Yuya Uemura vs Yota Tsuji - 6.5/10
The best rivalry from 2018 continues with neither man being able to defeat the other, I think this is about match 15 or 16. This was just another great match between the two, considerably better than your usual Young Lion match. They worked both submissions and strikes, all basics of wrestling, when well used, can make for a great fight. The day either man gets a win, it's gonna be huge.
Roppongi 3K w/Rocky Romero vs Shota Umino & Ren Narita - 6.5/10
This was a really good match, Umino and Narita worked really well together as a team and they got a lot of offense in. The match really picked up at the end when the Young Lions got a pair of Crabs on SHO and YOH and proceeded to get a bunch of great near falls. Finish saw RPG take out Umino with a double jumping knee, SHO took him out, inside the ring, YOH hit a Falcon Arrow on Narita for the win.
Jyushin 'Thunder' Liger & Tiger Mask vs Suzuki-Gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado) - 6.5/10
Despy and Kanemaru jumped the old timers during their entrance mid ramp, and they went with the usual SZKG brawl outside the ring, and I guess at least this way, all the cheating is legal, at least until Kanemaru dragged Tiger inside the ring to take off his mask. They worked on Tiger for a while until he made a good comeback and got Liger in. Liger came in strong, he took on both men but tagged himself out quickly tho, and once again, SZKG had some control over Tiger Mask, getting some good near falls out of it. Surprisingly, finish saw Tiger hit a Crucifix Pin, and actually get the 3 count!
Post-match - Tiger grabbed the tag titles, Liger cut a promo making a challenge for the tag titles! I've been hoping for a nostalgia run for these guys for years, but I just don't see it happening, I would be happy if they had it from KOPW to Power Struggle. I just don't see them going into WK with the titles.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi, and Yuji Nagata vs Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Ayato Yoshida - 5.5/10
Sometimes in hoss fights, we say that the combined weight in the ring is such and such, well, here, the combined age in the ring could likely surpass the Edo and Meiji Periods. Yoshida is really starting to look like the illegitimate son of KENTA and Go Shiosaki .
This was a fun match, everyone got their shtick in at one point or another, and while you still had Tenzan or Nakanishi in there, we also had Nagata, Kojima, Taguchi, Makabe, and Yoshida putting in the workrate. Honma, maybe given the speed these guys wrestle at, seemed the most comfortable I've seen him since his return. Last two in the ring were Nagata and Yoshida, they had a good striking exchange until Nagata killed him off with a High Angle Backplex for the win.
Killer Elite Squad vs Best Friends - 7.5/10
Archer is not doing his old water entrance, I wonder if complains happened. This match was A LOT better than I expected to be honest, K.E.S. were in there just trying to look as intense as they could, the match was all action.
Initially, K.E.S. went for the SZKG brawl that ended with Archer and Smith working over Beretta a lot with some big impact moves. Taylor came in for the hot tag and went at it with Smith, this was zero shtick Chuckie T, he was all business tonight. They fought on until Beretta came in again and they stared doing several double team moves on each other, at this point the match is back and forward, pretty much Tornado Rules. We started getting some near falls, K.E.S. got a great one after a Hart Attack on Beretta. Finish saw Archer kill Beretta with a huge Chokeslam for a near fall, K.E.S. followed with the Killer Bomb, but as Archer pins him, Beretta reverses it into a Crucifix and gets the upset win over Archer. This was really similar to how Tiger won, so I wasn't sure why do two finishes so similar to each other, but it seems that this feud may build into something, especially as we head into the World Tag League. If the Bucks retain until then, I can totally see K.E.S. taking the league.
CHAOS ("Switchblade' Jay White, YOSHI-HASHI & Will Ospreay) vs Juice Robinson, David Finlay, & Toa Henare - 6.5/10
Match started with YH taking on the whole Robinson team for a while, I was starting to wonder who was the babyface team here if YH was the babyface in peril, he got his arm worked on. Ospreay eventually came in and he was just all over the place, amazing execution at whatever he did, he straight up took control of the match.
Eventually Juice and White got tagged in and they did their thing, with YH and Ospreay jumping in at points for Juice to take them out. Juice then tagged Henare in who got a good near fall after a great spear on White. Finish saw White accidentally take out YH, and while Henare tried to get advantage, White took him out with the Blade Runner for the win.
It was raelly interesting seeing Ospreay and White tag together, because in a way, they're the same, they're the new gaijing blood of CHAOS, and while one is a babyface and the other a heel, they both have in one way or another, challenged the establishment on top of CHAOS. If or whenever CHAOS implodes, I can totally see them staying on the same side.
Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr, & TAKA Michinoku) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, & SANADA) - 7/10
SANADA has a t-shirt of Kinnikuman as himself! I need that in my life. Suzuki and Naito have been feuding pretty much all year, but this particular match is to build EVIL vs Sabre, who I'm guessing will finally collide at King of Pro Wrestling.
Match started with SANADA and TAKA in the ring while the rest brawled outside the ring, but this brawl did eventually take out EVIL and SANADA enough so that SZKG took control of the match and Naito, working on his arm. Eventually Naito came back and had a little thing with Suzuki before they both got EVIL and Sabre in to do their thing. As usual, Sabre was a Spider Monkey Octopus hybrid, while EVIL just tried to overpower himself out of everything. TAKA got tagged in and at this point everyone got involved hitting big moves and breaking near falls. Last two were TAKA and EVIL, who got out of a Michinoku Driver and hit the STO for the win. Suzuki killed a bunch of Young Lions as he left LIJ to celebrate in the ring. As they walked out, Naito also killed one of the Young Lions for no reason whatsoever.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship Tournament Semifinal
KUSHIDA vs BUSHI - 8/10
BUSHI had a great entrance attire for this match, I just wanted him to win due to it, his outer mask had a white native american head dress and he wore a nice gray suit.
This was a slow paced match with both guys going more for submissions and strikes than anything else. KUSHIDA worked over BUSHI's arm, while BUSHI was mostly trying to choke out KUSHIDA at first, but consequently working KUSHIDA's head and torso heading into the MX. BUSHI had control at first, but KUSHIDA made a small comeback that lead to him hitting a big superplex to even things out.
They started going for strikes, but BUSHI landed a standing MX, or a normal Codebreaker I guess, he followed it with a dive that KUSHIDA caught and turned it into an arm bar outside the ring. Back in the ring, both escalated the intensity of their moves as they started chasing their finishers. KUSHIDA countered an MX into a Hoverboard Lock, and to get out, BUSHI pulled the ref and used the opening to hit the Green Myst on KUSHIDA for a near fall. As BUSHI goes for MX, KUSHIDA blocks it and hits a blind Back to the Future twice for the pin. This was a good match, but it also never kicked in to second gear as it felt it was going into and we know both guys can.
Wrestle Kingdom's IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match Right On the Line
"Ace'" Hiroshi Tanahashi (C) vs "Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada - 9.5/10
Crowd sounds to be completely behind Tanahashi tonight. The story going in is that Tanahashi hasn't been able to defeat Okada in well over a year, even though Okada is 'broken' right now, he only managed to get a draw in their G1 match, so his WK title shot is on the line; on the other hand, Okada hasn't fully recovered from losing the IWGP title and now as WK comes closer, he finds himself out of title contention on the biggest show of the year, which he has done for the last 6 years.
So given the story, this match had Tanahashi play a bit of the underdog going against Okada. From early on, Okada started working on Tanahashi's leg in a really vicious manner, perfectly complemented with Tanhashi's amazing selling. Tanahashi made a small comeback that hurt Okada a bit, but Okada eventually got control again and kept his vicious work of Tanahshi's leg. Both men end up outside the ring and Tanahashi finally makes a comeback that is worth it as he hits Okada with a Tombstone, and instead of waiting for the countout, he lands a big High Fly Flow to Okada's head.
Back inside the ring, Tanahashi is all momentum, he hits some Slingblades, but Okada counters the HFF. Both men start chasing their big moves, they reverse each other on Tombstones before getting into a strike fest that Okada wins. They go back into seeking the finish, they reverse Rainmakers, Tombstones, and they both keep hurting each other's legs. Tanahashi lands a perfect HFF, but can't pin Okada out of pain in the knee, so he loses important seconds that give Okada the chance to kick out. Okada finally dropkicks Tana during a HFF getting the opening to hit the Tombstone and Discus Rainmaker, and as he is going for the proper Rainmaker, TAnahashi reverses into a Dragon Suplex for a huge near fall. Okada went for a Tombstone from the second rope, but Tana got out of it and landed a really interesting HFF into a distance similar to the Tree of Woe position, that's true talent to measure it out and landed properly. Tanahashi follows with two more High Fly Flows and for the first time in years, Tanahashi has finally defeated Okada again. Okada and Tanahashi have done it again, will there ever be a time when these two don't have a classic?
Post-match - Jay White comes down and attacks Tanahashi, making his intentions obvious that he wants a shot at the briefcase since he has a win over Tanahashi from the G1. He then turns his attack towards Okada! He's stomping him out, go gets a chair and in the process takes out Rocky Romero, another CHAOS guy. Eventually YOSHI-HASHI runs down and the dumbass falls head first into the steps and busts himself open, but he still gets in there and completes his attack, but White also takes him out as YH distracts himself checking in on Okada. Finally, Gedo comes out and takes the chair away from White, giving Okada time to get to his feet and confront White, but behind his back Gedo TURNS ON OKADA! White kills off Okada and poses with the briefcase.
Gedo cuts a promo for White making the intentions clear, White is going for Tanahashi's briefcase!
It's really nice timing for what seems to be a break up of CHAOS of some sorts. Not only does it come while Okada is as his weakest, but as I mentioned before, CHAOS is right now divided into old timer Japanese and a bunch of new gaijins. Gedo's betrayal is also nicely done since it was Okada that decided to end their relationship and now Gedo gets to brag that it was all him that took Okada from a new kid to becoming the best wrestler/champion in the company, he gets to show that with him, Tanahashi couldn't beat Okada, and as soon as Okada booted Gedo, Tana won.
This also plays out with some reference to older stories, not only in the sense that once again, Gedo is getting behind a young up and comer that is hungry to step over everyone to become the best, but this is also really similar to how many years ago, a young Nakamura betrayed Makabe (on commentary for this angle!) and created CHAOS out of the group that left Great Bash Heel.
Behind the scenes, but YH was stretchered out, so maybe that hit to the head really knocked him out bad. He was bleeding a lot.
A good show for NJPW, not a lot of classics, but consistently good matches top to bottom, and ending with a great match and a really solid angle. Destruction tour is usually known for being kinda bad wrestling wise since a lot of guys are still hurting from the G1 and it's really just a build for King of Pro Wrestling, but I can't complain about this show.