After a long old tour, New Japan finally made it to Dontaku. Of course, they couldn’t resist making that two shows too, splitting it up between a Bullet Club night and a title shot night. First up, it’s the ongoing antics of the Club.
The Bullet Club (Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi) defeated Shota Umino and Yota Tsuji
If Yujiro and Chase are going to become a regular team, it’s time for the pimp gimmick to go. Chase is too pure to be associated with Gedo’s Attitude Era style booking of women.
Tsuji is still in the ‘shut up and take you beating phase’ of his Young Lionhood. He got a small bit of offence on Yujiro at the start, then started selling. From the small amount we got to see, I have high hopes for him.
I probably don’t need to mention that Umino is a star, I’ve said it often enough. It made me sad that other good boy Chase dropped him on his head with a Package Piledriver. At least it gets another win under the belt of the greatest undercard wrestler in the world.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Jushin Thunder Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi and Tiger Mask defeated Yuji Nagata, Tomoyuki Oka and Ren Narita
We got one of my favourite Young Lion spots in this match. Tiger Mask had Oka tied up in an Octopus when Nagata came in to break it up. After removing the grumpy kitty’s hold, he stopped to kick Oka in the head, demanding he gets his ass up. Love it.
The rest was pretty standard cub fare. Nagata came in and looked like he had this sewn up until Narita stopped him by begging for a tag. He got a brief flurry of offence before Taguchi continued his build-up to Best of The Super Juniors by getting the win.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Roppongi 3K (SHO, YOH and Rocky Romero) defeated Suzuki-gun (Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr and Takashi Iizuka)
No, no, no, no. I am not watching this. Never again in my life shall I waste ten-minutes watching Iizuka biting members of Roppongi 3K.
There is one thing worth mentioning here, 3K got a win over a team consisting entirely of heavyweights. That’s a big deal. Fingers crossed it leads to something interesting.
CHAOS (Jay White, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI and Toru Yano) defeated David Finlay, Juice Robinson, Toa Henare, Togi Makabe and a piece of shit
Or, perhaps you could look up a local shelter or charity which helps sufferers of abuse and either donate to them or offer your services in some way?
Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin
The Bullet Club (Nick Jackson, Matt Jackson and Marty Scurll) defeated The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) to win the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Titles
Marty Scurll got it into his head that he was going to slam Fale. Unsurprisingly, that did not work out well for him. I wish we got serious Villian more often, but you’ve got to give him some credit, he’s quite funny.
The surprise highlight was the interactions between Nick Jackson and Tama Tonga. While Tama is a limited wrestler, he is athletic. The holy shit style offence of Nick complimented that perfectly.
The finish came via an increasingly rare outing of More Back For Your Buck as the titles moved from one Bullet Club faction to another. It was all surprisingly cordial, though, so it seems that even if Kenny and Cody are at loggerheads, the rest of the club is doing alright.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Evil, Sanada, Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr, Taichi, El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
While I haven’t hit Iizuka vs Roppongi 3K levels of fed-up for this one, I have still seen Suzuki-gun vs LIJ more than I need to.
Naito isn’t even bothering to destroy the Intercontinental belt this time around. He’s just left it at home. It might be in a skip somewhere. I’d say Suzuki wasn’t impressed by that, but his interest is rarely piqued by anything. Unless it’s torturing Naito. Zack and Murder Grandpa did everything they could to hurt the lead Ingobernable. At one point Suzuki was stretching his arm, Zack his leg and Kanemaru was stood on his head; strong teamwork.
It all served to make me even more annoyed that Naito and Suzuki managed to have a thoroughly mediocre main event. Why wasn’t it better!?
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Afterwards, The Bucks came out and challenged Evil and Sanada. They’re big boys now, so it’s time for them to start chasing those belts.
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi and KUSHIDA
Another match that we’ve seen plenty of times over the last week or so. However, when you’re throwing four of the best wrestlers on the planet in the ring together, it’s hard to complain too much.
You’ve got two pairings blessed with exquisite chemistry, and it means that this can never just be another tag. Everything Ospreay and KUSHIDA do is perfect. They’re ridiculously smooth and know each other’s games inside out. Somehow, Okada and Tanahashi are even better than that. Tana’ makes an attempt to go after Kazu’s leg, really twisting it on the Dragon Screws. Ultimately, though, the champion continues to have the advantage over the Ace and eventually pinned KUSHIDA for the win.
Terrible wrestling and these four men have never met. That didn’t change here.
Verdict: Three and Three Quarter Stars
Cody defeated Kota Ibushi
Don Callis and Kota Ibushi sell Cody’s continual attempts to kiss Ibushi brilliantly. Callis openly describes it as assault while Kota doesn’t respond to it with disgust or horror (like most of the company did when Callihan was kissing everyone during Tag League) but with anger. It’s not the idea of a man kissing him that’s the problem, it’s that they’ve done it without his permission.
It’s one of the many things that Kota does wonderfully. He once again managed to get a standout match out of Cody, starting on top before being tempted in by Cody faking a neck injury. Rhodes’s heat section was then sadly a bit dull as he went through his old-school heel routine. We even got some press ups which I’m sure made the Japanese fans irate.
Eventually, though, Ibushi would get his comeback which is when the magic started. It included a brutal stomp through a table after a ref bump. The piece of furniture didn’t even crack the first time around, so Kota flashed an evil grin and did it again, much to my satisfaction.
It wasn’t even the maddest thing he did as he also springboarded from the ring over the barrier and onto Rhodes. Unfortunately, the damage he did to himself while doing so would prove fatal. He was caught by a Cross Rhodes on his return to the ring. Cody followed up with Din’s Fire (his new Vertebreaker which looked a bit crap) for the three.
Make no mistake about it, while Cody is doing some fantastic character work, he stills needs a great worker to carry him to anything over four stars. It’s a good thing Kota Ibushi is one of the best.
Verdict: Four Stars
Kenny Omega defeated Adam ‘Hangman’ Page
My favourite thing about the Bullet Club splintering is that it’s allowed Adam Page to flourish. I’ve been behind the man for a while, now he’s connecting in the ring too.
Although New Japan is aware that he’s still a level (or five) behind Kenny Omega in the totem pole. They dealt with that by having Cody attack before the bell, setting up Hangman to drop Omega onto an unerected table on the floor with the Rite Of Passage. It left Kenny bleeding from the top of his head, staining his newly blonde hair red.
That simple touch allowed Page to go on the front foot without hurting Omega’s untouchable aura. He was at a disadvantage and Hangman was happy to use that.
They came up with some inventive spots too. At one point, Kenny went for the You Can’t Escape on the outside, using the barricade for the moonsault portion of it. Sadly, the first part caused him to land on his injured head and by the time he’d shaken off that, Page had recovered enough to move out of the way. He’d then use the barrier, flipping over it to hit the Buckshot Lariat.
Page would continue to focus on Kenny’s head and neck. Hitting a really cool Package Tombstone and a Top Rope Neckbreaker. It wouldn’t be enough, though. Page went for the Buckshot Lariat again, springing right into a V Trigger. A few seconds later Omega put him away with the One-Winged Angel.
Hangman is hitting a Juice Robinson style patch where every match he has is his best so far. If he keeps putting out performances like this, then long may it continue.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
A Bullet Club focused show that delivered two great main events and a few decent tags. Only the most ardent Club fan will be declaring it their show of the year, but it was an easy watch with some fun matches. Definitely worth your time (as long as you skip the piece of shit and anything involving Iizuka).