CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) vs. BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL) (w/DickTogo) - DUD!
After Togo stuck his nose in things, Okada and Yano actually managed to corner him on the outside. Okada hit him ONCE, and then they rolled him into the ring to do a comedy spot by drumming on his back. How many times has this f*cker interfered in matches? Why not just kick his ass on the outside so he can’t interfere anymore!
Okada went back to working over EVIL, and you don’t get any points for guessing what happened a minute later. Yup. Dick Togo interfered to cut Okada off and start the heat. After that, the heels took Okada to the outside, because… um… at this point, I think they’re just addicted to going to the outside. EVIL whipped Okada into a barricade, then locked on a submission until the referee told him to get back into the ring. That’s all he did. Why even go outside instead of just working the guy over in the ring if you’re not going to do anything important and doing so only serves to make the match feel the same as every other undercard match in this company?
EVIL locked Okada in an abdominal stretch and Yujiro offered his hand from the outside for extra leverage. Then Dick Togo offered his hand, too, which was fine… up until Togo then grabbed the guardrail, which only would have helped add more pressure if the guardrail was anchored to something, but it’s not. When he pulled it, it just came forward.
Okada fought back and made the hot tag to Yano… who immediately started to do comedy, totally squandering the emotion of the hot tag. Yano throw the turnbuckle pad at Yujiro, who catches it, and the referee runs over to take it away from Yujiro. If the pad is a foreign object, shouldn’t Yano have been disqualified for throwing it at (and hitting) Yujiro?
Yano cheated to get the advantage until Yujiro came back and got the advantage cleanly on him. At that point EVIL distracted the referee and Togo interfered, followed by Yujiro hitting Yano with his cane, which New Japan expects me to be upset about even though Yano himself just cheated, and does so in every match. Okada saved Yano’s stupid ass, then disappeared so that more cheating could happen by both Yano and Bullet Club. Yano cheated to win. This sucked. Did Gedo catch Okada hitting on his wife or something? Because between giving him the Money Clip and now this, it certainly seems like Gedo is trying to marginalize him.
TOMOAKI HONMA, KOTA IBUSHI, MASTER WATO, & SHO vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI, & Sanada) - 7.25/10
Everyone had their little face-offs to build up their matches. Sho vs. Hiromu particularly stood out. Sho also had a great segment with BUSHI.
LOSER CAN NO LONGER DO THE MONGOLIAN CHOP:
The Great O-Khan vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan - 6.5/10
O-Khan charged up the ramp to fight Tenzan in the aisle. Tenzan won that part of the fight easily and got O-Khan into the ring so that referee Marty Asami could call for the bell.
Kevin Kelly told me about Tenzan making his big return from injury and being so filled with righteous fury that he hit O-Khan with a chair a bunch of times and got disqualified, which made me wonder why Ospreay vs. Kojima is no DQs but this match isn’t. All four guys have been involved in these DQs, right? Shouldn’t that build to a no DQ tag match, or two singles matches with no DQs?
I ask this not just to note the flaw in Gedo’s booking, but also because I think it really would have helped this match. Tenzan is old (though he still puts his all into his big matches, G-d bless his heart), and O-Khan’s default mode is cartoon character. Letting them use plunder would have given Tenzan a crutch to use and given O-Khan the opportunity to show that he has an edge.
O-Khan won, so Tenzan can no longer use the Mongolian Chop. Tenzan’s retiring soon anyway, so 1) it doesn’t matter, and 2) O-Khan would have gotten more out of forcing him into retirement as opposed to a silly stipulation like this, which makes him feel like a goof.
NO DISQUALIFICATIONS MATCH:
Will Ospreay vs. Satoshi Kojima - 8/10
You see how this match is billed as “no disqualifications?” That’s all I f*cking ask for before you use weapons right in front of the referees and ignore the rules. They did a great job of mixing weapons spots in with their usual stuff and paced the match extremely well.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Shingo Takagi(c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi - 9.75/10
I’ll just say it up front this time. This is another one of those matches that I would have given the full ten to if they hadn’t gone to the outside and stayed out there for far too long without getting counted out. I really wish I could give it the full ten, but I can’t justify it because they blatantly ignored the rules and created a logical hole in their match. And the worst part is that going to the outside did nothing for the story.
The stories here were Shingo working the head and neck (with a slight odd detour to Tanahashi’s knee) and Tanahashi working over Shingo’s neck and knee. Unlike most matches where Tanahashi works the knee, this didn’t start with a random Dragon Screw as a reversal. Instead Tanahashi started doing it with the usual elbow drop to the thigh/knee into a leg lock, so it felt like he had a real plan going in, which helped it feel like more of a solid story that the usual patterned Tanahashi match. In fact, it worked so well that they actually had me biting on the Cloverleaf as a false finish.
Tanahashi’s selling was great as usual (though I don’t think he had to do much selling on that Made in Japan. It looked like he almost died), but Shingo’s was absolutely spectacular. If this match doesn’t convince you that Shingo Takagi can- and SHOULD- be a top guy in New Japan right now, nothing will.
And speaking of that… the finish. TanahashiWinsLOL. That’s what this was. I don’t care if we’re taking this title off of Shingo to set him up for winning a bigger one. An up-and-comer losing to Tanahashi in a spot like this makes it feel like he has hit his head on the glass ceiling in a way that losing Okada or Naito or another up-and-comer doesn’t.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - uch. I’m already not happy about Tanahashi losing to Shingo, and now you’re telling me I’m going to see the f*cking Great O-Khan challenge Tanahashi for the title? YUCK!
This was an excellent show from New Japan. If you’re going to break your big shows up into these smaller shows, each with one big main event, then keeping the card short like this a great idea, and it looks even better when you’ve got a roster than can deliver like New Japan’s can.