The SmarK Rant for The Beast In The East – 07.04.15
Live from Tokyo, JP
Your hosts are Michael Cole & Byron Saxton
Chris Jericho v. Neville
I really like the stripped-down house show look, complete with a different look to the arena by having the ring be diagonal to the entrance set. This is exactly the sort of stuff I’d love to see on the Network on a regular basis. The Japanese crowd does a weird dueling chant for Jericho and Neville, as it sounds like they’re imitating what they hear on WWE TV from the crowds. Which I guess they are. They trade wristlocks on the mat and Jericho bails off a dropkick. Back in, Jericho wraps him up with a surfboard while we go through the looking glass by having Michael Cole talk about Neville’s time in Dragon Gate. Things you only hear in this era. Neville puts Jericho on the floor with another dropkick, but Jericho fires back with the springboard dropkick as Sumo Hall has suddenly become the biggest sports arena in Tokyo. Um, I might not know much Japanese geography, but I’m pretty sure the Tokyo Dome is bigger. Jericho with the chinlock, but Neville rolls him up for two. Jericho with an enzuigiri for two, and then an ARROGANT COVER~! Back to the chinlock, but Neville fights back with kicks until Jericho comes in with a flying axehandle to set up the Walls. Neville quickly escapes that and goes up, but Jericho crotches him. They’re doing some really impressively aggressive ring and crowd mic work here, giving the show a much less sterile feel than the main show. Neville fights Jericho off, but misses the Red Arrow and gets caught in the Walls. He quickly makes the ropes, however. Jericho heads back to the floor and Neville follows with a crazy corkscrew dive. Another thing I like about this production: No replays to break up the flow! No shaky cam either. Back in, Neville with a standing SSP for two. Neville fires away with kicks, but misses a dropkick and Jericho hits him with the Lionsault. That gets two. Codebreaker off a springboard attempt gets two. They fight over a german and Neville gets that one, followed by a superkick to make the comeback. Red Arrow is countered by knees, however, and the LIONTAMER finishes at 16:13. Man, Jericho brought it here for a hell of an opener. ***3/4
Meanwhile, Brock Lesnar is here. Hide your cars!
Divas title: Nikki Bella v. Paige v. Tamina
Byron notes that with the Divas title comes POWER in WWE. Are we in TNA now? So Cole runs down the historic title changes in Japan, like “Bull Nakona”. Yeah, I remember Bull Nakona, what a legend. Tamina lays out Paige for two, but Nikki dumps Paige and gets two on Tamina. Paige comes back in for a double-team suplex on Tamina while the announcers talk about all the success of the Bellas on Total Divas and how the other women are jealous of them. Isn’t that every storyline for the division for the past three years now? Paige and Nikki do a nice sunset flip reversal sequence and Paige kicks her down for two and throws knees in the corner, but Nikki fights back and we get the Tower of Doom spot out of the corner. Tamina gets two off that and Cole is again talking about how Sumo Hall is the biggest arena in Japan. I’m pretty sure even Budokan is bigger. Michael Cole should stick to truly interesting facts, like for instance did you know that Tamina is the daughter of legendary Superfly Jimmy Snuka? Nikki with a whiplash slam on Paige for two, but Paige takes her down with the scorpion crosslock before Tamina breaks it up. Tamina with a samoan drop on Nikki to set up the Superfly splash, but that one misses and Nikki forearms her for the pin at 7:02. Well that was anticlimactic, but the match was totally fine. **1/4
Brock Lesnar v. Kofi Kingston
Even showing the replay from RAW exposes how annoying the constant camera angle changes and shaky cam has become. Just watch the camera spaz out when Seth smacks the chair on Brock’s knee, for example. They spend (I’m guessing) thousands of dollars on Steadicam technology and then do the opposite. Kofi wisely runs away, but that only gets him 15 seconds before Brock starts throwing him around like a child. Kofi tries a springboard dropkick and mildly annoys Brock, who dumps Kofi on the back of his head as a result. Note to self: Don’t anger Brock Lesnar. Or let him detail my car. So we get three deadlift german suplexes and the F5 to finish at 2:34. Apparently Kofi further offended him by moving too much after the finish, because Brock hits him with another F5. The New Day tries to run in and save, but they all get destroyed by F5s as well. Brock Lesnar is a great man. Perhaps the greatest?
NXT title: Kevin Owens v. Finn Balor
Speaking of great men. It’s really a shame that this couldn’t have been Itami finally getting his big moment like it was clearly building towards. So here we get full flower girl honors and streamers, which gives us Kevin Owens tossing his flowers out of the ring like a pile of garbage. Yeah, that one’s gonna be a GIF for a long while, I’m guessing. Finn quickly goes for the finish, but Owens bails so Finn hits him with a dive instead. Back in, Balor with a running forearm and a wicked baseball slide off that, and they fight on the floor for a Balor dropkick into the railing. Back in, they exchange shots and Owens puts him down with a sideslam for two. Owens slugs away to take over and stops to troll the crowd, then goes to the chinlock. Balor fights out, but Owens lays him out with a forearm in mid-springboard. Into the stairs for a nine count, but he heads back in and gets sentoned for two. Back to the floor and Balor has to fight his way back in again, where Owens does a dramatic charge into a chinlock. “Are you not impressed? I don’t care, I hate this stupid country and everybody in it.” The only person who can make a chinlock into an entertaining spot. Balor fights back with a low dropkick and a flying forearm for two. Owens puts him down with John Cena’s comeback sequence, but Balor escapes the FU and kicks Owens down. Owens with another try, but Balor gets a Pele kick this time and puts Owens on the floor. He follows with a somersault dive and comes back in with a curbstomp into an inverted DDT for two. The coup de gras misses and Owens comes back with the cannonball in the corner for two. Package powerbomb gets two. Balor blocks the powerbomb and hits the Sling Blade to set up the coup de gras, but Owens hauls him down in desperation. Balor kicks him from the apron, however, and hits it on the second try for two. Thought that was it. Balor gets flustered and pounds away in the corner in frustration, but Owens fights him off and tries a fisherman’s superplex. Balor escapes that, but Owens gets a rolling senton off the top for two instead. Owens to the top again, but a swanton hits knees and Balor gets an Implant DDT for two. Balor charges and walks into a superkick, and Owens suplexes him for two off that. Owens lays in the quality demotivational trash talk, but Balor fights back, escapes the Pop Up Powerbomb, and finishes with the corner dropkicks and coup de gras to win the NXT title at 19:22. After those videos on NXT, there was no way they couldn’t have done that finish. This was an awesome hard-hitting Japanese style match that lived up to every bit of the hype and didn’t hurt Owens in the least. ****1/2 Legendary Hall of Famer “Tatsumi Fujiyami” comes out to congratulate the new champion, and frankly I’m shocked that Owens didn’t try to punk HIM out.
John Cena & Dolph Ziggler v. Kane & King Barrett
If that’s not the most random main event pairing ever outside of the Teddy Long glory days on Smackdown, I don’t know what is. Dolph and Barrett trade rollups for two and Kane comes in to beat on Dolph, but he brings Cena in. And then we get a lengthy period of the heels beating on Cena for TEN MINUTES before Cena hits an FU on Barrett. And then Kane cuts him off and hits the flying clothesline for two. So then it’s the hot tag to Ziggler and he runs wild on Barrett for a bit before Kane cuts him off as well and we get yet another ridiculously long heat segment. And then it’s hot tag Cena and the usual finishes Barrett at 23:40. I’m gonna be honest, I was busy editing the blog code for most of this and didn’t particularly pay attention. Seemed about **.
You can literally shut off the show after the NXT title match, but the first 90 minutes was a hell of a show and the kind of offbeat thing I wish they’d do way more of. Big thumbs up.