By Big Red Machine
From October 10, 2016
NJPW King of Pro Wrestling 2016 (10/10/2016)- Tokyo, Japan
TIGER MASK W vs. RED DEATH MASK- 5.75/10
I assume the “W” in Tiger Mask W is short for “Where In The World Could Kota Ibushi Possibly Be?” Red Death Mask worked over Tiger Mask W’s mid-section, but the new Tiger Mask came back to win with a Ligerbomb.
BULLET CLUB (Adam Cole, Yujiro Takahashi, & Bad Luck Fale) vs. CHAOS (Will Ospreay, Tomohiro Ishii, & YOSHI-HASHI)- 6.5/10
This was much better than the throw-away match we usually get in this spot. Everyone worked very hard, and I’m actually somewhat excited for the upcoming Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI tag team.
BOBBY FISH, RYSUKUE TAGUCHI, TOGI MAKABE, & TOMOAKO HONMA vs. CHAOS (Roppongi Vice, Toru Yano, & Gedo)- 3.5/10
Too much comedy.
YUJI NAGATA, MANABU NAKANISHI, HIROYOSHI TENZAN & SATOSHI KOJIMA vs. TEAM NOAH (Masa Kitamiya, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Maybach Taniguchi, & Go Shiozaki)- 6.5/10
This feud is definitely heated, but I really don’t see where it can go without Marufuji winning the belt tonight.
IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Young Bucks(c) vs. David Finlay Jr. & Ricochet- 7.25/10
Finlay not being a flippy-divey guy makes him a welcome addition to this division, and will make his team with Ricochet feel different than the other teams wrestling the Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team style (even reDRagon tend to be a lot more spotty when wrestling these matches as opposed to singles matches).
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: The Briscoes(c) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny-7/10
Very good match. Lots of babyface fire from the Briscoes, and some really great double-teams from the Guerrillas at the end. They actually looked like a respectable team here.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Bullet Club attacked the Briscoes. Tomohiro Ishii came out to make the save but he got beaten down, too. Good stuff.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI, MICHAEL ELGIN, JAY LETHAL, & KUSHIDA- 6/10
This was pretty much just a mess of stuff happening, and Elgin clearly not being okay after that dropkick to the face from Naito didn’t help matters. Elgin pinned Naito to set up a rematch for the IC Title, but as of the time I write this, we know he won’t be getting the title shot he is scheduled for at Power Struggle to the orbital bone injury he suffered from that kick. We then got a post-match brawl which ended up with KUSHIDA doing a stretcher job.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Katsuyori Shibata(c) vs. Kyle O’Reilly (w/Bobby Fish)- 8/10
An awesome match, with great submission wrestling and great storytelling with both men working over their opponent’s arm. Kyle O’Reilly did a BEAUTIFUL job selling the finish. The only bad parts of this match were the parts where Shibata decided he had to be Shibata and do his stupid no-selling spots. The story of the match is the Kyle is going after Shibata’s injured arm… so why would it make any sense for Shibata to suddenly just sit there and let Kyle kick him? So he can no-sell it, of course. Because he’s Shibata, and he sucks that way.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- fine
Go Shiozaki came out and had a stare-down with Shibata. After Go left, EVIL jumped Shibata from behind and laid him out with his finisher.
G1 BRIEFCASE MATCH: Kenny Omega(c) (w/the Young Bucks) vs. Hirooki Goto (w/YOSHI-HASHI)- 8.25/10
Goto snatched the briefcase and waffled Omega in the head with it and then gave him a DDT onto it. I was wondering why this was not a DQ when I realized that the bell hadn’t actually rung yet. Still… I don’t see the point of having the babyface cheat to start off with a big advantage. Aside from that, though, this was pretty nuts. Lots of work on the head from both guys throughout, and an insane finishing sequence.
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Kazuchika Okada(c) (w/Gedo) vs. Naomichi Marufuji- 9.5/10
Yeah… so this one was pretty crazy. Both guys worked over the head and the neck, including one or two absolutely crazy spots. Marufuji targeted Okada’s Rainmaker arm earlier to try to weaken that move before joining Okada in just targeting the head and neck. The other story here was that Marufuji came prepared with about a bunch of different counters to the Rainmaker, almost all of which also targeted Okada’s head. Okada was a great babyface, fighting to stay in it while Marufuji was basically trying to knock him out with blows to the head. They did a fantastic job of making every move feel like it meant something. They kicked out of a lot of stuff, but it never once felt like they were going overboard (although Marufuji losing here and Okada kicking out of all of his stuff definitely seems to make NOAH feel like they really have no chance in this interpromotional feud that is just barely getting started).
An awesome show from New Japan. Between the mostly enjoyably undercard, some over-delivering matches in the middle, and an extremely strong top three, this is probably a contender for Show of the Year, but I’ll need to check back on my notes. Either way, go watch this show.