Cody & Hangman Page

Cody has done an incredible job marketing himself and getting over as the top indie star in the United States, but the people of Japan give exactly zero fucks about this man. I keep waiting for Hangman Page to show the potential that people talk about, but he continually disappoints and fails to stand out in any way whatsoever either here or in ROH. Give War Machine credit, as they were able to make something out of working with what amounted to two generic dudes who nobody in an otherwise red hot Sumo Hall crowd gave a single shit about. Hanson finally hit his moonsault, a spot War Machine has slowly been building up to, to score the pin on Page. The ROH World champ was booked as mid carder fodder, which speaks volumes on what New Japan thinks of the relationship. ***

Post match, G.O.D. came out to challenge, and Tama Tonga proceeded to cut one of the worst promos you’ll ever hear on a major league show. Killer Elite Squad made their surprise return through the crowd and destroyed everyone, which probably means we’re getting a three way match for the titles.

Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr, Takashi Iizuka def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Mike Elgin, Kota Ibushi

As teased by G1 results, we’re headed towards Zack Sabre Jr challenging Tanahashi for the IC title, and Elgin vs Suzuki for the NEVER belt. That was the focus here, with Sabre Jr scoring his second submission fall on Tanahashi, serving as bookends on the first and last shows of the tour. Somewhat depressing is the fact that Ibushi was left out of the match building mix, a hint that he might be out of the New Japan picture moving forward, at least for the immediate future or until Wrestle Kingdom. ***1/4

#BIGMIKE @MichaelElgin25 taking out the trash! #NJPW #G127 https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/R6cuVnqypK

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 13, 2017

EVIL, SANADA, BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi def. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Gedo

EVIL will get the next crack at Okada’s title based on his huge G1 upset last week, and to set the stage he delivered a post match powerbomb to the champ on a pile of chairs. As for the match itself, this was the usual hot LIJ vs CHAOS affair, highlighted by Ishii being Ishii and Hiromu scoring a submission fall on Gedo using a secondary finish (triangle choke). ***1/4

Darkness Falls! #NJPW #G127 https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/fDxh9EskeQ

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 13, 2017

Hiromu was not booked well on this tour, taking far too many falls, usually as EVIL’s partner. Juniors typically eat falls for their heavyweight stablemates, but in the case of Hiromu, this was a guy who was protected to the extreme between the time he re-debuted with the company in late 2016 until he lost the junior title to KUSHIDA (a booking decision I strongly disagreed with), rarely losing and never dropping the fall when he did.

His long singles undefeated streak between his return and the Best of the Super Junior tournament featured a billed match at Wrestle Kingdom (fourth from the top), multiple semi main events, and never losing falls in tags. It felt like Hiromu, and by proxy the junior division as a whole, was being elevated beyond the usual junior level, with Hiromu carrying a special kind of aura and looking like a future top star, whether as a junior or otherwise, and being protected as such. Over the last three weeks, it was disappointing to see him used as pin eating fodder in prelim tags, no longer carrying that special aura, reduced to the same old booking patterns of the rest of the juniors. I had bought into the idea that the juniors, but especially Hiromu, had been elevated to a new level.

It appears I was wrong, and I feel like a fool for buying in. The reality is, now he’s just another junior in the crowd, who will be heated up come title shot time, left laying and looking at the lights otherwise. And don’t get me started on Daryl, which while over, is firmly a prelim gimmick. I’m not suggesting they’ve killed Hiromu dead, and perhaps I worked myself into a shoot with their long term plans, but it’s hard enough to be a legitimate main event player as a junior, let alone when saddled with a stuffed animal gimmick that simply won’t play at the top of the card in a company like this one. I’m not saying he can’t recover. But now I have serious doubts that they ever saw him as a top line player to begin with, which is a shame, because I genuinely believe he can be.

G1 Climax 27 Final
Tetsuya Naito def. Kenny Omega

When it was all said and done, it was the final and the result that we all expected.

It all made too much sense. Omega defeats Okada on the final night of the block to even the score at 1-1-1, and Naito beats Omega to get his win back from a year earlier and move on to face, and likely defeat, Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 12, in the money match that the company has been setting up since keeping the two away from each other for well over a year. It also sets up Omega to potentially face Kota Ibushi in the Dome, which would be the strongest possible combination of top two matches from a drawing perspective that the company could conceivably put together. If the vague nature of Shibata’s surprise appearance leads to an in ring return, a Wrestle Kingdom match against Tanahashi would be a triple main event for the ages.

The match itself was an incredible display of beautiful excess. Omega is the hottest wrestler in the world. Naito is peaking right now in Japan, putting to rest the short sighted argument that they waited to long to pull the trigger on him. Both men have a story to finish with Okada.  They walked right up to the line of too much without ever quite crossing it, with enough story sprinkled in (Omega’s Destino vulnerable neck, set up by a piledriver that was supposed to go through a table but ended up just barely making contact and nearly ending in disaster) to keep things somewhat honest. But they clearly weren’t going for classic psychology beyond. This was meant to be thrilling, dramatic, and utterly insane, and that’s what they delivered.

POISONED FRANKENSTEINER!! #NJPW #G127 https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/vZVwdRngvm

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 13, 2017

There is some nitpicking to be had, with the near botch on the table spot, Naito’s sloppy looking Destino’s (that Omega did his best to save by taking wild bumps to cover for the messy execution), and the V-Trigger being such a killer strike that it works against Omega sometimes because it’s hard to understand how it doesn’t finish people off instantly let alone after the second, third, fourth, fifth time, but focusing on those minor gripes feels like hitting the lottery for $100 million and complaining about the taxes.

This was a phenomenal display of drama and athleticism, in a red hot setting, with the highest stakes possible outside of a Wrestle Kingdom main event with the title on the line. The effort level was extraordinary, which has become routine for Omega, the hardest working wrestler on Earth. When you have match this intense, with an atmosphere this special in front of a molten hot crowd, creating this level of drama, it’s easy (and almost your duty) to overlook minor execution flaws. Simply put, this was great. It was the right match between the right guys with the right winner to cap off a fifth straight legendary G1 Climax. ****3/4

#NJPW #G127 https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/FMCPGg22ts

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 13, 2017

Final Thoughts

A fun, newsworthy show capped off by an all time great G1 Climax final. New Japan is the greatest pro wrestling on the planet, and the run figures to continue for a long time, as they’re set up tremendously for the future. We’re all very lucky to be part of it. This is a special time. Enjoy it.

My Top 10 G1 Climax 27 Matches

  1. 7/22 Kazuchika Okada vs Mike Elgin *****
  2. 7/27 Mike Elgin vs Kenny Omega *****
  3. 8/13 Tetsuya Naito vs Kenny Omega ****3/4
  4. 7/17 Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi ****3/4
  5. 8/12 Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada ****1/2
  6. 8/11 Tetsuya Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi ****1/2
  7. 8/5 EVIL vs Kazuchika Okada ****1/2
  8. 8/2 Kenny Omega vs EVIL ****1/2
  9. 8/8 Kazuchika Okada vs Minoru Suzuki ****1/2
  10. 7/21 Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr ****1/2

NJPW G1 Climax 27 B Block Finals (August 12) Results & Review

Author : richkraetsch

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 – B Block Finals
August 12, 2017
Ryokugton (Sumo Hall)
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World / VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em Standings: voicesofwrestling.com/forum

Undercard Results:

Juice Robinson (8) def. Michael Elgin (8)

While both men were mathematically eliminated this was match was played up on English commentary as being a potential number one contenders match for Kenny Omega’s IWGP United States Championship. The real story for me though is how much each men’s stock grew during this tournament. Robinson proved once again that betting on himself was the best thing for his career but more than that, proved that he could hang with the main eventers in New Japan. Robinson continued to grow his cache with the native Japanese audience and seems primed for a huge year in 2018. With regards to Elgin, he sought out to prove he belongs in the company long-term. Not only did Elgin show that he unequivocally belongs, he may soon become one of the more underrated guys on the roster — a man more than capable of main eventing and running with the best of the best in the company.

This match, while fundamentally great, lacked a bit as the crowd was not nearly invested in either man as they were during block play. My favorite spot of the entire match was Elgin turning a Juice corner cannonball into a BUckle Bomb of his own. Like he did in his upset victory over Omega, Juice tried to get a flash pin on Elgin shortly after which woke the crowd up a bit. In what I would classify as a huge upset, Robinson won an exchange of blows with Elgin and ultimately finished #BigMike off with a Pulp Friction. That he won was one thing but winning after besting Elgin in a slugfest says a lot. In one week, Robinson has defeated both Omega and Elgin. Not bad for the former CJ Parker. ***¾

Pulp Friction! #NJPW #G127 @_juicerobinson_https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/X5ggLp5twP

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 12, 2017

Tama Tonga (8) def. SANADA (8)

Carrying over the theme from the prior match, SANADA is someone whose stock has rose immensely in this G1. It’s going to be a slow build for him but we saw signs that when New Japan wants to flip the switch, they have a star on their hands.

Tama had a disappointing tournament again and may have proven himself as a tag-only worker moving forward. This match was yet another example of Tonga being respectable and solid but overall a step or notch below what we’ve come to expect from a G1 Climax participant. The first half of this match was all comedy with both men seemingly phoning it in with nothing to play for. The crescendo saw SANADA lock Tong in a Paradise Lock amidst the crowd. Yujiro Takahashi and Tonga Loa eventually ran down and couldn’t figure out how to get Tonga out of the lock. Eventually with the countout at 16, they started kicking at their fallen stablemate finally breaking him free from this lock. Tama ran back to the ring but smacked his leg on the guardrail trying to get back in. This caused there to be about 15 seconds between the 19 and 20 count but, hey, it was all in good fun.

After this point the match was all business with both men going back and forth until, to the shock of some (myself included), Tonga defeated SANADA with the Stun Gun. Once again this match was an example of Tonga’s competence. He’s not going to bomb but his peak in a singles match is limited. Good but not great. ***¼

NJPW G1 Climax 27 A Block Finals (August 11) Results & Review

Toru Yano (8) def. Minoru Suzuki (9)

A battle of former Pancrase competitors. No, seriously, Toru Yano competed in Pancrase . It didn’t last long, Yano lost his lone MMA fight to Osami Shibuya. Suzuki was obviously a little more accomplished in the world of MMA. You may also be surprised to know that Yano is 2-0 over Suzuki in their previous G1 encounters.

I enjoyed this match for about 15 seconds when Suzuki attacked Yano during his in-ring DVD hocking. Then, the Suzuki-Gun interference began. It never stopped with Taichi interjecting himself numerous times throughout the match. I just can’t do it anymore. Someone like Minoru fuckin’ Suzuki shouldn’t need help from Taichi to beat Toru Yano. It’s a crutch. When in the ring, Suzuki beat the shit out of Yano and had him begging for mercy. The second Yano would find his way outside, Taichi would beat on him while Suzuki distracted the ref. Why?

Suzuki, after a ref bump (seriously), wrapped Yano’s feet in tape. Eventually Taichi came into the ring with a chair which got Rocky Romero up from the English commentary table. Rocky took out Taichi before meeting his doom at the hands of Suzuki. This distraction gave Yano a chance to tie up Suzuki’s arms, hit him with a low blow and go 3-0 over Suzuki in G1 history. Maybe I just hate fun but between the interference, the tape, the ref bump and the chair shots, I really could’ve done without this. Hey, at least Suzuki made up for it by destroying the young lions with chairs.

MiSu is FURIOUS haha #NJPW #G127https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/rZWHLmWJwP

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 12, 2017

EVIL (12) def. Satoshi Kojima (2)

Anytime EVIL had a spare few seconds he was jaw-jacking with Tenzan which makes me really want to see an EVIL/Tenzan match in the future. Honestly, I’d love to see EVIL, yet another wrestler whose stock skyrocketed from this tournament, go through a Katsuyori Shibata like run through the NJPW dads. This was the hottest match from a crowd reaction standpoint thus far as the crowd was firmly invested in the legend Kojima taking it to the youngster EVIL. Given his point total in this year’s tournament and the growing turnover of legends making way for NJPW’s next wave, fans know Kojima is on borrowed time. In all likelyhood, next year will be his final spin.

EVIL continued his tournament long theme of getting killed and took a few nasty bumps in this match including one apron spot that legitimately looked like it gave him a stinger. Let’s hope he takes a few weeks off after G1. He’s certainly earned it.

Kojima was so great in this match. At one point EVIL had him down and out, Kojima clutching onto EVIL’s tights beaten to the point of exhaustion. EVIL hit a gigantic lariat on Kojima which looked like it would be it but you can’t out lariat the king of the lariats. Kojima rolled through the lariat and knocked EVIL out with the STRONGEST ARM. So awesome. Unfortunately this was his last gasp. EVIL put Kojima away with a headbutt and the EVIL. In a sign of total disrespect, EVIL kicked Kojima while he was down earning himself some death stares from Tenzan. That match is happening. It has to. This was the match of the night so far and a great way for EVIL to cap off what could be a career-defining G1 Climax tournament. ****

EVERYTHING…IS…EVIL!! #NJPW #G127https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/lqj1gAz6o9

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 12, 2017

The build to our main event (Omega/Okada) throughout the tournament and over the course of the year has been nothing short of brilliant. Okada, of course, defeated Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 11 in one of the most spectacular matches of all-time. They followed up that performance with another all-time great at Dominion, only this time it went to a 60-minute draw. In both matches, Omega’s ace in the hole was his One-Winged Angel finisher. He was unsuccessful in hitting it at Wrestle Kingdom and a Dominion he hit it once but Okada got his foot on the ropes. This establishes the possibility that if Omega does hit his finisher, it’s over for Okada. Likewise, going to a 60-minute time limit draw puts added pressure on this night as Omega has only 30 minutes to put away Okada. At Wrestle Kingdom, Omega played it cool and tried to work the long game with Okada but it didn’t work. At Dominion, Omega came out like a ball of fire but slowed down too much and let the match go to 60. He has 30 minutes to win, get into the finals and get a win in the series. At stake it a chance to go to back-to-back G1 Climax Finals, win consecutive G1 Climax championships and more importantly, have a chance at winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 12.

Kenny Omega (14) def. Kazuchika Okada (13)

A masterpiece. If at any time you lose sight of how amazing wrestling can be, you can watch this match or any of the previous two Okada/Omega matches from this year. You can keep raising the bar and these dudes are going to keep leaping over it. Those among us who get burnt out or bored of wrestling, get upset about booking decisions or wonder if the business is in a prolonged tailspin sometimes need a shock to the system, a wake-up call to just how unbelievable wrestling can be when it’s done well. This was one of those matches. A match that rewards you for all those hours you put into this hobby. A match that made you feel like you’ve made the right choice waking up at 3am or traveling across the country in a car with your friends to see it. There’s nothing quite like wrestling when it’s done to perfection and this was yet another perfect match from Omega and Okada.

As expected, Omega went for the kill quick with multiple V-Trigger attempts in the match’s opening minute. Realizing what he was up against Okada, too, started working quick and attempted an ultimately unsuccessful Rainmaker. Okada eventually slowed the match down hitting Omega with a top-rope dropkick and sending the action to the outside. While outside the ring, Omega tossed Okada into the guardrail establishing the theme of the match with Okada— nursing a sore neck made worse by Suzuki two nights prior—favoring his back, neck and spine and Omega smelling blood in the water.

Omega didn’t want to just win this match, he wanted to kill Okada, he wanted everyone in Sumo Hall and across the world know that he was the man and that he could beat Okada in the middle of the ring.

#NJPW #G127 @KennyOmegamanXhttps://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/6ybFgPnH3x

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 12, 2017

Omega was absolutely brutal in his attack of Okada’s neck including full-on chops to Okada’s neck, reverse huricanranas, apron snapdragon suplexes, Shouten Kais, german suplexes. The brutality was on another level and even caused a NJPW doctor to come down to the ring and make sure Okada could continue. Continue he did and for a brief few moments it appeared Okada could overcome the odds and pull this one out. Okada even hit a series of Rainmakers but was too exhausted to immediately capitalize and those precious few seconds where he had to gather himself and regain his air were enough for Omega to pounce.

The final few minutes of this match was the stuff of legends. Two all-time greats giving their best shots at this ultimate goal. Omega, flustered that he couldn’t hit the One-Winged Angel started sifting through his repositor by blitzing V-Triggers before hitting Okada with the Croyt’s Wrath, a move he hasn’t used since last year’s G1 Climax finals. Now confident that he could finally finish Okada off, he set up the One-Winged Angel in the middle of the ring and hit it perfectly. A masterpiece. *****

ONE WINGED ANGEL!! #NJPW #G127 @KennyOmegamanXhttps://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/psdJBmLkSe

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 12, 2017

These men are your two Wrestler(s) of the Year, picking between either of them would be unfair at this point. Equally unfair is going to be trying to decide which of these should finish atop our Match of the Year poll. How do you distinguish such greatness? How do we even quantify matches with so much heart, so much thought and so much passion? Who among us can pick just one of these matches when there are so many layers, so much nuance and so much thought put into every step, every move, every counter. There is nothing quite like pro wrestling done at its absolute best and Omega/Okada III was just that.

Final Thoughts:

Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega was a masterpiece of a match that has to be watched. As good as pro wrestling gets.

NJPW G1 Climax 27 A Block Finals (August 11) Results & Review

Author : augustbaker12

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 – A Block Finals
August 11, 2017
Sumo Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World/ VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em Standings: voicesofwrestling.com/forums

Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, & El Desperado def. Hirai Kawato, Tomoyuki Oka, & Katsuya Kitamura

Suzuki faces Yano on the last night of B Block. He’s been beating up Young Lions all tournament though, so now the Lions try to get some revenge. Suzuki had an instant classic with Okada, but otherwise has had a quiet tournament. Suzuki is in the match the entire time until the end. The Lions get in some hopeful offense on Suzuki, but he slaps the face off of Kawato before Despy finishes it with the Angel Wings. **1/2

Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa def. SANADA & BUSHI

Tonga and SANADA fight tomorrow for bragging rights. SANADA has been overshadowed by his stablemate EVIL, while Tama has gone under the radar this tournament. I doubt anything changes on the final night. Tama pins BUSHI with a Gun Stun. **

Satoshi Kojima & Juice Robison deafeat EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi

Kojima faces EVIL on the last night, while Juice fights Michael Elgin. Nothing in on the line in these matches, though EVIL can secure a very successful tournament with a win. He’s had a great tournament and is on the verge of a breakout year. Juice’s tournament has not been as successful, but he’s been a highlight. His match with Suzuki set the stage for a injured leg that would plague him the rest of the tournament, and his desire to fight through it in every match made him one of the most likable guys in New Japan. Here, Juice flips Hiromu with a Western Lariat and gets the win with Pulp Friction. **1/2

Raymond Rowe, Hanson, Michael Elgin, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Ricochet defeat Cody, Hangman Page, Chase Owens, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson

Elgin faces Juice tomorrow. Elgin had two of the best matches in the G1 this year, but it’s been a disappointing tournament point wise. In this match, the Bullet Club, War Machine, and Ricochet all return to New Japan for the Sumo Hall shows. Cody and Page challenge War Machine for the Tag Titles on Sunday, while the Bucks defend the Jr Tag Titles against Taguchi and Ricochet. Elgin pins Chase with an Elgin bomb. ***

Keep up with all our NJPW G1 Climax 27 Reviews at voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/reviews/njpw/njpw-g1/

Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano defeat Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi

Yano looks to beat his old rival Suzuki tomorrow night, while Okada and Omega decide who wins the B block with their third match in eight months. Okada is the boring but easy choice for tournament MVP. Everyone’s best match comes against Okada. Meanwhile, everyone’s worst match, rating wise, comes against Yano. Okada has tape on his neck after his last few grueling matches, and you just know that’s going to come into play tomorrow. Yano pins Yujiro with a low blow and a roll up. **3/4

Bad Luck Fale (12) def. Yuji Nagata (2)

Nagata’s final match in his final tournament. Unfortunately it’s against Fale, who loves destroying dreams and everything beautiful. With a win, Fale could finish as high as second place in A block. Nagata has been one of the emotional centers of this tournament, and every close countout and nearfall here has added weight. On commentary, Rocky Romero tells us that Nagata was Fale’s mentor in the dojo. Nagata works the leg of Fale, and eventually counters the Grenade into the armbar, and transitions to several other submissions. He gets the Backdrop Driver, but Fale kicks out! Fale is too big, overpowering Nagata’s suplex attempts. Fale gets Nagata up for the Bad Luck Fall, and the crowd is screaming for him to squirm out, but it is not to be. The Bad Luck Fall kills Nagata dead, ending any chance at a happy ending for Blue Justice.

The in-ring work here was standard, but everything was elevated by this being Nagata’s last G1 match. After the match, the two salute each other in respect and Fale bows and leaves the ring. A rare sign of emotion from the Underboss. ***1/4

Fale showing respect to his former senpai and Seigigun teammate #NJPW #G127https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/4G02i6aMwP

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 11, 2017

Togi Makabe (8) def. YOSHI-HASHI (4)

These might be the two wrestlers I care about the least in this G1. On the last night of A block, with nothing at stake, after three weeks of consuming so much wrestling that I wake up in a cold sweat thinking about star ratings and potential Tokyo Dome matches, I can’t think of a match I would want to watch least. YOSHI’s version of the Butterfly Lock looks terrible. He goes toe to toe with Makabe, but Makabe secures his standard eight points with the Spider Suplex and King Kong Knee Drop. ***

Spider German suplex! #NJPW #G127https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/tHUukHjXbm

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 11, 2017

Zack Sabre Jr (10) def. Tomohiro Ishii (8)

Both these guys have been great in this tournament. ZSJ has put himself on the New Japan map with his performance in the G1. Ishii defeated Zack in the United States title tournament in a fantastic match, so Zack is looking to get his win back. These guys are two of my favorites, so I’m really looking forward to this one. I love the way Zack includes his style of wrestling into everything in the ring. He doesn’t do “Strong Style” like so many others in New Japan. He doesn’t stand there and exchange forearms and slaps. When a guy like Ishii gives him a forearm, Zack goes down. It’s refreshing after watching every jobber try to go toe to toe with guys like Ishii or Makabe, to just watch a guy take a hard hit and collapse.

Zack is so great at transitioning from move to move, and Ishii makes a great base to play with. The ending is pretty incredible, as Ishii goes for the sliding clothesline but Zack counters into an armbar. He wraps up every limb of Ishii, I don’t even know what to call the hold he has him in. Zack has Ishii in an armbar, a legbar, a half crab, and is kicking the back of Ishii’s skull all at the same time. Ishii is trapped, he can’t move, and the ref stops the match! Zack Sabre Jr wins by ref stoppage! ****1/4

GOODNIGHT. #njpw #g127 pic.twitter.com/NBQ0Wwgn3l

— featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry series (@skrongstyle) August 11, 2017

Hirooki Goto (10) def. Kota Ibushi (10)

For a guy who made the finals last year, Goto has had a really unremarkable tournament. Meanwhile Ibushi has been a breath of fresh air in the G1, having great matches and racking up points. This is a good, hard-hitting match, but is hurt by neither of these guys having anything to fight for. Ibushi goes for his new knee strike finisher, but Goto counters with a headbutt, a reverse GTR, and the GTR for the win. There’s not too much to say about the match. It was really good, but is going to disappear into the annex of this G1 without much fanfare. ****

GOODNIGHT #NJPW #G127https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/CBni9ZWrQ8

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 11, 2017

Tetsuya Naito (14) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi (12)

The match between these two at Wrestle Kingdom is my second favorite match of the year. These two pulled ahead of the rest of the block before the show, leaving everything in A block down to this match. Naito is the heavy favorite to win the whole tournament. Naito is also a heavy favorite with the crowd. Naito focuses on Tanahashi’s injured arm with a series of arm wringers and dropkicks. Tanahashi eventually hits High Fly Flow to the outside after a couple of Dragon Screws. It’s arm attacks vs knee attacks so far. The crowd keeps changing their chants from “Go Ace!” to “Naito!” and back. Tanahashi nails a standing Naito with High Fly Flow, but misses the second one. Tanahashi Dragon Screw’s Naito off the top rope, and traps him in the Cloverleaf. Naito tapped to this at Dominion, but Naito crawls to the ropes!

That was a brilliant spot. Between Naito tapping to that move before, and an earlier ref stoppage in the show, there was a real threat of Tanahashi winning there. Naito gets Tanahashi into the corner and lands Super Destino, but Tanahashi kicks out! Tana counters a second Destino in a series of neckbreakers, but Naito finally hits it. He picks Tanahashi up and finishes him off with another Destino. Naito is the winner of A block, and advances to the G1 finals.

Great match. The focus on the limbs was a constant throughout the match, and the last 10 minutes was nail biting. The crowd was insane. This was one of the best matches of the tournament. ****3/4

DESTINOOOO!! WHAT A MATCH! #NJPW #G127https://t.co/4ULitIESXx 👀 pic.twitter.com/agfzltZqr0

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 11, 2017

Final Thoughts:

A Match of the Year candidate, two other matches at 4 stars or better, and an emotional final G1 match for Nagata. This show is a must watch.

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 16 (August 8) Results & Review

Author : inyourcase

AUGUST 8, 2017

Watch: NJPW World / VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em Standings: voicesofwrestling.com/forums

The results of the undercard tags, feel free to skip the bunch:


I almost feel too highbrow and deep explaining the story of this match, which in essence was Tama Tonga trying to put the old man down with the Gun Stun as quickly as he could. Kojima continued to avoid the Gun Stun for a big portion of the match, in a way, signaling that he wasn’t ready to hang up the boots just yet. He still had more fight in him, he still had more lariats to throw, and he still had hope. All of those things are great, but Tonga is part of a newer, quicker, and arguably smarter generation, and because of that, he was able to wear Kojima down and flatten him with the Gun Stun for the victory.

This wasn’t a great match, but I really enjoyed watching it to see whether or not Kojima was going to pull off another victory. He has continued to capture my emotional investment throughout the tournament. ***1/4

LARIATOOOO!!! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/zn5zriyawQ

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 8, 2017


Juice outsmarted Yano in another one of his spectacles. Tying his dreadlocks in the barrier, trapping him under the ring, and kicking him downstairs weren’t enough to stop Juice from nailing Pulp Friction. They kept it short, and for Yano standards, this was really harmless. Of course I’d rather see Juice wrestle someone better, but whatever, this was fine. **3/4


When these two wrestled last year in the G1, EVIL was a step below where he’s at now, and thus, they had just a match. This year, as EVIL continues to turn heads and Elgin continues to deliver gems, these two put together an outstanding display of power and strength. As much as I enjoy Elgin throwing people around, I enjoy seeing him get thrown around even more, and that’s what happened here.

The finishing stretch was a thing of beauty, just like most of EVIL’s others so far in this G1. After kicking out of a High Cross Elgin Bomb, EVIL had a glimpse of hope, but Elgin was able to counter the STO. That was the last chance EVIL had at attaining victory, as he soon ate a giant lariat and the Elgin Bomb for the pin. Well worth watching. These two worked really well together. ****

German suplex and a huge lariat from EVIL!! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/RglYJovZ9E

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 8, 2017

EVIL has officially been eliminated from this year’s G1. I don’t know if anyone expected him to be as good as he was this year. He broke out in a major way, and now when you consider the dynamic factors that LiJ has, you can’t just mention SANADA, Hiromu, and Naito. EVIL is on the brink of being a major player, and do not forget, he beat Okada three nights prior. Big things are on the horizon for EVIL.

Keep up with all our NJPW G1 Climax 27 Reviews at voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/reviews/njpw/njpw-g1/


While I enjoyed this match, I can’t help but feel like SANADA totally outclassed Omega in this contest. I’ve enjoyed more Omega bouts in this year’s G1 (I have five matches of his registered at **** stars or more, compared to only one for SANADA), Omega has not been the guy that has stood out for me in any of his matches. Against EVIL, Tama Tonga, Elgin, and Juice Robinson, Omega’s opponent has been far more impressive than him. This was the same deal in this bout, as SANADA’s incredible athleticism was on full display, making Omega feel almost second rate.

Again, this was not a bad match, but when I think about everything that happened – SANADA flying around the ring, SANADA nearly getting Omega to tap via Skull End, and the finishing stretch that featured counter after counter, SANADA is the one that stuck out as the better man.

For a year in which Omega has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue, both for his antics in the ring and out, I wanted him to have a better G1. Granted, his last block match is against Okada, and I have no doubt in my mind that those two will blow the roof off of Sumo Hall, but this has not been the summer of Omega that I was hoping for. It’s completely unfair to call someone that’s had five great matches in a tournament a disappointment, but that’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of Kenny Omega’s G1. He hasn’t been bad, but never has he been the best. ***3/4

OH, SHIIIIIIIIT #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/uq1aisLf0x

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 8, 2017


This capped off NJPW’s annual August 8th event, and just like the match that made this date such a monumental one on the New Japan calendar, this ended in a draw.

Okada has had many matches that you can point to as turning points in his career. His match against Tenryu cemented him as an ace, his victory at the Tokyo Dome put him atop the wrestling world, and this match proved that he’s as tough as it gets. He’s outlasted the likes of sluggers such as Naomichi Marufuji, Michael Elgin, and Togi Makabe in the past, and he’s even beaten Suzuki on multiple occasions, but the beating he took in this match was unlike any of those prior poundings. Okada, in a sense, welcomed Suzuki’s onslaught of slaps. He wanted Suzuki at his worst, and that’s what he got.

This was not my style of match, and I still loved it. Okada can seemingly do no wrong this year. He heads into Sumo Hall with a one point lead over Kenny Omega. Okada’s outlasted the best this year. He’s survived the power of Big Mike, he’s outclassed Satoshi Kojima, and he’s now taken a vicious beating from Minoru Suzuki. It is hard to be more excited about a match than I am for Omega vs. Okada III. ****1/4

SAKA OTOSHI!! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/w19DipO8A1

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 8, 2017

RAINMAKERRRRRR!! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/xtM1LXAwA1

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 8, 2017

Final Thoughts:

A very good showing for the B Block. Yano was harmless, two matches clocked in at four stars or above, and everything else ranged from good-very good. I highly recommend checking out Okada vs. Suzuki and Elgin vs. EVIL no matter what, and Kojima vs. Tonga and Omega vs. SANADA if you have time. Thumbs up for Night 16 of the G1 Climax.

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 15 (August 6) Results & Review

Author : rentathugcomics

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 Night 15
August 6, 2017
Act City Hamamatsu
Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan

Watch: NJPW World/VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em Standings: voicesofwrestling.com/forums

We’re in the closing stretch now! The A Block is all set for Sumo Hall, and viewers are preparing for their post-G1 comas. This deep in the tournament, most folks are probably cherry-picking pretty hard, and I’ve gotta admit, I’d be skipping a lot of this show if I weren’t reviewing it. In fact, I DID skip a lot of this show – here are the results of the undercard matches I ignored.

You probably have a pretty good idea of how you’re doing in the VOW G1 Pick ‘Em by now. In the mathematically likely event that you’re not currently in one of the prize positions on the leaderboard, you can always just buy one of them, because that’s how capitalism works. You can grab a signed copy of Wrestlemon without having to be good at picking G1 matches. Also, feel compelled to follow me on Twitter @HEATcomic.

Yuji Nagata (2) def Zack Sabre Jr (8)

This is one of the matches I was referring to when I was talking about things I would have skipped in the intro. Yuji Nagata immediately grabbed my interest, though, as he quickly established that he was in no mood for Zack Sabre Jr’s shit. I don’t think it was supposed to be a comedy spot, but I laughed out loud when Nagata completely no-sold a ZSJ uppercut so he could yell at El Desperado for interfering.

The dynamic between the two was clarified early. Sabre needed to be creative to get an advantage on the mat, as Nagata gave him a much tougher test there than expected. Nagata, on the other hand, knew he could fall back on his striking if he needed to, as did some big damage early with kicks. These are the kinds of Sabre matches where his style works for me; he’s an awesome counter-wrestler, but incredibly boring when he shows extended dominance. A wonderful sequence saw Sabre turn an exploder attempt into a rolling arm bar, then a triangle choke, only for Nagata to pull off a slick counter into the Nagata Lock.

A hot closing stretch saw Sabre make the mistake of trying to strike with Nagata. His grappling wasn’t working, and he needed to do something, but he ended up getting hammered with kicks and dumped on his head with the Backdrop Driver and Backdrop Hold. Yuji Nagata picks up his first two points of the tournament with an unexpected victory. So unexpected, that when I wrote the header for this match before I started taking notes, I wrote “Zack Sabre Jr def Yuji Nagata.” Better go back and change that, huh? ****

Kota Ibushi (10) def YOSHI-HASHI (4)

For a super-exciting wrestler, Kota Ibushi’s entrance theme sure is bland. This is the first ever G1 encounter between Ibushi and YOSHI-HASHI, according to this year’s new matchup history graphic. That’s a small production element that I’ve really enjoyed.

I mentioned this during the last A Block review, but YOSHI-HASHI being a guy who consistently hits the 3 to 4 star range in singles matches is not something I ever would have expected after his terrible post-excursion debut. He’s always a guy who delivers, but without anticipation. YOSHI-HASHI matches are never the ones I’m looking forward to on a card, but once the bell rings it’s going to be a good time.

This match really picks up after the Butterfly Lock (which does not look like it hurts, and nobody buys as a finish tease). Ibushi grabs the wrists to go for his new knee strike finisher, but ends up eating some headbutts from the HASH which eventually lead to a powerbomb near-fall. That’s followed by a slap-fight, which turns from intense to very silly as they speed up their strikes. This sparks the sprint to the finish, which is just both guys clobbering each other, a really cool flip-out to escape KARMA, and more clobbering. Ibushi picks up the win with a roundhouse kick to the head followed by his new double-wrist clutch knee strike. Ibushi shows respect to YOSHI-HASHI for his valiant effort, but unfortunately the scoreboard doesn’t reflect valiant efforts. ***1/2

Keep up with all our NJPW G1 Climax 27 Reviews at voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/reviews/njpw/njpw-g1/

Bad Luck Fale (10) def Hirooki Goto (8)

Unlike Ibushi’s bland theme, Hirooki Goto’s entrance music is awesome. It truly feels epic.

I love Goto, but given Fale’s output so far in this tournament, I’d probably be skipping this one if I wasn’t writing the review. Then again, Fale’s best matches have been against Makabe and Ishii, so maybe this will surprise me.

And as I type that, Fale starts working over Goto’s knee. Uh oh. The pace picks up when Goto starts battering Fale with lariats and kicks, but it’s still pretty plodding. Credit where it’s due, though, countering the GTR into a Grenade attempt which is countered into another GTR attempt was an excellent sequence. Once Fale finally hit the Grenade, this one was done. I wonder if Fale has started winning with the Grenade more because of the tournament-wide theme of guys establishing secondary finishers, or if people just don’t want to take the Bad Luck Fall in the middle of the G1’s brutal grind? **3/4

Tetsuya Naito (12) def Togi Makabe (6)

Our new friend the head-to-head graphic informs me that Makabe is 4-1 against Naito in G1 matches, and Makabe drives that point home by mugging Naito during his customary roll-and-pose sequence. Makabe also drives home his Unchained King Kong nickname as he drags Naito into the crowd and tries to dent all the furniture with his head.

Naito is a good example of something I’ve noticed in this year’s G1 – match variety. In past years, it’s seemed like each guy has a match formula, and they would stick to it with only minor modifications to suit their opponent. This year, most guys are having a much wider variety of matches. Naito is a great example, as last year he had knee matches. In each of his matches, he not only attacked the opponent’s knee, he did so in mostly the same way. Same moves, same order. This match was unlike anything else I’ve seen thus far in the tournament, as Naito and Makabe clattered each other about in a heated brawl on the floor that really amped up the intensity of what could have been a nothing match.

Makabe has been at his best when he needs to beat respect into his opponents, and Naito makes the perfect foil. After the brawl on the outside, Naito starts laying into Makabe with a lot of his usual offence, only to be sneered at and walloped with lariats in return. Eventually, a pair of Destinos was enough to put the chains back on King Kong. I think this match is going to end up being one of the underrated gems of the tournament, buried as it is near the end of a loooong G1. ****1/4

Hiroshi Tanahashi (12) vs Tomohiro Ishii (8)

When I took this review assignment, this was the match that leaped out at me. Dickhead Ace-of-his-own-mind Hiroshi Tanahashi against the Stone Pitbull? Yes. All day long. Tanahashi immediately tries to get cute on a clean break, and Ishii responds by trying to shove his elbow through Tanhashi’s face. After taking control, Ishii returns the mockery grabbing Tanahashi’s braids and growling insults in Japanese.

When Tanahashi sticks to his smooth blend of technique and high flying, he’s able to maintain an advantage. He can’t help himself from taking those extra moments to be a smug jerk, though, and those are the openings Ishii needs to devastate Tanahashi with power moves and strikes. Tanahashi attacks Ishii’s exposed knee, but only as an attempt to give himself an edge in forearm exchanges. He still gets his head caved in. After that, they start dumping each other on their heads with suplexes as the drama ratchets up a level.

After missing a High Fly Flow, Tanahashi decides that maybe attacking the leg wasn’t such a bad idea, and resumes that course of action. It backfires somewhat, as Ishii refuses to tap out to the Texas Cloverleaf and then attacks Tanahashi’s knee out of spite with dragon screws and some sort of inelegant ankle lock/crab situation. That doesn’t really pan out, so he just lariats the bejesus out of Tanahashi to make himself feel better. We’ve all been there. I thought that was going to lead to the finish, but we got several more minutes before Tanahashi emptied his entire arsenal on Ishii, capped with a pair of High Fly Flows to end the match.

While it didn’t QUITE reach the heights of Naito/Ibushi and Elgin/Okada, you need to go out of your way to see this one. ****3/4

Final Thoughts:

I would have skipped almost all of this show, looking at it on paper, but it was excellent. Tanahashi vs Ishii is a must-see match from this year’s G1, and it’s backed up by a pair of four star matches. Night 15 proved my preconceptions wrong, and I’m very glad it did. You can skip Goto/Fale, but definitely check out the rest.

NJPW G1 Climax 27: Night 14 (August 5th) Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27: Night 14
August 5th, 2017
Edion Arena
Osaka, Japan

Watch: NJPW World / View Updated VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em Standings at voicesofwrestling.com/forum

We’re now on the home stretch of the 2017 edition of the G1 Climax. Only a few more shows remain before the tournament returns to Tokyo for three straight nights in Ryogoku Sumo Hall. Of course, the G1 Climax wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Osaka, and that’s the city that played host to Night 14 of the tournament, which featured matches from the B Block. Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega have been the dominant forces in this block thus far, coming into Osaka with records of 6-0 and 5-1 respectively. Would they be able to continue their dominance, gapping the rest of the field in the process? That was the big question coming into Night 14, but before we get to the tournament matches, here are the results from the undercard:

The most noteworthy item on the undercard was that the first non-tournament singles match of the entire tour took place, as Chase Owens defeated Katsuya Kitamura in a fun *** affair that went just under five minutes. While the outcome was never it question, the fact that Kitamura was given a non-tournament singles match during the G1 Climax, in Osaka (the biggest market New Japan runs outside of Tokyo), speaks volumes about how the company feels about him right now. It’s been pretty clear right from the start that New Japan has big plans for Katsuya Kitamura (as well as Tomoyuki Oka) and this was just the next step in his evolution as a pro-wrestler. Even though Kitamura lost, he looked impressive in defeat, and for a young lion, that’s exactly what you want to see.

Toru Yano (6) def. Tama Tonga (4)

One of the most surprising aspects in the early stages of the B Block was that Toru Yano was having longer matches that expected. Of course, all of them involved the comedy that Yano is famous for, but we we’re seeing a lot of those shorter bouts that he’s known to have in the G1. Well, that streak didn’t last very long. Yano’s last three tournament matches (against SANADA, EVIL, & Michael Elgin) have all been on the shorter side, and he extended that streak of shorter bouts to four with a victory here over Tama Tonga (who busted out his traditional face paint for, I believe, the first time on the entire tour) in just over three minutes. The comedy started before the bell even rang, as Tama Tonga (who had entered first) ran out through the crowd, snuck up on Yano during his entrance, and chased him around the ring.

We did get to see the wrist tape come into play, as Tama Tonga tied Yano to the guardrail in an attempt to get the count out win, but Yano used scissors to break free and managed to beat the count. Yano would end up getting the win after his signature “distract the referee/low blow/rollup” finish. This one really doesn’t deserve a rating since these two barely touched each other, but from a pure entertainment standpoint, it was one of Yano’s best matches of the entire tournament. Tama Tonga deserves some credit as well, as he served as a great foil here to the “Sublime Master Thief”. N/R

.@YTR_CHAOS WINS!!! #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/vt2CYNaRcm

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) August 5, 2017

Satoshi Kojima (2) def. SANADA (8)

Even though he had suffered a loss to Okada back on Night 6, SANADA came into Osaka as one of the few competitors left in the B Block that still had a shot of catching the top two. Unfortunately for SANADA, his hopes of potentially winning the block took a massive hit here, as Satoshi Kojima scored the victory to pick up his first two points of the tournament. This was a great match that featured exciting moments throughout. The first half of the match featured a very fascinating story, as both men essentially mirrored each other. SANADA stole Kojima’s machine gun chops, and Kojima got payback shortly thereafter. One would hit a brainbuster or an inverted atomic drop, and other would respond with the same move. They even mirrored each other during the opening exchange. The story they told in this one was certainly different from anything we’ve seen in the tournament thus far, and it helped set up a really entertaining closing stretch.

I know a lot has been said about Kojima having the exact same overall story in the B Block as Yuji Nagata in the A Block, but regardless of whether this is Kojima’s last G1 or not, his situation is a little different, in my view. When I was filling out my pick ‘ems for the Voices of Wrestling G1 Climax Pick ‘Ems contest, I had a really hard time picking out where exactly Kojima would get his wins. In all honestly, Kojima’s losing streak might simply be due to the fact that his best shots to win were late in the tournament anyway (I had him getting off to at least an 0-4 start in my pick ‘ems), but that’s just my view. Results aside, Kojima continues to have an underrated tournament. Aside from his bouts with Yano on Night 4 (which was boring) and Suzuki on Night 12 (which was really bad), he’s had nothing but ****+ matches, and this bout continued that trend. ****

WESTERN LARIAT!!!!!! @cozy_lariat WINS!! #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/NXt2uRoT3l

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) August 5, 2017

Michael Elgin (6) def. Minoru Suzuki (8)

You know this match was in trouble right from start when both El Desperado & Taichi were with Minoru Suzuki at ringside. While Suzuki came into this bout still within striking distance of the top two, Michael Elgin had been eliminated from contention on Night 12 in a horrible match with Toru Yano that featured an awful DQ finish. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, there was a ton of interference almost immediately. Initial attempts by El Desperado & Taichi to get involved eventually led to Suzuki brutalizing one of Elgin’s arms with a chair. He then gave Elgin some chair shots to the back, but of course, a DQ wasn’t called. El Desperado & Taichi would get involved again later, this time in the ring itself, but Elgin was able to send them packing. In the end, Elgin was able to overcome all of this bullshit to get the win, bringing his total up to six points. If it weren’t for some of the exchanges we saw in the ring itself, this match would’ve been a complete train wreck like Suzuki’s bout against Kojima on Night 12. At least in this case, it led to the crowd really getting behind Elgin, who ultimately thwarted Suzuki and his minions. While the stable does have a people in it that I enjoy watching, I am completely over Suzuki-gun.

The bullshit in almost all of his tournament matches has just been too much. At this point, I’m hoping Gedo brings a version of Dragon Gate’s Unit Survival Race to New Japan so Suzuki-gun can go away forever. In any case, the match itself was still solid, and with his victory, Michael Elgin earns himself a shot a NEVER Openweight Title, which I presume will be a headline bout during the Destruction Tour in September. If that match happens, I really hope Elgin takes the title from Suzuki. ***1/4

ELGIN BOMB!!!! @MichaelElgin25 WINS!!! #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/Ay0gNHtfwP

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) August 5, 2017

Juice Robinson (4) def. Kenny Omega (10)

Despite coming into this match with a 5-1 record, Kenny Omega was in a very tough situation. With Okada being undefeated in the tournament up to this point with a 6-0 record, Omega couldn’t afford another loss. Meanwhile, Juice Robinson had already been eliminated, but he was still looking to get a few more wins to add to his point total in his first G1. I had a feeling this was going to be good, but it ended up being an awesome match that saw one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, as Juice Robinson picked up the victory over Kenny Omega! There was good action throughout (especially in the second half), and the story of this one revolved around Juice’s knees, which have been injured for a few weeks.

Omega relentlessly attacked the knees in various ways, both inside and outside of the ring, but Juice showed a ton of heart, and never gave up, despite all of the damage he was taking. Even when the intensity picked up in the closing stages, Juice managed to hang on, and even had Omega rocked on a few occasions. Both men also played their roles very well, particularly Juice, who has become an awesome babyface in the last year. The finish came when Juice counted a One Winged Angel attempt into a cradle pin for the win, and the fans in Osaka (as well as the commentary team) erupted.

I feel like this has been said several times this year already, but this was the biggest moment of Juice Robinson’s career. It was pretty awesome to see the reactions of everyone involved, from Juice, to Omega, to even Red Shoes, who initially seemed shocked that Juice actually won. Getting such a big win in the G1, over a guy like Kenny Omega, was truly a special moment. Juice has been doing a great job in his first G1, and this was definitely one of his best matches (right up there with his bouts against Kojima, EVIL, & Okada). Obviously this win will have huge ramifications for later in the year, as this win essentially guarantees Juice a shot at the IWGP United States Title. While this probably won’t be in that upper echelon of bouts in this year’s G1 Climax, it will certainly be remembered as one of the biggest moments in the tournament. ****1/4

OH MY O_O JUICE! JUICE! JUICE! @_juicerobinson_ #G127 #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/WP0d0R1P0n

— John.xmas 🎅 (@DK1105) August 5, 2017

EVIL (10) def. Kazuchika Okada (12)

To be completely honest, it’s amazing that EVIL was even in this match, after it appeared that he got legitimately knocked out towards the end of his bout against Kenny Omega on Night 12. Speaking of Kenny Omega, with his loss to Juice Robinson in the prior match, Okada was in a perfect position to extend his lead and potentially solidify his spot in the G1 Finals. However, in an upset that managed to top the one that occurred in the match prior, EVIL scored a huge win over the Okada, giving the IWGP Heavyweight Champion not only his first loss in the G1, but also his first clean loss since last year’s G1 Climax. Even though there were a few slow points in the opening stages, the match was pretty fantastic from start to finish. There were some good back and forth during that first half of the match, but the real turning point came when EVIL blocked Okada’s running dive over the barricade by throwing a chair full force at this face. This was soon followed by EVIL hitting Okada with Darkness Falls on the outside onto a pile of chairs. Once they made their way back to the ring, they put together an amazing closing stretch with cool moments, good counters, and exciting near falls.

Okada did hit the Rainmaker twice, but instead of going for the cover, he elected to hit the Rainmaker again. This would lead to his downfall, as EVIL hit his STO for the victory. The fact that EVIL was the one that ended Okada’s nearly one year undefeated streak just goes to show what the company thinks of him. He’s definitely earned himself a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Title, which (if I had to guess) would be a King Of Pro Wrestling in October. It’s crazy to think that I saw this guy in ROH, first at War Of The Worlds 2014 (when he still looked like a young lion) and again at War Of The Worlds 2015, where he looked like a Hirooki Goto knockoff, but with different colors. It’s incredible to see just how far he’s come in the last several years, and the fact that I got to see that evolution in personal was pretty cool. As for the match, it was fantastic (like I already said). Okada’s tournament has been stellar (no surprise there), but when you really look at it, EVIL’s had a fantastic tournament as well. His future in New Japan is definitely bright, which I guess is ironic, since he is the “King Of Darkness”. ****1/2

OH MY WORD!!! @151012EVIL BEATS OKADA WITH A STO!!! #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/STByiMC3ie

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) August 5, 2017

Final Thoughts

For the most part, this was a great showing from the B Block. It was certainly a strong rebound after they had arguably the worst show of the tournament in Night 12. This was definitely a night of upsets (some bigger than others), with EVIL, Juice Robinson, Michael Elgin, & Satoshi Kojima getting huge victories at the expense of guys like Okada, Omega, Suzuki, & SANADA. EVIL vs. Okada was clearly the best match of the night, with Juice vs. Omega not that far behind. Kojima vs. SANADA was also pretty great, and Yano had a very entertaining “match” (if you can call it that) with Tama Tonga. What this show also did was set up a bunch of title matches for the final few months of 2017. The IWGP Heavyweight Champion, IWGP United States Champion, & NEVER Openweight Champion all lost, so this card created a fresh new set of challengers for shows for either King Of Pro Wrestling or one of the various Destruction shows.

As for the standings, things have really closed up over the last few days. The A Block is a giant logjam (as we all know), but Night 14 really created some havoc for the B Block. Nothing really changes as far as Okada & Omega are concerned, as both lost in Osaka. EVIL was the biggest beneficiary from the results of Night 14. He’s now at 10 Points, and is very much in the hunt, if he wins out. He does need some help (Okada would need to lose once, and he can’t afford to be in a tiebreaker with Omega, who would beat EVIL if it came to that), but he does have a clear path if the results fall the right way. SANADA & Minoru Suzuki, unfortunately, are both eliminated from contention, even though there are scenarios where both could reach 12 Points. It’s very intriguing that, at this point, only three guys are realistically eligible to win the B Block. Okada & Omega were very much the dominant forces (and still are), but EVIL has suddenly come into the picture after the biggest win of his career.

G1 Climax 27 Standings

Block A

Hiroshi Tanahashi – 10 Points
Tetsuya Naito – 10 Points
Hirooki Goto – 8 Points
Zack Sabre Jr. – 8 Points
Bad Luck Fale – 8 Points
Tomohiro Ishii – 8 Points
Kota Ibushi – 8 Points
Togi Makabe – 6 Points
YOSHI-HASHI – 4 Points
Yuji Nagata – 0 Points

Block B

Kazuchika Okada – 12 Points
Kenny Omega – 10 Points
EVIL – 10 Points
Minoru Suzuki – 8 Points
SANADA – 8 Points
Toru Yano – 6 Points
Michael Elgin – 6 Points
Tama Tonga – 4 Points
Juice Robinson – 4 Points
Satoshi Kojima – 2 Points

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 13 (August 4) Results & Review

Author : rentathugcomics

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 Night 13
August 4, 2017

Watch: NJPW World

Ya tired yet? We’re past the halfway point of this year’s G1 Climax, and it’s just as exhausting as ever. I personally find myself holding up better this year than I have in the past, but I’m also still on night 8, aside from jumping ahead for this review. I am, however, well beyond the point where I care about the undercards (confession: I have watched zero undercard matches in this year’s tournament). I DID skip through to the finishes of all of them to be able to tell you the results, though.

Before we get to night 13’s block matches, I’d like to thank everyone who entered the Voices of Wrestling G1 Pick ‘Em, and look forward to mailing the winners some Wrestlemon graphic novels. If you’re not doing so hot in the pick ’em, you can also just buy yourself a copy from my online store!

Wanna chat some G1 Climax, or wrestling in general? Follow me on Twitter @HEATcomic.

Kota Ibushi (8 points) def Yuji Nagata (0 points)

Normally I don’t have anything to say about Japanese commentary, because I don’t understand any of it beyond “LARIATO!” and “DROPKICKU!”, but tonight’s a little different. The demon that NJPW has signed a satanic pact with to keep all of their wrestlers in one piece for the duration of the G1 has joined the booth to provide his thoughts on the action! What? That’s just Tomoaki Honma’s speaking voice? Oh… oh my. Jokes aside, I’m glad Honma’s health has improved to the point that he can make appearances on these shows.

I’m way less into the Nagata story than many, but I can’t deny it’s given his matches some extra juice. This match sees Papa Yuji go full steam ahead in “grumpy old man” mode. Ibushi shows off his athleticism early, but Nagata will have none of that, and proceeds with a plan to smack the youth out of the Golden Star. I was a little bored early on, but things picked way up when Ibushi dug into his ol’ kickboxing bag of tricks and went kick for kick with Nagata, ending with simultaneous head kicks. From that point on, both men took turns blasting each other with roundhouse kicks until Nagata was able to hit the Backdrop Hold for an incredible near-fall. Nagata’s determination allowed him to survive the Last Ride, but the follow-up knee strike came too fast and hit too hard. Ibushi honoured his legendary opponent with a handshake, but Nagata will only find out about it when he watches the replay. ***3/4

Bad Luck Fale (8 points) def Tomohiro Ishii (8 points)

These two guys are having very different tournaments. Ishii is the most consistently great G1 performer of the Kidani boom period, and he’s maintaining that reputation this year, including a ****3/4 war with Hirooki Goto on night 1. Bad Luck Fale also had an excellent match on night 1, a brawl with Togi Makabe that felt like a kaiju fight. Unfortunately, he hasn’t done much since that bout. He had a cool finish with Tanahashi, and murdered a stuffed cat named Daryl, but bell-to-bell there hasn’t been much worth noting.

This one started off hot. Ishii hit the ropes like he was shot out of a cannon and battered Fale with shoulder tackles, only to be splattered like a bug on a windshield as soon as Fale could get his bearings and properly plant his feet. This bout brought the best out of Fale, as Ishii’s absurd toughness didn’t allow for an extended control period, which is where Fale can be dull. The Ishii Vortex was in full effect, as every bit of Ishii offence fired up the crowd. Every lariat, every knock down, every near fall… they were all responded to with oppressive, crushing offence from Fale. Countering the Sliding D into a Grenade attempt was an awesome visual.

Ishii was too stubborn to be beaten by the Grenade, but even the Stone Pitbull couldn’t withstand the Bad Luck Fall. It’s absurd how good Ishii is, dear reader. It seems like he pulls everyone’s best out of them, and I hope he’s on whatever regimen Kojima and Nagata are using that lets them stay at a high level approaching 50. ****

Hirooki Goto (8 points) def YOSHI-HASHI (4 points)

Hirooki Goto has consistently been one of my favourite wrestlers in New Japan since the first time I saw him. It was his Dominion 2011 IWGP Title challenge against Tanahashi, back when Goto dressed like a samurai. His offence is so cool, and even though he never wins the big one, he’s developed something akin to the Ishii Vortex for me. I always root for him to win that big one, even if it’s just once.

YOSHI-HASHI has done an incredible job of grinding his way to respectability since his return from excursion in an awful bout against the also-returning Kazuchika Okada. He has done a significantly less incredible job of choosing hairstyles.

Goto has added some tributes to injured friend Katsuyori Shibata into his offence during the G1, with the sleeper hold and penalty kick becoming staple weapons for him. Unfortunately, this is the type of match that the G1 punishes, as it was well-worked and entertaining, but lacked the emotional hook that took it to the next level. In a tournament with as many matches as the modern G1, bouts that aren’t blow-away great or a key part of a wrestler’s larger narrative tend to get lost. This is a good, entertaining wrestling match that nobody will think much about in a week or two. ***1/2

Tetsuya Naito (10 points) def Zack Sabre Jr (8 points)

Confession: I don’t really like Zack Sabre Jr. I see what other people like about him, but if he’s in control, he bores me to tears. That said, this G1 tournament has been the most I’ve ever liked him, so maybe he’ll grow on me.

At the five minute time call, I’m considering deleting that last sentence, because I am bored. All of the juice in this match so far has come from Naito being defiant and making brief comebacks in between pretzelizations. The major problem I have with Sabre’s style is that it doesn’t utilize the narrative elements of pro wrestling to build toward a dramatic finish consistently. Against Kota Ibushi, Sabre’s grappling served a greater story of Ibushi being frustrated and needing to change his approach to the match. Here? Sabre stretched Naito, then Naito hit a Destino out of nowhere and won. There was no drama, no excitement leading to the finish. It was the equivalent of reading a novel that doesn’t end, it just stops.

If you like Zack Sabre Jr, you’ll probably like this match quite a bit. For my taste, this sucked. **1/2

Hiroshi Tanahashi (10 points) def Togi Makabe (6 points)

I always get hyped up for Tanahashi’s entrance until I remember that he doesn’t come out to “High Energy” anymore. Also he’s one of the best wrestlers on the planet, but that’s pretty well-established at this point, and kind of goes without saying.

What does need to be said is how good Togi Makabe’s G1 has been. Makabe’s a guy that’s always brought up when pundits talk about people they wouldn’t mind being dropped from the tournament, and most years they have a reasonable case from a workrate standpoint. This year? The Unchained King Kong has been storming around Japan like a human violence tornado, and it’s been a notable story in the tournament. I loved his kaiju fight with Bad Luck Fale, and he’s also had excellent matches with Hirooki Goto and Tomohiro Ishii.

One of the overarching narratives in the tournament has been Hiroshi Tanahashi’s subtle heel tendencies becoming far less subtle. This bout really picks up when Tanahashi uses Makabe’s corner punches against him just to be a dick. From that point on, Makabe isn’t just trying to win a match in an important tournament – he wants to lariat this smug jerk’s head into the front row. Both men miss their top rope finishers, though Tanahashi takes the worst of it. Tanahashi gets a near fall from a German suplex; Makabe responds with a more violent one. The anger of Makabe isn’t enough to beat Tanahashi on it’s own, though, and the self-styled Ace is able elude Makabe’s spider German suplex and knock the Unchained King Kong off his skyscraper with a pair of High Fly Flows. ****

Final Thoughts:

This wasn’t a blow-away show, but it was a breeze to watch, and unless you’ve reached the point where you’re cherry-picking only the best matches, it’s worth your time. Tanahashi/Makabe and Ishii/Fale both hit four stars, and Nagata/Ibushi was only a shade below that mark. The A Block and I will both be back on Sunday for the last show before we head to Sumo Hall, and the standings are pretty close. Naito and Tanahashi sit atop the block with 10 points a piece, but Fale, Ishii, Sabre, and Ibushi are all within striking distance at 8 points. The conventional wisdom says Naito and Tanahashi will win their matches on Sunday and clash in Sumo Hall to represent the A Block in the finals, but who knows? Maybe we’ll get that Ibushi/Fale block win that I’m sure some of you chose in your pick ’em.

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 12 (August 2) Results & Review

Author : augustbaker12

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 Night 12
August 2nd, 2017

Watch: NJPW World / View updated VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em standings on our forums at voicesofwrestling.com/forums

Due to time constraints, being three shows behind, and just not caring very much, the undercard matches will not be reviewed. But if you like sub-10 minute matches at half speed, I’m sure they will scratch that itch.

SANADA (8) def Juice Robinson (2)

Juice has been a real surprise of this tournament. He might have a lot of losses, but he’s shown an energy and spirit that has only been hinted at before. His match against Suzuki may not have been as highly rated as other matches, but it is one of the most memorable matches of the tournament. SANADA meanwhile has been good but not great. The best thing he’s done so far is tie Yano in a knot and win by countout.

Juice is still selling the leg from the Suzuki attack, and SANADA smartly attacks it. Juice will hit a move, then back to the leg. Juice has added a reverse DDT to his arsenal, and I always like seeing guys add to their repertoire. SANADA locks in a Figure Four and almost gets a countout win after they roll out onto the floor and he won’t let go. Inside the ring they flip between Pulp Friction and Skull’s End before SANADA chop blocks Juice’s injured leg, chokes him out with Skull’s End, and finishes him with the moonsault.

This was fine. Juice continues to show heart and spirit. SANADA continues to be good but not great. ***1/2

Toru Yano (4) def Michael Elgin (4)

Okay, let’s get this out of the way real quick. Yano won with the Eddie Guerrero special, faking being hit by the low blow and getting Elgin disqualified, mathematically eliminating Big Mike. New Japan almost never gives a DQ even when blatantly deserved, so to give one on this might rub people the wrong way. I look at it as just another example of Yano’s brilliance. Yano never gets disqualified because he has perfected the low blow to an art. He immediately goes for a cover after a dick punch, so the ref counts instead of examining how he got there in the first place. This finish shows that he could be disqualified if caught, but he’s just too sublime. Or the ref is a moron. I choose to look at the positive side.

I don’t know where Elgin goes from here. Losing in such ignominious fashion doesn’t speak well for his future. In fact, some devilishly handsome writer for this very site may have written about just this very thing last week. In short, something needs to change, and I think it’s time for Big Mike to embrace his inner Evil Foreigner, powerbomb some expendable wrestlers through the mat, and challenge Tanahashi at the Dome. Book it Gedo!

The match was too short for a real rating, but I laughed twice and chuckled once, so **1/2

Michael Elgin: Unbreakably Forgotten

Minoru Suzuki (8) def Satoshi Kojima (0)

There’s some history here, but since it all happened well before I started watching New Japan, you’re going to need to find another source. Needless to say there’s some bad blood though. I’m surprised Kojima is winless so far. It makes me wonder if Nagata isn’t the only one retiring from the G1 after this year.

Tenzan tries to run interference against Taichi and El Desperado, but is outnumbered and can only do so much. After the opening brawl outside the ring, they have a fine brawl inside the ring, but Suzuki-gun does what it does best and interfered before Tenzan cleared house. Suzuki wins with the Gotch piledriver though.

This match was just kind of there. Not bad, but nothing special. ***

Kazuchika Okada (12) def Tama Tonga (4)

Okada is on the title run of a lifetime. Tama Tonga is a tag wrestler who wouldn’t be here if Shibata hadn’t been injured. The outcome of this match is never in doubt. Tama could bring a literal gun and shoot Okada, and I still wouldn’t be convinced he could win.

The match opens with Tama stealing Okada’s jacket and posing, which is kind of funny. It’s hard to pay too much attention to what’s going to because Okada could have a heart attack in the middle of the ring and still win this match. Tama does hit the Headhunter DDT, which has won him matches before, but not tonight. Tama tries some moves from former Bullet Club members, but Okada German Suplexes him out of a Gun Stun and Rainmakers him for the win.

This was fine, but again, Tama was in no way shape or form winning this match. Would have preferred Okada just squash him, but oh well. ***

Keep up with our G1 Climax 27 Coverage at http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/reviews/njpw/njpw-g1/ 

Kenny Omega (10) def EVIL (8)

Omega’s only loss so far as come to Michael Elgin, it seems like he’s on a collision course with the zero loss Okada on the last night. EVIL meanwhile is well on his way to being something special. He’s almost certainly going to finish this tournament with a winning record. Once he tunes down the gimmick a little, he’s going to be a major player in the upper mid card for years.

The match falls into a pattern with brawling outside, then back inside, then out, then in, etc etc. EVIL does his chair thing. Kenny stomps a table through EVIL, then EVIL makes said table explode by dropping Omega and himself through it. EVIL gets busted open, making him look even more badass. They stick inside the ring for the rest of the fight. This feels more like a preview than anything else, but is still going really well until the end. EVIL gets knocked the eff out by a V-Trigger and just collapses. Omega can’t get him up so tries to cover him but he’s dead weight and won’t roll over. EVIL is dead weight as Omega pulls him to his feet for another V-Trigger and the One Winged Angel for the win.

There were almost two different matches here. There was the brawling outside bits, then the actual between the ropes stuff. This was the best thing on the show, but the outside plunder, save for the last table spot, didn’t do a lot for me. The in ring work was excellent though, even with an awkward ending, and it’s definitely worth watching. ****

Final Thoughts:

This was one of the weaker shows of the tournament. Only the main event is worth going out of your way to watch, but you can spare a few minutes for Elgin/Yano no matter how far behind you are.

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 11 (August 1) Results & Review

Author : richkraetsch

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 Night 11
August 1, 2017
Kagoshima Arena

Watch: NJPW WorldView updated VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em standings on our forums at voicesofwrestling.com/forums


G1 Climax 27 – A Block
YOSHI-HASHI def. Bad Luck Fale

Arguably the biggest upset so far this G1, YOSHI-HASHI pinned Bad Luck Fale after transitioning a failed Butterfly Lock attempt into a victory roll. Both the crowd and NJPW World commentators exploded at the three count.

Upset aside, this match was fairly bland but told a good story with YOSHI-HASHI knowing he had no chance of actually beating Fale one-on-one and instead attempted to get a countout win. When that didn’t work he went to his high-flying offense trying to chop the giant tree down. The upset was a cool moment but there have been better matches by both throughout this tournament. **1/2

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Zack Sabre Jr (8) def. Togi Makabe (6)

Two of the biggest surprises of the 27th G1 Climax faced off in this match as former junior Zack Sabre Jr and the Unchained Gorilla Togi Makabe battled in a, you guessed it, surprisingly great match.

Sabre’s dominance—he’s currently tied for the A Block lead at 8 points—and Makabe’s competence—he’s had a handful of super fun, well worked matches—have become two of the biggest storylines in this year’s tournament. This match, as one would expect with Makabe, was not “pretty” and Sabre struggled often to get Makabe into the submission holds and counters he’s become so well known for. Makabe’s strategy was as it always is: beat the fuck out of the opponent and it worked to perfection. Sabre was rattled throughout and even abandoned his gameplan at one point to get into a striking match was Makabe. Spoiler: it didn’t end well for ZSJ.

A failed King Kong Knee Drop from Makabe set the stage for the finish as Sabre quickly took advantage locking Makabe in an Octopus Lock only to quickly transition into an ankle lock generating the rare Togi Makabe tap out. ***½

Keep up with our G1 Climax 27 Coverage at http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/reviews/njpw/njpw-g1/ 

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Tomohiro Ishii (8) def. Yuji Nagata (0)

Dammit! He was so close. He almost had it. Nagata’s continued journey to avoid goose eggs in his final G1 Climax reached a fever pitch on Night 11 as Nagata went to the absolute limit with Ishii. These two killed each other and threw out literally everything in their arsenal. Exploder suplexes, brainbusters, spin kicks, chops, elbows, knees, you name it, these two probably did it. Nagata is 49 years old but you wouldn’t know it from this match. Sure, his comebacks don’t have the speed they once did, or, hell, what they had two weeks ago but they are still remarkable. I’m not sure if this was Nagata’s best performance in the G1 yet, but it was certainly up there.

Watching unspoiled, my heart stopped at a Nagata Drive Screw and an amazing 2.99999 count where Ishii just barely got his shoulder up. Sadly, that was the closest Nagata would get on this night as Ishii quickly took back control of the match and hit a brainbuster of his own for the three. Don’t skip this one. ****¼

Drive Screw from Nagata!! #NJPW #G127https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/h99aLEIrES

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 1, 2017

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Tetsuya Naito (8) def. Hirooki Goto (6)

This was just okay. A match that seemed befitting of Night 11 of the G1 Climax, when bodies are starting to break down and guys are running on fumes. Both men are capable of more and have done more throughout this tournament so I chalk this one up to a number of factors. The story of the match itself was good it just didn’t seem to work in practicality and the crowd was certainly not invested in it.

Naito and Goto each focused on the others neck—given their respective finishers it made a lot of sense. After what seemed like an eternity of plodding around, both men started attempting to put the other away with their finisher. Goto went for the Ushigoroshi but Naito countered it into a DDT. This gave Naito the opening he was looking for as he attempted a series of Destinos that Goto countered into the Ushigoroshi. The work was fluid and at times pretty brutal but the near falls just didn’t matter and the lack of crowd buzz certainly hurt the match.

Naito was eventually able to hit his Destino and another for good measure finally putting Goto away and securing a tie atop the A Block at 8 points. **3/4

DESTINOOOOO!! #NJPW #G127https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/FH2QowFIic

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 1, 2017

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Kota Ibushi (6) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi (8)

Kagoshima is Ibushi’s hometown so it was obvious from the moment his music hit that everyone was going to be behind the Golden Star. This gave Tanahashi the opening to play his patented asshole veteran heel role. It’s a role I argued on last week’s VOW Flagship Podcast that should become his standard fare. Tanahashi is just so good at it and him being such an icon for so many years helps fuel it that much more. You’ll still have your diehard Tanahashi fans—and there were a few here hoping and praying he’d wipe sweat onto their towels or grab their Tanahashi bears—but the younger, newer fans don’t have the same connection to him. Play that up. Let Tanahashi truly be the out-of-touch, former ace that has turned into an absolute glory hog that can’t comprehend or understand his current lot in life. With established stars like Kazuchika Okada and budding babyface in waiting megastars in Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito, NJPW less so than at any point during Tanahashi’s tenure needs to rely on him.

This match in a lot of ways showed just how powerful a hated Tanahashi can be, particularly in Japan where most everyone toes the line between heel and face depending on the situation. On this night, Tanahashi was a total dickhead almost from the beginning. What started as a respectable exchange of strikes and holds quickly turned on its side when Tanahashi took a cheapshot during the rope break. It was on. From that moment until the very last moments of the match Tanahashi worked heel, ignoring future rope breaks, trying to cut out Ibushi’s knees, spending any free moment jaw-jacking at the fans or playing air guitar. The crowd’s hatred only intensified with each subsequent heel tactic. This only enhanced Ibushi’s comebacks which had the crowd going nuts.

While I don’t think this is Ibushi’s best performance of the G1, it does give us a glimpse into how Ibushi would work if he became a New Japan main eventer. It was more methodical, more consciously-paced than your standard Ibushi sprint. With that said, he also busted out the Golden Triangle Moonsault, deadlift German and most of the insane moves we’ve come to know and love from Ibushi.

The closing stretch did a great job of tying the story of the match together as Tanahashi went for a High Fly Flow but Ibushi got his knees up. On any other night, this may have given Ibushi a distinct advantage but after Tanahashi worked his knees time and time again through the bulk of the match, Ibushi could do nothing but scream in pain. Eventually both men got to their feet with Kota getting a leg up—literally—hitting Tanahashi with a brutal kick. Ibushi then hit his Sit-Out Powerbomb but to the surprise of every single person in the arena, Tanahashi kicked out at 2. Ibushi couldn’t believe it and pleaded with Red Shoes that he had to have made a mistake.

Same. #G127

➡️ https://t.co/8n90d75Nfk pic.twitter.com/4NIB9owyZr

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) August 1, 2017

Realizing he didn’t have the time nor the luxury of fucking around with the former Ace, Ibushi rose to his feet and drove a knee right into Tanahashi’s jaw. This looked sick and I’m positive Tanahashi is going to feel that in the morning. This strike caused Tanahashi to fall like a sack of potatoes giving Ibushi the chance to pin him for three.

Both men have had better matches so far this G1 and likely will top it on later nights. Still, this is one to go out of your way to check out. ****1/4

THAT KNEE!! Goddamn… #NJPW #G127https://t.co/4ULitIni5Z 👀 pic.twitter.com/GYN0KOgo1a

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) August 1, 2017

Final Thoughts:

Both Ishii/Nagata and Ibushi/Tanahashi as must-sees from Night 11 of the G1 Climax 27.

Current G1 Climax 27 Standings:

Current standings
Block A Block B
Zack Sabre Jr. 8 Kazuchika Okada 10
Hiroshi Tanahashi 8 EVIL 8
Tomohiro Ishii 8 Kenny Omega 8
Tetsuya Naito 8 Minoru Suzuki 6
Togi Makabe 6 SANADA 6
Hirooki Goto 6 Tama Tonga 4
Bad Luck Fale 6 Michael Elgin 4
Kota Ibushi 6 Juice Robinson 2
YOSHI-HASHI 4 Toru Yano 2
Yuji Nagata 0 Satoshi Kojima 0

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 10 (July 30) Results & Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 Night 10
July 30, 2017
Gifu Industrial Hall
Gifu, Japan

Watch: NJPW World  / View updated VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em standings on our forums at voicesofwrestling.com/forums

G1 Climax 27 – B Block
EVIL (8) Def. Toru Yano (2)

Yano was mathematically eliminated from the tournament following a failed low-blow/roll-up two minutes into this match, so if you picked him to win the block, 2017 was not your year. Try again in 2018. **

G1 Climax 27 – B Block
Minoru Suzuki (6) Def. Tama Tonga (4)

Tama ambushed Desperado on the ramp, took his mask and hid his body in a laundry crate in attempt to disguise himself from Suzuki who quickly recognized him, leading to a long brawl on the outside. Once they got in the ring they only went a few more minutes before Suzuki won with a Gotch piledriver. Decent little match, though unnotable ***

G1 Climax 27 – B Block
SANADA (6) Def. Michael Elgin (4)

SANADA needs to ditch the entrance mask as soon as possible. I love the guy and want him to be a star in this company, but the mask is already beginning to hold him back. It looks utterly ridiculous. Regardless, both guys worked hard despite clearly being exhausted from the insane G1 schedule, especially Elgin who’s been killing himself every night and having some of the most move-heavy matches of the tournament. On top of being tired there were also some clear chemistry issues between the two as they never really clicked until the end. It was a slow, methodical match in which I understand the reasoning behind, but as a result I do have to consider it a bit disappointing, at least relative to what I thought an Elgin vs. SANADA match would and should be, fairly or unfairly. ***1/2

Keep up with our G1 Climax 27 Coverage at http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/reviews/njpw/njpw-g1/ 

G1 Climax 27 – B Block
Kenny Omega (8) Def. Satoshi Kojima (0)

I could be wrong, but I get the sense that this is Kojima’s last tournament. As seen with Tenzan, Liger and now Nagata, whenever old wrestlers are announced to be on their way out, New Japan tends to have them job to the younger guys, and though Kojima has not announced that he’s on his way out, the booking would indicate such. I hope and pray this is not the case but it sure does look like it may be. With the loss here, he was mathematically eliminated as he heads into his sixth match with a goose egg.

Omega wore his house show pants here as a way of disrespecting Kojima by saying he’s easy work, which could be more evidence of my previous point. While slow in the beginning, while it took a while to really get going, once they kicked it into high gear, they delivered. Kojima fought Omega to the death, trying his hardest to show that he’s the same wrestler he’s always been and that his age has not stopped him from being a great wrestler. He got back up every time Omega knocked him down, he gave Omega more than Omega was expecting him to, he damn near took him to the limit, but unfortunately his age and a One-Winged Angel did him in. No matter how hard he tries, he’s an old man, and the younger guys on the roster are better than he is. It’s sad, but it’s reality. It’s cruel, harsh reality. And I appreciate it from that perspective. Very good match. ****

G1 Climax 27 – B Block
Kazuchika Okada (10) Def. Juice Robinson (2)

From WWE developmental jobber to goofy New Japan under-carder to borderline main eventer; I cannot recall a wrestler having as incredible a story as Juice Robinson. Who in their right mind would have guessed when he walked out of WWE in 2015 that within two years he would be headlining New Japan shows. Who in their right mind would have guessed that he would be one of the 25 best wrestlers in the world. No one would have guessed. No one saw it coming. Stories like his remind me how amazing wrestling can be sometimes. He bet on himself, he rolled the dice on his career, he wanted to do his own thing and make a name for himself without being held down by a silly developmental gimmick…and goddammit, he did it.

2017 in a lot of ways has been his year. He worked his way up the card from the mid-card multi-man tag scene to NEVER scene when he wrestled Goto and then from there worked his way up to the Intercontinental scene when he wrestled Naito, and here, on a random tour-stop show in the middle of the G1, he reached the top. He met Okada, the man standing at the peak of the mountain looking down upon everyone, waiting for Juice to reach him just so he could knock him back down. Granted it was a league match, this was what Juice has been pushing himself towards all year. He lost to Goto and he lost to Naito, but he proved himself in those matches. He showed that he can hang with those close to the top; now was his chance to show that he can hang with the king.


Juice worked the match like he wanted nothing more than to prove himself to Okada and to the fans. Okada threw everything he had at him and Juice absorbed all of it. He was unwilling to quit, unwilling to die, he had too much pride, he kept clawing up the side of that mountain until he no longer could. He knocked Okada around a bit, but he was unable to knock him down. He did well, he lasted longer than anyone thought he would, but at the end of the day he was simply not good enough. Will he ever be good enough? Who knows. Tonight was not his night, however he did prove that he could hang in there with the best in the world, and in the eyes of many viewers, perhaps that was all they needed.

A memorable point in the match from Okada’s perspective was him angrily yelling at Juice for what appeared to be no reason while Juice was on the ground. It was unexpected and unlike the Okada we know. Okada is going through a change in mood, and it could be what costs him down the line. He loses his temper at the drop of a dime now, and while he’s been able to get by on it, he’s going to need to learn how to control it, because if not, someone is going to take advantage. Whether it be Omega, whether it be Naito, whether it be SANADA, or whether it be Juice Robinson, his opponents are going to discover how to make him lose control, and it very well may be his demise. A unique performance by him here, unlike anything we ever see from him, so even though there’s been a handful of better matches in the tournament, this was one of the most memorable. Must-watch. ****1/4

Final Thoughts:

One of the lesser G1 shows up to this point with only the top two matches being must-see. Everyone clearly needs a break, everyone is exhausted, so some of the matches just are what they are. Either way, it was a decent night of wrestling.

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 9 (July 29) Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 Night 9
July 29, 2017
Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan

Watch: NJPW World View updated VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em standings on our forums at voicesofwrestling.com/forums

It’s the end of July, which means we’re about to reach the halfway point of the G1 Climax. There have been plenty of fantastic matches thus far, and we’re certainly going to get some more as August quickly approaches. Night 9 was the fifth show for the A Block, and the standings were still pretty tight coming into the event. Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre Jr., and Hiroshi Tanahashi were tied at the top with six points each. Behind them, a bunch of guys sat in the middle of the standings with four points each, with YOSHI-HASHI and Yuji Nagata sitting at the bottom with two and zero points respectively. Before diving into the block matches, here are the results from the undercard tag team bouts that took place:

I did check out a few of them, but the only one that I would say is worth a watch is the LIJ/Young Lions tag. It was only about five minutes, but it was really enjoyable. Kitamura continues to look a freak of nature (taking the fight to EVIL at one point), while Kawato, once again, showed a ton of fighting spirit, despite coming up short.

Togi Makabe (6) def. Yuji Nagata (0)

After initially getting off to a 0-2 start, Togi Makabe surged back with two straight wins to get to a 2-2 record. Meanwhile, Yuji Nagata had yet to score a victory, and a loss here would eliminate him from contention. This was a relatively solid match, but it was by far the weakest of the tournament for Nagata. I could actually say the same about Makabe as well (I would rank his bout against Bad Luck Fale on Night 1 over this one). While this was technically fine, the first half of this match just wasn’t that interesting, as Makabe pretty much dominated. Once Nagata started make his comeback, the pace picked up a little bit. The final two minutes or so were quite good, as Nagata (who got busted open slightly) nearly had Makabe beat on a few occasions. However, Makabe eventually prevailed after hitting his King Kong Knee Drop, getting his third straight win, and officially eliminating Nagata from the tournament. ***1/4

.@GBH_makabe with that sick diving Knee Drop #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/bl6G4Watc4

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) July 29, 2017

Keep up with our G1 Climax 27 Coverage at http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/reviews/njpw/njpw-g1/ 

Bad Luck Fale (6) def. Kota Ibushi (4)

Coming into this show, these two were both part of that “middle of the pack” group with four points and 2-2 records. It’s fair to say that Bad Luck Fale has been the worst performer in the A Block thus far. While he hasn’t been terrible, the other participants in the block (even Togi Makabe) have been blowing him away. Fortunately, this match ended up being Fale’s best outing in the tournament thus far, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that it came against Kota Ibushi, who has been one of the standouts of the A Block thus far. Fale dominated the first few minutes, as he went after the legs of Ibushi in an attempt to ground him.

The momentum changed when Ibushi hit Fale with an impressive delayed German Suplex, and this led to a brawl in the crowd that ended with Ibushi hitting a moonsault off a balcony onto Fale. Ibushi hitting moonsaults from high places is something that will never get old, and the crowd was really behind Ibushi. Unfortunately, Ibushi made the mistake of trying to lift Fale up for a piledriver, and this ended up leading to his downfall. Fale connected with the Grenade, and then hit Ibushi with the Bad Luck Fall to score the win. Once again, Ibushi had another unique match in this tournament, while Fale looked dominant in victory. This was a ton of fun to watch from start to finish. I might be a little high on this one, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. ***3/4

OH MY GOD #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD @ibushi_kota pic.twitter.com/g2TkGbSJRe

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) July 29, 2017

Hirooki Goto (6) def. Zack Sabre Jr. (6)

These two met back at Sakura Genesis in a bout that saw Goto overcome Suzuki-gun interference to retain his NEVER Openweight Title. This wasn’t as awesome as it could’ve been, but it was still a very good match that clocked in at just over ten minutes. Zack Sabre Jr. relentlessly worked over the arms of Goto in an attempt to get the submission victory, but Goto never gave up. There were some great exchanges and counters throughout this one, and fortunately, the only bit of interference we saw occurred very early when Goto got tripped up by El Desperado (he never really got involved beyond that moment).

In the end, Goto scored the win after nailing Zack Sabre Jr. with the GTR. I know Kota Ibushi & Tomohiro Ishii have both been getting high praise for their performances thus far (as they rightfully should), but I believe Hirooki Goto & Zack Sabre Jr. also need to be lauded as two of the more consistent performers in the tournament up to this point. Every time you see them on the card, you know they’re going to be in a good match (bare minimum) and they deliver every time. ***1/2

GTR!!! YES!!!! #njpwworld #g127 pic.twitter.com/PbxKkIgLqj

— John.xmas 🎅 (@DK1105) July 29, 2017

Hiroshi Tanahashi (8) def. YOSHI-HASHI (2)

Here we have two guys who have really gone in opposite directions since the opening night in Sapporo. After losing in his first tournament bout to Zack Sabre Jr., Tanahashi won his next three matches. Meanwhile, YOSHI-HASHI picked up a win over Yuji Nagata on the first night, but went on to lose his next three matches. As for this particular encounter, it was technically sound, and the fans seemed to be into the match (YOSHI-HASHI is from Togo, which is near Nagoya, where this show took place), but it just seemed to be lacking something. This just seemed to be lacking a bit of drama, and came off a little flat, at least for me. Additionally, while there were definitely some good moments, there were a few rough spots as well (YOSHI-HASHI appeared to botch a running neckbreaker at one point).

Again, I’m not saying the match was terrible (it was far from that), but it was just missing something. You’d think that these two would be capable of putting together something better. While it was still solid as a whole, it was far from memorable. Tanahashi got the victory after hitting YOSHI-HASHI with the High Fly Flow. ***1/4

Classic @YOSHIHASHICHAOS #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/gFzJXRucgM

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) July 29, 2017

Tomohiro Ishii (6) def. Tetsuya Naito (6)

These two have had a number of meetings over the past few years, and they’ve put on fantastic matches every single time. It doesn’t matter if they’re fighting over a title (IWGP Heavyweight Title, NEVER Openweight Title) or if they face off in a tournament setting (the New Japan Cup, the recent IWGP United States Title Tournament in Long Beach and now the G1 Climax). Whenever these two have a match, you know you’re going to witness something special.

Even though this particular encounter was far from their best, it was still awesome, and easily the match of the night. The biggest critique one could make about this one is that it got off to a slow start, with Naito working over Ishii’s neck, which isn’t even a great idea to begin with, since Ishii has almost no neck. Anyway, the slow start did hurt this one a little bit, but at the same time, I think it makes sense. If you’re wrestling Tomohiro Ishii in a one-on-one situation, the last thing you want to do is wrestle Ishii’s style of match, because it won’t end well (just ask Okada). In that regard, Naito intentionally slowing down the pace made perfect sense. Again, it did hurt the match slightly, but it made sense from a psychology standpoint (at least that’s how I saw it).

Of course, Naito’s strategy would’ve worked a lot better if he didn’t focus on the neck of Ishii, but I digress. The action did eventually pick up in the second half, where it turned into your typical Naito/Ishii battle, with some incredible exchanges and amazing offense. There was a particularly good moment towards the end of the match when Ishii countered the Destino with (what looked to be) a stunner, and this eventually getting the win after hitting a brainbuster. Seeing Ishii win in the main event was so odd, because we usually get these big end-of-the-show promos, but Ishii just left after his big win. He’s a man of few words, but that’s ok, because he lets his actions in the ring speak for him. ****1/4


— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) July 29, 2017

Final Thoughts

Night 9 officially marked the halfway point for the A Block, and as a whole, it was a very solid show, but not spectacular. It’s not that there were bad tournament matches (most of them ranged from good to very good), but without that great main event, which saw Tomohiro Ishii & Tetsuya Naito add another awesome match to their series, this would’ve been the worst show of the tournament so far. Kota Ibushi had a really good bout with Bad Luck Fale (the best bout of the tournament for “The Underboss), and Hirooki Goto beat Zack Sabre Jr. in a very enjoyable encounter. The other two tournament matches, Makabe vs. Nagata & Tanahashi vs. YOSHI-HASHI, were both solid, but nothing more than that.

The results from this show leave the A Block Standings in an interesting spot. Hiroshi Tanahashi is now the sole leader of the block with 8 points and a 4-1 record. This is a bit of a surprise, at least in my eyes. After Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Tanahashi on Night 1, most of us figured he would lose another early match before going on a big run of victories before the A Block Finals against Naito. However, that’s not the case as it stands. Usually, when someone is leading the block at this point, it means that they’re due for some losses coming up. Now I don’t think Tanahashi is going to go on a losing streak, but he’s probably going to lose at least one more match before he faces Naito. Meanwhile, the results of Night 9 mean that there’s a massive logjam right behind Tanahashi, as six other competitors are now tied at six points. It’ll be interesting to see who is able to break away from this pack.

Current G1 Climax 27 Standings

Block A

Hiroshi Tanahashi – 8 Points
Tomohiro Ishii – 6 Points
Tetsuya Naito – 6 Points
Zack Sabre Jr. – 6 Points
Hirooki Goto – 6 Points
Bad Luck Fale – 6 Points
Togi Makabe – 6 Points
Kota Ibushi – 4 Points
YOSHI-HASHI – 2 Points
Yuji Nagata – 0 Points

Block B

Kazuchika Okada – 8 Points
Kenny Omega – 6 Points
EVIL – 6 Points
Minoru Suzuki – 4 Points
SANADA – 4 Points
Tama Tonga – 4 Points
Michael Elgin – 4 Points
Juice Robinson – 2 Points
Toru Yano – 2 Points
Satoshi Kojima – 0 Points

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 8 (July 27) Results & Review

Author : kellyharrass

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 – Night 8
July 27, 2017
Niigata, Japan

Watch: NJPW World View updated VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em standings on our forums at voicesofwrestling.com/forums

Tama Tonga (4) def. Juice Robinson (2)

Juice Robinson is going to be a mummy by the time this tournament is over. After having his leg worked over by Minoru Suzuki, Juice has heavily taped up his knee, not only protecting it, but also making it a target for his opponents. Tama Tonga didn’t go after the injury until he absolutely had to. Juice started gaining momentum in the match and Tonga pulled the rug out from under him with a chop block to the knee. Juice’s selling is fantastic. He’s not screaming out in pain, but his subtle actions constantly let you know that he’s working hurt. Recently, Okada said in an interview that she sees Juice as a heavy factor in the future of New Japan and I’m inclined to agree. Juice always gives it his all and has become a guy whose matches I always look forward to. Tama is no slouch himself and put in a good showing here at well, eventually picking up the win with the Gun Stun. While it does take two wrestlers to put on a good match, Juice was far and away the star here, receiving a great ovation from the crowd even in loss. I really hope that the people in charge see that that have something in this guy. ***1/4

SANADA (4) def. Toru Yano (2)

This was the best Yano match in this tournament yet. The master trickster tried his usual gags, but SANADA was having none of it, outfoxing Yano at every turn. I feel like it’s an underrated aspect of Yano’s tournament matches how they’re most often worked like a sprint. While you aren’t getting the barrage of moves you would typically expect from a sprint, the Yano matches move at a surprisingly fast pace and this one was no different. Yano attempted to use the tape around the legs trick he had used against Omega, but SANADA may have convinced him not to try it again. The first time Yano grabbed a roll of tape, SANADA took it from him and tossed it into the crowd like it was a streamer. When Yano found a second roll under the ring, that led us to the end of the match. Yano again tried to tape SANADA’s legs, but the attempt was blocked and SANADA dragged Yano up the ramp. Once they were a sufficient distance away, SANADA taped one of Yano’s arms to one of his legs and placed him in the Paradise Lock. SANADA casually strolled his way back to the ring and Yano was counted out. While I normally hate the Paradise Lock, this was a brilliant way to end the match. I love that now wrestlers come into the Yano match expecting the trickery and find ways to deal with it instead of being surprised every time. Both men made this a super fun match that is well worth your time. ***

Keep up with our G1 Climax 27 Coverage at http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/reviews/njpw/njpw-g1/ 

EVIL (6) def. Minoru Suzuki (4)

This hard hitting match saw the embodiment of everything that is EVIL get a huge win over the avatar of violence that is Minoru Suzuki. The match itself was solid, but my favorite thing about it may have been the friendship on display between the members of LIJ. Nothing bothers me more than when a wrestler is being beaten down in the ring and no one come to save them. When EVIL was being attacked by Desperado and Taichi, I was very happy to see BUSHI and Hiromu run through the curtain to make the save for their friend and battle the Suzuki-gun members to the back. The restoration of order allowed EVIL to put Suzuki away with EVIL and move himself into second place in the block. While this wasn’t the best match of either man this tournament, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The interference might take some people out of the match, but for me it played an integral role. ***½

Kazuchika Okada (8) def. Satoshi Kojima (0)

In case you forgot, Okada can be kind of a dick sometimes. This match was here to remind you of that. From the instant this match began, even before actually, the crowd was solidly behind Kojima. After the bell rang, Okada mockingly joined in on the “KO-JI-MA” chants and then kicked the veteran in the gut, setting the tone for the match. This was different from every other Okada match I’ve seen in recent memory because, much like Tanahashi did in his classic with Nagata, Okada was able to see that the crowd was not going to be behind him at all and changed up his match in the fly. The fans wanted Kojima to win so badly and there were a few times that I thought that was going to happen. Kojima managed to counter the Rainmaker with a devastating lariat of his own that I’m still shocked wasn’t the match ended. While Kojima may not have any points right now, he fights like a man that’s going for the top spot. Even though he gave his best effort, it wasn’t enough here as Kojima was defeated with the Rainmaker. Awesome match that is a must watch for Kojima fans. ****1/4

Michael Elgin (4) def. Kenny Omega (6)

I don’t know about anyone else reading this, but I was shocked at this result. It had seemed as if Okada and Omega were both going to run the table leading into their match on the final night of B Block action, but here we saw a bit of an upset from Big Mike. In the past, we’ve seems these two put on great matches and this was no different. These two men threw everything they had at each other. Some might say it was too much and I might actually agree, but even then, it still all worked. Elgin clearly wants that US belt and this match sent a message to Omega that he can take it whenever he wants. Kenny took one hell of a beating in this match, taking tons of powerbombs and a killer looking suplex on the ring apron, but he just kept kicking out. Even though Omega refused to stay down, Elgin didn’t panic and stayed the course. Eventually one of the powerbombs did the trick and Elgin went home with two more points. These two men set out to put on a great match and that is exactly what they did. ****½

Final Thoughts:

Today we were five for five when it came to matches with good storytelling. This was by far my favorite B Block show thus far and was a really easy watch. None of the matches overstayed their welcome and they were all interesting throughout. There was a little bit of everything when it came to the style of matches we got, adding a nice variety to an already solid list of accolades. If you’re looking for highlights, the top two matches will be the must see matches picks of the night, but I would advise to watch all five. While it wasn’t an all time great show, it was well worth your time.

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 6 (July 25) Results & Review

Author : thelionelwilliams

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 – Night 6
July 25 2017
Big Palette Fukushima
Fukushima, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

View updated VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em standings on our forums at voicesofwrestling.com/forums

Here are the results from the undercard tag team matches:


This match had a neat little story going, where Kojima would do something to Elgin, but Elgin would come back and do it so much harder. Kojima did his corner chops, and a minute later, Elgin did them right back to him. He hit a DDT on the apron, and Elgin came back by powerbombing Koji on the apron. Koji hit the lariat to the back of Elgin’s head, so Elgin responded with two really hard lariats that got a 2 count. Elgin buckle bombs Kojima, but Kojima explodes out of the corner with a big lariat. Elgin gets control back and heads to the top rope, but Kojima cuts him off. They battle on the top rope before Elgin hits a sunset flip powerbomb and rolls into an Elgin Bomb to get the win. Again, a neat little match. ***1/2


They immediately go outside and start brawling. Tama brings EVIL to the back of the building and throws him into a lifting gate. There’s a big countout tease, but EVIL gets back into the ring at 19. EVIL dragged Tama to the outside and hit him with a chair. They counter finishers for a while before EVIL hits his fireman’s carry powerbomb for 2. STO attempt got stuffed, and Tonga hit his jumping DDT for 2. They have a mad scramble in the last 30 seconds until EVIL hit his EVIL STO for the win. It was a tale of two matches. The first half was pointless brawling, the second half was pretty smooth in-ring. The end result was a forgettable match with a cool finish. **3/4

Keep up with our G1 Climax 27 Coverage at http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/reviews/njpw/njpw-g1/ 


When I saw Juice Robinson limp into the ring for this match, I knew he was a dead man walking. Suzuki immediately went after his knee, jumping him before the bell. He destroyed Juice’s knee with a barricade and a chair. Juice had a target on his leg, and Suzuki was taking all the shots. But Juice has Heart and Honor. He valiantly fought back, even if most of his fight was just landing chops. He kept standing, even though everyone in the building knew Suzuki was gonna rip his leg off. There is just something about Juice that makes a match like this, which was as one-sided as a G1 match will get, still feel interesting. He’s got that babyface fire. In the end though, Suzuki knocked Juice out with a punch, and pinned him after a Gotch-style piledriver. ***1/2


I hope you’re sitting down for this. These two men, known for being comedic at times, had a comedy match. In the middle of the GRADE ONE CLIMAX. These two men should be ashamed, they should be disappointed in themselves, and they should both apologize to their mothers for their actions.

If you didn’t know what this was going to be, you have clearly never heard of Kenny Omega or Toru Yano. In fact, I’m surprised Kenny didn’t pull out the rainbow tights for this one, as this was rainbow tights territory here. There was powder. There was a bucket. Both men’s feet got taped together, and Kenny somehow did a double stomp with a very limited vertical leap. It was harmless, and I don’t blame you if you skipped it. But, I enjoyed it, and I have no doubt it will get a stupid amount of heat on Twitter. Omega V-Triggered a taped-up Yano to the floor for the countout win. ***


SANADA took control in the first few minutes by faking a knee injury. Okada dumped SANADA into the crowd and hit his big dive over the barricade. SANADA got control back by crotching Okada on the ropes. Okada does his comeback and goes for the Rainmaker, but SANADA ducks it and hits a back suplex for 2. SANADA moonsaults into a Skull End, but Okada gets the ropes. A TKO from SANADA gets 2. SANADA hooks Okada in the Skull End on the top rope, but Okada drags him down into a Tombstone in the middle of the ring. Okada hits a couple big dropkicks before a Rainmaker attempt, but SANADA moves. They trade positions before SANADA hits his own Tombstone into a Skull End. Okada makes the ropes, so SANADA hits a moonsault and locks Okada in the Skull End again. Okada rolls out, hits a Rainmaker, and HOLDS ONTO THE WRIST. He hits a second Rainmaker, and after a scramble, hits a third one to get the win.

The start of the match was a bit tedious, but it escalated well. I expected a little more from this one. That may be unfair of me because they’re in the middle of the G1 and can’t afford to go all out every night and survive to the end. With Okada keeping the wrist like he does in big time matches, I think they wanted this to be a big deal that SANADA could hang with the champ. It just didn’t reach that next level, though. ***1/2


There wasn’t anything from this show that will be remembered by the end of this G1. Some fun matches, but nothing you have to go out of your way to check out.

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 7 (July 26) Results & Review

Author : garrettkidney

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 – Night 7
July 26, 2017
Miyagi, Japan
Sendai Sunplaza

Watch: NJPW World

You can view updated VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em standings on our forums at voicesofwrestling.com/forums

As A Block rolls on we’ve had a number of through lines so far.

Ibushi’s emotional (and utterly brilliant) return. Nagata scraping tooth and nail against Father Time to prove he still belongs in his final G1 and ultimately coming up short so far. An even race on top. Makabe overperforming bell to bell. Vile, stuffy murder. YOSHI-HASHI’s hair. Goto continuing to exist. ZSJ’s continued emergence as a singles player.

Many of those stories rolled on in Night 7 as I continue my streak from last year of only reviewing G1 shows that have Tanahashi vs. Goto on top.

The results of the undercard tags, feel free to skip the bunch:

Tomohiro Ishii (4) def. YOSHI-HASHI (2) 

I earnestly enjoy YOSHI-HASHI. After a bunch of NJPW’s resident underdogs have moved up in the world (Ishii included), he’s one of the few left going. And aside from that draping dropkick he does always looking terrible, I buy into him and his 1980’s soap star haircut in that role. It is interesting, though not entirely surprising that Ishii (brilliant fighting from underneath in his own right) could be every bit as compelling as the aggressor in that same formula.

YOSHI-HASHI attempted to go toe to toe, and ill-advisedly headbutt for headbutt, with Ishii but Ishii weathered the storm, survived a Loose Explosion (~!) and put YOSHI away with the brainbuster. A strong match, the crowd bought into YOSHI-HASHI taking it to Ishii. And while come the end of the tournament people will probably be effusively praising Ibushi, Okada and Omega – Ishii will nearly certainly be right there alongside them when it comes to quality. ***3/4

Zack Sabre Jr (6) def. Bad Luck Fale (2) 

Fale is the worst wrestler ever. I hate him. He killed that poor innocent kitten and I will never forgive him. I can’t wait until he faces the only form of justice suitable for such a crime. Blue Justice. ZSJ submitting Tanahashi was about as strong a statement of intent regarding how New Japan plan to position Zack as possible. This match was just as interesting an examination of how they consider him. People like Nakamura, Okada, and Tanahashi have traditionally been positioned to valiantly attempt to slay the giant. Zack meanwhile had to rely on craftiness, moving around Fale looking for pin or submission attempts while hanging off him like a spider monkey. That made for some fun visuals at least here as Zack was attempting to clasp in holds on Fale’s considerable limbs.

In the end, Zack grabbed the win with a flash pin, which while not the same symbolically as making Tanahashi submit, is still a win nonetheless. It feels like they’re positioning Zack to slot straight into Suzuki’s position when the time comes for Suzuki to move on. **3/4

Togi Makabe (4) def. Kota Ibushi (4)

Makabe has been a pleasant surprise so far this year. Both his Ishii and Goto matches delivered, he seems to be moving better and working harder than he has in recent singles. Kota is Kota. A brilliant, beautiful man that I’m incredibly happy to have back in New Japan. And best of all his near two year absence means that all of his matches feel fresh. He’s injected a new energy into A Block along with Zack. This didn’t entirely get there for me – the story of Ibushi trying to match Makabe’s physicality before getting nutty and trying top rope piledrivers only for that to cost him the match was a pretty good one but they didn’t build a tonne of momentum toward the finish. The visual of Makabe rising from the dead on the top rope to nail an unknowing Ibushi with the King Kong Knee Drop was absolutely amazing though. ***1/4

Keep up with our G1 Climax 27 Coverage at http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/reviews/njpw/njpw-g1/ 

Tetsuya Naito (6) def. Yuji Nagata (0) 

I have conflicted feelings about how Nagata has been booked in the G1 thus far.

On the one hand, this is exactly how legacy talent should be used. Nagata, as somebody who can still deliver at a remarkably high level, is a useful asset in terms of leveraging his long held cache with the audience to further the people NJPW are actually pushing. That’s how people in this stage of his career should be used. It’s not Nagata’s time anymore. But on the other, considering how Nagata can still deliver, how he is still more than capable of shouldering greater storytelling burden, you just want to see his last G1 mean something. Maybe not a miracle run, but at least a more substantial role.

The emotional beats of Nagata’s matches have been pitch perfect though. Particularly the Tanahashi match where he was fighting, willing himself on to be able to keep up with his younger, longtime contemporary only for him to fall short in the end – his body betraying him. The early stages of this were more Dad Nagata having no time for Naito’s shenanigans – giving Naito disappointed, disapproving looks every time he started acting up only to start beating the hell out of him later.

Nagata was set out to teach Naito a lesson. But try as he might, the younger Naito got the better of him. Naito finished Nagata off with a Destino. It is disappointing that Nagata won’t play a greater role in the mathematics of A Block but so far he’s been carrying his fair share of the emotional heft. The little touches and nuances in his matches so far, with the added context of this being his final G1 and the layered character interactions that have come with that, have been absolutely tremendous. ***3/4

Hiroshi Tanahashi (6) def. Hirooki Goto (4) 

Post-Ace Tanahashi can leave me a little cold. It feels like he should have evolved, changed to match his new status—but he hasn’t. His current act is that he continues to pretend to be still be Ace when he has clearly been dethroned. And while he can still deliver bell-to-bell with the very best of them, I’d like to see something different from him. This match suffered a little because of that. It felt a little flat, something we’ve seen a tonne before. The closing few minutes picked up but not considerably enough to compensate for the boilerplate opening exchanges. I’d like to see something more from Tanahashi. Something meaner or angrier. Bitter even. Something. Goto is, and forever will be, just Goto (I’ve been mean to Goto twice in this review even though I really like him – sorry Goto). ***

Final Thoughts:

A disappointing main event means this show can’t really get a hearty recommendation though every match was at the very least good. YOSHI-HASHI vs. Ishii and the lovely story telling beats of Nagata vs. Naito are the essentials from Night 7.

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 5 (July 23) Results & Review

Author : augustbaker12

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 – Night 5
July 23, 2017
Tokyo, Japan
Machida Gymnasium

Watch: NJPW World

Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan def. Michael Elgin & Katsuya Kitamura

TenCozy vs Team Holy Shit That’s a Lot of Muscles. Not hard to see who’s winning here. This is previewing Kojima vs Elgin, where both guys will be looking for their first points. Big Mike looked strong here. I’m not sure he took a single bump until the very end, and with his war with Okada still fresh, I don’t blame him. Kitamura fell to the Cozy Cutter and a Lariat. **1/2

Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, & El Desperado def. Juice Robinson, David Finlay, & Hirai Kawato

Juice vs Suzuki is on the next show, which seems like an easy win for Suzuki. This is almost over early when Suzuki locks in a heel hook on Juice and just destroys the leg for the next five minutes. Kawato proves to be either the bravest or stupidest person in the ring, as he goes after Suzuki no less than three times. Kawato takes some mean slaps from Suzuki and the Angel Wings from Despy, and Suzuki-gun gets the win while Juice limps out of the gym. **3/4

EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi def. Tama Tonga & Chase Owens

Hiromu looks so lost and sad without his stuffed kitty. He walks like it’s still in his arms. Very sad. Tama Tonga and EVIL fight at the next show. The highlight is Chase nearly tripping over Tama has the Bad Boy rolls out of the ring, then getting a knee to the head in what looked like some miscommunication. Chase taps shortly after to EVIL and the Banshee Muzzle. Tama tries to sneak attack EVIL after the match with a Gun Stun, but the larger man tosses him aside. **

Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi def. Toru Yano & Jado

This is a preview of Yano and Omega on the next show, which should be an instant classic. As expected, it’s just comedy. Yujiro pinned Jado with a DDT after the matched earned six chuckles and a guffaw. **

SANADA & BUSHI def. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo

Okada vs SANADA is main eventing the next show, and a lot of people are looking forward to it. What I don’t look forward to is looking at SANADA’s stupid mask. Why would BUSHI let someone walk out with him with a mask that ugly, when his own are always impeccably awesome? BUSHI pins Gedo with the MX in another short, inoffensive but also not super interesting, match. **3/4

Zack Sabre Jr (4) def. YOSHI-HASHI (2) 

Both Sabre and YOSHI have two points going into this match. I find ZSJ impossible to recap. It would go something like “He locks the arm, no wait, the ankle, no wait, now the knee and the shoulder, no wait now he’s stomping the elbow.” He’s just so smooth transitioning from one thing to the next. He does focus mostly on the arm here, at one point wrapping up both of YOSHI’s arms and a leg to prevent him from reaching the ropes. YOSHI finally gets some of his signature offense going, but LOOSE EXPLOSIONS straight into Sabre’s knees. YOSHI tries to powerbomb Sabre out of an armbar like Ibushi did, but can’t get him up. YOSHI outgrapples Sabre momentarily, countering an armbar into Karma, but Sabre slides out into the Octopus, grabs the second arm when YOSHI reaches for the ropes, and YOSHI taps to the *sigh* Hurrah! Another Year, This One Will Surely Be Better Than The Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All To Happiness.

This was a dominant performance from ZSJ, and exactly what he needed after the loss to Ibushi. Too one sided to be really good, but Sabre is so much fun to watch. ***1/2

Hiroshi Tanahashi (4) def. Yuji Nagata (0)

Tanahashi got his first two points via count out against Fale on night 3, while Nagata has yet to get on the board. If Nagata loses here, it feels like he’ll go winless until he can play spoiler on the last night. Nagata outwrestles Tana early, but Tana works a Figure Four. In a beautiful moment, Tanahashi hesitates on delivering a European Uppercut with his injured arm, instead kicking Nagata in the knee. We’re getting heel Tanahashi here, as the crowd is firmly behind Nagata. Like his last match, a slap sets Nagata off, and he responds with a flurry of strikes. Nagata eventually locks in the armbar on Tana’s injured arm and really cranks it in, but Tana gets a foot on the rope. A big Exploder suplex off the top rope gets a two count for Nagata. Brainbuster! Another near fall. Tana slips out of the Backdrop Driver, and dropkicks the weakened knee. Now it’s a slap fight, and holy crap Tanahashi slaps Nagata so hard he cuts him under the eye. Nagata is reeling. A Slingblade, a battle on the top turnbuckle, and two High Fly Flows finish it.

Great fight. These guys really know how and when to up the intensity. Every move and strike they did mattered.  This is the kind of match that we will be overlooked by the time the tournament is over, because the G1 is a harsh mistress.  ****1/4

Bad Luck Fale (4) def. Tetsuya Naito (4)

Naito has 4 points and has yet to lose, while Fale lost his last match and has 2 points. Fale is also a heartless, stone cold murderer, and I hope Naito is able to get some vengeance for poor Daryl. Naito might actually be upset, as he attacks Fale before the bell. Fale is too big for Naito though, and there’s a lot of stomping and sitting from the Underboss. Fale counters Destino twice, and hits the Grenade, but Naito kicks out! But the Bad Luck Fall kills Naito like he was a stuffed cat, and Fale wins.

This wasn’t great. Most of the match was Fale being too big for Naito to use any of his signature moves. Daryl remains unavenged. **1/2

Kota Ibushi (4) def. Tomohiro Ishii (2) 

This is one of the more highly anticipated matches of the tournament. Both men have two points. Fun opening sequence as they dodge each other’s signature offense like their Jr Heavyweights killing the business. Ibushi is completely outmatched in strikes early on. Ibushi is finally able to start laying some kicks in, but Ishii literally brushes them off and chops Ibushi in the goddamn throat. They’re just knocking the shit out of each other now, it’s great. Ibushi goes for what looks like Boma Ye after a German suplex, but is countered with an enziguri. Ibushi flips out of a German and nearly knocks Ishii’s head off with a kick. Clotheslines, kicks, suplexes, kick outs at one, headbutts, who’s doing what to who almost doesn’t matter. Ibushi finally stuns the Stone Pitbull with a Rainmaker-like clothesline and a brutal knee before finishing him with the Last Ride Powerbomb.

Great hard-hitting match. Ishii is great. Ibushi is great. Wrestling is great. You are great. ****1/2

Togi Makabe (2) def. Hirooki Goto (4)

Goto is undefeated so far, and Makabe has yet to win. They start out by running into each other. Goto knocks Makabe off the top turnbuckle to the floor, and does his best to throw Makabe into every guardrail at ringside. Makabe endures the flurry of strikes, beckoning Goto on, and Goto is more than happy to oblige. Makabe finally gets going, they exchange clotheslines and Makabe flips Goto with a clothesline. He misses the King Kong Knee Drop though and Goto takes advantage with… another clothesline. They battle on the top turnbuckle, and Makabe nails a kneeling Goto in the face with the knee drop. A Spider Suplex followed by another knee drop scores the win and two points for Makabe.

Another hard-hitting match, though lacking the creativity of the bout before it. The ending five minutes or so saved it from being a complete monotonous. ***1/4

Final Thoughts

Two great matches on this show and not much else. The undercard was the first show which felt completely skippable. No story progression and not a lot of effort. It’s understandable that guys take these tag matches off, so I don’t mind, but it doesn’t leave a lot of reason to watch them. But check out Tanahashi/Nagata, Ibushi/Ishii, and ZSJ/Yoshi if you like ZSJ.

G1 Climax 27 Standings (After Night 5):

Current standings
Block A Block B
Bad Luck Fale 4 Kazuchika Okada 4
Hirooki Goto 4 Kenny Omega 4
Kota Ibushi 4 Evil 2
Tetsuya Naito 4 Juice Robinson 2
Zack Sabre Jr. 4 Sanada 2
Hiroshi Tanahashi 4 Minoru Suzuki 2
Tomohiro Ishii 2 Tama Tonga 2
Togi Makabe 2 Toru Yano 2
Yoshi-Hashi 2 Michael Elgin 0
Yuji Nagata 0 Satoshi Kojima 0

VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em Standings:

You can view updated VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em standings at http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&p=56140&sid=387fd44830a62efdc1b36dcdea591b64#p56131

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 4 (July 22nd) Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27: Night 4
July 22nd, 2017
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

NJPW returned to Korakuen Hall for the third night in a row as the 2017 edition of the G1 Climax has really started to kick into high gear. This particular night features the second group of singles matches from the B Block, but before I get into that, here are the results from the undercard tag team matches that took place:

As far as match quality goes, there’s nothing much to say here. Nagata & Oka vs. Tanahashi & Kitamura was probably the best of the bunch, with the open not that far behind. Unfortunately, there was a horrific event that occurred during the Six-Man Tag between The Bullet Club & LIJ. After putting Naito through the Japanese commentary table at ringside, Bad Luck Fale committed one of the most heinous crimes of 2017, as he ripped Daryl (Hiromu Takahashi’s cat) to shreds. While the rest of the world mourned the loss of Hiromu’s feline friend, Bad Luck Fale was rather disingenuous about the whole situation.

Watch the full video #G127 Night04 on @njpwworld ▶︎https://t.co/LZOijkGFAk @TOKSFALE #RIPDaryl pic.twitter.com/8zsyIIdD35

— njpw_global (@njpwglobal) July 22, 2017

I want to right this tragedy I have caused. So I've put together a tribute video for Darryl 😿😿😿 pic.twitter.com/lXj1eGZfQ7

— TheUnderboss (@TOKSFALE) July 22, 2017

Because Daryl had gotten so popular, I had a feeling that if something ever happened to him, it would get a big response. However, I didn’t expect to see Daryl trending all over Twitter when I woke up that morning. In all seriousness, it’s amazing to me that, in the last twelve months, two of the most over things in all of wrestling having been a list and a stuffed cat. Obviously that speaks to the talent and ability of people like Chris Jericho and Hiromu Takahashi, but it also just goes to show that anyone can get anything over in wrestling if you’re creative and dedicated enough. If there’s a silver lining for Daryl lovers everywhere, cats are known for having nine lives, so maybe we’ll see him again. This whole incident also gets Bad Luck Fale over as a despicable heel (because only monsters would commit such an evil crime), so there’s that as well.

We love you, li'l buddy. #G127 #RIPDaryl pic.twitter.com/qLsusUd7OS

— el hijo del santa (@repalec) July 22, 2017

Toru Yano (2) def. Satoshi Kojima (0)

In an incredible piece of trivia, these two haven’t met in the G1 Climax since 2012. That’s an amazing stat, especially since both guys have been staples of the New Japan roster throughout the company’s current renaissance period. It’s safe to say that this was the first subpar match in this year’s G1. Now it shouldn’t be a surprise that a bout in the G1 involving Toru Yano would be the worst of the night, but for the most part, I generally have no issues with his matches. Yano has a specific role in this tournament, and he plays it to perfection. There have been plenty of Yano bouts in the G1 that I’ve enjoyed since I started actively following the promotion in 2013, and usually, he’s at his best in matches that are five minutes or less. However, it’s the longer bouts that Yano is involved in that are the most annoying, and that was the case here. This match went just over nine minutes, which was entirely too long. While Yano did meet Okada on Night 2 in a match that went a similar amount of time, that bout was far superior to this one. There was some fun comedy at the start that involved Yano squirting Kojima with his water bottle, and Kojima returning the favor a short time later, but other than that, this was incredibly average. Yano rolled up Kojima for the win (and got his first two points in the process) after hitting him with two low blows while he had the referee distracted. The fact that Tenzan was at ringside for this match actually made Kojima look like a fool (in my view) since Yano was able to outsmart both of them. **1/4

LOW BLOW!!! @YTR_CHAOS WINS!! #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/XpJqEtR3cL

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) July 22, 2017

EVIL (2) def. Juice Robinson (2)

While the “King of Darkness” suffered a loss to his fellow LIJ member SANADA in his first match of the tournament, Juice Robinson is coming off a victory in his G1 debut bout against Satoshi Kojima. This wasn’t a matchup that necessarily jumped off the page when the cards were announced, but I had a feeling that these two would deliver a really good contest. In the end, they exceeded my expectations by having a fantastic match! There was some great action from start to finish, but they managed to tell a captivating story as well. Robinson came into this bout with neck issues (which Kevin Kelly & Don Callis pointed out on commentary), so he immediately went after EVIL in an attempt to end the match early. EVIL managed to survive this early onslaught, and went to work on Robinson’s neck. The match then built up from there, and it got to the point where the crowd was on fire for the final few minutes. EVIL would eventually get the win after series of awesome counters to score his first two points of the tournament. Even though he came up short here, Juice Robinson had (arguably) one of the best matches of his career. It’s amazing to see just how far he’s come in New Japan. I know that statement is a broken record at this point, but it’s worth repeating, especially now that he’s in the G1. Robinson has had two great bouts to kick off his first appearance in this prestigious tournament, and he still has a lot of juice matchups (no pun intended) ahead of him. ****1/4

Kokeshi! #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD @_juicerobinson_ pic.twitter.com/rwoVlfHwov

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) July 22, 2017

Minoru Suzuki (2) def. SANADA (2)

One of the big positives surrounding Minoru Suzuki’s first appearance in the G1 Climax since 2014 was that he had a ton of fresh opponents to go up against. He clashed with Kenny Omega for the first time on Night 2 (a match that, while filled with great moments and amazing crowd heat, got some negative reactions due to Suzuki-gun interference), and here, he went up against SANADA, who was coming off a victory against his LIJ teammate EVIL on the opening night of the B Block. This was a really good match, but I wouldn’t call it great. There were certainly some cool moments in here, such as Suzuki struggling to fight off the Paradise Lock before ultimately failing, along with the great counters and exchanges in the closing minutes, but similar to Naito vs. YOSHI-HASHI from the night before, the middle portion of this one fell flat, at least in my view. Once again, we saw involvement from Suzuki-gun here, as El Desperado attacked SANADA on the outside with a chair, and later tried to attack him in the ring. While the Suzuki-gun interference definitely hampered the Omega/Suzuki bout on Night 2, El Desperado’s involvement here hurt this match more. We all know that Suzuki is perfectly capable of having great matches, but no matter what, the interference (unless it’s very brief) will always knock his bouts down a peg. With regards to SANADA, it’s interesting to note that, even though his first two bouts in this year’s G1 Climax were technically heel vs. heel, he seemed to be presented as the default babyface, and the crowds appeared to treat him as such. Ever since SANADA became a member of the New Japan roster last year, it’s been speculated that he could potentially be a big babyface singles star sometime down the road. He showed here that he absolutely could get to that point in the future, but on this night, despite his best efforts, SANADA ultimately fell to Suzuki’s Gotch-Style Piledriver. ***3/4

GOTCH STYLE PILEDRIVER!!! @suzuki_D_minoru WINS!! #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/hYzaCr6EPH

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) July 22, 2017

Kenny Omega (4) def. Tama Tonga (2)

In the past few years, matches in the G1 Climax that have involved two Bullet Club members have followed a similar pattern. Person A wants Person B to lie down for them. Person B is reluctant but goes along, only to kick out, and things get going from there. In this case, that’s not what we got at all, as Tama Tonga jumped Kenny Omega during his ring introductions. They’ve been slowly and subtly building up some tension between these two over the last several weeks. Tama Tonga feels that Omega cares more about himself, and focuses more on The Elite, than The Bullet Club as a whole. He used this match not only take out his frustrations (both physically and verbally, as he cut a promo on the mic during the bout itself), but as a chance to challenge Omega’s position within The Bullet Club. Omega refused to take this abuse, and took the fight to Tama Tonga. When the dust settled, these two ended up having a very good match. There was some really cool action throughout, and the story involved definitely added some intensity. It was such a breath of fresh air to see a matchup between Bullet Club members that didn’t involve the aforementioned chicanery. In the end, Omega emphatically put Tama Tonga away with a pair of V-Trigger knees followed by the One-Winged Angel. Afterwards, Tama Tonga did the Two Sweet salute with the rest of Bullet Club, and hugged Omega, seemingly putting these issues to rest (for now). ***3/4

TOO SWEET #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/6QpLOW54RP

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) July 22, 2017

As an interesting side note, Omega broke out some new attire on this show. He’s known for wearing black tights in serious situations, and multi-colored “rainbow” tights when he’s in tag team matches on the undercard. What we saw here was a bit of a mix, as he wore black tights but had some bright pink features thrown in there. I guess this attire is representing the convergence of those two different sides of himself, but that’s just me speculating.

Kazuchika Okada (4) def. Michael Elgin (0)

These two did meet in the 2015 G1 Climax (in Elgin’s first singles bout in New Japan), but that match took place on single camera, no commentary B Block show. This time around, they faced off in the more prestigious setting of Korakuen Hall, and boy did they deliver. This was an absolutely phenomenal contest, and it was easily the second best match of the tournament thus far (only Ibushi vs. Naito from Night 1 in Sapporo tops this). Aside from the slow start, this was filled with some incredible back & forth hard-hitting action, particularly in the second half. There were so many memorable moments in this match, from Elgin slamming Okada on the floor after catching him during his dive over the barricade, to Elgin’s awesome displays of power, to the constant reversals as each fought with everything they had to avoid their opponent’s biggest moves. Of course, Okada was amazing (as he always is), but Elgin was equally great. The fans didn’t seem overly behind him at first, but it didn’t take long for Elgin to fully win them over. It appeared that the audience was really rallying behind him at points, which just goes to show how good of a performer he really is. As I previously mentioned, the second half of this match was simply spectacular, and Elgin came close to winning on a couple of occasions, including a great counter of the Rainmaker into an Elgin Bomb. “Big Mike” gave Okada everything he had, and nearly took Okada to the time limit (the match ended just past the twenty-five minute mark), but once again, Okada proved just why he’s considered one of the best wrestlers in the world, and eventually put Elgin away with a tombstone and a series of Rainmakers that included the all-important (and well documented) wrist control. If you haven’t seen this match up, go out of your way to watch it, because it was outstanding. ****3/4

RAINMAKER!!!!! @rainmakerXokada WINS!! #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD pic.twitter.com/2cBeRoLhcJ

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) July 22, 2017

Final Thoughts

This second night of action from the B Block started off on a low note, ended on an incredible high note, and featured some really good stuff in between. It’s so odd that this show produced both the worst (Kojima vs. Yano) and one of the best (Elgin vs. Okada) matches in the tournament thus far. The former, while not overly terrible, was certainly bad by G1 standards. The latter nearly blew the roof off Korakuen Hall, and served as a reminder of just how good Michael Elgin is. The rest of the B Block matches all ranged from really good to great, with EVIL vs. Juice Robinson being the best of the bunch. If you discount Kojima vs. Yano, this easily could be one of the best shows of the tournament.

As far as the standings are concerned, when this show came to a close, the B Block looked exactly like the A Block. You had two guys clearly on top, a large logjam in the middle, and two guys at the bottom who have yet to score points.

Current G1 Climax 27 Standings

Block A

Hirooki Goto – 4 Points
Tetsuya Naito – 4 Points
Bad Luck Fale – 2 Points
Kota Ibushi – 2 Points
Tomohiro Ishii – 2 Points
Zack Sabre Jr. – 2 Points
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 2 Points
YOSHI-HASHI – 2 Points
Togi Makabe – 0 Points
Yuji Nagata – 0 Points

Block B

Kazuchika Okada – 4 Points
Kenny Omega – 4 Points
EVIL – 2 Points
Juice Robinson – 2 Points
SANADA – 2 Points
Minoru Suzuki – 2 Points
Tama Tonga – 2 Points
Toru Yano – 2 Points
Michael Elgin – 0 Points
Satoshi Kojima – 0 Points

NJPW G1 Climax 27 - Night 3 (July 21) Results & Review

Author : richkraetsch

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 – Night 2
July 21, 2017
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Undercard/Prelim Results

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Hirooki Goto (4) def. Yuji Nagata (0)

The term Strong Style gets misappropriated far too often these days. Too often what’s described as Strong Style is the furthest thing from its actual definition (as laid out beautifully by Connor Dunphy in a column on this very website).

This match, inside a raucous Korakuen Hall, was Strong Style at its finest. Strong kicks, thunderous slaps, a fist or two thrown in for good measure, disrespect, obedience and ultimately the better man, the stronger wrestler prevailed.

From the opening bell this match felt like a war.

Nagata took advantage early rallying behind a crowd that wanted nothing more than to see Blue Justice pick up a victory in his very last G1 Climax. Over the course of the match though, Goto, once thought to be an ace in training and a succession plan to a post-Nagata New Japan Pro Wrestling, started working Nagata over. Little by little Goto seized control of the match. Then he got a little too cocky, a little too big for his britches. Goto, fully in control of the match, decided to have a little fun with the veteran Nagata, playfully slapping the downed Nagata him in the head.

Big mistake.

The tone, the look and the match changed at that moment. The crowd gasped. Nagata’s face immediately turned to that of pure disdain. Nagata sprung to life and started hitting a barrage of stiff kicks, strong slaps and even a few knuckles just to let Goto know he wasn’t playing around. This offense had the Korakuen crowd going absolutely nuts rallying behind their former and maybe, just maybe, current hero. This felt a lot like the Kazuchika Okada/Nagata match from G1 Climax 25—one of my favorite matches in 2014.

Dad Nagata is a playful guy, someone who is willing to have some fun, smile and just enjoy life. If you disrespect him, though, particularly if you’re one of his underlings, watch out. Nagata is not to be disregarded.

Ultimately, though, the spry 38-year-old Goto emerged after slowly Nagata’s furious attack with a stiff headbutt. Realizing he shouldn’t play around any longer he immediately hit Nagata with the GTR for the win.

In a touching moment, Nagata left the ringside area to a thunderous chant of “Nagata! Nagata! Nagata!” ****

Exploder from Nagata! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/lsfbuE6gE3

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 21, 2017

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Tomohiro Ishii (2) def. Togi Makabe (0)

Time heals all wounds. Two years ago, over the course of nine months, these two battled over the NEVER Openweight Title four times (three of the matches saw title changes as well). The novelty had worn off and the still hard-hitting matches had become wrought and mundane. Great another headbutt. Cool a stiff clothesline. Chop to the throat, yeah, yeah, yeah. Everything in moderation.

With that period in the rearview, a match between these two felt fresh and more than that, it showed just how great these two can be against one another. Those matches in 2015 were good, just overdone but tonight showed why NJPW kept going to that well.

This, like Nagata/Goto, was an absolute war. 15 minutes of grunting, slaps, chops and lariats. That’s the only way to truly describe it. Spending time talking about the deep mid-match psychology is worthless, this was too bulls sprinting at one another trying to knock the other out. There was no higher art to this match, no nuance, no “little things” just two monsters trying to prove who was the strongest. ****

BRAINBUSTERRRR!! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/aMTJGjVjpK

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 21, 2017

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Kota Ibushi (2) def. Zack Sabre Jr. (2)

Two men who were pigeonholed as juniors in NJPW went out defied the critics on this night having an incredible match that likely won’t be atop anyone’s Match of the Year lists but one that we’ll remember for a long time.

While I preferred the brutality of Sabre’s opening night match with Hiroshi Tanahashi, this match had plenty to love.

The lines were clearly drawn throughout with Ibushi being the fast, high-flier and Sabre being the grounded submission expert. Time and time again Sabre would cut off Ibushi’s heroics with a beautiful, out-of-nowhere counter and transition into a submission hold. Ibushi worked as someone who was completely frazzled and completely off his game. Halfway through Ibushi had to abandon the flying and return to his kickboxing routes.


— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) July 21, 2017

Still, Sabre had him beat numerous times but Ibushi, by the skin of his teeth, would reach the ropes or slide out of the ring at the perfect time.

The closing stretch of the match saw Sabre go for the triangle choke one too many times as Ibushi—now fully aware of Sabre’s gameplan—deadlifted ZSJ and hit a beautiful Last Ride Powerbomb for the win. ****¼

LAST RIDE!! #NJPW #G127 @ibushi_kota pic.twitter.com/FG8BXnfj26

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 21, 2017

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Hiroshi Tanahashi (2) def. Bad Luck Fale (2)

Fale came into this match with a 2-1 advantage of the ace Tanahashi all-time in the G1 tournament. Fale picked up surprising wins in both 2014 and 2015 before falling to Tanahashi at last year’s tournament. Tanahashi would tie things up with the countout win, a fun match with an interesting, unique finish.

Similar to previous Tanahashi/Fale matches, Fale controlled much of the pace wearing Tanahashi down with his innovative big man offense. Tanahashi continued to play up his injured biceps which only helped enhance the damage Fale was inflicting. You could sense that Tanahashi wanted to reverse a move or get the momentum back but just never could down one arm. The pace at times, was very slow, almost too slow and that ultimately hurt the match in totality.

However, the finish nearly made up for it. Tanahashi started his rally doing a really fun one-armed skin the cat to get back into the ring, he then got Fale outside and hit a gorgeous High Fly Flow to the floor. Tanahashi sold it almost as much as Fale grabbing at his injured biceps. At the count of 15, Fale started making his way into the ring looking back at his fallen opponent. Tanahashi recovered, climbed to the apron and hit a sick-looking Slingblade to Fale on said apron. This caused Fale to tumble back to the outside while Tanahashi slid into the ring at 18. Fale got up but it was too late, Red Shoes counted 20, called for the bell and Tanahashi squeaked out with a win.

The match itself had me bored at times but the finish was super innovative and a lot of fun. ***

Highest Fly Flow!! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/mzLhtTPatv

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 21, 2017

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Tetsuya Naito (4) def. YOSHI-HASHI (2)

The result was in little doubt however most will be surprised at how even the match was. Obviously, as a G1 Climax main event in Korakuen you knew this wouldn’t be a 5-minute squash by Naito. Still–in a lot of ways to Naito’s credit—YOSHI-HASHI felt like a real threat multiple times throughout this match and even looked like he may pull off the huge upset.

YOSHI hit a Swanton (sorry, Loose Explosion!), he hit Lariats, he put him in the Butterfly Lock. YOSHI-HASHI emptied his entire clip in trying to defeat the Los Ingobernables leader. One of the coolest aspects of the match was the crowd slowly but surely getting behind YOSHI-HASHI. What started as an almost 100% Naito crowd—with multiple NAITO NAITO NAITO chants throughout the match—went 50/50 and even at a point majority YOSHI-HASHI. That’s a testament to both men’s incredible work.

Even knowing that Naito was probably going to pull it out, the Korakuen faithful couldn’t help but get sucked into the underdog story of YOSHI-HASHI.

YOSHI-HASHI literally gave Naito everything he could. When he went for Karma one too many times, Naito reversed it into a Destino. YOSHI-HASHI kicked out but for all intends and purposes was done. Naito hit another Destino and finally put YOSHI-HASHI away. ***½

DESTINOOOOOO!! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/6Gaq6HKIBE

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 21, 2017

Final Thoughts:

I’m a hard marker and still gave three matches **** and the rest ***+. That should be enough to tell you how good NJPW’s G1 Climax 27 Night 3 was.

VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em Contest:

NJPW G1 Climax 27 (Night 2) Results & Review

Author : thelionelwilliams

JULY 20, 2017

Watch: NJPW World


This match was building toward the much anticipated Sabre/Ibushi match tomorrow night, which Kevin Kelly said many people wanted to see in last year’s Cruiserweight Classic. Speaking of which, I wrote a column about the Cruiserweight Classic and the aftermath of it on this very website! Ibushi and Sabre were only in the ring together for 2-3 minutes, but they looked very smooth together as expected. This was another huge opportunity for Kawato, and I think he did very well. He got a ton of offense in on Desperado and had the crowd chanting his name on multiple occasions. It has been said multiple times on this website, but New Japan may have something big with Kawato here. Desperado got the pin on Kawato with a sitout facebuster. ***1/4


This was building to both Nagata/Goto and Makabe/Ishii, and if the interactions here were anything to go by, those are two matches to look out for tomorrow. Makabe is at his best when he hits people hard and when he isn’t in the ring very long, so he looked good in the ring against Ishii. Nagata and Goto’s interactions were less wild, but no less hard-hitting. Gedo and Tiger Mask closed it out with Gedo’s cheating attempts failing, leading to Tiger Mask getting the fall. ***1/2


Normally when a wrestler gets new music, it grows on me after a while and I get comfortable with it. It’s been six months, and I still despise GO ACE. This match builds to Tanahashi/Fale tomorrow. This one struggled to keep my attention. Fale and Owens worked over Tana’s arm. This crowd was very cold on Finlay. Finlay’s lack of excursion has really held him back, as he’s in this weird purgatory between young lion and real roster member. Fale pinned Finlay with a Grenade. An easy skip. **1/2


Naito and Yoshi-Hashi wrestle tomorrow night as well. Their interactions were fun, but this match was a lot of Jado selling which wasn’t good. Jado was moving in slow motion here. Very standard action, but the crowd did get into the finish. Jado had Bushi in a crossface and Bushi was going toward the ropes, so Jado kicked off the ropes to roll back into the middle of the ring. But Bushi rolled through again and got a roll-up cover for the win. Nice finish, but another one to skip. **3/4


The story of Juice Robinson never gets any less inspiring, but his story in New Japan has been told so well. He came in a young lion, and slowly he became a full-fledged roster member. Last year, he was given singles matches and showed great improvement. His improvement was noticed on a much larger scale at Wrestle Kingdom when, filling in for Michael Elgin, he put on a great performance against Cody R. He got his shots at the NEVER and Intercontinental Titles, once again showing steady improvement and hanging with top-level guys like Goto and Naito. Now, he’s in the G1, and he has a stellar match with Kojima.

Not only is Juice’s story great, this match was great too. Juice’s tagline is “Heart and Honor,” and he showed a lot of heart here. Kojima had the advantage for a good chunk of this match, but Juice was getting his shots in too. Juice hit a big crossbody and was looking for another one when Kojima hit his leg with a lariat. Kojima then hit a cutter off of the top rope and a Western Lariat to the back of Juice’s head, but Juice kicked out. Koji then hit the Lariat the right way round, but Juice kicked out again. Another attempt from Kojima missed, which allowed Juice to hit a big left hand and Pulp Friction for the win. The biggest win of Juice Robinson’s career, and a damn good match to boot.  ****1/4


This match at the start was very solid. I really like Tama slithering and sliding out of the way of his opponent. I’ve never seen anyone do it before him, and it’s pretty cool. Tama hit both his Cross Rhodes variation and his jumping DDT, but both only get 2. Elgin cut Tama off with a huge lariat. Elgin tried to hit a slingshot shoulder-block, but got caught with a Gun Stun that sent him to the floor. Tama brought him back in and only got 2. Tama went to the top before Elgin cut him off. Elgin went for a super Falcon Arrow, but Tonga switched it into a Gun Stun in mid-move to get the win. A hot finish to a very solid match. ***3/4


This was a match that had a lot of people buzzing, especially after the LIJ Civil War tag match from Night 1. I had high hopes for this one, and it exceeded my expectations. It started off decent enough. They brawled for a little while before Evil hit Sanada with a chair on the outside. They have a solid match before Evil sends Sanada to the outside and goes to the top rope. Sanada caught up with him and hit an insane cutter from the top to the floor.

Back in the ring, they trade forearms before Evil lays Sanada out with a lariat. Sanada kicks out at ONE, and they go into a fantastic sequence that ends with a fisherman’s suplex into the corner. These two are going fast and furious here. Evil puts his new submission on Sanada, but Sanada gets to the ropes. Sanada gets the Skull End and Evil slips out, but Sanada hits a Tiger Suplex for 2. They go back and forth countering finishers before Sanada gets the Skull End. I thought that would be it, but Evil got the ropes. Sanada followed it up with a moonsault for the win. I may be the high man on this match, but I don’t care. The last five minutes of this match were absolutely fantastic. ****1/2


Thus begins the G1 of Toru Yano. It’s impossible to predict who he’ll beat, but it is almost a guarantee that he’ll end up with 4-6 points. This match had me convinced at times that Yano would get the win and completely ruin my pick-ems. The match itself was harmless fun. Gedo and Jado on the outside added to the shenanigans, and there was a four-way dick punch spot that did make me laugh. In the end, Okada got the win with Red Ink. This will almost certainly end up as Yano’s best match in the tournament. **1/4


This was another very good match. Suzuki brought Omega into the crowd and smashed his knee with a chair. Omega’s selling of the knee was, per usual, very good. It wasn’t cartoony, but it consistently bothered him, to the point where he had to do his corner moonsault on his good leg. Suzuki was in control for most of the match to this point, and as soon as Kenny got momentum, Suzuki pulled the referee in the way of a V-Trigger. Desperado, Taka, and Taichi come in to interfere (which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the tournament), but Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale come to run them off. Omega hits a gorgeous dive to the outside to take Suzuki-Gun out.

Suzuki almost immediately got Omega in the leg grapevine submission. Suzuki transitions into a few submissions for a few minutes, but Kenny does eventually get to the ropes. They have a great sequence that leads to Omega spitting in Suzuki’s face. Suzuki then unloads with palm strikes, but Omega catches him with a knee and a dragon suplex. He can’t hold the bridge though because of his bum leg, more smart selling from Omega. One-Winged Angel gets rolled through into an Ankle Lock by Suzuki, which he transitions into the Sleeper Hold.

Suzuki tries to transition into the Gotch-Style Piledriver, but Omega wouldn’t go up. Omega catches Suzuki off the ropes with a V-Trigger, but Suzuki catches him off the ropes with a dropkick. They screw up a reverse rana, but Kenny makes up for it with 2 V-Triggers. The One-Winged Angel gets Kenny the win. It was good, but when you hear Omega vs Suzuki, you expect a little better. Crowd was hot for it, which helped, but the SZG interference has me dreading the rest of this tournament. ***1/4


This was a very easy show to watch. Fun opening two matches, and four G1 matches that ranged from good to fantastic. Even Toru Yano’s match was tolerable. Highly recommend this show.

VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em Contest

NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 1 (July 17) Results & Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 27 – Night 1
July 17, 2017
Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center – Hokkaido, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

New Japan has seen continued growth in this building over the past two years with the 2015 G1 opener drawing 5,490 for Tanahashi vs. Ibushi and Styles vs. Shibata, the 2016 G1 opener drawing 5,533 for Okada vs. Marufuji and Tanahashi vs. SANADA, and this year’s G1 opener drawing 6,189 for Naito vs. Ibushi and Tanahashi vs. Sabre. Tanahashi is headlining most of the A Block shows while Ibushi and Naito only headline a few, but this was a good sign for the two and for New Japan in general.

Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Jushin Thunder Liger Def. Juice Robinson, Michael Elgin & David Finlay Jr.

Juice has Kojima in Korakuen on July 20th so that’s what this was building towards. Although they get a bit tough to watch a few shows into the tournament, these undercard tags are always meaningful as they give you a preview of upcoming block matches. Kojima is using his actual theme song now instead of the overdub, which is great. He debuted some fresh new gear as well, and as an aside, it was announced about two hours earlier by All Japan that he’ll be taking on Suwama at their Sumo Hall show in August. A big day for our pal Kojima here. Finlay, as you would expect, ate the fall in this match. Really good opener with a super hot crowd and some excellent exchanges between the members of each team. ***1/4

Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & El Desperado Def. Kenny Omega, Tama Tonga & Chase Owens

If nothing else, this did as good a job as you could ask of it in building Suzuki vs. Omega. Omega, despite rocking the goofy pants and fucking around, which normally bugs me, was great as an annoying little asshole to the serious Suzuki. Everyone else stayed out of the way for the most part and let them do their thing, with Owens eventually being pinned by Suzuki following a Gotch piledriver. Brief, simple, and overall fun sprint. ***

EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi Def. SANADA & BUSHI

In addition to this being a match between stablemates, which is one of my favorite things in wrestling, this was also a match between the All Japan dojo and the New Japan dojo. SANADA and BUSHI were in the same All Japan class ten years ago, while Hiromu and EVIL were in the same New Japan class seven years ago, so that’s an interesting note. SANADA, who also debuted a new look, tried to catch EVIL with a Skull End right at the bell, thus showing that friendship means nothing during the G1 and that he’s in it for himself. All four of these guys have tremendous chemistry with one another so there was no way this was not going to be good at minimum, but I do wish that it got a bit more time. Another awesome sprint nonetheless. EVIL vs. SANADA could end up being one of the sleeper matches of the tournament and this was a nice preview of that. ***1/4

Toru Yano & Jado Def. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo

Yano, who I am completely over and want nothing to do with, is due for two or three really fun matches per G1, and the Okada match may be one of them. Even though I personally dislike him, having him around is incredibly useful from a booking perspective since he can beat literally anyone on the roster without it ever having to lead to anything. When he beats Okada in Korakuen no one will bat an eye, and like I said, the match will probably be pretty fun. Yano caught Gedo here for the win. **1/4

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
YOSHI-HASHI (2) Def. Yuji Nagata

We’ve seen twice in the past year that New Japan does not like having these older guys beat their younger guys on their way out. Tenzan lost most of his matches in his last G1, Liger lost all of his matches in his last Super Juniors, and its likely that they continue telling the story of the old men simply not being good enough with Nagata in his last G1. Some may not like it, and I get why to a degree. It does send the message that one day everyone will get old and not be good at things anymore, which is not something people want to be reminded of in their wrestling, but at the same time, I appreciate the realism behind it. Wrestling does not always have to be about joy, nor does there always need to have a happy-ending. I appreciate that these old guys can’t hang with those younger, faster, stronger and hungrier, because thats life. Nagata will get one or two big wins, and thats all they need to give him.

Nagata fought hard here. He did his best, he threw everything he had at YOSHI-HASHI, he almost came close to beating him, but it came down to what most of his matches will come down to. It came down to his age, his conditioning, the level in which hes able to push himself to and perform at in comparison to YOSHI-HASHI and in comparison to everyone else in his block. How long can he last? Is he good enough to hang in there with the next generation of New Japan stars? He may give them a challenge, but will he be able to get the better of them in the end? Who knows. What we do know is that YOSHI-HASHI got the better of him on this night. YOSHI-HASHI was tougher, he was faster, he was hungrier, and he was simply the better man.

Between the highly emotional closing stretch, the hot near-falls and the heart both of them showed throughout the match, this was some of the best work both of them have done in recent memory. Unfortunately people will completely forget about it within two weeks due to the sheer amount of high-quality matches that will have taken place, but it was exactly what a tournament opener should be. ****1/4

KARMA!! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/cJYdUqIomI

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 17, 2017

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Bad Luck Fale (2) Def. Togi Makabe

I somehow became the conductor of the Bad Luck Fale hype train over the past few months and it surprises me that people are still not behind the guy. Fale always steps up and can deliver against the right guys as shown in the Shibata match from the New Japan Cup and the Okada match from Dontaku. Hes facing Ishii in this tournament, hes facing Goto, hes facing Tanahashi, hes facing Naito, Ibushi, Sabre, hes facing a ton of guys he can have good to great matches with. Like Yano, hes also an important guy to have on the roster because he can beat literally anyone and can challenge for any title. Hes beating Naito and hes challenging for the case at Destruction should Naito win the thing, hes beating guys like Ibushi, he may even beat Tanahashi again.

While Im glad they got this out of the way early since it had potential to be the worst match both guys will have, it was still well above average and both of them worked hard to make it such. It took a minute to get going but once it did it was about what you would expect a halfway decent Bad Luck Fale vs. Togi Makabe match to be. I have a feeling this will be one of many losses Makabe has this year since there’s no need to protect him anymore and he’s a great guy to have job to the younger dudes. ***1/4

King Kong Lariat! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/evvGoxegW9

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 17, 2017

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Hirooki Goto (2) Def. Tomohiro Ishii

Ishii and Goto are two of the best wrestlers in the world. No one conveys emotion quite like they do. No one is able to win a crowd over the way they are. Goto especially conveyed great emotion in this match as he pushed himself to the absolute limit and was willing to do whatever it took to get past one of toughest opponents, to possibly recreate what he had last year and win his block again. He was more aggressive than Ishii was, he worked with more of an urgency than Ishii did, he threw everything he had at him to ensure the victory. Ishii did what he could, he fought incredibly hard, he gave everything right back to Goto, but it wasnt enough. Goto needed it more, he wanted it more, and like YOSHI-HASHI with Nagata, he was simply the better man on this night.

You knew what you were getting with this, you always know what youre getting with Goto and Ishii, yet no matter how many times you see it, you cant help but marvel at what these two are able to do and what theyre willing to do to their bodies. While both of them have had much better matches this year, this was arguably the best Goto performance of 2017 and was absolutely perfect for what it was. I can watch these two maul each other every day for the rest of my life without ever getting tired of it, the chemistry they have is simply unreal, and the best part is that this was only the third best match on the show. ****1/4

GTR!! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/yO09dJQyyY

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 17, 2017

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Zack Sabre Jr. (2) Def. Hiroshi Tanahashi

While I did enjoy this a lot, I do feel they have a better match in them as this one never quite kicked into that next gear. It was worked at the exact same pace from the opening bell until the last three minutes or so, which is one of the only problems I have with Sabre sometimes. Otherwise, there aren’t many things I love more than watching him twist people into pretzels and work his way into all sorts of wacky submissions. Watching him strategically tear apart Tanahashi limb-by-limb was so enticing that I have a hard time criticizing the match too heavily even if the pacing could have been better. He has trouble connecting with the crowd since all of his matches have involved Suzuki-gun bullshit, but once they see that Sabre is more than just some gaijin asshole whose matches are full of interference and is someone who can hang with the top guys, I can see them taking to him as a heel.

Tanahashi having an injured arm especially added to this since it gave Sabre a clear target and a clear route to victory. All he had to do was ground him and get hold of his arm, Tanahashi knew this and he fought like death to avoid it. Tanahashi had no idea how to handle what Sabre was doing to him. Hes never encountered someone whos capable of doing the things Sabre is capable of doing to the human body. Sabre was too smart for him. He knew Tanahashi better than Tanahashi knew him, and thats what got him the win. Tanahashi was able to get ahead for a little bit, he tried stopping him by taking out the leg, but once Sabre got him down and grabbed that arm, that was it.

It’s safe to assume that Sabre will get a title shot down the line and that Tanahashi will get his win back, and in a bigger spot than they were in here, I would imagine theyd have an even better match. Sabre is going to win his fair share of matches in this tournament, so prepare yourselves. Tanahashi will not be the only big name he beats. I promise you that. Zack Sabre Jr. is a player in this company now. ****

ZACK GOT HIM!! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/nkEoC7cdbA

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 17, 2017

G1 Climax 27 – A Block
Tetsuya Naito (2) Def. Kota Ibushi

Ibushi spent two years away from New Japan doing his own thing, living his life the way he wanted to live it, not allowing anyone to tell him what to do, and upon return, upon shedding the Tiger Mask W persona, he met one of the biggest stars in the company. Was he ready for it? Was he able to simply waltz back in when he wanted to and hang with one of the best? No smoke and mirrors, no Tiger Mask W, no fucking around. Was he the man he was before he decided to walk away two years ago? All of those questions were answered.

OH MY GOD #G127 #NJPW #NJPWWORLD @ibushi_kota @JohnnyGargano pic.twitter.com/jO0jnPxbzT

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) July 17, 2017

Yes, Ibushi was able to hang with Naito, yes he brought him to his limit and showed that he is indeed the same guy he was two years ago, but he was just shy of being good enough to get past him. Naito gave Ibushi a nice reality check by outlasting him at his own game. He had an answer for what Ibushi was throwing at him, he knew what he had to do in order to beat this nutcase.

When Ibushi tried breaking Naito’s neck, Naito gave it right back to him, and thus there was a constant sense that they were trying to one-up each other and see which one could endure the most. German suplexes, neckbreakers, lawn darts, this was quite literally about who had the stronger neck, who had the stronger spine, who the bigger lunatic was, a moniker in which generally belongs to Ibushi but in this case was in fact Naito.

It took Naito everything he had, Ibushi almost had him but he ultimately fell short. Perhaps his time away is what hurt him. Perhaps he wasn’t fully prepared. Perhaps this was his wake-up call and perhaps he tries even harder next time knowing that there are people on the roster who are willing to play his game, are just as crazy as he is and are able to outlast him like Naito did.

GODDAMN!! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/yi6ctXWMtW

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 17, 2017

Ibushi is set to have great matches throughout the tournament, he could easily end up being the standout, and this might have been his trademark performance. He now has this great story of him learning to get back into the fold and adapt to what New Japan has become in his absence following what happened here. People have gotten older, he’s gotten older, guys like Naito have made huge progressions as wrestlers, so he may be the same guy he was two years ago, but the company may not be. If this did show anything in terms of quality, it showed that he’s still one of the best in the world. No wrestler is as unique as he is, no wrestler creates that sense of danger like he does, and look no further than this match as evidence. I thought at least six times while watching this that his neck might have been broken. His bumping, his selling, his facial expressions, his heart, his guts, it’s all part of what makes him so special, and Naito was every bit as good. No matter how many matches top it as the tournament progresses, I hope this isn’t one that people forget about. God bless these crazy bastards. ****3/4

DESTINOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! #NJPW #G127 pic.twitter.com/YXfSQURo31

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 17, 2017

Final Thoughts:

With a Match of the Year contender in the main event, three other matches that were great, a solid Fale vs. Makabe match and a fun undercard, this was a tremendous show. If you plan on skipping the undercards like most normal human beings do, at least make some time for this one. With an excellent crowd and everyone working hard, I fail to see how one could watch this show and not have a good time.

VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em Contest Standings

Final Day To Sign-Up For Our G1 Climax Pick'Em Contest!

Author : richkraetsch

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax 27 kicks off tomorrow (July 17) meaning today is your FINAL day to get entered into our G1 Climax Pick’Em contest. We have already set a record for most entries in a tournament and we’d love to keep that number growing. Details on how to sign-up as well as full contest rules can be found below.

For the fourth consecutive year, Voices of Wrestling is hosting a NJPW G1 Climax Pick’Em contest. For our first-timers, welcome, this may seem overwhelming at first but you’ll get the hang of it quickly, we promise.

Like prior year’s G1 Climax contents, you’ll pick every single G1 Climax tournament match, determine who you think will win (or if there’s a draw) and select your G1 Climax 27 Block winners and runner-ups.

We’ve included a cheat sheet (downloadable at goo.gl/H4wRg2) that will show the progress as you make your picks on the Google Form. This will make it easier for you to determine who you have taking home the top spot in each block and how your scoring will look when you’ve made all your picks.

Please read all these rules carefully. While we’re available to take questions throughout the week on Twitter (@VoicesWrestling) or on our forums (voicesofwrestling.com/forums), this is a huge tournament with a large number of participants. We may not get to every single question or issue, so, again, please read these carefully and make sure you understand the process before contacting us.

Throughout the process, we’ll calculate your points and give updates throughout the tournament at voicesofwrestling.com and voicesofwrestling.com/forums.

At the end of the grueling G1 Climax 27 tournament, we’ll crown a grand pick’em champion. That champion and those who come in second and third in total point will receive package of gifts from our gracious contest sponsors Gaijin Collectibles (gaijincollectibles.com) and Jeff Martin (HEAT & Wrestlemon Comic).


Note that we will ONLY accept entries completed through this Google Form. You can use the downloadable cheat sheet to help make your picks but we will only calculate picks through this Google Form. We cannot accept ballots or entries any other way.

Only one entry per person. Sign-ups will continue until Day 1 of the tournament (July 17).

Points/Scoring Breakdown

You will receive 1 point if you pick the correct match-up winner OR if you pick a draw correctly.


Exclusive Discounts

Our friends at Gaijin Collectibles are also offering an exclusive discount to participants of VOW’s G1 Climax Pick’Em contest. Save an extra 15% off when you spend $30 or more — visit goo.gl/7Fe4oq to take advantage of this great deal.

Pick’Em Form (Google)

Make your picks using our Google Form at goo.gl/forms/nGPT9oGN9nMz9nSY2. Good luck!

48 Hours in Long Beach: A G1 Special Live Report

Author : michaelrspears

A few months ago, I decided I was going to go on a trip for my birthday. I’m at the age now where you’ve got to rationalize and make reasons for trips, so my birthday and NJPW’s G1 Special in USA was good enough of a reason to leave the Spears Compound for Southern California. It was a pretty quick trip, flying in Friday to spend time with family, going to shows Saturday and Sunday and then going straight from the Sunday show to take a red eye so I’d be back in the Upstate early Monday morning. My flight travel was a very very dumb thing that I willingly inflicted on myself, but the shows were worth it.

I’m not bothering with match ratings for this. I think seeing things live gives you a different experience, and my thoughts would be outliers for what the rest of the internet wrestling hive-mind had for these matches. Instead, there were a couple of interesting things from the weekend that I thought were worth mentioning.

The Crowd

So, I went to the Atlanta Ring of Honor taping earlier this year, and the crowd was the most intolerable experience I’ve had at a show. It was basically 600 Bullet Club fans who tried to get themselves over, and it actively detracted from the already long television tapings. By the time that the four hour taping was over, I never wanted to hear the two count “too sweet” call ever again in my life. I went into the G1 Special with a level of trepidation, because if 600 Bullet Club fans were terrible, over 2,000 would be like running to a brick wall head first.

The only other experience I’ve had with an international promotion doing shows in the US was Dragon Gate USA. So that holds a giant caveat of “well DGUSA wasn’t reallllly pure Dragon Gate,” but Billy Gunn isn’t pure New Japan, so I’m going to use this comparison. The DGUSA crowds, especially around WrestleMania weekends weren’t there for Mochizuki vs. Tozawa like I was. The largest responses were for Low-Ki and a very bad AR Fox vs Sabu match. Of course, those DGUSA shows were booked towards a Mania audience, but those shows increased my apprehension for what the crowd would be like in Long Beach.

My fears were quickly assuaged by the end of the first match.

Sure, there were scores of fans in the over eleven styles of Bullet Club/The Elite/Whatever way the Young Bucks can get a dollar t-shirts. It was clear though, the majority of the crowd there was there to be a New Japan audience, not to try to get themselves over at the show’s expense.

That’s not to say that this crowd wasn’t without its quirks. This wasn’t like when the Honor Rising shows occur at Korakuen Hall and the fans act more like Ring of Honor fans. The crowd was intent on being a New Japan crowd, but with a decidedly indie bent to it. Long Beach bred a pretty unique atmosphere as the weekend went along. The crowd was protective. For all the joking about how excited people were for the Intercontinental Title match between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Billy Gunn, as soon as the entrances began the crowd united behind their choice of Tanahashi. Gunn received heel heat to a scale that had to measure up to some he would have wanted when he was at his height in WWE. Long Beach even tried to chant along with “Go ACE” for godsakes!

The crowd had their favorites, namely the Elite, Marty Scurll and your bigger New Japan names, but what was remarkable was how protective the crowd was of New Japan. As I mentioned before, they didn’t want Billy Gunn anywhere near the title. The crowd was even more protective of Kazuchika Okada and the IWGP Heavyweight title.

I don’t think I felt a crowd experience legitimate fear before Saturday night. I mean, sure I’ve seen concern for a wrestler’s health if it seems like they got injured or did a stupid thing in the ring, but Okada versus Cody was something different. First, the crowd loathed Cody. I don’t know if it was purely resentment for him getting a title shot instead of a “deserving” wrestler, or if it was apathy towards his post-WWE career, but he was by far the most hated wrestler in Long Beach. Things uncommon to New Japan, such as Cody’s Memphis-style begging off at the beginning of the match, were hated to a degree that I haven’t seen in recent years. Perhaps in any other building today, people would have recognized it for what it was. However on Saturday, it was an affront to what the crowd intended G1 Special to be. At the end of the match, when Okada hit the Rainmaker the final pop was less a celebration, more relief from crippling anxiety.

Also poor Yoshitatsu, the most unliked man in Long Beach outside of Cody “Cody “Cody” R” Rhodes. Not only did the crowd hate him, but as seen on Twitter, his lonely merch table was depressing considering that a Japanese sponsor of the show that sold Magic Erasers did better business than him across both nights. They sold plain ones, and ones that featured Tanahashi and Okada on the wrapper with the chance to win a Okada autograph.

Long Beach and Expansion

Long Beach seemed like sort of a weird choice for the big expansion. Maybe it’s me regarding the prestige of working the location, like a lot of promotions do. It would have been better in my mind to call it Southern California than Long Beach. However, when I found out that Bushiroad was also operating their own card game tournaments and festivals at the same convention center, it all made sense. A convention center hall a great venue doesn’t make, as this weekend revealed.

First, let me get into the positives of the convention hall. It came across pretty great on video. I assume they used Ring of Honor’s newer video screens, and the entrances came off more like a big Osaka show than the limited staging they use in either Korakuen or Ryōgoku Kokugikan. I love how they used the overhead crane for entrances and crowd shots (I sat underneath it the first night and was entranced by that during AXS commercial breaks). The production held up the idea that we were watching something special, and it’s something I hope they continue in their future US shows. I’m also a former film production person, so I obsess about this kind of stuff.

Now that I got that out of the way, that convention hall was ridiculous as a venue for 2,600 fans. Since everything was on the same plane, if you were behind sixth row, you would try to play the fun game of “Okay, what’s the best angle I can crane myself into so I can see the ring between all these heads.” I didn’t notice this the first night, but by the end of the second night, people in the back rows abandoned their seats and stood by the back wall as it gave them a better view. Any sort of incline, levels, balconies, or bleachers could have markedly improved the sight-lines.

The stories about the singular merch line were true.

Basically, NJPW had half of the hall for the show and the other half for concessions/merch. It wrapped around the other half of the hall so many times that I felt I was living through the old Nokia cell phone game Snake. I heard stories of people missing an hour and a half of the show waiting for merch. I know shipping sucks, but if you are going to have people from 30-odd states and multiple countries travel to a show, they are more than willing to spend money on merchandise. My brother opted to get a Hiroshi Tanahashi themed Magic Eraser which I think he spent seven dollars for and didn’t miss a match for it. That shouldn’t have been the better decision for the fans. Also, it’s kind of gauche to complain about concession prices, but the food and alcohol prices were ridiculous ($13 for a tall boy of Modelo. I used to live in Miami and went to Marlins games. Jeffrey Loria doesn’t price gouge like that.)

So how could New Japan improve on their venue for the next show? Well as our esteemed Flagship said this week, thinking they could have sold 4,000 each night wasn’t unrealistic and I’m sorry Kenny Omega, but 20,000 is entirely unrealistic. There is no reason in the world why they should run a random convention hall in Long Beach for their next SoCal show when there are plenty of options in Southern California. The old Forum would have been perfect before they did their renovations, and their rental price is reportedly pretty cheap. I offer what I think is a realistic option for them: UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.

Pauley Pavilion would work. It’s more centrally located than Long Beach. It would have the better sight-lines due it being in an arena, rather than a place that’s holding a religious unity meeting this weekend. Concessions/Merchandise would be more than several carts and the lines wouldn’t be so long due to there being multiple locations in the concourse. Availability wouldn’t be much of an issue for a July date (definitely would be during UCLA basketball season). And as it’s owned by the University of California (so the state), renting Pauley Pavilion wouldn’t be as ridiculous as other LA-based arenas.

Honestly, I think that’s a path they should do if they are going to do tours of this quality in the future. Go for the college basketball arenas. If it’s too large, then lighting and curtaining off the top bowl won’t look bad on TV. Of course, if the New Japan expansion is going to be more territory based with occasional larger events like G1 Special, then this route wouldn’t make sense.

A Wrestling Newcomer’s Thoughts on G1 Special

Everyone remembers their first live wrestling show. Mine was when my dad took my brother and I down to Austin in 2000 for Monday Night Raw (It was a pretty terrible show, and my dad never was a huge wrestling fan so I think he deserves a bit of sympathy for sitting through this). This weekend, my brother’s girlfriend, Carrie joined us. This was Carrie’s first ever wrestling show, after years of my brother randomly watching it in their apartment and going to a random American Legion Hall in Reseda, of all places to watch dudes fake fight every few months.

I’m really interested in outsiders’ perspectives of wrestling, and getting Carrie’s thoughts about her first ever wrestling show being G1 Special was something I couldn’t pass up. After I got back home and got reacclimated, I shot her an email with some questions and she graciously responded. Just as a note, “The Deer Men” are her name for the Young Bucks, as Carrie quickly loved their fawn-based name and the fact they at one time had Milwaukee Bucks based t-shirts. My brother and I probably misidentified Bullet Club as Bullet Crew so that’s on us.

What were your conceptions of what the show was going to be before going/what you thought about wrestling?

I had seen a bit of it on TV, so I expected some scripted/choreographed fighting, and an intricate plot around that. I knew that people pick on wrestling for being “fake,” which never made sense to me any more than it makes sense to complain about a movie being fake. So I expected the experience to be a lot like going to a play or a movie, but with more smashing heads.

Also, going in, you and my boyfriend (who’s your brother) told me that we don’t like Bullet Crew, so I tried to jump into some blind tribalism immediately and go whole-hog on the Bullet Crew hate, but I kept forgetting their name and calling them Bullet Team.

What did you think about the venue, the crowd and the experience of the show?

Well, first of all, it’s not like going to a movie. In a movie, people don’t shout at the screen nearly as much as people shout at the fighters in a wrestling show. Which made me really go internal through a lot of the show. It made me think about why we interact with the things we are watching. To me, I don’t interact with performers unless I think they are doing something on which I can have an effect — so interacting with something that’s scripted doesn’t make sense, right? But then I asked the people I came with (including you, Mike) about the structure of wrestling, and how engagement can actually inform the writing of future shows, who wins and loses, and now that engagement makes sense. It’s a subtle way of being a part of the sport. In, say, baseball, you cheer and boo, and maybe you’ll have some subtle psychological effect on the players, but you won’t have some grand effect on the writers of their fates. In wrestling, people are literally writing their fates, and they’re listening for your cheers. That’s a really fascinating concept.

As for the venue, I didn’t expect everything to be on one plane, with the ring raised. I guess I’m used to theatre, where the actors are typically below you and the audience is tiered, and the balcony is looking down at the actors. In this performance/sport, you have the performers up above you. That’s interesting because they must have to choreograph all their stage combat with their blocks, etc, orchestrated in such a way that you can’t see them from below. Those blocks wouldn’t necessarily work on a stage, doing Shakespeare, I bet, because you’d be looking at the actors straight-on, or from above. I’m sure the blocks translate, but I bet they have to learn to do them in different ways, at different angles.

Bullet Team sucks.

There was a guy behind us who randomly shouted “Fuck you, Trump!” during a fight and I like him.

During the first couple fights, all I could think was, “Wow, this is a dance concert.” It really felt like I was watching dance, with just a couple key differences. For one, in dance, you try to minimize impact, whereas in wrestling impact is maximized. Also, in dance, the crowd maintains silence or near-silence until the applause break, whereas in wrestling it’s pretty constant noise. And last, of course, is the veneer of violence. But the actual moves in between that make up the majority of what the guys are doing? Those are choreographed dance moves, and they’re pretty. Sometimes I just zoned out and kind-of removed the impact parts in my head and just watched it like the ballet. Especially when the Deer Men were up.

I confess I did have a couple moments of, “Jesus, this is violent,” that I had to walk myself through. I generally don’t enjoy violence on film, and it gives me a bit of heeby jeebies, to think about other people enjoying it. But then I had this thought: “Well, I enjoy dramatic movies, where the characters are really really sad. Other people can’t watch those movies, and I can. Does that mean something is wrong with me? No. It means I access and work through sadness by watching those characters.” I think catharsis is something art has always offered people, and if that’s something wrestling offers people (and I am guessing it does), then that’s great. What a totally harmless way to let people access and process feelings we got evolutionarily loaded with. Or maybe it’s just fun to yell at dancers? I don’t know! Anyway, then they went back to dancing their pretty dances instead of pulling around an “unconscious” guy and I wasn’t weirded out any more anyway.

What was your favorite moment or favorite fake dance fighting men?

The Deer Men! They’re the best!

With what Saturday was like, would you be open to going to another New Japan show or other wrestling shows in Southern California in the future?

Yeah, if the Deer Men are there, and/or Yoshitatsu, who I felt bad for because no one went to his merch table. I would also be curious to go to a ladies’ wrestling show.

Any other thoughts about the show?

They need two merch lines. How am I supposed to get my Deer Men shirt with all these boys in the way? Other women: This is the shortest line for the ladies’ room you will ever see in your lives.

Carrie’s a great twitter follow at @CarriePoppyYES, and if you’re interested in skepticism, pseudoscience and the paranormal, check out her podcast Oh No Ross and Carrie!

NJPW G1 Special in USA (Night 2) Results & Review

Author : richkraetsch

New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Special in USA – Night 2
July 2, 2017
Long Beach Convention Center
Long Beach, CA

Watch: NJPW World / AXS TV (Friday, July 7)

NJPW’s G1 Special in USA Night 1 was a solid show marred by a litany of production issues as well as an uninteresting and, at times, dull first half. Those problems were all fixed on Night 2, a show that could wind up as a 2017 Show of the Year contender and a clear sign to that NJPW has officially arrived stateside.

Jushin Thunder Liger, KUSHIDA & David Finlay def. Yohei Komatsu, Sho Tanaka & Yoshitatsu

KUSHIDA chant before the bell even rang. Throughout the match Tatsu and the Boyz had tremendous heel heat with most of the crowd saving their scorn for “Bullet Club Hunter” Yoshitatsu. To their credit, all three men played it up the entire match and re-worked their style to adapt.

If you had hopes that Jim Ross would be more in-tune with the New Japan Pro Wrestling product after last night’s show, think again. At one point during this match, Ross asked Barnett “Are they really called the Teriyaki Boys?” To Ross’ credit, that’s no worse a name than Tempura Boyz but overall Ross’ lack of product knowledge doesn’t bode well for the remainder of the show.

The finish saw David Finlay lock a Stretch Muffler on Yoshitatsu while his teammates Liger and KUSHIDA immediately entered the fray and locked submissions on the Tempura Boyz. After giving the crowd a few moments to visualize, Tatsu feveriously tapped out giving Finlay the huge win. Like Jay White’s victory last night, throwing a bone to Finlay was a cool moment that the crowd really seemed to enjoy. I don’t have a record of it but I can’t imagine Finlay has many tag wins during his NJPW career. Hell, his last singles win was all the way back in November 2016 against Hirai Kawato at the World Tag League. **3/4

"He needs to get some new material." pic.twitter.com/mtA89XaXNY

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 3, 2017

IWGP United States Championship – Semi Final
Kenny Omega def. Jay Lethal

Kenny Omega is one of the best, if not the best wrestlers in the world. People have been rightfully down on Lethal for his mundane, paint-by-numbers match formula over the last handful of months. This match was anything but. And it’s hard not to give credit to a man we know thinks about the wrestling art form like no other, Kenny Omega.

The match started with Omega luring Lethal in for a handshake then kicking him in the ribs. This played up the storyline from last night where Lethal, still nursing a rib injury from last week’s ROH Best in the World, wasn’t 100%. Omega smelled blood in the water and the entire match focused on attacking Lethal’s ribs. Lethal was like a video game boss, a foe with one mortal flaw, one body part that Omega knew he could hit for maximum damage. Thus, there was no wasted motion or unnecessary expelled energy in Omega’s offense: every move and every punch was targeted towards Lethal’s ribs.

Another fun wrinkle though was Lethal understanding he wasn’t in for the long haul given his condition so he needed to go for broke as soon as possible. Only a few minutes into the match Lethal started going for his Lethal Injection finisher and after two failed attempts he hit it. The crowd immediately exploded thinking Lethal had pulled off the huge upset, but Omega—ever the thinker—rolled out of the ring to avoid the pinfall. Bonus points as well to Omega for selling the Lethal Injection better than anyone ever.

Omega looked to finish Lethal off with the One-Winged Angel but gave Lethal a few moments to reverse and squirm out of it before finally hitting it and getting the 1-2-3. That little bit of squirm really did help Lethal seem not like a man who was totally outclassed but a man who just wasn’t healthy enough to hang with one of the wrestling world’s best on this night.

This was spectacular. As good a sub-15 minute match as you’ll ever see. A well-thought-out, creative match that never wavered from its intended story. ****½

Goodbye and good night. @KennyOmegamanX is moving on! pic.twitter.com/Ff5RG2N1HH

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 3, 2017

IWGP United States Championship – Semi Final
Tomohiro Ishii def. Zack Sabre Jr.

Ishii and Sabre had the difficult task of following up Omega and Lethal and not only accomplished it but I could see many people preferring this encounter.

On Night 1 I talked about the Ishii vortex. An unavoidable whirlwind of babyface charisma draws you in no matter how hard you pull away. The focus on this match was Sabre—the aggressor throughout—locking Ishii in a number of different submission holds to try and get the tap out. Ishii, ever the babyface, wouldn’t tap and remained strong throughout.

The crowd, with each subsequent submission, would rally behind Ishii more and more. Sabre would also keep the submission locked in longer and long, so the balance of Sabre really driving in a submission while Ishii screamed and struggled to get to the ropes had the crowd going nuts without either guy having to kill themselves. Definitely a positive, particularly in Ishii’s case.

After numerous failed submission attempts Sabre got frustrated and went for strikes. Big mistake. Ishii absolutely destroyed him with a lariat and hit the Brainbuster for the win. I can see minor complaints about Ishii’s only substantial offensive run coming in the final few moments of the match but it didn’t bother me. This was more about Ishii surviving than winning. Sabre controlled the match until, well, he didn’t. He’s the one who lost focus and start going to strikes giving Ishii the opening to play his game.

Either way, another great United States tournament match, a tournament highlighted by compact, well-told stories so far. Our final is Ishii vs. Omega. Prepare yourself. ****

BEAST pic.twitter.com/149cf2Hql9

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 3, 2017

Dragon Lee, Jay White, Juice Robinson, Volador Jr. & Titan def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, EVIL, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito)

This was fun but ultimately just a showcase match for guys to show off their moves. After two matches with concrete and coherent stories, it was hard to get super “into” a match like this. Everyone worked well, in particular Titan who was able to show off a little more of a high flying than the night prior. The lone highlight was Takahashi and Dragon Lee squaring off, yet again, and exchanging chest slaps for about a minute straight as the crowd went absolutely nuts. Let’s hope these two feud for decades ala Tito Santana and Rick Martel.

Jay White picked up another win, his second of the week, after hitting the Flatliner on BUSHI. If and when the time comes, he’s going to be a star. ***

HYPE pic.twitter.com/q3Mrbuq0Ww

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 3, 2017

Guerillas of Destiny & Hangman Page def. War Machine & Michael Elgin

As hoss-y a modern New Japan match as you’ll ever see, likely influenced by the fact that Haku came down to the ring with his sons and Page.

There was a lot of snorting, spitting, grunting and power moves with GOD and War Machine squaring off for a majority of the match. Oh, then Hangman Page rolled into the ring and hit Raymond Rowe with a lariat and Rite of Passage for the win. In a weird series of events, Page grabbed War Machine’s IWGP Tag Titles and held them above his head. As he made his way to the back he declared, “those tag team titles will be mine!” Well, okay! ***

☠️ #NJUSA #G1USA pic.twitter.com/l5zpdDXN6W

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 3, 2017

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
The Young Bucks (c) def. Roppongi Vice

The days of the Bucks being spot monkeys or that wrought talking point are over. If you hear someone use that in reference to the Bucks, just ignore them because they either don’t watch or are just looking for attention.

The Bucks in this match had a cohesive plan focusing on neutralizing Beretta and trying to win not with a Meltzer Driver or More Bang For Your Buck, but rather the Sharpshooter. At numerous points in the match both Matt and Nick tried to lock in the Sharpshooter to get the win but time and time again both members of Roppongi Vice fought through.

The Bucks were able to successfully neutralize Beretta for most of the match but Romero would not give up taking shot after shot and staying alive. Finally, though, the Bucks were too much for RPG Vice as two Meltzer Drivers gave way to stereo Sharpshooters as Beretta and Romero tapped in unison. ***1/2

One more from @NickJacksonYB and @MattJackson13! pic.twitter.com/eypj2edNym

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 3, 2017

After the match, Ricochet, in street clothes, came out after the match to take out the Young Bucks. He made a challenge to the Bucks on behalf of himself and Ryusuke Taguchi. Ricochet dubbed their team “Funky Future.” This gave way to a post-match promo from Rocky Romero where he declared this the end for Roppongi Vice as his teammate Beretta would be moving up to the heavyweight division.

I’m a little torn on this decision. In one respect, Beretta has had such an awesome year and it’ll be great to see him more prominent roles in the promotion. With that said, Roppongi Vice was such a special tag team and the combination of Romero and Beretta worked better than almost anyone could have reasonably expected. If this is truly the end, these guys have nothing to be ashamed of. They were an integral part of this division being as entertaining as it’s been for the last three years. In particular, their work over the last handful of months has been among the best in NJPW junior tag history.

I’m going to miss these dudes and trust me, you will too.

🙏 #NJUSA #G1USA pic.twitter.com/Iul6tsDTIn

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 3, 2017

Marty Scurll, Bad Luck Fale, Cody & Yujiro Takahashi def. Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay & The Briscoes

Worked as more of a comedy match than an intense battle of CHAOS + Briscoes vs. Bullet Club, this match absolutely served its purpose as a buffer for the two big matches of the night. At very points in the match, the guys opted to have some fun and play up the audience—which, again, I was fine with. One sequence saw each man tag in and out as the crowd chanted their name. Was it technically a great match? Not at all but the crowd was into it from beginning to end and all the guys seemed to have fun. That’s not to say it was totally devoid of in-ring action. Ospreay hit a beautiful looking Sasuke Special while Scrull did most of his usual stuff including breaking some fingers and flopping his arms around like a crow.

A day after taking a rare pinfall lose, Cody got back to his winning ways pinning Ospreay after a Cross Rhodes. Jim Ross and Josh Barnett made sure to play up the ongoing “Who is the leader of Bullet Club?” storyline that developed during last night’s main event. Barnett made sure to point out that Cody led his team to victory on this night. I often remark that these guys in particular have a ton of notes and cues so when they are driving home a point or a storyline, you know it’s something to be aware of and something they are being told to pump up. I’m super excited for the continued development of this story if only to break up the monotony of the Bullet Club. **½

🙌 pic.twitter.com/XK0twEz5L5

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 3, 2017

IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Billy Gunn

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. “The One” Billy Gunn was a match that didn’t need to happen for an event that was sold out before it was even announced. If the goal was to bring an American onboard so that fans had someone they could relate to, it probably failed as Gunn got little-to-no reaction from the live audience except for audible boos that seemed more “why are you here?” than genuine heel heat. In that regard, maybe it did work. Maybe that’s what the NJPW office was going for when they booked Gunn. Who knows. Some have theorized that they want Gunn as apart of their training team and this was a make-good to him. Whatever the reason, it happened and thankfully, mercifully it’s over. Gunn was bad. As bad as a 53-year-old whose best in-ring year was roughly 24 years ago.

Gunn worked this like a 1999 WWF PPV match spending most of the time in rest holds wrenching Tanahashi’s injured arm or doing “not even that entertaining in 1987” test of strength spots. He would occasionally break that up by threatening the referee, Red Shoes. This match was largely devoid of drama as nobody truly believed “The Outlaw” would win. Gunn did hit the One and Only and the Fameasser, giving the crowd two brief moments of shock. Tanahashi played up both perfectly waiting until the absolute last moment possible to kick out.

Those would be the last bits of drama in the match as Tanahashi went to work hitting a sling blade and the High Fly Flow to retain his title. Thank god it’s over. I forgot to mention there was a spot where Tanahashi pulled Gunn’s pants down to reveal tights. Gunn returned the favor and showed Tanahashi’s bare ass to the crowd. I repeat: thank god it’s over. **

Bye bye, Billy! pic.twitter.com/djbkOdpRYD

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 3, 2017

IWGP United States Championship Tournament Final
Kenny Omega def. Tomohiro Ishii

If there wasn’t someone named Kazuchika Okada working in the same era and company as Kenny Omega, we’d be talking about the sure-fire Wrestler of the Year and the best big match wrestler going today. Omega has been on fire over the last year and his 2017 is on a historic path. On this night, he made history becoming the first IWGP United States Champion, a title that should be the focal point of NJPW’s ambitious United States expansion. As I said in my preview of the weekend’s events, Omega was the best choice for the title. There were safe picks like Elgin or even Omega’s opponent Ishii, but Omega was the right choice. The choice that will make headlines. The choice that will have people talking. Some may see it as a step down, a consolation prize for him not winning the IWGP Heavyweight Title this year but it’s so much more than that. The title represents a new era, a new beginning and a new plan to grow NJPW’s business beyond the island of Japan and to the rest of the world. Omega is now the centerpiece of that expansion.

That’s no consolation prize.

Let’s ignore big picture for a minute and go back to the match. This—the third match between Ishii and Omega this year—may have been their best. The prior two matches were worked at a frenetic pace while this one was more methodical and more calming. This made each and every big move seem so much more impactful and meaningful. This wasn’t a match either man was trying to win in 10 minutes, instead both were playing the long game, trying to wear the other out to eventually win this coveted prize.

It’s hard to pick one or two spots to highlight, but the one you’ll probably see for years to come was Omega and Ishii battling on the ring apron with a table looming ominously below them. Omgea was setting up for a suplex but Ishii was fighting tooth and nail (literally) to avoid being put through the table. Sick of Ishii clutching the ropes, Omega put him in a half nelson. Ishii, in what will become an iconic spot, bit down on the ropes to avoid being suplexed. That aforementioned Ishii vortex whipped even the more ardent Omega/Bullet Club fans into a frenzy as everyone wanted Ishii to find a way out of this hold.

Nine out of ten dentists agree… Ishii is the toughest man in wrestling. pic.twitter.com/cvIo6lFZ5f

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 3, 2017

It bought Ishii only a few seconds though as he took a sickening looking half nelson suplex through the table.

That spot set the tone for the remainder of the match as the slow-pacing at the outset gave way to a manic finish that saw Omega hit a number of v-trigger knees, Ishii hit a One-Winged Angel on Omega, an amazing Ishii kick out and one spot and, finally, a reverse hurricanrana, v-trigger and One-Winged Angel by Omega for the win. You couldn’t have asked for a better effort from either man. As good as Omega has been this year, Ishii deserves equal credit for playing such a big part in three of those matches. What a match to cap off an unbelievable weekend. Wake up America, NJPW has officially arrived. ****½

The alpha and the omega. @KennyOmegamanX is the first #NJPW U.S. Champion! pic.twitter.com/4qy3WM9b5m

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 3, 2017

Final Thoughts:

Three matches rated four stars or better and two rated four and a half stars. As someone who doesn’t pass out snowflakes as liberally as others, this is a big deal. If you haven’t seen this show, drop everything and watch it now. NJPW’s G1 Special in USA Night 2 is a must-watch for any wrestling fan.

NJPW G1 Special in USA (Night 1) Results & Review

Author : richkraetsch

New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Special in USA Night 1
July 1, 2017
Long Beach Convention Center
Long Beach, California

Watch: AXS TV / NJPW World

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Special in USA needed to deliver and deliver big. New Japan Pro Wrestling and most notably, NJPW’s ambitious owner Takaaki Kidani have eyes on international expansion including being the first Japanese wrestling promotion with a stronghold in the United States of America. This was Day 1 and it’s hard to call it anything but a success. Not only did the show, held in Long Beach, California’s Long Beach Convention Center, sell out almost instantly but the show, aside from an uneven first half, was spectacular.

Like proper NJPW shows, the undercard—which featured mostly thrown-together multi-man matches—was lackluster. This, combined with production woes including a downright embarrassing effort from Jim Ross, had people uneasy about the remainder of the show.

Boy, did we look stupid. The second half was every bit as good as the best NJPW show this year. The two United States tournament matches (Tomohiro Ishii/Tetsuya Naito and Michael Elgin/Kenny Omega) could fit right into the G1 and were as genuine NJPW/modern strong style as you’ll find. The main event, though sloppy at times, featured a great story, a well-built finish and the continuation of one of the more compelling storylines in NJPW today.

CHAOS (Beretta, Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe, Rocky Romero and Will Ospreay) def. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Marty Scurll, The Young Bucks and Yujiro Takahashi)

When this card was announced it was clear what match would open the show as this ten-man tag had a little bit of everything for the American audience: Bullet Club, Young Bucks, Will Ospreay and tons of dives. We got that and more. This was a dizzying opener which at times got a little too spotty as each of the ten men had to stake their claim to the match. As a result, nobody really stood out and the match was more of a showcase than anything. The finish, however, was smartly done as Romero, former NJPW LA dojo trainee and one of the key liaisons for getting NJPW into the Long Beach, got the surprise roll-up win. ***

Don't bring a high five to a @MattJackson13 & @NickJacksonYB Superkick Party. pic.twitter.com/DzmKq8gT1H

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 2, 2017

Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi and SANADA) def. Dragon Lee, Jushin Thunder Liger, Titán and Volador Jr.

Los Ingobernables were super over at the outset of the match but it didn’t take long for the Liger/CMLL crew to win the crowd over with their energy and high-flying. Overall, the match seemed to lack a ton of direction as there was no real reason for most of these guys to be squaring off. However, they made sure to make interactions between Takahashi and Dragon Lee mean more. The two had an amazing match at New Beginning in Osaka and clearly planted seeds for a future match between the team soon. Ingobernables got crafty at the end, distracting the referee to the point that Jim Ross called them “jackasses”. EVIL and SANADA used the distraction to destroy Titan with chairs. Takahashi quickly took advantage and got the pinfall after hitting Titan with the Time Bomb. Fun match but ultimately forgettable. **1/2

Batter up! pic.twitter.com/iY46s5rlhZ

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 2, 2017

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship – First Round
Jay Lethal def. Hangman Page

If you had higher expectations than “maybe it’ll be okay”, you worked yourself into a shoot. This was going to be the worst match of the entire US tournament and well, it didn’t disappoint (?) in that regard. Lethal was selling a rib injury suffered at ROH’s Best in the World PPV last week. This brings up an interesting debate: if NJPW should recognize ROH canon in their promotion? They probably should but Lethal selling an injury from a ROH PPV ended up creating a dull, emotionless match as none of the fans in attendance and very few watching at home really bought into the injury angle. The match never reached a level befitting the situation and mercifully ended after a Lethal Injection. Well, not quite. Lethal completely missed Page’s head but he sold it anywhere. After a brief audible, Lethal hit a better looking but still clunky Lethal Injection for the win. *1/4

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship – First Round
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Juice Robinson

This was the antithesis of the prior match in almost every way. Hot action throughout, awesome finish with Sabre Jr. progressing through the Octopus Hold until Robinson could take no more. The crowd was on board from the opening bell until the finish. I would have never guessed that Juice Robinson of all people would get the largest crowd reactions of the night but dammit if he didn’t have 100% of the crowd on his side by the time this match hit its peak. Just as he does in Japan, Robinson generates genuine babyface emotion from the crowd who can’t help root for the wrestler, the person and the story of Juice Robinson. In the end, Sabre—in prime prick mode on this night—was too much to handle but not after Robinson gave it 110%. This is easily the best match so far and could end up as match of the night when it’s all said and done. I’m fully prepared to be the high man on this but I don’t care, I loved it. ***3/4

Octopus hold from @zacksabrejr! #NJPW #njusa pic.twitter.com/fwZ69gamfx

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 2, 2017

Jay White and Taguchi Japan (David Finlay, Hiroshi Tanahashi and KUSHIDA) vs. Hunter Club (Billy Gunn and Yoshitatsu) and Tempura Boyz (Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu) 

The real story of this match—other than Gunn/Tanahashi building to their match tomorrow night—was Jay White picking up the win. In New Japan canon, this is huge. The last “we” saw him he was a young lion but now symbolically not only is he ready to become a roster member again, but he is going to be a big deal when he returns. Him getting the pinfall in a match featuring Tanahashi and KUSHIDA is a big deal no matter how you slice it. Now the match wasn’t anything special. Billy Gunn really struggles at bumping these days and I’m starting to really worry about tomorrow’s match. With that said, Gunn was an ultra heel to this crowd and played into that well. I have no doubt the story aspects of the match tomorrow will be entertaining… even if the match itself is a bomb. **1/2

And if you're not down with that… pic.twitter.com/TuB7CMImmJ

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 2, 2017

War Machine (Hanson and Raymond Rowe) def. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa) (C)

Before the bell, Rowe asked if GOD wanted to raise the stakes a bit and add weapons to the fray. GOD obliged and we had a No DQ stipulation added to the match. This stipulation initially sunk the match as it featured a lot of dull walk and brawling but eventually the weapons, notably a table, ended up really helping this match reach another level. These two have had much better matches in Japan proper but this was a great tag match highlighted by War Machine, who once again proved themselves as one of the top tag teams in the world. War Machine looked like a million bucks with their blend of innovative power offense, high-flying and undeniable charisma. The finish saw War Machine hit their Fall Out move on Tonga Roa through a table. It looked amazingly brutal and perfectly capped off this rugged match. On a night with a number of production issues, AXS TV cutting away from the live broadcast as War Machine was celebrating their tag title win may have been the worse. That they cut to a Sammy Hager Rock n Roll Road Trip commercial that’s been shown no less than 15 times already was just the cherry on top.  ***1/4

Goodbye, table. pic.twitter.com/JaoVRLEppM

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 2, 2017

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship – First Round
Tomohiro Ishii def. Tetsuya Naito

To the surprise of absolutely no one, these two killed it. When these guys get in the ring, all is right in the universe. The stars align. Magic happens. I think at this point it would be completely impossible for them to have a bad match. They just can’t do it. This was the first match of the night to feel like genuine NJPW with much of the modern strong style and brutality that’s helped NJPW explode globally. Naito played his character perfectly and even though much of the crowd cheered him during entrances, the Long Beach crowd couldn’t help but be dragged into the Ishii babyface vortex. It just sucks you in and you can’t escape. You want him to win. You want to root for him. You want that no-neck bulldog to pull through and get the win. It’s both unmistakable and unavoidable. Naito spent the majority of his control period playing around with Ishii, wiping his shoes off on his head and being the dickhead we all know and love. Ishii turned the match in his favor hitting a brutal headbutt to Naito’s jaw. This was one of those rare moment when you cringe and worry about the wrestler’s health but can’t help but root at the same time—just another rule in the Ishii vortex. Ishii picked up the surprise win with a brainbuster. Naito was a popular pick to win the whole tournament so Ishii picking up the first round win will be seen as an upset by many. Great match. ****1/4

Brain. Busted. pic.twitter.com/KqyJX7tai7

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 2, 2017

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega def. Michael Elgin

Holy shit. What a way to celebrate Canada Day! Throw this match into a night of the G1 Climax and it may be the best match of the entire tournament. Worked at an absolutely nuts pace throughout, Omega and Elgin nearly killed themselves and even had JR screaming at the top of his lungs during each subsequent kickout. These two were the perfect complement to one another with Elgin’s powerful, hard-hitting offense and Kenny Omega’s next-level, all-time great selling. Seriously, Omega killed himself here and made every Elgin powerslam and clothesline look like a million bucks. The spot of the match saw Elgin hit Omega with an amazing looking sit-out crucifix powerbomb from the middle rope.

SUPERBOMB!! #NJPW #njusa pic.twitter.com/JMTVFEpqFa

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 2, 2017

Omega shockingly kicked out of that move and got to work on his own hitting a succession of knee strikes before finally finishing Elgin off with the One-Winged Angel. This was spectacular and will be hard to follow. Kazuchika Okada’s status as sure-fire Wrestler of the Year may be in jeopardy if Omega keeps this up. The shine of his rising superstardom is becoming too hard to ignore. ****3/4

GODDDDDDDAMNNNNNNN!!! #NJPW #njusa @KennyOmegamanX pic.twitter.com/4F27o0qZoD

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 2, 2017

ONE WINGED ANGEL!! #NJPW #njusa @KennyOmegamanX pic.twitter.com/t4bEiXu9i7

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) July 2, 2017

IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada (c) def. Cody

I’m happy to eat crow on this. I’ve never been a big Cody Rhodes fan, dating back to his time in WWE. For whatever reason, he never clicked with me. I could always respect the character work and often his matches were fine but trying to find the best Rhodes match ever was an impossible task. The resume was lined top-to-bottom with “good” matches but few great. When this match was announced, I was dubious on Rhodes’ ability to proud “great”, even when he was sharing a ring with the Wrestler of the Year front-runner Kazuchika Okada.

I was wrong. And I couldn’t be happier.

Rhodes delivered on this night. This was far and away the best Cody match he’s ever had and I’m not sure it’s particularly close. The blend of top notch character work, playing up to the audience’s hatred of him and in-ring. Cody always lacked a certain punch in his match with his closing stretch often leaving a lot to be desired. That was not the case here. Cody burst through a Rainmaker from Okada, hit one of his own that temporarily stopped my heart. Phew.

The big story coming out of this match will be the future of Bullet Club. After Cody tried to throw the towel in for Kenny Omega at Dominion, Omega attempted to return the favor on this night. Instead of hinting that he was going to throw it, Omega begged Cody’s wife Brandi to do it. Of course she didn’t, but this dust-up played in the remainder of the match as Cody could no longer focus.


— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 2, 2017

Cody became a man possessed, not to win the match but to prove to Omega that he could win the match. Big difference. This led Cody to try and finish Okada off with Omega’s finisher the One-Winged Angel. It didn’t work. Okada squirmed out, hit Cody with a spinning tombstone and finished him off with a Rainmaker.

Cody may not have won but he proved himself worthy on this night. Okada only added to his 2017 and career resume. We’re witnessing greatness right now. Cherish it. ****1/4

Make it Rain! pic.twitter.com/3piuvbcMuR

— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 2, 2017

Final Thoughts:

An uneven first half of NJPW’s G1 Special in USA was completely overshadowed by a spectacular second half featuring a handful of ****+ matches.

NJPW Kizuna Road 2017 (June 20) Results & Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Kizuna Road 2017
June 20, 2017
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan (Attendance: 1,258)

Watch: NJPW World

Tomoyuki Oka Def. Tetsuhiro Yagi

I see something in this Tetsuhiro Yagi, and for me to be saying that about a guy who’s only been wrestling for a month is pretty insane. Something about the way he looks and the way he presents himself, the aggression in which he works with, makes him stand out from the other young lions. He’s already surpassed Oka and Umino in terms of personal enjoyment, which is saying a lot because I enjoy the two a lot. Oka had his leg worked over for a few minutes in this match and did a nice job selling the damage before making the comeback and tapping Yagi with a Boston Crab. Strong work by both men here. ***

El Desperado, TAKA Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru Def. Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV & Shota Umino

Rather average, run-of-the-mill Suzuki-gun juniors multi-man. Umino was picked on a bit and eventually lost via submission. Now that BOSJ is over this is what the Suzuki-gun guys are stuck with. New Japan has a million people on their roster so guys like Desperado and TAKA get stuck in the undercard. Fine match as you would expect. Fine and forgettable. **1/2

Yuji Nagata & David Finlay Jr. Def. Manabu Nakanishi & Katsuya Kitamura

Finlay, for a guy who’s been stuck in the undercard as a result of New Japan not having anything for him, like the Suzuki-gun juniors, always looks motivated and always looks happy to be here. You can tell he loves his job so cannot help but feel bad for him, but maybe this is just what he is. Maybe he’s just an undercard multi-man tag guy. Maybe his role is to take pins. Someone has to do it I guess. Kitamura took the pin for him in this one as Nagata hit him with a backdrop. Nakanishi has been almost comically slow as of late yet has somehow managed to have otherwise competent performances, him and Kitamura being especially fun together. ***

Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Togi Makabe Def. Jado, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii

Ishii and Makabe seemed extra motivated here as they potentially build to a G1 match. For as sick of this pairing as everyone was two years ago, they really are great for one or two matches together a year, so I’m all for another one. Kojima and Ishii also make for a tremendous pairing, so here’s hoping they’re in the same block as well. Surprisingly fast-paced and fun match with everyone working hard. One of the only matches on the show that ended in a pinfall as Makabe landed a King Kong Kneedrop on Jado. ***

G1 Climax 27 Competitors & Lineup 

During intermission, NJPW unveiled the participants for G1 Climax 27:

Blocks and block matches will be announced at later dates.

Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi Def. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Hirai Kawato

In case you needed more evidence that there’s something special about this Hirai Kawato and that New Japan knows what they have with him, here it is. In the biggest match of his young career, he stepped up, he delivered, he got the crowd behind him, and he earned the respect of the former ace in Tanahashi. I have a feeling this will not be the last we see of him in a big spot. Even with the great performances, the highlight of the match came at the end, with Hiromu locking Kawato in a Boston Crab and forcing him to tap out in what was a truly incredible visual. Kawato looked up at Hiromu as he mocked him, perhaps planting seeds for something in the future. Nothing in this company is done by mistake, everything is done with a purpose. We may not see it for four years, but those two will have a singles match at some point. ***1/2

Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI Def. Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Taichi

Suzuki and YOSHI-HASHI are headlining the next Korakuen show on the 26th as Suzuki puts his NEVER title on the line. YOSHI-HASHI is clearly not winning, but judging by their interactions leading up to the match, I have no doubts it will deliver, so long as they keep the interference to a minimum. Taichi thankfully stayed out of the way here for the most part and everyone else worked relatively hard with YOSHI-HASHI clearly being the focus. He got the win over Taichi and then brawled with Suzuki in the post-match. ***

NEVER Openweight Six-Man Championship
BUSHI, SANADA & EVIL vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA & Juice Robinson

As someone who’s had enough of both these titles and the Los Ingobernables vs. Taguchi Japan matches, I can safely say that this was by far the best NEVER trios title match ever and probably the best Los Ingobernables vs. Taguchi Japan match ever.

Taguchi Japan may be the best group in all of wrestling based on the personalities alone. It is an objectively dumb and terrible group, but that’s what makes them so great. Juice Robinson is incredibly over, the crowd wanted nothing more than to see him win here, he’s arguably one of the three best babyfaces on the roster next to KUSHIDA and Kawato, and the moment he wins a title in this company is going to be huge. BUSHI, SANADA and EVIL will likely defend the titles in Long Beach on July 2nd since all of them are there and are without a match yet. In the meantime, BUSHI has a shot at KUSHIDA’s junior title coming up on the 27th in the main event of Korakuen. Why BUSHI gets a shot when he lost to KUSHIDA during Super Juniors, I have no idea, but their matches always deliver so it’s tough to complain.

If nothing else on the show, go out of your way to watch this. 15 minutes of balls-to-the-wall action with tons of heat, a hot crowd and great performances. One of the best trios matches of the year. ****1/4

Final Thoughts:

More of a build-up show than anything as most matches were done to set up matches later on in the tour, but make sure to seek out the main event and the Kawato tag match.

NJPW Lion's Gate 6 (June 15) Results & Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Lion’s Gate 6
June 15, 2017
Shinjuku FACE – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

El Desperado Def. Tetsuhiro Yagi

Tetsuhiro Yagi, who debuted on the last Lion’s Gate show, continues to improve and continues to show, along with his contemporaries, that the next two or three years are in good hands when it comes to young lions and their quality output. All of these guys have something special about them. Umino and Kawato have the heart, Oka has perfected the basics, Kitamura has the look, the charisma, and the star aura, and Yagi has the aggression. All of them have potential to be great workers, and some have potential to be superstars. As for this match – very simple, very easy, very basic  but both looked good and it was enjoyable for what it was. Yagi is already super impressive for a guy who’s only a month into his career, and is it just me or does he look a bit like Akira Tozawa? **1/4

Gedo & Jado Def. Hirai Kawato & Shota Umino

Gedo and Jado heeling it up and messing around with a couple of young boys for ten minutes as Kawato and Umino scrambled to get ahead. Matches like these really play towards Umino and Kawato’s strengths as babyfaces, and Gedo and Jado are the exact type of guys they should be wrestling on a regular basis. It’s like watching two nerdy kids get bullied, you want nothing more than to see them get their comeback over the two assholes, it’s hard to not root for them and be invested. All four guys were excellent here, Jado especially stepping his game up for a change, which was nice. Gedo and Jado eventually put them out of their misery and walked away with an easy victory, though I expect this story to continue. ***

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask IV Def. Dinosaur Takuma & Takuya Nomura

Takuya Nomura is one year into his career and has worked every somewhat relevant promotion in Japan outside of Dragon Gate. BJW, NOAH, All Japan, DDT, WRESTLE-1, K-DOJO, New Japan, you name it. He’s one of the hottest freelancers in the country, everyone is tripping over themselves to get their hands on him, and if I were him, I would continue doing what he’s doing. No need to sign anywhere or lock yourself down, just keep making a name in all these promotions and keep growing as a wrestler.

He’s only 23, the opportunities are endless. He already has a foot in the door in New Japan, so if I had to guess I’d say they will eventually sign him, but for right now, I think what he’s doing is perfect. He was over like crazy and once again delivered a quality performance like he always does, and as a result something occurred to me while watching him here. With both being as over as they are, Nomura vs. Kawato is the money match New Japan needs to be building towards on these shows. Will they do it? Who knows. Should they do it? I’d say it’s the best thing they could possibly do. Another solid tag bout. **3/4

Manabu Nakanishi Def. Katsuya Kitamura

New Japan’s booking of Kitamura reminds me a lot of Dragon Gate’s booking of Ben-K when Ben-K was at the same stage Kitamura is at. It is extremely rare you see young boys go head-to-head with veterans of the roster such as Gamma, CIMA, Mochizuki, etc. in Dragon Gate or Kojima, Nakanishi, Nagata, etc. in New Japan. While Nakanishi is not any sort of megastar within the promotion, he’s still Nakanishi and he’s still been around forever, so for Kitamura, who made his debut three months ago, to stand up to him the way he did in this match and the way he’s done for months, says a lot about what New Japan thinks of him. Something tells me he’s moving up from the young lion thing sooner than anyone else.

He’s 31 years old and I think they’re smart enough to realize they have to do what they can with him as quickly as possible, so he may not spend three years as a young lion and then two years on excursion because he’s 36 years old by then. He already has the look and the charisma, his work is solid enough, I would get the ball rolling on him as soon as possible. He’s not the average young boy, no need to treat him as such. Good showcase for him against Nakanishi here. **1/2

YOSHI-HASHI Def. Yuma Aoyagi

YOSHI-HASHI is the guy New Japan puts the outsiders against on these shows between Toru Sugiura in April, Daisuke Kanehira in May and now Aoyagi. He never gets singles matches on the main shows so is always motivated to deliver when put in the spot, all of these matches being of similar quality. Aoyagi, like Kawato, is another guy who is hard to not be invested in as he always shows a ton of heart. He’s a traditional pro wrestling babyface, he has that underdog charisma, and he’s always fun to watch as a result. It helps that he’s a good wrestler too. With some nice back-and-forth throughout and some real nice near-falls towards the end, this was the best thing on the show up to this point. ***1/4

Ayato Yoshida & Satoshi Kojima  Def. Tomoyuki Oka & Yuji Nagata

Yes there is a loyalty thing in Japan so it may cause issues should he leave, and he himself may not even want to, but man, Yoshida is way too talented for the wasteland that is K-DOJO. He’s able to hang with guys like Kojima and Nagata, he’s two years younger than Oka, has only been wrestling for about a year longer and came across as a much bigger star in this match, which is not a knock on Oka but is more so a testament to how good Yoshida is. New Japan has been using him for a few months now and seem to like him. Whether or not they have actual plans for him outside of these shows is tough to call because of the potential loyalty and commitment he has to K-DOJO, but he’s perfect for their roster. In a match where all four guys were excellent, he was unquestionably the MVP between his work and his presence.

I admittedly skipped some matches on the previous shows, but judging by what I’ve seen, this was the best Lion’s Gate match ever. Non-stop action from bell-to-bell, great performances by all participants, a good crowd, some excellent heat, everything you could ask for out of a main event of this caliber. Although the rest of the show was fun, this is the match you have to seek out. ****

Final Thoughts:

As someone who enjoys watching young lions progress, I tend to enjoy these, but if you’re short on time or have other things you can do, it’s not something you necessarily have to see aside from the main event. Regardless, the show as a whole gets a thumbs up for being fun, light-hearted and easy to watch.

NJPW Dominion 6.11 in Osaka-jo Hall Results & Review

Author : jojoremy

JUNE 11, 2017

Watch: NJPW World

 David Finlay, Tomoyuki Oka, & Shota Umino def. Hirai Kawato, Katsuya Kitamura, & Tetsuhiro Yagi

Kawato is starting to stand out amongst the younger lions. His dropkick is becoming an undercard highlight. Oka seemed to get lost in the shuffle of the match. Umino started out strong, but also didn’t make much of an impression. Kitamura, however, has a special charisma that creates a buzz – even in a bigger building like Osaka-jo Hall. Finlay was good and made his younger counterparts look strong. Finlay got the win with Prima Nocta. **

Togi Makabe, Yuji Nagata, Tiger Mask W, & Tiger Mask def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi, & Jushin Thunder Liger

Even though he hasn’t been around for a while, Tiger Mask W got a great reaction when his music hit. W was especially interesting and defiant here – his exchanges with Kojima were a highlight. Side note: Tenzan’s legs/feet are in bad shape, it looks like walking is a challenge for him. A fun, light-hearted start to the show. Makabe got the win over Nakanishi. **

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Titles: Los Ingobernables de Japon (c) def. Taguchi Japan, Suzuki-gun, & CHAOS

It looks like New Japan did some special entrance videos for this show – a nice touch. It’s too bad that YOSHI-HASHI has lost virtually all the momentum he gained from last year’s G1. I’m still looking forward to seeing how he fairs this year. (Note: this was addressed later in the show.) Yano rolled up Yujiro for the quick win to bring out the Suzuki-gun team, Zack Japan. Yano tried to get another quick win for CHAOS, but Zack pretty much immediately pinned him to bring out Taguchi Japan.

Juice hit Pulp Friction on Taichi to bring out the champions, but Zack locked Juice in a manjigatame while LIJ made their entrance. Ricochet has one of the best hot tags in the company, which really got the crowd into the match for the first time. They spent most of the BOSJ undercards setting up this match. However, the format ultimately undermined the rivalry between LIJ and Taguchi Japan. Bushi hit the MX on Taguchi to retain the titles for LIJ. **3/4

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: The Young Bucks def. Roppongi Vice (c)

They started off at a fast pace and eventually settled in with the Young Bucks isolating Baretta after taking out Rocky. They did a great job of building up tag attempts and cutting them off. Rocky spent a lot of the match laid out from a ringside attack. Rocky finally appeared to hit a Strong Zero, but Nick broke up the pin with a Swanton Bomb. Romero did a great job of selling the attack on his back. Nick hit a slingshot facebuster on Rocky while he was trapped in a sharpshooter. An Indytaker and another sharpshooter got the win and the titles for the Young Bucks. This was very creative and I enjoyed it. ***1/2

IWGP Tag Team Titles: Guerrillas of Destiny def. War Machine (c)

There were some great exchanges between Rowe and Roa – these teams have good chemistry. Hanson flew around the ring, prompting commentary to emphasize the junior-esque style on display. For example, Liger asked for confirmation of Hanson’s weight.

Highlight from #njdominion 4th match! Catch it all live only on @njpwworld ! Sign up Now▶︎ https://t.co/hLnCvrvFzQ pic.twitter.com/LlGu2nOWVi

— njpw_global (@njpwglobal) June 11, 2017

There was a great Gun Stun reversal by Tama that led to a ref bump. Rowe had the chance to use a chair, but ending up eating one that lead to Guerilla Warfare and a title change. I would expect a rematch in Long Beach. ***

Cody def. Michael Elgin

Commentary tells me that “former top WWE wrestler” Cody has returned to the New Japan ring. It feels like it’s been too long since the “Canadian Grizzly” has been on the cerulean blue mat. I’m not sure what Cody was going for with the over-the-top theatrics. I didn’t really notice this in his previous matches. Hopefully this will be a wake-up call that Elgin needs to be on more shows. The fans love him and he always puts in a good performance – especially when given the opportunity in singles matches. Cody was solid here, but his style feels out of place in New Japan. They worked hard and got a pretty good reaction, but this felt more like an exhibition than a fight. **3/4

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title: KUSHIDA def. Hiromu Takahashi (c)

KUSHIDA came out with a new costume, while Hiromu had his big match “Glastonbury balls.” The junior title match opened with a big chant for the champion and a blistering start. In contrast to the previous match, this felt like a fight from the opening bell.  Another huge “Hiromu” chant drowned out some minor support for the challenger. KUSHIDA got a few gasps of air until he finally countered Hiromu’s sunset flip powerbomb with an armbar on the apron.

Catch their actions only on @njpwworld ! Sign up Now▶︎ https://t.co/hLnCvrvFzQ pic.twitter.com/TZcTmx9gIf

— njpw_global (@njpwglobal) June 11, 2017

Hiromu dropped KUSHIDA with an Emerald Frosion-style Time Bomb that commentary called a “Dynamite Plunge.” KUSHIDA hit a crazy avalanche-style Hoverboard Lock and went for Back to the Future but was thwarted. An explosive sunset flip powerbomb sent Kushida bouncing to the floor.

This was all about KUSHIDA being able to beat Hiromu at his own game. The crowd rejected KUSHIDA’s aggressive attack, but the bloodied challenger won with the Hoverboard Lock. This was an excellent match between two of the best wrestlers in the world. Hiromu wasn’t hurt at all in defeat. ****1/4

Post-match, BUSHI misted KUSHIDA to a huge reaction; cutting short the new champ’s celebration.

NEVER Openweight Title: Minoru Suzuki (c)  def. Hirooki Goto

It was refreshing to have some opposition support at ringside to minimize Suzuki-gun’s interference. I wish the babyface units would show more cohesiveness on a regular basis. Minoru was great in this. His submissions looked terribly painful and his facial expressions were scary. Moreover, Minoru’s interaction with Liger really turned up the heat on the match.

I always forget, but Minoru throws the hardest elbows around. A ref bump set up YOSHI-HASHI to singlehandedly clear the ring and hit a great tope con giro. Taichi drilled Goto twice with a chair and Minoru hit a Gotch-style piledriver to for the win. This was very good. ***1/2

YOSHI-HASHI cleared the ring again and looks like Minoru’s next challenger.

IWGP Intercontinental Title: Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Tetsuya Naito (c)

Tanahashi attacked Naito mid-entrance to a good reaction. The crowd was firmly behind Tana’s assault and they booed Naito at every opportunity. We haven’t seen Naito booed like this recently, so it added a lot to the match. Tanahashi started selling the arm before Naito got a move in. As expected, Naito targeted the arm right away. Naito (and Tanahashi, for that matter) is known for his leg-based offense, but he did a great job of adapting to fit the backstory of this match. For his part, Tanahashi focused on Naito’s leg.

It didn’t take Naito long to spit on Tana, but it got a great reaction. Tanahashi tried to attack Naito’s leg, but his arm prevented him from gaining control. Tanahashi did an amazing job of conveying his struggle and desperation. Eventually a dragon screw on the apron set up a huge High Fly Flow to the floor.

#njdominion @s_d_naito vs @tanahashi1_100 Catch their clashes on @njpwworld ! Sign up Now▶︎ https://t.co/hLnCvrvFzQ pic.twitter.com/1M4wuPnOm1

— njpw_global (@njpwglobal) June 11, 2017

Naito’s relentless attack on the arm was great and his facial expressions exuded confidence as Tanahashi writhed in pain. Commentary teased a doctor stop since Tana missed the whole BOSJ tour due to injury. A rolling Twist and Shout opened the door for a High Fly Flow, but Naito moved as Tana’s elbow crashed into the canvas. An ugly swinging DDT dropped Tanahashi on his head and set up a swinging Destino.

Naito tried to go for Destino again, but was spiked with a dragon suplex and two sling blades. Tana did Shinsuke’s pose before crashing down with a High Fly Flow; a tribute to the man that elevated the Intercontinental title.

Shockingly Tanahashi got the submission victory with Texas Cloverleaf. Even with a ridiculous head start, Naito couldn’t get Tana to give up first. Don’t worry about him though, the loss frees up Naito to be a favorite to win the G1. One of my favorite matches of the year. ****3/4

IWGP Heavyweight Title: Kazuchika Okada (c) and Kenny Omega went to a time-limit draw

This is the rematch to one of the most talked-about matches in recent memory.

In contrast to the rest of the big matches tonight, the crowd seemed fairly split to start the match. The early stages of the match felt very similar to their Dome encounter. This all changed when Okada went for a tope con giro, but landed on his leg badly. Kenny used the opening to focus his attack. Kenny attacked Okada’s knee from every angle, while Okada’s selling was excellent. Unfortunately, they more-or-less abandoned the story of Okada’s leg after a few sequences.

There were quite a few callbacks to their Dome match. Kenny hit the same brutal missile dropkick. He went for the avalanche-style dragon suplex, but Okada wiggled out and dropped Kenny on the apron with Heavy Rain. Okada tried to back body drop Kenny through another table, but couldn’t. Okada went for a diving elbow drop through a table on the floor, but the table didn’t quite break.

#njdominion Greatest bout again.. Watch the full video @rainmakerXokada vs @KennyOmegamanX on @njpwworld pic.twitter.com/a4MeTjUjR0

— njpw_global (@njpwglobal) June 11, 2017

Cody came down to throw in the towel, playing up his desire to take the belt off Okada himself. Kenny spiked Okada with the One-Winged Angel, but Okada got his foot on the rope to a HUGE reaction. Kenny falling to his knees to dodge a Rainmaker was a great touch to emphasize exhaustion. Okada hit a final Rainmaker at the 30-second remaining mark, but the time expired with both men on the mat.

They did an amazing job of recreating the atmosphere from Wrestle Kingdom without rehashing the match. A creative follow-up and another excellent chapter in their rivalry. If you loved that match, you will also love this match. ****1/2

Final Thoughts

Overall, this show is an easy recommendation and a legit show of the year contender. I personally preferred the attention to detail of the Intercontinental match, but I also loved the epic main event.  Although there were many rematches on the card, each match took a creative spin on its history.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Final (June 3) Results & Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Final
June 3, 2017
Yoyogi 2nd Gymnasium – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Shota Umino, Tomoyuki Oka & Yuji Nagata Def. Tetsuhiro Yagi, Katsuya Kitamura & Manabu Nakanishi

Oka got the win over the newest rookie Tetsuhiro Yagi here in what was another impressive outing for all of the young lions. New Japan is just pumping these guys out like it’s nothing at this point. Usually they only have a few of them at a time but now it seems like a new guy is coming along every month, and they’re all good. We have so many good young lions now that you forget Henare, who was arguably better than all of them, is out with injury along with Kanemitsu.

Kitamura continues to stand out among the pack for obvious reasons and it seems New Japan knows what they have with him as they keep presenting him as a bigger deal than the rest, even Oka who was the guy they had their eyes on as someone who could be a future star. While maybe not the best matches on the shows, these matches are always incredibly fun and light-hearted. Watching these rookies progress is a blast. ***

Jado, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii Def. Hirai Kawato, Togi Makabe & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Another fun match with Kawato serving as that great underdog, selling for his opponents like he always does and has become so good at. He may only be in the early stages of his development and it may be too soon to map it out, but this Kawato could seriously be a star in a few years. He has potential to be the next Honma. It’s impossible to not get behind the guy when he’s selling for assholes like Jado and Yano, he has such incredible babyface charisma and likability.

Although it may just be because he’s super young, he also looks like a human being and not a superstar like everyone else, which is a big part of it. He deserves a spot in Best of the Super Juniors from here on out, at least until he goes on excursion. As expected, he took the fall and once again looked great in defeat. New Japan has something with him too. **3/4

Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV & Volador Jr. Def. TAKA Michinoku, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado

Vacation is over as we head back to work and continue on business as usual with Suzuki-gun with TAKA and Desperado, who had excellent tournaments, falling right back into place as irrelevant bodies in meaningless multi-mans. While the match was solid, I hate knowing that this is all there is for these guys until next year, because let’s face it, New Japan has no intent on pushing any of them beyond the junior tag titles. Volador and Desperado had some nice interactions here, Volador being the hardest working guy in the match despite wrestling a style more rough on the body than the others and presumably being more worn out as a result. He got the fall over TAKA. **1/2

Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa Def. Hanson, Raymond Rowe, ACH & David Finlay Jr.

Yujiro is a guy I always have mixed feelings on.

Sometimes I like him, sometimes I dislike him, rarely do I hate him and rarely do I love him. He simply exists in New Japan and does not stand out in any way at this stage even with the entrance. With that said, he was genuinely great in this match. He busted his ass, he looked like he cared and he looked better than he has in years. Funnily enough, he’s been scoring the falls in these matches too, which could explain it. David Finlay also looked like he had something to prove in this match as he did everything he could to impress since he was not given the opportunity to do so in Super Juniors. It looked like nothing on paper but this ended up being pretty damn fun for what it was with everyone being on top of their game and keeping things hot from bell to bell. ***1/4

YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto Def. Minoru Suzuki & Taichi

Your standard Suzuki-gun match. Crowd brawl at the beginning, Taichi garbage, Suzuki locking in sleepers. Same as always. Suzuki and Goto went at it for a little bit, YOSHI-HASHI got beat up some and then pinned Taichi with a Made in Japan. It was a match that happened. Hopefully Goto and Suzuki will deliver at Dominion. **1/4

Suzuki-gun getting a taste of Karma #NJPW #njbosj pic.twitter.com/vnLHQUKbqk

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) June 3, 2017

Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA Def. Satoshi Kojima, Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson, Ricochet & Dragon Lee

Kojima, with his tremendous fresh haircut, has been a great addition to these LIJ vs. Taguchi Japan matches, which raises the question of whether Kojima is now a member of Taguchi Japan or if Taguchi is now a member of Bread Club. Or perhaps we have a little cross-unit action going on between them. Taguchi can be the co-leader of Bread Club and Kojima can be co-leader of Taguchi Japan. Why not? Kojima has the freshest hair and the strongest arm, so who more cut out than him?

In all seriousness, this was one of the better LIJ multi-mans in recent memory, if not the best. Dragon Lee and Hiromu did their thing, Naito and Kojima did their thing, everyone did their thing and made it stand out among the million other LIJ matches this year. Poor Kojima ate a Destino and took the fall. ****1/4

Taguchi Japan #NJPW #njbosj pic.twitter.com/8lcRBgaOZ1

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) June 3, 2017

Tanahashi and Naito shared a bit of banter as Tanahashi announced that he will indeed wrestle at Dominion, so that’s good.

#NJPW pic.twitter.com/QQAVgzaJGk

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) June 3, 2017

Kenny Omega & Marty Scurll Def. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo

Matches like these are the reason I am perfectly okay with Marty Scurll being in the Bullet Club.

Okada and Gedo are one of the best tag teams in the world, Scurll and Omega are two guys I never thought I would see team up, so there was no way this was not going to be fun at the very least. It fell short of being anything memorable unfortunately but it was fun and it did accomplish what it needed to accomplish, which was continuing to get Scurll over and building towards Omega vs. Okada.

Scurll and Gedo have a great 15-minute singles match in them, though I doubt it would ever get booked since Gedo refuses to do mid-card singles matches for whatever reason. Anyhow, Scurll tapped him with a Chicken Wing. ***1/4

"CHICKENWING!" #NJPW #njbosj @MartyScurll pic.twitter.com/d0TpRRBSQg

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) June 3, 2017

Best of the Super Junior XXIV Final
KUSHIDA Def. Will Ospreay

KUSHIDA, a fallen ace, a fallen man, a man with more on the line than anyone could imagine, a man on the road to redemption to get back what was once his, what he once held so close as he had it stripped away. For so long he worked to earn his spot, to earn his rank, to become the ace of his division, and it was taken away from him like it was nothing, like all of his hard work was meaningless.

A man that was groomed for success comes home, challenges KUSHIDA for his spot, KUSHIDA thinking he could overcome this man, only to learn that all of his hard work and all of the skill that he had acquired was not enough to match what the man was capable of. Hiromu Takahashi takes his spot, takes away what KUSHIDA fought for years to achieve, and when KUSHIDA gets his opportunity at redemption, not only does he fail, but he completely bombs.

KUSHIDA lost his step, Hiromu had him beat, he was given another chance and he blew it. What now?

He enters the Best of the Super Juniors, the tournament he won just two years earlier. Win the tournament and you get a shot, it’s that simple. He realized this was his last chance, his only chance to redeem himself, and though he fell a few times, he managed to work his way through and win his block. But he has one last roadblock before he gets to Hiromu, the current Best of the Super Juniors champion, the man he beat twice before and is out for his own redemption in Will Ospreay.

Both of them had the other scouted, seemingly knowing everything that was going to happen before it did, and both of them being forced to work more aggressively as a result.

#NJPW #njbosj @WillOspreay @KUSHIDA_0904 pic.twitter.com/KG9YBEPytV

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) June 3, 2017

KUSHIDA tried his best to take out the arm and the leg of Ospreay like he did last year, and again Ospreay showed him that it meant nothing. In his mind, he needed the win just as much as KUSHIDA did. He needed to prove that he was not just any other foreigner and he needed to prove that he has what it takes to beat KUSHIDA. He waited a full year to get back in the ring with him, so no amount of damage done to his arm or his leg was going to keep him down for long. Ospreay did everything he could possibly do to KUSHIDA, not caring if he hurt himself in the process, and the same goes for KUSHIDA.

WTF?!?! #NJPW #njbosj @WillOspreay pic.twitter.com/gnGCMlvVj3

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) June 3, 2017

W-T-FFFFFFF!! #NJPW #njbosj @WillOspreay pic.twitter.com/b7XZdg13CT

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) June 3, 2017

When you have a man who is willing to go to hell and back in order to get his redemption, his health comes second. And when you have two men who are willing to go to hell and back to get redemption, this is what you get. KUSHIDA had to kill this man in order to beat him, and nearly killed himself in the process. Ospreay may be an awkward, scrawny foreigner, but he has more heart than anyone.

Between the callbacks to their previous matches, the heart, the guts, and the pride both of them showed, the molten hot crowd, the sense that this match meant more to them than anything else in the world, the incredible selling and the incredible emotion down the stretch, this was one of the best pro wrestling matches I have ever seen.

Essex Destroyer!! #NJPW #njbosj @WillOspreay pic.twitter.com/S09iBbbiBb

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) June 3, 2017

KUSHIDA gets his last chance at Dominion as he faces the biggest challenge of his career. Will he beat Hiromu? Will he bomb again? Stakes are high, everything is on the line, now or never for KUSHIDA. His redemption story may or may not come to a close, but as it stands, he is the Best of the Super Juniors. *****

BACK TO THE FUTURE! #NJPW #njbosj pic.twitter.com/78xb1vprPR

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) June 3, 2017

Final Thoughts:

With the main event being an all time great and some pretty good tag matches scattered across the card, this was a solid show all around.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Night 13 (June 1) Results & Review

Author : kellyharrass


Watch: NJPW World

Yoshinobu Kanemaru (8) def. El Desperado (6)

The last time we saw two Suzuki-gun members face off in this tournament, Taichi and TAKA tried their best to not touch outside of a kick in the dick. This time around, Despy immediately grabbed a chair so my hope was that he would brain Kanemaru with it and instantly win because I have no interest in watching a full Kanemaru match. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

With the cheating ways of the two participants and the interference of TAKA and Taichi, this match was so grimy that I could barely see the action. I feel like there were more bits of cheating than there were legal maneuvers in this one. The match was fine. Nothing offense, but a bit boring in spots. Desperado was clearly the star of the match taking two sick looking bumps on the outside and almost killing Kanemaru with his insane dive. Kanemaru won via countout when TAKA was shoved into Despy, keeping him from getting back into the ring in time. Ultimately the biggest disappointment of the match was the teased split from Suzuki-gun for Desperado not actually leading to anything. If Desperado showed anything in this tournament it was that he is certainly deserving of a singles run. **1/2

Ryusuke Taguchi (8) def. ACH (6)

I feel like Taguchi had to be bringing some jealousy into this match because of ACH’s far superior rump. When your thing is ass-based offense and you’re against ACH, you just look foolish. In the end though, it was ACH looking like the fool having been defeated by Taguchi.

This was a match that I really wanted to like, but it felt super disjointed. It seems as though these two weren’t sure if they wanted to do a comedy match or a serious match and kept changing their minds throughout. Whenever it really felt like things were kicking into gear, the action would drag to a halt when the focus was shifted back to the comedy aspects. I have no problem with comedy wrestling, but when it makes a match take such sharp detours, I can do without it. Also, clue the referee into the comedy spots because Red Shoes blatantly watched ACH sack tap Taguchi. **3/4

BUSHI (8) def. Tiger Mask IV (6)

This contest had what was quite possibly the oddest moment of the whole tournament when BUSHI choked Tiger Mask on the outside with his shirt. That’s not the weird part. The weird part is that while doing the choking, BUSHI was pressing Tiger into a fan that was wearing a BUSHI mask. Tiger Mask was being forced to almost lay on this fan, who was smiling like a maniac the entire time. So yeah, that was weird.

Odd smiling fan aside, this was a pretty good time. Tiger Mask was grumpy as hell and he brought it to BUSHI early on. You really got a sense that Tiger was working his ass off to win because this is as close to making it to the finals as he’ll probably ever get again. Once BUSHI took control, it was pretty easy to see who was going to win, but Tiger didn’t go down easily, even surviving a chair assisted Codebreaker. It was a good story with the veteran that refused to go down and the young wrestler that wasn’t afraid to cut corners to put him down. While I wouldn’t call this a must watch by any means, it was a solid end to Tiger Mask’s strong showing in this tournament. ***1/4

KUSHIDA (8) def. Volador, Jr. (6)

Something that’s great about KUSHIDA is that no matter who he’s up against, he sticks to his plan. There may have been a bit where KUSHIDA was drawn into a lucha style flipz battle, but he stayed the course and kept going after Volador’s arm. One thing that bothers me in wrestling is when a wrestler changes their plan in a match for no reason. This was one of my major complaints about the KUSHIDA/Taguchi match from earlier this week. Taguchi shifted his focus from KUSHIDA’s ankle to his arm for no other reason than to take KUSHIDA’s move. Tropes in wrestling are fine, but when they supercede logic, I don’t see the point of them. KUSHIDA is a guy that never lets the tropes take over his actions, even when they do his opponent. There’s a logic to damn near everything he does in the ring and I don’t think the quality of his work is appreciated as much as it really should be. KUSHIDA is a tremendous pro wrestler that we, myself included, sometimes take for granted.

That was a long way of saying that I liked this match. KUSHIDA played to Volador’s strengths as an awesome high flyer and still made the match his own. Even though he’s stepped to the side for Hiromu to take a top spot, KUSHIDA is still the junior division ace and he showed it here by dispatching Volador with relative ease. The Back to the Future scored KUSHIDA a rather sudden win and sent him to the finals where he’ll face last year’s tournament winner, Will Ospreay. ***¾

Final Thoughts

These matches felt like they were performed by wrestlers that have been on tour for quite a long time. Ultimately, nothing was actively bad, but nothing was must see either as it showed that these guys are tired. Purely skippable as a whole, but if you’re looking for something to watch, KUSHIDA/Volador won’t be a bad way to spend some time.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Night 12 (May 31) Results & Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Night 12
May 31, 2017
Osaka EDION Arena #2 – Osaka, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV A Block
Jushin Thunder Liger (2) Def. Taichi (8)

As you would expect with this being Liger’s last BOSJ match ever, there was a lot of emotion here between the constant Suzuki-gun interference, Taichi being an absolute animal and ripping Liger’s gear, and then KUSHIDA and Taguchi saving Liger at the end. Taichi was genuinely good in this match and for once his bullshit actually meant something. He was due for one or two decent matches, and this was one of them. Ripped mask, ripped gear and all, Liger defeated Taichi and said his goodbyes to the crowd, ending his run in this tournament on somewhat of a high note. ***1/4

I went into detail about Jushin Thunder Liger’s last BOSJ in a column for the website, you can read it here:

A Beast Among Boys, A God Among Men: Jushin Thunder Liger’s Last Best of the Super Juniors

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV A Block
TAKA Michinoku (4) Def. Dragon Lee (8)

Lee needed to beat TAKA, needed Taichi to lose to Liger and needed Ospreay to lose to Hiromu in order to advance. A Lee win would have eliminated Ricochet, Scurll and Hiromu whether or not he beat Ospreay. Ospreay was the only one with a win over Lee.

TAKA has sort of slid into the Gedo role both in the booking sense and in how his matches are structured. He’s a sneaky little prick who may not have won all of his matches but managed to spoil someone at the end using some sneaky little prick tactic, and though I do greatly miss Gedo, TAKA did step his game up and did deliver. He was motivated, he tried hard, and there was no Suzuki-gun bullshit, which was an absolute blessing. Short, yet super hot match here as they fought with incredible urgency, with Lee perhaps thinking he would have a better chance winning if he out-quicked TAKA and with TAKA wanting to redeem his multiple losses since this was his last chance, even if he was long eliminated. He did just that as he won with a roll-up in about nine minutes. ***1/4

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV A Block
Marty Scurll (8) Def. Ricochet (8)

Scurll, with a loss to Hiromu and not having enough points to edge out Ospreay despite holding a win over him, was already elminated coming into this. Ricochet on the other hand would have advanced had he beat Scurll and had Hiromu beat Ospreay.

Scurll, if nothing else, got himself over with the Japanese fans on this tour. His act, his spots, everything he does is over and because of that I think New Japan would be silly to not lock him up full-time. Not every foreigner gets over as quickly as he has (see Adam Cole and Jay Lethal for example). When it comes to his actual matches, while all of them were enjoyable on some level, I felt he had a lot more in him. His match with Ospreay, though very good, was more a best-of than it was anything else. It was Scurll showing Korakuen what he’s all about, where as with this match I got the sense that they were going all out. Although I feel like I’ve seen these two wrestle a million times, they do have great chemistry and their matches always do deliver, this one probably being my favorite. It was an absolute sprint and both of them busted their ass. One of the better matches of the tournament for sure. ****1/4

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV A Block
Will Ospreay (10) Def. Hiromu Takahashi (8)

Ospreay had a relatively clear path coming into this show. All he needed was to beat Hiromu and for Liger to eliminate Taichi, while Hiromu needed to beat Ospreay, for Scurll to beat Ricochet and for TAKA to beat Dragon Lee. Everything worked out perfectly for the both of them and all they needed was to beat one another. Hiromu has been one of the most dominant junior heavyweight champions of the past several years and Ospreay is the defending Best of the Super Juniors champion, so needless to the say, the stakes here were incredibly high.

For as much praise as he gets, there is one aspect of Ospreay’s game he never gets enough credit for, and that’s his selling. Too many people dismiss the idea that guys like Ospreay can be great at selling because of the way they wrestle, assuming that you’re not selling properly if you’re doing spots like Ospreay does. To those people, I say watch this match. Ospreay’s ability to do all of his key spots while getting over the fact that his leg is damaged is masterful, and this was his best performance of the year next to his performance in the Ricochet match. Hiromu worked over that leg in attempt to ground Ospreay, to take away his OsCutter that’s gotten him through the tournament, to take away his kicks, to, really, take away his entire arsenal, and like he always does, Ospreay managed to get through it and managed to do everything he had to do on his one good leg even when it seemed Hiromu had gotten the better of him.

Considering New Japan is coming to America in a month, having Ospreay win his block and potentially win the tournament for the second year in a row is not a bad move. Having familiar faces at the forefront of this expansion is important, and Ospreay is arguably the biggest name on the scene right now outside of Japan and WWE. Does he need to win the title? No. But all the eyes are on Dominion because of Okada and Omega, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that Omega is winning, so having Ospreay challenge Hiromu on the same show is certainly a plus.

Fantastic match with both guys being at the very top of their game, and the crazy part is I feel like they have a much better one in them. ****1/2

Final Thoughts:

With the top two matches being what I would consider great and the two other matches being very good, this was a very easy show to watch.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Night 11 (May 29) Results & Review

Author : kellyharrass


Watch: NJPW World

Best of the Super Juniors 2017 – B Block
Tiger Mask IV (6) def. El Desperado (6)

While I must admit that I’m bit behind on watching the past couple of BOSJ shows, these are two wrestlers that have really over delivered in this tournament. That trend continued here with Despy really taking it to the veteran. El Desperado might have one of the best looks in wrestling right now, making him come off like an absolute maniac at all times. Despy got the jump on Tiger Mask and focused on attacking his leg. Tiger would get brief bits of offense in, but Desperado controlled most of the match. What offense Tiger Mask did get in was stiff; exactly what we want out of the grumpy kitty. Tiger reached max grump levels in the post-match where he teased ripping open Despy’s mask in retaliation for being given the same treatment. Eventually things started to go Tiger Mask’s way and he picked up the win with the Tiger Suplex. The win isn’t without controversy though as Desperado’s legs were clearly in the ropes when the referee counted the pin. This was a super enjoyable match that was somewhat marred by a botched finish. ***1/4

Best of the Super Juniors 2017 – B Block
BUSHI (6) def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (6)

Kanemaru looked like he was actually trying so this was a solid match. He and TAKA jumped BUSHI before he even got into the ring, establishing early on that BUSHI was the face in this match. They fought up through the crowd and we got to see a cool dive from BUSHI off the top of the stairwell. The match was pretty much like every other Kanemaru match from there on with him cheating at every opportunity he got. The crowd was super behind BUSHI, showing that he is absolutely a viable top junior babyface if New Japan wants to go that direction in the future. If you showed this match to someone without prior knowledge of who these wrestler are, they would probably guess that BUSHI was a top face. He thwarted the cheating ways of his opponent not by cheating himself, but just by being the better wrestler. There was no mist or LIJ help, BUSHI won with skill. ***

Best of the Super Juniors 2017 – B Block
Volador, Jr. (6) def. ACH (6)

Oh man, this was a ton of fun! If you like matches where guys are flipping and bouncing all over the place, this is a match for you.

Shockingly, Volador got the advantage early on by hitting ACH with a cheap shot during a handshake. ACH managed to turn things around and hit a series of several dives on Volador. One huge reason that I loved this sequence was that with every dive, Volador was knocked farther back by the impact. This showed that the blows weren’t taking a toll on ACH, he was gaining steam. That’s one thing I really appreciate about ACH. It’s clear that wrestling isn’t the only influence on his style. He takes things from anime and manga, bringing them into how he wrestles. He fires up for moves in a totally unique way and is impossible to take your eyes off of for that very reason.

ACH has had a tremendous tournament thus far and this was probably my favorite match from Volador yet. These two were a perfect match up. Make time in your day to watch this one! ****1/4

Best of the Super Juniors 2017 – B Block
KUSHIDA (6) def. Ryusuke Taguchi (6)

I have to admit, following the last action packed match, I was a bit bored by the grappling that opened up this one. They managed to get me back with the awesome spot on the outside where Taguchi went for a flying hip attack, only to find himself in a flying cross armbreaker. Things quickly went back to the submission holds though. The first half of the match was heavily based around limb work and acted as a slow preamble for the great second half that followed.

Things really kicked into gear when the pleasant trading of submissions was replaced by nasty strikes and heated exchanges. The fast pace and viciousness of the second half were truly exciting. The only complaint I have about this chunk of the match is that the psychology of Taguchi’s attacks didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. He abandoned his attacks on KUSHIDA’s leg to go after his arm, only to return to his leg by the end of the match. Setting that aside, once things got going, this was a great main event. Taguchi’s uneven attacks may have been by design though, giving KUSHIDA an opening to pull out the win with Back to the Future.

Reviewing a match like this is kind of hard because while I really enjoyed part of it, the first half of the match was very lukewarm. I can forgive a slow beginning to a match, but when that slow period lasts for as long as this one did, it harms the overall package. While KUSHIDA and Taguchi wrestled a strong match, I was ultimately left a bit disappointed. ***¾

Final Thoughts

With no tournament matches being less than three stars, you are going to have a good time with today’s show. While I would say that there was only one truly great match, ACH/Volador, there was a lot of good to enjoy. I had my problems with the main event, but it was a very good match was was knocking on the door to greatness. Overall, the four matches are worth your time, but if you only have time for one, watch the semi-main.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Night 8 (May 26) Results & Review

Author : inyourcase

MAY 26, 2017

Watch: NJPW World


At least it was short. I’m so over Taichi and his schtick. I know it’s going to happen everytime I see him wrestle, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like it. He had the whole gang of hooligans out there for this one. Both Kanemura and El Desperado aided him in his eventual victory, which was a measly rollup. Skip it. *1/4


I always enjoy when these two square off. Last year, oddly enough, they also faced each other on Night 8 of the tournament, although they were both representing the B Block. This year, in the A Block, Liger continues to go winless as Ricochet moves closer to the top of the leaderboard.

They kept things very simple here. The match progressed nicely. Ricochet took a great bump on Liger’s Shotei palm strike, but countered the brainbuster to keep his hopes alive. Liger kicked out of the Benadryller, but a series of Mochizuki-like kicks and the King’s Landing was too much for the veteran. Very easy to watch. ***1/4


TAKA is a national treasure. I love that he’s still doing his thing and out-heeling every heel that there is. He fooled Hiromu with his signature fake knee injury spot early on, and that gave him the upper hand throughout most of the match. Once Hiromu began his comeback, it seemed like TAKA was desperate to cling onto the control he once had. He saw the younger, faster star taking it to him, and there was nothing he could do about it. After 9 minutes of action, TAKA ate a Time Bomb. Another well-deserved victory for Hiromu Takahashi. ***


This is exactly what I was hoping it’d be. By no means was there any elaborate limb work, but there was plenty of excitement. This was a house show with less than 1,000 people in attendance, and yet these two worked their asses off. I have no idea why Dragon Lee his signature Hurricanrana over the top rope and to the floor on this show, but I’m thankful he did it. He and Ospreay worked a great back-and-forth, 50/50 style match up until the end when Ospreay put him away with the OsCutter. Great way to close things out. ***3/4

Final Thoughts:

Thumbs up for Night 8 in Nagano. If you skip the Taichi garbage that started the show, this was a very easy to watch and rather entertaining BOSJ house show. At the very least, check out Liger vs. Ricochet and the main event. Those are worth anyone’s time.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Night 9 (May 27) Results & Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Night 9
May 27, 2017
Tsukuba Capio Arena – Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV B Block
ACH (6) Def. El Desperado (6)

While he has not peaked as highly as a guy like Ricochet or a guy like Ospreay, night in and night out, El Desperado has been the highlight of this tournament. You knew what you were getting into with Ricochet and Ospreay, you knew what you were getting into with Liger with this being his last tournament, and those guys have been excellent, but with Desperado you were unsure what exactly you were getting, and as a result he has been the most fun to watch. ACH worked this match like he had Desperado scouted and already knew how to play his game, leaving Desperado scrambled and unsure what to do. He hit him with a set of low-blows early on and then spent the match avoiding his shenanigans, eventually winning with a Midnight Driver. Another enjoyable bout to add to both of their resumes. With this victory, ACH joins Desperado, Kanemaru and (spoiler) Taguchi at the top of the block. ***1/4

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV B Block
BUSHI (4) Def. Volador Jr. (4)

You would expect these guys to take it easy and maybe not go all out considering it’s a house show, but that was not the case here. Both men busted their ass and did what they could to have a great match. BUSHI has had an excellent tournament between his matches with ACH, Desperado, KUSHIDA and now Volador, who’s also had a decent tournament, though maybe not great. BUSHI won in about 10 minutes with an MX as he scores his second victory. Despite a strange lack of selling by Volador, which does not bother me but I could see bothering others, this was good performance by the two. ***1/2

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV B Block
Ryusuke Taguchi (6) Def. Tiger Mask IV (4)

Again, while maybe not great, both Taguchi and Tiger Mask have had decent tournaments. Taguchi has been a bit more comedic than anything up to this point but has still been fun to watch on some level, his match with Desperado being one of my favorites so far. He has KUSHIDA in the main event of Korakuen on the 29th, so expect that to deliver. As for this match, it was a bit goofy at times but both worked hard enough and it was about what you would expect out of Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Tiger Mask IV. It was solid. ***

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV B Block
KUSHIDA (4) Def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (6)

Matches like these remind me that I was right in thinking Kanemaru can still go when put in the right position. As someone who thought he would have a lot of good matches and would step his game up in this tournament, I would be lying to you if I told you he has met those expectations, because outside of this and the ACH match, he has not been very good and has easily been the worst guy in his block. However, when he wants to try, like he did here, he can be very good. KUSHIDA was also tremendous and put on not only one of his best babyface performances of the year, but one of the best babyface performances of the year in all of pro wrestling. He was so good defending himself against Kanemaru and against Suzuki-gun to the point where all the bullshit and all the interference was actually enjoyable and actually made sense for once. He fought like hell to overcome it, knowing that he would be out of contention had he lost the match. As always, Gedo tricked us into thinking that a guy who had potential to win the block was not going to be in the mix by having them lose all of their matches early on, and in KUSHIDA’s case, he’s been on a losing streak as it is so a loss here would have made sense to the overall story. His comeback has begun and there’s a good chance he does end up winning the block now. Watch this match. ****

Final Thoughts:

Nothing blow-away outside of the main event but this was another set of nice, short, easily consumable block matches. All nine shows have had at least one ****+ match in my book and we still have a decent amount of big matches to come, so it’s safe to say this year’s Best of the Super Juniors is a success.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Night 7 (May 25) Results & Review

Author : thelionelwilliams

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 2017 – Night 7
May 25, 2017
Komatsu City Suehiro Gymnasium (Yoshitsune Arena) – Ishikawa

Watch: NJPW World

Best of the Super Juniors – B Block
Yoshinobu Kanemaru (6) def. Tiger Mask IV (4)

This one started out sleepy, but it was getting better toward the end. Taka was on the outside, and his interference actually helped to wake the crowd up. Tiger was fighting them off, and he got a Tiger Bomb for 2. This match was looking to turn out well. Then Taichi showed up to RUIN EVERYTHING. Taichi hits Tiger with Kanemaru’s Jack Daniels bottle, and Kanemaru hits Deep Impact for the win. I don’t need Taichi showing up unadvertised. I don’t need Taichi at all. **1/2

Best of the Super Juniors – B Block
Volador Jr. (4) def. El Desperado (6)

I really liked this match. Volador knows Desperado is going to cheat, and he kept finding ways to outsmart him down the stretch. There was a great callback to Desperado’s match against BUSHI. The ref stopped Volador from diving because this time he saw Desperado was going to hit him with a chair. Desperado tried throwing the ref in the way, but Volador didn’t bump him. Desperado bumped the ref and grabbed a chair, but Volador superkicked the chair in Despy’s face. Volador hit a reverse rana and won. These guys surpassed my expectations with a fun little match here. ***1/2

Best of the Super Juniors – B Block
BUSHI (2) def. Ryusuke Taguchi (4)

Not too much to say about this one. BUSHI worked over Taguchi’s butt. There was a cool part where Taguchi went for the Dodon and BUSHI went to roll through, but Taguchi stuffed it into a pin that went into an ankle lock. It was a fine, if not noteworthy match. BUSHI hit the MX and got the win. ***

Best of the Super Juniors – B Block
ACH (4) def. KUSHIDA (2)

You can tell that this is my first full Best of the Super Juniors because I seriously thought there was a chance that KUSHIDA would go winless. But I was right in saying that he’s in a slump right now. He’s at the back of the pack, trailed only by BUSHI, and while he’s not mathematically eliminated, his chances look slim.

As for the match, I don’t think they went all out for this one, nor should they have. I know KUSHIDA and ACH can have a hotter match than this one, but this was not the time and place for it. I still like what they did, but don’t watch this one expecting too much. ***

Final Thoughts:

Nothing was must-see, but these were still a pretty good set of matches here. If you’ve got some free time, I’d definitely check these out.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Night 4 (May 21) Results & Review

Author : inyourcase

MAY 21, 2017

Watch: NJPW World


What I loved about this is that TAKA made Ospreay earn this victory. This wasn’t as exciting as Ospreay’s two Korakuen bouts vs. Marty Scurll and the MOTYC with Ricochet, but it was a performance that made Ospreay stick out and look like a legitimate contender in this field. I particularly loved when TAKA dragged Ospreay to the outside and beat him, forcing Ospreay to dive back in the ring at 19 to break the 20 count, only for him to immediately be put in TAKA’s crossface. That’s great stuff. Ospreay won, however, and rightfully so. A two-peat is becoming a reality, folks. I can live with that. ***1/4


Marty Scurll continues to be a lot of fun in BOSJ. He seemed to have the time of his life here vs. Liger, and although I typically prefer my New Japan to be serious, hard-hitting, and exciting, I was more than entertained by Scurll hamming it up with Liger and this house show crowd.

Liger is clearly slowing down, which is heartbreaking. He was fine here, because after all, he’s still Jushin Thunder Liger, but it looks like he’s slowed down drastically. Scurll submitted him with his signature Chicken Wing. ***


Hated everything about this. Taichi’s ridiculous act was in full force, which means that not only was he his terrible self, but he brought Dragon Lee down to his level. I get that it’s a meme to hate Taichi, but that hatred is warranted. He stinks. And he won. **1/4


This was an exciting main event, albeit a step down from their MOTYC at Wrestling Toyonokuni. I really don’t see any positives in Ricochet getting his win back here, however. Hiromu will end up winning his block, but I wanted to see him steamroll everyone with the exception of Will Ospreay, who I’m hoping gets the title shot at Dominion. Takahashi is the biggest thing the juniors have seen perhaps since Liger broke onto the scene; don’t have Hiromu lose on a house show. To me, that’s just silly.

The bright side, like I mentioned, was that this match was very good. Hiromu found a way to mix in breathtaking bumps, as he seemed to insist on landing on his neck on German suplexes. It’s not my body, and I’m forever grateful of that. This affair ended with Ricochet nailing the King’s Landing for the win. Thumbs up. ***3/4

Final Thoughts:

Overall, a fine performance. Three of the four matches were, at the very least, fun. Avoid Taichi like the plague, but watch the other three matches if you’re looking for fun, easy-to-watch wrestling. Ricochet vs. Hiromu is as good of a match as you’ll find on these single-cam shows, TAKA vs. Ospreay was a fun contrast in styles, and watching Marty Scurll have the time of his life vs. Jushin Thunder Liger grants this show a thumbs in the middle, leaning up.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Night 5 (May 22 ) Results & Review

Author : kellyharrass

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.

…………..uhhhhh #NJPW #njbosj pic.twitter.com/cd0iSe3IiU

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) May 22, 2017

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.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Night 3 (May 20) Results & Review

Author : thelionelwilliams

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Night 3
May 20, 2017
Matsuzaka Ciity Sangin Arena

Watch: NJPW World

Best of the Super Juniors – B Block
Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2) def. ACH (2)

I can never get used to these single camera shows. I’m a millennial, I need my angles damn it. This was uninspired, to say the least. Kanemaru had a heat segment that was so mailed in, they did three countout spots within 5 minutes. The crowd seemed to like ACH, but his comeback was far too short to get the crowd into it. A low-blow and a reverse DDT from Kanemaru gets 2, but a DDT off the top rope gets three. Nothing you will remember tomorrow. **1/4

Best of the Super Juniors – B Block
Tiger Mask IV (2) def. KUSHIDA (0)

This was a pretty standard match at the start. KUSHIDA was taking care of business, like an ace does. He worked over the arm well. Then he put on the Surfboard Lock, and that should have been that. KUSHIDA gets his points, and we all move on. But it wasn’t. Tiger fought out of the Surfboard Lock, so KUSHIDA put on an armbar. That should finish off Tiger Mask, right? It doesn’t, Tiger gets to the ropes. KUSHIDA gets frustrated, slapping the mat in anger. Suddenly, Tiger starts reversing everything KUSHIDA goes for. A moonsault meets Tiger’s knees. Tiger dropkicks KUSHIDA in the middle of a handspring. A Tiger Driver gets 2. Then, Tiger hits his Tiger Suplex and wins. Tiger Mask beats KUSHIDA.

Guys, KUSHIDA might be broken. It’s one thing to lose to El Desperado. But emphatically losing to Tiger Mask? The Junior Ace should mow through Tiger Mask. There lies the problem, though. KUSHIDA isn’t the Ace anymore. Not after Wrestle Kingdom, and certainly not after losing a Jr. Title match in 2 minutes. It’s like Hiromu had the key to figuring out how to beat KUSHIDA, and the lightbulb went off in everyone else’s heads.

Now, I know it’s only been two matches. KUSHIDA can sweep the block from here on out and win the tournament, and make me look like a fool. That would not surprise me in the least. I don’t think he will, though. I want KUSHIDA to lose every match in this tournament. I want that two-minute loss to have destroyed the guy that we knew, and I want to see how he rebuilds himself to get back to the top of the division and finally beat Hiromu. That is something I can see myself really getting invested in. As for the match, it was good. But the story around it may be much, much bigger. ***1/4

Best of the Super Juniors – B Block
El Desperado (4) def. BUSHI (0)

I need BUSHI’s music on my workout playlist immediately. What a jam.

While this match didn’t reach the level I believed these two could get to, it was still a pretty good match. It helped that there was no interference which, in a match between Suzuki-Gun and LIJ, is an absolute miracle. Early on, Desperado goes for BUSHI’s mask, which I love. The idea of a luchador trying to take off another’s mask for no other reason than to be a jerk works for me. BUSHI was crisp in this match, but I wanted more energy from Desperado. On a big tour like this though, I shouldn’t blame guys like Desperado and Kanemaru for taking it easy a few times to make it to the end relatively unscathed. BUSHI goes for the MX, but Desperado shoves the ref in the way and takes BUSHI’s mask off. A quick roll-up gets Desperado the win.  ***

Best of the Super Juniors – B Block
Ryusuke Taguchi (4) def. Volodor Jr. (2)

This was mostly Taguchi comedy. They throw a few dives in to spice it up, but there wasn’t much to this. Volador does a hurricanrana off the top, but he doesn’t even try to wrap his legs around Taguchi’s head. Taguchi goes for his big moves (Ankle Lock, Dodon), but Volador found a way to avoid them. Volador goes for a moonsault, but Taguchi gets his feet up. Taguchi hits the Boma Ye with his butt and the Dodon for the win. I wanted serious Taguchi so we could get a better match, but even then, it seemed like these guys were on different pages tonight. **3/4

Final Thoughts:

If you want to watch something from this show, I would recommend KUSHIDA/Tiger Mask. Ultimately, this was a completely skippable set of matches.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Night 2 (May 18) Results and Review

Author : kellyharrass

MAY 18, 2017

Watch: NJPW World

Note: For many of the Best of the Super Juniors shows moving forward our reviewers will only be looking at tournament matches, not the show’s undercard. For full results, we suggest visiting our forums or checking out puroresuspirit.com

Best of the Super Juniors – A Block
Taichi (2) def. TAKA Michinoku

Where yesterday we got K-Dojo TAKA for his match with Liger, today we got Suzuki-gun TAKA in his grimey battle with Taichi. I’ll probably get roasted for this, but I enjoyed this match for what it was. Don’t get me wrong, it was stupid, but it was a fun kind of stupid. I’m probably the only person on the VOW staff that likes Taichi, so your mileage on this match will vary.

These two men know each other very well so that meant that the feeling out process went on for a long time. So long, in fact, that I was convinced these two were going to go for a time limit draw. It took quite a long time for the match to start and then it took even longer for any offense to land. The first contact made in the match was between a ring rope kicked by TAKA and Taichi’s balls. Taichi returned the favor a short time later. The two men hadn’t actually touched and Taichi already ripped off his pants, a spot that I pop for every single time. Taichi eventually picked up the win after kicking TAKA in the balls and rolling him up, which was the only bit of contact made between the two men for the entire match. It was super dumb, but it was creative and I had fun watching it. **1/4

Best of the Super Juniors – A Block
Dragon Lee (4) def. Marty Scurll (2)

This was a match that I was really looking forward to, but didn’t deliver like I was hoping that it would. I honestly can’t say that I blame either man for taking it a bit easier today though. Lee and Marty were both in great, more demanding matches yesterday, especially in the case of Dragon Lee. And like it or not, even if these two had a killer match, it was going to be overshadowed by the main event. Instead of going all out, Lee and Scurll had a bit of fun. They spent much of the match playing to the crowd, who were way behind both guys. Honestly, Marty has gotten a better reaction in New Japan than I expected he would have and I’m super happy for him. The match was worked around Marty’s villainous style, but the strong babyface Lee overcame and scored the win. One moment that I really enjoyed was Marty stealing Adam Cole’s Last Shot after replacing him in the Bullet Club. That seems like something Kenny Omega would do, almost as if he gave Marty the move instead of taking it himself. Overall that was an enjoyable and easy to digest match, but was not the level of quality that it could have been. ***1/4

Best of the Super Juniors – A Block
Hiromu Takahashi (2) def. Jushin Liger (0)

Before I get into the meat of the match, I need to say how much I love Hiromu’s scrapbook. The only thing I love more is a fired up Liger. Where the previous match sort of took things easy, these two brought us a hard hitting, violent clash. This was one of the great reminders that Jushin Thunder Liger is a living legend that can still put on a damn good match. While it wasn’t very long, this was exactly the sprint that it needed to be. Liger took it to Hiromu early on and beat the hell out of the kid. I knew that Hiromu wasn’t losing this match, but there were several times that I bought the near fall. Liger was incredible here as the pioneer of the style trying to make the most of his final tournament going up against the brash young star of today. I certainly hope that this isn’t the last time we see these two meet in a singles match. I understand why Liger wants this to be his last tournament, but when you see him put on a performance like this, it makes you want to see him back next year. ****

Best of the Super Juniors – A Block
Will Ospreay (2) def. Ricochet (2)

These two had a lot to live up to. Their previous match in last year’s tournament might be the most famous, or even infamous, match that the BOSJs has ever seen. Whether you follow New Japan or not, you heard about and probably even saw their match.

A year later, it’s still talked about as both special and as something killing the business. No matter what side of the debate you fall on, you know that this rematch is important, so much so that New Japan has kept these two men apart since their last meeting.

This wasn’t the same match they had last year, it couldn’t have been. Ricochet had failed a year ago by trying to out-fly Ospreay so this time around he used his superior strength and skill to try to pick up the win. Instead of the insanity we got last year, this match started slowly. The grappling was fast paced, but it wasn’t the action packed stunt show we got last time. There was a wonderful escalation to the action. What started fairly calmly ended with the proper insanity we wanted. It’s hard to make a claim this like, but I feel like Ricochet was the star of the match. The pace of the match was completely controlled by him and while he tried his best to avoid going into overdrive, it didn’t last. Interestingly enough, the point where the match changed was just after Ricochet had attempted to win with Ospreay’s own Oscutter.

For the second year in a row, Ricochet’s downfall was wrestling Ospreay’s match. When things went nuts, boy, did they ever go nuts, peaking with Ospreay expertly executing a Dragonrana. I was convinced that this was going to go the full thirty minutes and was completely shocked when Ospreay got the three count. These men did something different when they could easily have repeated their past glories and I applaud them for it. I’m sure people will argue that this had no psychology and they’ll once again be wrong. This was an fantastic match that absolutely belongs in the match of the year discussion. ****¾

Final Thoughts:

We got a strong second night of tournament action. The semi-main and main delivered what was promised and the other two matches weren’t half bad either. TAKA and Taichi put on a brand of stupid I appreciate. Marty and Lee were right to hold back today because after seeing Ospreay/Ricochet, nobody was going to be talking about their match. The semi-main between Hiromu and Liger is well worth checking out and, of course, the main event is a must see.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Night 1 (May 17) Results & Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Night 1
May 17, 2017
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV A Block
TAKA Michinoku (2) Def. Jushin Thunder Liger (0)

Liger worked this match like a grumpy old prick, a side of him we only see on occasion. It being his last Best of the Super Juniors, he did everything he could to make an example out of TAKA and show that he’s going to be on the top of his game. It seemed like he was one step ahead of him with everything he did, working as aggressively as ever. Busting out sentons to the outside of the ring, hitting him with a chair, he did everything he could, and TAKA of course being the little sneaky bastard that he is, still managed to get the roll-up win over Liger. What’s interesting is that TAKA wore his K-DOJO gear instead of his usual Suzuki-gun gear, which means business in this tournament and won’t be using Suzuki-gun to assist him, a bad move on his part but great for us viewers. We have Taichi for that Suzuki-gun garbage. If you enjoy the classic New Japan junior style, this is right up your alley. It was both guys at their best doing whatever they could to have the best match possible even in their older age. It was hot, it was fast-paced, there was a great sense of urgency, and you couldn’t have asked for a better way to open the tournament. ****

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV B Block
Volador Jr. (2) Def. Tiger Mask IV (0)

Like Liger in the opener, Tiger Mask showed a ton of aggression towards Volador in this match in attempt to make an example out of him. He’s aware that his days are coming to an end here soon and he wanted to prove that he can hang in there with a guy like Volador despite being several years older. Again, like Liger, you got the sense that Tiger Mask was working with urgency, almost like he wanted to get through Volador as fast as possible, even if it never seemed as though he was on the level Volador was on and clearly wasn’t winning. Volador did a marvelous job working with him and looked like a million bucks as always does. He could easily end up being the star of his block night in and night out, which is saying a lot considering he’s in the same block as KUSHIDA, he’s that good. He’s one of the best in the world in big matches. He got the win with an arm drag from the top rope in what was another super fun, hot, fast-paced match. ***3/4

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV A Block
Ricochet (2) Def. Taichi (0)

Once you get past the usual Taichi bullshit in the beginning, you had yourself another really good match here. Ricochet worked circles around Taichi as you would expect and also came across as a much bigger star than he did, with part of that being due to the crowd. Korakuen Hall loves them some Ricochet. Taichi was more tolerable than he usually is during the meat the match, essentially serving as a base for Ricochet’s moves and not much else, thankfully. Unfortunately he’s not going to lose every match the way he did here and will likely beat a few of the bigger names since New Japan insists on him not being a prelim jobber like he should be. Ricochet did a good job with him in this one though, so you take what you can get. ***1/4

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV B Block
ACH (2) Def. BUSHI (0)

I get the vibe from ACH that no one wants to be in Japan more than he does. Every time he’s in Japan he looks like the happiest man alive and works harder than anyone, and his matches always deliver because of that. He’s driven to have a great match and he’s driven to get over with the fans. He belongs in this country and he belongs in this country as a pro wrestler. He and BUSHI had some pretty good chemistry, BUSHI being another guy who’s always motivated when put in a big spot, and I’d like to see what ACH can do with the rest of the guys in his block. Does he have a chance of winning? No. I hesitate to say he’ll even be in contention, but he does have a chance of having some of the best matches in the tournament, without question. Not a bad start for him with this one. He won with a brainbuster in a frenetic, intense match that could have been something truly special if given a few more minutes. ***3/4

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV B Block
El Desperado (2) Def. KUSHIDA (0)

Although there are quite a few guys who will have better matches than him, Desperado is the guy I’m most looking forward to following as the tournament progresses. He’s an absolute lunatic in every sense of the word and as much as I hate Suzuki-gun, part of me (a small part but…a part) is thankful they’re back solely so I can watch Desperado in singles matches. He’s motivated, he’s going to work hard and he’s going to have some sneaky good matches like this one that not everyone is going to pay attention to because he’s Desperado and he’s the Suzuki-gun jobber. Desperado controlled the early portion of the match, attacking KUSHIDA at the bell, hitting a dive on the outside, throwing him into a set of chairs and reversing whatever KUSHIDA threw at him. KUSHIDA eventually took control and was on his way to victory before he accidentally tapped the referee on the back with his feet and we got to see one of the worst ref bumps in wrestling history. Once the ref got back up Desperado had already done the damage with KUSHIDA’s newly won ROH TV title and then beat him with a Guitarra de Angel.

Sometimes Gedo has some of the people who have potential to win the block lose early on in the tournament, so I wouldn’t expect KUSHIDA to lose too many more matches, nor would I expect Desperado to win too many more matches. He’s very clearly the pin-eater of the block so is only going to get one or two more wins at best. One of the better KUSHIDA performances of the year accompanied by a great performance by Desperado. ****

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV A Block
Marty Scurll (2) Def. Will Ospreay (0)

While it doesn’t have that great emotion or that great storytelling behind it in the way other memorable feuds from this era had like John Cena vs. CM Punk or Kevin Steen vs. El Generico for example, as a strictly in-ring, bell-to-bell wrestling rivalry, not many come close to Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll in terms of quality within these past several years. All of the matches these two have had together have been nothing short of fantastic, their chemistry is unmatched by just about any other two wrestlers, and this was yet another great addition to their rivalry. Marty Scurll was one of the most over guys on the entire show before he even came to the ring. It shows that Japanese fans do their homework on these foreigners, because there was no question they were schooled on the guy.

Like Taichi in the Ricochet match, Marty served more as a base to Ospreay’s moves and didn’t do a lot outside of his three or four spots that he does in all of his matches (apron superkick, JUST KIDDING, etc.), yet he still felt like he was just as important. He does such an excellent job making Ospreay look good and in return Ospreay sells like a maniac when Scurll does his spots, making Scurll look great as well.

Scurll is already a massive improvement over Adam Cole both in terms of quality and in terms of crowd reaction. He has more of a star presence and a personality that’s easier to latch onto, where as Cole was merely a dude who’d come in every once in awhile, get okay reactions and have okay matches at best. I’d be shocked if New Japan didn’t lock Scurll up to a deal here soon given the fact that he’s a global wrestling superstar and they’re trying to expand globally. Far from their best match together but that’s not saying much. Utterly tremendous work out of both men here. ****1/4

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV B Block
Ryusuke Taguchi (2) Def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0)

Kanemaru is going to surprise a lot of people who have been down on his recent body of work this year. No, Kanemaru is not the wrestler he was 12 years ago and yes, Kanemaru is a bit lazy at times, but Kanemaru can still go in singles matches when he cares, which I don’t know why he wouldn’t in Best of the Super Juniors. With that being said, this match unfortunately wasn’t anything to write home about as it never really got going and felt like it went on forever. Even though Taguchi does step up and deliver in BOSJ every year, he does tend to have at least one or two matches where I think he’s pretty blah, and I thought he was pretty blah here. Both guys have better performances in them and will have much better matches with other people in their block. It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, I was just expecting a little more. **3/4

Best of the Super Jr. XXIV A Block
Dragon Lee (2) Def. Hiromu Takahashi (0)

Remember when I said Scurll and Ospreay’s chemistry is unmatched by just about any other two wrestlers? Well, Dragon Lee and Hiromu Takahashi might have them beat. Out of the eleven matches they’ve had together excluding this one and their six lightning matches, all eleven of them were phenomenal and ten of them showed growth over the previous as they slowly got to know each other to the point where they’re now connected at the hip. Dragon Lee is Hiromu’s career rival. When he’s done with wrestling and when you think back on rivalries Hiromu was involved in, this is going to be number one on that list, and the same goes for Lee. Hiromu is one of the biggest stars in New Japan today and arguably the world, and there’s a very good chance he wouldn’t be where he is right now had this feud not happened.

Lee worked this like he was trying to out-crazy Hiromu by doing the most insane shit possible and busting out everything in his arsenal no matter how much of a toll it took on his own body. He was one step faster than Hiromu was in this match, Hiromu almost being overwhelmed by it because no one else has stepped up to him like this since he returned to New Japan. He beat Lee in February and came into this thinking what worked then would work now, only to learn that Lee came in with a fresh strategy. Even when Hiromu would get ahead it seemed Lee had an answer for everything. He hit Hiromu with his own sunset powerbomb onto the outside of the ring as an F-you, proving to him that he knows his game by now and knows his way around it. Hiromu’s become a bit too predictable for him, where as Lee still has some tricks Hiromu can’t work his way around. Lee won with a Phoenix Plex, the one move he knew Hiromu couldn’t recover from, thus ending his undefeated streak as a singles wrestler in New Japan.

While this was a fantastic match that told a fantastic story, it did feel like they were holding some back for the inevitable title match, which I imagine will be at Dominion since Lee’s my pick to win the whole tournament. Perhaps Hiromu will have an answer for Lee next time they meet, perhaps he’ll be expecting that Phoenix Plex and perhaps he’ll be the one who’s a step ahead. You never know with either of them, but tonight was Lee’s night. ****1/4

Final Thoughts:

With six matches bordering on great and two other matches that were pretty decent, I’m not sure I can name you ten wrestling shows better than this in 2017. No matter what kind of fan you are, there was something on this show for you. If you like old school junior style matches, you got TAKA vs. Liger. If you like modern juniors style, you got Lee vs. Hiromu. If you like American indie style, you got Scurll vs. Ospreay. If you like lucha, you got Tiger Mask vs. Volador. Everything was represented perfectly, and I can’t recommend it strongly enough. Go watch this.

NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2017 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Wrestling Dontaku 2017
May 3, 2017
Fukuoka Convention Center
Fukuoka, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Hirai Kawato & Yoshitatsu def. Katsuya Kitamura & Tomoyuki Oka

I’m probably not the first person to ask this, but why is Yoshitatsu still wearing that ridiculous “Bullet Club Hunter” gear? At least it makes sense when he’s in a match against The Bullet Club, but in matches like this? It’s gotten tiresome.

Anyway, he teamed with Hira Kawato here to defeat Katsuya Kitamura and Tomoyuki Oka in this pre-show match. This was by no means a bad match, but it was ok for what it was. All three young lions were solid, while Yoshitatsu wasn’t totally offensive to watch which, for him, is (I guess) a good thing. Yoshitatsu would end up scoring the submission victory over Kitamura in this harmless pre-show tag team encounter. *3/4

CHAOS (Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI) def. The Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi)

The event officially got under way with an entertaining tag team opener that would be the first of three Bullet Club vs. CHAOS matches on this card. Yujiro was….well….Yujiro, but the other three participants all had strong moments at various. Ospreay didn’t do as much flying as he usually does, but we still got to see some fun things from him, which included some nice exchanges with Chase Owens.

Owens is a guy that’s really grown on me in the last few years. He never does anything major in New Japan, and you know that he’ll be the guy from Bullet Club eating the pin whenever he’s in a situation like this (especially now that Bone Soldier is nowhere to be found), but you can always count on him to deliver a solid performance. He even busted out some unique moves in this one, specifically a spinebuster into the ropes that turned into a Death Valley Driver. It’s not reinventing the wheel or anything, but it was a fun little moment that I thought was pretty cool. YOSHI-HASHI would get the win for his team after making Owens tap out to his Butterfly Lock. It was slightly odd to see YOSHI-HASHI pick up the win here, since Ospreay has been scoring a number of falls in tag team matches lately (in the run-up to the Best of The Super Juniors Tournament), but it did help establish that Butterfly Lock as a move that can win matches, which is important, especially since the G1 Climax is only two months away. ***

Tiger Mask, Tiger Mask W & Togi Makabe def. Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi

Seeing Tiger Mask W was just a reminder that I need to catch up on the anime. I watched the first seven episodes a month or two ago, and haven’t gotten back to it since (while I’m on the subject, be sure to check out the Tiger Mask W episode reviews on the site by Kelly Harrass!). As far as this particular match goes, it was a decent six-man tag that was a fine showcase for everyone involved. The most impressive moment (at least, in my eyes) might’ve been Tiger Mask managing to hit the Tiger Driver on Nagata, but what was easily the most surprising moment was that Makabe wasn’t a total ghost like he usually is in these multi-man tag. We soon found out why, as he would score the winning fall for his team after hitting the King Kong Knee Drop on Nakanishi. There was also a funny little post-match moment, as Liger calmly shook hands with Tiger Mask and Tiger Mask W before flipping off Makabe. **1/2

CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Beretta, Rocky Romero, Toru Yano, & Jado) def. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, TAKA Michinoku, Taichi, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

In the most predictable move of the century, Suzuki-gun jumped CHAOS before the bell rang. These two factions are coming off exchanging titles in Hiroshima, as Suzuki defeated Goto to win the NEVER Openweight Title (with a lot of help from El Desperado), while Roppongi Vice overcame similar shenanigans to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles from Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru. This a solid ten-man tag, albeit formulaic. Of course, we got a ton of brawling on the outside during the first portion of the match, along with a smattering from both Suzuki-gun (using the ring bell hammer) and Yano (using multiple turnbuckle covers). There was a nice exchange between Goto & Suzuki towards the end, but eventually, CHAOS picked up the victory after Goto hit the GTR on TAKA Michinoku. We did get a pull apart brawl after the match between Goto & Suzuki, so it seems like a rematch between the two for the NEVER Openweight Title is an absolute certainty. ***

Cody def. David Finlay

It’s hard to believe that this is only Cody’s fourth match in New Japan, because it feels like we’ve been talking about Cody being in New Japan forever. This was essentially an exhibition match for him. I wouldn’t call it bad, but at the same time, it certainly wasn’t good. Both guys seemed to put in a good effort, but it just a very “meh” affair. A couple of highlights included Finlay taking an Alabama Slam on the floor (which looked nasty) and a counter of the Beautiful Disaster Kick that went wrong. To nobody’s surprise, Cody got the win after hitting the Cross Rhodes. **1/4

After the match, Cody called for New Japan to find him a bigger and stronger opponent. I could see him getting another “singles showcase” at Dominion, but I have no idea who that would be against, as it pertains to his challenge.

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi) def. KUSHIDA & Juice Robinson

Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi are coming off successful title defenses at Wrestling Toyonokuni, and they capped off the tour with a victory over two former title challengers. The match itself was pretty solid, though it was by no means spectacular.

There was a big brawl through the crowd, but once they got back in the ring, it turned into an enjoyable tag team encounter. While the match itself was good, the big story here is that Hiromu pinned KUSHIDA for (at least) the third time on a major show in 2017, proving once again that he has the former champion’s number. He’s clearly become the dominant force in the junior’s division since Wrestle Kingdom, and it’ll be interesting to see how KUSHIDA recovers, especially after this particular loss, since it wasn’t even a title match. That’s the thing that sticks out to me the most. The fact that KUSHIDA got pinned by Hiromu in a tag team match buried in the middle of the card just shows how serious New Japan is about making Hiromu a huge star. I’m sure KUSHIDA will bounce back eventually, but right now, the juniors division clearly belongs to Hiromu Takahashi as we get closer to Best of the Super Juniors. ***1/4

Speaking of the Best of the Super Juniors, New Japan officially revealed the participants and the blocks for this year’s tournament, which starts in a couple of weeks. Rich Kraetsch already wrote an extensive preview breaking down the participants and the blocks, so I would encourage everyone to go check that out.

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles – Three-Way Match
War Machine (c) def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima and The Guerrillas of Destiny

War Machine added some cool gladiator helmets to their entrance gear. One of the most common complaints about New Japan in recent years is that they do these multi-team matches for both sets of tag team titles far too often. However, nine times out of ten, they always prove to be very good matches, and that was the case here.

This only went about eleven minutes or so, but all three teams put forth good efforts here, and there was some entertaining action throughout. TenKoji were solid, as they always are in tag team title matches, as were G.O.D., who are so much better now than they were around this time last year. As for War Machine, it’s really cool to see them get a title run in New Japan. During my reviews of last year’s World Tag League, I mentioned that they were a perfect fit for the heavyweight tag team division in New Japan, and they’ve certainly proved that to be true. Not only have they been putting on very good matches (no surprise there), but they’ve also won over the Japanese audience, as they got a number of big reactions during this one. War Machine eventually retained their titles after hitting Fallout on Tenzan. They might not be in New Japan for the long term, but it’s still good to see them here getting a run as IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. ***1/2

After the match, The Guerrillas of Destiny (who weren’t pinned) attacked War Machine, and made it clear that they’re the next challengers. That’s another title bout that will probably take place at Dominion next month, and it would actually be a rubber match, as G.O.D. beat War Machine during the World Tag League, while War Machine evened the score during this year’s Honor Rising events in February.

NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Titles
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi (c)

While these titles seem tailor-made for this particular LIJ trio, they’ve really had a hard time holding onto them.

Ever since Wrestle Kingdom XI, the belts have been bouncing and forth between LIJ and the group that’s become known as “Taguchi Japan” (who now have matching jackets). This match continued that hot potato trend, as the LIJ contingent of BUSHI, EVIL, and SANADA became the first trio to win these titles three times (Tanahashi and Ricochet are both three-time champions, but they’ve had a number of different partners). For the most part, this was incredibly entertaining from start to finish. There was never really a dull moment, as there was some exciting back and forth action, particularly in the closing stages, with bits of comedy (mainly from Taguchi) thrown in.

While everyone involved did a very good job, I’m going to give a special shoutout to Ricochet, who’s been such a difference maker whenever he’s involved in this particular division. He’s an incredible performer that just adds so much energy to these trios matches. A bout like this would’ve definitely lost something if he wasn’t involved. Of course, it wouldn’t be an LIJ trios match without BUSHI spraying green mist in someone’s face, and this time, it happened to Taguchi after the referee got taken out. While that would normally take away from match, it actually added slightly to it. BUSHI hit his finisher, MX, on Taguchi after he got misted, but Ricochet & Tanahashi broke up the pin attempt, which got a MASSIVE reaction from the crowd in Fukuoka. However, EVIL & SANADA took out Ricochet & Tanahashi shortly thereafter, which allowed BUSHI to hit another MX on Taguchi to bring the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Titles back to LIJ. ***3/4

Kenny Omega def. Tomohiro Ishii

Back in March, Ishii defeated Omega in the 1st Round of the New Japan Cup. Omega scored a measure of revenge when he pinned Ishii in a tag team match at Sakura Genesis, but this was his chance to get complete revenge in a one-on-one setting. Going in, I knew this was probably going to be the Match of the Night, but it completely exceeded my expectations.

This was simply an incredible contest that featured some insane action from start to finish. These two essentially threw bombs and big moves at each other for twenty minutes, and it was exciting to watch. Ishii charged Omega right at the start, making it clear that they were going to wrestle his style of match. The key for Omega was that he survived that early onslaught from Ishii, and took the fight to him later on. Both guys busted out everything in their arsenal in an attempt to put their opponents away, with Ishii using his hard-hitting offense, while Omega busted out some of his more spectacular moves, including a dive from the top rope, over the guardrail, landing on Ishii and at the concrete floor.

If the last ten minutes weren’t an excellent example of fighting spirit, then I don’t know what is. They hit each other with big move after big move (which included attempts to seal each other’s finishers), and each time one of them would kick out, the crowd’s reaction got louder and louder. The craziest, and probably most memorable, moment was easily Ishii hitting a freaking reverse rana on Omega. That’ll be an image that’s burned into my mind forever. Ultimately, Omega would emerge victorious after successfully hitting Ishii with the One Winged Angel. There are many words you could use to describe this match (physical, crazy, intense, spectacular, amazing, etc.) and all of them fit. Both men killed themselves out there, and they ended up producing one of the best New Japan matches of 2017. I wouldn’t put this ahead of Okada vs. Omega from Wrestle Kingdom XI in January, or Naito vs. Elgin from New Beginning in Osaka back in February (currently my top two matches of 2017), but in my eyes, it absolutely earned the right to be in that conversation. *****

A weakened Omega needed help to the back, while Ishii got a massive ovation from the crowd as he stumbled to the back on his own.

IWGP Heavyweight Title
Kazuchika Okada (c) def. Bad Luck Fale

Before the main event, New Japan put together a fantastic video package that included words from Bad Luck Fale and highlights of his career. This was actually the first time I’ve seen pictures and video of Fale as a young lion. He’s certainly changed a great deal since then. Fale actually talked about how he wants to spread the company to places like Australia & New Zealand, saying that New Japan’s style of pro-wrestling could help out troubled kids in that area.

As for the main event itself, it was about what I expected, in terms of how it played out. Fale played his role as the monster perfectly, utilizing his size and strength early on, and Okada’s selling also helped Fale look like a massive threat. The storytelling worked well, and action in the first half was solid, but this really didn’t pick up until the second half, which featured some very good near falls. Even though Fale managed to hit his new tombstone piledriver, it wasn’t enough, as Okada overcame the monster and put him down for the count with a series of moves (which included that all-important wrist control that Okada had become known for in his big matches) that concluded with a Rainmaker. I think it’s fair to say that this match ended Okada’s streak of spectacular main events. It wasn’t even the best Okada/Fale encounter we’ve seen (I would say their match from Invasion Attack 2015 was still their best), but still, this was very good, and it told the right story, so I really can’t complain. ***3/4

After the match, the rest of The Bullet Club came out to check on Fale while Okada celebrated. Then, as they were leaving, Okada took the mic and called out Kenny Omega, who came back to the ring and faced with the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, clearly setting up their big rematch for Dominion in Osaka.

I should also make a quick mention of the attendance. Wrestling Dontaku 2017 had an attendance of 6,126 fans, which is up from the 5,299 fans that were in attendance for Wrestling Dontaku 2016 (a show that was headlined by Testuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii for the IWGP Heavyweight Title). That’s a net gain of 827 fans, which looks to be another feather in the cap of Okada as a main event draw.

Final Thoughts

When looking back on this card as a whole, it’s pretty clear that Ishii vs. Omega was the match that was sorely needed. If you take that away, this definitely would’ve been on the weaker side, as far as major New Japan events are concerned. Ishii vs. Omega was simply phenomenal, and will definitely be in the Match of the Year discussions at the end of 2017.

As for the rest of the show, I would actually put LIJ vs. Taguchi Japan for NEVER Six-Man Tag Team Title slightly above Okada vs. Fale for the IWGP Heavyweight Title, though both were really good in their own ways. The Three-Way Match for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles was pretty entertaining, while the rest of the undercard was….your typical New Japan undercard. You don’t need to see anything on the first half of the show, but definitely check out the second half, especially Ishii vs. Omega.

NJPW Wrestling Toyonokuni 2017 Results & Review

Author : joelanza

NJPW レスリング豊の国 2017
APRIL 29, 2017

Watch: NJPW World

Jushin Thunder Liger, Tomoyuki Oka, Hirai Kawato def. Tiger Mask, Katsuya Kitamura, Shota Umino 

I promised myself I wouldn’t use up half of the words of this review on the young lions again, and thankfully the match was structured in such a way that I won’t be tempted to break that vow. Oka was the focus here, getting plenty of ring time as the face in peril (can you be a “face in peril” when both sides of the match are faces?) before making a valiant comeback and putting away Umino with a crab hold. They stayed away from Kawato stealing the spotlight with his underdog spots, and Kitamura was limited to one or two power spots, so this was an Oka showcase. Simple, straight forward, and once again an incredibly clean and well worked opener. There is some serious upside with this group. ***

Roppongi Vice def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado

Roppongi Vice won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag titles days earlier from Kanemaru & Taichi, so this was a non title match. This had potential on paper but was wildly disappointing. As generic and basic as you could get, with the champs picking up a clean, no nonsense win. Nothing to see here. **

SANADA & BUSHI def. Ryusuke Taguchi & Yoshitatsu

Someone needs to sit down and have a serious conversation with Yoshitatsu over the state of his hair. Someone also needs to sit down with Yoshitatsu and have a serious conversation about the state of his Bullet Club Hunter gimmick.

Someone needs to sit down with SANADA as well and have a serious conversation about the state of the worst spot in wrestling, where he ties Taguchi in a ball to mock Milano Collection AT. It stinks when SANADA does it, it stinks when Jack Gallagher does it, and it stunk when Daniel Bryan or Milano used do it. IT JUST STINKS, and henceforth whenever any of these these dopes use it, I’m deducting STARZ, because that’ll show ’em.

Here’s something else that stinks. This match. Skip it. *1/2

Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Yujiro Takahashi def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, David Finlay

Another nothing match with a dead crowd and uninspiring action. Tama Tonga now wears black leathery pants and a vest type shirt, and looks like some wacky science experiment hybrid of Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. In other G.O.D. fashion news, Tanga Loa is rocking red trunks these days, and improved look over the early G.O.D attire.

There isn’t much else to say about this. Formulaic match with Young David eating the pin as expected. Finlay seems to be treadmilling at this point after receiving a mini push last year in the wake of Matt Sydal’s arrest. Whether or not Finlay ever heads on an excursion is one of the great mysteries of wrestling. I feel like he could use one, if for no other reason than to return with a fresh coat of paint. *3/4

Hirooki Goto, Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI def. Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, TAKA Michonoku

Suzuki’s entrance was the first thing to get any kind of reaction out of the crowd.

Takashi Iizuka was originally booked in this match, but suffered a leg injury on the tour, resulting in the reshuffling of a few of the SZG tags both here and at Dontaku next week.

This was much better than the previous three bouts, but still nothing worth going out of your way to see. The only takeaway here was that Ospreay, a worldwide superstar who’s been stored away in Mascara Dorada’s closet that New Japan has oddly refused to do anything of significance with this year, continues to score a bunch of falls ahead of the Best of the Super Juniors tour. This bodes well for a potential summer push, and I think he’s going to win the tournament again. Hiromu has gone through KUSHIDA, Dragon Lee, Taguchi, and now (SPOLIER ALERT) Ricochet in buzzsaw fashion, leaving Ospreay as the last significant challenger he has yet to face. Not only do I think Ospreay will win BOSJ, I also believe he has a legitimate chance to hand Hiromu his first L, too.

If I’m wrong and they have no significant Ospreay plans for the rest of the year, he’ll head into Wrestle Kingdom with just a few months remaining on his contract, and very little time for a meaningful push (unless, of course, he signs a new deal). This would represent the biggest waste of a contracted talent we’ve seen in New Japan in many years, if not ever, and keep in mind this is the same company that employed Mascara Dorada for an entire year and did essentially zero with him. Ospreay’s lack of push over the last 12 months outside of a Super Juniors win and a one-off Rev Pro title match vs Katsuyori Shibata is a stunning waste of an asset, and it makes me question why they bothered signing him in the first place.

With all of that said, if he does win Super Juniors for the second year in a row, or signs an extension, or becomes a key English speaking figure and fixture in the United States expansion, I’ll sheepishly step off of my soapbox, but I won’t stop grumbling to myself that they pissed away sooooo much time with him before flipping the switch. ***

Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano def. Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens

I know it’s only the end of April, but that’s 33% of the year in the books (and more than that if you go by the Observer calendar), so I’m more than comfortable saying at this point that Kazuchika Okada is easily my clubhouse leader for Wrestler of the Year, and in fact, I don’t even think anyone else is close.

Aside from the four incredible (and varied) major singles bouts, two of which drew multiple 5-star reviews, Okada’s tag work, long touted in this space, has not only been as strong as ever this year, but has also played into his larger story. Take this match for example, where the champion Ace could have easily gotten away with mailing one in. Instead he goes full Ricky Morton, taking a full on ass beating to continue putting over Fale as not only a title threat but also an absolute killer, and also continuing his year long story of a man who is somehow surviving by a thread while slowly cracking and about to break. There are no days off for Okada, and if he delivers a great match against Fale, with big matches at Dominion, in Long Beach, and in the G1 still in front of him, he could not only have WOTY sealed up by August, but we could be looking at one of those epic all time years, like Flair’s ’89 or Danielson’s ’06 or [insert your favorite all time year here].

Okada’s closest WOTY challenger is probably the guy in the next match. ***

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title
Hiromu Takahashi (c) def. Ricochet

Hiromu, more than anyone in wrestling with the possible exception of Brock Lesnar, brings a prize fight feel to his matches, as a seemingly unbeatable and insane buzzsaw of a champion turning back top challenger after top challenger. These men take their shots, sometimes trying to match his frantic style (Dragon Lee), other times trying to match his utter insanity (Taguchi), and in the case of KUSHIDA (and now Ricochet) by trying to catch him off guard, matching his maniacal disregard for his own body with ambush attacks.

None of those tactics have worked, and what we have now is this force of nature, mentally unstable champion who looks completely unstoppable. How can you beat a man who cares nothing about his own well being? No one in the world wrestles like this man does, and his matches have a totally unique feel. He’s a budding superstar, and I would not be surprised at all if he’s headlining major shows within a year.

Hiromu’s push running neck and neck with Asuka and Braun Strowman as the best push in all of wrestling. Bell to bell the matches have been fantastic, but more importantly, Hiromu’s title run has picked up where KUSHIDA’s left off in elevating the junior title to a legitimate top of the card entity. Sometimes bookers make this shit too complicated. Find someone talented, charismatic, and credible, and have them win lots of matches in dominant fashion. This isn’t nuclear physics. ****1/4

I’d like to talk about Ricochet for a minute. Ricochet seems to be the forgotten man when it comes to conversations about the best in the world. He’s matured into as much of a well rounded and complete wrestler that there is today, with zero flaws in his game. Elite level selling. Tremendous and unique bumping. He’s toned down his flying without abandoning it, to the point you may not have even noticed, and it hasn’t done a thing to take away from his match quality. When put in a major singles match, he never fails to deliver. He’s innovative, he’s creative, and he does things that nobody else in the world can do. He can slow it down or work an insane spot fest with equal acumen, or can do light crowd pleasing comedy. So I ask again, what are his flaws? I’m fairly confident calling Ricochet one of the ten best wrestlers on Earth.

Hiroshi Tanahashi def. EVIL

I’ve had it with the interference spots. I just have.

Look, I know Taguchi ran off SANADA & BUSHI and helped his pal overcome the odds to put away his months long rival, and I know it’s supposed to make me happy that LIJ’s bullshit didn’t work this time, but I’m just so burnt out on this shit from LIJ, SZG and BC that it instantly takes me out of the match. It’s not what I want out of New Japan, and even though I’ve accepted that it’s now a long standing part of the formula, and even if it’s sometimes tolerable, it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Here, it felt particularly needless and unnecessary.

It’s notable that there has been zero heel antics in Hiromu’s matches. ***1/4

IWGP Intercontinental Title
Tetsuya Naito (c) def. Juice Robinson

This was the biggest match of Juice Robinson’s career (we seem to be saying a lot lately, which is indicative of his hard work and upward career path), and he delivered big time. A great performance, working mostly from underneath and a continuation of the story that began with his NEVER challenge of a hard working guy with tons of heart, who isn’t quite ready yet for the big boys or the singles titles in NJPW.

Juice was the star of the match, and Naito deserves credit for this as well. It’s very easy for a big star to eat up a lesser one, particularly an up and comer trying to make his mark, and it isn’t even always intentional. There was no Pulp Friction kickout, which would have been an easy spot to get a crowd reaction, in addition to being an ego spot for the bigger star. Instead, Naito escaped the move, which popped the crowd all the same while also putting over the idea that he feared it, and planting the seed that it may be all Juice needs to get over the hump since it worked the first time he used it on him to earn this title shot in the first place. By not doing a kickout, they avoided burying it as a move not good enough to beat the big star in the big match. Conversely, there was a Destino kickout, furthering Juice’s story of his heart being ahead of his seasoning, and a spot that a top level star like Naito probably has the clout to avoid if he so chooses.

Naito worked his methodical style, attacking the knee, and Juice couldn’t have sold it any better, drawing attention to the damage before executing his offense, and taking very unnatural looking bumps on attacks to remind us that the leg was in dire shape. The pacing was exceptional. Naito, by design as he works to his gimmick, lulls you to the point where you are almost bored, before kicking his matches into the proper gear at just the right time. Like the Elgin match, there was no wasted moments here. Everything played into the larger narrative of not just this isolated match, but also Robinson’s longer term story. Not quite MOTY level, but a great match. ****1/3

Final Thoughts 

First half of the show was a waste of time, and threw a ton of water on the idea that Kanemaru & Desperado are the best SZG junior team combination. That match really let me down.

Overall, NJPW Wrestling Toyonokuni 2017 was one of the weaker big New Japan shows of the year, if not the weakest. There are still two great matches to sink your teeth into, but a mundane first half and a disappointing Tanahashi/EVIL match drag the show down as a whole. Don’t miss the main event or the junior title match, watch the Okada tag and Tanahashi/EVIL if you’re a hardcore, and safely skip the rest.

NJPW Road To Wrestling Dontaku 2017: Night 5 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Road To Wrestling Dontaku 2017: Night 5
April 27, 2017
Hiroshima Green Arena – Small Arena
Hiroshima, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Hirai Kawato, & Tomoyuki Oka def. Tiger Mask, Katsuya Kitamura, & Shota Umino

The show kicked off with a Six-Man Tag that saw two legendary masked juniors leading teams of young lions. I’ve seen Kawato and Oka before, but this was actually my first time seeing Kitamura (who’s freaking massive) and Umino, who must be brand new, because he doesn’t even have a profile on Cagematch yet.

There were a couple of fun exchanges in this one, first between Liger & Tiger Mask in the opening minute or so, and later on between Oka & Kitamura, who just beat the crap out of each other. They’re certainly not your typical young lions. There was also a nice little story told between partners, as at one point, Liger actually stomped on Kawato while he was down (seemingly) in an attempt to get his head in the game. Ultimately, Oka scored the victory for his team after getting Umino to submit to a Boston Crab. **1/2

CHAOS (Will Ospreay & Toru Yano) def. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Taka Michinoku)

Now this was a match that really jumped out at me when I first saw the card. That’s not to say I was expecting this to steal the show or anything, but given the guys involved, I thought it had the chance to be very entertaining, and in the end, it was. There was some nice action from start to finish (mainly from Ospreay), and we got some comedy as well. Taka Michinoku did his usual heel shenanigans, while Yano (of course) untied some turnbuckle pads and put them to good use. Something that actually surprised me was how short this match was. It only went about five minutes or so, which meant that this was actually shorter than the opener involving the young lions. Fortunately, I don’t think that was much of a hinderance, as these four guys managed to put together a fun undercard tag team boad. Ospreay would score the win for his team after hitting El Desperado with an OsCutter. **1/2

TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) & David Finlay def. The Bullet Club (The Guerrillas of Destiny & Chase Owens)

It’s been kind of fun to follow the changing fashion of G.O.D., particularly Tama Tonga. He’s gone back in the past between military-themed gear, to whatever the hell he was wearing during most of the G1 Climax last now, to a Roman Reigns/Seth Rollins mashup on this show. Again, I’m far from a “fashion guy”, but you have to admit that Tama Tonga has made some interesting wardrobe choices in the last year. Anything, this was essentially a preview of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Title Triple Threat Match at Wrestling Dontaku, sans War Machine, who currently hold those titles. This was a solid six-man tag, but given the guys involved, I was expecting this to be slightly better than it ended up being. That might be a weird critique to make about (what amounts to) a multi-man tag of zero consequence, but I stand by my remarks. Similar to the previous match, it didn’t get that much time (going just under seven minutes), and it ended up being shorter than the opener as well. There were a number of entertaining spots in this one, such as The Bullet Club taunting TenKoji by stealing their signature chops, but I think it could’ve benefitted if it had another minute or two. That might not seem like a lot, but I truly feel like that extra time would’ve helped make this six-man tag just a little better, at least enough to make more distinguishable from the two matches that preceded it. Tenzan would pick up the victory for his team after getting Chase Owens to tap out to the Anaconda Vice. **1/2

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero) def. Suzuki-gun (Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c)

This was a rematch from New Japan’s 45th Anniversary Show, where this particular Suzuki-gun combination captured the titles from Roppongi Vice. I really wish that El Desperado was in this spot instead of Taichi, but alas, we can’t always get what we want.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Suzuki-gun title match without interference, and we did see a fair amount of involvement from El Desperado in the first half of this one. Luckily, Jado & Gedo (who Taichi & Kanemaru defeated in a title defense at Sakura Genesis) came out and chased El Desperado out of the building. However, when you’re dealing with Suzuki-gun, it’s not just outside interference you have to worry about. There’s also the threat of foreign objects, particularly from Taichi, who likes to use the hammer that goes with the ringbell. It’s always annoying when he used that in matches, but he actually did use it in a unique way at one point, as he actually taped the hammer to his right leg and kicked Beretta with it.

You would think a match with all of those shenanigans going on would be bad, but that wasn’t the case. There was enough good action in this one that they manage to (mostly) overcome those issues. Roppongi Vice are such an awesome tag team. You can always count on them to deliver, regardless of who they’re facing. Taichi was….well….Taichi, but Kanemaru had a number of good moments in this one. There were a number of close nearfalls that got some strong reactions from the crowd. In the end, Roppongi Vice was able to recapture the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles after hitting Strong Zero, proving once again that (for the most part) it’s very difficult to hold onto these titles for an extended period of time. ***1/4

After the match, Rocky Romero took the mic and called out The Young Bucks, which is a rematch from Wrestle Kingdom XI that will (presumably) take place at Dominion in June.

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, Ricochet, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Yoshitatsu def. Los Ingobernables de Japon

It seems like you can’t have a New Japan event in 2017 without some sort of multi-man tag (whether that be a three-on-three, four-on-four, or in this case, five-on-five) featuring Tanahashi and Friends going up against LIJ. It’s certainly a match that’s been done to death, but at the same time, it’s probably never been more relevant, as it’s helping to build up four separate matches (three of them title matches) on the two big shows on this tour. What’s so odd is that even though we’ve seen some version of this hundreds of time in the last six months, it never fails to be less than very good, and this was another perfect example of that. There was plenty of entertaining action, and a number of fun moments, throughout this one.

Everyone got a chance to shine and, at one point or another, all of the guys who are currently in feuds faced off in the ring at some point. In that regard, this ten-man tag did exactly the job it was designed to do. Additionally, even though this match has gotten stale pretty fast, having Ricochet involved does help out a great deal, and he did very well in this one. The best part of this contest, by far, was an awesome exchange in the final minute or so between Juice Robinson & SANADA, before the former pinned the latter after hitting Pulp Friction. I really hope those two are in the same block for the G1 Climax, because if that closing stretch was any indication, they could potentially have a great match. Ultimately, this was another decisive win for Juice Robinson who continues to build momentum towards his title bout with Naito, who continues to treat the IWGP Intercontinental Title like garbage. He kicked it down to the ring beforehand, and after the match, he didn’t even bother taking the title with him when he left. ***1/2

The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Kenny Omega, & Yujiro Takahashi) def. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, & YOSHI-HASHI)

I like the fact that individual members of The Bullet Club are getting their own personalized versions of the traditional Bullet Club T-Shirt. Of course, Kenny Omega has had his own for some time, but now Bad Luck Fale & The Young Bucks have their own versions, which honestly look pretty cool. As far as this match goes, it was probably the best six-man tag on this particular show. It featured some solid action, and it continued to build up both Okada vs. Fale and Ishii vs. Omega (which I would think is a de facto #1 Contender’s Match) for Wrestling Dontaku on May 3rd. The big takeaway from this involves the closing stages of the match between Bad Luck Fale & YOSHI-HASHI. It looked like Fale was going to put YOSHI-HASHI away with the Bad Luck Fall, but instead, he busted out his new finisher, a tombstone piledriver, to secure the win for his team. They’ve done a great job building up this new move in Fale’s arsenal as an effective finisher, though in my view, it still doesn’t beat the Bad Luck Fall, which is an awesome finisher for him. Fale attacked Okada after the match and posed with the IWGP Heavyweight Title as Omega & Yujiro went after Ishii. ***

NEVER Openweight Title
Minoru Suzuki def. Hirooki Goto (C)

Back at Sakura Genesis, Hirooki Goto overcame a ton of outside interference from Suzuki-gun (which included Suzuki himself) to retain the NEVER Openweight Title against Zack Sabre Jr., and a brawl afterwards with Suzuki led to this main event encounter. As a whole, this was very good, but as a main event, it was a bit of a letdown. Despite a slow start and brawl in the crowd that saw El Desperado get involved, the second half of this match featured some really solid back and forth action. Goto controlled things in the opening minutes, but after that aforementioned brawl on the outside, Suzuki took command, and went after one of Goto’s arms for several. Goto make a number of comeback attempts that rocked Suzuki, and the fans were really pulling for him to fight back, but it seemed like he was never able to muster a truly sustained comeback where he was in total control in Suzuki.

That full recovery never came, especially after a spot late in the match where El Desperado cracked Goto with a chair shot to the head. What made that spot so ridiculous was that Goto got spun around by El Desperado right before the chair shot, and Goto just stared and did nothing for what felt like an eternity. In reality, it was only two seconds, but it was the longest two seconds you’ve ever seen. It really made Goto look like a complete chump for not doing something to react, because he had time to. Instead, he just stood there, paralyzed by the sight of El Desperado with a chair.

Anyway, that chair shot to the head allowed Suzuki to hit an insane flurry of slaps and strikes, before finally putting Goto away with a Gotch Piledriver to win the NEVER Openweight Title.

I’m fine with Suzuki getting a run with this title, and while the match was pretty good, it could’ve been so much better. The interference from El Desperado definitely took it down a couple of notches in my eyes, and that chair shot was particularly ridiculous. As soon as the match ended, my first thought was that they’re doing a rematch at Dominion. They did a similar thing last year, when Nagata had run with the title, only to lose it back to Shibata. We’re definitely getting a rematch between Goto & Suzuki, but the big question will be whether Goto regains the title, or if Suzuki keeps it. If that match does happen at Dominion, it’ll probably be a few minutes shorter, which actually might help it out a bit. Again, this initial contest was pretty good, but not that memorable in the long run, aside from the fact that the title changed hands. Hopefully the rematch will be better. ***½

Final Thoughts

NJPW Road to Wrestling Dontaku Night 5 was an underwhelming show, a glorified house show with two title matches.

Goto vs. Suzuki was pretty good, but ultimately left me disappointed. Aside from that, the ten-man tag was entertaining, and Roppongi Vice regaining the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles in a solid tag team encounter. The show really wasn’t noteworthy aside from the two title changes, but I think the fact that two titles did change hands here is very important to note. It sets a good example for future tours that are set up like this by showing that you really can’t discount or ignore these smaller shows headlined by the lower tier titles, because you could end up seeing one or more title changes.

A complaint about New Japan recently is that they have too many titles, but it’s times like this where having so many proves to be a positive. With a large amount of titles at your disposal, you can headline smaller shows on a tour with the likes of the NEVER Openweight Title and the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. That helps takes what would be an average, run-of-the-mill house show into something a bit more meaningful, which in turns, helps draw more people. It doesn’t make sense for a company in North America to have this many titles, but with the way New Japan’s schedule is structured, it makes perfect sense to have a ton of titles, because you can do things like this.

Now, it doesn’t always mean that the shows will be good (and this event was a perfect example), but still, it’s something that works extremely well for New Japan.

NJPW Sakura Genesis 2017 Results & Review

Author : joelanza

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Sakura Genesis 2017
April 9, 2017
Ryōgoku Kokugikan
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World


After Kazuchika Okada vs Naomichi Marufuji drew the largest non-G1 paid number to Sumo Hall since 2000 at October’s King of Pro Wrestling, Okada followed that up by topping any Sumo Hall number (G1 show or otherwise) in at least seven years (but probably longer) against Katsuyori Shibata, in what was a long awaited IWGP title challenge for the latter, his first since 2004 and his only since his 2012 return to the company.

The number continues Okada’s hot streak at the gate, and solidifies Shibata as a new main event player. The fans were firmly behind Shibata, with the packed crowd hot for him all the way, and combined with the gate, shows that New Japan’s patient elevation of Shibata worked out just fine for all parties involved.

Okada is peaking right now as a draw, making all of those calls to move the top title to Tetsuya Naito seem very foolish and short sighted in hindsight. Naito is doing just fine selling out his main events as Intercontinental champion, and New Japan is doing their best business in the Takaaki Kidani/Kazuchika Okada era yet. The story of the bend-but-don’t-break Okada being seemingly unbeatable has been a business winner, and they now have three legitimate matches lined up for both King of Pro Wrestling and Wrestle Kingdom 12 in Naito, the looming Kenny Omega rematch, and now Shibata.

Next up for Okada is Bad Luck Fale, who attacked him from behind while he was celebrating his victory. That match figures to headline Wrestling Dontaku, or possibly one of the Long Beach, California shows.

Manabu Nakanishi, Jushin Thunder Liger, David Finlay def. Tomoyuki Oka, Hirai Kawato, Katsuya Kitamura

Much like Sho Tanaka, Yohei Komatsu, David Finaly, and Jay White before him, Hirai Kawato has become one of the highlights of any New Japan show he’s on, and has made it impossible to skip the opener. While those other four recent vintage young lions grabbed our attention by delivering great matches that often ended up being the third or fourth best match on a given show, Kawato, barely a year into his career, has developed into the ultimate underdog as a feisty kid (he just turned 20) who bites off more than he can chew, never backs down, and picks post match fights with the bewildered veterans who just got done making easy work of him. A frequent house show spot involves Kawato teaming with his pal Liger. Just as Liger is ready to deliver a potential match ending brainbuster, Kawato will beg to be tagged in. Liger hesitates, but obliges. Kawato comes into the ring like a house of fire…only to get decimated and eat the pin, and then being held back by Papa Liger in the post match like a yappie chihuahua surviving a fight with a charitable rottweiler and foolishly trying to pick a second.

Oka is the handpicked project of Takaaki Kidani and Yuji Nagata, a star amateur fighter who will get every chance to be a top line player. The stripped down young lion look ages him by at least ten years (he’s still only 25 but looks like a Japanese Fedor Emelianenko), but he’s starting to show the potential that insiders have whispered about for years.

Kitamura is an over tanned steroid monster workout warrior who was busted for PED use and banned from legitimate wrestling competition. He looks like someone who would be given a four month house show run against Hulk Hogan in 1986.  He’s already 31, so that alone might make his ceiling lower than Oka’s, but with a totally unique look to almost anyone else in Japan not names Zeus or Bodyguard (and really he’s even bigger than those guys), if he can work at even an acceptable level, they would be foolish not to push him hard at some point.

Finlay pinned Kitamura with a cutter. The lions looked good. This is a naturally charismatic group that the fans love to get behind. **3/4

Yujiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Chase Owens def. Yuji Nagata, Togi Makabe, Tiger Mask, Tiger Mask W

There is something bizarre, yet charming, about Kota Ibushi working prelims under a mask. I dig the idea of Tiger Mask W teaming with his pal Tiger Mask IV, and in a company that featured more creative tag team booking, they’d be a team you could headline a Korakuen Hall show with chasing the IWGP tag titles.

Togi Makabe not only lost his tag partner to a terrible neck injury, but also lost booking direction. GBH would almost certainly be in the position TenKoji is in right now if Tomoaki Honma were healthy. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with Makabe moving forward, as he does have some value as a single, but was deliberately moved (down) to tags after his NEVER run a couple of years ago.

This had good energy, and to me a somewhat surprising finish with pin eater Chase Owens available on the heel side to lose to Tiger Mask W. Tiger Mask IV took the fall instead. It was good to see Owens back. He’s steadily improved with every tour, particularly with his confidence. Compare his anxious performances against BUSHI and Jushin Thunder Liger in 2014 to his New Japan work now. The difference is enormous. **3/4

YOSHI-HASHI, Rocky Romero, Beretta def. Minoru Suzuki, El Depserado, TAKA Michinoku

YOSHI-HASHI pinned TAKA in a short, inoffensive, energetic match with a hot crowd. The pattern lately has been Suzuki on the losing side of tags, and then destroying everyone in sight with chairs to get his heat back. Suzuki is the perfect guy to have around on a roster that you can keep simmering in the mid card for a big title match once or twice per year. **1/2

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles – Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (c) def. Jado & Gedo

Taichi has a superstar entrance, but if I have to sit through one more match where he uses that stupid hammer behind the referees back I think I’m going to delegate his match reviews to Case Lowe as part of his VOW young boy duties. Two things are certain on any NJPW show: Taichi using the hammer, and LIJ in an eight man tag against Tanahashi & friends. ENOUGH ALREADY.

This broke down quickly and never settled into a traditional match. Desperado interfered but was run off by RPG Vice. Jado hit the same draping DDT that legit injured Honma on Kanemaru (which wasn’t lost on the fans), and scored a visual tap with the Crossface of Jado, but Miho Abe hopped on the apron to distract the ref. Taichi broke up the hold, and moments later Kanemaru hit Deep Impact for the win. Better match than it reads, even if the Taichi act is tiresome, because Kanemaru worked most of the way and the interference stuff was over with the crowd. RPG Vice went nose to nose with SZG and it looks like they’ll be receiving the next title shot. **3/4

Kenny Omega & Bad Luck Fale def. Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii

This reminded me of an old 80’s or 90’s WWF PPV blow off match, because these teams had been paired off on the entire tour (in six man tags), and repeated a lot of the same spots here, but just like those old WWF PPV blow offs, this had an added gear that the house shows lacked. The focus was on Omega and Ishii, with Kenny getting revenge for his first round New Japan Cup loss by putting away Ishii with the One Winged Angel. Omega & Ishii have great chemistry, and they need to be in the same G1 block. ***1/4

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi, Ricochet, Juice Robinson def. Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, BUSHI

These LIJ vs Tana & pals tags always deliver, but the constant repeat pairings have become tiresome. With no disrespect to Michael Elgin, Ricochet stepping in for Big Mike on this tour has given these matchups a slightly different feel, and Ricochet had a ridiculous sequence in this match that had me flying off of my couch. Ricochet is working injured (and pulled out of a few U.K. bookings as a result), but you’d never know it by watching him as he looks as crisp and amazing as ever. A hot crowd also brought things up a notch, as did the big show working shoes.

The big story here was Juice Robinson’s stunning, emotional pin fall victory over Naito, which shocked the crowd in all the right ways and sets up a Juice IWGP Intercontinental title challenge. Juice’s reaction to the win and the babyface dogpile celebration made this come off like a huge moment. Naito hardly ever takes falls or shows ass, so the camera focusing on a beaten and embarrassed Naito being carried to the back helped put this over as a huge, huge win for Juice. Fantastic stuff. ****

IWGP Tag Team Titles – War Machine def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (c)

War Machine didn’t win the World Tag League, but they were the big winners coming out of the tournament. They were the most impressive bell to bell team in the field, got over with the fans, earned their way to regular bookings and title shots on major shows, and now, they’re the new IWGP tag team champions.

This heated up when Tenzan and Hanson took each other out on the floor, leaving Rowe isolated with Kojima. Both men sold after Kojima fighting spirit no sold a Rowe flying knee and hit a big lariat. That spot was perfectly timed and popped the crowd big, setting up the hot finishing sequence. Rowe used a sit out powerbomb, and Hanson recovered before Tenzan, leading to the match ending Fallout. TenKoji asked for a rematch and War Machine obliged, as the teams shook hands and War Machine bowed. The Rowe/Kojima stuff was awesome and the closing stretch delivered. Good match. ***1/2

NEVER Openweight Title – Hirooki Goto (c) def. Zack Sabre Jr

This was Deja Vu of the ZSJ/Shibata match from the 4th Anniversary show. I was so enthralled by this and totally into Zack’s dazzling arm work, so when Goto hit the Ushigoroshi to finally turn the tide I was preparing for a killer closing stretch…and then Suzuki-gun ran in. Gaaaaaahhhh whyyyy.

Goto fought them off, and definitively put away Zack away moments later with his array of skull crushing GTR’s that help make up the nastiest looking offensive arsenal in all of wrestling. Had Zack won, the run in would have totally ruined the match for me. Goto surviving it still drops it a notch, and mirroring Zack vs Shibata, robbed us of what could have been a truly epic match. The run in did serve a purpose, as it led to a pull apart to set up the Goto/Suzuki feud, but they could have gotten to that place with a simple walk out challenge or post match beat down without hurting the match with yet another tired SZG run in. This was a very good match, but it should have been, and was on its way to being great. ****

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title – Hiromu Takahashi (c) def. KUSHIDA


KUSHIDA attacked immediately with an off the top turnbuckle senton during Hiromu’s entrance. A few moments later, Hiromu used his over the top rope sunset flip to the floor on KUSHIDA, and it looked like we were on our way to another brutal sprint like Wrestle Kingdom. Instead, the move appeared to KO KUSHIDA, and Hiromu followed up with all of his signature big moves, including the Timebomb, to win in the most decisive fashion possible. One of the best sub two minute matches you’ll ever see.

Hiromu has the rocket pack, and if you didn’t already believe that they are pushing him to the moon, his third consecutive title defense semi main event and a squash win over the man who elevated the junior title last year should now have you totally clued in. This company sees Hiromu Takahashi as a star, and he’s getting as strong of a push as we’ve seen in many, many years. Kazuchika Okada in 2012 wasn’t even presented as this dominant with his out-of-nowhere mega push. Next up for Takahashi is Ricochet, and that match should be utter madness. NR

IWGP Heavyweight Title – Kazuchika Okada (c) def. Katsuyori Shibata

“Shibata! Shibata!” chants rained down before the bell, setting the tone for a hot atmosphere. This crowd was great all night, from the opener to main event, and were firmly behind Shibata, who with this performance and in helping produce a Sumo Hal sellout has now clearly been elevated to being a top line star and draw. The loss means nothing. This is only the beginning for Shibata as a main line player, and very likely the starting point for a fresh and potentially classic Shibata vs Okada rivalry. With that said, I’m not sure how they could possibly improve on this particular match. Of course, I said that about several Okada/Tanahashi matches and was proven wrong each time.

I happened to recently watch/rewatch Shibata’s Big Mouth Loud run, and with having seen every big New Japan match he’s ever had, I’d have to call this his best bell to bell performance ever, or at minimum his most complete. He out wrestled Okada on the mat early. His strikes were nasty. He fed off the crowd and fired up at the right times. He put his body on the line. He sold for Okada in ways that others have not, collapsing forward with glassy eyes on the third Rainmaker, after the brilliant no sell/no bump first attempt (and subsequent headbutt and trademark blood trickle that will wind up being the definitive moment of the match), which made the match feel very different from other Okada singles bouts. Even the match ending Rainmaker was more of a thud, rather than the usual explosive thwack, getting over the idea that this man still had something in him that others did not after absorbing the move so many times. Shibata has had plenty of nasty, brutal, exciting 12:00-18:00 battles over the years with people like Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, and Tomoaki Honma, but going nearly 40:00 minutes with a performance this complete for the IWGP title in the biggest match of his life, and one that ultimately completed his long awaited elevation, has to rank as his best.

Okada continued his run of incredible performances, dating back to his title win over Naito last June. The match variety is what stands out. The brutal G1 beating at the hands of Marufuji and subsequent rematch at King of Pro Wrestling. The Ishii G1 match that many rated five stars. The frantic draw against Tanahashi. The all time epic at Wrestle Kingdom vs Omega. The brutal leg match against Suzuki. The fun exhibition turned nasty with Tiger Mask W. And now the fist fight against Shibata, a hard fought war where he was forced to fight, outwrestled and smacked in the mouth, chest kicked in, but standing tall, fighting back (even if fighting a little dirty, like grinding on to the Deep In Debt after his opponent reached the ropes, to a chorus of boos) and going toe to toe, but always coming up a little short at the end of the exchanges. This was important. He didn’t beat Shibata at his own game, just like he didn’t out grapple Suzuki or out kick Marufuji or out fly Tiger Mask W. He simply persevered and overcame, like he always does. Okada often draws passive aggressive comparisons to Roman Reigns, but he’s closer to John Cena. And that formula is working at the gate. Okada vs Marufuji drew the largest non-G1 Sumo Hall crowd since 2000, the Omega match showed growth over the 2016 Wrestle Kingdom, the Suzuki bout sold out New Beginning, and now this Shibata match is the biggest legit number New Japan has done in Sumo Hall, G1 show or otherwise, since at least 2010 (11,000 reported for G1 Final), but probably a few years longer than that.

With this insane run of outstanding, varied main events, and the safe assumption of a quality G1, if Okada puts together one or two more excellent title matches it’ll be extremely difficult to put together a better Wrestler of the Year case. There will be contenders by years end who will have done less in twelve months than Okada has done in four.

But this match wasn’t about the winner, it was about Shibata, who on this night became best example of the advantages that the sometimes maddeningly frustrating New Japan slow burn booking gives you. They could have elevated him three or four years ago and quickly burned through his story when business dictated they didn’t need to. With Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles out of the way, Tanahashi stepping aside, and Ibushi doing whatever the fuck it is Ibushi is doing, the time was right for elevations. For the Naito rebuild. For Omega’s eventual and inevitable move to heavyweight. And now, for long awaited elevation of the prodigal son who returned some five years ago. The fans were ready, the fans were behind him, and now that they’ve had a taste, they’ll be hungry for his chase.

It took a while to get here, but it was well worth the wait. *****

Final Thoughts

A great show with some fun surprises. The story of the night was continued elevations. Juice Robinson’s pinfall over Naito couldn’t have come off any better as he continues his rise as a solid mid card player. Hiromu Takahashi’s third straight big show semi main event title defense and shocking squash victory was a firm statement of what the company thinks of his ceiling. Katsuyori Shibata was one half of the most successful New Japan Sumo Hall main event in roughly a decade, and had 10,000 people with five years of pent up energy behind him. G1 should be absolute madness, with Naito, Omega, and now Shibata realistically jockeying for position to challenge the seemingly unbeatable Okada on January 4, 2018.

NJPW New Japan Cup Final (March 20) Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
New Japan Cup 2017
March 20, 2017
Nagaoka, Niigata, Japan
Aore Nagaoka (Attendance: 4,079)

Watch: NJPW World

Hirai Kawato vs. Tomoyuki Oka (10 Minute Time Limit Draw)

I’ve really come to enjoy both of these guys over the past few shows. Oka obviously has a long way to go and will always be made to look good because of how much the company likes him, but he’s clearly getting better and is quickly catching up to Kawato, who may still have a slight edge on him in the ring since he’s been wrestling for a year longer. I suspect their matches will get progressively better as time moves on and they develop more chemistry together. Fun opener for what it was. **3/4

Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV & David Finlay Jr. Def. El Desperado, TAKA Michinoku & Takashi Iizuka

New Japan has clearly moved TAKA Michinoku to the bottom of the Suzuki-gun rankings as he continues to take the fall in these matches. He’s essentially become what El Desperado was for years, and given his current working ability, I can’t say it’s not for the best. Desperado is too good to be the designated pin-eater for a mid-card unit that no one gives a shit about at this point. He should be doing something more as is, but you take what you can get. Aside from that, this was your standard multi-man prelim. Not good, not bad, it was just there. **1/2

Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan Def. Yuji Nagata & Katsuya Kitamura

I said in my review of the previous show that we’re in the midst of the development of someone special in Katsuya Kitamura, and if this didn’t reassure that, I don’t know what will. He wasn’t presented as a young lion in this match. He wasn’t presented like Kawato or Henare or Kanemitsu would be presented. Kitamura went toe-to-toe with Tenzan and Kojima and didn’t look out of place. He didn’t look like he couldn’t take them. New Japan knows what they have with this guy, and I don’t suspect they’ll keep him in the position he’s in for all that much longer. It’d be irresponsible of them. He hasn’t even had a dozen matches under his belt and he’s already bursting at the seams with potential. Don’t skip this, get on board with Kitamura and watch as he develops. It’s going to be a fun ride. ***

Gedo, Jado & Hirooki Goto Def. Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

It’s almost impossible to care about these Suzuki-gun multi-mans at this point even when their decent although this was one of the better ones as of late, granted the bar’s so low you can trip over it. Goto had some cool interactions with Suzuki as he gets ready to face Suzuki-gun member Zack Sabre Jr. at Sakura Genesis, while Gedo and Jado get ready to challenge Taichi and Kanemaru for their junior tag titles, a match I am not looking forward to in the slightest. I don’t ever need to see Jado in a big match again. He isn’t good, he hasn’t been in a long time, he’s tried a little harder lately to his credit, but he’s still a well below average pro wrestler, as is Taichi. Regardless, this was a good match that could have been a lot worse. ***

Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA Def. Juice Robinson, Michael Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Ryusuke Taguchi

I don’t have a lot to say about the actual match since it’s the same exact one we’ve been seeing for what feels like a year now, so let me talk about Hiroshi Tanahashi’s theme song. “Go Ace” sucks. It’s terrible. I thought it’d catch on eventually but it hasn’t. I cringe more and more every time I hear it. If that’s what their going for, then job well done, but you know what, I’m not sure that. I want the old theme song back. I want cool guy air guitar Tanahashi back. “Go Ace” can get lost. It shouldn’t make me as angry as it does. Sometimes I question why I let this crap bother me as much as I do.

I can’t necessarily recommend skipping this because it was a genuinely good match, there’s just not a whole lot to say about it that hasn’t been said a million times over. Elgin, KUSHIDA, Hiromu and SANADA continue to be highlights while the other are along for the ride until they get the chance to do their big moves at the end. BUSHI didn’t take the fall in this one, so at least that’s different. ***1/2

Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI Def. Kenny Omega, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Yujiro Takahashi

New Japan has done a nice job keeping Okada and Omega away from each other in these multi-mans as they never interact for more than a few seconds. It’s obvious their feud isn’t over and that they’re going to wrestle again at some point, whether it be this year, next year or whenever, it’s going to happen and having them not interact in these matches until they’re ready to do it is probably for the better. Save it up. What good is it if their constantly running through their spots in meaningless prelims? Everyone worked harder than they did the night before here and looked like they actually cared. Tama Tonga was easily the most notable participant as he did the most while Omega again didn’t do much of anything. Ishii certainly helped the quality of it as well since the guy never takes nights off and always busts his ass even when he doesn’t need to. He could have easily sat it out after him and Shibata killed themselves, but he didn’t. He never does. Another thoroughly entertaining match. ***1/2

New Japan Cup Finals
Katsuyori Shibata Def. Bad Luck Fale

I really loved the story they told here with Shibata knowing that he couldn’t take his time and pick apart Fale like he sometimes does with his other opponents, knowing that he had to be smarter and faster than Fale in order to beat him. He wasn’t going to grab a hold  like he did with Suzuki on the 12th and trade blows like he did with Ishii the night before. Fale is one of the few men on the roster who are a serious threat to Shibata, and Shibata recognized that. He attacked him at the bell and sent him to the outside in attempt to get ahead, no wasted time. Speed and force was key. Fale looked like an absolute monster as he threw Shibata around once he countered his attack and worked over his arm for several minutes before Shibata got him back on the outside where he sent him into the guardrail and choked him with his own shirt. He kept pressing through and doing his best to chop down the tree by using that speed and that force, and although Fale did get the better of him at times, Shibata eventually did enough damage to put him away. A very good match to close out a decent tournament.

Shibata got on the mic and challenged Okada to a title match, which he’ll get on April 9th in Sumo Hall. ****

Final Thoughts:

Much better than the previous show from top to bottom, despite none of the matches being as good as that show’s main event. Just about everything was good, the undercard wasn’t a chore to get through, and that’s all you can really ask for.

NJPW New Japan Cup 2017 Semi-Final (March 19) Results & Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
New Japan Cup 2017
March 19, 2017
Shizuoka, Japan
Act City Hamamatsu

Watch: NJPW World

Juice Robinson, Tomoyuki Oka & David Finlay Jr. Def. Yuji Nagata, Katsuya Kitamura & Hirai Kawato

Katsuya Kitamura reminds me a lot of Ben-K from Dragon Gate in the sense that he’s so different from all of the other young lions. Something is clearly different about his presence and the way he carries himself and how he looks. First of all, the guy’s 31 years old, he’s no child, but he’s still on the same level as a guy like Kawato, who is a child, though he’s presented in a totally different way than Kawato or even Oka is. He has more attitude, more personality, more charisma, and I cannot help but feel we’re watching the development of someone special. I’m probably putting him over too hard, this was only his second match to make tape, but man am I excited to follow his progression. He took the fall to Juice in what was a thoroughly entertaining opener. ***

Jado & Gedo Def. El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku

While the match wasn’t anything to write home about, I always enjoy watching a bunch of sleazeballs having a go at one another. Jado seems to be a bit more motivated after the Honma incident earlier in the month so has been relatively inoffensive in his last few matches, as has TAKA since he hasn’t been teaming with Taichi. Surprisingly, TAKA was the one to take the fall and not Desperado, so that’s something worth noting since Desperado’s been the Suzuki-gun fall-guy forever. **

Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Iizuka Def. Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV

Standard Suzuki-gun multi-man. Big brawl at the start. Taichi took his pants off. Suzuki wrapped a chair around Kojima’s head. Takashi Iizuka stumbled around like an idiot. What more can I say? Suzuki-gun is the absolute pits, the worst unit in wrestling and is a total lost cause. I thought the addition of Zack Sabre would help but what help is he when he’s not there. I was done with them two months after they invaded NOAH in 2015, I was into it when they came back to New Japan in January, and two months later, like clockwork, I want no part of them. *3/4

Michael Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Ryusuke Taguchi Def. Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI & SANADA

Everyone worked harder than usual here for whatever reason. I’ve grown numb to these LIJ multi-mans since most of them are samey and uninspired, but on occasion you’ll get one like this where there’s something more to it. Elgin’s interactions with SANADA were absolutely off the chart and made me desperate to see a big singles match between the two in the near future. KUSHIDA and Hiromu were the other two standouts as we inch closer to their junior title bout next month. As always, BUSHI took the fall and continues to serve little to no purpose in these matches when he’s not spitting colored water. ***3/4

Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano Def. Kenny Omega, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Yujiro Takahashi

Run-of-the-mill standard issue mid-card multi-man. I’m over Omega’s whole tongue-in-cheek house show act. I get that it’s who he is and that he’s probably never going to change, it just isn’t doing it for me at this point. I can’t say he doesn’t work hard when he’s in rainbow pants mode, but I can’t say he does work hard either. Sometimes he works hard, sometimes he doesn’t. I guess at least one of the multi-mans had to be bland and uninspired. **1/2

New Japan Cup Semi-Final Match
Bad Luck Fale Def. EVIL

Fale’s uniqueness really does go a long way in this company. He’s so different from everyone else. He feels different. His matches are different. He’s slowly improved as a worker over the past few years to the point where I’d go as far as to say he’s pretty damn good. I would say this over-delivered because I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, but it was moreso a reminder that the guy can go. EVIL held up his end as the two brawled around the building at the start, which was a great way to establish that it wasn’t going to be another easy win for Fale and was also a great way to make EVIL look good in the process since Fale is booked like world-beater. Fale had to overcome a lot in order to pull out the victory between BUSHI spitting in his face and all the usual LIJ shenanigans but eventually put away EVIL with a Bad Luck Fall to advance.  ***1/2

New Japan Cup Semi-Final Match
Katsuyori Shibata Def. Tomohiro Ishii

I truly believe if Tomohiro Ishii started pumping out what he’s pumping out now ten years ago, he’d be considered one of the greatest wrestlers in history, and that’s not hyperbole. I genuinely mean that. At the same time, however, I feel like his age is what’s part of what makes him so special. He’s 41 years old, he’s no spring chicken, and he’s only been on this current run for a few years. I’m not ready to call him one of the greatest ever and I’m not sure I ever will be, but I am ready to call this run one of the greatest runs ever. People are going to look back on this run in 15 years or so and question why he was never considered an all-time great. Night after night, every time out, this man delivers better than most of the guys ten years younger than him. He did it with Kenny Omega on the 12th, and he did it again here with Shibata.

I’m not someone who worries about selling in my wrestling. Good selling is good selling, but I don’t view selling as this super important thing that can only be done one way, and I don’t think it matters as much in certain matches. I don’t think all wrestling need to be done a certain way and needs to follow one set of rules. Ishii and Shibata are too stubborn and too proud to sell for one another, that’s the story they’re going for. Ishii wants to prove that he’s tougher than Shibata, and vice versa. Both of them want to show that they have the bigger balls, that they have more guts. Why would they show one another that they’re in pain? If selling is that important to you and you can’t look past a lack of selling in any instance, if you don’t like the story they’re going for, which is your right, than this isn’t for.

Ishii showed a ton of heart in the closing stretch where Shibata wouldn’t let up on him but still couldn’t put him away because of the old man’s stubbornness and pride and unwillingness to quit. Ishii kept powering through. Ishii fought through the pain and no-sold everything Shibata threw at him until Shibata couldn’t take it anymore and had to choke him out in order to put him away. Ishii wasn’t pinned, Ishii didn’t submit, Ishii had to be choked out, and his emotion afterward really put it all into perspective as the young lions had to drag him away while he was scratching and crawling to get back in the ring.

Even more dramatic and even more brutal than some of their previous encounters. Ishii and Shibata took everything I love about pro wrestling and squeezed it into a 22-minute match that had me jumping off my couch like an idiot as I watched it in the middle of night with full knowledge of who won. God, this shit is really good sometimes, isn’t it? ****3/4

Final Thoughts:

A bland, unremarkable show with two good matches, a great main event and nothing else. If you read the card before watching the show and thought about how the matches would play out, that’s exactly how they played out. You were right. Nothing truly over-delivered. Nothing was worse than expected. Standard low-level New Japan show you’ll forget about in three days bar Shibata vs. Ishii.

Be on the lookout for New Japan Cup Finals review coming in the next day. We’ll also have final results/standings for our annual New Japan Cup pick’em contest.

NJPW New Japan Cup 2017 (March 12) Results & Review

Author : joelanza

New Japan Pro Wrestling
New Japan Cup 2017
March 12, 2017
Amagasaki, Hyogo, Japan
Amagasaki Baycom Gymnasium

Watch: NJPW World

Yuji Nagata & Jushin Thunder Liger def. Tiger Mask & David Finlay

The prelims were shuffled around due to Manabu Nakanishi coming down with the flu, so the original opener of Finlay vs Tomoyuki Oka (which would have been a first time match) was changed to this. A totally skippable two star special where nothing happened of note. **

Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa def. Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hirai Kawato

Bullet Club attacked Kawato before TenKoji made their entrance. Once things settled down, this built to a Kawato hot tag. He was promptly murdered by Loa, who finished him off with a nasty sit out tombstone that made the crowd gasp. Kawato’s dead behind the eyes selling was terrifying and incredible. Kojima continues to be over way more than usual, and if this were a company that wasn’t booked so rigidly and deliberately, I’d suggest a nostalgia push was in order to strike while the iron is hot. The first two bouts were kept very short. **1/2

Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin, Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA

The big EVIL push continued here, putting away Taguchi with the EVIL STO one night after his complete and decisive dismantling of Tanahashi. Elgin was the standout on the babyface side, and this was a level above the two prelim bouts, but the endless LIJ 8-man tags are starting to feel very samey to me at this point. If you don’t watch every New Japan show, you probably find these way more entertaining than I do. I’m burning out on them. ***

Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, Gedo, Jado def. Takashi Iizuka, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi, TAKA Michonoku, El Desperado

One night after writing that Okada is the one veteran who never takes these types of matches off, he made me look like a dope by doing almost nothing here.

In the grand scheme it means absolutely nothing, but it was amusing watching a Suzuki-gun team made up of Takashi Iizuka and four juniors take an Okada & Goto led CHAOS side to the limit in a competitive match. Yano pinned Despy, so in three of the four first half bouts a New Japan Cup round one winner from a night earlier was booked strong by scoring a fall on night two. This was the best match of the first half, highlighted by Gedo’s great babyface in peril segment. In fact, I thought Gedo was the most entertaining wrestler and best worker on the entire first half of the show. ***1/4

New Japan Cup Round One
Juice Robinson def. Yujiro Takahashi

The long beat down by Yujiro to start the match played right into Robinson’s strengths as a worker, but the problem here was that Yujiro always struggles to put together compelling heat periods (one of the few highlights of which was a well timed Miami Shine spot that I actually bought as the finish). Juice’s hope spots were the highlights, especially a hellacious bump into the corner on a missed cannonball, and a big lariat that Yujiro sold like a champ that set up the Pulp Friction finish. Juice was really great here, and with a slightly better dance partner, this could have been a damn good match. Still, it was solid, and it’s hard to believe that Juice Robinson (who should have won the Observer award for Most Improved) is now at a point where he’s winning matches in major tournaments. He’s earned it. ***1/4

New Japan Cup Round One

This was good, but lacking something that I can’t put my finger on. It took a while to get going, and then became a battle of surviving each other’s finishes, taking turns scratching and crawling out of butterfly locks and Skull Ends. The finish was ambitious, with SANADA catching Y-H coming off the top rope directly into a Skull End that Tacos was unable to escape. A slow start and some minor flubs in execution kept this from being as good as it could have been. ***1/4

New Japan Cup Round One
Katsuyori Shibata def. Minoru Suzuki

Despite Suzuki really laying it in with some stiff strikes, this wasn’t the brutal war I was expecting, and it never really got going or hit a second gear. There was no discernible story, as it was basically Suzuki dominating the entire match until Shibata beat him with the choke/PK combo essentially out of nowhere, with zero build or climax, in what was an incredibly flat finish. This was straight up dull and uninspiring, and while I appreciate some of the stiff work, in terms of expectations versus reality, this may have been the most disappointing match I’ve seen since Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero at One Night Stand 2005. ***

New Japan Cup Round One
Tomohiro Ishii def. Kenny Omega

In the span of about one hour, the two favorites to win the entire tournament were both eliminated.

This was great, easily the best match of either night, and one of the best matches of the year. In an interview with Bryan Alvarez & Dave Meltzer in January, Omega expressed his interest in working with Ishii. It was clear after watching this that Omega had an incredible Ishii match laid out in that magnificent, deranged mind of his. Omega is simply on a different level than the rest of the world right now when it comes to delivering drama in a big match setting, and the One Winged Angel has been brilliantly established as the most dangerous move in wrestling by failing to hit it. Omega is either going to use the move to win the IWGP title, or someone is going to kick out of it and blow the roof off whatever building they’re in, but either way, Omega has an incredible moment cooking in his maniacal brain when it comes time to finally pay this off.

Tomohiro Ishii may very well be the best pro wrestler walking the Earth, especially when it comes to selling, but in this match he put in what may have been his best performance yet from an offensive execution standpoint. Never mind the top rope rana (!!!), there is no chance I didn’t wake up a few neighbors when Ishii reversed the One Winged Angel into a cutter/stunner/Ace Crusher. Everyone knows Ishii is good, but his name always seems to be forgotten when people talk about the best in the world. That needs to stop. I’m not sure I can name five wrestlers today who I can confidently say are better overall professional wrestlers than this man, and I can’t think of one who has the innate ability to get crowds to rally behind him with such ease. I’m not someone who cares all that much about who wins or loses matches, but Ishii never fails to suck me in to root for him, and that’s precisely what pro wrestling is all about.

This is what happens when the most driven and talented man in wrestling gets in the ring with the best overall package. Despite how great this was, my gut is telling me they have an even better one in them. ****1/2

Final Thoughts

New Japan Cup always seems to leave me flat, especially the early rounds. Aside from Omega/Ishii and Tanahashi/EVIL, this year is no different. In terms of story, three of the favorites have been knocked out, leaving Shibata as the last pre tournament trendy pick standing. I’d be a little surprised if they burn off the Okada/Shibata match this soon. But if not Shibata, then who? Would they dare have Ishii challenge Okada, and trust that match to draw? EVIL has been pushed the hardest lately of the remaining men. The boldest move would be to have SANADA beat EVIL in the final and shock the world by challenging Naito. It feels too soon to split SANADA off from LIJ, but he has the top level main event upside that EVIL lacks. We’re a Shibata loss away from a shocking winner.

Voices of Wrestling New Japan Cup 2017 Pick’Em

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View updated standings, rules and prize information at voicesofwrestling.com/forums.

NJPW New Japan Cup 2017 (March 11) Results & Review

Author : joelanza

New Japan Pro Wrestling
New Japan Cup 2017
March 11, 2017
Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
Aichi, Japan (Attendance: 4515)

Watch: New Japan World

TAKA Michinoku & El Desperado def. Ryusuke Taguchi & Hirai Kawato

I don’t think he’ll ever be a star, but Hirai Kawato is coming along quickly and has become a guy that you can’t skip because you might miss a man die in the ring. This kid (as in, a literal teenager, as he still hasn’t celebrated his 20th birthday) bumps like a complete lunatic, and this roster of veterans, in this case noted sadistic young boy torturer TAKA Michonoku and stiffer than a dead body El Desperado, love to beat the every loving shit out of him. If my rating looks too high, I assure you it isn’t. Taguchi took the night off and stayed out of the way while Kawato had a few months shaved off of his career by two men that should probably be brought up on assault charges. Great opener. ***1/4

Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jushin Thunder Liger def. Manabu Nakanishi, Tiger Mask, Tomoyuki Oka

This average as fuck match was rolling along, doing average things and being average, when out of nowhere Kojima took Oka’s head off with the strongest arm and spared us a few extra minutes of mediocre. Kojima is over. I mean, guys like Kojima and Tenzan are always over to a degree, but lately Kojima is over more than usual. He can still go, and if they wanted to, they could totally give him a legit singles push and it would work. Nothing wrong with this, but it was just a match. **1/2

Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi def. Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI

YOSHI-HASHI has been scoring so many falls lately that I was convinced Yujiro would take the L here, so the result surprised me a little. This was t-shirt Kenny, but he worked harder than he usually does when it’s a t-shirt match. YOSHI-HASHI sold the One Winged Angel like absolute death, above and beyond what you normally see for a finish, which I don’t think was happenstance. They are setting that move up to produce a huge moment, either as the downfall of Okada, or for a memorable kick out. ***1/4

Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI def. Katsuyori Shibata, Juice Robinson, KUSHIDA, David Finlay

This opened up with an odd spot. Hiromu was either still selling the leg from the Taguchi match, or slipped coming off the ropes and just went with it as if it was on purpose. Either way, KUSHIDA went along with it too, so it all ended up working out. This wasn’t bad, but unless I’m just getting tired of these, it was the worst LIJ muti-man tag I can recall. SANADA was the clear standout (including a very tasty sequence with Shibata), and won it with the dragon sleeper on Finlay. **3/4

Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Gedo, Jado def. Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi

This was pretty damn great when Okada was in with Suzuki, and pretty damn awful when Taichi was doing anything aside from being hit with the match ending Rainmaker. Sometimes wrestling fans will pile on a certain wrestler to the point it becomes unfair, but Taichi legitimately sucks the life out of everything he touches. His matches always follow the same mundane routine, without the goofy charm of a Toru Yano or Takashi Iizuka. If you can stomach Taichi, the Okada/Suzuki sequences were money, and a possible prelude to a second Okada/Suzuki title match if Suzuki wins New Japan Cup. A lot of veterans take nights off on cards like this, but Okada never, ever does. ***

New Japan Cup Round One – Yuji Nagata def. Tanga Loa

This was Loa’s NJPW singles debut, and if I had it my way, it would be his singles finale. I’ve been the conductor of the Guerrillas of Destiny hype train lately, and I really do think GOD is one of the best tag teams in the world right now, but this man has no business working high profile New Japan singles matches. This was lifeless, had no energy, and was probably the worst New Japan singles bout since Doc Gallows was stinking up G1 undercards. Even Cesaro and Jinder Mahal thought this sucked. *3/4

New Japan Cup Round One – Toru Yano def. Tama Tonga

A typical Yano tournament match, with an abrupt schoolboy finish. This felt like Misawa/Kobashi compared to the previous match. **1/4

New Japan Cup Round One – Bad Luck Fale def. Michael Elgin

This reminded me of the Braun Strowman RAW matches against Big Show and Mark Henry. Methodical, but not in a negative way, with two large men doing large men things. Some will call the finish a mild upset, but Fale is booked in such a way that he is capable of beating anyone on the roster. ***

New Japan Cup Round One – EVIL def. Hiroshi Tanahashi

After thoroughly dominating Tanahashi at every turn during the build, I was somewhat surprised that EVIL won the match. In fact, this match largely mirrored the post match beatdowns EVIL had given Tanahashi over the last few weeks, with EVIL using his signature double chair attack to the head in the early moments and Tanahashi putting together relatively little offense after that aside from hitting his crossbody High Fly Flow to the floor and making a brief, albeit intense (including shoving Red Shoes aside) comeback towards the end of the match. This thoroughly one sided domination worked, as the crowd rallied behind Tanhashi the entire way, wanting, and probably expecting, the big come from behind win. Instead, EVIL borrowed from the BUSHI playbook and used mist to cut off the final, desperate comeback and hit the EVIL STO to pick up the win and stun the crowd. The show ended with EVIL telling the crowd that “Everything is EVIL!” with one foot on Tanahashi’s chest.

New Japan finds themselves in an interesting place with Tanahashi, who is still without question a big enough star to headline from time to time, but clearly slotted a notch below the top, while also still having enough credibility to give guys like EVIL sufficient rub when they beat him. This is a critical 18-24 month stretch in terms of taking advantage of that dynamic, before he loses that cache with fans due to too many losses. ****

Final Thoughts

An average show with a fascinating main event. If you watch the bookends and skip everything else, you won’t be missing much. I loved Kawato’s spirit in the opener, and the main event was not what I was expecting at all. Tanahashi has embraced his role as the fading star who puts people over, and not shockingly, he is proving to be great at it. His days of being recognized by the masses with awards and accolades are probably over, but matches like this one against EVIL and his WrestleKingdom bout against Naito show that Tanahashi is still an elite level performer, albeit in a role that is less apt to earn acclaim.

NJPW 45th Anniversary In Korakuen Hall (March 7) Results & Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
45th Anniversary
March 7, 2017
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan (Attendance: 1,740)

Watch: New Japan World

Hirai Kawato, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay Jr. Def. Tomoyuki Oka, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Jushin Thunder Liger

On the heels of their tag title win the night before, the Bread Club, Kojima and Tenzan (no longer Tencozy) teamed up with Liger and rookie Tomoyuki Oka, who looks no younger than they do despite being young enough to be their son, to challenge Nakanishi, Taguchi, Kawato and David Finlay.

Oka had a good showing against Nakanishi just 24 hours earlier and looked the best he’s looked since his debut. He’s right up there with Kawato in terms of ring work already and Kawato started wrestling a year before Oka did, though both are still progressing at a decent rate. Not much to unpack here, pretty standard opener for the most part. Nakanishi tapped Oka with a torture rack. Kawato showed a bit of attitude towards Liger and shoved him after the match, in which Liger didn’t sell and walked away, something I found funny. **1/2

Yuji Nagata, Juice Robinson & Michael Elgin Def. Yujiro Takahashi, Tanga Loa & Bad Luck Fale

Fale’s almost been a complete non-entity since the G1 Climax and it’s a real shame, because the guy’s proven that he can go when needed. I have no doubt in my mind him and Elgin are going to kill it when they meet one-on-one in the New Japan Cup, as they absolutely killed it here with the limited amount of time they had. While that was obviously the most important pairing and the focus of the match, it also served a prelude to Robinson’s match with Yujiro and Nagata’s match with Loa, Nagata of course replacing the injured Tomoaki Honma. Loa has really found himself in this company as of late and has a good understanding of what he is and what he’s supposed to do. He’s not a great pro wrestler, I’d call him solid at best, but solid at best is a massive improvement over “get this guy the hell out of here,” which is what he was when he came in a year ago. One of many action-packed, fast-paced, energetic matches on this show. ***1/4

El Desperado, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr. Def. Gedo, Jado, Beretta & Hirooki Goto

Zack Sabre Jr. waltzed into New Japan 24 hours prior to this show and beat Katsuyori Shibata for the RevPro title, and then waltzed into Korakuen Hall and pinned Hirooki Goto to set up what I assume is a NEVER title match. Suzuki-gun has been dead in the water since early February, and while I don’t suspect the addition of Sabre will make them that much more exciting, it certainly doesn’t hurt. If all of his matches are littered with interference and bullshit, which is a possibility, then we’ll talk about it being an issue. As of right now though, I don’t mind, and it makes Suzuki-gun interesting for the time being.

A nothing match when Sabre and Goto weren’t in the ring. Your standard lower-tier Suzuki-gun multi-man. Gedo sold for Taichi a lot and it wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either. It was there. **1/2


Katsuyori Shibata, Togi Makabe & Tiger Mask IV Def. Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr. & TAKA Michinoku

Shibata and Suzuki, as a prelude to their upcoming Cup match, beat the living hell out of each other here and had to held back by their respective partners afterward to keep from killing one another. Tiger Mask IV has had a lot of juice since his son Tiger Mask W made his return to the promotion last week. He’s decent enough in Super Juniors every year, I don’t hate him in tag matches, but by and large Tiger Mask IV one of the most uninteresting guys on the roster, so seeing him work a little harder is nice. Headlining the last Korakuen served as a bit of a kick in the ass, I guess. Everyone in the match busted their ass and looked great, despite the focus clearly being Shibata and Suzuki. Makabe looked like he wanted to kill everyone, Smith was an asshole, TAKA was an annoying little prick, Tiger Mask had the working boots tightened up, and the other two go without saying. Well worth a watch. ***1/2

Kenny Omega & Tama Tonga Def. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano

I badly want Tama Tonga and Tomohiro Ishii in the same G1 block this year. Tama Tonga has become a hell of a worker, anyone who wrote him off last year needs to reevaluate this year. He’s now what everyone thought he was before he was pushed. He started out shaky, him and his brother were absolute trash together for a while, he wasn’t great in the beginning stages of the G1, but ever since late 2016, this guy’s been great. Like Tanga Loa, he has a perfect understanding of his character and what he is, and his work has improved tremendously. I’m praying he gets past Yano in the Cup and faces Elgin in the second round. I need him in a real singles match. While we may not be getting Tonga vs. Ishii yet, we are getting Ishii vs. Omega, so that’ll have to do. Two of the best wrestlers in the world who have never faced each other one-on-one. No big deal, right? Like Shibata and Suzuki in the previous bout, they had some super heated interactions here and made everyone in the building, including myself, excited for their match on the 12th. Yano, as always, stood out like a sore thumb and wasn’t on par with the other three, although I will say his act was largely inoffensive. Of course, he’s the one who ate the pin and will likely move on to defeat Tonga as a result, which, again, I’m praying doesn’t happen. ***1/2

KUSHIDA & Hiroshi Tanahashi Def. Hiromu Takahashi & EVIL

Hiromu Takahashi’s booking has not gotten enough attention, and is one of the reasons I say Gedo is one of the best out there. Takahashi has not been pinned or submitted since his return in November. He’s won all of his singles matches, and he’s never taken the fall in tags. He’s never pinned, and therefore when someone does pin him, it’s a huge deal. Gedo’s done such a nice job with his push. It couldn’t have gone any better. KUSHIDA hit him with a backslide/jackknife pin combo for the win as he heads into his junior title challenge with that extra element of being the only one to defeat Hiromu.

EVIL has been beating Tanahashi like a drum recently, and Tanahashi, who tends to mail it in on these shows, gave it right back to him and worked his 40-year-old ass off here. I don’t have a feel for who’s winning the Cup match, I’ve thought about both, both would obviously make sense, so I’m saying it’s about 50/50, which is good. Sometimes it’s alright for these guys to be on equal footing, and it makes EVIL look great when he’s going toe-to-toe with the former ace and isn’t outclassed by him.

Another fun, energetic, fast-paced, action-packed match on this already great show. Go out of your way to watch it. ****

Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI Def. Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI & Rocky Romero

All about YOSHI-HASHI vs. SANADA here, another New Japan Cup match I don’t have a good feel for. Some great chemistry and some great sequences between those two throughout. SANADA, oddly enough, also had some great chemistry and some great interactions with Rocky Romero at the very end where Rocky showed a ton of heart and wouldn’t stay down until he was absolutely forced to tap to SANADA’s Skull End. SANADA was far and away the star of the match, closely tailed by Rocky and YOSHI-HASHI. BUSHI, Okada and Naito looked great as well, as they always do. A great, heated, fun, fast-paced main event to close out a great, heated, fun, fast-paced show. ****

Final Thoughts:

A massive improvement over some of the recent Korakuen shows. Night and day in comparison to the one from March 1st, which was dry as a bone and was carried by the main event, where as everything on this one was enjoyable on some level, with several matches being very good to great. Even without a card coming it managed to sell out, why or how I don’t know, but hey, a sell out is a sell out. More Korakuens like these, New Japan. No more garbage multi-mans that nobody on earth could possibly give a shit about. Please and thank you.

New Japan Pro Wrestling 45th Anniversary (March 6) Results & Review

Author : joelanza

NJPW 45th Anniversary
March 6, 2017
Ota City General Gymnasium
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: New Japan World

Manabu Nakanishi def Tomoyuki Oka

This was a pre-show match, and made for a freaky visual because it looked like a 25-year old Nakanishi hopped out of a time machine to fight himself.

Nakanishi laid a beating on Oka here, but also gave him way more than he had to, including taking Oka’s impressive overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Oka even escaped an initial Argentine backbreaker attempt and made a brief comeback before finally succumbing to the hold. The best Oka bout to date, and well worth a watch. ***

Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Gedo, Jado def. Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr, El Desperado, TAKA Michinoku

Jado wore a Tomoaki Honma wristband, and TAKA was sporting yellow wrist tape.

It was obvious from the moment the bell rang that the working shoes were on, as opposed to the New Japan Road show where everyone looked bored and uninterested aside from the main event. A hot, high energy opener, with YOSHI-HASHI scoring yet another fall, tapping out TAKA with the butterfly lock. YOSHI-HASHI has scored a lot of falls this year in tag matches where he’s paired with dudes slotted above him. That’s not an accident, and continues his sustained mid card push that began in 2016.

Also notable, with Lance Archer recovering from back surgery, Davey Boy Smith Jr no longer wears KES gear. With Archer expected to miss a significant amount of time, a singles push (perhaps at the NEVER or IC level) for Smith in the interim would be a good, fresh idea. ***

Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa def Yuji Nagata, Togi Makabe, David Finlay, Tiger Mask, Jushin Thunder Liger

A ten man tag full of leftovers who have no booking direction at the moment. Well worked, but not quite at the same level as the 8-man that proceeded it. Like New Japan Road, Omega was in full on fringy rainbow goof off mode. With the dual personality thing, he’s established a brilliant way to save his body when working meaningless undercard filler. Fale scored the fall, via the grenade on Finlay. **3/4

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru def. Roppongi Vice (c)

I was rooting hard for Roppongi Vice, the most interesting junior tag champs in ages, to retain, but the absolute worst case scenario of Taichi ending up with the belts came to pass. The match was total chaos, worked Texas Tornado style, but the Taichi tropes and SZG interference were minimal and the match over delivered, with a strong Kanemaru Deep Impact finish (I love that move) on Rocky Romero. RPG Vice always work hard and are on a great run this year.

Gedo & Jado broke up a post match attack, and appear to be the first challengers. If this were El Desperado & Kanemaru as (presumably) originally planned, I’d have way less of a problem with the title switch, but since I expect Suzuki-gun to retain against World Class Tag Team, it’s impossible to be excited about Taichi working meaningful matches over the next couple of months. I know WCTT never faced SZG in NOAH during their GHC junior title run last year, but this still reeks of a NOAH redux feud for some reason. ***1/4

RPW British Heavyweight Title
Zack Sabre Jr def. Katsuyori Shibata (c)

Man, I loved the work here and this was turning into a truly great match…but then the shenanigans happened.

They started things off with some nifty grappling and chain wrestling. The first big transition was Shibata going for his corner dropkick a little too early, with Zack rising to his feet and following him into the opposite corner with a European uppercut. Zack spent the majority of the match working Shibata’s arm, and deftly avoiding chokes with slick reversals, many of which were converted into bridging pin attempts. This was a compelling cat and mouse game, developing nicely until Minoru Suzuki ran to the ring and hopped up on the apron. Shibata kicked him off, but amid the chaos Davey Boy Smith Jr was able to lay him out to set up a Suzuki Gotch piledriver. Zack quietly watched it all unfold, but took the cheap pin with a shit eating grin on his face, winning the title and joining SZG in the process.

The angle ruined what was simmering into a boil of a great match, and I’m uneasy about ZSJ being a SZG member. I’m not sure he fits the gimmick, and he’s too good of a wrestler to have his matches dragged down by angles. I’ll give it a chance, but this was all very discouraging and puts a wet blanket on Sabre Jr coming to NJPW. ***1/4

IWGP Tag Team Titles
TenKoji def. Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii (c)

TenKoji replaced Makabe & Honma. The crowd was hot for TenKoji from the start, and came unglued when Kojima did the Kokeshi. Kojima put away Yano with the lariat while Tenzan held Ishii in the Anaconda Vice. With Honma front and center on people’s minds, it was the right move to do the title switch.

If GBH were originally earmarked to take the titles here, TenKoji are perfect surrogates to step into their spot, as it likely won’t disrupt other booking plans with Kojima & Tenzan working nothing but undercard tags these days. ***1/2

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

The usual LIJ multi man tag against the New Japan Army, which i’m tiring of very quickly. These are always well worked and heated, but I feel like I’ve seen this match dozens of times, whether against some combination of the opponents here, or CHAOS. Once again, as he’s done on every show since Wrestle Kingdom, EVIL attacked Tanahashi in the post match. Tanahashi might be dead before that match ever takes place. ***1/2

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title
Hiromu Takahashi (c) def. Ryusuke Taguchi

The build for this match was pretty great, establishing Taguchi was just the right kind of crazy to match the insanity of Hiromu, and getting over the idea that Hiromu was deathly afraid of the ankle lock.

The match was worked precisely to the build, with Taguchi looking for an ankle lock to end things immediately (just as he attempted in all of their tag bouts), and repeatedly working toward the hold the entire match. Taguchi worked this 100% straight and with a clear sense of determination (at one point battering a cocky Hiromu with a series of vicious strikes), getting over that the title was important to him. An important takeaway was that Hiromu survived a long ankle lock spot before coming back to win in clean, definitive fashion (even if the finish was a tad abrupt), clearly establishing that he’s a level above Taguchi and firmly putting him in the rear view.

I loved that Taguchi forced Hiromu to work a different style of bout. I’ll never tire of Hiromu’s wild matches against Dragon Lee, and the KUSHIDA match at Wrestle Kingdom was in that same vein. This, however, was Hiromu out of his comfort zone, doing something different, at a much slower pace with a very different kind of psychology, and he delivered just fine.

KUSHIDA stepped out to make the next challenge. I’m not going to complain about a second Hiromu/KUSHIDA match, and while I am thrilled that KUSHIDA and Hiromu have helped elevate the junior title to semi main event (and even main event) status over the last year, I do want to point out a few problems I still have with the juniors in general.

The big issue is that we never see non-title singles matches outside of tournaments. With one of the deepest and most talented junior divisions of all time, it’s time to feature these guys outside of title matches. KUSHIDA could have worked a singles match on this show (or New Japan Road, or one of the other 19 Korakuen Hall shows over the last two weeks) against BUSHI or Desperado or Will Ospreay or [insert any junior here] to “earn” the next title match. Matches like that would feature these talented juniors in meaningful bouts, add some juice to undercards, and send challengers into title matches with some momentum, as opposed to getting a title match by simply walking down a ramp.

Speaking of Will Ospreay, we are now one year into his two year NJPW contract, and aside from winning the Best of the Super Juniors, the company has done virtually nothing meaningful with him. This is one of the biggest and hottest stars on the planet, you have him under contract, and he mostly wastes away in multi man tag matches. What is happening here?!

I’m not demanding an Ospreay mega push, or even a title run. Just give the man something meaningful to do. If you don’t want him in the title mix yet (or at all), put him in a tag team and have him chase the tag titles (or even the NEVER trios titles). Use him as Okada’s pin eater so he can work main events (I enjoyed Gedo in the match, but how cool would an Okada & Ospreay vs Tiger Mask W & Tiger Mask main event have been at New Japan Road?). Use him as a gatekeeper, with his BOSJ cache, to put over future title challengers, as described above in relation to KUSHIDA entering the Hiromu match cold. Just do something with him.

The Shibata/Ospreay match was a great example of what I’m talking about. That match served a purpose, with Ospreay involved in something meaningful. It introduced the RPW title to Japanese fans, it gave Shibata a strong win in a good match, and it set up the Sabre Jr/Shibata bout. The issue here is not that Ospreay hardly ever wins (although it wouldn’t be the worst idea to push one of the most talented and charismatic wrestlers on the planet, but let’s walk before we run), it’s that he’s hardly ever even featured. It’s a gross misuse of a valuable asset, a pattern not immune to this company when it comes to talented juniors (Mascara Dorada), but in this case, a burgeoning young break out talent who is a genuine worldwide star. It’s irresponsible, inexcusable, wasteful booking. ****

Kazuchika Okada def. Tiger Mask W

Tiger Mask cornered Tiger Mask W. I love that!

This was great. It started off very exhibition-y, following the theme of Okada’s whimsical challenge of Ibushi  Tiger Mask W at New Beginning, with both guys running through their array of signature spots. This was all well worked and fun, very much babyface vs babyface, with the fans getting into the various Tiger Driver and Tombstone reversals and having a good time…and then Okada snapped.

A stiff forearm (causing the crowd to gasp) triggered Okada who promptly stomped W’s face into the mat, reminiscent to what Nakamura did to the same man three Wrestle Kingdom’s ago. Like that match, Tiger Mask W Ibushi defiantly rose to his feet and stood up to his CHAOS bully. This was an obvious callback, and from here the match kicked into a different gear, transitioning into something nasty and vicious, while at the same time not falling back on the easy out of upping the pace.

Ibushi shoved Red Shoes out of the way and PUNCHED OKADA SQUARE IN THE FACE, which stunned the crowd, and followed up on the now grounded Okada with a couple of more closed fists to the jaw. By New Japan simply not allowing closed fist strikes, the impact of a simple punch is amplified when someone snaps and uses one. He kicked the woozy Okada in the head, viciously stomped his arm into the mat, and nearly won with the Last Ride. Not the Tiger Suplex. Not the Tiger Driver. This was Ibushi ignoring the mask and channeling Wrestle Kingdom 9.

Next came a brilliantly executed top turnbuckle sequence. Okada blocked a hurricanrana and set up a top rope tombstone (that only a nut like Ibushi would take), but Ibushi flipped out of it, climbed back up, and hit an amazing top rope Tiger Driver variation for a near fall. He lifted Okada to his feet, and Okada hit a desperation Rainmaker. Too weak to cover, he held the wrist (callback #2). He hit the second Rainmaker, followed by the pose and a primal scream. He went for a completely unnecessary third Rainmaker, his fuck you Rainmaker that he uses to make emphatic statements (callback #3), but Ibushi ducked. HOLY SHIT, was Okada’s rage going to cost him? He caught a flailing Ibushi with a German that folded him in half, hit the Rainmaker, and that was that.

Okada held out his hand as the half dead Tiger Mask Ibushi tried to grasp it, but he didn’t have the strength to stand. Okada didn’t help him up or put in any extra effort to complete the handshake, as Ibushi symbolically collapsed at his feet and was left for dead.

This match turned nasty and never looked back. Something tells me the real Ibushi, a pure Ibushi, will be coming for Okada at some point down the line. ****1/2

Final Thoughts

Two great matches that would have been three if not for the angle at the end of the RevPro title bout. A well worked show up and down the card, but the semi and main were the standouts, as Taguchi dragged Hiromu out of his comfort zone, and Okada delivered another masterpiece in pro wrestling storytelling.

New Japan Road (March 1) Results & Review: Korakuen Burnout

Author : joelanza

New Japan Pro Wrestling
New Japan Road
March 1, 2017
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo Japan

WatchNJPW World

1401 fans “packed” Korakuen Hall for a one match New Japan Road show, the third New Japan show in the building in four days, and the fourth in nine days.

Relatively weak lineups for the Togi Makabe Annniversary, two Honor Rising shows which featured two singles matches in total, and now this New Japan Road lineup are taking a toll. New Japan fans have shown over the last couple of years that they won’t show up like lemmings to just any Korakuen offering, and four shows in just over a week has led to some discriminating ticket purchases. Night Two of Honor Rising drew just 1271 fans, which is the low water mark for NJPW in Korakuen in at least two years.

With that said, it might be time to stop using Korakuen as a barometer of health for the company. WrestleKingdom showed growth over the year prior, both New Beginning shows were Super No Vacancy (with Osaka selling out a month in advance and Sapporo doing strong walk up in a snow storm despite a weak lineup underneath Okada/Suzuki), and the upcoming New Japan Cup Final is already sold out roughly a month ahead of time with not a single match announced. This continues the big show business momentum that picked up around G1 last year, even if New Japan fans aren’t falling for the company’s weak Korakuen hustle.

The Honor Rising shows mostly delivered, with Night 1 producing a fun top to bottom show and Night 2 featuring a strong post intermission run of matches. New Japan Road looked weak on paper, and when the dust settled it may have been the most boring New Japan show I’ve seen this decade.

Yujiro Takahashi def. Tomoyuki Oka

A tidy, well worked 5-minute match that saw Yujiro put away Oka with the Pimp Juice DDT.

To show how far Yujiro has fallen in the pecking order, this was his first singles match in nearly a year (a 3/27/16 loss to Hiroshi Tanahashi), and his first singles win since his controversial victory over Tomoaki Honma on the final night of the 2015 G1 B Block. Yujiro is best served and totally inoffensive as an entertaining undercard gimmick.

It’s not fair breaking down wrestlers ten matches into their careers, because you wind up critiquing them too hard, or going overboard with praise for the most basic of skills. With that said, there are some things I really like about Oka, who is considered New Japan’s top heavyweight prospect, and expected by many to one day receive a main event push. What often stands out about young lions is their fire, but it usually takes about 20 matches or so to really show it. Oka has shown great fire almost from the jump. It’s also impossible to not notice his nice belly to belly overhead suplex, which may develop into a signature maneuver, if not a finish.

On the downside, he has a poor look, even by the stripped down, drab by design young boy standards. He’s only 25, but with his shaved head and a resting face that looks like it’s seen a few things, he could easily pass for 40. He’s clearly very strong, with a stocky build, but with very little muscle tone. I suspect this will improve with rigorous dojo time, but I don’t ever see him putting together a ripped physique.

You can see what the company loves about him, even if his look runs counter to the female friendly matinee idol archetype the company prefers in their main event stars. That may ultimately work to his advantage as something different, but at the end of the day he’s the pet project of Takaaki Kidani, so unless he’s a complete bust he’s going to get every opportunity to succeed. **

YOSHI-HASHI, Rocky Romero, Beretta, Jado def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku, El Desperado

It isn’t often that the New Japan crew mails it in, but this began a long string of matches where they clearly threw a stamp on it. I’m usually not a a huge stickler for great striking, but this had no less than three badly missed strikes that missed by a foot. Very little action, lackadaisical effort, and some sloppy work in spots. It’s worth mentioning that YOSHI-HASHI scored the fall, two days after losing to Adam Cole in the same building, so there is booking effort to keep him warm. **1/4

Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa def. Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi

Another uninspired effort. Omega was in rainbow fringe mode, but even his wacky antics were half effort. Cleaner work than the previous match, but equally dull. After a loss to War Machine on Monday, Tama Tonga notably picked up a win here, pinning Nakanishi, whose two month feel good push appears to be officially over. **1/2

Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto def. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Jushin Thunder Liger

The best match of what I can comfortably call the worst first half of a New Japan show in years, but not even close to something you should seek out. The third straight match with minimum acceptable effort and an abrupt finish at the ~10:00 minute mark. **3/4

Minoru Suzuki & Davey Boy Smith Jr def. Katsuyori Shibata & David Finlay

Davey Boy Smith Jr was sans Killer Elite Squad gear hear, and given a strong win with a big Bulldog Bomb (high angle powerbomb) on Finlay that popped the crowd for the first time all night. Suzuki opted to brawl with Shibata one on one in the post match, oddly turning down a double team by refusing the help of his partner. Another dry match. **3/4

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin, Juice Robinson, KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi def. Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI

SANADA’s hair is ridiculous and I love it. He should no sell DDT’s.

Hiromu and Taguchi started things off, with Taguchi going right for the ankle lock as Hiromu scurried out of the ring and promptly tagged out. If you haven’t paid much attention to the string of mediorce Korakuen Hall shows over the last two weeks, they’ve set the tone for the upcoming junior title match quite nicely by laying the groundwork of Hiromu being deathly afraid of Taguchi’s ankle lock.

Good action, but aside from continuing the Hiromu/Taguchi story and the post match EVIL/Tanahashi brawl (ahead of their upcoming New Japan Cup bout), this was the least interesting LIJ tag match in ages. Like YOSHI-HASHI and Tama Tonga earlier in the show, Juice scoring the fall was notable. He’s won nearly every televised match he’s been involved in this year aside from his failed NEVER challenge. ***

Tiger Mask W & Tiger Mask def. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo

Easily the best match on the show, and really the only thing you need to watch if pressed for time (or otherwise).

As best as we can ascertain, this was the first Tiger Mask IV NJPW main event since Christmas Day 2011, a card that featured pre-Lord Tensai Giant Bernard, pre-Desperado Kyosuke Mikami, pre-excursion Hiromu Takahashi, pre-Captain New Japan Hideo Saito, pre-retirement Wataru Inoue, and ‘Ol Melty Face Yoshihiro Takayama. Kazuchika Okada was about two weeks away from his return, Yujiro & Takashi Iizuka were still part of CHAOS, and Tomohiro Ishii was working openers.

Kota Ibushi not-so-subtly complaining about the size and awkwardness of the Tiger Mask W mask didn’t fall on deaf ears, as he was sporting a new streamlined model with a shorter snout(?), and he looked way more comfortable and worked way more like himself.

The crowd was hot for the first TMW/Okada interaction, and stayed hot for the entire match, which featured a ton of finished teases from all four men, including Gedo surprisingly kicking out of a TMIV Tiger Driver (which I totally bought as the finish), Okada avoiding the Tiger Suplex, and TMW skillfully dodging the Rainmaker. Gedo pulled off some nifty reversals for Gedo Clutch near falls, and Tiger Mask IV more than held his own in a main event match with two of the best wrestlers in the world and one of the smartest. The Okada/Gedo team always deliver in a big spot, and might be the most underrated tag team of the last half decade or so. A very good match with great action, a ton of fun, and well worth going out of your way to see. ****

Final Thoughts

A nothing show aside from the main event, especially if you’ve been keeping up on the Hiromu/Taguchi, Tanahashi/EVIL, and Suzuki/Shibata builds post-Fantasticamania. New Japan’s run of mixed bag Korakuen’s ends here, as we head into what on paper looks to be a great Anniversary show and a killer New Japan Cup.

ROH & NJPW Honor Rising 2017: Night 2 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling/Ring of Honor
Honor Rising 2017: Night 2
February 27, 2017
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Silas Young & Jado def. KUSHIDA & David Finlay

This was originally scheduled to be a six-man tag, but it became a traditional tag team match after a recent injury suffered by Henare. While it’s unfortunate that he’s on the shelf, the silver lining is that we did get to start of the show with something different compared to the night before. I’m not exactly sure why they had Jado in here instead of Gedo, but it’s only the opener, so it doesn’t matter that much. Young cut a pre-match promo that was similar to the one he did the night before, which led to him & Jado getting the jump on KUSHIDA & David Finlay. This was an entertaining opening contest. It was actually a little bit better than I was expecting, considering Jado was involved. All four guys did a fine job, and it proved to be a good way to start the show. As I mentioned in my review of Night 1, it sucks that Silas Young was basically given nothing of value on these shows, but at least he managed to get the victory here, as he pinned David Finlay after hitting Misery. ***

Los Ingobernables de Japon def. Dalton Castle, Delirious, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Tiger Mask

Some of the young lions were playing the role of The Boys here, while Taguchi did his own take on Dalton Castle’s entrance and poses. This was a relatively fun ten man tag. As you would expect, there was a fair amount of focus placed on Hiromu Takahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi at various points, since they have a title match coming up, and the exchanges they did have were good. At the same time, everyone else had their moments to shine. Some highlights included BUSHI & Tiger Mask going after each other’s masks, and Naito using the tassels on the mask of Delirious to tie the lizard man to a railing. It was by no means a memorable match, but it featured some solid action from start to finish and served its purpose well. For the second night in a row, EVIL got the last laugh on Delirious, as he pinned him following his signature STO to win the match for LIJ. ***¼

In an interesting post-match note, one of the members of LIJ managed to rip off Tiger Mask’s mask, and Naito tossed it into the crowd (who then kindly gave it back to Tiger Mask).

War Machine def. The Guerillas of Destiny

These two teams had a very good match during the World Tag League a few months ago, and they managed to equal that effort here with another entertaining tag team encounter. It’s amazing to see how far The Guerrillas of Destiny have come since their initial debut as a tag team last year. At one point, they were seemingly unbearable to watch, but now they’ve improved by leaps and bounds, and it seems like they’re at their best when they go up against teams like War Machine. There was plenty of good action throughout this one, and both teams looked impressive. After a very good closing sequence, War Machine managed to hit Fallout on Tama Tonga to score the victory and, it a post-match promo, made it very clear that they have their sights set on the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles, regardless of who the champions are. I mentioned this in some of my World Tag League reviews, but War Machine are a perfect fit for New Japan. There’s been some speculation in the last few months regarding the future of War Machine (particularly Ray Rowe), but I do hope that they end up working in New Japan on a more regular basis, because they could inject some life into the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Title picture. ***1/2

The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, “The Hangman” Adam Page, & Yujiro Takahashi) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay Lethal, & Juice Robinson

In what was probably the most shocking result of the night, The Bullet Club managed to get the win after Adam Page pinned Jay Lethal. There really isn’t a lot to say about this tag team match as a whole. It was fine, but not memorable in any way. The fact that Page scored the fall on Lethal here makes me think that there’s something planned for him down the road, but time will tell whether New Japan, or Ring of Honor, actually follow up on it. **3/4

NEVER Openweight Title
Hirooki Goto (c) def. Punishment Martinez

When the cards for both of these shows were announced, this was the match that stuck out like a sore thumb. Most people haven’t even seen Punishment Martinez before, and even if you’re someone who follows the ROH product, he really hasn’t had that many singles matches, since he’s been spending most of his time as a partner for BJ Whitmer. It was pretty obvious that Goto would be retaining here, but the big question was just how this would turn out. When the dust settled, this title bout really managed to exceed expectations. Things did get off to a slow start, but they managed to gradually pick up the pace from there. These two seemed to work very well, and Punisher Martinez looked pretty good. This was easily better than anything he’s done since he made his debut in ROH, and I’m sure the fact that he was in there with a guy like Goto was a big reason for that. His current character might be a little over-the-top for some, but as a wrestler, you could see that he definitely has potential. Again, the outcome was never in question, but this was definitely an impressive outing for Punishment Martinez. ***3/4

ROH World Title
Adam Cole (c) def. YOSHI-HASHI

YOSHI-HASHI earned this title match by pinning Adam Cole in a six-man tag back at New Year Dash. As a whole, this was a very strong match. There were some lighthearted moments early on, such as YOSHI-HASHI stealing Cole’s taunt, but once things got more serious, there was some really fun back and forth action. They seemed to work well together, and their respective characters played off each other nicely. Obviously YOSHI-HASHI had no chance of actually winning the title here, but as he showed during the G1 Climax last year, he’s perfectly capable of delivering good performances when he’s a spot like this. As far as Adam Cole is concerned, this was one of his best outings in New Japan to date. I know that he’s fallen out of favor for some in the last year or two, but Cole showed here that he can definitely turn it up a notch when the situation calls for it. The closing sequence was particularly, as YOSHI-HASHI kept fighting, but ultimately, Cole got the win to retain his ROH World Title. This was one of the best ROH World Title defenses we’ve seen in New Japan thus far. ****

The Bullet Club (Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks & Cody) def. The Briscoes & CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay)

Despite the fact that this show had two title matches, this eight-man tag was probably the most anticipated match on the card, and in the end, it definitely delivered. This was a great main event, and easily the best match of this two day mini-tour. It was packed with a ton of action, as we all expected, and it was incredibly entertaining to watch from start to finish. Everyone got a chance to shine at one point or another. Even Cody had a few moments, such as a massive superplex on Will Ospreay from the top rope onto everyone else on the floor. In many ways, this was a very PWG-esque match, and that wasn’t a bad thing at all. There were a number of cool spots throughout, and the crowd in Korakuen Hall was really into the action. Cody ended up scoring the win for his team after hitting the Cross Rhodes on Will Ospreay. Something interesting that I picked up in the match was that, in the few moments when Okada & Omega were in the ring together, Okada was actually got a smattering of boos. It could mean nothing in the long run, but I thought that was something worth nothing, especially if there’s going to be a rematch between the two down the line. ****¼

Kenny Omega cut a promo after the match saying that good guys and bad guys, heels and babyfaces, don’t matter. There is only the best and second place, with The Elite falling under the former, and Omega proclaimed that 2017 would be their year. They then showed another promo from The Elite & Cody once they got backstage. It was here that Omega called out Tanahashi, and The Young Bucks talked about their upcoming match with The Broken Hardys in ROH. They also mentioned how The Young Bucks are taking a step back from Japan to focus on stuff in the United States, so it would appear that (at least for the time being) we won’t be seeing The Young Bucks in New Japan for a few months.

Final Thoughts: 

Night 2 of Honor Rising was definitely a step up from Night 1. The undercard was (for the most part) solid, the two titles matches exceeded expectations, and the main event was fantastic. You don’t need to watch the entire show, but definitely check out the second half.

ROH & NJPW Honor Rising 2017: Night 1 Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling/Ring of Honor
Honor Rising 2017: Night 1
February 26th, 2017
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

KUSHIDA, Juice Robinson & David Finlay def. Silas Young, Jado & Gedo

Jado & Gedo were both wearing Silas Young’s “Last Real Man” T-Shirt, which is literally a black T-Shirt that has “Last Real Man” on the front. Young also cut a promo before the match claiming that his team has been disrespected by the people of Japan. This was a pretty standard six-man tag, but for what it was, I thought it was fine. It’s disappointing that they’re only using Silas Young in the openers for these two shows, but if there’s a silver lining on this night, it’s that he’s teaming with Jado & Gedo, who seem to be a good fit as a trio. There was an awkward moment or two, particularly when Young tried to do his headstand moonsault (as the turnbuckles are covered differently in Japan compared to western promotions), but other than that, the action was mostly solid. We did get some color here, as Young appeared to be bleeding from the mouth, while Juice Robinson busted up his nose…..again (Juice’s nose must be made of glass, because it seems like he always gets it broken or really banged up). Fortunately for Robinson, he still managed to get the win for his team after hitting Pulp Friction on Gedo. ***

NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Titles
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA) def. Delirious, Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tiger Mask

One of the reasons why these NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Titles are so entertaining is that the possibilities are endless when it comes to potential challengers. This particular title defense is a perfect example of that, as Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tiger Mask (a semi-regular tag team) paired up with Delirious, of all people, to challenge LIJ for the titles. While the outcome was never really in question, this was still a relatively solid six-man tag. For the moment, I think this division is a perfect spot for BUSHI, EVIL, and SANADA. They’re probably one of the stronger trios to hold the titles thus far, and hopefully they get a decent reign with these titles. The challenging side proved to be a fun trio. Delirious did his usual shtick, Liger was Liger, and Tiger Mask appeared to do a little bit more than he usually does in these situations (such as busting out a tombstone piledriver). They had some nice nearfalls towards the end with Delirious & SANADA, and shortly thereafter, the finish came when EVIL hit Delirious with a chair (while BUSHI had the referee distracted) which led to SANADA locking in the Skull End for the win. Again, this was a fine match, and probably served to get a solid title defense under LIJ’s belt. ***

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Will Ospreay, & YOSHI-HASHI) def. The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, The Guerrillas of Destiny, & Yujiro Takahashi)

Well, The Bullet Club is back in full force on these Honor Rising shows, as four of the remaining five matches on this card feature members of The Bullet Club. Their first outing of the night saw them go up against a pretty strong CHAOS contingent led by Okada. This was a good multi-man tag, but it was the only match on the entire show that seemed to lack any ROH influence. Yes, technically Will Ospreay is working for ROH now, but I would associate him a lot more with New Japan than ROH. While it was a perfectly good match, as I already mentioned, it’s a match you can see on any random “Road To…” show. There was actually a similar situation on the FantasticaMania Tour from earlier this year, as one of the shows featured a multi-man tag made up entirely of New Japan regulars, and had zero CMLL influence. The only noteworthy thing here is that YOSHI-HASHI scored the pin over Yujiro, which makes sense, as he would be challenging Adam Cole for the ROH World Title the next night. ***1/4

War Machine def. The Young Bucks

It was at this point in the show that I noticed someone wearing (what looked to be) Bubba Ray Dudley cosplay sitting in the front row. Not exactly sure why someone would want to dress up as Bubba Ray Dudley, especially on a show where New Japan partnering with a promotion that he never wrestled for, but whatever.

There are a lot of interesting things going on here. Outside of the obvious (a heavyweight team vs. a junior team), these two teams actually wrestled each other at a recent ROH show in Columbus, Ohio that (reportedly) was the best match on that show. They managed to do the same thing on the other side of the world, as this was easily the best match on Night 1 of Honor Rising. What made this encounter so entertaining was that, for the most part, it was packed with action from start to finish. Both teams went back and forth, with big move after big move, as they tried to keep the opposing side down for the count. There were a number of particularly cool moments, such as Ray Rowe intercepting a Meltzer Driver attempt, and The Young Bucks forcing Hanson to hit a sitout tombstone piledriver on his own partner. Ultimately, War Machine managed to score the victory over The Young Bucks in this great tag team bout. ****

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetusya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi) & Punishment Martinez def. Dalton Castle, Hiroshi Tanahashi, & Ryusuke Taguchi

In what had to be one of the most memorable moments of the evening, Tanahashi & Taguchi assumed the role of “The Boys” for this six-man tag. Now Taguchi dressing up in some weird outfit is far from an unusual sight in New Japan, but seeing Tanahashi wear the costume of The Boys was certainly a sight to behold. As far as the match itself goes, this was easily the worst match of the night. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it felt (for the most bare) very average and bad-bones. I’m sure a lot of people were curious to see what Punisher Martinez would do, but honestly, he didn’t do much here. He started the match with Dalton Castle, interacted with him for a little bit before getting tagged out by Naito, tagged in late, and eventually got the win over Castle with his chokeslam variation. It sucks that Dalton Castle had to be fed to Martinez here, but I guess there weren’t any other options, since Taguchi has a title shot against Hiromu Takahashi coming up, and Tanahashi is most certainly not taking the fall. Another question surrounding Martinez was whether this match would lead to a more permanent alignment with LIJ. Fortunately, this didn’t happen, as after Martinez refused to do the LIJ salute for the second time following the match, Naito & Hiromu just flipped him off and left. **1/2

Katsuyori Shibata & Jay Lethal def. The Bullet Club (Cody & “The Hangman” Adam Page)

This was the first time we’ve seen “The American Nightmare” in New Japan since he defeated Juice Robinson in his debut back at Wrestle Kingdom 11. Interestingly, Cody has issues with both of his opponents in this tag team bout. He’s been feuding with Jay Lethal since Final Battle, and will be having a Texas Bullrope Match with him in Lakeland, Florida during WrestleMania Weekend. As for Shibata, he was one of the names on Cody’s infamous “list”. The tag team match itself was fine, with decent action throughout, but nothing spectacular. We did get some interaction between Cody & Shibata here, and a confrontation after the match obviously suggests that a singles bout between the two is coming. It’s only a question of when it will happen, not if. I would guess that they might meet in the first round of the New Japan Cup, but we’ll see. There was a really noticeable botch towards the end of this tag team match, as Shibata was way too close to the ropes when Page went to hit him with his flipping clothesline (it looked incredibly awkward), but shortly thereafter, Lethal hit Page with the Lethal Injection for the win. ***

The Bullet Club (Adam Cole & Kenny Omega) def. The Briscoes

For Kenny Omega, this was his first appearance in New Japan since the night after Wrestle Kingdom 11, and the subsequent controversy that followed regarding his future. He got a big response from the crowd in his return to Korakuen Hall, as he teamed with the ROH World Champion Adam Cole to take on ROH stalwarts The Briscoes. This was a very good tag team main event, but I wouldn’t call it great. There was some entertaining action throughout the contest, and some cool moments (like Omega hitting a moonsault off the guardrail, or countering The Doomsday Device), but the match was a little too long for my liking. I understand it was the main event of a Korakuen Hall show, but I think it could’ve been better if a few minutes were shaved off. Aside from that issue, there wasn’t much else to dislike about this one. Kenny Omega looked strong in his return, and The Briscoes almost never fail to impress in a big tag team match. Adam Cole was fine as well, but it’s….interesting to see how he’s used in New Japan. Given how many times he utters his catchphrase, it almost seems like he’s become a caricature of himself. What was also interesting was to see the apparent seeds of dissension they’ve planted between Adam Cole & Kenny Omega, both in the match itself, and in the post-match promo, where Cole interrupted Omega while he was talking about his return. It could be nothing, but I have a sneaking suspicion that something is going to happen down the line. With the rumors surrounding Adam Cole potentially departing ROH in the new few months, this could lead to Cole being kicked out of The Bullet Club, but time will tell. ***½

Final Thoughts:

This was by no means a spectacular show but Night 1 of NJPW/Ring of Honor Honor Rising was an entertaining nonetheless. War Machine vs. The Young Bucks was clearly the best match on the show (definitely worth checking out), while the main event, featuring the return of Kenny Omega, was also pretty good. The rest of the show had its moments, like Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi dressing up as The Boys, but none of the other bouts on the card are really worth seeking out.

Togi Makabe 20th Anniversary Show (February 21) Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Togi Makabe 20th Anniversary Show
February 21, 2017
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Tomoyuki Oka Def. Henare

Henare, about a minute and a half into the match, rolled his ankle and couldn’t stand on it, and lost via referee stoppage around the three minute mark. Reportedly the issue is with his achilles and it doesn’t sound great. I’ve really taken a liking to the guy, and the match was on its way to becoming something good until it took that unfortunate turn. Him and Oka are going to have some real bangers this year, I’m sure of it. Every time New Japan sends their young lions on excursion we worry that the new crop won’t be able to fill their shoes. White and Finlay took Tanaka and Komatsu’s places when they left and did a nice job, and now that White’s gone and Finlay’s no longer a young lion, Oka, Henare, Kawato and Kanemitsu have taken their place, and they’ve also done a nice job. I can’t wait for Henare’s return, I want more of what we saw in this match pre-injury. N/R

Gedo & Jado Def. TAKA Michinoku & El Desperado

Speaking of injuries, it turns out Desperado’s wasn’t all that serious, thankfully. I like that New Japan changed things up on this show and stuck TAKA with someone other than Taichi, one of the worst wrestlers in the company. Stick him in there with Jado, arguably the worst wrestler in the company, and there’s a good chance it would have been one of the worst matches of the year, and that’s not a hyperbole. TAKA’s not exactly what he was in his prime either. He’s solid at best these days, and is actively bad a lot of the time. But hey, Gedo and Desperado are awesome and this was a decent little match. **1/4

Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru Def. Katsuyori Shibata, Yuji Nagata, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV

There was a lot of criticism when it came to Suzuki-gun losing all of their matches at New Beginning, and my response to said criticism was, and remains to be, that Gedo did the right thing by establishing Suzuki-gun as a solid upper mid-card act. They don’t need titles, they already have the credibility, titles don’t add that, it’s good they were given the title shots, but they didn’t need to win. Suzuki-gun, and Suzuki in specific, is exactly where he should be, in an upper mid-card, occasional main event role. There’s nothing wrong with that. He doesn’t need to be Okada or Naito or pre-2016 Tanahashi. Being an upper mid-card card guy is fine for someone who’s pushing 50 and can still go when he needs to. The interactions he had with Shibata here were tremendous as they built towards what will probably be a match at Genesis (Invasion Attack) in April or in the Cup finals next month, if Gedo wants to be cute about it. It’ll be fun, gives both something to do and is good for Shibata, since he’s obviously winning. Solid match here. Heated, everyone worked hard, Liger and Tiger Mask were grumpy, Kanemaru was a prick, Iizuka was…we’ll go with “inoffensive,” Taichi was just there; good stuff. ***1/4

Juice Robinson, Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA, David Finlay Jr. & Ryusuke Taguchi Def. Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA

Another heated multi-man. Taguchi has had a sneaky good year working these sorts of matches and is often one of the highlights, perhaps because he’s known all along he was getting a junior title shot and has been more motivated than usual as a result. Taguchi and Hiromu have good, yet odd chemistry together and there’s no doubt in my mind they’re going to kill it in their eventual title match. They were the focus here alongside Juice, who’s been elevated to a decent degree and has had a relatively good year in his own right. He’s probably getting another title shot in the near future as he’s been scoring all the falls in these matches over the past month or so, even after losing to Goto. He’s over, he’s been delivering, and I’m all for another match between those two. He’s been booked perfectly, it wouldn’t be all that egregious if he was given another shot, in fact, it’d make perfect sense. I’m on Team Juice. He pinned BUSHI here, Taguchi and Hiromu went nose to nose afterward, Taguchi licked the junior title belt as Hiromu held it above him, mocking Hiromu’s antics since his return, and the match was fun. No complaints on my end. ***1/4

Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI Def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi

Satoshi Kojima, the greatest man to ever grace Twitter dot com, had what looked like a fresh haircut for the occasion. If you aren’t following Kojima on Twitter, you’re doing this whole “life” thing completely wrong. Kojima-san likes ketchup on his fries and his dog Cookie likes a walk very much. Kojima was on top of his game with all that training he does and the extra motivation of having said fresh cut. Unfortunately, him and his buddies didn’t pick up the win over the youngsters in Okada, Goto (who’s 37, but who cares) and YOSHI-HASHI (who’s 34, but who cares), but all three put on a solid performance and delivered a highly enjoyable semi-main event. ***1/2

Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma Def. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano

Makabe’s a guy I’ve always had mixed feelings on. I don’t hate him, there’s been times I haven’t liked him, there’s been times I have liked him, but there’s never been a time I’ve loved him nor a time I’ve outwardly hated him. He’s been a solid enough hand for 20 years, and this was New Japan’s way of patting him on the back and thanking him for his service. As expected, Gedo didn’t want to put the titles on him and Honma but didn’t want them losing so had them win a non-title match. While it makes sense, I would have preferred if they were to win the titles, not necessarily because it Makabe’s anniversary show, but because I can’t stand Ishii and Yano as a team (I can’t stand anyone and Yano as a team, I just can’t stand Yano).

While Yano almost ruined it for me and sticking anyone else in there would have been an improvement, the rest of the match was so good I was able to overlook it. Best described as a good World Tag League match is what this was. One of the handful of World Tag League matches you can recommend, which are few and far between. Makabe, Honma and Ishii were so great not even Yano could drag them down to a significant degree. I wasn’t expecting it to be bad, I knew it’d be good, but it definitely over-delivered. ****

Final Thoughts:

The Togi Makabe 20th Anniversary Show was not one of the better New Japan shows this year but was still quite fun. If you’re short on time and can’t watch everything, skip to the main event. If you do have the time, just watch the whole thing. It was good fun.

NJPW THE NEW BEGINNING in OSAKA (February 11) Results & Review

Author : jojoremy

FEBRUARY 11, 2017

Watch: New Japan World

New Japan Pro Wrestling returned to a sold-out Osaka to close their first full-fledged tour of 2017.

Injuries are starting to pile up for New Japan: Lance Archer, El Desperado, David Finlay and Teruaki Kanemitsu are all currently sidelined. Hirai Kawato also came down with the flu, so the first two matches were changed at the opening bell.


A basic, solid opener with a cool finish. After his third eye poke, TAKA won with a creative pin. **1/4


I’m enjoying the third generation’s battles with YoshiTatsu more than anything since he’s returned from injury. Another solid outing that reinforced the tension between ‘Tatsu and his elders. Koji put YoshiTatsu away with a lariat in just under 7 minutes. **1/4


The exchanges between Juice and Goto were good, but not truly the focus of the match. I’m not sure if Juice is getting another title shot right away, but he has definitely come out of this series looking stronger despite failing in his challenge. He ended up in the win column again, beating Jado with Pulp Friction. **1/4


Okada continued selling his injured leg; visibly limping during his entrance. Assuming the role of a franchise star “playing hurt,” his selling was great throughout. Trent and Minoru have some unexpectedly great chemistry. Trent’s selling has been great all tour, too. Kanemaru continued to impress and got the pin on Rocky. With Desperado injured, it looks like Taichi and Kanemaru will be the next junior tag challengers. **3/4


Commentary noted Taguchi has a toy scythe. Nevertheless, I refuse to accept EVIL’s scythe as anything but a toy. This was a very good match that also had some great comedy. Taguchi continued his confused baseball/soccer coach character, which seems to be a hit with the fans. Milano suggested BUSHI should get a yellow card for using his shirt as a weapon. Speaking of Milano, he threatened a copyright lawsuit when SANADA did a Paradise Lock.

In addition to the comedy, everyone worked hard. EVIL and Tanahashi continued their great exchanges. I really hope we get a singles match between them this year. After mist from BUSHI, SANADA trapped Nakanishi in Skull End to regain the titles. SANADA trapped Taguchi another Paradise Lock to provoke Milano. Milano seemed confused, proud and insulted all at once. Recommended. ***


I was really looking forward to this bout. Shibata and Ospreay’s intense interactions were the highlight of the Korakuen “Road to” shows. Both guys were coiled like sprinters in starting blocks at the bell, but started slow. On commentary, Gedo commented on Shibata’s proficiency in British-style grappling. On cue, Shibata did his best Zack Sabre, Jr impression.

Ospreay fired back with running kick to take control and then this happened:

This is @WillOspreay !!
後半戦生中継スタート!▷https://t.co/Tj7UBJ4PjP #njpw #njpwworld #njnbg pic.twitter.com/rg141gROV0

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) February 11, 2017

After a sickening kick against the ring post, Ospreay did an impressive rolling lift to get Shibata back into the ring and avoid a countout. Commentary exclaimed “he can do anything he wants” before Ospreay landed a beautiful imploding 450 splash. Ospreay was presented as Shibata’s equal throughout the match; a good sign for his 2017 prospects in NJPW.

Ospreay went for the Os Cutter, but he was caught in Shibata’s sleeper. Ospreay’s facial expressions were superb. Shibata held onto the hold through a sleeper suplex and hit a PK to retain after about 14 minutes. This was a great sprint and a big step forward for Ospreay in New Japan; his biggest match since challenging KUSHIDA last June. This wasn’t a show-stealer, but it was perfect for its spot on the card. Strongly recommended. ***3/4


This was originally supposed to be a rematch of the tag title match from Sapporo, but Lance Archer herniated a disc. In related good news, Archer reported a successful surgery during the show.

This was fine, but not as good as the Sapporo itteration. Honma was on the defensive for a lot of the match, which makes sense because he’s great in that role. Yano took the defensive role, but came back to roll up Smith after a errant Iron Finger from Hell. **1/2


By my count, tonight’s semi-main was the fifteenth singles meeting for Hiromu and Dragon Lee; their sixth title match. Hiromu’s only win was their sole NJPW encounter (at last year’s Fantasticamania).

Hiromu’s entrance was awesome. He came out with Lee’s ripped masks hanging from his neck like a punk-rock dragon hunter. We also saw the return of the Glastonbury balls bouncing in the crowd.

As expected, they tried to steal the show. The match was full of scary looking bumps and incredible spots that had either had me cringing or yelling.

ヒロム@TIMEBOMB1105 、生死をかけたハイフライ!!
生中継▷https://t.co/Tj7UBJ4PjP#njpw #njpwworld #njnbg pic.twitter.com/aDQCH0IWmZ

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) February 11, 2017

Lee eventually gained control by grounding the champion with submissions, but Hiromu pulled off Lee’s mask as a panicked, last ditch defense.

In a callback to his win last year at Korakuen, Hiromu hit a Canadian Destroyer for a near fall. He followed it up with a Death Valley bomb into the corner and the Time Bomb to make his first defense of the junior title. After the match, Taguchi challenged Hiromu. This was a car-crash spectacle; another unique and exciting chapter in an all-time rivalry. Must-see. ****1/2


Tonight’s main event was the third meeting between Naito and Elgin in New Japan. Naito had a distinct advantage going in; he won the previous two battles. A third encounter was originally supposed to headline last year’s Power Struggle, but Elgin’s eye injury prevented that from happening.

An excellent video package set the stage for the biggest match in Elgin’s New Japan career. They appropriately highlighted the aforementioned eye injury (which was caused by Naito).

The opening exchange established Elgin’s sneaky speed and agility. Slingshot back elbow, slingshot body press, flipping dive off the apron; Naito had to slow his challenger down. Like in their last two matches, Naito targeted and relentlessly attacked Elgin’s left knee. As expected, Elgin’s selling was world-class.

エルガン@MichaelElgin25 、大阪を熱狂に渦巻く怪力を炸裂!
メインマッチを生中継!▷https://t.co/Tj7UBJ4PjP #njpw #njpwworld #njnbg pic.twitter.com/i2u2L5Puyx

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) February 11, 2017

This pair has a special chemistry. Naito’s rag-doll bumping meshes seamlessly with Elgin’s power-based offense. Their blistering place made 36 minutes fly by. Elgin was on offense for most of the match, but that suits his style perfectly. Eventually Naito hit a dead-end with the leg work, so he went to went after Elgin’s eye. This pivot in strategy was a great way to get the crowd firmly behind “Big Mike.”

There were too many micro-callbacks to rattle off, but the most important one played into the finish. Naito won the previous two matches by hitting a pair of consecutive Destinos. Tonight, Elgin kicked out of the first and countered the second. At this point, I was convinced Elgin was winning. After survining Elgin’s remaining arsenal (including the Burning Hammer), Naito hit two more Destinos to make his third defense of the Intercontinental title.

On the biggest stage of his career, Elgin delivered a career-defining performance. Even though he lost, he was clearly elevated within the company. For his part, Naito put in perhaps his best straight-heel performance. This was amazing, but I’m confident they have an even better match in them. Must-see. ****3/4

NJPW Road to The New Beginning: Night 6 (February 7) Results & Review

Author : jojoremy

FEBRUARY 7, 2017

Watch: NJPWWorld.com

Two days after Sunday’s big mid-tour event in Sapporo, NJPW returned to Korakuen Hall for a unique house show that featured three elimination matches. Before the opening bell, the ring announcer mentioned that Suzuki-gun’s El Desperado would miss the show due to a right shoulder injury. He later clarified that Despe’s injury was to his right knee.


Tonight’s opener was Oka’s first televised bout against someone other than his presumed trainer. Both young lions showed aggression with elbow strikes. Oka needs to work on his chops, but he did show off his beautiful front suplex once again. For his part, Henare hit an impressive diving shoulder attack. Both guys did a good job of selling, particularly while trapped in Boston crabs. It’s quite a departure from recent opening match staples, but I’m looking forward to see how this heavyweight pairing develops. **


My two favorite heavyweights in 2001, Nagata & Kojima are basically a dream team for me. Some quick research uncovers that they haven’t teamed up in a traditional tag team match since a January 2013 NOAH tour. Prior to that, their last tag match together was in June 1994 against JJ Jacks (Akira Nogami and Takayuki (Takashi) Iizuka).

Nagata spent the opening exchange beating some fire out out YoshiTatsu. Liger assumed the defensive role, but eventually got a hot tag after hitting a shotei on Nagata. YoshiTatsu was surprisingly solid in this outing; better than in recent memory. His offense is much better when in short spurts. It’s almost as if he has to unlearn the plodding WWE mid-card style. As expected, the veterans were a treat to watch. They kept this short and it worked. Hopefully the third generation can continue to whip young Yamamoto into shape. Recommended. **1/2


You’ll have to take my word for it, but this encounter would have been excellent in 2003. In 2017, it was skippable. *1/2

I’ll take this opportunity to remind you that there is a new young lion:

飯塚さんをみてます pic.twitter.com/t4Z3STo29G

— めだまやき (@medamayaki888) February 7, 2017


Shibata and Ospreay started this one out hot. After eliminating Ospreay with a running high kick, Shibata eliminated himself with a rare plancha onto his challenger. It was a short night for Shibata and Ospreay, but they certainly generated more interest in their title match on Saturday.

Based on their brief exchanges, I’m reminded that I want to see KUSHIDA and Gedo meet again in Best of the Super Junior. The middle portion was slow (particularly when Jado was in the ring), but it picked back up towards the end. In a great callback to their title match, Juice evaded a rope-hanging reverse GTR from Goto. Like in the tour opener, Juice ended up back in the spotlight with the win for Hontai. Recommended. **3/4


ROPPONGI VICE(@azucarRoc & @trentylocks )の場外特攻!
緊張感満載の後楽園ホールから生中継!▷https://t.co/Tj7UBJ4PjP #njpw #njpwworld #njnbg pic.twitter.com/uOtMTuMq5w

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) February 7, 2017

I enjoyed the interactions between the heavyweight tag teams. I hope this division returns to traditional 2-on-2 tag team programs after this tour. The three-way matches don’t really do anything for me or the involved teams. However, I think the return of KES and emergence of CHAOS odd couple Yano and Ishii are positive developments. I particularly liked the exchanges between Archer and Yano.

Minoru continued his attack on Okada’s knee; re-starting Okada’s week-long selling of the injury. The downside of splitting the big matches across two shows is that some match-ups linger on past their supposed climax. Nonetheless, the interactions between Okada and Minoru were entertaining. Minoru also caught Beretta in a kneebar, giving Trent a chance to shine in an underdog role. Beretta’s selling, offense and facial expressions were all effective. Hopefully another BOSJ preview, the sequences between Trent and Kanemaru were crisp and exciting. Recommended. ***


メインは #タグチジャパン vs #L・I・J
先発は2.11大阪でブチ当たる…リー@dragon_leecmll & ヒロム@TIMEBOMB1105
生中継ラストマッチ!▷https://t.co/Tj7UBJ4PjP#njpw #njpwworld #njnbg pic.twitter.com/q92A6ZAyG9

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) February 7, 2017

Another show, another costume for BUSHI. I’m convinced this man spends more on gear than anyone. I love the chemistry between Taguchi Japan (Tanahashi, Nakanishi & Taguchi). The team name is a play on the Japanese national soccer team; typically referred to as “[Insert coach’s name] Japan.” Hopefully the team can stick together for a while. It gives Tanahashi a chance to rest up for a big second half of the year.

I appreciated the main event placement of this match. Members of these teams will be headlining Saturday’s sold-out show in Osaka. The opening exchange between Hiromu and Dragon Lee was especially frantic. I expect the juniors to try to steal the show on Saturday. Later on in the match, Hiromu ripped a hole in Dragon Lee’s mask. There was a good offensive-showcase portion for Elgin. Based on their chemistry and previous matches, I have very high expectations for Elgin’s encounter with Naito. Taguchi, as the sole survivor for his team, sent the crowd home happy with a hybrid soccer coach/Naito-esque promo. Recommended. ***1/4


Tonight’s show was an easy watch that flew by. The elimination match format was a welcome change of pace for New Japan. Nothing was must-see, but the matches appropriately previewed and teased the remaining title bouts for Saturday. Check back later in the week for an in-depth preview and review of Saturday’s tour-ending show in Osaka.

NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo (February 5) Results & Review - The Evolution Of An Ace

Author : joelanza

New Japan Pro Wrestling
The New Beginning In Sapporo
February 5, 2017
Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center, Sapporo, Japan

Watch: New Japan World

With Wrestle Kingdom serving as the bow to the previous year and Fantastica Mania being a (mostly) out of cannon tour, New Beginning generally serves as the start of the New Japan season. This is the tour for fresh directions, and this year saw the official return of Minoru Suzuki and Suzuki-gun, with The New Beginning In Sapporo taking place one month to the day after SZG’s surprise invasion of NJPW at the New Year Dash Korakuen Hall show.

The show drew 5,545 fans, squeezing in 12 more bodies than the Super No Vacancy G1 tour kickoff last July in the same building (Kazuchika Okada vs Naomichi Marufuji main event). In addition to having the cache of being the opening night of the G1, that show also featured a Hiroshi Tanahashi semi main (vs SANADA), so the 5,545 number is another feather in the cap of Okada, matching (technically topping) the July show with very little support underneath. New Japan chose to stack the 2/11 New Beginning In Osaka show, which sold out many weeks ago, so the strategy of running two major buildings for the two New Beginning shows for the first time since 2014 and doing so with unbalanced cards that put a ton of faith in Okada seems to have worked. Okada has not only emerged as the Ace in storyline, but also when it comes to being counted on to carry the business end of shows on his own.

Minoru Suzuki deserves credit, too. The build for the Okada/Suzuki match was strong, with a hot invasion angle and a heated attack at the press conference that wound up playing heavily into the match itself. The surprise SZG invasion and subsequent multiple title challenges on the ensuing major show was an identical redux of the 2015 SZG invasion of Pro Wrestling NOAH, right down to the angle kicking off at a January Korakuen Hall show and Suzuki receiving an immediate title match. On the surface, it took real guts to repeat an angle that eventually sunk NOAH to new depths, and then headline with Suzuki with no strong drawing matches underneath. But what most people forget, is the SZG invasion of NOAH did good business early on, drawing massive heat (including fan riots in some buildings) and strong attendance for Suzuki’s early title bouts (a reported 6,300 for Suzuki’s March title win over Marufuji in Tokyo at Ariake). That pattern repeated here, as Suzuki’s IWGP Heavyweight title challenge drew what essentially amounts as a sellout.

Where the similarities cease, is that this time Suzuki lost.

El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru def. KUSHIDA & Hirai Kawato

A simple story, with an over exuberant Kawato demanding to start the match, and subsequently getting his ass kicked until a KUSHIDA hot tag. This was the best Kawato performance yet. He sold and sold and sold, and it isn’t as easy as people think to do a compelling job as a babyface in peril. We’ve seen Kawato grow from his awkward debut to a spunky little underdog, and while he hasn’t shown the same prodigy like abilities as the previous young lion class of Sho Tanaka, Yohei Komatsu, and Jay White, the comparison is a little unfair because Kawato is still a baby at 19-years old. It’s fun to watch him develop, and there is a palpable underdog charm about him beyond just being a young boy.

I speculated in my preview of the show that this could be a match that sets up Desperado & Kanemaru as the next junior tag title challengers, and that’s exactly how it played out later in the show. This was a real solid opener, well worth a watch if you were planning on skipping. ***

Yuji Nagata, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima def. Yoshitatsu, Henare, Tomoyuki Oka

Oka replaced the injured David Finlay (shoulder) here, and once again found himself tapping out to Nagata Lock II. I find it suspicious that Nagata keeps beating Oka this way. I wouldn’t be shocked if he hands that hold down to his protege.

Oka is getting more and more brave with his throws, and delivered a couple nice ones here. He looks pretty good, but I’m tempted to fire off some hot takes, because after all of the hype he isn’t popping off the screen like Big Japan’s Takuya Nomura or DDT’s Kazusada Higuchi or Dragon Gate’s Ben-K. But then I remember that this was only his SIXTH professional wrestling match ever. If you look really deep, beyond his shaved head that exposes his receding hairline and makes him look 15 years older than he actually is, you can see the hoss potential and what they like about him. There’s no need to start breaking him down. **1/4

Gedo, Jado, Will Ospreay def. Katsuyori Shibata, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask

This was a huge step down from the hot eight man tag from Korakuen on 1/27 that featured Ospreay and Shibata on opposite sides. Watch that match for your Will vs Shibata hype needs, and skip this one. **

YOSHI-HASHI def. Takashi Iizuka

Not a good match at all, but it served its purpose of giving YOSHI-HASHI a singles win on a major show. YOSHI-HASHI worked hard (he always does), but you are going to get what you get with Iizuka, which is mediocre brawling, hidden weapons, and an Iron Glove spot. I still enjoy Iizuka’s ridiculous entrance, being led on a leash by Desperado. With Shinpei Nogami nowhere to be found, Iizuka took a long look at the announcer’s table but didn’t bother attacking anybody. *3/4

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi, Manabu Nakanishi, Michael Elgin, Dragon Lee def. Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi

Notable here is Michael Elgin entering last and receiving top billing for the babyface side.

Also notable was Dragon Lee’s hot New Japan World overdub jam COME GET IT, which immediately enters pantheon status of New Japan World dub themes.

Top Three New Japan World Overdub Jams

  1. Jushin Thunder Liger “Strongest Soldier”
  2. Dragon Lee “Come Get It”
  3. reDRagon “Waiting 4”

I wasn’t a fan of the early ass attack shtick from the faces, but this heated up down the stretch and turned into a hot little match to take the show into the intermission. Worth pointing out that Lee pinned BUSHI, not Hiromu. Hiromu is ultra protected right now, and doesn’t even do jobs to set up title challenges. ***3/4

IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles
Roppongi Vice (c) def. Taichi & TAKA Michinoku 

This was a great effort by RPG Vice, and in particular Beretta, mired by tired Taichi antics and overdone SZG spots. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru made the next challenge, and that pairing will likely produce a much better match. **

NEVER Openweight Title
Hirooki Goto (c) def. Juice Robinson 

This was a perfectly structured example of a young veteran getting his first singles title shot, with Robinson blitzing Goto at the bell before spending the rest of the bout fighting from underneath. It was a perfect pairing of styles, with Robinson’s elite bumping and selling to compliment Goto’s big bomb offense.

Goto seemingly invents new offensive maneuvers every match, this time draping Robinson over the middle rope for a GTR variation that I’d never seen. My favorite spot in the match was Robinson attempting a straight right and Goto blocking the fist with a headbutt, which was something else I had never seen before. Robinson did a great job getting over the idea that he was fighting to the death in the most important match of his life (and this genuinely was the biggest match of his career) against an opponent that he wasn’t quite ready for, capped off with a well timed fighting spirit spot where he went toe to toe with one of the toughest brawlers in the company before finally falling.

Robinson caught people’s attention at Wrestle Kingdom, but he had an excellent, low key 2016 against a wide variety of opponents like Go Shiozaki, Kenny Omega, Kyle O’Reilly, EVIL, and Katsuhiko Nakajima. He was ready to deliver in a high profile match like this one, and he did. ****

IWGP Tag Team Titles
Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii (c) def. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma and Killer Elite Squad

The first of two identical three way bouts this week over delivered, just as the three way tag title match at Wrestle Kingdom over delivered. Maybe we should stop being so cynical about these three way tag matches, at least in terms of potential match quality, even if the booking of these bouts annoys us.

CHAOS survived the first leg of the double shot, in what was an energetic, fast paced, and hard hitting match. Killer Elite Squad were the standouts, with their interactions against GBH being the highlight. Archer in particular looked great, with his usual power offense, and a cool springboard high cross body that a guy his size really shouldn’t be able to pull off. Ishii and Honma tend to get lost in matches like this, but on the flip side Makabe moving into more of a tag role has been the best thing for his career. After the requisite Yano shenanigans, this really settled into a very good, super fun match. Yano pinned Makabe, which could be a tip off that KES is winning in Osaka. ***3/4

IWGP Heavyweight Title
Kazuchika Okada (c) def. Minoru Suzuki

Suzuki attacked Okada in Aichi, injuring his knee, so Suzuki working over, brutalizing, and decimating Okada’s leg became the focal point of the bout in one of the most focused and deliberate limb work matches you will ever see.

I thought this was one of the best jobs of selling a body part possible by Okada, and this was peak evil, maniacal, insane, torture dealing psychopath Suzuki, but the match wasn’t without a few of flaws.

Aside from those gripes, this had the build, structure, work, intensity, and drama of an all time great match, and it really was great, but those minor flaws prevented it from breaking through to an all time level.

Let’s talk about Okada. Unless you took issue with him throwing his dropkick (I did not) or overcoming what might have been the longest stretch of leg work you’ll probably ever see (again, I did not, as I saw this as a personal growth moment for Okada, similar to the Tenryu match, even if one of the kneebar spots was a tad long bordering on egregious), I’m not sure you could find much flaw in his performance. He screamed, he winced, he collapsed under his own weight, he delivered offense that was weakened by not being at full strength, and he was unable to follow up on his moves because his leg was mush. He did everything humanly possible to get across the idea that his leg was in terrible shape. Aside from the ill timed initial Rainmaker attempt that subsequently lacked any drama, all of the hope spots were well executed and nicely done. When Okada fired up in the closing stretch of the match, so did I. Those who say Okada doesn’t emote or convey his emotions are watching a different wrestler than I am, and certainly didn’t watch this match with any level of attention.

Suzuki was nasty. The constant counters and reversals that led to kneebars had me convinced he was going to win. The story of Okada being cut off and reversed at every single turn created a totally different kind of drama from the usual IWGP title match. This had a frenetic closing stretch, but this wasn’t about a string of near falls or finisher counters. This was about Okada overcoming a methodical, vicious, deliberate attack on his body by a man who conveys pure evil and comes across as legitimately diabolical in ways that make other serious heels come off as cartoonish in comparison. There is no one quite like Minoru Suzuki.

As Okada was limping away from the ring, following a curious call out of Tiger Mask W of all people, I thought about his recent string of matches. The two matches against Naomichi Marufuji, the draw with Hiroshi Tanahashi, the war against Tomohiro Ishii, the epic spectacle at Wrestle Kingdom where the opponent got all of the acclaim and Okada never seemed to get his proper due, and now overcoming the utter destruction of a sociopath. These bouts featured a variety of structure to reach the same common theme. Even when telling the same story of the young ace having to overcome the stronger tougher savvier faster angrier veteran, all took drastically different paths to get there. Soon, Okada will be the senior, and it won’t be his determination or his guts that tell the tale, but his toughness and savvy and speed and anger that he learned from the opponents he overcame. Kazuchika Okada is a great pro wrestler, and it’s going to be a lot of fun watching his continued evolution as he enters his 30’s and takes us through the prime of his career as the battle tested veteran ace. You’re watching an all time great smack dab in the middle of his career, we are in the midst of the evolution of an ace. Settle in and enjoy it.  ****1/2

NJPW Road to The New Beginning: Night 1 (January 27) Results & Review

Author : jojoremy

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Road to THE NEW BEGINNING: Night 1
JANUARY 27, 2017
KORAKUEN HALL – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPWWorld.com

On the eve of the Lunar New Year, NJPW returned to Korakuen Hall to kick off their first full-fledged tour of 2017. As the name implies, The New Beginning is the start of New Japan’s regular season.

Yuji Nagata Def. Tomoyuki Oka

For his regular season debut, Oka got the same generic young lion entrance theme and video that is used by guys like Kawato and Kanemitsu. At 6’1″, 253 pounds, the 25-year old Oka is significantly bigger than most other recent dojo graduates. He’s getting a later start on his career, but his amateur background and MMA experience are obvious from the opening bell. Oka naturally moves like a wrestler; rare for someone having only their second official match. He also flashes some great offensive potential. For example, he uses a beautifully smooth front suplex (belly-to-belly). Nagata did a good job of highlighting his pupil’s strengths, drawing out the young lion’s aggression, and guiding him to a fun match for his Korakuen debut. Recommended.  **

Tiger Mask & Yoshitatsu Def. Jushin Thunder Liger & Henare

This match was originally supposed to be a six-man, but David Finlay and Hirai Kawato were removed because Finlay is injured. Henare is making strides and building more confidence. As commentary noted, he’s also adopted some of his senpai, Manabu Nakanishi’s “wild-man”  mannerisms. The brief interactions between Liger and Tiger mask were good. At times, Yoshitatsu was interesting on offense, but still he’s painfully boring overall. This was a fine showcase for Henare. *3/4

The training wheels of justice will come off for Oka when he faces Henare on the February 7th Korakuen show.

CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Gedo & Jado) Def. Suzuki-gun (Takashi Iizuka, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado)

The most interesting part of this match was the new young lion at ringside.

えらい顔のはっきりしたヤングライオンがいたよ pic.twitter.com/F69OWKrSzO

— kayはコップになりたい (@kay_mys) January 27, 2017

Iizuka attacked announcer Shinpei Nogami before the match which led to Nogami calling the rest of the match wearing only a tie. The purpose of the match was to reintroduce Iizuka to the NJPW fanbase…or to remind NOAH fans to not complain about long matches. *1/2

Killer Elite Squad Def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima

Well, after the Suzuki-gun B-team’s underwhelming return in the last match, the A-team got a good showcase. I’m happy to have a rejuvenated KES back on a bigger stage. Smith and Archer, having mastered their characters, should provide a substantial boost in quality to the heavyweight tag division. Kojima was great as always, especially in his comebacks and on defense.  Tenzan moves worse than Jado, but, for some reason,  he’s much more charming. This match effectively presented KES as a dangerous and experienced tag team. Commentary punctuated the homecoming by exclaiming: “This is Suzuki-gun! This is KES! Strong! These guys are strong!” Recommended. **3/4

Great Bash Heel, Katsuyori Shibata & Juice Robinson Def. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Will Ospreay)

This was definitely my favorite match of the night. From the start, the separate entrances made this match feel like more than your dime-a-dozen house show multi-man. Goto made his entrance last, a cue that the NEVER title will retain its place in the pecking order going forward. It was interesting to see Shibata wearing his Rev Pro, Masakatsu Funaki-inspired tights. He’s also added in some British-flavored matwork and transitions.

柴田vsオスプレイ@WillOspreay !!
生中継!▷https://t.co/Tj7UBJ4PjP #njpw #njpwworld #njnbg pic.twitter.com/NW2tJoU3uf

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) January 27, 2017

The match had an excellent pace. The interactions between Shibata and Ospreay perfectly set the tone for their upcoming title match. Honma and Ishii worked hard as always. I’m looking forward to seeing more from the pairing of Goto and Juice. Their strengths play really well together: Juice’s bumping and selling, Goto’s offense. The match successfully accomplished its goal of creating interest in the each of the upcoming title matches. Strongly recommended.  ***1/4

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi) Def. Michael Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi & KUSHIDA

復活のビッグマイク@MichaelElgin25 、怪力炸裂で後楽園ホールを熱狂の渦に巻く!
生中継!▷https://t.co/Tj7UBJ4PjP #njpw #njpwworld #njnbg pic.twitter.com/OgOQfZ3jn5

— njpwworld (@njpwworld) January 27, 2017

This was very similar to the previous match, but worked a little more deliberately. Like Yano in the previous match, Taguchi added some great comedy. After losing his title, KUSHIDA is taking a backseat this tour. However, his interactions with Hiromu and Naito were still great. The Hontai six-man championship team has an interesting and quirky chemistry. Elgin hasn’t missed a beat with the fans despite missing two months worth of shows. I forgot how great his chemistry with Naito is. Strongly recommended.  ***

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & TAKA Michinoku) Def. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Roppongi Vice)

Before the match, commentary pointed out that Nagata and Minoru crossed paths in high school amateur matches. The match itself was nothing special and the brawling didn’t really add anything.  In his Wonderland interview, Suzuki mentioned that he would win at all costs. His comment leads me to believe they’re going to have a shenanigan-heavy title match at the tour ender. Check out the interview though, it’s a great character development piece. I think I miss Okada’s caveman dance partner as much as he does.

I know they are capable of having a classic match together, but I think Okada and Suzuki might be better suited to a G1-style sprint. With Suzuki-gun back, I’m also expecting a slower pace in the Jr. Tag title match. The recent trend of great traditional 2-on-2 title matches in that division might be coming to an end. **1/2

NJPW & CMLL Fantastica Mania 2017 Night 7 (January 22) Results & Review

Author : dylanjstx

New Japan Pro Wrestling & CMLL
Fantastica Mania 2017 – Night 7
January 22, 2017
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Gedo, Jado & El Barbaro Cavernario Def. Henare, Blue Panther Jr. & El Soberano Jr.

Cavernario was far and away the star of this tour. Even if he wasn’t in the best match every given night, he was the most memorable performer every night. It’s not even close. And while he was the overall star of the tour, you could argue El Soberano Jr. was the breakout star of the tour. I haven’t seen a whole lot of him as I’m only a semi-regular lucha watcher and tend to skip undercard matches, so this may have been the first time he’s really stood out to me. I’d love to see New Japan keep either him or Cavernario around this year. I don’t suspect CMLL has major plans for Soberano, so maybe keeping him in New Japan would be good for him. I mean, look what it did for Mascara Dorada (half-joke). Henare was the other standout here, a guy who is clearly on the road to becoming a great worker and is already quite good. If he was Japanese, I’d go as far as to say he’d be a huge deal. That’s not to say he won’t be, but let’s not set our expectations that high. Easily the best opener of the shows we’ve seen so far (there are a few non-Korakuen shows that haven’t aired yet). Everyone worked relatively hard, everyone looked relatively decent, even Jado’s lazy ass did a little something, which should tell you all that you need to know. ***

Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV & Stuka Jr. Def. Hechicero, OKUMURA & Raziel

Liger and Tiger Mask didn’t do a whole lot on the tour and were largely forgettable, but with that said, Tiger Mask did seem to be more motivated than he normally is. Take that for what you will. Okumura and Stuka Jr. had an awesome match on the previous show and while both were good here, they were less featured than I would have liked. Nevertheless, a solid undercard bout with some solid comedy spots and that’s about it. **3/4

Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi) Def. Dragon Lee & Titán

A big question for me since Takahashi vs. Lee was announced for New Beginning, was whether or not they’ll be able to top themselves yet again. I often question those sort of things. Every time Okada and Tanahashi stepped into the ring together I questioned whether or not they’ll be able to outdo themselves, and they ended up doing it every time. It gets to a point where there’s no need to question anymore. After this match, I have full confidence that Dragon Lee and Hiromu Takahashi will create something special next month. These are two great, great professional wrestlers who have had some great, great matches together in the past, and I have no doubts they’re going to do it again. BUSHI and Titán were secondaries as the focus was clearly the other two, though both were very good in their own right. A hot, fast-paced, action-packed sprint. Had they gotten a few more minutes, I could see myself bumping it up half a star or so. Hiromu ripped Lee’s mask off afterward and held the title over his body, which I thought was worth noting. ***3/4

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay) & Ephesto Def. Juice Robinson, Maximo Sexy & Ryusuke Taguchi


The above tweet is this tour in a nutshell. Everyone always has a good time and is on top of their game, but no one has more fun than Okada does. It’s the one time a year he gets to bust out the old lucha and let loose. He isn’t the best at it, some of what he tries to do is very sloppy looking, but he loves it, he doesn’t take it seriously, no one does, it’s about having fun, end of story. He and Ospreay have some great chemistry as a tag team and part of me is glad YOSHI-HASHI was over in the UK during the tour, because it’s safe to assume he’d be in Ospreay’s position had he not been booked by Revolution Pro. I was a bit let down that Ospreay wasn’t booked in a singles match at first, but it’s completely forgotten about after seeing how much fun he had with Okada. A nice little six-man here. No complaints on my end. I even enjoyed Maximo, who I’m not as high on as most people. ***1/2

Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL, SANADA, Rush & Tetsuya Naito) Def. Atlantis, KUSHIDA, David Finlay Jr. & Hiroshi Tanahashi

Mascara Don, Tanahashi and Taguchi should have defended their NEVER six-man titles on one of these shows. Total missed opportunity and a minor gripe of mine. Tanahashi was in nothing but multi-mans and didn’t do a whole lot in them but still looked like he enjoyed himself, obviously. Same could be said for KUSHIDA, although he did do a lot more than Tanahashi did. Another good match. If you’ve seen one LIJ multi-man, you’ve seen them all. They’re all good, rarely great, never bad, always in that ***1/4, ***1/2 range. I’m hoping Rush doesn’t come back for a while after this. I like him in Mexico, he just doesn’t translate well. The last two minutes bumped this up at least a quarter-star. ***1/2

Mistico Def. Euforia

I haven’t seen a ton of Euforia as, again, I only started watching lucha semi-regularly a few years ago and he isn’t what I would consider a featured guy in CMLL, but he impressed me both here and on the previous nights, while Mistico was second to Cavernario as the overall star of the entire tour. If you fancy the idea of a flier working around a guy like Euforia, you’ll enjoy this a good deal, because very few are better than Mistico when it comes to that style (also see his match with Ultimo Guerrero at last year’s Fantasticamania). I wholeheartedly believe he would be talked up as one of the best fliers in the world if he were given more opportunities. He should be the CMLL representative in Super Juniors this year if not Dragon Lee. A fun, compact, heated little match that I’d recommend seeking out. ****

Volador Jr. Def. Ultimo Guerrero

Exactly what a tour-ending main event should have been, a best-of spotlight for two of the biggest names CMLL had to offer. Ultimo Guerrero knows how to step it up when he needs to step it up. He has at least one match a year where I watch and say to myself “this guy is incredible,” and that’s what this was. The first half saw Guerrero serve as a base for Volador, a role he played to absolute perfection, assisting Volador in looking like a million bucks by simply taking his moves, while the second half saw Guerrero get more of the offense. It clocked in at about sixteen minutes, and in those sixteen minutes, both were able to run through their Rolodex of spots, which, again, is exactly what a tour-ending main event should be. It doesn’t have to be super emotional and dramatic, it just has to be a spotlight, something that sends the fans home with a good taste in their mouth, and hats off to these two men for doing such. By far my favorite match of the tour. ****1/4

Final Thoughts

The best of the three Korakuen shows without a doubt, with the main event being the best match of the weekend and the semi-main event being right behind it. Fantasticamania is always a good time and has progressively gotten better over the years. I don’t know if this year’s was necessarily better than last year’s, but it was certainly up there.

NJPW & CMLL Fantastica Mania 2017: Night 6 (January 21st) Results & Review

Author : sasedor2994

New Japan Pro Wrestling & CMLL
Fantastica Mania 2017 – Night 6
January 21, 2017
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Gedo, Jado, Ephesto & Raziel def. Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask, Blue Panther Jr. & Henare

Tiger Mask is sporting some very cool gear with the colors of the Mexican Flag. It honestly looked refreshing compared to his usual look. Speaking of Tiger Mask, the match started with him going into an arm drag frenzy, delivering one to his opponents, all of his teammates, and even the referee. This was a pretty standard Eight-Man Tag. While it didn’t feature a ton of action there was several fun moments sprinkled throughout. It was about what I was expecting. Ephesto got the pin here on Blue Panther Jr. to win the match for his team, which did come as a surprise, since I was certain that Henare was going to lose the fall. Regardless, this was a short opening match that was fun for what it was. **1/4


— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) January 21, 2017

Stuka Jr. def. OKUMURA

Both of these men made a few appearances on Ring of Honor TV last year, so I knew a little bit about them coming into this match. This was a pretty good match. OKUMURA did get a fair amount of offense in, but this was mainly a Stuka Jr. showcase. I’ve only seen him twice, but Stuka Jr. has quickly become one of my favorite guys from CMLL. What’s amazing is that he moves so well for a guy of his size. My first thought when I saw him in ROH last year was “Isn’t he a little big/thick to be a luchador?”, but that notion gets dispelled quickly when you see him putting incredible dives and springboard moonsaults, like he did in this match. These two seemed to work well together, and it resulted in a very entertaining match. The only negative is that OKUMURA’s valet continuously got involved towards the end of the match, which led to Stuka Jr. giving her a few slams and a couple of top rope splashes. That stuff was odd, and took away from the match a little bit, but other than that, I had a lot of fun watching this one. ***1/4

Asai Moonsault by @JrStuka #njcmll #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/RFT12k0yEJ

— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) January 21, 2017

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay) & Barbaro Cavernario def. El Soberano Jr., KUSHIDA, & Ryusuke Taguchi

Taguchi came out dressed in a pharaoh outfit, while KUSHIDA was wearing a weird silver robot head that seemed to resemble a watch. From start to finish, this was a really entertaining Six-Man Tag. You had so many fun moments throughout this match, from the exciting opening exchange between Ospreay & El Soberano Jr., to the more comedic moments from the likes of Cavernario and Taguchi (who took his pharaoh/mummy character way too seriously). Okada, Ospreay, & Cavernario were a very cool trio, and I hope this isn’t the last time we get to see them together in a Six-Man Tag. That being said, I thought El Soberano Jr. looked really good in this match. This was my first time seeing him, and he stood out in a big way. I don’t know much about CMLL, but I just have a feeling that he has a bright future. As for the match, the only real criticism I have is that it seemed like the finish came out of nowhere, but other than that, this was just a fun match to watch. ***1/2

#NJPW #njcmll pic.twitter.com/RLBm6SVNKy

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) January 21, 2017

Los Ingobernables de Japon def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Dragon Lee, Titan, Juice Robinson, & David Finlay

Naito went after Milano Collection AT before the match, which might be the first time that Naito has actually attacked him during this little story they’ve had going on. As for the match itself, it predictably broke down into a brawl right from the start, and when the dust finally settled, the result was another fun multi-man tag. The match was filled with action, and everyone seemingly got a moment to shine. The main highlights of this particular match were interactions between Dragon Lee & Hiromu Takahashi. In the end, SANADA got the win for LIJ after getting Finlay (who had just been hit with a chair by EVIL behind the referee’s back) to tap out to the Skull End. While this was a good match, it was the one match on the show that (I would say) lacked that Fantastica Mania feel. You could’ve put this match on any regular “Road To….” show, and you wouldn’t have noticed the difference. ***1/4

#NJPW #njcmll @dragon_leecmll @TIMEBOMB1105 pic.twitter.com/MgEom7zOYk

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) January 21, 2017

Euforia & Ultimo Guerrero def. Mistico & Volador Jr.

While I had seen both Volador Jr. and Ultimo Guerrero before, I had never seen Euforia or (the new) Mistico before, so for me, it was an interesting mix of competitors. This was a really good tag team match, and might have been the best match on the entire show. Things did start off a little slowly, but once things got going, it turned into a really exciting match. Euforia & Ultimo Guerrero were very good in this match, but Mistico & Volador Jr. were definitely the standouts. They were both fantastic here, pulling off some incredible moves. The most spectacular moment came when Volador Jr. launched Mistico over one of the turnbuckles and to the floor into a hurricanrana on Euforia. That was truly amazing. Ultimately, Ultimo Guerrero got the win for his team after hitting a massive reverse superplex on Volador Jr. From start to finish, this was an incredibly entertaining match, and it made me want to see more of Mistico & Volador Jr. in the future. ***3/4

INSANITY!!! #NJPW #njcmll pic.twitter.com/FcrPONZVaC

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) January 21, 2017

Rush def. Atlantis

The last time we saw Rush in New Japan was in December, where he had a pretty disappointing run in the World Tag League as Tetsuya Naito’s partner. Despite the fact that this match involved two big names from CMLL, I had a feeling that this wasn’t going to be very good, given how old Atlantis is and Rush’s less-than-stellar showing in the World Tag League, and as it turned out, this match wasn’t that good. It wouldn’t call it a bad match, but it was far from the best match on the show. The match felt slow at times, and as a whole, just wasn’t that interesting. Atlantis had a few moments here and there, but for the most part, Rush dominated this match. I guess the only notable thing that happened here was that Atlantis got hit with a chair and then just started bleeding through his match. He must have gotten a pretty nasty cut, because he was bleeding so much that parts of his blue mask were literally turning red. If not for the mask, I’m sure he would’ve looked nasty. Rush ultimately did get the win, but only after interference from both BUSHI (who distracted the referee) & Tetsuya Naito (who kicked Atlantis low). It says a lot about Rush when it took interference from his LIJ stablemates to be a bloody and weaken Atlantis. To put it simply, this was not very good. **1/4

LOS! #NJPW #njcmll pic.twitter.com/meXRTuVZZr

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) January 21, 2017

CMLL World Heavyweight Title
Maximo Sexy def. Hechicero

Hechicero is another guy who made a few appearances on Ring of Honor TV toward the end of last year, so I was familiar with him going into this match. This is my first time seeing Maximo Sexy, who came into this match as the champion, and he has an interesting character, to say the least. Even though this was far from being the best match on the show, this was a pretty solid main event. I thought that it was very similar to the Stuka Jr. vs. OKUMURA match from earlier in the show, in terms of how it played out. Hechicero, like OKUMURA, looked good (I would say Hechicero had the better performance of the two), but ultimately it was Maximo Sexy (with, ironically enough, Stuka Jr. in his corner) who was the standout. He’s a guy who’s actually has a lot in common with Stuka Jr., in the sense that you don’t think much of him at first glance, but then when you actually watch him in action, he blows you away. Maximo Sexy is a big guy, and the fact he can pull off some of things he does is incredible. Again, this wasn’t a spectacular main event, but from start to finish, this was a good match. We did get a referee bump in this match, as Red Shoes got taken out by Maximo Sexy after he unintentionally kissed him twice on the lips. Normally I would complain about referee bumps, but this one was pretty funny, so I’ll let it slide. Maximo Sexy eventually scored the victory over Hechicero to retain his title. ***1/4

lol #NJPW #njcmll pic.twitter.com/Bg49iwoaIY

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) January 21, 2017

Final Thoughts:

As a whole, the best stuff on this show occurred in the middle of the card. The Euforia/Ultimo Guerrero vs. Mistico/Volador Jr. tag team match was easily the best match of the night, and well worth checking out. The Stuka Jr./OKUMURA match, the trios match with Cavernario, the ten-man tag with LIJ, and the main event were all very solid matches in their own right. The opener was fine for what it was, and the Atlantis/Rush match was probably the worst match on the show, which I don’t think is a surprise.

This was a pretty entertaining card, and the fact that the runtime of the show is just over two hours (if you discount the intermission) makes it a really easy show to sit through.

NJPW & CMLL Fantastica Mania 2017 Night 5 (January 20) Results & Review

Author : jrgoldb

New Japan Pro Wrestling & CMLL
Fantastica Mania 2017 – Night 5
January 20, 2017
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Hey there, I had nothing better to do so I’m filling in and doing a review for the January 20 Fantastica Mania show. I am probably the only person on this site who has seen more of the luchadors than the puro workers on these shows, so please be patient with me as I try and figure out what is happening. If I miss something that is contextually important, let me know!

Blue Panther Jr and Henare def. Ephesto and Will Ospreay

The opening matwork between Panther and Ephesto is fine, although it was very much an exhibition. I think the pace was right for the crowd and set the stage for Henare and Ospreay. Ospreay has a fun energy in this match. It’s nice that he isn’t taking himself too seriously. I have no idea if I like Henare as a wrestler but he should tag with Valiente based on their shared propensity to wear trunks that were probably purchased in the “husky 10 year old” section. The comedy section seemed misplaced although the crowd went along with it. Ospreay had a fun dive and Panther wins with el nudo lagunero. This was a fun opener but nothing more. **1/2

Liger, Soberano Jr and Tiger Mask def. Jado, Gedo and Raziel

I’m thinking about giving this match one star for every time Gedo says motherfucker so that I can give this six stars. Probably shouldn’t, we all know how that can turn out. Anyway, this is a match. Liger does some fun stuff but mostly stays out of the way. Soberano gets some show case spots and hits his stuff pretty well. There isn’t much of a narrative here or anything to really dissect. If you like seeing guys work pretty quick and hit spots, maybe you will enjoy this as a nice little popcorn match. **1/2

Hechicero and Okumura def. Maximo and Stuka Jr

First some context from CMLL: Maximo’s finish a kiss on the mouth. In the hyper masculine world of lucha libre, kissing Maximo causes such existential crisis and critical thought over the idea of masculinity that his opponents are paralyzed for three seconds. Hechicero has claimed that the kiss has no effect on him, which either means he is immune due to dark wizard magic or he is the CMLL heavyweight most comfortable with his own sexuality.

This match shows the comfort these four have with each other, as it is worked at a real clip and everything looks crisp. The double dive to start and the exchanges between all four are strong. Stuka jumping backwards from the top to the outside is insane, and Maximo’s head scissors and tope are both excellent. I think it’s interesting that the first two matches had comedy and this has been worked pretty straight. It shows the importance of the match for Maximo. I liked Okumura, who was relatively anonymous throughout, coming in at the end and working an injury like a true prick. Everyone really excelled in their roles and was given a chance to shine, although I wish Maximo had worked from underneath a bit more, even though this was brief. ***1/2

Los Ingobernables def. Atlantis, David Finlay, Tanahashi, Kushida and Taguchi

The first eight minutes of this are really interesting and well thought out. LOS are total pricks, with Rush setting the stage, but they are also savvy enough to know that they should try and avoid Tanahashi. When Tanahashi finally does get tagged in, he wrecks shop, and then Atlantis tags in and plays a little game of teammate oneupsmanship, with an awesome continuation of the hot tag. From there, Ingobernables are able to take back control by brawling on the outside and distracting Atlantis and Tanahashi. That allows EVIL and SANADA to isolate the inexperienced Finlay and get the victory. This was a classic narrative of a more cohesive (and underhanded) unit taking advantage of a less experienced (albeit potentially more talented) team. It got a little muddled as they struggled to find a role for everyone in just over ten minutes, but a fun watch nonetheless. ***1/2

Los Guerreros Laguneros & Kazuchika Okada def. Juice Robinson Mistico and Volador Jr

I think I would have enjoyed this more if it was earlier on the card, because long stretches of it were very much more of an exhibition style than the past two matches. That being said, the finishing stretch here was awesome. They did a really awesome job of using Volador and UG as a through line for all the action, as the sections they worked together anchored the start, escalated the match in the middle, and played in to the finish. Aside from that, it was really fun seeing Okada pal around with Ultimo and Euforia. So far, this match had the highest peaks of any of the matches, but it didn’t quite come together like the previous two did. It was almost like three singles matches happening at roughly the same time. It just so happens that one of those singles matches was really outstanding. ***

Hiromu Takahashi def. Titan

A couple questions that have been on my mind before I talk about the match. One, now that he’s Hiromu, do we call that one lady Hiromu fan, or is she Kamaitachi fan forever? Two, how is Hiromu awesome everywhere but America? I really enjoyed most of this. One of my favorite matches of 2016 was Kamaitachi vs. Maximo, and the early portions of this match are structured very similarly. Titan does a great job of selling and when he finally goes on offense the transition feels really momentous. I hate punishing a match for a move that isn’t hit cleanly (especially one where a major portion of the match is based around selling an injury), but the head scissors to the outside really stuck out in an unfortunate way. The nearfall with the mask removal really got me to bite and got me back on track when I started to falter. The finishing stretch was a bit overdone for my taste, but it’s important to know the audience, and what works in CMLL might fall flat here. I don’t think this will make any MOTY ballots or anything, but it’s a great match, and Hiromu has found a great formula for working on injury as a heel. ****

CMLL World Lightweight Championship
Dragon Lee (c) vs Cavernario

There were two stories here that really complimented each other. The first is that Cavernario had to sacrifice his own wellbeing to do damage to Dragon Lee, with moves like the splash to the outside and the tope through the turnbuckle. The self-inflicted wounds were responsible for his wanting to end the match quickly, resulting in missteps like the second splash attempt and the reverse rana, which ultimately lead to the finish. The second through line was that all of the high risk maneuvers that Cavernario could attempt were putting him in danger of being set up for the double stomp from the turnbuckle. Really, the more times he tried to end the match, the more chances he gave Lee to turn the tide. It is really interesting for a light heavyweight match to try and tell a story based around risk in such a subtle way, as opposed to the usual “oh he missed now it’s my turn” that is seen pretty consistently. For that, this match deserves commendation. This is another match that will probably not be in the discussion at the end of the year, but people should find time to sit down and watch it anyway. It’s two great performers putting on a show. ****

NJPW on AXS TV: Okada vs. Omega (January 13)

Author : richkraetsch

Photo credit: NJPW/TV Asahi

“…You may never see a better wrestling match than we just witnessed…” -Jim Ross

As you may have heard, Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada headlined NJPW’s January 4 supershow, Wrestle Kingdom 11, with a match being heralded as one of the greatest of all-time.The match, which has received praise from all corners of the wrestling world, makes its debut on United States television tonight as NJPW on AXS TV kicks off their newest season with the monumental main event.

Over the next four weeks, NJPW on AXS TV will feature the very best from the NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11 show including the semi-main event of Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi as well as Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata and Hiromu Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA. A full schedule of NJPW on AXS TV’s Wrestle Kingdom 11 coverage can be found at the bottom of this post.

But for now, let’s stick with the task at hand: Okada vs. Omega.

Really, the only choice for matches to debut the new season with, this all-timer was shown in its entirety with only a few spots for commercial breaks. There had been some worry about what clipping could do to a match with such reverence, but fear not, you won’t miss a second of Okada vs. Omega if this is your first viewing.

For those new to NJPW on AXS TV, former WWE lead announcer Jim Ross and TNA superstar Josh Barnett (spoiler: it’s been a weird week) are your commentary team. The duo began a few seasons ago quite rough, in particular, Ross, who needed time to familiarize himself with the New Japan product. As the last season progressed, you could hear Ross noticeably more comfortable with the names, the moves and the stories surrounding the company. Still, despite familiarity, at times Ross seemed lethargic and uninterested with the match presented in front of him.

That wasn’t the case tonight.

Ross was far more energetic than he was at any point over the last season and seemed geniunelly interested in the background of the match and everything that led into it. Ross is a big match announcer. That’s what he lives for and it shows, there may not be a better big time, main event announcer in the world than Good Ol’ JR.

Tonight, that classic Ross, the one that’s called some of the biggest moments in pro wrestling history, was out in full force. His excitement for the match was palpable throughout. Both men (Ross & Barnett) obviously went to extra lengths in researching the background of this match as at no point did either lose sight of important match elements.

Ross was quick to point out Omega’s attack and subsequent One-Winged Angel through the table on the Road to Tokyo Dome, adding much-need context for those unaware of the events leading to the match. Barnett was also quick to point out the invincibility of Omega as of late and how his One-Winged Angel has never been kicked out — this became relevant later in the match when Okada was able to squirm out of the finishing move multiple times. Again, for hardcore NJPW fans, that’s not a new revelation but first-time viewers gain a multitude of background to add more context to what they’re seeing.

Both Ross and Barnett took time at the outset of the match to recap both men’s years: Okada becoming the face of the promotion and Omega emerging from the junior heavyweight ranks. Given the quick turnaround for this episode compared to prior seasons of NJPW on AXS TV, I really do have to hand it to both Barnett and Ross for the amount of research and context they were able to add to this match.

Even as a hardcore fan, I was more drawn into each and every move because they were always adding extra importance and relevance to every movement. It certainly made the beginning portion of the match—which some considered mediocre on initial viewing—seem far more significant, than on initial viewing.

The match itself, I mean, what can you say? Our very own Joe Lanza gave it *****. Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer went with ****** (no, that’s not a typo, he broke his own five-point scale for this match). It’s one of the greatest wrestling matches ever and an absolute spectacle in every sense of the word. Fans were openly weeping when it was over and Ross & Barnett could barely contain their adulation when it was over.

My one minor complaint with the editing of the match: they took a commercial break after Kenny Omega’s infamous table bump.

This took me out of one of the match’s most important moments and be the time they came back from the break, it really felt like that moment had came and went and we were ready for the next progression of the match. First time viewers, particularly those use to WWE production, will probably have a different take on the commercial break and instead want to wait through the ads to see if Omega is still alive and how he survived the devastating fall.

One of NJPW on AXS TV’s greatest attributes is the subtitling of promos and while we didn’t get prolonged post-match promos like we likely would have with a shorter match, we got a quick promo from Okada in-ring after his victory:

“I’d like to say three things. Number one: Kenny. I have to say it, you are the strongest foreign wrestler in NJPW history. Number two: this year’s Wrestle Kingdom has lots of different wrestlers from last year’s. However seeing this many people come out to watch, I will keep new japan exciting in 2017. Don’t take your eyes off me. Number three: nothing in particular. (laughs!) I want to say something though I’m carrying njpw on my shoulders. It is a very heavy burden, but I am carrying it. Even so I can carry more, I’m going to make NJPW bigger than ever! As long as I’m carrying NJPW, I’m going to make it rain!”

Unfortunately, we did not get a post-match promo from Kenny Omega. This could be a results of time running out as the match itself took up all but the final few minutes of AXS TV’s air time or there’s more at hand with Omega’s break from Japan

Whether you’re a first-time viewer of this match or this is your 2nd or 3rd rewatch, you won’t waste a minute watching this episode. Ross and Barnett were in rare form and added so much more to the match than I had even anticipated. Ross, in particular, rose to the occasion big time and the level of research and context added to the match tremendously. 

NJPW on AXS TV’s premiere of New Japan Pro Wrestling Wrestle Kingdom 11 is Friday, January 13 at 8:00 p.m. EST. The season kicks off, of course, with Omega vs. Okada and follows with January 20’s airing of Naito vs. Tanahashi and Guerillas of Destiny vs. CHAOS vs. Great Bash Heel.

January 27 sees Shibata vs. Goto and David Finlay, Ricochet & Satoshi Kojima vs. Los Ingobernable de Japon vs. Bullet Club vs. CHAOS.

Finally, February 3 has Cody vs. Juice Robinson, The Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice and KUSHIDA vs. Takahashi. For more information on NJPW on AXS TV.

NJPW New Year Dash (January 5) Results & Review

Author : jojoremy

New Japan Pro Wrestling
JANUARY 5, 2017
KORAKUEN HALL – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPWWorld.com

One day removed from attending the all-time classic, Wrestle Kingdom 11, I returned to Tokyo’s Suidobashi for New Year Dash 2017.  In recent years, New Year Dash has become a must-see show for its unpredictable nature.  The mystery card was announced to the live crowd minutes before the opening bell. The show also aired for free on NJPW World and, as of right now, is still available for free on-demand.

Kyle O’Reilly, Ricochet & David Finlay Def. Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask & Henare

The opener was short and sweet. Henare stood out by showing his fighting spirit as the young lion roared while throwing aggressive elbows. Ricochet hit an impressive-as-ever dive to the floor, effortlessly landing on his feet. Finlay pinned Henare after he and Ricochet hit their Kamikaze/Shooting Star Press combo finisher. After the match O’Reilly thanked the crowd, his teammates, and opponents. Could this be the end of O’Reilly’s NJPW run? Good, fun match. Would have enjoyed few more minutes. **3/4

BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi & Hangman Page) Def. Yoshitatsu & Billy Gunn

So, I hear Yoshitasu will be heading to to CMLL in February… *1/2

CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI & Roppongi Vice) Def. BULLET CLUB (Adam Cole & The Young Bucks)

This was a very fun match. Both teams were popular with the Korakuen crowd. “Adam Cole BAY BAY” might be the thing that finally gets the ROH title over in Japan. YOSHI-HASHI got the surprise pin on Cole with a small package. The crowd reacted like this was a big win for YOSHI-HASHI and Cole’s reaction to the loss was great. Not sure where it will happen, but I’d be interested to see a singles match between the two. The match was fun and lighthearted, and the post match angle was a nice addition. ***

Scott Norton, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Hiro Saito & Cheeseburger Def. BULLET CLUB (Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & BONE SOLDIER)

The Norton-led team came out wearing TEAM 2000 shirts as all of them (other than Cheeseburger, obviously) were members of Masahiro Chono’s group in the early 2000s. They teased Norton jumping to the Bullet Club, giving a figurative nod to the debt Bullet Club owes 1990s/2000s heel groups.  Cheeseburger getting thrown back into the ring from the floor got a big reaction from the crowd. The star of last year’s show, Kenny Omega was deservedly in house show mode and gear. Kojima beat BONE SOLDIER with a lariat. **

Michael Elgin & KUSHIDA Def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi)

NJPW followed up on Elgin’s provocation of Naito at Wrestle Kingdom by reintroducing “Big Mike” in a big-time match. With referee Marty Asami knocked down, Naito hit low blows on KUSHIDA and Elgin. LIJ seemed to be in control until CMLL’s Dragon Lee hit the ring and dumped Naito with a release German suplex. Dragon Lee set his sights on his long-time rival Hiromu; dropkicking the new IWGP Junior champion off the apron and hitting a beautiful tope con giro, slamming his own leg into the guardrail. Elgin got the pin on Hiromu after a Burning Hammer. An exciting and fun match! ***1/4


— njpw_global (@njpwglobal) January 5, 2017

Dragon Lee has already been announced for the Fantastica Mania shows later this month. I would love to see him have an even longer run in 2017.  At the very least, it seems like we might eventually be getting an IWGP Junior title match between he and Hiromu and maybe even a match with KUSHIDA.

Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Katsuyori Shibata, Yuji Nagata, & Juice Robinson Def. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Will Ospreay)

This was a standard house-show encounter. It did, however, set up a match between Ospreay and Shibata, which is intriguing. After a PK from Shibata, Juice hit Pulp Friction to beat Goto. Pinning the new NEVER champ sets up a title challenge for Juice in the near future. **½

Suzuki-Gun are back and out for blood!!! The New Year's off to a brutal start! pic.twitter.com/JqhePqMO2y

— njpw_global (@njpwglobal) January 5, 2017

After the match, Suzuki-gun rushed the ring to lay out both teams. Their maligned NOAH run in the rearview, Minoru and his gang were welcomed with an explosive ovation. KES hit a Killer Bomb on Yano to set up a IWGP Tag confrontation. Okada started to fight off the invaders, but was ultimately baited into a lightning-quick Minoru sleeper and spiked with a Gotch-style piledriver. It looks like we’ll be getting an Okada/Minoru title program soon. Minoru declared a war on all fronts against the other factions in NJPW.

The return of Suzuki-gun gives NJPW another faction with a strong following, and it’ll be interesting to see how their next run NJPW pans out. I think it’s safe to say that their two-year stint in NOAH was a disappointment that produced just a handful of memorable matches, but you wouldn’t know that given the buzz that this return created.

NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi, & Ryusuke Taguchi Def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI) (c)

For the second year a row the 6-man titles headlined New Year Dash. Unlike last year, however, the champions crowned in the dome did not retain. This was an enjoyable match. I especially liked the “mirror-image” exchanges between Keiji Muto proteges SANADA and Tanahashi. NJPW is doing a great job using Tanahashi to build up SANADA’s resume in the company. Nakanishi pinned BUSHI after a Hercules Cutter to capture the belts for the hontai team.

Nakanishi closed out the show on the microphone. I interpret the win as a figurative “new year’s bonus” for Nakanishi. Overall, his 126 matches in 2016 makes last year his busiest since 2008 (137 matches).  However, 22 of those 2008 matches were worked in ZERO-1. He hasn’t worked 126 matches in New Japan since 2004 (131 matches). Thank you Nakanishi-san! ***

Final Thoughts

New Year Dash 2017 was not as noteworthy as last year’s show, but it was entertaining nonetheless. It was a memorable show for its impact on the NJPW landscape going forward. I’m especially excited to see how Dragon Lee and Suzuki-gun are used in early-2017.


NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11 - Live Experience

Author : jojoremy

Yesterday was my second Wrestle Kingdom show since moving to Japan. The show far exceeded my expectations and was the probably the most enjoyable I’ve been to.

Before the show

Unlike last year, I was able to arrive at Suidobashi station long before the show: just after 11 am. I typically get to Korakuen Hall shows about 15 minutes before the opening bell, so I was in for a long day. Wrestle Kingdom week is an exhausting experience. Throughout the year, I usually attend about one show per week. This, however, was my 4th show in 4 days. To be honest, I was actually burnt out on wrestling going into it, thanks to a disappointing DDT show on Tuesday night.

From 11:30 to 1:00 I went to a meet-up lunch organized by Chris Charlton. I enjoyed the company of visiting and local fans, but, unfortunately, I cannot recommend LaQua’s City Buffet. Thanks to everyone who attended and to Chris for putting it together.

For the next two and a half hours or so I walked around Tokyo Dome City. Lines for goods (merch) were already going strong at one o’ clock. Most people were clustered around the Los Ingobernables booth. The LaQua mall on the north side of the Tokyo Dome was bustling with fans; there were multiple attractions for kids, and shops were full of fans sporting their favorite NJPW stars’ t-shirts.

The highlight of LaQua was definitely a kiosk selling baseball-style scorecards for fans to keep track of the shows they attend. The cards had fields to log match times, finishes, and take notes about the shows. The book also included a place to fill in details about the roster and a glossary of moves and other terminology.

For food, I recommend grabbing a bunch of snacks at LaQua’s Seijo Ishii grocery store to bring into the show. We killed some time at the Starbucks on the south side of the Dome, but I would recommend the one in LaQua because it is smoke-free inside and out. Around 3:00 I got in line to wait for the doors to open. I was amused by the megaphone announcement “if you are wearing a mask, please take if off to show your face.” Only at a wrestling show in Japan.

Waiting for gate 22 to open pic.twitter.com/fGRq1vbvyD

— JoJo (@jojo_runs) January 4, 2017

Show Observations

The presentation of Wrestle Kingdom 11 was a big step forward for New Japan. This year’s show didn’t have as many elaborate entrance props as prior years, but everything seemed more polished. They also did an excellent job of making each entrance feel unique. I particularly enjoyed the Glastonbury-esque atmosphere for Hiromu Takahashi and Kenny Omega’s Terminator riff. The stage was thoughtfully designed to highlight the eye during Naito’s entrance.

Among the great entrances last night: @s_d_naito pic.twitter.com/uQgVBiXPZO

— JoJo (@jojo_runs) January 4, 2017

In general, I think NJPW has struggled with the presentation and branding of CHAOS; especially since the departure of Shinsuke Nakamura. Yesterday’s show was a major change in approach as each member had the unit’s logo prominently featured during their entrance. On a related, yet somewhat contradictory note, I have been clamoring for years that as NJPW’s current generation ace, Kazuchika Okada should be associated with the lion mark. Glad they finally did this as well.

Final Thoughts

The crowd seemed more engaged than last year. Each of the top-of-the-card acts had audible fan support which added tremendously to the atmosphere. NJPW is embracing a move away from wrestling’s traditional good/evil delineation. It’s clearly working at the merch table and also in the crowd.

This format isn’t really conducive to getting across how much I enjoyed the show between the bells. I will say that I attended basically every major NJPW in Tokyo in 2016 and I enjoyed this show more. I walked out of the building around 10PM, energized and excited to return to Suidobashi in less than 24 hours for NEW YEAR DASH.

Download Voices of Wrestling’s NJPW 2016 Year in Review eBook:

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NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11 Results & Review

Author : joelanza

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Wrestle Kingdom 11
January 4, 2017
Tokyo Dome – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Mike Elgin won the 14-man preshow Rumble Match

The night began with #BigMike walking to the ring, looking like he was being forced at gunpoint. Billy Gunn, who was the fastest novelty to ever wear off in wrestling history last month at World Tag League, started things off with Elgin, and it was clear he wasn’t in a bumping mood. BONE SOLDIER was next, and watching Twitter reactions of casuals who had never seen him was one of the highlights of the bout. Turns out BONER MAN’s role on this night was to be tossed out by returning cult favorite Cheeeseburger for a big pop.

60-year old Kuniaki Kobayashi was a competent Yoshiaki Fujiawara replacement for the smarmy fan who likes to say things like “this old guy is better than the actual New Japan roster!”, except unlike Fujiwara, Kobayashi was able to move around pretty well and was actually decent. The rest of the usual New Japan veterans filled out the dance card, with the only other surprises being Hiro Saito (who has now been in all three Rambo’s) and Scott Norton, who looked exactly how you would picture 2016 Scott Norton. Norton murdered Ryusuke Taguchi with a powerbomb to score an elimination, before taking an over the top elimination at the hands of Elgin. Elgin dumped the final four men, which included a spirited exchange with Cheeseburger as the final two men remaining, to win the 2017 Rambo.

My unofficial count (the camera work isn’t the best for this match) was five eliminations for Elgin, who was clearly booked as a monster here as a make good for not being on the main card, presumably due to uncertainty about his face injury. These matches are like early Royal Rumbles where you can sort of sense they are learning how to book spots for them as the years move along. Bumped it up a star for the cool exchanges at the end between Elgin & ‘burger, and for being FUN. **

Order of elimination, as best I could tell: BONER (Cheeseburger), Gunn (Elgin), Kobayashi (Tiger Mask), Manabu Nakanishi (everyone), Jushin Thunder Liger (?), Tiger Mask (?), Yuji Nagata (Saito, Tenzan), Yoshitatsu (Nagata?), Taguchi (Norton), Saito (Elgin), Norton (Elgin), Tenzan (Elgin), Cheeseburger (Elgin)

Tiger Mask W def. Tiger The Dark

As expected (hinted at months ago, and later reported first by VOW thankyouverymuch), Tiger The Dark was ACH. He did a much better job at trying to avoid his signature stuff while also still pulling off hot moves. On the other hand, Kota Ibushi as Tiger Mask W is much less subtle, tossing in token Tiger Suplexes and such before basically running through the usual Ibushi playbook, which in this case included a springboard moonsault to the floor (more on that later) and finishing off his cartoon foe with the Last Ride powerbomb.

Similar to Ibushi in his first match as Tiger Mask W, ACH seemed to be struggling with the bulky mask a little. The work here was clean, with just enough flipz and action to keep things interesting. Perfect for what it set out to be, and a decent enough opener. ***

Roppongi Vice def. Young Bucks to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles

They started things off with the Bucks teasing the old Honky Tonk Man taking a powder intentional count out spot. In this case, it’s to bait the opponents into running them down, and then ambush them, to set up their own cheap count out win. I hate this spot in New Japan because titles can change hands via count out. RPG Vice has no incentive to chase the Bucks down, because they win the titles if the Bucks walk away. You could argue RPG Vice are valiant babyfaces who want no part of a cheap win, but they are CHAOS members after all, not white meat territory babyfaces.

Anyway, that’s a nit pick, because I ended up loving this match.

This was the Bucks usual wacky spotfest style cluster (and I mean that in a good way) until Baretta did a flip dive over the top rope, completely missing everybody, landing flat on his back on the ramp with a sickening thud that echoed through the Dome, and then died. R.I.P. Trent.

Baretta wasn’t really dead, but the spot was amazing, and it took him out of the rest of the match. This left Rocky to fight alone, which led to a payoff of an ongoing storyline, and took this match over the top from being a run of the mill junior tag prelim to something special.

For a good chunk of 2016, Romero had lost his groove, with Baretta carrying the team. Baretta was winning all of the falls, Rocky was losing all of the falls, and Baretta was very displeased. It looked like the paint-by-numbers setup for tag team breakup, until Roppongi rallied to win the Super Juniors Tag Tournament. Rocky figured this was the cure to their problems, but Trent was still side eyeing him.

Back to the match. With Baretta dead, Rocky had to figure out how to beat the Bucks (who were the perfect cocky asshole foils for the story) on his own. The Bucks picked him apart, and in a great spot that I bought as the finish, they quickly snuffed out Rocky’s perfectly timed fighting spirit fire up with a double superkick that Romero was barely able to kick out of. With the Bucks in total control and on the verge of hitting the match ending More Bang For Your Buck, Rocky schoolboy’d Nick to win the match

Rocky’s performance, in both his raw work and in getting over the story with just the right doses drawing sympathy and showing fire, was elite tier. It was beyond refreshing to not only see a standard two vs two junior tag title match, but one that was built around a long term storyline and real payoff. I could’t tell you the details of any of the previous Wrestle Kingdom junior tag title multi-team clusters, but I’ll remember this match for a long time. I loved all of this. ****

LIJ (EVIL, SANADA, BUSHI) def. CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Will Ospreay, Jado), Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, Hangman Page), Satoshi Kojima, Ricochet, David Finlay (c) to win the NEVER Openweight Six Man Titles

It looks like “cramming all of the leftovers onto the Wrestle Kingdom show” is yet another function of the trios titles, in addition to giving select undercard guys a purpose and adding juice to the mid card of random Destruction shows.

This was an uneven but mostly entertaining bout, highlighted early by Will Ospreay’s hot sequence with Hangman Page, and highlighted late by Team Unexplainable Chemistry (my unofficial name for Koji, Ricochet, and Finlay) tearing the house down at the finish.

Bullet Club may as well not have existed if not for the Ospreay/Page sequence. Yujiro pinned Jado to eliminate CHAOS, and was submitted by SANADA moments later, but was otherwise barely more useful than the invisible Bad Luck Fale.

TUC hit the ring and business picked up. Kojima was a house of fire (especially in the closing stretch) and the most over person on the entire show to this point. Ricochet (and Finlay!) flew around like maniacs. This was largely an enormous waste of a lot of talented people, and I still think it was a mistake not booking the hottest singles match on Earth on your biggest show (Ospreay vs Ricochet), but despite a dull few minutes during the middle portion of the bout, this was a perfectly enjoyable prelim match. ***1/4

Cody def. Juice Robinson

This played out exactly how I figured it would, with Juice working incredibly hard and putting in an excellent performance in all facets, from showing fire, to working the crowd, to offensive execution (including tremendous striking), and as always, his top notch bumping and selling. Cody held up his end just fine, with clean work and some real good heel mannerisms.

The psychology here was sound. Cody was cocky, Juice was the fiery upstart trying to win the biggest match of his life. Cody rolled through a high cross body and used the American Nightmare, which was a key spot, because even though Juice made the ropes, it weakened his leg and ultimately cost him the match. Juice fought back from a Disaster Kick (delivered on the apron) and elevated DDT, but he lost Cody on a powerbomb attempt due to his injured leg. Cody hit the Cross Rhodes, and that was that.

Simple, tight work, and good basic psychology. I probably liked this more than most. A really good match. ***1/2

Adam Cole def. Kyle O’Reilly to win the ROH World Heavyweight Title

Very similar to the previous match, in that it featured good clean work and very sound psychology, with the added benefit of a backstory. The problem was that despite working with passion and conveying genuine hate, the live crowd had no feel for the history between the two and failed to respond accordingly. It wasn’t for lack of effort from either man, particularly O’Reilly, whose pinpoint strikes in particular had real snap behind them. Cole’s perfromance was similar to Cody in the previous match, as he more than held up his end by bringing good heel work to the table that may have worked better in a smaller room, and which definitely would have worked better in front of fans who understood the dynamic between the two men. These guys were in a tough spot. Had the match gotten over, this would have been very similar to a hot 10:00 G1 undercard match that comes in around 4-stars. As it was, the subdued crowd sapped some of the excitement and took this down a notch. ***1/2

Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii def. Guerrillas of Destiny and Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) to win the IWGP Tag Team Titles

“I hate you motherfucker!”

“Fuck youuuu!”

“Eat shit you asshole!”


With the ring mic seemingly set on max, we were treated to the most uncouth trash talk in wrestling history. We were also treated to the uncouth intrusion of Toru Yano in what would have otherwise been a great match.

This match was frustrating. The annoying inclusion of Yano & Ishii proved to be just that, as GBH and GoD worked incredibly hard and put together a match very similar to their great World Tag League final (which was one of the best tag matches in the world in 2016), ruined every few minutes when we were reminded that Yano & Ishii were a part of it.

It was utterly amazing, actually. Yano would disappear for long stretches of time, the match would kick into high gear, and he’d pop back up to kill the momentum. The finish was a fitting, final, non-verbal FUCK YOU, with Yano slipping under the ropes to steal the pin, which fits his gimmick and fits the story, but just because you tell a coherent story doesn’t mean I have to like it. The GBH & GoD stuff was a continuation of the ugly-in-all-of-the-right-ways brutality of the WTL match, but this was a complete waste of Ishii, and Yano’s presence was like casting Pauly Shore as the comic relief in a Martin Scorsese movie. Picture Shore popping up every 20 minutes or so in Goodfellas, right in the middle of the most intense scenes, to say “Hey Buuuuuu-dy!” to a confused Henry Hill, and that’s what we had here. This could have been really great. ***1/2

Hiromu Takahashi def. KUSHIDA to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title

This began the run of four consecutive incredible matches where I’m going to have a hard time conveying just how great this two hours plus of wrestling truly was. All four matches were vastly different, yet great in their own way.

The junior title match was the heated sprint, which played right into the insane style of Hiromu Takahashi.

Takahashi returning from excursion is every bit the same dynamic as a free agent like AJ Styles or Kota Ibushi or Kenny Omega jumping to the company would be in terms of adding a top class elite pro wrestler to the roster. If you followed his excursion, particularly his long stop in CMLL, you already know he’s one of the world’s best. Now everybody else does too.

This was very similar in pace and recklessness to Takahashi’s incredible bouts against Dragon Lee, with KUSHIDA’s arm submission flavor in place of Lee’s dynamic brand of lucha. Some of the spots were outright dangerous, and not just the masochistic body sacrifice that has become commonplace in a Takahashi match. Takahashi attempted a rana off the top rope along the edge of the ropes which was intended to throw KUSHIDA to the floor, but they screwed it up and collapsed to the mat. No problem, no panic. Hiromu kicked KUSHIDA to the floor, climbed up to the top, and flew off with what was supposed to be senton (I think), but ended up being an awkward flying clothesline as he crashed ass first to the floor. It was that kind of match, but these random bouts of  aggressive sloppiness worked, because like a modern day Sabu or current day Sasha Banks, Takahashi is a fucking madman and it actually helps that his shit doesn’t look clean.

Exhibit B. Hiromu flies off the apron to the floor, attempting to do only God knows what, but KUSHIDA somehow catches him mid air and transitions into a cross arm breaker as they hit the floor. I have no idea if this was what they intended to do, because I think Hiromu just leaves his feet without a plan and decides what to do while in the air.

In the middle of all of this, KUSHIDA had the fucking audacity to work over the arm to add psychology to this beautiful mess.

When this was over, I openly questioned whether and of the three remaining matches could possibly top it. Welp. ****1/2

Hirooki Goto def. Katsuyori Shibata to win the NEVER Openweight Title

If the previous match was the heated sprint, this was the best possible uber macho NEVER style fight. About ten minutes in, after some shockingly nifty mat work and some teases of mass violence, I thought to myself, this is really good, but it’s time to start hitting each other ridiculously hard, defiantly pop up from some bombs, and stubbornly no sell until one of them has no choice in the matter because they die.

Right on cue.

These matches aren’t for everyone, but unless you’re uncomfortable with stiff, excessive violence in your graps, I’ve always had a hard time understanding what’s not to like about two ultra tough, excessively masculine to a fault, more-pride-than-brains ass kickers beating the living shit out of each other until one man can no longer stand and/or isn’t breathing. This is the one style of wrestling that I would think would have near universal appeal. It’s the best elements of street fight nastiness combined with shoot style violence with the added bonus of worked dramatics. It’s 100% business, 0% bullshit. And I fucking love it.

This was Goto’s match. Not only because he won, but because it was one of those days where he puts it all together and looks like one of the best wrestlers on the planet. I’ve always loved his offense because it looks like it would actually kill you. It’s the nastiest looking stuff in wrestling, and after the Ushigoroshi/Shouten combo wasn’t enough, he added a new wrinkles here, busting out a reverse GTR that crushed Shibata’s throat over his knee, followed by an academic “because I can, m’fer” standard issue GTR to finish Shibata for good.

Never has kayfabe been conflated with reality to produce a shittier narrative than “Goto sucks!”. Hirooki Goto, especially when he has nights like this, is as good as anyone.

As for Shibata, this loss felt a lot like Kenny Omega’s loss to KUSHIDA last year. You get the sense that this is one of those situations where you have to lose to move forward. I have a feeling the NEVER days will now be behind him, as the next steps in his elevation occur over the course of 2017. ****3/4

Tetsuya Naito def. Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the Intercontinental Title

We’re entering exciting new territory with our old Ace. A new theme (which stinks and isn’t going to grow on me) and a stubborn refusal to accept that he’s lost a step with a hokey (subconsciously) manufactured bravado to go along with it. The story here is he’s good enough to be competent and beat most of these dudes, but at the age of 40 he’s not quite good enough to beat the top 1%. It’s a hard reality to accept, but we all know a guy like this, and he probably has a new Corvette in the driveway and girlfriend who’s about five years too young for him.

Corvette’s haven’t been hip in a long time, and neither is the goofy remixed version of “High Energy”. Like the Corvette, the lyrics “Go Ace!” reek of overcompensation. Like he’s trying to convince himself. 

I knew Tanahashi was losing the moment he was hamming it up in the prematch. He’s playing this role to the tilt, a man who deep down can’t convince himself he’s really the Ace, so he tries desperately to convince everyone else.

Naito wasn’t buying it. Naito’s chest pund and bow after putting Tanahashi away felt like he was saying “you showed heart, you did good”, like when a son finally beats his dad at backyard hoops but feels oddly awkward about it, so he goes overboard in no selling his own victory and putting over how well the old man played. And make no mistake, Tanahashi played well, and his top game can still put away the SANADA’s and EVIL’s and just about everybody else, but it isn’t quite good enough for the Naito’s and Okada’s.

The match itself exemplified this, as it was worked even, worked in a mirror. They both attacked the leg. They split the offense 50/50. One guy is in his prime, the other just a little bit past it.

The junior match was the The Sprint. The NEVER match was The FIGHT. This was The Story. ****3/4

Kazuchika Okada def. Kenny Omega to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Title

We had The Sprint, The FIGHT, and The Story.

This was The Spectacle.

I’m not going to call this match the greatest of all time, but I do think what Omega (and Okada) produced might have been the best possible example of the modern New Japan style match.

Omega was flawless in this match. Let’s get that out of the way. There was no aspect of this performance that was not perfect. His execution, his persistence in attacking Okada’s back, his insane bumps (and his routine yet gorgeous bumps), his selling, his emoting, his fire, his balance, his pace, his stamina, his presence, his effort, his guts, his will. This was a pantheon effort. He sold, he fought, he took insane risks, and he left nothing in the ring. He completely emptied the tank and there was nothing left to give. I’d argue his effort on this night against the effort of any wrestler, in any match, ever.

Okada, even with all of his accolades, is perhaps the most underappreciated, unheralded wrestler today, still maligned by some who refuse to let go of a dead era and by others who somehow can’t see his greatness. He has not only inherited the Ace role from Tanahashi, but also his big match track record. Work with the best, learn from the best.

This match went 47 minutes. I initially thought they could have shaved about 15. On rewatch, I decided it was closer to five. To shave more would have forced them to up the pace, because most of the early work plenty to the match later. But that deliberate pace early set up the frantic, insane, unreal pace on the back end. I wouldn’t want to lose that important dichotomy. Eventually it hit me that I was obsessing over cutting a few minutes off of something that was already great the way it was, and it occurred to me how stupid that would be. It would be like dumping your hot girlfriend because her sister is ugly.

This match is so good, that it fools you into thinking it’s going to end before they reach second gear. You think it’s over when Toryumon Okada contorts himself and slips out of the One Winged Angel and hits the Rainmaker. But Kenny kicks out. Kenny kicks out of the Rainmaker! Okada hits three or four or five more before I lose count. Only Tanahashi survives that kind of assault. You’re fooled into thinking the match is going to a draw when it creeps up on 40 minutes. Eventually I stopped looking for the end because I was tired of being wrong. This match breaks every rule and pushes every limit. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before.

You realize towards the back end of the bout that the crazy dives and table crashes and insane spots were actually the meat of the match, the setup to the pure lunacy that followed. This match could have ended a half dozen different times and still been great, but every time it didn’t, it just kept getting better. The pacing of the escalation was the best I’ve ever seen.

It was thick with callbacks and subtle nods. An exhausted Okada holding on to Omega’s wrist. Omega doing a springboard moonsault to the floor, the same one that Kota Ibushi did five hours earlier. Omega’s Bome Ye’s that he stole from Nakamura when he beat him 364 days earlier. Omega eventually fell, but they left the door cracked open. He survived against Okada in a way that only Tanahashi had before. He was never able to hit the One Winged Angel. We still don’t know if Okada could have withstood it.

The work was perfect, the drama was intense, the action was insane. The loser was elevated in defeat. The match ticked every box and delivered on every level. I have zero doubt that Kenny Omega, the most driven man in wrestling, the insane genius, the perfect, beautiful enigma, in the biggest match of his life, in the moment he waited his entire career for, was bound and determined to produce the greatest pro wrestling match of all time.

I don’t know if it was, but I can’t say for certain that it wasn’t, either. *****

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NJPW Wrestling Festival 2017 Results and Review

Author : kellyharrass

We’re less than a day away from Wrestle Kingdom 11 and it’s time to whet our appetite with three matches from New Japan’s Wrestling Festival. If Wrestle Kingdom is New Japan’s WrestleMania, Wrestling Festival is their AXESS. Normally these matches aren’t newsworthy, but this year we get to see the much anticipated debut of Tomoyuki Oka. The matches begin right around the 6:06:00 mark.

Yuji Nagata def. Tomoyuki Oka

Outside of the Lion’s Gate exhibition grappling matches he had, we really haven’t seen anything of this young lion. Both Nagata and Kidani are really high on him, so let’s see what all the fuss is about. At first glance, I’m struck by how old Oka looks. This is his first match and he already looks like he’ll fit right in with the New Japan Dads. He definitely has the Arn Anderson thing going where he looks forty now, but he’ll stay that way for the rest of his life.

Initially, Oka seemed unsure of himself in the ring and relied heavily on his ground game. As the contest wore on, you could see the baby horse gain its footing. Oka looked like he’ll eventually be a force to be reckoned with. While he lacked the explosiveness of a Tanaka or Komatsu, Oka seems like he’ll be able to stand and trade shots with the hardest hitters of New Japan. Nagata gave Oka every opportunity to look great in this match, selling for his offense and letting the big boy toss him around. Nagata eventually picked up with win by making Oka tap to a crossface. As far as first matches go, there’s been better, but there’s also been much worse. I don’t know if I’m as sold on Oka as Kidani and Nagata are, but I’m excited to see how he grows over the next several years. **¾

Belly-to-belly suplex from @OkaTomoyuki! #NJPW #njwk11 pic.twitter.com/D0UPjgRyUD

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) January 3, 2017

Manabu Nakanishi def. Henare

As I write this review, it’s currently 9 AM. I think I’m having a Monster Morning?

Nakanishi seemed extra grumpy in this match. Maybe it was because he wanted to be the one to wrestle his and Ishii’s son in the previous match. As far as matches go this was very basic. Nakanishi dominated the early goings. Hanare fired up and made a comeback. Then Nakanishi beat him back down and won. Nothing really to see here. Honestly, this is more of the match that I expected out of Oka. Not a strong showing for either man, especially following Nakanishi’s great singles match with Nagata a few weeks ago. **

Hercules Cutter!! #NJPW #njwk11 pic.twitter.com/vVtB0dSsHi

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) January 3, 2017

Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV def. Hirai Kawato & Ryusuke Taguchi

What is with everybody being grumpy today? Tiger Mask is always a grumpy old bastard, but today Liger joined him in the angry club. It’s not every day that you see Liger take a chair out of the crowd to hit the young lion with. Speaking of Kawato, he’s starting to look a bit like a Chia Pet with how he’s letting his hair grow out. I feel like a hair cut is in order.

The match itself was fine. There was good action throughout, but by no means was this a must see match. Tiger Mask picked up the win with a bridging Tiger Suplex. Kawato looked a little worse for wear after taking the suplex, having to be helped out of the ring. Hopefully he was just selling and he didn’t get hurt before his first shot at being in the Rambo. Following the match, Taguchi made Liger and Tiger Mask dance with him. It went about as poorly as you would expect. ***

#NJPW #njwk11 pic.twitter.com/3qSY6AOtdu

— LariatHoHoHo!! 🎅 (@MrLARIATO) January 3, 2017

Final Thoughts

Outside of the Oka debut, this is a skippable set of matches. Expecting five star classics out of a show like this is absurd so we got about the quality that I assumed that we would. These are the New Japan equivalent of watching the Drifter wrestle Zack Ryder at AXCESS. Short shows like this really live and die on the quality of the lions. The current state of the young lions isn’t the greatest, but with the solid debut of Oka, it seems like things will be on the rise. As New Japan watchers, we’ve been spoiled by amazing young lions and now we’re dealing with a group that still needs to grow. Let’s see where we’re at a year from now. If this show is still of the same quality, I’ll get worried, but until then, just enjoy the growth period.