Tuesday, November 15, 2016
This isn’t one of NJPW’s bigger events and I like that it looks and feels different. A cool video of the roster airs, ending with LIDJ, Bullet Club and Chaos before it ran down the card for this show.
Both of these guys have done young lion duty but have moved above it for the most part. Finlay is one third of the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Champions and Juice has done well in bigger singles matches. Juice enjoyed a power advantage, so Finlay countered with speed. Juice was hitting pretty hard as evidenced by Finlay being beet red within a few minutes. Juice is good at getting the crowd to come alive, which helped. Finlay busted out a nice spear and German suplex for a near fall. After some solid back and forth, Juice won with a jumping Killswitch. Both guys have improved vastly in 2016 and seeing them in a singles match was fun. Good way to start the show.
I love Liger’s theme. Roppongi Vice are getting a shot at the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles at Wrestle Kingdom 11 in a totally uninteresting match. The duos had some fun with the fans in the early goings. RPG Vice kept it going, taking water breaks while beating up Liger. It backfired and caused Rocky to shove Beretta. The arguing was back. Taguchi got a hot tag and came in with ass attacks galore. Liger eventually got the tag again but ate double knees. RPG Vice then won with the Dudebuster. This was the fun tag I expected. The crowd was hot, everyone had a good time and the right team won.
With Gedo being the only junior heavyweight in this match, it was clear that he’d eat the pin. The fire that we saw from the Guerillas at Power Struggle (in easily their best match) wasn’t as evident here. They did take joy in beating up Gedo and did a good job in cutting the ring in half. Ishii’s hot tag went well and he ran over the champions. As expected though, Gedo fell in the end. This was basic and what I figured we’d get. Ishii keeps failing with partners until he and Goto most likely win the World Tag League and dethrone Haku’s kids at WK11.
Usually, a match like this gets reserved for the G1 Climax. Random singles matches don’t often get put on these kinds of shows. I really liked their match in the G1 Climax in 2015. Goto wore down Honma for the first segment of the match. Honma began to rally and hit the lesser versions of Kokeshi. Honma nailed a blockbuster but of course, he missed the big Kokeshi. They traded blows until Goto hit ushigiroshi and won with the GTR. There wasn’t anything really wrong with the match, it just felt like it was way off the mark of what they are capable of. Honma was incredible during his two G1 runs in 2014 and 2015 but since then, I just can’t get into him. His matches are usually good but never even sniff great.
LIDJ shirts were everywhere. Tanahashi shouted Naito’s name, demanding to start against him. Naito teased it, but let his stablemates take over. KUSHIDA and BUSHI got to have a heated exchange. Their feud is over but they still really don’t like each other. SANADA was good here but Makabe didn’t really seem to care. It felt like he was taking the night off. Tanahashi and Naito gave us a preview of their upcoming Wrestle Kingdom bout. Tanahashi got the win for his team with High Fly Flow on BUSHI. Outside of Makabe, everyone’s interactions were pretty enjoyable and we got a preview of WK 11. LIDJ continue to be awesome.
I still think that “loose explosion” is a weird thing to have on your shirt and on the ass of your pants. YOSHI-HASHI is an odd dude though. This was your standard tag match involving these guys. YOSHI brought some fire, Yujiro sucked the life out of it and we got a small preview of Okada vs. Omega in the Dome. That of course meant that at times, this was good and at others, it fell flat. Okada and Omega had a nice little back and forth where both guys avoided the finisher of the other. Takahashi was less lucky, falling to the Rainmaker. I’d say this did the job it had to. I’m no Omega fan, but I feel bad that while Okada gets to team with Ishii, Goto and YOSHI, he gets stuck with the garbage that is the Bullet Club.
In the G1 Climax and at Power Struggle, EVIL defeated Shibata. Shibata won the British Heavyweight Title at the NJPW/Rev Pro joint Global Wars event last week. Like everything these two have done so far, this was hard hitting from the start. They traded stuff and neither man got a clear advantage for most of the match. Shibata survived the NJPW countout tease and things really got going. They fired up and went right after each other. They got up from suplexes and EVIL just leveled Shibata with lariats. EVIL got in trouble when put in the sleeper so he backed Shibata into the referee in the corner. That bump allowed EVIL to use steel chairs like he did at Power Struggle. Shibata survived and used EVIL’s own STO on him. He then used a sleeper, which included a suplex, and the Penalty Kick to regain the title. The crowd erupted for the title change. This was great. They had a hot crowd, worked a match that fit their style and it was slightly better than the previous two. Not sure about swapping the titles since it accomplished nothing, but Shibata should have always entered the Dome with the NEVER Title.
Overall: Considering the fact that this isn’t a marquee NJPW event, I got just about what I expected from it, which was a relatively solid show. It only had seven matches and if you cut out intermission, it was less than two and a half hours. You get some fun matches and an especially strong finish with a great main event. Shibata won’t ever be booked like Gedo’s favorites but he’s among the top three performers (with Naito and Ishii) in the company in 2016.