YOTA TSUJI vs. YUYA UEMURA - 6.5/10
More of these guys, please! This was a fun, competitive time-limit draw in a professional sporting contest.
SHOTA UMINO & REN NARITA vs. ROPPONGI 3K (w/Rocky Romero) - 4.75/10
JUSHIN "THUNDER" LIGER & TIGER MASK IV vs. SUZUKI-GUN (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) - 3/10
Suzuki-Gun jumped the babyfaces from behind on their way to the ring. They do every illegal thing in the book while the referee impotently shouts at them to stop and then starts to count but then stops after four to start yelling at them to stop again. It got better by the end, but did we really have to start this match with all of that stupid, pointless bullsh*t? Is it in their contracts that they have to make the referees look completely ineffective and stupid in every single match? The babyfaces won, so that sets them up for a title shot. Hopefully they'll win the belts, and then Kanemaru & El Desperado will go away for a while.
TOGI MAKABE, TOMOAKI HONMA, AYATO YOSHIDA, & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI vs. HIROYOSHI TENZAN, SATOSHI KOJIMA, YUJI NAGATA, & MANABU NAKANISHI - 4/10
BEST FRIENDS vs. KILLER ELITE SQUAD - 7/10
A great big dudes vs. smaller dudes tag match with many chokeslams by Archer, and chokeslams always make me happy. This felt like a big win for Best Friends, but they really should have found some other way to do it than to have a Suzuki-Gun tag team lose to a crucifix roll-up for the second time in three matches.
TOA HENARE, JUICE ROBINSON, & DAVID FINLAY JR. vs. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, 7 Will Ospreay) - 6.75/10
I want to see Henare in next year's G1.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku, & Zack Sabre Jr.) - 4.5/10
Suzuki-Gun jump the bell on their opponents. Armbar over the ropes, spill to the outside, chairshots without a DQ, choke the guy with the chair. Basically, they had the same boring undercard match I've been watching LIJ have with various members of Suzuki-Gun for six months now. Zack and EVIL were great together, but I never want to see anyone else in this match even touch each other again.
IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL MATCH:
KUSHIDA vs. BUSHI - 8/10
A four-man tournament? That's SOOOO lame, New Japan! Why not do an eight-man tournament? You've had the time to do it with all of these Destruction shows, and AT WORST you could have probably asked CMLL or RevPro to host one of the matches (or even wXw, who I'm sure would have been thrilled to do so. ROH didn't actually have anything booked between the beginning of September and King of Pro Wrestling that wasn't a PPV or TV taping). You've certainly got the talent for it. KUSHIDA, Ospreay, BUSHI, Ishimori, Desperado, Taguchi, Kanemaru, Dragon Lee. Imagine THAT tournament. Also, imagine the emotion that you would see in BUSHI vs. Dragon Lee! SOOOO many interesting booking possibilities, too! Do you have BUSHI go over Dragon Lee for the emotional finals win? Does Dragon Lee win the belt and run through the division until Hiromu is ready to come back? Do you have BUSHI get angry and get himself DQed against Dragon Lee trying to take revenge for Hiromu by trying to break Dragon Lee's neck, setting off a blood-feud that can blow off at either the Tokyo Dome or FantasticaMania? So many possibilities!
KUSHIDA worked the arm and head while BUSHI worked over KUSHIDA's torso. Additionally, they did a lot of spots that played off of their match for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title on this very tour two years ago, but that necessitated BUSHI being a total heel, which feels like a real waste of potential when you consider the circumstances of the title being vacated (as I noted at above). Also fitting into that category is the fact that BUSHI lost here. It has been well established at this point that BUSHI is not a top guy in the division, and with the likes of Ospreay, KUSHIDA, Hiromu, Ishimori, Scurll, and others all either sticking around or in the pipeline, he probably never will be. But this is one moment where him winning would make for an excellent emotional story... and Gedo still can't treat him as anything but a jobber to the stars. The match was still awesome, but it's another one of those "Gedo knows how to make match-ups and protect people and moves, not book actual stories" moments.
G1 BRIEFCASE MATCH:
Hiroshi Tanahashi(c) vs. Kazuchika Okada - a PERFECT 10/10!
No Gedo in Okada's corner tonight. Odd.
This was a masterwork of selling, building the story of your match around certain moves, and how to make a match feel just plain epic. You're definitely going to want to want this one yourself so I won't say much about the actual spots or story other than what I have already said, but just know that I think it's pretty safe to say that this match is going to be slotted pretty close to the top of the pantheon of Okada vs. Tanahashi matches.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Very good. Jay White attacked Tanahashi, setting him up as the next guy for Tanahashi to defend the briefcase again. He started to stomp away on Okada as well, and beat up the young-boys who tried to stop him. I would say that this means that he's going to be kicked out of CHAOS, but they still tolerate Yano, who hits them below the belt to win G1 matches, so you know never know. If we're being honest, White's selfish behavior during the G1 (and also his cheating to beat Okada) should have at least gotten him a talking to, but we have no indication that that ever happened, either.
Jay White attacks Rocky Romero so he can take his chair. Finally someone from CHAOS gets up off of their lazy ass to help out their leader. It's YOSHI-HASHI, who is apparently the only one who gives enough of a sh*t about Okada to make the save. I guess Tananashi was barking up the wrong tree when he singled out YOSHI-HASHI as a recruitment target.
White deals with YOSHI-HASHI, but then Gedo comes out to make the save... but it's a Russo Swerve and Gedo just hits Okada with the chair anyway.
Booking-wise, this really feels like the best thing they could have done for Jay White, but the fact that White will have to face Tanahashi for the briefcase before he faces Okada means that White is being given this big impact-making moment... and then immediately going to lose. I'd expect Okada vs. White to take place at the Tokyo Dome (they won't do it, but an "if Okada wins he gets five minutes with Gedo" stipulation would make the most sense there), which means that we're probably not going to get any real advancement in this story for months. Prepare yourself for months of pointless tag team matches.
A fine show from New Japan. The undercard was the usual frustrating pointlessness, with one or two nice little bright spots in the opener and the Best Friends vs. K.E.S. match, but part of the show that was designed to deliver- the top two matches- definitely did. BUSHI vs. KUSHIDA was awesome and Okada vs. Tanahashi was... well, it was Okada vs. Tanahashi, and that's all you should need to know about it. Throw in the big storyline segment afterwards and you've got a show that was certainly worth seeing (though if you're strapped for time, just watch the top two matches).