NJPW Destruction in Kobe 2017
By Big Red Machine
From September 24, 2017
HIROYOSHI TENZAN & HIRAI KAWATO vs. TOMOYUKI OKA & KATSUYA KITAMURA - 4/10
TOGI MAKABE, JUSHIN "THUNDER" LIGER, RICOCHET, RYUSUKE TAGUCHI, & TIGER MASK IV vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Taichi, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Takashi Iizuka, & TAKA Michinoku) - 3.75/10
Same old sh*t.
CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) - 4.25/10
YUJIRO TAKAHASHI vs. TRENT BERETTA - 7.5/10
This was a GREAT match that I really hope Gedo takes notice of. Not necessary for the workrate (although it was a great match and both men deserve credit for that), but because I think more of these little mini-feuds or important but still very much undercard singles matches would really help the product feel less stale. They took Yujiro, who hasn't done anything in a year, and took Trent, a guy making a transition to a higher weight class but will almost certainly have nothing to do for a while, and they spent a mere one tour crafting a story for them that made me care about Trent's foray into the heavyweight division, as opposed to my initial reaction to the announcement that he would now be a heavyweight, which was that he was going to get completely lost in the shuffle and have no possible upward mobility and it would make more sense for the company to just stop using him. These sorts of stories are going to be essential to keeping the product feel like things are moving along, especially if they are trying to cut down on the number of IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Title matches that aren't on the biggest shows.
In addition to this, it also added some meaning to some undercard matches throughout the tour. A story like this, or something like Elgin squashing Iizuka in a singles match to get him back on track for another shot at Suzuki at Power Struggle would be a great way to give some meaning to some of the undercard matches on New Japan's big shows, make the overall stories feel more fleshed out, and allow some of the undercard guys to contribute something meaningful to the company besides their almost completely interchangeable bodies (did you even notice that Nagata and Nakahishi, weren't on this show or the last big Destruction show? Or that Kojima wasn't even on this whole tour?)
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
War Machine(c) vs. The Guerillas of Destiny vs. K.E.S. - 7.5/10
They made this match different from the previous two these teams have had on this tour by focusing a lot more on two-on-two action rather than the usual chaotic three-way stuff. K.E.S. won the belts because that is the only thing they could have done to make things feel even remotely fresh.
KOTA IBUSHI & DAVID FINLAY JR. vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI & MICHAEL ELGIN - 8/10
A fun, exciting tag team match. Tanahashi and Ibushi got me hyped up for their match, Elgin was his usual great self and busted out some new stuff, and Finlay didn't look at all out of place in the ring with three of the company's top stars.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, & BUSHI) vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Rocky Romero, & Toru Yano) - 6.5/10
There was some very good stuff in here (mostly between Ishii and Naito but also Ishii and BUSHI), but a lot of this match was also a lot of the various idiosyncrasies of these guys that I find frustrating. Others will likely enjoy this match a lot more than I did.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Hiromu Takahashi & EVIL) vs. CHAOS (Will Ospreay & Kazuchika Okada) (w/Gedo) - 8.25/10
Aside from them being on the outside for a long time and there not being a DQ for EVIL throwing a chair into Okada's face, this match was awesome, with Ospreay in particular standing out. I am quite excited for both of these match-ups at next month's King of Pro Wrestling!
Wait? What's that, you say? They're just giving Ospreay the title shot for pinning Hiromu here? This seems like a major missed opportunity to me. Why not have one of the Suzuki-Gun guys (Kanemaru!) pin KUSHIDA in a tag match earlier in the tour tag match to set up KUSHIDA's next challenger (as well as a future challenger for the ROH TV Title, perhaps during next month's Global Wars tour?) and put some real focus on the Jr. Heavyweights by having a big #1 contendership match on one of the biggest shows of the year?
IWGP US HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Kenny Omega(c) vs. Juice Robinson - 9.25/10
Kenny Omega does it again. Juice worked over the knee that Omega recently had surgery on while Omega worked over Juice's neck with lots of Dragon Suplexes and other crazy bumps. Speaking of crazy bumps, this match had quite a large number of them, but they always did an excellent job of milking as much drama out of them as possible, both before and after the bump.
An awesome show from New Japan, MUCH better than the previous two big shows on this tour. While the undercard was weak, the top of the card more than made up for it, and they seem to have learned their lesson and moved away from the overbooking that killed the first show. King of Pro Wrestling is coming up soon, and this has gotten me quite excited for it.