YOH IS BACK… AND HE WANTS A TITLE SHOT - Good. He and Sho were the champs when he got injured and had to vacate. New Japan should waste no time in getting this booked.
GABRIEL KIDD, YOTA TSUJI, & YUYA UEMURA vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Taichi, DOUKI, & Zack Sabre Jr.) - 5/10
Well… the babyfaces jumped the bell on Suzuki-Gun this time, but we still quickly wound up on the outside with no one getting counted out and Suzuki-Gun blatantly using weapons and not getting disqualified for it. We’ve got a babyface getting hit with a f*cking PIPE and Kevin Kelly is just sitting there making his dumb jokes. I am absolutely baffled that people think this guy is a good announcer.
So yeah. This was every Suzuki-Gun match ever. The small breath of fresh air that Zack Sabre Jr. provided during the heat was not enough to keep this from being suffocated by the same boring-ass choking and little strikes to let the babyface fire up that we’ve seen what I’m sure is a thousand times at this point.
Suzuki-Gun won, but Zack wouldn’t put Uemura’s foot down so Kidd attacked Zack and everyone started fighting again. If I had confidence that this was going somewhere other than more than pointless undercard tags, I would be okay with it.
SATOSHI KOJIMA & TOMOAKI HONMA vs. UNITED EMPIRE (Jeff Cobb & Great O-Khan) - 5.5/10
Remember how Kevin Kelly say there and made jokes when someone was illegally getting beaten with a pipe during a match? Well if you want to know what gets him upset (and, in this case, upset enough to bring it up out of nowhere), it’s someone (in this case Yoh) wanting a tag title shot right away when returning from an injury. And making all of this worse is the fact that the reason Yoh wants himself and Shot to get a title shot right when he returns is that THEY WERE THE CHAMPIONS AND HAD TO VACATE THEM WHEN HE GOT INJURED!
Heels win and O-Khan cut a promo afterwards. I died a little inside when I saw Jeff Cobb throw a superkick. It’s not even that it wasn’t good (although it wasn’t), but rather because I’d like there to be at least one wrestler from the English, French, or Spanish-speaking works who doesn’t throw a f*cking superkick.
CHAOS (Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, & Sho) vs. BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi, EVIL, & KENTA) (w/Dick Togo) - 5/10
Heels jump the bell on the babyface (and Yano), then we spill to outside for the usual bullsh*t, then get back into the ring for the usual Yano shtick. We went back to the outside for a big spot on the guardrail… and the f*ckin referee decided to distract himself fixing the up-turned announcers’ table. Don’t they have other people to do that (like maybe all of those young-boys on the outside)?
Sho’s back got worked on (including via the turnbuckle that Yano exposed due t his strange addiction to removing turnbuckle pads). The match was okay. Yujiro hit YOSHI-HASHI with his pimp cane (at least they distracted the referee this time) for the win. Bullet Club attacked the babyfaces after the match because… um… because they’re heels and that’s what they do.
TOA HENARE, JUICE ROBINSON, & DAVID FINLAY JR. vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, & BUSHI) - 7.5/10
LIJ worked over Finlay’s knee. This was the best thing on the card by miles. Sanada pinned Henare with his special roll-up.
KOTA IBUSHI, KAZUCHIKA OKADA, & HIROSHI TANAHASHI vs. BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, & Jay White) (w/Gedo) - 6.25/10
Chase Owens got pinned. Shocking, I know.
NEW JAPAN CUP FINALS:
Shingo Takagi vs. Will Ospreay (w/United Empire) - 9/10
Ospreay worked over Shingo’s injured back while Shingo worked over Ospreay’s recently-broken nose. Ospreay’s nose- Shingo felt like a heel working the nose by grabbing at it in the corner. And we know working the nose like that I illegal because we see heels do it all the time in a Camel Clutch (or a similar hold) and the referee starts a five-count. There was also a little bit of Ospreay’s injured elbow getting worked over, but not that much.
In a departure from the usual, I didn’t mind them not getting counted out when they were on the outside for the big spot where Ospreay dropped Shingo on the guardrail because 1) Red Shoes was counting beforehand, and 2) there was a logical reason for him to stop counting (to go check and see if Shingo could still go). What bothers me is when the referee doesn’t count for a completely illogical reason (like “well, we wouldn’t want to have a count-out here in this big match,” which makes no sense because if that were the case, the promotion would have made the match no count-outs).
That being said, this was… well.. the usual BRM New Japan big match fare. It was really awesome, with tremendous action and striking and drama, but it was brought down by my usual issues with New Japan: Their horrendously selective enforcement of the rules. Red Shoes CLEARLY saw Bea Priestley interfere and didn’t disqualify Ospreay. He didn’t even eject Bea from ringside. Ospreay also put Shingo through a table right in front of Red Shoes, and right after Red Shoes had specifically told him not to… and there was no DQ. Why even have a referee if you’re going to do things to make him look like an incompetent pushover?
The big table spot set up the Count-Out Tease That No One Ever Buys™, though at least it also gave them a chance to go back to Shingo pulling himself up and staring at Ibushi (who was on commentary) and his belt to give himself the strength to make it back to the ring. I will admit that when I saw this, I wondered why they didn’t have him staring at the trophy instead, but now knowing that Shingo lost, I thought this was very clever, as it sets up Ibushi as the goal rather than winning this tournament for a title shot. That being said, I probably would have had him stare at the title instead, as this makes it feel like Ibushi is destined to drop the title to Shingo (and therefore that he won’t lose it to anyone else or, if he does lose it, that Shingo won’t win it unless he’s challenging Ibushi), but it was still a clever way to turn Shingo’s loss here into a step on the journey for him without in any way minimizing what Ospreay has won.
WILL OSPREAY PROMO - He gave Bea Priestley the Randy Orton/Stacey Keibler treatment. I guess they're just done with Bea.
This was a typical non-Big-Four New Japan show. A mostly-pointless and repetitive undercard where one match will elevate itself beyond feeling routine, and a main event that is excellent, but suffers from several logical flaws and irk me. It makes me glad that I’ve cut back on New Japan.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. Chris Charleton describes Ospreay’s strategy as both “slow and steady” and “psychotic,” two words that are basically opposites… in the same sentence.