Saturday, September 17, 2016
NJPW Destruction in Tokyo Review
This morning, New Japan held the first of three Destruction events. Though my interest in the company has gone down significantly lately, I’m hoping for these cards to deliver better than they look on paper.
Henare is a new young boy. He lost to Finlay, who has moved up a bit with new gear and such, on the “Road to Destruction” show. Finlay even got a pop when he was tagged in. He and Rocky had a good back and forth. Their Best of the Super Juniors match this year was pretty damn good. Finlay was his usual good self and Henare looked alright before falling to the Dudebuster. Nothing much to write about here. It was a decent little opener that got the young guys some shine and a win for RPG Vice. I still just wish there was more for the NJPW tag division. Every team just seems to be biding team until their next random title reign that means nothing.
The Bullet Club hunters team up…to not face the Bullet Club. At least they continued the story of YOSHITATSU being irritated with CNJ. He made sure to start the match and didn’t even like him side by side cosplaying Triple H with him. YOSHI did a decent job of hanging with Nagata early, but CNJ got the tag and took an ass kicking from Manabu. CNJ scored a few flash pin near falls on Nagata but nobody really believed it would end that way. Nagata and Nakanishi hit a rather ugly double team move before Nagata won with an exploder. A nothing match that was there to get these guys on the card.
I expected this to be fun. I really like four of the guys in this match. Liger continues to defeat Father Time, as he might have looked the best out of everyone in this match. Tiger Mask took the heat for his guys for the most part. Makabe got the hot tag and did his usual thing. He does have one of the best laughs in wrestling. “A HA HA!” Honma did his thing too, which was to miss Kokeshi. Of course, he recovered and ended up hitting it. TenKoji was held off while Honma hit the top rope Kokeshi on Liger for the win. As I expected, this was a relatively fun six man tag. I wish the crowd was more into it, but everyone did their part.
Look, it’s bad enough that the tired ass Bullet Club/Chaos feud is back on, but must we be subjected to this? The crowd rightfully didn’t give a shit about the BC scrub trio. Mainly due to the BC team, I couldn’t really get into this. Goto is good, Ishii is one of the best and Gedo can be hilarious at times, but there was just nothing coming from the Bullet Club team. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a crowd this quiet for an Ishii match. Anyway, it was Ishii that got the win for Chaos in a match that was really kind of just there.
Considering my love for O’Reilly and the fact that Juice has been good lately, I came in pretty excited for this. Juice was smart early on, avoiding the mat game. He went for a sunset flip that O’Reilly turned into an armbar, but he quickly reached the ropes. Everything O’Reilly did was just so smooth. His transition from a back suplex into a leg lock was great. Juice came back with his solid spinebuster (about a 6/10 on an Anderson scale). Juice nailed a plancha, but O’Reilly retaliated with a brutal knee to the face. Kyle worked a choke into an exploder and slapped on a triangle choke. Juice countered by powering up into a powerbomb for a near fall. Kyle hit the brainbuster and turned the kick out into an arm bar, while also grabbing the leg, for the win. Really good match. The best I’ve seen from Juice. He sold well, had good fire and looked good in defeat. Kyle continued to show that he’s one of the best around and is the best wrestler on the ROH roster in my opinion. I love the news that he’s moving to the heavyweight division.
After intermission, another Time Bomb vignette aired. I suspect the reveal will come at Power Struggle in November.
Yujiro came out with four ladies and has added a pimp cane and hate to his ensemble. Easily the most I’ve ever liked him. To avoid an attack from Fale, the ring announcer did the intros from a table at ringside and was still run off. As always, the Bullet Club attacked before the bell to get the jump on Chaos. It isn’t anything you’ve never seen before. This was exactly what you’d expect. They previewed Omega vs. YOSHI and Fale vs. Okada. Takahashi was kind of just there and Will Ospreay was given plenty of time to strut his stuff. Though he has a big match coming up, YOSHI took most of the beating throughout this match. It was clear who was going to eat the pin in this one as Takahashi lost to YOSHI’s Karma. Not bad, but nothing to write home about. The Bullet Club/Chaos feud again underwhelms.
Bad Luck Fale teased taking out Okada with a Bad Luck Fall outside but it was broken up. I did get a chuckle out of Omega taking one of Yujiro’s girls to the back and saying “let’s celebrate glorious defeat.”
Taguchi came out wearing half a skull mask and a bat to poke fun at SANADA. I appreciate that though Tanahashi is the bigger star, his teams have come out to Elgin’s theme on recent shows. Elgin got to showcase his awesome power in the early stages. Los Ingobernables de Japon found an opening when they went after Elgin’s leg. They attacked it often and I hope it comes into play during the upcoming Intercontinental Title match. The hot tag was cut off a few times, building good tension. Tanahashi eventually got it and did his thing. Taguchi came in a little while after with ass based offense. His take on Nagata’s armbar was pretty funny. SANADA would make him tap out to end things. Naito continued the attack on Elgin’s leg after the bell. Fun match that was entertaining and built towards the upcoming IC Title match well.
This is easily the most interesting matchup on this show. Hell, of the three shows it pretty much is. Both guys looked for an opening and had each other’s strikes well scouted. Shibata worked a figure four and Fish applied a knee bar. Fish got aggressive and tossed Shibata into the guardrail. It made sense since Shibata has been nursing a back injury. Fish’s focus was the knee though, looking up set a submission later on. Shibata did his thing where he takes kicks and asks for more punishment. It looked like Shibata was coming back, but Fish was ready with a leg submission. Shibata popped up from a backdrop suplex and hit a German, followed by the PK, but was too hurt to cover instantly. Fish countered the next PK attempt and caught his bad leg into the heel hook. Shibata’s fight led to really good drama. He then did yet another sickening sounding headbutt spot that busted him open the hard way. He slapped on the sleeper and hit the PK to retain. Great work from both men. It had fire, aggression and made you feel like Fish badly wanted the title and that he had a chance. Despite the injuries, Shibata continues to be one of NJPW’s MVPs (alone with Naito and Ishii).
After the match, Shibata and Kyle O’Reilly went face to face, seemingly setting up a future match. That one match has me more excited than anything else in NJPW. More than Naito/Elgin, more than finding out who the new LIDJ member is and way more than their current WK 11 main event.
The mysterious new LIDJ member came out first. Then we got PIMP BUSHI in all white. BUSHI did his best Tetsuya Naito impersonation by nonchalantly posing after teasing a dive outside. A dropkick with a chair outside allowed BUSHI to take control and wear down KUSHIDA. One thing I disliked was BUSHI doing a middle rope dropkick. If he’s in that position, why wouldn’t he just go for MX instead? However, I liked him choking KUSHIDA with his shirt. Classic heel stuff. KUSHIDA rallied, but accidentally took out Red Shoes. With the referee down, BUSHI spit the mist and out came Tetsuya Naito to lend a hand. They beat up KUSHIDA until Big Mike showed up to make the save. Elgin sold the leg as he fought Naito to the back. KUSHIDA and BUSHI traded big blows and eventually, the Hoverboard Lock got applied. BUSHI countered into a small package for two before eating a huge right hand. BUSHI got more near falls on a Canadian Destroyer and MX. Undeterred, BUSHI hit a second MX and got the surprising win. I did not expect this, but I’m glad the title change went to BUSHI and not Will Ospreay like it seemed. This was good, with the right amount of interference, but a notch below their first two matches this year.
They should put the Tag Titles on EVIL and SANADA, since they’re more interesting than every team in NJPW combined. Then give Naito back his Heavyweight Title and let LIDJ run wild the way the Bullet Club used to. They’re far better, fresh and more entertaining.
Overall: About what I expected from this show. A lot of the undercard leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the tags are ho-hum, with only the Los Ingobernables de Japon one being really fun. The Bullet Club vs. Chaos stuff just isn’t interesting at all. O’Reilly and Juice had a strong match and the main event was good with a surprising title change. The match of the night is Shibata/Fish though and it set up Shibata/O’Reilly, which is up there with the NOAH/NJPW feud as the most interesting thing the company has going.