TAKA & Taichi Produce TAKATAICHIMANIA
By Big Red Machine
From January 23, 2018
DINOSAUR TAKUMA, KOTARO YOSHINO, & MARINES MASK vs. AYUMU HONDA, KYU MOGAMI, & TANK NAGAI - 4.75/10
Yoshino did goofy comedy, then we got some decent wrestling, with one or two really good spots towards the end. One was a crazy reversal of a big lariat into an armbar, and another was one of those spots where you had two guys trying to run across the ring with a third guy in the middle who had to avoid both of them but everyone was supposed to be kind of confused by where the other was and they managed to pull it off flawlessly.
AYAME SASAMURA & BAMBI vs. KOHARU HINATA & SAORI ANOU - 4.25/10
This is the second straight match where we've got at least one babyface whose gimmick is to randomly start dancing, and the dances are very similar. Not much creativity here, which is shocking considering that the last match featured a dude whose gear had a tail (hint: it was the dude whose first name is "Dinosaur"). The match was meh.
GO ASAKAWA, TAISHI TAKIZAWA, & YOSHITATSU vs. HIKARU SATO & SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) - 6/10
Suzuki-Gun and their new friend jump the bell on their opponents. Suzuki was a total badass here with that sequence of leg locks on different guys. That referee had better hope Suzuki never watches this match back because if Suzuki sees the goofy way he reacted to Suzuki slapping him behind Suzuki's back, he won't survive the week. The finishing sequence here was rather fun.
JUN KASAI vs. TAKASHI IIZUKA- 6/10
Apparently this was a deathmatch because the referee just let them use all of this deathmatch type of stuff. This deathmatch ended in a no contest when the ring crew ran in to break thing sup (after the referee had failed on his own twice) when it became clear they were intent on murdering each other with a razor blade. I don't like deathmatches much, but this is about the only thing these two guys can do at this point. This was the best match Iizuka has had since the Steiners beat the sh*t out of him in 1992.
KAJI TOMATO & TAKA MICHINOKU vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) - 6.75/10
TETSUYA NAITO vs. TAICHI (w/Miho Abe & TAKA Michinoku) - 8/10
This was a WEIRD match. Basically, their thought process going in seemed to be that the crowd here would be like an American pro-Bullet Club crowd where the fans are just there to see Bullet Club going their special Bullet Club spots so they cheer for those spots and cheer for Bullet Club regardless of whether they are supposed to be babyfaces or heels. These guys tried to take that to the next level by laying out the match so that Naito was the one in the structural role of heel even though Taichi was doing all of the cheating because they figured that the crowd would pop all of Taichi's signature stuff no matter what. As a result, we got a shine built around the supposed babyface using dog and pony show cheating heel tactics to get the advantage on the "heel" rather than the usual mode of outwrestling him. Naito then cut him off for the heat by wrestling completely cleanly (albeit aggressively) and by spitting at Taichi's interfering entourage.
This was made even weirder by the fact that they were a bit off in their prediction of how the crowd would behave, so instead we got a crowd that was about 40% for Taichi, 40% for Naito, and 20% being quiet because they didn't quite know what to make of it. Once Taichi made his clean comeback (although there was one for cheating spot for a false finish afterwards) the rest of the crowd started to get more into it and it turned into something along the lines of a 55-45 split in favor of Naito.
The finish was also a little weird, as Naito hit Destino and went for a pin, but had all of his wait on Taichi's stomach rather than his shoulders (it even looked like he was doing it on purpose) so Taichi got the shoulder up, but then Naito immediately hit a second Destino and made a proper cover for the win. This felt like it went against the idea that they seem to be building up in New Japan (and a bit here earlier on as well, with Naito completely ignoring Miho Abe hanging all over him during his entrance and just staring at Taichi) that after his loss at the Tokyo Dome, Naito is 100% focused on winning during his matches rather than doing his usual cocky routine. Other than that one little issue (and the chairshot right in front of the referee that didn't result in a DQ), this did get quite exciting in the last ten minutes of so, and the story of each guy working the other's head was told very well. If you're one of those people who thinks the New Japan top guys wrestle two man singles matches in their own little bubble and don't interact with enough other wrestlers, you'll probably want to check this match out.
This show was pretty much what you'd expect it to be going in: a bunch of blah undercard matches and a main event where they two wrestlers would try really hard to have an awesome match (Taichi to prove that the can still have one and Naito to show that he can carry someone like Taichi to an awesome match). There are certainly worse ways you can spend one hour and fifty-two minutes, but there are many, many, many better ways you could spent that time, too.