Views from the Hawke's Nest: NJPW Kizuna Road 2013
Posted by TJ Hawke on 10.27.2013
Rainmaker vs. The Real Shooter...
July 20, 2013
CHAOS (Gedo, Jado, YOSHI-HASHI & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. KUSHIDA, Manabu Nakanishi, Tiger Mask & Tomoaki Honma
KUSHIDA was the lucky man who got worked over in this match. KUSHIDA eventually escaped and tagged out to Honma, who made a comeback. Eventually, the match broke down. Jado ate a handspring elbow from KUSHIDA, a falling headbutt from Honma, and a lariat from Nakannishi. Nakanishi then hit an axe handle from the middle rope: 1...2...3
This was a professional wrestling match that served as an opener for a professional show. Match Rating: *
Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov & Rocky Romero) (c) vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi & TAKA Michinoku) [IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match]
The dynamic of this match is slightly interesting to me. If nothing else, it's a new combination for the IWGP Jr. Tag Title scene, which was in desperate need of freshening up. The Hooligans are babyfaces by default. Taichi used his crutch to choke Koslov. TAKA seemed to be selling some deadly injury. He may have been really hurt because the match slowed to a crawl once he started getting looked at. Suzuki-gun worked Koslov over for a while. Koslov was obviously eventually able to tag out to Rocky. He made a tepid comeback, as the crowd went mild. The teams went back and forth. Taichi got a nearfall on Koslov with a superkick. Rocky had to make the save when Taichi hit Koslov with a Liger Bomb. Everyone did a dive to the floor. I liked TAKA's the best. Back in the ring, they went back and forth more. Taichi got a great nearfall on Koslov after a low blow. Koslov then kicked Taichi in the balls, and Taichi then ate the Contract Killer: 1...2...3
This match was way too long, and it was only sporadically entertaining. NJPW's tag divisions continue to underwhelm me. Match Rating: **1/2
Minoru Suzuki vs. Tomohiro Ishii
I am pumped for this match. No kneepads, no mercy. Suzuki went after the left arm of Ishii. Ishii came back and hit a lariat. Suzuki came back with a sleeper. Ishii made the ropes. They went back and forth for a bit. Ishii reversed a Gotch Pileddriver attempt into an Air Raid Crash. Ishii then hit a lariat for a good nearfall. They traded nearfalls. Suzuki connected on a slap and then hit a delayed Gotch piledriver: 1...2...3
This was a good match. They didn't blow the roof off, but these two are very compelling performers (for me, at least). Match Rating: ***1/4
TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) (c) vs. CHAOS (Takashi Iizuka & Toru Yano) [IWGP Tag Team Title Match]
This does not look appetizing. I rather watch Iizuka have a match with the commentator he keeps assaulting. The match started as a brawl on the floor. The referee eventually counted them out. The crowd roared in approval. My kind of fans.
Kojima and Tenzan got the match restarted. I hope they drop the belts for such insolence. Eventually, a tag team professional wrestling context broke out. Tenzan was worked over. Kojima eventually tagged in and made a big comeback. Iizuke tried to use the Iron Finger, but Tenzan avoided it. TenKoji gave him the 3D. Yano attacked the referee to save the match. Yano tried to use a handcuff, but Kojima handcuffed him to the ropes. Tenzan then gave Iizuka a moonsault: 1...2...3
This was moderately entertaining, but the heavyweight tag division interests me less and less with each passing show. Match Rating: **1/2
Masato Tanaka (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito [NEVER Openweight Title Match]
This is a very intriguing match on paper, but I'm not sure if Naito was close to 100% yet. Tanaka, as usual, brought a Singapore Cane to the ring. Naito does not seem to really fit the category of what NEVER is supposedly about (outsiders and young fellas), but considering NKPW never does NEVER shows, that hardly seems to matter.
The match started as a brawl on the floor. Naito got the advantage. Tanaka was able to get the advantage once he started using his stick, which he broke over Naito's head. Tanaka took out a table that looked impossible to break. Tanaka it Naito with a Superfly Splash. The table broke, but it mostly looked like it just fell over. Tanaka worked Naito over after that. Naito came back and got a nearfall with a super hurricanrana. Tanada hit a tornado DDT. Tanaka got a nearfall with a brainbuster. Naito avouded a sliding D and hit an enzuigiri. Naito got a nearfall with a beautiful German and then another one with a Dragon suplex. Tanaka managed to avoid the Stardust Press. Tanaka hit a release German and a lariat, but Naito survived. Tanaka then hit the Sliding D: 1...2...NO!!! Wow, I did not expect that kickout. Tanaka then killed him with a second Sliding D: 1...2...3.
This was a perfect midcard match. Tanaka went for the Sliding D several times early on. He finally managed to connect on one, but Naito was able to prove his toughness by kicking out. Tanaka then seemed to hit a more powerful one to finish off Naito. Naito still does not look as great as he did in 2012, but hopefully the G1 will see his return to form. Match Rating: ***1/2
La Sombra (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura [IWGP Intercontinental Title Match]
I forget when or where (probably in CMLL at some point), but La Sombra won the IC belt from Nakamura at some point. This is Nakamura's rematch. I have no idea if this will be good. I'm rather cynical towards NJPW's ability to choose outsiders to come to NJPW. Something, something, something, Lance Hoyt and Rob Conway.
Sombra called for a dive, but Nakamura blocked it with a knee (what else?). Nakamura then hit a...knee strike. Nakamura followed that up with a corkscrew hilo. Nakamura was in control after that. Sombra quickly came back with a great tope suicida. Sombra then got a nearfall with a snap powerslam. Sombra got another nearfall with a split-legged moonsault. Nakamura came back, but Sombra got another nearfall with a Liger Bomb. Sombra has looked really good here. Nakamura fell to the floor after a dropkick. Sombra then climbed a structure that was presumably for lighting. Sombra hit a moonsault off it. Sombra hit the Florida Key for a nearfall. Nakamura came back with a backstabber and a funplex. Sombra avoided the Boma Ye and got a nearfall with a suplex that I do not know the name of. Sombra went for a springboard dive, but Nakamura caught him with a knee strike. Nakamura went for a springboard Boma Ye, but he botched it. Nakamura then hit a diving Boma Ye and followed it up with the traditonal Boma Ye: 1...2...3!
This was another enjoyable match that felt unique. Sombra proved to be more than worthy of the spot on the card, and I should really check out more of his work. Nakamura was Namamura. I think he should be carrying the heavyweight tag team division as a super sympathetic babyface that can take the heat segment. However, it's clear that NJPW sees Nakamura as a singles guy, and the Nakamura/Okada PPV main event seems like something that has to be happening sooner rather than later. Match Rating: ***1/4
BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale, Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga) & El Terrible vs. Captain New Japan, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jushin Thunder Liger & Togi Makabe
What a team of tecnicos. I guess El Terrible is in the Bullet Club? I should probably check this out on the Wikipedia.
The tecnicos had some early success, but the Club managed to cut off Liger soon enough. Liger got worked over for a bit. Liger eventually hit Anderson with a palm strike and then tagged out to Makabe. Makabe ran wild until the Club cut him off. Liger and Tanahashi were knocked off the apron, Makabe was forced to tag out to Captain New Japan.The Bullet Club ran a train on the good Captain. Anderson hit him with a TKO: 1...2...NO! Tanahashi tagged in. The match broke down again. Tanahashi hit Terrible with the High Fly Flow: 1...2...3!
Tanahashi played some air guitar after the match. If King of Trios ever happens again, Tanahashi and the Young Bucks should be booked as Team Air Guitar. (Note: this was written before the Bucks were booked for NJPW.)
I'm suprised that the Bullet Club lost at all in a multi-man match. I guess that's why El Terrible was in the match though. This match was a ton of fun. The Bullet Club has been one of the highlights in wrestling in 2013. I demand a Wargames match at WrestleKingdom. Match Rating: ***
Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata
These two had a MOTYC at the Dominon PPV. This is their third singles PPV match of the year. The first match ended in a draw, and Shibata won the second match. I'm not sure this match needed to happen again.
Goto did not wait for the bell to start attacking Shibata. They traded leg locks. Shibata went after Goto's left leg. Shibata kicked Goto's head off with his delayed corner dropkick. The replay made that look most unpleasant. Shibata was in complete control until Goto blocked a kick and hit a lariat. They traded kicks and lariats. Neither man would go down. Shibata ended the sequence with a STO of all things. They traded backdrop drivers. Shibata then dropped Goto on his head with a German. They ended up on the turnbuckle. Goto hit a middle rope Air Raid Crash for a nearfall. Shibata got a sleeper. Goto made the ropes, but Shibata managed to hit the Penalty Kick. That's what finished Goto in their second match. Both men collapsed and bared survived the ten count. Goto hit a pair of headbutts. Shibata hit a headbutt of his own. These men. They collapsed and neither man survived the ten count this time. Another draw.
This match came nowhere close to their MOTYC at Dominion. The content of this match was not as interesting, the crowd was nowhere near as hot, and the finish was (needless to say, really) less than desirable. Good effort though. Match Rating: ***1/4
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Yuji Nagata
Nagata broke Sakuraba's arm in a tag match at the April or May PPV. I cannot remember these things anymore. Apparently, Nagata was very injured coming into this match. Ah, the video package revealed that Sakuraba broke the arm at the April PPV. The video package had footage of these two working in 1995. I always forget that Sakuraba is in his forties. The wrestling road has owned Nagata. The MMA road did not own Sakuraba. NJPW's video package are pretty darn gripping considering I do not understand the language they are speaking.
They traded strikes. They went for submissions on the mat. Nagata hit a couple of suplexes. Nagata went for a cross armbreaker, but Sakuraba kept his hands together. Nagata gave up on that and hit a mafia kick. Sakuraba went for various choke holds. Nagata went after the formely broken arm of Sakuraba. Nagata got an armbar and popped the crowd by rolling his eyes back. They traded more submission attempts. Sakuraba managed to get the cross armbreaker with the arm extended; Nagata was forced to tap out.
This was a solid match. I think faux MMA can be used as a tool to create great professional wrestling. This match was probably too reliant upon it and thus, the match did not have the drama that you may have expected. Match Rating: **3/4
Kazuchika Okada(c) vs. Prince Devitt [IWGP Heavyweight Title Match]
The video package for this match was amazing. I am HYPED. These are two of the best and two of my favorite wrestlers in the world. The idea of Devitt being in PPV main events at the start of 2013 seemed like a pipe dream to me. Rainmaker vs. Real Rock N Rolla. Let's do this.
As soon as Okada started to target the neck, Bad Luck Fale held Okada down so that Devitt could hit a slingshot double stomp. Devitt undid one of the turnbuckle pads and then proceeded to work over Okada. Devitt sent Okada into the exposed turnbuckle. The crowd started to rally behind Okada, as the Bullet Club interfered more and more. Anderson gave Okada an apron powerbomb. Okada managed to send Devitt into the turnbuckle, and he followed that up with a swinging neckbreaker. Okada went after the neck some more. Okada hit the diving elbow and called for the Rainmaker. Devitt avoided it and got a nearfall with a sunset flip. Okada fell to the floor; Devitt hit the tope con hello. I love how Devitt decided to hit the dive instead of trolling the fans; the belt superceeds trolling people. Devitt got a nearfall with a double stomp. Devitt hit the reverse Bloody Sunday: 1...2...NO! Okada came back with the Air Raid Crash on the knee. Devitt got dropkicked to the floor. The Bullet Club gathered around him, but Okada wiped out them all with a tope con HELLO! Back in the ring, Okada locked in the Red Ink. Devitt survived. Ref bump. Ruh roh. Devitt got a chair and hit Okada with it in the gut. Okada then booted the chair into Devitt's face. Okada avoided the attacks of Anderson and Tonha. Fale went for the spike, but Gedo stopped him. Fale went to spike Gedo, but Okada saved him. Devitt hit a tombstone and then a ghetto stomp with a chair: 1...2...NO!!! This match rules. Trouble in Belfast from Devitt. They avoided each other's finishers. Okada caught him with a dropkick; he then hit a tombstone and the Rainmaker: 1...2...3!
This worked out beautifully. The Bullet Club managed to just do the right amount of shenanigans so that it does not overwhelm the match. Okada's neck work continues to make for interesting in-ring work, as well. I can see a scenario where it gets old after a while, but I do not think we're in danger of that happening any time soon. Match Rating: ****1/4
The 411: This was another very strong NJPW PPV. Unlike the top PPVs though, there was only one great match on the show. However, the consistency up and down the card made it a ton of fun to watch. Besides the main event, I particularly liked the NEVER Championship match. Tanaka is not utilized enough by NJPW. However, the main thing to remember from this show is clearly the main event. I love that Devitt has been elevated to the main event of NJPW, and his new character should ensure that he can be in any NJPW PPV main event at any time the promotions wants him to be. Okada continues to be one of the top five wrestlers in the world.