MICHAEL ELGIN & YOTA TSUJI vs. BLUE JUSTICE (Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi) - 3.5/10
TOGI MAKABE, HIROYOSHI TENZAN, SATOSHI KOJIMA, & REN NARITA vs. BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, Hikuleo, & Taiji Ishimori) (w/Jado) - 4/10
The match itself was completely bland, but the commentary...
On commentary, Rocky Romero accused Chase Owens of not being funny. When it comes to not being funny, I would definitely trust Rocky's judgement, as he definitely comes off like an expert in that field. Speaking of commentators not being funny, Kevin Kelly MADE A JOKE ABOUT FANS TRYING MOVES AT HOME ON THEIR SIBLINGS. This was the worst of it, but suffice it to say that the commentary on this match was an utterly terrible mix of failed jokes and not showing the proper emotion when the heels were cheating. That Kevin Kelly somehow won the Observer's award for Best Television Announcer exposes just how ridiculous Dave and his readership's pro-NJPW bias is.
SHOTA UMINO & HIROOKI GOTO vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) - 6/10
Umino was an excellent babyface in peril.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Sanada, EVIL, & BUSHI) vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) - -3.5/10
Suzuki-Gun jumped the bell on their opponents. They predictably wound up on the outside, where Kevin Kelly launched into his atrocious "Hey! Come on now! Stop doing that" ineffective scolding voice (you know... the one that makes him sound like a teacher who has absolutely zero control over his students) to excoriate DBSJ for beating EVIL up in front of a child in the first row who Kevin claims is a big fan of EVIL's. Well what the f*ck would you like him to do, Kevin? Do you want to him to stop throwing punches every time the brawl moves in front of a child to ask that child if they like his opponent and then take the extra time to drag him away if the answer is yes?
I don't even understand what impulse would compel an announcer to say something that f*cking stupid. It's a G-d damn Suzuki-Gun match. Give them five seconds and I'm sure they'll cheat and give you a real reason to be upset. You don't need to make up reasons why the fans should be angry that them.
Case in point: Two seconds later Kevin began to complain about a fishhook. And, of course, he did it in that exact same stupid tone. He even literally said "Hey! You can't fishhook a man!"
And two seconds after that Suzuki picked up one of those big metal barricades and hit Sanada with it. Though instead of being outraged by this cheating, Kevin called it "heavy damage" in an excited voice, as if there was nothing wrong with it. There is no way that many people could have possibly voted for Kevin Kelly. Maybe Meltzer doesn't realize that Nailz is doing commentary for some small indy and these people think he's really good at it. Or maybe they're confusing him with Don Callis. Or maybe they're all from Japan and voted for Shinpei Nogami but there ballots were in Japanese and Kevin Kelly is what came out when Dave put it through Google Translate.
While this is all happening, the referee is walking around thinking about pie or whatever it is that these New Japan referees do during Suzuki-Gun brawls instead of actually doing their jobs.
Speaking of not doing their jobs, let's go back to the announcers, who are making fun of BUSHI for some inside reason or another. Turns out it wasn't just Steve Corino that was the problem. If you put anyone more interested in getting themselves over than getting the match over on commentary with Kevin, he just plays the f*ck along, happily dragging the match down.
We get back in the ring and Taichi is blatantly choking EVIL in the corner. The referee, apparently now remembering his numbers, counts "ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!" Taichi doesn't stop his illegal chokehold in the corner after four so the referee... just tugs at his leg. Taichi still doesn't break the hold, so the referee... begins to count "ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!" Yes, really.
Taichi eventually stops, only to go to a different illegal tactic (and he still hasn't actually backed off of an opponent in the ropes the way you are supposed to). The referee counts to count again and Taichi stops. I'm not sure why he stopped this time when the referee has clearly shown that he won't call for a DQ no matter what Suzuki-Gun do. And just in case you were thinking that Tacihi stopped because he didn't want to push matters with the referee, after he stopped trying to gouge at EVIL's eye, he hopped down from the turnbuckle, and shoved the referee down. Still no DQ.
Then he threatened to stomp on the referee. Still no DQ. Now Suzuki is grabbing the referee by the collar. Still no DQ. Now Suzuki is shoving the referee and stopping him from going over and yelling at Taichi and DBSJ for choking EVIL with their boots across his neck while he's in the corner. STILL NO DQ.
Suzuki toys with EVIL which lets hit get some shots off, forearm exchange, blah blah blah. Every Suzuki-Gun undercard match ever.
We then get the stupid, overdone spot where the guy blocks the kick then whips the leg at the referee who catches it, trapping the opponent so the wrestler can hit his own kick. Rocky Romero made a joke about the referee joining LIJ, while Kevin Kelly casually replied that he just thinks all of the referees are anti-Suzuki-Gun.
1. Instead of trying to explain this spot to the viewer in a way that makes it not seem stupid, Rocky decided it was best to make a joke that the referee was biased in favor of the babyfaces.
2. Kevin Kelly, the lead babyface announcer, seemed to have absolutely no problem with the referees not being impartial.
3. Over just the past few minutes I have counted SEVEN separate offenses that the referee clearly saw for which Suzuki-Gun should have been disqualified but were not. Suzuki-Gun getting away with things that should have been DQs is something that usually occurs multiple times on each New Japan show, and count-out rules are bent to their benefit on a regular basis. To imply- especially after everything we have seen in this match alone- that the referees are biased against Suzuki-Gun is completely f*cking ridiculous.
4. While the announcers were making their stupid jokes, they ignored the fact that EVIL made a hot tag, which is one of the most pivotal moments in any tag team match.
F*ck this sh*t. You assholes are getting muted.
After that we got a few minutes of decent wrestling, but the match was already so far in the toilet it would have taken something special to climb out. Suzuki touched part of EVIL's light-up scythe after the match, so Sanada brawled with him. Whatever. Isn't the tournament enough of an angle? You don't need to do an angle every time you've got Suzuki-Gun or Bullet Club facing off against a babyface. It works if you do it once in a while but doing it so often makes it feel obligatory to the point where it doesn't mean anything.
KOTA IBUSHI & TOMOAKI HONMA vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Zack Sabre Jr. & TAKA Michinoku) - 4.5/10
COLT CABANA, TOMOHIRO ISHII, RYUSUKE TAGUCHI, & JUICE ROBINSON vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI, TOA HENARE, & CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano) - 6.5/10
Tanahashi and Taguchi had some good sequences together. Juice got the win, pinning Henare.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Fine. Chase Owens attacks Juice to get some heat for the eventual IWGP US Title match that will surely result from Chase pinning Juice in the opening round of the tournament.
NEW JAPAN CUP SECOND ROUND MATCH:
Will Ospreay vs. Lance Archer - 8/10
An awesome big man vs. little-man match. Archer worked over Ospreay's back with his big slams while Ospreay had to use his agility get up high and target Archer's head. They had some great false finishes (which were particularly shocking, as I was not expecting Archer to kick out of anything because of how much higher Ospreay is on the totem pole than him and how relatively early we are in the tournament), and an exciting finishing sequence that paid off a spot from earlier in the match in a clever way.
NEW JAPAN CUP SECOND ROUND MATCH:
Kazuchika Okada vs. Mikey Nicholls - 7.25/10
Nicholls chopped Okada so hard he bled. And this was not after fifteen minutes of chopping. This was very early on, and without much previous chopping. Nicholls worked the back, Okada did his usual Okada stuff working the head, and- to the surprise of absolutely no one- Okada won. This was disappointing for an Okada main event.
This was a frustrating show from New Japan. It's clear that the reason they're spreading the second round matches up over four shows when they could easily do them in two and still give everything the appropriate amount of time is because they can sell two more show's worth of tickets. While that is good for them financially, the vast majority of the matches on the card not having real consequences is a turn-off to me as a viewer, and makes me a lot less likely to watch this round (especially with all of the undercard matches following the same general New Japan undercard big tag match formula and thus pretty much all feeling the same). Ospreay vs. Archer is definitely worth your time to watch, but nothing else on this card was anything even close to being worth the time. Add in the f*cking atrocious commentary and you've got an experience that just makes you wonder why you wasted your time.