Sunday, September 10, 2017

NJPW Destruction in Fukushima Review

NJPW Destruction in Fukushima
September 10th, 2017 | Azuma Sports Park in Fukushima, Japan | Attendance: 2,056

For those who care about my reviews, I apologize for the lack of them recently. I’ve missed a few Lucha Underground reviews and the NJPW “Road to” events. I watched them, but didn’t have time for reviews due to school. I had to prioritize and chose PROGRESS and the Mae Young Classic over them. 

However, I’m back to NJPW for their three Destruction shows. Destruction is an NJPW “B” level series of shows, featuring build for King of Pro Wrestling and some G1 rematches. In fact, all three main events are G1 rematches, but with titles on the line.

Hirai Kawato and Yuji Nagata vs. Manabu Nakanishi and Shota Umino
Honestly, this was only behind the two CHAOS/LIDJ tags for match I was most looking forward to on this card. The dads have been more aggressive than usual with one another in the build to this, which spilled over here. The Young Lions worked hard, which you can always expect. Nagata escaped Nakanishi’s torture rack and Kawato nailed a nice missile dropkick. That left Nagata alone with Umino, who brought the fight right to him. He’s just a boy though, so Nagata made him tap to the crossface in 5:47. A solid opener. The battle of the dads is typically fun and the lions brought energy. Oka has loads of potential and Kitamura screams star, but Kawato is probably my favorite. [**½]

Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI vs. Katsuya Kitamura and Tomoyuki Oka
The lions against the low heavyweights on the CHAOS totem pole. Well, unless you count Beretta, though he hasn’t had enough time with that yet. Kitamura showed no fear, going right at Tacos and overpowering him. CHAOS eventually took over, using quick tags to isolate to the powerhouse. I’m surprised Oka wasn’t the guy taking the heat. Oka got the hot tag and did quite well, but found himself in a Goto Boston crab. That’s not cool, Hirooki. Don’t use one of the few moves they have in their arsenal, You jerk. Oka reached the ropes, while HASHI and Kitamura brawled outside. Goto finished off Oka with a series of kicks at 7:35. That was a flat finish to an otherwise good match. Kitamura and Oka continued to show promise, though Goto and HASHI seemed to take it like a night off. [**¼]

Baretta and Jado vs. Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi
Poor Baretta gets to start his heavyweight run by teaming with the eternally horrible Jado. He and Yujiro have traded some wins in tag matches. Jado started and quickly got in trouble. Owens and Yujiro isolated him and knocked Baretta off the apron. When Baretta got the tag, he ran wild and focused on Yujiro. I wonder when their first singles match will happen. Probably on a “Road to” show at some point. Baretta made the mistake of tagging Jado back in. He got sent outside and Yujiro hit Jado with Pimp Juice to win in 7:36. Dull. When Baretta got involved, it was fine. When Jado was in, the match lacked any sort of life. [*½]

Bad Luck Fale and Leo Tonga vs. David Finlay and Juice Robinson
This originally had Kenny Omega, to build Omega/Juice, but he’s injured so Haku’s third kid fills in. So far, he’s tall and that’s most of what we can say. The match featured early brawling, with all four men outside. Fale focused on Juice, as if Omega sent him here purely to soften him up for Kobe. Fale worked like Tonga’s mentor, telling him to “watch and learn” at one point. Tonga made a mistake, accidentally kicking Fale. That opened the door for the babyface comeback, as Juice countered a chokeslam and won after a stunner and Pulp Friction in 5:04. Inoffensive, but nothing special. Leo still needs work and though I dig the Finlay/Juice pairing, they didn’t wow me here. [**]

IWGP Intercontinental Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi, IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA, Togi Makabe, and IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Ricochet and Ryusuke Taguchi vs. El Desperado, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku, Takashi Iizuka and Yoshinobu Kanemaru
This is here to build KUSHIDA/Desperado and the upcoming Jr. Tag Title match. Tanahashi has a match with Zack Sabre Jr. at the next Destruction event, but no ZSJ today. While Taguchi Japan talked strategy, Suzuki-Gun attacked before the bell, because that’s what they do. Taguchi Japan turned it around, leading to a more traditional match. KUSHIDA got worked over for a bit, but then tagged in Ricochet, who showed off his aerial skills. When Tanahashi came in, they did the typical isolation on him and used the bell hammer. Same Suzuki-Gun, same Suzuki-Gun channel. Taguchi was next to take a beating, but a ref bump allowed Ricochet to save him. Taguchi used an eye poke to roll TAKA up at 10:40. It had fun moments, but was riddled with SG nonsense. I’m okay with that stuff, but it’s so old for them already and they don’t even try being creative with it. It’s a shame because Taguchi Japan is quite fun. Also, Makabe was in “no bumps” mode. [**½]

The strange knife promo ran again. I really hope it’s not for Sami Callihan like I’ve heard.

IWGP Tag Team Championship: War Machine [c] vs. The Guerillas of Destiny vs. The Killer Elite Squad
Things like this are why I can’t get on the “Gedo is a great booker” train. He does some good, but this division is atrocious. This match is literally happening on all three Destruction shows. Anyway, DBS wearing jeans makes him look like his dad in his worst era, while Archer with dreads is odd. Early on, Tama wanted no part of Predator Archer and tagged to a bigger War Machine member. Lots of brawling from all six men, which is their strong suits. Near the end, GOD worked a few double teams on Rowe and hit Guerrilla Warfare, but DBS broke the pin. It was time for KES to do their thing, hitting double team offense until Hanson made the save. The champs took out KES and hit Loa with Fallout to retain in 11:09. Average outing. The action and brawling was fine, though some of it came off clunky. It’ll probably get better as they have more matches, but I’m not exactly clamoring for those. [**¾]

Hiromu Takahashi and Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii and Will Ospreay
Easily the match I was most looking forward to. Hiromu and Ospreay have had an interesting feud lately, while Ishii and Naito are my #2 and #3 best wrestlers in the world and always work great together. The juniors got right into the fast paced stuff and the first interactions between Naito and Ishii saw Naito get thrown around outside. Ishii took a short heat, which was surprising but welcome as he’s better at selling and drawing sympathy than his partner. I know it doesn’t happen, but I’d be down to see juniors vs. heavys in singles matches. Ospreay/Naito and Ishii/Hiromu would be cool. Anyway, they continued to show Naito acting nonchalant with Ishii, angering him in the process. Ishii was taken out, leaving Ospreay alone. Naito caught him with a low blow and won via Destino in 12:04. About what I expected. Good action and quick pacing, but not the best effort from everyone involved. That’s not me dissing them, as they’re expected to take it easier in these tags. Even without them performing at their best, this was still the best part of the show so far. [***¼]

NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship: BUSHI, EVIL and SANADA [c] vs. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, Rocky Romero and Toru Yano
CHAOS vs. LIDJ. I’ve missed these matches. We got the early brawl, with CHAOS coming right at LIDJ. They had control early, until Romero got isolated. BUSHI resorted to cheap tactics, while the champs used their quick offense. Romero used a desperation knee to make the hot tag to Okada. The champ got his shit in, but EVIL proved to be a thorn in his side again. He brought in Yano, who did Yano things. The turnbuckle pad was removed and he did the RVD taunt stuff. You know the drill. Romero was brought back in and it was FOREVER time. Towards the end, everyone came in to hit some of their signature moves. SANADA trapped Yano in a Paradise Lock on the ropes, which gave him a nice front row seat to an EVIL/Okada exchange. EVIL won out by hitting the STO and then BUSHI beat Rocky with the MX in 14:00. Fun match and like the previous one, CHAOS/LIDJ was the best thing on the show. They did good build for EVIL/Okada, as EVIL once again had his number. This was very good, though not great. [***½]

NEVER Openweight Championship Lumberjack Match: Minoru Suzuki [c] vs. Michael Elgin
The Lumberjack Match for this title at Dominion was garbage (*½) and most of Minoru’s stuff since returning (other than a few G1 matches, mainly with Okada and SANADA) has been shit. I gave the G1 match these two had **½. Taguchi Japan and Suzuki-Gun were the lumberjacks. In the early stages, this was about on par with the G1 match. They had back and forth and the lumberjacks mostly did their jobs without getting too involved. Once they got involved, though, this went out the window. Suzuki-Gun did a lot of their usual shenanigans, while the faces kind of didn’t do anything at times. Eventually, they came in and helped Elgin. Elgin launched TAKA onto a pile of bodies at ringside, followed by Ricochet diving onto them. KES got involved, which brought out War Machine as if there weren’t enough people out here. Iizuka also joined the fray with his stupid iron claw. He hit Elgin, leading to the Gotch Piledriver for Suzuki to retain in 19:07. Once again, a Suzuki-Gun match shits the bed. This was trash. Early on, it was alright, but the overbooking nonsense is beyond tired. They should’ve had the lumberjacks do stuff early and maybe fight to the back, leaving Suzuki and Elgin to go at it. It went too long, the crowd was over it and there was too much nonsense to enjoy. [*]

Overall: 4/10. I didn’t expect much from this show and I got exactly that. A lackluster show that was the worst full effort from NJPW in about a year. It felt lifeless and wasn’t even as good as the “Road to” events. It was like NJPW’s equivalent of Battleground or something. Lazy booking and a poor main event didn’t help things. Watch the CHAOS/LIDJ tags (though they’ve had better) and that’s about it.