Wednesday, September 23, 2015

NJPW Destruction in Okayama Review

This morning, New Japan Pro Wrestling held Destruction in Okayama. I didn't catch it live but watched it once i woke up this morning.

Katsuyori Shibata, Yuji Nagata, Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu def. Tetsuya Naito, David Finlay, Jay White and Manabu Nakanishi in 7:47
While I've been watching a fair amount of New Japan this year, I haven't seen much of the young lions, but I have liked what I've been able to check out. The main focus during this match was the rivalry between Shibata and Naito, who will wrestle on Sunday at Destruction in Kobe. I have really loved their interactions during the "Road to Destruction" and did so here again. Naito was the last guy out for his team, while Shibata was first out for his guys, which is perfect for their personalities. The match featured a fair amount of fun back and forth, while Naito and Shibata were very aggressive with one another. Nagata got the win for his team when Naito refused to tag in and then chose to watch the pinfall rather than help. This was a blast and built towards Shibata/Naito more, meaning the match did it's job. ***1/4

reDRagon def. Jushin Thunder Liger and Mascara Dorada in 8:31
I've gone on record to state that I firmly believe reDRagon is the best tag team in pro wrestling, so I always look forward to seeing them. Liger is always fun to watch as well, though I again admit I haven't seen much of Dorada. He did well here, including a really sweet dive to the outside. I feel like this worked more as a tuneup of sorts with reDRagon having a bigger title defense at Destruction in Kobe. This was fine, and reDRagon won with Chasing the Dragon in a decent match. **1/2

NWA World Junior Championship: Tiger Mask def. Steve Anthony (c) in 10:10
This would be the last match of the night to feature someone I've yet to really see. Steve Anthony is new to me, but was clearly the heel. The two men worked at a decent pace but I just couldn't get into this. I'm honestly unsure if it was because I didn't know much about the competitors or the match itself but I found myself tuning out. Part of it is my fault but their inability to suck me in made this lackluster for sure. Tiger Mask won, to earn the title for the second time in his career. Looking at the history of the belt, it's his first reign in nearly a decade. **

Hiroshi Tanahashi and Matt Sydal def. Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga in 10:01
Similar to the giant opening tag team match, this was partially here to build towards a match at the next Destruction show, between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Bad Luck Fale. The other story in this was the NJPW debut of Matt Sydal. The faces started hot and surprisingly, the heat seemed to come on Tanahashi. Sydal didn't get that much ring time, but looked fine in the time that he did get. Fale stayed looking strong as he didn't eat the pin and was dominant at times against Tanahashi. A Shooting Star Press, followed by the High Fly Flow ended this. Basic stuff but overall, the crowd was hot and it was enjoyable. **3/4

IWGP Tag Team Championship: Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson (c) def. Tencozy in 13:15
Tencozy consists of Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima. They are older guys, both in their mid-forties, but can still go, which they showed during the G1 Climax this year. The tag team scene in NJPW tends to be lacking but I thought this was good. It started out slow with a highlight being seeing Karl Anderson steal Kojima's trademark chops in the corner. As the match grew to the climax, there were a fair amount of false finishes and near falls. Coming in, I fully expected the champions to retain but I bit on some of the close calls. A Gun Stun on Tenzan and the Magic Killer on Kojima wrapped this up. ***1/4

Chaos (Baretta, Rocky Romero, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii and Yoshi-Hashi) def. Alex Shelley, Captain New Japan, Hirooki Goto, Rysuke Taguchi and Tomoaki Honma in 13:23
Right from the bell, it was clear that Ryusuke Taguchi was going to be an agitator, getting in the face of Nakamura several times. It is sometimes funny but it came off as annoying here and I guess that was the point since even his teammate, Goto, shoved him. I'm a big fan of Alex Shelley, like Roppongi Vice and have come to really enjoy Goto, Nakamura, Ishii and Honma, making this really fun. At one point, Capt. New Japan, Taguchi and Honma did a triple Kokeshi, which made me chuckle. As expected, the interactions between Honma and Ishii and Nakamura and Goto were both probably the highlights. Capt. New Japan ate the pin after a Boma Ye and brainbuster. ***1/4

Kazuchika Okada and Toru Yano def. AJ Styles and Cody Hall in 9:52
Of all of the Bullet Club members, I feel like Cody Hall is probably the worst in the ring. Despite this, his interactions with Toru Yano were fun, though that was more due to Yano. Hall came off as awkward a fair amount of the time. Yano was a joy but the key to this match was the interactions between Styles and Okada. They are set to face for the IWGP Heavyweight Title at King of Pro Wrestling next month and much like their match at Dominion in July, their exchange was fast, furious and fantastic. Yano stole the win for his guys with a rollup on Hall. Again, not a great match but one that I had fun watching, which is all I can ask for sometimes. **3/4

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega def. KUSHIDA (c) in 16:26
These two had a pretty great match at Dominion in July, where KUSHIDA took the title from Omega. This match wasn't on the level of that one and I think part of that had to do with the crowd here not being as hot as the Osaka one from July. Still, this was going well, with the focus being on KUSHIDA's back and KUSHIDA trying to get his armbar locked in throughout. Doc Gallows and Alex Shelley got involved, which I expected and thought was fine, until it got taken too far. It was fine as a quick thing but happened again after a ref bump and then Karl Anderson showed up too. KUSHIDA ate a Gun Stun and the One Winged Angel to lose the belt. I disagree completely with this decision as there was still a good amount that could have been done with KUSHIDA at champ. A match with his partner or the tiebreaker with Ricochet for example. Matt Sydal was shown at ringside throughout and Omega called him out in an awkward segment after. Omega/Sydal is coming and I'm not too excited about it. This could have been much better. ***

NEVER Openweight Championship: Togi Makabe (c) def. Kota Ibushi in 18:41
Kota Ibushi has been one of my absolute favorites in NJPW and I've totally bought in on him trying to win a title above the Jr. Heavyweight level. I wasn't a huge fan of their G1 Climax match, which Ibushi won, but this blew that match away to me. I love that Ibushi doesn't look like a badass dude, but absolutely can hit with the hardest of them. They just beat the fuck out of each other and it was worthy of headlining an event like this. When they fought outside, Ibushi hit a sick dropkick and then brought a table into play and hit a double stomp from the top onto it. When Ibushi countered the Spider German, he did so by landing on his feet, showing off his athleticism. However, the high risks that he takes proved to be an issue as he missed the Phoenix Splash. He tried to fight off the Spider German again, so Makabe changed it to a Spider Dragon suplex and finished it with the King Kong knee drop. I wasn't a big fan of Makabe retaining, but it played into Ibushi coming so close to winning a big title. He was close to winning the Intercontinental Title at WK9, the Heavyweight Title at Invasion Attack and now the NEVER Title here. After the match, Tomohiro Ishii showed up and it looks like we'll be getting Makabe/Ishii again, which I could do without. Either way, this was a great, hard hitting battle and another star making performance for Ibushi. ****

Overall: 6.5/10. I rather enjoyed this show. I don't think it was one of the stronger New Japan shows of the year, but I didn't expect it to be judging by the card. Still, they managed to put on a show that I found to be fun. There were a few matches that I wasn't big on, but there were some good tag matches and while the Jr. Heavyweight Title match disappointed, the main event was awesome. Worth a look.