NJPW Road to Power Struggle – October 30, 2016
Watch: NJPW World
Korakuen Hall – Toyko, Japan
After the abysmal first Road to Power Struggle show, we’re back with coverage of the second round of the Super Junior Tag tournament, plus more.
Hirai Kawato def. Teruaki Kanemitsugood+
As we approach a year into these two being apart of the NJPW Dojo, they’re finally starting to get strings of singles showcases on these smaller shows. This was REALLY good for a young lion opener, one of the better young lions matches in a long time. Even though it remained vanilla the two managed to add a little bit of flavor into what they were doing. With stiff submissions, dropkicks, holds and overall fun flow, Kawato and Kanemitsu both showed up to prove they’re already well into their improvement cycle. We got sound selling even, as the crowd got behind the match easily. This is a recommended watch, believe it or not. It picked up into good near falls where both survived each others’ mounting offense. Kanemitsu managed to lock in the inverted Boston Crab to tap out Kawato. Watch this so I can say I told you so!
Juice Robinson & Yoshitatsu def. Bullet Club (BONE SOLDIER & Yujiro Takahashi)DUD
This has to be some type of Halloween rib. I never signed up to watch this type of tag again. It’s going to go on for a long while too. The bell rang, the heels were jumped and Bone Soldier sold a punch as if his heart dropped off on him. This was between impact and was the worst looking sell ever. This was 20 seconds in. Juice Robinson screaming “that’s what I’m fuc*ing talking about” before getting a hot tag, actually getting Korakuen Hall to cheer him on, was so sad because I had to acknowledge the crowd reacting to this match. I’m okay with the casual Ospreay yell-swear but Juice does it every minute and it’s terrible. I went into a coma for the minutes this match lasted. Bone Soldier low-blowed Yoshitatsu to enable the DQ bell to ring, smashing him over the head with a NJPW prop to absolutely zero reaction. NO. ONE. CARES. PLEASE. STOP. THE. PAIN. These tags produce a revolving door of DUDS, and it all depends which match you land on – meaning how bad it could be on a scale of DUDS.
TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima), Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask def. Angel de Oro, Manabu Nakanishi, Titan & Yuji Nagataok
Upon glaring this matchup screen I said to myself, “what in the world?!” You’ve got the da’s facing each other along with Super Junior Tag Tournament eliminated teams. It’s so hip and rad and weird – more NJPW undercard matches should be this rather than stable vs. stable x4. This ended up being a goofy exhibition that worked well. The unit of dads would end up clashing with each other in a fun loving way, hitting hard, as a contrast to the juniors in the match that tried to do the same thing but in comedic ways failed. Angel de Oro was a great example of this, going from a banging Sasuke special to attempting to chop at Tenzan’s pace/strength. Not much of note happened after that. Tiger Mask got targeted and subsequently went OFF, hitting a top rope Tiger suplex on Titan only to say “it’s far from over” as he hit another Tiger bridge suplex for the win. Goodness gracious what a man Titan is for taking those spots in a row. This was fine.
CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) def. Guerrillas Of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Chase Owenseh
Yeah…about that stable wars comment. Definitely not the most appealing multi-man on paper. This is build towards the Power Struggle tag title match between Ishii/HASHI and G.O.D. G.O.D. were rocking Halloween Bullet Club gear plus facepaint. This was an actively boring match up until the last few minutes, which were actually GREAT. That still didn’t spell anything worth watching, but if you were to watch the full show, it’s a refreshing point in the timeline when you expect something to be bad (but then it picks up into something awesome). With all the G.O.D. and Roa work over came an awesome Ishii hot tag that led to Tama going for multiple Gun Stuns, only to be caught up high in one into a double powerbomb. Chase Owens, while limited in what he could do because of his role in the match, continued to show why he could be a bigger entity than Bullet Club C-team sidekick. He produced good near falls and moments with Ishii. With that being said with a heated last few minutes came a fitting finish with Ishii hitting the brainbuster on Tama for the win. Post-match there was all all-out brawl after G.O.D. unleashed the Ishii beast after trolling him.
Atlantis, Mistico, Volador Jr., Maximo, Dragon Lee, Titan, Stuka Jr., Blue Panther Jr., Soberano Jr., Ultimo Guerrero, Euforia, Ephesto, Barbaro Cavernario, Hechicero, Okumura and Raziel were announced for Fantastica Mania 2017.
The ELITE (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) def. CHAOS (Gedo, Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay)great
The ELITE revealed who they were for Halloween: The Ghostbusters! Nick was a ghost as Kenny and Matt were Ghostbusters. What a time to be alive. This match jumped from point to point showcasing so much diversity, it was reaching the point where I almost called it more than great. I’m unsure if people, including myself, expected this great of a match with a lot of time given to it as it wasn’t even the last multi-man, but it was a super hoot. It transitioned from The ELITE working over Gedo in Ghostbuster costumes to The Bucks accidentally superkicking/hitting moves on each other, being used as rag dolls as Okada to Ospreay stealing the show with every move and dive to Gedo doing Gedo things, still being an awesome worker in 2016. The list goes on. This is one of my favorite ELITE trios matches of the year. Every single second was enjoyable, even at times more so than the overrated BOLA six man. The finish was ridiculous, seeing a Meltzer Driver hit on the outside to Ospreay who was then hit with One Winged Angel as the ELITE get the best of CHAOS. I forgot to mention the great bumping from Omega and the Okada interactions as we inch closer to January. The balance of comedy, goofy and seriousness really fluctuated well providing awesome balance. Pure ridiculousness and a match you need to watch from this month.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito) def. Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma), Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuyori Shibataok
This is the good stuff as an on-paper undercard tag main event. This wasn’t anything to phone home about though. It all passed by in methodical fashion as I kept saying to myself this wouldn’t amount to much. It lacked Shibata. A lot. We got a great sequence early on with EVIL taking Shibata to the outside and working over his arm, doing the home run chair spot into the post TWO times; not just one. Besides that Shibata was hardly ever seen after, and EVIL wasn’t too involved either. We got a lot of failed GHC Tag Title challengers GBH and a lot of Tanahashi. The SANADA sequences with the ace were great as they have a tumultuous chemistry. Besides that there was hardly anything of note left. I would tell you to skip this upon watching the show as this was the match that made me realize this show was nearly three hours long and I started to feel the effects. Honma got the BUSHI mist which led to a Naito low-blow and EVIL lariat to finish off 1/2 of GBH. EVIL and Shibata provided the best in match and post-match content. EVIL wants that NEVER title!
Super Junior Tag Tournament Semi-Final: Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero) def. Fuego & Ryusuke Taguchigood+
Another match that just wasn’t quite great enough to be considered great, but a really good addition to the card and on par with Young Bucks vs. ACH/Ishimori as the best match of the tournament up to this point. For a lot of the match we got in-tag banter between Roppongi Vice as they were trying to show each other up, telling each other to F OFF and that one person “had” that certain sequence. This told the tale of them still working very well together, eventually well enough that they managed to move on. Fuego was amazingly entertaining with his lucha offense and dancing, as Taguchi matched that by turning up into semi-big match mode Taguchi. He took a top rope belly to belly, tried to work over Trent to the point where we got gripping ankle lock sequences, etc. There isn’t much else to say other than the fact that this was really good with everyone doing a good job in their role. Everything was hit on the head, just not in the blow away aspect you’d expect it to when it does. Just after we reached 15 minutes in the match, The Dudebuster was hit on Fuego as Roppongi Vice advance.
Super Junior Tag Tournament Semi-Final: ACH & Taiji Ishimori def. David Finlay & Ricochetvery good
There wasn’t any story to this match except for the fact that both teams wanted to out do each other. This came in many facets with athleticism, team work, innovation, etc. This was ideal junior tag team wrestling taking twists and turns for more than 15 minutes. It’s hard to write about these kind of matches because it’s all a blitz and you’re not sure how to describe some things other than that all these moves were ridiculous. Korakuen Hall got behind David Finlay in major fashion the entire way. He was almost as over as Ricochet. We got all the flips in the world with ACH and Ricochet doing the exact same back flip to the outside to the same responses. It felt like battle of the bands with each junior moveset being an instrument. Ricochet never fails to invent new offense as he chopped Ishimori’s leg which led to him hitting a face buster on his own partner. Just when I thought this was getting incredible, it ended. Through all the awesome offense, awesome team work, Finlay becoming more and more over with the Japan crowd, the match ended when ACH and Ishimori hit studio 450s. Even though I really liked the match, I felt as if it was hard to critique in that it was a super sprint with a lot of athleticism with an abrupt ending. Which is why it was simply very good.
ACH and Ishimori will face Roppongi Vice in the Super Junior Tag Tournament Final at Power Struggle on November 5.
NJPW ROAD TO POWER STRUGGLE - OCTOBER 30, 2016
Strong Effort - 7/10
The second big Road to Power Struggle show was a major improvement over the disaster that came a week before it. The undercard gave us two very fun to watch matches in the young lion opener and The ELITE vs. CHAOS tag which was blow away fantastic for its placing. Through all the Bone Soldier burials, LIJ meh tags and misc. other undercard things came two Super Junior Tag Tournament matches that actually delivered. Both bordered being great and ended up being good-very good. That's all I can ask from a minor Korakuen Show as Power Struggle has shaped up to be a really strong card. Everything on this show was fairly breezy but with everything in total clocking in at three hours, it was starting to get a little rough around the edges. All in all I'm content with the effort put forth this time, and I expect no different from Power Struggle which should be great.