Apollo jumped the champs before the bell, but the champs came right back. KUSHIDA hit a tope con hello onto them to signal the start of the official match. The champs were in control to start the match. Apollo managed to cut off Shelley, and they worked him over for a bit. Shelley managed to take both men down. KUSHIDA made an awesome hot tag full of nifty movez. Taguchi made a comeback for Apollo. The Splitters double teamed KUSHIDA. Devitt avoided a dive from Shelley and then killed KUSHIDA with a ghetto stomp. Shelley then hit a tope suicida on Devitt. KUSHIDA and Taguchi went back and forth until KUSHIDA got a bridging combination: 1…2…3!
Devitt chewed Taguchi out after the match. He then gave him a lariat to the back of the head. King Fale came out to help Devitt kill bitches. Captain New Japan tried to make the save and failed miserably. Devitt stole the good captain’s mask. Devitt and Fale celebrated. Devitt rechristened King Fale as ‘Bad Luck Fale’ and gave himself a new nickname, “The Real Rock ‘n’ Rolla.”
This was a super fun opener from four of my favorite performers in NJPW. I still wish NJPW would treat the Juniors division as being closer to main event importance on these iPPVs, but that is picking nits. Match Rating: ***1/4
Akebono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi & Super Strong Machine vs. CHAOS (Takashi Iizuka, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) & Bob Sapp
The match started as a huge brawl on the floor. That didn’t last long though. These “get everyone on the card” matches on NJPW iPPVs are for the birds. Super Strong Machine was worked over until he hit someone with a DDT. Everyone but Sapp was brawling all over the place. YOSHI-HASHI hit Akebono with a plastic stick. The match broke out again, and the rudos went back to working over Super Strong Man. Sapp and Akebono tagged in. Nakanishi and YOSHI-HASHI tagged in. The match broke down again. Akebono cleaned house. YOSHI-HASHI eventually ate a diving claw from Nakanishi: 1…2…3.
This was whatever. It could have been worse. Match Rating: *1/2
In a bit of foreshadowing, Tonga used his hands to make guns shooting BULLETS. Mascara hit Terrible with a tope con hello. Tonga hit him a slingshot plancha. Valiente followed that up with an amazing triple jump moonsault to the floor. The teams traded some nearfalls. They traded some submission attempts. Tonga killed Mascara with an Alabama Slam and a Cross Rhodes. Tama Tonga, a confirmed mark of the Hardcore Holly/Cody Rhodes tag team. Mascara randomly hit Tonga with a tope suicida. Terrible then killed Valiente with a powerbomb: 1…2…3!
Terrible and Tonga attacked Mascara and Valiente after the match.
This definitely exceeded my expectations. The match wasn’t especially substantive, but I had fun throughout the whole thing. This was a good undercard match. Match Rating: **3/4
Complete Players (Masato Tanaka & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma)
I’m interested in precisely one of these performers. Honma won and early chop battle with Tanaka. Tanaka responded by cracking him over the skull with a Singapore cane. After some brief brawling on the floor, Honma was worked over for a while. Makabe eventually tagged in and made a professional comeback. Makabe killed Yujiro with a lariat. Honma got a nearfall on Tanaka with a missile dropkick. Yujiro then gave him a super belly-to-belly suplex. Tanaka proceeded to kill Honma. Eventually, Honma ate a cane shot to the back, a lariat, and a brainbuster: 1…2…3! Tanaka then hit the Sliding D: 1…2…3
My investment in this match was minimal, but they definitely did an effective job. I’m probably being a little harsh on this match, but it’s hard for me to like a match when I don’t care about 75% of the participants. Match Rating: **3/4
Minoru Suzuki vs. Toru Yano
The match started as a brawl on the floor. Yano tried to waterboard Suzuki. He then tried to win via countout by taping Suzuki to the guardrail. It almost worked. Suzuki did not take kindly to this. Suzuki bullied the referee, while Taichi attacked Yano. Suzuki proceeded to work over the left knee of Yano. Suzuki then went for a cross armbreaker. Yano came back with a powerbomb. Suzuki got a sleeper, but Yano escaped and got a good nearfall with a small package. Suzuki then hit the cradle piledriver: 1…2…3
This was pretty much a squash. Fortunately, watching Minoru Suzuki squash people (even for a long time) is pretty entertaining. For the most part. Match Rating: **1/2
Hirooki Goto & Yuji Nagata vs. Laughter7 (Katsuyori Shibata & Kazushi Sakuraba)
This should be a grand time. Laughter7 for life. Shibata got a submission on Goto, but Nagata broke it up. After a slowish start that didn’t really go anywhere, the teams started beating the shit out of each other. Nagata dropped Sakuraba on his head with a German. Nagata and Sakuraba traded armbar attempts. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Sakuraba's arm was broken!!!!!! WTF! That was so fucking gross! Needless to say, the referee called for the bell.
I can’t really rate this match, but there was a lot of cool shit in this match. It’s a shame that it didn’t get a finish, but I’m obviously really glad they ended the match for Sakuraba.
Very little of note happened early on. Kojima cot control of the match early, which is hopefully not going to last for long. I can’t imagine Conway is going to be working babyface after the pre-match video. Ok, good. Some goon on the outside attacked Kojima. Conway was in control for a bit, but oviously, Kojima eventually made a comeback. Kojima hit a rolling elbow. Conway hit a spear. Kojima hit a brainbuster and an Ace Crusher for a weak nearfall. This crowd gives no fucks. Kojima then hit a top rope Ace Crusher: 1…2…no. The goon attacked Kojima again. Conway hit a lariat, but Kojima kicked out at 1. Kojima blocked a second lariat, and then hit one of his own: 1…2…THE GOON PULLED OUT THE REFEREE! Hiroyoshi Tenzan finally got involved, but the goon punched him out. Kojima took the goon out. The distraction allowed Conway to hit Kojima with a Total Anarchy: 1…2…3
I did not find this enjoyable. The idea of Rob Conway wrestling on more NJPW cards does not appeal to me. He could very quickly feel like what Joey Ryan is for PWG. I hope the NWA is paying for this instead of NJPW. Match Rating: *3/4
Davey’s gimmick in NJPW is cursing at the fans. Nakamura’s gimmick is taking lots of cocaine before appearing on camera. Good, we’re now all on the same page. Davey Jr. dumped him to the floor, and there were some shenanigans with the wrestlers around ringside. Davey worked Nakamura over after that. Davey went for a guillotine legdrop, but Nakamura avoided it. Nakamura made a comeback. It involved lots of knee strikes (and strange bodily vibrations), obviously. Davey came back with a snap powerslam. Davey hit a pump kick and a saito suplex for a pair of nearfalls. Nakamura came back with a backstabber and a…chinlock. He then hit a funplex and called for the Boma Ye. Davey avoided it and hit a modified jackhammer: 1…2…NO! Davey then locked in the sharpshooter. Nakamura made the ropes. Nakamura came back with a koppou kick and a DVD on the knee. Davey came back with a discus lariat. Davey then hit a Jackknife: 1…2…NO!!! Davey then hit a bridging Tiger Suplex: 1…2…NO! It’s impossible to feel pain when you do as much cocaine as Nakamura does. Leaping knee strike from Nakamura. Springboard knee strike. THE COCAINE OVERDOSE SHAKES! Boma Ye: 1…2….3!!!!!!
This was a really fun match. The meat of the match wasn’t especially interesting (I blame Davey), but their dynamic worked and the crowd got into it. Davey Boy Smith Jr. still has a ways to go as far as I’m concerned when it comes to being a main event level singles wrestlers. Having matches like this with someone like Nakamura helps though.I just don't think he's especially interesting as a character or in the ring. Match Rating: ***1/2
And here…we…go. Tanahashi went for an early armbar, but Okada made the ropes. Tanahashi continued to go after that arm for a bit. Okada came back with a DDT on the apron. Okada was in control for a while. They ended up on the apron, and Okada used the guardrail to his advantage. Tanahashi came back by repeatedly slamming Okada’s injured arm on the ringpost. Tanahashi followed it up with a High Fly Flow to the floor. Tanahashi needs to be in a Falls Count Anywhere match one day and win a match with that. Back in the ring, Tanahashi went back to work on the injured arm. Okada came back with a flapjack. He then hit a diving elbow with his injured arm, which was stupid. Ruh roh, Okada couldn’t do the Rainmaker pose because of his injured arm. HOW WILL HE HIT THE RAINMAKER!?!??! Okada got the champ up in the fireman’s carry position, but Tanhashi reversed it into a Sling Blade. Strait Jacket German from the champ got a nearfall. He then hit a 2K1 Bomb, but Okada dropkicked him to the floor when he called for the High Fly Flow. Okada then hit an elevated DDT on the floor. Okada decided to go for the countout win for some reason. That was weird. Okada got a nearfall with a FU. Lol. Tanahashi went back after the arm. He blocked one Rainmaker attempt, but Okada was able to connect on his second attempt!!! Okada was too injured to cover Tanahashi right away. He eventually crawled over, but he only got a two count. Okada then locked in his STF variation. Tanahashi managed to crawl and get his hands on the ropes. Okada then performed some devastating moves on Okada’s Rainmaker arm. HIGH FLY FLOW! SLING BLADE! Bridging Dragon Suplex: 1…2…NO! High Fly Flow to the back! He went for his fourth High Fly Flow of the match, but Okada got his knees up!!! Tanahashi avoided a tombstone and a Rainmaker. He went for a tombstone, but Okada reversed it into one of his own!!! RAINMAKER: 1…2…3!!!!!!!!
Minoru Suzuki, who defeated Okada two PPVs ago, came out to challenge him for the title. Dope.
Geeeeeeeeeeeeeezus. This is so easily the best match I’ve seen from 2013. I don’t know what more you could possible want from professional wrestling. There was great drama, great heat, a great in-ring story, and two pro wrestlers that have truly become masters of their craft. These are two of the best in the world, and matches like this prove it. Tanahashi is the top star now, but Okada will be the man in puroresu for the next decade. This match was pretty much perfection. Beg. Borrow. Steal. Watch this match. Match Rating: *****
The 411: While this show wasn't as strong overall as I would have expected, it was obviously worth watching. The main event alone makes it a big thumbs up. Also, based on some other thoughts and reviews I've read, there's a good chance that the middle portion of show will entertain you more than it did me. NJPW is the best. Watch. Share. Love.