Oh, NJPW, how I’ve missed you! It’s only been three months since The New Beginning, but it feels like it’s been three years. Today was the first time in forever that I was up at 5:45 a.m. to watch a show live.
Sure there was no audience, but I didn’t miss them as much as I have with the American companies due to Japanese crowds tending to be pretty quiet, anyway. I did miss the English commentary a little, but that’ll be recorded and uploaded later this week, so that’s not a big deal either. What’s important is that strong style is back, baby! And it started with New Japan’s bread-and-butter, a tournament!
Togi Makabe vs. Yota Tsuji – I enjoyed this match more than I expected to. Tsuji looked really good here, starting the match with a spear and getting quite a bit of offense in during a back-and-forth. It was a fairly short match (for NJPW standards), with Makabe getting the win over the Young Lion to advance. – 3/5
Toru Yano vs. Jado – I like Yano. A lot. I know I’m in the minority, but I legitimately love comedy wrestling—hell, one of my favorite Kenny Omega matches had Yano as his opponent. I’m also the one who will tell you that a serious Toru Yano is a dangerous Toru Yano. That being said, DO NOT WATCH THIS MATCH! It was awful and lazy and you will never get those nine minutes back. – -1/5
Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Yuji Nagata & Yuya Uemura – Is it really a NJPW show if there isn’t a random tag match thrown in? This match went exactly as you’d expect. Suzuki-gun attacked before the bell and never let up. Tanahashi’s knee took the biggest beating—double-teams from ZSJ and Taichi, a kneebar from Suzuki, a chair from Taichi…it just went on. There was a gorgeous standing moonsault from Ibushi, Uemura got hit with a bottle of whiskey. Predictably, Suzuki-gun gets the win with Murder Grandpa’s Gotch piledriver. – 3.5/5
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma – You know what match was my favorite? (Notice I didn’t say “best.”) The second half of this one. A bit of a slow start, but once it got in gear, it moved quickly. Hiromu works like a man who has zero concern for his (previously) broken freakin’ neck. Honma had his best match in what feels like forever. So many strong AF chops and elbows, all leading to Hiromu moving on with the Time Bomb. – 4/5
Tomohiro Ishii vs. El Desperado – Hard-hitting? Yep. Exposed turnbuckle? Yep. Both opponents looking fantastic? Yep. This was objectively the best match on paper and it delivered. Despy spent a good deal of the match focusing on Ishii’s knee—it took about as much punishment as Tana’s did in the tag match. Ishii hit him with suplexes, elbows, powerbombs and headbutts over the course of the match before picking up the win with the brainbuster. An excellent showing from both guys. – 4.25/5
Matches = 2.75/5
Entertainment = 3.25/5
Overall = 3/5 Bibles