TENZAN HAS A MESSAGE FOR IIZUKA - He vows that they will team together again. While on the one hand I like the idea of redeeming Iizuka before his retirement, on the other hand he has been so bad for so long that I have no desire to like him or see him become a babyface. I just want him to go away. I don't want to see him team with Teznan one final time; I want to see him get mauled by the Steiner Brothers one final time.
HIROYOSHI TENZAN, SATOSHI KOJIMA, & JUSHIN "THUNDER" LIGER vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku, & Takashi Iizuka) - 4.25/10
Iizuka charged at Tenzan so we started off brawling. Standard Suzuki-Gun stuff happened, then some decent stuff happened, then we went to the finish. Based on what the finish was, I should maybe be rating this as a segment, but it went too long (almost thirteen minutes) and I liked the Suzuki vs. Kojima stuff too much to just rate this as a segment.
Said finish saw Suzuki decide that he wanted to hit Tenzan with a chair because Tenzan tried to recruit Iizuka away from him via an old t-shirt from their tag team. The referee tried to stop Suzuki but Suzuki kicked him, which is apparently not a disqualification. Suzuki went to hit Tenzan with the chair but Iizuka stopped him. Iizuka took the chair away from Suzuki... and then just hit Tenzan right in the face himself, which apparently is a DQ even though an earlier chairshot was not.
Believe it or not, the Russo Swerve aspect of this doesn't bother me, simply because based on what I've seen over the past five years, I completely believe that Takashi Iizuka is a rabid subhuman monster who is not actually capable of human speech and thus had no way to communicate to Suzuki that he wanted to be the one to hit Tenzan with the chair other than taking it away from Suzuki. As far as setting up for a match at Iizuka's retirement show later this month, this (and the post-match beat-down that included and Iron Fingers shot as well) were executed very well, and this was a nice little expectation-subverting surprise that still allows the Iizuka-Tenzan story to finish off in a logical and theoretically heated way. I say "theoretically" because while the point of an angle is to make me want to see the resulting match, but by the time they got around to the angle the damage had already been done and I had seen enough of Iizuka wrestling to remind me why I wish his retirement show would have taken place several years ago.
AYATO YOSHIDA & SHOTA UMINO vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Sanada & EVIL) - 5.75/10
This was solid enough for what it was. Props are due to Kevin Kelly talking up the idea of an upset as something with real consequences before the match, which made the possibility of an upset feel a little bit more real during the match.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, & BUSHI) vs. SUZUKI-GUN (El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, & Taichi) - 4/10
BUSHI becomes the second former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion to wear venom-inspired entrance attire (Prince Devitt was the first).
The match began when Naito, like an idiot, got in the ring right between all three members of Suzuki-Gun and turned his back to them, only to get hit in the head with Taichi's microphone stand. They're Suzuki-Gun. They're going to jump the bell on you, so why the hell would you make it easier on them?
Standard Suzuki-Gun bullsh*t happened, leading to the Count-Out Tease That No One Ever Buys(TM). The heels got the heat on Naito, and Taichi ripped off some of Naito's medical tape. The match was meh. LIJ won.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Roppongi 3K want a shot at the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles so they attacked LIJ. So are they heels now even though they're still in babyface CHAOS? LIJ accepted their challenge. Based on the last tour we saw Roppongi Vice on, they're going to lose unless they show up in their old CMLL gimmicks.
TOMOAKI HONMA & YOSHI-HASHI vs. BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) - 5.25/10
The bell ring... and of course we cut away to the announcers, because Gedo hates, me and is trying to give me an aneurysm. Honma's head got worked over and he got pinned by Chase Owens.
KOTA IBUHSI PROMO - He is going to be in the New Japan Cup, and is going to stay in NJPW rather than sign with AEW.
TOGI MAKABE & TORU YANO vs. GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY (w/Jado) - 5.75/10
The Guerrillas of Destiny attacked Makabe & Yano on their way to the ring. They got into the ring so that the bell could ring, and then a minute later they were back on the outside forever without being counted out. This built to the Count-Out Tease That No One Ever Buys(TM), because apparently it was necessary to do that in this match, too.
If you were wondering where all of that "Tama Tonga is trying to be good" crap that led to him "snapping" last night was going, he is now back to being his same old self. The announcers are claiming that he is "a more violent Tama Tonga than we had ever seen before" but I saw no real sign of that here. So basically Gedo had his heels act like idiots for two months to set up ZERO CHANGE.
Heat on Yano, hot tag to Makabe, etc. We eventually got what I realized was the first time in quite a while that I've had to type the phrase "Stupid Yano Tricks," so props to him for learning how to not do the same stupid "comedy" spots in every match. He's still an unlikable cheating asshole, but at least now I don't think he's mentally damaged as well.
The Guerrillas of Destiny won after a Kendo stick shot from Jado, plus a Gun Stun from Tama Tonga. Yano got beaten with the Kendo stick after the match. As did the ringpost. The last time Tama Tonga started doing terrible things, NJPW officials stepped up and ordered the rules very strictly enforced on him. Will that happen again? We'll have to wait and see (but if it doesn't, it's more evidence that Gedo sucks at telling logical stories).
IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Taiji Ishimori(c) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi - 8/10
Ishimori worked the head and neck while Taguchi worked the leg. Taguchi was Serious Taguchi here so the match was awesome. Ishimori sold really well, and the last few minutes were extremely exciting.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Ishimori calls out LIGER!
KAZUCHIKA OKADA vs. BAD LUCK FALE (w/Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) - 7.75/10
Okada charged right at Fale before the bell to start things off hot. The heels on the outside got involved to help Fale get the heat, and later to just pile onto it when Fale was already firmly in control. While this was happening, Fale was distracting the referee. See? It's not that hard to do this sh*t right!
The stories here were the outside interference (culminating in YOSHI-HASHI running out to counter them), Fale working over Okada's back, and the size difference between them. These two are great together, so the match was great.
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Hiroshi Tanahashi(c) vs. Jay White (w/Gedo) - 8.75/10
Both guys worked the knee, while Tanahashi did an excellent job of neutralizing Gedo as well. They sold wonderfully, there was wonderful drama, and a completely awesome finish (even if it didn't involve any sort of work on the knee). This was an AWESOME match and you should definitely go watch it.
This was a very good show from New Japan. Parts of the undercard were more useful than usual, and all of the hyped matches delivered. The main event is definitely worth going out of your way to see as well, so it's definitely a thumbs up show, but the pointlessness (and, at this point in the tour, repetitiveness) of some of the undercard matches dragged the show down a bit.