Ryusuke Taguchi, Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata vs. Gabriel Kidd, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma - 5.5/10
Ok opener, nothing special. Kidd obviously took the pin.
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano) & Yota Tsuji vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi & SANADA) - 7/10
This was great for your usual tag opener. Tsuji vs Takahashi was super fun, plus you can't go wrong with Ishii and Yano doing stuff with whoever. Takahashi submitted Tsuji with the Boston Crab and since we just relived the Yano/Hiromu story, I could imagine a world where Hiromu wants to be Tsuji's Yano.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Master Wato & Yuya Uemura vs. Suzuki-gun (DOUKI, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) - 4.5/10
When the best wrestler on your team is a Young Lion, you may as well just forfeit the match. Wato is a total fail so far and having Tenzan as your teacher is not the right way to go. Wato is blue, at least pair him up with BLUE Justice! SZKG were great, no complains there.
CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada) vs. BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi) - 6/10
So here's the big thing that I started wondering yesterday, what's up with Yujiro, and indeed he seems to be getting a big push and maybe some Taichi level of rehab as he pinned Goto and took out Okada in one single match. I've always liked Yujiro for what he is, but it's hard to see him as a top guy, so let's see what Gedo can do with him.
The match was meh, Okada is totally on vacation until he gets a run for the title again it seems. Goto, probably knowing he's being pinned by Yujiro was also kinda there. I did like the finishing sequence that took out Goto.
Post-match - As mentioned, Yujiro hit Pimp Juice on Okada.
NEVER Openweight Title Match
Shingo Takagi (c) vs. SHO - 9/10
A hell of a match, it was virtually the same stuff they've done in their previous matches, and it makes it kinda hard to compare them because they're virtually the same, but I'd say that them being 1-1, I wasn't sure who was taking the title at the end, and so towards the end, the near falls got exciting and dramatic, and almost at the end, I was 99.99% sure that SHO was taking it, he's momentum just got really far, but Shingo turned things around pretty much with 3 strikes. Shingo won with the Last Dragon and between Masato Tanaka and Hiromu Takahashi, I think he's top 3 workers of the year so far.
I don't know where SHO goes from here, he could get a replacement of YOH to defend the tag titles, because otherwise, he won't have many places to go since Hiromu and Shingo are locked otherwise.
Post-match - Desperado attacked Shingo after the match, making his intentions for the title clear. Shingo vs Despy!
IWGP Tag Team Title Match
Golden Ace (c) vs. Dangerous Tekkers - 8.5/10
This was pretty much was I expected. DT working Tanahashi's legs like Dr. Giggles on his prey, but it also felt like the same thing I've been watching for the last month. It was great nonetheless, Tanahashi vs Sabre and Taichi vs Ibushi were the to pair ups that I really enjoyed here. It's really weird, but Taichi and Sabre really mesh up together, they have good chemistry, it's different than the Suzuki/Sabre combo, but there is something there for sure.
Zack Sabre has finally captured some gold in New Japan!
IWGP Heavyweight Title / IWGP Intercontinental Title Match
Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. EVIL - 8/10
EVIL has a new awesome theme, he has slightly changed his attire to look more like Xena Warrior Princess, and now has his hair flowing freely. I dig the change somewhat.
This was something really interesting that I can totally understand people not liking it, but I can also see the high rating of it. First let's talk about the bad. EVIL, like magic, immediately after joining Bullet Club, changed his heelish persona into the cocky one that stalls outside the ring. It's not a necesarily bad thing, but when facing a 'Tranquilo' Naito, it led to a really slow start. White can make the stalling work against a Naito, but not EVIL. This stalling will work against guys like Hiromu or Ibushi or Okada, but not somewhat Tranquilo like Naito or SANADA. I tried to argue with myself that Naito should had been more pissed with EVIL, but I don't think we're there yet and I think the post match made up for that.
The other big bad for me was the last minutes. We've seen it before where the heel has reached the point where he or she control the match, we know they're winning and it's just a matter of hitting the finisher to seal the deal, I'm usually not fond of these since it really lowers the momentum, but in this case, it really slowed down so much. It felt like EVIL 'sealed the deal' like 4 o 5 different times, and by the time the pin came, the crowd was dead silent. Maybe one final kick out and the kill would had save this.
Having said that, I thought the story was good, I didn't mind the interference, it was just two and not the million people are claiming, and one of them was for the purpose of revealing that Dick Togo has not only joined Bullet Club, but NJPW, and now I'm just gushing over a Togo vs Ishii or Togo vs Shingo match. Everyone knew it wasn't BUSHI, no need to mention that he didn't hid himself enough, because it was obvious. The only man that needed to be confused was Naito, which after being beat up and groggy, I'm sure he looked like BUSHI 100%.
I loved the work done on Naito's leg, it was brutal and I wouldn't take any less than what it was. It really felt like Naito held back all match, like he wasn't convinced he could attack his friend, the very first Ingobernable de Japon, and I think we also saw that from Milano Collection AT, who after crying the previous night, he still held the scythe with hopes that EVIL hadn't really turned on LIJ. I LOVED that Milano spot by the way.
Post-match - EVIL revealed Togo and they beat up Naito until Hiromu came down. Hiromu asked EVIL what it felt to betray his friends and challenged EVIL to a title match, even for only one title if EVIL was too scared. EVIL didn't say anything and left. Hiromu had a breakdown on anger at EVIL, true fury came out of him.
Backstage, Hiromu cut an AMAZING promo asking EVIL since when he had all this planned and said that he would get revenge for betraying him and for what he did to LIJ and Naito.
Yeah, not the best show, we don't have to lie to ourselves, but let's also not pretend this is the same NJPW from January. This New Japan is more like 2011's where they're lacking depth and forced to push guys like Yujiro Takahashi and shuffle around people to keep the stables somewhat balanced. In addition, this was the weird combination of not having the two main titles to fill the card with more single's matches, and they didn't seem to want to start anything with Hiromu since he's chasing EVIL now. It is still one of the best shows since the 2020 pandemic started.
This still to me felt like the big celebration that things are normalizing themselves with Japanese wrestling