NJPW’s firts of two Destruction shows happened yesterday before 3160 fans. Let’s take a look at what happened:
Katsuyori Shibata, Yuji Nagata, Yohei Komatsu and Sho Tanaka defeated Tetsuya Naito, Manabu Nakanishi, Jay White and David Finlay in 7:47 via submisssion:
Fun little opener that gave the 4 Young Lions some time to shine. Nakanishi played the usual immovable object, and, credit were credit is due, while it’s the only thing he can still do, he does it well. And it was needed with Naito continuing his excellent heel character shenanigans, deeming an opening match beneath him and refusing to tag in. This would spell doom for his team as Jay White, attempting to tag Naito, would then walk right into a Nagata Backdrop Hold. Post-match, Shibata and Naito would have a stare-down, with Shibata looking death-serious and Naito just smiling. Naito would end up spitting in Shibata’s face which would cause a major brawl. Should be a excellent match between those two on Sunday.
ReDRagon defeated Jushin Thunder Liger & Mascara Dorada in 8:31 via pinfall:
I completely misinterpreted this one in my preview. In hindsight, Redragon winning was the only possible result since they have a championship match with Time Splitters on Sunday. So the Liger/Dorada pairing was just for Redragon to have a fun opponent until the big match happens. Hey, sometimes I’m wrong. Anyway, while it ended up being a warm-up for ReDragon, Liger and, especially, Dorada had some good spots and Redragon are always great. Chasing The Dragon on Dorada to end this.
NWA World Junior Championship: Tiger Mask IV defeated Champion Steve Anthony in 10:10 via pinfall:
Not very good I must say. I like Tiger Mask IV and respect him for his career, Anthony, as mentioned before, is not a bad wrestler but lacks charisma and the two just didn’t gel together. Tiger Mask won to put some more visibility on the NWA title and, possibly, to set up a nostalgia filled Jushin Liger/Tiger Mask IV match. In this case I can understand it, since it will bolster the under-card of any show and give some much needed publicity to the NWA title.
Hiroshi Tanahashi and Matt Sydal defeated Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga in 10:00 via pinfall:
This was interesting for several reasons, the upcoming Fale/Tanahashi match being one of them. Surprisingly there was a lot more Fale/Tanahashi interaction than expected, with Fale allowed to look dominant at times which increases interest for their match on Sunday. Also of interest was the Fale/Tonga pairing. There isn’t that much left to do for Fale as a singles wrestler and he worked well with Tonga here. Tonga could be the ideal partner for him, carrying the workload before making the hot tag and the whole concept might help to improve Fale as a wrestler. Finally Sydal made his big debut in NJPW and immediately wowed the crows. This bodes well for him as the NJPW office also has high hopes for him apparently, but more on this later. Good, enjoyable match with an hot crow, the ending came after an amazing Shooting Star Press from Sydal and a Tanahashi High Fly Flow combo on Hall.
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson (c) defeated Tencozy (Kojima and Tenzan) in 13:15 via pinfall:
As will become apparent later, I somehow managed to get all my title match predictions wrong for this show, which is quite a feat. Regardless, this one was a definite improvement on the Anderson/Gallows vs The Kingdom matches. Amazing what happens when they are not continuously playing off Maria’s distractions. But good work from all 4 with even Gallows delivering an energetic performance. Stun Gun on Tenzan and Magic Killer on Kojima to end things. I’m off two minds about this, to be honest. I really felt like the best choice would have been taking the belts off Anderson and Gallows, but, if the BC members start delivering these kind of performances again, I might change my mind. That being said, if they just kept the belts on them to continue the Bullet Club/Kingdom feud, then the Tag Team belts will continue to be an afterthought. New teams, NJPW, fast!
Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI, Rocky Romero and Beretta defeated Hirooki Goto, Tomoaki Honma, Captain New Japan, Alex Shelley and Ryusuke Taguchi 13:24 via pinfall:
About what you would expect from a 10-man tag match. Fun? Yes, given who was involved, it was always gonna be entertaining. But ultimately this was a filler match and nothing more. That being said, plenty of entertaining interaction between Nakamura/Goto, Ishii/Goto, Ishii/Honma and some amusing Nakamura/Taguchi stuff, which earned Taguchi a shove from Goto. Shelley was back and seems in as great a shape as ever. Triple Kokeshi from Honma, Captain and Taguchi at one point which was amusing. In the end, professional loser Captain New Japan did what he always does and ate a Boma Yé from Nakamura and a brainbuster from Ishii for the pinfall.
Kazuchika Okada and Toru Yano defeated AJ Styles and Cody Hall in 9:52 via pinfall:
Again about what you would expect. The big re-match between Styles and Okada will of course happen at King of Pro Wrestling, until then we’ll have to make-do with these tag team matches. It was entertaining, don’t get me wrong, with Okada and Styles expertly leaving us wanting more. The chemistry between those two is amazing. Hall and Yano also did their thing, meaning the always entertaining Yano stole the victory with a roll-up on the unsuspecting Hall.
Kenny Omega defeated Champion KUSHIDA 16:25 via pinfall:
This was a surprise but not necessarily a good one. The match itself was below the level of their previous outing and the overabundance of Bullet Club interference is to blame. Furthermore, cutting KUSHIDA’s reign short like this seems like a mistake. KUSHIDA had been on a roll lately, and many felt NJPW had a chance of rebuilding their Junior Heavyweight division around him. With Omega champion again we’re likely back to the random stand-alone challenges with a 50/50 chance at a good match, depending on the amount of Bullet Club interference and Omega shenanigans. Of course KUSHIDA’s loss here almost guarantees a Time Splitter win against ReDragon on Sunday, but it’s difficult to see what that will achieve in the long run. More ReDragon/Time Splitters/Young Bucks Three-ways? Been there done that. Post-match, Matt Sydal came out and will be Omega’s next challenger. I’m really hoping for a Sydal victory, so we can still get those Sydal/KUSHIDA matches towards the end of the year. Still post-match, something strange happened, with Omega asking for his music, but nothing happened. Omega then asked for his belt, but it was nowhere to be found. Finally, Omega went: “Well, this is awkward”. If even NJPW starts to deliver unintentional comedy now…
NEVER Openweight Championship: Togi Makabe (c) defeated Kota Ibushi in 18:41 via pinfall:
And we continue with the questionable booking decisions. But first things first, the match was very good, easily the best match on the card. Makabe brought the brawling style he’s so effective at, and Ibushi entered a typically great performance, effortlessly going from high spots to a more brawling-based style, his selling to the more powerful Makabe was great and his comebacks were all believable. But Makabe won, and it’s difficult to see what the point is in having him retain. As said before, Ibushi has had a very strange year. He came short in his attempts at winning all major Single Heavyweight belts. Worse, after losing to Styles he completely disappeared only to resurface for the G1 where the booking was not in his favor. Now this. Does this mean Ibushi will now again disappear for a couple of months? I sure hope not. This doesn’t seem to help the NEVER Championship either. It has now been the private playground for Makabe and Ishii for months, and, guess who Makabe’s next opponent is likely to be? Right, Ishii. Now, their matches usually deliver, but this feud has been done to death already. An Ibushi win would have completely refreshed the NEVER scene, even elevated it because Ibushi is way more popular than Makabe. So I simply can’t understand why they didn’t go with it here.
This was far from a bad show, but the booking, especially in the two top matches, does raise questions. Now Jado and Gedo, the NJPW bookers, have been in this situation before, only to prove everyone wrong, and their booking of NJPW’s main title have been excellent. The same can not be said of both tag team titles, the NEVER title and the Junior Heavyweight title who could have benefited from some stability, interesting storylines and avoiding booking the same stuff over and over again. After Dominion and the G climax, everybody felt that NJPW had refreshed things, created new possibilities and scenario’s and paved the way for an exiting fall and winter period. This show seems like a step backwards. But with them, you never know. One more Destruction show coming up on Sunday (full preview tomorrow) and it may very well be I completely change my tune after that. It’s up to Jado and Gedo to prove us all wrong once again.
Tags: AJ Styles, Alex Shelley, bad Luck fale, bullet club, Chaos, Cody Hall, Hirooki Goto, hiroshi tanahashi, Jushin Liger, Karl Anderson, Katsuyori Shibata, kazuchika okada, Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, Kushida, Mascara Dorada, Matt Sydall, redragon, RPG Vice, Ryusuke Taguschi, shinsuke nakamura, Steve Anthony; Doc Gallows, Tama Tonga, Tencozy, Tetsuya Naito, Tiger Mask IV, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Yugi Nagata