NJPW Showdown in San Jose
By Big Red Machine
From November 09, 2019
ALEX COUGHLIN vs. REN NARITA- 6/10
Solid young-boy stuff.
JUSHIN “THUNDER” LIGER & AARON SOLOW vs. COLT CABANA & TORU YANO - 4.5/10
The Yano schtick was thankfully kept to a minimum. The match was okay, other than the finish, which was botched pretty badly when Cabana’s Superman Press only caught one of Solow’s legs and it looked ridiculous that Solow couldn’t get his other shoulder up. I found this to be another thoroughly disappointing use of Liger in his final months before retirement.
CLARK CONNORS & KARL FREDERICKS vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado) - 6.5/10
This was very good for the time it got. It also proved that Suzuki-Gun actually can have a match where they don’t do anything that should immediately get them DQed but doesn’t because DQs are bad (unless we want to do a DQ).
JUICE ROBINSON, TOMOHIRO ISHII, & TJP vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Sanada, EVIL, & BUSHI) - 5/10
Juice might have cut his hair, but he’s still doing goofball comedy sh*t. Ishii and EVIL punched each other a lot, TJP and Sanada wrestled each other well. Goof Robinson pinned the most expendable man in the world, BUSHI.
CHAOS (Rocky Romero, HIirooki Goto, & Yoh) vs. BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori, Jado, & KENTA) - 4/10
After a night of shockingly good refereeing so far, Ishimori is allowed to completely manhandle the referee with zero consequences. Towards the end of the match, Jado would grab a kendo stick and attack the referee when the referee tried to stop him from using it, and somehow wasn’t disqualified. The rest of this was basic, uninteresting stuff. The absolute epitome of a completely irrelevant NJPW undercard match.
RPW UNDISPUTED BRITISH CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
El Phantasmo(c) vs. Sho - 7.25/10
Yeah… we’re back to full-on New Japan refereeing now, where count-outs aren’t a rule in a sporting event but rather a spot the wrestlers can decide to do to add drama to their fake pro wrestling match. El Phantasmo does his usual stepping on his opponent’s dick spot without getting DQed. I don’t care if he’s going to get his comeuppance for being arrogant by eating a German suplex off the top rope. I want a low blow to be a f*cking DQ. This stuff bugs me so much because they could have just cut out the duck-stomping spot and had El Phantasmo roll into the ring to break up counts until he was done doing damage on the outside and it wouldn’t have taken anything away from the story they did. It was just stupid crap that dragged the match down.
They story they told with El Phantasmo working over Sho’s back was pretty darn great and show had some excellent babyface fire while also selling very well. I didn’t even mind the run-ins because it builds to Roppingi 3K vs. El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles at the Tokyo Dome. What I didn’t like was El Phantasmo needing to cheat to beat Sho on the finish, and even more so the fact that he did the same thing to the second referee that he did to the first and it wasn’t a DQ. If you even so much as put your hands on a UFC referee it’s an automatic DQ. For the second time in one match EL Phantasmo grabbed a referee by the wrist and yanked him in the way of an on-coming blow. How is he not being punished for this?
IWGP US HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Lance Archer(c) vs. David Finlay Jr. - 7/10
Finlay, the babyface, jumped the bell on the heel. I’m fine with this because Suzuki-Gun goes this so often that they’re basically hostis humani generis and everyone can assume that it’s fair game to do it to Suzuki-Gun because Suzuki-Gun is surely about to do it to them. They wound up on the outside and the camera cut to a wide shot that revealed that the referee wasn’t even looking at them. He was off staring at something else. Is it really that hard to pretend that you’re a referee in a real sport?
This was a great brawl with some spots I really liked and Finlay was a great babyface, but I would have enjoyed this more if Archer hadn’t done all of the threatening the referee and wasting time and pulling Finlay up at two and all of that other “GRRR! Look at me! I’m being a heel!” stuff that it feels like he does just for the sake of doing.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Entertainingly bad. Juice Robinson came out to have a stare-down with Archer but Archer wouldn’t have any of it… and why should he? What has Juice done to earn a shot at his title? When Archer walked right through Juice on his way out of the ring, I giggled with mirth.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi) vs. BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens & Jay White) (w/Gedo) - 7.5/10
KOTA IBUSHI & AMAZING RED vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay) - 8/10
Not much to say other than that this was awesome and it was cool to see it happen. It’s not like it’s really possible for anyone to get more excited for Okada vs. Ibushi as the main event of the Tokyo Dome.
This was a good little show from New Japan. It bordered on great but never quite got there, but it was still very darn good, easy to sit through, and definitely worth the time to watch. I don’t think anyone thought any of the titles would change hands or expected any news out of this show, but that was fine on a show where the dream match main event was the real draw.