The Bucks got sent to the floor early. Shelley wiped out Matt with a tope suicida, and KUSHIDA took down Nick with a seated senton. The Bucks came back and then worked over Shelley. Shelley eventually came back and then tagged out to KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA made a great comeback, as he almost always does. Nick hit his nifty apron moonsault on Shelley. KUSHIDA planted him with a satellite DDT. The Bucks ran through KUSHIDA for a bit. The teams went back and forth. Nick saved Matt from certain defeat after the Splitters hit Outatime. The Bucks hit Shelley with the tandem tombstone. KUSHIDA had to make the save. There was a #SuperkickParty, and Shelley then ate More Bang For Your Buck: 1…2…3
This was just delightful, and it was definitely my favorite IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Championship match in quite some time. Unfortunately, it appears that Matt broke his hand in this match. Hopefully, that does not derail the Bucks' run in NJPW all that much. Match Rating: ***1/2
Katsuyori Shibata vs. YOSHI-HASHI
YOSHI-HASHI ate the pinfall in the tag match with Shibata and Goto in the Hiroshima version of The New Beginning.
YOSHI-HASHI attacked him before the bell and then had the advantage. Shibata came back. He delivered some kicks. HASHI came back and got a nearfall with a lariat. This should just be a squash for Shibata. Shibata came back and casually delivered The Penalty Kick: 1…2…3
Chris Bacon of PWPonderings described the post-match segment better than I could have: "Shibata promptly jogged backstage after the match as if he'd been in the middle of a phone call and had to put someone on hold while he beat up YOSHI-HASHI. ‘It'll only take 5 minutes'."
While Shibata did not have much trouble putting away the partner of Okada, I'm not sure why it was necessary for YOSHI-HASHI to get in so much offense though. Match Rating: *
Suzuki-gun [Minoru Suzuki & Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.)] vs. BULLET CLUB (Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, & Tama Tonga)
KAZE NI NARE~!
The match started as a brawl on the floor. I'm so numb to that style in NJPW at the moment. They returned to the ring, and the action only got more fun when Suzuki and Anderson squared off. I see that Archer got more back tattoos to distract us from his tramp stamp. Don't be fooled, people. The teams went back and forth for a bit. Eventually, Tonga got caught in the KES doubleteam powerbomb: 1…2…3
Suzuki hit Tonga with a chair after the match, because he is a dick.
This match was brought up only by the sequence between Suzuki and Anderson. Nothing else about the match entertained me. I can do without Gallows, Smith, Archer, and Tonga in NJPW. Match Rating: *1/2
BULLET CLUB (Prince Devitt & Bad Luck Fale) vs. Togi Makabe & Ryusuke Taguchi
Makabe and Fale battled it out. I never need to see these two interact again after that Wrestle Kingdom match. Taguchi was cut off and then worked over by the BULLET CLUB after some rudo shenanigans. He eventually tagged out to Makabe who made a hot comeback. The teams went back and forth. Taguchi went for the Three Amigos. I'm really okay if no one ever does the Three Amigos ever again, but at least it didn't feel like it was just done for a cheap pop here. Makabe hit a bunch of lariats. Taguchi and Devitt went at it. Taguchi reversed a Bloody Sunday attempt into rollup: 1…2…3!
This was a hot tag match from NJPW, which once again is so nice to see given the state of the NJPW heavyweight tag division. This was just some plain old fun that helps to round out a card nicely. Match Rating: ***1/2
Big Daddy Yum Yum & Michael Tarver (w/Bruce Tharpe) vs. TenKoji (Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan) [NWA World Tag Team Title #1 Contendership Match]
Bruce Tharpe & #BDYY are the best things in wrestling. It's science.
The match was what you expect. There was just a lot of weak brawling going on at the beginning. #BDYY and Tarver got the heat on Tenzan for a while. He tagged out to Kojima. YES! MORE #BDYY SELLING CHOPS FROM KOJIMA! THIS IS THE MOTY! #BDYY and Kojima had a couple of awkward exchanges despite the extensive chemistry they developed during their NWA Title match. The match just kept going and going. Tarver is so bad. #BDYY is the #GOAT. It's the worst of times. It's the best of times. Kojima caught #BDYY with a lariat. Tenzan got Tarver in the Anaconda Vice. Tarver tapped out after staying in the hold for a bit.
This was atrocious. There were only a few brief moments of levity provided by Bruce Tharpe and #BDYY. With that in mind, I would absolutely be all about having a #BDYY match on every single NJPW show going forward. Match Rating: DUD
Rolles & Daniel Gracie vs. Kazushi Sakuraba & Yuji Nagata
They all had a gi on. It would be adorable if the match was not going to suck so bad.
There was some faux MMA. Sakuraba hit Daniel with a slingshot plancha. No one dying there was a miracle. Rolles and Nagata traded some submission attempts. It was not interesting or exciting. Daniel tried to choke Sakuraba with the gi, but Sakuraba reversed it into a submission to break it up. Rolles or Daniel Gracie made Sakuraba tap out eventually. I believe it was Rolles, but I could have both men mixed up.
Toru Yano and Takashi Iizuka came out after the match.
I cannot believe anything about any of this. The match was boring. The Gracies offer nothing. They're apparently going to be coming back for a match with Yano and Iizuka. A giant life failure if there ever was one. Match Rating: ½*
CHAOS (Shinsuke Nakamura & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Jushin Liger
Nakamura went after Tanahashi's right arm. You know, because it went so well in Hiroshima when he did that. Tana was worked over for a bit, but he eventually made a hot tag to Yujiro. The teams went back and forth. Tana and Nakamura squared off. More back and forth action from the teams. I don't really care about this match all that much, but they're all trying hard. Liger wiped out Nakamura. Yujiro then ate Sling Blade and High Fly Flow from Tana: 1…2…3
The match was nothing special, but it got the job done. It felt inconsequential because the end result was Tanahashi pinning Takahashi, which will lead to nothing of significance at best. While this match was preferable to a lot of midcard matches we've gotten from NJPW in the past year, the split PPV plan means we're getting a lot more meaningless matches like this in all likelihood. It should not be that hard to put together fun matchups that actually have consequences that we can care about. Match Rating: ***1/4
I actually disliked this match, but I acknowledge that it was successful in terms of getting the crowd invested when it mattered at the end. At this point, when it comes to Ibushi and his refusal to sell his leg, I just blame his opponent for working over the leg in the first place. ALL of Ibushi's offense is based on kicking, running, or jumping! So, even if he were to sell his leg, the match would become much less fun. So, for a match that only consisted of doing movez and working a limb that was not sold at all, this was not awful or anything. I just did not particularly like it. Match Rating: **1/2
Ishii was a man on a mission when he walked to the ring. The NEVER title means nothing, but Ishii's demeanor is basically forcing me to take his quest seriously right now. A lot of shots were traded for a while. We quickly learned that the crowd wanted Ishii to win, and they were perfectly content to boo Naito. This should be a fun environment. Naito got control for a bit, but Ishii came back with a superplex. Naito came back with a German. He started selling his knee randomly. He then hit another German. Ishii came back with a lariat. They traded forearms for a while. They were both looking loopy. Ishii got a nearfall with a folding powerbomb. Ishii hit a massive lariat: 1…2…NO! They traded more forearms. Naito hit his leaping lariat and Gloria. Ishii avoided the Stardust Press, and the crowd exploded in joy. Ishii hit a top rope superplex: 1…2…NO!!! They sold that for a while. Naito hit a bridging dragon suplex for another great nearfall. Naito fucking nailed him a headbutt. Ishii came back with an enzuigiri for a nearfall. Ishii then hit the Ishii Driver: 1…2…3!
I enjoyed this match a lot more than I expected. While it was nowhere close to the classics Tanahashi and Okada put on together in 2013, they absolutely captivated the crowd and produced a red-hot atmosphere. What I liked about this match was that it may have mostly been trading big moves and strikes, they were selling the exhaustion of the battle throughout. There were very few moments of FIGHTING SPIRIT, and quite frankly, I always appreciate that. Match Rating: ****
Things started out very slowly. Okada was going after the neck. Goto was going after one of the legs. Goto had control for a bit. Okada got control back after a dropkick sent Goto to the floor. Okada called for the Rainmaker, but Goto avoided it and connected on a lariat. Okada came back and got control again after a seated dropkick. Okada got Red Ink, but Goto managed to make the ropes. Okada got a nearfall after Heavy Rain. Goto fought back and dropped Okada on his knee a couple of times. Goto had all the momentum, but Okada kept avoiding Shouten Kai. Goto avoided the Rainmaker a couple of times, but he ate a dropkick. Goto headbutted his way out of a Rainmaker and then hit the Penalty Kick: 1…2…NO! Okada avoided Shouten Kai again. Okada hit the dropkick to the back of the head and then the tombstone. RAINMAKER: 1…2…3
Shibata got into the ring after, but Okada did not seem too interested in having Shibata in the ring with him. A title match between these two has officially been teased.
Considering how shocking it would have been for Okada to drop the title here, I thought these two did a pretty damn good job of getting the crowd to believe in Goto. Goto will never be all that interesting in the ring to me, but he has a presence that allows him to get by a world title challenger that can challenge every year but never win. This was a very good main event, but it was missing a little something compared to the majority of NJPW main events in the last couple of years. Match Rating: ***3/4
Overall Thoughts: There is no denying that this was a better show than the Hiroshima New Beginning, but I still think this show was a noticeable step down from the top shows of 2013 from this company. Just based on the upcoming cards, I would say I'm not watching a NJPW show again until the New Japan Cup Finals at the earliest, but it's possible that I skip that like I did last year. NJPW's ambition is to be appreciated, but I really hope they stop the split PPV system sooner rather than later. I guess it will all depend on how it affects their domestic business though.