NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam in MetLife Dome 9.5
By Big Red Machine
From September 05, 2021
UNITED EMPIRE (Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan) vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada) - 7/10
IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo)(c) vs. Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) - 6.75/10
This was basically the same match we got at Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome, but with different opponents. El Phantasmo once again hurts himself landing on his loaded boot. In my review of the aforementioned match, I wrote that “‘heel accidentally injures himself due to the loaded boot’ is the sort of thing you really can’t do more than once without it starting to feel contrived,” but I must admit that I was wrong about that. It doesn’t necessarily feel contrived unless it only happens in these big matches, which I admit that I haven’t been paying attention to the small shows so I don’t know if that has been happening or not. Unfortunately for New Japan, the explanation for how it could not be contrived is not really one they should want to use, either, which is that El Phantasmo is an idiot who can’t figure out how to properly pad a loaded boot. And before you tell me that characterization is unfair, please find me one other person in wrestling history who has used a loaded boot and had this problem.
Anyway, we had basically the same match as in Tokyo, except this time they actually lost due to a shot with the loaded boot. Unfortunately, the team they lost to were also cheating heels, so while there is some poetic justice in their defeat, it lacks the desired satisfaction from me as a fan because we’ve still got dirty cheaters as champions instead of a team we can be proud of.
IWGP TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Dangerous Tekkers(c) (w/Miho Abe) vs. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & Sanada) - 8.75/10
Oh. A three-way. Maybe that will give us something different from what we’ve been getting? NOPE! Within minutes we’ve got Taichi in the ring blatantly choking someone while the ref counts to four… and then stops counting and tries to pull Taichi off instead of disqualifying him. And don’t’ give me that “there are no DQs in a three-way” silliness because if there are no DQs, why is the referee counting?
Now everyone is choking Taichi. That’s different, I guess.
After that, the match was pretty much all action, and all quite excellent. One or two things didn’t look so good, but on the whole, this was an excellent, actioned-packed match. The only thing I didn’t like was Sanada once again being the biggest idiot in all of wrestling, getting go of a perfectly good submission hold to go for a moonsault (though in this case, instead of the moonsault being countered, he was tagged while climbing the turnbuckle so he wasn’t the legal man when he went for the pin.
IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Robbie Eagles(c) vs. Hiromu Takahashi - 8.5/10
They told a great story with Eagles trying to prove that he deserves to be the star and not Hiromu. His body language throughout was great, whether he was showing determination or doing things to try to upstage Hiromu or humiliate him. Given Gedo’s usual booking, I was pleasantly shocked when Hiromu lost cleanly instead of winning the belt right back. Now maybe we can get a real story of someone having to climb the whole way back up the mountain. Additionally, it creates the potential to turn this “Eagles is upset because he is the champion but it’s Hiromu who is the star getting all of the attention” into a real story that can develop over time, not just a mood-setter for one match.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. El Desperado came out and said he wanted a rematch. He offered Eagles a shot at his newly-won IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles in exchange for the desired title shot.
IWGP WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Shingo Takagi(c) vs. EVIL (w/Bullet Club) - 5/10
New Japan Pro Wrestling: Where someone can jump up on the apron and put the referee in a headlock to make sure he doesn’t see something, and there will be no repercussions whatsoever. If you’ve seen an EVIL match in the past year, you’ve seen this one, too.
Eventually Shingo blocked a shot with the title belt from EVIL… and after twenty minutes of letting Bullet Club get away with all manner of bullsh*t, Red Shoes had the nerve to tell Shingo not to hit EVIL with the belt. Really. Red Shoes is lucky Shingo didn’t respond to this by hitting him in the face with the belt. That’s what I’d have done. What’s he going to do? DQ me when he wakes up? Great! Now I’ve retained my title and thus escaped a match where the referee is letting my opponent and his buddies break any rule they want.
Eventually Shingo’s friends in LIJ finally get off their lazy asses and come out and stop the people who are interfering in his match and trying to screw him out of the world title… and wouldn’t you know it, once the odds were even, Shingo won the match in short order. Where were these assholes before? Or in every other f*cking match where Bullet Club were interfering against one of stablemates?
This was what has become a standard show from New Japan. Some good wrestling, some frustrating bullsh*t, mostly boring booking (although tonight was a little less boring than usual) and a lot of matches going WAY longer than they needed to. The opener was the only match that didn’t go at least twenty, and the top three were all longer than twenty-four minutes.