Monday, October 12, 2015

NJPW King of Pro Wrestling Review

King of Pro Wrestling
October 12th, 2015 | Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 8,302

Jushin Thunder Liger, KUSHIDA, Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi and Tiger Mask def. David Finlay, Jay White, Juice Robinson, Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu in 8:47
In an interesting start to the show, the young lions attacked their opponents right at the bell. They did a pretty good job playing the heels throughout this. Juice Robinson got more time to shine in this match than usual, which might be because he officially signed a new deal. He seemed more comfortable but still hasn't wowed just yet. The only thing I didn't really like was Taguchi as he's never entertaining. Mascara Dorada was able to get the pin for his team in what I would consider a fun opener. That was all I wanted from this. ***

Tomoaki Honma def. YOSHI-HASHI in 8:55
As usual, Tomoaki Honma was his insanely over self. YOSHI-HASHI is someone that I don't know much about, but I did rather enjoy his singles match against Michael Elgin during the G1 Finals. I also enjoyed this match. It featured the typical Honma fun, which was enjoyable and made better by the aforementioned hot crowd. Honma picked up the victory following a really fun finishing sequence. I suspect he moves into some sort of big match at Wrestle Kingdom since he's so incredibly over. ***1/4

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi, Satoshi Kojima and Yuji Nagata def. Captain New Japan, Hirooki Goto, Katsuyori Shibata and Kota Ibushi in 12:12
Another standard New Japan multi-man tag team match. Granted, I'm not saying that like it's a bad thing. These are usually solid and this was no different. What impressed me here was seeing these guys go at it like there were big time feuds in the middle of all of this. Shibata and Nagata were absolutely beating on each other throughout. I bought into a fair amount of the false finishes throughout this, even one from Captain New Japan. Think about that. Of course, once he got left in the ring alone though, I knew the finish was coming. The winning team hit him with two double team moves, possibly setting up for the Tag League. I just wish Kota Ibushi was doing more. He's had a fantastic year and deserves something big heading into WK10. ***

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: reDRagon (c) def. Roppongi Vice in 15:21
As I've mentioned before, the Jr. Heavyweight divisions are a bit of a problem point for me. The tag division has been a revolving door of four teams, but the right guys hold the belts right now. reDRagon are a breath of fresh air in this division, breaking up the monotony that the other three teams seem to bring. I enjoyed this match but it wasn't on the level of the last two reDRagon matches against the other two teams in the division. I think some new teams need to be brought in because a lot of this stuff seems to be things we've seen over and over again. There was a cool double leg lock spot between Kyle O'Reilly and Rocky Romero where Bobby Fish and Baretta stomped on their opponents. That was pretty cool. The finish was incredibly awkward though as it seemed like the pin was broken up but the three was counted. **3/4

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega (c) def. Matt Sydal in 15:26
I don't get the love for Kenny Omega and I haven't seen first seeing him in 2009. It's hard to get into his matches as he overacts everything in such a campy way that it's off-putting. It's like, overdoing things in the worst possible way. This division is in DIRE need of some variety. The only Jr. Title matches I've really liked this year were Omega/KUSHIDA at Dominion and KUSHIDA/Ricochet. Still, the division is really only Omega, KUSHIDA, Sydal and sometimes Ricochet. They need some new talent, especially a technician similar to how Dean Malenko helped the WCW cruiserweights. Anyway, the match itself wasn't very good. I've seen some people give it more than four stars and I'm confused. Omega controlling the match was dull and the crowd did not care, which is probably due to the lackluster division. The finish was pretty cool though, picking up steam and keeping Sydal strong. Still, not a match that I would go out of my way to see. **1/2

Kazushi Sakuraba, Shinsuke Nakamura and Toru Yano def. Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson in 7:03
This was mainly here to build towards the eventual Shinsuke Nakamura/Karl Anderson Intercontinental Title match. It was kept short and entertained throughout. Anderson was playing the dick heel very well, shouting at commentary that Nakamura sucks. These guys did their work, Toru Yano was his comedic self and rolled up Fale to win. Simple, but effective. I really do hope that the Anderson/Nakamura program is a bridge to Nakamura/Styles at Wrestle Kingdom. They are the only guys to have never faced of the "big four" in NJPW. ***

NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii def. Togi Makabe in 17:54
Going into this show, I was not looking forward to this match. Tomohiro Ishii and Togi Makabe have wrestled more than enough this year and none of them really stood out to me. However, they were on their game in this one. I feel like this was their best match together this year. As one would expect in a match between these two, they beat the fuck out of each other. Ishii even busted out Makabe's King Kong knee drop at one point. For the most part, they didn't do anything really new, but something about this just worked. Ishii was able to take back the title and Tomoaki Honma came out after the bout. Hopefully this sets up one more Ishii/Honma match, maybe in the Tokyo Dome, as they work magic together. ****

Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Tetsuya Naito in 19:54
I have to commend the excellent video package that aired before the match, going all the way back to the finals of the G1 Climax in 2013. Two men in suits and masks came out, with one being Tetsuya Naito and the other not revealing himself, but staying at ringside. They worked a slow build match, with Naito being fantastic as the dick heel once again. He just nails this in a way that not many people are nailing their characters. This was moving into great status when we got a ref bump. The second man revealed himself to be Takaaki Watanabe. They beat on Tanahashi until Shibata and Goto run out, giving us a brawl. During this scuffle, Tanahashi won with the High Fly Flow. Really good match hampered by the interference in the end. ***3/4

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) def. AJ Styles in 30:15
There have been plenty of matches between these two men, but the two that I have seen were in the G1 Climax 24 and at Dominion. I thought the former was good and the latter was great, in my top 10 matches this year. I'd put this match in the middle of those. Similar to the last match, there was a fair amount of Bullet Club involvement throughout. I get that they're heels, I really do, but it ends up hurting the match when it is overdone. That's what made their Dominion match so good. The interference was kept to a relative minimum. As usual with Okada matches, this was good but didn't cross into great territory until the finishing sequence. Again, it wasn't on the level of the finish at Dominion, but was pretty great and saw Okada win with three Rainmakers. ****

Overall: 8/10. A really good effort from New Japan again. I've noted it before and a lot of people share this feeling, but the in ring work nearly always delivers with this company, while the booking is sometimes strange. I agreed with most of the decisions here and overall, the show delivers. The only things that I thought were skippable were the Jr. matches. Nothing was MOTY level, but there were two really damn good matches, surrounded by mostly fun stuff.