It’s time for another one of New Japans biggest shows and this one features three re-matches from Wrestle Kingdom, it’s a pretty stacked lineup so lets see if it delivers.
Match 1 – Togi Makabe/Nagata/Tiger Mask IV/Tiger Mask W vs. Kojima/Liger/Tenzan/Nakanishi
Fun little opener to give these veterans some action, just a well paced back and forth affair with Makabe getting the win with a King Kong knee drop.
Winners: Makabe’s team(via King Kong knee drop) ***
Match 2 – NEVER 6-man Title Gauntlet match – Yujro/Page/Fale vs. BUSHI/SANADA/EVIL (c) vs. Ishii/Yano/YOSHI-HASHI vs. Sabre jr./Taichi/Kanemaru vs. Taguchi/Ricochet/Juice
Eliminations were as follows:
-Yano eliminates Bullet Club with low-blow and schoolboy.
-Sabre eliminates CHAOS very quickly with a pinning clutch on Yano.
-Juice eliminates Suzuk-Gun via Pulp Friction.
-Los Ingobernables beat Taguchi Japan and retain their titles after BUSHI hits an MX on Taguchi.
Match was good overall, kept a good pace and all the teams did well, the final confrontation between Taguchi Japan and LIJ was in particular very good and I would happily watch just a normal six man tag title match between the two teams in the future.
Winners: LiJ(via MX) ***1/4
Match 3 – IWGP Jr Tag Titles Match: Roppongi Vice (c) vs. The Young Bucks
Really good match here. Bucks actually spend most of it in control after taking out Romero earlier in the match so Baretta has no-one to tag in and the Bucks give him a beating. Romero finally comes back in the final few minutes but ends up submitting to a sharpshooter making the Bucks the new champions for the bajillionth time. They really need to get some more teams in that Jr tag division. Anyone there was alot of fun action to enjoy here and Romero submitting was a nice touch since his back had taken a fair amount of punishment earlier on.
Winners: Young Bucks(via sharpshooter) ***3/4
Match 4 – IWGP Tag Titles match: War Machine (c) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny
This was very solid match, they kept a consistent pace, making for a very back and forth sprint. War Machine are awesome and it always enjoyable seeing the stuff they pull out as a big man team, GoD did well here too and in end the win the belts after using a chair when the ref was knocked out and hitting their Guerilla Warfare finisher. The finish actually looked shite in all honesty, but rest of the match was very good.
Winners: GoD(via Guerrilla Warfare) ***1/2
Match 5 – Cody vs. Michael Elgin
This was a good match with a solid action but it seemed to lack any real drama for me to really care much about it. It was still very well executed, but a bit souless. In the end Cody gets the win, which probably means he’ll get some kind of title shot soon. I really wish he would at least be involved more in the promotion than just have a small scattering of single matches.
Winner: Cody(via Cross Rhodes) ***
Match 6 – IWGP Junior title Match: Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs. Kushida
Superb match as you’d expect from these two with lots of fun back and forth action, insane moves and big strike exchanges. Don’t think I liked it as much as their Wrestle Kingdom match but it was still pretty darn incredible and they really went ham on each other with Kushida being much more aggressive than usual, trying his best to get redemption and prove that he’s better now, which he indeed he does when he makes Hiromu tap by really wrenching his arm hard in the Hoverboard lock making him regain the Junior heavyweight title once again. Great stuff overall.
Winners: Kushida(via Hoverboard lock) ****1/2
-After the match KUSHIDA gets misted by BUSHI who challenges him next for the title.
Match 7 – NEVER Openweight Title ‘Lumberjack Deathmatch’: Minoru Suzuki (c) vs. Hirooki Goto
this isn’t actually a deathmatch but just a classic lumberjack match with Suzi-gun on the outside for MiSu and CHAOS on the outside for Goto. I really enjoyed this, bit more chaotic and different to your usual NJPW match. Lumberjacks are utilised quite alot and there’s number of different antics involved which added a lot of drama rather than feel annoying. At one point Minoru provokes Jushin Liger who is on commentary and Liger throws a chair at him creating a tension between the two, which really makes me want a Misu/Liger match and I hope that is what’s gonna happen in the future. At the end Goto hits the GTR and looks like he’s gonna win but Taichi pulls the ref out of the ring, which was executed perfectly as it was definitely a surprise. Taichi then whacks Goto over the head with a chair and Suzuki hits the Gotch Style piledriver to get the pinfall and retain the belt. Good stuff overall, nothing superb but it was definitely fun to watch.
Winner: Minoru suzuki(via Gotch Style Piledriver) ***1/2
-Post-match Suzuki-gun start beating on Goto but the rest of Chaos come in and clear the ring, Suzuki is still in the ring, so Yoshi-hashi goes crazy on him and takes him out. On the ramp MisU says some things and starts leaving but Yoshi-Hashi runs at him and has to be held back by team mates. I loved Yoshi-Hashi’s intensity here and look froward to their match-up.
Match 8 – IWGP Intercontinental title match: Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Another Tokyo Dome re-match and while not quite as good(but certainly close), this match was still incredible. There was no big end stretch full of move exchanges it was instead a really well structured match that was back and forth full of great drama and storytelling. Tana was very determined here to take the belt off Naito and it really showed, he even starts attacking Naito on the outside before Naito’s has even entered the ring and showed great toughness throughout. His hard work pays off though and he manages to make Naito tap with an excruciating Texas Cloverleaf that he locks in tight and refuses to let go of, even with the abuse his injured arm had suffered during the match. Tana can now restore order to the belt as he intended and give it the respect he thinks it deserves. Brill work from Naito as usual too, these two really do work great together.
Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi(via Texas Cloverleaf) ****1/2
Main Event – IWGP Heavyweight title match – Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada (c)
I had an inkling in my brain that this match was gonna go for a full 60 minute draw and that’s exactly what happened and it was fantastic. It surpasses their Tokyo Dome match and is one of the most drama filled and well worked 60 minute draw I’ve ever seen. They paced it well, so it felt shorter than 60 minutes and never really dragged and in the last 10 minutes seeing them both exhausted and struggling to stay in things using every ounce of energy they had was just incredible. There were some very tense near falls and Omega came so very close to finally winning that belt. In the last few seconds Okada hits a rainmaker but can’t even muster enough strength to go for the cover as the bell goes for the time limit. Just tremendous effort from both, I was engaged throughout and they really did just put it all on the line. One of the best matches of the year as Okada continues his incredible run as champion.
60 minute timie limit draw *****
New Japan once again delivers big time was a great show. Okada once again gave us one of the best matches of the year and Kushida/Ospreay, Tanahashi/Naito were both brilliant too. New Japan are on a role and show no sign of stopping.