I was planning on reviewing all three Kizuna Road tapings until I had a flick through the cards and it became clear there was no point. With night two and three essentially recycling night one I was only going to end up repeating myself. On top of that, I know fuck all about Super Strong Machine and would feel like a fraud talking about a match in his honour. However, I also didn’t want to miss out on a chance to ramble incoherently about Despy and Hiromu. All of which is why I am now presenting you with a review of a single main event. Enjoy.
Hiromu Takahashi defeated El Desperado to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title
Hiromu came into this one in a cheery mood, dragging a guitar case down to the ring and opening it to unveil a bouquet of flowers for El Desperado (a callback to Desperado’s return to New Japan). Sadly, Despy was still smarting from Hiromu’s refusal to say that he loves him, so he chose to beat him around the head with the flowers rather than accepting them.
After that these two got down to what they do best, beating the shit out of each other. The disregard they have for their bodies is frightening. Right from the start, Takahashi was throwing Shotgun Dropkicks through guitar cases and into barriers. That’s a move that not only destroys Desperado’s back but sees Takahashi take an awkward bump too. It’s maximum destruction.
Desperado, meanwhile, takes pleasure in dragging Hiromu around the arena, throwing chairs at him and being a right horrible bastard. I feel like a bit of a hypocrite because I have been known to complain about Suzuki-gun’s reliance on those tactics, but when it’s Hiromu and Despy, I love it. So, what’s the difference? Well, in this feud it feels earned. Desperado isn’t doing it for the sake of it. He’s doing it to fuel he and Takahashi’s desire for mutual devastation.
Sadly, all that lovely destruction got diverted by a bit of overbooking. Takahashi and Desperado were stood in the centre of the ring, throwing everything they had at each other in a battle to see who could take the most damage before they collapsed when Kanemaru made his way to ringside and served as the catalyst for it coming off the rails. There were ref bumps, chairs and all the other shenanigans. It’s frustrating because they don’t need it. Desperado and Takahashi proved during Super Juniors that their feud could carry a show without all the bells and whistles.
To add to the frustration there was one spot in among all that which worked. Takahashi was struggling so he went for Desperado’s mask, ripping it off in one clean movement. For a second, Desperado stood head bowed, his hair covering his face. Then, he figured fuck it and smashed Takahashi into next week with a belt shot before grabbing his mask and replacing it. It was a perfect storyline moment as Desperado proved he cares more about murdering Takahashi than hiding his identity.
As you’d expect, the final few minutes were frantic. Takahashi locked in D only for Despy to power him up and throw him into a turnbuckle which had been exposed earlier. Just as he looked to have the advantage, he made the mistake of charging towards the corner allowing Takahashi to step out and deliver a Belly to Belly into the same buckle. He followed up with the Running Death Valley Driver before dropping Desperado on his head with the Time Bomb for the win.
I don’t think this was as good as their brawl from a few weeks ago. However, that was a MOTY contender, so it’s hardly an insult. The shenanigans came at the worst possible time for me as it stalled the momentum just as it felt like they were hitting top gear. Despite that, it was another outstanding battle between these two. With all signs pointing to Desperado losing his mask in the future, I suspect this is just chapter in the tale rather than a conclusion.
Verdict: Four Stars
Afterwards (you can watch it above), Hiromu told Desperado they would make love again somewhere before going on to admitting that he does love him. Then, he challenged Dragon Lee with it having now been announced to take place in America. All of those things are beautiful.