Friday, November 18, 2016
Though I didn’t see it last year, I’m checking out the Rev Pro/NJPW joint “Global Wars UK” events. It is a two night event that sees NJPW guys compete against Rev Pro competitors. Last year, interesting matches like Okada/Ospreay and Styles/Liger went down. This year’s cards look even better.
Marty showed up in a villainous version of Liger’s mask. Both guys had some fun in the first minute or so. It was similar to the Liger we saw in the Battle of Los Angeles, which Scurll went on to win this year. We got to see Liger bust out a somersault off of the apron. It’s always great to see the 51 year old show that he can still go. He even nailed a top rope rana. Scurll took control and wore down Liger for a good chunk of the match. Liger rallied and got a near fall with the Liger Bomb. Scurll did his trademark finger snap and made Liger tap to the chicken wing. Perfect choice to open this show. Big names, hot crowd and they didn’t overdo anything. Really solid. Scurll shook Liger’s hand after the match.
I haven’t seen much of Sha Samuels. He certainly looks like an interesting fellow. Honma brought fire early and missed Kokeshi. Some things will never change. Neither guy took a clear advantage. Oddly, there was a ref bump where Honma was sent into the official. It led to a run-in from Samuels’ buddy James Castle, which helped Samuels get a near fall. Honma overcame it and went Kokeshi crazy. He picked up the win with the top rope Kokeshi. Like a lot of Honma’s stuff in 2016, it seriously lacked something. It was alright at best.
Dunne is the Cruiserweight Champion and goes by the “Bruiserweight”. Nagata replaced the injured Michael Elgin here. They started with some pretty standard mat work, but added some intensity in little ways. There was biting or a vicious tug on the nose that just added something to this. Dunne showed zero intimidation against the legend despite being just 23 years of age. There were a few awkward moments that showed this didn’t connect quite as well as it probably could have. Nagata got the armbar on but Dunne reached the ropes. He still put Dunne down shortly after with the backdrop driver. This was good but I was hoping for more. Hopefully working with Nagata and doing pretty well will get NJPW eyes on Dunne for the future. He could be a nice addition to the juniors division.
The second these cards were announced, this jumped out and made everyone go “OH SHIT.” Not only are they two of the best wrestlers in the world, but their styles complement each other so well. Hero mocked his size advantage, so Ishii started hitting forearms. Hero responded with one simple one that put Ishii on his ass. That was the story for a while. Hero was too big and too much for Ishii, but the “Stone Pitbull” never gave up. Hero got cocky after a big kick in the aisle, going into the ring and taunting. Ishii started a comeback when some of Hero’s strikes had no effect on his hard head. Ishii hit a brainbuster and fired up after a Hero piledriver. Then we got the awesome exchange of strikes and headbutts that I wanted from this match. They just went to war for the final few minutes, bringing the crowd to their feet. Again, Ishii popped up instantly from a piledriver, so Hero delivered another elbow and a Gotch style piledriver to win. This was exactly what I wanted from these two as they worked to their strengths Hero played the great bully, while Ishii got to sell and fight from behind. They beat the shit out of each other, didn’t go too long and had the crowd in the palm of their hands.
Hero cut a promo talking about Ishii’s past and how he worked his way from young boy in Michinoku Pro to where he is now. He asked the fans for give Ishii a well-deserved standing ovation, which they did.
Does it really count as NJPW vs. Rev Pro if both guys are part of NJPW? It’s CHAOS vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon. BUSHI is my favorite New Japan junior not named KUSHIDA. Both men had strong years with Ospreay winning several titles and the Best of the Super Juniors while BUSHI held the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title. BUSHI showed typical LIDJ behavior by taunting Ospreay early but Will turned the tables on him and did it back. The action as fast paced as Ospreay flew around the ring, while BUSHI was happy to resort to heel tactics. BUSHI blocked the Oscutter multiple times, including one by using his knees for defense. Ospreay blocked MX but a ref bump allowed BUSHI to spit the mist. Ospreay still kicked out of BUSHI’s offense before eventually winning with the Oscutter. I found this to be a strong match, but I was never wowed by it. It felt like two guys trying to hit all of their key shit, which they did. BUSHI always has good matches, yet doesn’t win too often.
I’ll keep saying it until it is no longer true; Los Ingobernables are so goddamn cool. Starr didn’t have a real mustache, so he had one drawn on to fit in with his teammates. LIDJ were their usual disrespectful selves, so Starr responded by driving his crotch into SANADA’s face for offense. The teams traded stuff in a fun match with nobody getting a real advantage. One thing to note was that Tetsuya Naito didn’t see much action. It was a smart move, protecting him with Wrestle Kingdom around the corner. He was the only man in the top two WK11 matches on the show with Okada, Omega and Tanahashi nowhere to be found. EVIL and SANADA are awesome though, so it was fine. Mustache Mountain did some goofy spots but it never felt out of place and LIDJ went right along with it. They did a good job of making it seem like Mustache Mountain might actually win at some points. A flurry of offense from LIDJ, punctuated by an STO from EVIL on Starr got them the win. Simply fun. They didn’t take themselves too seriously and just had a good time, giving some variety to the card.
Like his match with Jeff Cobb, Zack Sabre Jr. got a mixed reaction from the crowd. A lot of fans have turned on him in 2016. For the first two thirds or so this match, it reminded of their first outing a few months back. A lot of standard wrestling stuff, which is Sabre’s wheelhouse. Sabre’s brutal work on the arm caused Shibata to take a rare breather outside. Commentary kept mentioning Sabre’s recent change in attitude and he showed part of his new aggression when he removed Shibata’s shoulder tape. Shibata began to come back with his hard hitting offense. The last few minutes of this is where things really picked up. Just two guys trading their best shots. Shibata slapped on the sleeper and Sabre tried to wrestle free, only to get thrown and then hit with the PK, giving Shibata the title. A surprising result for sure. Like their first match, this was really good but just shy of great.
Shibata offered a handshake after the match but Sabre refused, garnering even more boos. Marty Scurll came out and left to the back with him while flipping off the crowd. Once they left, Chris Hero walked out. Hero is scheduled to face Shibata on night two, which would now become a title match.
Overall: A great show here. At just under two and a half hours, it is a brisk watch. I completed it in one sitting, which isn’t something I’m able to do often. Obviously, the show stealer on this one is Hero vs. Ishii. If you can only watch one match, make it that one. If not though, everything outside of Honma/Samuels ranges from good to great. It’s a consistently strong show with some fun matchups that we don’t get often, adding to the novelty of the show. The title change was a great surprise to cap the show off.