Another seven-match show from New Japan. That’s a lot of wrestling to get through, or at least it feels like it. In reality, it’s quite a reasonable amount, and by New Japan standards these matches are kept quite short, so I shouldn’t be complaining. It’s unlikely anyone is about to wrestle a thirty-minute draw.
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi) (3-2) defeated Shota Umino and Ayato Yoshida (0-5)
‘Mon the Young Lions! Yoshida and Umino decided to show Suzuki-gun how it feels, attacking them during Taka’s intro and taking out all three men. I guess Yoshida’s time in the Kaientai Dojo saw Taka pass on a few tricks of the trade.
This was an intriguing battle for Umino and Yoshida. Zack and Taichi don’t wrestle like a lot of the roster. Zack’s technical wizardry and Taichi’s skullduggery are unique, and it felt like the rookies paired off: Yoshida vs Zack and Umino vs Taichi.
And it’s hard to say who got the better deal. Umino didn’t have to spend time lying on the floor screaming while Zack twisted him up, but Yoshida didn’t get dragged into the crowd and thrown through some chairs. All things said I imagine they’ll both be filing grievances with HR. Do wrestling companies have HR departments? I’ve never thought about it.
By the time the bell rang, I suspect the pups were regretting their decision to attack first. Sabre and Taichi didn’t only pick up the win, they stuck around to get a bit of revenge. Still, this was another accomplished Young Lion performance while the team of the octopus and the prick continues to be a surprising highlight.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr and Lance Archer) (4-1) defeated Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (1-4)
Nagata and Nakanishi are having a rough tournament. It took KES less time to deal with them than it took their stablemates to take out the Young Lions. It was only an eighteen-second difference, but symbolically? That ain’t a great look.
If there’s one thing that isn’t going to get me enthralled in the slow KES offence, it’s Manabu Nakanishi. I feel bad ragging on the guy, he’s 51 and clearly past his best, but I also have to watch him wrestle. It’s like watching a bear swimming in treacle. The first couple of times it’s oddly alluring, then you start feeling sorry for the poor thing because it shouldn’t be in that situation.
It’s all the more frustrating because Nagata can go, yet Nakanishi seems to spend more time in the ring. Although now I think about it, it might just feel like he does. He appears to have the ability to slow down time. That aside, this was another KES match, and I’ve moaned enough about KES matches recently, not for me.
Verdict: One And Three Quarter Stars
The Elite (Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi) (3-2) defeated Togi Makabe and Toa Henare (1-4)
The problem with tournaments that aren’t the G1 or Super Juniors is that I end up repeating myself. New Japan doesn’t expect people to watch all these shows. Most fans dip in and out, checking out the big matches and anything else that gets a bit of buzz. That means I end up saying things like Makabe is lazy and Henare does all the work or Hangman is a stud, but Yujiro is having a good run in every review.
And yes, there are always moments in these matches that are a bit different or in which one wrestler excels. The problem is that they are blasts rather than sustained periods, diamonds in among, not so much the rough, as the very familiar. Sadly, that often means they get lost.
All of which is me saying that this was decent. However, it was just another match between two teams that weren’t pushing themselves. No-one did anything spectacular and yet I’m not going to bury them because they certainly didn’t do anything wrong. They delivered what was expected of them.
Verdict: Two And A Quarter Stars
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka) (2-3) defeated The Best Friends (Beretta and Chuckie T) (3-2)
Greg! Dustin! What’s happening? It all started so well, and now you’re losing to shit Hannibal Lecter and his Murder Grandpa. Okay, I can accept Grandpa, but the shit bitey guy? Come on.
I’ve been down on Suzuki and Iizuka because Iizuka is awful. However, I want to take a few minutes to appreciate Minoru Suzuki. The man is brilliant. From slapping Young Lions to mocking Dustin as he desperately crawled towards Greg, he never stops being Minoru Suzuki. In a world where a lot of wrestlers don’t wrestle like their character’s, he always does. He’s a sadistic bastard who takes pleasure in your pain.
There were a few other moments of pleasure scattered throughout. I got a kick out of Beretta biting Iizuka while the sight of Chuck Taylor and Minoru Suzuki sharing a ring is an oddly satisfying one. However, when you remove those elements, it’s another match that was much like the ones that came before it. Entertaining and totally forgettable.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL and Sanada) (4-1) defeated Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (2-3)
Sanada has been one of the most over wrestlers all tour and the first time I noticed the crowd on this show was when he was exchanging blows with Kojima. It feels like his time to be established as a main eventer is coming.
Despite that, EVIL and Sanada played the heel role here, pulling out a Suzuki-gun tactic and ending up in the crowd with Tencozy. Not that it dampened anyone’s mood. They even popped for Tenzan having to suffer the indignity of being placed in the Paradise Lock.
Tenzan was letting that get him down, though. This was the best performance I’ve seen from the square-headed bastard in quite a while. He seemed to relish being in there with Sanada whose athleticism was more than enough to make up for Tenzan’s lack of it.
And it takes something as simple as that to elevate these matches. A legend enthused by working with a younger stud. Combine that with the fact Sanada and EVIL are the tournament MVPs, and we suddenly get a match that elicits emotion. While I could have happily napped through everything else on this show, LIJ and Tencozy made me care, and that’s all I’m asking for.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano) (4-1) defeated Juice Robinson and David Finlay (3-2)
Yano managed to sell a DVD during his entrance. I tend to zone out during intros, so it probably happens all the time, but I think that’s the first time I’ve noticed him being successful in that endeavour.
Juice and Yano had their comedy boots. In some situations that would have annoyed me, but after a show of quite samey wrestling, it was nice to have a chuckle. Juice is so ridiculous that it doesn’t take much for him to slip into Yano’s world.
Plus, we’ve got Ishii in there to keep things on track. In many ways, he’s the perfect straight man because he no-sells all of it. Yano does his shit before Ishii comes in and headbutts a motherfucker.
Talking of headbutting, there was a moment of magic here when Ishii and Robinson faced off and started no-selling each other. Like a little taste of a delightful cake that you know you’ll get again someday. Then Ishii dropped poor Finlay on his head to take home the points. Another entertaining match as this show finished on a high.
Verdict: Three Stars
Jeff Cobb and a piece of shit (2-3) defeated Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa) (3-2)
Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin
These seven-match shows are a hell of a lot easier to watch than I expected them to be. Nothing is going long while the wrestlers are producing solid if unspectacular action. It’s not leaving me giddy, but I’m left feeling perfectly content when I come out the other end. If you wish to achieve that contentedness, watch it too.
Watch World Tag League: https://njpwworld.com/