Tuesday, November 21, 2017
After a strong night one, RevPro and NJPW return with night two of Global Wars UK.
I really wish CCK got paired up with better opponents during these shows. Banks, Brooke and Lykos against Naito, BUSHI and SANADA would’ve been dope. If only more LIDJ members traveled on this tour. The chemistry of the best boys was great. They utilized quick tags and hit impressive tandem offense. The match built to a Hirooki Goto hot tag and he showed more fire than a lot of his recent work. His exchange with Banks was a highlight. Goto could benefit from being sent somewhere other than NJPW. If they still had their partnership with NOAH, that would’ve been ideal. Banks got saved from defeat by his partners, who then hit dives that took out Goto and Tacos. Banks drilled Gedo with the Kiwi Krusher to win at 9:18. I thought this was a fine opener. I liked it more than the CCK match on night one. Goto brought energy, it didn’t overstay its welcome and was quite fun.
Gibson’s pre-match promo got its usual heat. He made a crack about the fans, saying just because they listen to Dave Meltzer, doesn’t make them smart (it might’ve been slightly different but was hard to hear over the boos). Like he did against Yuji Nagata, Gibson went after the arm to set up the Shankly Gates. Yano responded with his usual bag of tricks, including several spots involving the exposed turnbuckle. Yano got a damn car stereo out from under the ring. The referee stopped him from using it, but the distraction allowed for two low blows and a rollup win in 5:38. Like Yano’s match on night one, this was good comedy. He did a bit of a compilations of his best stuff and it worked extra well because of Gibson’s heat.
I haven’t seen Rocky work a singles match since last year’s BOTSJ. At least, that’s the last one I recall. He showed he could still go, working at a fast pace with Bodom. He nailed a tope suicida and took the fight outside, before eating a neckbreaker on the apron to stop his momentum. Bodom began disrespecting the veteran with slaps and trash talk. Bodom also learned from earlier mistakes. When Rocky did his latch onto the ropes spot a second time, Bodom was ready with a dropkick. Rocky rallied with the FOREVER clotheslines and picked up a few near falls. He ran into the Bodom Breaker and then Bliss Buster, but wisely rolled outside to avoid a pin. They fought to the top rope, where Rocky brought him off into an armbar, but Bodom rolled over into a pinning combination to take it in 14:00. That went longer than I expected, but was also better than I thought. Good back and forth, with some strong close calls late.
THICC BOI BATTLE. They charged at each other as soon as the bell rang. After a hot start, Mastiff slowed the pace a little and wore down Ishii. Ishii’s not one to stay down, though. He fired up and returned with some stiff forearms and chops. He kicked out of the best stuff Mastiff could muster up and throw at it. At one point, Ishii began leaning into Mastiff’s forearms. In an awesome moment, Mastiff simply caught Ishii’s sliding lariat. Ishii fought free of his grip and still hit it, but it remained a cool spot. It was Mastiff’s turn to fire up, no selling a lariat, though again, a second attempt was successful. Ishii scored with a Brainbuster to pick up the victory in 11:02. They kind of worked this similarly to the Lee/Ishii match, with results that were nowhere near as effective. It was a good hoss battle that disappointed me because I always expect the best from Ishii matches.
Thanks to Smile’s title win on night one, this was made a title match. Early on, it was clear that Smile had an advantage. In typical Desperado form, he began looking for any and all openings to use underhanded tactics. His eventual target became Smile’s leg, attempting to take away his aerial ability. I appreciated that the knee work felt a bit different from what Desperado used on Riddle the night before. It didn’t full work, because Smile managed a nice tope con hilo to get himself back into the match. Desperado had a good close call when he took Smile kicking out of a spinebuster and turned it into the Stretch Muffler. Smile made it to the ropes, leading to them fighting on the top rope. Smile knocked him to the mat and won with a frog splash in 14:03. That was fine, just nothing special. I liked Desperado’s leg work, though Smile could’ve sold it better.
This should be a blast. As expected, we got early fun from BUSHI squaring up against Lee, only for Naito to attack from behind. It didn’t matter, because Lee was too big for them. Their cheap tricks eventually got Lee down. Naito did everything to antagonize Nagata on the apron, including spitting at him. Nagata’s hot tag didn’t get a huge pop, but he did light Naito up with kicks. BLUE JUSTICE! He slapped on his signature armbar, but Naito reached the ropes. Things broke down and I couldn’t help but get a kick out of seeing Lee completely run over BUSHI. While battling Naito, Lee did a goddamn slingshot cross body. My major gripe with this match came in the finish. BUSHI misted Lee, allowing Naito to hit two Destinos and win at 12:56. I don’t think Lee should’ve eaten the pin. I’d rather BUSHI take the loss if they wanted to keep Nagata unpinned in RevPro. Aside from that, this was a fun sprint. Even with Naito giving a t-shirt wearing effort, all four men brought something cool to the match and made the most of the time given.
Two guys with MMA pasts. Neither man wanted to make the first mistake, so it was slow for a minute or so. Then, they just started trading vicious blows. Minoru caught one into a rope hung armbar, before the fight went outside. Unfortunately, it was there that Desperado got involved. He hit Riddle with a bunch of cheap shots because that’s what Suzuki-Gun does. Inside, Riddle started turning things around with bridging gutwrench suplexes. His comeback saw him work his own armbar and wrist, finding an opening. He kicked and slapped at the arm as often as possible, even with Suzuki screaming in his face. Desperate, Suzuki pulled the referee in the way of a Riddle shot, allowing Desperado to jump Riddle. Riddle fought him off, but it was enough to lead to a Gotch Style Piledriver that gave Suzuki the W at 14:57. There was potential for this to crack four stars. It was the kind of hard hitting match I wanted and it mostly played to their strengths. Of course, there was too much Suzuki-Gun nonsense and interference that held it back.
Though the shine has worn off considerably on Will Ospreay, the two matches I’ve seen these two have ruled. At Evolve 58 (****½), they stole WrestleMania 32 weekend, before having another high quality outing at the BOLA (***¾). They opened with some very fast paced exchanges. Ospreay was continually too quick and elusive to remain in Sabre’s grasp for long. I loved that Sabre didn’t let Will do his dumb flippy shit early. His first handspring attempt saw him get pulled outside and his second was greeted with a swift kick to the chest. From there, Sabre took over. Being the slimy Suzuki-Gun member, he was more than happy to try for a countout victory, though of course he didn’t get it. When Ospreay started his comeback, he still got to use aerial stuff and have it make sense because Sabre never targeted his leg or anything too specific. The continuing trend of the match saw Sabre turning a lot of Ospreay’s flying offense into some sort of submission. Down the stretch, Ospreay started daring Sabre to hit him harder, before bringing his own stiff shots. He found a great counter for the European clutch pin, turning it over into one of his own for a fantastic near fall. Ospreay hit the always incredible looking imploding 450 splash, yet Sabre managed to kick out. When Will hit the Oscutter and Sabre instinctively rolled outside to avoid getting pinned, the fans reacted perfectly. The finish was great, as Sabre caught a Red Arrow into a triangle choke. Ospreay fought out, only to end up in the Octopus Hold. He fought out of that into a pin that Sabre countered into his insanely painful looking shoulder submission to retain in 24:59. While not quite as good as their Evolve battle, it ranks as a close second for them. The work made sense and the fans were way into it. Sabre constantly had an answer for everything Ospreay did, while the challenger showed a lot of heart and fire. They told a great story, as Sabre was constantly just one step ahead. It was one of three standout Ospreay matches I saw in 2017.
Overall: About as good as night one. While that show had a higher ceiling (Lee/Ishii), this one still delivered a consistent barrage of quality matches. Everything is at least fun, with Yano/Gibson being the floor and that being kept short. Riddle/Suzuki and Mastiff/Ishii felt like disappointments, but both were good matches. Smile/Desperado was solid, while Bodom/Romero was a nice little surprise. The LIDJ tag was hella fun and the main event was up there with the best RPW Title matches I can recall.