BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi, Leo Tonga, & Bad Luck Fale) vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI, & Sanada) - 4.5/10
They were having a fun match until the overbooked finish, which saw Hiromu use Darryl to taunt Fale, which for some reason made Fale angry but when Fale charged at him Hiromu grabbed the ref while BUSHI misted Fale in the face and then rolled him up. c
CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Toru Yano) vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.) (w/El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku) - 4/10
Can someone please make a gif for me of that spot where Suzuki and Zack each had one of Yano's arms in an armbar and Yano was screaming in pain?
I enjoyed this match when Goto was in and when Yano was being tortured by Suzuki-Gun. Yano managed to get another bullsh*t count-out win over Suzuki despite Suzuki's attempts to tie him up.
IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Funky Future (Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet)(c) vs. Roppongi 3K (Sho & Yoh) (w/Rocky Romero) - 7/10
Sho & Yoh's entrance and the little video they had were very well done... and this is coming from someone who generally can't stand anything involving Rocky Romero. They jumped the bell on Funky Future, so I guess they're heels? The match was great. The crowd was very into Sho and Yoh, and popped huge for their surprise victory. An excellent start to their "adult" careers for these two.
ELIMINATION MATCH FOR THE IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM TITLES:
K.E.S.(c) vs. War Machine vs. the Guerrillas of Destiny - 6.5/10
In an ironic twist, the Guerrillas of Destiny jumped K.E.S. from behind during their entrance. A taste of Suzuki-Gun's own medicine. The match was somewhere between a weapons match and a hoss fight, but the two parts didn't mesh as well as you would assume they would.
The Guerrillas of Destiny were eliminated first but then attacked the other two teams with weapons, so we were essentially starting at square one again. Why even have the Guerillas in the match, then? K.E.S. won when they hit their finish on Hanson... not really through a table so much as on top of it because the table collapsed rather than broke, which was probably very not fun for Hanson.
CHAOS (Trent Beretta, YOSHI-HASHI, & Jado) vs. BULLET CLUB (Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, & Marty Scurll) - 4/10
Three top heels making themselves look like total goofballs for three undercard jamokes.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI & TOGI MAKABE vs. KOTA IBUSHI & JUICE ROBINSON - 6.5/10
A nice win for Juice, but this didn't do much for me in terms of getting me excited to see Tanahashi vs. Ibushi.
IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
KUSHIDA(c) vs. Will Ospreay- 8/10
CATTLE MUTILATION! This match started out as a fun combination of cool, athletic moves and some work on the arm by KUSHIDA, but as the crowd started to turn on KUSHIDA (for no real reason), it just kind of turned into a bunch of heymakers. There were also quite a few spots here that... I'm not even sure what happened on. They didn't look bad by any stretch of the imagination- in fact, they looked extremely painful- but I have no idea exactly what they were trying to do, or if the result we got was, in fact, what they were trying to do. Ospreay winning was a nice surprise (although it felt quite abrupt), but it seems like it will lead to exactly what I was afraid would happen, which I will discuss in the review of the...
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - First Hiromu comes out and he wants a title shot. Then Scurll comes out and breaks Hiromu's finger and says that he wants a title shot. My fear is that we're going to wind up getting a big four-way for the belt at the Dome with these three and KUSHIDA. On the one hand, that match will be INSANE, but I'm afraid that knowing that it will be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser of a spotfest will mean that it is the match that will wind up getting shortchanged on time at the time (at least relative to how this title has been positioned). It also irks me a bit because this is exactly the sort of thing I have come to expect from Gedo regarding any division that isn't the heavyweight singles. The Jr. Heavyweight Division has a lot of great talent. Not just these four, but Ricochet, BUSHI, Desperado, Taguchi and Romero when they're being serious, and even Liger, Tiger Mask, and Kanemaru have proven themselves to be able to deliver when asked. I really don't want to see it become a cesspool of flip-flopping and hot-shotting the way the two tag divisions have become.
And, to be honest... I think these guys have earned themselves a second match at the Dome. Do Marty and KUSHIDA for the belt because that's the only big singles match KUSHIDA hasn't had yet, and do something like Ospreay vs. Hiromu vs. Ricochet for #1 contendership, too. It's the Tokyo Dome. It'd going to go a million hours anyway, and I'd rather see this than see a pointless tag match with Nagata, Nakanishi, Makabe, Izuka, Jado etc.
G1 BRIEFCASE MATCH:
Tetsuya Naito(c) vs. Tomohiro Ishii - 9.5/10
They had a great opening spot where Ishii was on the outside and Naito went to do a dive and my immediate reaction was to scoff and say "he's not going to do it. He's just doing to hit the ropes and do his pose." And apparently Ishii had the same though because he quickly ran back into the ring and hit Naito with a giant double axe handle when he did his pose.
These two tore the house down, beating on each other and working over each other's head and neck. And when I say "working over" I mean Ishii appeared to be legitimately chopping Naito in the throat. The match build wonderfully, and although I can see some people thinking they kicked out of too much, I thought those last ten minutes were fantastic.
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Kazuchika Okada(c) (w/Gedo) vs. EVIL - 7/10
Can EVIL get through a single match without using a chair? At least make sure the referee is distracted! Now the ref is trying to stop him from using a chair, which means that using a chair is illegal, so why didn't the ref call for a DQ? Now EVIL shoves the referee, then uses the chair anyway. HOW THE HELL DOES ALL OF THIS NOT WARRANT A DQ? Now f*cking Gedo is complaining to the referee about the lack of a DQ call. That has me infuriated in a very meta way.
I thought the first three quarters of this match were quite boring. Both guys worked the head, but it was WAY too slow and felt very redundant. It just like a bunch of strikes to the head. They heated up down the stretch, but not enough to make up for what had come before. It was acceptable as a main event for most companies, but for Okada defending the IWGP Heavyweight Title in 2017, this was a major disappointment.
This show feels like a better version of the show New Japan's buddies in ROH put on last month at Death Before Dishonor XV. It had some awesome stuff on the undercard, but my main takeaway at the end of the show was disappointment at the main event. This show was miles better than that one, as its worst stuff was nowhere near as bad as that show's and its best match was much better than that show's best match (although that show had a more consistently great undercard, DUD aside). In reality, this was a GREAT show from New Japan, but it once again goes to show that your main event can make or break the way people remember your show. One of the risks of having our world title defended so rarely is that the feelings of disappointment are magnified when the match doesn't deliver, and that is the main thing dragging this show down.