First of all, I just have to say that the venue looked awesome, it looked packed with people, it was huge, a huge difference from what everyone else has done this year.
Master Wato vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru - 4/10
Didn't like this, it was super sloppy, both Wato and Kanemaru were botching and out of timing a lot, to the point that I felt that the finish was fucked and they just did a roll up.
King of Pro-Wrestling Trophy Match
Toru Yano vs Kazuchika Okada vs El Desperado vs SANADA - 6/10
This really hurt from having a short time to really do much, with 4 guys in there, it became a bit of a sprint type of thing where no one in particular got to build something. We had a little thing about Yano just doing everything necessary to win, including joining Despy and SANADA on attacking Okada, and going for every roll up possible until he got one on Okada and that was the win. SANADA and Despy felt like they were there for filler and for spots, to have the one distraction that led to the finish and that was it. I really think that with more time, this could had been better, to give each wrestler a chance to showcase something, but unfortunately, Japan's events have time limits and it was already a short card with bigger matches coming afterwards. If anything else, this is just the start and let's see where this trophy goes.
As for Yano winning, it's realistically the best option. Desperado, SANADA, or Okada were not really going to make anything interesting out of the 'stipulation' rule yet. You don't want to introduce a trophy like this with super intrinsic stipulations or something that is 'too much', you need to ease in with the wacky Yano stipulations before Okada wins it and wants a 5-count pins or Shingo his deathmatches, something that reads more 'epic' match. This doesn't make the title a joke, it actually opens way many more doors.
NEVER Openweight Championship Match
Minoru Suzuki vs Shingo Takagi (C) - 8.5/10
My heart got torn, I love that Suzuki is holding gold, but I hate that Shingo gave up his. This was great, exactly what I expected it, non-stop action and hard hitting battle. At his age, it's just beautiful watching Suzuki have a fast paced sequence, he's sooo fucking good. There's really not much to say about this, it was two dudes hitting each other until Suzuki hit the GSP for the win.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship Match
Hiromu Takahashi (C) vs "Bone Soldier" Taiji Ishimori - 8/10
Good stuff. The story here was that Takahashi came in with an injured shoulder, and Ishimori went for it and destroyed it. Takahashi would make little comebacks here and there, even hitting Time Bombs, but Ishimori was just stronger tonight, and at one point, Hiromu's shoulder was just so bad that Ishimori locked in an Omoplata Crossface and won.
This was the one match that I could easily predict. Ever since the EVIL match, it just felt like they wanted to take the Jr. title away from Hiromu and I'm guessing it's because Hiromu is heading to the G1. This will be perfect to have something for SHO to do and something for Wato to hope for.
IWGP Tag Team Championship Match
Golden Aces vs Dangerous Tekkers (C) - 7/10
Good match as always, but it was virtually the same match we've seen for the last two months and I'm done, i'm ready to move on to something new, thank god the G1 is coming and we can put a pause on the tag titles for a bit. So Tanahashi was the babyface in peril, Ibushi and Taichi had a kick exchange, then Tana tagged in and eventually took the loss, at the hands of Sabre this time around. They didn't surgically decimate Tanahashi this time around, but enough damage was done to get a good pin on him after a Tekker's combo.
Maybe Ibushi will finally realize that Tana is a weak link and break the team off. Doubt it.
IWGP World Heavyweight & IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match
EVIL (C) w/Dick Togo vs Tetsuya Naito - 7/10
tHeRE iS tOo mUCh InTErFerEncE!! And it was my favorite part of the match. I really enjoyed all that spot with Togo and Gedo and BUSHI and SANADA getting involved, it was the think that woke me up since some parts in the middle were really losing me. The match was similar to the Dominion one, with EVIL getting a lot of heat, Naito having comebacks until the end where EVIL is losing the grip and people interfere. The match got kinda botchy towards the end and I wonder if being outside in the heat made these guys gas up faster than usual.
EVIL's reign is done for those that kept complaining that this was the end of NJPW. Everyone that knows anything about NJPW knows that first reigns tend to be short and that there was no way that EVIL was going in as champ to the G1, so I don't know why people were being so fatalists. I think it really helped him get elevated to a higher rank in the totem pole, but I can't see him being a legit contender for a while now, maybe not until after WK next year.
Post-match - Naito cut a promo and said nice things and finally got his big celebration with fireworks and all, which kinda works out better since he's a baseball guy.
Ok show, I think it ended up being way to packed for the short amount of time and that hurt some matches, but nonetheless, there are some matches in the show that delivered and made it worth it. This was a tour that doesn't usually exist in the NJPW calendar, so it may had felt like an underwhelming connection between Dominion and the G1.