YUYA UEMURA vs. TAIJI ISHIMORI - 5.75/10
Ishimori controlled the vast majority of the match, but Uemura was a sympathetic enough babyface to make this not get boring.
SATOSHI KOJIMA, RYUSUKE TAGUCHI, & TOGI MAKABE vs. GABRIEL KIDD & CHAOS (Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii) - 5.5/10
CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, & Sho) vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, & Sanada) - 5.75/10
So Naito has both world titles stolen from him after a member of his group betrays him and joins Bullet Club and Bullet interferes to screw him over… and he’s not even booked against Bullet Club on the next show?
Naito was upset at the referee for something, and after luring him into the ring on the pretense of getting him to raise LIJ’s hands, Naito starts torturing the poor referee with an arm wringer on the arm the guy was already selling. Then Sanada hit him in the knee with a dropkick while Naito was holding the referee in place with an arm wringer. We’re supposed to be rooting for these guys.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI, KOTA IBUSHI, HIROYOSHI TENZAN, YUJI NAGATA, & MASTER WATO vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi, & DOUKI) - 5.75/10
Suzuki-Gun jumped the bell on their opponents. Suzuki and Nagata had a good strike battle and they gave Kanemaru a spot where he got to look like a badass taking out all of the babyfaces. The usual bullsh*t eventually began to ensue on the outside. On the bright side, it didn’t last as long as usual. This was still every Suzuki-Gun match ever, though.
They got the heat on Master Wato, who eventually made the hot tag to Tanahashi. Zack and Kota had some good moments together. DOUKI got pinned by Kota. Nagata and Suzuki brawled afterwards.
KAZUCHIKA OKADA vs. YUJIRO TAKAHASHI - 6/10
We get ten seconds of nothing, after which point Yujiro goes to the outside to stall. Okada will have none of this, so he chases him to the outside. They do a spot where they tease a big bump. Okada gets Yujiro back into the ring… and Yujiro rolls to the outside again. Shockingly, no one is whipped into the guardrails! Okada winds up eating a drop toe-hold into one, though, as well as a reverse DDT. Yujiro goes back into the ring, at which point the referee finally starts to count (of course he hadn’t been counting before. This is New Japan, where count-outs aren’t a rule; they’re just a spot you can do). Thankfully, they didn’t waste our time by going all the way to nineteen when we all know that Okada isn’t losing by count-out in three minutes.
Okada’s head got worked over. Gedo caused a distraction to allow Yujiro to hit Okada with his pimp cane, but Okada kicked out. We wrestle for a few more minutes, and then Okada made a short comeback and won. This was extremely anti-climactic.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Shingo Takagi(c) vs. El Desperado - 8.5/10
We got a spot or two to open things up, and then it’s right to the outside for the usual bullsh*t. Of course, this included El Desperado hitting Shingo with a chair right in front of Red Shoes, who did nothing about it. I bet Shingo feels like an idiot for not hitting El Desperado with the belt before the bell after El Desperado tried to do the same to him, huh.
That chair shot was to the knee, which is what El Desperado works over when he gets Shingo back into the ring, but he doesn’t just start working over the knee right away. That would be silly. This is New Japan, once the heel gets the babyface back into the ring after cheating on the outside, he must taught the babyface with light strikes so that the babyface can get back to hit feet and throw some forearms before the heels cuts him off again.
They started having a really great match, with El Desperado working over Shingo’s leg. El Desperado even got a shot with the belt in, paying off that bit in the beginning (and, even better, they made sure Red Shoes was distracted this time). Shingo’s selling was tremendous. This match ROCKED!
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE AND IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
EVIL(c)(c) (w/Dick Togo) vs. Hiromu Takahashi - 7/10
That stupid chairshot EVIL does makes me angrier every time I see it. Did no one in New Japan pass high school physics? How is allowed to go out there and do that moronic spot in every match?!
In addition to the chairshot, we got all of the other cheating from EVIL you could think of. Over and over and over again. Hiromu was a FANTASTIC babyface (he’s the real reason for the rating not being much lower), but that can only take you so far when you know there is no chance he’s winning the match. It also doesn’t help that this is the third match we’ve seen like this in just two weeks.
Like the Naito match, this went at least ten minutes longer than it needed to. Between this and the fact that all of EVIL’s matches have been filled with this constant interference and bullsh*t, I think New Japan is going to run into some trouble if they don’t pull back from this. 90’s All Japan was phenomenal, but there came a point when fans realized that no one was losing in the first twenty minutes, so they just sat on their hands while Misawa, Kobashi, and pals were taking suplexes onto their necks. This run of EVIL’s already feels like it’s at the same point. You know the match is going to go thirty minutes, and you know that it’s not going to end until we get at least one ref bump and probably one low blow, too. They need to change it up just to stop the middle of the match from feeling so damn boring.
The finish saw a ref bump and a long, sustained period of interference. Of course, no one from LIJ came out to get rid of the interlopers. What kind of friends just sit on their asses in the back while their own enemies mug you and strangulate you and try to screw you out of the world title?
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Bad. Ishimori comes out to attack Hiromi and only NOW does Naito comes out to help. Where were you five minutes ago, asshole? Naito gets in EVIL’s face and cuts a promo on him. I’m sorry, but after everything EVIL has done, Naito should not be able to get face to face with him without trying to punch him. Between Naito’s actions in the title match and his actions tonight, he hasn’t even made me believe that he’s angry at EVIL for betraying him and cheating him out of the world title that Naito worked so long and hard to earn.
This was another meh show from New Japan. Not even Okada is delivering at this point, our theoretical top baybface at the moment is assaulting referees for no reason, and the main event would have been a total mess if Hiromu wasn’t so damn talented. Looking at the Summer Struggle cards that have been announced so far, you can count me out until the big show.