Fukuoka Kokusai Center
Well hello there! It feels like I haven’t reviewed New Japan in a long time. I have been busy with life and other projects for this site. But the good brothers have been doing an excellent job of getting out reviews. This is one heck of a show on paper and sure as hell should be a heck of a show. The match I am most looking forward to is the Nagata/Shibata match because they are both two of my all time favorite workers. My favorite wrestler ever Jushin “Thunder” Liger is challenging for Kushida’s IWGP Jr. title. Oh, and goddamn! SANADA is making his New Japan singles debut against the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. Besides the opening two matches every bout has major ramifications.
This went three minutes … Fale pinned Captain with “The Grenade” (Samoan Spike) for the victory. What was the point of this match? NEXT.
Tiger and Sakuraba worked really great together and it made me want a singles match between the two which is unlikely, but who knows. Gedo was crazy over as usual in these larger arenas. I hope Gedo gives Gedo a push soon. Taguchi’s ass based offence ran wild on all his opponents, always gotta laugh when Sakuraba sells an ass attack. Taguchi and Gedo work really well together, both genius dickheads who happen to be wrestlers. Finlay was hot fire. Ospreay made an impact hitting a space flying tiger drop and other flashy moves. But he won with a springboard cutter which felt VERY flat. Still, Ospreay is amazing.
Rocky’s selling his shoulder/arm a lot as it is taped up. Roppongi’s double team knee strikes look so awesome. Berreta hits a sliding Boma Ye (almost), and that’s also very nice. RPG Vice isolate Matt Sydal not allowing him to make the tag to the FIRED UP Ricochet. But eventually he does and Ricochet runs wild with clotheslines and a springboard clothesline. Tope con giro over the corner post. SSP/moonsault combination. Ricochet countered a tornado DDT with his Northern lights and regular suplex combo. But shortly after he misses a 630 splash which is so dangerous but Ricochet is a freak of nature. Rocky and Trent used a doomsday device knee on Ricochet for a near fall. Ricochet hits the 630 but runs into a knee from Berreta and a dude buster. But, Sydal breaks up the fall. RPG Vice went for the strong zero but Ricochet caught Rocky into a fireman’s carry whilst Sydal reverse hurricanrana’d Greg, I mean Trent? No, I mean Berreta. Double shooting star presses wins it for the high flying combo! They become the new WWE 24/7 Tag Champions! Wait I mean IWGP Jr. Tag Champions. Awesome match.
The faces shine early on and Tanahashi hit an Elgin assisted plancha. Tanahashi went for a high fly flow very early on but The Elite stopped that and went into attack mode. All three members of Elite did tandem suicide dives. Elite are legit so tremendous, I love this act. It feels so fresh and I love The Elite name, not just The Bullet Club. Matt Jackson is a lunatic in the best way imaginable. Elgin used a slingshot power slam on Omega then caught Nick in a Falcon arrow mid air. Tanahashi ran wild with Dragon screws. Praying he faces Muta in August in Wrestle-1. Hattori the ref went down with hair spray in the eyes and then was low blowed. Yes, that did not cause a DQ. Elite grabbed all the weapons from under the ring but Nick was driven into the ladder with a buckle bomb. Elgin was powerbombed threw a table on the outside, the landing looked real rough. Yoshi is cosplaying HHH in the second biggest promotion on the planet. I don’t know if that’s smart at all. Omega pins Yoshi with the one winged angel. Post-match Omega challenged Tanahashi to a ladder match at Dominion and HOLY SHIT HE ACCEPTED! MY GOD A LADDER MATCH! THIS IS SO AWESOME.
Much like their match last month nothing really drew me in and made me captivated. That said, it was a very solid old school tag match with the babyface team looking like they would win the belts back numerous times. Crowd was quite dead when G.O.D. were in control but they came alive whenever Honma or Makabe would get going. Especially Makabe, I would not be opposed to Makabe challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. He is a confirmed draw. There was one really crazy insane awesome well thought out sequence between Honma and Tama. Loa and Makabe hossed it up. Makabe took a apron powerbomb which can’t be good for someone his age and size but much respect. G.O.D. retained with the assisted headshrinker DDT.
Shibata showed zero respect to Nagata and he payed for that many times in this match as Nagata would beat the life out of Shibata. This was a war and I was in love with it. I have loved this story of Shibata vs. New Japan Dad’s but I am quite sad he did not wrestle Liger; but what can you do. This match was full of struggle and emotion. For example their was a fantastic figure-4 leg lock spot were Nagata was fighting so hard to escape but Shibata wouldn’t allow it. The forearms were so solid in this match, Shibata sold one particular forearms like death and just collapsed. Nagata ran wild with exploder suplexes and Shibata matched it with a deadlift style German. Nagata like I said just went to town on Shibata and killed him with knees and boots and everything under the sun. Shibata used a backdrop hold on Nagata! Nagata got pissed and used his own release backdrop suplex. Crazy strike exchanges and then Nagata used the Penalty Kick followed by his backdrop hold and he WON THE NEVER TITLE!!! YES! I LOST MY MIND! So did Nogami on commentary. He was absolutely thrilled that Nagata won, it was truly a special moment.
Awesome video package beforehand that showed 8-year-old KUSHIDA doing a Liger bomb to his pillow. Liger’s OG theme played and that made me pop huge. The crowd was very much into this special Liger challenge and was behind the 51-year-old legend. Liger was stretching KUSHIDA in many different ways. Liger is the best wrestler over the age of 50 in my opinion, and yes, I know Negro Casas exists. Liger went after KUSHIDA’s leg and used dragon screws and knee breakers throughout the bout. Brainbuster on the concrete from Liger! Shotei palm strike followed by the Liger Bomb for a near fall. Hurricanrana off the middle rope from Liger. Liger is really taking KUSHIDA to the wood shed. Liger got his knees up on a moonsault and applied a Kimura lock right away. KUSHIDA was killing Liger’s arm this entire match and he did that very well. Awesome sequence of a rolling kick from Liger, a punch from KUSHIDA and then a Thesz press from Liger. Brainbuster on KUSHIDA for the closest near fall of the match. KUSHIDA shortly after applies the hoverboard lock and bends Liger’s fingers in all different ways and makes the legend submit. I was a tad sour because I wanted Liger to win so much but it’s okay. Hope Liger wins the BOSJ and the G1 and the GCS and the Super J Cup and the Strong Climb and everything else in wrestling.
EVIL goes after Goto while his making his entrance and the two men trade lariats in the aisle! Brawling on the outside, Irish whips into the barricades. EVIL gets the upper hand and uses a chair on Goto. EVIL was in control early on not letting Goto get any offense in, and I must say, Goto was much more over here as the babyface fighting from underneath. Goto made his comeback with all his signature spots, EVIL’s bumping here was tremendous. He makes everything look 10x better and for a man his size that’s quite impressive. These two have really awesome chemistry, not as good as EVIL and Ishii but still very good. There was one spectacular sequence that left me in awe. Ushigiroshi for a near fall. EVIL countered Goto’s new finisher into a fisherman’s buster. Both guys throw wicked lariats. To my surprise EVIL wins clean with the EVIL (STO)!!! That’s great that they are elevating Mr. EVIL like that.
SANADA is adapting so well to his new heel persona. He shows zero respect towards Okada and just wants to beat the shit out of him. I do miss SANADA in BJW but I will get used to SANADA in NJPW in short time. Okada is very over as he should be as he was cheered for everything he did. SANADA used his awesome double leap frog dropkick and then threw Okada to the outside and got major heat for using a piledriver on the floor. Okada is constantly changing up his offence this match he used a perfect backdrop that was straight out of Mid-South. Hangman’s DDT on the outside from Okada. SANADA used a flawless springboard missile dropkick and followed it up with a huge leaping dive much like Sting’s dives. Okada is just killing SANADA with dropkicks left and right. Elbow drop and poses for the Rainmaker but SANADA counters into the dragon sleeper which he calls “Skull’s End” but Okada fights to the ropes. Tiger suplex from SANADA for a near fall. So many cool sequences in the closing minutes of the match but in the end after a dropkick, tombstone and the Rainmaker Okada puts away SANADA.
Okay, this was one of the matches I didn’t want to write notes about. I was so hyped for this match and I needed to fully invest into such without worrying about any other distractions. This match I can’t review like the other bouts on this card but I want you to know that this match was one of the most spectacular matches of 2016 thus far. This was as special match as you can get in New Japan. This was Ishii’s first ever challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and this was Naito’s first ever defense as champ. This match sent me on an emotional roller coaster much like it did for the crowd. The crowd was very much split on who to cheer for and who to boo but the match was structured as making Ishii the big time babyface and I believe they did that great. Because I wanted Ishii to win so so much as did the 5000 fans in attendance. I loved that Okada and Gedo were out with Ishii to fend off BUSHI and EVIL. When they interfered Gedo and Okada fought them off and sent them packing to the back. The absolute heart Ishii showed in this match was unreal, at 40-years-old Ishii is up there with the best in the world and so far he is my WOTY in 2016. The amount of moves and sequences were awesome. The story of Naito just not wanting Ishii and Ishii hunting Naito’s blood was GREAT. EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS MATCH WAS GREAT. This was my favorite singles match between these two ever. The added tension of this being for the Heavyweight title put this in that next tier of fabulous matches for me. Look, I can’t write down every move or transition that happened but the things that stuck out to me were Ishii targeting Naito’s left leg and using submissions to wear the leg down. Ishii is not one to use submission regularly and this was a neat change of pace. Naito busted out all of his big times moves including a German and a Dragon suplex hold. The shoot headbutts from Ishii weren’t Shibata level but still killer and I like it more that way because I know he isn’t losing ALL of his brain cells at once. The spot of the match without a doubt was Ishii dropping Naito on his brain with a reverse brain buster. That could possibly be move of the year. I am not sure if I want it to be because that is not good for the neck at all. But bah gawd it looks incredible. Everything about this was amazing and as much as I would love Ishii was world champ Naito retained with the Destino. Amazing match.
What a tipsy-turby show! Nothing bad besides the first two matches, but not a great show at all. I would say a very very good show highlighted by an all time great main event. I loved the legends of New Japan being put in big time matches because it makes everything feel fresh. I don’t know where New Japan goes next. My guess is Okada and Naito headline Dominion with Tanahashi and Omega in the semi main in a ladder match. Shibata gets his rematch against Nagata. Ishii and Goto challenge Guerrillas Of Destiny for the tag belts. A multi man junior tag match. I see Ospreay winning BOSJ and winning the championship from KUSHIDA. I have to imagine Elgin has to be in something important and closer to the main event. NJPW is so exciting at the moment as is wrestling in general. We are so lucky as fans! Thank you New Japan!