REN NARITA, YUYA UEMURA, & YOTA TSUJI vs. SATOSHI KOJIMA, YUJI NAGATA, & TOMOAKI HONMA - 4.5/10
JUSHIN "THUNDER" LIGER, SHOTA UMINO, & TIGER MASK IV vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, & El Desperado) - 5.75/10
Suzuki-Gun jump the bell on their opponents. They wound up on the outside for the usual brawling on the floor forever with no count-outs and using weapons without DQs. At least this time they didn't do a count-out tease and just had Suzuki drag Liger back to the ring.
When El Desperado tried to pull Liger's mask off, commentator Chris Charlton said he should be careful because "you never know what's under there." Well... I assume it's Liger's face, no? Does he think that if El Desperado rips Liger's mask off that Liger has a swarm of trained bees hidden under there that will go around stinging people to buy Liger time to escape with his face still unseen?
This was much better than the usual Suzuki-Gun undercard tag because they didn't do the exact same sh*t they usually do. Also, Liger and Umino are wonderful babyfaces. I know that's not news or anything, but it still needs to be said.
SUZUKI-GUN (TAKA Michinoku, Taichi, & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. TOA HENARE & CHAOS (Rocky Romero & YOSHI-HASHI) - 6.5/10
Ibushi was originally scheduled to be in this match but he and Rocky were allowed to switch spots because after getting challenged to an IC Title match by Naito at the last show, Kota told New Japan he wanted to be against Naito every night from here on out. I like to think that the way it was determined that Rocky be the member of the CHAOS team to switch spots with Kota was that the five of them got together and the other four immediately told Rocky that he had to be the one to switch with Kota because he was so much worse than all of them were. Then I like to think that Rocky started to cry and they all laughed at him, because Rocky Romero annoys me, so I like to imagine things like this happening to him.
So all of the usual Suzuki-Gun bullsh*t that we didn't get in the previous match wound up in this one, but the fact that it was split up over two matches instead of all crammed into one or instead of doing all of it in both made this undercard infinitely more bearable than past ones have been.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON vs. KOTA IBUSHI & CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Kazuchika Okada, & Roppongi 3K) - 8/10
Ishii and EVIL got into it before the bell even rang. And I don't mean they were just shoving each other. Ishii walked over to EVIL and very calmly threw a chop. That's not something you usually see before a match. This was an awesome, action-packed match that did an excellent job of pushing all of the matches they are trying to push.
JUICE ROBINSON & MIKEY NICHOLLS vs. BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) (w/Jado) - 5.25/10
Bullet Club jumped the bell on the babyfaces. This was an okay match that served absolutely no purpose, as not only has Juice successfully defended his title against both of these guys recently but we also got a Chase Owens vs. Mikey Nicholls singles match on the previous show so what is this match even building up? It serves no purpose other than to waste my time and make the wrestlers take unnecessary bumps. Also Fale shoved the referee down and was not disqualified. Remember last year when they started that storyline that they were going to crack down on the Tongan's cheating? Well I guess that's not a thing anymore. Speaking of that storyline, next we had the...
NEVER OPENWEIGHT SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, & Ryusuke Taguchi(c) vs. Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny & Hikuleo) (w/Jado) - 2.5/10
Bullet Club jumped the bell on the babyfaces and we immediately spilled to the outside. Instead of counting, the referee just stood there with his thumb up his ass, not doing anything at all. We get back in the ring and both Guerrillas of Destiny and beating on Yano while the referee just stands there and does nothing. Yano made comeback with some eye rakes. Still nothing from the referee. Then Yano untied the turnbuckle pad. The referee signaled to Yano that he shouldn't do this, although Yano's back was already turned by that point so he couldn't see, and even if he could, this guy has been obsessively untying turnbuckle pads for YEARS now and that has never stopped him before, so why would this referee think it would be sufficient to stop him now?
Silliness occurred, resulting in Yano getting hit in the back with a Kendo stick that the referee pretended not to see even though it seems hard to believe that he couldn't. Meanwhile, Kevin Kelly both used the phrase "pun intended" even though he did not make a pun (unless he thinks bears and gorillas are the same thing) and endorsed theft if it gets you what you want, so f*ck you Kevin Kelly, you are a terrible babyface announcer.
Yano gets beaten down, then makes a comeback and eventually makes it to Taguchi for the hot tag. Taguchi runs wild for a bit. Makabe is standing on the outside playing cheerleader instead of being on the apron to receive a tag. Also, there is a chair sitting in the ring in the babyfaces' corner, and referee made no effort to remove it, nor did he try to remove Makabe's steel chain from the corner. Shouldn't the timekeeper or some young-boys be holding it like they do with the wrestlers' ring robes?
Makabe eventually got tagged in and did the ten punches in the corner. These are closed fist punches to the face, and Tama Tonga is on the ropes, and the referee isn't counting or telling Makabe to stop using a closed fist or anything. Tama's brothers eventually came in to save him and they all tripled-teamed Makabe while the referee not only just stood around and watched but actually got on a turnbuckle to make sure he wasn't getting in their way first.
The reason I have so meticulously chronicled all of this is so you understand how absolutely f*cking STUPID I found it when Tanga Loa went to pin Makabe... and the referee refused to count because he wasn't the legal man. Eye rakes are fine, jumping someone before the bell is fine, removing necessary safety equipment is fine, an outsider hitting one of the participants with a weapon is fine, having three guys on one team in the ring at once is fine... but then when two of those three get out of the ring and the third goes for a cover, you're not going to make the count because it's the wrong guy? REALLY?! What makes that rule so f*cking special?
Then Hikuleo went over and started to harass the referee and forced him into the corner and had him bent over and was pressing on his neck... and it's not a f*cking DQ?! Are you kidding me?
This was a set-up for Jado to try interfere but Makabe ducked the Kendo stick shot and it hit Tama Tonga instead and Makabe took over. He hits Tama Tonga with the King Kong Knee Drop and goes for the pin but someone pulls the referee out so he can't count three. STILL NOT A DQ. More heel shenanigans and weapons. The referee magically revives just in time to count a pinfall, then goes down again when it gets broken up, because that's definitely not hokey-looking at all.
This match... the work wasn't bad or anything, but they just had to pile so much STUPID into it, and for no reason! Nine months ago a storyline started where the Tongans were cheating too much and so a zero tolerance policy was handed down and referees started calling for DQs in their matches and everyone hated it because there were DQs in the G1. Out of this there came a story where Tama Tonga decided he was going to change his way and become a good person and he would refuse to cheat and wound up costing his team several matches... and then one day he just went right back to normal again, and so now, nine months later, we're right back where we were before with nothing to show for it other than a series of finishes that pissed people off. Hooray for Gedo!
And, speaking of being right back to where we started, after this match, Yano and pals stole the Guerrillas of Destiny's IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. For at least the third time this month. And as I pointed out in my previous review of a show where this happened, he and Makabe already have a title shot scheduled, so unlike the first time he stole the belts, he gains nothing from doing so here, which means he's just doing it to be a dick. Not babyface behavior at all.
DRAGON LEE & HIROOKI GOTO vs. BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori & Jay White) (w/Gedo) - 8/10
I guess Ishimori decided he wanted to be time-efficient with his lazy New Japan heel tropes, so he grabbed Dragon Lee and walked him down the aisle, and while doing so tried to pull his mask off. While this is happening, Chris Charlton is insistent to me that it will be an automatic DQ if Ishimori pulls Dragon Lee's mask off... but I've seen several things that should have been automatic DQs tonight but weren't and even as Charlton is saying this the referee should be counting them out but isn't, so why should I think it will actually be a DQ if Ishimori does succeeded in pulling Dragon Lee's mask off?
While all of this is happening, Goto is down on the outside. Red Shoes finally notices him so we can get the Count-Out Tease That No One Ever Buys, because we need multiple of those per show in New Japan. It's in the rulebook, and is one of the few rules they follow on a consistent basis.
White then picked Goto up and tossed him right back to the outside... and the referee did not start his count again. White heads to the outside and his ramming Goto's back into stuff. Then he rolls him back into the ring and goes for the cover... and f*cking Red Shoes won't count the pin because... I don't know even know why. Neither did the announcers. After letting all of that other sh*t in the previous match, now he's suddenly Mr. Rulebook. Is it really that hard to do this sh*t in a way that doesn't feel completely stupid?
Other than that stuff, the match was awesome. It's so frustrating to see matches dragged down by such stupid sh*t and easily avoidable sh*t.
JAY WHITE PROMO - Hated it. He's turned into a delusional heel, claiming to, among other things have "made Okada a star" at MSG. he's also trying to be an "I'm too good to need the belt" angle, which is never a good idea. Once he got past that part his promo was awesome, but if 75% of the promo is bad and 25% is awesome then it's still not a good promo.
Another meh show from New Japan despite some rather strong matches. The undercard was certainly more bearable than usual, but the show still felt frustratingly unimportant, even with the title match and exciting main event, and the number of unforced errors dragging things down is extremely frustrating. I really want to see matches like the upcoming IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title match on the show on the 26th, but if I feel like I have to slog through so much dreck to get to it, I'm probably just going to skip the show entirely.